Friday, December 31, 2010

New year thought

This next year, both Groundhog Day and the State of the Union address occur on the same day. It is an ironic juxtaposition of events: one involves a meaningless ritual in which we look to a creature of little intelligence for prognostication while the other involves a groundhog.


Northern Europe doing fine

Note that both Germany and Sweden are under conservative leadership

NORTHERN European countries, lead by Sweden, are providing a glimmer of hope to a continent savaged by a sovereign debt crisis.

In late November, as euro-zone leaders struggled to quell Dublin's debt maelstrom, something odd was happening farther north. In Stockholm, government statisticians reported the strongest economic growth in Sweden's modern history.

Having been torpedoed along with the rest of the West in the banking bust, the Nordic country was now riding on a high, with gross domestic product rising almost 7 per cent thanks to a potent rebound in domestic spending and strong exports.

Sweden was not alone. Germany, Europe's dominant economy, enjoyed its most powerful economic expansion since the country's reunification in 1990, borne aloft not only by its hyper-competitive manufacturers but by an acceleration in consumer spending and rising employment.

And further east, Poland was showing signs of shrugging off its own credit crunch hangover to report a growth spurt, with gross domestic product rising by an annual 4.7 per cent in July to September.

The figures defy the perception of a Europe that is drifting into economic somnolence, the only thrills coming from fiscal car wrecks in the single currency area.

Some of the region's key economies are enjoying remarkable success, in part thanks to their exporters' ability to cash in on demand from fast-growing emerging markets, but also because of strengthening household spending and confidence at home.

"It is a great divide; we have the best and worst in the world in this region," said Christopher Potts, head of economics and strategy at CA Cheuvreux. "We have countries in serious, serious difficulties, but we have other parts of Europe that are enjoying a period of prosperity."



The betrayal of the young

However misguided their slogans and questionable their tactics, it is difficult not to sympathise with the young protesters in London, Paris and Madrid whose street marches marked 2010. After all, their elders have left them a legacy of public debt that can only translate into future tax increases and spending cuts.

Pressures for fiscal retrenchment will doubtless be even stronger next year. Interest rates on government bonds are about 12 per cent in Greece, 8.6 per cent in Ireland and 6.4 per cent in Portugal, compared to a mere 2.6 per cent in Germany: clearly, markets have not found the European Financial Stability Facility as reassuring as all that.

And with the US and the European countries poised to borrow a historically high $3.5 trillion to fund fiscal deficits, interest rates are likely to rise, so that debt servicing will weigh even more heavily on public budgets. This will force greater tax increases and reductions in outlays if fiscal targets are to be achieved.

Whether those targets will indeed be met remains to be seen. With 21 per cent of the labour force out of work in Spain, 15 per cent in Greece and 13 per cent in Ireland, securing real improvements in budget deficits will test political systems that have long found fiscal discipline a struggle.

But the problems go far beyond the most egregious basket cases. And whatever the role of the euro, their origins predate the move to a common currency.

Rather, an important factor is that Europe's overall productivity performance has been poor for some time.

From 1973 to the early 1990s, European productivity increased to levels close to or even exceeding those in the US. After that, however, productivity growth in the European Union halved, just as US productivity levels surged. By 2007, gross domestic product per hour worked in the EU was about 12 percentage points below the US level. And partly as a result of high tax rates, Europeans now work 20 per cent fewer hours per head than Americans, so the gap in output per hour leads to an even greater gap in total output.

Slowing productivity growth constrained the tax base that could be used to fund public expenditure. But instead of cutting back on powerful constituencies, many European governments accumulated debt, shifting tax burdens to future generations.

Those burdens will prove all the more painful as, rather than leave assets that could help pay off debt, much of the public spending has gone to fund consumption or on white elephants.

And the pain is increased further by the widespread protection of labour market insiders through stringent unfair dismissal regulations. These have imposed high costs on Europe's young, who have struggled to gain secure jobs. The result has been a marked rise in income inequality between cohorts of working age.

The French case is symptomatic. In 1977, the earnings gap between 30 to 35-year-olds and 50 to 55-year-olds was 15 per cent; now, it is 40 per cent.

Moreover, while earnings continue to rise for the baby-boomer cohorts, cohorts born since the mid-60s have experienced stagnant incomes, a far greater risk of unemployment and slow rates of job advancement.

This is all the more striking as periods of rapid technological change typically increase the relative income of younger cohorts, who have more up-to-date skills. In other words, the between-cohort income spread usually narrows, even if the within-cohort spread rises, as has occurred in the US.

Overall, young Europeans face a double whammy: they will have to make good years of wasteful spending and do so out of incomes lower and more uncertain than those of older generations. Little wonder they are referred to as the iPod generation: Insecure, Pressured, Over-taxed and Debt-ridden.

The politics this gives rise to are made poisonous by the widespread loss of credibility of European political elites.

In many countries, those elites are increasingly a gerontocracy: in 1981, for example, the typical French parliamentarian was 40; today, he or she is 60. And that the elites are embroiled in scandals further undermines their legitimacy.

So does the fact the elites have no credible answers to European society's challenges, most obviously immigration. Here too, protecting labour market insiders has imposed high costs, compounding the many other problems of integration.

A recent French government report finds that adjusting for factors such as age and education, the unemployment rate for migrants is 1.5 to 2 percentage points greater than for the native born, with an even greater gap for migrants from Africa. While that may be unsurprising, the study also finds that second generation migrants are even more disadvantaged than their parents were.

It concludes that despite substantial public spending, the social problems of areas with a high proportion of migrants are worsening, including in terms of violent crime. And the evidence it surveys suggests the French situation, while hardly satisfactory, is no worse than that in The Netherlands and Sweden.

To all this, neither the social democrats nor the traditional conservative parties have any sensible response. And neither is capable of channelling popular discontent. As a result, Europe's Tea Party movement has taken forms far more virulent than its US counterpart, including xenophobic, at times overtly racist, organisations such as the Swiss Union of the Democratic Centre, the New Flemish Alliance in Belgium and Geert Wilders's Party For Freedom in The Netherlands.

This is not to say nothing good has come from the current crisis. Some madcap projects, such as Greece's national broadband network, have been shelved. And fiscal accountability has been enhanced, including by strengthening independent review of budget proposals



Making 2011 the Year of Economic Growth

The liberal media has been heralding all the grand achievements of the 111th Congress, especially the legislation pushed through during the lame duck session. The Congress which took its last vote on Dec. 22 added $3.2 trillion to the national debt, setting a record for red ink that exceeded the $2.0 trillion in deficits run up during the 110th Congress. Since the Democrats took control of both houses after the 2006 election, the national debt has grown by $5.2 trillion, or by 30 percent. The deficits are mainly the result of the 2008 recession, which reduced revenue and spurred the use of stimulus spending to speed recovery. Yet, with unemployment at 9.8 percent, it would seem that the fiscal programs were poorly devised and accomplished little for the huge sums spent.

The best anti-recession policy was something Congress did not do. It did not enact the so-called "cap and trade" initiative to limit greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by raising costs for energy production and use. Had such legislation been implemented, there would have been no chance for an economic recovery. The new burdens envisioned for the core activities of America's modern, affluent society would have made the lapse of the Bush tax cuts pale in comparison. The misnamed American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (H.R. 2454) just barely passed in the House or Representatives by a vote of 219 to 212. Only eight Republicans voted in favor and 44 Democrats opposed it. The bill then stalled in the Senate in the face of a bipartisan coalition worried about the recession. GOP gains in the 112th Congress should render its re-introduction futile.

Yet, sending the United States not just into another Great Depression, but turning the clock back several generations in living standards is the aim of the Left-wing Green movement. Groups like Climate Justice Action want to “ensure that large-scale, destructive corporate-controlled false solutions to climate change are eliminated. This includes so-called ‘clean coal,’ agrofuels (industrial scale biofuels), nuclear power, and large-scale hydropower.” And “we should not build electric cars or trucks running on biofuels but massively reduce their numbers through the radical development of public transportation." To them, there is no way forward, only backwards.

Economic stagnation or decline is vital to the sustainability of socialism. Marxists have always assumed they would be taking over a capitalist system that had already solved the economic problem of producing all that society needed. Their mission was simply to run the system more "fairly" by eliminating "profits" and "the wealthy" who had more than their proper share. There was no understanding that the modern age was only dawning when the core doctrines of the Left were being formulated in the 19th century. Without a capitalist system with its financial incentives for material advancement, economic progress comes to an end. For many on the Left, this is an acceptable outcome, but it cannot be sold to the general public which expects living standards to continually rise. The fear that their children may not be better off than they are is driving middle class angst.

The solution for the Left is to convince the public that economic progress is bad. Several attempts have been made to sell this idea since it was spawned by the New Left in the 1960s. The early "tree hugger" approach extolling the "simple life" never got beyond the hippie communes, where its application was quickly found to be appalling. Then came the "limits to growth" argument that there aren't enough "resources" to maintain middle class standards as populations increase. Capitalism and technology, however, keep finding new ways to do things, using resources more efficiently and finding new resources. The Greens have had to devote time to denying access to resources to starve progress (such as restrictions on oil drilling and mining, and even to building wind mills and dams) so they could artificially create shortages.

Finally, unable to persuade people to go backward, the Greens invoked their own version of the "voice of god" to command regression on pain of universal death. Hence, the birth of the "global warming" notion. Progress is not good, for it will kill us all. That socialism cannot create progress ceases to be a failing; it becomes the movement's central platform plank. Material advancement will be "capped" and what benefits are available will be "traded" under socialist administration to assure "fairness" and a minimum standard for all---but not more than a minimum or the planet's future will be in peril. Nature requires socialism, end of the debate.

This argument has reached further than the hippie communes, but not much further. The vast majority of the world's people and their governments have not bought it, as evidenced by the continued failure of the UN climate conferences to find any general support for imposing restrictions on national economies (as opposed to the purely political battle by some groups of states to impose limits on rival states). The "right to develop" which has been at the core of human nature since before recorded history continues to be the rallying cry of those who live in the real world. The embrace of retrogression is a sickness unique to the cloistered halls of Western liberalism.

Unfortunately, the death of "cap and trade" legislation does not mean the battle is over. The race in domestic policy will continue between those who are pushing expanded energy production from nuclear, wind, solar, natural gas and domestic oil against those who are trying to close down energy sources like coal, oil (from anywhere) and nuclear. Securing funding for one side while denying it to the other will decide the contest.

On Dec. 23, the Environmental Protection Agency issued its plan for establishing GHG standards in 2011. Its press release said, "The agency looked at a number of sectors and is moving forward on GHG standards for fossil fuel power plants and petroleum refineries—two of the largest industrial sources, representing nearly 40 percent of the GHG pollution in the United States. EPA will propose standards for power plants in July 2011 and for refineries in December 2011 and will issue final standards in May 2012 and November 2012, respectively." The EPA claimed it would hold "listening sessions with the business community, states and other stakeholders in early 2011, well before the rulemaking process begins."

Among the "other stakeholders" are all Americans who want to keep their country moving forward, which cannot happen if energy costs are driven upward by EPA fiat. As one Greenwebsite put it, "the ultimate regulations, which will apply to factories, oil refineries, and power plants, including many of the oldest, dirtiest coal plants, is a huge deal." Concerned citizens and their representatives in the new Congress must make sure the "deal" works in the national interest, which is assuredly won't if the Green Luddites stack the deck.
Meanwhile, California's Air Resources Board approved its own state-wide cap-and-trade system on Dec. 16. After 2015, refiners and distributors of gasoline, diesel, natural gas and other fuels will be required to buy emissions permits at auctions or purchase them from other companies. Gradually, the state will reduce the number of permits available, squeezing companies that do not reduce their GHG emissions. Again, the cost of producing or using energy will go up. The California authorities seem bent on blasting holes in a ship that has already run aground to make sure it can never be refloated to sail again as the vanguard of American affluence.

California's impending bankruptcy is rooted in the same liberal doctrines that triggered the national rebuke of the 111th Congress. Too much spending on non-productive programs while the foundations of the economy are being undermined; making any spending for any purpose (even on the basic duties of government) impossible to sustain. Society requires growth, end of the debate.



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, December 30, 2010

If Republicans Stick With Six Simple Words, They'll Be Golden In 2011

The end of the year is the right time for Republicans to revisit the lessons learned in 2010 and look forward to 2011. Several months ago, I recommended that Republican Party provide the American electorate with a calling card, a clear statement of what it stands for. The GOP delivered.

The elections resulted in an overarching victory for conservatives, making it clearer than ever that the Republicans’ position can be summarized in 6 words: Small Government. Low Taxes. National Security.

Now it is time to take that slogan into everyday governing as well as into the next election cycle and use it to end Barack Obama’s mangled presidency. With the Republicans earning a mandate in the House and an effective minority in the Senate, it is incumbent upon them not to lose their focus on the 6 simple words, and to continue to trumpet their ideals at each and every instance.

We learned again this past year that if Republicans stand by their beliefs, the other side inevitably buckles to the pressure. Below are two concrete examples:

1. First, in the recently concluded tax debate, Republicans scored a victory for their conviction that Low Taxes are a necessity. While Republicans remained steadfast that a recession is not the time to raise taxes across all economic classes, Democrats declared that they would never allow the Bush – era tax cuts to be extended.

However, when the moment of truth came, the Republicans prevailed in the fight for low taxes and Americans do not have to worry about their tax duties going up in these difficult times.

2. Second, the Republicans’ ability to stand strong on their belief in Small Government resulted in the failure by the Democrats to pass their $1.2 trillion omnibus spending bill, a heap of pork-barrel and special interest spending.

Even with a majority in the Senate, Harry Reid was not able to coerce his caucus into voting for the measure which was a sum of separate spending bills which could not be passed on their own. In desperation, the left attempted to bribe Republican Senators with pork barrel provisions, but leader McConnell made sure the Republicans stood united on their principle that government has to be small and not overreaching. The omnibus bill was pulled from the Senate floor.

2011 is going to be a momentous year in national politics, and each Republican candidate for president has to follow the two examples I've mentioned above and show the country that GOP principles do not bend.

The GOP bench is strong, featuring, among others, such experienced leaders as Governors Barbour, Pawlenty, Romney, Palin, Huckabee and Christie.

It is critical as the primary competition goes into full swing that the candidates remember that it is not just the Republicans who will be following and watching, it is the whole electorate.
With that in mind, the candidates need to keep the country focused on Small Government, Low Taxes, National Security. and if that is achieved, there will be a Republican president elected in November, 2012.



European riots and the real party of "No"

Thomas Sowell

Economists are the real "party of No." They keep saying that there is no such thing as a free lunch-- and politicians keep on getting elected by promising free lunches.

Such promises may seem to be kept, for a while. There are ways the government can juggle money around to make everything look OK, but it is only a matter of time before that money runs out and the ultimate reality hits, that there is no free lunch.

We are currently seeing what happens, in fierce riots raging in various countries in Europe, when the money runs out and the brutal truth is finally revealed, that there is no free lunch. You cannot have generous welfare state laws that allow people to retire on government pensions while they are in their 50s, in an era when most people live decades longer.

In the United States, that kind of generosity exists mostly for members of state government employees' unions-- which is why some states are running out of money, and why the Obama administration is bailing them out, in the name of "stimulus."

Once you buy the idea that the government should be a sort of year-around Santa Claus, you have bought the kinds of consequences that follow. The results are not pretty, as we can see on TV, in pictures of rioters in the streets, smashing and burning the property of innocent people, who had nothing to do with giving them unrealistic hopes of living off somebody else, or with the inevitable disappointing of those hopes with cutbacks on the giveaways.

Nothing is easier for politicians than to play Santa Claus by promising benefits, without mentioning the costs-- or lying about the costs and leaving it to future governments to figure out what to do when the money runs out.

In the United States, the biggest and longest-running scam of this sort is Social Security. Fulfilling all the promises that were made, as commitments in the law, would cost more money than Social Security has ever had.

This particular scam has kept going for generations by the fact that the first generation-- a small generation-- that paid into Social Security had its pensions paid by the money that the second and much bigger "baby boom" generation paid in.

What the first generation got back in benefits was far greater than what they themselves had paid in. It was something for nothing-- apparently.

This is the way a Ponzi scheme works, with the first wave of "investors" getting paid with the money paid in by the second wave. But, like Social Security, a Ponzi scheme creates no wealth but only an illusion that cannot last. That is why Mr. Ponzi was sent to prison. But politicians get re-elected for doing the same thing.

As the baby boomers begin to retire, and there are now fewer working people per retired person to pay for Social Security pensions, this scam is likewise headed for a rude revelation of reality-- and perhaps riots like those in Europe.

All the incentives are for politicians to do what they have done, namely to promise benefits without raising enough taxes to pay for them. That way, it looks like you are getting something for nothing.

When crunch time comes and politicians are either going to have to tell people the truth or raise taxes, the almost inevitable choice is to raise taxes. If the people think they are already taxed too much, then the taxes can be raised only for people designated as "the rich." If "the rich" object, then demagogues can denounce them for their selfishness and "greed" for objecting to turning over ever-growing amounts of what they have earned to politicians.

Economists often make stronger objections than the high-income people themselves. That is because history has shown repeatedly that very high rates of taxation lead to all sorts of ways by which those very high rates of taxation do not have to be paid.

No matter how high the tax rates are, they do not bring in more revenue when many of the people subject to those tax rates do not in fact pay them. The scams inherent in welfare states are not only economically counterproductive, they turn group against group, straining the ties that hold a society together.



Giving Thanks for Our Warriors

What follows are excerpts from remarks by Marine Lt. Gen. John F. Kelly to the Semper Fi Society of St. Louis on November 13. Kelly’s son, Marine 1st Lt. Robert Michael Kelly, 29, had been killed in action four days earlier in Sangin, in southern Afghanistan, while leading his platoon on a combat patrol:

"Those with less of a sense of service to the nation never understand it when men and women of character step forward to look danger and adversity straight in the eye, refusing to blink, or give ground, even to their own deaths...... No, they are not victims but are warriors, your warriors, and warriors are never victims regardless of how and where they fall. Death, or fear of death, has no power over them. Their paths are paved by sacrifice, sacrifices they gladly make ..... for you....

“Two years ago when I was the commander of all U.S. and Iraqi forces, in fact, the 22nd of April 2008, two Marine infantry battalions, 1/9 ‘The Walking Dead,’ and 2/8 were switching out in Ramadi.... Two Marines, Corporal Jonathan Yale and Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter, 22 and 20 years old respectively, one from each battalion, were assuming the watch together at the entrance gate of an outpost that contained a makeshift barracks housing 50 Marines.....

"Yale was a dirt poor mixed-race kid from Virginia with a wife and daughter, and a mother and sister who lived with him and he supported as well. He did this on a yearly salary of less than $23,000. Haerter, on the other hand, was a middle-class white kid from Long Island. They were from two completely different worlds. ...... But they were Marines, combat Marines, forged in the same crucible of Marine training, and because of this bond they were brothers as close, or closer, than if they were born of the same woman.

“The mission orders they received from the sergeant squad leader I am sure went something like: ‘Okay you two clowns, stand this post and let no unauthorized personnel or vehicles pass. You clear?’ I am also sure Yale and Haerter then rolled their eyes and said in unison something like: ‘Yes, Sergeant,’ with just enough attitude that made the point without saying the words, ‘No kidding sweetheart, we know what we’re doing.’ They then relieved two other Marines on watch and took up their post at the entry control point of Joint Security Station Nasser, in the Sophia section of Ramadi, al Anbar, Iraq.

“A few minutes later a large blue truck turned down the alley way—perhaps 60-70 yards in length—and sped its way through the serpentine of concrete jersey walls. The truck stopped just short of where the two were posted and detonated, killing them both catastrophically. Twenty-four brick masonry houses were damaged or destroyed. A mosque 100 yards away collapsed. The truck’s engine came to rest two hundred yards away knocking most of a house down before it stopped. Our explosive experts reckoned the blast was made of 2,000 pounds of explosives. Two died, and because these two young infantrymen didn’t have it in their DNA to run from danger, they saved 150 of their Iraqi and American brothers-in-arms....

“What we didn’t know at the time, and only learned a couple of days later after I wrote a summary and submitted both Yale and Haerter for posthumous Navy Crosses, was that one of our security cameras, damaged initially in the blast, recorded some of the suicide attack. It happened exactly as [Iraqi policemen on the scene] had described it. It took exactly six seconds from when the truck entered the alley until it detonated.

“You can watch the last six seconds of their young lives. Putting myself in their heads I supposed it took about a second for the two Marines to separately come to the same conclusion about what was going on once the truck came into their view at the far end of the alley. Exactly no time to talk it over or call the sergeant to ask what they should do. Only enough time to take half an instant and think about what the sergeant told them to do only a few minutes before: ‘Let no unauthorized personnel or vehicles pass.’ The two Marines had about five seconds left to live.

“It took maybe another two seconds for them to present their weapons, take aim, and open up. By this time the truck was halfway through the barriers and gaining speed the whole time. Here, the recording shows a number of Iraqi police, some of whom had fired their AKs, now scattering like the normal and rational men they were—some running right past the Marines. They had three seconds left to live.

“For about two seconds more, the recording shows the Marines’ weapons firing nonstop ...... the truck’s windshield exploding into shards of glass as their rounds take it apart and tore into the body of the son-of-a-bitch who is trying to get past them to kill their brothers—American and Iraqi—bedded down in the barracks, totally unaware of the fact that their lives at that moment depended entirely on two Marines standing their ground. If they had been aware, they would have known they were safe..... because two Marines stood between them and a crazed suicide bomber.

"The recording shows the truck careening to a stop immediately in front of the two Marines. In all of the instantaneous violence Yale and Haerter never hesitated. By all reports and by the recording, they never stepped back. They never even started to step aside. They never even shifted their weight. With their feet spread shoulder-width apart, they leaned into the danger, firing as fast as they could work their weapons. They had only one second left to live.

“The truck explodes. The camera goes blank. Two young men go to their God. Six seconds. Not enough time to think about their families, their country, their flag, or about their lives or their deaths, but more than enough time for two very brave young men to do their duty ..... into eternity. That is the kind of people who are on watch all over the world tonight —for you.”




Israel: Aid for Torah study challenged: "Chaim Amsellem was not the first parliament member to suggest that most ultra-Orthodox men should work rather than receive welfare subsidies for full-time Torah study. But when he did so last month, the nation took notice. Amsellem is a rabbi, ultra-Orthodox himself, and his outspokenness ignited a fresh -- and fierce -- debate about the rapid growth of the ultrareligious in Israel."

America's fading liberties: "Are the Americans greater today than before 1917 or 1898? In the military sense, they are so undoubtedly. But every step towards world domination has been at the expense of the qualities that underpin their general greatness. Their government has become more distant and opaque, more centralised and more open to capture by special interests. It has repeatedly violated the old Constitution. Liberties have been abridged on the grounds of dealing with emergencies, and then never restored. America has been at war almost throughout the whole of the past century -- at war with other countries, or at war with abstractions like 'drugs' or 'terrorism.' As everywhere else, war has been the health of the State and the sickness of the people. If the Americans today remain the freest people in the world, that is only because they started with so much more to lose."

In money-changers we trust: "In a parallel universe lives Peter Orszag, President Barack Obama’s former budget director and key adviser, who even faster than his mentor, Robert Rubin, has passed through that revolving platinum door linking the White House with Wall Street. The goal is to use your government position to advance the interests of your future employer, and Orszag and Rubin’s actions in the government and then at Citigroup provide stunning examples of the synergy between big government and high finance."

A tithe for Uncle Sam: "Political leaders talk as if the money Americans keep (not paid in taxes) belongs to the government and that our keeping money they could tax is an actual cost to them. This kind of distorted thinking has led us into the fiscal irresponsibility that threatens to destroy our country."


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, December 29, 2010

The makeup of the human brain may guide people's political views, according to a recent study

An amusing "spin" put on the findings below: The usual old Leftist attempt to smear conservatives. The brain and its component parts are very complex and associating one of those parts with "fear" is ludicrously simplistic: Rather reminiscent of the old-time phrenologists, in fact. Other research has been interpreted as showing the same area to be associated with greater "sociability", for instance. Take your pick!

Phrenology: "Head reading"

Nonetheless, the report is interesting in that tends to confirm what has long been known from twin studies -- that ideology is highly heritable genetically

Political views may be hard-wired into people, according to a study that suggests those with right-wing views have a larger area of the brain associated with fear.

Scientists have found that people with conservative views have brains with larger amygdalas, almond-shaped areas in the centre of the brain often associated with anxiety and emotions, London's Daily Telegraph reports.

They also have smaller anterior cingulate, an area at the front of the brain associated with courage and looking on the bright side of life, than those from the opposite end of the political spectrum.

The research was carried out by scientists at University College London, who scanned the brains of two members of parliament and 90 students.

The study found that the size of the two areas of the brain related directly to the political views of the volunteers.

However because the volunteers were all adults, it was hard to say whether they had been born that way, or whether their brains had developed through experience.

Geraint Rees, director of the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, said he was “very surprised” by the finding, which is being peer reviewed before publication next year.

The study was commissioned as a light-hearted experiment by actor Colin Firth while guest editing BBC Radio's Today program, the Press Association reported. But it has now developed into a serious effort to discover whether we are programmed with a particular political view.

Professor Rees said although it was not precise enough to be able to predict someone's stance simply from a scan, there was “a strong correlation that reaches all our scientific tests of significance”.

“The anterior cingulate is a part of the brain that is on the middle surface of the brain at the front and we found that the thickness of the grey matter, where the nerve cells of neurons are, was thicker the more people described themselves as liberal or left wing and thinner the more they described themselves as conservative or right wing,” he told the BBC program.

“The amygdala is a part of the brain which is very old and very ancient and thought to be very primitive and to do with the detection of emotions. The right amygdala was larger in those people who described themselves as conservative.

“It is very significant because it does suggest there is something about political attitudes that are either encoded in our brain structure through our experience or that our brain structure in some way determines or results in our political attitudes.”



Fox News Makes You Stupid?

There is nothing the left believes in more robotically than the stupidity of conservatives. Otherwise, they would not be conservatives. When liberals get routed in an election, they do not question themselves. The first -- and for most, only -- verdict is that the American people were disastrously flooded by a tsunami of stupidity and misinformation.

So it's not surprising that left-wing bloggers would rejoice when they can write the headline "New Study Proves That Fox News Makes You Stupid." That's the Daily Kos headline. According to them, Fox News is "deliberately misinforming their viewers" to help Republicans, who "benefited from the ignorance Fox News helped to proliferate," as voters "based their decisions on demonstrably false information."

The liberal pranksters masquerading as pollsters at the University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) are at it again. In a new survey, they claim that those who watched Fox News Channel on a daily basis were significantly more likely to believe in "misinformation." But how is that word defined? Look at the details and you will be floored by the misinformation -- coming from the pollsters themselves.

Here's Exhibit A: Fox viewers were more likely to believe "Among economists who have estimated the effect of the health reform law on the federal budget deficit over the next ten years, more think it will increase the deficit."

That is misinformation? This question is not about facts at all. It's about the opinions of economists looking into a crystal ball, and PIPA's "economists" estimate that herding 35 million uninsured Americans into a new federal entitlement program is going to reduce the deficit. This assertion by liberals that ObamaCare would cut deficits isn't technically a "lie" -- yet. It is merely a patently ridiculous claim that doesn't acknowledge the real world. But somehow, Fox News viewers are tagged as the "misinformed" dummies, because their opinions are grounded in logic.

Here's Exhibit B: Fox viewers were more likely to believe "Most economists who have studied it estimate that the stimulus legislation saved or created a few jobs or caused job losses." Once again, this isn't about facts, but about economists and their estimation. The idea that there is "misinformation" afoot, and it's not about the incredibly nebulous and politicized notion of "saving or creating" jobs -- something so nebulous it can never be factually verified -- shows you the bias of the PIPA pollsters.

Let's go all the way back to the drawing board on this poll. Is it fair -- whether the pollsters are liberals or conservatives -- to expect the American people to identify correctly the estimates made by a panel of economists organized by news editors of The Wall Street Journal? In a random polling sample, how many memorizing Journal subscribers are you going to find?

There is a more serious polling problem here for PIPA. The poll was done from Nov. 6-15, 2010, with a sample size of 848 respondents, for a margin of error of 3.4 percent. Given that an average primetime audience of Fox News is 2.2 million out of a nation of more than 300 million people, that's 0.7 percent. Out of 848 poll respondents, 0.7 percent would give us total of about six Fox viewers. In their own polling breakdown, PIPA says 17 percent said they were almost-daily Fox viewers, or about 145 people. Even that is simply not high enough to test in a serious poll.

That is why this survey wasn't food for the national media, but scraps left for craven bloggers who know nothing about facts and care less about the truth.

Almost every piece of "misinformation" the PIPA people floated to measure how conservatives misunderstood Obama involved blatant spinning about Obama's role in the auto bailout or the TARP program, or how the "stimulus" included tax cuts, or even Obama's birth certificate.

They're not alone in trying to nail Fox. In August 2009, an NBC-Wall Street Journal poll reported 72 percent of self-identified Fox News viewers believed the health-care plan will give coverage to illegal immigrants, 79 percent believed it will lead to a government takeover, 69 percent thought it would use taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions, and 75 percent believed that it will allow the government to make decisions about when to stop providing care for the elderly.

Sadly for NBC, this "misinformation" is already coming true: On Christmas, The New York Times reported "death panels" are back in the ObamaCare regulations, and we knew by midsummer that states were funding abortions through ObamaCare.

These polls identify the real liberal fear: that someone will trust Fox News to tell them things the liberal media try to crush and bury.



The Case Against the Corporate Tax

As the new Congress gets set to liberate America from the stranglehold of the freshly defeated Red Congress, hopes for change are arising. One is the hope for a lowering of the US corporate tax rate.

This rate is a hefty 35%, second highest among the developed economies of the world. It seems obvious, just considering basic psychology, that lowering the corporate tax will be economically beneficial. It is a truism of behaviorist psychology that if you punish (negatively reinforce) a behavior you get less of it, and if you reward (positively reinforce) a behavior you get more of it. Corporate taxes punish business activity, resulting in less business — great if you are a leftist, but lousy if you are anyone else.

The Heritage Foundation has released the results of a study by economists Karen Campbell and John Ligon that spells out the case for lowering corporate taxes, called The Economic Impact of a 25 Percent Corporate Income Tax Rate. Campbell and Ligon ran a simulation of the economic impact of lowering the corporate tax from 35% to 25%. The results are eye-opening.

Their simulation (which covers the period 2011 to 2020) estimates that under the lower taxes, GDP would grow by an extra $132 billion annually, creating over 530,000 new private-sector jobs per year. The average family of four would see its after-tax yearly income go up by nearly $2,500. Gross private investment would rise by over $57 billion annually, and foreign assets in the US would rise by 4% annually. American capital stock would grow by $240 billion more a year, and real after-tax corporate profits would increase by an average of $124 billion a year over the current projected levels.

Notwithstanding all this, it is questionable whether Obama will ever allow a drop in corporate tax rates. He is instinctively anti-business, and although the economic case is compelling, he is the most economically ignorant president in recent history.



Rewarding Misbehavior with Presidential Nominations

By Hans A. von Spakovsky

So how does President Obama treat a political appointee who may have helped suborn perjury, obstruct an investigation, and make law enforcement decisions based on politics? By nominating him to a higher (but equally sensitive) political job, of course. Instead of being asked some tough questions, Leon Rodriguez is on track to be the administrator of the Wage and Hour Division at the U.S. Department of Labor.

Rodriguez is no stranger to controversy. He is the former county attorney for Montgomery County, Maryland, where, according to the Washington Post [1], he was accused in 2008 of authorizing the search of the computer and phone records of a council member and her senior legislative aide without their permission. Prior to that, he served from 1997 to 2001 as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Pittsburgh, where he functioned as the chief of staff for the U.S. Attorney appointed by Bill Clinton, Harry Litman....

What is even more damaging is Rodriguez’s violations of basic rules of professional conduct, including the possible involvement and assistance with the perjury of his boss, Thomas Perez. As a former county counsel in Maryland, Rodriguez is presumably licensed as an attorney in that state. Rule 3.3 of the Maryland Lawyer’s Rules of Professional Conduct (as well as the bar rules of all states) requires candor towards a tribunal, which includes not making false statements of fact or law, or failing to correct a false statement of material fact or law. Rodriguez did not testify before the Civil Rights Commission, but his boss Perez did, and the subsequent testimony of other witnesses strongly suggests that Perez knowingly lied in his testimony.

Much more HERE



Health plans for high-risk patients lag: "President Obama’s administration and states are stepping up their efforts to motivate people to buy government-sponsored health plans for high-risk patients, as the new program continues to attract only a fraction of the projected customers. At the same time, since the high-risk insurance pools began in late summer and early fall, the medical bills have been much higher than anticipated in a few states, raising the question of whether the $5 billion that Congress has allocated for the program could run out even if relatively few people join."

DE: Judge says cops can’t track with GPS: "In what may set a Delaware precedent, a Superior Court judge has gutted a criminal case against a Newark man who was pulled over with 10 pounds of marijuana because police used a GPS tracking device without a warrant to follow him for nearly a month."

Government should not be in the business of preventing price gouging: "Changes in price are important for allocating scarce resources. This is why the price for plywood increases during hurricanes — individuals living in disaster-ridden areas have a higher demand for plywood than, say, a person building a treehouse elsewhere in the country. Because the former individual has a more critical need for the resource, he or she is willing to pay more for it. Those who think that the price has grown too high will refrain from buying the product, which leaves more available to be purchased by those with a higher willingness to buy."

Effectiveness of airport scanners questioned: "The full-body scanners in use at 78 US airports can detect small amounts of contraband and hidden weapons, all while producing controversial images of travelers. … finding small amounts of marijuana wrapped in baggies, other drugs stitched inside underwear, and ceramic knives concealed in shirt pockets. But the machines could miss something far more deadly: explosive material taped to someone’s abdomen or hidden inside a cavity.”

NASA’s Ares rocket dead, but Congress lets you pay $500 million more for it: "Thanks to congressional inaction, NASA must continue to fund its defunct Ares I rocket program until March — a requirement that will cost the agency nearly $500 million at a time when NASA is struggling with the expensive task of replacing the space shuttle. About one-third that money — $165 million — will go to Alliant Techsystems, or ATK, which has a $2 billion contract to build the solid-rocket first stage for the Ares I, the rocket that was supposed to fill the shuttle’s role of transporting astronauts to the International Space Station.”

No Israeli apology for responding to an attack on its troops: "Netanyahu said that while Turkey wanted an apology for the Mavi Marmara attack, "we – of course – don't want to apologize." He said that Israel was willing to express regret for the loss of life, as it already had done. But, he said, Israel wanted to protect its soldiers and officers who have been accused of war crimes and could be arrested around the world. For that reason, he said, Israel sought Turkish recognition that Israel did not act out of malice, and that the soldiers acted out of self defense."


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, December 28, 2010


I have resumed daily updates to my EDUCATION WATCH , GUN WATCH, and FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC blogs -- now that my rather extended Christmas is over.

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


Good news about 2050

Slowdown in U.S. population growth will be beneficial in many ways

The Census Bureau issued the first results of the 2010 Census this week, showing that the U.S. growth in population in 2000-2010 was only 9.7%, the lowest decennial growth since the 1930s and the second lowest on record. This has modest if beneficial effects on our understanding of where the United States is today. However it has much more important effects on what kind of United States we will see in 2050, because the change in “slope” of the population curve makes a big difference to the outcome when extrapolated 40 years.

There is a “consensus” view of the United States in 2050, based partly on multi-culturalist wishful thinking and partly on extrapolation of the 13.2 percent population growth of the 1990s. The Census Bureau in 2009 estimated 2050 population at 439 million, but to the conventional thinkers that has always seemed too conservative – after all, if 1990-2000’s population growth rate had been repeated over the succeeding five decades, the population in 2050 would have been 523 million. Needless to say, in that case the United States would have become “majority minority” -- a prediction that first appeared in “Time” magazine after the 1990 census and has been repeated ad infinitum since.

The new census result blows such predictions out of the water. Admittedly, if population increase were 9.7% per decade over each of the next four decades 2050’s population would be 447 million, somewhat above the Census Bureau’s 2009 projection. However the second derivative of population needs to be considered as well as the first. The slowing of growth in the 2000s should continue at least well into the 2010s, making future growth rates much lower than projected. Since the 1980s’ population growth was only 9.8%, barely higher than this decade’s, and the trend had been steadily declining since the 1950s, it now appears that the 1990s growth of 13.2% was the anomaly, with the decade’s population artificially boosted perhaps by the tech bubble and certainly by the succession of illegal immigrant amnesties passed after 1986.

If the second derivative of population, roughly constant from 1960 to 1990 as the decadal population growth rate declined from 13.3% in the 1960s to 11.5% in the 1970s to 9.8% in the 1980s, had stayed that way, then the trajectory of population would have led to 8.1% growth in the 1990s, 6.3% growth in the 2000s and a population of 285.8 million today – 22.9 million below today’s actual population. We can imagine the difference to be made up mostly of today’s illegal immigrants, generally estimated at 12 million, plus the additional children born to the unexpectedly large immigrant population. In other words, the rapid population growth of 1990-2005 appears to have been a blip.

We can then project forward from 2010’s actual number an “inherent” population growth, assuming a constant second derivative (minus the 1990-2005 blip) and tight immigration law enforcement, and get a U.S. population in 2050 of a mere 333 million, with a slight decline in the 2040-2050 period. That intuitively seems far too low, but with immigration law enforcement likely to tighten at least in the short term, a 2050 population of below 400 million certainly now looks plausible, with the demographic split only moderately changed from today’s.

Ignoring the social effects of changing demographics, the economic effect of a lower population growth rate is very considerable, and mostly positive. First, with only 90 million new inhabitants in the next 40 years compared with the previous estimate of 130 million plus, only two thirds of the projected expenditure on schools, roads, housing, government offices and other infrastructure will be needed, saving perhaps $500 billion per annum (including housing and schools) in scarce capital resources that can be devoted to more economically productive capital investment in the nation’s businesses.

Second, with 10% fewer people around in 2050, the endowment of land and capital will be 10% greater per capita. In general, that should ensure that real wage rates even for the unskilled cease the unhappy slippage of the past few decades and start to increase again as Joe Sixpak once again claims his fair share of the nation’s ever-increasing output. Even between 2000 and 2010, the 0.1% lower than expected annual growth of population results arithmetically in a 0.1% higher annual; growth in real GDP per capita. That may not sound like much, but in the decade between the 2000 and 2010 census quarters, when real GDP per capita growth ran only at an appalling 0.69% per annum, an extra annual 0.1% makes a substantial difference, raising the per capita growth rate by a seventh. A slower rate of population growth in 2010-2050 implies a generally richer 2050, with higher per capita income growth and better opportunities at the bottom of the earnings pyramid, both unalloyed blessings.



An ex-Soviet immigrant goes Socratic on his liberal American critics

by Oleg Atbashian

The two women who showed up early for my book signing at a small bookstore in Houston, TX, never even bothered to open my book. Wearing knowing smiles, they engaged me in a bizarre discussion that wound up leaping all around the known and unknown universe. They hadn’t the slightest curiosity about my ideas as an ex-Soviet immigrant in America, or what I had to say about my experience working inside the two ideologically opposed systems. As it turned out, they had spotted my flyer in the store window the day before, and the book’s title — Shakedown Socialism — had enraged them so much that they decided to return the following day and give me a piece of their collective mind.

Their act almost made me feel as if I were back in the USSR, where the harassment of people with my opinions was the norm. The shorter, pudgier woman was the soloist bully, while her skinnier, older comrade provided backup vocals and noise effects. The duo’s repertoire was an eclectic collection of unoriginal talking points, each branded with an almost legible label: NPR, Air America, MSNBC, and so on. Not only were those mental fragments mismatched in key and rhythm; the very existence of harmony seemed an unfamiliar concept to them. But compared to the hard-core screaming I used to hear from card-carrying Soviet bullies, this was almost elevator music. If I had survived the original cast, I could certainly handle a watered-down remake.

Framed on their terms, the debate zigzagged from the evils of unbridled capitalism to global warming to Bush’s wars for oil to Sarah Palin’s stupidity. Since my opponents wouldn’t give me a chance to respond, I soon became bored and tried to entertain myself by redirecting the flow of mental detritus against itself in a way that would cause its own annihilation. I did that by asking questions.

I remembered an old trick invented in the fifth century B.C. by Socrates. Instead of telling people what he thought was true, Socrates asked seemingly simple questions that put his opponents on the path of finding the truth for themselves. Seeking genuine knowledge rather than mere victory in an argument, Socrates used his questions to cross-examine the hypotheses, assumptions, and axioms that subconsciously shaped the opinions of his opponents, drawing out the contradictions and inconsistencies they relied on.

As the two women faced my questions, their knowing smiles turned to scowls. Sometimes they would backtrack and correct their previous statements; sometimes, they would angrily storm out of the room in the manner of Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg on The View with Bill O’Reilly. After a while they would return with more talking points, and then they had to answer another logical question. My friends who witnessed the scene told me later they saw the shorter bully beginning to foam at the mouth....

I reminded my opponents about the existence of the scientific method of discovery — a logical device that had made Western civilization so successful in the past, but had now been abandoned by “progressive” thinkers. The resulting cognitive dissonance made them disoriented. In due course, they panicked and walked out, never to come back.

Much more HERE (Including sample questions)


The Icelandic Model Disproves “Too Big to Fail”

In 2008, there were two competing wisdoms about what to do about failing financial institutions in the wake of the economic crisis. The first said to do nothing and allow institutions that behaved irresponsibly and became overleveraged during the housing bubble to fail. The second said that those institutions were so interconnected, and that the losses they were facing were so insurmountable, that their failure would have spawned a worldwide depression. In short, they were too big to fail.

In the U.S., obviously, policymakers opted for bailing out the financial institutions. This, we are told, saved the nation and indeed, the world, from a complete economic collapse.

Others, like Iceland, refused to bail out the banks and let the bank’s bondholders eat the losses. Perhaps this is owed in part to the fierce liberty of the Icelandic people.... So, its decision to go against the grain and forego a banking bailout has become something of a testing ground economically. Who is better off, those who bailed out the financial sector, like Ireland, or those that did not, like Iceland?

Certainly, the case for “too big to fail” in Iceland would have been compelling. As noted by Bloomberg News, at the time the crisis hit in 2008, “the banks had debts equal to 10 times Iceland’s $12 billion GDP.” By the logic of “too big to fail,” Iceland’s decision to let the banks fail should have completely destroyed the economy. Businesses should have closed down shop completely from an inability to meet payroll as credit ceased to exist.

But that did not happen. Surely, a recession did follow the largest financial crisis per capita in human history. It immediately resulted in a massive devaluation of the Icelandic currency, the krona, in foreign exchange markets. And although the recession was steeper in terms of GDP compared to Ireland, its unemployment is and will remain lower, according to data by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development: 8.1 percent projected in 2011 for Iceland versus 13.6 percent for Ireland.

So too is Iceland’s budget picture better off than Ireland’s, according to the Bloomberg News report, citing European Commission estimates: “Iceland’s budget deficit will be 6.3 percent of gross domestic product this year… compared with the 32 percent shortfall in Ireland… [And] Iceland’s budget will be in surplus by 2012, compared with Ireland’s deficit of 9.1 percent of GDP”. How can this be?

“The difference is that in Iceland we allowed the banks to fail,” Iceland President Olafur Grimsson told Bloomberg Television. “These were private banks and we didn’t pump money into them in order to keep them going; the state did not shoulder the responsibility of the failed private banks.” ... According to the prevailing wisdom here across the pond, their failures should have been a financial doomsday.

But it wasn’t. Apparently, the damage that Wall Street can inflict on Main Street should it fail is not as cataclysmic as is widely believed. New York Times’ Paul Krugman makes the same point: “The moral of the story seems to be that if you’re going to have a crisis, it’s better to have a really, really bad one. Otherwise, you’ll end up taking the advice of people who assure you that even more suffering will cure what ails you.”

So, because Iceland let the financial institutions, and not the taxpayers, bear the losses of the financial collapse, the country remains essentially solvent. In contrast, Ireland is in deep trouble, and just had to accept an €85 billion bailout from the European Union. Shucks. Trillions of dollars later in bailouts and “stimulus,” should we have just done nothing after all?

In the U.S., the worst may yet be ahead, although, the current 9.8 percent unemployment rate and a national debt at almost 100 percent of the GDP is certainly bad enough. Our budget picture is so bad that the Federal Reserve will soon be, if it is not already, the top lender in the world to the U.S. government — more than China or Japan.

Moody’s has threatened to shift the credit outlook of the nation to negative as soon as 2011, and to downgrade our Triple-A credit rating by 2018 if the accumulation of debt is not reduced drastically.

This may ultimately result in a sovereign debt funding crisis where interest rates go through the roof, inflation too would rise, and the dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency would be threatened.

Of course, it’s not too late, but if that happens, it may be that the U.S. traded a severe recession that would have resulted from letting financial institutions fall for a national default that threatens to destabilize the global economy once again. “Too big to fail” will have become too big to save. Certainly a recession, even a sharp one, would have been better than losing the status of the world’s economic superpower. Too bad we were not more like Iceland.



Is Basic Health Care a ‘Right’?

Here’s a letter to the Boston Globe from economist Donald J. Boudreaux

Ronald Pies, MD, asserts that every individual has a “right” to “basic health care” – meaning, a right to receive such care without paying for it (Letters, Dec. 26).

The rights that Americans wisely cherish as being essential for a free society require only the refraining from action. Your right to speak freely requires me simply not to stop you from speaking; it does not require me to supply your megaphone.

Not so with a “right” to “basic health care.” Elevating free access to a scarce good into a “right” imposes on strangers all manner of ill-defined positive obligations – obligations that necessarily violate other, proper rights. For example, perhaps my “right” to basic health care means that I can force Dr. Pies away from his worship service in order that he attend (free of charge!) to my ruptured spleen. Or perhaps it means that I have the “right” to pay for my health care by confiscating part of his income. If so, how much of his income does my “right” entitle me to confiscate? Who knows?

And if Dr. Pies is planning to retire, do I have the “right” to force him to continue to work so that the supply of basic health care doesn’t shrink? If Dr. Pies should die, am I entitled – again, to keep the supply of basic health care from shrinking – to force his children to study and practice medicine?

Does my right to basic health care imply that I can force my neighbor to pay for my cross-country skiing vacation on grounds that keeping fit is part of basic health care?

Talking about “rights” to scarce goods and services sounds right only to persons who are economically illiterate, politically naive, and suffering the juvenile delusion that reality is optional.




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, December 27, 2010

Persecution of Christians in Muslim lands

Fresh attacks against Christians marred Christmas Day as Pope Benedict led pleas by religious leaders for an end to persecution and for peace in the Middle East.

While record crowds flocked to Bethlehem, the Palestinian town where Jesus Christ was believed to have been born, hundreds also defied al-Qaeda threats and packed Our Lady of Salvation Cathedral in Baghdad for Christmas Mass.

Although there were no immediate reports of attacks against Christians in the Middle East, bombings in other parts of the world highlighted the threats facing believers.

A series of Christmas Eve church attacks and explosions left 38 people dead in Nigeria and six injured in the Philippines.

The situation was especially tense in the central Nigerian city of Jos, where at least 32 people died and a further 74 were injured, many as they were doing their Christmas shopping, police said. Sectarian unrest in the region has killed hundreds this year.

In Maiduguri, in northern Nigeria, suspected members of an Islamist sect that staged an uprising last year attacked three churches, leaving six people dead and one of the churches burnt down, an army spokesman said.

In the Philippines, a bomb in a church in Jolo injured six. The island is a bastion of Abu Sayyaf, a group linked to al-Qaeda.

In his Urbi et Orbi address, the Pope called for human rights to be respected in Afghanistan and Pakistan and an end to the turmoil in African trouble spots, and rebuked the Chinese government for what he said were the limitations placed on Christians living in China.

He reserved special mention for Christians in Baghdad after 44 worshippers and two priests were killed when Islamist militants laid siege to a church in Baghdad in October. "May the comforting message of the coming of Emmanuel ease the pain and bring consolation amid their trials to the beloved Christian communities in Iraq and throughout the Middle East," he said.

In Britain, the Archbishop of Canterbury also urged people to remember those who face persecution because of their Christian faith. "We may feel powerless to help, yet we should also know that people in such circumstances are strengthened simply by knowing they have not been forgotten," Rowan Williams, said.



Useless shepherds: Cowardly Christian leaders fail to defend their flock

Jon Jay is dissatisfied with the occasional lame statements of the kind we see above (Spelling etc. tidied up a bit):

Let us just squarely address the silence of the "leaders" of Christendom on the slaughter of Christians generally, and specifically, the slaughter of Christian celebrants during the high holy season, by Islam, to advance the purposes of Islam.

This failure of Christian leaders, such as the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury, to address this issue is immoral, and it is sin. This craven silence, this eloquent indifference to the suffering of the faithful at the hands of Islam is cowardice in the face of attack, and such cowardice is immoral in the extreme.

It is immoral because it only encourages and incites islam to further outrage, outrages, i would note, that are perpetrated against the lambs in the flock as opposed to being directed at its "shepherds." it is one thing for the shepherd to turn the other cheek to the ravening wolf, ... , that is a personal choice on the part of the shepherd.

It is quite another matter for the shepherd to stand idly by while the innocent lambs of the flock are slaughtered. And, it is a matter of added sin and guilt for the shepard to make the way to the flock easier for the wolf, and moreover, to encourage the wolf to continuing his ravening attacks by not loosening the hounds in protection of the flock.

To stand by mute while these attacks occur, is immoral and it is grave sin for the Pope and the archbishop to remain silent in the face of such outrage.

How do these cowards meet their maker, with faces downcast in shame for their inaction, for their silence, for their very complicity in truckling with islam?


Dan Friedman says: "Give them time. This is a tough one. It's going to take a while before they figure out how to blame it on the Jews"


Some people know from experience where the Democratic party is heading

Many Russian immigrants to the "red borough" of Staten Island are flocking to the Republican Party, saying that the national Democrats' "socialistic" policies remind them too much of the top-down oligarchy they fled in their native land.

With many of the borough's Russian arrivers already owning businesses and active in civic organizations, their muscle could help the Island GOP solidify electoral gains made this year, when the party took back congressional and Assembly seats.

Businessman Arkadiy Fridman said that the newly formed Citizens Magazine Business Club, a confederation of more than 50 Russian-owned businesses here and in Brooklyn, has aligned itself with the Molinari Republican Club (MRC) in an effort to increase the Russian community's political and economic clout.

"We decided we had to support this club," said Fridman, a former Soviet Army officer who came to the United States in 1992. "They are very close to our political and business vision."

In the wake of the national GOP's big wins this year, when the party took back control of the House, Republicans everywhere are more confident that their bedrock message of smaller government and lower taxes will resonate with American voters.

Fridman said that the Democrats "are going in an absolutely different direction," focusing on "income redistribution" and rich-versus-poor "class war." "It's too socialistic," said Fridman, head of the non-profit Staten Island Community Center and president of Citizens Magazine, a public affairs publication. "It's very painful for us to see."

The Democrats' national losses were seen as a rejection of President Barack Obama's health care reform law and other initiatives that opponents say went too far in pushing government control on Americans.

The Big Brother approach reminds Fridman too much of what he left behind in the former Soviet Union. "It's the same rule like it was there," said Fridman, who estimates there are around 55,000 Russian immigrants here.

Michael Petrov of the Digital Edge data management firm in Bloomfield, said that he objects to the "micro-managing of the economy" he's seen from city as well as federal officials. "Government is affecting small business more and more," said Petrov, who came to the United States in 1994. "It's the same as what's happening in Russia."

The Citizens Club, formed earlier this month, looks to support and grow local businesses here; introduce Russian firms to the borough's existing business and political communities, and promote Russian community representatives to serve in elected office.

Former Borough President Guy Molinari, the MRC's namesake, said he'd noticed over the years that Russian immigrants here tended to register Republican. Molinari called the affiliation with MRC "a natural marriage."

"They want to be involved, be part of the community," Molinari said. "They come from a country where they weren't able to express themselves, didn't have the right to organize or vote. They appreciate it more than some of us who were born here."

Brooklyn attorney David Storovin said that the fact that the MRC is made up of business professionals "who are successful in their own right," also made the match an attractive one.

He said that he and other Russian immigrants are also drawn to the GOP's traditional veneration of flag and country.

Reflecting the American Dream ideal that has drawn immigrants here since the county's founding, Storovin said that many Russians are "grateful" for the religious, business and travel freedoms the United States provide, and want to show it. "We do feel patriotic," Storovin said.



If you are old and in poor health, Obama wants you to die

Socialized medicine can't afford you

When a proposal to encourage end-of-life planning touched off a political storm over “death panels,” Democrats dropped it from legislation to overhaul the health care system. But the Obama administration will achieve the same goal by regulation, starting Jan. 1.

Under the new policy, outlined in a Medicare regulation, the government will pay doctors who advise patients on options for end-of-life care, which may include advance directives to forgo aggressive life-sustaining treatment.

Congressional supporters of the new policy, though pleased, have kept quiet. They fear provoking another furor like the one in 2009 when Republicans seized on the idea of end-of-life counseling to argue that the Democrats’ bill would allow the government to cut off care for the critically ill.

The final version of the health care legislation, signed into law by President Obama in March, authorized Medicare coverage of yearly physical examinations, or wellness visits. The new rule says Medicare will cover “voluntary advance care planning,” to discuss end-of-life treatment, as part of the annual visit.

Under the rule, doctors can provide information to patients on how to prepare an “advance directive,” stating how aggressively they wish to be treated if they are so sick that they cannot make health care decisions for themselves.

While the new law does not mention advance care planning, the Obama administration has been able to achieve its policy goal through the regulation-writing process, a strategy that could become more prevalent in the next two years as the president deals with a strengthened Republican opposition in Congress.

In this case, the administration said research had shown the value of end-of-life planning.

“Advance care planning improves end-of-life care and patient and family satisfaction and reduces stress, anxiety and depression in surviving relatives,” the administration said in the preamble to the Medicare regulation, quoting research published this year in the British Medical Journal.

The BMJ is a Leftist rag. The so-called "Liverpool pathway" for the ill elderly has caused much disquiet in Britain. It is probably helpful in some instances but when administered by a bureaucratized hospital system, it is too readily seized as an excuse to bomb out old people with drugs and let them die of thirst. There have been occasions when relatives have rescued their elderly family members from the Liverpool pathway and the relatives concerned have subsequently made a full recovery -- JR

Opponents said the Obama administration was bringing back a procedure that could be used to justify the premature withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment from people with severe illnesses and disabilities. Mr. Blumenauer, the author of the original end-of-life proposal, praised the rule as “a step in the right direction.”

“It will give people more control over the care they receive,” Mr. Blumenauer said in an interview. “It means that doctors and patients can have these conversations in the normal course of business, as part of our health care routine, not as something put off until we are forced to do it.”

After learning of the administration’s decision, Mr. Blumenauer’s office celebrated “a quiet victory,” but urged supporters not to crow about it.

“While we are very happy with the result, we won’t be shouting it from the rooftops because we aren’t out of the woods yet,” Mr. Blumenauer’s office said in an e-mail in early November to people working with him on the issue. “This regulation could be modified or reversed, especially if Republican leaders try to use this small provision to perpetuate the ‘death panel’ myth.”

Moreover, the e-mail said: “We would ask that you not broadcast this accomplishment out to any of your lists, even if they are ‘supporters’ — e-mails can too easily be forwarded.”

The e-mail continued: “Thus far, it seems that no press or blogs have discovered it, but we will be keeping a close watch and may be calling on you if we need a rapid, targeted response. The longer this goes unnoticed, the better our chances of keeping it.”

Sarah Palin, the 2008 Republican vice-presidential candidate, and Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the House Republican leader, led the criticism in the summer of 2009. Ms. Palin said “Obama’s death panel” would decide who was worthy of health care. Mr. Boehner, who is in line to become speaker, said, “This provision may start us down a treacherous path toward government-encouraged euthanasia.” Forced onto the defensive, Mr. Obama said that nothing in the bill would “pull the plug on grandma.”



The people awoke in 2010

We had audacious hopes. We did not hope that the Republican Party would triumph at the polls. Instead we prayed for a constitutional check on this gravest threat to our system of ordered liberty since the Civil War. We prayed that Barack Obama’s progressive juggernaut would be stopped in its tracks.

The Republicans, as Sen.-elect Marco Rubio put it, won only “a second chance.” The shellacking the voters gave the president came not a minute too soon.

Never before have we had a president who publicly termed the Koran “Holy,” as President Obama did in Cairo. To say it is Holy, capital H, is to accept Muslim claims of supersession over Christian Scriptures.

We have never before had a president who publicly said Islam has been “revealed,” as he said also at Cairo. To say Islam is revealed goes beyond saying it began in the Mideast, or first appeared in that region. “Revealed” is a theologically and politically freighted word that means Mr. Obama thinks it was revealed by God.

Millions of Americans witnessed President Obama’s epic inauguration in Washington. The world little noted nor long remembered that, for the first time ever, Mr. Obama displaced the Jews. He said we are “a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and non-believers…”

Never before had the Jews been relegated to a lesser standing than Muslims in this country. The Jews have been our neighbors and fellow citizens since 1634. Jewish ideas and principles were embraced by the Pilgrims, and upheld by the Founders. Jefferson and Franklin even wanted the Great Seal of the United States to depict the Children of Israel leaving bondage in Egypt.

The week after his mid-term drubbing, President Obama went to the ends of the earth to denounce the building of apartments for Jews in Jerusalem. Although he was to visit Jakarta, Indonesia, for less than 24 hours, he used precious time in his boyhood home to argue that Israel must halt further construction.

For these and a hundred other reasons, millions of Americans prayed that Barack Obama would be checked, his headlong pursuits frustrated. While the media deplore the prospects of gridlock in Washington, for millions of American voters, deadlock would be preferable to advancing another step on the road to serfdom and dhimmitude.

We were audacious to put our hopes in the American people and in the greatest constitutional republic the world has ever seen. We were not disappointed. It is marvelous in our eyes.



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)


Sunday, December 26, 2010

One prominent Leftist who is not hostile to Christmas

The Christmas message from Julia Gillard below. She is the Prime Minister of Australia and an avowed atheist. Yet she obviously respects community traditions. No "Happy holidays" from her. The speech could have been made by a conservative. Australian Leftists do tend to be more moderate than their U.S. and U.K. counterparts

In the Gillard family, Christmas is a time for tradition. Everyone has the same job on Christmas Day. I always get to peel the potatoes and carrots. We eat the same food in the same order. Dad tells the same jokes!

We get a little older each year, and the presents for my niece and nephew have changed as the years go by, but not too much else does.

I hope this Christmas you are able to share your own special traditions with people who you love and who love you in return. Whether that’s time in church, or with your family, or at the cricket or on the beach, or helping others, I hope this Christmas is a special one.

Christmas is also a time when we reflect on what’s been. After lunch on Christmas Day, I think many of us have that quiet moment where we look around and think, "all in all, we’re lucky to have each other". Certainly, that’s how I feel about our country this Christmas.

We are all Australians, all people of this place, and as a people, as a nation, we have got so much to be grateful for. Through it all, there’s nowhere I’d rather be. We are still lucky.

For some I know Christmas this year is a sad time. We lost a lot of brave Australians this year: from the 2nd Combat Engineer Regiment, from the 2nd Commando Regiment, from the Special Air Service Regiment, from 6 RAR.

They died for us and I know every Australian has a special thought for their partners and children, their families, and their mates, this Christmas. We don’t forget.

Just as Christmas reminds us of the good things we have, it can be a tough time for some among us. So if your Christmas is a sadder one this year because of family problems, or illness, or the loss of a loved one, I hope you know that you’re never alone.

2010 has been an eventful year in our country’s life, but above all else, we shouldn’t forget the most wonderful thing that happened this year. The drought broke in the eastern states at last.

Of course, it’s never easy on the land, and I know that now it’s flooding which is making life hard in many places even today, but we’re grateful for some of the rain at least. We think of the farmers still in drought. We wish some of the rain would come your way now too.

I want to say something to Australians who have to work at Christmas to serve and protect us - our police and fire fighters, our ambulance officers and nurses, emergency personnel and of course our troops abroad. So many people sacrifice their Christmas Day to make life better for others. It’s hard to think of a more generous Christmas present than that. Thank you.

Finally, whether you’re going around the corner or across the country please drive safely. Don’t make next Christmas a sad anniversary.

For all Australians, my wish is that this Christmas, wherever you are in our country or overseas, you have the chance to do those special things that mean Christmas for you, with people who are special to you. I wish you the merriest of Christmases and the happiest of New Years.



The Age of Uncertainty

Entrepreneurs fret daily over economic uncertainty. Case in point: Even with passage of the lame-duck tax deal, they still don’t know what their tax burden will be two years from now.

Approval of that deal lifted what The Wall Street Journal dubs the “world of the temporary tax code” to unprecedented heights. The Journal explains: "The U.S. will have no permanent regime governing levies on salaries, capital gains and dividends, the Social Security tax, as well as a slew of targeted breaks for families, students and other groups. This on top of dozens of corporate-tax provisions that already were subject to annual renewal."

All this uncertainty “complicates planning and discourages hiring and investment” because “businesses tend to be more reluctant to invest when they perceive high levels of uncertainty about various things, including taxes.”

One bitter fruit of all this uncertainty can be gleaned from a recent Federal Reserve study. The Fed calculated that skittish companies are now sitting on nearly $2 trillion of cash reserves rather than deploying those resources to expand payrolls, build new plants, or purchase new equipment. This is not only $130 billion higher than it was at the end of June but, as a percentage of total assets, the highest cash-reserve level in over half a century.

Two recent court decisions exemplify the full extent of the uncertainty created by the current administration. On December 10, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia rejected a plea from the nation’s manufacturers to scuttle a regulatory initiative by the Environmental Protection Agency that would subject them to new regulatory burdens in a quixotic effort to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions. “The EPA’s agenda,” the National Association of Manufacturers said in a statement, “places unnecessary burdens on manufacturers, drives up energy costs and imposes even more uncertainty on the nation’s job creators.”

The second court decision concerned the new health-care law. A federal judge in Virginia ruled that a crucial provision in Obamacare — the mandate that individuals purchase governmentally approved health insurance — violates the Constitution. “An individual’s personal decision to [purchase or decline to purchase] health insurance from a private provider,” District Court Judge Henry Hudson wrote, “is beyond the historical reach of the U.S. Constitution.” The fate of the policy now depends on the Supreme Court.

And regardless of the ultimate fate of the mandate, the statuary language of Obamacare bestows unprecedented discretionary power upon the federal bureaucrats charged with its implementation. John Hoff, a former assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services, explained: "While it is detailed in some instances, [the new health law] is largely aspirational; it directs the Administration to achieve various universally desired goals — better quality of health care, improved access to care, and increased efficiency of delivery. It constructs the scaffolding of federal control and gives the Administration very broad authority to achieve these aspirations. Each of the many actions taken to implement it will determine the shape of that control. Implementation will be technically difficult and politically charged."

This high degree of bureaucratic discretion, it is important to point out, affects the entire health-care sector, which now constitutes fully one-sixth of the economy.

At this stage, business executives or ordinary citizens trying to comprehend the implications of the new law might as well flip a coin or hire a fortune teller. How will the bureaucrats interpret this “aspirational” language? Will Judge Hudson’s decision be upheld on appeal? And what consequences will flow from all these unknowns? Will insurance rates skyrocket, encouraging consumers to forgo coverage until they need it, which in turn will cause insurers to increase premiums further in a never-ending insurance death spiral?

Should employers maintain their current health plans under the law’s “grandfather” clause, or just dump their employees into the new health exchanges where the cost of coverage might be prohibitive? And if the cost of coverage skyrockets, what about all those rosy projections of manageable subsidy costs from the Congressional Budget Office? Those dollar figures might jump by a few hundred billion — or more. Where will that money come from?

Then there’s the president’s on-again, off-again offshore-drilling policy. And what about employers who may face stacked union elections if the Department of Labor opts to circumvent Congress and implement card check (the number one item on Big Labor’s wish list) administratively?

This layered uncertainty looms as a Sword of Damocles over every business, every investor, and every head of household in America. It has suffocated the risk-taking, entrepreneurial spirit that has made America the exceptional nation in human history. For entrepreneurship hinges on intelligent risk-taking, not closing your eyes and plunging headfirst off the foggy cliff of government intervention and manipulation.

Our current and ongoing economic malaise arises from something we have not seen in America since the days of FDR’s failed New Deal. Our entrepreneurs — society’s economic risk-takers — have lost confidence — $2 trillion worth of confidence — in the federal government’s willingness to let them operate in a way that makes economic sense.

This is why the recent tax deal ultimately does nothing to improve our long-term economic outlook. True, the compromise was better than one potential option: a catastrophic increase in the tax burden that would have destroyed jobs, businesses, and lives. But the goals of this legislative exercise should have been more ambitious: One, create breathing room for entrepreneurs, families, and investors in the form of a reasonable tax and regulatory burden; and two, guarantee that Congress will remain faithful to these policies for the long haul. This would give our most productive citizens the confidence that if they make an investment that requires a long time horizon, they can count on a stable policy environment.

This would mean, among other things, a permanent extension of the Bush-era tax rates for everyone, putting an end to the most egregious regulatory initiatives now underway, consigning Obamacare to the dustbin of history, and allowing energy companies to identify, recover, and generate as much domestic energy as possible.

Our wealth creators will re-engage with our free-enterprise system only when these good policies are in place and stable. And we will know we have succeeded only when investors and businesses move that sidelined $2 trillion into new plants, equipment, and jobs.



State House Shell Games

For years, trickery and quick fixes have just fed the spending habit. Today the budget holes are cavernous and an age of austeriy would seem both inevitable and likely soon


Over the past two years, states have faced accumulated budget deficits of some $300 billion. Federal stimulus money helped cover about two-thirds of that gap, but state governments have had to close the rest themselves. To do so, many have resorted to tricks and gimmicks that Thomas DiNapoli, New York State's comptroller, speaking about his own state's budget, described as a "fiscal shell game." Such shenanigans mortgage the future for quick fixes in the present, and are a bigger part of states' fiscal woes than most taxpayers know.

One common maneuver has been to fill budget holes with borrowed money. Arizona is Exhibit A. Since the housing bubble burst in 2007 and the state's economy began to contract, Arizona has borrowed approximately $2 billion, relying on new debt to close 17% of its budget deficits, according to a report in the Arizona Capitol Times newspaper on Oct. 8. Among the loans: $450 million that the state plans to pay back with future revenues from its lottery. The cost to the state over the next two decades will be about $680 million in principal and interest.

Arizona has also sold its state government buildings, including those that house its Assembly and Senate, to generate $1 billion in one-time revenue. But the sales were part of a gimmick: No buyer stepped forward to purchase the buildings. Instead, the state issued more than $1 billion of notes backed by the rents that it will pay on the buildings—at a cost of $1.5 billion over 20 years. The state remains in control of the buildings, and a financial trustee collects the state's payments and issues checks to buyers of the notes. Since the borrowing is technically being repaid by rents—not tax revenues, as in the case of lottery revenues—Arizona was able to borrow the money despite a provision in its constitution that explicitly limits state borrowing to just $350,000.

States don't only play the debt game in recessions. To make an annual contribution for public employees' retirements, Illinois borrowed $10 billion in 2003, depositing the sum in its pension funds. But in the boom years that followed, the state still failed to make adequate contributions. So Illinois had to borrow again in 2009, issuing some $3.5 billion in new debt at a cost of $4.5 billion in future principal and interest payments. This year, it borrowed yet another $4 billion for the same reason.
Some budget trickery betrays pledges made by lawmakers to taxpayers. One common example is "sweeps," when a state shifts money from accounts dedicated to specific purposes, like highway maintenance, into general accounts where the money can be spent on anything.

One honey pot is the tax revenue designated by federal law for upgrading 911 emergency-response systems. An August survey by the Federal Communications Commission reported that states redirected $135 million in these taxes last year to spending for other purposes. New York is a serial abuser: Since 1991, the Empire State has collected an estimated $600 million from its 911 tax. But only $84 million has actually gone to local officials for upgrading emergency services.

These fund transfers have become so routine that New York must now do "reverse sweeps." For example, New York created a fund 20 years ago to finance bridge and road construction and maintenance. But it often transfers money out of it and into the state's general accounts—only to replace what's been swept by borrowing more. About a third of the Dedicated Highway and Bridge Trust Fund's disbursements, or nearly $1 billion, now goes toward debt service, a figure projected to rise to 70% by 2014. And so New York is shifting tax dollars back from its hard-pressed general fund to help pay off the transportation account's debt.

In some states, fund transfers have provoked opposition, particularly in cases where the government grabbed money from accounts that are not taxpayer-funded. Since 1975, New Hampshire has operated a medical-malpractice insurance fund financed by physician premiums to provide them with liability protection when they have difficulty obtaining it elsewhere. The fund has built up a surplus of $140 million, and last year the state tried to seize and sweep $110 million of it into its general fund. But the doctors sued, and the state's Supreme Court blocked the transfer.

Now states are even casting a covetous eye at private bank accounts. This year Michigan decreased the time that money can sit unclaimed in a citizen's bank account before the state claims it to three years from 15. The state projected the move could provide its general fund with a one-time boost of $200 million.

Early-retirement plans also have turned into budget gimmicks. Michigan recently passed a retirement plan to provide generous additional benefits for up to 6,400 retirees who can step down at age 59. The plan supposedly will save the state's general fund around $80 million in salaries and benefits in its first year.

Sounds good in theory. But recent history shows the danger of this strategy. In 2002, New Jersey offered an early-retirement plan that 4,000 workers took advantage of. Although it saved the state budget $314 million, the retirement benefits were so rich that they cost the pension system $645 million.

Illinois, meanwhile, passed modest pension reforms earlier this year that apply to new workers. The savings won't materialize for years—but the legislation included language that allowed the state to calculate the future savings and apply up to $300 million toward closing this year's budget gap.

Time and again, the quick fix just feeds the spending habit. In 2004, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger promised that California could get out of its hole with borrowed money, and voters approved $10.9 billion in deficit bonds. Relieved of its immediate financial squeeze, Sacramento discarded fiscal discipline and went on a binge, hiking spending by nearly a third, or $34 billion, over the next four years. Today the state is back in the hole, facing a $25 billion budget deficit over the next 18 months.

States keep hoping that tax revenues, which began to slump in 2008, will increase significantly and bail them out. But as a report by the National Association of Governors put it earlier this year, states now face "new austere realities."
In other words: fat chance. This new reality isn't going away, and elected officials had better wake up to 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)