Friday, February 04, 2011

The Politics of Saving 'Granny'


In a speech last Friday defending his health-care law's effect on seniors against GOP attacks, Mr. Obama said, "I can report that Granny is safe." She may not feel that way if she's one of the 700,000 seniors whose private Medicare Advantage insurance policy was not renewed last year because her insurance provider quit the business.

There will be more non-renewals in 2011. This year's funding cuts to Medicare Advantage will be $2 billion; next year's will be $6 billion. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) estimate that half of those with Medicare Advantage policies-seven million seniors-will lose their coverage eventually. And 60% the doctors surveyed by the nonprofit Physicians Foundation said health-care reform would "compel them to close or significantly restrict" the number of patients in their practices, especially those on Medicare or Medicaid.

Granny's daughter, son and grandchildren are not all that safe, either. Providers such as Guardian Life and the Principal Financial Group are dropping their health-insurance businesses. And companies will be tempted to drop coverage for their employees and dump them onto the government's tab.

No taxpayer is safe, either. Last week Richard Foster, CMS's chief actuary, confirmed to Congress that ObamaCare's Medicare cuts couldn't be used to reduce both Medicare's unfunded liability and to pay for ObamaCare's expense. Since the Obama administration is relying on this double counting to rig the numbers, Mr. Foster's testimony was particularly damaging.

What the country most needs-and what the GOP must now advocate-is a fundamentally new approach to containing health-care costs.

The most promising model for Medicare comes from Clinton Budget Director Alice Rivlin and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R., Wis.). Under their plan, starting in 2021 those turning 65 and going on Medicare would get a fixed contribution to use to purchase insurance, allowing them in many instances to keep their existing coverage. Consumers will be in charge.

Annual support would grow at the same yearly rate as the economy plus 1%. Medicare payments would be adjusted by income, geography and health risk. Poor seniors would get extra help for out-of-pocket expenses.

This bipartisan model builds on the success of the Medicare prescription drug benefit passed in 2003. This market- and competition-oriented experiment gave seniors a fixed sum they could use to purchase drug insurance coverage. In response, drug companies and insurance providers flooded the market with options that drove prices for consumers down.

Though more seniors signed up for the benefit, signed up quicker and used it more than expected, the program costs much less than estimated (the original Congressional Budget Office estimate was $552 billion for the first 10 years, but the estimated cost is now $385 billion). Competition and consumer choice are far more effective in containing costs than is bureaucratic price-setting.

We're at an unprecedented moment. The huge historic advantage Democrats have enjoyed on the health-care issue has evaporated. ObamaCare is increasingly less popular. Its unpopularity is up nine points in the last month, to 50%, in a Kaiser/Harvard survey. The public is now taking a close look at what the Republican Party might have to offer.

The Rivlin-Ryan alternative plan is bold and not without risk. Past efforts at entitlement reform haven't been successful. Having worked in the Bush White House during the 2005 Social Security battle, I know of what I speak. Still, the Rivlin-Ryan plan is right on substance. And unlike 2005, it may also be the right moment.

Thanks in good measure to Mr. Obama's profligacy, the entitlement crisis is no longer a vague, abstract concern. More and more Americans understand the current course leads to a disaster for the nation's finances. And so the public may be willing to go places and do things that in the past it may not have.

This is an unusual and fluid moment. My hunch is voters are more inclined than ever to reward the political party that addresses entitlement reform-and more inclined than ever to punish the one that fiddles while America's fiscal house burns.



Obama Invites Crisis If He Ignores Ruling

The decision by federal judge Roger Vinson striking down President Obama's signature health care law effectively ends ObamaCare unless some higher court overturns it.

In spite of this overwhelming rebuke of the law, some Birkenstock-wearing legal analysts are trying to argue that Vinson's ruling could be ignored by the administration. That's why this week's action by Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen is so significant. Van Hollen has taken the proper step of following the law, which now says that ObamaCare is unconstitutional in its entirety, relieving Wisconsin of any obligation to follow it.

It is the responsibility of every state attorney general in the nation to follow Van Hollen's lead, and halt any actions to implement this unconstitutional law. To do otherwise will open states up to legal liability.

The earthquake-like impact of Judge Vinson's ruling and Van Hollen's appropriate response is obvious; unless Vinson's ruling is either stayed or overturned, the nation is now free from any compulsion to follow the dictates coming out of Washington on this issue.

Instead of accepting continued implementation of the law from Washington, all states should join with the American people in demanding that Barack Obama cease and desist from ignoring the federal court and continuing any actions that implement this invalidated law.

Failure of the Obama administration to stop all activity related to the law that the federal court held to be unconstitutional would create a potential constitutional showdown between the two branches rarely seen in our nation's history. When coupled with the state's refusal to submit to federal regulations implementing a law that has been stripped from the books, our nation is looking at a potentially historic fight not only between branches of government but between the states and the federal government.

Back in the 1970s, it was openly asked what would happen if President Nixon simply refused to hand over the taped conversations from the Oval Office in spite of the demands of the federal courts. Of course, that speculation proved unnecessary as Nixon did turn over the tapes, and resigned from office.

Today, Obama stands at the same decision point that Nixon did - whether to follow the law or not.

As a former professor of constitutional law, Obama clearly understands the consequences of continuing to implement law that has been invalidated, and in case the implications of the federal court ruling were lost on him, the Wisconsin attorney general's decision to cease and desist all activity in Wisconsin related to the law should serve as a reminder.

Ultimately, the rule of law must prevail in this instance. Unless and until Judge Vinson's decision is overturned by a higher court, the federal government must follow it.

Failure to do so would unnecessarily throw our nation into its worse constitutional crisis since the Nixon impeachment. It is up to Obama whether he wants to subject both himself and our nation to that kind of turmoil. For the sake of our nation, let's hope he takes his oath of office seriously, averts a crisis, and follows the law of the land.



The Obama waivers start to spread

We already have more than 700 waivers to the requirements of ObamaCare in place, with 40% of those affected being in unions. Now we see waivers beginning in another area of the Obama administration's key policy areas - greenhouse gas emissions. In January, the administration began enforcing new EPA rules on new or expanding power plants, and within just a few weeks, announced the first waiver of those rules:
The Obama administration will spare a stalled power plant project in California from the newest federal limits on greenhouse gases and conventional air pollution, U.S. EPA says in a new court filing that marks a policy shift in the face of industry groups and Republicans accusing the agency of holding up construction of large industrial facilities.

According to a declaration by air chief Gina McCarthy, officials reviewed EPA policies and decided it was appropriate to "grandfather" projects such as the Avenal Power Center, a proposed 600-megawatt power plant in the San Joaquin Valley, so they are exempted from rules such as new air quality standards for smog-forming nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

Hey, you know what else Barack Obama did in January? He picked GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt to lead his new jobs commission. Does that sound like a non-sequitur to you? Let Timothy Carney explain the details of the Avenal Power Center:
The proposed Avenal Energy project will be a combined-cycle generating plant consisting of two natural gas-fired General Electric 7FA Gas Turbines with Heat Recovery Steam Generators (HRSG) and one General Electric Steam Turbine.

GE: They bring good waivers to life!

The Obama administration seems very eager to impose regulation on everyone except their bestest buddies. If these policies are so bad that Obama's friends and political allies need waivers to get around them, then perhaps they shouldn't be in place at all. And perhaps the Obama administration should learn something about the rule of law, rather than the rule of whim - or as the rest of us call it, The Chicago Way.



Liberal Bouquets for Dead Conservatives

Jonah Goldberg

The only good conservative is a dead conservative. That, in a nutshell, describes the age-old tradition of liberals suddenly discovering that once-reviled conservatives were OK after all. It's just we-the-living who are hateful ogres, troglodytes and moperers.

Over the last decade or so, as the giants of the founding generation of modern American conservatism have died, each has been rehabilitated into a gentleman-statesman of a bygone era of conservative decency and open-mindedness.

Barry Goldwater was the first. A few years ago his liberal granddaughter produced a documentary in which nearly all of the testimonials were from prominent liberals like Hillary Clinton and James Carville. Almost overnight, the man whom LBJ cast as a hate-filled demagogue who would condemn the world to nuclear war became an avuncular and sage grandfather type. Down the memory hole went one of the most despicable campaigns of political demonization in American history. Even Sarah Palin hasn't been subjected to an ad in the New York Times signed by more than 1,000 psychiatrists claiming she's too crazy to be president (though I don't want to give anybody any ideas).

Then there was William F. Buckley, the founder of National Review, the magazine I call home. For more than four decades, Buckley was subjected to condemnation for his alleged extremism. Jack Paar (the Johnny Carson/Jay Leno of his day for you youngsters) was among the first of many to try to paint Buckley as a Nazi. Now, Sam Tanenhaus, editor of the New York Times book review section, who is writing a biography of Buckley, insists that Bill's life mission was to make liberalism better.

But it's Ronald Reagan who really stands out. As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of his birth, the Gipper is enjoying yet another status upgrade among liberals. Barack Obama took a Reagan biography with him on his vacation. A slew of liberals and mainstream journalists (but I repeat myself) complimented Obama's State of the Union address as "Reaganesque." Time magazine recently featured the cover story "Why Obama (Hearts) Reagan." Meanwhile, the usual suspects are rewriting the same columns about how Reagan was a pragmatist who couldn't run for president today because he was too nice, too reasonable, too (shudder) liberal for today's Republican Party.




Healthcare insurance: Solution or problem?: "Leftists think that if they can just force everyone to buy health insurance their dreams for universal health care would come true. But why insurance? Insurance only exacerbates the problem. Insurance increases the demand for medical services. Insurance for every medical expense is the primary reason why heath care is so outrageously expensive today. If we got groceries the same way we now get health care, the cost of food would explode."

New initiative: Kill the “kill switch” bill: "The 'Internet kill switch' bill was promoted by Senators Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins in the last Congress. The bill would have granted President Obama the power to shut down much of the Internet in the event of a 'cybersecurity emergency.' The good news is that Congress adjourned before passing it. The bad news is that, on the very same day Egypt's dictator Hosni Mubarak imposed an Internet blackout on his country, Collins announced her intention to re-introduce the bill."

US Senate votes to rescind IRS reporting measure: "The Senate on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly to rescind a measure in last year's healthcare law that expands business transaction reporting requirements to the Internal Revenue Service. ... Small firms and the self-employed are up in arms about the provision that, starting next year, they will have to submit 1099 tax forms on purchases of goods and services that total more than $600."

Senate would criminalize laser targeting of planes: "Pointing handheld lasers at aircraft -- a growing problem that aviation officials warn could lead to a crash -- would become a federal crime punishable by up to five years in prison under an amendment approved by the Senate on Thursday. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., the sponsor of the amendment, said he was responding to a surge in incidents in which people have pointed at aircraft powerful lasers capable of temporarily blinding pilots"

Court hears challenge to Voting Rights Act: "Conservative legal activists are set to renew their campaign to overturn the nation's landmark Voting Rights Act, arguing before a federal district judge in Washington on Wednesday that states and local jurisdictions should no longer be forced to justify voting changes to the Justice Department or a federal court. The lawsuit, brought by officials in Shelby County, Ala., revives a constitutional challenge aimed at the heart of the 1965 law, a challenge that many analysts called the most important issue of the year when it reached the Supreme Court in 2009."

HI: Rights Commission to review tip policy: "A restaurant has attracted the attention of the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission with a notice that it will add a 15 percent gratuity to the checks of patrons who don't speak English. ... The Waikiki restaurant told KITV that its customer base includes many international travelers who, by custom, do not tip. The restaurant says it's merely trying to help its customers and wait staff. About 17 percent of the nearly 7 million tourists who visited Hawaii last year were from Japan, where people do not leave tips in restaurants."


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, February 03, 2011

Leftists can dish it out but can't take it

In their egotistical way, they think that they should have a monopoly of violence and threats of violence. They can wish death on conservatives but they get all teary if conservatives wish death on them

If you promote violent leftist insurrection for a living, should you be surprised when anonymous members of the public threaten you with violence?

Apparently. Take the case of Marxist professor and community organizer Frances Fox Piven, a frequent target of conservative talk-show host Glenn Beck.

In the Nation magazine just last month, Ms. Piven expressed outrage that Wall Street bankers weren’t being dragged from their homes and led to the guillotine because of the country’s high unemployment rates and an anemic economy. “So where are the angry crowds, the demonstrations, sit-ins and unruly mobs? After all, the injustice is apparent,” she wrote. Ms. Piven‘s next words ought to send a chill down the spine of every American.

“Local protests have to accumulate and spread - and become more disruptive - to create serious pressures on national politicians. An effective movement of the unemployed will have to look something like the strikes and riots that have spread across Greece in response to the austerity measures forced on the Greek government by the European Union, or like the student protests that recently spread with lightning speed across England in response to the prospect of greatly increased school fees.”

Shocked staffers at the Nation report that the publication’s website has been flooded with angry comments, expletives and unprintable threats against Ms. Piven‘s person.

But instead of recognizing the root causes of this backlash, Occidental College professor and activist Peter Dreier points his finger at Mr. Beck, Ms. Piven‘s most persistent critic. Mr. Beck has railed against Ms. Piven almost daily on his cable TV show for the past two years, calling her “an enemy of the Constitution.”

It is a harsh but nonetheless accurate epithet directed at someone who sees the Constitution as an inconvenient obstacle standing in the way of socialist utopia. It should be noted that Ms. Piven‘s only objection to Karl Marx‘s opus is that it is too vague to achieve radical social transformation. “The Communist Manifesto, was really too general for the purposes that we need to put the strategic work to today,” she told a 2009 radicals conference in Germany. Apparently she views her work as an improvement on Marx‘s approach to extremist rabble-rousing.

Yet Mr. Dreier denounces Mr. Beck for “vitriol” and accuses him of orchestrating a “hate campaign” against Ms. Piven in order to “stir people to aggressive and hateful action.” For her part, Ms. Piven repeatedly has said Mr. Beck is a scapegoating racist and liar....

Ms. Piven is a committed revolutionary, not just an abstraction-spewing parlor radical. She is honorary chairman of the Trotskyist-founded Democratic Socialists of America. She also is active in other left-wing groups and is a member of the board of Project Vote, the notorious voter-fraud-prone ACORN affiliate that once employed Barack Obama.

It needs to be said that the beauty of the American system is that it allows the violence that historically has accompanied political jockeying to be sublimated - turned into peaceful competition between rival ideas.

Like the late Saul Alinsky, Ms. Piven and her ilk reject that thinking. They want to burn America to the ground.

It’s time they stopped blaming Mr. Beck for educating the public about their intentions.



I can balance the budget

John Stossel

The Congressional Budget Office says the current year's budget deficit will be a record $1.5 trillion. It also says that over the next decade we're on track for annual deficits of "only" $768 billion. I suspect the CBO has hired Rosy Scenario to do the bookkeeping, but let's take that number at face value.

I'm now going to balance the budget, with the help of some experts. I'll begin with things I'm most eager to cut. Let's privatize air traffic control. Canada did it, and it works better. Then privatize Amtrak. Get rid of all subsidies for rail. That'll save $12 billion.

End subsidies for public broadcasting, like NPR. Cancel the Small Business Administration. Repeal the Davis-Bacon rules under which the government pays union-set wages to workers on federal construction projects. Cut foreign aid by half (although we should probably get rid of all of it). So far, that's $20 billion.

Oops. That doesn't dent the deficit. We have to do much more. So eliminate the U.S. Education Department. We'd save $94 billion. Federal involvement doesn't improve education. It gets in the way.

Agriculture subsidies cost us $30 billion a year. Let's get rid of them. They distort the economy. We should also eliminate Housing and Urban Development. That's $53 billion more.

Who needs the Energy Department and its $20 billion sinkhole? The free market should determine energy investments.

And let's end the war on drugs. In effect, it's a $47 billion subsidy for thugs in the black market.

I've already cut more than six times more than President Obama proposed in his State of the Union address. His freeze of nondefense discretionary spending would save only $40 billion.

But my cuts still total only $246 billion. If we're going to get rid of the rest of the CBO's projected deficit, we must attack the "untouchable" parts of the budget, starting with Social Security. Raising the retirement age and indexing benefits to inflation would save $93 billion. I'd save more by privatizing Social Security, but our progressive friends won't like that, so for now I'll ignore privatization.

The biggest budget busters are Medicare and Medicaid, and get this: the 400 subsidy programs run by HHS. Assuming I take just two-thirds of the Cato Institute's suggested cuts, that saves $281 billion.

How about the Defense Department's $721 billion? Much of that money could be saved if the administration just shrank the military's mission to its most important role: protecting us and our borders from those who wish us harm. Today, we have more than 50,000 soldiers in Germany, 30,000 in Japan and 9,000 in Britain. Those countries should pay for their own defense. Cato's military cuts add up to $150 billion. I've now cut enough to put us $2 billion in surplus!

As you see, the budget can be cut. Only politics stand in the way.



Food and failed Arab states

By Spengler

Even Islamists have to eat. It is unclear whether President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt will survive, or whether his nationalist regime will be replaced by an Islamist, democratic, or authoritarian state. What is certain is that it will be a failed state. Amid the speculation about the shape of Arab politics to come, a handful of observers, for example economist Nourel Roubini, have pointed to the obvious: Wheat prices have almost doubled in the past year.

Egypt is the world's largest wheat importer, beholden to foreign providers for nearly half its total food consumption. Half of Egyptians live on less than $2 a day. Food comprises almost half the country's consumer price index, and much more than half of spending for the poorer half of the country. This will get worse, not better....

Egypt is wallowing in backwardness, not because the Mubarak regime has suppressed the creative energies of the people, but because the people themselves cling to the most oppressive practices of traditional society. And countries can only languish in backwardness so long before some event makes their position untenable.

In this case, Asian demand has priced food staples out of the Arab budget. As prosperous Asians consume more protein, global demand for grain increases sharply (seven pounds of grain produce one pound of beef). Asians are rich enough, moreover, to pay a much higher price for food whenever prices spike due to temporary supply disruptions, as at the moment.

Egyptians, Jordanians, Tunisians and Yemenis are not. Episodes of privation and even hunger will become more common. The miserable economic performance of all the Arab states, chronicled in the United Nations' Arab Development Reports, has left a large number of Arabs so far behind that they cannot buffer their budget against food price fluctuations.

Earlier this year, after drought prompted Russia to ban wheat exports, Egypt's agriculture minister pledged to raise food production over the next ten years to 75% of consumption, against only 56% in 2009. Local yields are only 18 bushels per acre, compared to 30 to 60 for non-irrigated wheat in the United States, and up 100 bushels for irrigated land....

After 30 years of stability, the price of wheat has had two spikes into the $9 per bushel range at which very poor people begin to go hungry. The problem isn't production. Wheat production has risen steadily - very steadily in fact - and the volatility of global supply has been muted....

It wasn't the financial crisis that undermined dysfunctional Arab states, but Asian prosperity. The Arab poor have been priced out of world markets. There is no solution to Egypt's problems within the horizon of popular expectations. Whether the regime survives or a new one replaces it, the outcome will be a disaster of, well, biblical proportions.

The best thing the United States could do at the moment would be to offer massive emergency food aid to Egypt out of its own stocks, with the understanding that President Mubarak would offer effusive public thanks for American generosity. This is a stopgap, to be sure, but it would pre-empt the likely alternative.

Otherwise, the Muslim Brotherhood will preach Islamist socialism to a hungry audience. That also explains why Mubarak just might survive. Even Islamists have to eat. The Iranian Islamists who took power in 1979 had oil wells; Egypt just has hungry mouths. Enlightened despotism based on the army, the one stable institution Egypt possesses, might not be the worst solution.



Do Only the Rich Get Richer?

This is an old and familiar saw – but one that doesn’t cut it.

Review the history of Americans who’ve become rich as entrepreneurs. A large percentage – my guess is a great majority of them – began life in modest circumstances.

Perhaps the most famous fabulously rich American of all time is John D. Rockefeller, founder of Standard Oil. He hailed from a poor, hard-scrabble farm in upstate New York, then moved with his family as a young boy to Ohio. He began his career at the age of 16 in Cleveland as a bookkeeper. He was quite the opposite of wealthy.

Or Andrew Carnegie. The son of a Scottish weaver, he immigrated to America, with nearly nothing, at the age of 13. Almost immediately he began his career – as a bobbin boy in a cotton mill. No riches here that launched Carnegie.

Or Aaron Montgomery Ward. He began his career working in a barrel factory at the age of 14; later he advanced to laboring in a brick yard. Even later, he earned his living as a traveling salesman. No riches here that launched Montgomery Ward.

Going back a few generations, consider John Jacob Astor. (See also here.) He was born in Germany, the son of a butcher, and worked in his brother’s factory making musical instruments. He did not amass any fortune until he came to the U.S. and started his fur-trading business.

Likewise for Cornelius Vanderbilt, descended from Dutch indentured servants and a man who quit school at the age of 11 to work on ferries. His family was of only modest means.

Or Gustavus Swift. He was the son of a farmer; he began his career as a butcher’s apprentice.

J.P. Morgan is something of an exception to the above cast of entrepreneurs. His father was a partner in a London investment firm.

More recently, Steve Jobs hails from a modest background. (Bill Gates is more like Morgan on this front; his father is a partner is the well-known law firm of Preston Gates & Ellis.)

I could go on, listing famous rich business people. I’m quite certain – without having yet done a detailed study – that the history of these people thoroughly disproves the tired adage that “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.”

Others can be added to the above list. Henry Ford (born on a farm); Richard Sears (son of a blacksmith); F.W. Woolworth (born on a potato farm); RCA’s David Sarnoff (born to poor Jewish parents in Minsk); IBM’s Thomas Watson (son of a small rural merchant). As I said, I could go on and on.

SOURCE. (See the original for links)



NY: Cuomo slashes spending, freezes taxes in budget: "New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed a radical state budget on Tuesday that would lay off nearly 10,000 state workers and cut billions from education and Medicaid programs to eliminate a $10 billion deficit. The Democratic governor also proposed no new or increased taxes in the $132.9 billion budget plan, which would shrink the current budget ending March 31 by 2.7 percent."

The diversity divide: "Contrary to the apparent belief of some on the left, everything that comes from the right does not have racist overtones. What is racist is to cry 'racism!' at every available opportunity. What’s worse is that it’s become the battle cry of those who have nothing left -- no facts, no ideas, no basis in reality -- with which to fight. And sadly, it’s a weapon of some potency."

Food panic: "Rising food prices are the latest excuse for bashing market speculators. Around the world, these devils are the scapegoats for otherwise ill-conceived market manipulations by governments everywhere. There’s no doubt that the consequences of soaring food prices are significant -- from creeping inflation in the developed world to social unrest in the Arab world to real hunger in the impoverished world. However, speculators can only succeed when the fundamentals are in their favour. And that means either supply is artificially constricted or demand is wastefully encouraged."

Real world complexity: "What meets the eye in any marketplace -- meets the eyes even of experts -- is only a tiny tip of an immense iceberg of complex feedback loops, unique and often fleeting bits of knowledge, and countless adjustments of cou[n]tless people, none of whom could describe in detail exactly what they’re doing any more than even a world-class sprinter could describe in detail all that he does with his muscles when he sprints. Even the best models of an economy or of an industry capture, at most, only this tiny tip of this immense iceberg of feeback loops, knowledge, and adjustments."

Why tax cuts stimulate the economy: "First, tax cuts boost business everywhere. Employers who are struggling to pay their bills (including national and local taxes), are not likely to think about hiring more people. But a tax cut would make a crucial marginal difference to them. And remember: if every small business in the country had the confidence to hire one extra person, unemployment would be zero"


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)

Planned Parenthood Exposed on Video – Again!

Live Action, a group self-described as “a youth led movement dedicated to building a culture of life and ending abortion,” is well-known for producing hidden-camera videos exposing illegal Planned Parenthood activity. In the video released today, they expose a Planned Parenthood of Central New Jersey nurse caught on tape aiding a pimp running an underage sex ring. Here’s the story, according to a Live Action news release:

"A Planned Parenthood manager in New Jersey coaches a man and a woman posing as sex traffickers how to to secure secret abortions, STD testing, and contraception for their female underage sex slaves, and make their whole operation “look as legit as possible” in an undercover video released this morning.

Clinic manager Amy Woodruff, LPN, of Planned Parenthood Central New Jersey’s Perth Amboy center, warns the pimp and his prostitute to have their trafficked underage girls lie about their age to avoid mandatory reporting laws, promising, “even if they lie, just say, ‘Oh he’s the same age as me, 15,’…it’s just that mainly 14 and under we have to, doesn’t matter if their partner’s the same age, younger, whatever, 14 and under we have to report.” She says, “For the most part, we want as little information as possible.”

Woodruff also recommends how the pimp can get his prostitutes cheaper contraception by claiming they are “students”: “If they’re minors, put down that they’re students. Yeah, just kind of play along that they’re students–we want to make it look as legit as possible.”

If one of the young trafficked girls needs an abortion, Woodruff refers the pimp and prostitute to the Metropolitan Medical Association, where “their protocols aren’t as strict as ours and they don’t get audited the same way that we do.” The prostitute in the video asks how long after the abortion until the girls can have sex again, and when Woodruff says “minimum of 2 weeks,” she asks what sex acts the girls could still do to make money. Woodruff advises, “Waist up, or just be that extra action walking by” to advertise sex to potential clients.

Sex trafficking is punishable under federal law and carries a potential life sentence. The new video is released by Live Action, a pro-life new media organization led by 22-year-old Lila Rose. The video airs just days after Planned Parenthood’s leadership suspected the sting operation and sought an FBI probe of Live Action in order to deter the release of the exposé. Live Action is sending full footage to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, NJ Attorney General Paula Dow, officials at the Federal Bureau of Investigations, and other law enforcement officials, requesting federal and state investigations into Planned Parenthood’s sexual abuse and sex trafficking cover up.

“This proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Planned Parenthood intentionally breaks state and federal laws and covers up the abuse of the young girls it claims to serve,” said Lila Rose, president of Live Action. “Time and time again, Planned Parenthood has sent young girls back into the arms of their abusers. They don’t deserve a dime of the hundreds of millions they receive in federal funding from taxpayers. Congress must cease funding and the Department of Justice should investigate this corrupt organization immediately.”

Live Action has previously released more than a dozen hidden camera videos from ten states and shows the alarming trend of illegal Planned Parenthood activity including cover-up of sexual abuse of minors, the skirting of parental consent laws, citing unscientific and fabricated medical information to convince women to have abortions, and Planned Parenthood’s willingness to accept donations earmarked to abort African-American babies.

SOURCE. (Video at link)


Spilled Milk and bureaucratic over-reach

By Thomas Sowell

Despite the old saying, "Don't cry over spilled milk," the Environmental Protection Agency is doing just that.

We all understand why the Environmental Protection Agency was given the power to issue regulations to guard against oil spills, such as that of the Exxon Valdez in Alaska or the more recent BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. But not everyone understands that any power given to any bureaucracy for any purpose can be stretched far beyond that purpose.

In a classic example of this process, the EPA has decided that, since milk contains oil, it has the authority to force farmers to comply with new regulations to file "emergency management" plans to show how they will cope with spilled milk, how farmers will train "first responders" and build "containment facilities" if there is a flood of spilled milk.

Since there is no free lunch, all of this is going to cost the farmers both money and time that could be going into farming-- and is likely to end up costing consumers higher prices for farm products.

It is going to cost the taxpayers money as well, since the EPA is going to have to hire people to inspect farms, inspect farmers' reports and prosecute farmers who don't jump through all the right hoops in the right order. All of this will be "creating jobs," even if the tax money removed from the private sector correspondingly reduces the jobs that can be created there.

Does anyone seriously believe that any farmer is going to spill enough milk to compare with the Exxon Valdez oil spill or the BP oil spill?

Do you envision people fleeing their homes, as a flood of milk comes pouring down the mountainside, threatening to wipe out the village below?

It doesn't matter. Once the words are in the law, it makes no difference what the realities are. The bureaucracy has every incentive to stretch the meaning of those words, in order to expand its empire.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has expanded its definition of "discrimination" to include things that no one thought was discrimination when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed. The Federal Communications Commission is trying to expand its jurisdiction to cover things that were never included in its jurisdiction, and that have no relationship to the reason why the FCC was created in the first place.

Yet the ever-expanding bureaucratic state has its defenders in the mainstream media. When President Obama recently mentioned the possibility of reducing burdensome regulations-- as part of his moving of his rhetoric toward the political center, even if his policies don't move-- there was an immediate reaction in a New York Times article defending government regulations.

Under a headline that said, "Obama May Find Useless Regulations Are Scarcer Than Thought," the Times writers declared that there were few, if any, "useless" regulations. But is that the relevant criterion?

Is there any individual or business willing to spend money on everything that is not absolutely useless? There are thousands of useful things out there that any given individual or business would not spend their money on.

When I had young children, I often thought it would be useful to have a set of the Encyclopedia Britannica for them. But I never bought one. Why? Because there were other little things to spend money on, like food, clothing and shelter.

By the time I could afford to buy a set of the Encyclopedia Britannica, the kids were grown and gone. But at no time did I consider the Encyclopedia Britannica "useless."

Weighing benefits against costs is the way most people make decisions-- and the way most businesses make decisions, if they want to stay in business. Only in government is any benefit, however small, considered to be worth any cost, however large.

No doubt the Environmental Protection Agency's costly new regulations may somewhere, somehow, prevent spilled milk from pouring out into some street and looking unsightly. So the regulations are not literally "useless."

What is useless is making that the criterion.



5 Reasons Liberals Aren't As Happy as Conservatives

Did you know liberals aren't as happy as conservatives? Of course, you did. How could you not know it after listening to them incessantly wail, gripe, whine, and complain about everything? But, let's bring....drumroll, please -- the science! First, here's the Pew Research comparison between Republicans and Democrats:

The survey, released this week, points out several disparities based on lifestyle, beliefs and political persuasion:

* Republicans are happier than Democrats.

* People who worship frequently are happier than those who don't.

* The rich are happier than the poor.

* Whites and Hispanics are happier than blacks.

* Married people are happier than the unmarried...

About 45 percent of Republicans said they were very happy, compared with 30 percent of Democrats. Republicans have been happier in surveys going back to 1972, the Pew study notes.

Here’s more from Arthur Brooks:

In 2004, people who said they were conservative or very conservative were nearly twice as likely to say they were very happy as people who called themselves liberal or very liberal (44 percent versus 25 percent). Conservatives were only half as likely to say they were not too happy (9 versus 18 percent). Political conservatives were also far less likely than liberals to express maladjustment to their adult lives. For example, adults on the political right were only half as likely as those on the left to say, “at times, I think I am no good at all.” They were also less likely to say they were dissatisfied with themselves, that they were inclined to feel like a failure, or to be pessimistic about their futures. Further, a 2007 survey found that 58 percent of Republicans rated their mental health as “excellent,” versus 43 percent of political independents and just 38 percent of Democrats.

Want to be a miserable person? Be a liberal. Want to have a happy life? Be a conservative. Why is that the case? There are a number of reasons for it.

1) Conservatives believe in personal responsibility: One of the tragic facts of life is that nobody cares as much about you as you do. That's why, if you want to have a good life and be a happy person, you're going to have to take care of it yourself. Conservatives get this. Liberals? Not so much.

Liberals spend a lot of time playing the victim and trying to come up with ways to get someone else to fix their lives. "Well, if the government forced some rich guy to give me more of his money, then all my problems would be solved! If our society could just make this change, then we could all dance in the moonlight with faeries and unicorns! If the government just added one more program, then we could teach the world to sing in perfect harmony, hold it in our arms, and keep it company!"

One of the biggest keys to happiness is accepting that if you want to be happy, you need to take personal responsibility for everything in your life so you can do something about it. On the other hand, you want to be unhappy? Act like liberals and expect other people to show up and fix your problems.

2) Conservatives are more religious than liberals: There's a school of thought, largely embraced by liberals, that says religion is an archaic, largely arbitrary set of rules that do little more than keep you from doing all the "fun stuff" in life. That view leads to not taking your religious views very seriously at best and atheism or agnosticism at worst.

On the other hand, here's an alternate view, one that many conservatives hold. Religion, particularly Christianity, isn't out-of-date or arbitrary at all. Moreover, religion doesn't keep you from doing all the "fun stuff" so much as it keeps you from committing sins that may be fun for a season, but ultimately end in sorrow.

We're right, they're wrong and that's another big reason why so many of us are happy and so many of them are not.

3) Conservatives are more likely than liberals to get married: Despite everything you hear about divorce and unhappy marriages, people who are married are much more likely to be happy than those who are single:

In 2004, 42 percent of married Americans said they were very happy. Only 23 percent of never-married people said this, as well as 20 percent of those who were widowed, 17 percent of divorced people, and 11 percent of those who were separated (but not divorced) from their spouses. Married people were six times more likely to say they were very happy than they were to say they were not too happy.

Conservatives tend to place a considerably higher value on marriage than liberals do. To conservatives, marriage is the bedrock of society, whereas to liberals, it's not all that important. This is one of the reasons we have huge battles over gay marriage. Conservatives think it's dangerous for society to tinker with such an important tradition while liberals don't think marriage is all that valuable. It's also why "conservatives are twice as likely to be married."

Twice as likely? Why, it's almost as if conservatives believe all that stuff they're saying about marriage being the "bedrock of our society.” Too bad liberals don't look at it the same way. They'd be happier people.

4) Liberalism just doesn't work very well in the real world: If you spend your whole life advocating ideas that make people's lives worse, that fall apart at the first touch of reality, and that rely on a government that's inevitably slow, stupid, and ineffective, it's not going to be conducive to your happiness. Liberal policies are candy-coated rat poison that may appear appealing at first, but inevitably do a lot of damage to everyone impacted by them. That's what happens when you back political policies based on how they make you feel about yourself.

Conservatives don't have that problem. We support policies based on what works. The better you understand the world and how it works, the easier life is going to be for you. On the other hand, if you spend your whole life trying to slam a square peg into a round hole, it's not likely to lead to contentment.

5) Liberalism has turned into an extraordinarily harsh, divisive, angry ideology: As a political philosophy, liberalism is centered around hatred and divisiveness. Liberals don't promote their ideas so much as they try to turn people against those who get in the way of their ideas.

Liberals lie to minorities and tell them that conservatives hate them, they tell women that men hate them, they tell the poor they should hate the rich. They try to pit the successful against the unsuccessful, the workers against the corporations -- and they regularly talk about their own country like it is one of the most godawful places on earth. That means liberals are, at best, extraordinarily cynical people who're willing to manipulate people for political gain -- and at worst, it means that they believe all this nonsense, which would make the world seem to be a very unpleasant place indeed. If you spend your life seething over a litany of grievances you've created from scratch in your own head, then you're probably going to be an Eeyore instead of floating on Cloud 9.



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, February 01, 2011

After an early stutter, George VI did his best to defeat the Nazis

Conservative Australian historian and commentator Gerard Henderson offers some remarks below about "The King's Speech" which, like mine on Jan. 28, put the events covered in the movie into the context of their times

The Battle of Britain ended seven decades ago but fire is still being directed at the royal family over its role in the period leading up to World War II. This has been ignited by the well-earned success (so far) of The King's Speech - which has been nominated for 12 Academy Awards, including best picture.

Isaac Chotiner in The New Republic and Christopher Hitchens in Slate have accused the film of rewriting history with respect to the attitude of Edward VIII (who abdicated in December 1936) and George VI (formerly the Duke of York) to Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime in Germany.

The criticism is that The King's Speech underplays Edward's flirtation with nazism both before and after the outbreak of hostilities in September 1939 and neglects to mention George's support for the policy of appeasement pursued by Neville Chamberlain when he became prime minister after Stanley Baldwin resigned in May 1937.

Both critiques have validity but both are overstated. The most serious historical howlers in The King's Speech are the depiction of Baldwin stepping down due to his inability to handle Hitler and the representation of Churchill as an opponent of Edward VIII.

Baldwin was persuaded to hand over the keys to 10 Downing Street by Chamberlain, who believed that it was his turn. Churchill was perhaps the strongest supporter of Edward and appeared to tolerate his determination to marry the much-divorced Wallis Simpson. As Frances Donaldson pointed out in her 1974 book Edward VIII, one of the finest royal biographies written, Churchill's "ill-judged championship of the king did great, if only temporary, harm to his political career".

However, the likes of Chotiner and Hitchens make their own misjudgments when assessing The King's Speech - which, as the film acknowledges, is merely based on a true story. The abdication was not about foreign policy. Nor, indeed, any kind of policy.

As Edward said in his resignation speech, he renounced his duty as king because he "found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility … as I would wish without the help and support of the woman I love". In short, it was all about him. Edward was prepared to abdicate in favour of his brother Bertie despite the fact that he was a shy man with a bad stutter who felt unsuitable for the job. Narcissists do not care about such matters.

Edward VIII's allegiances were clear. They were not to his family or his people or to Hitler. They were to him alone. If Edward had wanted to implant fascism in Britain he would have remained at Buckingham Palace. Edward and Mrs Simpson had a soft spot for nazism but this had no impact on British foreign policy.

It is true that George VI was a dedicated supporter of appeasement, as was his wife Elizabeth (later known as the Queen Mother). And critics of the royal family are correct in pointing out that the king and queen acted inappropriately in September 1938 when they stood with Mr and Mrs Chamberlain on the Buckingham Palace balcony after the prime minister returned from meeting Hitler in Munich with the (false) promise of peace in our time.

Where the Chotiner and Hitchens critiques lack balance turns on their failure to concede that appeasement enjoyed wide support in 1937, 1938 and for most of 1939. In time, Chamberlain declared war on Hitler and George VI publicly supported his prime minister. Certainly, when Chamberlain stumbled in 1940, George VI did not favour Churchill taking over the position. But as Andrew Roberts documents in Eminent Churchillians, by Christmas 1940 Churchill enjoyed the strong backing of his king.

In other words, the king became one of Churchill's fans. Moreover, as William Shawcross points out in Queen Elizabeth: The Queen Mother, Elizabeth acknowledged towards the end of her life that the invitation for the Chamberlains to appear on the palace balcony in 1938 had been a mistake.

Hitchens has a background on the left. He knows better than most that when Britain and the Commonwealth nations went to war with Germany in 1939 the only real opposition came not from one-time conservative appeasers. Rather, opponents of the war effort at the time essentially comprised of those on the left, who were members of the Communist Party or fellow travellers with Joseph Stalin's communist dictatorship in the Soviet Union.

World War II began following the signing of the Nazi Soviet Pact in August 1939, as a consequence of Hitler and Stalin dividing Eastern Europe between them. This made possible Germany's invasion of Poland, with the Soviet Union's consent. This led to a collapse of Chamberlain's policy of appeasement and demonstrated the wisdom of Churchill's long-standing warnings about nazism.

In September 1939, one-time appeasers such as prime minister Robert Menzies in Australia declared war. However, those who wanted to leave Hitler alone at the time included such well-known Australian communist writers as Frank Hardy and Katharine Susannah Prichard, due to their support of the Nazi Soviet Pact. They decided that nazism had to be defeated only after Germany attacked the Soviet Union in mid 1941.

The central political message of The King's Speech is not ahistorical. The royal family, among others, initially misjudged Hitler. Yet, in the end, they played their part in defeating nazism.



Government 'investment' doesn't create jobs; the private sector does

With unemployment remaining above 9 percent and showing no signs of going down any time soon, there's lots of talk in Washington about job creation. For President Obama and congressional Democrats, unemployment is an opportunity for government "investment" in massive public works projects such as manufacturing solar shingles and building high-speed rail lines. At best, such big-spending projects by the federal government mainly create temporary jobs while building things of dubious consumer value. More often, these government spending projects funnel tax dollars to Democratic political allies like the unions that benefit from Project Labor Agreements. These PLAs bar nonunion workers, thereby driving up costs to taxpayers.

The problem is that big-government public works projects allow Washington politicians in both political parties to claim to be "doing something" about high unemployment. But the reality is that every dollar spent by government is one less that is available for the private sector to invest in new businesses and technologies that spur the creation of permanent jobs. Indeed, if increased government spending were the solution to high unemployment, the U.S. economy would be short of workers. Just since the last two years of the Bush administration, the federal budget has grown 36 percent, from $2.7 trillion to $3.7 trillion annually. Discretionary spending has gone up 25 percent. The Heritage Foundation's Brian Reidl projects that the national debt will grow nearly $20 trillion by 2021, reaching 100 percent of gross domestic product that year. The annual budget deficit will exceed $1 trillion every year for the next decade.

But it's exactly that tidal wave of federal spending, along with the trillions borrowed from China and other overseas creditors and thousands of pages of new federal regulations, that's preventing the economy from creating new jobs and growth. House Speaker John Boehner got it exactly right on "Fox News Sunday" when he said, "There has been a spending spree going on in Washington these last couple of years that is beyond control. ... By running up the debt by spending money we don't have, running up these huge budget deficits, we create more uncertainty in the private sector. This is where cutting spending will create jobs because it is going to bring greater fiscal responsibility here in Washington, D.C." The speaker repeated over and over again during the interview that the American people want government spending reduced so that jobs can be created. After the midterm elections, it's a wonder that the Beltway crowd needs reminding.



It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35)

A story from a practicing Christian:

While hitting the release button to open the trunk, I saw Mrs. BH bend over and pick something up off the ground. I met her at the back of the car and began loading the groceries while she stood reading what appeared to be a receipt. She looked at me and said simply, "I just found $40."

As I loaded the last bag, she thought it might be a good idea to perhaps go back and turn the money in to the cashier listed on the receipt. I countered with the idea to place a call to the store from home letting them know that we'd found the money and that if someone could describe the items listed on the receipt, we'd make arrangements to return it. We got back in the car and Mrs. BH continued to study the receipt for clues that might lead us to its owner. I began to scan the parking lot for signs of a distressed shopper.

Since we were idling in front of the store, I decided to circle around and park the car in an area that offered the best vantage point of the location where the money had been found and resumed my scanning. I saw a lady in a golden colored sweatsuit who seemed to be looking for something but was then distracted by a man with grocery bags heading back toward the entrance of the store. I watched to see if he appeared to be looking for something and was disappointed when he stopped at a vending machine to buy a soda and return to his car. I then looked back to where I'd last seen golden sweatsuit lady but she was gone.

Minutes passed and though we saw numerous people walking to and fro, we saw no one that seemed to be concerned about lost money. We talked about how we were sure that someone would be missing the $40 especially in these tough times and again started wondering aloud as to our options when I saw her once again. Golden sweatsuit lady. She was heading back toward the store's entrance. And she was definitely scanning the ground, definitely looking a bit distressed.

I eased the car forward while exclaiming to Mrs. BH that I think this lady was the one. Rolling my window down, she caught my eye and I signaled to her. She came to the side of the car and I asked her simply, "Are you looking for anything by chance?". She immediately said, "I lost $40". Mrs. BH quickly reached across me to hand her the money along with the receipt. Tears welled in the woman's eyes and in my own. She reached in to hug me and I returned the hug. She thanked us and told us she was working but on break and that she had somehow dropped the cash on her way out of the store. She looked at us both with tangible relief and softly said, "That was my gas money". I said something like, "No, that is your gas money" and she thanked us once again while quietly saying numerous times, "God bless you". And He did.

We thanked her, shaking her hand one last time and then drove away with an inexpressible joy.



Trade Agreements are Good for America

There’s no question that we live in global environment. We buy products from all nations, eat foods from all around the world and interact daily with people from all different countries. It is important that America participates in this changing world, or it will be left behind. The more America opens up to the idea of trade agreements with other countries the more competitive and productive it will be.

“The world’s changed. It’s not enough to just buy American you need to sell American all throughout the world,” says U.S. Representative Kevin Brady (R-TX) in an exclusively interview with Americans for Limited Government (ALG). “Unfortunately this past Congress and the White House have refused to help us level the playing field.”

Rep. Brady is a member of the House Ways and Means Committee and Chairman of the Subcommittee on Trade. He is a firm believer in trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama.

“South Korea, Colombia and Panama are together worth almost $13 billion of new sales for our U.S. goods and services,” Rep. Brady went on to say. “So we are going to create a lot of jobs and find new customers that will help us get out of this economic recession, if we can open those markets. The President has indicated that he is willing to move South Korea, he needs to move all three and go beyond that—open those new markets and let us compete.”

In a hearing before the Committee on Ways and Means on Jan. 25, The Council of the Americas, which is a business organization representing some 190 member companies invested in and doing business throughout the Western Hemisphere, issued a statement of strong support to expand trade and investment throughout the Americas.

“Unfortunately we don’t have agreements with China, Europe, and other parts of the world, but other countries are reaching those agreements, shutting us out and putting us at a disadvantage,” Rep. Brady says. “The more agreements that give us two-way trade, a level playing field, the better it is for us.”

Trade agreements that America are involved in, like NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), help to stimulate our economy by manufacturing goods and services here in the U.S. and by providing jobs. “Most of our deficit in trade is with countries we don’t have trade agreements with,” Rep. Brady explains to ALG. “The ones we actually reach agreements with we sell more goods and services. In fact, we have a big surplus of sales.”

Though America exposing itself to more trade agreements would not cure the nation’s economy on its own, it would be a step in that direction.




FL: Federal judge declares ObamaCare “void” in its entirety: "A federal judge in Florida ruled on Monday that President Obama’s health-care reform law exceeds Congress’s authority under the Constitution’s commerce clause. US District Judge Roger Vinson declared the 2,700-page reform measure 'void' in its entirety, while concluding that the law’s individual mandate requiring all Americans to buy a government-approved level of health insurance was a 'bridge too far."

CA: Hundreds march outside Koch brothers’ retreat: "Hundreds of environmentalists, union members and liberal activists converged on Rancho Mirage on Sunday to rally against what they see as the influence of two of the nation's leading financial backers of conservative causes. The protestors waved signs condemning 'corporate greed,' chanted slogans and surged toward a line of helmeted police officers at the entrance to a resort where billionaires Charles and David Koch were holding a retreat for prominent conservative elected officials, major political donors and strategists."

Obama’s regulatory deja vu: "Presidents Clinton and Reagan both signed executive orders requiring that proposed federal regulations be implemented only if their economic benefits exceeded the costs of complying with them. Reagan even established a branch within the Office of Management and Budget — the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) — to make sure executive branch agencies complied. The executive orders by and large were ineffective."

TSA shuts door on private airport screening program that exposed TSA’s inefficiency: "The Transportation Security Administration has shut the door on a private airport screening program that was making the inefficient agency look bad by outperforming it in safety, innovation, and customer satisfaction. The TSA’s action was praised by a liberal union that expects to unionize the TSA, the American Federation of Government Employees. ... Previously, the Screening Partnership Program allowed airports to replace government screeners with private contractors. 16 airports did so. 'But on Friday, the TSA denied an application by Springfield-Branson Airport in Missouri to privatize its checkpoint workforce, and in a statement,' TSA head John 'Pistole indicated other applications likewise will be denied.'”


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)

Egypt may be worse without Mubarak

Sayyid Qutb. Remember that name. You'll hear it often in coming months and years. Indeed, he may end up being the most influential person of the 21st century. He's been dead 46 years. But Karl Marx was the person who most influenced the 20th century he did not live to see.

Qutb's influence is more menacing than Marx. The radicals of the Muslim Brotherhood that are these days inspired by his manifesto, In The Shade of The Koran, will be central to the riots and violent chaos in Cairo.

It has always been the ultimate aim of the likes of Qutb and the Koran-quoting assassins he inspires to die advancing the cause of Islam. It goes without saying that an Egypt led by Islamic theocrats would attack Israel, unleashing god knows what.

The world understands Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak corruptly keeps government and that some of his people are illegally repressed. But that draconian rule has kept Egypt stable and its Islamic core under control. After losing wars with Israel, it decided to join the modern world in accepting that country's right to exist, even if Egyptian Muslims still see it as an enemy.

Under Mubarak, Egypt has helped keep the peace first won by his predecessor, Anwar Sadat, and Israel's Menachem Begin in 1979. For daring to barter peace with Israel, the Muslim Brotherhood assassinated Sadat in 1981. Mubarak that day bravely took on the leadership, and pledged to recognise all treaties with Israel, and they have been trying to kill him ever since.

While these days some are inclined to smile at some of the absurdities uttered by Qutb -- he once wrote that jazz was "music that the Negroes invented to satisfy their primitive inclinations, as well as their desire to be noisy" -- his influence is on enemies of ours who mean business. Al-Qaida for one.

Qutb was hanged with Brotherhood mates who'd been planning to assassinate Egyptian leaders. That's the good news. The bad is he is a hero to people who plan to hurt us.



What saving the nation will cost


National debt is over $14 trillion, the federal budget deficit is $1.4 trillion and, depending on whose estimates are used, the unfunded liability or indebtedness of the federal government (mostly in the form of obligations for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and prescription drugs) is estimated to be between $60 and $100 trillion.

Those entitlements along with others account for nearly 60 percent of federal spending. They are what Congress calls mandatory or nondiscretionary spending. Then there's discretionary spending, half of which is for national defense. Each year, non-discretionary spending consumes a higher and higher percent of the federal budget.

The spending path that Congress has chosen for the past half-century is unsustainable and will end up with economic collapse but little or nothing can be done about it unless I'm grossly wrong about the American people. Americans who detest our country and those who love our country are hell-bent, wittingly or unwittingly, on destroying it.

You say, "Williams, that's not only insulting but shows little trust as well. Explain yourself!"

For the past 30 years, federal tax revenue has averaged 18 percent of the GDP. Federal spending, nearing 30 percent of our GDP, is the problem. To get our economic house in order, there must be large spending cuts, not only in so-called discretionary spending but in nondiscretionary spending as well.

To put this in perspective: Defense spending is called discretionary and totals $685 billion. Our deficit is $1.4 trillion. Defense spending could be eliminated, and we'd still have a huge deficit. Any congressman unwilling to make cuts in entitlement spending is not to be taken seriously about sparing our nation from economic collapse.

Millions of Americans don't want their entitlement touched, many of whom are senior citizens. Seniors will tell you that they were forced into Social Security and Medicare, and any congressman talking about cutting those and other entitlements will face their wrath at the ballot box.

By the way, according to one study, "Until recent years, Social Security recipients received more, often far more, than the value of the Social Security taxes they paid. For workers who earned average wages and retired in 1980 at age 65, it took 2.8 years to recover the value of the retirement portion of the combined employee and employer shares of their Social Security taxes plus interest."

Seniors are not the only group who can put the fear of God into politicians. There are massive corporate handouts via programs like the Export-Import Bank, Agriculture Department business and farm subsidies, and the Small Business Administration. There's massive Department of Education spending on K-12 education and higher education. The list of federal programs, described as taking the earnings of one American and giving them to another, numbers in the thousands.

Everyone who receives government largesse and special favors deems his needs as vital, deserving, proper and in the national interest. It is entirely unreasonable to expect a politician to honor and obey our Constitution and, in the process, commit political suicide.

What's even worse for our nation is that voters ousting a politician who'd refuse to bring, say, aid to higher education back to his constituents is perfectly rational. If, for example, he's a Virginia politician and doesn't bring grants back to his constituents, it doesn't mean Virginian taxpayers will pay a lower income tax. All that it means is that Marylanders will get the money, instead. Once legalized theft begins, it pays for everyone to participate. Those who don't will be losers.

That's the nation's dilemma. The most important job for people who want to spare our nation from economic collapse is not that of persuading politicians to do the right thing but to convince our fellow Americans to respect the limits of our Constitution. In his speech to Virginia's ratifying convention, James Madison said, "Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it; no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it."



State of the police state: Everything’s illegal

Libertarians understand that America isn’t "becoming" a police state because America is already a police state. Those still holding onto the fantasy that American is the "Land of the Free" should consider these few examples among thousands.

Prohibited paper-presenting

Beloved rights activist Julian Heicklen refused to attend his court appearance on Monday but reported Wednesday that a Tyranny Fighter was there. She related that (a) the Assistant US Attorney charged Heicklen with "distributing literature without a permit," a violation of a Homeland Security regulation, and (b) the judge issued a warrant for his arrest.

Think about that. When did it become a requirement to get some bureaucrat's permission to distribute Fully Informed Jury Association pamphlets to people who voluntarily accept them while both are standing on public property?

Then think about this. The DHS makes a rule criminalizing the act of one person giving another person a piece of paper with words on it and the American legal system has no qualms about enforcing this mere rule as though it takes precedence over the Bill of Rights. That’s a police state.

Watching cops? Watch out!

Two young men were abused by cops for taping cops. In Tarpon Springs FL William Kilgore taped officers arresting a drug suspect. When a cop demanded he turn over the tape Kilgore refused.

As the cop was arresting Kilgore and confiscating his camera Kilgore's friend, Tommy Frane, began recording the arrest with his cell phone. So the cop stole Frane's phone as well. Neither had been interfering with the police. That’s a police state.

Valley of Veggies

Dekalb County GA sued a farmer for growing too many vegetables on his own land. He faces nearly $5,000 in fines. Even after the county changed the zoning law (magnanimously granting him bureaucratic "permission") they're still demanding the $5,000.
The farmer never harmed, threatened, or defrauded anyone. That's a police state.

Yet, for reasons entirely beyond the comprehension of freedom-loving libertarians, Americans who call themselves "patriots" continue to praise, defend, excuse, justify, and rationalize the nation's cops, bureaucrats and politicians, and eagerly support the freedom-killing abomination known as the Patriot Act, which Congress is likely to extend rather than repeal on February 28. That's a brainless state.



The American Nomenklatura: What the Tea Partiers are up against

(The "Nomenklatura" was the name for the privileged class in the old Soviet union)

This week, as President Obama has been busy consolidating his alleged pivot to the center, I've been reading Joshua Berman of the Shalem Center in Jerusalem. His 2008 book Created Equal contrasts the Hebrew Scriptures, particularly the Torah, with the legal order that predominated in the rest of the Near East at the time.

Berman writes:

"The new order articulated in [the Pentateuch] stands in contrast to a primary socioeconomic structure prevalent . throughout . the ancient Near East: the divide between the dominant tribute-imposing class and the dominated tribute-bearing class. These two groups, the exploiters and the exploited, are opposite sides of the same coin. The dominant tribute-imposing class consists, in short, of the political elite.This class includes not only the nobility but all who benefited by association with it: administrators, military and religious retainers, merchants, and landowners who directly or indirectly benefited from state power. What all of these have in common is that they all participated in the extraction of produce, or surplus, from the dominated tribute-bearing class: agrarian and pastoral producers, slaves, unskilled workers . Their production was drawn as surplus in the form of taxation, slave labor, rent, or debt service."

Reading about dominant tribute-imposing tribes and their exploitation of dominated tribute-bearing classes by means of debt, tax and mandated labor, seemed strangely similar to modern times. It seems that Washington is not as far removed from Ur, Nineveh, Cairo or Babylon as we would hope. It seems also that our emerging system of central control is not what its advocates claim: It is not new; it is ancient. It is not post-modern; it is pre-Torah.

I was a guest on National Public Radio earlier this week, where I debated a left-of-center law school professor. The host asked me whether President Obama could deal with the tension between his agenda of higher government spending and targeted development and the business interests of new advisors with business backgrounds such as former JPMorgan exec Bill Daley, and current General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt. "What tension?" I asked. Why in the world would a past TARP recipient and future green energy recipient like GE object in the slightest to Obama's vision of a world of targeted government "investments" in what he believes to be the industries of the future?

The fact that Immelt is a Republican is as beside the point as the fact that Daley is a Democrat. Increasingly our nation is divided, not between Rs and Ds, but between TIs and TBs: tribute imposers and tribute bearers. The imposers are gigantic banks, agri-businesses, higher education Colossae, government employees, NGO and QUANGO employees and the myriad others whose living is made chiefly by extracting wealth from other people. The bearers are the rest of us: the people who extract wealth from the earth, not from others.

What is the difference between crony capitalism and socialism? Not much. Both systems are based on a lack of appreciation of individual liberty. Both systems depend on elaborate centralized bureaucracies. In both systems, large proportions of people work for the government. Does it really make that much difference whether the government money is reported as W-2 income as opposed to 1099 income? Don't the favored people become rich under socialism?

Recently I read We, the Living, which is the closest thing to an autobiography that Ayn Rand ever wrote. It gives a portrait of her life as a young woman in the early stages of the Russian revolution. What she describes is a world dominated for a brief period by idealistic revolutionaries, for whom it is clear Rand holds some degree of admiration, but before long she sees the same faces running things. The men who manipulated power under the controlled economy of the Czar ended up doing the same thing under the Reds. Like Pasternak's Komarovksy in Doctor Zhivago, the most ambitious rise to the top. Not the most intelligent or the most creative, but the most ruthless. This is the nature of all centralized regimes.

Now the U.S. is not Russia, and the differences are more than I can count. There is a respect for human life that is far greater here, and Americans are far more acclimated to personal liberty. Our public sector is much smaller, proportionately, than theirs. Our balance of tribute imposers and tribute bearers is better. But in those portions of our society that are dominated by government, portions that are growing, the dynamic is fundamentally the same. They are both palace cultures, and the Law of Palace Cultures is this: Power is directly proportionate to proximity to the throne.

Does anyone seriously believe that Bill Daley, son of the founder of Chicago's great political machine, is something other than a crony capitalist? That he became president of a Baby Bell phone company, created by government fiat, protected by state public utility regulators because of his knowledge of telecommunications technology and not because of his association with power? Does anyone believe that when JPMorgan purchased a regional Chicago bank, which required both federal and especially state regulatory approval, that Daley's political credentials were irrelevant?

The Daleys of the world, the Rubins of the world, the Rahm Emmanuels of the world who rotate out of commerce secretary, treasury secretary, White House chief of staff positions and into positions at the top of investment banks, government-regulated utility monopolies and various GSEs are our nomenklatura. They are the members of our permanent ruling class. They are tribute imposers. The fact that they wrap themselves in the rhetoric of street-level populism just means that they are poseurs in addition to being imposers.

Are the Republicans, like Immelt, just as bad? No, but they are almost just as bad. And almost just as bad is not nearly good enough.


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


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


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


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Obama's Failed Policies Get Media Pass

Just one day after President Obama talked about winning the future, a report from the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program finds that the Obama administration's failed policies have put the nation even more at risk of future financial bailouts.

But the serious nature of the economic and financial crisis-and the failure of Obama's Big Government programs to solve it-continues to be played down by the major media.

The Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) issued a report finding that TARP's main goals of "increasing lending" and "promoting jobs and economic growth" have been "largely unmet." Even more disturbing, the report finds that Obama's nearly two-year-old Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) program is a failure.

All of this evidence was presented at a hearing of the House Government Oversight and Reform Committee on Wednesday.

The NBC Nightly News covered the shocking information without once uttering the words "President Obama" in connection with the documented failures. Anchor Brian Williams said the inspector general had concluded that "the government's effort to help Americans save their homes" was a failure.

The government? This is "The Obama HAMP," as noted by one website.

The website promises: "The funds the Obama Administration has made available for this program come from YOUR tax dollars. Take advantage of this program while it is still available! You will be able to lower your rate as low as 2%, obtain a fixed lower monthly payment, and save your home from foreclosure."

Get your "Obama loan modifications," promised another website.

But the Inspector General report finds that this Obama program's failure to preserve homeownership has had perhaps "the most devastating consequences." It said the HAMP "has been beset by problems from the outset and, despite frequent retooling, continues to fall dramatically short of any meaningful standard of success."

The report that followed on the NBC Nightly News by Lisa Myers noted that one person who was supposed to be helped by the program ended up facing foreclosure anyway. Obama officials had said the program would help 3-4 million people, but the number of "mortgage modifications" now stands at only 522,000. It is not clear how many of those people supposedly benefiting from HAMP through reduced mortgage payments subsidized by the taxpayers will actually end up facing foreclosure in the long run.

So the taxpayers will lose even more money and the homeowners will lose their homes. This is a lose-lose program guaranteed to create even more of an economic and financial crisis.

The Inspector General report notes, "HAMP's failure to have a material impact on the foreclosure crisis has many causes, starting with a rushed launch based on inadequate analysis and without fully developed rules, which has required frequent changes to program guidelines and caused unnecessary confusion and delay. Perhaps most fundamentally, Treasury has steadfastly refused to adopt meaningful goals and benchmarks..."

While Myers did note that "the Obama Administration official managing the program calls it a success," an incredible statement considering the evidence presented in her own report, there was no effort on the part of the NBC Nightly News or other liberal media to contrast Obama's optimistic or "Reaganesque" tone during the State of the Union with the actual facts on the ground and the evidence of his policy failures.

In terms of the broader economic and financial picture, Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, said that while TARP saved some big firms from failure, the government actions "encouraged future high-risk behavior by insulating the risk-takers who had profited so greatly in the run-up to the crisis from the consequences of failure, and gave an unwarranted competitive advantage, in the form of enhanced credit ratings and access to cheaper credit and capital, to institutions perceived by the market as having an implicit Government guarantee."

"In many ways," Barofsky said, "TARP has thus helped mix the same toxic cocktail of implicit guarantees and distorted incentives that led to disastrous consequences for the Government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs)-the Federal National Mortgage Association (`Fannie Mae') and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (`Freddie Mac')."

So the bailouts that were started by Bush and continued under Obama run the risk of generating even more bailouts in the future.



Go girl!

Palin issues scathing response to Obama speech

Sarah Palin has issued a scathing response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address, attacking his economic policies and "recycled rhetoric," which she says no longer inspires hope.

In a lengthy missive on Facebook, Palin didn't mention the call for unity that Obama made in his speech Tuesday.

Rather, she focused her attention on his economic proposals, calling his ideas for investments in areas like high-speed rail "half-baked." She says they'd put the nation on a "bullet train to bankruptcy." She also said Obama doesn't understand that debt is the biggest problem facing the nation.

She noted the speech was dubbed "Winning the Future," and suggested that the acronym of that title, "WTF," is an apt way to describe the speech.

SOURCE. Read the whole thing here. She really nails it.


Winning the Future

Finally, an issue all Americans can rally behind: winning the future! Surely most of us would like to be victorious down the road. The alternative is losing the future, and that doesn't sound very good, does it? If the future is lost, then what will become of us?

Thus, President Obama's new mantra, "winning the future," got immediate traction. His State of the Union speech was full of optimistic ways that we can win. Most of those ways involve "investing" in stuff like education, infrastructure jobs and alternative fuels. "Investing," of course, is the new word for government spending. The president doesn't want to spend anymore; he wants to "invest."

So Obama's speech was uplifting to say the least. We are going to beat those Chinese people in the marketplace, and our kids will be smarter than those Korean kids. Yes, we can! And the federal government's checkbook will lead the way.

In response, Republican Congressman Paul Ryan essentially said "no, we can't." We're broke. How uplifting is that?

Obama is a liberal man who is convinced that a large federal government can, indeed, improve the lives of most Americans. With a $14 trillion debt, however, Obama can no longer trumpet expanding the federal apparatus, but that doesn't mean he's against it. Let's take the high-speed train deal as an example.

The president loves the idea of these trains, and they do work well in places like Japan. But over the past 10 years, the government-run Amtrak outfit has lost an astonishing $13 billion. So what makes Obama believe that pumping even more tax money into high-speed rail will be good for the country? Talk about losing the past.

And then there's ethanol. Tons of federal money spent, little to show for it. T. Boone Pickens, a very savvy guy, tried wind power. He got blown away. The complexity of wind-driven energy makes it almost impossible to market.

As some of you know, I am a simple guy. My questions are not complicated. So here's another one regarding the winning thing: Didn't the Soviet Union want to win the future? I think they did. The pinheads in Moscow spent gazillions of dollars trying to dominate the world. And exactly how did that giant central government-run operation turn out? I believe it evaporated, did it not? Huge bureaucracies are not set up for winning the future. They exist to tell folks what to do and to take their money.



When is civilization going to learn . . .

. . . that government spending makes things worse, not better?

You can, perhaps, forgive the policy makers of the early 20th century for not knowing this. Throughout the Western world, big government was in. Technology was allowing government to get bigger, and to do more, and people figured, "Well, why shouldn't it do more?" There are problems in society that need to get fixed, and maybe it's government's role to fix them. After all, government could do big things. Government could build great dams. Government could electrify country farms previously lit by candle and kerosene. All it needed to do was tax enough money, or borrow it or print it, and—with its monopoly of force and law—arrogate the resources and land it needed, and government could do just about anything.

Herbert Hoover, the great engineer, had done great things prior to becoming president. Through force of will, organization, and careful planning, Hoover believed that great things could be done. And he did great things, including feeding millions of starving people. He took this mentality and his many successes with him to the White House and, through his policies, helped cause the Great Depression. Franklin Roosevelt took over, Hoover's name was blackened, and then Roosevelt and his gang proceeded to make most of the same mistakes Hoover did, only worse, more, and bigger.

Of course, during this moment of history where big government was in vogue, fascism was as well, with open fascisms in Europe and more than a whiff of it here at home. But ignoring that, for the time being . . . on strictly economic grounds, the people of that day may perhaps be forgiven. A bigger government, taking greater control over the economy, had never really been tried before. The theories were new. This was a modern era, and it was time for new ideas to be tried, people believed.

That said, we now have a century of data, and the data are clear: The ideas failed.

More economic freedom means more prosperity. Less economic freedom correlates to less prosperity. Large government, spending large amounts, tends to hinder, not help economic growth. The body of evidence is, at this point, so overwhelming on the subject that in a completely rational world, we would no longer even be having the discussion. This is not, however, a completely rational world, and we'll probably need a century of intellectual combat to completely undo a century of ideological errors (though I am hopeful that we may be able to speed up the process).

The 2011 Index of Economic Freedom has fired another salvo in that struggle—and a fairly convincing one. Ambassador Terry Miller, in Chapter 1 of The Limits of Government, provides some compelling charts data and charts on these issues.

The firtst is on government spending levels and how they correlate to growth. The trend and correlation are unmistakable:

Miller acompanies that chart with, in part, this text:
"The 2011 Index results demonstrate clearly that for many of the countries of the world, particularly those that experienced the inevitable results of state economic control under Communist systems in the past, policy solutions that would re-regulate economic activity or undo the integration of economies in a globalized trade and investment market hold little attraction.

Their skepticism is justified. Countries that reduced government spending had economic growth rates almost two percentage points higher in 2009 than countries whose government spending scores worsened, and countries with the highest rates of government spending had gross domestic product (GDP) growth rates 4.5 percentage points lower on average than countries where government spending was best contained. (See Chart 1.)"

The evidence is not just that economically freer countries enjoy more prosperity, higher standards of living, more political freedom and tolerance, etc., though the evidence is out there for those factors as well. But it's also very specifically that more government spending correlates with less growth. Stimulus spending, for example, appears not only to fail to do what it sets out to do (stimulate), it also appears to have the opposite effect. Needless to say, though the situation is always more complex than a single chart can report, with trendlines like that, correlation is almost surely causation, at least in part.

Miller goes on to provide several other charts in this chapter, including this striking one:

There are deviations, obviously. The one outlier on the Y axis (GDP per person) is not the economically freest. The economically freest (X axis) does not have the absolute highest GDP/person. But again, the trendline is unmistakable.

The trend also appears to be geometric as you move along the X axis. In other words, each "investment" a country makes in economic freedom (moving further right on the x axis) produces not only an increase in per person GDP, it produces a greater "rate of return" on that "investment" for each move further down the line towards the freest end.

With data like these, I keep going back to the question, "Why are we even still having the discussion?"

And then I remind myself, once again, that we do not live in a fully rational world.



Housing and Urban Development money went to belly dancer parties, sex offenders, dead residents

In the more than 3,000 public housing agencies nationwide funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and particularly inside the 172 that HUD considers the most troubled, ABC News and the Center for Public Integrity found a struggle to combat theft, corruption, and mismanagement. According to the report, one official embezzled $900,000 and bought a mansion. Other funds went to support sex workers.

In other words, this is a perfect illustration of why recommending cuts to such assistance programs is not heartless but actually wise -- waste is rampant:
The problems are widespread, from an executive in New Orleans convicted of embezzling more than $900,000 in housing money around the time he bought a lavish Florida mansion to federal funds wrongly being spent to provide housing for sex offenders or to pay vouchers to residents long since dead.

Despite red flags from its own internal watchdog, HUD has continued to plow fresh federal dollars into these troubled agencies, including $218 million in stimulus funds since 2009, the joint investigation found.

The ultimate victims of such mismanagement are impoverished Americans who rely on federally funded local public housing agencies to provide them with a clean, safe place to live.

"We're failing these tenants, we're failing the taxpayers," said Kenneth Donohue, who recently retired as the HUD inspector general in charge of rooting out waste, fraud and abuse from the federal housing program.

Forget accusations about trying to eradicate the social safety net by making budgetary cuts. By providing more money to ineffective, wasteful programs, bureaucrats commit that very crime -- except they also take taxpayer money with them.



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)