Friday, July 30, 2010


The electricity outage in my street was shorter than expected so I got the chance to update all my blogs today


Dishonest Democrat campaign tactics

Counsel for a Democrat Congresscritter:

The strategy is one you may remember from past campaigns. They call it the Great Smoke Blower. Jimmy Carter used it against Reagan in 1980. When things are objectively bad and you can't run on your record, you accuse the Republicans of extremism. Remember? In 1980, inflation was running at 14 percent. Interest rates were about 15 percent. American hostages were paraded on Iranian television. The economy was febrile.

What did they do? They accused Reagan of being a warmonger. They said he would divide north from south, white from black, union from management, and Christian from Jew. They said he would plunge the world into nuclear Armageddon. It was a reprise of the anti-Goldwater effort of 1964.

The newest ad from the DNC seeks to link the Republican Party with the tea party. Flashing faces on the screen, now Rand Paul, now Paul Ryan, now Sharron Angle, now John Boehner, all distinctions are blurred. Then they present the "Republican Tea Party Contract on America" with 10 items. These, they expect, will frighten the heck out of John Q. Public.

Item 1: "Repeal Health Insurance Reform." Item 2: "Privatize Social Security or Get Rid of It." Item 3: "End Medicare as it Presently Exists." Item 4: "Extend the Bush Tax Breaks for the Wealthy and Big Oil." Item 5: "Repeal Wall Street Reform." Item 6: "Protect Those Responsible for the Oil Spill." Item 7: "Abolish the Department of Education." Item 8: "Abolish the Department of Energy." Item 9: "Abolish the Environmental Protection Agency." Item 10: "Repeal the 17th Amendment (direct election of Senators)."

Clever, right? Hey, why are you still weeping? Oh, I see. Rasmussen found that as recently as June, 58 percent of voters favor repealing the health care behemoth? So it wouldn't be scary if Republicans actually ran on that item.

Oh, and your opponent doesn't favor privatizing Social Security? Not even a little? Hasn't she ever said something like "We may have to consider changes to the retirement age?" because that can be demagogued as wanting to privatize Social Security. Well, you make a good point. The Republicans (to the dismay of philosophical conservatives and libertarians) have been embracing Social Security as Linus did his blanket, for many an election cycle. I guess, while we're at it, we might as well go ahead and concede that these same domesticated Republicans haven't exactly been carrying the banner for eliminating the Departments of Energy and Education (far less EPA!) for a really, really long time, though some wish they would.

There, there. Don't fret. What? Your opponent actually is in favor of repealing the "Wall Street Reform"? She says it will create 243 new regulations, just for starters, and that the federal government will now have the power to decide whether pretty much every business in America is taking too much risk. If a federal regulator decides you are making bad decisions, he can close down your shop. Besides, it completely sidestepped the biggest reason for the financial meltdown, Fannie and Freddie, because those were Democrats' sandboxes. Hmmm.

The unemployment rate in your district is 17 percent? Twenty-five percent among the young? The expiration of the Bush tax cuts will raise taxes for small-business owners, and this will make hiring even less likely? According to the Small Business Administration (another agency principled conservatives would happily kiss goodbye), small businesses were responsible for between 60 and 80 percent of net new jobs in the past decade. But now they're worried. They don't know how the new Financial Reform bill will affect them, and they've seen what the Massachusetts health reform did to business there so they're extremely nervous about the effects of the national health reform. They're getting by, but they're in no mood to hire.



The great warriors of old are still to be found among Americans

When someone who has earned the Medal of Honor enters a room, a hush follows, like waters opening. The stillness in his wake is palpable. Men are filled with more than admiration. The emotion is a mix of awe, envy and wonder. "Would I be capable of that?" each asks himself. Genteel ladies understand and hang back. Generals stand aside. "I'd sell my immortal soul for that medal," George S. Patton confessed.

Even politicians stop thinking of themselves. And the best of them are humbled. Harry Truman, a captain of artillery himself in the Great War, was heard to remark, "I would rather have the blue band of the Medal of Honor around my neck than be president."

Years ago, when the society of Medal of Honor recipients gathered here in Little Rock, the sensation was overpowering as each was called to the stage. Name, rank, branch of service, race, color, creed ... none of that mattered. Only their courage.

Freedom is much praised, but without courage, it is fleeting. As all know but too easily forget. Till the presence of someone wearing that blue band around his neck speaks that truth without a word being said. Or needing to be.

From the moment the country's highest honor is presented, the recipient is a marked man. He is different, and everyone knows it. He bears a great honor and an even greater burden. For all eyes are on him, and will be as long as he lives. And his story will be told long after he is gone. He no longer belongs to himself but to posterity. No wonder one recipient said it was harder to wear the medal than earn it.

Perhaps even more remarkable than his heroism was the grace with which Nick Bacon, a farm boy from near Caraway, Ark., wore that indelible honor. When you met him, he might ask only about your branch, unit, length of service and what he could do for you.

But you knew that behind the friendly, unassuming manner was a story as distinctive, and as essential to whatever remains of the West's civilization, as when the poet first sang of arms and the man.

There are fewer than a hundred Medal of Honor recipients still living, and now there is one less: Nick Bacon has died. At 64. Of the cancer he'd long fought. The state is in mourning. He'd earned the medal in Vietnam, taking command of one platoon after its leader was wounded, and of another when it, too, lost its leader, personally wiping out an enemy machine-gun nest as he led a counterattack that would save what remained of his unit and accomplish its mission. Talk about a trial by fire, and Nick Bacon met it with something above and beyond courage that endless day.

The formal words of the official citation, marching across the printed page as if in full review, tell of what he did one endless day in Vietnam:

"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. S/Sgt. Bacon distinguished himself while serving as a squad leader with the 1st Platoon, Company B, during an operation west of Tam Ky. When Company B came under fire from an enemy bunker line to the front, S/Sgt. Bacon quickly organized his men and led them forward in an assault. He advanced on a hostile bunker and destroyed it with grenades. As he did so, several fellow soldiers including the 1st Platoon leader, were struck by machine gun fire and fell wounded in an exposed position forward of the rest of the platoon. S/Sgt. Bacon immediately assumed command of the platoon and assaulted the hostile gun position, finally killing the enemy gun crew in a single-handed effort.

"When the 3d Platoon moved to S/Sgt. Bacon's location, its leader was also wounded. Without hesitation S/Sgt. Bacon took charge of the additional platoon and continued the fight. In the ensuing action he personally killed 4 more enemy soldiers and silenced an antitank weapon. Under his leadership and example, the members of both platoons accepted his authority without question. Continuing to ignore the intense hostile fire, he climbed up on the exposed deck of a tank and directed fire into the enemy position while several wounded men were evacuated.

"As a result of S/Sgt. Bacon's extraordinary efforts, his company was able to move forward, eliminate the enemy positions, and rescue the men trapped to the front. S/Sgt. Bacon's bravery at the risk of his life was in the highest traditions of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army."

When pressed, Nick Bacon would tell the story of that day -- August 26, 1968 -- in his own way:

"I got my boot heel shot off, I got holes in my canteens, I got my rifle grip shot up. I got shrapnel holes in my camouflage covers, and bullets in my pot. A bullet creased the edge of it, tore the lining off."

Sergeant Bacon also got the Medal of Honor, presented at the White House in 1969, in addition to his other decorations, among them the Distinguished Service Cross, the Legion of Merit, two Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart. After two tours in Vietnam (he tried for a third but was turned down) he would retire from active duty in 1984 with the rank of first sergeant.

First Sergeant Bacon, first in more ways than one, would go on to serve more than a decade as his state's director of Veterans Affairs. Anything and everything he could do for his old comrades-in-arms, and those to come, he did. He was not just the face of Veterans Affairs in Arkansas, but its embodiment.

Some men are tested by one single, exhilarating day lived at high pitch, others over the course of a lifetime of day-in, day-out service to others. Nick Bacon passed both tests, excelled at them, yet somehow remained just Nick Bacon, whom everyone loved.

In the end, what needs to be said, and isn't often enough, is simply: Thank you for your service.



NAACP blackmail?

Sorry for the pun

I was just intrigued or worried by a threatening letter that a Virginian boss of NAACP, a U.S. group promoting reverse racism, sent to James Webb, a Virginian Democratic senator who has opposed affirmative action - maybe more openly than his former G.O.P. opponent, George Allen.

A week ago, Webb wrote a WSJ op-ed, Diversity and the Myth of White Privilege, in which he was advocating the end of affirmative action programs.

The intimidating tone of the NAACP reply sucks. They want to meet him and they ask him whether there are any more rotten apples around him so that they could go after their necks, too. I think that beyond a certain threshold, such communication of organized groups with the politicians has to be viewed as blackmailing.




Time to stop listening to the Keynsian economic orthodoxy: "The truth can hurt. As I see it, the truth is that the Ph.D.s and Keynesian economists haven’t prevented our nation, and in fact the world, from falling into depression. They haven’t prevented massive unemployment. They haven’t prevented the boom/bust cycle from taking place. They haven’t stabilized the economy as they were supposed to. Indeed, they have caused these things. They have created the conditions that have made these things possible. They can point fingers all they want and make the claim that the economy is just too darn complicated, but that’s because they don’t want to look at themselves in the mirror and admit they were wrong.”

Boat saga hurt Kerry, but how much? "As political missteps go, Senator John F. Kerry’s yacht issues may ultimately be considered just a minor stumble. But in a state that has just elected a new US senator with the carefully crafted image of a pickup-driving, barn jacket-wearing common man, Kerry now seems likely to be perceived as ever more out of touch, political analysts said yesterday. And with the recession feeding a fire of anti-establishment indignation, the appearance that Kerry may have tried to avoid paying Massachusetts taxes on a $7 million luxury yacht by docking it in Rhode Island could solidify a sense among voters that his life and concerns range far above their own. ‘It’s the definition of a self-inflicted wound,’ said Jeff Berry, a political science professor at Tufts University. ‘Politicians try to create a sense of empathy with rank-and-file voters, to show them that they can stand in their shoes. … John Kerry doesn’t seem to know where the shoe store is.’”

Rangel charged with 13 ethics violations: "A House panel accused Rep. Charles Rangel of New York Thursday of 13 ethics rules violations, placing his storied 40-year political career in jeopardy and guaranteeing Democrats an election-year headache. The violations were unveiled in a meeting that set the stage for a rare, full-blown trial that could take place as early as September. Rangel, a Democrat from Harlem, did not attend the meeting and has maintained he will be exonerated.”

Fixed retirement age to be scrapped in Britain: "The government has announced that the default retirement age will be phased out by October 2011. The default retirement age permitted employers to retire workers at the age without justification, and is an exception to United Kingdom labor law, which prohibits employers from making employment decisions on the basis of age and forces them to provide justification for dismissing a worker. Personnel groups and those supportive of the elderly cheered the announcement, while business groups such as the Confederation of British Industry expressed concern about the law. There is merit in both reactions.”


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)


Reduced posting

The electricity in my street will be "off" for most of the rest of today so I am unlikely to have time to post to all my blogs. I have already posted on TONGUE-TIED and IMMIGRATION WATCH for today but who knows what else I will be able to get up?

I do expect to have something worthwhile to post on this blog towards the end of my day however.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The New Journalism

The consumer backlash against the House of Cronkite

Jonah Goldberg

‘The high standards and wise judgments of people like Walter Cronkite once acted as a national immune system, zapping scandal mongers and quashing wild rumors,” wrote former “green jobs czar” Van Jones in Sunday’s New York Times.

This may be one of the most unintentionally hilarious lines in recent memory. Jones, you may recall, left the White House when his background — not just as an alleged 9/11 truther but as a self-confessed Communist and revolutionary — became grist for the Fox News mill. Mainstream publications mostly ignored the controversy until after he was fired, and then focused on the fact that he directed an expletive at Republicans in a YouTube video.

Now Jones, with billets at Princeton and the Center for American Progress, casts himself as yet another victim, just like Shirley Sherrod, the Department of Agriculture employee fired after Andrew Breitbart released a misleadingly edited video of her. (Breitbart, a friend of mine, insists to me that he did not edit the video himself.)

You’ve just got to love a former member of STORM (Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement), a Mao-influenced organization with a professed “commitment to the fundamental principles of Marxism-Leninism,” giving Walter Cronkite — the dashboard saint of American bourgeois conformity — his due as the bulwark of decency. Yes, yes, Jones says he’s grown and is no longer the Red he was even a few years ago. But come on.

For generations, conservatives lamented the decline in standards. When Hollywood portrayed glandular instincts as the new moral compass of the secular age, conservatives waxed nostalgic over the lost decency of the “studio system.” When the education industry shelved the great books in favor of hugs, conservatives lamented the demise of the three R’s and the “closing of the American mind.” When the Left became enamored with a “riot ideology” that mistook lawlessness for political protest, conservatives invoked “law and order.” Name a front in the political and culture wars, and conservatives defended the authority of authority and the tradition of tradition, while liberals and leftists defended sticking it to the man.

But now that the legacy media is one of the last resources the Left still has at its disposal, even Comrade Jones isn’t immune to mossy nostalgia for Walter Cronkite (who, by the way, is easily one of the most overrated American icons).

And that’s the irony: The Left only believes in sticking it to the man when it isn’t the man. Teachers unions and tenured professors, now that they control their guilds, are darn-near reactionary in their white-knuckled grip on the status quo. Liberal legal scholars are a cargo cult to stare decisis, for the simple reason that the precedents are still on their side.

The essence of the culture war today is a battle over whose “gatekeepers” are legitimate and whose are not.

Nowhere is this more true than in the temples of journalism, where the high priests are barricading the doors with pews and candelabras to fend off the barbarians.

Among the liberal Brahmins of the legacy media, probity, standards, and restraint are the order of the day for inconvenient news. Feeding frenzies are reserved for the fun news (i.e., the news that reinforces liberal assumptions).

So, when the Climategate e-mails were released, the New York Times’s chief environmental correspondent refrained from posting private e-mails, a standard he would never have taken with internal e-mails from, say, BP. The leak of Valerie Plame’s identity: a shocking scandal that tore at the heart of the Bush administration. The leaking of vital state secrets: great journalism.

The house Cronkite built did many fine and noble things. It also locked out competing points of view, buried inconvenient bodies, spun the news with centrifugal force, and racked up a formidable list of Shirley Sherrods all its own. The New York Times whitewashed Stalin’s genocide. Cronkite misreported the significance of the Tet Offensive to say the Vietnam War was unwinnable. Dan Rather, Cronkite’s replacement, began his career falsely reporting that Dallas schoolchildren cheered JFK’s murder and ended it falsely reporting on forged National Guard memos. The Rodney King video was misleadingly edited; the Tailwind story was not true. And that’s only a snippet of the list.

The media environment today is dizzying not because of one revolution but two complementary ones. First there’s the churn of the Internet, from Wikileaks to wilding bloggers. But there’s also a second revolution that amounts to consumer backlash against the House of Cronkite. It has fueled the rise of Fox News and the new alternative media.

This pincer movement can be scary. But it’s progress.



Pelosi, Reid: Divorced From Reality

Leadership: A major poll just gave Congress a favorability rating of 11% — lowest in history. Never, it seems, have our representatives in Washington been so disconnected from the people they purport to serve.

The disconnect was most evident in separate comments made by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid at a conference of the far-left group Netroots Nation last weekend in Las Vegas. Both weighed in on vital topics. Both revealed why they're so out of touch with reality.

Pelosi told the audience she adamantly opposes raising the retirement age for Social Security and said the Depression-era program shouldn't be cut to help reduce the deficit. "When you talk about reducing the deficit and Social Security, you're talking about apples and oranges," she said.

She has it exactly backward. The No. 1 problem facing this nation is the massive deficit we face over the next 75 years, due almost entirely to the expansion of Social Security and Medicare. The only way to address the deficit is to address entitlements.

Social Security and Medicare trustees estimated last year that the unfunded liability — that is, future expected deficits — of the two programs is $107 trillion, or 7 1/2 times the size of our entire economy. If not addressed immediately, these shortfalls will require a tripling of payroll taxes to 37% by 2054 from 12.4% today.

Governments as diverse as Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain, France and Great Britain face similar scary arithmetic and are already lengthening the amount of time workers have to work to get a public pension. They're making other cuts as well.

When the U.S. lags behind reform enacted even by the soft-socialist countries of Europe, it's a sign of how radical and beholden to special interests our Democrat-controlled government has become. To assert, as Pelosi has, that we don't need to alter Social Security in any way is the fiscal equivalent of joining the Flat Earth Society.

Meanwhile, the speaker had the chutzpah — or maybe it was twisted humor — to tell the Netroot folks that Democrats are "moving on all fronts to reduce the deficit."

"Moving on all fronts"? Last we saw — and it's hard to keep up — the U.S. this year is slated to have a deficit of $1.5 trillion, or 10% of GDP, and an additional $1.4 trillion, or 9.2% of GDP, next year. Anticipated deficits, all from Democratic policies, will add $10 trillion to $13 trillion to our national debt over the next decade.

Just Tuesday, the Congressional Budget Office again warned that U.S. deficits are "unsustainable." Apparently, the free-spending Democrats don't think so.

In the recent debate over a $35 billion extension of jobless benefits, Republicans merely asked that the bill be paid for with cuts elsewhere — as the Democrats' own pay-go rules, passed earlier this year, require. Democrats refused. Instead, the GOP was slandered as racist and accused of hating poor Americans.

Reid's comments, made to the same Netroot group, were equally absurd — and no doubt offensive to voters.

After his party insisted during more than a year of debate over the health care overhaul that they did not want a single-payer public option, Reid gloated to the Netroot gathering: "We're going to have a public option. It's just a question of when."

As with Pelosi's comments, Reid's fly in the face of what's going on around the world. Europe, in particular, has been forced to face up to its debt problems, and countries there are actively attacking their governments' involvement in health care.

Take Britain, the country most often cited as a model for Obama-Care. The government-run National Health Service is going through massive cuts, and "some of the most common operations — including hip replacements and cataract surgery — will be rationed" to save money, according to Britain's Telegraph.

Meanwhile, the new conservative government is pushing the biggest reform of Britain's health care system since its 1948 founding, with a plan to decentralize the bureaucracy to the local level.

Nor does Reid, like Pelosi, get that Social Security is in a deep crisis. He called it "the most successful social program in the history of the world." Successful? A program that socks future generations with trillions in higher taxes and lower standards of living? A program that's already running in the red and whose unsustainable finances promise to push the U.S. to the verge of bankruptcy?

The arrogance of Reid's and Pelosi's remarks underscore the problems that the Democrats have with the electorate. They promised moderation and fiscal responsibility. Instead, we got a radical expansion of government power — with trillions of dollars in spending, thousands of pages of costly regulations, a government takeover of vast swaths of the private economy and deficits stretching into the future as far as our best forecasts can see.

The country has seen what arrogant, untrammeled rule looks like. And as the polls show, it doesn't care for it at all.



Obama Debt Commission will Call for Trillions in Tax Hikes

The Democrats are looking to get Republicans to endorse raising taxes. Some might be stupid enough. Remember George Bush senior and his lying lips

Obama debt commission member, Republican Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, launched a scary trial balloon on ABC News. Gregg suggested the debt commission will likely recommend a massive $26.7 trillion tax increase. Here are Gregg’s actual words:

“Everything has to be on the table – there’s no question about that… Erskine Bowles, one of the co-chairmen of the commission, has suggested a 75-25 split — 75 percent of the savings being in spending, and 25 percent in revenues… I think it’s likely that there will have to be a revenue component, but it should be significantly, dramatically — and a 3-1 ratio is pretty dramatic — dramatically less than the initiatives in the spending side of the ledger.”

According to an analysis by Americans for Tax Reform if Bowles wants $3 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax hikes then the tax increases will be larger than anyone expects:

“Bowles and Gregg can only be talking about cutting $3 in promised Social Security and Medicare benefits in exchange for $1 in tax increases. In other words, 1/4 of the unfunded liabilities of Social Security and Medicare would be paid for with tax hikes. So how big is that? According to the 2009 Social Security and Medicare Actuaries’ Report, the long-run insolvency of the Social Security and Medicare systems is $106.8 trillion (with a “t”) over the infinite horizon. To close this gap with one-quarter tax hikes is, therefore, to raise taxes by $26.7 trillion. Of course, this number is undoubtedly higher since the Obama Administration is sitting on (read: hiding) the 2010 version of the report (it’s nearly six months overdue).”

On the heels of a huge tax increases included in the over-2000-page ObamaCare package, together with over-2000-page so-called “Financial Reform Package,” together with the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, Obama’s economic policies have guaranteed a double-dip recession.

Strap on your safety belts, because the anemic economic recovery of 2010 is about to become a government-induced second recession or double-dip in 2011. This outcome is baked in the cake even before any tax increases from the Obama debt commission are enacted.

If they are so greedy as to also try — by passage of a climate control bill — increases in energy taxes then this second recession will likely lead to deflation and a collapse into a government-sponsored depression. The economy cannot afford more money being redirected from investments toward government spending.

Clearly from this evidence alone it is plain to see that Obama isn’t judging his success based on a record of economic growth, but instead he is pursuing a program of economic redistribution. The administration has no focus on expanding the economic pie; instead, they are concerned with devouring every piece of the pie.

Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, has been watching the Obama debt commission closely, and he concluded after hearing reports of Sen. Gregg’s comments:

“It’s been clear from the beginning that the purpose of this Commission was to put GOP fingerprints on a tax hike, likely a VAT… Gregg seems to be giving them all ten fingers… The true agenda of this commission has always been to hide the ball on a tax hike until after the November elections – hence the December reporting date. Gregg’s gaffe today tips their hand,”

Higher taxes are never the answer. With the economy so weak, Congress should be making the Bush tax cuts permanent. Taxes on capital formation and investment should be eliminated all together. America should be encouraging small business, individual investors and entrepreneurs to be taking risks to increase economic growth in the private sector. Instead, Obama and the socialists in Congress are embarked on a dangerous expedition to punish success. This will end badly.



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, July 28, 2010

Obama, Reagan and the economy

It’s easy to understand why President Barack Obama’s friends don’t want to acknowledge that July represents 17 months since Congress passed the $787 billion economic stimulus bill — the president’s signature measure to jump-start the economy and fight unemployment.

Obama says the economy is headed in the right direction; jobs are being created, not lost, and he is doing everything possible to revive the “worst economy since the Great Depression.” Most of the national press has been remarkably accepting of this narrative — even if the president has been vague, at best, about when we might finally see an uptick in economic growth and job creation.

But in another economic time, President Ronald Reagan’s economic recovery program took 17 months to take hold. It took from the time Congress passed his tax cuts, in August 1981, until the recession he inherited finally ended in January 1983.

Unemployment hit a high of 10.8 percent in December 1982. But then economic growth spiked, and the unemployment rate began a long, steady decline throughout the 1980s. It was obvious the program was working when people stopped calling it “Reaganomics.”

Tax cuts were a part of Reagan’s effort to cut the size and scope of government to fight economic stagnation. “Government is not the solution,” Reagan said in his remarkably clear inaugural address. “It is the problem.”

In addition to tax cuts, Reagan reduced domestic discretionary spending and streamlined regulations to make them less of a burden on businesses seeking to create jobs. He believed that government should give individuals and businesses the proper incentives to grow and expand and not inhibit the private sector with high taxes and cumbersome regulations.

Reagan faced obstacles that Obama did not. The House he had to work with was always controlled by Democrats. More ominously, inflation was running at double-digit rates, and it took nearly a year for the Federal Reserve to squeeze those pressures out of the system.

Regardless, in the end, Reagan’s program worked. The turnaround began 17 months later.

Fast-forward to today. The Obama administration says that government-directed investment, via huge spending increases, can revive the economy. It’s now stimulus plus 17. Is there a turnaround in sight?



Why all Obama's policy wonks can't save him or help America

Yes, the folks in the Administration may be smart, but they have no experience. Virtually none of them has ever participated in the free enterprise system creating income and jobs, so how – and why – would you expect them to create policies that would help entrepreneurs and small-business owners move the economy forward. They may be smart, they may be great at writing papers and drawing charts with arrows and symbols, but they are fairly low on wisdom. Wisdom comes from suffering experiences in life – not just living arcane social and economic theories.

A perfect example of this wisdom deficiency is the newest member of the administration, Donald Berwick, the man chosen to administer the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. These two behemoth bureaucracies consume 4% of our gross domestic product, and that’s even before Obamacare vastly increases the amount of money running through their bureaucratic fingers. So one might think Dr. Berwick would have had some experience running a major medical operation or a similar entity. It turns out that his most significant position was as President of the non-profit Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI). If you go to the IHI website, they self-describe the organization as “a small organization with a very big mission.” Not exactly the credentials most of us would consider when looking for someone to run an organization that dispenses hundreds of billions of dollars.

The important thing is Dr. Berwick has studied health care organizations and written heady papers and pontificated in speeches about how the health care system should be run. That should be good enough. Since that is the background of our President and almost all of his advisors, Dr. Berwick seems to be a natural choice.

The problem is that the left-wing rabble that comprises the Obama administration – having never done it themselves – have no understanding of how money is created other than by encouraging the federal reserve to print some more. They have no appreciation of what makes this country great, as described by Ayn Rand in Atlas Shrugged. She wrote

“To the glory of mankind, there was, for the first and only time in history, a country of money –and I have no higher, more reverent tribute to pay to America for this means: a country of reason, justice, freedom, production, achievement. For the first time, man’s mind and money were set free, and there were no fortunes by conquest, but only fortunes-by-work, and instead of swordsmen and slaves, there appeared the real maker of wealth, the greatest worker, the highest type of human being – the self-made man – the American industrialist.”

The people running our country not only have never created a dollar’s worth of wealth, they appear to have a visceral disdain for those who do.

These government wonks repeatedly insist that federal intervention and control is the solution, but some of their own brethren have proven them wrong through an extensive study. Three Harvard Business School Professors, Lauren Cohen, Joshua Coval and Chris Malloy, examined the effects of increased spending over 42 years when 232 Senators or Congressmen became committee chairs and funneled federal dollars to their states or districts.

The study shows that the jump in federal funds significantly decreases private sector expenditures for capital items, research and development, and employment. The government money just squeezes out private funds. They found that this happens as long as the chairman stays in place, and begins to reverse itself only when the chairmanship is lost. The recently deceased Robert Byrd is a prime example. He was famous for funneling a hugely disproportionate amount of federal funds to West Virginia for 50 years, but when was the last time you heard people rushing to set up businesses in West Virginia. Maybe now that Byrd is gone, there is hope for free enterprise in West Virginia.

Our current Administration is stacked with book-smart and degree-laden people. Unfortunately, they have very little wisdom, no personal experience creating wealth, and don’t realize that efforts such as the Stimulus Bill just deter private enterprise from reviving the economy as it has in past downturns. The solution will come when they wise up – which, admittedly, is highly unlikely – or when change is forced upon them by Republican majorities after November 3rd.



Iranian regime sets up brothels; recruits prostitutes

The Province of the Quds’eh-Razavi of Khorassan has created centers for temporary marriage (just next door to the shrine) for those brothers who are on pilgrimage to the shrine of our eighth Imam, Imam Reza, and who are far away from their spouses.

To that end, we call on all our sisters who are virgins, who are between the ages of 12 and 35 to cooperate with us. Each of our sisters who signs up will be bound by a two year contract with the province of the Quds’eh-Razavi of Khorassan and will be required to spend at least 25 days of each month temporarily married to those brothers who are on pilgrimage. The period of the contract will be considered as a part of the employment experience of the applicant. The period of each temporary marriage can be anywhere between 5 hours to 10 days. The prices are as follows:

* 5 hour temporary marriage – 50,000 Tomans ($50 US)
* One day temporary marriage – 75,000 Tomans ($75 US)
* Two day temporary marriage – 100,000 Tomans ($100 US)
* Three day temporary marriage – 150,000 Tomans ($150 US)
* Between 4 and 10 day temporary marriage – 300,000 Tomans ($300 US)

Our sisters who are virgins will receive a bonus of 100,000 Tomans ($100 US) for the removal of their hymen.

After the expiration of the two year contract, should our sisters still be under 35 years of age and should they be so inclined, they can be added to the waiting list of those who are seeking long-term temporary marriage.

The employed sisters are obligated to donate 5% of their earnings to the Shrine of Imam Reza. We ask that all the sisters who are interested in applying, to furnish two full-length photographs (fully hijabed and properly veiled), their academic diplomas, proof of their virginity and a certificate of good physical and psychological health which they can obtain through the health and human services of the township of their residence.

Attention: For sisters who are below 14 years of age, a written consent from their fathers or male guardian is required.



BrookesNews Update

The US economy is Obama's mess and Democrats are panicking : At the end of the day, something has to give. If Obama is not forced to change course the economic consequences for millions of Americans will be increasing severe. Although 'there is a great deal of ruin in a nation', as Adam Smith once observed, there is still a limit to what an economy can endure. Despite its size and power America is not an exception
Influential commentators urge the Fed to raise the pace of pumping : Contrary to Krugman and other mainstream economists neither the Fed nor the government's loose monetary and fiscal policies can cause an expansion in the pool of real savings. On the contrary loose policies only weaken the process of real wealth formation thereby weakening prospects for a sustained economic expansion
Will the Reserve's tight monetary policy drive the Australian economy off a cliff? : Our economic commentariat have no idea how tight monetary policy is. With the money supply shrinking, the housing market cooling, manufacturing slowing and retail prices stabilizing there is only one direction in which the economy can go
The Government's 'alternative energy' policies will be a disaster for the economy : Replacing centralised power generation with alternative energy would result in a colossal waste of land, labour and capital, massive increases in energy prices and savage cuts in living standards
Fidel Castro predicts nuclear war : It was Castro & Guevara's attempt to start a nuclear war that forced Kruschev to remove nuclear missiles from Cuba in 1962, not Kennedy. In fact, Jack Kennedy folded like a bad poker hand, giving Kruschev everything he asked for. And Democrat presidents have been folding ever since
Of course Obama's a socialist : Obama is a card-carrying member of the ruling class, and every act of this president aims to concentrate more power in the government or distribute favors to his supporters. America was not founded for this. The 600,000 did not die in the Civil War for this. The GIs did not crush Nazism and Communism for this. And that is why it shall not stand



Iran foresees a need for more cannon-fodder: "Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad inaugurated a new policy on Tuesday to encourage population growth, dismissing Iran’s decades of family planning as ungodly and a Western import. The new government initiative will pay families for every new child and deposit money into the newborn’s bank account until they reach 18, effectively rolling back years of efforts to boost the economy by reducing the country’s runaway population growth.”

Inching towards free trade?: “Congress has passed legislation that temporarily reduces or suspends tariffs on 639 items, mostly components that American manufacturers use in their production processes. The Miscellaneous Tariff Bill comes up periodically. On Tuesday it passed the Senate without opposition or a recorded vote. The bill passed the House last week, and now goes to the president for his signature.”

Persecution of fundamentalist Mormons under challenge: "The Utah Supreme Court has reversed Warren Steed Jeffs’ two convictions on charges of rape as an accomplice and ordered a new trial, saying that instructions given to jurors were erroneous. Jeffs, the ‘prophet’ of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or FLDS, was sentenced to two consecutive terms of five years to life after he was convicted in September 2007. He was accused of using his religious influence over his followers to coerce a 14-year-old girl into marrying her 19-year-old cousin.” [Sticking your dick up another guy's ass is hailed as "marriage" but Mormon ideas about marriage are a crime?]

Why are we discussing racism?: "Can anyone tell me why suddenly race is the hot topic of national discourse? According to Gallup polling of last week, the issues most on the minds of Americans are the economy and jobs followed by dissatisfaction with all aspects of government. I didn’t notice racism on the list anywhere. The NAACP says it was ’snookered’ by Fox News on the Shirley Sherrod story. I say we’ve all been snookered by the NAACP.”


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, July 27, 2010

Christians Speak Up and Holocaust Survivors Find their Voices

I know that Pastor Hagee is controversial but I think he is a great and good man who takes seriously what the Bible says. And from what I have seen there is great joy in his congregations -- so the blessings are already there -- JR

By Peggy Shapiro

They were both teenage Holocaust survivors who experienced the anti-Semitism of the church even before the Nazis entered their hometowns in Poland. The two eighty-three-year-old women, both named Mania, both short with carefully coiffed blond hair, were in the audience with over 4,000 Christian Zionists at the opening plenary of Christians United for Israel (CUFI) Summit on July 20. Seven pastors spoke, and the two women listened with incredulity to words which defied everything they had ever experienced.

The ministers proclaimed that "Israel is not just a Jewish issue. It's a Christian issue. It's an American issue." The underlying tenet of CUFI is "I will bless those who bless you [Israel], And I will curse him who curses you [Israel], Genesis 12:3. John Hagee, founder of CUFI, reviewed the history of those who cursed Israel. "What you predict for Israel will be your destiny. Pharoah wanted to drown Jewish children, and he was drowned. Haman wanted to hang Jews and he was hung. It has taken us Christians 2,000 years to catch on... We will strive to be a blessing to Israel."

The audience, a cross section of America, included high school students, CUFI on Campus groups, senior citizens moving with the assistance of canes, families with children, African-American ministries, Hispanic churches, cowboy churches, urbanites, suburbanites, ranchers, scientists, bond brokers, travel agents and golfers. They were from all fifty states and as diverse as a group can get, yet they spoke with one voice and cheered wildly as the speakers reaffirmed the CUFI pledge that:

"The Jewish people have a right to live in their ancient land of Israel, and that the modern State of Israel is the fulfillment of this historic right.

There is no excuse for acts of terrorism against Israel and that Israel has the same right as every other nation to defend her citizens from such violent attacks.

Christian Zionists will "stand up, speak up and never shut up for Israel" until the attacks stop and Israelis are finally living in peace."

No one had stood up or spoken up for the Manias the last time Jews were on the precipice of death. Their non-Jewish neighbors turned their backs and closed their eyes. The world was silent when their homes were confiscated, when they were thrown out of schools because Jewish children were not to be educated, and when their families were starved, tormented, and sent off in cattle cars to their deaths in Auschwitz. Now sixty-five years after their liberation from concentration camps, the women heard words which calmed their souls.

Here were over 4,000 Christians, and behind these 4,000 were more than 400,000 members of CUFI offering themselves as allies to Jews and the State of Israel in the battle for survival. It was time to pick sides and these Christians were mobilizing on the Jewish side. On one side is Israel, a democracy with shared values for human life, freedom of religion, and the dignity of the individual. "On the other are the unsavory characters of Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran and the United Nations. The US must stand on the right side." Hagee was certain of the winning side:

"Egypt could not enslave Israel; European nations could not assimilate the Jews; dictators and thugs will not annihilate Israel. We are part of the covenant in a battle for the entire Earth... This time Jews do not have to stand alone."

One of the Manias, my mother, turned to me and said, "However long I was destined to live, I will now live ten years longer." The outspoken and genuine support throughout the three-day summit did more than apply a salve to deep wounds; it empowered these women to speak up as they had never done before. My mother, almost manic in her excitement, spoke to dozens and dozens of Summit participants, who listened to her story with compassion and gratitude. Everywhere we went in the giant convention center and later on Capital Hill, people greeted her by name.

It was the last morning of the Summit when she truly found her voice. My mother had never spoken to a Senator before. She certainly had never spoken up to a person in such a high office. When we met with our two senators, they were both very disappointing in their responses to our requests to ask the president to implement the Iran sanctions legislation that had passed the Senate unanimously.

One senator, who had actually co-sponsored the bill, never read it and thought is was a resolution asking for the UN to act. The other senator equivocated. When the short meeting ended and the legislators were ready to take photos with their constituents, my mother walked up to one senator. He asked her if she wanted a photo. "No, I want to speak to you." "Hmm. Well I am taking pictures." "I will wait." Wait she did.

She asked him about enforcing strong sanctions against Iran and he said he was against war. "I am against war. I was in a war, and I know what it means," She explained. "If Iran gets a nuclear bomb, they told us what they will do, and I believe them. They will kill Israelis and they will attack us. We won't be able to avoid war then." He was not able to placate her with gratuitous statements about his support of Israel. "Those are nice words. I want to know where you stand on issues that will determine the fate of Israel, the U.S. and the world."

The other Mania's silence was broken less publicly but even more profoundly. First about her silence. Three years ago, Mania went with my family on a first and last journey back to Poland. She was quiet for most of the trip, muttering only soto vocce disparaging remarks. We were walking through the remnants of the Birkenau death camp and passed a flimsy wooden barrack, which was intended for 52 horses and converted into housing for more than 500 inmates. "I was here," she said quietly. No one had known, not even her daughter the story she was about to tell.

In the summer of 1944, there were orders for the final liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto, where Mania, her parents, and her little sister had survived starvation and typhus. Knowing that the final days were near, her father had arranged for his family and several others to hide behind the false wall of what had once been his store. Two days before they were set to go into hiding, he was grabbed off the street and sent to Auschwitz.

Her mother was frantic with the choice forced upon her. The night that the others went into hiding, she fought with herself whether to join them or try to meet up with her husband, wherever he might be, and share whatever fate awaited him. There were no correct answers in this world turned upside down, so she held on to what she knew to be true-keep the family together. The next day, she and her two daughters were arrested and packed into a cattle car. When the car had its determined number of human cargo, the outside bolts slammed shut and the three set off in the dark.

Mania was seventeen when she arrived in Auschwitz after torturous days crammed in a cattle car with her mother and seven-year-old sister. The train doors opened to shouts, barks, clubs, screams and chaos. Her little sister was pushed to one line and she to another. Her mother faced another agonizing decision and only moments to make it. Which daughter would she accompany? She chose the younger. Mania was ignorant of what that decision meant as she was herded into the barracks. She sat on the barrack floor back-to-back with hundreds of other girls, with no room to stretch her legs, no food, no water, and no relief from an awful stench.

When the more seasoned inmates spoke about the ovens, Mania was horror struck to learn that her mother and sister were among the ashes. She did not scream. She couldn't. She had lost her voice. For three days, she sat starved and crushed on the floor and could not utter one word. (Language no longer served her.)

Since that day, she has remained a very quiet woman, speaking only when other options aren't available.

At the CUFI Summit, Mania was not able to articulate her reactions other than, "I can't believe it. I can't believe it." At the Wednesday evening Night to Honor Israel, she was stunned to hear a beautiful rendition of the Israeli national anthem and a medley of songs about Jerusalem, all in Hebrew and all accompanied by thousands of Israeli and US flags waving in a sea of people.

There she was, proudly, joyously standing and waving flags. When people started dancing, this woman who never dances, ran up and grabbed the hands of two strangers, and joined in. It was the end of a long day in blazing heat, but she was indefatigable.

We returned home on Thursday and met with the family for Shabbat dinner on Friday night. I was describing our experiences at the Summit when Mania interrupted me. It was the first time in the thirty years that I have known her that she has ever interrupted anyone to say anything.

Christians speaking up in support of Israel and the Jewish people allowed two Holocaust survivors to renew their hope in the world and find their own voices to shout to the world, "Am Yisroel Chai!" Long live the people of Israel.



A sneering Leftist says he wants to UNDERSTAND the Right! We Should Feel So Loved

Lefty blogger Kevin Drum comes out with a half-hearted attempt to explain that, no, he doesn't hate conservatives, he just doesn't understand them! And he oh so dearly wants to understand them, he's just having trouble getting his enlightened mind around the idea! How very nice of Mr. Drum:
On an intellectual level, I can sort of get this. If I were a conservative Christian I'd be unhappy with the increasing secularization of society and the 60s-era Supreme Court decisions that largely removed it from the public square. If I were a white guy stuck in a sucky job and heard stories of blacks being given preference in promotions and school placements, I'd be pissed. If I were socially traditional and my school district insisted on a curriculum that endorsed tolerance of gay lifestyles, I'd be horrified. If I only heard the Fox News version of Climategate, it would seem like truly terrifying proof of a massive global conspiracy and fraud.

Or, in other words, "If I were a racist sexist homophobic paranoid, I could totally understand conservatism. But I'm not any of those things, so I can't possibly understand why anyone would be a conservative!"

Say it with me now: the ideology of conservatism can completely and seamlessly be divorced from racism, sexism, whatever -ism the Left accuses us of, while still being intellectually coherent and logical. This is the worst kind of elitism.


That talk of a "sucky" job is typical Leftist contempt for the lives of ordinary people. I know many people in very ordinary work who are happy in that work. My late father was one -- and I'll vouch that he was a 10 times greater gentleman than Kevin Drum will ever be -- JR



Government-sponsored innovation (What a laugh!): “They all believe they have invented the next big thing, these engineers, MBAs, and scientists with ideas as lofty as the view from their perch on the 14th floor of a new high-rise on Boston’s waterfront. A bottle-top filter to solve the world’s drinking-water woes. A stiletto high heel that converts into a comfortable walking shoe. A wind turbine that uses helium to float up to 2,000 feet in the air to generate electricity in the steady breeze aloft. The creators are among 110 nascent entrepreneurs who have won free office space situated in what city planners are calling the Innovation District, a 1,000-acre swath of South Boston that encompasses much of the view from the 14th floor of One Marina Park Drive at Fan Pier, where entrepreneurial teams will work. The envisioned district stretches from Fort Point Channel to the Boston Marine Industrial Park, from the Seaport to the Convention Center.”

A free press means no subsidies: "‘The 10 most dangerous words in the English language,’ said Ronald Reagan in 1988, ‘are ‘Hi, I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.” But how dangerous could it be for the news industry to accept government help in the form of subsidies, tax credits, or other financial support? The rise of the Internet, as everyone knows, has been hell on traditional media outlets — especially newspapers and magazines, which have seen their circulation, advertising, and profits plummet as millions of readers have gone digital. Thousands of journalists have lost their jobs, national and foreign bureaus have been shut, news coverage has dwindled, and the long-range forecast is for more of the same. To stop the bleeding and keep American journalism viable, some are suggesting a government lifeline in the form of enhanced public funding.”

Attracting businesses during the Great Recession: "The latest unemployment numbers show the nation remains in the deepest economic recession since the Great Depression. Economists are predicting a ‘double dip’ recession, meaning things may get worse before they get better. What can elected officials do to attract businesses during the Great Recession? The key lies in building a better business climate, the panoply of public policies that affect investment, business startups, and profitability. A good business climate encourages people to start new businesses, existing businesses to grow, and national and international businesses to invest in an area. A poor business climate does the opposite.”

Sweet for producers; sour for consumers: "For years, domestic sugar producers have profited from quotas limiting sugar imports, boosting prices to American users. While such protectionism indefensibly takes from American consumers for politically powerful sugar producers, it usually hides under the public radar. But the difference between American prices and world prices recently reached its highest level in over a decade, again raising it as an issue.”

Early returns on ObamaCare are disappointing: "Obamacare was conceived around three goals: (1) provide health insurance coverage for all Americans; (2) reduce insurance costs for individuals, businesses, and government; and (3) increase the quality of health care and the value received for each dollar of health care spending. Just over 100 days after the law was signed, the evidence shows it is failing on each and every one of those goals.”


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, July 26, 2010

The Media's co-ordinated attack on Sarah Palin

On Thursday, the Daily Caller published exchanges from a private forum called JournoList that showed how 400 top mainstream reporters and their activist buddies conspired in an attack against Palin the minute she entered the presidential race.

Wrote Daniel Levy of the Century Foundation: "This seems to me like an occasion when the nonofficial campaign has a big role to play in defining Palin, shaping the terms of the conversation and saying things that the official (Obama) campaign shouldn't say — very hard-hitting stuff, including some of the things that people have been noting here (on JournoList) — scare people about having this woefully inexperienced, no foreign policy/national security/right-wing christia (sic) wing-nut a heartbeat away."

"What a joke," added Jeffrey Toobin, a staff writer at the New Yorker and a senior analyst at CNN.

Ryan Donmoyer of Bloomberg News warned the forum bloggers that Palin's decision against aborting her baby with Down syndrome represented a threat to Obama because it was a "heartwarming" story. Politico's Ben Adler (now at Newsweek) said Palin should be criticized because campaigning would take her away from her baby.

Instead of calling Adler out on his 1970s-grade sexism, Human Rights Watch's then-chief of operations, Suzanne Nossel, suggested that McCain be called the sexist: "I think it is and can be spun as a profoundly sexist pick. Women should feel umbrage at the idea that their votes can be attracted just by putting a woman, any woman, on the ticket no matter her qualification or views."

"OK, let's get deadly serious, folks," wrote Ed Kilgore, managing editor of the Democratic Strategist. "Grating voice or not, 'inexperienced' or not, Sarah Palin's just been introduced to the country as a brave, above-party, oil-company-bashing, pork-hating maverick 'outsider.' What we can do is expose her ideology?"

And so it went — journalists from the Nation, Mother Jones, Time, Politico, Bloomberg cooking up approaches, arguments, "narratives" and templates to paint a false picture of the candidate.

There are so many things wrong with this, we hardly know where to start. Nominally competitors, these supposedly impartial media mavens colluded in a way that would put airline or insurance officials in the dock for anti-competitive practices. They engaged in activism instead of fact-finding and mixed incestuously with activists whom they also should have been covering impartially.

Worst of all, they deprived millions of Americans of the information they needed to size up this new face on the political scene and determine if she really was a candidate who represented their interests. That still remains to be done — and the country is poorer for it.



Too many laws, too many prisoners

Never in the civilised world have so many been locked up for so little

THREE pickup trucks pulled up outside George Norris’s home in Spring, Texas. Six armed police in flak jackets jumped out. Thinking they must have come to the wrong place, Mr Norris opened his front door, and was startled to be shoved against a wall and frisked for weapons. He was forced into a chair for four hours while officers ransacked his house. They pulled out drawers, rifled through papers, dumped things on the floor and eventually loaded 37 boxes of Mr Norris’s possessions onto their pickups. They refused to tell him what he had done wrong. “It wasn’t fun, I can tell you that,” he recalls.

Mr Norris was 65 years old at the time, and a collector of orchids. He eventually discovered that he was suspected of smuggling the flowers into America, an offence under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. This came as a shock. He did indeed import flowers and sell them to other orchid-lovers. And it was true that his suppliers in Latin America were sometimes sloppy about their paperwork. In a shipment of many similar-looking plants, it was rare for each permit to match each orchid precisely.

In March 2004, five months after the raid, Mr Norris was indicted, handcuffed and thrown into a cell with a suspected murderer and two suspected drug-dealers. When told why he was there, “they thought it hilarious.” One asked: “What do you do with these things? Smoke ’em?”

Prosecutors described Mr Norris as the “kingpin” of an international smuggling ring. He was dumbfounded: his annual profits were never more than about $20,000. When prosecutors suggested that he should inform on other smugglers in return for a lighter sentence, he refused, insisting he knew nothing beyond hearsay.

He pleaded innocent. But an undercover federal agent had ordered some orchids from him, a few of which arrived without the correct papers. For this, he was charged with making a false statement to a government official, a federal crime punishable by up to five years in prison. Since he had communicated with his suppliers, he was charged with conspiracy, which also carries a potential five-year term.

As his legal bills exploded, Mr Norris reluctantly changed his plea to guilty, though he still protests his innocence. He was sentenced to 17 months in prison. After some time, he was released while his appeal was heard, but then put back inside. His health suffered: he has Parkinson’s disease, which was not helped by the strain of imprisonment. For bringing some prescription sleeping pills into prison, he was put in solitary confinement for 71 days. The prison was so crowded, however, that even in solitary he had two room-mates.

Justice is harsher in America than in any other rich country. Between 2.3m and 2.4m Americans are behind bars, roughly one in every 100 adults. If those on parole or probation are included, one adult in 31 is under “correctional” supervision. As a proportion of its total population, America incarcerates five times more people than Britain, nine times more than Germany and 12 times more than Japan. Overcrowding is the norm. Federal prisons house 60% more inmates than they were designed for. State lock-ups are only slightly less stuffed.

The system has three big flaws, say criminologists. First, it puts too many people away for too long. Second, it criminalises acts that need not be criminalised. Third, it is unpredictable. Many laws, especially federal ones, are so vaguely written that people cannot easily tell whether they have broken them.

In 1970 the proportion of Americans behind bars was below one in 400, compared with today’s one in 100. Since then, the voters, alarmed at a surge in violent crime, have demanded fiercer sentences. Politicians have obliged. New laws have removed from judges much of their discretion to set a sentence that takes full account of the circumstances of the offence. Since no politician wants to be tarred as soft on crime, such laws, mandating minimum sentences, are seldom softened. On the contrary, they tend to get harder.

Some criminals belong behind bars. When a habitual rapist is locked up, the streets are safer. But the same is not necessarily true of petty drug-dealers, whose incarceration creates a vacancy for someone else to fill, argues Alfred Blumstein of Carnegie Mellon University. The number of drug offenders in federal and state lock-ups has increased 13-fold since 1980. Some are scary thugs; many are not....

Severe drug laws have unintended consequences. Less than half of American cancer patients receive adequate painkillers, according to the American Pain Foundation, another pressure-group. One reason is that doctors are terrified of being accused of drug-trafficking if they over-prescribe. In 2004 William Hurwitz, a doctor specialising in the control of pain, was sentenced to 25 years in prison for prescribing pills that a few patients then resold on the black market. Virginia’s board of medicine ruled that he had acted in good faith, but he still served nearly four years....

Much more HERE



Modern political prisoners in America: "When I was growing up, I learned in school that one of the reasons the United States of America was better than the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was because we didn’t hold political prisoners in our jails. That was something the bad, bad communists did. That was something that was done in communist countries to keep dissidents in line and to silence them. Such a thing could never be done in America. I don’t know if this is still taught in the schools, but if it is then I believe our children are being grossly misinformed. The United States of America has become the leading nation when it comes to jailing its citizens, and the vast majority of them have been jailed for non violent crimes. We are, in effect, being jailed by the political class for disobeying rules they have deigned necessary, not for actions that have harmed another human being or his property. Most of those jailed are, in effect, political prisoners.”

A law to prevent government bungling! (If only ...) "President Barack Obama will sign legislation today to limit erroneous payments by the government and announce a new goal of reducing improper payments by $50 billion before 2012, a White House official said. The Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act will help limit improper payments to individuals, organizations and contractors, according to the administration official. The White House said that in 2009 a record of almost $110 billion was paid by the government to the wrong person, in the wrong amount or for the wrong reasons."

A Russian milestone: First black elected to office: "People in this Russian town used to stare at Jean Gregoire Sagbo because they had never seen a black man. Now they say they see in him something equally rare — an honest politician. Sagbo last month became the first black to be elected to office in Russia. In a country where racism is entrenched and often violent, Sagbo’s election as one of Novozavidovo’s 10 municipal councilors is a milestone.”

US deficit heads toward record $1.47 trillion: "There is some good economic news. The red ink the US is swimming in is not as bad as projected in February. Yes, at $1.471 trillion, it’s still huge — 10 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product — but an improvement of $84 billion from earlier estimates. But bad news still looms large. In the next fiscal year, according to the mid-season review released by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Friday, the US deficit will be $150 billion more than earlier projections. It is expected to come in at $1.416 trillion, or 9.2 percent of GDP. The White House, which released the change in budget estimates, was careful not to overplay the changing numbers. ‘These are not substantial changes and nothing we want to make too big a deal about,’ said Peter Orszag, director of the OMB in a press call with reporters. ‘The economy remains weaker than we would like and the unemployment rate higher than we would like.’”

Battle over Bush tax cuts looms in Washington: "An epic fight is brewing over what Congress and President Obama should do about the expiring Bush tax cuts, with such substantial economic and political consequences that it could shape the fall elections and fiscal policy for years to come. Democratic leaders, including Obama, say they are intent on letting the tax cuts for the wealthy expire as scheduled at the end of this year. But they have pledged to continue the lower tax rates for individuals earning less than $200,000 and families earning less than $250,000 — what Democrats call the middle class. Most Republicans want to extend the tax cuts for everyone, and some Democrats agree, saying it would be unwise to raise taxes on anyone while the economy remains weak. If no action is taken, taxes on income, dividends, capital gains, and estates would all rise.”

Liberal tax revolt game-changer?: "The liberal tax revolt, as the Wall Street Journal is calling it, is a very important topic — especially for investors and small-business entrepreneurs. And for new jobs. The so-called revolt is comprised of three Democratic senators: Kent Conrad, Evan Bayh, and Ben Nelson. They want to extend all the Bush tax cuts. That includes taxes on the wealthy, or the top personal tax rate, the investment taxes on capital gains and dividends, and the estate tax. So is this revolt a game-changer, or merely wishful thinking?”

Doctors fleeing faster from profession, Medicare: "The exodus of doctors from Medicare (and, likely, from private practice altogether) is accelerating. The signs are undeniable: A 2008 poll by an independent Medicare commission found that 28 percent of seniors had trouble finding a primary-care doctor, up from 24 percent the year before. In Texas, 38 percent of primary-care doctors will take new Medicare patients. The Mayo Clinic is opting out of Medicare in several locations because the low payment rates don’t allow the organization to provide the quality care its culture demands. One financial planner reported that well over half of his physician clients have asked him to restructure their finances so they can retire in 2013 — the year before the main provisions of the new health overhaul law take effect.”

Abolish the Agriculture Department: "Amidst the big dispute between liberals and conservatives over race in the Shirley Sherrod controversy, I’d like to make a libertarian point: Rather than give Sherrod her job back at the Department of Agriculture, let’s instead simply abolish the Agriculture Department, along with all the socialist programs that enable those welfare-state bureaucrats to dole out other people’s hard-earned money to farmers.”

Money dominates: "Financial panics are usually followed by sharp economic snap backs. The post-Panic of 2008 has failed to follow this typical ‘V-shaped’ economic recovery pattern. After almost two years, the U.S. economy remains mired in an anemic recovery, with a current 2.4% year-over-year rate of growth. This paltry growth rate doesn’t even reach the U.S.’s long-term trend rate, and is well below the sizzling growth rate we should be observing (6%-7.5%). The picture is much the same in Europe, where growth is even more anemic. The fiscalists have reached for their standard elixir — larger government deficits.”

Bureaucratic brownies: "The Pentagon’s brownie recipe is 26 pages long. Among the ingredients: water that conforms to the ‘National Primary Drinking Water Regulations (Copies are available from the Office of Drinking Water, Environmental Protection Agency, WH550D, 401 M Street, S.W., Washington, DC 20460),’ eggs in compliance with ‘Regulations Governing the Inspection of Eggs and Egg Products (7 CFR Part 59),’ and baking soda ‘which meets the requirements of the Food Chemicals Codex.’”

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


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


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


It needs an all-out battle to stop the frauds who are destroying America

When will Republicans get it through their head that this in no longer a conflict of ideas played by gentlemen rules? The Obama/Pelosi/Reed triumvirate has already taken control of automotive, insurance, housing, healthcare, student loans, and finance industries. Soon they’ll take control of the energy and telecommunications industries. They’ve usurped state authority with unfunded mandates on an unprecedented level (heath care). They've wreaked state budgets with stimulus dollars that come with more strings than a marionette. And they even refuse to allow Arizona to take reasonable actions to protect itself against rampant illegal immigration. That giant sucking sound you hear is power being vacuumed up from all points on the compass to settle in Washington DC, so it can be ceremoniously transferred to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

This cabal is intent on changing the country in a direction that will cause misery for generations of Americans. Socialism? No, I never feared that this administration would take us into a European-style socialist state. I believe that would be bad, especially for the people struggling to get a foothold on life, but it would not be the annihilation of everything I hold dear. No, my fear is closer to home, right here in this hemisphere. What they have in mind starts with crony capitalism and corrupt dealings between big government and big business. Once this is taken a few more steps, it's more properly called fascism—the government control of private enterprise and suppression of all opposition.

So, quit playing nice. These people are committed to winning, and they use Chicago-style tactics—rock you back on your heels, and then they embrace you in a warm hug. But make no mistake, as soon as they're done with you, they will viciously attack your character, beliefs, and faith until they destroy your will to fight. There are crucial battles ahead. You've lost a lot already, but the war is still raging. Open your eyes. Don't obsess on the current battle, and nip around the edges of their latest assault. Always remember the long string of double-crosses that have come before. See their intent for what it really is, not for what you hope it is. Your mantra must be to watch what they do, not what they say.

Here’s one piece of good news for you: The people have caught on. The bellicose accusations the administration throws at opponents are falling on deaf ears—at least out here in the real world.

Our salvation will only come when enough people stand with courage and yell NO! Instead of being intimidated, wear the Party of No badge with pride. Do not give in. Do not grant them legitimacy because they won the last election—they won under a false flag. The country did not vote for this, they voted for bipartisan, post-racial leadership that would extend wellbeing to more of our people while protecting the liberty of all.



Bernanke Says: Keep Bush Tax Cuts

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke favors the continuation of the Bush tax cuts, which would allow Obama to avoid implementing the biggest tax hike in history under his name.

The Obama, Reid and Pelosi power trip wants to raise taxes on "the rich," but fails to understand that those lumped into that category include small businesses, which employ over 70 percent of Americans. More taxes equals less money to pay more employees, resulting obviously in even higher unemployment.

The battle lines are clearly drawn. Obama, Reid and Pelosi on one side, Bernanke and small business on the other.



The failures of Obama and his Congressional poodles were inevitable

Most of the progressive criticism of the Obama Democrats seems to take-on one of either a couple different themes. First, there’s the theme that “Obama should have focused more on job creation” during his first two years in office, rather than spending so much time and energy on healthcare legislation. Progressive pundit Arianna Huffington has been sounding this alarm for at least the last nine months, recognizing before many others that, yes, even Barack Obama needs to preside over a flourishing economy if he’s going to retain any political clout.

The other theme of criticism among progressives is that “Obama hasn’t gone far enough.” His approach to “reforming” healthcare should have been to completely shut-down any private sector involvement in the healthcare industry and the medical profession, and to place it all under the auspices of government-run enterprise. Similarly, he should have put “big oil” in its place by now, and should have already legislated a reduction in petroleum consumption while “creating” a “green energy industry.”

Both of these lines of reasoning are fraught with naivety, and false assumptions. And they are both grounded in a enormous misunderstanding of basic economics, and human nature.

Consider the assumptions about economics, and human nature, entailed in these remarks from Paul Waldman, writing in the July 20th edition of the American Prospect: “It wasn't supposed to be this way. Remember when Barack Obama's presidency was going to wash over the capital like a cleansing tide, renewing both the government's ability to accomplish great things and restoring the people's faith in that ability? It seems so much longer than a year and a half ago…The broader frustration is with a system whose dysfunction and corruption seem worse than ever -- one that seems like it's designed to stop progressive change…”

Indeed, the corruption and dysfunction of the Obama Democrats are bringing so-called “progressive change” to a halt. But why would Waldman – and the progressives, generally – ever think that concentrating more and more economic resources into the hands of fewer and fewer people (this is what happens when government takes-over huge chunks of the private sector economy, as Obama has been doing) would NOT lead to more corruption?

Progressives lament the harshness and corruption of the private sector, capitalistic economy – insurance companies denying coverage or charge too much for their product are common grievances – yet they naively assume that as long as politicians and government bureaucrats control things, greedy and self-serving behaviors will disappear, and the “collective good” will reign supreme.

But there is no historical basis for this assumption. Indeed, most of the world’s roughly five-thousand years of history paint a brutal picture of government “rulers” and “ruling classes” of people, abusively lording their power over the poorer classes. This is to say that there is no one individual (not even President Obama), nor any one select group of people (like Congressional Democrats) that are so “moral” and “virtuous” that they will consistently set aside their own personal self-interests (self-interests like increasing their power and popularity), as a means of serving the collective good.

No, part of being human is to be self-interested, and the Obama Democrats have displayed in painful ways that they will do whatever they want with other people’s economic resources, so long as it makes them feel good.

This is why conservatives believe in the free-market economy. And not a free-market devoid of any and all forms of regulation (such economic systems only exist on paper). But rather, a free-market economy where market competition provides a check-and-balance to bad behavior.



DISCLOSE Act Assault on First Amendment Continues

For those of you who believe in bygone notions like free speech rights and the ability to criticize politicians when they do things like nationalize 1/5 of the U.S. economy, you better taken advantage of that while you can. Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has filed for cloture on the DISCLOSE Act, S. 3628, which is intended to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United and impose burdensome new disclosure requirements. The cloture vote will probably occur next Tuesday in a move that avoids committee hearings. If Reid can get 60 votes, then the Schumer/Van Hollen Sedition Act of 2010 will proceed to a vote. At that point, he will only need 51 senators who believe Congress has the ability to circumvent and restrict the First Amendment.

Senator Schumer also introduced a new version of S. 3628 yesterday which differs slightly from the version passed in the House, H.R. 5175. For example, it drops the ban on political speech introduced by Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) by holders of oil drilling leases on the Outer Continental Shelf, which is a slight improvement over the House version. But the differential treatment between corporations and unions is still present in the new, refined, and “improved” bill, as are all of the other worst provisions of the original version.

The Center for Competitive Politics estimates that the ban on government contractors engaging in political speech will apply to over half of the fifty largest companies in the United States. The “NRA exemption” from the burdensome disclosure requirements remains in the bill as does the prohibition on speech of American companies with direct or indirect connections with foreign corporations (although unions and NGOs with foreign members are not affected). So companies owned 80% by Americans that are headquartered in the United States and whose employees are overwhelmingly American will not be able to engage in any political speech.

If this bill passes, it will become effective within thirty days, which will cause such confusion and chaos only two months before the fall congressional elections that many corporations, both profit and nonprofit, and incorporated associations, will no doubt stay out of the election and stay out of grassroots activity on other bills and issues being considered by Congress before November. But then, there is little doubt that deterring such activity that could lead to criticism of the positions and votes taken by incumbent senators and representatives is an intentional objective.

The Framers of our Bill of Rights are probably rolling over in their graves as they contemplate what may be about to happen in the United States Senate. If Daniel Webster asked “How stands the Union?’ as he did in the famous story by Stephen Vincent Benet in The Devil and Daniel Webster, it would be hard to give him the answer he would want. When members of the United States Congress believe they have the power to violate the First Amendment with impunity and censor the political speech of those who they believe should not be able to speak, then the Union no longer stands “rock-bottomed and copper sheathed, one and indivisible.”



One Nation Under Arrest

If you did not know that you were supposed to affix a federally mandated sticker to your otherwise lawful UPS package, should you be arrested face down on the pavement by FBI agents training automatic weapons at you? Our hunch is that most reasonable Americans would respond with an emphatic ‘No!’ Today we are launching a series of posts based on case studies adapted from our new book, One Nation Under Arrest: How Crazy Laws, Rogue Prosecutors, and Activist Judges Threaten Your Liberty. The book includes stories of average Americans who have been arrested, prosecuted, convicted – and even imprisoned – despite the fact that they were doing their best to be respectable, law-abiding citizens. The UPS-sticker example is just one real world example we will be highlighting.

Heritage fellow Jack Park kicks off the series today. He relates how George Norris, a 67-year-old husband and grandfather, ended up spending almost two years in federal prison. Some of Norris’s paperwork for his home-based orchid business did not meet all of the technical requirements of an international treaty. None of his orchids were illegal to import, possess, or sell, but that did not stop the government from prosecuting and imprisoning him.

One Nation Under Arrest analyzes the causes of overcriminalization and offers solid proposals for reforming the law. To be solved, the problems of overcriminalization must be fully recognized and understood. Overcriminalization includes applying criminal penalties to activities that are socially and economically beneficial. Consider, for example, the obscure environmental laws that dictate what you can and cannot do in your own home even when they may not provide any clear environmental benefit.

Overcriminalization also includes creating offenses that are so vague and broad that they grant federal prosecutors a license to deem broad swaths of conduct “criminal.” The federal “honest services” fraud statute, for example, is so vague and far-reaching that even conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has written that prosecutors could use it to convict and imprison Americans who call in “sick” to attend a ballgame.

Increasingly over the past few decades, the U.S. Congress has been callously disregarding the limits the Constitution places on the federal government’s authority to criminalize otherwise innocent conduct and engaging in similarly improper criminalization. This has partially succeeded in warping Americans’ collective understanding of what should – and what should not – be the subject of federal criminal punishment.

But most Americans still have not surrendered their sound judgment that criminal punishment should be carefully limited. If you buy or sell personal shares of stock and are unaware that you are technically violating some obscure trading rule on corporate mergers and acquisitions that are conducted via tender offer (whatever that is), should you have to face the possibility of paying for your lack of knowledge by spending time in federal prison with murderers, child rapists, and drug traffickers? Anyone who has traded stock yet is not intimately familiar with the hundreds or thousands of relevant statutes, rules, and regulations would again probably say ‘No!’

Congress and state legislatures increasingly view the criminal law as the tool of choice to “solve” every problem, punish every mistake (instead of making appropriate use of civil penalties), and coerce Americans into conforming their behavior to satisfy social engineering objectives. Criminal law should be used to redress only that conduct which Americans rightly and reasonably determine is deserving of society’s greatest punishment and moral sanction. As had been the rule for centuries, no one should be punished as a criminal unless he committed a wrongful act knowing that it was illegal or wrongful – that is, unless he acted with criminal intent.

Like the stories in this Foundry series, One Nation Under Arrest highlights how criminal law and punishment today frequently transgress these boundaries and harm the innocent. If you want to know more about how overcriminalization endangers you and other honest, respectable Americans, keep checking in on this Foundry series and click below to order a copy of One Nation Under Arrest.



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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)