Saturday, June 12, 2010

Flotilla sickness and the ‘progressive’ mind

The flotilla episode provided the trigger for a frenzied demonstration of the world’s collective loss of mind over Israel.

Israel did what it was entitled to do and what any other country at war would do: intercept boats that might be carrying weapons for an aggressor regime. Since six out of the seven intercepted boats then proceeded peacefully to Ashdod where their cargo was checked, this was demonstrably not an Israeli ‘attack’.

Conversely, as everyone could see from the video evidence, on the main boat the attack took place against the Israelis — who then killed nine of their jihadi assailants solely to protect themselves from being lynched, kidnapped and murdered.

Yet, for this, Israel has been hysterically denounced across the world for an act of aggression and even piracy — an onslaught, in effect, upon Israel’s right to defend itself, without which no country can exist.

The claim that Gaza is starving is the opposite of the truth: its markets are stacked with produce, and every week Israel allows in thousands of tons of aid across the border.

As its organiser admitted, the flotilla was not about humanitarian aid at all but was designed to break the sea blockade — and thus open up a weapons channel for Hamas. This manipulative and mendacious exercise was but the latest attempt to weaken Israel ready for the slaughter through an ever tightening noose of lies, demonisation and delegitimisation.

We have endured the fabricated claims of Israeli massacres in Jenin, the 2006 Lebanon war and Cast Lead; the charge that Israel is an ‘apartheid’ state, that it has committed genocide, ethnic cleansing and is starving the people of Gaza; that it is the aggressor in the Middle East.

How is it possible that so many believe all these lies? How can so many Jews believe them? As I have described in my new book, The World Turned Upside Down (please forgive the commercial) the witch-hunt against Israel is the pivotal example of the West’s repudiation of reason itself, leading to a widespread inversion of truth and lies, justice and injustice, right and wrong.

The ‘progressive’ left-wing intelligentsia now subscribes to a world-view that, over a wide range of issues, subordinates truth to ideology. This manifests itself in utopian creeds that hold that the world would attain a state of perfection if only it wasn’t for capitalism/America/ industrialisation/men/the nation state/those damned Jews.

Since these creeds are axiomatically the embodiment of virtue, all who dissent must be treated as moral outcasts and their views stifled.

From this Manichean mindset, which decrees that all who are not the left are a) the right, and b) intrinsically evil, it follows that anyone who challenges the lies generated by ideological dogma is by definition right-wing and evil. As a result of this knee-jerk name-calling, people dismiss such inconvenient truths even when they stare them in the face.

This terrifying mindset is the left’s default position. That is why this madness towards Israel is not confined to gentiles. Indeed, even Jews who consider themselves to have the interests of Israel at heart sometimes tragically end up believing the lies and supporting positions that would destroy it.

Which partly explains why some communal leaders busily suck up to the enemies of Israel in the faith or political worlds, even telling them on occasion that ‘in private I agree with you’.

So we find ourselves in this nightmare situation. The Great Flotilla Derangement has created the impression that, as Iran moves towards completing its genocide bomb, the rest of the world senses an endgame and is moving in on Israel for the kill.



ACORN employees tell FBI of deliberate election fraud

The radical activist group ACORN “works” for the Democratic Party and deliberately promotes election fraud, ACORN employees told FBI investigators, according to an FBI document dump Wednesday.

The documents obtained by Judicial Watch, a watchdog group, are FBI investigators’ reports related to the 2007 investigation and arrest of eight St. Louis, Mo., workers from ACORN’s Project Vote affiliate for violation of election laws. All eight employees involved in the scandal later pleaded guilty to voter registration fraud.

Project Vote is ACORN’s voter registration arm. Project Vote continues to operate despite the reported dissolution of the national structure of ACORN.

The handwritten reports by FBI agents show that ACORN employees reported numerous irregularities in the nonprofit group’s business practices.

One employee told the FBI that ACORN headquarters is “wkg [working] for the Democratic Party.”

According to one report, an ACORN employee said the purpose of “[f]raudulent cards” was “[t]o cause confusion on election day to keep polls open longer,” “[t]o allow people who can’t vote to vote,” and “[t]o allow to vote multiple times.”

Another report quotes an employee saying, “Project Vote will pay them whether cards fake or not – whatever they had to do to get the cards was attitude.” Project Vote pays based on the number of cards and “that’s why they were so reckless,” the report says.

A report quotes an employee saying, “I don’t like our system. I don’t think we should do voter registration.” The report also notes that employees were “[c]onstantly threatened” and that the staff were “instructed on what to say to FBI.”

Another report indicates an employee told the investigator, that ACORN “[t]old employees not to talk to the FBI.” The FBI is “‘trying to intimidate you.’”

“These documents show the need for a national criminal investigation by the Obama Justice Department into ACORN,” said Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch....



Keep Your Health Plan Under Obamacare? Probably Not, Gov't Analysis Concludes

Internal administration documents reveal that up to 51% of employers may have to relinquish their current health care coverage because of ObamaCare. Small firms will be even likelier to lose existing plans.

The "midrange estimate is that 66% of small employer plans and 45% of large employer plans will relinquish their grandfathered status by the end of 2013," according to the document. In the worst-case scenario, 69% of employers — 80% of smaller firms — would lose that status, exposing them to far more provisions under the new health law.

The 83-page document, a joint project of the departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and the IRS, examines the effects that ObamaCare's regulations would have on existing, or "grandfathered," employer-based health care plans....

In a statement, Posey said the document showed that the arguments in favor of ObamaCare were a "bait and switch." "The president promised repeatedly that people who like their current plans can keep them, but now the details of their plan actually confirm what many suspected all along, most Americans will lose their current health care plan," Posey said.

A White House official told IBD: "This is a draft document, and we will be releasing the final regulation when it is complete. The president made a promise to the American people that if they liked their health care plan, they can keep it. The regulation, when finalized, will uphold that promise."

However, the source conceded: "It is difficult to predict how plans and employers will behave in the coming years, but if plans make changes that negatively impact consumers, then they will lose their grandfather status."



Doctors who kill

This is America's version of Britain's notorious "Liverpool Pathway"

You’ve probably never heard of Don Holley. But you should know his name – and you should know how his family said he died: in a San Franciso hospital at the hands of medical staff using a procedure called, “Comfort Care”.

More and more people are finding that the hospitals they have gone to for help are becoming the places that permanently put them or their loved ones out of their misery. In Don Holley’s case, the hospital he went to for healing morphed into a medical version of the nightmarish Hotel California after it was too late for him to leave.

I recently wrote in this column about my family’s horrible experience in warding off the medical death squad when my dad was hospitalized for a heart attack. We won that battle and dad went on to live several more years. Many of you responded with nightmare stories of your own: Stories of loved ones who were killed by the modern medical culture that has developed the personal belief that many patients are often better off dead, and that is up to them to make sure they are.

Don Holley was a 90-year-old man who died in May from chocking on a pool of blood caused by medical professionals who were starving and dehydrating him to death. (You can learn more about his death at; and type “Don Holley” in the search box.), but here’s a summary of the report:

Mr. Holley entered the hospital after suffering a stroke. Although he was recovering, personnel convinced his neighbor, who had his power of attorney, that Don’s condition was so serous he should be put on what they call, “Comfort Care.” This insidiously evil, but lovely sounding procedure simply means you are heavily drugged while you are denied food and water. It is a barbaric way of killing helpless patients who someone has determined aren’t worth bothering with anymore. In Don’s case, oxygen was still administered while his body was shriveling up from dehydration, causing the blood vessels in his nose to burst and bleed into his throat. The hospital staff decided it was too much trouble to continue to suction the blood from his throat, so they let him drown in his own blood while family members stood by helplessly pleading for someone to save him.

I wish Don’s case were a horrible anomaly – the result of terrible confusion and mismanagement by a bumbling hospital or a crazed, rogue nurse that hates old people. But no so. He was passively but systematically murdered by a medical culture that is now more influenced by organizations like the infamous Hemlock Society – which has cleverly been renamed the pleasant sounding “Compassion and Choices” - than it is by the time-honored principle to, "First do no harm." You must know Don Holley’s story – because it just might become your own.

How to save your family members from the new Comfort Care? Fight for their lives. Fight tooth and nail if you have a hospitalized family member who is being denied basic care, or if you are being pressured to sign documents you don’t understand. Call for free legal help – you can contact the Liberty Counsel at 800-671-1776 or The organization moves quickly to intervene in situations of emergency.

But don’t wait until an emergency to take action. Become an advocate right now for the most vulnerable among us – the sick, the aged, the disabled, and the very young. They have a right to live. And when they go to a hospital seeking medical care, they have a right to receive it.

We live in a culture where we can no longer assume that hospitals are places of healing and help. Not unlike your worst nightmare, a horror movie, or the popular 1970’s song, a hospital can quickly morph into the medical version of the Hotel California.There is an evil sweeping our nation that is using very clever, compassionate sounding language to hasten the deaths of people who are inconveniences or who, they believe, don’t contribute to society. The very best place to educate yourself quickly on both the history and recent activities of the death movement is at the website of the International Task Force here




Defending the speculator: "‘Kill the speculators!’ is a cry made during every famine that has ever existed. Uttered by demagogues, who think that the speculator causes death through starvation by raising food prices, this cry is fervently supported by the masses of economic illiterates. This kind of thinking, or rather nonthinking, has allowed dictators to impose even the death penalty for traders in food who charge high prices during famines. And this is done without the feeblest of protests from those usually concerned with civil rights and liberties. Yet the truth of the matter is that, far from causing starvation and famines, it is the speculator who prevents them. And far from safeguarding the lives of the people, it is the dictator who must bear the prime responsibility for causing the famine in the first place.”

Right to be feminist: "The latest Sarah Palin controversy has to do with feminism. In a recent article in the Washington Post, feminist author and blogger Jessica Valenti blasted the former vice presidential candidate for ‘adopting the feminist label.’ Valenti believes that any talk of a conservative version of feminism is a cynical right-wing ploy to fool women into supporting reactionary antiwoman policies. But while Palin may be far from the best spokeswoman for conservative feminism, the idea itself is essential to feminism’s health. If feminism is typecast as a left-wing movement, this automatically limits its appeal in a country with center-right politics.”

The Flotilla Wars: One stunt begets another: "A group of volunteers will shortly board some ships in order to deliver aid to suppressed minorities and send a political message to the world: It’s time for an end to occupation and oppression!No, it’s not another ‘Gaza freedom’ flotilla. This time it’s an Israeli ‘peace flotilla’ organised by the National Union of Israeli Students (NUIS). And it will be heading for Turkey – where the ship that was attacked by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) set sail from – with the aim of bringing attention to the plight of Turkey’s minorities and to challenge the global image of Israel as an evil, murderous state.”


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)


Friday, June 11, 2010

The ‘Cry Wolf’ Project

The summary of the project below is from Breitbart's "Big Journalism". I am not as bothered by it as the writer is. The guy behind the project seems a bit of a dimwit to me. With the mass media and the universities already pumping out Leftist propaganda day and night, what difference are a few more academic bloviations from the Left going to make? But it is worth noting the corrupt nature of the project.

The most interesting aspect of the matter would have to be a full account of who the "We" is. Where is he getting the money to buy articles at $1,000 a pop?

It could be coming from the college where he works. The college makes some pretty good statements about its students being entitled to politically unbiased teaching and grading but the old Soviet constitution (written by Stalin) guaranteed human rights too.

The reason I think the college may be involved is that it seems very far-Left. It has a whole academic department devoted to "critical theory" -- which is not as good as it sounds. "Critical theory" is simply modern Marxism. But if you have read any "critical theorists", you won't feel threatened by them. "Critical theory" is just a type of theology and if you don't believe in the holy books (in this case the writings of Karl Marx) of the theologian concerned you won't see the point of it all

The Cry Wolf Project is a politically motivated and financed scheme to recruit university students and faculty to “give substance and scholarly integrity” to a predetermined partisan narrative – namely that in the “battle with conservative ideas,” “conservative politicians and right-wing pundits” use “falsity and exaggeration” to “thwart progressive reform.”

Simply put, Cry Wolf wants scholarly proof that conservatives are liars and is willing to pay to get the results it wants.

In addition to the potential legal — and certain ethical — violations, there are two fundamental problems with the Cry Wolf Project’s approach:

The first is that the purpose of science, even social and political science, is not to prove, but rather to disprove hypotheses. Legitimate academic process suggests that an idea be first proposed and then tested. If the available evidence all supports the idea, and the idea holds up in the face of all of the testing it can be subjected to, the hypothesis is still not proven since a future test or as-yet-undetermined piece of evidence could still one day disprove it.

The best science can do is to elevate certain hypotheses above others. Thus, anytime someone employs the term, “science has proven,” you can be certain it is not science that is being discussed. Science has not proven anything, from modern evolutionary theory, to man-caused global warming, or even the simplest ideas, like what gravity is (Exaggeration? Google: Large Hadron Collider).

The role of science is to question, probe, and test. Good science is habitually skeptical of the claims of scientists and subjects every idea to relentless opposition. It is precisely this method of continuous critique that makes the scientific method the best process available to us to test ideas, just as the constant competition of a truly free market is the best process available to test innovation, goods, and services. Free markets are decidedly scientific.

So, when the well-lettered doctors in this and that field from one college or another who are behind the Cry Wolf Project make their stated goal not the testing of their hypotheses, but to “undermine the credibility and arguments” of those critics that would test them, they forfeit any claim of “scholarly integrity.” They have become evangelicals for their own ideology, not academics, and the letters by their names give them no more qualification in the field of politics than a ministerial credential qualifies a priest to pilot the space shuttle.

Which, of course, is the second fundamental problem with the Cry Wolf Project, and so much of academia and progressivism in general, and that is the utter hypocrisy with which it conducts itself.

Cry Wolf claims the mantle of scholarship while employing none.

They wish to castrate all opposing views before they are even made, such that the “first reaction of millions of people, as well as opinion leaders” will be to ignore any challenge to their views. Not through any empirical testing in the marketplace of ideas, but through devotion to a cause, they have determined that they are inarguably right and that the right is inarguably wrong. Thus conservative opposition to their policies must be unfounded and must be silenced — by any means necessary, including outright propaganda.

For conservatives, there is no need to silence differing views, since we believe our ideas will win out on their actual merits over time. You can only rely on the kindness of strangers for so long. You can only spend more than you earn for so long. You can only appease your mortal enemies for so long.

In true scientific fashion, conservatives believe that the truth will out, or at least that falsehood will be revealed. We fight, of course, but our fight is not to eliminate competition, just to out-compete in the search for the truth. That we are continually accused of being the opposite of what we are by those who are what they claim to hate is nothing new to us.

Those who pervert academia accuse us of having no regard for education, those who believe people should be treated differently because of their race or gender call us racists and bigots, and those who call us purveyors of injustice seek to take from one man his just rewards and allocate them to another who did not justly earn them.

Believers are daily mocked for what unbelievers see as a blind faith in God, while those same people place a blind faith on the conclusions of a system never meant to conclude in the first place.

We are called greedy by those who can never take enough, and fascists by those who would force their views on all who draw breath, so it is no surprise that those who would accuse us of “crying wolf” are the same people who themselves “cry wolf” most often.

Whether through irony or design, the Cry Wolf Project does just that. It preemptively alerts the public to a danger it is not in. It employs the very tactics it derides, and it cheapens the very credentials from which it claims its authority.

Conservatives don’t cry wolf, but we do call bulls*@!.



Obamacare: The More We Learn, The Worse It Gets

This week, we learned that the Obama administration is orchestrating a $125 million propaganda campaign to sell the recently enacted health-care law to the public. That effort will be funded by labor unions and other groups from the Democratic political orbit. It comes on top of the misleading government mailer sent to the nation’s seniors, at the expense of taxpayers, touting the supposed benefits of ObamaCare for the elderly. On Tuesday, the president himself will join the fray again to make the sales pitch, this time promoting the colossal waste of taxpayer money associated with $250 per senior bribes to be issued this summer and fall.

The problem the White House has, however, has never been insufficient public relations spin. The problem is the substance. Americans care deeply about their health care, and they have seen right through the Democratic rhetoric on ObamaCare from day one. They know that it is a poorly conceived experiment, built on the flawed assumption that the problems in U.S. health care can be solved with heavier regulation, subsidization, and micro-management from Washington, D.C.

In Medicare, the results of the new law will be disastrous. ObamaCare will cut payments to the private insurance component of the program (called Medicare Advantage, or MA) by nearly $200 billion over ten years. The chief actuary of the program says this cut will eventually drive 7 million seniors — many with low-incomes — out of the plan they would prefer to enroll in. And it will mean thousands of dollars in benefit reductions for every MA enrollee, beginning next year. These seniors won’t be silenced with patronizing and one-time checks. In addition, the new law imposes arbitrary price cutting for all manner of Medicare services, which the chief actuary says will harm access to care by forcing scores of institutions to stop taking Medicare beneficiaries.

Last week, we learned that the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has postponed issuing guidance on the ill-conceived “medical-loss ratio” requirement in the new law because, as passed by Congress, it will cause massive and unnecessary disruption to millions of current insurance enrollees. One estimate is that 1 to 2 million people with individual insurance will lose their coverage if the requirement is imposed because national insurers will be forced to exit the market to avoid large business losses.

The president has said repeatedly that Americans will get to keep the insurance they have today if they like it. But that’s quite clearly not going to be the case. Douglas Holtz-Eakin, of the American Action Forum, has released a new study that shows some 35 million Americans will get bumped from job-based coverage under the new law and be forced into the new government-managed system. That’s because the massive new subsidies promised by the government will make dropping insurance unavoidable for thousands of employers. He also predicts the migration out of employer plans will drive up the overall federal costs dramatically, adding another $500 billion over ten years to the costs projected by the Congressional Budget Office for the bill.

Perhaps that why CBO’s Director, Doug Elmendorf, is saying that the federal government’s health costs are still unsustainable, even after passage of the new law, despite repeated presidential promises that ObamaCare would solve our budget problems by painlessly “bending the cost curve.”

The truth is, the more we learn about ObamaCare, the worse it gets. It’s filled with budgetary gimmicks and flawed assumptions that will bankrupt the U.S. treasury. Its taxes will force deep cuts in employment in the medical device and other industries. Restaurants and other employers will have strong incentives to avoid hiring workers from low income households in order to lessen the burden from the law’s mandates and penalties. It will disrupt insurance for millions of Americans who are perfectly happy with the coverage they have today. And the government’s clumsy cost-cutting efforts will undermine the quality of American medicine.

Most Americans already instinctively understand all of this. But it’s also clear that the administration and its allies will spend millions trying to persuade them that up is down when it comes to health care. We have launched this web site to set the record straight. pulls together all of the best evidence and analysis about the legislation, as well as relevant news items and commentary, in an accessible and searchable format for anyone to use as they need to. Our aim is to provide Americans with the facts so that they can hold those who sponsored and passed ObamaCare accountable for what they have done.



Jobs report a nightmare for Obama progressivism

Private-sector job creation almost stopped in May. The 41,000 jobs created were dwarfed by the 411,000 temporary and low-wage government jobs needed to administer the census. Last year's stimulus having failed to hold unemployment below 8 percent as predicted, Barack Obama might advocate another stimulus -- amending Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution, which mandates a census every 10 years. If it were every year, he could take credit for creating 564,000 -- the current number of census takers -- permanent jobs.

May's 41,000 jobs were one-fifth of the April number and substantially fewer than half the number needed to keep pace with the normal growth of the labor force. This is evidence against the theory that a growing government can be counted on to produce prosperity because a government dollar spent has a reliable multiplier effect as it ripples through the economy from which the government took the dollar.

Today's evidence suggesting sluggish job creation might give pause to a less confident person than Obama. But pauses are not in his repertoire of governance. Instead, yielding to what must be a metabolic urge toward statism, he says the Gulf of Mexico oil spill is yet another reason for yet another explosion of government's control of economic life. The spill supposedly makes it urgent to adopt a large tax increase in the form of cap-and-trade energy legislation, which also is climate legislation, the primary purpose of which is, or once was, to combat global warming, such as it is.

At any time, some economic conditions would be better than others, but the more certainty about conditions the better. Today investors and employers are certain that uncertainties are multiplying.

They are uncertain about when interest rates will rise, and by how much. They do not know how badly the economy will be burdened by the expiration, approximately 200 days from now, of the Bush tax cuts for high earners -- a.k.a. investors and employers. They know the costs of Obamacare will be higher than was advertised, but not how much higher. They do not know the potential costs of cap-and-trade and other energy policies. They do not know whether "card check" -- abolition of the right of secret-ballot elections in unionization decisions -- will pass, or how much the economy will be injured by making unions more muscular. They do not know how the functioning of the financial sector will be altered and impeded by the many new regulatory rules and agencies created by the financial reform legislation. The economy has become dependent on government stimulation of demand, and no one knows what will happen as the stimulus spending wanes.

Uncertainty is a consequence of hyperkinetic government, which is a consequence of the governmental confidence that is a consequence of progressivism. The premise of progressivism is that all will be well if enough power is concentrated in Washington, and enough Washington power is concentrated in the executive branch, and enough really clever experts are concentrated in the executive branch. This is why the government's perceived impotence concerning the gulf oil spill is subversive of the Obama administration's master narrative.

Progressives generally, and Obama especially, encourage expectations as large as the 1,428-page (cap-and-trade), 1,566-page (financial reform) and 2,409-page (health care) bills they churn out as "comprehensive" solutions to this and that. For a proper progressive, anything short of a "comprehensive" solution to, say, the problem of illegal immigration is unworthy of consideration. For today's progressive president, the prospect of a jobless recovery is a comprehensive nightmare.



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, June 10, 2010

Obama's agenda: Overwhelm the system


Rahm Emanuel cynically said, "You never want a crisis to go to waste." It is now becoming clear that the crisis he was referring to is Barack Obama's presidency.

Obama is no fool. He is not incompetent. To the contrary, he is brilliant. He knows exactly what he's doing. He is purposely overwhelming the U.S. economy to create systemic failure, economic crisis and social chaos -- thereby destroying capitalism and our country from within.Â

Barack Obama is my college classmate (Columbia University, class of '83). As Glenn Beck correctly predicted from day one, Obama is following the plan of Cloward & Piven, two professors at Columbia University. They outlined a plan to socialize America by overwhelming the system with government spending and entitlement demands. Add up the clues below. Taken individually they're alarming. Taken as a whole, it is a brilliant, Machiavellian game plan to turn the United States into a socialist/Marxist state with a permanent majority that desperately needs government for survival ... and can be counted on to always vote for bigger government. Why not? They have no responsibility to pay for it.

-- Universal health care. The health care bill had very little to do with health care. It had everything to do with unionizing millions of hospital and health care workers, as well as adding 15,000 to 20,000 new IRS agents (who will join government employee unions). Obama doesn't care that giving free health care to 30 million Americans will add trillions to the national debt. What he does care about is that it cements the dependence of those 30 million voters to Democrats and big government. Who but a socialist revolutionary would pass this reckless spending bill in the middle of a depression?

-- Cap and trade. Like health care legislation having nothing to do with health care, cap and trade has nothing to do with global warming. It has everything to do with redistribution of income, government control of the economy and a criminal payoff to Obama's biggest contributors. Those powerful and wealthy unions and contributors (like GE, which owns NBC, MSNBC and CNBC) can then be counted on to support everything Obama wants. They will kick-back hundreds of millions of dollars in contributions to Obama and the Democratic Party to keep them in power. The bonus is that all the new taxes on Americans with bigger cars, bigger homes and businesses helps Obama "spread the wealth around."

-- Make Puerto Rico a state. Why? Who's asking for a 51st state? Who's asking for millions of new welfare recipients and government entitlement addicts in the middle of a depression? Certainly not American taxpayers. But this has been Obama's plan all along. His goal is to add two new Democrat senators, five Democrat congressman and a million loyal Democratic voters who are dependent on big government.

-- Legalize 12 million illegal immigrants. Just giving these 12 million potential new citizens free health care alone could overwhelm the system and bankrupt America. But it adds 12 million reliable new Democrat voters who can be counted on to support big government. Add another few trillion dollars in welfare, aid to dependent children, food stamps, free medical, education, tax credits for the poor, and eventually Social Security.

-- Stimulus and bailouts. Where did all that money go? It went to Democrat contributors, organizations (ACORN), and unions -- including billions of dollars to save or create jobs of government employees across the country. It went to save GM and Chrysler so that their employees could keep paying union dues. It went to AIG so that Goldman Sachs could be bailed out (after giving Obama almost $1 million in contributions). A staggering $125 billion went to teachers (thereby protecting their union dues). All those public employees will vote loyally Democrat to protect their bloated salaries and pensions that are bankrupting America. The country goes broke, future generations face a bleak future, but Obama, the Democrat Party, government, and the unions grow more powerful. The ends justify the means.

-- Raise taxes on small business owners, high-income earners, and job creators. Put the entire burden on only the top 20 percent of taxpayers, redistribute the income, punish success, and reward those who did nothing to deserve it (except vote for Obama). Reagan wanted to dramatically cut taxes in order to starve the government. Obama wants to dramatically raise taxes to starve his political opposition.

With the acts outlined above, Obama and his regime have created a vast and rapidly expanding constituency of voters dependent on big government; a vast privileged class of public employees who work for big government; and a government dedicated to destroying capitalism and installing themselves as socialist rulers by overwhelming the system.

Add it up and you've got the perfect Marxist scheme -- all devised by my Columbia University college classmate Barack Obama.



Progressivism: Power without limits

Today, as it has been for a century, American politics is an argument between two Princetonians -- James Madison, Class of 1771, and Woodrow Wilson, Class of 1879. Madison was the most profound thinker among the Founders. Wilson, avatar of "progressivism," was the first president critical of the nation's founding. Barack Obama's Wilsonian agenda reflects its namesake's rejection of limited government.

Lack of "a limiting principle" is the essence of progressivism, according to William Voegeli, contributing editor of the Claremont Review of Books, in his new book "Never Enough: America's Limitless Welfare State." The Founders, he writes, believed that free government's purpose, and the threats to it, are found in nature. The threats are desires for untrammeled power, desires which, Madison said, are "sown in the nature of man." Government's limited purpose is to protect the exercise of natural rights that pre-exist government, rights that human reason can ascertain in unchanging principles of conduct and that are essential to the pursuit of happiness.

Wilsonian progressives believe that History is a proper noun, an autonomous thing. It, rather than nature, defines government's ever-evolving and unlimited purposes. Government exists to dispense an ever-expanding menu of rights -- entitlements that serve an open-ended understanding of material and even spiritual well-being.

The name "progressivism" implies criticism of the Founding, which we leave behind as we make progress. And the name is tautological: History is progressive because progress is defined as whatever History produces. History guarantees what the Supreme Court has called "evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society."

The cheerful assumption is that "evolving" must mean "improving." Progressivism's promise is a program for every problem, and progressivism's premise is that every unfulfilled desire is a problem.

Franklin Roosevelt, an alumnus of Wilson's administration, resolved to "resume" Wilson's "march along the path of real progress" by giving government "the vibrant personal character that is the very embodiment of human charity." He repudiated the Founders' idea that government is instituted to protect pre-existing and timeless natural rights, promising "the re-definition of these rights in terms of a changing and growing social order."

He promised "a right to make a comfortable living." Presumably, the judiciary would define and enforce the delivery of comfort. Specifically, there could be no right to "do anything which deprives others" of whatever "elemental rights" the government decides to dispense.

Today, government finds the limitless power of dispensing not in Madison's Constitution of limited government but in Wilson's theory that the Constitution actually frees government from limitations. The liberating -- for government -- idea is that the Constitution is a "living," evolving document. Wilson's Constitution is an emancipation proclamation for government, empowering it to regulate all human activities in order to treat all human desires as needs and hence as rights. Unlimited power is entailed by what Voegeli calls government's "right to discover new rights."

"Liberalism's protean understanding of rights," he says, "complicates and ultimately dooms the idea of a principled refusal to elevate any benefit that we would like people to enjoy to the status of an inviolable right." Needs breed rights to have the needs addressed, to the point that Lyndon Johnson, an FDR protege, promised that government would provide Americans with "purpose" and "meaning."

Although progressivism's ever-lengthening list of rights is as limitless as human needs/desires, one right that never makes the list is the right to keep some inviolable portion of one's private wealth or income, "regardless," Voegeli says, "of the lofty purposes social reformers wish to make of it."

Lacking a limiting principle, progressivism cannot say how big the welfare state should be but must always say that it should be bigger than it currently is. Furthermore, by making a welfare state a fountain of rights requisite for democracy, progressives in effect declare that democratic deliberation about the legitimacy of the welfare state is illegitimate.

"By blackening the skies with crisscrossing dollars," Voegeli says, the welfare state encourages people "to believe an impossibility: that every household can be a net importer of the wealth redistributed by the government." But the welfare state's problem, today becoming vivid, is socialism's problem, as Margaret Thatcher defined it: Socialist governments "always run out of other people's money."

Wilsonian government, meaning (in Wilson's words) government with "unstinted power," is hostile to Madison's Constitution, which, Madison said, obliges government "to control itself." Thus our choice is between government restraint rooted in respect for nature, or government free to follow History wherever government says History marches.



Unjust Comparison

Here’s a letter to the Washington Post from economist Donald J. Boudreaux

Jim Hoagland ends his otherwise fine column on South Africa by comparing American Tea Partiers to apartheid-applauding Afrikaners (“Ex-president de Klerk teaches the inspiration of South Africa,” June 6).

This comparison unjustly smears the great majority of Tea Partiers. Is Tea Partiers’ judgment that Uncle Sam’s scale and scope have become too large really hateful? Is their opposition to nationalized health-care and to bailouts of Wall Street and of teachers’ unions symptoms of antisocial bigotry? Is the proclamation “Don’t Tread On Me” – a proclamation featured prominently at Tea Party events – a slogan in support of government privileges for a select few? Hardly.

One may disagree with Tea Partiers’ demands that personal responsibility be restored to private markets, and that fiscal responsibility be restored to public finance. But one may not legitimately accuse these demands – demand motivated in large part by the ugliness of Uncle Sam playing favorites with politically influential interest groups – of being at all similar to an ideology that supported a strong central government whose purpose was to bestow privileges on a minority by taxing and suppressing the majority.




I have added quite a few things to my sidebar recently. It may be worth a look if you have not done so recently.

Payday policymaking: "Consider: There are more payday loan storefronts in the United States than there are McDonald’s and Starbucks outlets combined. Also consider, these payday loan storefronts are much more geographically concentrated than other types of outlets. Whereas Starbucks and McDonald’s sprawl across disparate locations with very unique compositions and characteristics of residents, payday storefronts tend to cluster densely in regions where demand for payday loans is likely to be high. What do these conditions imply about the characteristics of the payday loan market? For starters, basic economic intuition would suggest that the payday lenders operate in a competitive marketplace. Fairly low barriers to entry (both legal and financial) into the market and the vast number of storefronts implies that individual stores face strong incentives to underprice their competitors. The result, barring collusion or market distortion, would be that prices are efficient, and not exorbitant. The empirical evidence bears out this claim.”

Washington’s elite: Wasting billions and borrowing trillions: “These ’spend now/pay later’ policies have left America with an estimated $1.5 trillion deficit for 2009. That means that the federal government is spending $12,664 more per American household than it actually has. Deficits normally rise during times of recession but typically they return to their pre-recession range once the economy has recovered. However, instead of dropping back down to the $100 billion to $400 billion range that America saw before the recession, President Obama’s budget shows annual budget deficits averaging close to $1 trillion for the 10 years.”

Give up on “giving back”: "I usually cringe when I hear someone who got rich from business say he feels an obligation to ‘give back to society.’ Bill Gates, the founder and chairman of Microsoft, is perhaps an example of this attitude (here and here). It’s not his philanthropy that I object to — what he’s doing in this area is brilliant — but the reasons he gives for it, as though his wealth is in some way undeserved.”


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, June 09, 2010

Israel and Its Liberal 'Friends'

Why don't they apply the same tough love to the Palestinians?

Questions for liberals: What does it mean to be a friend of Israel? What does it mean to be a friend of the Palestinians? And should the same standards of friendship apply to Israelis and Palestinians alike, or is there a double standard here as well?

It has become the predictable refrain among Israel's liberal critics that their criticism is, in fact, the deepest form of friendship. Who but a real friend, after all, is willing to tell Israel the hard truths it will not tell itself? Who will remind Israel that it is now the strong party, and that it cannot continue to play the victim and evade the duties of moral judgment and prudential restraint? Above all, who will remind Israel that it cannot go on denying Palestinians their rights, their dignity, and a country they can call their own?

The answer, say people like Peter Beinart, formerly of the New Republic, is people like . . . Peter Beinart. And now that Israel has found itself in another public relations hole thanks to last week's raid on the Gaza flotilla, Israelis will surely be hearing a lot more from him.

Now consider what it means for liberals to be friends of the Palestinians.

Here, the criticism becomes oddly muted. So Egypt, a country that also once occupied Gaza, enforces precisely the same blockade on the Strip as Israel: Do liberal friends of Palestine urge the Obama administration to get tough on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak as they urge him to do with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu?

So a bunch of "peace" activists teams up with a Turkish group of virulently anti-Semitic bent and with links both to Hamas and al Qaeda: Does this prompt liberal soul-searching about the moral drift of the pro-Palestinian movement? So Hamas trashes a U.N.-run school, as it did the other week, because it educates girls: Do liberals wag stern fingers at Palestinians for giving up on the dream of a secular, progressive state?

Well, no. And no. And no. Instead, liberal support for Palestinians is now mainly of the no-hard-questions-asked variety. But that is precisely the kind of support that liberals decry as toxic when it comes to Western support for Israel.

I leave it to others to decide whether this is simple hypocrisy or otherwise evidence of how disingenuous claims by certain liberals to friendship with Israel have become. Still, these liberals insist that their remonstrances are necessary because, without them, Israelis won't get the tough love they need.

Really? Consider a sample of recent clippings from the Israeli press. An editorial in Haaretz: "Like a robot lacking judgment . . . that's how the [Israeli] government is behaving in its handling of the aid flotillas to the Gaza Strip." A columnist in the Jerusalem Post: "As evil as these jihadists [aboard the flotilla] are, they were acting in a cause the whole decent, democratic world knows is right: Freedom for Gaza. Freedom for the Palestinians. And end to the occupation. An end to the blockade." A member of Israel's cabinet: "We need to ease the population's conditions and find security-sensitive, worthy alternatives to the embargo."

None of this indicates a society lacking in a capacity for self-criticism. Yet that capacity hardly has any parallel in the closed circle of Palestinian media or politics, a point that ought to bother Western liberals.

It doesn't. One wonders why. Part of the reason surely has to be intellectual confusion, an inability to grasp the difference between national "liberation" and genuine freedom. Ho Chi Minh was not a "freedom fighter," and neither was Yasser Arafat. How many times does the world have to go through this drill for liberals to get the point?

There's also a psychology at work. Harvard's Ruth Wisse calls it "moral solipsism" —obsessive regard for your own moral performance; complete indifference to the performance of those who wish you ill.

Finally there's the fact that liberalism has become a politics of easy targets. Liberals have no trouble taking stands against abstinence educators, Prop 8 supporters or members of the tea party. But when it comes to genuine bigots and religious fanatics —and Hamas has few equals in those categories— liberals have a way of discovering their capacity for cultural nuance and political pragmatism.

Today, by contrast, the task of defending Israel is hard. It's hard because defenders must eschew cliches about "the powerful" and "the powerless." It is hard because it goes against prevailing ideological fashions. And it's hard because it requires an appreciation that the choice of evils that endlessly confronts Israeli policy makers is not something they can simply wash their hands of by "ending the occupation." They tried that before —in Gaza.

Is there a liberalism that is capable of recognizing this? Or are we again at the stage where it has been consumed by its instinct for fellow-traveling? In 1968, Eric Hoffer wrote: "I have a premonition that will not leave me; as it goes with Israel so will it go with all of us. Should Israel perish the holocaust will be upon us." By "us," he meant liberals, too, and maybe most of all.



Self-identified liberals and Democrats do badly on questions of basic economics

Who is better informed about the policy choices facing the country—liberals, conservatives or libertarians? According to a Zogby International survey that I write about in the May issue of Econ Journal Watch, the answer is unequivocal: The left flunks Econ 101.

Zogby researcher Zeljka Buturovic and I considered the 4,835 respondents' (all American adults) answers to eight survey questions about basic economics. We also asked the respondents about their political leanings: progressive/very liberal; liberal; moderate; conservative; very conservative; and libertarian.

Rather than focusing on whether respondents answered a question correctly, we instead looked at whether they answered incorrectly. A response was counted as incorrect only if it was flatly unenlightened.

Consider one of the economic propositions in the December 2008 poll: "Restrictions on housing development make housing less affordable." People were asked if they: 1) strongly agree; 2) somewhat agree; 3) somewhat disagree; 4) strongly disagree; 5) are not sure.

Basic economics acknowledges that whatever redeeming features a restriction may have, it increases the cost of production and exchange, making goods and services less affordable. There may be exceptions to the general case, but they would be atypical.

Therefore, we counted as incorrect responses of "somewhat disagree" and "strongly disagree." This treatment gives leeway for those who think the question is ambiguous or half right and half wrong. They would likely answer "not sure," which we do not count as incorrect.

In this case, percentage of conservatives answering incorrectly was 22.3%, very conservatives 17.6% and libertarians 15.7%. But the percentage of progressive/very liberals answering incorrectly was 67.6% and liberals 60.1%. The pattern was not an anomaly.

The other questions were: 1) Mandatory licensing of professional services increases the prices of those services (unenlightened answer: disagree). 2) Overall, the standard of living is higher today than it was 30 years ago (unenlightened answer: disagree). 3) Rent control leads to housing shortages (unenlightened answer: disagree). 4) A company with the largest market share is a monopoly (unenlightened answer: agree). 5) Third World workers working for American companies overseas are being exploited (unenlightened answer: agree). 6) Free trade leads to unemployment (unenlightened answer: agree). 7) Minimum wage laws raise unemployment (unenlightened answer: disagree).

How did the six ideological groups do overall? Here they are, best to worst, with an average number of incorrect responses from 0 to 8: Very conservative, 1.30; Libertarian, 1.38; Conservative, 1.67; Moderate, 3.67; Liberal, 4.69; Progressive/very liberal, 5.26.

Americans in the first three categories do reasonably well. But the left has trouble squaring economic thinking with their political psychology, morals and aesthetics.

To be sure, none of the eight questions specifically challenge the political sensibilities of conservatives and libertarians. Still, not all of the eight questions are tied directly to left-wing concerns about inequality and redistribution. In particular, the questions about mandatory licensing, the standard of living, the definition of monopoly, and free trade do not specifically challenge leftist sensibilities.

Yet on every question the left did much worse. On the monopoly question, the portion of progressive/very liberals answering incorrectly (31%) was more than twice that of conservatives (13%) and more than four times that of libertarians (7%). On the question about living standards, the portion of progressive/very liberals answering incorrectly (61%) was more than four times that of conservatives (13%) and almost three times that of libertarians (21%).

The survey also asked about party affiliation. Those responding Democratic averaged 4.59 incorrect answers. Republicans averaged 1.61 incorrect, and Libertarians 1.26 incorrect.

Adam Smith described political economy as "a branch of the science of a statesman or legislator." Governmental power joined with wrongheadedness is something terrible, but all too common. Realizing that many of our leaders and their constituents are economically unenlightened sheds light on the troubles that surround us.



New Democrat ethics watchdog bites its creators

When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi first pushed her wary colleagues to set up a new investigative team to beef up ethics enforcement, some watchdogs argued against it. Since ethics investigators would have no subpoena power, critics warned, they'd have no meaningful authority and would simply act as a fig leaf.

But two years later, the Office of Congressional Ethics is making surprising waves in the House.

The OCE's investigation into the PMA Group, a now-defunct defense contractor, turned up some of the most startling evidence to date of the link between campaign donations and congressional earmarks. Its eye-opening report on PMA's dealings with more than half a dozen House members helped prompt the House Appropriations Committee to ban earmarks aimed at for-profit companies. Now the OCE has forwarded its evidence to the Justice Department; PMA is already under FBI investigation. "We felt we had a responsibility to provide this information to an appropriate law enforcement agency," said OCE staff director and chief counsel Leo Wise, a former Justice Department trial attorney.

The OCE's investigation into a corporate-funded Caribbean trip by Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., led the full ethics committee to admonish Rangel, who then stepped aside as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

But the real evidence that OCE has shaken things up is the angry complaints House members have leveled at the investigative committee, which is chaired by former Reps. David Skaggs, D-Colo., and Porter Goss, R-Fla.

The latest salvo against the House's fledgling investigative arm comes from Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, who's rounded up 19 signatures on a resolution that would strip the OCE of much of its power and bar it from releasing most findings. Among other provisions, the measure would force OCE to seal the records for complaints that the ethics committee dismissed as frivolous or unfounded.

"It's not any attempt to hide anything, it's not any attempt to diminish the committee's authority, it is not in any way an attempt to weaken the ethics process," said Fudge. Rather, she argued, the resolution would "strengthen the process" and improve "fundamental fairness."

But Fudge's resolution has "zero credibility," countered Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, in part because many of those who signed it have themselves been OCE ethics targets. All 20 lawmakers who signed the Fudge resolution are members of the Congressional Black Caucus, which has more than half a dozen members who have faced or are facing OCE ethics inquiries.

Five CBC members were on the same corporate and lobbyist-sponsored Caribbean trip that got Rangel in hot water. While it did admonish Rangel, the ethics committee rejected the OCE's recommendation that it further investigate the other four lawmakers on the trip.

However, the ethics panel also faulted Dawn Kelly Mobley, who was at that time an aide to then-ethics committee chair Stephanie Tubbs Jones, D-Ohio, for her role in the trip and in the investigation. Mobley is now Fudge's chief of staff.

"This is an attack on the Office of Congressional Ethics for doing its job," said Wertheimer. He added that good-government advocates have long anticipated attacks on the OCE and expect them to continue. The OCE "has done exactly what it was established to do," he added, and "is having a substantial impact in terms of creating accountability in the system."

The status quo before the OCE's creation, he noted, was for the moribund Committee on Standards of Official Conduct to kill, squelch and bury ethics complaints.

In one sense, this hasn't really changed much since the OCE's creation. Though the full ethics committee panel has hired more staff and has a few dozen investigations under way, the panel has brushed aside virtually all of the OCE's recommendations. The OCE has made 13 referrals recommending further review to the full ethics panel. But the committee has taken action (the Rangel admonishment) in only one of those cases; three are still under review.

Interestingly, though, the mere publication of OCE's referrals is changing the House's ethics culture. The OCE may not impose sanctions; its role is simply to vet complaints with preliminary inquiries and to make recommendations to the full ethics panel. But in cases where the ethics committee fails to take action, the panel must explain why and publicly release any referrals from the OCE.

These public disclosures are what have irked Fudge and so many of her colleagues. The real reason House members are targeting OCE, it seems, is because its investigators are finally shedding some light on the once secretive ethics process. Much of Fudge's resolution centers on sealing records, banning public statements and blocking the release of reports.

One signature is conspicuously missing from Fudge's resolution, however: that of House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., a prominent CBC member and one of its former chairs. This may signal that other House leaders, including Pelosi, may be reluctant to follow Fudge's lead. Given Pelosi's public pledges to clean up Capitol Hill, she would certainly be ill-advised to let the House ethics process revert to secrecy.



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, June 08, 2010

The University Guild vs. Glenn Beck

By Amity Shlaes

Drive them crazy. That's what Glenn Beck seems to specialize in doing, whether the "them" at issue is fellow radio hosts, fellow tv hosts, or, now, professors at universities. This last group is opening its own front in the war against the television king. An associate professor, Joseph Palermo of California State/Sacramento, took to the Huffington Post to mock the broadcaster as "Glenn Beck, Ph.D." I personally noticed this since Professor Palermo mentioned me by name, in tandem with author Jonah Goldberg, as an effort to "misinform" the gullible.

The rage at first seems odd, coming from professors. Why should these serene Yodas care what a man on television bellows? Yet they are on the warpath. The academic fury is at first directed at interpretation. Mr. Beck's explanation of how the Framers viewed religion, Mr. Beck's depiction of how Franklin Roosevelt's policy affected the Great Depression; Mr. Beck's argument that regulation is currently curtailing liberty in general -- all fall short in academic eyes. Prof. Palermo, for example, calls Mr. Beck's views as "stupid and false." But the real issue, the reason professors are on the attack, is not specific content. It is rather the professional and, in the end, economic, threat that Mr. Beck represents. To academics, Mr. Beck is more dangerous than any other radio show host, and they know it.

To understand the nature of the Beck challenge, you have to recall that our system of higher education is a throwback to medieval economics: a guild. As in the classic guild, members require a lengthy period of training, with formal stages. To be in any way authoritative, a writer must have a Ph.D., a guild seal. Members of this guild have enormous discretion when it comes to the conferring of the seal - also typical. In the humanities and social sciences, Ph.D.s. and, it goes without saying, tenure-track posts -- are usually awarded to those not hostile to the master professors' views. For many decades top universities have been especially rigorous in this practice, with the result that it is difficult to find non-progressives with top credentials in the humanities. The guild demands much from its apprentices, graduate students, including dull work in obscure texts. Indeed it is proud of that obscurity, for it distinguishes academic work from, say, the easy popular histories on bookstore shelves or tv.

In the field of history, the guild also maintains a monopoly on education by generating curricula, syllabi, and, of course, a canon, a set list of texts for each period of the past. Of course the academic guild, generally on the progressive side, has made many concessions to conservatives or classical liberals. Professors have assigned the odd conservative book; they mentioned the opponents' arguments. But such offerings have generally been presented as an afterthought, secondary, less authoritative. Looking back at their education many adults saw through this pretense of fairness. They resented the guild monolith. Something was missing.

Enter Mr. Beck. At first, the radio show host appeared no different from the rest of conservative radio. In other words, another product of the 1987 repeal of the old Fairness Doctrine, which said that a radio license "may not be utilized to achieve a partisan or one-sided presentation." Pre-repeal that requirement was so strictly adhered to that radio tended the dull. After the repeal hosts were free to deliver soliloquys of rage and individual insights, legal, historical, political. This change which turned out to be welcome to millions of viewers. The first to take advantage of this market opening was Rush Limbaugh, who remains the undisputed king of conservative talk radio.

The second explanation for Beck rage however involves the guild. For unlike other hosts, who tend to pick up and drop topics, Mr. Beck has begun to develop a new canon for adults. And unlike other hosts, but indeed like a professor, Mr. Beck tends to demand a lot of his viewers. For example, he recently devoted the better part of an hour to a biography of Samuel Adams by a historian without a Ph.D., Ira Stoll, whose book highlights the revolutionary firebrand's piety. Mr. Beck breaks other tv rules. He insists viewers read books by dead men - W. Cleon Skousen's work on the Constitution, the ``5000 Year Leap." It is all a long way from "Oprah," "The Newshour" or even much of public television. Mr. Beck's broadcast was barely over when Mr. Stoll's book shot up to the highest heights of the Amazon list, where it has resided ever since. Beck-recommended books sometimes sell as well as, heaven forfend, textbooks. I had the good fortune to experience some of this after Mr. Beck talked about my Great Depression history.

Every author is glad to sell books. But the victory is far more Mr. Beck's than any individual writer's or publisher's. His genius has been in his recognition that viewers do not want merely the odd, one-off book, duly pegged to news. They want a coherent vision, a competing canon that the regulated airwaves and academy have denied them. So he, Glenn Beck, is building that canon, book by book from the forgotten shelf. Since the man is a riveting entertainer, the professors are correct to be concerned. He's not just reacting or shaping individual thoughts. He is bringing competition into the Ed Biz.

What to do? The Glenn Beck reading list may not satisfy everyone. Some of his views are indeed worth questioning. Some of us don't agree with important components of his politics. Beck's personal attacks put a lot of us off. Maybe there should be yet a third new reading list. As for the guild, a better response than its own ad hominem smearing is to widen their own reading lists and lectures. Professors can blame only themselves if Mr. Beck has taken an opportunity to teach. It is they who gave it to him.

Amity Shlaes is the author of "The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression"



Do We Now Have A “Slick” Barack?

Everyone knows of “Slick Willie,” you remember “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky. I never told anybody to lie, not a single time; never. These allegations are false. And I need to go back to work for the American people,” don’t you? Well, it looks like we now have “Slick Barack.”

Let’s recap: BP (British Petroleum) gives tens of thousands of dollars to the Obama Campaign, more than to any other candidate. Obama’s administration awards BP a safety award. Obama’s administration grants BP a waiver to drill in dangerously deep waters. We have a blow out in which a surge of natural gas blows the drill pipe out and blows the safety systems off the map.

The Washington Examiner then details the next 72 hours:
"…the Gulf oil spill has exposed a breathtaking level of incompetence, political opportunism and mendacity at the heart of the Obama administration. Documents obtained by the Center for Public Integrity make clear that the White House was told by the Coast Guard within 24 hours of the April 20 explosion on BP’s Deepwater Horizon platform that the equivalent of 8,000 barrels a day could escape into the ocean. Within three days, Obama and his senior aides were warned that the spill could exceed the in environmental damage caused by the Exxon Valdez wreck in 1989.”

“Despite these warnings, over the next two months Obama attended Democratic fundraisers, played golf, hosted basketball and football teams at the White House and delivered commencement speeches. Two weeks passed before he could be bothered to go to Louisiana.”

It is now exactly 48 days that the Deep Water well has been gushing oil into the gulf at the rate of up to 400,000 barrels per day. And the Obama search to blame someone other than his own Ken Salazar and the Minerals Management Service (MMS.) But the facts are that the MMS was asleep at the switch, and Salazar must have been wondering if he should have kept his comfortable little Colorado Senate Seat.

Obama is promising to prosecute, and Eric Holder, United States Attorney General is slavering at the mouth to get into court against BP. Yet, BP was drilling with full permission of the MMS and operating under a waiver from filing an environmental impact for BP’s lease at “Deepwater Horizon; a “categorical exclusion” from the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) on April 6, 2009,” slightly more than a full year before the blowout – and that can’t be blamed on Don Howard.

Obama must be coated with oil if he expects another “slick” moniker to be added to presidential screw-ups (no pun intended). Man up Mr. Obama and “…go back to work for the American People.”



Democrats Skip Town Halls to Avoid Voter Rage

The reception that Representative Frank Kratovil Jr., a Democrat, received here one night last week as he faced a small group of constituents was far more pleasant than his encounters during a Congressional recess last summer.

Then, he was hanged in effigy by protesters. This time, a round of applause was followed by a glass of chilled wine, a plate of crackers and crudités as he mingled with an invitation-only audience at the Point Breeze Credit Union, a vastly different scene than last year’s wide-open televised free-for-alls.

The sentiment that fueled the rage during those Congressional forums is still alive in the electorate. But the opportunities for voters to openly express their displeasure, or angrily vent as video cameras roll, have been harder to come by in this election year.

If the time-honored tradition of the political meeting is not quite dead, it seems to be teetering closer to extinction. Of the 255 Democrats who make up the majority in the House, only a handful held town-hall-style forums as legislators spent last week at home in their districts.

It was no scheduling accident.

With images of overheated, finger-waving crowds still seared into their minds from the discontent of last August, many Democrats heeded the advice of party leaders and tried to avoid unscripted question-and-answer sessions. The recommendations were clear: hold events in controlled settings — a bank or credit union, for example — or tour local businesses or participate in community service projects.

And to reach thousands of constituents at a time, without the worry of being snared in an angry confrontation with voters, more lawmakers are also taking part in a fast-growing trend: the telephone town meeting, where chances are remote that a testy exchange will wind up on YouTube.

For incumbents of both parties facing challenging re-election bids, few things receive more scrutiny than how, when and where they interact with voters. Many members of Congress err on the side of being visible, but not too visible, and make only a few public appearances while they are back in their districts.

In New Hampshire, where open political meetings are deeply ingrained in the state’s traditions, Representative Carol Shea-Porter’s campaign Web site had this message for visitors: “No upcoming events scheduled. Please visit us again soon!”

Ms. Shea-Porter, a Democrat, attended a state convention of letter carriers on Saturday, but she did not hold a town-hall-style meeting during the Congressional recess. In 2006, when she was an underdog candidate for the House, she often showed up at the meetings of her Republican rival, Representative Jeb Bradley, to question him about Iraq.

In Iowa, where voters also are accustomed to coming face to face with elected officials, Representative Leonard L. Boswell, a Democrat, provided few opportunities for voters to see him last week. His itinerary included a groundbreaking for a new law enforcement center and a renaming ceremony for a Des Moines post office.

In Maryland, where Mr. Kratovil endured considerable heckling last year over the health care legislation, which he ultimately opposed, he did not hold any large gatherings with voters. After returning from a visit to Afghanistan, he held two events with veterans before arriving at an evening discussion here at the credit union in Bel Air, north of Baltimore....

An examination of public schedules for dozens of members of Congress last week showed that more House Republicans held open meetings, including several in a series of forums called America Speaking Out, which is intended to help write the party’s agenda if it wins control of Congress in November.

The anger that erupted at meetings last summer — focused, particularly, on the health care legislation — helped draw attention to Tea Party activists. A year later, some of the images are resurfacing once again and will almost certainly be used against lawmakers in television advertisements over the next five months.




What do we cherish “as Americans?”: "In a recent talk, responding to the Arizona law that’s said to be aimed at containing illegal immigration, President Barrack Obama stated that this piece of legislation ‘threatens to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans …’ I am not enough of a student of the Arizona law to pass judgment on it now but I am definitely skeptical about the claim that Americans as such cherish ‘basic notions of fairness.’ To start with, there is nothing in any basic American political document that mandates fairness across the land. Neither the Declaration of Independence, nor the Bill of Rights (or the U. S. Constitution) insists that Americans be fair. And a good thing that is, since such a demand cannot be met.”

The times they are a-changin’: "Obama’s real problem is that the era of hope and change is over, and he hasn’t adjusted to it. He’s confronted by a debt crisis, the oil spill, and high unemployment. These are front-burner issues a president is expected to address seriously and on which he’ll be held accountable. Yet Obama is still stuck on his old agenda. And he dwells on sentiments like bipartisanship that no longer resonate. It’s as if he’s relying on note cards from the early days of his presidency (nearly 17 months ago). Meanwhile, the world has moved on. When the world changed for FDR, he switched from ‘Dr. New Deal’ to ‘Dr. Win the War.’ Obama hasn’t switched. He’s still ‘Dr. Enact My Agenda.’”

Capitalism: Hollywood’s miscast villain: "Hollywood’s anti-capitalism is not accidental. It stems from three sources: the rage of directors and screenwriters against their own capitalist backers, the difficulty of using a visual medium to depict the invisible hand, and an ethical framework which Hollywood shares with most of our culture that regards self-interest as inherently immoral or, at best, amoral.”


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, June 07, 2010

Smiling for Dollars

Although I am an atheist, I greatly respect the New Testament message -- so I loathe those hypocrites who clothe themselves in a Christian identity while apparently believing little or nothing in the New Testament. They are the modern-day version of the "whited sepulchres" that Jesus condemned (Matthew 23:27). So I understand the ire of Mike Adams below. There is no doubt that he knows what the Bible says and is not ashamed to mention it. -- JR

I got a lot of hate mail last week in response to my column about Joel Osteen. Much of the hate mail was from the usual sources. But much of it came from so-called conservative atheists. These conservative unbelievers thought I should stop talking about my religious views on a conservative “political” website. But I refuse to do so for two reasons: 1) Because God is a conservative. 2) Because Joel Osteen is bad for both Christianity and conservatism.

The assertion that God is a conservative may sound strange to some. But I’m completely serious. A conservative is simply one who believes that man is born with a propensity to do evil things and that this propensity has important implications for the way we govern.

For example, the conservative believes the hedonistic tendencies of all men require a strong emphasis on family values. Children must be taught such values at an early age lest their hedonistic tendencies translate into criminal conduct. This is just one of the many ways that religion and politics intersect.

Of course, the conservative also believes there must be a backup plan to prevent crime among citizens who have not internalized certain values. That backup plan involves punishment, which is swift, certain, and severe. Conservatives talk about punishment because it is necessary given the conservative view of human nature.

That same view of human nature requires that we conduct foreign policy through a position of strength. Just as we want a potential criminal to fear transgression against our laws, we want rogue nations to be fearful of the consequences of military aggression.

But the liberal will have none of this. He believes that man is innately good. Therefore, the liberal considers it the duty of the criminal justice system to “reeducate” the criminal who was doing just fine before he was corrupted by “bad” society.

Because he sees man as good, the liberal sees war as nothing more than a terrible misunderstanding. Such “misunderstandings” are best prevented by diplomacy. Bombs are not needed. We only need the United Nations (and good translators).

God is not neutral in this debate. He holds the conservative view of human nature. He is the original Author of that view. In Genesis 3, it is made abundantly clear that man will not experience utopia on this planet. Two humans cannot follow one simple rule in order to live a life of bliss on earth. Man constantly seeks to compete and to get ahead. And he trips over others in the process.

So those who assert that Jesus was a liberal (or that socialism is God’s vision for the world) are simply woefully ignorant of the scriptures. Just as God dispenses with the liberal view of human nature in Genesis 3, He provides a powerful metaphor for the futility of socialism in Genesis 11. And no subsequent verse contradicts this dire prediction of the consequences of man’s desire to reach the heavens through his own devices.

But, of course, no one seems to defer to (or even read) the Holy Bible today. America’s most influential religious leader, Oprah Winfrey, certainly does not defer to the Holy Bible. She tells audiences that Jesus was too humble to have ever claimed to be God. When she says such silly things her audience simply nods in agreement. Their Holy Bible is whatever Oprah says it shall be during that particular month.

Nor does our second most influential religious leader, Joel Osteen, defer to the Bible. He waves it above his head before he preaches. But then he sets it down and gives his message without any reference to the Word. It is no wonder that he cannot answer simple questions about the number of paths to salvation. Or, more accurately stated, that he will not answer such simple questions.

There is much wealth to be gained by taking the Word and re-writing it to suit your interests. To tell the world that Jesus was just a man who provided a good moral example is to tell them they can be like Jesus, too. People want to believe this because everyone wants to be worshipped by someone.

But to tell the world that Jesus is a God who must be relied upon for salvation is to tell them they must worship Him. That makes many people feel uncomfortable. And when you make people feel uncomfortable they are unlikely to give you money or buy your stuff.

Joel Osteen sells tickets to people who wish to hear him preach the Gospel. Actually, that is a half-truth. He sells tickets to people who wish to hear him preach half truths about the Gospel. They don’t like to hear about the realities of man’s sinful nature or the need for repentance. They like to hear a rich man smile and say that God wants them to be rich and happy, too. And they pay good money to hear him say that.

Joel Osteen makes millions of dollars suppressing Holy Scripture. Oprah Winfrey makes billions actually rewriting them. And the conservative atheist fails to see the connection between the current popularity of these two charlatans and the current political climate in this declining nation.

And I am left wondering why the conservative atheist fails to see the connection between his political beliefs and God’s Holy Word. I also wonder why men die to defend beliefs that will die alongside them.



The Simple Path to Middle East Peace

But one that Muslim haters won't take any time soon

Television personality Art Linkletter, who recently passed away at age 97, had the secret for achieving peace in the Middle East.

Linkletter, who experienced many setbacks and tragedies in his life, observed, “Things turn out best for the people who make the best out of the way things turn out.”

Adherence to this simple bit of wisdom sums up why Israel has been a story of success and miracles and why the Palestinian Arabs languish.

Take the case of Gaza, that is getting so much attention now. The Israelis decided to unilaterally pull their presence out of Gaza in 2005 and turned control for its administration over to the Palestinians. It presented an opportunity for the Palestinians to show the Israelis and the world that they could govern themselves and pave a path for prosperity and peace for their people.

Were circumstances ideal? Certainly not. But that’s the point. Circumstances are never ideal. Our only choice is always, as Art Linkletter said, to “make the best of the way things turn out.”

But in a culture of blame and entitlement, your problems never get solved because they are always someone else’s fault. You can never move forward because circumstances are never ideal.

As the Israelis readied to withdraw, the Palestinian Authority Prime Minister announced “We are telling the entire world, today Gaza and tomorrow Jerusalem.”

Instead of focusing on starting to build on what they had, the focus was the ongoing political agenda against the Israelis.

Soon the Palestinians were embroiled in a civil war, killing each other, until the terrorist group Hamas gained the upper hand in Gaza. Next on the agenda was smuggling in arms and shooting missiles into Israel.

Meanwhile, as result of the Israeli political decision to withdraw from Gaza, 8500 Israelis that were living there were evicted from their homes and forced to move and build new lives elsewhere.

A group of these families picked up and moved several miles inland into a barren patch of arid desert along the Gaza/Egyptian border. They used the funds the Israeli government paid them as compensation for their property to invest and build a new agricultural community in the middle of nowhere.

There are now 180 families living in Halutza (Hebrew for “pioneer”). They pipe in desalinated water from the Mediterranean coast, fertilize the sand, and grow produce. Today, five years after being evacuated from Gaza, they are exporting $50 million dollars a year of organic potatoes, carrots, and peppers from their new community.

Art Linkletter would call this, “making the best of the way things turn out.”

Halutza is the history of Israel in microcosm. Taking difficult and unfortunate circumstances and building anew.

Only 62 years after its founding in the ashes of the Holocaust, Israel has a per capita GDP almost on par with industrialized European nations, has the highest per capita venture capital investment in the world, and has more companies listed on the NASDAQ than any non-US country.

Intel Corporation’s facility in Israel is its only microchip design facility outside the US and is responsible for the design of most Intel chips powering our personal computers today.

All this accomplished under constant siege and war because the Palestinians have rejected every proposal to live side by side since they first rejected the state they were offered by the United Nations in 1947, which gave them more territory than they claim would satisfy them today.

A culture of blame, entitlement, and hate is a path to nowhere. This is as true in the Middle East as it is in America’s inner cities, put on the government plantation years ago.

In 1957, Golda Meir, a future prime minister of Israel, spoke at the National Press Club in Washington. She said, unfortunately prophetically, “Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.”

The world is still waiting.



History Returns to Europe

by Victor Davis Hanson

Walk the beautiful streets in Munich, Strasbourg and Vienna, and you can see why Europeans thought in the last decades that they had reached the end of history. There is not a soldier to be seen. Sidewalk cafes are jammed midweek with two-hour lunch-goers. Fashion, vacations and sex dominate the ads and billboards.

Bikers, electric commuter trains and tiny fuel-efficient cars zoom by in a green contrast to our gas-guzzling Tahoes and Yukons.

So naturally, there is a general sense of satisfied accomplishment among European social democrats. They believe that finally a quiet sameness across their continent has replaced two millennia of constant European warring and revolution. Now, everybody seems to get an apartment, small car, state job, good pension and peace -- and in exchange, all voice comfortable center-left consensus politics.

But beneath the genteel European Union veneer, few remembered that human nature remains constant and gives not even nice Europeans a pass from its harsh laws.

So suddenly the Greek financial meltdown, and the staggering debts that must be repaid, have alternately enraged and terrified northern European creditors. Even the most vocal Europhiles are quietly rethinking the entire premise of a European Union that offers lavish benefits but no sound method of paying for them.

After all, it is one thing to redistribute income by taking from richer Germans and Austrians to give to poorer Germans and Austrians. But it is something else for all Germans and Austrians to extend their socialist charity to siesta-taking Greeks, Italians and Spaniards. For all the lofty rhetoric of the collective European Union, age-old culture, language and nationalism still trump the ideal of continental unity.

But bickering over a trillion dollars in bad southern European debt is not the EU's only problem. Why, for example, do Europe's cradle-to-grave entitlements so often end up encouraging declining populations, atheism and lower worker productivity that is readily apparent to the casual visitor?

Perhaps if everybody ends up about the same, regardless of effort or achievement, then life must be enjoyed mostly in the here and now. Why sacrifice for children, or put something aside for heirs, or worry over a judgment in the afterlife? The more the European Union talks about its global caring, the less likely its own citizens are to have children.

It is also strange that the more Europeans flock to their ancient majestic cathedrals, splendid museums and grandiose villas and castles to satisfy an innate human desire to enjoy artistic, architectural and religious achievement, the more it is likely that they would never again build a now politically incorrect cathedral at Rouen, a Schönbrunn Palace or a castle on the Rhine.

Much is made of European multiculturalism, a willingness to allow Muslims from the Middle East, Pakistan and Turkey to live separate lives without assimilating fully into European society.

But such "tolerance" reflects in part a fear of radical Islam and terrorism. For all the European talk of progressive attitudes about free speech, feminism and gay rights, such principles fade quickly when radical Muslims demand Sharia law, demonize homosexuals or threaten European cartoonists and novelists. It is almost as if the more Europe takes pride in its own multiculturalism, the larger its ethnic ghettoes expand -- and the more its native populations grow bitter against the foreign-born.

Europe is a vocal member of the United Nations and other transnational organizations. But this utopian internationalism depends on the protection guaranteed by the United States and its huge military. Otherwise, there would either be costly European militaries -- or the occasional threat of attack. Europeans forgot that just because they are not looking for war, it doesn't mean that war might not look for them.

In short, as a reaction to the self-destruction of Europe in World War II and the twin monsters of fascism and communism, Europeans thought they could change human nature itself through the creation of an all-caring, all-wise European Union uber-citizen. Instead of dealing with human sins, European wise men of the last half-century would simply declare them passé.

But human-driven history is now roaring back with a fury in Europe -- from Mediterranean insolvency, to the threat of radical Islam, to demographic decline, to new international dangers on the horizon.

Only one question remains: At a time when Europe is discovering that its democratic socialism does not work, why in the world is the United States doing its best to copy 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)