Saturday, June 11, 2011

Police State Brutality: On The Rise

The next door to be violently knocked down could very well be yours. Innocence of any offense is no protection

Earlier this year in Tucson, Arizona a shooting rampage targeting U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords made international news – and prompted a coordinated effort to demonize Tea Party supporters (and free speech itself).

Without knowing the details of the case, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik immediately blamed the shooting on “the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government.”

“The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous,” Dupnik said, calling Arizona “a mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”

Obviously, the world quickly learned that Dupnik was flat out wrong in his assessment of the situation. The violence in Tucson was the product of a deranged madman – not a discernible ideology. But that didn’t stop Democratic leaders like U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn from saying that government should “rethink the parameters of free speech” in the wake of the shooting.

Five months after the Giffords’ tragedy, another fatal shooting took place in Tucson – only this one didn’t make international headlines. It has also failed to produce so much as a peep of disapproval from those who were so outraged earlier this year.

On May 5, 2011 – deputies and “operators” of the Pima County Sheriff’s Office raided the home of 26-year-old Jose Guerena, a U.S. Marine who served two tours in Iraq in 2003 and 2005. Having just fallen asleep after working the night shift at a local mine, Guerena was roused by his wife, Vanessa – who saw a man with a gun outside of the couple’s bedroom window. Thinking his home was being invaded, Guerena grabbed his rifle.

What happened next?

SWAT “operators” – executing a narcotics warrant – broke into Guerena’s home and fired 72 rounds within a matter of seconds, hitting him 22 times. Guerena’s five-year-old son, Joel, watched his father die. Initially, Pima County Sheriff’s investigators said that Guerena had fired his weapon at police officers. That report turned out to be patently false. In fact, Guerena never removed the safety from his rifle.

Also Guerena’s wife is adamant that the officers did not identify themselves as law enforcement agents until after the raid was completed. No drugs were found in the home – and it was later revealed that Guerena’s brother was the real target of the investigation.

Sadly, these fatal mistakes are occurring with increasing frequency. Last September in Utah, a SWAT team fatally shot Todd Blair three times in the head and chest during a hastily-planned raid – even though he wasn’t the person sought by the narcotics warrant. Last May in Detroit, 7-year-old Aiyana Jones was shot and killed while sleeping on the sofa during a raid filmed by reality TV cameras.

Part of the problem is obviously the vast expansion of the police state in America. According to Americans for SWAT Reform, more than 50,000 raids take place annually in the United States. Thirty years ago, there were less than 3,000 raids a year.

Another contributing factor is the steady militarization of local law enforcement.

“The war on drugs has done incalculable damage to the character of law enforcement by encouraging police officers to forget they are civilians,” writes David Rittgers, a legal analyst at the Cato Institute who served three tours in Afghanistan.

“When police officers refer to their fellow citizens as civilians and mean to exclude themselves from that category, they’ve mentally leapt from enforcing the law to destroying the enemies of the state,” Rittgers continued. “That’s incompatible with a free society.”

Also, the definition of what constitutes a “SWAT-worthy” offense has broadened considerably – as multiple federal agencies now reserve the right to knock down your door for virtually any reason.

For example, earlier this week a SWAT team raided a home in California – roughing up a man whose estranged wife had failed to pay back her student loans. What agency issued the warrant for this raid? The U.S. Department of Education – which recently purchased more than two dozen 12-gauge shotguns to help prevent “waste, fraud, abuse and other criminal activity involving federal education funds, programs and operations.”

Government apologists can deny it all they want, but the fact is that we are witnessing a massive build-up of the American police state at all levels of government – with repercussions that diminish our liberties and threaten our very lives.

After all, the next door to be knocked down could very well be yours.



Affordable Housing Means Your House Is Worth Less

Consumer advocates have their priorities backwards

Martin Luther King famously once proclaimed, “I have a dream, that one day my children would not be judged by the color of the skin, but by the content of their character, and that they would have a right to a home at an affordable price.”

Okay, that’s not exactly what he said. But an unusual coalition of financial institutions and community housing advocates has been arguing this.

The Dodd-Frank Act, passed last year revamping rules for financial institutions, directed all bank regulators to issue a joint regulation defining a reasonably safe, well-underwritten mortgage. Their recent proposed definition for such a “qualified residential mortgage” has created a stir because it has strict guidelines such as a 20 percent down payment requirement and tight limits on the collective debt of the borrower.

Rather than praising the definition of a good mortgage for ensuring borrower safety, consumer groups have criticized the regulation as being too strict, since banks would have to hold more capital against any loans that are riskier than qualified residential mortgages, meaning that financial institutions would charge more for mortgages with lower down payments.

“This is a civil rights issue,” John Taylor, president of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, said recently.

Mortgage Bankers Association CEO David Stevens echoed the sentiment: “We still need to be able to make affordable mortgages that don’t just go to the wealthy, who can afford the biggest down payments and who have the most positive credit ratings.” Such a kind heart from a man whose organization has lost significant business in the past few years as mortgages to less qualified borrowers have dried up.

Stevens, Taylor, and the leaders of other groups such as the Center for Responsible Lending and the National Council of La Raza (not to mention the realtors and homebuilders associations) have been teaming up to fight the qualified residential mortgage definition on the grounds that it will cause low-income households to spend more time saving up for a down payment while increasing the cost of mortgages.

But why is access to affordable homes equated with access to affordable mortgages, i.e. debt? They are not the same thing.

This coalition is nothing new. Such groups were also aligned in the late-1980s hawking a similar product. MLK’s wife even gave a speech in 1989 encouraging President George H.W. Bush to push for “affordable housing” as a part of her late husband’s dream for civil rights.

Ultimately, the Government Sponsored Enterprise Reform Act of 1992 was passed creating “affordable housing goals” targeted at increasing lending to low-income families. But the trade-off for access to cheaper mortgage debt—often through a subprime loan—was that housing prices increased.

Affordable mortgages replaced affordable housing.

As Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac expanded their purchases of subprime mortgages throughout the 2000s, the prices of homes kept growing and growing—requiring more and more federal subsidies to keep pace. That is partly because as mortgage prices fell, demand increased for homes, and prices rose. It was basic economics at work.

Sure, increased mortgage rates can be quite the deterrent to homebuyers, especially first-time homebuyers. But so can high housing prices.

Yet Janis Bowdler, a research project director at La Raza, still argues that the new Dodd-Frank authorized regulations will “so significantly deter the ability of first-time buyers to break into the market that we will see a real decline in home ownership.”

The issue of whether increased homeownership is a good thing is a matter for a different column. The confusing part of Bowdler’s comment is why she isn’t pushing for lower housing prices if she is worried about first-time buyers.

With virtually ever other commodity, innovation that improves quality and lowers price is seen as a good thing. Only because of the misperception that owning a home is a universally good investment for households do we favor rising home prices. (Well, that and the politics of housing prices.)

But historically, home prices on a national level have generally grown just at the rate of inflation. Only during the recent housing bubble did prices break from their historical trend and double over the course of 10 years. It is a myth that homeownership inherently creates wealth.

Now, home values have been falling since 2006 as the bubble has deflated and we are almost back to the historical trend line that dates back to the end of World War II for housing prices. But a host of federal policies—like the First-time Homebuyers Credit and the Fed’s quantitative easing programs—have slowed the decline in prices; though they have not stopped it.

It's not that Washington should force prices to go lower, it's that La Raza and other consumer organizations should be clamoring for the government to get out of the way to let prices finish their fall back to natural levels. That would help first-time homebuyers since housing would become more affordable.

Plus the households would have less mortgage debt with less needed to borrow.

But if La Raza and their cohorts could write the rules, they’d keep the government involved while lowering the threshold for getting a federal subsidy.

When the homeownership mob—to borrow a John Carneyism—won the day in 1992, the results were 1) government supported housing finance that put taxpayers on the line; 2) lower underwriting standards for housing finance supported by Fannie and Freddie; and 3) a bubble created by an artificial boost in housing prices. Ultimately, millions of low-income families were stuck with high and unsustainable debt, leading to the millions of foreclsoures we are wrestling with today.

The same thing will happen again if the consumer groups win again. Crippling overnment-subsidized debt is not a civil right.



The Suicide of another historic Denomination

It was a long, slow, painful death. In the end, the patient pulled strongly on the plug and what little life was left exited the body with a tragic gasp. May the Presbyterian Church, USA rest in peace. But there will be very little peace in this pathetic death. Ratified by a majority of presbyteries one month ago and effective one month from today (July 10), the church has abandoned its denominational commitment to traditional marriage. Gone is the standard for ordination that requires pastors, “to live either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman …, or chastity in singleness.”

Conservatives within the denomination had narrowly, but successfully resisted similar efforts over the past 15 years, but the diminished and beleaguered traditionalists lost the 87thand 88thpresbyteries in last month’s effort to change the constitution. “Progressives” had reached the needed majority and the constitution has been amended to allow for ordination of non-celibate gays and lesbians.

For centuries, the Presbyterian Church stood on the proud heritage and legacy of men like John Knox who fearlessly and valiantly stood for the truth of scripture. Today, the modern Presbyterian Church (USA) (also “PCUSA”) bears little resemblance to its noble ancestry. While some in the movement had worked hard for and held out hope for some kind of spiritual awakening, a renewed commitment to orthodoxy, it seems that hope is now gone. Let this be clear: The issue here is not homosexuality. The core of the matter is the authority of scripture.

It was indeed a long and arduous death. The real beginning of the death spiral began with what has been called the “Auburn Affirmation” in 1924. A controversy had arisen between the forces of “fundamentalism” and “modernism.” Once again, the issue was the authority of scripture. Among other things, the infamous affirmation denied the Bible’s inerrancy. The document was quickly signed by 1,274 of the denomination’s leaders and contributed to a decline in membership along with a decline in the number of churches and influence that—with a few exceptional years and a few exceptional churches—has continued to the present. The PCUSA has showed a constant, measurable decline for at least 40 continuous years. At the current rate, the PCUSA will be extinct in another 40 years. One could make the argument that they have been “dead” for years. The recent decision by the majority of the presbyteries simply made the death official.

What we have witnessed is a “Christian” denomination making a complete 180 degree turn from their founding principles and reaping the consequences. The PCUSA has denied what their spiritual founding fathers fought for and willingly died for. In its place, they have substituted a pathetic forgery. John Knox and others proclaimed that Christ died to set people free from their sins. The PCUSA decision provides space in the presbytery for affirmation of sin —even ordination as minister for those who chose to remain in sin.

From the Auburn Affirmation onward, the denomination has showed signs of death. Year after year, as their attendance numbers declined, they have held their annual gathering to try to diagnose the disease. A prescription that included a return to the simple teaching of scripture was desperately needed —a return to founding principles. What we have witnessed instead is more liberalism, in larger doses. The more liberal the denomination has become, the faster it has declined. And yet every year the cry is the same: “Let’s become more liberal and (in effect) deny more scripture!” Didn’t someone say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result?

One of the proclamations in the Auburn Affirmation was, “Division is deplored, unity and freedom are commended.” In other words, unity was far more important than truth. What they did not understand is that there is no true unity without truth! They turned Christ’s teaching concerning freedom on its head: He taught that His death would bring freedom from sin, denominational liberalism like what we’re witnessing in the PCUSA offers freedom in sin.

On May 10, 2011 the PCUSA made clear to the world that, for them, an orthodox view of scripture, man’s sin and the salvation offered through Christ alone are now irrelevant and even divisive. They have again rejected the authority of scripture. The denomination has left its proud heritage and has signed its own death certificate. Following in the footsteps of the liberals of 1924, the modern PCUSA has divided in the name of unity. Schism is the likely result of the presbyteries’ recent decision. Perhaps in dividing, conservative elements of the domination will rise again: Presbyterians that genuinely believe the Bible.


I am pleased to say that my old Presbyterian church is a traditional one with a good outreach that regularly fills its pews pretty well. It is 45 years since I was a member there but it still feels just the same as ever on the now rare occasions when I drop in for a service there (mostly Easter or Christmas) -- JR


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)

Capitalism as art

Government certainly isn't!

One criticism raised against capitalism is that it turns us all into pale imitations of real human beings by taking all the creativity and individuality out of life. This criticism usually focuses on how capitalism creates standardized, “processed,” and inferior products that we gladly consume (think of McDonald’s as the archetype here). The act of production is seen as rote and mechanical, perhaps indirectly due to mainstream economic models that portray the economy as merely an optimization problem lacking any creativity. The result, say the critics, is a bland, gray, highly imitative society.

This perception is misguided. In fact capitalism is fueled by creativity and makes possible a level of individuality never before seen in human history. The anthropologist Grant McCracken recently wrote that “capitalism is art, a transformational exercise that turns meaning into value and value back into meaning.” I think he’s onto something there, and viewing capitalism as creating meaning, like art, is a useful way to respond to the criticism noted above.

Creation of Value

That capitalist production is a “transformational exercise” should be fairly obvious: What entrepreneurs do is to take inputs and attempt to transform them into an output that is valued more highly than the sum of the values of the separate inputs (accounting for the time involved in production as well). A ladder is more valuable than a bunch of wood, some nails or screws, and some tools. Profit is the creation of value.

Note too the idea of “turning meaning into value.” The simplicity of the ladder example might hide it, but the hard part for the entrepreneur is figuring out what people value. One way of expressing this is that producers need to know what has meaning for potential buyers.

The goods and services we purchase are not really the ends we seek in the market — they are means for satisfying our various wants. The challenge for producers is to figure out what those wants are. This requires producers to try to understand the things that have meaning to consumers and then find ways to create them out of available resources. As McCracken says, producers try to transform meaning into value, which requires some elements of art in figuring out what carries meaning and how best to provide people with objects or services that embody it.

On the consumption side, the reverse is true. Capitalism makes it possible for us to better differentiate ourselves from others by providing an enormous variety of goods and services. This variety not only enables us to better fine-tune our purchases to our particular wants — which is itself a way of creating meaning in our lives — but it also lets us create and define who we are by the kinds of products we buy. As entrepreneurs create value by trying to anticipate what we want, we turn that value back into meaning by the patterns of consumption we undertake.

In the West most of us are wealthy enough that our day-to-day needs for food, clothing, and shelter are not pressing concerns. One consequence is that we can afford to make purchases that satisfy not just some particular want, but also the desire to create meaning in our lives. We spend money on our hobbies and interests, no matter how unusual they might be. We buy product lines that say something about who we think we are, or who we want to be, such as Apple products, hybrid cars, all kinds of clothing, and things like tattoos and hairstyles. We are artists creating ourselves through individualized consumption decisions.

Idiosyncratic Tastes

Market economies also produce goods that cater to the most idiosyncratic of tastes. Those with “minority” tastes, such as wearing Hawaiian shirts all the time or ties that look like fish, can find products that satisfy those tastes in the market. Imagine instead that we had to vote on what to produce according to majority rule. Much of what markets now produce to satisfy strange, unusual, or weird wants would never get produced. Markets make possible forms of creative individuality that alternative systems would not, and do not, tolerate.

Consumers take the values that entrepreneurs create and transform those products back into meaning for themselves. In some fundamental sense the creation of value and the creation of meaning are just two ways of looking at the very same process of production and consumption in a market economy. In other words, both entrepreneurship and consumption are acts of creativity, imagination, and art.



Simply Madness

Jonah Goldberg

"Live simply so that others may simply live," Gandhi famously proclaimed. Some vegetarians see their diet as the truest expression of Gandhi's advice. But these days, the slogan has been embraced most passionately by those who wish to say goodbye to economic growth.

That's not an exaggeration. The so-called "steady-state economy" movement holds that "We will have to get beyond growth as a society in order to realize a sustainable future."

That's from the website Its logo features a typical jagged trend line (representing the traditional ups and downs of economic progress) that suddenly flatlines at a high level, sort of like what an EKG would look like if you had a heart attack and died while jogging (death, after all, is the steadiest of states).

The idea behind the steady-state economy should be familiar to anyone who's heard the lament that capitalism is bad for the environment because it rapaciously consumes resources faster than they can be replaced.

It's an ancient idea, really, a kind of millenarian paranoia that keeps getting gussied up to fit the latest headlines. My favorite example is the 1968 book "The Population Bomb" by Paul R. Ehrlich. "The battle to feed all of humanity is over," prophesized Ehrlich. "In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now."

It was a "certainty" that even in America, famine would claim millions. Ehrlich desperately claims that his predictions were mostly right and that hundreds of millions of people did indeed die of hunger over the ensuing decades. That's not exactly true. Global population has doubled and the amount of food available for humanity has grown as well.

But, yes, people have died of hunger since 1968. Why? It wasn't because markets failed or resources ran out. It was because government planners failed. That's why countries like India and China have introduced markets -- because their central planning was killing their own people.

A few years ago, a special issue of New Scientist magazine was dedicated to the steady-state economy. In it, Herman Daly, a leading guru behind the movement, explained that in his new ideal "sustainable economy," "scientists set the rules."

Translation: If the ecologists don't like an idea, that idea is out. Daly's hardly the only person out there imagining a kind of Plato's "Republic" where the philosopher-kings are replaced with environmental and climate scientists. The 2007 book "The Climate Change Challenge and the Failure of Democracy" makes a similar argument, though its enemy is liberal democracy rather than economic growth.

Either way, the problem becomes clear: When people start talking about capping or halting or managing economic growth, what they really mean is capping, halting and managing freedom. Hence Thomas Friedman, New York Times columnist and avowed envier of China's authoritarian regime, declares that "The Earth is Full" and we must therefore embrace a version of the steady-state economy.

Economic growth is an enemy of all central planners for the simple reason that growth jumps the guardrails of The Plan; it changes the aesthetically appealing flatline of the steady state and makes it jagged. Growth creates new products, destroys old ones and allows people to behave in ways that render PowerPoint projections dismayingly obsolete. Worse, it takes power from the planners.

In order to herd people back onto the official path, planners must tell them that what exists outside the guardrails is too terrifying to contemplate. "Beyond here there be monsters" is the posted sign at every guardrail.

For the record, America has more forests than it did a century ago. Our air, water and food are cleaner than at any time since industrialization. That is not because we lived simply, but because we pursued economic growth and accumulated the wealth and expertise to mend our problems. Over the long run, the same pattern holds true for every country that embraces economic growth.

That's why climate change is such a useful bogeyman -- because it is non-falsifiable, at least in our lifetimes. The "scientists set the rules," and there's no room for appeal. And -- surprise! -- in order to avoid catastrophe, the same old adages apply.

"Live simply so that others may simply live" has never made any sense save in this light. To live simply means to live predictably -- predictably poor (or to not live at all). When India came closest to following Gandhi's mantra, untold millions lived and died -- albeit "simply"! -- in abject poverty.

What America needs desperately today is massive economic growth. That's what will pay off our debt, sustain our entitlements and continue to improve the environment. Almost as important, it will annoy all the right people.



Slash spending and the economy will bloom

by Jeff Jacoby

FOR THREE YEARS, under presidents of both parties, the federal government has pumped trillions of borrowed dollars into stimulus, bailout, and recovery spending. The results have been woeful: Two years after the recession formally ended, the country is mired in a bleak economic lassitude from which it seems unable to rouse itself.

With 14 million Americans still unemployed, President Obama is presiding over the weakest economic recovery in more than 60 years.

Now the wretched news of recent weeks -- feeble GDP growth; painful foreclosure rates; slipping car sales; a drop in factory orders; ever more Americans on food stamps -- has grown even worse.

First, Standard & Poor's reported that home prices have fallen to their lowest level in more than two years, confirming a "double dip" in a housing collapse more severe than the one during the Great Depression. Then came the government's latest employment numbers: only 54,000 jobs added in May, the fewest in eight months, and a rise in the unemployment rate to 9.1 percent. This has been the lousiest recovery in more than 60 years, and by a wide margin.

Last week, speaking at the Chrysler plant in Toldeo where the Jeep Wrangler is produced, President Obama tried to put a brave face on things. "There are always going to be bumps on the road to recovery," he said. "We're going to pass through some rough terrain that even a Wrangler would have a tough time with." The audience booed. If that's the reaction Obama's keep-your-chin-up rhetoric gets from a friendly union crowd, how will it play with the rest of the country?

In a new strategy memo, Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg warns his party that voters have lost confidence in Democrats when it comes to the economy, and that harping on the past -- insisting that "Democrats did right and brave things" to promote growth -- will not win votes in 2012.

"'The economy' is not the recovery," Greenberg writes, "but a set of powerful on-going realities: a middle class smashed and struggling, American jobs being lost, the country and people in debt. . . . Voters are desperate for leaders who understand the scope of what is happening. . . . They want serious plans, not triumphalism about jobs reports."

To Greenberg and other Democrats, "serious plans" to revive the economy presumably don't include dramatic cutbacks in the government's astronomical spending. But what if that spending -- projected to reach $3.8 trillion this year, $1.6 trillion of it borrowed -- is the very thing inhibiting economic growth? Keynesian economists and pundits have argued that what the economy craves is even more stimulus spending and government debt. But history suggests something altogether different.

Writing last year in the Cato Policy Report, economists Jason Taylor and Richard Vedder showed that the great post-World War II economic boom was ushered in by the swift rollback of what had been the largest economic "stimulus" in US history. At the time, leading Keynesians cautioned that the abrupt withdrawal of federal dollars would plunge the economy into a new depression.

Their warnings were ignored.

"Government canceled war contracts, and its spending fell from $84 billion in 1945 to under $30 billion in 1946," Taylor and Vedder wrote. "By 1947, the government was . . . running a budget surplus of close to 6 percent of GDP. The military released around 10 million Americans back into civilian life. Most economic controls were lifted, and all were gone less than a year after V-J Day. In short, the economy underwent . . . the 'shock of de-stimulus.'"

Fearful predictions of massive unemployment -- 14 percent, Business Week said -- never materialized. Far from collapsing, "labor markets adjusted quickly and efficiently once they were finally unfettered." Even with millions of demobilized soldiers re-entering the workforce, "unemployment rates . . . remained under 4.5 percent in the first three postwar years." Workers who lost government-funded jobs quickly replaced them in the surging private sector. "In fact," Taylor and Vedder add, "civilian employment grew, on net, by over 4 million between 1945 and 1947 when so many pundits were predicting economic Armageddon. Household consumption, business investment, and net exports all boomed as government spending receded."

America's postwar experience indicates that vibrant growth is generated not by massive government interference in the economy, but by the reverse. The way to revive a gasping private sector is for government to get out of its way, not to choke it with trillions of dollars in new spending.

Washington's response to the recession -- unprecedented, intrusive, costly -- has been ruinous. The stimulus hasn't restored the economy to health. The "shock of de-stimulus" just might.




FCC taking “Fairness Doctrine” off the books: "Under GOP pressure, the Federal Communications Commission has agreed to strike from its books an outdated yet still controversial regulation of political speech on the airwaves known as the Fairness Doctrine. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a letter to a House Republican leader this week that the agency's effort to identify and eliminate 'antiquated and outmoded rules that unnecessarily burden business, stifle investment and innovation, or confuse consumers and licensees' will include a recommendation to delete the Fairness Doctrine."

To fix fiscal mess, follow Texas: "So what example should America follow, that of deficit-slaughtering, budget-cutting, seriously limited government in Texas, which has added 730,000 jobs in the past decade, or that of regulation-happy, spend-mercilessly, owe-everything, flee-this-place-quickly California, which has lost 600,000 jobs during the same period?"

The Trojan Horse of “happiness research”: "A very large literature has built up over the past several decades in the area of so-called 'happiness research.' Such research is based on several very dubious assumptions: namely, that utility is cardinal and measurable after all; that interpersonal utility comparisons can therefore be made; and that the great unicorn of economic theory — the 'social welfare function' — has finally been spotted. Armed with these assertions, socialists around the world believe they have finally discovered their holy grail." [See also here]


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


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


Thursday, June 09, 2011

The Audacity of Progressivism

by Andrew Mellon

Recently, I got into a big fight with my cube-mate. After attacking him for his listening to Bill Maher during the workday, he shot back and mocked my Glenn Beck listening. As if there was some moral equivalence between the two.

“But Beck’s predictions have been right throughout the last two years. Why would you not at least give him a listen?” I questioned. My Georgetown-educated cube-mate shot back: “Because most of the people that listen to Glenn Beck are uneducated mid-westerners.”

Infuriated, I protested “Do you have any idea how arrogant and elitist you sound right now?” Leave aside the irony that I was attacking his condescension while as a colleague of ours pointed out, showing beneath my loafers were our company holiday gift socks dotted with various currencies.

As my cube-mate went on to say, though he conceded that government should not be all-encompassing, “I want smart people to make decisions for people.” In other words, us silly hicks are incapable of governing ourselves. This is the fatal conceit of which F.A. Hayek wrote that reflects the attitude of the intellectual class today.

Why is it fatal? First, the “highly educated intellectual” today routinely receives a subpar education. Believe me, I went through it at Columbia, one of the few remaining schools with any semblance of a valuable curriculum. A real education is about teaching the pupil to think critically. Routinely, education today is more about spending time in science classes listening to professors talk about the merits of joining the Peace Corps (yes, this happened to me), iconoclastic gender, race and political studies courses and cultural Marxist programming of the heirs apparent of the political, economic and cultural hierarchy of the country.

Of those who graduate from these institutions and matriculate to the political realm, the progressive ethic pervades. And what is this ethic? The elite must decide for the sheep.

Progressivism argues that man should play G-d, organizing society as he sees fit, “nudging” people as Cass Sunstein advocates towards making the right decision of a governmentally-defined set of choices and socially engineering swaths of society.

Never mind that central planning fails given that the planners can never make the decisions that self-reliant and self-interested individuals acting freely would make, and that central planners lack the specialized information of the millions of actors that make up the economy.

Never mind that even if you don’t buy this argument on theoretical grounds, every nation guided by central planning has ended in mass poverty, mass genocide or both.

The manifest defects of central planning are not nearly as bad as its dehumanizing nature. For the progressive central planner is a regressive tyrant. What he seeks to do by regulation is only different than what the master does by the whip in his coyness.

The progressive enslaves as he believes that there is no value in the individual — there are only masses of malleable animals that must be shaped and coddled by paternalistic wise men in government.

Egalitarianism must reign. Natural differences, desires and ambitions must be discarded for the greater good. Social welfare is but a small price to pay for the fat cat, selfish innovators, entrepreneurs, job creators and investors who subsidize it.

Forget about the fact that practically every good and service around us was provided by the very system the progressives seek to destroy, to the disproportionate detriment of the lower classes.

Yet the question is never posed, is such a system moral? Should you by virtue of living in America be forced by law to live to support your fellow man through government? Should you be an indentured servant for months each year in effect working for the government middle man so that he can bribe and satisfy his constituents? Should the politician be able to compel you by law to plan your retirement by paying into an insolvent Ponzi scheme like social security; to at the point of the gun make you cut a check each year for failing public schools that teach the very principles to the nation’s youth that most disgust you?

And is it moral that these progressives who would be the first to attack religious advocates impose their own leftist religion through the involuntary mechanism of brute government force?

The progressive philosophy, an economic failure, is also a massive blight on our souls. For it enchains man to his fellow man and impoverishes all of society by taking away man’s individualism, his sense of responsibility and his self-worth. The progressive state dehumanizes and demoralizes man, leaving him an apathetic and impotent slave.

There is no compassion in such a system. There is no morality in such a system. All that there is is man ruling over his fellow man, throwing bread crumb benefits at various faceless voting blocs unable to see through such a scheme after so many years of socialist ideological subversion.

Shame on the progressives for their disdain for their fellow man, their hubris in thinking that they are right to rule over him and their disgusting glee in molding society for their own political gain. And shame on us for sanctioning such a system.



'Bumps on the Road'

The choice is more jobs reports like Friday's or a growth agenda.

You've got to hand it to President Obama and his White House economic team. Faced with yesterday's dreary May jobs report, they did their best and rolled out the old "bump in the road" analogy for comfort. As chief White House economist Austan Goolsbee put it, "there are always bumps on the road to recovery, but the overall trajectory of the economy has improved dramatically over the past two years."

Nice try, but there's no way to spin news that the economy in May created only 54,000 new jobs, which is about one-third the number necessary to keep up with the growth in the labor force. The jobless rate rose for the second straight month to 9.1%, which is especially depressing nearly two years after the end of a very deep recession.

At this stage in the Reagan expansion, after a comparably deep 1981-82 recession, the economy was growing by 7% a year and the jobless rate was plunging. This time the economy is growing by less than 2%, and we still have 6.8 million fewer jobs than when the recession began in late 2007.

In other bad news, the average duration of those out of work jumped by 1.4 weeks to 39.7 in May, and the percentage of those jobless for at least six months climbed by 1.7% to 45.1%. The overall labor participation rate stayed the same at 64.2%, but as the nearby chart shows that rate has now fallen to its lowest rate since the mid-1980s.

This is an important economic measure because it reflects the opportunities that Americans perceive in the marketplace. In the long boom from the Reagan years through 2000 or so, the labor participation rate took a historic leap upward as women, immigrants and others entered the job market. The rate dipped after the 2001-2002 downturn, and we recall the media giving much attention to a Federal Reserve study raising alarms even as the rate began to climb again in mid-decade. It has now fallen off a cliff, and we doubt this is what Mr. Goolsbee means when he hails the "trajectory of the economy."

Chances are that job creation will improve in future months after the effects of Japan's earthquake and Midwest tornadoes and if oil prices level off or fall. But the longer the jobs slowdown continues, the greater the danger that the U.S. settles into a new normal of high "structural" unemployment, with employers reluctant to hire workers until they absolutely must. This is a symptom of Eurosclerosis.

The same economists and pundits who promoted the economic policies of the last four years are now lamenting the jobs bust and demanding that Washington double down: More stimulus spending, more Federal Reserve easing, more temporary tax rebates. They can't explain why these policies have failed to date, but we are supposed to rinse and repeat.

The real "bumps on the road" to recovery are these policies and the larger climate of hostility toward job creators that still prevails in Washington. A National Labor Relations Board that wants to stop businesses from moving plants; a $20 billion political raid on banks over foreclosures; hundreds of major new regulations from ObamaCare, Dodd-Frank and the EPA's war on carbon energy; federal deficits that Mr. Obama says require higher taxes; near-zero interest rates for 30 months that have sent commodity prices soaring, and so much more.

The economy doesn't need more of this. It needs a return to the growth agenda that created the long post-1982 boom.



Liberal vs Conservative: A Spiritual Battle

Lloyd Marcus

Without beating around the bush, I believe the battle being fought in America today goes beyond politics; right vs left. It is a spiritual battle; good vs evil.

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” -- Ephesians 6:12

The mindset of the American left is a spirit of Antichrist which is man making himself God.

Before writing me off as a Bible nut, please hear me out. Understanding this reality will explain much of the left's behavior. Because they believe man is God, in their insane arrogance, the left think they can fix everything; legislate equal outcomes and even save or destroy the planet.

Make no mistake about it folks, we are in a spiritual battle. Ask yourself. Specifically, what about Sarah Palin inspires such visceral hatred from the left? The word is “wholesome”.

For the most part, Palin promotes love for God, family and country. She is passionately determined to thwart Obama's plan to “fundamentally transform America”.

While realizing Palin is human and does not walk on water, Palin epitomizes heartland principles and values embraced by most Americans. Thus, we are Palin and Palin is us.

The large number of Christians in the Tea Party believe in right and wrong. The left has a huge problem with the concept of right and wrong. Their religion of Liberalism embraces Moral Relativism.

For these reasons, Palin and the Tea Party are as repulsive to liberals as showing Dracula the cross.

There is definitely an anti-wholesome, anti-goodness vibe coming out of Hollywood. Hollywood leftists are vehemently anti death penalty. They rally around convicted murderers. They think anyone harming a puppy should be beaten within any inch of their life. These Hollywood libs pride themselves as being Lords of Compassion and Tolerance.

And yet, these same libs have a cow whenever someone merely suggests to a woman that she think twice before aborting her baby. Tell me there “ain't” something spiritually wrong with such a mindset.

Because liberal elitists think man is God, they assume moral authority to confiscate as much control over our lives we simple minded god fearing peons will allow, including procreation.

I picked up a government funded brochure at my local library which basically said birthing babies is an irresponsible abuse of the planet.

Folks, this is leftist control freak hogwash! The seven billion people who live on the planet could fit in Texas enjoying about the same amount of living space as residents of New York.
God said be fruitful and multiply. But then, what the heck does God know?

In her book, “Godless”, Ann Coulter said, “If a Martian landed in America and set out to determine the nation's official state religion, he would have to conclude it is Liberalism, while Christianity and Judaism are prohibited by law”.

I concur with Ms Coulter. The mainstream media is controlled by zealots of Liberalism who I believe are driven by a spirit of Antichrist; man is God. Thus, only man can and will fix everything.

Why does the left aggressively demand that we show utmost respect for every religion under the sun except Christianity? Remember when libs Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar stormed off the set of The View TV program when they concluded Bill O'Reilly dissed Muslims?

And yet, Rosie O'Donnell outrageously stated “Radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam in a country like America”. Not one peep of disagreement or disapproval from the left.

Islam suppresses women. And yet, liberal self proclaimed feminists Goldberg, Behar and O'Donnell illogically defend Islam. These three feminists despise the extraordinarily successful Christian liberated woman, Sarah Palin. Rosie O'Donnell even lamented that Osama bin Laden did not get a fair trial.

Unquestionably, these women have issues with America and Christians; a spirit of Antichrist. At the center of Christianity is a divine Jesus. If Jesus is God, the left is not.

Even our most liberal president ever, Obama, dissed heartland Americans for “bitterly clinging to their god and guns”. Would a true Christian berate folks for finding security in trusting God?

Like an episode of Star Trek, the left believes universal peace can be achieved via America apologizing and admitting to the world that “we suck”, surrendering our power, signing treaties and singing a few verses of“Kumbaya”.

They believe the greatest source of evil in the world is warmongering Christian white guys like George Bush. If only Bush had, “Given peace a chance”.

Liberals always cater to man's lowest base instincts. They hate standards for behavior, labeling all rebuke of bad behavior as being intolerant and judgmental. And yet, they believe without divine influence, man is capable of someday achieving universal peace. Totally absurd.

Christians believe that though we strive to do the right thing, the heart of man is critically flawed which is why we were in need of a savior, Jesus Christ.

Obama's promise to “fundamentally transform America” is a spiritual attack on our freedom, liberty and culture.

Despite the left's relentless attempts to ban God from America's public square, the emergence and power of the Tea Party tells me God is still on our side.

Mr. Obama, though your liberal zealots perceive you to be “the messiah”, God is still on the throne. Come November 2012, you're fired!



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, June 08, 2011

Obama Administration's Egghead Economic Saboteurs

Michelle Malkin

Official motto of the White House economic team: Those who can, do. Those who can't, fantasize in the classroom, fail in Washington and then return to the Ivy Tower to train the next generation of egghead economic saboteurs. Life is good for left-wing academics. Everyone else pays dearly.

Take Austan Goolsbee, please. President Obama's "fresh-faced" University of Chicago econ professor arrived in Washington in December 2008 to fill two slots: chief economist/staff director of the president's Economic Recovery Advisory Board and member of the Council of Economic Advisers. In September 2010, he replaced CEA head and fellow academic Christina Romer, who retreated to the University of California at Berkeley last August when unemployment hit 9.5 percent. (She infamously projected that the Obama stimulus would hold the jobless rate below 8 percent.)

Goolsbee's primary task: translating all of the administration's big-government theories for us dummies. As Goolsbee put it to his university's student newspaper: "We've certainly seen in previous crises that it's quite important to explain things to non-experts. The American people can confront any challenge if they're comfortable with the approach."

And what exactly was the nature of Goolsbee's vaunted expertise? Making money as a business rescue-and-recovery expert without ever having had to meet a payroll.

Goolsbee, the 15th wealthiest member of the Obama administration, has raked in assets valued at between $1,146,000 and $2,715,000. He also pulled in a University of Chicago salary of $465,000 and additional wages and honoraria worth $93,000, according to Washingtonian magazine. As I've noted before, the government research fellow and Obama campaign adviser was a champion of extending credit to the un-creditworthy. In a 2007 op-ed for The New York Times, he derided those who called subprime mortgages "irresponsible." He preferred to describe them as "innovations in the mortgage market" to expand the pool of homebuyers.

Goolsbee's most recent "innovation": the "White House White Board," a weekly video lecture teaching everyone else how to hitch what remains of America's free-market system to the wagon of the state and how much (or rather, how little) we should make doing it. He illustrated his grand interventionist strategy to pick and choose "Startup America" winners by drawing a trough of broken light bulbs (symbolizing entrepreneurial ideas) piling up in a "Valley of Death" because they lacked government support.

A comical choice of imagery given the Democrats' enviro-nutty ban on incandescent bulbs. But I digress.

When Goolsbee joined Team Obama, the unemployment rate was at around 6 percent. When he announced his resignation on Monday, the jobless rate stood at 9.1 percent. Romer and Jared Bernstein (former chief economist to Vice President Joe Biden) had predicted unemployment would drop every single month after August 2009 due to the Obama stimulus. Bernstein bailed on the administration in April 2011 for the sanctuary of a liberal think-tank. He'll also now ply his failed wares as a financial pundit.

These hapless command-and-control ideologues were preceded by Peter Orszag, who hung his "Mission Accomplished" banner over the White House budget office in June 2010 after fewer than two years on the job, and by former National Economic Council head and hedge fund manager Larry Summers, who was caught sleeping on the job -- literally -- more than once during his brief tenure. Summers packed his bags in September. He was followed by Princeton economics professor and former top Obama Treasury Department official Alan Krueger in October 2010.

White House aides have lamented that the economic team is "exhausted." Apparently, Obama is tired of hearing from them, too. The Hill newspaper reports that he has stopped receiving daily economic briefings that were once treated with the same emergency status as national security briefings. So, the central planners continue to be paid to fail -- while their boss looks the other way at the destruction, whistling into what he calls America's temporary "head winds." Nice non-work if you can get it.



The Cancer of Regulation

John Stossel

Politicians care about poor people. I know because they always say that. But then why do they make it so hard for the poor to escape poverty?

Outside my office in New York City, I see yellow taxis. It's intuitive to think that government should license taxis to make sure they're safe and to limit their number. It's intuitive to believe that if anyone could just start picking up passengers, we'd have chaos. So to operate a taxi in NYC, you have to buy a license, a "medallion," from an existing cab company (or at a once-in-a-blue-moon auction). Medallions are so scarce, they now cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Licensing prices poor people out of the business. "Compare New York City, where a license to own and operate a taxi is $603,000, to Washington, D.C.," George Mason University economist Walter Williams told me. "There are not many black-owned taxis in New York City. But in Washington, most are owned by blacks." Why? Because in Washington, "it takes $200 to get a license to own and operate one taxi. That makes the difference."

Regulation hurts the people the politicians claim to help. People once just went into business. But now, in the name of "consumer protection," bureaucrats insist on licensing rules. Today, hundreds of occupations require expensive licenses. Tough luck for a poor person getting started.

Ask Jestina Clayton. Ten years ago, she moved from Africa to Utah. She assumed she could support her children with the hair-braiding skills she learned in Sierra Leone. For four years, she braided hair in her home. She made decent money. But then the government shut her down because she doesn't have an expensive cosmetology license that requires 2,000 hours of classroom time -- 50 weeks of useless instruction. The Institute for Justice (IJ), the public-interest law firm that fights such outrages, says "not one of those 2,000 hours teaches African hair-braiding."

IJ lawyer Paul Avelar explained that "the state passed a really broad law and left it to the cosmetology board to interpret." Guess who sits on the cosmetology board. Right: cosmetologists. And they don't like competition.

One day, Jestina received an email. "The email threatened to report me to the licensing division if I continued to braid," she told me. This came as a shock because she had been told that what she was doing was legal.

"When I called (the commission) in 2005 on two separate occasions, they did tell me that, but then when I called (again) ... the cosmetology lady told me that the situation had changed and that I needed to go to school now and get a license."

No customers complained, but a competitor did. One cosmetologist claimed that if she didn't go to school she might make someone bald. But this is nonsense -- hair-braiding is just ... braiding. If the braid is too tight, you can undo it.

The cosmetology board told Jestina that if she wanted to braid hair without paying $18,000 to get permission from the board, she should lobby the legislature. Good luck with that. Jestina actually tried, but no luck. How can poor people become entrepreneurs if they must get laws changed first?! Jestina stopped working because she can't afford the fines. "The first offense is $1,000," she said. "The second offense and any subsequent offense is $2,000 each day."

"It is not unique to Utah," Avelar added. "There are about 10 states that explicitly require people to go get this expensive, useless license to braid hair."

Fortunately, IJ's efforts against such laws have succeeded in seven states. Now it's in court fighting for Jestina, which, appropriately, means "justice" in her native language.

Once upon a time, one in 20 workers needed government permission to work in their occupation. Today, it's one in three. We lose some freedom every day. "Occupational licensing laws fall hardest on minorities, on poor, on elderly workers who want to start a new career or change careers," Avelar said. "(Licensing laws) just help entrenched businesses keep out competition."

This is not what America was supposed to be.



Let's Not Forget About Obamacare

Democrats will often get irritable when some clingy philistine refers to Obamacare as "socialized medicine." It's simply not a precise phrase for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. In any event, it's not socialized yet, you ignoramuses! Progress doesn't happen overnight. No worries, though, recent signs portend that Obamacare will give us the state-run plan we proles deserve.

A new study published in McKinsey Quarterly claims that in 2014, the provisions of Obamacare will induce 3 in 10 employers to "definitely or probably" stop offering health coverage to their employees. And we can only assume the companies have had the good sense not to read the legislation.

Sure, the president promised we could keep our insurance if we liked it. But why would you want to be mixed up with pitiless corporations that focus on profits, anyway? Obamacare courageously forces states to implement concocted "exchanges" so that someone much smarter than you can pick participants, regulate prices and keep an eye on things. Sounds like a vigorous marketplace. It's only a wonder that more Americans aren't clamoring for government-run supermarkets, smartphones and dating exchanges, as well.

You'll also recall that the un-socialized system allowed 20, 30, 40 million (please feel free to come up with any number you'd like; The New York Times won't care) people to go uninsured. Medicare's chief actuary estimated that 400,000 would sign up for these high-risk pools before Obamacare kicked in. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the budget would be able to handle 200,000, and others claimed that the program would need eight times the funding to meet demand. This was the driving reason for Obamacare. But as Megan McArdle of The Atlantic points out, just as with the exchanges, folks have been standoffish, with only about 18,000 people signing up.

Victory, right? The success of a government handout is always measured by how little Americans need to use it, right? Well, judging from the food stamp administration's actions, that would be a big no. What this probably calls out for is more public service announcements or a wider net. Hey, we'll just get some toffee-nosed yacht jockeys to offset the cost.

That's not to say there aren't people out there who really need support. The president has generously handed out nearly 1,400 Obamacare waivers to the neediest among us. About 20 percent of them have been awarded to an upmarket district in San Francisco that, by pure chance, is represented by Nancy Pelosi. Others, such as the AARP and local unions, had demanded we pass Obamacare so they could not take part in it immediately.

We'll also soon be hearing more about the lawsuits challenging Obamacare's individual mandate. Randy Barnett, a professor of constitutional law at Georgetown University Law Center, recently asked, "If Congress can impose this economic mandate on the people, what can't it mandate the people to buy?" Everything and nothing. And that's the beauty of it.

And let's not forget it was Obama, the newfound holy savior of Medicare, who pinned the key cost control component of health care reform on Medicare through his Independent Payment Advisory Board, or what bitter righties call a rationing board.

Rationing boards. Political favors. Lies. Coercion. Broken promises. Precedents that can force us to buy about anything. It might not be socialism, technically speaking. But really, what's not to like?



Leftist Lies and the Media That Enable Them

You might have seen the vicious Mediscare video by now entitled “America the Beautiful.” If you haven’t, you should. It’s from folks who just the other day were chanting the mantra of “civility.” It’s a taste of what the left will be serving up as 2012 approaches.

As the song “America the Beautiful” plays, a man in a dark suit with a likeness to Republican Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.) pushes an elderly woman in a wheelchair down a sidewalk. The message on the screen informs us that the Republican Medicare reform proposal will “privatize” Medicare. The man diverts to a steep path as the woman’s smile turns to terror. She fights as he pushes her faster. He then dumps her headfirst off a cliff, which we see clearly from the front. The only thing missing is a vampire giving her a hickey on the way down.

Not since Barry Goldwater was smeared in 1964 with the famous "little girl with daisy and mushroom cloud" TV ad has there been such bald-faced character assassination.

The ad was produced by The Agenda Project, a leftist group that earlier made a similarly nasty Tea Party video whose title includes the f-word, and also "Hate Begets Hate", a hateful assault on public figures who oppose the Cordoba House Mosque at Ground Zero in New York City. That one has little Muslim girls crying and being comforted while photos of big, bad (and even some liberal) politicians are quoted. This is propaganda at its rawest. No, wait. They topped it with that lady pushed over a cliff.




When all you have is a hammer: "Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is troubled by the unemployment rate that has crept back upwards, and the 'frustratingly slow' economic recovery. And so what does he propose? More of the same, of course. More liquidity and a base interest rate kept near zero. You see, this is practically the only tool he has: monetary stimulus, which is another word for inflation, if we define this in terms of a rising money supply rather than rising prices, the latter of which is properly seen as a natural consequence of the former."

The dark side of the welfare state: "There comes a point when elected leaders reach the end of their ability to tax, borrow, and inflate for funding. The United States is verging on that threshold. However, rather than acknowledge the folly of and dispense with unsustainable entitlements, U.S. leaders are, for the most part, endeavoring to preserve them."

Real cuts for the debt vote: "The House's overwhelming rejection of a clean debt-limit increase means that the two parties must now find major spending cuts. House Republicans say that they will not support a debt increase unless the Democrats agree to equal-sized spending cuts. If Congress raises the debt limit by $1 trillion, then it must also find budget savings of at least $1 trillion, over either five or ten years. The crucial question is: Will the proposed budget savings be real cuts or smoke-and-mirrors 'cuts?'"

Free trade can help the US grow: "The Obama administration’s economic policies thus far would suggest that it sees the only way to increase growth is to increase federal spending. However, Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) that increase competition by removing tariffs and other barriers to trade may do more to promote America’s economic recovery than billions of dollars of government stimulus ever could."

Take your little black box and shove it: "We all heard this week that from this moment onward, all new automobiles manufactured in or imported to the United States will be required to have 'litle black boxes' like the flight recorders in aircraft."


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)

More and more of the USA is being run by emptyheads

Thomas Sowell

Two unrelated news stories on the same day show the contrast between government decisions and private decisions.

Under the headline "Foreclosed Homes Sell at Big Discounts," USA Today reported that banks were selling the homes they foreclosed on, at discounts of 38 percent in Tennessee to 41 percent in Illinois and Ohio.

Banks in general try to get rid of the homes they acquire by foreclosure, by selling them quickly for whatever they can get. Why? Because banks are forced by economic realities to realize that they are not real estate companies.

No matter how much expertise bank officials may have in financial transactions, that is very different from knowing the best ways to maintain and market empty houses.

Meanwhile, there was a story on the Fox News Channel about schools that are using their time to indoctrinate kindergartners and fourth graders with politically correct attitudes about sex.

Anyone familiar with the low standards and mushy notions in the schools and departments of education that turn out our public school teachers might think that these teachers would have all they can do to make American children competent in reading, writing and math.

Anyone familiar with how our children stack up with children from other countries in basic education would be painfully aware that American children lag behind children in countries that spend far less per pupil than we do.

In other words, teachers and schools that are failing to provide the basics of education are branching out into all sorts of other areas, where they have even less competence.

Why are teachers so bold when banks are so cautious? The banks pay a price for being wrong. Teachers don't.

If banks try to act like they are real estate companies and hold on to a huge inventory of foreclosed homes, they are likely to lose money big time, as those homes deteriorate and cannot compete with homes marketed by real estate companies with far more experience and expertise in this field.

But if teachers fail to educate children, they don't lose one dime, no matter how much those children and the country lose by their failure. If the schools waste precious time indoctrinating children, instead of educating them, that's the children's problem and the country's problem, but not the teachers' problem.

Sex indoctrination is just one of innumerable "exciting" and "innovative" self-indulgences of the schools. There is no bottom line test of what these boondoggles cost the children or the country.

Incidentally, conservatives who think that schools should be teaching "abstinence" miss the point completely. The schools have no expertise to be teaching sex at all. We should be happy if they ever develop the competence to teach math and English, so that our children can hold their own in international tests given to children in other countries.

Schools are just one government institution that take on tasks for which they have no expertise or even competence.

Congress is the most egregious example. In the course of any given year, Congress votes on taxes, medical care, military spending, foreign aid, agriculture, labor, international trade, airlines, housing, insurance, courts, natural resources, and much more.

There are professionals who have spent their entire adult lives specializing in just one of these fields. They idea that Congress can be competent in all these areas simultaneously is staggering. Yet, far from pulling back-- as banks or other private enterprises must, if they don't want to be ruined financially by operating beyond the range of their competence-- Congress is constantly expanding further into more fields.

Having spent years ruining the housing markets with their interference, leading to a housing meltdown that has taken the whole economy down with it, politicians have now moved on into micro-managing automobile companies and medical care.

They are not going to stop unless they get stopped. And that is not going to happen until the voters recognize the fact that political rhetoric is no substitute for competence.



Think You Know Sarah Palin? Think Again

Sarah Palin is one of the most media-saturated figures today, as filmmaker Stephen K. Bannon of the new film “The Undefeated” points out. Yet, watching the film, the details about the ex-governor that have remained unknown to the ‘lower 48’ will stun the viewer.

The film itself has an interesting origin. The Palin team approached Bannon after the 2010 election about a film, but he wasn’t interested in the short video project they mentioned. Bannon decided to do a film that the Palin team had no editorial control over, although they did help him gain access to several key players from her time in Alaska. For those wondering whether Team Sarah wanted “The Undefeated” to come out in conjunction with some sort of presidential buzz, Bannon says that the team never expressed interest in or exerted any pressure on a movie release date.

Though the film production timeline was not, it appears, done with any kind of presidential 2012 campaign in mind, it is capable of giving people a second impression of Palin and one that could prove useful in a 2012 discussion, because it’s a documentary based on facts that show the governor as an astute leader and a smart woman, unlike how she has been portrayed for the better part of three years. Bannon himself is a Harvard grad and was impressed with how Palin governed the state. He also said even some liberals in the entertainment industry are garnering a great appreciation for her as a person of substance.

Maybe that’s because “The Undefeated” takes the better part of two hours to highlight something that many people have glossed over –Sarah Palin’s legislative accomplishments.

Americans hear the generic, cliché phrases about how Palin cleaned up the good old boys network in Alaska and improved the state’s energy infrastructure. But this movie gives you the facts and details behind those clichés – it draws heavily on interviews from those who know the state best, newspaper clippings and TV coverage of Palin's time as an elected Alaskan official, and it is sewn together by narration from Palin herself that the director borrowed from audio of her book, Going Rogue.

As governor, Palin actually did comb through the Alaskan budget line by line and powerfully wielded the veto pen. She implemented important reforms to Alaska’s oil industry and pressured Exxon to start drilling again in Point Thomson after holding leasing on the land for years. The film includes an old TV report about the businesses that came to Wasilla thanks to its new pro-business atmosphere, fostered by Palin. And, unlike the Democrats who talk a big game about taking on Big Oil, Palin actually took on Big Oil with a tenacity that should make her Nancy Pelosi’s hero, releasing the stranglehold that those companies had on the oil resources and industry in her state. She didn’t stand for corruption in the Alaskan government – her ethical stance, in fact, was a key factor in the popularity that allowed her to run for governor.

What did her critics do? They responded by calling her a Spice Girl or some variation of Nordstrom girl – and this was back during her Wasilla days, way before the national media ever began launching torpedoes her way. Palin’s response? She won re-election as mayor of Wasilla with about 75 percent of the vote. She had an over 80 percent approval rating as governor.

It’s the sentiment of Bannon’s movie: think again before you underestimate Sarah Palin.



You know how Sarah Palin said Paul Revere warned the British? Well, he did. Now, who looks stupid?

You may have heard recently something about that Sarah Palin telling a reporter that Paul Revere warned the British on his famous rousing revolutionary ride.

Now, that so many Americans have wallowed in their smug confirmation that Palin is an idiot unqualified for anything but repeating sixth-grade history, how far, wide and fast do you think the contradictory news will spread that the former governor of Alaska was indeed correct?

That the Republican non-candidate, in fact, knew more about the actual facts of Revere's midnight ride than all those idiots unknowingly revealing their own ignorance by laughing at her faux faux pas? How secretly embarrassing this must be, to be forced to face that you're dumber than the reputed dummy.

As it happens, though, such phenomena are regular occurrences in American politics, reminding consumers of news to be wary when some fresh story seems to fit contemporary assumptions so absolutely perfectly.

The well-known fable is Revere's late-night ride to warn fellow revolutionaries that.... the British were coming. Less known, obviously, is the rest of the evening's events in which Revere was captured by said redcoats and did indeed defiantly warn them of the awakened militia awaiting their arrival ahead and of the American Revolution's inevitable victory.

Palin knew this. The on-scene reporters did not and ran off like Revere to alert the world to Palin's latest mis-speak, which wasn't.



Why PBS is a public menace

PBS recently added 15- to 30-second "sponsorship" messages to online presentations of major programs — everything from Masterpiece to Frontline (but not children's programs). This fall, it intends to start interrupting its broadcasts with promotional spots, although in response to criticism it says it may test the idea first.

PBS calls these interruptions "program breaks" or "sponsorship announcements," but on other channels they're called commercials. So: What, in a world of hundreds of radio and TV channels, is so special about PBS and NPR that they should get $420 million a year of taxpayers' money?

When I was a boy growing up in western Kentucky, with three TV networks, it was understandable that people thought an "educational" network would add something important. But my brother's kids in that same little town later had access to hundreds of cable stations.

PBS used to ask, "If not PBS, then who?" The answer now is: HBO, Bravo, Discovery, History, History International, Science, Planet Green, Sundance, Military, C-SPAN 1/2/3 and many more.

Defenders of the tax-funded broadcast networks often point out that only about 15 percent of their funding comes from the federal government. Good — they can absorb the loss.

In 2003, NPR told potential advertisers that "compared with the general public, NPR listeners are 55 percent less likely to have a household income below $30,000 ... 152 percent more likely to have a home valued at $500,000 or more and 194 percent more likely to travel to France." And PBS viewers were 98 percent more likely to be a CEO and 315 percent more likely to have stocks valued at $75,000 or more.

Sponsors know this. The most prominent of the new online advertisers is Goldman Sachs, which knows where to find a wealthy and influential audience.

So why should working- and middle-class taxpayers be subsidizing the news and entertainment of the rich?

The main point here isn't the money, it's the separation of news and state. If anything should be kept separate from government and politics, it's the news and public-affairs programming that informs Americans about government and its policies. When government brings us the news — with all the inevitable bias and spin — it is putting its thumb on the scales of democracy.

A healthy democracy needs a free and diverse press — but Americans today have access to more sources of news and opinion than ever before: more broadcast networks than before, cable networks, satellite TV and radio, the Internet. Any diversity argument for NPR and PBS is now a sad joke.

We don't need a government news and opinion network. More important, we shouldn't require taxpayers to pay for broadcasting that will inevitably reflect a particular perspective on politics and culture. The marketplace of democracy should be a free market, in which the voices of citizens are heard, with no unfair advantage granted by government to one participant.




Obama lies with statistics about auto industry jobs: "The auto industry has added 113,000 jobs over the past two years.” So proclaimed President Obama in his speech Friday. But we need to look under the hood of those employment claims. Schoenberger reported the sobering fact that even after the Bush and Obama administrations spent $62 billion to bail out Chrysler and General Motors, “the two automakers employ 16,500 fewer people than they did in 2009.” How can these two statistics — 113,000 new jobs and 16,500 fewer auto workers — simultaneously be true? Foreign automakers with plants in the South have been picking up the slack in hiring. “Automotive employment is shifting away from its traditional base in the Midwest to the southeastern States,” says the BLS in its 2010–11 Career Guide to Industries. “A large number of these assembly plants are owned by foreign automobile makers, known as ‘domestic internationals.’”

Portugal: Center-Right wins election: "Portugal’s Social Democrats unseated the Socialist government in an emphatic election victory yesterday, giving the center-right party a strong mandate to enact a grinding austerity program amid a $114 billion bailout expected to pitch the country into deep recession. Jose Socrates, the Socialist leader and the country’s prime minister for the past six years, conceded before all the results were in. 'The Socialist Party lost these elections,' Socrates said in a speech, adding he would resign as party leader."

Free John Edwards and repeal campaign finance regulatory nonsense: "With the ridiculous criminal indictment of former presidential candidate John Edwards, this would be a good time to call for the repeal of all restrictions on the right of people to donate as much money as they want to political candidates for whatever reason they want. During his presidential campaign, Edwards learned that his mistress was pregnant and wished to keep it secret. He approached a couple of wealthy people, who gave him around million dollars to help hide the affair and the pregnancy."

A primer on the never-ending bust: "With Friday's dismal jobs report — showing a paltry 54,000 increase in nonfarm payroll employment in May — more and more analysts are realizing that the so-called economic 'recovery' is stalling. As Jeffrey Tucker recently pointed out in an important article, Austrians realize that the recession never left. This has all been smoke and mirrors for the last two years"


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, June 07, 2011

Nazi propaganda re-emerges in San Francisco

At least since Karl Marx, the Left has been the principal home of antisemitism -- the socialist Hitler not excepted. That Hitler was defeated in WWII did however cause just about everybody to distance themselves from what he stood for. But the old passion among Leftists has remained, albeit submerged for a time. It was submerged for a few decades but after Israel's victory in the 6-day war it began to emerge again, initially as "anti-Zionism" but more and more openly as hatred of Jews in general. Some examples here.

Now at last we seem to have come perilously close to full circle. So far it is only in the Leftist stronghold of San Francisco but as goes California, so goes the country rather often -- JR.

As you may have heard by now, San Francisco will be voting this November on whether or not to ban circumcision in the city. Defenders of the measure say it’s all about “human rights” and “protecting babies” from unnecessary procedures.

But critics suspected there was something vaguely anti-Semitic about the whole proposal, since among Jews (and Muslims, as well) circumcising male babies is a religious duty, not just a mistaken medical procedure. Ban proponents insisted their proposal had nothing to do with Jews — really, it’s all about the rights of children.

Well, any doubt that they were lying have now been dispelled, with the publication of new campaign literature for the upcoming circumcision ban. The campaign comic book, called “Foreskin Man,” after its baby-saving superhero, features a litany of evil Jews doing battle with blond Nordic saviors.

More HERE. See also here

See the first link for graphics. They are too horrible for me to reproduce here. For anybody who knows the portrayal of Jews in the Nazi propaganda of the 1930's, the resemblance to 2011 San Francisco propaganda is unmistakeable. Jews who think they are safe in America are pretty right at the moment but there is no doubt about the direction events are taking. Germany was once seen as a great beacon for Jewish emancipation too -- JR


The Syrian hellhole

IT WAS THE TORTURE of elementary-school students in Deraa that gave momentum to the current Syrian uprising against Bashar al-Assad's brutal regime. The children, some as young as 10, were picked up by security agents for scrawling antigovernment graffiti on a school wall. When they were released days later, there were cigarette burn marks on their bodies, and the fingernails had been pulled from their hands. Word of the torture spread, outraging Syrians and helping fuel further protest. The government's response has been a deadly crackdown with appalling new levels of cruelty.

"The stories we hear now are unimaginable in their brutality," a former Syrian intelligence officer who has turned against the regime told The Wall Street Journal recently. "It is not only to deter protesters. They enjoy hurting people for the sake of it." One such victim, a shopkeeper from Homs, was seized after leaving an antigovernment protest. As described by the Journal, the man was slashed with a scalpel on his back, then stitched up without anesthetic and beaten on the wounds. He was "kept naked and blindfolded in a room packed with detainees and excrement," where he listened to his cousin being burned with a poker, and was told to "kneel in prayer" before a portrait of Assad.

Syria, a human-rights hellhole where more than 1,000 protesters have been murdered in recent weeks, is among the "Worst of the Worst" -- the 17 countries (plus three territories) identified by Freedom House as the most repressive societies on earth. Founded in 1941 to promote freedom and democracy, Freedom House each year publishes a country-by-country survey of civil liberties and political rights in each country in the world. Those surveys show a world notably freer than it was 30 years ago, when the Iron Curtain still stood. But little of that light has penetrated to the nations needing it most.



Young Americans Face A Brutal Summer

Young Americans graduating from colleges across the United States are facing limited job prospects, high debt and the likely necessity of returning home to live with parents in order to survive, a bitter harvest from the Obama Economy.
Our current economic policies that continue to find new and even more inventive ways to punish the prudent, destroy the entrepreneurial , reward the most irresponsible, all while burdening future generations with trillions in new debt. Commencement speeches traditionally focus on bright futures and change and “oh–the-places-you’ll-go” in an optimistic, nationwide, rah-rah as graduates turn their tassels and launch forth to conquer new worlds. Good luck with that.

Closer to the truth would be a stark admission that Obama’s economic policies have failed and the evidence is all around us. The most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report shows that the jobless rate (despite repeated manipulations of the data by the Obama Administration) has climbed to 9.1%, with decreases in both private and public sector jobs.

Gas prices remain high, averaging almost $4 per gallon across the United States. The Consumer Confidence Index fell to a six-month low, coming in at 60.8 (a rating of 90 shows a healthy economy). The housing market has hit a new low, according to the S&P Case/Schiller Home Price Index, and confirms the existence of a double dip in housing prices across the United States.

Even the United States’ comprehensive scorecard for the economy, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) report shows that growth is slow. All of these indicators, on top of the recent BLS jobless report, provide proof that the economy is not growing, the recovery has not happened and that the over $1 trillion dollars that the Obama Administration spent in Stimulus did not stimulate the economy.

Is it any wonder that across the country the morale is low and that Americans think, increasingly, that the federal government is out of touch with the concerns of the average working American?

For minorities, the prospects of a good job are especially bleak; unemployment for white Americans averaged 8.9%, but African Americans averaged 17.5%, just a little more than double the rate of white unemployment. Hispanic Americans reported 11.9% unemployment.

Still, despite the grim outlook for newly minted college grads, these college grads are better off than high school grads. Young teens looking to gain work experience are finding that even low-skilled, part-time, jobs aren’t there. Unions don’t seem to want young people competing for jobs that their adult union members might perform. And, with a high minimum wage, small business owners are hesitant to bring on inexperienced labor in this uncertain economic climate.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ report shows that the hardest hit among all of the unemployed are America’s teens. African Americans, ages 16-19, of both sexes, show a mind-boggling 40.7% unemployed; white teens show 20.7% unemployment and Hispanic teens report 26.1% unemployment. The long-term repercussions of these unemployment numbers are troubling, yet the Obama Administration is curiously silent.

Team Obama has spent trillions of dollars and enormous political capital advancing stimulus plans and other empty calorie policies that have failed to spark employment, especially among America’s young. Instead, Obama’s policies have only further eroded American competitiveness, hindered job creation.

The consequences of a growing and prolonged unemployment within the minority and teen work community, combined with preferential legislation, create a dangerous racial cocktail of time, idleness and increased expectation of entitlements. With the high tax structure and the ever-increasing hostility towards wealth creation, entrepreneurial energies aren’t there and Americans should expect that the jobless situation will only get worse.

Young Americans will likely face the worst summer in recent history. After over two years of “fixes”, the Obama Administration has shown that they are bankrupt of ideas and incapable of providing solutions to the country’s growing problems.



One happy ending

In Florida, a couple that paid cash for their home, and never had a mortgage was foreclosed on by Bank of America. It took 18 months to straighten out and Bank of America agreed to pay the legal expenses of the homeowners.

When the bank did not pay the couple, they foreclosed on Bank of America. A Judge authorized a deputy to seize desks, copiers, and computers that could be sold to pay the expenses.

The foreclosure nightmare started when Warren and Maureen Nyerges paid cash for a home owned by Bank of American in the Golden Gate Estates. They never had a mortgage whatsoever. But, the bank fouled it up and wound up issuing a foreclosure through their attorney.

The couple took their case to court and after a year and a half nightmare the foreclosure was dropped. A Collier County judge said Bank of America has to pay the couple's $2,534 legal fees for the error. After more than five months the bank still hadn't paid up. So, the homeowners' attorney did just what the bank would do to get their money, legally seize their assets.

"I instructed the deputy to go in and take desks, computers, copiers, filing cabinets, including cash in the drawers," Attorney Todd Allen told WINK News.

Outside the Bank of America on Davis Boulevard, several deputies stood by with movers ready to start hauling out the bank's office supplies and furniture.

Inside, the homeowners' attorney was locked out of the bank manager's office by deputies while the bank manger tried to figure out what to do.

After about an hour the bank finally cut a check to satisfy the debt, and no furniture was taken. A representative for Bank of America issued a statement saying they are sorry for the delay in issuing funds. They claim the original request went to an outside attorney who is no longer in business.




Appeals court to hear states’ case against ObamaCare: "Of the many legal challenges to the Obama-sponsored health care overhaul, the case brought by 26 states to be heard Wednesday by a federal appeals court in Atlanta stands out. In a lawsuit targeting the rule that all Americans buy health insurance, the states have banded together to claim that Congress exceeded its power and tread on states' domain."

Israeli troops fire on Golan Hts. invaders: "Israeli soldiers fired on protesters trying to breach the country’s frontier fence with Syria on the anniversary of the 1967 Middle East War. At least 20 people were killed, according to Syrian state television. Some 277 people were wounded, including 12 in critical condition, the television said. ... Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said today that security forces would act with 'determination' to prevent 'extremist elements in the region' from penetrating the frontier."

Even liberal Washington Post casts doubt on auto bailouts: "As the Washington Post editorial board, which has not endorsed a Republican for president since 1952, noted, the bailout sent a harmful 'message' that the automakers are 'too big to fail.' And the bailouts might not have been necessary to save most auto jobs, since even 'If GM and Chrysler had failed, their profitable parts would, eventually, have been bought up and put to work by others … expanding production and hiring workers in the process. Government dollars spent propping up the two automakers might have created jobs elsewhere.'"

Did the recession ever really go away?: "Housing prices hitting 2002 levels, unemployment still at 9 percent, private-sector job growth flat, and retail sales still struggling: these are headlines that few expected three years ago. The prevailing theory in Washington was that the recession was somehow precipitated (and therefore vaguely caused) by the crash in housing prices, and many big and small tricks were used to goose the market. But the price system has once again proven to be the greatest and most persistent practitioner of civil disobedience on the planet."

Government salaries reach obscene levels: "Anyone who claims government employees need unions clearly is unaware of how well federal workers, who do not have collective bargaining rights, are paid. A new report by the Congressional Research Service reported that 77,057 federal workers earned more than their state’s chief executive in 2009. To make matters worse, the report, requested by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., does not even include federal employees at the Central Intelligence Agency, the Postal Service and other agencies"

Fiscal frat boys in DC should listen to women: "The movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding has a wonderful scene in which the mother tells her daughter in a thick Greek accent that 'the man is the head [of the house], but the woman is the neck and she can turn the head any way she wants.' Most of us gave a knowing chuckle at that one, because we know that women are the guardians of our families in many ways, including financial stability. ... Therefore, women who make tough pocketbook choices every day are appalled by men in Washington who won’t do the same -- even to the point of threatening the solvency of future generations."

Private governance and the shadow of the state: "In the 18th century, the government refused to enforce stock exchange contracts, seeing them as a form of gambling. Nevertheless, the Coffeehouse became a centre of commerce and contracts were usually upheld voluntarily. If you were a trader, you could rip somebody off once, but would be barred from the club. For people whose livelihoods were based on stock trading, it wasn't worth it. The same phenomenon exists today in a whole range of exchanges."

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)