Saturday, July 09, 2011

The War on Jobs Continues

The war on "big oil" is a war on jobs

The Obama Administration continued its war on American jobs this week by employing more Orwellian rhetoric than a Menshevik at a party congress. I wish they could show as much energy in prosecuting wars in Afghanistan or Libya as they have in the war on American jobs.

"The president believes, we believe, that there are enough members of both parties in both houses who support the idea that a big deal has to be balanced and therefore include spending cuts in the tax code," Carney said according to the Associated Press "employing a phrase White House officials use to describe ending tax loopholes and tax subsidies for certain taxpayers and corporations."

"Spending cuts in the tax code?" That's the Menshevik-in-chief's code for tax increases. Is it any wonder that the newest jobs report was such a stinkbomb? About the only people who don't seem to understand what's going in the economy is the Flat Earth Society at the White House.

It's bad enough that top Obama advisor David Plouffe thinks unemployment isn't important to citizens. It's another thing for the president's economic czar Austan Goolsbee to claim the US is not facing another recession while trying to raise taxes on Main Street, especially in light of the jobs report.

Like all tax increases in this administration, the one they're talking about now is a "targeted" tax increase. They are targeted a you pocketbook and your job.

The presidential candidate who once promised that he'd never, ever raise taxes on anyone making less than $250,000 has become the president who has proposed another set of tax increases that will be felt most acutely by the poor and the middle class.

This tax increase is on oil. And by "oil," I mean you. You'll feel it at the pump eventually and in the unemployment line. The administration contends that they just want to close loopholes. But the Heritage Foundation says that some of those proposals unfairly single out the oil industry.

For example, the oil industry "already faces a higher marginal tax rate at 41 percent compared to 26 percent for the rest of businesses in Standard & Poor's 500," according to Heritage, and that doesn't include the sales taxes that are imposed at the state and local level.

The administration is also trying to repeal some commonplace tax deductions that encourage investment in new capital and jobs here in the US. Amongst these the administration is trying to do away with are the ability of oil companies to subtract capital investment immediately (which all companies should be able to do) and deductions aimed at making manufacturing more competitive in the US.

While the rest of us would love for oil prices to come down, the president and the administration is doing everything they can to keep prices high and discourage domestic energy production. The consequence is that everyone pays more at the pump and those costs are passed along to consumers.

But that's not even half of the cost. Six percent ($533 billion in payroll) of all labor income in the United States and 5.3 percent of all jobs are either directly tied to or support the oil and gas business. Some of the supporting industries include Services, Wholesale and Retail Trade, Finance, Insurance, Real Estate, Rental and Leasing, Manufacturing, Transportation and Warehousing, Information, Construction, Agriculture, Utilities and Mining. The jobs are good paying, technical positions too.

And despite everything the Obama administration has done to slow down domestic development of oil and gas resources, the oil and gas sector is one of the fastest growing jobs markets in a very anemic job market. While other sectors are shedding jobs, oil and gas is hot.

"The six fastest-growing jobs for 2010-11," according to Economic Modeling Specialists Inc's (EMSI) latest quarterly employment data, "are related to oil and gas extraction. This includes service unit operators, derrick operators, rotary drill operators, and roustabouts. Each is expected to grow anywhere from 9% to 11% through this year, in an otherwise mostly stagnant economy." "In total," EMSI concluded, "nine of the top 11 fast-growing jobs in the nation are tied in one way or another to oil and gas extraction."

EMSI says it's not a one-year wonder either. The push for domestic exploration thanks to new technologies on oil and gas recovery is a long-term uptrend: "Over the last five years, the explosion in the sector has been than staggering - even with a minor employment dip from 2009-2010. The industry added more than 345,000 jobs nationally from 2007 to 2009, and is expected add another 85,000 this year, which equals 11% growth."

And the benefits of the oil industry could gather across the economic spectrum to help all of us, if the administration would only get out of our way.

A recent report from Sonecon, an economic advisory firm that analyzes the impact of government policies, studied the investment results from the two largest public pension programs in 17 states. The study covered approximately 60 percent of all the public pension assets in those states. The assets were invested on behalf of teachers, firefighters, police and other public employees.

"During good economic times - or challenging ones - oil and natural gas investments far outperformed other public pension holdings," said Kyle Isakower, API vice president of regulatory and economic policy. Amongst the finding of the report:

* The average rate of return on investments by these funds in oil and natural gas stocks was seven times greater than the average return on their investments in all other assets. This ratio ranged from a low of 2.7 to 1 to a high of 40 to 1.

* On average, the share of these funds' combined returns attributable to their oil and natural gas assets was 3.4 times greater than those assets' share of the funds' total assets.

* While oil and natural gas stocks make up an average of 4.6 percent of holdings in the top public pension funds, they accounted for an average of 15.7 percent of the returns in these funds over the five-year time period, according to the Sonecon study.

These returns are made possible, not because crude oil is a terrible and dangerous polluter, as Obama says, but because petroleum is one of the most versatile, coolest natural resources ever discovered. One barrel of oil creates 19 gallons (more or less) of gasoline. The rest of it goes into over 6,000 other products, including computers, CDs, DVDs, cell phones, pain relievers and vitamins, just to name a few.

While the American job market continues to take casualties, we don't have to look too closely to see where the fire is coming from.



Restoring Fairness with the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act

Most people, when they do something wrong, face consequences. Heck, even man's best friend must face the music when he pees on the rug. Sadly, though, this aphorism does not apply to those who file frivolous lawsuits.

Today, there is no swift and sound sanction against a frivolous lawsuit, defined as a claim that has no basis in fact and is not likely to have evidentiary support after a reasonable opportunity for further investigation or discovery. The result over time is potentially hundreds of millions of dollars of unnecessary costs to small business and our nation's economy.

The House Judiciary Committee took a step yesterday toward rectifying this with its approval of the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act (LARA). The legislation - H.R. 966 - was marked up and approved by the Committee by a vote of 20-13 and now goes to the full House of Representatives for consideration.

LARA would reduce wasteful litigation by reversing 1993 amendments that weakened Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The post-1993 version of Rule 11 permits attorneys to file a lawsuit first and try to back up their claims later. It allows the plaintiff's lawyer a "safe harbor" of 21 days to withdraw the lawsuit without any penalty, leaving an individual or business no effective recourse.

LARA would make sanctions against those filing frivolous claims mandatory rather than discretionary. It would eliminate the 21-day "safe harbor" that allows unscrupulous lawyers to game the system, and it would replace language in the rule that discourages judges from protecting victims of lawsuit abuse with language that fully authorizes judges to order a party that brings a frivolous claim to pay the defendant's attorney's fees and costs.

With stronger Rule 11 sanctions, there is substantially more risk involved in making a frivolous claim because a claimant cannot just withdraw the frivolous claim without consequence.

Without LARA, an individual or business hit with a lawsuit that has no reasonable basis in law or fact does not have an effective means to recover thousands of dollars in defense costs to have the case dismissed and is forced to pay or settle regardless of the merits. We commend the House Judiciary Committee for taking a first step toward protecting businesses from needless, wasteful costs and restoring accountability and basic fairness.



The Only Reform That Will Restrain Spending

All 47 Senate Republicans now support changing the Constitution to balance the federal budget


Whatever happens when President Obama meets with congressional leaders of both parties at the White House today, no long-term solution is on the table for the spending habits in Washington that have endangered the prosperity of future generations. With our federal debt exceeding $14 trillion-nearly 100% of our gross domestic product-fiscal calamity is jeopardizing our standard of living and undermining our national security. And President Obama recently requested that we add an additional $2.4 trillion to our debt.

There has to be another way, and there is. Republicans in the Senate are united in our concern about our nation's fiscal future. Before we consider saddling our children with even more debt, we must enact significant spending cuts and enforceable caps on future spending. For the long term, to prevent both this Congress and its successors from hijacking the promise of American prosperity, we also need a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, like the one we and all 47 Senate Republicans have introduced.

The American people who will vote on such an amendment understand the basic financial rules that Washington has been breaking. In the real world, if a household brought in $44,000 annually but spent $74,000 by borrowing $30,000 each year to sustain its spending habits, such behavior would be considered reckless and irresponsible.

Nonetheless, the federal government is doing exactly that on an unimaginable scale, running historic deficits in excess of a trillion dollars for three consecutive years and borrowing 40 cents for every dollar spent. Our government has balanced its budget only five times in half a century.

Why will this approach work where others have failed? For one single reason: As senators and representatives, we take an oath to uphold the Constitution. By amending the Constitution, Congress will be forever bound to match our nation's expenditures with our revenues. Toothless resolutions and statutory speed bumps have proven easy to evade or ignore. Indeed, the reason many lawmakers don't want a balanced budget amendment is the exact reason why we need it: It would permanently end the types of legislative trickery that have now brought our country to the fiscal brink.


I am sorry to say that I think this is mostly showboating but the idea definitely has merit -- JR



The "stimulus" hasn't stimulated: "Hiring slowed to a near-standstill last month, raising doubts that the economy will rebound in the second half of the year. The report baffled economists who had predicted much stronger job creation. And it escalated a debate in Washington over how to spur hiring and energize the economy while also cutting federal spending. Just 18,000 net jobs were created in June, the fewest in nine months. The unemployment rate rose to 9.2 percent, the highest rate of the year, the Labor Department said Friday. Stocks plunged after the report was released, although the market recovered some losses in late-afternoon trading. The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 62 points for the day. Broader indexes also fell."

That charming TSA again: "A luggage screener has allegedly been caught stealing from passengers. Nelson Santiago, from the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA), has been arrested for allegedly stealing around $50,000 worth of electronics this year, MSNBC reports. Police claim that Santiago stole computers, cameras and other electronics from luggage he was screening. He would use his phone to upload a picture of the stolen item online and sell it by the end of his shift. A Continental Airlines employee even reported seeing Santiago stuff an iPad down his pants. Santiago is no longer working for the TSA. Police say that there could be many more victims.

One small step for man, one giant leap for private markets: "This Friday will mark the last ever space shuttle mission in NASA's program. The program has lasted nearly half a century and seen the launch of over 135 missions (including this last one by the Atlantis). For those who can remember being glued to the television as the Discovery, Endeavour, challenger and Columbia blasted out the Kennedy Space Center, this may be a bittersweet moment. However, the tearful can take comfort in the thought that they are waving goodbye to another landmark: the government's fifty-year monopoly in the space industry."

Designate Public Intoxication law for repeal: "Let's say you - or someone you care about - had a few drinks one night and, knowing it would not be a good idea to drive, decided to let a sober person take the wheel. Did you realize you can still be charged with a criminal offense? It's true. The Indiana Supreme Court just affirmed this in Moore v. State.... Indiana's public intoxication law is horrendously vague and depends upon the arbitrary discretion of law enforcement, which means it is open to possible abuse."

Iranian weapons killing Americans in Iraq: "Fresh warnings came from the Pentagon on Thursday that Iran is supporting extremist militias in Iraq that are killing U.S. troops. Weapons such as IRAMs -- improvised rocket-assisted munitions -- and specially shaped explosives called EFPs -- enhanced explosive penetrators -- have taken a deadly toll on U.S. forces in Iraq, Mullen said, and investigations have tied the weapons directly to Iran. "They are shipping high-tech weapons in there -- RAMS, EFPs -- which are killing our people and the forensics prove that," Mullen said. "From my perspective, that has to be dealt with, not just now because it is killing our people, but obviously in the future as well."


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)

We Should Be Free Because We Are Equal: You can't be one without the other (?)

Steven Horwitz below points out that classical liberals -- precursors of libertarians -- did believe in equality. Conservatives, by contrast see equality as an unrealizable dream. Conservatives can see that there are a whole host of ways in which people differ and that those differences will result in many forms of inequality.

So this does expose the dire limits of a purely libertarian analysis of society. Liberty is vital but its presence or absence doesn't explain or predict everything. There are other influences at work in human affairs that influence how good our life experiences will be.

For those who still embrace a purely libertarian analysis of society, there is a sort of an "out". As noted below, classical liberals only asssumed equality for the purposes of their argument -- much as economists assume free markets for some analyses, even though real free markets are as rare as hen's teeth. So what is assumed is not that all men are equal but rather that all men need to be treated equally by the law. That seems to me to be the only sort of equality that libertarians could realistically embrace -- JR

At the core of classical-liberal arguments, especially in the nineteenth century, was what economists Sandra Peart and David Levy call “analytical egalitarianism.” Classical liberals, going back at least as far as John Locke, began their analysis of the social world by assuming that human beings were equal both in their moral standing (everyone’s preferences count equally) and in their capacity for making economic decisions. As Adam Smith phrased it, there was no difference between the street porter and the philosopher.

Peart and Levy contrast “analytical egalitarianism” with what they call “analytical hierarchicalism,” in which some people are thought to be different from others and therefore, in the view of those at the time, superior or inferior. Such differences might be attributed to any variety of inborn traits, from race to ethnicity to gender. By contrast, Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, and other classical liberals believed that the observed differences among human beings were not due to inborn traits and capacities, but rather to factors such as incentives, luck, and history, as Peart and Levy put it. In the view of most early classical liberals, no inborn trait or capacity consigns some groups to inferiority while marking others for superiority. In understanding the social world, we must treat people as equal with respect to the things that matter for our theories and therefore for the policy conclusions that emerge from them.

Racial Equality

As Levy demonstrated in an earlier book, this mattered at a practical level in the nineteenth-century debates over racial equality. Classical liberals such as Mill supported racial equality because they believed race was irrelevant to people’s moral standing and capacity for choice. Classical economics assumed its models applied to all human beings, including the theorists themselves. They believed that free markets and a free society were desirable because all people were equal and capable of acting in the way their theories described, leading to the peaceful and prosperous world they promised. By contrast the Romantic critics of capitalism hated it for exactly those reasons: Their starting point was the assumption of hierarchy, specifically among the races, and they understood correctly that free markets would undermine that hierarchy, which is why they opposed it. This is also why the Romantics called economics the “dismal science” – they saw a future without hierarchy as dismal. (See David Levy’s Freeman article on the subject.)

If there really were morally relevant differences among human beings, or if some groups were unable to engage in reasonably rational decision-making, it would be easier to construct an argument that these humans should ruled by their superiors – and this is precisely the argument that a good number of critics of classical liberalism constructed. They wanted the State to treat some people differently from others because some groups were not equal to others in their capacity for free choice. Lest you think this went on only in the nineteenth century, these views manifested themselves again in the early twentieth century, as Progressive Era critics of capitalism used eugenic arguments to limit the economic rights of nonwhites and women.

Two Principles

The classical-liberal argument for freedom was premised on equality, both in people’s moral worth and in their capacity for free choice. In other words, the arguments for equality came first and the desirability of liberty followed from them. (See also Roderick Long’s “Liberty: The Other Equality.”) Classical liberalism’s critics denied that people should be free because they denied that people were equal. It was classical liberalism that defended the principles of both equality and freedom.

No doubt the concept of equality has been altered in the last 150 years. Too often it is used to mean “equalizing outcomes” by the hand of the State as opposed to treating people equally and accepting that unequal, but just and socially desirable, outcomes will result. Libertarians who rightly defend such inequalities of outcomes need to recognize that those are only possible in a world where the assumption of analytical egalitarianism operates and where the State treats all humans as having equal moral standing and equal capacity for free choice. Equality should not be a dirty word for libertarians since equality of liberty and equality before the law are in our intellectual DNA. Equality is one of our foundational concepts without which the argument for freedom would be that much weaker, if not nonexistent.



The perils of centrism

The Republican party says it’s for lower taxes. It isn’t. It passed the largest federal budget in history, and even after it controlled the White House and both houses of Congress, it failed to make a dent in the federal tax burden.

The Republican party says it’s for limited government. It isn’t. Not only has it failed to reduce the already ridiculous size and power of government, it has drastically increased it.

The Republic party says it’s for individual liberties. It isn’t. It created the biggest federal bureaucracy in history, and gave it all sorts of new powers to spy on, detain, silence, and otherwise harass Americans.



The Cost Of Government Regulation

“You, there: stop complaining and start hiring!” That is essentially the Obama administration’s message to businesses. This is an administration that seems to believe that $1 million spent on pollution control will create more than 1.5 net jobs. Who comes up with such numbers?

One would be Cass Sunstein, head of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), who recently wrote in the Washington Post that there is no “tsunami” of regulations to worry about, no matter what the Chamber of Commerce says. All is fine and dandy because OMB says regulations cost no more than $62 billion annually.

Sunstein, who is in charge of keeping tabs on the costs of government regulations, also recently saw it fit to undermine his colleagues at the Small Business Administration, telling a Senate hearing that SBA’s oft-cited report finding of $1.7 trillion in regulatory costs is an “urban legend.”

He may be a lot smarter than the rest of us and have more legal citations than anyone else in the Milky Way, but if Sunstein seriously contends that regulations aren’t costly or shouldn’t be fretted over — or that only “net benefits” matter — we have a real problem.

Sunstein cites a progressive advocacy group’s critique of the SBA, titled “Setting the Record Straight,” which doesn’t attempt to find out what regulatory costs are, but just highlights the “conservativeness” of those who seek disclosure and accountability and to critique their efforts.

Sunstein also cites a Congressional Research Service report actually entitled “Analysis of an Estimate of the Total Costs of Federal Regulations,” which, rather than finally tabulating regulatory costs after all these years, simply shrugs and talk about how complex it all is and demeans the SBA effort.

In my view, the SBA report’s authors, Nicole and Mark Crain, concede a lot to potential critics, and such reports can and do benefit from genuine critique. The authors bend over backward to stress that they are not assessing benefits, given that the SBA’s legislative mandate is to address small-business impacts.

The country’s wealth creators need a real review of regulations, not comforting words from federal officials. Out of over 3,500 rules finalized in 2010, OIRA reviewed 66 — and of those only did benefit calculations for 20.

A simple perusal of the Federal Register shows over 430 rules costing over $65 billion so far this year alone, let alone the entire Crain universe of rules, which stops at 2008. As the Crains note, regulatory costs are often “indirect,” compared with direct taxation.

Significantly, they also note that the “totality” of rules under $99 million are not reviewed by OIRA. That is important because “major” rules — those estimated to cost $100 million or more — comprise likely less than 10% of the regulatory pipeline at any given time. Thus, a rule that is not considered “major” could still impose significant costs in real-world terms.

The Crains also note that they do not include in their assessment the indirect or ripple effects of regulatory mandates. They also do not directly review many categories of rules—including import restrictions, antitrust regulations, product safety and telecom—and rules issued by “independent agencies.” And no one has yet accounted for the impending regulatory tsunami (yes, I said it) that will be unleashed by the Dodd-Frank and Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Sarbanes-Oxley alone costs $1.4 trillion in lost market value.

In short, the Crains’ estimate of regulatory costs, while more accurate than Sunstein’s, may well prove to be on the low end. My own casual survey of literature on regulations, not using Crain or OMB numbers, already adds up to $1 trillion — and that doesn’t count the new health care law and the 3,500 pages of Dodd-Frank financial rules (with more on the way).

Agencies think within their squares and have conflicts of interest in assessing their own benefits. Regulators can ignore the opportunity costs and moral hazard they create. Even now they are in the process of distorting entire industry structures via limiting access to energy, antitrust regulatory abuse and “net neutrality” rules in telecommunications and government “stimulus” with regulatory strings attached.

This “official” attack on the SBA by the very administration under which the report appears is inconsistent with Obama’s Executive Order on “Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review,” his Wall Street Journal op-ed, and with the reality that we know very little about the regulatory state’s impacts. The real urban legend at hand is the idea that the Obama administration is working diligently to streamline federal regulation.



Those Who Forget The Past…

There’s no joy in saying “we told you so.” Not when millions of Americans are beset by plummeting home prices, stagnant income levels, deteriorating job opportunities and rising consumer prices. And let’s not forget the trillions of dollars in debt that America’s politicians have saddled taxpayers with in an unsuccessful effort to alleviate these economic ills.

Free market advocates repeatedly warned political leaders of both parties regarding these inevitable “bailout byproducts,” but they didn’t listen. Instead, they rushed to reward their favored banks and bureaucracies for years of gross fiscal negligence — leaving taxpayers stuck with a scarcely-fathomable tab.

The only silver lining to this Keynesian tsunami? That the failure of the largest, costliest and least effective government economic intervention in human history could be the impetus for an urgently needed course correction — and a long-overdue debunking of one of the greatest myths in American history.

According to Barack Obama and the New Keynesians, years of unrestrained and unregulated “corporate greed” pushed America to the precipice of a second Great Depression. That’s when government rode to the “rescue” with more than $13 trillion worth of new spending, lending, loan guarantees and money-printing.

It’s a familiar narrative — one evoking all too common misconceptions about the policies responsible for the depth, duration and the eventual demise of previous economic downturns. Like its predecessors, however, this narrative ignores a flood of politically-correct, government-mandated lending that helped artificially inflate the nation’s housing bubble. It also ignores a steady increase in deficit spending in the years leading up to the recent recession.

This isn’t a past tense situation, either — the interventionist spigot is still flowing. Washington is currently staring down its fourth consecutive budget deficit of more than $1 trillion, while the Federal Reserve is just now winding down its latest $600 billion installment of “quantitative easing.”

Even Wall Street — which soaked up more than its fair share of the borrowed largesse — is finally saying enough is enough. “They’ve done more than enough already,” one investment analyst recently said. “Any further stimulus only increases the long-term risk of inflation, which we already view as high.”

Indeed. Now if we could just wind the clock back three years — and $13 trillion. In 2008, Keynesian economist Gauti Eggertsson published a paper in the American Economic Review which presented a theoretical basis for the Bush-Obama doctrine of “over-stimulation.” Eggertsson’s fundamental premise was that the interventionist policies of Franklin Roosevelt’s administration lifted the nation out of the Great Depression — ostensibly in contrast to the policies of Herbert Hoover.

Obviously, it’s not hard to find fault with Hoover’s disastrous response to the stock market crash of 1929 (especially the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930 and the Revenue Act of 1932). But those were interventionist excesses — and Hoover’s contemporaries knew all too well that he was hardly the laissez-faire scapegoat he’s made out to be in government textbooks. “That man has offered me unsolicited advice for six years, all of it bad,” Hoover’s predecessor Calvin Coolidge once said.

As Commerce Secretary to President Warren G. Harding, Hoover also recommended a massive federal response to the post-World War I depression. Fortunately Harding chose to ignore Hoover’s advice, and his hands-off handling of the 1920-21 depression is widely credited with ending that downturn in short order — just as Harding and Coolidge’s tax cuts paved the way for robust economic growth in the years that followed.

“The secret to the quick recovery was that the government generally stood aside and let the market recover by itself,” a 2005 report by The Cato Institute’s Chris Edwards noted. “Wages and prices adjusted, resources shifted to new areas of growth, profits recovered, business optimism returned, and investment rose.”

Even Keynesians, such as economist Robert J. Gordon, are forced to acknowledge that this economic recovery commenced in short order “despite the absence of a stimulative government policy. “Government policy to moderate the depression and speed recovery was minimal,” says Gordon. “The Federal Reserve authorities were largely passive.”

Obviously the virtues of “minimal” and “passive” government approach were not shared by Hoover and Roosevelt. Nor was the spectacular failure of Hoover and Roosevelt’s Keynesian approach heeded by Bush and Obama.

As a result of Hoover and Roosevelt’s mismanagement, the U.S. unemployment rate remained above 14 percent for ten years from 1931-1940. While it’s everyone’s hope that current elevated levels of unemployment won’t drag down our economy for such an extended time frame, the disastrous Bush-Obama response to the recent recession — and the looming specter of Obama’s socialized medicine law — don’t offer much cause for optimism.

“Told you so” — but let’s hope for the sake of our economy (and the taxpayers who support it) that our leaders have learned their lesson this time. We really can’t afford any more “stimulus.”



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, July 07, 2011

The Week of Lying Dangerously

Obama displays a Clintonian desire to have things both ways

There was a time when Barack Obama seemed more honest than Bill Clinton. While Slick Willie notoriously claimed he smoked pot but "didn't inhale," Obama candidly admitted, "When I was a kid, I inhaled frequently. That was the point."

Lately I have not been so impressed by Obama's truth-telling tendencies. Three incidents last week vividly illustrated the president's Clintonian desire to have things both ways, even if it means insulting our intelligence.

Obama wants credit for using the American military to protect civilians and compel a regime change in Libya. But he doesn't want to admit that blowing up the government's forces and facilities counts as "hostilities," because then he would need congressional permission under the War Powers Act.

Last week Obama sent Harold Koh, the State Department's legal adviser, to explain this counterintuitive position to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, whose members were noticeably unimpressed. "When you have an operation that goes on for months, costs billions of dollars, where the United States is providing two-thirds of the troops, even under the NATO fig leaf, where they're dropping bombs that are killing people, where you're paying your troops offshore combat pay and there are areas of prospective escalation," said Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), "I would say that's hostilities."

The following day, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit was more receptive, accepting Obama's argument that Congress is regulating interstate commerce when it forces people to buy health insurance. But a concurring opinion highlighted another striking example of presidential duplicity.

Judge Jeffrey Sutton devoted half a dozen pages to rebutting the Obama administration's argument that the insurance mandate, which requires the Internal Revenue Service to collect a "shared responsibility payment" from Americans who fail to comply, should be upheld under the federal government's taxing power, thereby avoiding dicey questions about the limits of the Commerce Clause. Sutton was too polite to note that the president himself had indignantly insisted, prior to passage of his health care law, that the assessment was "absolutely not a tax increase."

Another unacknowledged reversal occurred on Thursday night (just before the long holiday weekend), when the administration released a memo that supposedly "clarified" its position on medical marijuana. Although Obama has promised to stop "using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue," Deputy Attorney General James Cole informed federal prosecutors that "commercial operations cultivating, selling or distributing marijuana" for medical use are fair game, even when they comply with state law.

By contrast, an October 2009 memo from Cole's predecessor, David Ogden, said U.S. attorneys "should not focus federal resources" on "individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana." The Ogden memo listed criteria for prosecution, such as violence, sales to minors, and sales of other drugs, that make sense only when applied to medical marijuana suppliers, as opposed to the patients and caregivers who the Justice Department now claims are the only people covered by the policy of prosecutorial restraint.

Testifying before the House Judiciary Committee in May 2010, Attorney General Eric Holder confirmed that the promised forbearance applied to people "dealing in marijuana." When Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) asked him about threats to raid "legitimate businesses" that supply medical marijuana, Holder said "that would be inconsistent with...the policy as we have set it out…if the entity is, in fact, operating consistent with state law and…does not have any of those factors" mentioned in the Ogden memo. This position jibed with Holder's earlier statement that "the policy is to go after those people who violate both federal and state law."

So how does the new Justice Department memo address the blatant contradiction between prosecuting state-authorized medical marijuana suppliers and not prosecuting them? It assures us the two policies are "entirely consistent." That way Obama can get credit for tolerance and compassion without being painted as soft on drugs. After all, he did inhale.



The Jobless Summer

Why only one in four teens is employed

Perhaps you've already noticed around the neighborhood, but this is a rotten summer for young Americans to find a job. The Department of Labor reported last week that a smaller share of 16-19 year-olds are working than at anytime since records began to be kept in 1948.

Only 24% of teens, one in four, have jobs, compared to 42% as recently as the summer of 2001. The nearby chart chronicles the teen employment percentage over time, including the notable plunge in the last decade. So instead of learning valuable job skills—getting out of bed before noon, showing up on time, being courteous to customers, operating a cash register or fork lift—millions of kids will spend the summer playing computer games or hanging out.

The lousy economic recovery explains much of this decline in teens working, and some is due to increases in teen summer school enrollment. Some is also cultural: Many parents don't put the same demands on teens as they once did to get out and work.

But Congress has also contributed by passing one of the most ill-timed minimum wage increases in history. One of the first acts of the gone-but-not-forgotten Nancy Pelosi ascendancy was to raise the minimum wage in stages to $7.25 an hour in 2009 from $5.15 in 2007. Even liberals ought to understand that raising the cost of hiring the young and unskilled while employers are slashing payrolls is loopy economics.

Or maybe not. The Center for American Progress, often called the think tank for the Obama White House, recently recommended another increase to $8.25 an hour. Though the U.S. unemployment rate is 9.1%, the thinkers assert that a rising wage would "stimulate economic growth to the tune of 50,000 new jobs." So if the government orders employers to pay more to hire workers when they're already not hiring, they'll somehow hire more workers. By this logic, if we raised the minimum wage to $25 an hour we'd have full employment.

Back on planet Earth, the minimum wage increase has coincided with the plunge in the percentage of working teens. Before the most recent wage hikes, roughly seven million teens were working. Now there are closer to five million with a job and paycheck.

Black teens have had the worst of it, with their unemployment rate rising to 41.6% in April from 29% in 2007, faster than almost any other group. A 2010 study by economists William Even of Miami University of Ohio and David Macpherson of Trinity University found that as a result of the $2.10 increase in minimum wage, "teen employment dropped by 6.9 percent. . . . For the teen population with less than 12 years of education completed, teen employment dropped by 12.4 percent." For teens priced out of the labor market, their wage fell to zero.

The great tragedy is that even discussing the role of the minimum wage in teen unemployment seems to be a political taboo. The other day we saw ABC's George Stephanopoulos baiting Michele Bachmann on the minimum wage, as if refusing to raise it would be some epic political gaffe. Ms. Bachmann didn't back down from saying that the minimum wage has contributed to unemployment, though she didn't explain why.

What she or another candidate should do is stop playing defense and ask why Mr. Stephanopoulos doesn't seem to mind a black teen jobless rate of 41.6%. Someone truly brave would come out for a teenage sub-minimum wage of, say, $4 an hour. In certain circumstances employers can now pay teens a minimum of $4.25, but only for 90 days. This makes employers reluctant to hire at all. Make the case on moral grounds that a mandated wage that is too high blocks the young and unskilled from grabbing a place on the economic ladder.

Teenagers who work part-time while attending school generally make more money and have more successful careers as adults than kids who never work. As a 2006 study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago put it: "The drop in teen labor force participation may also have implications for future productivity growth. In general, labor market experience tends to raise subsequent earnings."

The U.S. has long had a labor market flexible enough that when the economy grows, the jobless rate falls smartly. This time has been different, and the great danger is that Obamanomics has moved the U.S. to a permanently higher jobless rate as in so much of Europe. For America's teenagers this summer, that reality is already here.



The Big Taxpayer Scam

Here’s some friendly fiscal advice: Any time some Washington big shot like Ben Bernanke or Tim Geithner claims that immediate spending cuts in the debt deal will harm the economy—ignore them. Completely. You know why? Because in this great country of ours, spending never goes down. Never.

Take a look at the chart below. The blue line you see is President Obama's budget. The green line is Congressman Paul Ryan's budget.

Now, Paul Ryan's is of course a couple of trillion dollars lower than Obama's over the next ten years. But what do they both have in common? They both go up. As in spending more, not less. As in, roughly $40-45 trillion dollars more. That's a whole lot of taxpayer money, folks.

Now why is this? It’s because of something called the “current services baseline" which includes population and inflation increases built into the budget. Entitlements have their own formulas.

So when you hear a politician tell you they’re cutting spending, they’re actually referring only to reducing the growth of spending. Rarely, if ever, do they actually reduce the level of spending.

Think of it this way: You’re out car shopping and thinking about buying a $100,000 Mercedes. That's your target. But then you decide to forego the Mercedes and opt for a $20,000 Chevy instead. Well, guess what? Congress would score that as an $80,000 budget cut. Huh? We all know that it’s actually a $20,000 budget increase.

Let’s be honest here. This budgetary game remains one big taxpayer scam. Look, I used to work in the federal budget office. I know the game.

Here's yet another scam: big budget deals say they “cut” (there's that word again) a couple of trillion dollars over ten years. But most of it is targeted for the last couple of years, as in years eight, nine, and ten. So basically it'll never happen. It's four or five congresses from now. Laws change. Deals are broken.

At the end of the day, the only thing that really matters is next year's budget. Will it be cut? Ever in my lifetime? Because if it were cut, it would bring that line in that chart above down. Now that would be a called a decline. All of that other stuff? Increases.

When business cut expenses, the spending line declines. But when government cuts spending, the spending line always rises. Think of it.




TSA abuses and failures: "Many Americans continue to fool themselves into accepting TSA abuse by saying 'I don't mind giving up my freedoms for security.' In fact, they are giving up their liberties and not receiving security in return. Last week, for example, just days after an elderly cancer victim was forced to submit to a cruel and pointless TSA search, including removal of an adult diaper, a Nigerian immigrant somehow managed stroll through TSA security checks and board a flight from New York to LA -- with a stolen, expired boarding pass and an out-of-date student ID as his sole identification!"

TSA wins another round: "My frequent-flyer friend told me that he has noticed two things since the groping started. First, he has seen the attitude of TSA employees change with the new procedures. In his words, 'they seem more like East German police' than they used to. Second, other frequent flyers are getting upset. Going through the Syracuse airport a couple of weeks ago, my friend commented during a TSA grope, 'This is stupid.' The groper replied, 'If you keep this up, I'll call the police and have you arrested.'"

Coming soon to an airport near you: "If you fly within the United States in the future, keep your expression neutral, do not blink too much or too little, and do not sweat. Carefully maintain a normal respiration and heart beat as you submit to demands from Homeland Security agents. If you question or resist their demands, you could be detained as a pre-crime suspect, fined up to $11,000 and added to a No Fly list."

Medicaid payments go under the knife: "To curb rising Medicaid costs, about a dozen states are starting a new budget year by reducing payments to doctors, hospitals and other health care providers that treat the poor. Some health care experts say the cuts, most of which went into effect July 1 or will later this month, could add to a shortage of physicians and other providers participating in Medicaid."

Transparency measure is ripe for abuse: "The lowest qualified bid by the most competent contestant traditionally wins the government contract. Unfortunately, the 'Change' gang now wants to fiddle with this decades-old, generally reliable formula. President Obama hopes to throw another item onto the scale as bureaucrats weigh bids: political donations."


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, July 06, 2011

Politics Versus Reality

Thomas Sowell

It is hard to understand politics if you are hung up on reality. Politicians leave reality to others. What matters in politics is what you can get the voters to believe, whether it bears any resemblance to reality or not.

Not only among politicians, but also among much of the media, and even among some of the public, the quest is not for truth about reality but for talking points that fit a vision or advance an agenda. Some seem to see it as a personal contest about who is best at fencing with words.

The current controversy over whether to deal with our massive national debt by cutting spending, or whether instead to raise tax rates on "the rich," is a classic example of talking points versus reality.

Most of those who favor simply raising tax rates on "the rich" -- or who say that we cannot afford to allow the Bush "tax cuts for the rich" to continue -- show not the slightest interest in the history of what has actually happened when tax rates were raised to high levels on "the rich," as compared to what has actually happened when there have been "tax cuts for the rich."

As far as such people are concerned, those questions have already been settled by their talking points. Why confuse the issue by digging into empirical evidence about what has actually happened when one policy or the other was followed?

The political battles about whether to have high tax rates on people in high income brackets or to instead have "tax cuts for the rich" have been fought out in at least four different administrations in the 20th century -- under Presidents Calvin Coolidge, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.

The empirical facts are there, but they mean nothing if people don't look at them, and instead rely on talking points.

The first time this political battle was fought, during the Coolidge administration, the tax-cutters won. The data show that "the rich" supplied less tax revenue to the government when the top income tax rate was 73 percent in 1921 than they supplied after the income tax rate was reduced to 24 percent in 1925.

Because high tax rates can easily be avoided, both then and now, "the rich" were much less affected by high tax rates than was the economy and the people who were looking for jobs. After the Coolidge tax cuts, the increased economic activity led to unemployment rates that ranged from a high of 4.2 percent to a low of 1.8 percent. But that is only a fact about reality -- and, for many, reality has no such appeal as talking points.

The same preference for talking points, and the same lack of interest in digging into the facts about realities, prevails today in discussions of whether to have a government-controlled medical system.

Since there are various countries, such as Canada and Britain, that have the kind of government-controlled medical systems that some Americans advocate, you might think that there would be great interest in the quality of medical care in these countries.

The data are readily available as to how many weeks or months people have to wait to see a primary care physician in such countries, and how many additional weeks or months they have to wait after they are referred to a surgeon or other specialist. There are data on how often their governments allow patients to receive the latest pharmaceutical drugs, as compared to how often Americans use such advanced medications.

But supporters of government medical care show virtually no interest in such realities. Their big talking point is that the life expectancy in the United States is not as long as in those other countries. End of discussion, as far as they are concerned.

They have no interest in the reality that medical care has much less effect on death rates from homicide, obesity, and narcotics addiction than it has on death rates from cancer or other conditions that doctors can do something about. Americans survive various cancers better than people anywhere else. Americans also get to see doctors much sooner for medical treatment in general.

Talking points trump reality in political discussions of many other issues, from gun control to rent control. Reality simply does not have the pizzazz of clever talking points.

No one is more of a master of political talking points than President Barack Obama. Remember "shovel-ready projects"? These were construction projects where the shovels were supposed to start digging the moment the government gave them the "stimulus" money.

Two years later, Obama can joke about the fact that the shovels were not as ready as he thought. In reality, the shovels were never ready. It can take forever to get all the environmental approvals to build anything in today's political and legal climate.

If Obama didn't know that, his advisers surely did. He can treat it as a joke today but it is no joke for those who are saddled with the debts produced by his runaway spending in the name of "shovel-ready projects." Nor is it a joke to the unemployed, who remain unemployed despite all the "stimulus" spending.

The talk about the many "green jobs" created by the government is likewise no joke. Since the government creates no wealth, it can only transfer the wealth required to hire people. Even if the government creates a million jobs, that is not a net increase in jobs, when the money that pays for those jobs is taken from the private sector, which loses that much ability to create private jobs.

Back in the 1930s, Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration hired more young men in the Civilian Conservation Corps than there were in the U.S. Army. But that never brought unemployment down into single digits at any point during that entire decade. As late as the spring of 1939, the unemployment rate was 20 percent.

Government-created jobs did not mean a net increase in jobs then -- or now. But this is only mundane reality. What makes a great political talking point is government coming to the rescue of the unemployed by creating jobs. That talking point helps politicians get reelected, even if it does nothing for the economy in general or for the unemployment rate.

Among the biggest triumphs of talking points over reality are political discussions of rent control and gun control. Rent control supposedly rescues helpless tenants from the high rents charged by "greedy" landlords -- at least in political rhetoric.

But the two cities which have the oldest and strongest rent control laws in the country also have the highest rents -- New York and San Francisco. Yet that plain reality has not made a dent in the thinking, or lack of thinking, of those who support rent control.

Nor are they at all interested in other realities about rent control, whether in these two cities or in other cities around the world. These realities include housing shortages and a reduced supply of maintenance and other auxiliary services, such as heat and hot water.

Other forms of price control likewise lead to shortages, and have for literally thousands of years. But such plain realities do not affect the heady social vision conjured up by talking points.

Far from being discouraged by such realities, those who believe in price control for housing often think price control for medicines and medical care is a great idea too.

We need not speculate as to what effects price controls can have on medicines and medical care because there are already shortages of both in countries where a government-controlled medical system includes price controls.

The talking points about gun control are as far removed from reality as the talking points about rent control. But on this issue, at least, the advocates cite some highly selective statistics to go along with their rhetoric.

Gun control advocates often point out countries like Britain that have stronger gun control laws than ours and lower murder rates. But they totally ignore countries that have stronger gun control laws than ours and higher murder rates than ours.

One such country is right on our border -- Mexico. But there are others farther away, such as Brazil and Russia. There are also countries with higher rates of gun ownership than in the United States -- Switzerland and Israel, for example -- that have much lower murder rates than ours. But none of this has the slightest effect on the talking points of gun control zealots.



Failed Stimulus Spending Erodes America’s International Competitiveness, Wipes Out Wealth

In the Daily Caller, Chris Edwards has an interesting article about why government spending doesn’t “stimulate” the economy over the short-run or the long-run. Rather than growing the economy, stimulus packages are typically wasteful wealth transfers akin to a “leaky bucket,” which harm the economy in the long run, whether or not there are any short-run stimulus effects.

As Edwards notes, “Despite ongoing federal deficits of more than $1 trillion a year, many liberals are calling for more government spending to ‘create jobs.’” But if government spending creates jobs, it’s hard to understand why unemployment has soared, even as government spending has exploded in recent years: “Federal spending has soared over the past decade. As a share of gross domestic product, spending grew from 18 percent in 2001 to 24 percent in 2011.” As he notes, “government spending and taxing creates ‘deadweight losses,’ which result from distortions to working, investment and other activities. The CBO says that deadweight loss estimates ‘range from 20 cents to 60 cents over and above the revenue raised.’ Harvard University’s Martin Feldstein thinks that deadweight losses ‘may exceed one dollar per dollar of revenue raised.’” Due partly to this “leaky-bucket” effect, Texas A&M economist Edgar Browning concluded that “It costs taxpayers $3 to provide a benefit worth $1 to recipients,” and that “today’s welfare state reduces GDP — or average U.S. incomes — by about 25 percent.”

Stimulus spending also will undermine America’s international competitiveness. We wrote earlier about how the stimulus package used taxpayer money to outsource American jobs to foreign countries like China (in the name of promoting “green jobs”) and wiped out jobs in America’s export sector by reducing purchases of American goods in Mexico and Canada.

Edwards points out that recent stimulus spending will undermine America’s international competitiveness in terms of tax rates. As he notes, the recent massive spending increases, if not curtailed, will have to be paid for with equally massive tax increases, wiping out America’s edge over other countries in taxes. “This year, government spending in the United States hit 41 percent of GDP, meaning that more than 4 out of every 10 dollars that we produce is consumed by our federal, state and local governments. We used to have a substantial government size advantage compared to other countries. But . . . while government spending in the United States was about 10 percentage points of GDP smaller than the average . . . in the past, that gap has now shrunk to just 4 points. A number of high-income nations — such as Australia — now have smaller governments than does the United States. This is very troubling because America’s strong growth and high living standards were historically built on our relatively small government. The ongoing surge in federal spending is undoing this competitive advantage that we have enjoyed in the world economy.”

This surge in government spending is projected to continue in the future. “CBO projections show that federal spending will rise by about 10 percentage points of GDP between now and 2035. If that happens, governments in the United States will be grabbing more than half of everything produced in the nation by that year.”

Despite all the “deficit-spending stimulus, U.S. unemployment remains stuck at more than 9 percent and the recovery is very sluggish compared to prior recoveries.” The Obama administration had claimed that “‘multipliers’ from government spending are large, meaning that spending would give a big boost to GDP. But other economists have found that . . . multipliers are actually quite small, meaning that added government spending mainly just displaces private-sector activities. Stanford University economist John Taylor took a detailed look at GDP data over recent years, and he found little evidence of any benefits from the 2009 stimulus bill” even in the short run, while Harvard’s Robert Barro concluded that it will have a harmful effect on the economy due to “future damage caused by higher taxes and debt.”

A recent study by economists Bill Dupor and Timothy Conley found that the 2009 stimulus package has wiped out 550,000 jobs. After reviewing its harmful provisions, Harvard University economist Jeffrey Miron concluded that the stimulus package was designed to reward special-interest “constituencies,” not to boost the economy. The stimulus contained all sorts of welfare. The stimulus was so poorly run that stimulus money wound up going to prisoners and dead people, bridges to nowhere, and useless government buildings.

In pushing the $800 billion stimulus package, Obama cited Congressional Budget Office (CBO) claims that it would save jobs in the short run, while ignoring the CBO’s own finding that the stimulus will actually shrink the economy over the long run, by exploding the national debt and crowding out private investment. Nothing in the CBO’s findings supported Obama’s outlandish claim that the stimulus package was necessary to avert “irreversible decline.”



The Forgotten Founding Document

Every July 4th, America celebrates the signing of the document commonly known as the Declaration of Independence. However, there is another document, adopted a year earlier that, in my opinion, helped lay the foundation for the Declaration of Independence. This document, which contains some of the most moving words ever spoken by Founders, needs to be read and celebrated by every American who still values liberty.

On July 6th, 1775, the Continental Congress adopted: A Declaration by the Representatives of the United Colonies of North-America, Now Met in Congress at Philadelphia, Setting Forth the Causes and Necessity of Their Taking Up Arms.

The following was written by Thomas Jefferson:

“We are reduced to the alternative of chusing an unconditional submission to the tyranny of irritated ministers, or resistance by force.—The latter is our choice—We have counted the cost of this contest, and find nothing so dreadful as voluntary slavery.—Honour, justice, and humanity, forbid us tamely to surrender that freedom which we received from our gallant ancestors, and which our innocent posterity have a right to receive from us. We cannot endure the infamy and guilt of resigning succeeding generations to that wretchedness which inevitably awaits them, if we basely entail hereditary bondage upon them.

Our cause is just. Our union is perfect. Our internal resources are great, and, if necessary, foreign assistance is undoubtedly attainable… With hearts fortified with these animating reflections, we most solemnly, before God and the world, declare, that, exerting the utmost energy of those powers, which our beneficent Creator hath graciously bestowed upon us, the arms we have been compelled by our enemies to assume, we will, in defiance of every hazard, with unabating firmness and perseverence, employ for the preservation of our liberties; being with one mind resolved to die freemen rather than to live slaves.”

During the debates in the Virginia Ratifying Convention of 1788, Patrick Henry stated:

“We are told…that our own representatives Congress will not exercise their powers oppressively; that we shall not enslave ourselves… Who has enslaved France, Spain, Germany, Turkey, and the other countries that groan under tyranny? They have been enslaved by the hands of their own people. If it be so in America, it will be only as it has been every where else.”

Henry was a prophet. Once again government tyranny has raised its ugly head. The people of these united States are being forced to submit to the unconstitutional dictates of judges, politicians, bureaucrats and other government reprobates who are more oppressive than King George.



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, July 05, 2011

Why Do We Still Celebrate the 4th of July?

Daniel Greenfield

What do we celebrate when we celebrate the Fourth of July? Is it the independence from being ruled by an out of touch government thousands of miles away, taxed at their pleasure, and told to be grateful for it? Is it home rule under our own elected officials who can't be trumped by the decision of some political appointees whom we never voted for?

A victory won by militias that don't exist anymore, on behalf of freedoms that are constantly under assault from the nation's own capital?

Is it at the very least-- national freedom, to be part of an independent nation that does not have to follow the laws of other countries or be part of a larger union of nations?

We don't have those things anymore. We're barely holding on to the rest by the skin of our teeth. Every generation the fireworks get bigger and we lose more freedoms. Bread and Circuses? We get welfare and fireworks. Social workers and outdoor BBQ's. Government subsidized jobs and a day at the beach.

So what specifically are we celebrating? How about these words; "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights". Sounds good, except our ruling class no longer believes in a G-d that endowed men with anything, let alone rights. It doesn't believe that men are born equal. It believes that men are born unequal and that it is the task of government to remedy that inequality with positive discrimination and tolerance training.

"Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness". We have the liberty to be told how to live our lives. And so long as we find happiness in that, it's all good. But we better not get any ideas about trying to pursue happiness on terms that the authorities disapprove of. When the fireworks go up over New York City, those celebrating will be living in a place where smoking, salt and sugar are banned. Pursuit of happiness? As long as there's no sugar in it.

"That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed". Now that was an important one. Right? It was the arguable basis of the entire revolution. So how's that working out for us now?

In the last month, federal judges have struck down laws passed by legislatures over and over again. Forget the consent of the government. That doesn't matter anymore. You can elect whomever you want and pass whatever laws you want, and His Majesty's Servants will still strike them down. Political appointees call the shots. We don't.

A Federal judge has more power than the population of the entire state, its governor and its legislature. One member of Obama's cabinet trumps every governor, every legislature and the people of every state.

Think about that for a moment and then think about what the American Revolution was really about. And then consider how apt the term "Czar" has really become. The King's political appointees are back. And they are the ones in charge. The day will come when as in Russia, governors are appointed in Washington D.C. And then we really will be in pre-revolutionary times.

Look at that part about "Just Powers" again. And then let's get back to a system where the Commerce Clause gives Washington D.C. the power to compel the public to do absolutely anything. Even against their own will.

"That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness".

What kind of crazy anti-government extremists wrote this thing anyway? Don't they know that you can't just "abolish" governments. Governments exist for the public good. These people probably hung around with militias, owned guns and read the bible. Talk like this means they have plans to overthrow the government. Someone needs to dial Janet Napolitano's government hotline, 1-800-EXTREMISM and report this immediately.

"But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."

Hello, 1-800-EXTREMISM? I've come across a very disturbing document written by anti-government extremists? It's being handed out in schools to our children, right next to wholesome things like condoms and A People's History of the United States. Something has to be done about this soon or our kids will get the idea that they can overthrow the government whenever they please. Some man named John Hancock signed his name to it. But there are probably others. Wikipedia says someone named Thomas Jefferson was also involved. He's in Virginia and we all know they're right-wingers down there. Put out an arrest warrant for him immediately, before they act and ruin our 4th of July weekend. We're celebrating our independence, you know.

"He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance." Certainly nothing like that is going on today. It's not like we have a country ruled by czars and taxed to death to fund a massive bureaucracy which can never get enough.

"He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws." It's called the UN, the ICC, the WTO, the IMF and about four hundred other acronyms, empowered by treaties which are binding on us and increasingly supersede our laws.

"Imposing Taxes on us without our Consent"? Don't you know that taxes are for your own good. We can even make you pay those taxes to private insurance companies, because your refusal to pay them affects interstate commerce. Your refusal to stop complaining about it also affects interstate commerce. Stop protesting at once. In the name of the Commerce Clause!

"For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever." Who knew King George III had his own Federal judges.

"He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people." Yes, but at least his golf game keeps him occupied the rest of the time.

"He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions." Now known as the DREAM Act.

"In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people." And conversely a free people who allow a tyrant to rule over them lose that name.

And so we come right back to the question, why do we still celebrate the Fourth of July?

In many ways we have less freedoms than we did in colonial times. For the moment we retain some of the most basic Constitutional liberties. But they're provisional. And they haven't stopped a level of petty interference in our daily lives that no American colonist from the 18th century would have ever accepted.

The Nanny State with its absolute mandate of the public good has rendered the Constitution irrelevant. It's still referred to by the judiciary, the way that English judges may mention the Magna Carta. To the liberal judiciary, the Constitution provides precedents, it is not absolute law.

We are no longer an independent national union. American law is now derived from and answers to international covenants that do not merely govern relations between nations-- as is their proper place, but also govern our domestic internal affairs.

We are no longer a union of states. Our governments no longer derive their power from the consent of the governed. Elections are still held and those who win them can govern-- so as long as they do so within the marked out limits. If they pass laws that the shadow government of judges and bureaucrats disapproves of-- then the laws will be struck down by the shadow government of liberalism.

Right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? We have a right to live, until a death panel says otherwise. We are as free and happy as our rulers allow us to be.

Our local governments answer to state governments which answer to the federal government which answers to international world bodies that are not elected by anyone. The only mandate of all these levels of authority is the public good, which they define for themselves in terms of their own institutions. The public good is themselves. Their own authority. And this is blatant tyranny. So what exactly are we celebrating?

"A Celebration of Independence"

In New York City, where fireworks were outlawed long before transfats, crowds of people will be herded behind police barricades, where crowded against each other they will search for a glimpse of the fireworks through the buildings blocking their way. Then following police orders, they will once again march in file through the barricades, when the show is over, pleased that they have been permitted to passively celebrate their independence in the approved way.

If any of them try to independently shoot off fireworks, they will be arrested. Because fireworks are dangerous, like guns. Guns and fireworks can only be operated by government employees or those licensed by the government. People gathering to view fireworks displays independently is also dangerous. Everything is dangerous, except following orders.

Like sheep, tens of thousands of people will allow themselves to be herded between fragile police barricades that strongly resemble makeshift sheep pens, with the police as the border collies. They will look up to the sky, and watch the corporate fireworks overseen by the municipality and celebrate their independence. But what independence are they celebrating? Where in their lives is there any independence.

Tomorrow they will open the Daily News, the New York Post, the Village Voice or the New York Times and read articles and editorials telling them who to be angry at, what to think and what to feel. The newspapers will tell them that their own leaders are great, that the stores are full of things on sale and that it was another great 4th of July celebration. And they will nod to each other, and think, "Isn't it wonderful that we live in a free country?" And they will all say, 'Yes", except for those who read newspapers that tell them to say, "No". And they will know that next year there will be more fireworks and more sheep pens. More taxes and another blockbuster movie weekend. Because isn't that what freedom is really about?



A lawyer who is not afraid to mention Black IQ

Abstract of an academic paper by Amy L. Wax of the University of Pennsylvania Law School. She is a very senior academic so will probably get away with mentioning what 100 years of academic research has shown over and over again. That anybody needs to fear mentioning such things is another good example of the unfreedom that Daniel Greenfield describes above

In Ricci v. DeStefano, 129 S. Ct. 2658 (2009), the Supreme Court recently reaffirmed the doctrine, first articulated by the Court in Griggs v. Duke Power Company, 401 U.S. 424 (1971), that employers can be held liable under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act for neutral personnel practices with a disparate impact on minority workers. The Griggs Court further held that employers can escape liability by showing that their staffing practices are job related or consistent with business necessity.

In the interim since Griggs, social scientists have generated evidence undermining two key assumptions behind that decision and its progeny.

First, the Court in Griggs noted the absence of evidence that the selection criteria in that case (a high school diploma and an aptitude test) were related to subsequent performance of the service jobs at issue, and expressed doubt about the existence of such a link. But research in industrial and organization psychology (IOP) has repeatedly documented that tests and criteria such as those at issue in Griggs (which are heavily "g"-loaded and thus dependent on cognitive ability) remain the best predictors of performance for jobs at all levels of complexity.

Second, Griggs and its progeny rest on the implicit assumption, reflected in the so-called 4/5 rule, that fair and valid hiring criteria will result in a workplace that roughly reflects the representation of each group in the background population. Work in psychometrics and labor economics shows that this assumption is unjustified. Because blacks lag significantly behind whites on measures of cognitive ability, most valid job selection criteria will have a substantial adverse impact on this group. The combination of well-documented racial differences in cognitive ability and the consistent link between ability and job performance generates a pattern that experts term "the validity-diversity tradeoff": job selection devices that best predict future job performance generate the smallest number of minority hires in a broad range of positions. Indeed, the evidence indicates that most valid screening devices will have a significant adverse impact on blacks and will also violate the 4/5 rule under the law of disparate impact.

Because legitimately meritocratic (that is, job-related) job selection practices will routinely trigger prima facie violations of the disparate impact rule, employers who adopt such practices run the risk of being required to justify them - a costly and difficult task that encourages undesirable, self-protective behaviors and may result in unwarranted liability. To alleviate this burden, the article proposes to adopt a new regime of "disparate impact realism" that abandons the 4/5 rule in favor of sliding scale ratios pegged to measured disparities in group performance and the selectivity of particular positions.

Alternatively, the disparate impact rule should be repealed altogether. The data indicate that pronounced differences in the background distribution of skill and human capital, not arbitrary hurdles imposed by employers, are the principle factor behind racial imbalances in most jobs. Moreover, blacks lag behind whites in actual on-the-job performance, which indicates that employers are not unfairly excluding minorities from the workforce but rather bending over backwards to include them. Disparate impact litigation, which does nothing to correct existing disparities and distracts from the task of addressing them, represents a cumbersome, misplaced effort that could better be directed at the root causes of workforce racial imbalance.



Yes, Obama still owns the tax break for corporate jets

A few non-profit arms of the Obama administration -- namely Media Matters and the Center for American Progress -- have attacked the Heritage Foundation for correctly pointing out that President Obama signed this general aviation tax break into law as part of his stimulus package.

The pedantic complaint is that Heritage's original post incorrectly implied that Obama had concocted the idea himself. In fact, he merely extended the accelerated depreciation provision for "corporate jets." But that doesn't change the fact that President Obama railed six times yesterday against a tax break that exists in law today because of his signature. Heritage's Mike Gonzales has posted the official reply:
So, yes, obviously, if we could write it again, we would say "re-authorized" not "created." To the writer over at Media Matters who said we should issue a "sweeping correction" we recommend switching to decaf. President Obama did create the Stimulus, which did include a tax break for the purchase of private jets. That failed bill only received three Republican congressional votes.

The jet tax provision is not a serious issue ($3 billion over ten years?), and Obama's repeated mention of it demonstrates he is not serious about deficit reduction. It just adds icing to the cake that it exists in law today only because of his signature.

And further, it is perhaps lost in this debate that Obama is attacking an industry that is one of the few remaining loci of American leadership in manufacturing. I don't like the idea of special treatment for any particular industry, but Obama, who has no qualms about corporatism, has been talking about promoting manufacturing. Well, what does he think this corporate jet subsidy was all about? Promoting manufacturing, of course. It's Obamanomics at work.



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


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


Monday, July 04, 2011

Philosophy, faith, and the Fourth of July

by Jeff Jacoby

THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE announced to the world the birth of a new nation and every birth "excites our interest," President Calvin Coolidge said on the Declaration's 150th anniversary. But that is not why July 4, 1776, "has come to be regarded as one of the greatest days in history."

Since ancient times there had been many revolutions, after all; new nations had broken away from old empires before. What makes America's founding extraordinary, observed the 30th president -- the last, incidentally, who wrote his own speeches -- is that it was the first to be based not on blood or soil but on a set of philosophical ideas about "the nature of mankind and therefore of government." Other nations have their deepest roots in ethnicity, tribal loyalty, or military conquest. America, uniquely, was dedicated to a proposition -- to the fundamental, self-evident truth "that all men are created equal" and the political ideas that flow from that truth.

The doctrine that human beings are by nature equal is one that Americans of the Founders' era had learned from both philosophy and religion.

In 1690, in his influential Second Treatise of Government, the English philosopher John Locke had written that the "state all men are naturally in" is one of "perfect freedom to order their actions and dispose of their possessions … as they see fit," as well as one "of equality, wherein all the power and jurisdiction is reciprocal … without subordination or subjection." Even older, and no less influential, was the biblical teaching that because all human beings are made in the image of God, all are born with the same God-given right to equality and freedom.

So when delegates to the Continental Congress declared unanimously in 1776 "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness," their words accurately reflected what Americans had believed for generations. They invoked "the laws of Nature and of Nature's God" in the Declaration's opening line not as a throat-clearing flourish, but because those laws and that God validated the independence they were about to assert. "Coming from these sources, having as it did this background," remarked Coolidge, "it is no wonder that Samuel Adams could say, 'The people seem to recognize this resolution as though it were a decree promulgated from heaven.'"

If Nature and Nature's God intended human beings to be free and equal, then the only legitimate government must be self-government. For if none of us is naturally subordinate or superior to anyone else, no one has the right to rule us without first obtaining our approval. Political power, Locke had written, stems "only from compact and agreement, and the mutual consent of those who make up the community."

The Declaration of Independence emphasized the point. Not only are all persons endowed by nature with the unalienable rights of equality and freedom, it avowed, but "to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

No lawful government without consent and self-rule: It was an extraordinary doctrine for its time. It had never been the springboard from which a new nation was launched. Yet to pursue this "theory of democracy," as Coolidge called it, "whole congregations with their pastors" had pulled up stakes in Europe and migrated to America.

Steeped in the imagery of the Hebrew Bible, the colonists believed that God had led them, as He had led ancient Israel, from a land of bondage to a blessed Promised Land. Thomas Jefferson suggested in 1776 that the seal of the United States should depict the "Children of Israel in the Wilderness, led by a Cloud by Day, and a Pillar of Fire by night." In that wilderness, Americans knew, God did not simply impose his rule on Israel. First the Hebrews had to give their consent: "And all the people answered together, and said, All that the Lord has spoken we will do." Only then was there the revelation at Sinai, the Ten Commandments, and the Law. If God Himself would not govern without the consent of the governed, surely King George had no right to do so!

July 4th marks more than American independence. It commemorates the great political ideals, rooted in faith and philosophy, that vindicated that independence -- and thereby transformed the world.



Of Great Empires and Little Minds

He rose to speak in the midst of a colonial war that would prove more than a colonial war but a whole Novus Ordo Seclorum, as it still says on the dollar bill, or A New Order for the Ages.

Eloquent rhetorician, thoughtful student of history and insightful analyst of events in his own time, Edmund Burke had decided ideas about what made nations great and what undermined them. The member of parliament for Bristol understood very well what was at stake in the coming conflict over the nature of the British empire: the empire itself.

Author, orator, thinker, and loyal but not blind servant of the Crown, he would not, could not, keep silent. Any more than a faithful sentry would fail to sound the alarm at approaching catastrophe. His every thought and impulse, fortified by his experience as a statesman and its hard-won lessons, told him His Majesty's ministers were embarked on a disastrous course. Their colonial policy was not only wrong in principle but, perhaps worse in the eyes of a statesmen, sure to fail in practice.

A great statesman has qualities beyond calculation. He has vision, and the will to fulfill it. Edmund Burke fully envisioned the ruin his colleagues were inviting by their persistence in adopting punitive measures rather than conciliatory policies toward British America, which might yet be saved for his Sovereign.

So it was only to be expected that he would speak out, however futile the effort might prove, in favor of "Conciliation With America" on the 22nd of March, 1774. It would not prove the first time his counsel and foresight would be vindicated by sad events. For in the years ahead he would prove as incisive a critic of the French Revolution as he would a defender of the American one.

If an editor had to choose a single phrase to sum up Burke's extensive oration on the wisdom of conciliating America -- an oration that used to be studied in courses on rhetoric, back when rhetoric was still being studied -- it would be Burke's pointed warning that "a great empire and little minds go ill together.''

Even by his time, the American character had already been formed. And it was not one that could be bullied by an imperial establishment an ocean away from the New World and, as it turned out, from reality. Anybody who thought Americans were likely to yield to superior force, even the force of the greatest empire in the world in its day, didn't know Americans. Or the beliefs that had shaped us. And that we would hold fast to. Come what may. And it came: one defeat and retreat after another, out of which somehow emerged victory, independence and a new order for the ages. By some mysterious process -- Providence? -- our beliefs would be vindicated.

Those beliefs would be given their most concise and enduring expression in the Declaration of Independence of July the 4th, 1776:

"We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness."

Those words would have to be redeemed in blood and fire before they would become among the best known and most influential in the course of human events. They would become the creed of a revolution that goes on across the world even today. That revolution succeeded not only because of the vision and courage of American's founding generation, but because of the blind willfulness of those who thought they could bully us into obedience.

They didn't know us. Edmund Burke did. His assessment of the American character proved remarkably accurate, and may it ever remain so:

"In this character of the Americans, a love of freedom is the predominating feature which marks and distinguishes the whole. ... Sir, from these six capital sources -- of descent, of form of government, of religion in the Northern Provinces, of manners in the Southern, of education, of the remoteness of situation from the first mover of government -- from all these causes a fierce spirit of liberty has grown up. It has grown with the growth of the people in your Colonies, and increased with the increase of their wealth; a spirit that unhappily meeting with an exercise of power in England which, however lawful, is not reconcilable to any ideas of liberty, much less with theirs, has kindled this flame that is ready to consume us."

The British could not say they weren't warned, and by their leading statesman at that. To those of his colleagues who believed their Force Acts would render us pliant subjects, Edmund Burke responded:

"The temper and character which prevail in our Colonies are, I am afraid, unalterable by any human art. We cannot, I fear, falsify the pedigree of this fierce people, and persuade them that they are not sprung from a nation in whose veins the blood of freedom circulates. The language in which they would hear you tell them this tale would detect the imposition; your speech would betray you. An Englishman is the unfittest person on earth to argue another Englishman into slavery."

It was not only the American spirit that the rulers of that great empire failed to apprehend when they adopted a tyrannical course in the colonies, but their own. They could not see that what they might have preserved through vision, they would lose by folly. Or as Edmund Burke warned his colleagues, "a great empire and little minds go ill together."

Now it is we who find ourselves with a great empire, or at least with all the responsibilities of one, however loath we are to acknowledge it. For we never sought an American empire. With all our being, we reject any such idea, respecting others' freedom as we love our own. But over the many hard years, as one threat after another materialized, we've been obliged to accept imperial responsibilities in response. Not out of imperious ambition but in self-defense.

Despite the happy myth of an America isolated from the all the world's troubles and intrigues, it was never so. We tend to forget that even our Revolution was part of a world war, fought with the critical aid of an international alliance with a still royal France. Whether through the long twilight struggle called the Cold War or now, deep in a war on terror that indecisive leaders refuse even to call by that name, the burden of empire has been thrust upon us. Shall we be up to bearing it? Or will we again see that a great empire and little minds go ill together?

This much is clear: Nothing so girds the spirit and informs the mind like memory. Which is why, on bright days like this one, we recall all the dark tides of history we have overcome, and are strengthened. So we beat on, boats against the current, borne ceaselessly into the past.



Obama's Misleading Vocabulary

Independence Day provides all Americans with an opportunity to celebrate the many freedoms that make our country both great and unique. Our Declaration of Independence was breathtaking in scope and written in precise, plain, unequivocal language. When read in townships across the Colonies, crowds listened in hushed silence and then broke out in applause when the reading was complete. Our Founding Fathers felt no need to dilute or cloak their intentions to form a government.

As you celebrate the 4th, it might be appropriate to contrast the straightforward language of our founders and other great American leaders with the weasel words now emerging from Washington, and all too frequently, from President Obama, who prefers euphemism-laden, convoluted, pixilated flummery.

A quick review of Obama's speeches reveals his most common euphemisms seem to show a pattern of deception, obfuscation and misdirection. In President Obama's lexicon, words have different meanings; to decipher the message and understand what the President is saying requires a special Washington Dictionary. Here are some samples from President Obama’s special dictionary:

* Investment is the president's word for government spending. When he says we need to invest more, he really means he wants to increase spending on some special project. Obama knows that the word “investment” is reassuring to most Americans and implies that at some point in time a good investment will return a decent profit. But, no return is envisioned with Obama's "investments". In fact, to Obama all government spending is an investment.

* Millionaires and Billionaires – Obama often talks about the need to increase taxes on the millionaires and billionaires. Of course, what he really means is higher taxes on any family making more than $250,000. Obama’s math skills must be sufficient to understand that there is a huge mathematical difference between 250,000 and a billion, but he chooses to ignore the difference to better stoke class resentment, all while hoping that average Americans are too stupid to understand.

* Working People is invoked to demonstrate commitment to average Americans. Of course, what Obama really means is that he supports the primacy of unions over other American workers. According to Obama’s definition, the vast majority of Americans, including small business owners, are not working people at all, regardless of how many thousands of hours they work. In Obama’s dictionary, only union members are working people and deserving of special preferences and consideration.

* Spending Reductions in the Tax Code means more tax increases. President Obama likes to wear the mantle of spending cuts, but lacks the courage to call a tax increase what it really is.

* Paying Their Fair Share is the president's phrase for wealth redistribution. What Obama really means is that entrepreneurs and other successful business owners are not paying high enough taxes, and that all of the money they earn should be "contributed" to the government for wealth redistribution to those that Obama considers worthy. Of course, Obama’s supporters, the bulk of whom do not seem to pay income tax, are, according to this definition, already paying a fair amount of tax (zero). It is the rest of America that is not paying their “fair share”. Obama offers no criteria to what is fair or not, so that is why he seems to think it is perfectly acceptable to require 20% of American to pay 78% of the taxes and then criticize them for not paying their "fair share".

* Green Jobs and Green Economy these are the jobs that President Obama believes are more important and more valuable than any others, even if creating a "green job" that pays $40,000 actually costs the taxpayers $300,000 to create. Moreover, if creating one magical "green job" results in the loss of 10 or more jobs that were dependent upon cheap, reliable power, that too is of no consequence. A green job has magical properties that do not conform to economic principles.

* Unprecedented. Perhaps Obama's favorite word, which he uses to describe most of his actions. This word has no meaning to Obama, but reflects his belief that he is so special that everything he does or says must be admired. Obama is so, fundamentally, unaware of American history that he thinks that the challenges and issues that he faces are unique. (Move over George Washington!)

Unfortunately, our President seems unaware that the dangers of repeated, euphemistic bastardization of the English language erodes his credibility. Increasingly, Americans know they cannot trust what Obama says.

And so, President Obama is likely to tell Americans: "In response to an unprecedented challenge we must provide more aid to working people by increasing investments in green jobs. We will implement savings in the tax code that will only impact millionaires and billionaires who are not currently paying their fair share".

And yet what Obama really means is: My policies have failed. The stimulus was a disaster, and the country is broke. We need more money to keep the Unions, and my special constituents who pay very little or no taxes, happy, so I need everyone else to pay more, otherwise I won't get re-elected.

Americans have a reputation for being straightforward and for plain speaking and are only slowly becoming aware of the vague, expansive, and misleading words in President Obama's unique dictionary. Our Founding Fathers said: "we hold these truths to be self-evident". With Obama, none of his words are self-evident.


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)