Saturday, May 15, 2010

Leftists and the armed forces

I have long argued that the difference between Left and Right can only be understood psychologically rather than ideologically. Leftists run on pure emotion. Conservatives have emotions too but they are governed by reason as well.

Leftists will use ANY argument that suits their emotional needs of the moment. They have certain recurrent themes in their arguments -- such as "poverty" being the cause of all ills -- but such themes are little more than verbal tics. They are not a serious attempt to explain anything.

A rather hilarious proof of that is that Leftists for quite a while after 9/11/2001 explained Muslim antagonism to America as being caused by poverty -- even though Osama bin Laden is a billionaire! The Leftist mouths uttering such nonsense were clearly not engaged in any serious way with thought or any sincere effort to understand.

And one of the things that Leftist emotions will never engage with is the army. Leftists just can't understand why anybody would LIKE being in the army and Leftist governments will always cut back military funding if they can plausibly do so. Australia's Leftist government has done so this week, even though there are frequent calls on the Australian army for overseas deployments to various theatres of conflict, Iraq and Afghanistan included.

Yet lots of people DO like being in the army, including women. In my far-off military days the corps with the longest waiting list was the WRAACS (Women's Royal Australian Army Corps). Each corps has a certain "establishment" -- meaning that the corps can only enlist as many people as they are allocated by the defence bureaucrats. So a popular corps will often have a waiting list of people waiting for a vacancy in the establishment. And LOTS of women wanted to get into the WRAACS.

And that continues to this day. Even exceptionally attractive women often love the army. G.I. Jill won a beauty contest as Miss Utah but still was keen to get back to military duties. And Miss England (aka "Combat Barbie") at the moment is keen to get back into army uniform too. And my most recent bride spent 9 years in the army and you can see what she looks like here (scroll down).

And who could be more privileged than a member of the British Royal family? But it IS a military family and Prince Harry in particular is well known for his devotion to the army and his keenness for active service. He even once said of his very attractive girlfriend, Chelsy, that he loves Chelsy but the army comes first! I doubt that any Leftist mind could comprehend that! I can, though.

Left to right above: Prince Charles, Chelsy Davy, Prince Harry. Photo from earlier this month

And in the most minor of ways, my own totally undistinguished military career shows a little of that spirit too. In the Vietnam era I was at a university in Brisbane where there were vast anti-Vietnam rallies. So I joined a local army reserve unit. While most of my fellow students were marching around with placards, I was trying my best to acquire some military skills. And I enjoyed it immensely.

After completing my first degree, however, I moved down to Sydney and naturally assumed that I would join the Sydney reserve unit of my corps. But they were "up to establishment"! They had no vacancy for me. So did I just say "too bad!". No way! I went on full-time duties with the regular army instead! The regular unit of my corps had vacancies even if the reserve unit did not!

I can't imagine that any Leftist would understand that. Personally, I think they are inadequate people who are simply too cowardly for the army. They will of course think that I am simply stupid but as I have a Ph.D. and 200+ academic publications that explanation would be as silly as their "poverty" explanation.


Obama is going Greek

In Greece the bill has come due for a life of fairness at the expense of growth -- and the rest of Europe is not far behind

One of the constant criticisms of Barack Obama's first year is that he's making us "more like Europe." But that's hard to define and lacks broad political appeal. Until now.

Any U.S. politician purporting to run the presidency of the United States should be asked why the economic policies he or she is proposing won't take us where Europe arrived this week.

In an astounding moment, to avoid the failure of little, indulgent, profligate Greece, the European Union this week pledged nearly $1 trillion to inject green blood into Europe's economic vampires.

For Americans, this has been a two-week cram course in what not to be if you hope to have a vibrant future. What was once an unfocused criticism of Mr. Obama and the Democrats, that they are nudging America toward a European-style social-market economy, came to awful life in the panicked, stricken faces of Europe's leadership: Merkel, Sarkozy, Brown, Papandreou. They look like that because Europe has just seen the bond-market devil.

Daniel Henninger discusses Europe's economic stagnation, noting that President Obama's health-care and energy policies will surely make us more like Europe.
Podcast: Listen to the audio of Wonder Land here.

The bond market is a good bargain—if you live more or less within your means. The Europeans, however, pushed a good bargain into a Faustian bargain, which the world calls a sovereign debt crisis.

In the German legend, Faust was a scholar who sold his soul to the devil many years hence in return for a life now of intellectual brilliance and physical comfort. In our version of the legend, Europe's governments told the devil that, more than anything, they wanted a life of social protection and income fairness no matter the cost. Life was good. A fortnight ago, the bond devil arrived and asked for his money.

In the U.S., the Obama White House and the Democrats have decided to wage politics into November by positioning the Republicans as the party of obstruction, which won't vote for things the nation "needs," such as ObamaCare. Some Republicans voting against these proposals seem to understand, as do their most ardent supporters, that they are opposing such ideas and policies because the Democrats have pushed far beyond the traditional centrist comfort zone of most Americans. A Democratic Party whose current budget takes U.S. spending from a recent average of about 21% of GDP up to 25% is outside that comfort zone. It's headed toward the euro zone.

After Europe's abject humiliation, the chance is at hand for the Republicans to do some useful self-definition. They should make clear to the American people that the GOP is "The We're Not Europe Party." Their Democratic opposition could not attempt such a claim because they do not wish to.

The state of Europe can be summed up in one word: stagnation. Jean-Claude Trichet, the European Central Bank president who just agreed to monetize the debt that Europeans can't or won't pay, noted in a 2006 speech that "over the period from 1996 to 2005, euro area output grew on average 1.3 percentage points less than in the U.S., and the gap appears to be persistent."

Angus Maddison, the eminent European historian of world economic development who died days before Europe's debt crisis, wrote in 2001: "The most disturbing aspect of West European performance since 1973 has been the staggering rise in unemployment. In 1994-8 the average level was nearly 11% of the labor force. This is higher than the depressed years of the 1930s."

Stagnation isn't death. Economies don't die. Greece proves that. They slow down. Europe's low growth rates allow its populations to pretend that real, productive work is being done somewhere by someone. But new jobs are created slowly, if at all. Younger workers lose heart.

Economic stagnation is a kind of purgatory. Once there, it's not clear how you get out. The economist Douglass North, in his 1993 Nobel Prize acceptance speech, said that one of the vexing problems of his discipline is, "Why do economies once on a path of growth or stagnation tend to persist?" Japan also seems unable to free itself from stagnation.

The antidote to stagnation is economic growth. Not just growth, but strong growth. A 4% growth rate, which Europe will never see again, pays social dividends innumerably greater than 2.5% growth. Which path are we on?

Barack Obama would never say it is his intention to make the U.S. go stagnant by suppressing wealth creation in return for a Faustian deal on social equity. But his health system required an astonishing array of new taxes on growth industries. He is raising taxes on incomes, dividends, capital gains and interest. His energy reform requires massive taxes. His government revels in "keeping a boot on the neck" of a struggling private firm. Wall Street's business is being criminalized.

Economic stagnation arrives like a slow poison. Look at the floundering United Kingdom, whose failed prime minister, Gordon Brown, said on leaving, "I tried to make the country fairer." Maybe there's a more important goal.

A We're-Not-Europe Party would promise the American people to avoid and oppose any policy that makes us more like them and less like us.



Barack Obama vows $180bn to overhaul nuclear weapons stockpile

The mid-terms have REALLY got him spooked. A desperate last-minute dash to the center is now well in evidence

President Obama has committed the US to spending more than $180 billion (£122 billion) over the next ten years to overhaul its nuclear warheads and to modernise some of the bombers and submarines that carry them.

With the announcement of the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (Start) with Russia, and the downgrading of America’s “nuclear posture”, Mr Obama said that no money would be spent on a new generation of long-range ballistic missiles. Republicans warned that they would not support the Start agreement unless the existing stockpile was upgraded.

Robert Gates, the US Secretary of Defence, and Hillary Clinton, the Secretary of State, are due to give evidence in support of the treaty to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee next week. In anticipation of tough questioning the Obama Administration sent Congress a classified report on plans for the nuclear stockpile.

An unclassified summary of the report on plans for the nuclear stockpile released by the White House reveals that the Government is to spend more than $100 billion over the next decade to sustain existing “nuclear delivery systems” — intercontinental ballistic missiles, bombers and submarines. Research is also under way on a new strategic bomber and ballistic missile-carrying submarines.

The declassified summary also discloses that Mr Obama intends to spend $80 billion in the next decade on sustaining the arsenal of nuclear warheads.

A report on plans for the nuclear stockpile shows that the United States has 450 intercontinental ballistic missile silos and will keep 420, all with a single warhead. It also has 94 strategic bombers, with 60 being kept under Start; and 14 strategic nuclear submarines. Under the new treaty the US will keep all 14 submarines but the number of missile tubes will be cut from 24 to 20, and no more than 240 submarine-launched ballistic missiles will be deployed at any time.




Crock Tock is a new site that is well worth a look. He keeps VERY up to date with current news and commentary -- from a distinct conservative perspective.

Elena Kagan 'outed' as lesbian: "The Wall Street Journal was attacked for using a 1993 image of Miss Kagan, who was nominated for the top court by President Barack Obama this week, holding a bat during her time as a teacher at the University of Chicago. Critics have claimed the sport is regarded as a "lesbian" pastime in the minds of many Americans and the picture was used to allude to rumours about her sexuality. John Wright, of gay newspaper Dallas Voice, told Politico: "Personally I think the newspaper, which happens to have the largest circulation of any in the US, might as well have gone with a headline that said, 'Lesbian or switch-hitter?'." In an attempt to lay the issue to rest, friends of the former dean of Harvard Law School have publicly said she is not gay"

Obama’s natural choice of Kagan : "It’s anything but surprising that President Obama has chosen Elena Kagan to replace John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court. Nothing is a better fit for this White House than a blank slate, institution-loyal, seemingly principle-free careerist who spent the last 15 months as the Obama administration’s lawyer vigorously defending every one of his assertions of extremely broad executive authority.”

Obama’s rationing man : "While much of Washington is focused on President Obama’s Supreme Court pick, Republicans are gearing up for a confirmation battle over another Obama nominee who promises to put health care back in the spotlight. At issue is Obama’s choice to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Donald Berwick, a Harvard professor with a self-professed love affair with Britain’s socialized health care system. In his writings and speeches, Berwick has defended government rationing and advocated centralized budget caps on health care spending.”

Resolve and repeal: "On Tuesday, West Virginia Democratic primary voters ousted an incumbent who has been in the House since 1983 — partly because of his vote for Obamacare. That legislation is also at issue in a special election this month for a Pennsylvania House seat the Democrats have held since 1974. In that race, both candidates say they opposed the passage of Obamacare, but the Republican is running to the Democrat’s right by saying that he will vote to repeal it. The message from these campaigns: Opposition to Obamacare is a winning cause. But House Republicans are not yet doing enough to capitalize on the discontent in order to elect Republicans to office and, more important, raise the likelihood of an eventual repeal. The House Republican leadership ought to get behind a simple, one-sentence bill to repeal Obamacare — now.”

Some economic realism at long last in Spain: "Mr. Zapatero is taking action to address the root cause of his nation's fiscal dilemma: excess spending. For years, Spain had doled money out of the public purse with such abandon that its deficit reached 11.2 percent of gross domestic product in 2009. Mr. Zapatero will now impose a 5-percent across-the-board reduction in government salaries. Ministers will take a more substantial, but mostly symbolic, 15-percent cut. More importantly, the government will freeze pension benefits and eliminate a number of non-essential benefits. A total of 13,000 unnecessary government employees will be cut loose." [With 20% unemployment even a Leftist government gets desperate, it would seem]


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)


Obama recognizes that he must mend ties with Israel

Anybody would think that there was an election coming up in less than 6 months time!

BARACK Obama has asked Congress to approve $US205 million to help Israel deploy an anti-missile defence system. “The President recognises the threat missiles and rockets fired by Hamas and Hezbollah pose to Israelis, and has therefore decided to seek funding from Congress to support the production of Israel's short range rocket defense system called Iron Dome,” White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said.

Israel completed tests in January on its Iron Dome anti-missile system, designed to intercept short-range rockets and artillery shells fired at Israel by Hamas and Hezbollah.

The next phase in its development is to integrate it into the army. Israel hopes the system will provide it with a means to deal with rocket fire from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and from Lebanon.

The news of Mr Obama's move came as Israeli settlers shot dead a 14-year-old Palestinian youth in the West Bank after their car was stoned, Palestinian security sources said.

An Israeli army source confirmed that shots had been fired in that neighbourhood after stones were thrown at the cars of Israeli civilians, but was not able to say if there had been any victims.

Palestinian militants have fired thousands of home-made rockets into southern Israel, prompting Israel's devastating assault on the Islamist Hamas in Gaza on December 27, 2008.

The Lebanese militant group Hezbollah also fired some 4000 rockets into northern Israel during a 2006 war with Israel, which now believes Hezbollah has an arsenal of some 40,000 rockets.

“As the President has repeatedly said, our commitment to Israel's security is unshakable and our defense relationship is stronger than ever,” said Mr Vietor. “The United States and our ally Israel share many of the same security challenges, from combating terrorism to confronting the threat posed by Iran's nuclear-weapons program.”

The move comes after ties between Israel and its key ally the US were strained by an announcement of new Israeli settler homes in east Jerusalem made during a visit to the Jewish state by Vice-President Joe Biden.

Israel's President Shimon Peres also sparked controversy in April when he accused Syria of supplying the Shiite Hezbollah movement with long-range Scud missiles, a charge Damascus has staunchly denied.

Washington, which has sought rapprochement with Damascus, further fed the controversy when Defense Secretary Robert Gates accused Iran and Syria of arming Hezbollah with sophisticated weaponry, without naming Scuds.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has also warned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad about the risks of triggering a regional war if he supplied the Shiite group with the missiles.

Fragile indirect talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority of president Mahmoud Abbas opened on Sunday with US envoy George Mitchell shuttling between the two sides in Jerusalem and Ramallah.



Neither Evil Nor Incompetent

What's the problem with government?

Classical liberals spend a great deal of time pointing out the failures of government. When we enter into public discourse over politics, we are often challenged to explain the nature and frequency of those failings. There are three kinds of explanations we might offer, but only one really explains not only why governments fail in specific cases, but also why government in general is likely to fail at pretty much everything.

One type of explanation classical liberals might offer, and that some among us do with distressing frequency, is to argue that politicians and bureaucrats have evil designs to undermine the economy or the social order to forward their own careers or other goals. No doubt, political history gives us plenty of reason to think that, in Hayek’s words, the “worst rise to the top” in the political world.

However, the weakness of this approach is that there’s a convenient response available to the defenders of government: Okay, then we just have to elect or appoint better, more morally upright people to political office. The “evil people” theory does not actually explain the failures of government at a fundamental level. Rather it suggests that with a better captain, the “ship of state” might be steered clear of the icebergs and actually reach its destination. The classical-liberal response to this counterargument must somehow maintain that it’s endemic in politics that “bad” people rise to the top. If that’s the case, then we need to get beyond the “evil people” argument and go straight to whatever causes that endemic problem.

The other problem with the “evil people” argument, and I will explore this point in more depth next week, is that it concedes that people can manipulate the economy for their ends. It’s not clear this is a concession that classical liberals want to make.


Rather than invoking malevolence, we could instead invoke incompetence. The “worst” who get on top simply refers to those with the least ability. Invoking incompetence has the advantage of avoiding the implication that people can manipulate the economy. However, that argument is open to a similar response: So elect/appoint more competent people. If Michael Brown, head of FEMA during Hurricane Katrina, simply was incompetent, then there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with FEMA that someone better trained in disaster response couldn’t fix, right?

Here, too, if there’s some reason to expect that government will attract incompetents, or at least have no way to weed them out, then we need to get to those arguments, rather than getting hung up on incompetence in itself.

The third alternative is superior to both the “evil” and “incompetence” arguments: focusing on what makes government agencies structurally unable to accomplish the tasks assigned them. For example, the failures of the Federal Reserve are not the result of the Fed’s being run by a cabal of global bankers intending to undermine the U.S. economy; nor are the failures the fault of the incompetence of the Board of Governors or Federal Open Market Committee.

Even with the kindest, most public-spirited, and most brilliant economists at the helm, the task facing the Fed is simply impossible. No one can control the money supply and manipulate the macroeconomy the way the Fed is expected to. It cannot obtain the knowledge it needs to undertake that task, unlike firms in the market, which can rely on the prices to inform their decisions.

Think of the analogous debate over the public schools. We classical liberals sound silly, in my view, if we argue that public school teachers are all either evil or incompetent. I know a lot of public school teachers, and most of them are dedicated and reasonably competent. Public schools fail because of their structural features, not because of the morality or intelligence of the people they employ. And if we demonize our neighbors who teach there, people are likely to tune us out.

If we classical liberals assume that those in office are the best and the brightest yet still have a solid explanation for why they cannot get the job done, the case for freedom is much stronger and less alienating than if we focus on the morality or competence of government employees. Never assume evil or incompetence. Explanations of systemic, structural failure are available and more effective.



Obama's typically Leftist disrespect for the facts

The "big lie" technique did not die with Hitler

Someone isn’t telling the truth and if that someone turns out to be an occupant of the White House it’s time for private industry to worry.

In his weekly radio address, President Obama accused an insurance company of “systematically dropping the coverage of women with breast cancer.” Even as he declined to name the alleged culprit, a forceful response was forthcoming from WellPoint Inc., the nation’s largest insurer.

There are no gray areas here. Either the White House has seized upon inaccurate information, or the company in question is engaged in slick, misleading public relations.

In a letter addressed to President Obama, WellPoint CEO Angela Braley calls out the White House for circulating and repeating “false information” about so-called rescission practices.

“If we are going to make this law work on behalf of all Americans, the attacks on the health insurance industry, an industry that provides valued coverage for more than 200 million Americans must end,” she wrote. “We believe that our recent action to adopt many of the insurance reforms earlier than required by law is an indication of our willingness to work with your Administration to achieve this objective.”

In his Saturday radio talk, Obama laced into what he described as the “perverse practice of dropping people’s coverage when they get sick.” He also said Americans have been “held hostage to an insurance industry that jacks up premiums and drops coverage as they please.”

Robert Zirkelbach, a spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, a trade group, asks thoughtful Americans to entertain a larger historical view that shows that the industry’s profit margin has been relatively low, ranging from 3 percent to 5 percent.

“For every dollar spent on health care in America, less than one penny goes toward health plan profits,” he said. “Health plan profits are well below other industries within the health care sector.”

But the facts may not matter for small business and private citizens who lack the resources of a FOX News Channel to fight back after the White House famously declared war on them last October.

Even the U.S. Supreme Court was subjected to a highly irregular, and wholly inaccurate Obama attack during the State of the Union speech when he said, “…the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests – including foreign corporations – to spend without limit in our elections,” Obama declared in his address. “Well 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 that's why I'm urging Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to right this wrong.”

Justice Samuel Alito’s barely audible response of “not true” should be seized upon by activists who are in a stronger position to go on offense and absorb the arrows.

If President Obama is not going to shy away from making snide and inaccurate comments about no less than the U.S. Supreme Court, then there is very little standing in the way between concerned Americans who care about limited government and an unhinged White House operation.

What is particularly distressing is that Obama must have known that his comments against the Supreme Court in the Citizens United ruling were blatantly false, as they weren’t offered off the cuff, but in the most vetted speech he gives each year.

The left’s organized mistreatment of Tea Party activists who oppose Obama’s extreme expansion of government is also highly instructive as they stooped to new lows by using bogus allegations of racism to short-circuit a legitimate grassroots movement aimed at restoring constitutional government. Despite the reward money that has been offered by Andrew Breitbart, the publisher of, no one has come forward with any tangible evidence pointing to legitimate instances of racism in the Tea Party movement.

Average citizens who have invoked the proudest traditions of the American Revolution have been tied with a long list of unsavory groups and individuals who operate at the fringes of American politics compliments of compliant news media that does the bidding of Team Obama.

Most recently, the White House has turned its ire against the Arizona State Legislature for passing a law that allows local police officers to enforce federal immigration law.

Obama attacked the new law stating, “If you are a Hispanic-American in Arizona, your great-grandparents may have been there before Arizona was even a state, Obama said. “But now suddenly, if you don’t have your papers and you took your kid out to get ice cream, you’re gonna be harassed. That’s something that could potentially happen. That’s not the right way to go.”

Unfortunately, none of the above was true as the Arizona law specifically requires that another crime be committed before a request for citizenship information could be made.

It is now evident that this White House will not let any set of facts get in the way of the big government agenda that is now being rolled out at the expense of the private sector and constitutional provisos.

Average Americans who enter the fray should know that they will be up against a White House that has exhibited more hostility toward the First Amendment and principled dissent than at any time since the Alien and Sedition Act.

Anyone who wishes to remain beyond the sphere of government influence should take note.



The Latest Obama Scam: Cash for Mortgages

In four U.S. States the unemployed or underwater may soon be seeing cash for mortgages that they cannot afford. The bailout cash comes courtesy of the U.S. taxpayer.

In Arizona, California, Florida and Michigan, state lawmakers are considering using Obama handouts to help stop foreclosures in their respective states according to a article.

It appears that no one in government has learned from the continuing fiscal crisis. At a time when people should be truly understanding their responsibilities, the government believes that the only way to solve the problem is through redistribution of capital from producers to those that squander. What will happen when the money from this welfare program runs out? Who will then foot the bill for these mortgages?

While the program will not bail everyone out of their mortgage trouble, who will draw the line? Do lesser Americans exist who will be denied taxpayer bailouts for homes they cannot afford, while others reap the benefits of looting their neighbors? Who will make these tough decisions?

The fact that the nation is nearly two years deep into an economic crisis and the politicians have yet to learn a single lesson on fiscal responsibility should be the most troubling lesson that Americans take away from the drama that has unfolded since the Fall of 2008. Politicians in D.C. have time and again neglected fiscal responsibility and chosen what has become a routine route of bandaid fixes that have further sank the nation in debt.

Like the age old question of who watches the watchmen, who will provide bailouts for the bailouteers when the time will surely come?



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, May 13, 2010

A Nation of Profilers

What is affirmative action if it is not racial profiling?

by Victor Davis Hanson

Profiling is considered among the worst of American sins. Not long ago, Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates was arrested by the Cambridge, Mass., police for trying to enter his own locked home after misplacing his key. Almost immediately, President Obama rushed to condemn what he thought was racial profiling. The police were acting "stupidly," Obama concluded. He added: "There's a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately."

Here is where the argument about an individual and the group turns nasty: Is using statistics on collective behavior a reasonable tool of law enforcement to anticipate the greater likelihood of a crime, or is it gratuitously stereotyping the innocent? Or sometimes both, depending on how it's done?

Take the Arizona anti-illegal-immigration law. It gives police the right to ask for identification papers if they have reasonable cause to suspect that those questioned on a separate matter may be in the country illegally. In heated reaction to this new state law, we now hear everything from calls for a boycott of Arizona to allegations of Gestapo-like tactics.

But is Arizona doing anything that much different from what most Americans do all the time -- namely, using all sorts of generalized criteria to make what they think are play-by-the-odds judgments that may or may not be proven wrong by exceptions? The president himself did just that when he said his own grandmother sometimes acted as a "typical white person." And he once stereotyped rural Pennsylvania voters as xenophobes clinging to their guns and religion.

More than 60 percent of voters nationwide either support the Arizona law or find it still too lax, according to polls. They apparently believe that a police officer can, in fact, make reasonable requests for identification. For example, if a trooper near the border pulls over a car for a missing tail light, finds that there are younger Hispanic males in the car and that none can understand English, can he then conjecture that there is a greater likelihood some might be Mexican nationals? The trooper, after all, is working within a landscape in which one in 10 Arizonans is an illegal alien from Latin America, and the state shares a 300-mile-long border with nearby Mexico.

Otherwise, would it be presently OK for the border patrol to try to detain suspicious Hispanic males for possible immigration violations at or near the border, but not OK for police to ask for ID from the same person should he make it a few miles past the border?

Or imagine the reaction if nearly a million mostly poor, white French-Canadians were trying to cross into Vermont and New York from Canada each year. If those states felt such an influx were both contrary to federal statutes and a burden on their social service industries, could police rightly ask for ID from any French-speaking white males pulled over for traffic infractions -- or do so only at or near the northern border? Would these French-speaking suspects likelier be illegal aliens than, say, Hispanic, English-speaking American citizens of Albany or Burlington?

On a recent international flight, I noticed the cabin crew was far more attentive to a group of Arabic-speaking, Middle Eastern males than it was to a group of Chinese nationals. Had the attendants collated the number of terrorist incidents since 9/11, concluded that the vast majority of them were attempted by Middle Eastern males, and so tried to give more attention to politely watching one group than another? And should they have, given that the vast majority of Middle Eastern males reject terrorism?

When Justice Sonia Sotomayor was nominated to the Supreme Court, the media unabashedly wrote that President Obama was focusing on naming the court's first Hispanic justice. Sotomayor herself had often used the term "wise Latina" to suggest that her gender and ethnic profile in some cases made her a better judge than stereotypical white males.

When we weigh racial and gender stereotypes for what we deem are noble purposes, we call it "diversity," but when considering criteria other than one's individuality for matters of public safety, it devolves into "profiling"?

So what are we to make of the Arizona law? First, rightly or wrongly, most Americans have long accepted some forms of both private and government profiling that draws on greater statistical likelihood. Second, should Arizona police start gratuitously pulling over U.S. citizens statewide and questioning them without cause, the law should -- and will -- be overturned. Third, far more illegal aliens will be detained than before the law was passed. And fourth, the third likelihood accounts for much of the angry reaction to the Arizona law.



The Great Devaluation

Is America catching the British disease? That America is a much more religious country may be its salvation. In Britain, more people go to the mosque on Friday than go to the Church of England on Sunday

There'll always be an England, people used to say. Now the emphasis is on used to say. Because one report after another from that once sceptered isle is less than encouraging. For years the talented Anthony Daniels, who also writes, prolifically, under the name Theodore Dalrymple, has been chronicling Britain's social disintegration. His reports from once jolly old England make it sound like something out of "Clockwork Orange."

Maybe it was his day job as a prison doctor that gave Dr. Daniels so sour a perspective. Let's hope his is a skewed vision. Because in this Age of Obama, Americans are being told to adopt policies that seem strikingly similar to the just rejected Labor Party's nostrums -- in everything from health care to taxation, political correctness to economic regulation, labor law to foreign policy.

If that's going to be the shape of our progressive, Social Democratic, oh-so-advanced future, let's get off this roundabout now and head straight back to the past.

Skimming a choice selection of headlines from the Daily Mail's website is not exactly a cheery way to start the day:

"A-level student, 17, stabbed to death at home in front of parents 'was victim of mistaken identity' "

"Soap actress left blind in one eye after being attacked with wine glass in bar row"

"50,000 British women warned their breast implants could explode"

"Council to ban the word 'obesity' -- so fat children don't get offended"

"Teenager who blinded man with her stiletto heel in drunken brawl is jailed for 18 months"

"Man suffocates to death after falling into clothes recycling bin"

"Nurse who told heart patient to mop up his own urine is free to continue working"

"Woman, 86, threatened by M&S security staff for eating biscuit in wrong part of the store"

And so depressingly on. Britannia, where have you gone?

Mark Steyn, who writes the back-of-the-book essay for National Review, picked out these headlines to illustrate Britain's social disintegration. His conclusion: "What strikes you about the peculiar combination of drunken depravity, random violence, petty officiousness and political correctness is the sheer bloody pointlessness of it all."

You may suspect, as, as I did, that the game is fixed, that these news items can't be representative of British society. Or there wouldn't be much of a society left. Surely the quotes were selected for their scare value. In order to paint the dreariest picture possible of what has happened to the mother country. (Remember when Americans were allowed to refer to Britain as the mother country -- before the phrase was deemed too Anglocentric to be acceptable in the public prints? Now even the bust of Winston Churchill has been exiled from the White House.)

Unfortunately, Mr. Steyn has some statistics to back up the impression left by the headlines he chose. He notes that that the UK now has "the highest drug use in Europe, highest incidence of sexually transmitted disease, highest number of single mothers," and that "marriage is all but defunct, except for toffs, upscale gays, and Muslims." The whole country seems to have become downwardly mobile. Britain now has become an example to beware, not emulate.

If the news from Britain is a preview of the American future, it's time for an immediate U-turn. Before it's too late. For, despite the emphasis on political and economic issues in recent presidential campaigns ("It's the economy, stupid!"), it's the culture that counts.

A country can rebound from economic difficulties and even political demoralization -- see the New Deal, or the Reagan Years -- but how restore the social fabric, the very culture of a country, once it's been allowed to deteriorate? The collapse of educational standards may be only the most pervasive and influential symptom of what ails us.

How turn it all around? It can be done, but not easily. And the longer the challenge is ignored, the greater it grows. Until a tipping point is reached, and then it may be too late. Which is what's so worrisome about Great Britain, where more than the pound is being devalued. A whole, distinctive culture is being lost. And if England is lost, as every English speaker in the world must know in his heart, the world is.

It is such visions of the American future that may explain the rise of the latest political phenomenon on this side of the pond--the Tea Party, a variegated collection of Americans who have only this much in common: Like Howard Beale in Network, they're mad as hell and they're not going to take this anymore! They're opening the nearest window and shouting their rage. Yes, they're reactionaries -- but they have much to react against. What intelligent observer wouldn't?

No, the Tea Partiers may not know what to do about the problem, but at least they know we've got one. And they're not going to be all nice and quiet about it.



The old America may not be dead yet

In Search of Self-Governance is not the sort of book you would expect the head of a major polling firm to write. Scott Rasmussen, the president and founder of Rasmussen Reports, has written a slim volume that is admittedly "not filled with polling data," and that's putting it too mildly. The first percentage the reader comes across is half way through the book, where we learn that "only about 3% of Americans watch those Sunday morning shows."

Rasmussen has written a heart-felt pamphlet calling for a reordering of American politics, from bottom to top. The only special pleading he does on behalf of his day job is to assure us that that the "ideas and attitudes presented are shared by a solid majority of Americans." He takes up the popular complaint that our political system is "broken" and that political "dialogue" is really aimed at dividing and conquering the public. He says that "all" Americans (once you round up, I suppose) "believe we can do better."

According to Rasmussen, American politics is broken because politicians of both parties have lost sight of something important. After the last presidential election, he explains, Democrats argued over how far left they could govern the country. Republicans and some pundits tried to counter that they would fail because this is really a "center-right nation," and needs to be governed from that perspective. "Both perspectives are wrong," he avers. "The American people don't want to be governed from the left, the right, or the center. The American people want to govern themselves."

He invokes the Declaration of Independence and Alexis de Tocqueville, as all would-be civic reformers must. The French observer marveled at the ability of "Americans of all ages, conditions, and dispositions" in the 1830s to form seemingly spontaneous associations "of a thousand kinds" to deal with collective problems. Explains Rasmussen, "this American trait was radically different from the world [de Tocqueville] knew. In France or England, he observed, when something needed to be done, the government or a person of noble rank would be asked to do it."

But 1776 or the 1830s were a long time ago. Has that American instinct toward self government persisted? Rasmussen argues that it has. In this present century, Americans do not often dwell on "the virtues of self-governance. Instead, we live them. Our society and daily life is still based upon those concepts so eloquently articulated long ago." In his telling, Americans are not anarchists but they think that the government should form only a small part of our larger society. Americans would far prefer to govern ourselves, for the most part, through volunteerism and the normal back-and-forth of commerce.

Is he right about that? Is Rasmussen expressing his own preference or is he speaking up for "ideas and attitudes" that are "shared by a solid majority of Americans" in his call for a return to self-government from our current big government policies? One test case would be Social Security. Rasmussen writes that while the political class has so far "failed to come up with a solution" to the looming entitlement crisis, "the American people have been dealing with the reality before them for years rather than waiting for somebody else." They have set up 401(k) accounts, started second businesses as fall-back options, delayed retirement, and in hundreds of other ways factored in the real possibility that they won't be able to rely upon government largesse in the future.

These prudent actions now, Rasmussen hopes, "will make Social Security less essential in the future." Of course, this will come at a steep and unfair price. The current generation of younger workers "will be the sandwich generation and pay for two generations worth of retirement -- our own and our parents."

A huge problem that Rasmussen is up against in arguing for greater self-governance is that the political trends have been running the other way. President George W. Bush expanded Medicare and had his proposed free market Social Security reform was quashed by a Republican Congress. President Barack Obama rammed an expansion of government controlled healthcare through, over the tepid objections of moderates in his own party. Both men embraced bailouts and stimulus in what Rasmussen decries as "an unholy alliance" of big business and big government.

Rasmussen's only real hope, politically, is in the mother of all backlashes. He wants a temporary era of renewed civic participation in politics by people who usually hate politics. Though he doesn't call out the tea parties by name, it's reasonably clear that's what he has in mind. He cautions would-be reformers about the need to work with established pols to prune back the state. He even drags in the Star Wars trilogy to help make the pitch. Like Darth Vader, he argues, "Career politicians may have gone over to the dark side, but it's not too late for all of them."




The Greek bailout will be inflationary: "First, and most important, the European Central Bank is not buying bonds with real money, just the printed stuff that will filter throughout Europe and elsewhere and devalue the accounts of anyone who is holding Euros. Like the United States, Europe is broke, and will be even more so once this ‘bailout’ goes through. Second, for all of the talk of ‘rescuing’ Greece, Spain and Portugal, one asks: Rescued from what?”

Security cameras’ slippery slope: "Times Square has 82 police surveillance cameras, but when jihadist Faisal Shahazad tried to set off a car bomb there May 1, they were no help in catching him. (Though they did provide some lefty bloggers with a momentary thrill when a false lead led to speculation about ‘Tea Party terrorism.’) That failure hasn’t cooled public officials’ camera craze, however.”

Leave the gamblers alone!: "Some of us like to gamble. Americans bet a hundred million dollars every day, and that’s just at legal places like Las Vegas and Indian reservations. Much more is bet illegally. So authorities crack down. They raided a VFW branch that ran a poker game for charity. They ban lotteries, political futures markets and sports betting. They raid truck stops to confiscate video poker machines. Why?”


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)


It's All Part of the Plan

After reading Victor Davis Hanson’s piece “A Postmodern Presidency” last week, I was furious for two reasons. One, it was one of those columns that I wish I had written. Two, it made me realize exactly who Obama is and how we conservatives have been battling him on all the wrong fronts.

The heart of Hanson’s piece is this: Barack Obama is the first truly “postmodern” President. Having been raised and educated on the deconstructed principles of “relativism and the primacy of language over reality,” Obama is a walking, talking and bowing (more on this later) ambassador of postmodernism.

A brief primer on this “after modernity” ism, quoting Hanson:
“Genres, rules, and protocols in art, music, or in much of anything vanish as the unnecessary obstructions they are deemed to be — constructed by those with privilege to perpetuate their own entrenched received authority and power. . . .

“. . . What we signify and brand as ‘real,’ in essence, is no more valid than another’s “truth,” even if we retreat to specious claims of “evidence”— especially if our aim is to perpetuate the nation state, or the primacy of the white male capitalist Westerner who long ago manufactured norms in his own interests.”

In Hanson’s mind (and I completely agree), everything Obama has done – from “stimulus,” to healthcare reform, to alienating our “allies,” etc. – is for the purpose of removing the centuries-old hegemony enjoyed, namely, by white, Christian men. Postmodernism exhibits progressive liberal “victimhood” ideology in the sense that everything, literally, is a struggle between class, race and gender. Societal norms and “absolute truth” are outdated modes lacking contextualization. Obama believes all of this. And this is what “hope and change” has always been about.

We can’t expect to win the battle for the soul of our nation (and the stability of the entire world) by battling Obama the way we have. When we question Obama’s numbers on healthcare reform, when that lady at the town hall asked if it’s wise to up the tax burden, when we howl at his narcissism, when we call him naive, we’ve already lost.

To us, all evidence points to the fact that Obama is naive, that he really doesn’t understand how the world works. But as Hanson wrote, “[Obama] is offering us another — a postmodern — way of looking at the world.”

Obama’s remarks about “Greek exceptionalism” last spring make a little more sense now, don’t they?

He’s like the Joker in the Dark Knight. No matter how insane or random Obama’s policies look to us, they are, as the Joker would say, “all part of the plan.”

Hamstringing our nuclear capabilities? Can’t get more hegemonic than hoarding nuclear warheads. Peace through strength is so modernity.

Bowing to foreign heads of state? America has had more than its fair share of time in the limelight.

Redistribution of wealth? Your capitalistic wealth is homophobic, sexist and probably Islamophobic.

So we cry “Socialist!” And like the Joker when accused of being insane, Obama simply quips, “No, I’m not.”

Being a “socialist” isn’t deep enough, isn’t narrative-changing enough. Attacking health care, foreign policy, cap-and-trade or anything else is fine, but it doesn’t get at the embedded philosophy and life system. We have to realize we’re not even battling against Obama. We’re up against an entire zeitgeist, a paradoxical and chaotic worldview that needs to be dug up by the roots.

As Batman and Joker struggled physically and philosophically over Gotham, the Joker turned to his nemesis and said, “The only sensible way to live in this world is without rules.”

So it is with Obama. There are no rules – just language, that fluid gift of reality construction that eliminates all “traditional” obstacles and norms. It’s no surprise, then, that he loves to speechify, because in postmodernity, if you don’t have language, you don’t have anything.



The welfare state's death spiral now visible in Greece

By Robert J. Samuelson

What we're seeing in Greece is the death spiral of the welfare state. This isn't Greece's problem alone, and that's why its crisis has rattled global stock markets and threatens economic recovery. Virtually every advanced nation, including the United States, faces the same prospect. Aging populations have been promised huge health and retirement benefits, which countries haven't fully covered with taxes. The reckoning has arrived in Greece, but it awaits most wealthy societies.

Americans dislike the term "welfare state" and substitute the bland word "entitlements." Vocabulary doesn't alter the reality. Countries cannot overspend and overborrow forever. By delaying hard decisions about spending and taxes, governments maneuver themselves into a cul-de-sac. To be sure, Greece's plight is usually described as a European crisis -- especially for the euro, the common money used by 16 countries -- and this is true. But only to a point.

Euro coins and notes were introduced in 2002. The currency clearly hasn't lived up to its promises. It was supposed to lubricate faster economic growth by eliminating the cost and confusion of constantly converting between national currencies. More important, it would promote political unity. With a common currency, people would feel "European." Their identities as Germans, Italians and Spaniards would gradually blend into a continental identity.

None of this has happened. Economic growth in the countries using the currency averaged 2.1 percent annually from 1992 to 2001 and 1.7 percent from 2002 to 2008. Multiple currencies were never a big obstacle to growth; high taxes, pervasive regulations and generous subsidies were. As for political unity, the euro is now dividing Europeans. The Greeks are rioting. The countries making $145 billion in loans to Greece -- particularly Germany -- resent the costs of the rescue. A single currency could no more subsume national identities than drinking Coke could make people American. If other euro countries (Portugal, Spain, Italy) suffer Greece's fate -- lose market confidence and can't borrow at plausible rates -- there would be a wider crisis.

But the central cause is not the euro, even if it has meant Greece can't depreciate its own currency to ease the economic pain. Budget deficits and debt are the real problems; they stem from all the welfare benefits (unemployment insurance, old-age assistance, health insurance) provided by modern governments.

Countries everywhere already have high budget deficits, aggravated by the recession. Greece is exceptional only by degree. In 2009, its budget deficit was 13.6 percent of its gross domestic product (a measure of its economy); its debt, the accumulation of past deficits, was 115 percent of GDP. Spain's deficit was 11.2 percent of GDP, its debt 53.2 percent; Portugal's figures were 9.4 percent and 76.8 percent. Comparable figures for the United States -- calculated slightly differently -- were 9.9 percent and 53 percent.

There are no hard rules as to what's excessive, but financial markets -- the banks and investors that buy government bonds -- are obviously worried. Aging populations make the outlook worse. In Greece, the 65-and-over population is projected to go from 18 percent of the total in 2005 to 25 percent in 2030. For Spain, the increase is from 17 percent to 25 percent.

The welfare state's death spiral is this: Almost anything governments might do with their budgets threatens to make matters worse by slowing the economy or triggering a recession. By allowing deficits to balloon, they risk a financial crisis as investors one day -- no one knows when -- doubt governments' ability to service their debts and, as with Greece, refuse to lend except at exorbitant rates. Cutting welfare benefits or raising taxes all would, at least temporarily, weaken the economy. Perversely, that would make paying the remaining benefits harder.

Greece illustrates the bind. To gain loans from other European countries and the International Monetary Fund, it embraced budget austerity. Average pension benefits will be cut 11 percent; wages for government workers will be cut 14 percent; the basic rate for the value-added tax will rise from 21 percent to 23 percent. These measures will plunge Greece into a deep recession. In 2009, unemployment was about 9 percent; some economists expect it to peak near 19 percent.

If only a few countries faced these problems, the solution would be easy. Unlucky countries would trim budgets and resume growth by exporting to healthier nations. But developed countries represent about half the world economy; most have overcommitted welfare states. They might defuse the dangers by gradually trimming future benefits in a way that reassures financial markets. In practice, they haven't done that; indeed, President Obama's health program expands benefits. What happens if all these countries are thrust into Greece's situation? One answer -- another worldwide economic collapse -- explains why dawdling is so risky.



Kagan: A judge who despises the law?

Harvard Law School is a breeding ground for the sort of anti-rule-of-law, progressive-activist judges most feared and despised by those who bemoan a runaway court trampling over the democratic process.

Ms. Kagan seems to have been preparing for a modern-day nomination hearing since elementary school. She has spoken nothing of consequence or controversy during her career, was granted tenure over objections that she had not sufficiently published, and can take cover for objectionable stances as solicitor general by remarking that she merely advocated on behalf of the president. She has no paper trail, no legacy of judicial opinions and no record of note by which to form a precise opinion of her judicial temperament.

She is a "stealth" candidate - a nominee with so little evidence of character, one way or the other, as to prove unimpeachable.

Every crumb will thus be scrutinized for clues as to the "real" Elena Kagan. And the most scrumptious crumbs certainly will involve her "hostility" to the military while governing Harvard Law. Ms. Kagan was at the forefront of the crusade to banish military recruiters from universities as a protest of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. She frequently expressed her moral "abhorrence" of the "military's policy," refused to enforce a federal law requiring schools that receive federal grants to allow recruiters access to campus and eventually joined a legal brief to have the law overturned.

Never mind that "don't ask, don't tell" is a federal law (the military does not make laws) passed by the Clinton administration and a Democratic Congress (Ms. Kagan worked in the Clinton White House) and that Ms. Kagan continues to esteem highly many of the authors of that policy (reserving her "abhorrence" for young recruiters simply following orders). Rather, focus on her unlawful disobedience of a federal statute, her resort to the courts only as an afterthought and her ultimate decision to relent her tempest-in-a-teapot rebellion only when the Supreme Court (which she hopes to join) unanimously rejected her legal objection to the law in an 8-0 opinion.

Of course, at that time, she was a dean and not a judge. But she was the ultimate role model to her students, leading by example as the dean of a prestigious law school. Her blatant disregard for laws that she found personally displeasing and intellectual satisfaction with legal arguments dismissed by even the most sympathetic judges reflect poorly on the adequacy of her judicial temperament and capacity for unbiased rulings.



ACORN lobbying efforts continue in Washington, D.C., under Communities United name‏

For a supposedly dead organization, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now sure has been busy.

Despite ACORN’s reported demise, the radical group’s flagship Washington, D.C., office continues to go about its business below the radar as state chapters across the nation form breakaway groups.

On May 5 ACORN’s new D.C. spinoff group, Communities United, held a founding meeting in ACORN’s office on 8th Street Southeast in the nation’s capital. “Communities United is just ACORN’s way of thumbing their nose in the face of everyone,” sources close to ACORN say.

The D.C. office is important to ACORN because the embattled advocacy organization runs its congressional lobbying efforts out of it. The same office is also home to Project Vote, ACORN’s voter registration arm, which continues to operate. In the 1990s President Obama trained ACORN activists and worked for Project Vote....

Meanwhile, lobbyists for ACORN’s largest and best-funded affiliate, ACORN Housing, which recently changed its name to Affordable Housing Centers of America, disclosed in a lobbying reporting form that they have been lobbying a federal agency that is reportedly investigating ACORN Housing.

According to the form ACORN Housing paid the lobbying firm $40,000 in the first quarter of this year to lobby both houses of Congress, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and the Department of Justice (DOJ).

ACORN Housing is under investigation by HUD.

More here


The big picture: "In Britain, all eyes might be focused on election bargaining and in the US on issues such as Obamacare and the Value Added Tax, and of course we all have the financial sector and government borrowing problems to think about. But look more widely, and you see that the world is actually going in the right direction. Indeed, the Right direction. I’m not just referring to how India and China, by adopting market principles at long last, have managed to raise around 2 billion of the world’s population out of poverty in just the last fifteen years. I’m looking at the future too.”

Do-gooders object to genetic tests: "Coming soon to a drugstore near you, alongside the aspirin and greeting cards, will be the promise of answers to some of life’s most personal mysteries: Am I at risk for Alzheimer’s disease? Or breast cancer? Or obesity? Starting Friday, Walgreens will begin selling Insight personal genetic testing kits, becoming the first major retail chain in the U.S. to offer home tests that say they assess the risk of developing one of dozens of different health conditions. CVS plans to have it in stores by August. The product’s introduction raises immediate concerns among scientists, bio-ethicists and genetic counselors.”

Too many rules: "Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that the government will force one of my neighbors to demolish the top floor of his building: A Manhattan townhouse owner is being forced to do something few, if any, New York homeowners have ever done before: tear down a top-floor addition to a building to comply with city landmark regulations … We called the Landmark Commission to see if that was true. Spokeswoman Elizabeth de Bourbon said it was not. The Commission didn’t ‘order’ the owner to remove the floor. They just threatened a $5,000 dollar fine, plus up to $250 per day ($91,000/year) as long as the building remained in violation. What did the building owner do wrong? She got approvals to build from the NYC Buildings Department — but forgot to ask permission from the City Landmark Commission.”


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


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


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Obama: Stuck on Begrudge

Off the teleprompter for a few seconds while stumping for financial reform recently in Illinois, President Obama had this to say about money, incomes and success: "Now, what we're doing, I want to be clear, we're not trying to push financial reform because we begrudge success that's fairly earned. I mean, I do think at a certain point you've made enough money."

No begrudging of success? That's what the left does -- begrudge, envy and resent, robotically. That's what makes them leftists -- and bitter. Sufficiently empowered, they've been more than willing more than once to kill millions of their fellow citizens who refused to admit to the guilt of individualism and independence, refused to obediently transfer their assets to a regime of organized looters.

Why would Obama even have the words "begrudge success" right there in front of his mind, ready for a quick ad-lib, if the begrudging of achievement wasn't an integral part of his mindset, a key motivator in his desire to grab wallets and redistribute wealth and income.

Obama did add a qualifier. There's no begrudging of success if it's "fairly earned." And who decides what's fair? Steeler quarterback Ben Roethlisberger got a $25 million signing bonus while the median annual salary last year for physicians practicing family medicine in the U.S. was $160,000? So 156 family doctors worked all year and their combined paychecks were slightly lower than Ben's signing bonus. Is the White House okay with that?

Should the central committee of White House czars decide how much of Ben's $25 million was due to the lucky inheritance of a good throwing arm and how much was "fairly earned" due to hard work?

And what'll they do about Lady Gaga earning more than General Motors?

More troubling than the "fairly earned" dilemma is the bloated cockiness of the "I do think at a certain point you've made enough money" remark, especially coming from a president who is explicitly on record as being in favor of redistributing America's incomes in a downward direction.

It was in October 2008 that candidate Obama, in another unscripted moment away from a teleprompter, told Joe the Plumber why he wanted to raise taxes on upper income households: "My attitude is that if the economy's good for folks from the bottom up, it's gonna be good for everyone," explained Obama. "I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everyone."

So who decides when we've "made enough money"? Should we tell Julia Roberts not to make another movie, tell her she's "made enough"? And what about the stage hands and popcorn sellers who lose their jobs as a result?

Should the czars tell Tiger that he's way past that "certain point" when he's earned "enough," unless he wants to play for free or donate 100 percent of the winnings to the needs of the collective?

Should the government have told the owners of Pittsburgh-based 84 Lumber to stop at 83? At last count, the company had about 4,000 employees in 289 stores in 34 states. Some 200 stores ago, what if an overreaching government had decided that the owners of the lumber company already had "enough" cars, houses, jewelry and investments? What good would have come from putting a lid on the company's expansion, a lid on the owners' success, a lid on the hiring of thousands of new employees?

Rather than worrying about who has too much, President Obama should be thinking about what made the United States the most successful nation in human history, both in terms of economic prosperity and individual freedom. Hint: They're directly linked.

Instead of giving greater power to the central government, the power to decree, for instance, what we should drive, what we should eat, what we'll be permitted to hear and see, what income has been "fairly earned," and when at "a certain point" we've "made enough money," the founding philosophy of the United States called for a society based on an exactly opposite set of principles.

"Were we directed from Washington when to sow and when to reap, we should soon want bread," warned Thomas Jefferson. It's a lesson that was tragically learned firsthand by millions of starving farmers in both China and the Soviet Union.



Crony Capitalism Is NOT Capitalism

It’s all the current fashion to dump on “capitalism.” It was the greedy free market, supposedly, that created both the housing bubble and the housing bust and led, inevitably, to the “great recession.” Capitalism, according to most liberal pundits (and even Alan Greenspan in a bad mood), is an inherently risky and unstable system that requires government regulation to correct its flaws and moderate its excesses.

Let me dissent sharply from that conventional wisdom and argue that what talking heads are calling “capitalism” is actually “crony capitalism” and that it is crony capitalism that is responsible for most of our current economic difficulties.

A genuine capitalist economy assumes that each adult individual and business is free to buy and sell anything that they own and then keep the rewards (or suffer the losses) of enterprise. The only legitimate role for government (the political system) is to protect property rights, that is, to enforce contracts and prohibit theft and fraud.

So under capitalism, there would be no price controls on milk or mandates to purchase health insurance; BUT polluters who spill crude oil or corporate bandits like Bernie Madoff who commit blatant frauds would be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Crony capitalism, by contrast, assumes a far, far larger role for government in the economy. In this system, government employs various regulations, taxes, and subsidies to encourage or discourage specific economic activity that the political system considers desirable. For example, in crony capitalism, farm prices and outputs could be regulated; selected companies could get TARP money for commercial research projects; states could regulate liability and health insurance companies; and Freddy Mac and Fannie Mae could both exist to subsidize the real estate market.

And most importantly, in crony capitalism private firms that are considered “too big to fail” could be bailed out by government; and a central bank (the Federal Reserve) would exist to “print money” (unrelated to any gold reserve) and regulate the supply of credit in the economy.

It is hard to argue that the current economic malaise was in any way produced by anything resembling pure capitalism. But it is fairly easy to conclude that interventionism, i.e., private markets that were propped up with fraud and funny money was, in fact, the culprit.

First, the Federal Reserve kept interest rates too low for too long (2001–2006) and pumped excess money and credit into the economy. Second, numerous quasi-governmental agencies (Freddie and Fanny) encouraged excessive mortgage lending and home ownership out of all relationship to sound financial practices.

Third, much of the under-capitalized and over-leveraged banking industry collapsed when (federal) credit dried up and housing prices turned downward. And fourth, the federal government taxpayer and international lenders (mostly China) funded the trillion-dollar government “stimulus” plan and the bailout of inefficient business organizations (Chrysler, GM, AIG, etc.) that should have been allowed to go belly-up.

This is free market capitalism? Hardly.

Yet the political class, always absolving itself of all blame, would have you believe that capitalist greed caused the recession and that political regulators need more power. Not so. What we actually require are constraints on monetary growth, more competitive markets, balanced budgets and less output-restricting regulation. But first and foremost, before we spend and regulate further, we require an informed media and an enlightened public that can distinguish real capitalism from phony, crony capitalism.



BrookesNews Update

Is the US economy recovering or isn't it? : Obama's regulatory zeal will have the effect of making the US economy increasingly sclerotic, slowly squeezing out of it the entrepreneurial spirit that once made it the economic envy of the world. But one should think of Obama's regulatory straitjacket as the anvil and his spending and borrowing programs as the hammer with America as the work in progress according to Obama's dream of a New America, one that has been transformed by his socialist vision
Kevin Rudd and the mining industry's super profits myth: The tax on so-called super profits is first cousin to the rent resource tax and is equally fallacious. We have reached this sorry situation because the mining industry overlooked the fact that ideas — particularly bad ideas — really do matter. Judging by the comments from industry leaders they still haven't absorbed the lesson
The monetary system is beyond reform : The question of whether the global monetary system is beyond help is a vitally important one for economic progress and political stability
George Soros' currency dealings: No speculator, no matter how rich, ruthless or bold can break any sound currency. So how did Soros make a fortune from a sinking British pound. And what did German officials have to do with it?
Jimmy Stewart's Thunder Bay — Hollywood Prophecy : The greens and their media stooges are calling the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico a disaster. And it is — for the families of the 11 oil men who lost their lives. These are the forgotten people. What the media and the greens refuse to tell the public is that drilling in the Gulf has been an environmental bonanza for marine life
Illegal immigrants are useful tools Of the left : Illegal immigrants are now just pawns serving the far left, something that. Newspapers like the Los Angeles Times and wire services like the Associated Press and Reuters know but refuse to report. So who are the leftist groups organizing these rallies and why do they want open border? Because a country with open border will eventually cease to be a country
America's growing vulnerability to an economic catastrophe : If Obama refuses to change course the USA will face a debt-to-GDP ratio of 104 percent and an annual budget deficit of 9.7 percent of GDP by 2019. This nation will become the next Greece. The United States, unlike Greece, will not have the European Union or the IMF to turn to. Where, then, will the monies come from if the worst occurs?



An anti-military justice?: "For me, the key obstacle to Elena Kagan’s confirmation is pt. 5 in Ed Whelan’s NRO post, which is also the question raised by Peter Berkowitz in these pages several years ago and by Peter Beinart just recently: Her hostility to the U.S. military. Hostility? Isn’t that harsh? Kagan has professed at times her admiration for those who serve in the military, even as she tried to bar military recruiters from Harvard Law School. But how does one square her professed admiration with her actions — embracing an attempt to overturn the Solomon Amendment that was rejected 8-0 by the Supreme Court — and her words?”

A vote for Kagan is a vote for homosexual marriage: "A vote for Elena Kagan is a vote for ‘marriage equality,’ which features in two key cases that will shortly be before the Supreme Court: Perry v. Schwarzenegger, which arises out of California’s Prop 8 but will apply to all 50 states, since it seeks to establish a federal constitutional right to gay marriage; and Gill et al. v. Office of Personnel Management, which seeks ‘only’ to overturn the federal laws defining marriage as one man and one woman.”

Kagan’s inexperience is troubling: "Kagan is being characterized as a ‘brilliant’ legal scholar, but there is scant evidence for this claim. She certainly was a smart law student, graduating summa cum laude from Harvard Law School. But her legal scholarship since then is scant and undistinguished. It is also limited to two narrow topics — First Amendment law and administrative law, specifically presidential powers. Given the breadth of issues the Supreme Court considers — securities law, complicated constitutional law, environmental law, to name just a few — her narrow scholarly experience is troubling.”

Kagan a lightweight: "Observers say Kagan is meant to be an 'intellectual counterweight' to Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Scalia. Intellectual counterweight? She'd be better described as marginal and outside the mainstream. In the signature case she led as dean of Harvard's law school — preventing military recruiters on her campus — she not only lost, but she lost big. Not one justice took her side. Is Kagan truly the best candidate Obama could find, or the one most palatable to his far-left base?"

Kagan’s Pragmatism? No, Cheap Moral Posturing: "An article in today’s New York Times—“Potential Court Pick Faced Dilemma at Harvard”—tries to paint former Harvard law school dean Elena Kagan as a “pragmatist” for railing vehemently against the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law while being careful not to jeopardize the flow of hundreds of millions of dollars of federal funds to Harvard. I think that it’s far clearer that she was just engaging in cheap and contemptible moral posturing. If Kagan genuinely believed that the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law was “a profound wrong—a moral injustice of the first order,” why would she make herself complicit in implementing the grave evil? Yes, of course, it’s true, as the article points out, that “barring the recruiters would [have] come with a price.” But, as George Bernard Shaw would have said to Kagan for selling out her supposedly deeply held principles, “We’ve already established what you are, ma’am. Now we’re just haggling over the price.”



USA comes to the rescue of Europe again: "After months of quietly watching from the sidelines, the United States finally intervened in the European debt crisis on Sunday night. The Federal Reserve announced that it would open currency swap lines with the European Central Bank — in essence, printing dollars and exchanging them for euros to provide some liquidity for European money markets and banks. The Federal Open Market Committee, the Fed’s policy-making arm, approved the swap lines in a vote taken by videoconference on Sunday morning. The European Central Bank’s president, Jean-Claude Trichet, asked for the Fed’s help in a telephone call on Saturday with the Fed’s chairman, Ben S. Bernanke."

The choice haters’ error: "The plain fact of the matter is that most of us don’t go shopping expecting to peruse everything that’s on display from which we could make our selections. No. Even when one goes to a grocery store — one of these huge ones that used to amaze European, especially Eastern European visitors to North America — one usually knows the places where what one is after can be found. Yes, there are a lot of cereals available to choose from but people don’t explore all of them but a few — say, the several varieties of granola or oatmeal. Or one goes straight to the seafood or cheese sections. In other words, not everything is on display for everyone who enters. Thousands of people come to these markets and most of them know where their kind and range of merchandise is to be found. No psychological trauma will afflict them — as suggested by the choice-haters who write these books, aiming therewith to undermine the merits of the market place where all these things may be found — because of some kind of mental overload.”

A businessman defends free markets: "In this climate, most businessmen hide, or worse, embrace regulation that may give them an advantage over smaller competitors. It’s interesting that both Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan support more regulation. That’s why its refreshing to hear from Cliff Asness, who runs the AQR hedge fund, a rare businessman publicly making the case for freedom. In an open letter to Congress titled ‘Keep the Casinos Open,’ he argues against banning ‘derivatives’ and other financial assets. He points out that market activity is good for society, and that there should be a high burden of proof before government acts …”

Health bill floods business in paper: "The health care bill that the Democrats rammed through Congress at the end of March seems to be the gift that keeps on giving. Unfortunately, most of what it is giving is about as welcome as those little treats your cat drags in. Almost every day we discover some new little gem hidden in the 2,500-page, 400,000-word redesign of the American health care system. Regulations we hadn’t heard about, new costs, new taxes, new mandates; it’s a bad bill that just keeps getting worse.”

Regulations, regulations everywhere: "Federal regulations cover everything from the size of holes in Swiss cheese to the label text on over-the-counter flatulence medication. There are so many rules, it takes 157,000 pages to list them all. And they cost us $1.187 trillion, according to ‘Ten Thousand Commandments,’ a new study from the Competitive Enterprise Institute. That entire trillion-plus is off-budget, too. This year’s $3.8 trillion federal budget understates government’s true cost by nearly a third.”


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, May 10, 2010

Obama chooses Kagan for Supreme Court

She is predictably Leftist but her nomination would leave 3 Jews and 6 Catholics making the rules for a predominantly Protestant nation. How is that "fair"? Disproportionate representation like that is normally claimed by Leftists to signify "racism" and to be grounds for "affirmative action".

And how does an unmarried Jewish academic "give voice to average people" (as Obama claims it would)?

President Barack Obama will nominate Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, a person familiar with the president's thinking said, positioning the court to have three female justices for the first time.

The source spoke Sunday night on condition of anonymity because Obama's decision on who should replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens had not been made public. The president was expected to announce his choice at 10 a.m. local time Monday in the East Room of the White House.

Kagan must be confirmed by the Senate, which is dominated by Obama's Democrats. With 59 votes, they have more than enough to confirm her, but are one shy of being able to halt any Republican stalling effort.

Supreme Court confirmation hearings are often highly partisan exercises, and although Republicans have shown no signs in advance they would try to prevent a vote on Kagan, they are certain to grill her in confirmation hearings over her experience, her thin record of legal writings and her objections to the military's policy about gays.

At 50 years old, Kagan would be the youngest justice on the court, an important factor before Obama because her appointment is unlikely to immediately affect the court's balance of power. There was a conservative shift in the court's composition when President George W. Bush chose appeals court judge Samuel Alito to replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, a moderate whose vote often made the difference in ideologically charged cases.

A source close to the selection process said a central element in Obama's choice was Kagan's reputation for bringing together people of competing views and earning their respect.

Kagan came to the fore as a candidate who had worked closely with all three branches of government, a legal mind with both a sense of modesty and sense of humor. The source spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss factors that led to Kagan's impending nomination.

Yet Kagan would be the first justice without judicial experience in almost 40 years. All of the three other finalists she beat out for the job are federal appeals court judges, and all nine of the current justices served on the federal bench before being elevated.

This year, Obama particularly wanted someone who could provide leadership and help sway fellow justices toward a majority opinion. The president has grown vocal in his concern that the conservative-tilting court is giving too little voice to average people.

Kagan is known for having won over liberal and conservative faculty at the difficult-to-unite Harvard Law School, where she served as dean for nearly six years.

Kagan, who is unmarried, was born in New York City. She holds a bachelor's degree from Princeton, a master's degree from Oxford and a law degree from Harvard...

As the Harvard Law School dean, Kagan openly railed against the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy regarding gay service members. She called it discriminatory and barred military recruiters over the matter until the move threatened to cost the university federal money.

Kagan would be the fourth woman to serve on the Supreme Court, following current Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor and retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

She would be the third Jewish justice along with six Catholics. With Stevens' retirement, the court will have no Protestants, the most prevalent denomination in the U.S.



Report details depravity of SEALs' accuser

The just-concluded military trials of three exonerated Navy SEALs showed the terrorism suspect at the center of the case to be one of the most dangerous men in Iraq.

Ahmed Hashim Abed initially was described as the insurgent who planned the killings of four Blackwater security guards in Fallujah in 2004, with two of their charred bodies infamously hung from a bridge over the Euphrates River.

But the three SEALs who captured Abed — and were court-martialed afterward — nabbed a far more notorious figure, according to trial testimony and an intelligence report.

Abed is thought to have committed a series of killings, including beheadings, in western Anbar province as a leading al Qaeda operative. He remains in an Iraqi prison awaiting trial in that country's criminal court system.

The report also said he was responsible for recruiting insurgents, trafficking weapons and staging ambushes and attacks with improvised explosive devices.

Abed's status as a most-wanted killer is one reason many Americans rallied around the three SEALs, who were accused of hitting him after capture. They celebrated after the last defendant, Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew McCabe, was found not guilty Thursday of assaulting Abed by a seven-member military jury in Norfolk, Va.



Economic suicide by debt and taxes

"There he goes again, folks," Ronald Reagan might say, shaking his head ruefully, as Barack Obama goes charging off on that same spavined old big-spending government horse, riding straight into a box canyon where certain disaster awaits America.

The president's planned fiscal excesses beyond 2010 cannot plausibly be attributed to the recession, blamed on George W. Bush or justified by economic principles, Keynesian or otherwise. They are simply irresponsible to the point of willful endangerment. The public debt will be at least an astronomical 91 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020 - and the gross debt will be at least 123 percent of GDP (compared with 125 percent in Greece) and greatly in excess of the fatal "tipping point" identified by recent academic research.

Right now, about 42 cents out of every dollar being spent by President Obama is borrowed - mostly from foreigners - and if he continues to stoke the crisis, America's Triple A bond rating will be downgraded within a few years, the Treasury's borrowing costs will skyrocket, and Washington will try to inflate its way out of debt by printing lots of cheap new dollars, thereby destroying people's savings and impairing lives and livelihoods for generations to come. None of this is necessary; it's Mr. Obama's choice.



Barack Obama Chamberlain

In the words of Dr. Phil, “How's that working out for you?” Someone in President Obama's inner circle of advisors needs to ask the president that question and soon. In the wake of a new immigration policy debacle, and yet another homeland security collapse, how's that policy of appeasement of Islam working out for you? In Barack Obama, we are witnessing the second coming, not of Christ, but of Neville Chamberlain himself, the embodiment of appeasement.

In the 1930's, Neville Chamberlain earned great praise from his own party and from large numbers of the British people for his earnest willingness to avoid war by believing Adolf Hitler. Each time Hitler proclaimed like a child before a plate of Oreo cookies that one more piece of land would sate his appetite, Chamberlain accepted Hitler at his word and patted himself on the back for avoiding armed conflict. As Hitler moved in to seize Austria, Chamberlain, the Prime Minister of England, acquiesced. As Hitler set his sights on the Sudetenland, Chamberlain negotiated a worthless settlement that he presented as a basis for “peace in our time.”

Unfortunately, Chamberlain's appeasement policy left England weak and unprepared for war, thereby making Churchill's task of waging war against Hitler all the more difficult. Crafting foreign policy, combating tyranny, and staring down evil are not for the faint-hearted. Wishing away a problem rarely works; ask any addict. Relying solely on one's supernatural powers of persuasion usually leads to delusion, failure, or worse, collapse. In fact, this tall task of confronting evil requires a strategy of strength rather than a policy of appeasement. Regrettably, the latter seems to be the bailiwick of Mr. Obama.

We have now witnessed a supposed “re-booting of America's image” in the Muslim world as inaugurated by President Obama's much ballyhooed Cairo speech. He and the First Lady have treated us to Muslim celebrations and declarations in the White House for Ramadan. The president has hosted an “Entrepreneur Summit” for Muslim leaders. He has issued paeans on the inspiring splendors of Islam, “one of the world's great religions.” Mr. Obama has even gone to great lengths to praise an Islamic cartoonist for creating pretend superheroes skilled in the art of collaboration and peace, skills supposedly rooted in the Koran. Meanwhile, American cartoonists at South Park live in fear of actual violence and censorship as Comedy Central quivers at the mere threat of terrorist loons like and Faisal Shahzad. Perhaps Mr. Obama could help inspire cartoonists in his own country not to fear telling the truth about Islam rather than encouraging a Kuwaiti cartoonist.

Thus far, it looks very much like Barack Obama is channeling his inner Neville Chamberlain. Appease and wish the problem away. So far, not so good. In the past six months, to name just a few examples, America has experienced:

• A full-frontal terrorist assault on one of our own military bases by Major Nidal Hasan. This attack occurred in spite of the numerous red flags over the past decade as Mr. Hasan made his way through American government-provided education and military training.

• A near disastrous airline terror attack by Umar the Underwear Bomber on Christmas as his plane prepared to land in Detroit. The savior from that attack was a Dutchman who dove across the aisle of the plane to smother Umar and his flaming underwear. Never mind that Umar had purchased a one-way ticket with cash, carried no luggage, and had spent time in terrorist training. Secretary Napolitano's team somehow had allowed him on a plane and never given it a second thought.

• The planting of a car bomb in Times Square by a man who had been on our watch list for ten years, had received citizenship from our immigration bureaucracy, had recently spent five months in Pakistan, and had trained with terrorist groups. Somehow, Napolitano's excellent leadership allowed the team at JFK airport to screen thousands of passengers on a day while failing to detain Faisal Shahzad, a wanted terrorist who walked right through security and onto a plane to head home to the Middle East.

So what Mr. Obama and his team bring to national security and the struggle against Islamic terror is a combination that spells danger. First, an executive leader who naively thinks the problem of terror can be wished away by summits and speeches. Second, a government bureaucracy that is always modifying its policies AFTER each security failure. A deadly cocktail.

What an odd nation we are as we pursue our mindless quest for PCness when what we need is an education and a dose of critical thinking. We can thank God that the Islamists thus far have sent Barney Fife and Gomer Pyle to attack us. Ineptitude has been our primary savior: bombers who do not know what they are doing – only matched by our own ineptitude at naming the problem (radical Islam's inability to adapt to Western mores) and dealing with it (with real immigration policies and strong security strategies).




As long term readers of this blog will know, I did for a while run a recipe blog to share all my favourite recipes with anybody who cared to try them. I very rarely update it now but a family member has now started a fairly regular recipe blog which you can find here. She even has up a recipe for egg-rolled pork, an obscure Korean dish that has been one of my great favourites for many years. No matter how much of it you make, there is never any left over. People just keep eating it until it is all gone. Try it if you don't believe me.

Unemployment still hovering around 10%: "U.S. employers added an unexpectedly large 290,000 jobs in April, the Labor Department said Friday, the strongest hiring burst in four years and a signal that companies are becoming more confident that the economy will continue to strengthen. The government also reported an uptick in the unemployment rate, to 9.9 percent from 9.7 percent. That surprised many analysts, but they for the most part didn’t view the increase as a sign of worsening conditions. Rather, they said it was because many more out-of-work people, seeing better employment prospects, are rejoining the labor market in search of jobs.”

My pitch for some solid selfishness: "Hardly anyone will dispute that most folks who chime in about ethics consider selfishness wrong. There have been exceptions in history and some of the most prominent ethical philosophers, such as Socrates and Aristotle, can even be said to have been ethical egoists or at least ones who championed the moral virtue of prudence as a vital one for living a good human life. But after some significant changes in how human nature began to be understood, being selfish or self-interested — or even prudent — started to be scoffed at, treated as a moral liability, not worthy of praise but of blame. Of course, even after this, using one’s common sense showed that being selfish is what most of us are, normally, routinely, and quite benignly.”

Obama to emulate Britain's despised NICE: “With health costs spiraling, one of the core ideas of the White House’s health takeover is the creation of an independent body of experts to steer clinical decisions. IPAB, the Independent Payments Advisory Board, is founded on the belief that Washington bureaucrats can help manage health care decisions, adjusting Medicare payments to reward excellence and punish waste. The idea doesn’t sound unreasonable. As the president has noted, there often is a red pill and a blue pill, with the red one costing twice as much, yet no more effective. If the logic is seductive, it’s easy to understand why Britain’s prime minister embraced the idea in 1999. Faced with rapid inflation in the socialized National Health Service, Tony Blair created NICE, the National Institute of Clinical Excellence.”


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)