Saturday, May 14, 2011

The rights of Americans are withering away rapidly

Apparently the 4th Amendment no longer means what it says: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated"

Overturning a common law dating back to the English Magna Carta of 1215, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Hoosiers have no right to resist unlawful police entry into their homes. In a 3-2 decision, Justice Steven David writing for the court said if a police officer wants to enter a home for any reason or no reason at all, a homeowner cannot do anything to block the officer's entry.

"We believe ... a right to resist an unlawful police entry into a home is against public policy and is incompatible with modern Fourth Amendment jurisprudence," David said. "We also find that allowing resistance unnecessarily escalates the level of violence and therefore the risk of injuries to all parties involved without preventing the arrest."

David said a person arrested following an unlawful entry by police still can be released on bail and has plenty of opportunities to protest the illegal entry through the court system.

The court's decision stems from a Vanderburgh County case in which police were called to investigate a husband and wife arguing outside their apartment.

When the couple went back inside their apartment, the husband told police they were not needed and blocked the doorway so they could not enter. When an officer entered anyway, the husband shoved the officer against a wall. A second officer then used a stun gun on the husband and arrested him.

Professor Ivan Bodensteiner, of Valparaiso University School of Law, said the court's decision is consistent with the idea of preventing violence.

"It's not surprising that they would say there's no right to beat the hell out of the officer," Bodensteiner said. "(The court is saying) we would rather opt on the side of saying if the police act wrongfully in entering your house your remedy is under law, to bring a civil action against the officer."

Justice Robert Rucker, a Gary native, and Justice Brent Dickson, a Hobart native, dissented from the ruling, saying the court's decision runs afoul of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

"In my view the majority sweeps with far too broad a brush by essentially telling Indiana citizens that government agents may now enter their homes illegally -- that is, without the necessity of a warrant, consent or exigent circumstances," Rucker said. "I disagree."

Rucker and Dickson suggested if the court had limited its permission for police entry to domestic violence situations they would have supported the ruling.

But Dickson said, "The wholesale abrogation of the historic right of a person to reasonably resist unlawful police entry into his dwelling is unwarranted and unnecessarily broad."

This is the second major Indiana Supreme Court ruling this week involving police entry into a home.

On Tuesday, the court said police serving a warrant may enter a home without knocking if officers decide circumstances justify it. Prior to that ruling, police serving a warrant would have to obtain a judge's permission to enter without knocking.



More creeping Totalitarianism

Here’s Jay Carney at a White House press briefing today, essentially signaling the linguistic shift I and others have been warning about for several months:
The President sees, as a means of holding everyone’s feet to the fire to ensure that we take the action necessary to reduce both spending and — reduce spending in all ways, including through the tax code, in order to reduce our deficit, but allow us to continue to invest in those areas that will make American — the American economy the dominant economy in the 21st century as it was in the 20th.

Analysis of the word “invest” — to the progressive, that means government spending on programs that they deem important, and which tend to benefit their constituencies and corporate cronies — has been widespread, so I’m not going to focus on that particular euphemistic turn.

Instead, let’s take a look at this idea that in order to cut deficits, the government wants to reduce “spending” “through the tax code” — a clear indication that, from the perspective of the government, money that they don’t yet collect in taxes from you and your labor is the equivalent of government spending; meaning that all money belongs first to the government, and then is meted out to you in ways that the government sees fit, based on what they believe is “fair,” and based on who they believe “deserves” it.

In other words, it is entirely alien to the founding ideals.

This is the “transformation” Obama promised — the Hope and Change on offer from a Good Man who, by force of executive order and imperial overreach, is working to turn each and every one of us into clients of a massive centralized government managed by endless bureaucratic rules and regulations whose reach covers everything from puddles to dust to human exhalation to light bulbs to toilets to mandating what we purchase (and, as a result, mandating all sort of other things in the future, from what we need eat to maintain our “free” health care to where unions demand we open our businesses to the “social justice” agenda of the left that requires banks to “lend” money to those who can’t pay that money back as a condition of doing business).

We live in a soft tyranny. And the current governmental tack is, in a very strict sense, anti-American: property and liberty aren’t natural rights, but rather proceed from government, with Obama its current King.



Another move to hobble dissent

I.R.S. Moves to Tax Gifts to Groups Active in Politics -- Koch Bros., anyone?

Big donors like David H. Koch and George Soros could owe taxes on their millions of dollars in contributions to nonprofit advocacy groups that are playing an increasing role in American politics.

Invoking a provision that had rarely, if ever, been enforced, the Internal Revenue Service said it had sent letters to five donors, who were not identified, informing them that their contributions may be subject to gift taxes depending on whether the donations exceeded limits under the tax laws.

These advocacy groups have been drawing more scrutiny, from President Obama as well as others, as they have proliferated and funneled vast sums of money in support of campaigns and causes, without having to publicly disclose their donors.

During the midterm cycle, for example, groups like Crossroads GPS, which has ties to the Republican strategist Karl Rove, and Americans for Prosperity, backed by Mr. Koch and his brother Charles, were heavily involved in politicking, spurring campaign finance watchdogs to complain that they were flouting election and nonprofit laws.

Spokesmen for the Koch brothers and for Mr. Soros would not comment as to whether they had paid gift taxes on these types of donations, or whether they had received letters from the I.R.S.

These organizations were established as nonprofit corporations under a section of the tax law, 501(c)(4), and the rules governing them say their primary purpose cannot be political.

The timing of the agency’s moves, as the 2012 election cycle gets under way, is prompting some tax law and campaign finance experts to question whether the I.R.S. could be sending a signal in an effort to curtail big donations.

“There are a whole heck of a lot of people misusing (c)(4) groups as a means of getting around campaign finance regulations, and we lack a coherent system of laws to deal with that,” said Donald B. Tobin, a legal expert on campaign finance and tax laws at the Moritz College of Law at Ohio State University. “Now here’s a stick, frankly, that says there are consequences for doing that.”

In a statement released Thursday, Michelle L. Eldridge, a spokeswoman for the I.R.S., said that the inquiries were initiated by agency employees, not White House or other Obama administration officials, “as part of their increased efforts in the area of no filing of gift and estate tax returns.”

The letters informed donors that investigations had been opened to determine why a gift tax form had not been filed, and requested that donors submit records of all donations in the year 2008, according to a redacted copy obtained by The New York Times.

While tax lawyers who learned of the investigations have been issuing warnings to clients of potential trouble on a broader scale, the I.R.S. statement denied casting a wider net, “These examinations are not part of a broader effort looking at donations to 501(c)(4)’s.”

The White House would not comment. Some members of Congress have been asking the I.R.S. to investigate the tax-exempt status of these groups, too, although lawmakers have also cautioned that since the Nixon years, the agency has been strictly prohibited from what could be considered politically motivated inquiries.

Still, experts are sensing that the message being sent may deter large donations to these groups, at a time when big corporate, union and like-minded political contributions are expected to flood the election cycle through the barriers lifted by last year’s Supreme Court ruling in the Citizens United case.

Both major political parties and candidates have benefited from these types of organizations, but the Republican groups grew in force and size after the 2008 election, partly in recognition of Mr. Obama’s proficiency at fund-raising. For example, Mr. Rove’s group, one of the best known from the 2010 midterm cycle, raised $70 million. Americans for Prosperity, a libertarian group that is opposed to many of President Obama’s policies, has been generously financed by David Koch....

In the meantime, Marcus S. Owens, a lawyer who represents nonprofits and who formerly headed the I.R.S. division that oversees tax-exempt organizations, predicted that the tax agency’s moves would be watched warily by contributors. “The lack of clarity and the potential for not-insignificant taxation on these gifts will cause many of the biggest donors to think twice,” he warned.



Democrats' Spending and Power Addictions Prevent Debt Solutions

The Washington Examiner reports that it's been 768 days since the Democratic-controlled Senate passed a budget. What's the big deal? It's not like the nation is facing financial difficulties or anything.

I realize it's convenient for President Obama to pretend he's a bystander on fiscal matters when it suits him and to pass the buck that never stops with him back to Congress, but how about a little leadership on the issue for a change?

The Republican-controlled House has done its part, but Obama and Senate Democrats continue to dither. The only time you see much activity out of them is when Republicans force the issue, such as with Congressman Paul Ryan's plan to balance the budget through a combination of discretionary spending controls, structural entitlement reforms and a major tax overhaul. Otherwise, it's as if they're either oblivious to the nation's looming bankruptcy or cynically unconcerned.

The Examiner reveals that Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad spent a full day explaining a proposal to the Democratic caucus but nothing emerged because too many of Conrad's comrades "hate it." Guess why.

Wrong. It's not because it doesn't go far enough with spending cuts and doesn't include serious entitlement reform. It's because it cuts too much spending and doesn't raise taxes enough.

So let me get this straight. Due to reckless entitlement promises, profligate non-defense discretionary spending, and repressive government taxes and regulations, we are headed toward Grecian-style bankruptcy, European-style socialism and a permanently growth-stunted economy with soaring unemployment, and the Democrats' solution is to give us more of the same?

Aren't you tired of these career politicians on the left side of the aisle moralizing about the greed of the "wealthy" when these same politicians habitually buy votes with borrowed dollars? Who are they to lecture those who actually produce and contribute to the economy?

As Milton Friedman once asked, why aren't these politicians considered greedy? At least the wealthy spend their own money -- and add to the general revenues through the substantial taxes imposed on them. These finger-wagging liberal politicians, on the other hand, spend way more money than most so-called wealthy people do, directly benefit from these expenditures of other peoples' money and, worst of all, are bankrupting the country.

Then, instead of coming to the table to work on solving the indescribable mess they've created for our children, our grandchildren and us, they fire back even harder -- with more class-warfare ammunition. But this time it's in the form of scaring seniors about losing their Medicare, even though existing seniors won't lose their benefits under the Ryan plan and even though without reform no one will receive benefits anyway, because the programs will be insolvent, as will the nation.

A recent Wall Street Journal editorial opined that the "odds of resolving this (budget) debate are undercut by the fact that the two parties can't even agree on what's causing deficit woes in the first place." Republicans blame it on non-discretionary and entitlement spending. Obama blames it on two wars, the prescription drug benefit program and "tax cuts for the wealthy."

But Democrats know better than to blame our impending national bankruptcy on wars that Obama has continued, prescription drugs that actually came in under budget (and in any event would have been much worse under any of the alternative Democratic proposals) and tax cuts that have not significantly reduced revenues.

On the tax issue, Obama fraudulently claims that continuation of the Bush cuts for the "wealthy" will cost $500 billion in lost revenues per year. In fact, they would cost only $70 billion per year -- and that's assuming a static economy. Perhaps in a static economy, continuation of the Bush cuts for all tax brackets would cost $500 billion in revenues per year. But wait. Obama favors continuing the cuts for all but the top bracket, which means the disputed cuts -- worst-case scenario -- would only cost $70 billion per year. Once again, Obama is distorting the numbers to demonize his opponents, confuse the issue and camouflage his own position.

Spending is the problem, not the solution. The solution is to rein in non-defense discretionary and entitlement spending and to reform the tax code. But there happens to be a nearly insuperable obstacle that is interfering with this: the Democrats' ideological addiction to spending and their corrupt dependency on spending as a ticket to remaining in power.

Until Democrats lose control of the Senate and the presidency, reform is but a fantasy. Our work is cut out for us.



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, May 13, 2011

Evangelicals are not a part of the Republican coalition—they ARE the coalition

This aligns with some research I did in Australia in the early '80s. I found that stance on religious/moral questions was a very strong predictors of other conservative attitudes

Since the Reagan era, Republicans have described their political coalition as a “three-legged stool.” Fiscal conservatives, national security conservatives, and social conservatives together hold up the fortunes of the party. This rhetorical stool is often used like a prop in pro-wrestling: to bludgeon recalcitrant office-seekers into submission.

But the metaphor is also supposed to signify a division of labor: Fiscal conservatism is the purview of the Republican business class or libertarians, national security is handled by neoconservatives, and somewhere out in the hinterlands the religious right will hand out pamphlets about abortion and knock on doors come election time.

This picture is a lie. In their activist fervor, their enthusiasm for the ideas, and their electoral clout, religious conservatives are the base of all three legs. White evangelical Protestants make up almost third of the total electorate, and four out of five of them vote Republican. The religious right is more convinced of American righteousness in the exercise of its military might than the neoconservatives are, and more invested than Wall Street in lower taxes.

The Tea Party, confusedly hailed by the media as a grassroots libertarian spasm, turns out on inspection to be the religious right wearing a tricorn hat and talking about Obamacare. Neoconservatives who call for confrontation with Iran, a closer relationship with Israel, and pressing the War on Terror are not echoed by religious conservatives—they’re drowned out by them. In economics and military matters, no less than in social issues, conservative evangelicals are more Republican than Republicans.

“I’m all three,” says Richard Land, the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, political arm of the Southern Baptist Convention. “I’ve always believed in low taxes and a strong national defense.” Similarly, Jordan Sekulow, deputy director of governmental affairs at the American Center for Law and Justice, a Christian legal group, notes that for the evangelical right conservatism is a seamless garment.

“I grew up in this movement,” says Sekulow, “you can go through the old tapes of the Moral Majority. You’re not going to find anyone calling for higher taxes and a bigger federal government.” .....

The media story of Republican triumph in 2004 was the story of the Values Voter, who turned out to reject same-sex marriage in 11 states and along the way re-elected President Bush. White evangelicals were the largest demographic group in Bush’s camp, delivering over a third of his votes. The media story of the GOP’s 2010 midterm victory was the story of the Tea Partier, who took to the ballot box against government expansion into healthcare, bank bailouts, and reckless spending. The Tea Party was heralded as a new, transformative force. Yet these two columns of voters hail from the same evangelical regiment.

While Tea Party organizations do appeal to a certain kind of independent, The American Prospect’s Michelle Goldberg notes some unmistakable similarities between the religious right and the new revolutionaries: “Both have their strongholds in the white South, and both arise out of a sense of furious dispossession, a conviction that the country that is rightfully theirs has been usurped by sinister cosmopolitan elites. They have the same favorite politicians—particularly [Sarah] Palin and Rep. Michele Bachmann.” Bachmann and Sen. Jim DeMint, long favorites of Christian conservatives, now lead the Tea Party Caucus in Congress.....

Evangelicals bolted the Democratic Party in the ’70s and joined the Reagan coalition in the ’80s. By 1992, when Pat Robertson gave his speech to the Republican convention in Houston, GOP opposition to abortion and the mainstreaming of homosexuality was so solid he dedicated just 160 words to those subjects. He devoted 660 words—40 percent of his speech—to taxes, government spending, and the welfare state. He opened with a thunderous encomium to the GOP: “It was Ronald Reagan, George Bush, and Republican policies which brought communism to its knees.”

Evangelicals’ disgust with the counterculture of the ’70s, their confrontational stance toward communism, and their eventual adoption of the GOP parallel exactly the ideological odyssey of the neoconservatives. And the religious right today outpaces those intellectuals in their commitment to seeing American power employed abroad in spreading democracy and human rights.

Evangelical leaders were as outspoken as anyone in their defense of the Iraq War. In 2004, Jerry Falwell deemed the military invasion and occupation sound for reasons biblical and humanitarian, quoting St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians: “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Robertson told viewers of his Christian Broadcasting Network, “We’re on solid ground [in Iraq], not only in terms of Christian, biblical concepts, but also in terms of public relations.” Even after the public had soured on the conflict, former head of the Christian Coalition Ralph Reed, asked to recant, said, “I supported the war then, I support it now.” ....

Conservative Christians don’t need to be told by anyone that America ought to stand by Israel. Evangelicals with a Dispensational theology already “speak out for Zion’s sake” (Isaiah 62:1). Hagee’s group, Christians United For Israel, is more passionately Zionist than any American neoconservative because its mandate, so its members believe, comes from Scripture, not an interpretation of political necessity or cultural affinity. Every year, CUFI draws one of the largest conservative Christian crowds to Washington, D.C. Hagee can pack a convention center when neoconservative foreign-policy confabs barely fill a presentation room at the American Enterprise Institute.....

The overwhelming fact of evangelical engagement remains their unbridled enthusiasm for Republican policies. In 2006, at the absolute depths of Republican mismanagement of foreign policy and just two years after Bush had ditched social issues for Social Security reform, 59 percent of Republican or Republican-leaning evangelicals told the Pew Forum that the GOP was “doing either an excellent or good job” at standing up for its traditional positions. In the November 2010 elections, when social issues had supposedly taken a backseat to Obamacare, 78 percent of white evangelicals pulled the lever for Republicans, according to a post-election survey Public Opinion Strategies conducted for Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition.

For all the ideological examination that neoconservatives and the Tea Party have received, neither would have the clout to add a jot or tittle to America’s policy debates without the manpower, enthusiasm, and the leadership of the religious right. Christian conservatives haven’t abandoned their social issues—they’ve enfolded foreign and fiscal policy into their ongoing culture war. Their worldview has as much to say about war, healthcare reform, and tax rates as it does about unborn children and homeschooling. And everyone is listening now.



That good ol' Leftist civility again

Fact-Challenged Ed Schultz

As much as liberals complain about conservative "misinformation" and incivility, they never seem to find it on channels like MSNBC, and we know there are small bands of liberals that wander over there.

While many were watching the first GOP presidential debate on May 5, Ed Schultz invited on left-wing bomb-thrower (and 2010 congressional-seat loser) Alan Grayson to heap mud on George W. Bush. Schultz asked if Bush failed to accept Obama's invitation to ground zero out of personal pique. Grayson replied through a smirk, "I suspect that President Bush might've been passed-out drunk the last three or four days, so I'm not sure he made any conscious decision at all."

Schultz found that acceptable. "Great to have you with us tonight," he said to Grayson at interview's end. "Thank you for your take." That wasn't a "take." It was a typical smear.

That same shameless disregard for the truth really shook the crowd at the 2011 Media Research Center Gala on May 7. Special Ed -- as radio talker Chris Plante calls him -- overwhelmingly won on the applause meter for the (worst) "Quote of the Year," which actually covered two years. On Sept. 23, 2009, Schultz yelled this ridiculous, foam-flecked rant on MSNBC about critics of ObamaCare.

"The Republicans lie! They want to see you dead! They'd rather make money off your dead corpse! They kind of like it when that woman has cancer and they don't have anything for her." He wasn't joking. He was serious.

Poor Special Ed. It fell on Ann Coulter to point out -- with glee -- the redundancy of Schultz saying "dead corpse." But where on the spectrum of "fact" and "misinformation" do you place the idea that conservatives want Americans dead and deeply enjoy denying health care to cancer patients?

And who, exactly, is Schultz to pose as the one who most definitely does NOT take glee in others' medical misfortune? This is the same hack who said on Feb. 24, 2010 that "You're damn right, Dick Cheney's heart's a political football! We ought to rip it out and kick it around and stuff it back in him! I'm glad he didn't tip over. He is the new poster child for health care in this country."

On June 16, 2009, Joe Scarborough asked Schultz if he felt Cheney hoped Americans would die in a terrorist attack so it would benefit Republicans. "Absolutely, absolutely," said Schultz. "I think Dick Cheney is all about seeing this country go conservative on a hard-right wing and I think he'll do anything to get it there." A month earlier, he begged for Cheney to die. "Lord, take him to the promised land."

Lack of civility is one thing. Lack of honesty is another.

Schultz routinely uncorks sentences that seem to have recklessly rocketed off the planet of Fact. Here's a funny one from days ago, on April 27: "I see that Sean Hannity is now on a regular basis losing to Rachel Maddow. Hmm, interesting. Must be that liberal media that just doesn't connect with people." In reality, Hannity routinely doubles Maddow's audience, just as Greta Van Susteren has double the viewers of Ed Schultz now that he's at 10 p.m. That Schultz, he "connects with people."

Here's another jaw-dropper from Special Ed. On his radio show on Oct. 22, 2010, he announced, "I call NPR National Pentagon Radio. They're no more left wing than Fox News as far as I'm concerned. Look at the commentators they have on there, right? They're all right-wing commentators. I couldn't get in the door of NPR."

NPR is "no more left-wing than Fox News"? Once the laughter subsides, we could ask Schultz if that were within two time zones of the truth, would we really see Barbara Boxer and Ed Markey desperately campaigning with Arthur the Aardvark to keep NPR and PBS funding alive?

Schultz mangles facts like McDonald's grinds hamburger. Within a few days in April, Schultz bizarrely insisted that the Bush tax cuts depressed federal revenues so severely that "Even seven years later, revenues were lower than before the Bush tax cuts went into effect." (Wrong: They were 27 percent higher.)

Then he also claimed the congressional Democrats held spending in check during the Clinton presidency (wrong again: Republicans were in charge). Then he argued it's not illegal for teachers to strike in Michigan (wrong yet again).

MSNBC flacks try to sell Rachel Maddow as the straight-A student who spends hours before each show during her homework. (That fits, if the class for all that effort was 20th Century Socialist Philosophers.) Nobody could sell Ed Schultz as a man who's factually fastidious. "Going on air" for Schultz isn't a phrase about broadcasting. It's about the solidity of his evidence.



Romneycare proves a failure

By Michael Graham

Which wait time will be longer: The wait to finally see a doctor under Romneycare or waiting for Mitt Romney to admit his plan is a failure? As governor, Romney sold his big-government health care scheme as a way to clear the crowds jamming our emergency rooms while increasing access to health care for all.

Instead, as Christine McConville reported in the Herald yesterday, a new report by the Massachusetts Medical Society finds that “more than half of the state’s primary care practices are closed to new patients, while the practices that are still accepting patients have increasingly longer wait times.”

I’m one of those statistics. Earlier this year I had to find a new doctor in the Boston suburbs. The first three offices were taking no new patients. The fourth would take me, but I had to wait two months to actually see the doctor. Fortunately I’m healthy and hate going to the doctor, anyway. An extra eight weeks without a prostate exam was absolutely fine with me.

In the end (no pun intended) it all worked out, because I’ve got great insurance and she’s a great doctor. And my wait wasn’t much longer than the average reported wait time in Massachusetts of 48 days.

Generally speaking — and it varies based on the kind of doctor — our wait times are about twice as high as the rest of the U.S., and the problem has gotten worse under Romneycare. “Massachusetts is learning a basic lesson in economics,” Peter Suderman of Reason magazine told me yesterday. “More coverage does not equal more care.” Suderman, who has been covering Romneycare for years, says nobody familiar with simple economics should be surprised at the results.

Take the new survey of emergency room physicians finding more ER patients than last year — part of an ongoing trend here of higher emergency room use. In theory all these newly-covered patients would be sitting in their primary-care doctor’s office, getting less expensive treatment.

But Romneycare drastically expanded the number of patients on Medicaid and subsidized plans. “These patients go to emergency rooms more than any others, including people with private insurance and even no insurance,” Suderman said. And even if they wanted to go to a doctor’s office — they can’t. The wait times are too long. “It’s a pricing problem,” Suderman says. “If you guarantee everyone coverage and you don’t let the market differentiate between patients, then you end up paying for care with your time.”

Actually we’re paying with our time and money. Why did we do all this again? To get more people insured. Here where we already had one of the smallest uninsured populations in the country.

In politics there are missteps, mistakes, and unmitigated disasters. Romneycare falls solidly in the latter category. Longer lines, higher premiums, more state spending and fewer seats in the local emergency room — is there any upside?

A true leader would admit his mistake, build on what he learned from it and move forward. Romney, with more flip flops on his record than a beachfront sandal shop, can’t afford another one.




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)

**************************** problems

Various strange things have been happening with in the last 12 hours -- with some quite lengthy service outages. If it keeps up I may not be able to update some or all of my blogs in the next 24 hours. I will however be keeping my mirror sites up to date so you may want to try going to them. See here or here

I suspect that have been introducing some improvements changes to their system. That has in the past been behind a lot of their service interruptions

They even altered the username displayed on some of my blogs from my preferred "JR". On some of my blogs it is now "John". Weird!

And for security reasons I have two different accounts -- with half of my blogs attached to one account and the rest to the second account. I can normally switch from one account to the other with just a few keystrokes but at the moment I cannot switch at all. I have to log on with a different browser! Weirder and weirder. Someone at isn't as smart as he thinks.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Was it Obama who ordered the bin Laden raid?

One thing that is generally admitted about the bin Laden raid is that bin Laden's whereabouts were known for several months beforehand. So what led to the delay in acting? Clearly there was indecision about whether to act and how to act and much discussion of the various options.

What went on in those discussions and who was arguing against action? We may never know for certain but a "White House insider" says that Obama was so indecisive that the order to act was eventually given by CIA director Panetta without Obama's prior knowledge. Obama was brought in only after the operation was underway. I reproduce below the opening paragraphs of the story concerned. They are in the form of an interview with the "source" -- JR

Q: You stated that President Obama was “overruled” by military/intelligence officials regarding the decision to send in military specialists into the Osama Bin Laden compound. Was that accurate?

A: I was told – in these exact terms, “we overruled him.” (Obama) I have since followed up and received further details on exactly what that meant, as well as the specifics of how Leon Panetta worked around the president’s “persistent hesitation to act.” There appears NOT to have been an outright overruling of any specific position by President Obama, simply because there was no specific position from the president to do so. President Obama was, in this case, as in all others, working as an absentee president.

I was correct in stating there had been a push to invade the compound for several weeks if not months, primarily led by Leon Panetta, Hillary Clinton, Robert Gates, David Petraeus, and Jim Clapper. The primary opposition to this plan originated from Valerie Jarrett, and it was her opposition that was enough to create uncertainty within President Obama. Obama would meet with various components of the pro-invasion faction, almost always with Jarrett present, and then often fail to indicate his position.

This situation continued for some time, though the division between Jarrett/Obama and the rest intensified more recently, most notably from Hillary Clinton. She was livid over the president’s failure to act, and her office began a campaign of anonymous leaks to the media indicating such. As for Jarrett, her concern rested on two primary fronts. One, that the military action could fail and harm the president’s already weakened standing with both the American public and the world. Second, that the attack would be viewed as an act of aggression against Muslims, and further destabilize conditions in the Middle East.


It rings true to me. Note that in the famous picture from the operations room, Obama looks very much an outsider -- JR


Liberal "Patriotism" in their own words

It has been heartwarming to see a few liberals actually thumping their chests about America in the wake of Osama Bin Laden's death via old age and a bullet to the face (but mostly a bullet to the face.) It's just so nice to see our liberal brethren feeling, for a few brief moments at least, the sort of patriotism that conservatives feel all the time.

….Not that there aren't patriotic liberals. They certainly exist, much in the same manner that albino alligators exist. You see one every once in awhile in captivity, but if you ever run across one in the wild, you'll be genuinely surprised. Instead of patriotism, what we usually hear from liberals sounds a lot more like this.

1) When I see an American flag flying, it's a joke. -- Robert Altman

2) As you probably know, some American politicians and American journalists refer to Washington, DC as the “capital of the free world.” But it seems to me that this great city (Brussels), which boasts 1,000 years of history and which serves as the capital of Belgium, the home of the European Union, and the headquarters for NATO, this city has its own legitimate claim to that title. — Joe Biden

3) As to those in the World Trade Center… Let’s get a grip here, shall we? True enough, they were civilians of a sort. But innocent? Gimme a break. …If there was a better, more effective, or in fact any other way of visiting some penalty befitting their participation upon the little Eichmanns inhabiting the sterile sanctuary of the twin towers, I’d really be interested in hearing about it. — Ward Churchill

4) A friend of ours said if the same laws were applied to U.S. Presidents as were applied to the Nazis after WWII, that every single one of them, every last rich white one of them, from Truman on would be hung to death and shot. And this current administration is no exception. They should be hung and tried and shot as war criminals. -- Zack de la Rocha, Rage Against The Machine

5) I don't know if a country (America) where the people are so ignorant of reality and of history, if you can call that a free world. -- Jane Fonda

6) Let's get rid of all the economic (expletive) this country represents! Bring it on, I hope the Muslims win! -- Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders

7) Patriotism threatens free speech with death. It is infuriated by thoughtful hesitation, constructive criticism of our leaders and pleas for peace. It despises people of foreign birth. It has specifically blamed homosexuals, feminists and the American Civil Liberties Union. In other words, the American flag stands for intimidation, censorship, violence, bigotry, sexism, homophobia and shoving the Constitution through a paper shredder. Whom are we calling terrorists here? -- Barbara Kingsolver, novelist, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

8) America has an almost obscene infatuation with itself. Has there ever been a big, powerful country that is as patriotic as America? And patriotic in the tinniest way, with so much flag waving? You'd really think we were some poor little republic, and that if one person lost his religion for one hour, the whole thing would crumble. America is the real religion in this country. -- Norman Mailer

9) The entire country may disagree with me, but I don't understand the necessity for patriotism. Why do you have to be a patriot? About what? This land is our land? Why? You can like where you live and like your life, but as for loving the whole country? I don't see why people care about patriotism. -- Natalie Maines

10) Of course, Mr. Hannity was outraged that any American would not cross her hand over her heart and repeat the hypocritical words, one nation. Whenever we come up on the Fourth of You Lie, I think of Frederick Douglas and his masterful oration, The meaning of the Fourth of July to the Negro. Pledge the flag? I think not! -- Julianne Malveaux

11) (T)he dumbest Brit here is smarter than the smartest American. -- Michael Moore At London's Roundhouse Theater

12) You know, the truth is that right after 9/11, I had a (flag) pin. Shortly after 9/11, particularly because as we're talking about the Iraq war, that became a substitute for, I think, true patriotism, which is speaking out on issues that are of importance to our national security, I decided I won't wear that pin on my chest... -- Barack Obama

13) For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country. And not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change. And I have been desperate to see our country moving in that direction. -- Michelle Obama

14) My daughter, who goes to Stuyvesant High School only blocks from the World Trade Center, thinks we should fly an American flag out our window. Definitely not, I say: The flag stands for jingoism and vengeance and war. -- Katha Pollitt, The Nation

15) The President wants to talk about a terrorist named bin Laden. I don’t want to talk about bin Laden. I want to talk about a terrorist called Christopher Columbus. I want to talk about a terrorist called George Washington. I want to talk about a terrorist called Rudy Giuliani. The real terrorists have always been the United Snakes of America. — Malik Zulu Shabazz

16) While the rest of the country waves the flag of Americana, we understand we are not part of that. We don't owe America anything - America owes us. -- Al Sharpton at the "State of the Black World Conference" in Atlanta

17) America has been killing people on this continent since it was started. This country is not worth dying for... -- Cindy Sheehan

18) The Pentagon as a legitimate target? I actually don’t have an opinion on that and it’s important I not have an opinion on that as I sit here in my capacity right now. — David Westin, ABC News President

19) The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing “God Bless America.” No, no, no, God d*mn America, that's in the Bible for killing innocent people. God d*mn America for treating our citizens as less than human. God d*mn America for as long as she acts like she is God and she is supreme. -- Jeremiah Wright

20) In practice, US officials seem to know better than to indulge in the patriotic myth that our constitution is the greatest system of government ever devised. — Matthew Yglesias

SOURCE (See the original for links)


The new boogeymen of the American Left

Is the New York Times Reporting on Events or Participating in Them? A Letter to the Public Editor about the Koch brothers

Dear Mr. Brisbane:

I regret that I have to write you yet again. I am writing this time because the New York Times appears to have once again taken a gratuitous shot at Koch Industries and the Kochs, and I wanted to bring it to your attention.

A piece published on May 4, 2011, by Jim
Rutenberg, “Liberal Group’s Video Assails Koch Brothers,” raises the question again of whether the Times is observing and reporting on events or is it taking part in a concerted campaign? What follows are some specific concerns:

* The story is about the launch of a “video campaign” – yet at the time of its publication yesterday, the video had not even been made public, except by the Times itself.

* The “video” has no formal distribution platform other than its own obscure online site. In other words, it seems to be no different than countless other partisan advocacy clips that are posted on sites like YouTube every day. This leads me to ask how is this particular video newsworthy and why is the Times giving it a such a public forum?

* Mr. Rutenberg writes up top that “the [video] campaign marks another step toward conspicuousness for a family whose political activity was largely in the shadows until last year.” That is a puzzling claim. David Koch ran for Vice President on a national ticket more than 30 years ago, and both he and his brother have made public contributions to candidates and public affairs groups for years, all of which has been widely reported. In addition, the Kochs and the business they have built have been the subject of many media stories and profiles over the past decades.

I would be grateful if you could query editors on this and give some consideration to why the Times has been focusing this extreme level of attention to the Kochs and with such disregard for the paper’s own standards of accuracy and objectivity.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Mark V. Holden
Koch Industries, Inc.
Senior Vice President and General Counsel




The Presbyterian Church (USA) abandons the Bible: "The Presbyterian Church (USA) voted to approve the ordination of openly gay church leaders, becoming the fourth mainline denomination to do so. After a vote late yesterday, the protestant church decided to remove the requirement of its leaders to live "either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman" or in "chastity in singleness". The Presbyterian Church (USA), the largest Presbyterian denomination in the US with more than 2.3 million members, is separate from the more theologically conservative denomination known as the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), with nearly 350,000 members." [One guess that the PCA will be getting some new congregations]

Hayek on morality: "One way to discredit defenders of political and economic liberty is to allege that they do not take ethics or morality seriously, that they are indeed subjectivists or relativists. Most people are pretty sure that some human conduct is ethically wrong or right. They teach this to their children and hold to this idea as they judge their fellows, including politicians and international movers and shakers. So to suggest that someone like Hayek, who defends freedom of choice in the market place, is a moral relativist pretty much serves to dismiss his or her views. But it is a mistake."

Scofflaw gets life sentence: "A 35-year-old man from New Orleans was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison after he was convicted of possessing two pounds of marijuana with the intent to distribute, according to a report in The New Orleans Times-Picayune. It was the fourth marijuana conviction for Cornell Hood II, and likely his last as a free man. Louisiana allows life sentences to be handed down in cases where the accused has three prior convictions. In this case, the prosecutor used that provision to argue that Hood is a hardened, career criminal worthy of severe punishment."

The good funding the evil: "The feeling of obligation to pay 'taxes' seems to be little hampered by the fact that 'government' is notoriously wasteful and inefficient. While millions of 'taxpayers' struggle to make ends meet while paying their 'fair share' of 'taxes,' politicians waste millions on laughably silly projects — everything from studying cow farts, to building bridges to nowhere, to paying farmers to not grow certain crops, and so on, ad infinitum — and billions more are simply 'lost,' with no accounting of where they went. But much of what people make possible through payment of 'taxes' is not just wasted but is quite destructive to society."

Revisiting selfishness: "Because I am always eager to do well for myself -- have done this for as long as I can recall, starting with wanting to succeed in school, on the athletic field, in trying to be healthy and fit, and wanting to escape the brutal Soviets when I was only 14 -- I always pay attention to people who denigrate selfishness. After all, I and most people I know well or even just a bit seem to me to be like me, are concerned to do well for themselves. ... So then why are so many who speak up about how we ought to act make a special effort to denigrate self-interested conduct?"

Ron Paul: Less lonely these days: "The man who likely has done more than anyone to put the libertarian philosophy of freedom and small government on the political agenda probably will make another run for the presidency: U.S. Rep. Ron Paul. Paul is always upbeat, but lately he's had more reason to be, as he sees libertarian ideas bubbling up from the grass roots"


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, May 11, 2011

Obama's race to gloat

For a week people have been asking, "Why won't the president release Osama bin Laden's photo?" That's the wrong question. We should be asking, "Why was Barack Obama in such a hurry to tell us bin Laden was dead?"

The White House says the information in bin Laden's compound is the equivalent of a "small college library," potentially containing incalculably valuable and unique data on al-Qaeda operations, personnel and methods.

"It's going to be great even if only 10 percent of it is actionable," a government official told Politico's Mike Allen.

I'm no expert on such matters -- though I've talked to several about this -- but even a casual World War II buff can understand that the shelf life of actionable intelligence would be extended if we hadn't told the whole world, and al-Qaeda in particular, that we had it.

It's a bit like racing to the microphones to announce you've stolen the other team's playbook even before you've had a chance to use the information in the big game.

But that's exactly what President Obama did. He raced to spill the beans. The man couldn't even wait until morning. At just after 9:45 p.m., the White House communications director, Dan Pfeiffer, informed the media: "POTUS to address the nation tonight at 10:30 p.m. Eastern Time."

The announcement came less than three hours after Obama had been informed that there was a "high probability" bin Laden was dead and that the Navy SEAL helicopters had returned to Afghanistan.

In other words, it seems that the White House planned to crow as soon as possible. Why? Nobody I've talked to can think of a reason that doesn't have to do with politics or hubris.

Yes, killing Osama bin Laden is a big secret that would be hard to keep for long. Certainly Pakistan would grow agitated if we simply said nothing about the incursion, though sweating the Janus-faced Pakistanis with silence for a couple of days might yield its own intelligence rewards. In other words, even waiting 24 hours might generate some interesting "chatter." The Pakistanis working with al-Qaeda certainly would have been the first to spread the news that bin Laden was dead or captured.

But the real treasure trove is that "college library" of intelligence.

And while reports are pouring out from a gloating White House that's leaking like the Titanic in its final hours, one can only assume our analysts have barely begun to exploit the data.

Couldn't they have at least tried to give the CIA a week, a day, even a few more hours to look at it all before letting Ayman al-Zawahiri and the rest of al-Qaeda know about it? Why give him the slightest head start to go even further underground?



How Leftism Poisoned a Psychiatrist's Mind

If your sister were among the nearly 3,000 people murdered in the World Trade Center on 9/11, how would you react to Osama Bin Laden's death? More specifically, if you were to write an opinion piece on the subject for a major newspaper, what would you most want to communicate?

One would think that anyone who had lost a loved one on 9/11 would write about bin Laden's guilt, about evil and about experiencing some degree of moral and emotional satisfaction that the loved one's murderer had been killed by American forces. But not Robert Klitzman, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University. He had other, more pressing, things to say.

Two days after bin Laden was killed, Klitzman wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times reflecting on his sister Karen's death on 9/11. While acknowledging that bin Laden "more than anyone else had caused my sister's death" and noting that he is "glad" that bin Laden "was now at the bottom of the sea," Klitzman directed his rage and blame elsewhere.

The main focus of his passion was to blame the United States for arousing the hatred of Muslims (including those who murdered his sister) and for arousing the hatred of "the rest of the world" as well. Klitzman writes: "When the members of Al Qaeda attacked on 9/11, Americans wondered, 'Why do they hate us so much?' Many here believe they dislike us for our 'freedom,' but I think otherwise.

"There are lessons we have not yet learned. I feel Karen would share my concerns that underlying forces of greed and hate persevere. American imperialism, corporate avarice, abuses of our power abroad and our historical support of corrupt dictators like Hosni Mubarak have created an abhorrence of us that, unfortunately, persists. We need to recognize how the rest of the world sees us, and figure out how to change that. Until we do that, more Osama bin Ladens will arise, and more innocent people like my sister will die."

In the course of my lifetime, I have read surely many thousands of columns. And as I read those with which I differ as often as I do those with which I agree, many have annoyed, some even angered me.

But I do not recall reading a column that I considered as reprehensible as Klitzman's. What other word can describe a brother using the killing of his sister's murderer to badmouth America and hold it ultimately responsible for her death?

Asking what America did to elicit the hatred of Muslim terrorists is morally equivalent to asking what Jews did to arouse Nazi hatred, what blacks did to cause whites to lynch them, what Ukrainians did to arouse Stalin's hatred or what Tibetans did to incite China's hateful treatment of them.

We would dismiss such questions out of hand. Why, then, do we not similarly regard "What did America do to arouse Islamist mass-murdering hatred leading to 9/11?"

The answer is Leftist ideology. I suspect that Klitzman is a morally better man than his thesis suggests. But at some point, perhaps in college, he assimilated the leftist worldview with the dogmatic but meaningless phrases that appeared in his column: "underlying forces of greed and hate," "American imperialism," "corporate avarice" and "abuses of our power abroad."

Most people who hold left-wing views when they are young abandon those views as they get older and wiser. But for those who never abandon leftism, the dogma is so powerful, it functions as a fundamentalist -- secular -- religion. Just as the Orthodox Jew, the evangelical Christian and the traditionalist Catholic views the world through his respective religion's eyes, so the leftist views the world and everything in it through leftist eyes.

That is how a man whose profession is dedicated to the elimination of psychological pain through the study of the infinitely complex human mind and psyche can have such a simplistic and morally convoluted view of America that he uses his sister's murder as an occasion to reflect on the evil -- of America. One more example of how leftism makes decent people do indecent things.



Bin Laden killing echoes Israeli style

President Barack Obama delivers a statement in the East Room of the White House on the mission against Osama bin Laden, May 1, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Israel may have been forged 63 years ago this week in a crucible of conventional war, but it has faced a slew of enemies in the decades since who have tried to weaken, destroy or demoralize it by unconventional means. Hijackings, suicide bombers—before they played in Iraq or Europe , they opened in Israel.

So perhaps it’s not surprising that American killing of Osama bin Laden feels so… Israeli?

Think of the similarities: A daring commando raid on a terrorist stronghold (Entebbe 1976). An incursion in self-defense on foreign soil (Osirak 1986). A targeted killing, aka assasination, of a threatening militant leader (Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, 2004). Post-operational international condemnation (Gaza Flotilla, 2010; Jenin “Massacre,” et al). Long overdue payback for a national tragedy (see the movie “Munich”). The bold, daring and risky American operation had all the hallmarks of bold, daring Israeli operations—I half-expected President Obama to go on TV to announce its success in Hebrew.

The similarities are not a coincidence. After years of fighting conventional wars against conventional armies, the United States has adapted to the kind of enemies Israelis have long grown accustomed to: non-state actors driven by fanatical rage to kill as many innocents as possible.

In a word, terrorists. So the lessons Israel has learned in its struggle are the lessons Obama applied last week:

You don’t fight terrorists with armies: You don’t even fight them, as Obama wisely realized, with big, big bombs. You go in and take them down, one by one. You do this because the terrorists would prefer you use bombs and artillery against innocent populations to weed them out—the collateral damage only helps their cause. Bin Laden, like the leaders of Hamas, hid in the midst of a civilian population, effectively using women and children as human shields. By choosing a commando raid over a bombing run, Obama denied bin Laden a final act of terrorism.

You fight terrorists where they live, not where you live: Immediately after 9/11, the late Wlliam Safire wrote that the United States’ duty, at that dark hour, was to take the battle to them. Israel, a small country, long ago made that tactic a centerpiece of its defense strategy. Sometimes the tactic fails, as when Israel botched the assassination of a Hamas terrorist leader in Jordan and caused a diplomatic firestorm. And sometimes even success has a cost—remember the scandal that erupted after Israeli operatives forged foreign passports in order to snuff out Hamas military commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in his Dubai hotel room in January 2010. But the scandal faded, and al-Mabhouh is still dead. Obama can take heart from the Israelis that despite the post-action outrage, it’s worth it.

You fight terrorists in ways they least expect: After they learned that Gaza-based terrorists shooting rockets into Southern Israel were hiding behind booby-trapped doors, the Israelis developed an urban warfare technique that involved entering rooms by blasting through adjoining walls. Surprise! After six years in his villa, Osama probably began to feel that the 10-foot walls and windowless rooms of his compound were impregnable, and the fact that he lived under the umbrella of Pakistani airspace made him untouchable. The last thing he expected to see was an American soldier in his bedroom. As it turns out, that was the last thing he saw.

You don’t capture terrorist leaders, you kill them: Israel started this policy in earnest following the Second Intifada in 2000, when Israel faced terror from non-state actors on an unprecedented scale. Terrorists groups don’t use conventional targets, but they do have leaders who provide either inspiration or operational knowhow, or both.

“Those who say that these operations don’t have an impact are mistaken,” Major General Yoav Galant, the former head of the IDF’s Southern Command, told The Jerusalem Post. “The liquidation of terror leaders prevents terror attacks and influences the organizations.”

While Israel’s human rights groups have raised some objections, ancient Jewish sources provide some common-sense justification: “He who comes to kill you, arise earlier and kill him,” the Talmud teaches. America doesn’t need to apologize for shooting an unarmed Osama. He shot first.

It’s not surprising, then, that two countries engaged in a fight against religious fanatics would use the same methods with the same justifications. In the final analysis, the greatest struggles humanity faces are not among nations, peoples or religions, but between the fanatic and the tolerant. Those two types cross all borders and religions.

The struggle to contain and thwart fanaticism must be a shared burden, as victory against it benefits not just one country, but all mankind. For 63 years, Israel has been at the front lines of that battle.




Gingrich gears up for pointless campaign: "With strong name recognition from his stint as Speaker of the House in the ‘90s, news organizations tend to group Gingrich among the leading contenders. But polls consistently show him trailing other top-tier candidates (Donald Trump averages more than twice Gingrich’s support) and only outperforms newcomers like Michele Bachmann or Mitch Daniels by a few percentage points. Voters may recognize Gingrich's face, but they generally don't like what they see."

American Flight 1561: Man shouted “Allah Akbar” as he rammed cockpit door: "A Yemeni man arrested on a San Francisco-bound plane repeatedly shouted 'Allah Akbar' as he tried to break into the cockpit, a court heard yesterday, as he made an initial appearance. Rageh Ahmed Mohammed Al-Murisi appeared sullen as a federal judge told the California resident he was charged with interfering with a flight crew, a felony that can carry up to 20 years in prison."

Baby receives pat-down at Kansas City airport: "A photo posted on Twitter of a baby receiving a pat-down at Kansas City International Airport is the latest in a number of recent highly publicized incidents of airport security screenings involving young children. The photo taken by Kansas City pastor Jacob Jester on Saturday and posted on Twitter has been viewed nearly 300,000 times."

US population center shifts southwesterly: "The Census Bureau announced yesterday that, based on the 2010 Census, the mean center of population for the country is 2.9 miles east [of] Plato, Mo., an Ozarks village with a population of 109. The center of population is determined as the place where an imaginary, flat and weightless map of the United States would balance perfectly if all 308,745,538 counted residents were of identical weight. Since 1790, the center has moved west, with a more pronounced southerly pattern in the past few decades."

FBI vehicle tracker gets teardown treatment: "Hardware teardown site iFixit recently got its hands on an FBI vehicle location tracker and managed to break it into pieces before the G-Men turned up to take it back. The iFixit teardown, published Monday in conjunction with Wired's Threat Level blog, reveals a simple GPS and transponder signaling unit that the U.S. government is now legally [sic] allowed to use to track citizens — without a warrant."

Wasting time on oil company taxes: "The precise point at which a tax deduction becomes a 'loophole’ or a tax incentive becomes a 'subsidy for special interests’ is one of the great mysteries of politics. Perhaps it is best defined in terms Justice Potter Stewart reserved for pornography, 'I know it when I see it.' Judging by some of the rhetoric, any provision related to the oil industry crossed the line long, long ago. The only problem is that on careful inspection, some of these 'special interest' tax breaks just don’t look very special."


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, May 10, 2011

Nihilist Left brings progressives into disrepute

Comment from an Australian Leftist who still believes in something

LAST week the world learned of the death of a misogynistic, homophobic, racist mass murderer who supported a theocratic, neo-fascist ideology posing as a liberation movement. In Washington and at New York's September 11 Ground Zero, spontaneous crowds cheered in the streets upon the announcement of Osama bin Laden's long-overdue demise.

Most of the world's population, Muslim and non-Muslim, greeted the news in a more sober fashion. But the overwhelming majority must surely have agreed with the man who authorised bin Laden's death, US President Barack Obama: justice had been done.

To be sure, bin Laden was opposed to every tenet of modern progressive politics; secular democracy, representative government, a hatred of feudal or class-based inequity, equality of the sexes, anti-racism and the core values of the Enlightenment itself.

No self-respecting social democrat mourned his death. And yet, had one's daily reading habits been confined to sections of so-called "progressive" opinion, bin Laden's death was a matter of profound regret. The extra-judicial killing was a denial of due process, celebrity lawyer Geoffrey Robertson protested, oblivious to the impossibility of capturing or trying bin Laden. "[It's] hard to celebrate one more corpse," opined Jeff Sparrow, a devotee of the violent Bolshevik thug, Leon Trotsky, on ABC's The Drum. Not to be outdone, Crikey's Hunter S Thompson-wannabe, Guy Rundle, downplayed bin Laden's crimes claiming that: "Morally speaking, 9/11 was no worse than a B-52 run over Vietnam."

You don't have to believe that American engagement in Indochina during the 1960s and 70s was foolhardy or that the 2003 invasion of Iraq was likewise ill-judged, as the present writer does, to find Rundle's commentary nonsensical. Then again this is a man who has penned such thoughtful treatises as "Zionists and Nazis Connected. Discuss."

Perhaps the most disturbing local contribution came from another Drum regular, anti-Israel activist Antony Loewenstein, who announced that "the West has much to learn". Bin Laden's "[terrorist] tactics were abhorrent and failed to attract huge numbers of followers" Loewenstein surmised, nonetheless the West's subjugation of Muslims meant that the "arguments for his organisation's force have only strengthened since 9/11".

In other words, Osama was a nasty piece of work but fighting the good fight against imperialist crusaders. (Never mind that the majority of al-Qa'ida's victims have been Muslim.) Loewenstein concluded by offering a paean of praise: "Bin Laden died a man who profoundly changed the landscape of the world."

Well, yes, he certainly changed Lower Manhattan's landscape.

If any further evidence were required to show that a segment of the 21st century Western Left has completely lost the plot and plumbed the deepest, darkest depths of moral nihilism and cultural relativism, the contributions of these so-called "progressive" thinkers is conclusive proof. As British academic-cum-blogger Norman Geras put it this week: "In the demise of a reactionary murdering theocrat they are unable to see and plainly articulate the sense of anything good".

As has been well-documented, social democratic parties are in serious decline across the West.

In part, their woes are the perverse result, as the late Tony Judt put it, of their success in conquering mass poverty and material deprivation, and other epic 20th century struggles against inequality and discrimination.

Indeed, the survival of liberal democracy in the face of the twin totalitarian threats of fascism and communism owed much to the efforts of social democrats.

Today, however, noisy elements on the far Left - think Noam Chomsky, John Pilger and our local scribblers - seem to believe that Western-style democracy is in fact the real enemy.

With monotonous regularity they excuse bin Laden and his fellow Jihadis' death-cult or rationalise Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's vile anti-Semitism, instead preferring to blame the US and Israel for all the woes of the world, including partial responsibility for the September 11 atrocities.

There are of course brave souls on the Left who have challenged the ostensible status quo. One thinks here of Geras and his fellow Euston Manifesto signatories. Recently a local player emerged to put a similar case.

In his maiden speech to NSW parliament last year Labor MLC Luke Foley, from the party's Left, argued that social democrats must confront the newest "totalitarian movement of the far Right" just as they successfully opposed fascism. "This global Islamist movement is misogynist, racist and homophobic [and] based on an utter perversion of the Islamic faith.

"Too many progressives are silent about this," Foley insisted, "or worse, deny this."

It is hard to disagree with the crux of Foley's argument. And yet if I must quibble with his analysis and that of Geras et al, it is their designation of the apologists for radical Islam, as "Left", an association that is arguably harming the electoral viability of centre-left parties across the globe. For they are no such thing.

It is high time these values-free misfits received a new appellation.

Practically speaking, they oppose mainstream Left thinking on virtually every subject. Amazingly they can see no tangible difference between a theocracy and a democracy nor denounce Islamic fundamentalism in unequivocal terms. To my mind, they should be known for what they are: nihilists.

So let them rail against liberal democracy and chant: "We are all Hezbollah" from the rooftops but do not besmirch the good name of others by deeming themselves Left. No, let them stand with like-minded nihilists, Jew-haters and other enemies of social democracy, including a recently deceased jihadist unlikely to be enjoying a judenrein paradise of virgins. On behalf of the sane Left, good riddance to the lot of them.



Only nationalism can justify a welfare state

The standard consequentialist argument in favour of the welfare state essentially says that the harm caused to rich people by taxation is outweighed by the benefit to poor people from government services. That’s probably wrong, but for the sake of argument let’s say it’s not and concede the idea that governments should redistribute resources. The question that redistributionists have failed to answer satisfyingly is, to whom should the resources be distributed?

The redistributionist argument may seem defensible if we look at one country alone – taking from the rich in Britain to give to the poor in Britain sounds good to a lot of people. But why do we only look at the poor in Britain? Compared to, say, the poor in Peru, they don’t seem to be so badly-off. The redistributionist logic would imply that money should be given to the worst-off, wherever they are. So, why give money to the poor in Britain rather than the very poor in Peru?

A redistributionist might say that a government’s job is to look after its own citizens. That argument, frequently made, has no real ethical basis. Unless the redistributionist believes that the value of, say, a Mancunian’s welfare is of greater importance than a Peruvian’s welfare, there is no outcomes-based argument for favouring the Mancunian over the Peruvian. Taking the redistributionist premise that governments can improve outcomes by taking from the rich and giving to the poor, the only moral argument for spending tax money in Manchester rather than relatively-poorer Peru is based on implicit nationalism. How many redistributionists would admit to that? Yet it is the only logical justification for preferring a big welfare state in Britain to a lot of money being spent around the world.

Some would say that it would be politically impossible to implement this kind of redistributionism. Yes, it would, but that isn’t a convincing argument. Even the argument that overseas spending delivers less bang for the buck than domestic spending is highly dubious, and returns to the question of why redistribution supposedly works inside a country’s borders and not outside them.

This is a fundamental flaw in the redistributionist manifesto. The only intellectual justification for favouring people in Britain over people in Peru for government spending would be that British people are more deserving. This is implied by arguments for a welfare state. The libertarian alternative, on the other hand, doesn’t suffer from this implicit nationalism. The outcomes we argue for treat people as equals: Free markets benefit everybody, wherever they are. I’ll choose that kind of egalitarianism over the narrowly nationalistic redistributionist egalitarianism any day.



Funny money on the loose worldwide now

We humans are a slow-learning species. In the 1980s we blew up what was then the world's second-biggest economy, Japan, with loose money. In the 2000s, we blew up the biggest economy, the US, with loose money.

Not content with that, in 2008 we went on to blow up the economy of most of the world. How? With loose money. Any intelligent species would learn from this experience. But look around.

The economies that account for 96 per cent of the world economy are today running loose money policies. Most are happily handing out free money. Some are supplying money at rates so low that it's actually cheaper than free.

It's done for good cause. When money is cheap, people are more inclined to invest or spend. So it aids economic recovery. The former chief of the US Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan, was named as Time magazine's person of the year in 1999 for his ready resort to loose money.

But if there is too much for too long, it ends badly. Exactly a decade later, Time named Greenspan as No. 3 on its list of "25 People to Blame for the Financial Crisis". And I think they let him off lightly.

The evidence of the past three decades should be enough, but you can go back further. In fact, every major financial crisis in the four centuries of capitalism has had its origins in loose money.

How does it work? It's simple commonsense. The basis for value is scarcity. If scarcity is destroyed, so is value. And when money loses its value, it is abused.

Human societies have always abused commodities when they're provided too cheaply or free - free fresh water, for example - and money is no different. The loose money creates a "bubble" in asset prices, which ultimately collapses, dragging the economy into a recession, or worse.

The lyrics change from one episode to the next, but the song remains the same.

This time, it's happening in so many countries that it's much easier to list the countries where it's not happening. Brazil and Australia are the only economies of any reasonable size where money is not loose.

The standout champion of loose money in the world today is the US. For 2½ years now, the US Federal Reserve has been supplying money to America's banks at an official interest rate of 0-0.25 per cent a year.

Inflation in America is running at 2 to 3 per cent. So, in real terms, the American central bank is lending at an interest rate of minus 2-3 per cent. It is, in effect, subsidising the banks to borrow money.

The US is debasing its currency so effectively that the US dollar has fallen by 14 per cent in the past year, as measured by the Fed's major currencies index. But China doesn't want to lose export competitiveness to the US, so it has maintained its peg to the dollar. This means that China's renminbi is also depreciating in real terms against its other trading partners. So the US and Chinese currencies are debasing in tandem.

In the meantime, the central banks of the EU and Japan are handing out money cheaper than free. In sum, almost the entire world has gone monetarily mad. And the cheap money is forming a bubble in the price of commodities.

Central bankers in many countries are quietly worried about this. Each thinks that his bank alone cannot make any difference. So they leave their interest rates low. Yet their collective inaction guarantees that they are all facing a problem of growing inflation and a dangerous bubble in commodity prices. This is the same problem, the "prisoner's dilemma", that we see in the case of carbon emissions.




Iran: A-jad allies charged with black magic, summoning genies: "Iran's powerful clerics have accused associates of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of witchcraft, including summoning genies, amid an increasingly bitter rift between Ahmadinejad and the country's supreme religious leader. In recent days, some 25 confidants of Ahmadinejad and his controversial but loyal chief of staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei have been arrested and charged with being 'magicians.' ... The arrests are the latest window into the growing rift between Ahmadinejad, Iran's elected secular president, and Ayatollah Ali Khamanei, the country's appointed religious supreme leader."

Navy plan for homosexual marriages on bases draws opposition: "A preliminary U.S. Navy plan to allow its chaplains to perform same-sex marriages in military chapels after the end of 'don't ask, don't tell' has fired up congressional opposition. All services are moving forward with the transition from the present ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in uniform. Top Pentagon officials are expected to sign off on the new rules and the progress of training in coming weeks"

US Senate blocks Obama DoJ appointee: "Senate Republicans on Monday blocked President Barack Obama's choice for the No. 2 job in the Justice Department and dampened talk that Osama bin Laden's death might usher in bipartisan cooperation on terrorism matters. The 50-40 vote, short of the Senate's required 60-vote threshold, sidelined Obama's monthslong drive to make official James M. Cole's position as deputy attorney general."

Democrats trying to increase gasoline prices: "Senate Democrats said they will move forward this week with a plan that would eliminate tax breaks for big oil companies and divert the savings to offset the deficit. Senior Democrats believe that tying the two together will put pressure on Senate Republicans to support the measure or face a difficult time explaining their opposition to voters whose family budgets are being strained by fuel prices."

Egypt: Mobs set fire to two churches in capital: "Egypt's prime minister called an emergency cabinet meeting on Sunday after 12 people died in bloody clashes in a Cairo suburb over the conversion of a Christian woman to Islam. About 500 conservative Islamists known as Salafists massed outside the Saint Mina Church in the Cairo suburb of Imbaba on Saturday demanding Christians there hand over a woman they said had converted to Islam and was being held against her will."


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, May 09, 2011

Misunderstandings about the military

Led by the United States, the English-speaking countries seem to be almost continuously at war -- fighting for their own long-term safety and trying to rescue others from tyranny. In the USA, the wars are mostly initiated by Democrat administrations -- WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Serbia and now Libya -- but usually start out with widespread support among Americans generally.

There has however been no mass mobilization since WWII. The wars these days tend to be fought as just another budget item with only the professional military involved. The population generally have no experience of war and little acquaintance with military men. The countries concerned just live on in peace and prosperity. This has produced something of a paradox. The people at large of the world's most "warlike" countries know little of war or of military matters.

In the circumstances, there seems to have developed -- particularly on the political Left -- a quite warped view of the military and often a real contempt for the military. In a patriotic country like America, that contempt has to be mostly veiled but observers of the Left will be familiar with such attitudes anyway. Because of the British tradition of emotional restraint, however, overt expressions of patriotism are rare in Britain and Australia so the Left there are more vocal in making known their attitude to the military.

So the combination of no experience with the military and Leftist contempt for military men does seem to have led to a fairly widespread lack of understanding of what military men are like and how the military functions. And as a former army psychologist, I think I might be in a position to make a few points that may dispel some of those misunderstandings.

* A very common misunderstanding is that military men are dumb. That is far from the case. The military handle some very dangerous gear so a dummy would be more of a danger to his buddies than to the enemy. For that reason all Western armies select on intellectual grounds: You have to have an above average IQ to be a soldier. And in the more specialist jobs (officers generally, special forces, etc.), the intellectual requirement is quite high. So it is quite right to refer to the "profession" of arms. It needs training, knowledge, dedication and ability comparable to many other professions.

* Another incomprehension that seems particularly common on the left is why on earth would anybody take a job where he might get shot at? That seems like a very bad deal to most Leftists and may be part of the reason why military men are overwhelmingly conservative. Guerilla war where they can shoot others from cover (as in various "revolutions" -- such as Castro's) seems OK to Leftists but they generally haven't got the stomach for regular military service.

So why DO military men put themselves in harm's way? The answer quite simply is that they are real men. They have inherited a strong dose of the characteristics that enabled men to survive in "caveman" times. Life was a very risky business for us for most of our evolutionary past and men who did not enjoy risks and challenges just did not survive. Military men actually ENJOY putting themselves to the test. They LIKE doing difficult and dangerous things. Sadly, the army often disappoints them. Even if there is a war on, most of your time is spent waiting around. But the army does a lot of training and sport and there is always the prospect of action. So in every army, the men are always keen to get to "the front" -- where the action is and where they might get shot at! I was one of them many years ago. The Vietnam war was on at the time and I volunteered for a posting there.

A little story might help illustrate all that. During the Vietnam war, Australia had conscription and it was largely conscripts who were sent to the front. What is not generally known however is that conscripts were not usually sent to the front unwillingly. Anybody who did not want to go was discharged as "medically" unfit or was given the chance of volunteering for work in (say) a BOD (Base Ordnance Depot -- a military warehouse). But given the option of spending two boring years in a BOD back in Australia and going to Vietnam, close to 100% of the conscripts chose Vietnam. Men like excitement and Vietnam offered that, even if it was dangerous.

* Another myth much beloved of Leftist psychologists is that army men are some sort of "robot". They are all the same and just obey orders like machines. The old Prussian expression that a soldier should be "Kadaver gehorsam" (show corpselike obedience) helped establish that myth. And it does have a germ of truth. Take a look at the picture below. It is easy to see a march of robots there, is it not?

It is in fact a parade of cadets at Sandhurst, Britain's equivalent of West Point. So all the men there are in fact highly skilled soldiers with the equivalent of a university degree who will go on to positions of leadershiop throughout the British army and later on lead in British life generally. Far from being robots they are an elite.

So learning to work together and take orders is certainly a part of military life but it says nothing about the character of the men involved. The fact that the army has to train its men very heavily in order to get them to that state of readiness should speak for itself. It does not come naturally. Military men are very much individuals. And when you are in the army, you get to know what individuals your fellow unit members are and come to value them accordingly. For that reason, military men feel great grief at the loss of anyone in their unit -- as you will hear any time you ask them about their wartime experiences -- and in later life you never walk past a member of your old army unit in the street without stopping to chat. Fellow members of your unit become very special friends. You don't of course get on equally well with them all but you usually respect them all.

So I hope that goes a little way towards showing how wrong are simplistic judgments of the military and of military men.

Perhaps I should close on a rather provocative note: You could think that women would not be attracted to military men. The men are often away on deployment and may come home in a body bag. What sort of a deal is that for a woman? Yet as you always see, when the men come home from deployment, most have wives and girlfriends waiting eagerly to see their men again. How come? Easy: As I have pointed out above, military men are real men and real women like real men.

Take as an example the Australian soldier below. He is clearly a family man and may look undistinguished to some. But Ben Roberts-Smith is a man of exceptional intelligence, daring and courage. For his actions in Afghanistan he was recently awarded the Victoria Cross, which is as high an award for valour as there is. It is very rarely awarded. You can read his story here and here. He could join the officer corps any time he applied but he chooses to serve as a corporal leading a small detachment of Special Forces. Why? Because that is where the action is. We can be proud that the English-speaking nations still produce men like him -- JR


What the GOP Can Learn From Canada's Conservatives

Some years ago, the columnist and editor Michael Kinsley sponsored a contest to come up with the most boring headline. The winner was, "Worthwhile Canadian Initiative."

Well, Canada held an election last Monday, and the result was anything but boring. It amounts to something like a revolution in Canadian politics and has lessons, I think, for those of us south of the border.

The headline story is that the Conservative Party of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who has headed minority governments since 2006, won an absolute majority of seats, 167 of 308, in the House of Commons. It was a result practically no Canadian pundit or psephologist predicted.

Going into this election, center-right parties in the four major Anglosphere democracies were at the brink of but not quite fully in power. The British Conservatives formed a government with the leftish Liberal Democrats in May 2010, the Australian Liberals are in opposition by virtue of the votes of a couple of Outback independents, and American Republicans won the House of Representatives in November 2010 and are now forcing significant cuts in public spending.

In Canada, Harper's Conservatives have already cut taxes and modified spending programs, but always with the tacit consent of the separatist Bloc Quebecois, or the left-wing New Democrats, or the long-dominant Liberal Party. Now they're on their own, and we'll see the results.

But the installation of a majority government by itself is not a political revolution. The biggest changes in Canada were indicated by the devastating defeats of two of the opposition parties.

The Bloc Quebecois was reduced from 50 seats to only four. Formerly it represented most of Canada's second largest province. Now it represents a tiny rump.

French Canadian separatism has been a major force in Canada since Charles de Gaulle came to Montreal in 1967 and spoke the deliberately provocative words, "Vive le Quebec libre!" There have been two referenda in which the voters of Quebec rejected separatism by only narrow majorities.

Now it looks like separatism is as dead as de Gaulle. The vast majority of Quebec's ridings (the Canadian word for districts) elected New Democrats, some of whom didn't campaign and don't speak much French.

Quebec's Francophone voters seem to have decided to vote for a party that favors a European-style welfare state rather than one that favors a separate Quebec. The New Democrats won 58 seats in Quebec, enough to give them 102 seats in Parliament, enough to make them the official opposition party.

The third huge development is the humiliating third-place finish of the Liberal Party, the pre-eminent party in Canada since its first election in 1867. Liberals headed governments for 70 years in the 20th century and have provided most of Canada's well known prime ministers -- Wilfrid Laurier, William Lyon Mackenzie King, Lester Pearson and Pierre Elliott Trudeau.

They have been more of a nationalist, opportunistic party than a left-wing one. Public spending ballooned during Trudeau's nearly 20 years in power, but the Liberals cut back spending sharply in the 1990s, when Canada faced a fiscal crisis very much like the one the United States faces today.

Liberals long boasted that they were the only party with backing in both English- and French-speaking Canada. Now they have little backing in either one.

They elected only 34 members of Parliament, and their leader, Michael Ignatieff, lost his own seat. Liberals hold sway now only in central Toronto, where Canadian media are concentrated, in Anglophone Montreal and in the economically lagging Atlantic provinces.

The Conservatives' triumph offers a couple of lessons that may be relevant to U.S. Republicans. One is that smaller government policies, far from being political poison, are actually vote-winners.

The second is that a center-right party can win immigrant votes. Conservatives won 35 of 54 seats in metro Toronto, many heavy with immigrants. One tactic that seems to have worked was to circulate videos of Indian- and Chinese-Canadian Conservative candidates appealing for votes in their native tongues.

The simple message is that this is a party that likes and respects you. Republicans could do something similar, with Sen. Marco Rubio, Govs. Susana Martinez and Brian Sandoval, and Reps. Allen West, Tim Scott and Quico Canseco, all elected in 2010.

So Canada has moved from a four-party politics rooted in its own special history to a two-party politics more similar to ours. Nothing boring about that.



$200,000 Lifeguards to Receive Millions in Retirement

Public outrage over lavish government employee compensation and pensions is becoming more heated as new revelations about excesses seem to crop up every week. The latest: Newport Beach, California, where some lifeguards have compensation packages that exceed $200,000 and where these "civil servants" can retire with lucrative government pensions at age 50.

Newport Beach has two groups of lifeguards. Seasonal tower lifeguards cover Newport’s seven miles of beach during the busy summer months. Part-time seasonal guards make $16 to $22 per hour with no benefits. They are the young people who man the towers and do the lion’s share of the rescues. Another group of highly compensated full-time staff work year-round and seldom, if ever, climb into a tower. According to the City Manager, the typical Daily Deployment Model in the winter for these lifeguards is 10 hours per day for four days each week, mainly spent driving trucks around, painting towers, ordering uniforms and doing basic office work—none are actually manning lifeguard towers.

Like many communities across California, the city of Newport Beach is facing the harsh realities of budgeting with less revenue after housing values and the stock market plummeted. Now the city’s full-time lifeguard force has finally come under scrutiny. Next week the city council will decide if cuts are needed to the full-time lifeguard force where last year the top earner received $211,000 in pay and benefits, including a $400 sun protection allowance. In 2010 all but one of the city’s full-time lifeguard staff had annual compensation packages worth over $120,000.

Not bad pay for a lifeguard - but what makes these jobs most attractive is the generous retirements. These lifeguards can retire at age 50 with full medical benefits for life. One recently retired lifeguard, age 51, receives a government retirement of over $108,000 per year—for the rest of his life. He will make well over $3 million in retirement if he lives to age 80. According to the City Manager, a new full-time guard costs less to hire than what is spent on this one retiree. The city now spends more taxpayer dollars on retired lifeguards than it does on those who are working.

Reports of excessive pay and generous pensions have fueled a debate across the nation over union influence on government spending. Government unions were able to take full advantage of the good old days when surpluses were plentiful and the economic future was bright. They effectively demanded politicians agree to contracts for higher union wages and benefits. Creating a situation that was simply not sustainable over the long-term.




Libya: Bombing of Gaddafi won’t let up, Clinton warns: "Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, meeting with allies, kept up pressure on Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi Thursday, demanding that he 'cease attacks and the threat of attacks' against rebels who oppose his rule. Gadhafi must withdraw all forces from rebel cities they have entered, restore services to those cities, and allow humanitarian aid in, Clinton insisted."

Pakistan’s complicity: "That Osama bin Laden chose as a refuge a scenic summer resort in Pakistan, a country where he knew the United States had pretty much a free hand against al-Qaeda, says it all. We need not question the Pentagon or any other Western military establishment when they tell us that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate is in cahoots with terrorism: All we need to do is understand that the most wanted man in the world trusted Pakistan enough to stay there in a highly visible compound, near a military academy, 35 miles from Islamabad."

Schumer proposes “no-ride list” for Amtrak trains: "A senator on Sunday called for a 'no-ride list' for Amtrak trains after intelligence gleaned from the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound pointed to potential attacks on the nation's train system. Sen. Charles Schumer said he would push as well for added funding for rail security and commuter and passenger train track inspections and more monitoring of stations nationwide." [Will you soon need to get groped to get on a train?]

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)