Saturday, May 29, 2010

Hot air about Israel

Once again Obama proves that he can talk the talk. We now know however that he often does not walk the walk. While the event below was full of nice symbolism and vague rhetoric, where is the mention of Iran and the nuclear threat overhanging Israel?

The athletes, the astronauts, the alternative music, the black rabbi, the white dress uniforms and, above all, the left-handed baseball giant: Welcome to Barack Obama's Jewish America.

The first-ever Jewish America Heritage Month celebration at the White House on Thursday underscored the Obama administration's determination not to be locked into Washington's conventional notions of Jewish leadership.

President Obama did not exactly snub the usual suspects who have peopled similar events for decades. There was Lee Rosenberg, the president of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and there was Alan Solow, the chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Both also happen to have been major fund-raisers for Obama's campaign, as were several others among the 250 or so in attendance.

But the image that the White House sought to convey was one of Jewish America not necessarily bound to the alphabet soup of the Jewish organizational world and of pro-Israelism. Instead, Obama presented an array of Jewish heroes and celebrities who pronouncedly defied Jewish stereotypes. In addition to the major givers, the entrepreneurs and the communal leaders, there were also sports heroes -- including Sandy Koufax -- veterans, non-profit innovators, journalists, actors and organizers.

The reception was in the works for months, and planning predated the tensions between Israel and the United States precipitated in early March when Israel announced a major housing start in eastern Jerusalem during an official visit there by Vice President Joe Biden, who also was at Thursday's reception.

Still, the White House's message was timely: Obama would not be second-guessed by his pro-Israel critics on his friendship to the Jewish community and to Israel. The reception included a traditional reference to the "unbreakable" Israel-U.S. alliance dating back to within minutes of Israel's establishment.

Obama also made it clear, however, that he sees the alliance as part of a America's strategy of outreach to the world.

"My administration is renewing American leadership around the world -- strengthening old alliances and forging new ones, defending universal values while ensuring that we uphold our values here at home," he said. "In fact, it's our common values that leads us to stand with allies and friends, including the State of Israel."

The dual message -- closeness to Israel coupled with global outreach -- has characterized the recent "charm offensive" launched by the White House in the wake of the recent tensions with Israel. Obama is hosting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu next Tuesday, and the signs are that it will be a higher-profile reception than the thief-in-the-night encounter the two had when tensions were at their highest in March.



Fascist economics still alive and well

What is called "state capitalism" below is just Fascism reinvented

It's quite likely that the financial crisis that began in 2007 and is, just now, threatening to unravel the European Union represents the final period in a two decade era of the West's "end of history" hubris. While the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have sullied the aura of Western military power, the financial crisis has surely cracked the other pillar of Western dominance, free market capitalism.

There is, in no other words, no better time for a challenger to rear its head and take on the "Washington consensus" that free markets and free politics are the true engines of growth, power and prosperity. And such a challenger has arisen in the form of what Ian Bremmer, in his engaging new book The End of the Free Market, dubs "state capitalism."

State capitalism, Bremmer writes, "is a system in which the state dominates markets primarily for political gain." From state-owned corporations operating in strategic industries like natural resources or defense, to enormous sovereign wealth funds in the hands of autocrats with opaque operating principles, state capitalism has enabled the world's autocratic states to reap the benefits of capitalist enterprise while maintaining a vice-grip on political freedom.

In Bremmer's telling, the world's autocratic states learned a valuable lesson from the implosion of the Soviet Union: command economies do not work and when they fail, they can bring down the over-arching political system with them. They also watched the post Soviet experiment in crash liberalization with horror. To protect their hides and preserve their privilege, autocratic rulers in China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere have created a "hybrid" system that leverages many of the tools of capitalism to generate wealth while the heavy hand of the state ensures that wealth is put to the service of the elites and rulers of each country.

Most of Bremmer's slim, accessible volume (just 200 pages, excluding end notes) is devoted to a tour of the world's dominant and emerging state capitalist systems in places such as Malaysia, Brazil, and the United Arab Emirates. Bremmer's picture of global state capitalism is nuanced - he acknowledges that even free market democracies interfere in markets for political purposes, as is the case with Europe and America's generous farm subsidies and tariffs. The signature difference is the degree and scope of state interference and the lack of democratic transparency in the countries that practice state capitalism.

According to Bremmer, this hybrid model has serious repercussions for the U.S. and other capitalist democracies. Since economic competition is global, companies with state ownership or state influence can distort markets and harm consumers. They can, for example, pay above market prices for natural resource contracts to lock up long term supplies. They can trade freely with the world's pariah states, offsetting the impact of sanctions. More than that, as China emerges from the world's worst recession with 10 percent GDP growth, these state capitalist systems can lure "fence sitting" states like Brazil and India to their brand of government, further tilting the global economic playing field. Goodbye Washington consensus, hello Beijing consensus.

Only not quite.

Despite the dramatic (indeed, misleading) title of the book, there's no indication that we've reached the end of the free market. In fact, Bremmer says so explicitly in his conclusion. Unlike competitors of yore, state capitalism is less an ideology than a methodology. What unites the state capitalist systems of the world is how parochial they are: the leaders are too focused on defending their own skins to worry about world domination or exporting a revolution. What's more, as Bremmer writes, none of the practioners of state capitalism believe in mercantilism - the notion that there is a finite allotment of wealth and that the only way to grow share is to take share from others. So while their state champions and sovereign wealth funds can distort global markets, the world can escape the beggar-thy-neighbor cycle of economic destruction that marked the Great Depression.

Indeed, it's clear from the book and from Bremmer's confidence in free market capitalism, that state capitalist systems contain the seeds of their own destruction. As Bremmer demonstrates, the primary goal of capitalist activity under a state capitalist system is to defend the political interests of the state. But those interests often align quite closely with the material prosperity of the state's own citizens. China wants to maintain its torrid growth rates not so its president can lounge around in opulence, but to provide the millions of jobs it needs to stave off social unrest. The implicit social contract of state capitalism - you can earn a good living if you don't care about political freedom - acknowledges the urgent need to provide improved standards of living to its citizens.

That's a difficult straddle. China has managed it for thirty years and may be able to for thirty more, but the inherent inefficiencies and corruption of state capitalism don't augur well for its future.

That's not to argue for complacency. While he mercifully avoids the doom-mongering that often attends discussion of the rise of China or the re-emergence of Russia, Bremmer does make some brief and modest suggestions for U.S. policy in the face of state capitalist competition. Stay verbally committed to free market capitalism, expand free trade agreements, particularly with countries that practice state capitalism, sustain a military lead over potential competitors like Russia and China, and selectively assert American rights and interests with unfair competitors like China. In short: stay calm, and stay true to the principles that made the "Washington consensus" so attractive in the first place.



Harvard study finds increased gov’t spending results in unemployment

Don’t color Veronique de Rugy shocked, shocked to find that government spending crowds out private investment, but the results of the new study by Harvard Business School will certainly shock some Keynesian academics — and high-ranking government officials. Instead of providing a stimulating effect to the economy, government spending creates pressures on private industry to reduce staff and investment. The study’s authors count themselves as among the shocked:
Recent research at Harvard Business School began with the premise that as a state’s congressional delegation grew in stature and power in Washington, D.C., local businesses would benefit from the increased federal spending sure to come their way.

It turned out quite the opposite. In fact, professors Lauren Cohen, Joshua Coval, and Christopher Malloy discovered to their surprise that companies experienced lower sales and retrenched by cutting payroll, R&D, and other expenses. Indeed, in the years that followed a congressman’s ascendancy to the chairmanship of a powerful committee, the average firm in his state cut back capital expenditures by roughly 15 percent, according to their working paper, “Do Powerful Politicians Cause Corporate Downsizing?”

“It was an enormous surprise, at least to us, to learn that the average firm in the chairman’s state did not benefit at all from the unanticipated increase in spending,” Coval reports.

This surprising result does not come from a misapprehension about pork and its relation to the chairmanships of the committees. Indeed, the study shows that pork dollars flow in mighty streams from those chairs to home districts and states. It’s not just earmarks, either, but also legislative expenditures that increase:
The average state experiences a 40 to 50 percent increase in earmark spending if its senator becomes chair of one of the top-three congressional committees. In the House, the average is around 20 percent.

For broader measures of spending, such as discretionary state-level federal transfers, the increase from being represented by a powerful senator is around 10 percent.

And yet:
In the year that follows a congressman’s ascendancy, the average firm in his state cuts back capital expenditures by roughly 15 percent.

There is some evidence that firms scale back their employment and experience a decline in sales growth.

If this seems counterintuitive, it might be from marinating too long in Beltway conventional wisdom. When private entities (citizens or businesses) retain capital, it gets used in a more rational manner, mainly because the entity has competitive incentives to use capital wisely and efficiently. The private entity also has his own interests in mind, and can act quickly to use the capital to its best application. Private entities innovate and look to create and expand markets, creating more growth.

In comparison, government moves much slower with capital. It generally works to its own benefit and not that of private entities. Lacking competition, there is no incentive for efficiency. Most importantly, it rarely creates new markets or growth but instead creates a spoils system that ends up reorganizing the status quo to favor some and disfavor others.

All of that is certainly true in the long-term sense. It now appears true in the short-term sense as well, despite the immediate application of government funds to specific areas. If this study is true, it calls into question the entire concept of Keynesian stimulus, and it shows that the Obama administration has gone in an entirely wrong direction both in concept and in practical terms in attempting to create economic growth. The best way to achieve growth appears to be to eliminate government interventions and to keep capital in the hands of the private sector. And that’s no shock at all to anyone who pays attention to economics.




Two structural reasons why government fails: "The bottom line is that socialist planners attempting to abolish markets, but interested in efficiency, would have no way of knowing what people value, so they would be unable to determine what outputs to make from a given set of inputs or which inputs to use to make any particular output. They would not be ‘planning;’ they would be stumbling around in the dark and the result would be economic chaos and poverty. This critique holds not just for attempts to substitute planning for markets completely, but also for any government attempts to intervene in specific markets.”

Government: No costs, all benefits: "Government has no costs — only benefits — according to several professors in economics at the University of Missouri–Kansas City, which is well known for its heterodox (i.e., usually very anti-market) economics department, writing at The Huffington Post about deficit ‘myths.’ I hesitate to actually use the label ‘economist’ to describe any of these people, because they do not seem to accept the very basic economic concept of opportunity cost — at least not when it comes to government spending.”

Bursting the myths of the Great Depression: "Review of The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Great Depression and the New Deal by Robert P. Murphy: “Government of all kind depends on elaborate mythologies to keep the people complacent in the face of constant attacks on their liberty, their property, and even their lives. Kings used to proclaim that they were divine or at least that they ruled with divine approval, so disobedience to them was actually disobedience to God or the gods. That worked to keep most of the citizenry in line for a very long time. As religion started losing its hold over people, rulers came up with new ideas. One was that the state was like a big, sheltering family where everyone had to cooperate for the common good — as directed by the government. Another idea was that the alternative to control by the government, anarchy, was so terrifying that it must be opposed at every turn.”

Obama admin. down in Zogby poll: "Positive opinion about the federal government's handling of a British Petroleum (BP) Gulf of Mexico oil spill is down 13 points from two weeks ago, dropping from 29% to 16%, a new Zogby Interactive survey finds. Currently, 16% rate the federal government's response to the spill as excellent or good. The same question in a May 7-10 Zogby Interactive survey found a total of 29% giving a positive rating. Opinion of British Petroleum's handling of the spill is also down from the previous poll, going from positive ratings of 25% then to just 15% now."


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)


Whose Blowout Is It, Anyway?

by Charles Krauthammer

Heres my question: Why are we drilling in 5,000 feet of water in the first place?

Many reasons, but this one goes unmentioned: Environmental chic has driven us out there. As production from the shallower Gulf of Mexico wells declines, we go deep (1,000 feet and more) and ultra deep (5,000 feet and more), in part because environmentalists have succeeded in rendering the Pacific and nearly all the Atlantic coast off-limits to oil production. (President Obama's tentative, selective opening of some Atlantic and offshore Alaska sites is now dead.) And of course, in the safest of all places, on land, weve had a 30-year ban on drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

So we go deep, ultra deep -- to such a technological frontier that no precedent exists for the April 20 blowout in the Gulf of Mexico.

There will always be catastrophic oil spills. You make them as rare as humanly possible, but where would you rather have one: in the Gulf of Mexico, upon which thousands depend for their livelihood, or in the Arctic, where there are practically no people? All spills seriously damage wildlife. Thats a given. But why have we pushed the drilling from the barren to the populated, from the remote wilderness to a center of fishing, shipping, tourism and recreation?

Not that the environmentalists are the only ones to blame. Not by far. But it is odd that theyve escaped any mention at all.

The other culprits are pretty obvious. It starts with BP, which seems not only to have had an amazing string of perfect-storm engineering lapses but no contingencies to deal with a catastrophic system failure.

However, the railing against BP for its performance since the accident is harder to understand. I attribute no virtue to BP, just self-interest. What possible interest can it have to do anything but cap the well as quickly as possible? Every day that oil is spilled means millions more in losses, cleanup and restitution.

Federal officials who rage against BP would like to deflect attention from their own role in this disaster. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, whose departments laxity in environmental permitting and safety oversight renders it among the many bearing responsibility, expresses outrage at BPs inability to stop the leak, and even threatens to "push them out of the way."

"To replace them with what? asked the estimable, admirably candid Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the national incident commander. No one has the assets and expertise of BP. The federal government can fight wars, conduct a census and hand out billions in earmarks, but it has not a clue how to cap a one-mile-deep out-of-control oil well.

Obama didn't help much with his finger-pointing Rose Garden speech in which he denounced finger-pointing, then proceeded to blame everyone but himself. Even the grace note of admitting some federal responsibility turned sour when he reflexively added that these problems have been going on for a decade or more -- translation: Bush did it -- while, in contrast, his own interior secretary had worked diligently to solve the problem from the day he took office.

Really? Why hadn't we heard a thing about this? What about the September 2009 letter from Obama's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration accusing Interior's Minerals Management Service of understating the "risk and impacts" of a major oil spill? When you get a blowout 15 months into your administration, and your own Interior Department had given BP a "categorical" environmental exemption in April 2009, the buck stops.

In the end, speeches will make no difference. If BP can cap the well in time to prevent an absolute calamity in the Gulf, the president will escape politically. If it doesn't -- if the gusher isn't stopped before the relief wells are completed in August -- it will become Obama's Katrina.

That will be unfair, because Obama is no more responsible for the damage caused by this than Bush was for the damage caused by Katrina. But that's the nature of American politics and its presidential cult of personality: We expect our presidents to play Superman. Helplessness, however undeniable, is no defense.

Moreover, Obama has never been overly modest about his own powers. Two years ago next week, he declared that history will mark his ascent to the presidency as the moment when "our planet began to heal" and "the rise of the oceans began to slow."

Well, when you anoint yourself King Canute, you mustnt be surprised when your subjects expect you to command the tides.



Death of the Postmodernist Dream

As crises mount abroad and voters’ anger grows at home, Obama’s dream of a new world order has died a quiet death. In just a few months the brave new dream world as we knew it has died — but with a whimper, not a bang.

There will be no more lectures on soft power and a Baltic-to-Mediterranean postmodern culture. Suddenly European Union expansion is dead in its tracks. The question of Turkish membership, after a decade-long controversy, has been settled without so much as a demonstration. The Europeans don’t want another Greece in their midst; the Turks don’t want German bankers running their sagging finances. A soaring Euro was supposed to reflect the sobriety of socialism; instead, it hid its profligacy, but only for a while.

So the welfare state is discredited. In the past, we used to be warned that static population growth, vast public-sector employment, early and generous retirement benefits, and high taxes were not sustainable. In recent years, those lectures were caricatured as partisan or hypothetical. No longer. The Greek meltdown — with Ireland, Italy, Portugal, and Spain on the brink — has shown that European socialism does not work. Bankruptcy, not politics, is the final arbiter: Individuals, firms, and nations either buy particular bonds or they don’t. And a nation like Greece, in turn, either pays what it has borrowed or it doesn’t. All the op-eds in the New York Times cannot change that fact.

Al Gore will continue to channel from his Montecito hilltop the latest green consensus of the international academic community. But fairly or not, neither he nor it will be listened to all that much: He has made one too many millions off his hysteria, and professors have fudged one too many publicly funded studies. The result is that almost at once both have lost the people’s trust. A volcano, not hot weather, shut down European air travel. The Sierra Nevada is still buried under snow in late May. At least this year, a wet, cold state of California is not going to blow away, as Energy Secretary Chu warned not long ago.

It is fine and good to invest in wind and solar power, and other alternative energy sources — if for no other reason than to drain the swamp of the oil-rich Middle East — but soon Americans will be paying a fortune for gasoline and electrical power. As gas hits $4 a gallon, they will want more oil drilling, more coal mining, and more nuclear, hydro, and natural-gas energy, not less. Green mongering is not what it was just a few months ago.

Then there is Arizona. Over 70 percent of the American people support the state’s efforts to stop illegal immigration, which amount to nothing more than enforcing currently unenforced federal laws. The hackneyed charges of racism and nativism are ignored. The Left can cite California’s Proposition 187 and warn the Republicans that they will lose the Hispanic vote, but 70 percent margins reflect angry citizens of all races and ethnicities, who are tired of seeing laws ignored, their state governments bankrupted, and Mexican presidents shaking fingers at them.

That Mexico treats illegal aliens far less humanely than does the United States, and that it deliberately encourages its own citizens to break U.S. immigration law (to the extent of publishing a comic book advising on how to illegally cross the border) reminds us that Barack Obama knows as little about Mexico as he does about Arizona’s law when he talks of an age to come without borders.

I do not think the word “reset” will be used much longer to characterize American foreign policy. Reset from what to what? After all, is Iran closer to getting a bomb or further away than it was a year and a half ago? Are terrorists more or less likely to attack and kill inside the United States? Is Syria now a more or a less helpful player in the Middle East? Is Israel safer or less safe, more or less a U.S. ally? Are Putin and Ch√°vez now more helpful players on the world scene, in appreciation of Obama’s olive branches? Does a North Korea or an Iran feel more or less emboldened to run risks in testing the status quo? Is China more or less provocative in the Pacific?

The more provocation is ignored in one region, the more it is pursued in the other. The new audacity is predicated on the universal notion that the new United States either cannot or will not fulfill its retrograde function of deterrence — or might even privately sympathize with the assorted grievances that serve as pretexts for ignoring the sanctity of the border, selling missiles to terrorists, pursuing the bomb, or aiding in uranium enrichment.

The new world order as envisioned by Obama in January 2009 was, I think, supposed to look something like the following: A social-democratic America would come to emulate the successful welfare states in the European Union. These twin Western communitarian powers would together usher in a new world order in which no one nation was to be seen as preeminent. All the old nasty ideas of the 20th century — military alliances, sovereign borders, independent international finance, nuclear arms, religious and cultural chauvinism — would fall by the wayside, as the West was reinvented as part of the solution rather the problem it had been in its days of colonialism, imperialism, and exploitation. A new green transnationalism would assume the place of that bad old order, a transnationalism run by elite, highly educated, and socially conscious technocrats — albeit themselves Western — supported by a progressive press more interested in effecting social change than in merely reporting the tawdry news.

Obama can still push that story, but more and more Americans disagree with his 21st-century vision. Stuck in the past, they instead believe that capitalism, not socialism, brings prosperity; that to reach a green future we need to survive for now in a carbon and nuclear present; that all, not some, laws must be enforced; that our country is different from others and needs to maintain the integrity of its borders; and that there are always going to be a few bad actors abroad who must be deterred rather than appeased.

We will hear all sorts of angry charges as these dreams die, but that will not mean they are not dead — even if we are lucky and they go out with a whimper rather than a bang.




The European financial crisis very cogently explained here by two Australian comedians. The best comedy has a lot of truth in it

A nice story here about not underestimating people, particularly deaf and doddery old guys.

No End To Freddie And Fannie Red Ink: "Taxpayers will continue to shoulder losses by mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae (FNM) and Freddie Mac, (FRE) their regulator told a House panel Wednesday. Democratic lawmakers continued to show no interest in taking up their reform. The testimony by Edward DeMarco, acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, elaborated on an FHFA report to Congress released late Tuesday. It stated that Fannie and Freddie would be "unable to serve the mortgage market in the absence of the ongoing financial support."

Line item veto: "President Obama wants Congress to give him the line-item veto — that is, the power to veto specific parts of Congressional bills, rather than the whole thing. That way, supposedly, the president can just cut out the waste. … On its face, it seems like a good idea. It may cut down on useless pork like bridges to nowhere. But the suggestion that it will help control spending is laughable. … It would be nice to eliminate pork, but it’s chump change compared to the big picture. Even now, Congress and the president are pushing for $200 Billion in new spending.”

Leaked: Admin plan would lock up 13 million acres: "A leaked partial document produced by the Bureau of Land Management and obtained by Fox News suggests the Obama administration is considering a plan to lock up 13 million acres of land — and the Department of Interior is refusing to answer questions. First, a little background: The federal government owns about one-third of the land in the United States — most of it in western states. For example, 84 percent of Nevada is owned by Uncle Sam. But the government leases large parcels of federal land for all sorts of things — grazing, mining, exploration, recreation. Those commercial activities create jobs and tax revenue for the states. Tax revenues from commercial activity on federal lands often pays for local schools. However, with the single stroke of his pen, President Obama can use the Antiquities of Act of 1906 to turn federal land into National Monuments.”

“Death panels” were an overblown claim — until now: "During the debate over ObamaCare, the bill’s opponents were excoriated for talk of rationing and ‘death panels.’ And in fairness, with a few minor exceptions governing Medicare reimbursements, the law does not directly ration care or allow the government to dictate how doctors practice medicine. But if President Obama wanted to keep a lid on that particular controversy, he just selected about the worst possible nominee for director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the office that oversees government health care programs. Obama’s pick, Dr. Donald Berwick, is an outspoken admirer of the British National Health Service and its rationing arm, the National Institute for Clinical Effectiveness (NICE).”


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 27, 2010

More on the pontificate of Pius XII

The Cardinal in charge of Christian unity at the Vatican has promised that the Vatican archives for the entire period of the Second World War, when the Church has been accused of failing to do enough to help the Jewish people, will be opened soon for scholarly research...

Addressing one of the most sensitive and difficult aspects of Jewish-Christian relations, the papacy of Pius XII, described as "Hitler's Pope" by the influential British author and academic John Cornwell, Cardinal Kasper promised that the full archives for the period covered by the Second World War would soon be opened to schoars at the Holy See in Rome. "We have nothing to hide," he said. "We do not need to fear the truth."

Describing the state-sponsored organised murder of six million European Jews as "the absolute low point" in the history of anti-Semitism he nevertheless said that the Holocaust could not be attributed to Christianity as such, since it also had clear anti-Christian features...

Defending the record of Pius XII, a candidate for canonisation who was Pope from 1938 to 1958, while Rome was under the heel of Mussolini and later occupied by Germany, he said that the contemporary assessment of his Pontificate was rather positive.

"The New York Times, which is not known as a Church–oriented newspaper, had already in 1941 published an editorial where it spoke of the Pope as the only voice in the silence and in the dark with the courage to raise his voice," the Cardinal said. "After the deportation of more than 1,000 Jews from Rome — only 15 survived — in October 1943 he ordered a general Church asylum in all convents and ecclesiastical houses, including the Vatican and Castel Gandolfo. According to authoritative estimates, about 4,500 Jews were hidden." ...

He promised that the archives for Pius XII's papacy would be online within six years. Since 2003 access has been available up until the end of the Pontificate of Pius XI in 1939, a period in which the future Pius XII was Secretary of State.

"The material which is already accessible now proves that Pius XII was at no time Hitler’s Pope. On the contrary, he was the closest co-operator of Pope Pius XI in the publication of the encyclical Mit brennender Sorge (With burning anxiety, 1937), which was a fervent condemnation of Nazi race ideology...

The Cardinal said: "Pius XII was not a man of prophetic gestures; he was a diplomat and decided not to be silent but to be moderated in his public statements because he knew that stronger words would improve absolutely nothing; on the contrary, they would provoke brutal revenge and worsen the situation. Therefore he decided not so much to act through words but to help practically as much he could. In this way alone in Rome he saved thousands of Jewish lives."



Obama's cunning new plan to cut Medicare fraud

One of the reasons ObamaCare received a 10-year “deficit-neutral” rating from the Congressional Budget Office was because it promised to cut waste, fraud, and abuse from Medicare on average by about $50 billion a year, or $500 billion over ten years. That’s an amazing claim, because as noted by a 60 Minutes segment that aired last year, Medicare fraud is estimated to total about $60 billion a year....

So, with the solvency of the Treasury on the line, Obama must have a really good plan to eliminate nearly all Medicare fraud, right? Well, a recent flier sent to Medicare recipients by the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) revealed yesterday by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell promises that “The new law contains important new tools to help crack down on criminals seeking to scam seniors and steal taxpayer dollars.”

Like what? Seniors are alerted that “You are an important resource in the fight against fraud. Be vigilant and rely only on your trusted sources of information about your Medicare benefits… Call 1-800-MEDICARE if you… want to report something that seems like fraud.”

That’s the big plan. Grandma and Grandpa will succeed where the CMS and Justice Department have failed to bring down a $60 billion-a-year criminal syndicate (as pervasive as the U.S. narcotics trade) leeching off of American taxpayers — and those savings are just a phone call away. All they have to do is dial 1-800-MEDICARE.

Don’t believe that this is the government’s basic plan to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse? CMS does. On, the official site of Medicare, it states, “You, as the Medicare beneficiary, are the most important link in finding Medicare fraud. You know better than anyone what healthcare services you have received. Review your Medicare Summary Notice when you receive it, and make sure you understand all of the items listed.”

One hopes that those summary notices are written in really big letters — and in terms somebody besides a doctor might understand. Even if they were, depending on 65- to 90-year-olds to spot overcharging or outright fraud after Medicare benefits have already paid out appears in the least to be a very flimsy approach to saving $50 billion a year.

More here



By Frances Rice

Regardless of the issue - from immigration to ObamaCare - Democrats, with the complicity of the liberal media, demonize as racist average Americans who oppose their socialist agenda and are unhappy about how President Barack Obama and the Democrats in control of Congress are ruining our economy with massive deficit spending.

Incredibly, Democrats even stoop to condemning as racist anyone who dares to engage in philosophical discussions about the constitutional limitations on federal powers - just ask Rand Paul who dared to voice the fact that a few aspects of the 1964 Civil Rights Act lacked constitutional authority.

Lost in the media-generated firestorm designed to falsely paint Paul as a racist and derail his bid for a US Senate seat is any discussion about the reason why civil rights laws were necessary in the first place - Democratic Party racism.

In his new book, "Whites Blacks & Racist Democrats", Wayne Perryman provides startling details about racism in the Democratic Party from 1792 to 2009. Perryman describes how the Democratic Party became known as the "Party of White Supremacy" that fought to preserve slavery and enacted discriminatory laws to deny civil rights to blacks.

Included in Perryman's book are facts about how the Republican Party that was founded in 1854 as the anti-slavery party became the party of freedom and equality for blacks. Republicans fought to end slavery; amended the U.S. Constitution to grant blacks freedom, citizenship and the right to vote; and pushed to enact every piece of civil rights legislation from the 1860's to the 1960's over the objection of the Democrats.

Perryman brought to light the 1875 Civil Rights Act, the first law that dealt with accommodations and equality and was passed by a Republican-dominated Congress. To their eternal shame, Democrats in 1883 convinced the United States Supreme Court to declare the 1875 Civil Rights Act as "unconstitutional." Eleven years later in 1894, Democrats passed the 1894 Repeal Act to overturn the previous civil rights legislation passed during Reconstruction by Republicans.

Perryman also revealed that in 1964 while debating the accommodations portion of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Democrat Senator Olin Johnson of South Carolina argued: "Mr. President, this is the blackest day in the U.S. Senate since 1875, when the Congress passed a Civil Rights bill similar to this one. It was 89 years ago that the [Republican] Congress passed the nefarious Reconstruction era Civil Right laws, identical with what we are now discussing, which were later declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. The Senate, if it passes this measure before us, will be compounding that unconstitutional error made back in 1875. I predict that this bill will never be enforced without turning our nation into a police state and without the cost of bloodshed and violence..."

Ignored by the media today, as they attempt to paint all Republicans as racist, is the fact that Jim Crow laws were enacted by Democrats to force private businesses to refuse services to blacks. Those Jim Crow laws were in violation of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which states, in part: "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." The entire text of section 1 of the 14th Amendment is below.

It is rank hypocrisy for the liberal press to give Democrats, including former Klansman Democrat Senator Robert Byrd, a pass for their real racism, while attacking Rand Paul, labeling him as a racist for his theoretical musings about the 1964 Civil Rights Act. In essence, Paul, who said he detested racism in any form, wondered whether other means, such as boycotts, may have been effective in forcing an end to non-governmental racial discrimination. Paul focused on the fact that the 14th Amendment to U.S. Constitution provides the federal government only with the power to stop racial discrimination by state and local governments.

Our nation will continue to be divided along racial lines until we bring an end to the Democrats' despicable race-baiting by holding Democrats accountable for their racism - past and present.



BrookesNews Update

The US economy really is in trouble : The US economy is in serious trouble. Manufacturing is signalling bad news and monetary policy is erratic and destabilising. Obama's solution is more of the same by appointing Keynesians to the board of the Fed. He might as well give every American a printing press
The Eurozone stimulus package and economic fundamentals : The $1-trillion stimulus plan to prevent the eurozone economies falling into an economic black hole is heading for failure. The plan involves the European Central Bank (ECB) stepping on the monetary accelerator to give the financial markets a quick fix. Such policies only make things worse — it is not possible to create something by printing money and redistributing real wealth. All that such policies produce is a further economic impoverishment
Inflation: The Reserve Bank's bogeyman : Right now, it's not inflation we need to worry about but a collapse in the China's boom. Yet the Reserve — along with politicians — carries on as if the Chinese economy is a perpetual motion machine. It sees inflation as the real enemy even though the monetary indicators are saying otherwise
The mining industry and the rent resource tax: The Institute of Public Affairs gets it wrong : By taking accepting the orthodox view of economic rent mining industry executives have intellectually disarmed themselves. Once they conceded that the rent doctrine is a sound one they could not logically argue against its implications. The advice offered by the Institute of Public Affairs, orthodox as it was, only made matters worse
Fidel Castro: a typical media double standard at play : Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow Julia Sweig praises Castro psychopaths who tried to plant a massive bomb in the New York's Manhattan's Grand Central Terminal. Meantime, Castro's media pals are still spiking the story while promoting Swieg, a truly nauseating Castro toady. This attempted massacre by Castro is another communist horror story that Sean Penn and his Hollywood buddies will never film
Carbon capture and burial — the carbon cemeteries are already full : Billions of dollars are being wasted on sacrifices to the global warming god — endless bureaucracy, politicised research, piddling wind and solar schemes, roof insulation disasters, ethanol subsidies, carbon credit forests, carbon trading frauds and huge compliance costs
Is Kagan a lesbian? Why it matters : At a time of war, in the face of the grand civilizational challenge that radical Islam poses, Kagan treated military recruiters worse than she treated the high-powered law firms that were donating their expensive legal services to anti-American terrorists
Doing Washington D.C. : Washington D.C. has been taken over by those who seek power and influence. It has a very clear social hierarchy, as do most cities. Unless you're rich, famous, powerful or an insider, you're no-one. Just the poor sucker whose taxes pay for it


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


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


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

New British Prime Minister sets out a libertarian/conservative agenda

Far from perfect but an impressive start. Britain is once again in the hands of people who love their country and respect the individual

Opening ceremonies above. The Brits still do pomp best of all

BRITISH Prime Minister David Cameron tilted the coalition away from the Liberal Democrats with a Queen's Speech that defined tax, immigration and police reform on Tory terms. The Prime Minister promised a "new start for Britain" with smaller, better government as he unveiled 23 Bills to transfer powers to voters and transform politics.

The fine print of the 18-month legislative programme revealed that he had won a series of behind the scenes victories over his coalition partners. They included:

A commitment to lower taxation, the first time since the coalition was formed that such a pledge has been made. Nick Clegg told The Times last week that the Government's priority was to rebalance the tax burden, not to reduce it. Last week's coalition programme promised "more competitive, simpler, greener and fairer" tax, but no mention of lower taxation;

Scope for George Osborne [Chancellor of the Exchequer] to keep rises in capital gains tax to a minimum. The Lib Dem policy - to increase CGT from 18per cent to 40per cent for top earners, in line with income tax rates - was trimmed in coalition talks. Last week the Government said rates would be "similar or close to" income tax rates. The Queen's Speech documents water that down, saying that CGT will be taxed at rates "closer" to income tax;

A reinstatement of the Tory election pledge to cut non-EU immigration to tens of thousands a year. The aim disappeared from the coalition programme as the Lib Dems accepted an undefined annual limit. The level is now back;

Tory aides also made clear that a referendum on the alternative-voting system - the big Lib Dem win from the coalition negotiations - would not take place for up to three years and possibly longer. Although a Bill enabling a referendum to take place was included in the Queen's Speech, there was no commitment to a date. Tory aides said such a vote should coincide with a boundary review, intended to cut the number of MPs. This is likely to take at least two years, and possibly longer. Lib Dems would like a vote as quickly as possible - at least before public enthusiasm for "new politics" has ebbed.

After the monarch delivered her 56th Queen's Speech - the first on behalf of a coalition - Mr Cameron ignored the niceties of the State Opening, and tore into Labour.

The choreography of the occasion requires the Leader of the Opposition to open hostilities. Harriet Harman, the acting Labour leader, delivered a measured speech that promised her party would not pull its punches.

Mr Cameron, however, started throwing his even before reciting the names of British troops who had died in Afghanistan since the Commons last met - a roll call with which, by recent custom, party leaders open.

He said Ms Harman's speech was missing something: "Not one word of apology for the appalling mess that has been left in this country." Mr Cameron, who has come under pressure from Tories to put his - and their party's - stamp on the coalition, used the occasion as an extension of the election campaign in terms of his rhetoric.

He said of Labour: "They gave us big spending. We will bring good housekeeping. They trusted in bureaucracy. We will trust in community. They governed in the party interest. We will govern in the national interest."

He said the Queen's Speech signalled the end of "years of recklessness and big government and the beginning of the years of responsibility and good government". He seized on the letter left by Liam Byrne for his successor as Treasury Chief Secretary, David Laws, that there was "no money" left. "They lectured us about their golden rules, but in the end the only golden rule was never trust Labour with the economy of this country."

The programme of Bills includes plans to set up the office for budget responsibility - a panel of independent economic experts to prevent forecasts from becoming politicised. Other measures are intended to give parents and other providers more scope to set up "free schools" within the state sector; repeal ID cards and a host of other Labour measures that allowed the state to hold personal details; point the way to an elected House of Lords, establish a new voting system for the Commons, and new powers for voters to recall their MPs.

Yesterday marked the first business day for Tories and Lib Dems to share the government benches - last week's get-together was for the ceremony of electing the Speaker - and it did not take long for potential faultlines to show. Simon Hughes, the former Lib Dem frontbencher who was not given a job in Government, rose to challenge Mr Cameron, asking for a commitment from "his Government" towards council housing....

Mr Cameron also said it was time to "ratchet up" pressure on Iran over its nuclear ambitions, and that the Government would pursue stronger UN and EU sanctions against Tehran.

On the issue of elected police commissioners, the Queen's Speech documents refer only to elected individuals. Asked to clarify the position, MrCameron told MPs that the plan "to elect individuals as commissioners" would go ahead. His spokesman said the coalition had "refined" its position on police commissioners to increase their accountability.

Police chiefs have opposed the plan. Sir Paul Stephenson, the Scotland Yard commissioner, warned last night (Tuesday) that the operational independence of police chiefs must be the Government's starting point.

More here


Socialism: The New Feudalism

Leftism is old and failed, not "new"

Exactly which side of the political spectrum is dragging us toward the past? Recently Bill Maher said on his show, "Democrats in America were put on earth to do one thing: drag the ignorant hillbilly half of this country into the next century, which in their case is the 19th..."

This is the type of rhetoric we hear from liberals all the time, ‘the old ways of capitalism and individual responsibility are over and it is time to move into a more collective and social era.' Hence the name or the term progressive, coined to signify progression into a new era and away from individual responsibility and greed.

The left should study history and the rhetoric of a distance political system called Feudalism. Many people have a misconception that the early socialist thinkers like Jean Jacques Rousseau, Karl Marx, and Friedrich Engels were original thinkers, writing ideas about collectivism and equal sharing of property. But one only has to look back a few centuries to see they were simply recycling old failed ideas with some new jive attached.

After the era of Viking, Magyar, and Muslim raids gradually subsided, Europe began to reorganize itself into a Feudal society. The old ways of the Germanic tribes were ending, which meant less freedom and more central power.

The Feudal system was nothing more than creating a ruling class who owned all the land and wealth and provided security and safety to all the serfs; in turn the serfs provided work and servitude to their master. But many people do not realize the collective aspect of how serfs lived together.

After the ruling class reaped the finest of the crops and livestock for themselves, the serfs were to distribute all the yield of their labor amongst everyone equally. They had no rights to any crops or land for themselves, all belonged to the community, which was bestowed upon them by their feudal lords. They also shared in utilities. Most peasant societies had a communal oven that was also shared to save on resources. (1)

The ruling class, which consisted of the clergy and lords, did everything they could to spread feudalist propaganda in order to keep the serfs in line. John of Salisbury wrote a short piece in the twelfth century called ‘The Body Social.' In it he describes the proper role of each peasant and how they should all work together as a collective body for the better of the community.

"Then and then only will the health of the commonwealth be sound and flourishing, when the higher members shield the lower, and the lower respond faithfully and fully in like measure to the just demands of their superiors, so that each and all are as it were members one of another by a sort of reciprocity, and each regards his own interests as best served by that which he knows to be the most advantageous for the others." (2)

In 1274 AD Thomas Aquinas wrote something similar in his book, the 'Summa Theologica.' "For since every individual is a part of the community, so does each man, all that he is and all that he possesses, belong to the community as well." (3)

Now let's compare that thought to a quote to an early progressive icon, Teddy Roosevelt. "Every man holds his property subject to the general right of the community to regulate its use to whatever degree the public welfare may require it." See a parallel of ideologies? (4)

The Feudal propagandists were not above painting tales of evil freedom fighters murdering a good, virtuous, feudal lord. Galbert of Bruges wrote a piece in 1127 AD titled, ‘The Murder of a Feudal Lord.' In it he writes about a family of freedom fighters struggling against a Feudal lord who wishes to bring them into serfdom. The family fights to keep their lands and freedom and ends up murdering the Feudal lord. Of course, Galbert painted the family as ignorant for not understanding that the Feudal Lord only wished to provide them with security and a proper place in society. All he wanted to do was establish order throughout his realm, which was so desperately needed for the betterment of the community. (5)

This is exactly the type of rhetoric we hear from the left all the time. With their ideas of the redistribution of wealth, and a central controlling nanny state, we're told things such as: ‘You should listen to those who know better. You should care more about the community over your own desires; conservatives are just a bunch of ignorant hillbillies clinging to old ideas and must be forced into a better and more ordered society.'

In actuality, the left is leading us right back into feudalism, where men are enslaved to lords, knowledge is left to the ruling class, and freedom and ingenuity are hindered to prevent man from reaching his full potential. This is exactly why our founders pulled us away from the ideas of Europe and gave us every right and freedom the feudalists said were wrong to have.

If Bill Maher and other liberals want to lead us into the next century they should first study history, because they are actually dragging us back a millennium.




Natural selection at work? "Mexican drug smugglers are increasingly peddling a form of ultra-potent heroin that sells for as little as $10 a bag and is so pure it can kill unsuspecting users instantly, sometimes before they even remove the syringe from their veins. An Associated Press review of drug overdose data shows that so-called ‘black tar’ heroin — named for its dark, gooey consistency — and other forms of the drug are contributing to a spike in overdose deaths across the nation and attracting a new generation of users who are caught off guard by its potency. ‘We found people who snorted it lying face-down with the straw lying next to them,’ said Patrick O’Neil, coroner in suburban Chicago’s Will County, where annual heroin deaths have nearly tripled — from 10 to 29 — since 2006. ‘It’s so potent that we occasionally find the needle in the arm at the death scene.’”

Baby boom for the over-forties but overall British birth rate is down: "The number of children born to mothers in their forties has almost trebled in the past two decades and continues to rise, latest figures show. Nearly 27,000 babies were born to women aged 40 and over in 2009 — compared with the 9,336 live births in 1989. In 2009 women had an average of 1.95 children each, down from 1.97 children in 2008.The figures also showed that theproportion of births to mothers born outside Britain continued to rise, from 24.1 per cent in 2008 to 24.7 per cent in 2009. The proportion of births to overseas mothers has increased every year since 1990, when it was just under 12 per cent. [The over 40s birthrate reflects gradual improvements in IVF]

Somali pirates go on trial in the Netherlands: "The first trial of Somali pirates to be held in Europe opened yesterday morning when five suspects entered the dock smiling at their lawyers and watched by a heavy police presence. The alleged pirates were charged under a law against “sea robbery” dating back to the 17th century after being accused of trying to hijack a cargo ship in the Gulf of Aden. They were allegedly armed with automatic weapons and rockets when they were arrested in January last year. They face up to 12 years in jail afer a five-day hearing at Rotterdam district court. The Netherlands is staging the trial because the men are accused of targeting a ship flagged in the Dutch Antilles"

How to create the illusion of low taxes (Don't count everything): "To the surprise of opponents of big government, the U.S Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) estimates that taxes at all levels of government take only 9.2 percent of our income, the lowest rate since Harry Truman was president. USA Today and various news-media personalities, like Chris Matthews of MSNBC, have used this statistic to hammer those who complain about President Obama’s profligate fiscal policies. If this all seems too amazing to be true, you are on the right track.”

Corrupt mortgage giants escape reform: "There won’t be any reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the corrupt, government-sponsored mortgage giants that even Obama administration officials admit were at the ‘core’ of ‘what went wrong’ in the financial crisis. The ‘Obama Administration says Fannie, Freddie reform’ is ‘too hard,’ reports the Washington Examiner.”


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 25, 2010

Obama and his Chicago cronies are working hard at making America into one big Chicago

It's all they know

If you want to get a good glimpse of what America will look like if President Obama continues to push his “change” agenda, take a close look at Chicago. But brace yourself: it is not a pretty picture.

Chicago, as we all know, is Mr. Obama’s home and the place where he served as a community organizer, a state legislator, and a US Senator. Obama championed a variety of jobs creation programs, advanced ideas to reduce crime, and sought earmarks totaling some $800 million dollars to boost the Chicago economy. By all accounts, he was energetic, determined, and successful pushing these programs.

But while many, including Obama, have focused almost exclusively on Mr. Obama’s noble intentions, few have focused on the results. Which of Obama’s efforts in Chicago delivered the promised benefits? None.

Chicago is a city in crisis. Crime rates have surged despite the many, Obama-led, community-building efforts. The number of Americans murdered in Chicago this year is about the same number of troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past year. Two State Senators have argued that Chicago’s crime problem is too big for locals to solve and have called for deployment of the National Guard.

Nor is crime the only problem in the windy city. Unemployment is at 11.2%, 1.3 points above the national average. Worse yet, minorities are particularly hit by a failing Chicago economy that continues to shed jobs as the unemployment rates among minorities top 20%.

Alas, the index of misery in Chicago earned the city the distinction as the third most miserable city in America, as high taxes cripple job growth, innovation, and entrepreneurialism.

None of Mr. Obama’s efforts as a community organizer, state legislator or U.S. Senator did anything to reduce Chicago’s misery index. It’s possible that the opposite may be true. Remember: as a U.S. Senator, Mr. Obama averaged nearly $286.9 million per year in earmark requests, which he justified as ways to promote job growth, reduce crime, and improve schools. Yet, Chicago’s misery worsened.

Is it possible that Mr. Obama made Chicago’s problems worse by championing a philosophy of greater federal support, avoidance of self-sufficiency and personal responsibility? Was the nearly $1 billion of Obama earmarks spent, not on investments that might have helped spark economic activity, but instead directed to dubious causes aimed at rewarding key supporters such as the Unions? Did Obama help choke off economic vitality and entrepreneurialism by acquiescing to high taxes and growing regulatory burdens?

I think so. Mr. Obama did not set Chicago on a path of ruin single-handedly. He had lots of help. Senator Dick Durbin, Democrat Party Whip, White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel. Valerie Jarrett and other Chicagoans occupy key positions in the Which House. Like Obama, Durbin and Emanuel have, for years, directed funding, both directly and indirectly to Illinois and to Chicago for assistance, entitlement programs, pork projects and perks. And yet, the problems in Chicago only grew.

Here is the scary part: now they are in Washington, working hard to duplicate on a national scale the failures they achieved in Chicago.

None of the powerful Chicago politicians now in Washington have practical experience creating jobs. All of them have a mistaken belief that the federal government can generate job growth by turning the spigot of taxpayer money in the intended direction. They also believe that ever larger and more intrusive government and regulatory regimes added to every level of American life are a prescription for economic growth. This same, failed philosophy that guided their actions in Chicago now guides their efforts in Washington.

Obama’s Chicago experiment has been a dismal failure. Why should Americans trust Obama and allow him to experiment with the future of the country and our children? Obama’s vision is wrong. His favored solutions do not work, and Obama’s path only leads to greater misery. Americans deserve better, and so does Chicago.

If Team Obama wanted to find out why their earlier programs failed and led to an exodus of jobs, they could talk to companies that have relocated to more business friendly states such as Texas. In Texas, Team Obama would find a lower tax rate, a healthy climate for entrepreneurial growth, and pro-growth policies that encourage innovation and new investment.

Team Obama might even want to take a trip and talk to the guy that first put Texas on the path of long-term growth, fiscal solvency, and enhanced competitiveness. The roads to Crawford are well marked, so he should not be hard to find.



Caring Enough to Cut Spending Responsibly

This week, our debt will pass $13 trillion. Nouriel Roubini, former Clinton White House economist, said on Fox News, "What has happened in Greece could happen in the U.S. We could have serious problems. We have the debt of the federal government. Many state and local governments are bankrupt. There are unfunded liabilities for social security. There are unfunded liabilities for state pensions." Trillion dollar deficits are not sustainable.

Politicians and government administrators talk about the pain involved in cutting government spending, and there are consequences that impact employees and those served. But, too often, they forget the pain citizens are experiencing in having to pay more fees and a variety of higher taxes. Governments don’t bear the cost of anything; their citizens do.

The late Peter Drucker was a leadership truth teller: “I think you could probably merge agriculture and commerce and have one department of the economy. Instead, my prediction is coming true. I predicted in 1960 that, by the year 2000, there would be more employees of the Department of Agriculture than American farmers…. Cutting back on any government service is still anathema to liberals…. So if you are a Democratic Party dependent on labor votes, cutting government services is not exactly popular.”

Unfortunately, too many politicians in power are more interested in being popular than responsible. They’re spending more, expanding entitlements and printing money rather than cutting budgets.

Tackling the Deficit is controversial, and it isn’t easy. Leadership never is. Ross Perot captured it best: “The deficit is like the guy that finds a rattlesnake in his pants. He knows he's got to shoot it, but he doesn't want to hit anything important.”

Both leaders and citizens would like more money to spend, but the stark economic realities are forcing all to decide where to cut? There is a sign in the CA State Finance Department that should have been put up long ago: “Nothing inspires genius like a tight budget.”

The most common mistake is organizational egalitarianism. Leaders take 10% away from everybody, instead of separating out what's core. We need leaders to embrace a scrounger mentality—you do what you have to do with what you have. Be tight where you can and spend only where it’s critical. Don’t just think more with less; do the RIGHT less with less! Mission centric services should receive priority funding. Some expenses are nice only if you can afford them, and other costs could have been cut years ago. Keep all the stakeholders focused on being responsive and working smart on real priorities that are worth doing.

Waiting for the perfect decision isn’t the answer. It’s important to get things done, and some are. Jeff Baarstad, PhD, Deputy Superintendent of the Conejo Valley Unified School District and chair of their budget committee, has embraced the challenge: “It’s incumbent upon the leaders of public agencies to focus on providing the highest quality services possible with the tax dollars we’re provided. We must be crystal clear about the core services we’ve been commissioned to provide and place the lion’s share of our resources behind those services. That boils down to a qualified and caring teacher, in a clean, comfortable and safe classroom, with a reasonable class size, and access to the materials and supplies necessary to give students the knowledge and skills necessary for success in college and careers. That happens in a classroom on a school campus.”

Working non-stop since the spring of 2009 with parents, teachers, classified support workers, counselors and psychologists, school board members and administrators, they’ve reduced their expenses nearly 15%. Their priorities are clear—classroom instruction first, the student’s campus experience second, district support services third and central administrative office last. Dr. Barrstad warns, “We recognize the core reason we exist as a public school district. Focusing on our classroom priorities is the right way to proceed, but no one should minimize the impact that reducing non-school support services may have on classroom instruction.”

America is also attracting a new breed of candidate dissatisfied with the direction our country is going. John Davidson, running in the Republican primary for the 23rd Congressional District, brings his 25 years of business experience to his campaign priorities. He’s got his focus on smaller, not bigger government: “This out of control government spending is the first thing that must be addressed in Congress. In the business world, when you spend money you don’t have, you don’t have a business anymore. I’m running for Congress to stop the deficit spending and balance this budget, without new taxes, by cutting wasteful spending and focusing on our priorities.”

Support administrators taking on the challenge, and when you vote, send a message to Washington that we want leaders to care enough to cut budgets responsibly. We need smaller more efficient government, not more government.




Obama and Attention Deficit Democracy: "In his commencement address at the University of Michigan on May 1, President Obama warned that public ignorance subverts self-government. Obama declared: ‘When we don’t pay close attention to the decisions made by our leaders, when we fail to educate ourselves about the major issues of the day … that’s when democracy breaks down. That’s when power is abused.’ Unfortunately, most Americans have little or no idea how government works or who is holding the reins on their lives.”

In praise of profit: "Profit is proper. Profit deserves praise. Profit is a beautiful concept — as it is only possible when individuals or groups produce a product or service that other people want, need and like, and are willing to voluntarily put their money where their mouth is and buy the thing! This is wonderful in my humble opinion. Someone, somewhere is doing something right and getting rewarded for their efforts!”

Western China: Internet restored, but repression continues: "On May 14, residents of East Turkestan rediscovered the Internet — not the Internet of unfettered access that is enjoyed the world over. But a lifting of the most draconian Internet restrictions ever seen so that people could finally access China’s censored version. For 10 months, starting from the July 2009 unrest in Urumchi, the Chinese government kept the people of East Turkestan isolated from the rest of the world with a comprehensive communications lockdown that not only blocked the Internet, but also affected telecommunications. The communications lockdown was an illustration of the chilling ideology of power that guides the decisions of power brokers in the Chinese Communist Party. In those 10 months, the Chinese government conducted a brutal crackdown on Uighurs largely unseen by the outside world.”

The subversive vending machine: "For nearly a century before the Internet put the anonymous consumption of vices literally at the world’s fingertips, vending machines dispensed taboo wares, experiences, and entertainment free from the gaze of prying eyes. Salyers argues that the first vending machines in wide use were the snuff and tobacco boxes in 17th century English taverns, appropriate forerunners to the ubiquitous, plastic-handled cigarette dispensers that populated bars, bowling allies, and restaurants in the second half of the 20th century. Be it the condom machine in the gas station bathroom, the coin-operated peep show, the pinball craze that prompted a moral panic in the 1940s, truant hoods spending afternoons in smoke-blanketed video game arcades in the 1980s, or the rebellious rock ’n’ roll dispensing jukebox, there has always been a subversive element to coin-operated commerce. Even the Norman Rockwell–celebrated Coca-Cola machine has gone rogue, as public health activists now fault soda and candy — and, in particular, the widespread availability of both through vending machines — for the fattening of American children.”

Era of unlimited government arrives: "‘Perhaps one of the most important accomplishments of my administration has been minding my own business,’ President Calvin Coolidge told journalists in March 1929. If Coolidge suddenly sprang to life today, he would look around and drop dead. Washington Democrats are minding their own business — and everyone else’s. In this era of unlimited government, the Obama administration and congressional Democrats stick their snouts anywhere they will fit, without the guidance of common sense, frugality, nor any sense of priorities. For today’s federal government, it’s everything, all the time.”

Huge new paperwork load for all Americans: "The massive expansion of requirements for businesses to file 1099 tax forms that was hidden in the 2,409-page health reform bill took many by surprise when it came to light last month. But it’s just one piece of a years-long legislative stealth campaign to create ways for the federal government to track down unreported income. The result: A blizzard of new tax forms that the Internal Revenue Service will begin rolling out next year. … All business payments or purchases that exceed $600 in a calendar year will need to be accompanied by a 1099 filing. That means obtaining the taxpayer ID number of the individual or corporation you’re making the payment to — even if it’s a giant retailer like Staples or Best Buy — at the time of the transaction, or else facing IRS penalties.”

US said to order an expanded use of secret action: “The top U.S. commander in the Middle East has ordered a broad expansion of clandestine military activity in an effort to disrupt militant groups or counter threats in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and other countries in the region, according to defense officials and military documents. The secret directive, signed in September by Gen. David Petraeus, authorizes the sending of U.S. special operations troops to both friendly and hostile nations in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa to gather intelligence and build ties with local forces.”


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 24, 2010


by Barry Rubin (This article is over a month old but is still very much to the point)

The story of the U.S. engagement with Syria and the sanctions issue regarding Iran's nuclear program are fascinating. Each day there's some new development showing how the Obama Administration is acting like a deer standing in the middle of a busy highway admiring the pretty automobile headlights.

Or to put it a different way, it is like watching the monster sneak up behind someone. Even though you know he's not going to turn around, you can't help but watch in fascinated horror and yelling out: "Look out!" But he pays no attention.

So I'm not just writing about these two issues in isolation but as very appropriate symbols of everything wrong with Western perceptions of the Middle East (and everywhere else) and the debates over foreign policy (and everything else) nowadays.

On Syria, for the most recent episodes of the story see here [1] and here[2] but, briefly, the Syrian government keeps punching the United States in the face as Washington ignores it.

But now, on March 1, a new record is set. The place: State Department daily press conference; the main character, departmental spokesman Philip J. Crowley. A reporter wants to know how the administration views the fact that the moment the U.S. delegation left after urging Syrian President Bashar al-Asad to move away from Iran and stop supporting Hizballah, Syria's dictator invited in Iran's dictator along with Hizballah's leader and Damascus moved closer to Iran and Hizballah. Indeed, Asad said regarding Hizballah, "To support the resistance is a moral, patriotic and legal duty."

In other words, the exact opposite of what the United States requested. Is the government annoyed, does it want to express some anger or threat? Let's listen:[3]

Well, I would point it in a slightly different direction. It came several days after an important visit to Damascus by Under Secretary Bill Burns....We want to see Syria play a more constructive role in the region. We also want - to the extent that it has the ability to talk to Iran directly, we want to make sure that Syria's communicating to Iran its concerns about its role in the region and the direction, the nature of its nuclear ambitions...."

In other words, I'm going to ignore the fact that the first thing that Asad did after Burns' visit was a love fest with Iran and Hizballah. But even more amazing, what Crowley said is that the U.S. government thinks Syria, Iran's partner and ally, is upset that Iran is being aggressive and expansionist. And it actually expects the Syrians to urge Iran not to build nuclear weapons!

One Lebanese observer called this approach, "Living in an alternate universe."

Meanwhile, as the administration congratulates itself on explaining to Syria that it should reduce support for Hizballah, Israeli military intelligence releases an assessment[4] that Syria is giving Hizballah more and better arms than ever before.

Oh wait! Now it's March 3 so time for something new. The ófficial Syrian press agency reports[5] that Syria's government opposed an Arab League proposal to support indirect Palestinian Authority-Israel negotiations. Syria's Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem asserted that Syria is "no way part" of the consensus supporting the plan.

But guess what? First, Senator John Kerry opened a meeting of his Senate Foreign Relations Committee by erroneously praising Syria as supporting the plan, giving this as an example of Damascus's moderation. The New York Times quoted[6] from the Syrian report, making it sound like Moallem is praising the United States, but left out the paragraphs attacking the U.S.-backed plan! And the State Department circulated the Times article as proof of its success in winning over Syria when in fact Syrian behavior proved the exact opposite!

Oh, and that's not all! Not only did Syria oppose the plan but it attacked[7] the Arab states that supported the U.S. effort and blasted the Palestinian Authority for not following the path of resistance, that is urged it to carry out terrorist violence against Israel.

Hey, that's not all either. Syria also issued a statement[8] accusing Israel of "framing" it by dropping uranium particles from the air to make it seem that Syria had been building a nuclear reactor for making nuclear weapons. Not exactly evidence of rational moderation I'd say.

Meanwhile, on the Iran front, it is now March 2010 and still-six months after the first administration deadline and three months after the second deadline-there are no additional sanctions on Iran yet. In fact, the process has barely started.

Even former Democratic presidential candidate and head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee John Kerry has taken a stronger stance[9] than the administration.

He supports the congressional call for tough sanctions to block Iran's energy industry which easily passed both houses. "I believe that the most biting and important sanctions would be those on the energy side." But the Obama administration wants far more limited sanctions focused on a small group in the regime elite.

Yet sanctions are getting further away rather than closer. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hinted at this by pulling back from her early prediction of sanctions by April, now saying[10] it might be "some time in the next several months."

At the same time, we have endless evidence that the claim the Russians (and Chinese and others) are coming, to support sanctions, is nonsense. Just before meeting with Clinton to discuss the issue, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (or Lula for short) explained, "Peace in the world does not mean isolating someone." (Quick, invite him to explain this to the anti-Israel forces in Europe and elsewhere).

But it's outright amusing to see the efforts to spin the Russian and Chinese position. In this regard, the prize for this week should be won by an AP dispatch.[11] The headline is: "Russia moves closer to Iran sanctions over nukes."

And what is the basis for this claim that there has just been "the strongest sign to date that the Kremlin was prepared to drop traditional opposition to such penalties if Tehran remain obstinate?" This statement from President Dmitry Medvedev:
"We believe that [engagement with Iran is] not over yet, that we can still reach an agreement," he said. "But if we don't succeed, Russia is ready - along with our consider the question of adopting sanctions."

Get it? When Russia decides that talking with Iran won't work, then at that point-how long from now would that be?-it will "consider" sanctions. Actually, he said the same thing last August, a statement trumpeted in September by the New York Times as proving Obama's policy was working.

There is more clarity with the Chinese, sort of, though the pretense is also made that they might do something. But Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang put it this way: "We believe there is still room for diplomatic efforts and the parties concerned should intensify those efforts." At most, the optimists suggest, in the words of this Reuters dispatch:[12]
"China will resist any proposed sanctions that threaten flows of oil and Chinese investments, but most believe it will accept a more narrowly cast resolution that has more symbolic than practical impact."

Yes, that's the kind of thing that already existed four years ago. Some progress. Is it too much to ask policymakers to pay attention to what's going on occasionally?

So let's leave it to Ahmadinejad to sum up[13] how things seem to Iran, Syria, Hamas, Hizballah, and lots of Arabs both pro- and anti-American:

The Americans, Ahmadinejad said, "not only have failed to gain any power, but also are forced to leave the region. They are leaving their reputation, image, and power behind in order to escape....The [American] government has no influence [to stop]....the expansion of Iran-Syria ties, Syria-Turkey ties, and Iran-Turkey ties--God willing, Iraq too will join the circle...."

In other words, Obama Administration policy isn't making the radicals more moderate but rather--by feeding their arrogance and belief in American weakness--making them more aggressive.



Rand Paul roundup

Everybody loves Rand: "Even if he doesn’t presage a major change in how electoral party politics works, [Rand] Paul’s appeal goes beyond even state-shrinkers of any inclination. He inspired lefty journalist Robert Scheer to cheer Paul — in language that ought to appeal to principled progressives of all sorts — as a ‘principled libertarian in the mold of his father, Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, and we need more of that impulse in the Congress. What’s wrong with cutting back big government that mostly exists to serve the interests of big corporations? Surely it would be better if that challenge came from populist progressives of the left, in the Bernie Sanders mold, but this is Kentucky we’re talking about.’ At the same time, and equally encouraging for Paul’s bonafides as a political good guy, he earned the obloquy of staunch defenders of the Radical Middle: From the right side, David Frum found Paul’s victory ‘depressing’ and ‘ominous,’ while on the left, Matthew Yglesias dubbed Paul, without explanation, a ‘lunatic.’”

The media’s new villain: Rand Paul: "Want to know what media outlets journalists follow? Watch as they copy from one another. That truism has seldom been more obvious than the liberal feeding frenzy we’ve seen this week over Kentucky Republican senatorial candidate Rand Paul. Paul is something rarely seen now. He’s a principled candidate that will say things the liberal media don’t want to hear. So they are working hand-in-hand with the left to destroy him. His appearance on ‘Rachel Maddow’ Wednesday led to an on-air interrogation about Paul’s views on the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Paul made it clear he emphatically opposes discrimination, but also dislikes the far-reaching implications of the Civil Rights Act. Even then, he doesn’t support getting rid of the act. He was merely making a principled stand about the size and influence of government.”

Rand Paul, civil rights, and more liberal hypocrisy on race: "This week, thanks to Rand Paul’s win in the race for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in Kentucky, we are treated to another grand spectacle of liberal hypocrisy when it comes to race. The liberal community has gone into emotional hyper-drive over Paul’s opposition to the section of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that banned racial discrimination by private businesses. The liberals are just shocked and outraged that anyone would honestly suggest that private businesses should be free to discriminate"

On private discrimination: "It’s true that a strict libertarian or free-market perspective might prevent the government from interfering when individuals choose to act in a discriminatory fashion. This may make people uncomfortable. But, as Mr. Paul pointed out, the very idea of freedom requires us to tolerate certain decisions that we might find distasteful, in order to ensure that we have the liberty to make decisions that others might find distasteful. For example: Our nation prizes freedom of expression so much that our constitutions deny governments the authority to restrict or punish speech, even if the ideas expressed are almost universally regarded as offensive. Respect for this form of freedom is so ingrained in our culture that its wisdom is only rarely challenged. Mr. Paul was trying to help Ms. Maddow understand that, similarly, if one believes in individual liberty then one must necessarily be prepared to tolerate the fact that some individuals will use that liberty in ways that others might find offensive.”

A problem like Paul: "How do you solve a problem like Rand Paul? The Kentucky Republican and son of libertarian icon Ron had hardly won his party’s nomination for U.S. Senate before getting embroiled in a controversy over the 1964 Civil Rights Act, apparently in the belief that it’s never too late to re-litigate 40-year-old historic milestones. Paul doesn’t like that the law forced private businesses to serve blacks, a violation of his libertarian principles. Paul said that he supported the parts of the law that ended state discrimination and he abhors racism. None of which prevented him from getting smeared as a mild-mannered George Wallace. It turns out that a Senate campaign does not offer the same friendly confines for the discussion of libertarian doctrine as a seminar at the Ayn Rand Institute.”



HI: Republican wins US House seat in Obama’s home district: "Republicans won a Democratic-held congressional seat in Hawaii in the district where President Barack Obama grew up — the latest triumph for the party as it looks to take back control of Congress in the November national election. But Democrats believe the success in Hawaii will be short-lived. The Republican winner will only serve through the remainder of 2010, and another election will be held in November for the next term. Democrats are confident they can win the seat back in November because their vote won’t be split among several candidates, as it was in the special election.”

Dodd’s do-nothing financial “reform”: "Wall Street is heaving a quiet sigh of relief: All Washington is going to give us for ‘financial reform’ in the wake of the collapse of 2008 is a law based on Sen. Chris Dodd’s bill. That thin semblance of reform will let Congress and the Obama administration claim they brought Wall Street to heel. But by dodging all the hard issues, this ‘reform’ makes it likely that the next crisis will put the last one to shame.”

What’s big, risky … and losing billions?: "This week, the Senate rejected a $400 billion cap on the taxpayer bailout of the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation and the Federal National Mortgage Association, better known as Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. The decision may ensure that the two firms’ collapse will be the most costly event of the economic downturn. Their old model — private companies with an implicit public guarantee — created behemoths that gambled trillions of dollars and lost billions in taxpayers’ money. This old system was unacceptable, but what shall we put in its place? Let’s start with the basic question: Why should Fannie and Freddie exist at all?”

Enough money: "One of the many shallow statements that sound good — if you don’t stop and think about it — is that ‘at some point, you have made enough money.’ The key word in this statement, made by President Barack Obama recently, is ‘you.’ There is nothing wrong with my deciding how much money is enough for me or your deciding how much money is enough for you, but when politicians think that they should be deciding how much money is enough for other people, that is starting down a very slippery slope.”

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


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