Saturday, February 26, 2011

A marvellous story

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner has spent the past decade delivering a highly effective counterpunch to terrorist organisations across the globe by using her own brand of "lawfare".

First, she and her group of lawyers at the Israel Law Centre in Tel Aviv track down the terrorists’ financial pipelines, then they set about suing the banks, institutions and charitable fronts used to facilitate the flow of funds. In doing so, the 37-year-old Israeli attorney and mother of six has taken on some of the world’s biggest banks – the Arab Bank, the Bank of China, and American Express – and to date has recovered a whopping $120 million for the victims of terrorist attacks.

Darshan-Leitner has also won judgments worth more than $1 billion against groups including Hamas and Hezbollah. While the terrorists themselves do not pay up, Darshan-Leitner and her team have been able to close the spigot on many of their supply lines and reduce the risk of attacks on Israel by as much as 60 per cent, according to Israeli intelligence. There is real potential, she believes, for the victims of the two Bali bombings to launch civil actions against the terrorists and their backers. It is her mantra that “money is the oxygen of terrorism and if we can stop the flow of money, we can reduce terrorism”. On a recent tour in Australia, where she met senior politicians, Darshan-Leitner explained how she does it.

Q. Who are the main terrorist groups and states bankrolling terrorist attacks?

A. Hamas. PLO. Islamic Jihad. Hezbollah. And state regimes that support terror such as Iran, Syria, North Korea.

Q. Of course, it’s not the terrorists who you are forcing to pay up, but the banks handling their money.

A. Terrorist organisations don’t come to court. No, we’re going after bank accounts, shares, assets that are in the hands of third parties, and even grabbing houses. In cases against the banks, we’ve been very successful in sending a shockwave through the international financial systems. We have sent the message that if you provide financial services to terror groups or to the front charities that they hide behind, you could incur massive financial liability from the victims’ cases.

Q. You’ve funnelled the money raised from these cases to terrorist victims.

A. Nothing, it must be said, is ever going to bring a loved one killed in an attack back to life. However, I think that every case in which we have had an opportunity to actually recover funds for families who lost a breadwinner is really important. In some instances the families were in financial distress because the husband or wife had been killed. Taking funds away from the terrorists and getting them to the victims provides some measure of justice and compensation.

Q. You have taken two British banks, Lloyds and Barclays, to court, forcing them to shut down accounts of Islamic charities providing money to the families of suicide bombers. Some would argue that cutting off financial aid to these families is simple guilt by association, that you’re punishing innocent people.

A. They are not being punished. But you must stop the flow of money going to any connection to a terrorist organisation. If you give money to the family of a suicide bomber you actually encourage the next suicide bomber to carry out an attack because he knows his family will be supported from now until the end.

Q. But surely a terrorist organisation can simply bank its money through an Islamic financial institution and shift money around?

A. Yes, a terrorist group can still use an Islamic bank. The problem is where the money goes once it leaves the Islamic bank. You need an international bank to facilitate the money transaction. For instance, if a Palestinian bank wants to trade in euros or shekel you need a correspondent bank in Israel or Europe. No bank would be willing to do that. And the amount of money Hamas can smuggle through tunnels in suitcases is about a tenth of what can be wired through a bank.

Q. You have just launched a $5 million class action against former president Jimmy Carter and publishing company Simon & Schuster, alleging that his 2006 book, Palestine, Peace Not Apartheid, has an anti-Israel agenda. What do you find most objectionable about the book?

A. The problem with the book is not that it was anti-Israel; Carter is perfectly entitled to express his opinion. The cause of action arose because Carter and his publisher have been marketing the book as accurate and truthful, when in fact the book is replete with inaccuracies, misrepresentations, mistakes and lies. We sued under the consumer protection laws as it’s a fraud on the reading public.

Q. Some would see this as a clear-cut case of you trying to quash free speech.

A. We have repeatedly said that Carter is entirely free to express his opinion. Our suit is based upon the misrepresentations that Carter and his publisher have made to the public. They continue to insist the book is truthful and we claim it’s a fraudulent misrepresentation on the public. It has nothing to do with free speech. It has to do with false advertising and fraudulent commercial speech.

Q. Speaking of Carter, his presidency was haunted by the hostage crisis in Tehran. Was this the beginning of the struggle against radical Islam?

A. The Muslim Brotherhood, the same one we hear about in Egypt, has been working to overthrow Arab governments and establish a pan-Islamic region since the 1930s. The Iranian Revolution was one of their most successful achievements in that unrelenting struggle. The fact is that Carter’s administration completely failed to recognise the threat from extremist Islam and essentially allowed Khomeini and his followers to ride the coat tails of the Iranian democratic movement into absolute power.

Q. In Iran in 1979, radical Islamicists posed as democrats but then established a theocratic dictatorship. Do you think the Muslim Brotherhood pose the same threat in Egypt, given they won at most 20 per cent of the vote in the last election with members standing as Independents?

A. Twenty per cent may not look like a scary number, but no other opposition party in Egypt is as well organised and well funded as the Muslim Brotherhood. If an election were held today, the Muslim Brotherhood would win a lot more than 20 per cent of the vote. The only hope is that the new leaders will not be worse than Mubarak. If the Muslim Brotherhood take over, it will be bad not just for Egypt but the world.

Q. In 2008, you helped launch a campaign to save the life of a Palestinian man accused of helping Israeli intelligence. What happened to him?

A. The Palestinian Authority hunts down anyone it suspects of providing the Israeli security services with information about terrorist organisations. Sometimes the terror groups just execute the suspects in the streets. In this case they arrested the man, gave him a 15-minute trial and sentenced him to death. We mounted an international campaign in the media to save his life. We demanded that the Palestinians not carry out the execution and that he be provided a fair trial. In the end we saved him – but he received a life sentence.

Q. A PM chosen by Hezbollah governs in Lebanon. In Iraq, radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is throwing his political weight around. Palestinians voted in Hamas. In terms of the spread of radical Islam, it’s a fairly bleak picture is it not?

A. It is. We do have a fear of the future in Israel. The increased strength of Hezbollah in Lebanon, the revolution in Egypt, the extreme mullahs in Iran, the uncertainty in Iraq and the instability in Jordan now. It all puts Israel into a very uncomfortable position.

Q. Israel is a tiny country of 7.5 million surrounded by giants – Iran (73 million), Egypt (82 million), Saudi Arabia (26 million), Syria (21 million). Do you see the country becoming increasingly besieged in the years ahead?

A. I am a daughter of generations and generations of Jews. We have gone through crises, pogroms, disasters and holocausts since the beginning of creation. We have survived 5000 years to date and we’ll survive another 5000 years.

Q. Do you see any lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians in the decades to come?

A. The Palestinians are not preparing their citizens to accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state. Their leaders and media are still inciting their people against Israel on a daily basis. Issues to which they are not willing to compromise include the status of Jerusalem and the insistence on having an armed military force. Until the Palestinians are willing to make real concessions, there can be no enduring peace.



America won't easily let you go, either

There are many countries in less financial trouble than the USA (Australia and Canada, for starters) so some Americans may be thinking of greener pastures. Emigrating, however, is not as difficult as it was for citizens of Communist countries but it still does have its barriers

The reason Americans are, by far, the most oppressed and controlled is because even if you leave the US you are still under control of the US Government and obligated to pay taxes in the US, for life, no matter if you never return to the US. Even if you surrender your US passport, something which is highly recommended but difficult to do, they still claim a period of 10 years whereby they can tax you. And that's not even to mention that it is illegal to leave the US in order to avoid paying taxes!

That's why for most people who leave their home country it is called "expatriation". But because it is so difficult for Americans to get out of the grasp of the US Government, the more appropriate term is "defection".

Americans in some ways are even less free than North Korean citizens. North Korean citizens are welcomed by most banks and brokerages in the world whereas Americans are persona non grata almost anywhere outside of the United State because the US Government has stated to the world that if you open an account for an American citizen you will have black helicopters on your roof the next morning.

If you live in the US and haven't noticed all of the above, noticed the "cash sniffing dogs" at most major airports checking Americans on their way out of the US.

And don't think you can even escape the claws of the US Government by killing yourself. Suicide is illegal! And they even have a tax specifically for people who die. Land of the free!

If you have yet to begin internationalizing your IRA, as guided by my colleague, Terry Coxon's, excellent book and services called Unleash Your IRA, what exactly are you waiting for? What further proof do you need to see that at the very least your government is a dangerous pickpocket and does not have your own personal interests in mind?

If you haven't begun to get a second passport or at least residency in many of the beautiful destinations we have recommended to subscribers in the TDV newsletter such as the Dominican Republic, Argentina, New Zealand, Thailand, Mexico and Malaysia, what are you waiting for? Don't tell me you believe the propaganda as read to you from teleprompters by Barack Obama or Katie Couric, telling you of how dangerous these other places are?

And if you don't have the money/assets to do any of these things, beg or borrow a few thousand dollars to invest in gold, silver or the precious metals, agriculture or uranium stocks we discover each month in our newsletter which have brought nearly 100% gains within 6 months to many and potential for much more as the US dollar is destroyed by Ben Bernanke. It's not like he hasn't told you he is going to do it. It's amazing how most people miss the most obvious things.

You can still internationalize your IRA. You can still legally get a second passport and you can still legally buy gold bullion offshore and foreign real estate. Don't wait until it isn't legal... then it will be much harder or impossible.



Terror threats rising as FEMA orders $1 Billion in dehydrated food

Terror threats appear to be on the rise as FEMA has rushed a $1 Billion order of dehydrated food in the event of attacks on domestic targets in the US. This is also coming on the heels of one of the largest terror drills performed by the US Navy on American soil, as Operation Solid Curtain is taking place this week.

In an article Tuesday from the Beaufort Observer, many of the largest suppliers of dehydrated foods in the country are dropping their distributors and customers to dedicate their resources to supplying a billion dollar FEMA request and purchase.

One of the nation's largest suppliers of dehydrated food has cut loose 99% of their dealers and distributors. And it's not because of the poor economy. It's because this particular industry leader can no longer supply their regular distribution channels. Why not? Because they're using every bit of manufacturing capacity they have to fulfill massive new government contracts. Look, the government has always been a customer of the industry to some extent. But according to our sources, this latest development doesn't represent simply a change of vendor on the government's part. It's a whole new magnitude of business.

And that's not all. Apparently, even though they've cut off their regular consumer markets, the industry leader I've just mentioned still can't produce enough survival food to meet the government's vast requirements. How do we know? Earlier this month, FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) put out a Request for Proposal, or RFP, for even more dehydrated food. The RFP called for a 10-day supply of meals - for 14 million people. That's 420 million meals. Typically, FEMA maintains a stockpile of about 6 million meals. Why the sudden need to increase the stockpile by 420 million more? (And that's in addition to whatever our aforementioned industry leader is supplying.) It almost seems like they're trying to stock a modern day "Noah's Ark," doesn't it?

Single functions or events such as FEMA requesting a purchase of survival food might not stand out as peculiar when it is their responsibility to ensure they are mission ready for unforseen events in the US, but couple this with other pieces of the puzzle, such as the Navy drill of Solid Curtain, which is intended for: "drill" involving all military, and it's a drill based on a severe terrorist attack.

and the public had best be aware of something major potentially occurring on our soil in the near future. Global events across the world such as the revolutions and protests, the rising spike in oil, the falling dollar, food shortages, and unrest in Wisconsin and Ohio, are bringing us to the point where crisis may take place, whether from domestic or foreign sources.

Terror alerts have been raised by FEMA in the past month, and this new special order of dehydrated food, at the magnitude of $1 Billion dollars in taxpayer money, should be a call for everyone to prepare on your own for any potential crisis.



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


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


Friday, February 25, 2011

Public Unions Force Taxpayers to Fund Dems

Everyone has priorities. During the past week, Barack Obama has found no time to condemn the attacks that Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi has launched on the Libyan people.

But he did find time to be interviewed by a Wisconsin television station and weigh in on the dispute between Republican Gov. Scott Walker and the state's public employee unions. Walker was staging "an assault on unions," he said, and added that "public employee unions make enormous contributions to our states and our citizens."

Enormous contributions, yes -- to the Democratic Party and the Obama campaign. Unions, most of whose members are public employees, gave Democrats some $400 million in the 2008 election cycle. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the biggest public employee union, gave Democrats $90 million in the 2010 cycle.

Follow the money, Washington reporters like to say. The money in this case comes from taxpayers, present and future, who are the source of every penny of dues paid to public employee unions, who in turn spend much of that money on politics, almost all of it for Democrats. In effect, public employee unions are a mechanism by which every taxpayer is forced to fund the Democratic Party.



ObamaCare Is Already Damaging Health Care

Many of its changes don't kick in until 2014. But the law is forcing dramatic consolidation and reducing choice in the industry.

The Republicans who now control the House of Representatives hope to repeal or defund ObamaCare, but the law has already yielded profound, destructive changes that will not be undone by repeal or defunding alone. Active steps and new laws will be needed to repair the damage.

The most significant change is a wave of frantic consolidation in the health industry. Because the law mandates that insurers accept all patients regardless of pre-existing conditions, insurers will not make money with their current premium and provider-payment structures. As a result, they have already started to raise premiums and cut payments to doctors and hospitals. Smaller and weaker insurers are being forced to sell themselves to larger entities.

Doctors and hospitals, meanwhile, have decided that they cannot survive unless they achieve massive size—and fast. Six years ago, doctors owned more than two-thirds of U.S. medical practices, according to the Medical Group Management Association. By next year, nearly two-thirds will be salaried employees of larger institutions.

Consolidation is not necessarily bad, as larger medical practices and hospital systems can create some efficiencies. But in the context of ObamaCare's spiderweb of rules and regulations, consolidation is more akin to collectivization. It means that government bureaucrats will be able to impose controls with much greater ease.

With far fewer and much larger entities to browbeat, all changes in Medicare and Medicaid policies will go through the entire system like a shock wave. There will be far fewer individual insurers, doctors, hospitals, device makers, drug manufacturers, nursing homes and other health-care players to resist.

Many doctors and hospitals have decided that they cannot survive unless they achieve massive size—and fast.

There is little mystery how the government will exercise its power. Choices will be limited. Pathways to expensive specialist care such as advanced radiology and surgery will decline. Cutting-edge devices and medicines will come into the system much more slowly and be used much less frequently.

This is why simply defunding enforcement of the individual mandate and other upcoming directives will not be enough: Given all this consolidation, limits on treatment choices are already becoming hardwired into the system. Lawmakers must take concrete steps to stop and reverse this.

On the provider end, this means enacting tax and other economic shields for insurers and providers that choose not to succumb to the financial pressure encouraging consolidation. It means unwinding all of the rules—about data compilation, reporting and compliance requirements, and information technology—designed to increase overhead to the point that only massive and easily regulated provider organizations can survive.

Legislators will have to scrub the 2,700-page ObamaCare law line by line to remove all of the disincentives for medical practices, hospitals and others to remain smaller and independent.

On the consumer end, reform means re-establishing choice at all levels of the system. Lawmakers at a minimum should change the individual mandate so that people can choose what type of coverage they buy. To do this, legislation has to ensure that all consumers have access to a menu of options for varying types of coverage, and that they are free to purchase policies across state lines. There should also be tax breaks for people who purchase medical care not covered by their insurance, so there is reasonable chance of escaping government-imposed limits on treatment choices.

System-wide, collectivization will be dismantled only by limiting the power of government agencies to determine what care gets funded. That means new legislation to supersede Section 1311 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which requires herding everyone into "qualified plans" and forcing doctors (via fines, penalties and nonpayment) to follow care guidelines determined by the secretary of Health and Human Services.

ObamaCare is already doing great damage, even years before its individual mandate and other controls kick in. Its systematic undoing is an urgent necessity.



Voices of Moderation

Thomas Sowell

Moderation-- at least verbal moderation-- is suddenly in vogue.

President Obama's rhetoric has moderated, even if his policies and practices have not. Among Republicans, voices of moderation are warning that the party cannot win elections without having a "big tent" and reaching out to Hispanics, for example. Recently, talk show host Michael Medved has suggested that Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin should moderate their attacks on Obama.

Moderation is fine-- if it is not carried to extremes. But some moderates seem to think that it is always a good thing to tone down your words. Yet history shows that muffling your message can mean forfeiting many a battle to extremists.

No one has had more of a mixed and muffled message than Senator John McCain, which is why Barack Obama is President of the United States.

Republican moderates warn their fellow Republicans that they need to move away from the Ronald Reagan approach, in order to attract a wider range of voters. But Ronald Reagan won two consecutive landslide elections-- and he couldn't have done that if the only people who voted for him were dedicated conservatives.

What Reagan had was a clear, coherent and believable message. Even voters who did not agree with him 100 percent could respect that and prefer it to the alternative.

He didn't have to offer earmarked goodies to each special group, in order to get their votes. Pandering can gain you some votes but lose you many others.

After the tragic murders and attempted murders in Tucson, some Democrats and the media have promoted the notion that sharp political criticism somehow provoked the shootings. There is not a speck of evidence to support that notion.

Such evidence as there is points in the opposite direction, because the individual charged with the crime did not follow talk radio or Sarah Palin.

This same political game was played after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, which was blamed on the "hostile" conservative atmosphere in Dallas. But the atmosphere in Dallas did not kill JFK. A bullet from a far-left kook killed him.

The criticism-causes-violence notion plays right into the hands of those Democrats who have done outrageous things in Washington, and who now insulate themselves from the outrage they provoked by equating strong criticism with fomenting violence.

Apparently some moderate Republicans don't realize that you can't buy your opponents' assumptions and then try to oppose the conclusions that follow.

Conservative talk-show host Michael Medved recently criticized Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh and Dinesh D'Souza for depicting Barack Obama as someone who does not love this country, and who is deliberately doing things to undermine it, at home and abroad. Medved declared, "it's particularly unhelpful to focus on alleged bad intentions and rotten character when every survey shows more favorable views of his personality and policies."

Are public opinion polls the way to determine the truth? If so, we can all outsource our thinking to Gallup and Zogby.

Michael Medved also cites other presidents of the past, whose errors or even sins did not mean that they were unpatriotic. But does anyone seriously believe that this tells us anything about Barack Obama, one way or the other?

Like some others, Michael Medved seems to think that Obama's pragmatic desire to be re-elected means that he is not an ideological extremist. But Hitler and Stalin were pragmatic and that did not stop them from being extremists.

Finally, there is the argument that Republicans will have a harder time winning the next election if they are "perceived as running against the presidency." But Rush Limbaugh and Dinesh D'Souza are not running for office, and it is not certain that Sarah Palin will be either.

And nobody is running against "the presidency." They will be running against Barack Obama.

Are we not to consider a possibility with deep and painful implications for the future of this nation, for such feeble reasons as these? Or just because moderation is a Good Thing?



California teachers' pension system is insolvent

Propped up only by increasing taxpayer contributions

As California school districts anticipate possibly the worst budget crisis in a generation, many will try to lighten their burden by enticing older teachers into retirement. But as more and more teachers retire -- with a pension averaging 55 percent to 60 percent of salary -- they will be straining a system that already can't meet its obligations.

The California State Teachers' Retirement System is sliding down a steep slope toward insolvency. The threat isn't to teachers who have retired or plan to, but to the people of California. Taxpayers, who already pick up 23 percent of CalSTRS expenses, will be increasingly burdened as the giant pension system fails to meet its obligations.

"We're on a path of destruction," said Marcia Fritz, president of pension-reform group California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility. And merely rejiggering formulas for new employees won't rescue the system, she said. Simply put: "We overpromised."
Among those promises, "Californians have typically given their public employees richer retirement benefits" than have other states, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office.

Despite the looming disaster, CalSTRS is like an ocean liner that's slow and complicated to change course. Gov. Jerry Brown hasn't mentioned overhauling the system that benefits one of his major supporters, the teachers union. Nor has the Legislature taken up the issue.

CalSTRS, a $146.4 billion system, provides the retirement of public-school teachers and administrators. Like its sibling pension system, CalPERS, which provides for non-teaching state employees, CalSTRS' collections don't meet its obligations to current and future retirees.

Although CalPERS has imposed higher contributions, reformers say CalSTRS' formulas can be revised only by legislation, a statewide initiative or possibly a constitutional amendment and litigation -- not to mention immense political will. Courts have ruled that retirees are guaranteed the pensions promised them when hired.

Twin reports issued earlier this month amplify the alarm. The Legislative Analyst's Office suggested that the state gradually decrease its share and move toward either cost-sharing with teachers or creating a hybrid retirement system, with reduced pensions and a 403(b) savings program -- the public- and nonprofit sector's equivalent to 401(k) retirement accounts.

And actuaries for the state Teachers Retirement Board calculated that contributions would have to increase 77 percent to make the system sound.




After 9/11, US gave more visas to Saudi students: "Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, the Saudi student arrested Thursday on charges that he planned to build bombs for terror attacks inside the United States, was granted a U.S. student visa after qualifying for a generous scholarship sponsored by Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, according to the indictment against him. Aldawsari was one of more than 10,000 Saudi students granted student visas in 2008, an NBC News analysis of the visa program shows."

This is what a broke democracy looks like: "The specifics of the Wisconsin fight aren’t why it’s so important. Collective bargaining rights for public unions may or may not be the right battlefield on which to settle a state’s fiscal future. But Republican Gov. Scott Walker is showing a long-term sophistication, beyond the specifics of this fiscal year’s bottom line, in trying to limit the growth of government spending by preventing collective bargaining by public sector unions. Such 'bargaining' is often a charade where both sides support each other financially at a third party’s expense (the taxpayer, that is), as is often the case between public sector employees and politicians."

Stay unreasonable: "The administration just announced that it expects this year's budget deficit to be $1.65 trillion. Thus, the House's budget cuts amounted to 3.6 percent of the deficit. Think about that: Republicans just cut less than 4 percent of the spending that we don't have the money to pay for. Heck, our budget deficit for last month was $48 billion, so apparently we've covered January. Whew! What part of 'broke' do the Democrats not understand?"


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)

All Your Thoughts Are Belong To U.S.

That seems to be the import of the ruling by federal Judge Gladys Kessler in upholding the Obamacare mandate in a suit brought by a group of private plaintiffs in Mead v. Holder:
As previous Commerce Clause cases have all involved physical activity, as opposed to mental activity, i.e. decision-making, there is little judicial guidance on whether the latter falls within Congress’s power....

However, this Court finds the distinction, which Plaintiffs rely on heavily, to be of little significance. It is pure semantics to argue that an individual who makes a choice to forgo health insurance is not “acting,” especially given the serious economic and health-related consequences to every individual of that choice. Making a choice is an affirmative action, whether one decides to do something or not do something. They are two sides of the same coin. To pretend otherwise is to ignore reality.

Our thoughts are now actions. There literally is nothing the federal government cannot regulate provided there is even a hypothetical connection to the economy, even if the connection at most is in the future.

Our thoughts are now actions. Whoops, I already said that. I just can't get over it. The following sentence has now become a justification for regulating decision-making even where the decision is just to do nothing: "The Congress shall have power.... To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes"

I think I'm going to be ill. Which of course, is now subject to regulations to be promulgated by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

More analysis by Aaron Worthing at Patterico, where Patrick Frey has decided to take a short break from blogging, which means he has decided not to engage in economic activity and thereby subjected himself to federal regulation.

And even more analysis at Volokh Conspiracy, where Orin Kerr has decided not to take a break from blogging, and thereby subjected himself to federal regulation.



The alternative to unions

MY COLLEAGUE asks an excellent question: if stronger private-sector unions aren’t in the cards in America, then what? What other force do progressives think might play the role unions played in the postwar era, providing greater negotiating power for the working and middle class, so that they can try to claw back some of the 52% of all US GDP growth from 1993-2008 captured by the top 1% of the income scale and organise politically for concerns like universal health insurance?

Greater negotiating power? The effect of unions, to the extent they are effective at all, is to make it harder for people to find work in particular areas. Unions try to raise wages above what they would otherwise be. Employers respond by trying to substitute capital for labor or more skilled workers for less skilled workers.

You want negotiating power? Get educated. Get a skill. What keeps wages up in a world of 7% unionization in the private sector is that I have alternatives. So stay in school and study something serious that has value alongside whatever else you’re interested in. Or study something interesting that has little market value. But if you do that, don’t complain about your low salary and lack of a union.

The bottom line–you don’t need a union to protect you from your employer. You need alternatives–you need to have a skill that more than one employer values. If you have no skills, you are in trouble and the union won’t help you either except at the expense of other workers.

Some of the money the top 1% captured (in parts of the financial sector, for example) was unearned and came at the expense of the rest of us. Most of it, I suspect, though this is an empirical question, benefited the rest of us. I’m thinking of Facebook execs, Google execs, Lebron James and Lady Gaga. They’ve done wonderfully well in the last 20 years because they have a very large market for their skills.

Stop whining about inequality, per se. If it bothers you, get to work, get a skill, start a business and tell your representatives to stop bailing out losers in the financial sector.



More NBC lies

The old lie about Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s daughter supposedly being killed in a 1986 raid ordered by then-President Reagan is back. Several stories in U.S. and foreign media about the turmoil in Libya have discussed Gaddafi’s rule in Libya, involvement in terrorism, and the time when we had a President, Ronald Reagan, who ordered military retaliation against pro-terrorist dictators.

On Monday’s NBC Nightly News, reporter Andrea Mitchell said Libya was “accused of bombing a Berlin nightclub frequented by U.S. soldiers” and that “Ronald Reagan retaliated, ordering an air strike against Gaddafi’s tent, accidentally killing his young daughter. Gaddafi escaped unharmed.”

Mitchell showed Gaddafi visiting someone in a hospital. Mitchell had also flashed a photo of Gaddafi standing next to a girl—the “daughter”—who looked about six or seven years old.

In fact, he had no daughter. It appears that Gaddafi “adopted” the girl after the strike in order to generate sympathy for himself after the raid. The phrase, “adopted daughter,” is the usual formulation that we found in reports about the raid. Mitchell omitted the “adopted” part.

Contrary to Mitchell’s claim about Libyan involvement in the nightclub bombing being just an accusation, John Koehler’s book, Stasi: The Untold Story of the East German Secret Police, documents the Libyan role, with East German support, in the La Belle bombing in Berlin in April of 1986. Koehler says the East Germans were operating with the knowledge and approval of the Soviet intelligence service, the KGB.

Mitchell also neglected to note that the bombing killed two Americans and a Turkish woman and injured well over 200 persons, including 41 Americans.

But the alleged death of Gaddafi’s “daughter” was the worst part of the broadcast. The fact that stories about this alleged dead daughter are still appearing this many years later shows how easy it is to fool the major media.

As we noted in a 2004 column, “Back in 1986, before the bombing of Libya, Time magazine had carried a photograph of Gadhafi and ‘three of their sons’ but no daughter. After the raid, Time said that an 18-month-old girl, ‘reportedly’ his adopted daughter, had been killed. The New York Times reported that she was 15 months old. The Washington Post said she was a year old.”

So we have a girl, anywhere from a year to six or seven years old, allegedly being killed. The Libyan regime was probably the source of the various claims.

Former USA Today reporter Barbara Slavin, who was in Libya at the time, set the record straight. “His adopted daughter was not killed,” she told me. “An infant girl was killed. I actually saw her body. She was adopted posthumously by Gadhafi. She was not related to Gadhafi.”



Good doctors, bad doctors

The article below refers to the war on pain-relief specialists by the DEA. Doctors are an easier target for the DEA than actual drug runners. So those doctors are bad apparently. But the doctors handing out fraudulent sickness certificates at Wisconsin union rallies are heroes, apparently

Patient’s rights advocate Siobhan Reynolds is currently under criminal investigation simply for speaking out against the federal prosecutions of doctors accused of writing pain medication prescriptions the government claims have “no medical purpose.” Indeed, the government has demonstrated a propensity to pursue doctors across the country with criminal charges, often over a wide array of activities conveniently lumped into over-expansive accusations of fraud.

Imagine my surprise, then, when on camera and in daylight, doctors in Wisconsin have been writing fraudulent “excuses” for teachers who have been demonstrating at the state capitol over recent moves by the governor and the legislature to abolish collective bargaining for public-employee unions. (The teachers claim they were sick, which is why they were not in the classrooms.) Indeed, the doctors have not even tried to cover their actions. One observer quoted by the MacIver Institute, Christian Hartsock, said:

I asked this doctor what he was doing and he told me they were handing out excuses to people who were feeling sick due to emotional, mental or financial distress. They never performed an exam – he asked me how I was feeling today and I said I’m from California and I’m not used to the cold, so he handed me a note.

Other doctors held up signs offering to sign excuse notes for teachers. They not only signed their names but also included their Wisconsin medical license numbers, as required on a medical form. They seemed proud of what they are doing.

Open Fraud

Nothing is being done about this open fraud so far, and I cannot say I am surprised. The Obama administration has been front and center in this whole protest, even helping to coordinate some activities. (The White House now is denying it played any role, but the tweets from Organizing for America and Brad Woodhouse, the Democratic Party communications director, paint a much different scene.)

The reason I make this point is that the teachers clearly have engaged in activities approved by the Obama administration, yet to be at the capitol without taking personal leave, the teachers have called in sick. Since they are not really sick, they are engaging in fraud, and therefore any doctor who knowingly writes an excuse note for someone he or she has not examined is writing medical document with “no medical purpose” — which violates federal criminal fraud statutes. The videotapes are evidence of federal crimes.

I will stop here and point out that I have written against these statutes for years, precisely because they are so expansive and so easily applied that any prosecutor wanting to get someone can do so without any problems. Levrenty Berias’s “Show me the man and I will find the crime” threat is now firmly established at the U.S. Department of Justice as a legal doctrine.

Even though these fraud statutes tend to be, well, fraudulent, they are applied against doctors every day. Last fall, I saw a childhood friend of more than 50 years sentenced to what in effect is a life term in federal prison for “writing prescriptions for which there was no medical purpose.” The DOJ is persecuting Siobhan Reynolds merely because she spoke out against similar prosecutions.

Yet here were have doctors on camera breaking the law — with impunity — purely for political reasons, and the Usual Suspects are not interested. The same people who will move heaven and earth to destroy the career and family of a well-respected doctor like William Hurwitz apparently don’t care that doctors are committing real fraud to help unionized teachers break the law.

So there we have it. Engage in behavior that this government considers to be politically acceptable and get a free pass to break the law. Everyone else gets to go to prison.



An interesting graphic



A conservative Jew is a bad Jew? "In addition to hitting women during their Wednesday protest, cameras caught another member of the Communication Workers of America (CWA) union harassing an employee about his religion at a protest outside FreedomWorks’ Washington, D.C. offices. As employees engaged with the lively group of protesters, one stepped forward out of the crowd to point her finger, calling the male employee a “bad Jew.” [An unusual Jew, certainly .... Video at link]

Vicious Leftists: "On Wednesday, members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) took their labor union protests to the Washington, D.C. offices of FreedomWorks, a conservative activist organizations. One of the young conservatives at the scene was Tabitha Hale, a tea party activist, blogger and FreedomWorks employee. As Hale filmed a heated debate between one of her colleagues and a CWA union organizer, the man violently smacked Hale and her camera away. Fortunately, Hale was not seriously injured in the altercation."

The myth of corporate cash hoarding: "American nonfinancial corporations were 'sitting on' $1.93 trillion in liquid assets at the end of last year's third quarter, according to the Federal Reserve Board. This has become one of the most frequently echoed statistics, viewed as indisputable evidence that U.S. business leaders are unduly timid or evil. ... Like so many statistics used to score political points, this datum de jour has been totally misunderstood. The chorus of media outrage about supposedly excessive corporate cash reveals nothing about the financial health of any U.S. business. It simply reveals appalling ignorance of elementary accounting."


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


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


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Culture versus Economy

IN THE LAME DUCK CONGRESS, the forces of the left were unable to raise tax rates on "the rich." They will stay unchanged for two more years. But the left was able to overturn "don't ask, don't tell," the law circumscribing speech affecting homosexuals in the military.

There's a pattern here. Conservatives prevail when the economy is the issue (I omit Obamacare, which if not overturned will deliver a serious blow to the economy). But we lose when it comes to what used to be called "social issues." It seems conservatives have lost every culture-war battle since the contraceptive pill was introduced 50 years ago. Here is a brief, recent history:

1. Speaking at the GOP convention in 1992, when George Bush Sr. was nominated, Pat Buchanan reported that we were in a "cultural war." He mentioned women in combat as something that should be resisted.

2. He was immediately accused of declaring a culture war. He was identified as an aggressor for noticing the assault that was under way.

3. Irving Kristol, the conservative commentator who died in 2009, said in 2001: "We in America fought a culture war and we lost."

4. Last November, the Family Research Council, a group in Washington that continues to mount rearguard actions in the culture war, was called a "hate group." The accusation came from the Southern Poverty Law Center, a group that itself bristles with hate -- hatred of the normal.

The real target of the culture war is the Judeo-Christian orthodoxy that prevailed in Western culture for millennia -- until recently. Orthodox Jews and a Catholic remnant are its principal upholders today. The Episcopalians and other major Protestant denominations have surrendered and in many instances have become culture warriors themselves -- opposing what they once supported. It's the same for Jews of the "reformed" congregation, or of none.

Recently the Family Research Council issued an "Index of Belonging and Rejection," based on 2008 Census data. It shows the percentage of American children who grow up in intact homes, with both birth mother and biological father legally married to one another until the child becomes a teenager.

Broken down by region and racial and ethnic groups, the figures are shocking. Nationwide, only 45 percent of youths grow up with both parents. For whites it's 54 percent. Blacks are down to 17 percent. Asian Americans are doing best, at 62 percent. The out-of-wedlock birthrate for blacks was 26 percent in 1965 when Daniel Patrick Moynihan identified the problem and was promptly accused of racism for his pains. Today the out-of-wedlock birthrate for blacks is 72 percent. It's 28 percent for whites and 40 percent for the nation as a whole. (The white illegitimacy rate was 3 percent in 1965.)

We are living in the midst of a revolution that few want to talk about even though, if not reversed, it will spell the end of Western Civilization. Accompanying this revolution has been the collapse of fertility rates, especially in Europe. This demographic revolution, aided by contraception and abortion, ensures that income transfer programs will not be sustainable for much longer -- perhaps no more than another 10 years in Europe.

There is little discussion of these issues in the press. The Wall Street Journal keeps a weather eye out for approaching economic icebergs but has little to say about the culture war and its implications. But economy and culture can't be kept separate for long. When children grow up without fathers, taxpayers foot the bill, girls grow up to imitate their mothers, and the boys join gangs and in many cases go to prison.

In Marriage and Caste in America: Separate and Unequal Families in a Post-Marital Age, Kay Hymowitz reported that "it is largely low-income twenty-somethings who are having a baby without a wedding ring." The women forgoing husbands "are precisely the ones who can least afford to do so." She also said that "virtually all" children whose families earn more than $75,000 a year "are living with both parents."

The culture war presses on with undiminished zeal. The FRC's "Index" has not been reported by the major media, who focus obsessively on "the drop in teen births." It is not the age but the marital status of parents that matters

FOR SOME YEARS, there has also been an organized pretense that male/female differences are more acculturated than real. With good training and propaganda it is imagined that such differences can be eliminated. Hence the push to house college students without regard to gender -- not just on the same dorm but in the same room. The earlier goal, to thrust women into combat, was similarly motivated.

The feminist ideologues will certainly fail in their campaign to homogenize gender. Male and female will remain starkly differentiated, as always. It's remarkable, though, that the attempt has been made, showing the fanaticism of the feminists. They have gone so far as to play into the hands of promiscuous men who have long embraced sex without consequences, otherwise known as the Playboy Philosophy. With a few exceptions, feminists have reinforced the sexual revolution rather than countered it. They see inequality of any description as an abomination and as something that must be stamped out.

Homosexual activists show a comparable fanaticism. They won't rest until their goal -- moral approval by the pope -- has been achieved. Feeble as the Catholic hierarchy has been since the Second Vatican Council, especially on sexual matters, such a surrender in Rome is not in the cards. The repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" may itself have unintended consequences. Some of those who engage in homosexual activity fear being "outed" by other gays more than they fear "straight" disapproval. The pretense is that "openness" is the desideratum where gays are concerned, but the whole subject remains fraught with taboos. We'll see what happens.

It may well be that not much will happen, as those urging DADT repeal have said. The inborn male-female attraction is so strong that those who do not experience it at all are few -- certainly far less than the touted 10 percent of the population. Homosexuals may well pose more of a threat to each other than to society at large.



Times’ Slanted Wisconsin Coverage Contrasts With Their Treatment of Tea Party

In 2009 and 2010 the New York Times covered protests against the Obama administration’s stimulus spending bill and health care plan as the barely legal revolt of an unwashed and uncivil band of reactionaries determined not only to halt what the paper considered progress but also to thwart democracy. But anyone looking at the Times’ front page article on Saturday describing protests against the effort by Wisconsin’s newly elected governor and legislature to balance the state’s books got a very different view of a protest movement.

According to the Times, the activities of the Wisconsin public sector unions — whose expensive benefits have put their state on the brink of bankruptcy — are nothing less than the moral equivalent of the demonstrations in Tunisia that brought down an authoritarian dictatorship. As the headline “Wisconsin Leads the Way as Workers Fight Cuts” indicates, the whole focus of the piece is an effort to portray the unions and their Democratic allies as revolutionaries who are on the cutting edge of a movement that will, in effect, reverse the verdict of last year’s election.

There are two points to be made about this coverage.

First, the portrayal of the unions and their Democratic Party allies, who have attempted not so much to defeat the Republican program but to prevent the legislature from even meeting to vote, as the progressive movement that represents the will of the people is absurd. This fight is about the will of the people but it is the public sector unions and the Democrats who are trying to thwart that will.

As is the case with many other states, Wisconsin is going broke because past governments have let public employee unions have their way in collective bargaining. The result is an extraordinarily generous package of health-care and pension benefits that few, if any, in the private sector (where workers rarely are paid as much as government workers these days) enjoy.

Governor Walker wants those public employees to begin contributing to their health-care costs and their pensions the way almost everyone who is not a government employee must. And he wants to curb the ability of these unions to hold the government hostage by ending their right of collective bargaining. That is a setback for unions but the alternative is the budget chaos that is bankrupting state governments around the nation. The unions may use the rhetoric of the workingman but they are actually seeking to retain benefits that enrich their members at the expense of hardworking taxpayers who aren’t as lucky.

Moreover the idea that these unions are fighting oppressive Republicans is a joke. Contrary to the Times, the governor of Wisconsin and the Republicans in the legislature there are not the moral equivalent of Tunisian or Egyptian autocrats. They were voted into office by the people and what they are doing is exactly what they promised the electorate they would do once they gained office. It is the unions and the Democrats who are the reactionary defenders of an untenable and frankly undemocratic status quo, not the Republicans who advocate change.

Second, and just as important for those who watch the media, the Times’ flattering portrait of the protesters ignores the extremist and violent rhetoric that has characterized the union demonstrators. As we noted Friday, unionists and the Democratic Party activists who have been bused in to help them have compared Governor Walker to Adolf Hitler and the Republicans to Nazis, as this video illustrates. Yet the Times has ignored that aspect of the story even though such rhetoric and demonstrators’ signs were the focus of much of their coverage of Tea Party protests.



Liberal Political Operatives, Worried About Republican Oversight, Seek to Discredit Rep. Darrell Issa

In their usual "ad hominem" way. Defamatory accusations are all they've got

One gained the reputation as “Dr. Death” for his political tactics. He is joined by political operatives who worked for Democratic candidates such as Hillary Clinton, Barbara Boxer, and Jerry Brown, and lent their know-how to the unsuccessful campaign to legalize marijuana in California. These political operatives have launched a campaign to discredit House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.).

Members of the San Francisco-based political strategy firm SCN Strategies started an organization called Third Lantern, with a Web site,, which purports to show already public documents about Issa’s past. “The Third Lantern is a new organization formed to warn fellow patriots of a new threat to democracy from Mr. Issa’s deeply partisan investigation,” the Third Lantern press release said. “The Third Lantern will shed light on Mr. Issa’s misuse of taxpayer funds and show he is not qualified to be a credible investigator.”

The organization plans to run TV ads in the future, but thus far is not saying who is financing the initiative. SCN Strategies has been heavily involved in Democratic politics, but has traditionally worked on behalf of a candidate or group.

During the 2010 campaign season, many Democrats alleged that Issa would engage in partisan witch hunts of the Obama administration. However, since becoming chairman, all the investigations Issa has announced have had a nonpartisan flavor. The committee has announced plans, for example, to investigate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s contribution to the housing crisis in 2008, the administration’s response to the Freedom of Information Act and corruption in the Afghanistan government. The committee most recently subpoenaed information about Countrywide VIP mortgage loans.

The president of Third Lantern, according to the group’s press release, is Averell “Ace” Smith with SCN Strategies. Sean Clegg and Dan Newman, also of SCN Strategies, are overseeing the anti-Issa project, as is Jeff Millman of Los Angeles. Millman began his career in 2005 as an aide to Los Angeles Mayor James K. Hahn. He went on to be the press secretary for the California Democratic Party in 2006.

Smith worked for the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign in 2008, and helped her win the California and Texas Democratic primaries that year, according to several news reports. The San Francisco Chronicle marveled at his and his firm’s ability to go after opponents, with its tongue-in-cheek “Chronie Awards” on Nov. 5, 2010. “The Hot Political Shop Award: To the Dr. Death of Political Opposition Research – Ace Smith – and his SCN crew (Dan Newman and Sean Clegg),” the Chronicle wrote.

Democratic strategist Chris Lehane made Godfather-like comparisons about SCN in a Los Angeles Times article published on May 3, 2008. “I believe that every life lesson in politics can be extrapolated from ‘The Godfather,’” Lehane told the L.A. Times. “Some people are Fredos; at game time they disappear. There are Sonnys, who yell and scream. The most effective ones are the Michael Corleones. Very quiet, they know under which rib to insert the knife. Ace is a Michael Corleone.”

A May 12, 2007 Chronicle story was headlined “Clinton’s man in California is pro at digging up dirt.” That story quoted Garry South, a former advisor to former California Gov. Gray Davis, who called Smith “the best op research guy in America on either side of the aisle. He digs under every rock.”

Most of the information on the anti-Issa Web site had been widely reported when Issa was a candidate for office, such as charges for car theft in 1972 that were dropped and questions about his business that burned down in 1982, for which Issa was never charged.

“As Congressman Issa begins his frivolous investigations, The Third Lantern, will conduct our own examination of Mr. Issa’s behavior and prove he lacks credibility as a congressional investigator,” Smith said in a statement. “The Third Lantern will release documents which will shed light on Mr. Issa’s history and demonstrate that he is solely motivated by partisan rancor of the lowest order.”

Issa spokesman Kurt Bardella said this is not in keeping with President Barack Obama’s call for “talking with each other in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds.” “The American people are not interested in this kind of destructive politics-as-usual attack that only serves to advance an agenda of divisiveness and pettiness,” Bardella told “It’s beyond hypocritical for the very people embarking on this misguided campaign to launch a McCarthy-esque fishing expedition against Chairman Issa, while refusing to disclose where their funding is coming from.




Let teachers tantrum … then fire them: "When our son would tantrum -- as all toddlers do at least once -- we would calmly carry him to his room; explain that we did not want to see or hear such ugliness; and give him permission to rejoin us in the common areas of the home once he 'finished.' Soon ... then sooner ... then soonest, he finished and the tantrum phase ended. Toddlers are much more sensible than many teachers."

Wisconsin: Battle for the soul of America: "It is hard to overstate what is at stake in the dramatic showdown between Wisconsin’s teachers and their Republican governor and legislature. The political and economic course of our country hinges on how the issue of public sector unions is resolved, in Wisconsin and elsewhere. For the sake of our country’s political and economic future, Gov. Scott Walker and his Republican colleagues need to prevail in the current contest with the Wisconsin teachers’ union and their allies."

Hyper-chutzpah: "The classic illustration of chutzpah is a man who murders his parents, then at trial throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan. But what word would you use to describe the person who not only murders his parents but consumes their body parts, then goes to an adoption agency in search of new ones? ... This is about the best description possible of Bob King, the new head of the United Auto Workers union."

Zogby poll: Majorities Say States Can Cut Employee Salaries & Void Collective Bargaining Agreements: "Two-thirds of likely voters agree that state legislatures have the authority to cut state employee salaries and 52% agree they can void collective bargaining agreements to reduce spending. Voiding collective bargaining agreements is also seen as preferable to continuing to pay state employees at current levels or layoffs of state workers in order to reduce spending and control deficits. These results come from a Zogby Interactive poll conducted from Feb. 18-21, 2011."


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 22, 2011

Mrs Obama

I was right in my judgment yesterday that Mrs. Obama would fret about not being invited to the forthcoming Royal wedding in Britain. We read:
Even after it was clear that Prince William and Kate Middleton would not be sending a wedding invitation to the White House, Michelle Obama still appears not to have given up hope. "If I get invited, I'll go," the First Lady said on the Live With Regis and Kelly Show on American television. She conceded, however, that, as things stand, she had not been invited


It's looking bad in Egypt

Professor William Jacobson of Cornell Law School writes that "the yuppie revolution in Egypt is over." He points to the return to Cairo, in triumph, of Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who had been exiled by Mubarak. al-Qaradawi spoke to a crowd of, reportedly, more than a million Egyptians in Tahrir Square on Friday.

Sheik al-Qaradawi has been whitewashed somewhat in the liberal press, but he is a hard-core radical Muslim. Discover the Networks has the details. Here is al-Qaradawi on the Jews, in January 2009:
Throughout history, Allah has imposed upon the [Jews] people who would punish them for their corruption. The last punishment was carried out by Hitler. By means of all the things he did to them - even though they exaggerated this issue - he managed to put them in their place. This was divine punishment for them. Allah willing, the next time will be at the hands of the believers.

And on the United States and its efforts in Iraq:
All of the Americans in Iraq are combatants, there is no difference between civilians and soldiers, and one should fight them, since the American civilians came to Iraq in order to serve the occupation. The abduction and killing of Americans in Iraq is a [religious] obligation so as to cause them to leave Iraq immediately.

To be fair, al-Qaradawi did include some conciliatory words in his speech on Friday. For example, he included Egypt's Copts in his greeting. But his audience knows perfectly well what he stands for. Professor Jacobson posted this video, via Israel Matzav. One of the chants you hear translates, "To Jerusalem we go, for us to be the Martyrs of the Millions."

To Jerusalem we go? That could be a big problem for both the U.S. and Israel, whose security policies have long rested on the historic peace between Egypt and Israel.

One of the western media's favorite Egyptian rebels is Google executive Wael Ghonim. No surprise there: if you had to choose among radical clerics like al-Qaradawi, hooligans like those who assaulted Lara Logan, and a suave, Westernized Google exec, whom would you want to interview? Ghonim was present on Friday and intended to address the crowd, but he was barred from the platform by al-Qaradawi's security. He left the stage in distress, "his face hidden by an Egyptian flag." Is Ghonim Egypt's Kerensky? Well, at least Kerensky got to rule for a while.

I very much hope I am wrong, but I am getting a here-we-go-again sense about events in Egypt and, I am afraid, through much of the region.



Barack Hussein Alinsky

Pat Buchanan

As a large and furious demonstration was under way outside and inside the Capitol in Madison last week, Barack Obama invited in a TV camera crew from Milwaukee and proceeded to fan the flames.

Dropping the mask of The Great Compromiser, Obama reverted to his role as South Chicago community organizer, charging Gov. Scott Walker and the Wisconsin legislature with an "assault on unions."

As the late Saul Alinsky admonished in his "Rules for Radicals," "the community organizer ... must first rub raw the resentments of the people; fan the latent hostilities to the point of overt expression."

After Obama goaded the demonstrators, the protests swelled. All 14 Democratic state senators fled to Illinois to paralyze the upper chamber by denying it a quorum. Teachers went on strike, left kids in the classroom and came to Madison. Schools shut down.

Jesse Jackson arrived. The White House political machine went into overdrive to sustain the crowds in Madison and other capitals and use street pressure to break governments seeking to peel back the pay, perks, privileges and power of public employee unions that are the taxpayer-subsidized armies of the Democratic Party.

Marin County millionairess Nancy Pelosi, doing a poor imitation of Emma Goldman, announced, "I stand in solidarity with the Wisconsin workers fighting for their rights, especially for all the students and young people leading the charge."

Is this not the same lady who called Tea Partiers "un-American" for "drowning out opposing views"? Is not drowning out opposing views exactly what those scores of thousands are doing in Madison, banging drums inside the state Capitol?

Some carried signs comparing Walker to Hitler, Mussolini and Mubarak. One had a placard with the face of Walker in the cross hairs of a rifle sight. Major media seemed uninterested. These signs didn't comport with their script.

In related street action, protesters, outraged over Congress' oversight of the D.C. budget, showed up at John Boehner's residence on Capitol Hill to abuse the speaker at his home.

And so the great battle of this generation is engaged. Between now and 2013, the states are facing a total budget shortfall of $175 billion. To solve it, they are taking separate paths.

Illinois voted to raise taxes by two-thirds and borrow $12 billion more, $8.5 billion of it to pay overdue bills. The Republican minority fought this approach, but was outvoted and accepted defeat.

Wisconsin, however, where Republicans captured both houses and the governor's office in November, and which is facing a deficit of $3.6 billion over the next two years, has chosen to cut spending.

Walker and the legislature want to require state employees, except police, firemen and troopers, to contribute half of their future pension benefits and up to 12.6 percent of health care premiums.

Wisconsin state workers and teachers enjoy the most generous benefits of state employees anywhere in America. According to the MacIver Institute, the average teacher in the Milwaukee public schools earns $100,000 a year -- $56,000 in pay, $44,000 in benefits -- and enjoys job security.

The Battle of Madison, where Obama, Pelosi, the AFL-CIO, Jackson, the teachers unions and the Alinskyite left are refusing to accept the results of the 2010 election and taking to the streets to break state governments, is shaping up as the first engagement in the Battle for America. What will be decided?

Can the states, with new governments elected by the people, roll back government to prevent a default? Or will the states be forced by street protests, work stoppages by legislators, and strikes by state employees and teachers to betray the people who elected them? Will they be forced to raise taxes ad infinitum to feed the government's insatiable appetite for tax dollars?

In short, does democracy work anymore in America?



Dude, Where's My Theory of Everything?

Bryan Caplan

Almost all traits run in families. But why? People have literally debated the question for thousands of years. Is the cause nature/heredity/genes, nurture/upbringing/parenting, or some mixture of the two?

Until a few decades ago, the debaters basically just chased their own tails. And then... enlightenment happened. Social scientists finally discovered a Rosetta Stone to disentangle nature from nurture. Or to be precise, they discovered two Rosetta Stones. The first was the twin study: comparing identical to fraternal twins. The second was the adoption study: comparing adoptees to their adopted families - and occasionally their biological families as well.

Since then, researchers have used these Rosetta Stones to decipher a massive list of mysteries. As I recount in my forthcoming book, twin and adoption researchers studied human health, intelligence, happiness, success, character, values, appreciation, and more. Their answers are beyond surprising. With a few important exceptions, they learned that nature handily wins its ancient cage match with nurture, especially in the long-run. Traits run in families primarily due to heredity, not upbringing. The mighty effects that people ascribe to parenting are largely imaginary.

Faced with these achievements, you'd expect almost any social scientist to be impressed, even awed. But not Tyler Cowen. His reaction, instead, is to complain that twin and adoption methods don't contribute more.* Who cares if you've solved the ancient nature/nurture debate? He wants a Theory of Everything.

I submit that this is both unreasonable and ungrateful. Behavioral geneticists don't have a Theory of Everything. No one does. But behavioral geneticists have answered many important, age-old questions. How many other sub-disciplines in social science can say the same?

Now I'll reply to Tyler point-by-point. Tyler's in blockquotes, I'm not.
"Culture" and "genes" are two major factors determining individual outcomes, toss in parenting, and if you wish call parenting and culture two parts of "environment." It is obvious that culture matters a great deal, and this comes from knowledge which existed prior to rigorous behavioral genetic studies.

... "The culture word" may be overused and abused, but still the power of culture is evident.

If "culture" just means "everything besides heredity and upbringing," then Tyler's clearly right. Identical twins raised together are hardly ever literally identical, therefore other stuff matters. A lot. But if you define culture more falsifiably, things get complicated very quickly. Sure, there are traits like accent that clearly stem from humans' tendency to copy each other. And yes, you can't be "bookish" unless your society has books. Nevertheless, many allegedly cultural traits could easily be genetic, and we don't yet have a Rosetta Stone to disentangle the two.

Tyler continues:
If twin adoption studies seem to show that parenting does not matter much, I think:

1. Matter for what and for whom? Parenting matters a lot for language and religion and obedience and also one's sense of "how the world works," and those factors matter to parents even if they don't always matter to researchers and economists. The word "matters" is going to carry real weight here; in my admittedly extreme pluralist view, "doesn't affect adult income" does not translate into "does not matter."...

Sigh. In my book, which Tyler not only read but blurbed, I cover the twin and adoption evidence not just for income, but for an entire Parental Wish List: health, intelligence, happiness, success, character, values, and appreciation. Religion falls under "values," and the punchline is that parenting has a big but superficial effect. Parents strongly affect what you say your religion is, but have little long-run effect on your intrinsic religiosity or observance. I don't discuss language, but it's pretty clear how a twin or adoption study would play out: You can make your kid semi-fluent in another language with a lot of effort.
2. We already know that culture matters a great deal in shaping what kind of adults children become, but often individual families cannot much affect the broader culture a child is raised in. It's sometimes the individual family which is impotent, not the surrounding culture as a whole.

Plausible. I've made such arguments myself. But twin and adoption methods are poorly designed to test such claims, and it isn't reasonable to expect them to.
3. Most parents are deep conformists. There isn't always a lot of cross-sectional variation in adoption studies. Even if most parenting strategies don't matter (if only because they are not varying much), if a child is raised in an Orthodox Jewish family, or in a strict American-Chinese family, or among the Amish, that probably matters, even adjusting for genes.

The adoption studies can be showing that a) most parents don't so much shape a child's culture at the margin, or b) that environment doesn't much matter in light of the power of genes.

Twin and adoption studies measure the effects of the kinds of parenting that people in the First World frequently use. I say this repeatedly in my book. If you want to do social policy or weigh whether to join the Amish, it's an important limitation. If you want to answer the kinds of questions that most parents in the First World are actually asking, it's not.

And if you want to call the vast majority of Western parents a bunch of "conformists" and claim that their parenting is all basically the same, give credit where credit is due. On the surface, parenting styles seem to vary widely. The only reason anyone would conclude that these diverse approaches are roughly equivalent is by reasoning backwards from their effects. And the only reason anyone would conclude that these effects are small is twin and adoption evidence itself.

* Tyler singles out "twin adoption studies," which is normally a synonym for "separated twin studies." But his critique applies to ordinary twin and adoption studies as well.




White House Backing Away from Wisconsin?: "Rasmussen reports that 48% of likely voters agree with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, while 38% agree with the government union protestors. Perhaps it's not surprising that, in light of those numbers, that The White House is trying to play down the reports of its involvements in the protests. Either way, perhaps some of the most insightful discussion of the stand-off has come from PajamasMedia's Richard Pollock, who explains why involving themselves in the Wisconsin protests has been a significant strategic miscalculation for both The White House and Democrats generally."

Public sector unions a menace to society: "There is a movement sweeping the nation to restrict or end the ability of public-sector employees to use collective bargaining as a way of strong-arming more money and benefits from an already overtaxed public. This is a much-needed reform to a system that is draining the fiscal life out of the states. Perhaps years of watching government employees get richer on the backs of workers in the real world who continue to see drastic cuts is sparking this movement."

Commerce is a people’s revolution, daily: "The big-box book business has begun to crumble with the bankruptcy filing of book-selling behemoth Borders. The Chapter 11 filing indicates the company is looking to restructure its debts and continue on. But as in the case of bankrupt Blockbuster, there may not be anything to restructure, with both of these old-technology companies destined for liquidation and futures of little more than Wikipedia entries chronicling each company's past glories."

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)


Monday, February 21, 2011

Confirmed: Australian leader invited to Royal wedding, but not the Obamas

This will burn Mrs. Obama up. Sarko and Carla won't be very happy either

Invites to April's royal wedding are in the mail - first-class of course - and while the gold-embossed, thick white cards have started to arrive in Europe, at least two Australians still eagerly await the postie's visit. Prime Minister Julia Gillard and her partner Tim Mathieson are on the official guest list of 1900 for the April 29 Westminster Abbey wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

Although the list hasn't been released publicly by the palace, a spokesman for Ms Gillard on Sunday confirmed that Australia's prime minister and Mr Mathieson are awaiting their invitation. "The Prime Minister looks forward to receiving and responding to the formal invitation," he said. Governor-General Quentin Bryce will also receive an invitation, according to media reports, as one of several Commonwealth governors-general on the guest list.

Forty international crowned heads have been personally invited by the Queen to attend the wedding, including the Emperor of Japan, the King of Malaysia, the King of Thailand, the King of Jordan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and the Sultan of Brunei, London's The Mail newspaper reported yesterday. However, US President Barack Obama and French Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy are understood not to have been invited, the paper added.

More than 1000 of the guests will be friends of the prince, 28, and his princess-to-be, 29, and will stretch to celebrities including David and Victoria Beckham. The prince has also invited around 80 guests linked to organisations for which he is either patron or president, including the UK Football Association, Centrepoint (the homelessness charity for which his mother was patron), and wildlife conservation group, the Tusk Trust.

The gilt-edged invitations, stamped with a gold "EIIR", which begin "The Lord Chamberlain is commanded by The Queen to invite ..." were sent out on last week.

Some guests will attend only the 11am ceremony, while 600 have been invited to a lunchtime reception at Buckingham Palace, before a more intimate family and friends affair - dinner for 300 - at the palace, for which a separate invitation will be issued.

The invitation asks that men wear "uniform, morning coat or lounge suit" to the ceremony.



March of the Medical Marxists

I'm just like everybody else. For months I listened to and watched "town meetings", originally cobbled together in the home districts of senators and representatives, simply and transparently for the purpose of rubberstamping Barack Obama's obsessive Marxist lust (an obsessive lust he shares with Hillary Clinton and many another tired, threadbare old collectivist) to nationalize an institution that they refer to as "healthcare".

Somehow, astonishingly, those town meetings didn't go quite the way our elected representatives (and I use both terms loosely) had expected they would. People showed up by the tens of thousands to deliver a message the politicians didn't want to hear, and it quickly became clear that a vast majority of individuals in this country don't want the government to have anything to do with where, how, or from whom they get medical attention or anything else, a message that the other side ignored, causing an historically unpreceented electoral upset.

It would seem even more astonishing if observers and commentators on both sides of the issue recalled that public speaking and personal confrontation invariably show up on surveys as items that the average individual fears more than death. The citizens who spoke out had to overcome both fears to face the politicians and tell them where to get off. Frankly, I didn't know we still had it in us, as a people.

And yet—because the politicians invariably pay less attention to historians than they do to politically trendy scientists, and even less attention to the voters who placed them in office and pay their salaries—despite widespread vocal opposition, despite a century of embarrassing miserable failure, despite immeasurable human suffering and conspicuously needless death everywhere else on this glorified mudball, like it or not, America is going to try medicine socialist style.

"But why would anybody want to do an idiotic thing like that?" I pretend to hear you asking. Well, partly because there's mountains of cash—uncountable trillions, potentially—and job security in it for properly-connected accomplices to this gangster government who can afford to fly themselves and their families somewhere else for medical treatment. Somewhere that doesn't have medicine socialist style.

Let's stop saying "socialized medicine". Let's be more specific. Let's be more accurate. Let's be more precise. Let's be more truthful. Let's call the thing exactly what it is.

What is it? Well, back when she was Queen, Hillary Clinton wanted to jail you for paying your doctor privately. That's right, part of her marvelously "humane" healthcare plan was to have you kidnapped by uniformed thugs if you made your own arrangements with a physician. If we'd made her Empress, she assured us, you wouldn't be allowed to work—when the flaming hell did we start needing goverment permission to work?—if you couldn't produce documents proving you were legally insured.

Obamacare, of course, will be completely different. It will be the warmly beloved IRS who leans on those miscreants who are willfully non-compliant.

So let's not call it socialized medicine. Instead, let's call it beat-you-up-and-kill-you-if-you-won't-go-along, coercive medicine. (Although how anybody can call it "medicine"—if they beat you up and kill you if you won't go along—I haven't quite figured out. And apparently neither have they.) Let's agree to call it medicalized Marxism.

For decades I had been saying that there's huge and terrible anger simmering just below the surface of American life. Year after year, decade after decade, century after century, the Productive Class have labored to supply everything necessary and good in our society—from diesel fuel to lemon meringue pie, from the wheels that take us from one place to another, to our homes where we find refuge and comfort—only to have the rewards of their labor snatched away by rapacious parasites intent on controlling every moment and aspect of their lives.

Yet it is the same Productive Class who are the first to be blamed—by elements of a Non-Productive Class that couldn't tell a cotter pin from cottage cheese—for everything, real and imagined, that is said to be wrong with that society, from bad taste in color, cars, and clothing, to acid rain, air pollution, depleted ozone, and global warming.

To the average politician, newspaper columnist, hairsprayed TV commentator, or Hollywood airhead, suburbia is a kind of despicable, disgusting, fetid swamp to be crawled out of, rather than as close to Utopia as humankind has ever come, the locus of all the wishes, hopes, and aspirations of a people whose only wish is to be left the hell alone.

And all these idiots—congressthings and others of the so-called "dominant culture" who believe they own us—can think of is how to suppress that anger for another year, another decade, another century. They desperately want to deny that their opposition is significant and serious. They want to dismiss it as stupidity, right-wing racism, and childish ingratitude. Or the result of having attended all the wrong schools. It never occurs to them to consider what that anger might really be about, or that it might be justified. They simply want it managed. It's probably too late for that, but they'll be the last to know.

As I've also been saying for more than 40 years, as frequently and loudly as I can, America's Productive Class has always been compelled to suffer for its excessive—and suicidally self-destructive—politeness. Perhaps that era is at long last ending.

I've listened to conservative talk radio every day since Barack Obama was elected, not just to Rush Limbaugh, but some of the others, as well. Along the way, I've noticed one element astonishingly absent from their arguments against Obama and his Marxist cohorts trying to regiment medical practice—and, through that, everything else—in America. That element is individualism.

The arguments I hear from them are utilitarian and collectivist in character: socialized medicine is bad for the economy; socialized medicine is bad for society; socialized medicine is bad for families; socialized medicine is bad for doctors and nurses; socialized medicine is bad for small business; socialized medicine is bad for hypothetical Grandma in her steam punk iron lung, and for poor old Cousin Wilbur, whose intellectual elevator never quite made it to the top of the building.

I guess it shouldn't surprise me. Thanks to Robert LeFevre, I've been calling conservatives by their proper name—right-wing socialists—for decades. But it does surprise me, and makes me a bit sad.

The first mistake that they make (and they always make it) is that they accept the enemy's premises and vocabulary, giving up half the battle before it's even fought. It is not "socialized medicine" that we're up against here—to many a misguided individual, ignorant of history, that makes it sound kind of warm and fuzzy—but government control, through brute force and the threat of brute force, of those ultimately personal, private acts of seeking and delivering medical attention.

Your doctor often knows things about you that you wouldn't want anybody else—possibly including your own family—to know. But for nasty, perverted reasons all their own, having mostly to do with their psychopathological desire to control every aspect of everybody's life, the Obamas, Reids, and Pelosis of this world are eager to stick their noses in your intimate orifices and learn everything your doctor knows about you. As a human being, you are entitled to more privacy than that.

But mostly, as many pundits have been saying, it's about power at the lowest, minutest zit-squeezing level conceivable. It might be difficult for a normal individual to understand why somebody would yearn for complete control over every aspect of another human being's life, but there you are: sooner or later, a lens behind every bathroom mirror.

Make no mistake about it, this heartfelt yearning for absolute control is psychosexual in character, and about as sick and perverted as it can be. Every stuttering, broken-voiced pencil-neck who ever got turned down by a cute cheerleader, every pimply-faced fat girl who ever imagined she was being laughed at by the captain and his whole football team, these are the mental midgets and moral cripples who are looking forward, from under the rocks they currently inhabit, to ruling us tomorrow. You've seen plenty of their species already, down at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Get ready to see a lot more of them.

All political jargon to one side, however, medicalized Marxism is unsatisfactory if for no other reason than this: I don't want it. It violates my unalienable individual, civil, Constitutional, and human rights.

Medicalized Marxism is wrong because it forces me to do what I don't want to do. It keeps me from doing what I do want to do. It imposes duties on me that I don't want imposed. It denies me (and you, and everybody else, too) the uncountable advantages of acts of capitalism between consenting adults.

There's nothing wrong with medicine that can be fixed by "single payer" healthcare and I don't know anyone I respect who wants it. Let's make a better start, calling it by its right name: compulsory, collectivist, going-through-the-motions medicine. I've seen how it "works" in other countries, and in the US military. It is an evil and deceptive program the real objective of which is to give very bad people complete, minute control over every moment and detail of our lives.

They want to live their lives through ours, beginning with the splendid and absolutely limitless excuses that medical Marxism provides.

Believe me, I grew up with it in the American military, and I've seen it in full flower in England, as well. It isn't about providing you with services, it's about denying you services, since that's the cheesy little thrill that is all many bureaucrats ever get out of life. People want power over the lives of others not because they believe themselves uniquely capable of directing those lives, but because they know they're incapable of directing their own lives and find it easier in this culture to try directing the lives of others, instead.




Are the Wisconsin protests backfiring?: "Protests in Wisconsin over public sector compensation cuts have been the big story this week. Over at The Daily Caller, I explain why some of the tactics that union members and supporters are using are actually backfiring. The teacher sickout is classic bad PR. The parents who have to find and pay for last-minute daycare are now less likely to side with teachers’ unions, not more"

Excuse notes from docs at protests draw scrutiny: "Doctors who wrote medical notes over the weekend excusing protesters at the Wisconsin Capitol from work are getting slammed with angry phone calls and profane e-mails from people telling them they deserve to be thrown in jail, one doctor said Sunday. The physicians wore lab coats Saturday as they stood on a street corner and offered medical notes to the tens of thousands of protesters who paraded past them."

Business bans TSA agents — will more follow?: "KC McLawson works for a cafe near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, and since the body-scan and patdown controversy last November, her boss has taken extraordinary measures to ensure the TSA knows of his displeasure. 'We have posted signs on our doors basically saying that they aren’t allowed to come into our business,' she says. 'We have the right to refuse service to anyone.'”

Denmark: Court rules against hippie enclave: "The Danish government yesterday won a legal battle against a freewheeling neighborhood that has remained largely self-governing since its creation by hippie squatters four decades ago. ... The decision ends a six-year legal standoff and means the government can go ahead with plans to 'normalize' the neighborhood and tear down scores of ramshackle homes built at the site without permits."

The truth about housing prices: "The idea that economic recovery can’t happen unless our housing prices return to pre-recession levels makes no sense. First, as the chart below shows, for most of American history housing prices grew at a relatively slow rate. It was only in the last 15 years that prices exploded. The factors behind this sudden change are a mixed bag of government policies that encouraged homeownership and cheap interest rates and a willingness by banks to lend to people who could only realistically afford to pay if housing prices doubled every two years."

A “right” to healthcare requires force: "The notion of a 'right to healthcare' is the boldest and most fundamental claim offered in defense of the new federal healthcare law. Indeed, Obamacare should be judged by whether it is consistent with the protection of rights. If the law cannot pass that test, the debate should end –- and it must be repealed as an unjust means of striving to satisfy other social, economic or political agendas."

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)