Saturday, October 08, 2011

The union of concerned Frauds

Anthony Watts, a prominent climate skeptic, has been having some fun:

Reader DJ writes in Tips & Notes: "Since becoming a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists when I found out all you needed was a valid credit card, my curiosity about who and what they really are has spiked."

I decided to put that theory to the test. I am very proud to announce that a member of my family has been accepted into this prestigious organization. With pride, I present new UCS member, Kenji Watts:

Yes, Kenji is our dog. Apparently, the claim is true, all that is required to be a member of the illustrious group of “concerned scientists” is a valid credit card. No discerning questions were asked of me when I prepared Kenji’s application and no follow up check after the application was done. I simply put in his name, address, and provided a valid credit card that matched the address.

So the real question is: How many real “concerned scientists” are there in UCS? Membership is apparently not any more discerning than the ability to send money.

I’m disappointed the Guardian hasn’t called for a quote on this story citing “leading U.S. Scientists”:



The 54 trillion dollar question: Is Obama on his way out?

As America approaches the third anniversary of Barack Obama’s historic election victory, the country is mired in economic gloom.

Expectations were absurdly high in the autumn of 2008, stoked up not least by the victor’s own campaign team. Yet Americans now seem bemused by how, exactly, it could all have gone so wrong.

In the run-up to his election victory, Mr Obama won praise for keeping quiet about the economy. It was the time of the collapse of investment bank Lehman Brothers, and the financial situation was shifting quickly: since it was hard for anyone to predict what would come next, silence seemed wise. However, some suspected that this reticence betrayed something worse than caution: cluelessness.

Installed in the White House, the new President chose Washington insiders such as Timothy Geithner (a former central banker) to be Treasury Secretary, and Larry Summers (who had held that post under Bill Clinton) to be his chief economics adviser.

Both men had, in different ways, been complicit in the policy mistakes that had devastated the U.S. economy. Their appointment suggested the Obama administration would have no new, radical ideas to improve the economy. That has turned out to be so. The old problems have persisted, and in some cases have become worse.

After three years, the U.S. national debt is a breathtaking $14.8 trillion. The total debt, including what households owe, is over $54 trillion.

Growth is negligible. Unemployment is 9.1 per cent, and the leading bank Goldman Sachs predicts it will rise to 9.5 per cent by the middle of next year — just as Mr Obama begs American voters to re-elect him.

There were 115,730 job cuts in September, double the number in August, and the highest monthly figure since April 2009. Around 70 per cent of those losses were from the U.S. Army, which cut 50,000 people, and the Bank of America, which shed 30,000.

The administration consoles itself that, on the other hand, 76,551 people obtained new jobs last month, but that was down almost 50,000 from the same month last year.

Few aspects of the economic disaster over which Mr Obama is presiding are more telling, or more tragic, than home repossessions. Foreclosures in August were 33 per cent up month-on-month, at 78,000. In 2010 there were 2.9 million, and another 1.2 million in first half of 2011.

Travelling this week around north-east America, between New York and Washington, I saw the unmistakable signs of poverty, industrial dereliction, social problems and decay all over the place.

Whole streets of houses are boarded up; factories closed; pawnbrokers flourish.

Ben Bernanke, head of America’s central bank, said this week that ‘the recovery is closer to faltering’. If this is how bad life is before it falters, God help America.

How have things come to this, after the ‘audacity of hope’ that accompanied the election of Mr Obama?

Quite simply, he and Mr Geithner (joined, until his resignation last year, by Mr Summers) have followed the wrong economic policy ever since they set foot in office.

Like socialists the world over, they believed America could spend its way out of recession. However, nothing has been done to improve productivity, or to assist the creation of wealth. In fact, much has been achieved in the opposite direction by making America a more regulated society, suffocating enterprise and discouraging work.

Their first plan was a stimulus package of $787 billion. It has not created a single job, but has simply added to America’s indebtedness. Its failure partly explains the political fight now raging over Mr Obama’s $447 billion jobs Bill — a desperate attempt to get unemployment down before next year’s presidential election.

While Republicans doubt it will work, there are widespread fears that it will increase the tax burden on those Americans most likely to create the wealth the country needs. For the President is proposing higher taxes on incomes over $250,000 in order to fund his job creation package, as well as extra taxes on the oil and gas industry.

These crippling tax rises are just part of a $1.5 trillion plan advocated by Mr Obama over the next ten years, which Republican critics say will fall on wealth creators and, therefore, on job creators.

The Right-of-centre Heritage Foundation says that the top 10 per cent (those earning more than $114,000 a year) already pay 70 per cent of all income tax while earning only 45 per cent of total income. Even Democrats in wealthier states are worrying about the negative effects.

The truth is that, like the Labour Party in Britain, Mr Obama can’t break his addiction to spending other people’s money. As a result, his policies are starting to hurt — without having any positive effect on the economy.

As for Mr Obama himself, he seems to be concentrating on fund-raising for his re-election campaign rather than endeavouring to rescue the country’s economy.

According to a new poll for the Washington Post, only 58 per cent of Democrats think he will be re-elected and 61 per cent of all voters disapprove of the way he is running the economy.

His only glimmer of hope is the weakness of his Republican opponents, with 76 per cent of Americans disapproving of the way they are conducting themselves. This is evidenced, for example, by the refusal of Republican Majority Leader in Congress, Eric Cantor, to hold a vote on the jobs Bill.

Worryingly for Mr Obama, many Democrats think he’ll be a one-term president. Some even wish he might stand aside and endorse Hillary Clinton as his successor — on the grounds that the economic crisis facing America is insuperable.



The wannabe tyrants of Wall Street

Disdainful and conspiracy-minded, the protesters claiming to speak for all Americans are acting like teenage despots

The Occupy Wall Street campaigners sure have a lot of attitude. Like self-victimising teenage tyrants, the protesters camped out in New York’s financial district for the past three weeks have spent much of that time complaining that nobody is paying attention to them, that they’re being bullied and that, when it comes to America’s future, it’s their way or the highway.

From the outset, the protesters complained about a ‘media blackout’ and ‘police brutality’. So keen are they to put themselves on a par with the revolts in the Arab world that they have convinced themselves that the US media is being kept away from the scene by powerful forces and that the cops are on standby for violent clampdowns on a regime-threatening protest movement.

True, the relatively small-scale protests have not warranted the NYPD’s ridiculously large deployments, and the cops’ nervous reactions have added fuel to the protesters’ victim-image. But it’s hardly been brutal. And contrary to the complaints of a lack of attention, no follower of the American ‘mainstream media’ could have avoided news of the protests in the past few weeks. A Google search on the very first day of the Wall Street Occupation (Saturday 17 September) brought up coverage from the New York Times, ABC, MSNBC, CBS, Fox and more.

Certainly, the media attention has not matched the protesters’ overblown sense of self-importance – that would be an impossible feat. Sure, the protest is gaining some momentum. There have been a number of copycat protests in other American cities and a march on Brooklyn Bridge last weekend led to hundreds of arrests. This was after a video of a policeman dousing two protesters in pepper spray went viral and garnered sympathy for the protesters. On Wednesday, several prominent unions announced their solidarity and marched together with the Occupy Wall Street movement. The demonstration attracted thousands. It was the biggest turnout so far.

Yet despite this dramatic scenery (widely covered by the mainstream press, one might add), what of the protesters’ slogan that ‘we are the 99 per cent’? Like any mantra, the more they repeat it, the more convinced they are that it is the truth. But in fact, this is simply the oldest despotic trick in the book: to take it upon yourself to define the interests of all citizens and then declare yourself their righteous protector.

The so-called General Assembly set up by campaign organisers issues decrees agreed on by whatever group of right-on radicals happens to be around at the time of the meetings in the Financial District. This is a ‘leaderless protest movement’, but those involved apparently see themselves as patrons of simpletons. ‘The working class in this country has been brainwashed by MSM, Fox News, and the right-wing propaganda machine’, says one writer on the protest movement’s website. ‘We need to de-programme people against the brainwashing they’ve experienced.’

In other words, the ‘99 per cent’ don’t know what’s good for them. Enter the MacBook-armed, middle-class warriors who want their student debt cancelled. Whether you know – or like – it or not, they know what you need. And anyone who doesn’t get their multifarious point has, we are told, clearly been brainwashed into robotic compliance with a society based on mass consumption.

To be fair, it really is difficult to grasp the protesters’ point. Since they have a commitment to drawing up endless lists of grievances (for instance the Declaration of the Occupation of New York City lists over 20 complaints and has a footnote that says ‘These grievances are not all-inclusive’), the protesters’ aims are indeed confounding. From the death penalty to the environment, from the arms trade to healthcare – the Wall Street Occupation has become a Movement Against Everything.

Rather than seeing their lack of coherence as a limitation, the protesters embrace it as a new form of enlightened ‘direct democracy’. Also, it allows the protesters to refuse to be held accountable for each others’ views. Instead, when one person uses the protest movement’s platform to insult the entire American working class, another can just turn around and say it’s ‘not representative of the whole’.

One recurring view, however, is that Everything is the Corporations’ fault – it’s that one per cent steering every element of society to their own advantage. Not only are corporations ‘holding students hostage’ with thousands of dollars in debt, they have also ‘perpetuated inequality in the workplace’, ‘poisoned the food supply’ and profited from animal torture. In the conspiratorial saga conjured up by the anti-capitalist Wall Street protesters, The Corporation is a faceless, evil force that puppeteers the government, citizens, the media, the legal system and just about any other social force.

The protesters’ wild imagination about the octopus-like Corporation spreading its tentacles into every sphere of life indicates that they have little belief in human agency. Instead we’re all in the grip of powerful forces and there’s little we can do about it. As one placard in Zuccotti Park read: ‘We are the stupid and ignorant nation.’ Thankfully, the Financial District campers have seen through the corporate BS and can now enlighten the rest of us.

For all their talk of anti-capitalism and promoting ‘workers’ solidarity’, the Wall Street protesters are only interested in commandeering the future of America according to their own narrow interests. And when the masses fail to join this attention-seeking movement, the new tyrants of Wall Street are not likely to be surprised: they’ll just figure it’s because Americans are in thrall of the Corporations.



The American economy is increasingly going underground

And that's most usually a Third world phenomenon

As some of you know, I own a 66 Dodge Polara that I've spent several years and several thousand dollars restoring.

Owning an old car like that requires a trustworthy, inexpensive mechanic to work on it. When I bought my old clunker I was referred to one in Hialeah. Over the years my mechanic did a lot of work on my cacharro, including rebuilding the engine. I became quite friendly with him and during my visits to his shop I passively observed the difficulty of running a shop like his. Permits, insurance, inspectors, certifications, etc. etc. All of that plus the usual overhead like rent and payroll.

Well, long story short, my old car was parked in the garage without moving for an extended period of time. I finally got around to calling the mechanic to let him know I was coming in and he told me he had closed up shop, he'd come to me instead.

Now, this is typical of what's going on with small business. It's being driven underground. The current business environment is prohibitive to set up and keep up a shop. This is not the first time I've seen this. The guy that sold me the audio system for the same car became a friend and he always complained about the same permitting and inspection issues. Last time I saw him he said, "it's not worth it, I'd rather just go mobile and drive around to referrals in an unmarked van."

As these businesses go underground the remaining above-ground bricks and mortar shops will bear an increasing burden and eventually more of them will go underground too. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy. We're regulating commerce to death.



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)

Distrust of intellectuals is not stupid

Hostility toward the philosophes is not unique to Americans, of course. It was the ancient Greeks, after all, who executed Socrates because his philosophy conflicted with their piety. Likewise, there is an element of fear among religious conservatives that the intellectual project as such—not any particular brand of intellectualism—is inherently subversive of their settled wisdom.

But the bigger reason for this anti-intellectual animus is that every time really smart people run the country, things go spectacularly wrong.

The team of the “best and brightest” that Lyndon Johnson inherited from John F. Kennedy embroiled America in an ignominy like Vietnam—not to mention Medicare, a fiscal quagmire that, unlike Vietnam, the country can neither exit nor fix without courting bankruptcy or seriously screwing over millions of seniors.

Moreover, George W. Bush’s failures resulted not from his alleged stupidity, as his most vitriolic critics believe, but the brainiacs in his Cabinet. Bush himself might have reveled in his Forest Grump image. But he assembled a team of intellectual stars including Dick Cheney, who was so smart that Beltway Republicans and Democrats wished that he had run for president; Paul Wolfowitz, dean of the Johns Hopkins School of International Studies; Condi Rice, provost of Stanford University; and Donald Rumsfeld, who made his mark in academia, politics, and military service. But this Mensa-worthy team, backed by Ivy League neocon intellectuals, left a legacy of Afghanistan, Iraq, and deficits as far as the eye can see.

The prize for discrediting intelligence, however, goes to President Obama. Unlike Bush, he wore his intellect on his sleeve, raising hopes that he could fix the country with sheer brainpower. But he has presided over a deterioration on every front: Deficits are worse, unemployment is higher, a double dip is imminent, and we have added another foreign misadventure.

So why do intelligent people consistently make such a hash of things? Because they are smart enough to talk themselves into anything. Ordinary mortals don’t engage in fancy mental gymnastics to reach conclusions that defy common sense. But intellectuals are particularly prone to this. Hence Bush’s brilliant foreign policy team used the apparatus of the state to search for evidence connecting Saddam Hussein with the 9/11 attackers, which its superior ratiocination told them had to exist.

The great hope from Obama was that he would be different. That his thoughtful, professorial demeanor would prompt him to look for policies that worked—not push a preconceived agenda. In fact, when he took office, I hoped that he would be an “empirical president” who dispassionately considered the evidence from all sides before making decisions. One’s preferred position might not win every time under such a president, but it would at least have a shot, something that people outside Bush’s ideological kin never felt they had.

But Obama has been infinitely worse. He has glibly cited Congressional Budget Office scores and stats to argue that extending government-subsidized health coverage to 30 million Americans won’t exacerbate the federal deficit; that a debt-ridden country can borrow its way out of the recession; that pumping tax dollars into pie-in-the-sky green technologies would stimulate growth and produce energy security, and so on.

Ordinary folks might be unable to marshal facts and figures to counter such ludicrous claims, but they know bullshit when they see it. This has two effects on them: One, they feel profoundly disempowered watching their leaders deploy their smarts not on their behalf but against them. And two, since they can’t become experts and academics, they resist by retreating into their own simple certitudes drawn from folk wisdom, faith and founding principles. Indeed, Sarah Palin is as much Barack Obama’s gift to America as she is John McCain’s.

The great political divide right now is not between eggheads and blockheads, as Maureen Dowd puts it, or intellectualism and stupidity, as other self-serving liberal pundits sneer. It is between two types of activism: an irresponsible, pseudo-intellectual one and a retrograde, folksy one. This divide will disappear when some genuinely smart and wise leader earnestly addresses the nation’s problems, instead of pushing his or her loopy program.



Some history: Stimulus Has Been a Presidential Job Killer

The political graveyards are full of politicians who thought that temporary, targeted economic policies would get them re-elected.

Temporary, targeted tax reductions and increases in government spending are not good economics. They have repeatedly failed to increase economic growth on a sustainable basis. What may come as a surprise is that such policies are not good politics either. Their inability to deliver promised economic benefits has invariably led disappointed voters to turn against those politicians, Democratic and Republican, who have supported them.

Consider the evidence. When President Gerald Ford entered office, the economy was in the midst of the serious 1974-75 recession. Responding to the popular clamor to "do something," he proposed a short-term stimulus plan in early 1975. The centerpiece was a temporary income-tax rebate. Congress added a one-time, $50 increase in Social Security benefits and, to bolster the sagging housing market, a one-time tax credit for new home buyers.

The rebate caused only a temporary blip in consumer spending. Economic growth rose to 9% in the first quarter of 1976 but then dropped to only 2% in the third quarter, and unemployment started rising.

Congress enacted a second stimulus plan in July 1976 over Ford's veto. It authorized grants to state and local governments designed to prevent layoffs of public employees or tax increases. This plan also failed to produce the promised stimulus. The economic pause of 1976 was enough to swing the election to Jimmy Carter and cause more incumbent senators to lose their seats than in any election in nearly 20 years.

President Carter took office and by the end of his first month proposed another stimulus plan, which he said would "restore consumer confidence and consumer purchasing power." His plan called for another round of one-time tax rebates and Social Security bonus payments, federal public infrastructure grants and countercyclical aid to state and local governments.

He also added a tax credit for small and medium-size employers hiring new workers. The fine-tuned plan, according to the chairman of Mr. Carter's Council of Economic Advisers, Charles Shultze, was "designed to tread prudently between the twin risks of over and under-stimulation."

In May 1977, Congress enacted the president's proposals in modified form. Although the pace of economic activity quickened for a while, subsequent studies by senior Carter administration Treasury official Emil Sunley and noted economist Ned Gramlich showed that the government-provided stimulus had little effect. The recovery was not sustained and the economy fell into recession in January 1980. The failing economy combined with rapidly rising inflation doomed Mr. Carter's re-election chances, along with the Democratic Party's control of the Senate and 33 Democratic seats in the House.

President Reagan rejected temporary stimulus measures and instead proposed permanent income-tax rate reductions. His tax program, in conjunction with steady monetary policy begun by Paul Volcker, produced the promised results.

By late 1982 the recession was over and in early 1983 employment and investment began to rise rapidly. In 1984, it was "Morning in America" and Reagan was overwhelmingly re-elected. Nearly two decades of strong, steady, noninflationary economic growth ensued.

The success of Reagan's permanent tax-rate reductions, juxtaposed against the clear failure of his predecessors' temporary Keynesian stimulus measures, put the Keynesian approach on the back burner. The extent to which temporary stimulus measures fell into disfavor is evident from President Bill Clinton's first year in office. That year he proposed a minuscule $16 billion stimulus plan. Congress rejected it and turned its attention instead to reducing the federal budget deficit by cutting the growth in spending and raising taxes.

When President George W. Bush took office in 2001, his first priority was to put a broad-based, permanent reduction in tax rates into effect. But when the signs that the economy was weakening became apparent early that year, temporary stimulus measures were added to the president's plan. The final tax-reduction law included a temporary tax rebate and phased in the tax-rate reductions at a slower pace than he originally proposed. As with previous stimulus efforts, the rebates had little or no effect.

A combination of the economic impact of 9/11 and the failure of the 2001 Keynesian stimulus measure to have any lasting economic effect led Congress in 2003 to enact additional tax relief. In May of that year, at the urging of Mr. Bush, Congress sharply reduced tax rates on capital gains and dividends and put the 2001 income-tax rate reductions in place immediately.

Within four months, employment began to rise and the unemployment rate began to fall. By 2004, the economic recovery was in full swing. President Bush was re-elected, along with Republican majorities in both the House and Senate.

In response to the recession that began in late 2007, both Presidents Bush and Obama chose to rely on Keynesian stimulus policies. President Bush's temporary tax rebate in 2008 had no discernible effect on the economy. The declining economy partially contributed to John McCain's defeat and played a crucial role in the Republicans' loss of seats in both the House and Senate.

Mr. Obama's $800 billion temporary, targeted stimulus plan took the same approach as Mr. Carter's more than three decades earlier. The February 2009 bill included temporary tax rebates, additional spending on federal programs, and one-time grants to state and local governments.

It had the same negligible economic impact as Mr. Carter's and, thus far, eerily similar political consequences. The plan's failure preceded a historic Republican electoral sweep in the 2010 House elections and significant Republican gains in the Senate. The continuing economic discontent has placed Mr. Obama's re-election in serious jeopardy.

That temporary tax reductions and increases in government spending can jump-start the economy and sustainably boost employment and personal income may seem like a politician's dream policy. But the repeated failure of these short-term interventionist policies to deliver the promised economic benefits should make politicians think twice. Reliance on them has already cost dozens of members of Congress their jobs and two postwar presidents a second term.



Dangerous lies about Herbert Hoover live on

Attacking the idea of a Balanced Budget Amendment, “Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution,” issued a press release on October 4 promoting the falsehood that Herbert Hoover cut spending during the Great Depression, when in reality, Hoover more than doubled government spending as a percentage of GDP:
“Did Herbert Hoover win the last election?” asked Nadler. “If, in the middle of a recession, when tax revenues are down, and unemployment is up, we begin to slash the budget in ways my Republican colleagues are now suggesting, much less the far more draconian measures that this amendment would require, we will go from the Great Recession, right into another Great Depression. It’s been tried before, and if we want the Constitution to enshrine Hooverism for all time, we will get what we deserve.”

Nadler is wrong about the facts here, as he so often is. As I recently noted in the Edmonton Journal:
Former U.S. president Herbert Hoover did not practice austerity, so it is incorrect for politicians to claim that he “helped plunge his country into the Great Depression through austerity measures.”

Hoover’s administration increased federal government spending from three per cent of the U.S. economy in 1929, the year he took office, to eight per cent in 1933, the year he left office.

The U.S. budget deficit became so large as a result that by 1932, the country’s government was spending more than $2 for every dollar it took in.

It was not austerity that caused the Great Depression, but misguided government meddling in the economy, such as the Smoot-Hawley Tariff of 1930.

That increased tariff backed by Hoover ignited devastating trade wars between the U.S. and other countries that wiped out countless jobs.

Data from the White House’s own website shows that Hoover increased, rather than cut, spending in the Great Depression, and ran up deficits that were huge by historical standards.

That is illustrated in Table 1.1 on page 21 of a document on the White House’s website, a document entitled, “Historical Tables: Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2009.” It shows that Hoover increased the federal budget from $3.1 billion in 1929, the year he took office (and the Great Depression began), to $4.7 billion in 1932, his last full year in office, and $4.6 billion in 1933, the year he left office. The budget deficit went from a surplus in 1928 to a deficit of $2.7 billion in 1932. Table 1.2 on page 24 of that document shows that government spending and deficits rose considerably as a percentage of the economy under Hoover. (See Table 1.2, “Summary of Receipts, Outlays, and Surpluses or Deficits (–) As Percentages of GDP: 1930-2013)” and Table 1.1, “Summary of Receipts, Outlays, and Surpluses or Deficits (–): 1789–2013)”).

Newspapers like the Richmond Times-Dispatch and Washington Times also have noted that Hoover actually increased spending during the Depression. Financial writer Megan McArdle of The Atlantic noted that Hoover increased spending from 3.4 percent of GDP to 8 percent, increasing spending even as the economy shrank and deflation occurred. (Thus, government spending rose more rapidly as a percentage of the economy than in absolute terms.)

Recent massive spending by the Obama administration has similarly failed to stem rising unemployment, and some economists have argued that the $800 billion stimulus package actually wiped out hundreds of thousands of jobs.




Washington's Free Trade Adult: "President Obama is indulging Congress's protectionist elements as the price of moving three delayed free-trade agreements. Speaker John Boehner showed better judgment when he denounced such tactical domestic politics as "dangerous" on Monday night. Mr. Boehner's comments came after the Senate cleared with a 79-19 procedural vote a bill that would impose tariffs on China for supposed currency manipulation. Mr. Boehner was left to fill the Presidential vacuum, saying that "It's pretty dangerous to be moving legislation through the United States Congress forcing someone to deal with the value of their currency." He added that "This is well beyond what Congress ought to be doing," and he hinted that he wouldn't bring the bill to the House floor."

What we don’t know about health insurance: "Despite the trillions of dollars we’ve spent on public health insurance programs, there’s very little strong evidence to suggest that subsidized health insurance actually improves health. Indeed, the push for universal coverage may be preventing other, more effective health measures. So here’s the question: Is the drive for universal health insurance actually making people worse off?"

Stifling medical device innovation: "The United States has long been the home to cutting-edge innovations in the medical device industry, a remarkable private enterprise success that has improved or extended the lives of millions of people. However, increasingly burdensome regulatory policy is driving pioneering research and development to Europe and to the rest of the world. Nevertheless, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and self-styled public health advocates are engaged in an assault on the primary regulatory pathway through which new products reach the market."


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, October 06, 2011

Obama's USDA running amok

USDA threatens $60,000 fine, federal raid against woman in legal possession of indoor lemon tree. Do Americans have ANY legal rights left?

The US government's assault against innocent American citizens continues to get more aggressive and just plain strange, with new reports of harassment against honest owners of ordinary lemon trees. Health Freedom Alliance (HFA) reports that officials from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) are now spying on people whom they suspect are in possession of ordinary lemon trees, and threatening them with excessive fines and even federal raids if they refuse to surrender the plants on demand.

Several years ago, Bridget Donovan, who has now been dubbed "The Lemon Tree Lady," purchased a Meyer lemon tree from A resident of Wisconsin, Donovan purchased the tree legally and in full accordance with all federal and state laws regulating citrus transport, and had lovingly cultivated and cared for her indoor citrus plant for nearly three years.

Then, out of nowhere, Donovan received an unexpected letter from the USDA informing her that government officials were going to come and seize her tree and destroy it -- and that she was not going to be compensated for her loss. The letter also threatened that if Donovan was found to be in possession of "regulated citrus" again, she could be fined up to $60,000.

Donovan was shocked, to say the least, as her tree was not a "regulated citrus." The store from which she purchased it is fully legitimate, and she had done absolutely nothing wrong. But it turns out Donovan and many others who had also purchased similar citrus plants had faced, or were currently facing, the very same threats made against them by the USDA.

Most of those targeted simply surrendered their trees without trying to fight back, Donovan discovered. And while she, herself put up a hefty fight in trying to get honest answers in order to keep her tree, Donovan was eventually forced to surrender it as well. And worst of all, many of those who were told that a replacement tree would be in "compliance" later had those trees confiscated, too.

Why has the USDA been targeting lemon tree owners? The answer is unclear, other than that they are a supposed threat to the citrus industry. And a USDA official admitted to Donovan that the agency has been spying on those suspected of owning lemon trees, and targeting all found to be in possession with threats of fines and raids if they failed to give them up -- and the agency has been doing this without a valid warrant.

"I felt utterly violated, angry, and upset," Donovan is quoted as saying by HFA. "I pay my taxes, I obey the law, and this is how I was treated? I did nothing wrong. I would expect these action (sic) toward someone running a drug house, not someone who owned a lemon tree."



The 'hunger' hoax

By Thomas Sowell

Twenty years ago, hysteria swept through the media over "hunger in America." Dan Rather opened a CBS Evening News broadcast in 1991 declaring, "one in eight American children is going hungry tonight." Newsweek, the Associated Press and the Boston Globe repeated this statistic, and many others joined the media chorus, with or without that unsubstantiated statistic.

When the Centers for Disease Control and the Department of Agriculture examined people from a variety of income levels, however, they found no evidence of malnutrition among those in the lowest income brackets. Nor was there any significant difference in the intake of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients from one income level to another.

That should have been the end of that hysteria. But the same "hunger in America" theme reappeared years later, when Senator John Edwards was running for Vice President. And others have resurrected that same claim, right up to the present day.

Ironically, the one demonstrable nutritional difference between the poor and others is that low-income women tend to be overweight more often than others. That may not seem like much to make a political issue, but politicians and the media have created hysteria over less.

The political left has turned obesity among low-income individuals into an argument that low-income people cannot afford nutritious food, and so have to resort to burgers and fries, pizzas and the like, which are more fattening and less healthful. But this attempt to salvage something from the "hunger in America" hoax collapses like a house of cards when you stop and think about it.

Burgers, pizzas and the like cost more than food that you can buy at a store and cook yourself. If you can afford junk food, you can certainly afford healthier food. An article in the New York Times of Sept. 25 by Mark Bittman showed that you can cook a meal for four at half the cost of a meal from a burger restaurant. So far, so good. But then Mr. Bittman says that the problem is "to get people to see cooking as a joy." For this, he says, "we need action both cultural and political." In other words, the nanny state to the rescue!

Since when are adult human beings supposed to do only those things that are a joy? I don't find any particular joy in putting on my shoes. But I do it rather than go barefoot. I don't always find it a joy to drive a car, especially in bad weather, but I have to get from here to there.

An arrogant elite's condescension toward the people -- treating them as children who have to be jollied along -- is one of the poisonous problems of our time. It is at the heart of the nanny state and the promotion of a debilitating dependency that wins votes for politicians while weakening a society.

Those who see social problems as requiring high-minded people like themselves to come down from their Olympian heights to impose their superior wisdom on the rest of us, down in the valley, are behind such things as the hunger hoax, which is part of the larger poverty hoax.

We have now reached the point where the great majority of the people living below the official poverty level have such things as air-conditioning, microwave ovens, either videocassette recorders or DVD players, and own either a car or a truck.

Why are such people called "poor"? Because they meet the arbitrary criteria established by Washington bureaucrats. Depending on what criteria are used, you can have as much official poverty as you want, regardless of whether it bears any relationship to reality.

Those who believe in an expansive, nanny state government need a large number of people in "poverty" to justify their programs. They also need a large number of people dependent on government to provide the votes needed to keep the big nanny state going.

Politicians, welfare state bureaucrats and others have incentives to create or perpetuate hoaxes, whether about poverty in general or hunger in particular. The high cost to taxpayers is exceeded by the even higher cost of lost opportunities for fulfillment in their lives by those who succumb to the lure of a stagnant life of dependency.



Why Your Bank Is Charging More Fees

Obama favors retail millionaires and billionaires in the debit-card fight.

There are many observations that can be made about President Obama’s remark Monday to ABC News that businesses “don’t have some inherent right just to get a certain amount of profit if your customers are being mistreated.” In and of itself, this comment reveals much about his beliefs and knowledge (or lack thereof) on economics, consumer choice, and the private sector in general.

But in the context in which it was made — Bank of America, Citi, and other banks’ recently announced debit-card and checking-account fees for consumers, which they are charging to recoup losses from the Dodd-Frank financial-overhaul law’s price controls on debit-card fees charged to retailers — what must first be said is that he was lecturing the wrong set of Fortune 500 corporations. The price controls were added to the law by an amendment from Senate majority whip Dick Durbin (D., Ill.).

If he really wanted to point the finger at the big companies that have mistreated consumers and are reaping illicit profits, he should have addressed not Bank of America, but Walmart, Walgreens, and Home Depot. These big retailers are making a killing from the price cap — regulatory corporate welfare that they lobbied vigorously on behalf of — yet so far have not passed on any of their estimated $19 billion in savings to consumers. And even many Democrats can see what’s going on.

For example, consider this quote: “Consumers suffer when the government regulates interchange fees. . . . Merchants are able to offload their fees onto consumers[, and] retailers have no intention of passing along any savings to consumers. . . . We should not allow the federal government to dictate the terms of a private transaction — particularly in a case such as this, where government intervention would drastically harm [consumers].”

What firebreathing free-market zealot made these proclamations? None other than Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D., Fla.), the president’s own handpicked chairman of the Democratic National Committee, in a letter co-written with Rep. Kenny Marchant (R., Texas). Similar sentiments were reflected in a letter signed by 71 Democrats and 60 Republicans in June 2010 urging House-Senate conferees to strip the price controls from the final Dodd-Frank bill. Likewise, Dodd-Frank co-author Barney Frank (D., Mass.) has said repeatedly that this is the only part of Dodd-Frank he doesn’t like, and he’s offered to work with both parties to repeal it.

To be sure, there were defectors in the other direction, too: 17 Republican senators voted for the Durbin Amendment, though all but three of them would vote against Dodd-Frank at the end. And the GOP’s “Durbin Dozen” in June of this year voted against a measure by Jon Tester (D., Mont.) to delay the price controls, depriving it of the 60 votes needed to clear the Senate.

From the very beginning, Durbin tipped his hand that his efforts were on behalf of the retail fat cats. When he introduced his amendment to Dodd-Frank in May 2010, Durbin said on the Senate floor that his measure came about after Walgreens’s CEO called him to complain that the transaction fees the company pays to process debit and credit cards were “the fourth largest item of cost for their business.”

Yet in this era of the “Buffett Rule” and bashing “millionaires and billionaires,” Durbin and other liberal proponents of these price controls never quite explained why Congress should be concerned with the routine costs of doing business for a retail chain such as Walgreens, which makes $2 billion in annual profits. Or for that matter, other retail behemoths such as Walmart or Home Depot — or Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, with retail units from Dairy Queen to Nebraska Furniture Mart — that will benefit from this regulation-driven corporate welfare.

Going back to the president’s remarks discussing whether there is an “inherent right to get a certain amount of profit,” it’s important to note that the Durbin Amendment does not give banks and credit unions the right to reap any amount of profit from the retail side of a debit card transaction, or even to cover their costs. Unlike price controls under utility-rate regulation that mandate a “reasonable rate of return,” Durbin’s provision in Dodd-Frank demands that interchange fees be “proportional to cost,” and that the Federal Reserve only consider “incremental costs” in setting the price caps.

Thus the Fed, concerned with stability of the banking sector, almost invited banks and credit unions to engage in cost shifting to consumers, “helpfully” pointing out that “the interchange fee standard would not limit the ability of an issuer to earn revenue from other sources, such as charging fees to cardholders.”




WV: Democrat wins special election for governor: "Democrat Earl Ray Tomblin overcame weeks of Republican attack ads to win the West Virginia governor's race Tuesday, successfully distancing himself from the Obama administration and the president's health care plan. Tomblin, who has been acting governor for the past year, will finish the final year of a term left vacant by Joe Manchin, a well-liked governor who stepped down after he won a U.S. Senate seat."

Land of the poor, home of the sick: "Thanks to a series of destructive government policies and incentives, a health care crisis has been steadily building in America for a generation or two. But the release yesterday of the Kaiser Family Foundation's annual survey reveals that the problem of unaffordable healthcare is becoming epidemic."

Government makes us poor: "Here's my fantasy: Libertarians are elected to the presidency and to majorities in Congress. What would happen next? Well, if libertarians were 'in charge,' you'd have more freedom and prosperity. Freedom frightens some people. ... If libertarians were 'in charge,' there would be laws to protect us from foreign enemies and those who would steal from us or injure us. Today, by contrast, under the rule of Democans and Republicrats, we're drowning in rules -- 160,000 pages' worth. Micromanagement kills opportunity and freedom"

Did hubris or ideological blindness inspire Obama on his Solyndra visit?: "In the face of these warnings, why did Obama and his handlers proceed unflinchingly to visit the company last year? I can think of two likely explanations. One is hubris: The president thought that these admonitions were insignificant compared to his capacity as a politician and central planner .... The other explanation is simply sheer ideological blindness ..."

The fascist threat: "Everyone knows that the term fascist is a pejorative, often used to describe any political position a speaker doesn’t like. There isn’t anyone around who is willing to stand up and say: 'I’m a fascist; I think fascism is a great social and economic system.' But I submit that if they were honest, the vast majority of politicians, intellectuals, and political activists would have to say just that."

Class warriors for big government: "Acting as unofficial scorekeeper, Sojourners Founder and CEO Jim Wallis recently declared, 'There really is a class war going on, and the upper class is winning.' However, many of the class warfare protesters who are taking to the streets to 'occupy' Wall Street and American cities are the disgruntled children of well-to-do parents. ... Such protestors are driven less by genuine economic hardship than by misguided animus toward the market system that has enabled the wealth from which they have benefited."

Occupy Wall Street — the real culprits: "True Capitalism is not the problem. The reason successful firms are successful is because they offer things we want. We can choose whether to give them our money -- Ronald McDonald has never coerced you into buying a Big Mac. If the government were a firm on the open market, it would go broke within milliseconds. But we haven't got true capitalism"


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, October 05, 2011

Unintended consequences of E-Verify?

Government surveillance and control of citizens in this country is something I have written about many times in this space, and something with which we should all be very concerned. It is not a trivial matter. Every infringement on our personal freedom means that we are that much less free.

Totalitarian states tend not to assume all power and hand it to a central authority all at once. More often, liberty is steadily chipped away, always with some “good” reason for prohibiting this or requiring that. And citizens go along because “it’s a small thing,” or because “I don’t mind cooperating with that if it makes us all safer,” or because they’re frozen by either fear or apathy… until one day they wake up and find themselves living in a cage – a totalitarian state.

The process has been on the move here in the US for decades now. Slowly, the police and politicians – backed by a shamefully spineless judiciary – have eviscerated a Bill of Rights that was once our crowning glory, a watershed document in human history that marked a turning away from the absolute rule of an elite and toward individual freedom. Now, sadly, we’re turning back.

There’s far too little space here to go into all the assaults that have been launched against our rights, both those specifically enshrined in the Constitution and other derivative rights that have become firmly entrenched over time. Let’s just examine the latest chapter in this sorry story: the debate over the E-Verify system.

Americans are a people apt to change their lives at any moment. We are free to work wherever and for whomever we choose. We can move to a different state, take a new job, or start a business and hire our own employees. The right to make what one wishes of one’s life is assumed, never really questioned.

Increasingly, this right is banging up against the desire of the state for more centralized control over the working population. And the state now has the perfect excuse to trigger that tightening: illegal immigration.

This issue is has become a hot political flashpoint, with passions running high over how to deal with the situation. One suggestion comes in the form of HR 2885, the Legal Workforce Act.

HR 2885, introduced in the House by the House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) in June, sets the stupefying goal of verifying the identity of every job-seeker in the US. Let’s put that another way. If you apply for a job in the US, you will not be hired until you get a government stamp of approval.

Here’s how Smith would like it to work: The new law would require all employers to submit potential employees’ names, Social Security numbers, and such other data as the government may find pertinent to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for authorization before an employee can start work. The data would then be vetted by E-Verify, a government-run database and employment identification verification system.

It’s impossible to overstate how deeply misguided this proposal is, nor in how many ways; that’s true no matter whether you think we should embrace undocumented aliens with open arms or believe they should all be shot. To have introduced it into an economy struggling to stay afloat is a near-criminal act.

To take the most obvious point first, job creation is a top priority in the country today. All politicians at least pay lip service to the need. Whether lawmakers can actually do anything to create jobs is debatable, but one thing is certain: It can destroy them. And that’s exactly what HR 2885 is – job killing legislation.

It manages to stifle job growth on two fronts. On one hand is the business owner, already staggering under a mountain of regulations. The additional cost of compliance this new law would impose will be the straw that breaks many an entrepreneurial back. Small companies will go bust.

On the other hand, there is the potential employee, perhaps desperate for work. Now he or she will have to wait for the bureaucratic wheels to grind (as will the employer eager to hire). What if there’s a tiny glitch in the process? Worse, what if the database has incorrect information on the applicant? Then the real nightmare begins.

Of course, there is one place where new jobs will be created: Washington, D.C. The bill will necessitate a whole new – and rather large – division of DHS to handle the workload. But anyone who reads the Daily Dispatch already knows how we feel about expanding the federal payroll.

Then, beyond the immediate practical considerations, there are any number of larger questions. For example, under what authority does the federal government think it can bestow upon itself the role of ultimate arbiter as to who does and doesn’t get hired by private businesses?

Additionally, many liberty lovers see this move as merely a back-door way of establishing what many in power really want – a universal surveillance database – to be followed soon by a national ID card (though the bill has a disclaimer on this). That database will likely not stop with name and SSN, but can be expected to expand to include fingerprints, retinal scans, and probably DNA descriptors.

It’s also a certainty that there will be mission creep. There always is. Private-sector employers will evolve into extensions of the government… a vast, national police force, if you will. It’s not much of a leap to see them eventually tasked with verifying whether employees are delinquent in the payment of federal, state or local taxes, in compliance with child support or alimony decrees, on a terrorist watch list, or convicted or even accused of a crime.

Originally, HR 2885 had a prohibition against using the E-Verify database for anything other than employment verification, but that was replaced by a new section allowing it to be used to “protect critical infrastructure.” That could affect everything from your right to fly to your ability to access public buildings... not to mention that the information is sure to be shared throughout the law enforcement and intelligence communities.

Luckily, some substantial pushback has developed against HR 2885. Opposition is coming from within the GOP, among border-state governors and legislators, and from citizens across the political spectrum, from liberal immigration-rights groups and the ACLU to Tea Partiers.

However, whether the opposition is strong enough to counter politicians’ desire to curry votes with the stridently anti-immigrant crowd remains to be seen. The only certainty is that if this bill becomes law, it will radically change the way business is done in the US…. for the worse.



Looking back: Obama’s fatal missteps

It might be too early to start analyzing what went wrong with the Obama administration in its first three years, but I am going to do it anyway.

Here are seven turning points that led to the president’s decline and fall, seven places where Obama or his Democratic allies made critical errors that forever altered the course of his presidency. He hasn’t done everything wrong, but he has made enough mistakes to make his reelection extraordinarily difficult.

1. Failed to veto the initial stimulus package: Imagine for a moment if Obama had vetoed that initial stimulus package. Imagine if he insisted that Democratic leaders take out all the pork and cleanse the bill of unworthy projects. Imagine if he had insisted that congressional Democrats work with Republicans to include their ideas, because we are all in this together. He would have immediately branded himself as a different kind of president, as someone above the fray, as a leader who cares first about the country, not the Democratic Party. And if he had done that, he would have had the Republicans hopelessly divided. Of course, he didn’t take that step, congressional Democrats were able to walk all over him and Republicans stiffened up their resolve and presented a united front against the president and his plans.

2. Let Nancy Pelosi move cap-and-trade first: The then-Speaker insisted that the House move on an environmental bill that had absolutely no chance of becoming law. She made vulnerable Democrats walk the line on this bill that the energy sector successfully branded as a new tax on energy, and when the president needed many of those members to vote with him on healthcare, they simply couldn’t. It was an unnecessary and silly waste of political capital.

3. Called the cop stupid: At a press conference called to push his healthcare law, the president took the bait offered in a question from Lynn Sweet, the Chicago Sun-Times reporter, and opined on an incident involving a Boston-area police officer and Obama’s own friend, Skip Gates. He said that Sgt. Crowley acted “stupidly,” and created a firestorm that forever alienated white ethnic voters. He tried to recover with a beer summit, but the damage was done. The week before the president rose high in the polls, but after the Beer Summit, his rating steadily declined.

4. Failed to bring the Olympics home to Chicago: When the president hurriedly jetted off to Oslo to lobby the International Olympic Committee, he raised the stakes for America and for his own personal credibility. After all, Obama was elected ostensibly because he proved to be such a popular figure overseas. Well, the president’s personal charm didn’t pay off, and the Olympics went to Brazil. Coming home empty-handed proved to be a deep embarrassment.

5. Signed an extension of President Bush’s tax cuts: After campaigning against and complaining about George W. Bush’s tax cuts for the rich, Obama meekly signed a two-year extension of those same tax cuts. By reversing course, Obama did three things. He exposed himself as a man who will blink when put to the test. He made the deficit situation much worse. He has not in any way, shape or form put himself in a stronger rhetorical position for his reelection. He is making the same ineffective arguments that he made last year, and it will likely yield the same result.

6. Signed ObamaCare: By pushing through an ungainly and unpopular healthcare law, with little if any support from the opposition party, the president gained little traction politically, and put his allies in the worst possible position on Capitol Hill. In fact, the anger stoked by passage of the bill led to one of the largest repudiations of any president, in the midterm elections of 2010.

7. Brought David Plouffe in-house: The president is now is full campaign mode, as evidenced by the fact that his top campaign person is now running the White House. It is clear that Plouffe, a hard-nosed partisan, is in charge, and not the more pragmatic chief of staff, Bill Daley, because the president has taken a hard turn to the left to energize his despondent base. But Obama is the incumbent, not the challenger. His job should be to first fix the country and then worry about the campaign later. Good policy translates into good politics.

President Obama might make a remarkable comeback if the economy suddenly roars back to life and he somehow governs as a centrist. But right now, that doesn’t seem very likely. When the history is written about what went wrong, these seven turning points are a good place to start looking.



Class war relies on a stack of lies

Deroy Murdock

It’s official: America is at class war, and President Barack Obama proudly leads the charge against this country’s wealthy.

“If asking a millionaire to pay the same tax rate as a plumber makes me a class warrior -- a warrior for the working class -- I will accept that,” Obama shouted Tuesday at Denver’s Abraham Lincoln High School. “I will wear that charge as a badge of honor. Middle-class families shouldn’t pay higher tax rates than millionaires and billionaires. A teacher or a nurse or a construction worker making $50,000 a year shouldn’t pay higher tax rates than somebody making $50 million.”

Obama’s assault on the affluent rests upon a sky-high stack of lies. Obama is too well staffed and too well informed not to know otherwise. So, maddeningly, he straight-out lies to the American people.

For days before Obama opened his mouth in Denver, multiple news accounts and opinion pieces annihilated the casus belli of his War on the Wealthy. Nonetheless, Obama keeps spouting falsehoods, perhaps hoping that his smooth voice will hypnotize Americans into believing his words.

“Fact check: The wealthy already pay more taxes,” read the headline above a September 20 Associated Press. “President Obama says he wants to make sure millionaires are taxed at higher rates than their secretaries,” Stephen Ohlemacher wrote. “The data say they already are.”

Nationwide, Ohlemacher and others dismantled Obama’s soak-the-rich thesis. The rich are soaked today.

In 2008, its latest data indicate, the Internal Revenue Service harvested $1.0315 trillion in income tax -- of which the top 10 percent of earners paid $721.4 billion. The top 5 percent shelled out another $605.7 billion, and the top 1 percent relinquished $392.15 billion. Meanwhile, the bottom 50 percent collectively paid just $27.9 billion. Thus, the top 1 percent of taxpayers furnished 14 times the income taxes that the bottom half of filers supplied.

In 2009, the IRS reports, those who made at least $1 million average 24.4 percent of adjusted gross income in federal income taxes. Those who scored $200,000 to $300,000 paid 17.5 percent. Between $100,000 and $125,000: 9.9 percent. From $50,000 to $60,000: 6.3 percent. Those who earned between $20,000 and $30,000 saw income taxes devour 2.5 percent of AGI.

Income, schmincome, Leftists chirp. What about payroll taxes that lower-income Americans pay? Counting other taxes still shows that higher earners pay more, Obama’s dark fantasies notwithstanding.

The Tax Policy Center -- a joint venture of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution -- reported August 24 that Americans who receive $1 million or more will average 29.1 percent of earnings in 2011 federal income, payroll, corporate, and death taxes. Those clearing between $50,000 and $75,000 will pay 15 percent, while those from $40,000 to $50,000 will average 12.5 percent. Those federal taxes will extract 5.7 percent from earners between $20,000 and $30,000.

Dry? Yes. But these figures demonstrate that Americans who earn more money pay more federal tax. Those who see less pay less. If Obama finds this unfair, he should define fairness.

True, the IRS notes, 1,470 households produced at least $1 million but paid no federal income tax in 2009. Still, this is just 0.62 percent of the 236,883 returns that millionaires filed. This reinforces the bipartisan idea of closing loopholes and lowering tax rates -- but not Obama’s crusade against “millionaires and billionaires” and his American Jobs Act’s tax hikes on people earning as little as $200,000.

When Obama accepted the 2008 Democratic nomination in Denver, he espoused national unity. The USA would “come together as one American family,” he declared. The nearby Continental Divide might become this republic’s only rift, if Barack Obama secured the presidency.

How disappointing that the eloquent man who millions hoped would heal this land now actively pits Americans against each other -- not by race or creed, but by income. As London’s arson-scorched victims of mob rule learned last August, there is nothing cute about class war.



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, October 04, 2011

The Chicago Way

Despite Rahm Emanuel’s departure from the White House, the coercive, dominating style of the Chicago Way is still infiltrating Barack Obama’s presidency. Americans for Limited Government (ALG) put together a report highlighting examples of the president and his team’s most egregious actions.

Recently, the Obama campaign set up the website. Essentially, this is a replay of the earlier Obama Administration project to have supporters inform the White House of attacks on Obama. That effort quickly failed amidst a firestorm of controversy. Of course, critics are ridiculing the new snitch website.


In 2008, George Kaiser raised tens of thousands of dollars for Obama. Kaiser’s family foundation invested in Solyndra, a company that manufactured solar panels. Solyndra’s board members and executives also gave generously to Obama. After Obama’s Inauguration, Kaiser became a frequent White House visitor. Although Solyndra’s application was rejected by the Bush Administration, the Obama Administration gave over $500 million in loan guarantees to Solyndra as part of the “stimulus.” Emails have emerged revealing the White House pressured bureaucrats to decide quickly on the loan.

Vice President Biden appeared by satellite at a company groundbreaking event, and Obama even visited Solyndra’s plant. As the “green energy” company continued to lose money, the Obama Administration even changed the terms of the agreement to make them more favorable to Solyndra’s investors in case of the company’s default. Of course, the change in terms made the deal even more risky for taxpayers. Solyndra recently declared bankruptcy, and Congress is demanding answers.


There is concern among the military that LightSquared, a new wireless broadband company, would interfere with military GPS systems. Tests at White Sands Missile Range have confirmed these fears. The majority owner of LightSquared is Philip Falcone, a billionaire and Obama bundler. Billionaire George Soros, the generous funder of liberal causes, also invested in LightSquared, and organizations to which Soros has contributed have been supportive of LightSquared.

Recently, four-star Air Force General William Shelton testified before Congress about LightSquared. Shelton runs the North American Aerospace Defense Command. At the hearing, Shelton complained that the White House had pressured him to change his testimony to be more favorable toward LightSquared. The White House wanted him to claim that the military could adapt to LightSquared, an endeavor that could require billions of dollars and years of research.

Since then, Anthony Russo, director of the National Coordination Office for Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing, has come forward claiming that the White House wanted to make changes to his testimony as well. The White House wanted Russo to say that testing would be completed in 90 days, but Russo found that timeframe to be too optimistic and refused.

Fox News

Obama has long had a frosty relationship with Fox News. Now the Justice Department is investigating to see whether its parent company, News Corp., broke any laws by paying British police officers for information.

These few examples only scratch the surface.



The jobs plan that couldn’t

Even Donk legislators don't like it

“I am sending this Congress a plan that you should pass right away. It’s called the American Jobs Act. There should be nothing controversial about this piece of legislation. Everything in here is the kind of proposal that’s been supported by both Democrats and Republicans — including many who sit here tonight. And everything in this bill will be paid for. Everything. (Applause.)”

That’s what President Obama told lawmakers Sept. 8 in a hastily called joint session of Congress. But it was — and is — a flat-out lie, and Mr. Obama knows it.

He has since then traveled the country to pitch the plan, exclusively to partisan Democratic crowds that whoop and cheer at the brilliance of it all. He even got wealthy donors to chant “pass this bill!” even though it substantially raises taxes.

Now, however, we are beginning to see the truth behind the fiction. Not only is the president’s job bill not “the kind of proposal that’s been supported by both Democrats and Republicans,” it’s not even the kind of proposal that Democrats can currently support.

On Monday, senators passed a bill to keep the government open into the next fiscal year and then headed out on vacation for the rest of the week. Majority Leader Harry Reid said when they return they’ll get back to work — not on the jobs bill, but on a measure to punish China over its currency valuation. Mr. Reid said that bill is a bigger priority right now.

There’s a story making the rounds in Washington that explains Mr. Reid’s dyspeptic countenance. On a secret meeting at the White House after the debt-ceiling deal collapsed (mainly because Mr. Obama doubled the amount of taxes he wanted), the president sat with the top Republican and Democrat from both the House and Senate. They offered a deal, one that all four agreed on and that all four vowed could get through the two chambers.

Mr. Obama nixed it. In one version of the story, a peeved Mr. Reid said, “I’m not going to do anything for that [expletive] again.”

By the end of the week, Democrats were in open revolt. Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, asked whether his party had the votes to pass the president’s bill, said flatly: “Not at the moment, I don’t think we do, but, uh, we can work on it.” He added: “We’re not going to have 100 percent of Democratic senators [support the bill], that’s why it needs to be bipartisan.”

The reason is simple: Democrats in the House and Senate stand for re-election in just 13 months, and their campaigns will be difficult enough without raising taxes just before voters go to the polls. Said a blunt Mr. Durbin: “There are some senators who are up for election who say ‘I’m never gonna vote for a tax increase while I’m up for election, even on the wealthiest people.’”

Makes sense. It’s a hard sell for lawmakers if they pass the bill, which would raise taxes by $467 billion on wealthier Americans and corporations.

And Mr. Obama knew that when he delivered his big speech last month. His strategy is clear (if simple-minded): blame Congress for the mess America’s in. But in so doing, he has caught up his fellow Democrats who, pressed to the wall, are fully prepared to bail on him and save their own skins. They want no part of the amateurish strategy to try to blame Congress, half-controlled by Democrats.

In fact, even some of the most rabidly liberal Democrats are planning to abandon the president because they see he’s only interested in saving his job, not theirs. More, Mr. Obama is throwing his former Senate colleagues under the bus as he scrambles to win another term.

So, this jobs bill is dead. And no matter how many times Mr. Obama repeats the lie that his “is the kind of proposal that’s been supported by both Democrats and Republicans,” it will be House Republicans who write a bill that can actually pass the Senate.



President Obama's Health Care Law Not Fulfilling Promise

The news that health insurance premiums are again rising rapidly is the latest reminder that President Obama's health care law is producing the opposite of what it promised.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, then-Sen. Obama promised health care reform that would lower premiums for the typical family by $2,500.

That year, the average premium for an employer-based family plan rose 5 percent to $12,680. Premiums rose another 5 percent in 2009 and 3 percent in 2010.

But the first batch of Obamacare mandates didn't take effect until late 2010, so their impact wasn't felt until this year. What happened? Premiums surged by 9 percent to more than $15,000 per family.

Those figures come from the Kaiser Family Foundation, which supports Obamacare and estimates the law is contributing at most 2 percentage points to that increase. This estimate conceals the law's crushing impact on many households.

Just before the first batch of mandates took effect, insurers reported Obamacare would increase premiums for some consumers by up to 30 percent in 2011. But that was before the Obama administration accused carriers of "misinformation." Yet the truth has a way of stepping into the light.

Multiple reports show the news will get worse in 2014, when the waivers expire and the law takes full effect.

MIT health economist Jonathan Gruber projects that six out of 10 consumers in Wisconsin's individual market will see their premiums go up by an average of 31 percent. Many will see much larger increases. Gruber is one of Obamacare's biggest supporters, and was even a paid consultant to the Obama administration. Will the administration now accuse him of spreading misinformation?

In Ohio, some consumers in the individual market will see their premiums rise by 55 to 85 percent. Young, healthy males could see their premiums rise by 90 to 130 percent. And some small businesses will see their premiums rise by 150 percent, according to the actuarial consulting firm Milliman, Inc.

These massive rate hikes will be inflicted by the same president who once described a 39 percent increase by Anthem Blue Cross of California as "jaw-dropping," and a secretary of Health and Human Services who wrote that Anthem's "extraordinary" increases could "make health care unaffordable for hundreds of thousands of Californians, many of whom are already struggling to make ends meet in a difficult economy." If that's true, then won't Obamacare's much larger premium hikes do the same?

Recent events have also belied Obama's reassurance that "no matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise. ... If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what."

Principal Financial Group responded to the law by dropping out of the market, leaving nearly a million Americans to find new coverage.

In a study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, University of Minnesota economists Jean M. Abraham and Pinar Karaca-Mandic estimated that Obamacare's "medical loss ratio" rule could throw more than 155,000 Americans with costly medical conditions out of their individual-market coverage.

Milliman projects the law will cause many who currently have employer-sponsored coverage to go uninsured when their employer drops coverage.

The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that many "children" have enrolled in their parent's coverage under Obamacare's mandate that plans with dependent coverage be open to children up to age 26. But Kaiser didn't even bother to ask whether any employers responded by dropping dependent coverage entirely, despite reports suggesting the law caused thousands of children to lose their dependent coverage this way.

There's no hiding it. Obamacare is delivering the opposite of what its supporters promised.

When Anthem officials re-examined their books, they admitted the 39-percent rate hike was an error and rescinded it. Here's hoping the Obama administration has at least as much integrity as an insurance company.



Misleading talk about extremism

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads," Woody Allen once said. "One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly."

Americans face a similar crossroads now. On the one hand, they can vote for the most extreme, dangerous bunch of radicals ever to appear on a ballot in an election year. Or if they prefer, they could vote for the most radical, dangerous bunch of extremists ever to—well, you know.

The other day the Democratic Party of Virginia sent out an email blast with the subject line "The most extreme line up ever." It warned that Democratic candidates this year were "running against a slate of extreme tea party Republicans who want to drag this Commonwealth backward. This year the stakes are higher than ever." The email goes along with the party's new video condemning—yep—"the most extreme Republican ticket in history."

This is but the latest example in a long and richly bipartisan tradition of bashing opponents as the most extreme bunch of lunatics ever to spew from Satan's colon. And while the wording changes slightly, the message never does. A couple decades ago, state Democratic Party Chairman Mark Warner was declaring the GOP candidates "the most extreme right-wing ticket ever"—while 300 hundred miles to the north, Republican Rudy Giuliani was opining that "Democratic primaries are won by the most extreme candidate." (Namely his opponent, whoever that turned out to be.)

The next year, Oliver North challenged Chuck Robb for the Senate, denouncing the moderate Democrat as an "extremist." Robb returned the favor. In 2001, state GOP director Ed Matricardi excoriated the Democratic lineup as the "most liberal" in Virginia's history, while Democrats termed the GOP ticket "the most right-wing" in years.

Last year, Mass Resistance, a Massachusetts-oriented political group, lamented: "Mass GOP Convention Nominates Most Extreme Pro-Gay & Anti-Family Gov & Lt. Gov. Candidates Ever." Which was odd, because about the same time, the abortion-rights website RH Reality Check was warning, in "More GOP Candidates More Extreme Than Ever," that "the 2010 crop of GOP candidates" displayed "more extreme stances on reproductive-rights issues than we've seen in a long time." So apparently the GOP was nominating candidates who were virulently both pro-gay and anti-abortion. Inscrutable, those Republicans.

During the 2008 campaign, John McCain denounced Barack Obama for having "the most extreme" voting record in the Senate. Obama, McCain said, "is more to the left than the announced socialist in the United States Senate, Bernie Sanders of Vermont."

Likewise Robert P. George, McCormick professor of jurisprudence at Princeton, who wrote a widely circulated piece contending that Obama was "the most extreme pro-abortion candidate ever to seek the office of President of the United States. . . . Indeed, he is the most extreme pro-abortion legislator ever to serve in either house of the United States Congress."

In some ways this amounts to nothing more than the silly hot air that all campaigns blow. It's pretty hard to get out the vote by saying, "The other guys? Ehhh, they're not so bad."

And in the heat of the campaign, many voters actually do convince themselves the other guys are the worst ever. The University of California's Jonas Kaplan studies the psychology of political affiliation. As he explains, "in the political process, people come to decisions early on and then spend the rest of the time making themselves feel good about their decision."

Many in the media are glad to help them do it, by serving up an endless train of alarmist articles about how one side or the other is chock-full of bug-eyed nut jobs pushing hidden agendas and radical ideas: Christian "dominionism" (Rick Perry), anti-colonialist Alinskyite subversion (Barack Obama), Straussian neoconservatism (George W. Bush).

Of course, it might be true that in some instances, a candidate really is the "most extreme ever" along some axis or another. But does this tell us anything important? Not so much.

Suppose that, in 1955, a Southern political candidate had declared segregation obscene, laws against ethnic intermarriage odious, and the notion of racial supremacy grotesque. Suppose he organized bus boycotts and lunch-counter sit-ins and marches for civil rights. Suppose he promised to overturn Jim Crow as soon as he took office. If any candidate had done that, he would have been widely denounced as the "most extreme" you-know-what-lover ever.

He also would have been right.



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)

Britain waking up to the ill-effects of minimum wage laws too

The minimum wage may be pricing young people out of work because employers are finding it too expensive to give them their first job, Government pay advisers have said.

Firms may be reluctant to create jobs by recruiting inexperienced staff because they are put off by the increased wage bill, the Low Pay Commission has suggested.

The Commission’s intervention comes amid calls from businesses for minsters to freeze or even cut the rate to enable more young people to find work.

Conservative ministers meeting at the party’s conference are to promise a raft of measures to boost the stalling UK economy. The claims will add to pressure on the Government to go further.

New rates for the minimum wage took effect on Saturday. For 18-20 year olds, the minimum wage is now £4.98, up from £4.92. For 16-17 year olds, the new rate is £3.68, up from £3.64.

Tim Butcher, the commission’s chief economist told the Daily Telegraph that the body is launching a new investigation into the role the minimum wage has played in Britain’s growing youth unemployment problem.

Official figures last month showed that almost 1 million of the 2.5 million people officially counted as unemployed in Britain are aged between 16 and 24.

Almost 220,000 have been out of work for more than a year and some economists fear a "lost generation" of young people who never learn the habits of work and face a lifelong struggle ever to find employment.

In its official advice to the Government on this year’s pay rates, the commission raised concerns about younger workers, the first such warning since the introduction of the legal minimum rate in 1999.

The commission’s move is will put he minimum wage on the agenda as ministers search for ways to help companies prosper.... The British Chambers of Commerce said that the minimum wage should be part of the effort to reinvigorate the economy.

Adam Marshall, Director of Policy at the BCC said that there should be a freeze in the minimum wage for younger workers, followed by a consultation with employers about a gradual reduction in the rate.

"The concern is that the current rate is discouraging some employees from taking on young people and giving them a chance to get into the workplace," he said. "Some companies are finding the rate is a real problem."

Under this year’s rates, workers over 21 must legally be paid at least £6.08 an hour, up from £5.93. That is a 2.5 per cent rise. By contrast, this year’s rise in youth rates is 1 per cent, reflecting the commission’s concerns about youth unemployment.



Bringing Selfish Back

Katie Kieffer

When politicians, journalists and college professors use words like “share,” “fair” and “redistribution,” they are trying to make socialist ideas sound sexy. Socialism isn’t sexy; it’s suffocating.

Here’s what’s sexy: “Selfishly” working hard to secure your own financial independence and making free choices with regard to your career, romantic relationships, children and estate. Let’s bring selfish back, y’all!

The problem with words like “share” and “fair”–words five-year-olds use when they want to play with their big brother or sister’s toys–is that they’re innocuous. They are inappropriate for describing government policies that ultimately replace freedom with thralldom.

Liberals will tell me things like: “Socialism is not communism. Socialism merely levels the playing field; it prevents rich people from creating monopolies and controlling everyone else.” My response is: “Have you read The Communist Manifesto lately?”

Marx believed that socialism was the natural first step toward its full realization, namely communism. When and if liberals actually read Manifesto, they’ll notice that Marx lays out ten steps that are “generally applicable” to establishing communist socialism. At least six of these steps look quite similar to current and pending U.S. polices.

1. “A heavy progressive or graduated income tax” (we have this now and it will become even more progressive if the Buffett Tax is implemented).

2. “Abolition of all right of inheritance” (think excessive and duplicative estate and inheritance taxes).

3. “Centralization of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly” (think Frank Dodd and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s monopoly on guaranteeing mortgages).

4. “Centralization of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the state” (think net neutrality regulations and the TSA).

5. “Establishment of industrial armies” (think labor unions).

6. “Free education for all children in public schools” (yep).

All I’m saying is that America succeeds when she plays to her proven strength, namely capitalism. Just as a football coach adjusts his game plan when his quarterback is repeatedly sacked, America should change things up when she begins following significant parts of Marx’s playbook.

My problem with socialism is that it takes the fun out of life. Many college professors won’t admit that by “sharing” all your private property with the state, you’d surrender your ability to freely choose. And when you can’t prefer one thing, person or activity to another, life becomes drudgery.

As socialism progresses it eliminates career preference. The state decides what career you will pursue from an early age. You pursue a role the state deems best, not the career you discover and prefer.

Socialism also nixes romantic preference. Radical socialists like Marx teach that capitalism leads to prostitution. Marx says capitalists instituted marriage to keep their capital within their own family by procreating and carrying on their family line. He thinks socialism removes the “claptrap” of love by freeing every woman from allegiance to one man and her biological children.

Marx also expunges parental preference. Manifesto directs parents to hand their children over to the state to be raised. This prevents capitalists from passing their capital along to their children and keeping their wealth within their family instead of sharing it with the nation.

I think we should be free to prefer and raise our own children. We should also be free to pass on the fruits of our labor to our own flesh and blood. There is nothing wrong with exclusive love. There is nothing wrong with inheriting your parents’ money.

Ayn Rand was a teenager in Soviet Russia. She wrote a short novel, Anthem, where she envisions what could happen to man when society fully embraces collectivism: Preference of any kind becomes evil.

Her nameless hero, “Equality 7-2521” relays how the law “says that men may not think of women, save at the Time of Mating. This is the time each spring when all the men older than twenty and all the women older than eighteen are sent for one night to the City Palace of Mating. And each of the men have one of the women assigned to them by the Council of Eugenics. Children are born each winter, but women never see their children and children never know their parents.”

Equality 7-2521 struggles because he prefers one woman (the Golden One). She also prefers him. They feel suffocated because they are unable to express their exclusive love within the socialist society.

I’d rather choose my own career than have the state decide how I can best serve the common good. I’d prefer to bequeath my estate to my family and my favorite charities than to the government. I’d prefer to love one person than to owe sexual allegiance to every man in the nation.

Bottom line, I cherish property rights and freedom; I am selfish.



The ACLU – A Change of Heart or Cowardice?

The ANC [American News Commentary] reported in its September 21, 2011 issue that the ACLU is defending the right of Muslims to exercise prayer in public schools in San Diego… Really?

Is that a change of heart or the expression of a cowardly and terrified heart? It is most likely the latter. Let me explain.

Over the last 40 years or so, the ACLU has terrified many school boards, school administrators, and school children by threatening to drag them into court if they pray in public.

A few years ago, they terrified many coaches and sporting event coordinators by warning them that if they dare pray in public, the ACLU would bring about the full weight of their false interpretation of the Establishment Clause.

For many years, they have sent their emissaries across the land, “Gestapo-like,” checking out every small city council, lest they open their meeting with prayer. But now they are coming out of their closets and are supporting Muslim students praying in public schools.

If you think that this defies every aspect of human logic, you would be right.

Fear is a powerful factor – fear devastates logical thinking, fear decimates consistency and their support for Islamic prayer in public schools in San Diego is a clear indication of that fear. They know all too well what will happen to them if they exercise their clever maneuvers on Muslims. They will not see the love and forgiveness they have received from Christians. Rather, they will see the end of the sword.

Surprise, surprise when Kevin Keenan, the spokesperson for the ACLU in San Diego, explained his enthusiastic support for Muslims praying in public schools, he said: “Performing these prayers is widely recognized as one of the five essential pillars of Islam.”

Really? Have they not heard, do they not know that Christians and Jews are also exhorted to pray?

Have they not heard, do they not know that for Christians, prayer is a life-line to their Savior, the God of the universe?

Have they not heard, do they not know that the prophet Daniel was thrown into the den of lions because he would not stop praying to the God of Heaven?

Have they not heard, do they not know that for Christians prayer is the foremost expression of their desire to commit themselves, their schools, their sporting events, and their public meetings to the Lord God Almighty?

Can one hope that appealing to the ACLU to be fair and just and not single out Christians, who are loving and forgiving, will make a difference? Meanwhile, they cower when it comes to Muslims, who may talk with the sword.

Can one appeal to them to see the light before it is too late for them as “infidels”—the first in line to face the sword under the Sharia?

Can one appeal to them to exercise even the most basic of human logic, let alone review history and truth? One can hope.



Black caucus bad for blacks

Black America suffers disproportionately today because its leaders – uniformly liberal Democrats like our president – have been peddling failed big government policies for almost half a century.

Now, in the words of Barack Obama’s former pastor, “The chickens are coming home to roost.”

Dr King stood before the nation in August 1963, in his “I Have a Dream” speech, and said “America has given the Negro people a bad check, which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”

It is time for today’s black Americans to deliver this same message to their left wing black leaders. The promise of secular liberalism, of the fantasy of big government redemption, which blacks have been sold since 1964, is a bad check which is coming back today marked “insufficient funds.”

Today’s tragedy is the refusal to learn. Because we do know what works and we do know what doesn’t work.

And black leadership has continued, year after year, to embrace and sell what doesn’t work and black Americans continue to buy it and return these same individuals to power.

What does work? Let every black American read Dr. Ben Carson’s book Gifted Hands. Let them read how his illiterate mother, working as a domestic, told her two little boys to turn off the TV and made them read two books a week.

Let them read how a young black man from the ghetto became head of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University.

And let every black American read about Dr. Carson’s faith, which guides his life and how he raises his children.

Our president sends his two beautiful daughters to a fancy private school in Washington, DC. But why can’t every black mother send her son or daughter to whatever school she wants?

The black Caucus is not criticizing Barack Obama because his big government answers don’t work. They are criticizing him for not doing enough of it.




CA: Gov. Brown signs bill that allows for bans on circumcision: "California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law Sunday a bill that prevents local governments from banning the practice of male circumcision. The legislation comes in response to an effort this summer by a San Francisco Bay Area advocacy group opposed to the practice to get a measure proposing a citywide ban added to the November 8 city ballot."

Nothing good grows at the Department of Agriculture: "People who are not farmers, or who don’t know any farmers, probably know very little about the U.S. Department of Agriculture. What most of us do know about USDA, other than the stamp it places on meat packages, is that it takes billions of dollars from taxpayers to pay farmers not to grow things. Basically it’s a large federal bureaucracy that pays productive people not to be productive."

Free trade without apology: "With the economy sputtering and unemployment still high, President Obama is looking for ways to jump start growth. He recently stated his intention to gain Congressional approval for free trade agreements (FTAs) with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea. The president’s new stated commitment to free trade is welcome, but there was no need for him to wait this long."

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)