Friday, September 14, 2012

Shana Tova Umetukah

To my Jewish readers -- if I still have any after the naughty things I have said about the holy book, the desirability of aliyah etc. I have borrowed the defiant video below from the inestimable Caroline Glick of Latma. More here. Caroline has a great name. "Glick" sounds a bit odd to us Gentiles but in Yiddish it means luck or happiness.

How U.S. leaders from JFK to Roosevelt and George W Bush share character traits with psychopaths

If you Google the term "subclinical psychopathy", my academic journal article on that topic -- which is also the topic below -- heads the list. So it would appear that I am in an unusually good position to comment on the research below.

And I think I should note at once a major elision in it. They in fact have no findings about psychopathy as such. They appear to have looked for a whole host of psychopathic traits in U.S. Presidents and found little that stood out. All they found was a tendency towards dominance (surely unsurprising in a President!) and an unusual degree of fearlessness.

But these are not central characteristics of psychopaths. The central attributes of psychopaths are a lack of moral anchors (Clinton?) and an untroubled ability to tell bald-faced lies (Obama?). I say more on those two characters here.

So the article below is the product of what statisticians call "data dredging". If you look at enough correlations, you are reasonably certain to find one that is significant by chance alone.

So it is not at all clear that the characteristics the researchers highlight below are at all villainous. Psychopathy is undoubtedly villainous but is fearless dominance villainous? I can't see it. It is probably a desideratum for leaders generally. So the whole story below rather falls in a heap when you look closely at it.

I cannot help being amused, however, by the inclusion of GWB, the total omission of Obama and the failure to highlight Bill Clinton. That will presumably enable Leftists to gloat that GWB was a defective while Obama and Clintion are paragons. That is what psychologists call an "artifact" -- a conclusion produced by the research method rather than something that is really in the data.

And I think I should in conclusion note that GWB was anything but a psychopath. He was a deeply sentimental man, which is just about the opposite of psychopathy. He made a point of not highlighting the sentimental side of himself during his presidency but the way he would make unpublicized visits to families of the war-dead just to sit and pray with them reveals a very emotional and sincere man indeed. He was a Christian gentleman rather than a conservative as such but he was above all a decent human being -- despite the foam-flecked "Bush=Hitler" rage from the Left -- -- JR

A character trait in psychopaths has been identified by scientists as a common thread in successful US presidents. Fearless dominance, which is linked to less social and physical apprehensiveness, boosts leadership, persuasiveness, crisis management and congressional relations, according to new research.

Theodore Roosevelt, regarded as one of the most influential US leaders even though he was in office more than a hundred years ago, ranked highest for this type of personality followed by John F Kennedy, Franklin D Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan.

Then came Rutherford Hayes, Zachary Taylor, Bill Clinton, Martin Van Buren, Andrew Jackson and George W Bush.

Fearless and dominant people are often a paradoxical mix of charm and nastiness. Cool and calm under pressure, they not easily rattled.

They lack the same kind of anticipatory anxiety that most people have so are not put off from taking dangerous actions.

They are usually intelligent and wealthy, relishing directing other people’s activities and basking in their admiration.

Psychologist Professor Scott Lilienfeld, of Emory University, Atlanta, said: 'Certain psychopathic traits may be like a double edged sword. 'Fearless dominance, for example, may contribute to reckless criminality and violence, or to skillful leadership in the face of a crisis.'

They are sexually adventurous and often takes risks.

It’s not that they can’t feel fear or anxiety, but it takes a much more extreme situation to elicit those emotions.

They live for the thrill, the excitement and the adrenaline rush and are attracted to jobs such as a fireman or policeman.

If you were assembling a Special Forces team, you would want to screen for people high in fearless dominance.

The analysis, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology ["Fearless dominance and the U.S. presidency: Implications of psychopathic personality traits for successful and unsuccessful political leadership."], drew upon personality assessments of 42 presidents up to George W Bush and compiled by Steven Rubenzer and Thomas Faschingbauer for their book ‘Personality, Character and Leadership in the White House.’

More than a hundred experts including biographers, journalists and scholars who are established authorities on one or more US presidents evaluated their target presidents using standardised psychological measures of personality, intelligence and behaviour.

For rankings on various aspects of job performance, the analysis relied primarily on data from two large surveys of presidential historians.

The rich historical data on presidents, combined with detailed expert rankings, provided a window into an emerging theory some aspects of psychopathy may actually be positive adaptations in certain social situations.

Prof Lilienfeld said: 'The way many people think about mental illness is too cut-and-dried. 'Certainly, full-blown psychopathy is maladaptive and undesirable. 'But what makes the psychopathic personality so interesting is that it is not defined by a single trait, but a constellation of traits.'

A clinical psychopath encompasses myriad characteristics, such as fearless social dominance, self-centered impulsivity, superficial charm, guiltlessness, callousness, dishonesty and immunity to anxiety. Each of these traits lies along a continuum, and all individuals may exhibit one of more of these traits to some degree.

Prof Lilienfeld explained: 'You can think of it like height and weight. Everyone has some degree of both, and they are continuously distributed in the population.'

The results of the analysis raise the possibility that the boldness often associated with psychopathy may confer advantages over a variety of occupations involving power and prestige, from politics to business, law, athletics and the military.

The findings also add to the debate over the idea of the so-called 'successful psychopath,' an individual with psychopathic traits who rises to a position of power in the workplace.

Psychopathy is defined as a lack of empathy for others, or a conscience, and can be associated with extreme and manipulative behaviour. This is distinct from psychosis, a group of mental illnesses, including schizophrenia.



Massive Government Cover-Up In Virginia?

by Lawrence A. Hunter

On September 6, 2012, Revolution PAC, which I chair, submitted Freedom-of-Information-Act (FOIA) requests to eight state and local agencies and offices of the Commonwealth of Virginia demanding release of all information and communications relating to the Brandon J. Raub case. Mr. Raub, a former, decorated Marine who served with distinction in Iraq and Afghanistan, was kidnapped on August 16 by a joint strike force of Virginia and Federal “law-enforcement” agents, after which they tried to “disappear” him into the Virginia psychiatric gulag without charging him with any wrongdoing.

What did Raub do to deserve this abuse and torment by the government? He posted comments on Facebook that were critical of the government, and it was a private Facebook page, to boot. It was only by the courageous efforts of his mother, a dedicated lawyer for liberty (John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute), and widespread protest about this abuse of government power by average people across the nation that Raub was saved from being stashed away and subjected to psychotropic drugs and brainwashing by government shrinks.

According to Whitehead, something is rotten in the Commonwealth of Virginia that goes way beyond just the Raub case:
“Every year in Virginia, more than 20,000 people are detained for civil commitment and whisked away just like Raub. Brandon Raub’s case exposed the seedy underbelly of a governmental system that seems to be targeting Americans – especially military veterans – for expressing their discontent over America’s rapid transition to a police state.”

Is there a massive government cover-up involving the Raub case, and perhaps many others, going on in Virginia? It’s too early to tell but the early returns are not encouraging.

It took the Virginia State Police, through its Public Relations Director, exactly 36 minutes to respond to our 10-page FOIA request, which asked for much more than simply the “documents,” to which the pro forma response refers:
“The Virginia State Police has no documents responsive to your request, in accordance with Code of Virginia Section 2.2-3704. You may wish to contact the primary law enforcement agency involved in this incident: Chesterfield County Police Department. The Chesterfield County Police Department’s mailing address is P.O. Box 148, Chesterfield, VA, 23832.”

Clearly, this is not a serious, good faith response to a lengthy and detailed FOIA request that demands not only “documents” but also all electronically stored information and communications (ESI). The FOIA request reads, in part:
“Paper Preservation of ESI is Inadequate

“As hard copies do not preserve electronic searchability or metadata, they are not an adequate substitute for, or cumulative of, electronically stored versions. If information exists in both electronic and paper forms, agencies should preserve both forms.”

Unless the Virginia State Police are simply outright lying, they are playing word games designed to avoid having to come clean with what they knew, what they did and when they knew and did it. The PR Director clearly already had her orders and a prepared response in hand ready to go based on the old propaganda tactic of responding only to the questions they want to answer and ignoring the rest.

It strains credulity to accept at face value in this day and age that Virginia State Police were unaware and uninvolved in a joint Virginia-Federal strike force clearly planned and coordinated well before the fact and carried out with precision and cooperation among local police and several different federal “law-enforcement” agencies. At a minimum, one would expect the Virginia State Police to have audio records of police transmissions connected with the Raub case, which the FOIA request specifically included.

It took Governor Bob McDonnell’s Deputy Chief of Staff exactly 113 minutes to respond with this brush-off:
“Thank you for contacting the Office of the Governor with your request outlined below. This Office has no records responsive to your request. To the extent you seek documents that may or may not be in the possession of other state agencies or local law enforcement, please contact those agencies directly with your request.”

Either the Governor’s Office is lying or the Governor has totally ignored the high-profile Raub incidents and has not even been briefed on the matter, accounts and records of which would fall within the purview of the FOIA request. Mendacity or dereliction, I don’t know which is worse.

What about the Attorney General’s Office? Only this, 28 hours and 58 minutes and four separate submissions later from the AG’s FOIA Administrator:
"I can confirm that your FOIA request was received and passed on to me, the FOIA Administrator, for handling. We have begun the process of determining whether or not this Office has documents responsive to your request and will provide you with a response within the statutory time frame. Thank you."

Which at least reveals that the AG is aware of the case and probably has seen the complete file on it. The question now is, will he respond in good faith and reveal the contents of this file or will he use the period “within the statutory time frame” to construct a Nixonian modified limited hang-out. Time will tell.

In the meantime, though, the most revealing of all responses thus far came from the Clerk of the Circuit Court that ended up releasing Mr. Raub on August 23:
“Pursuant to Code of Virginia Section 37.2-818 which requires the Court to keep confidential any recordings, records, reports and documents, this file was sealed by Judge W. Allan Sharrett and as such I have no authority to unseal the file.”

This section of the Virginia code ostensibly is intended to protect the privacy of people caught up in the civil-commitment web, and it provides for the person held under civil-commitment proceedings to obtain the file. Additionally, however, the statute also provides that anyone else may request access to the Court’s file, in which case the Court is required to unseal the file “if it finds that such disclosure is in the best interest of the person who is the subject of the hearing or of the public.”

Whitehead has stated publicly that Raub intends to sue the FBI, and presumably during the process of discovery, Mr. Raub will seek access to the sealed file. But, as I wrote in this space earlier, and especially in light of the apparently promiscuous use of civil commitment in Virginia, much more is at stake than simply Mr. Raub’s civil suit against the FBI, notwithstanding its extraordinary importance:
"These Orwellian actions and this criminal conspiracy between Virginia and federal officials are so outrageous and so contrary to the precepts of American and Virginian justice that the ramifications of these unlawful acts go far beyond the harm done to Mr. Raub; they undermine the constitutional foundations of the United States of America and the Commonwealth of Virginia. Therefore, all communications related to these incidents that occurred among Virginia agencies and personnel and with federal officials should be released to the public without delay."

Therefore, the Circuit Court’s response to Revolution PAC’s FOIA request is far from adequate. Either the Court must open the file to public scrutiny or explain why, in its opinion such disclosure is not in the best interest of the public.

So far, we have not received any response to our FOIA request from either the Chesterfield Police or the Commonwealth Attorney for Chesterfield County. Stay tuned.




Russian ships displayed at DNC tribute to vets: "On the last night of the Democratic National Convention, a retired Navy four-star took the stage to pay tribute to veterans. Behind him, on a giant screen, the image of four hulking warships reinforced his patriotic message. But there was a big mistake in the stirring backdrop: those are Russian warships. While retired Adm. John Nathman, a former commander of Fleet Forces Command, honored vets as America’s best, the ships from the Russian Federation Navy were arrayed like sentinels on the big screen above. These were the very Soviet-era combatants that Nathman and Cold Warriors like him had once squared off against. “The ships are definitely Russian,” said noted naval author Norman Polmar"

MA: ROTC returns to Harvard after 41-year absence: "For the first time since Richard Nixon was president, Army cadets are training at Harvard University. The Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, better known as the ROTC, has been absent from the venerable Boston institution since 1971, when it was banned amid protests of the Vietnam War. But this week the program returned, as 25 cadets in gray shirts and black shorts -- including 10 Harvard students -- did an hour of calisthenics at McCurdy Outdoor Track behind Harvard Stadium. The school renewed its ties with ROTC after the military’s 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell' law, which effectively banned gays from the military, was repealed."

Judge tells Twitter to give up protester’s posts or face fine: "Twitter Inc. has to turn over information about an Occupy Wall Street protester’s posts or face a fine, a judge ruled, giving the company three days to show it isn’t in contempt of court. ... Sciarrino ruled June 30 that Twitter must turn over Twitter’s posts from Sept. 15 to Dec. 30 and user information linked to the '@destructuremal' account of Harris, who was arrested on Oct. 1 with about 700 protesters on the Brooklyn Bridge, denying the company’s request to quash the subpoena."

'New York Post' Runs Boldest Anti-Obama Ad Yet: "Even casual readers of the New York Post will find it hard to miss the full-page ad immediately following the paper’s must-read gossip section, Page Six, that claims President Obama’s biological father is not Barack Hussein Obama Sr., but rather poet and labor activist Frank Marshall Davis. Or as the ad puts it, “Communist Party Propagandist Frank Marshall Davis.” The ad, headlined “Obama’s Big Lie Revealed,” is a promotion for a DVD titled Dreams from My Real Father, which is billed as “Amazon’s #1 documentary.”


My identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my old Facebook page as I rarely accessed it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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, September 13, 2012

Was George W. Bush given SEVEN warnings about threat from Bin Laden in months before 9/11?

Reports such as the one below are doubtlessly causing erections galore among "truthers" but they should not. There are innumerable examples of intelligence warnings being ignored because the decision-makers simply didn't WANT to believe them.

For instance, the excellent Soviet spy apparatus gave Stalin ample warning that Hitler was going to attack Russia but Stalin refused to heed or act on the warnings -- probably because he a had a treaty with Germany and did not believe that Hitler could be as treacherous as he was.

And the events of 9/11 were so outlandish and unprecedented that it was reasonable to discount them as just scaremongering from Middle Eastern blowhards

Former President George Bush was given a series of direct warnings throughout 2001 about the possibility of a terrorist attack by Al Qaeda - but failed to take them seriously, it was claimed today.

On the eleventh anniversary of the atrocity, it has been reported that the White House received multiple briefs between May and August that year about an attack with explosives and numerous casualties.

But the president continually failed to take any significant action and questioned the thoroughness of the briefings - leading to huge frustrations within the CIA.

The retrospective report was lambasted as 'unfair' and a 'disservice to history' by George Pataki, the New York state governor during 9/11 who praised Bush's leadership in the months after the attacks.

But it shows the repeated warnings came before the famous top secret briefing - which has previously been reported - given to Bush on August 6 with the heading 'Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the U.S'.

Just a few weeks later on September 11, terrorists smashed planes into the World Trade Center in New York City - killing nearly 3,000 people and horrifying the world.

Details of the other briefings given to Mr Bush and his administration - which have never been made public - have now been revealed by The New York Times.

However, the new neoconservative leaders at the Pentagon told the White House that the CIA had been fooled. They believed that Bin Laden was pretending to plan an attack to distract the U.S. from Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

Following the devastating attacks on 9/11, the White House - which was receiving criticism it had ignored CIA warnings - said it had never been told when or where the attacks would take place.

Yet many have claimed that if the government had been on high security alert over that summer they may have found out about the planned attack - and saved the lives of thousands.



The Democrats' Fake Freedoms

The 2012 Democratic platform includes 1,400 words on "Protecting Rights and Freedoms." Among the alleged rights that the Democrats promise to defend: freedom from "discrimination in the workplace and other settings," "paycheck fairness" for women, "job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons," "evidence-based and age-appropriate sex education," government subsidies for Planned Parenthood and taxpayer-supported health care, including "free access" to "prenatal screenings, mammograms, cervical cancer screening, breast-feeding supports and contraception." These items all amount to promises of other people's money or demands that they be compelled to enter into contracts they would otherwise eschew.

Even "putting Americans back to work" -- a rather vague mandate that presumably means whatever President Obama says it does -- appears in the section on "rights and freedoms," specifically as a women's issue.

Why? Because "the challenges of supporting and raising a family are often primarily a woman's responsibility." All right then.

The platform does mention a few real rights, including "the individual right to bear arms." I also give the Democrats credit for "freedom to marry," since they argue (persuasively, in my view) that equality under the law means the government should not discriminate between couples based on sexual orientation.

Similarly, "a woman's right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion," is based on a constitutional argument -- not a very sound one, at least as laid out in Roe v. Wade, but nevertheless an argument about the proper relationship between government and the individual. True to form, the Democrats immediately add that women have a right to obtain abortions "regardless of ability to pay," once again conflating freedom from coercion with a claim on other people's resources. If the right to arms does not entail a right to gun subsidies, why would a right to abortion entail a right to abortion subsidies?

This fundamental confusion about rights was on display throughout the Democratic convention. Although Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee, opposes legal restrictions on contraceptives, Fluke warned that a vote for him would be a vote for "an America in which access to birth control is controlled by people who will never use it." Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards likewise claimed that if you question government subsidies for her organization, or if you think insurers and employers should not be forced to offer health plans that cover contraceptives, you "want to end access to birth control."

Nancy Keenan, president of the National Abortion Rights Action League, declared that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act shows Obama "believes in a woman's right to make her own decisions." Yes, as long as the woman is not an insurer, an employer or a consumer interested in a health plan that does not meet the government's specifications.

Keenan also praised Obama for defending Fluke's "right to tell her story." At last: an actual right! Fluke surely should be free to tell her story, but that does not mean we have to listen.



Forward to What, Democrats?

Jonah Goldberg

"Forward" is a perfectly appropriate slogan for progressives. Progress suggests forward or upward motion. That's why revolutionaries and radicals as well as liberal incrementalists have always embraced some derivation of the forward trope. So ingrained are these directional concepts in our political language, we often forget they are mere geographic metaphors applied -- and often misapplied -- to policy disputes.

For instance, some on the left might see enrolling more people on food stamps as a step in the right direction, moving us "forward" to a more generous and all-encompassing welfare state. But other self-described progressives might see a swelling of the food stamp rolls to be a step backward, either in strict accounting terms (we are, after all, broke) or even in cultural terms. Some Democrats have even been known to brag when they've gotten people off the food stamp rolls.

In other words, even for progressives, what counts as moving forward depends entirely on where you want to go -- and where you think you've been.

And that's where the Democratic Party, and liberalism itself, tends to get horribly confused. According to President Obama and the whole team of Democratic all-stars, we've been moving forward to a better place these last four years.

Joe Biden shouted from the podium, "America is coming back, and we're not going back!"

"Back to what?" you might ask. The answers to that question are usually no less vague for being passionately stated. Perhaps the ugliest answer, an insinuation really, came from Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a hero of the civil rights movement. He seemed to suggest that a vote for Mitt Romney was a vote to return to the Jim Crow era and the beatings Lewis endured to overturn it.

A more common answer came from Obama. "After all that we've been through, I don't believe that rolling back regulations on Wall Street will help the small businesswoman expand or the laid-off construction worker keep his home," he explained to a enraptured crowd. "We have been there, we've tried that, and we're not going back."

This is an appeal to the mythology of the Bush years as some kind of anarcho-capitalist dystopia in which "market fundamentalism" reigned and Republicans tried to shrink government to the point where "we can drown it in the bathtub" (to quote anti-tax activist Grover Norquist).

This was always a bizarre liberal hallucination. Government grew massively under President Bush. He was a bigger spender than any previous president going back to Lyndon Johnson. He massively expanded entitlements, grew food stamp enrollment (almost as much as Obama) and nearly doubled "investments" in education. He created a new Cabinet agency -- Homeland Security -- and signed into law sweeping new regulations, like No Child Left Behind, Sarbanes-Oxley and McCain-Feingold.

This, according to Democrats, amounts to telling Americans "you're on your own."

Ironically, it was Bill Clinton who mocked Republicans last week for conjuring an "alternative universe" where Americans are self-reliant individualists. The real truth is that Democrats rely on fantasy worlds -- including a past that never was -- in order to make walking in circles seem like progress.



Uncle Sam: Chief persecutor of Americans living abroad

Legal shackles push expatriate Americans to keep their money in their mattresses

Matt Welch

There are many things American residents do not realize about their 6 million or so countrymen living abroad. One of them is that the United States—unlike every other country in the world except Eritrea—taxes its citizens based on passport, not residence. If my French-American daughter moved to Lyon tomorrow and lived there for the rest of her life, she would be obliged to file a U.S. tax return every year, including all those aforementioned intimate and convoluted banking details. (So convoluted that my paid tax preparer this year contemplated the TD 90-22.1 form used to report holdings in foreign financial institutions, shrugged, and handed me a highlighter pen in case I could figure the damned thing out.)

But it gets worse for our expatriate friends. That’s because in 2010 a revenue-starved populist Congress passed an abomination of a law called the Foreign Account Tax Compliant Act (or—you guessed it!—FATCA) “to combat tax evasion by U.S. persons holding investments in offshore accounts.” The law jacked up the penalties for those of us above the $10,000 threshold and created a new form-filling threshold at the $50,000 level ($100,000 for joint filers). It also charged IRS agents with determining whether the foreign assets Americans report were properly taxed before being parked abroad. “Underpayments of tax attributable to non-disclosed foreign financial assets,” the IRS website warns, “will be subject to an additional substantial understatement penalty of 40 percent.” Worse, FATCA requires foreign financial institutions to disclose information about their American customers to the IRS and send 30 percent of assets believed to be untaxed directly to the U.S. government.

Close your eyes for five seconds and imagine what “unintended” consequence might result from such an unprecedented power grab in the name of bringing rich tax outlaws to heel. Yes, that’s right: Nonrich Americans the globe over can no longer open bank accounts.

A group called American Citizens Abroad collected dozens of stories from such Americans for an April 2012 letter to the IRS. Here’s an American retiree and former non­governmental organization employee who has lived in Geneva for all but four years since 1973: “Just since the beginning of the year, I have been informed by one of Switzerland’s two largest banking institutions that due to the fact that I am an American, I had to divest myself of all my investment holdings in their financial institution. Another bank agreed to accept my investments; then, just this month, on the day that I went to sign the papers, I was informed that the authority to do this had been withdrawn.…I feel that I now am being squeezed between my country of citizenship and my country of residence and they are forcing me to choose my mattress as the only site where I can place my savings. I am an American who loves my country. I always have filed my U.S. income tax return.…I do not understand why my government is treating me this way.”

Suddenly (and I mean “why doesn’t my ATM card work anymore?” suddenly), expatriate Americans are discovering they can no longer use banks where they live. Some are opting to renounce their U.S. citizenship rather than continue dealing with the hassle. A presumed record of at least 1,788 Americans turned in their passports in 2011. We know that number because the IRS publishes a “name and shame” list of citizenship renouncers it suspects of evading taxes each year.

Who are these hateful tax evaders? Some are billionaires, such as Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, a longtime Singapore resident and dual national who renounced his U.S. citizenship in advance of his company’s initial public offering. But many are guys like Peter Dunn, a dual American-Canadian citizen, married to a Canadian, who has lived abroad for a quarter of a century, and who (according to a Reuters article) “felt American citizenship had become more of a liability than a privilege.”

“If it was just me then it would be one thing,” Dunn told Reuters in April. “Disclosing joint accounts I hold with my wife and anyone I ever want to do business with—that’s just too much. My wife’s account is none of their business.” FATCA is “making life difficult for a lot of people,” he said. “It’s driving us away.”

What’s the upside of such harassment? The U.S. Treasury projects that increased FATCA enforcement will bring in a little less than $1 billion a year. The federal government spends about that much every two and a half hours. And in case the cost-benefit formula isn’t whacked enough, consider that Swiss and other European expatriate executives who live and work in America are seeing their home-country bank accounts unceremoniously shuttered by financial institutions that just don’t want to deal anymore with anything involving the United States. In an age of globalization, when countries that trade are countries that thrive, Washington is making it much more difficult for Americans to live abroad and for the best and brightest foreigners to live here.

More here


A note on U.S. air travel

All that I hear about air-travel in the U.S. these days makes me glad I did my travelling in the U.S. years ago when the world was young (i.e. before the TSA and other modern decrements in comfort and civility). But I was still not quite prepared for the report from family members travelling in the USA at the moment accompanied by their young baby (Matthew, 1 year old). This is what the father wrote:
The DELTA Airlines flight from L.A to New York was really Budget and scary! Scary because the inside of the plane was just not looked after. Gaping holes, huge visible cracks and grubby. This last leg seemed also to drag but I managed to get 1 hour sleep. Matthew had no bassinette so we had him on our laps but he slept almost the whole way. We asked the stewardess about the “baby seat belt” used to attach to our seat belts. We are required to use these on our Aussie flights. The stewardess said “Oh we don’t have those – you just hold him” :-O

Worse than I thought -- JR.


My identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my old Facebook page as I rarely accessed it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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, September 12, 2012

Exodus, Moses and Zipporah

I have been reading Exodus again. Trouble ahead! By general agreement, Exodus 4:24-26 is one of the most puzzling passages in the Bible. Look it up and you will see what I mean. Out of the blue it tells us that Yahveh wanted to kill Moses. No preamble, no explanation. But Zipporah (wife of Moses) saved Moses from death by circumcising one of her sons

What gives? The most usual answer is that Moses had got behind on his circumcising of his sons and Yahveh was mad about that. So when Zip did the deed (with a sharp rock!) Moses was off the hook.

But the text doesn't say that. It does not say what got Yahveh mad. And what Zip said when she did the cut doesn't seem to relate to anything anyway. She touched Moses's feet with the detached flesh and said: “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me". Was it some sort of wedding?

So what is a "bridegroom of blood" anyway and why did that mollify Yahveh?

I think I can suggest a very tentative answer: Blood was identified with life in the OT and the Israelites were even forbidden to eat the blood of their animals (Leviticus 17:14). Hence Kosher slaughter to this day. No black pudding for Jews! So spilling blood was a big-deal sort of sacrifice and Yahveh liked sacrifices. And the point of Zip's words was that she and Moses were joint authors of that sacrifice.

And why was Yahveh mad at Moses in the first place? Because Moses had been a big-time foot-dragger (what's the Yiddish for people like that?) up until that point. Yahveh had to wheedle him to undertake his mission to Egypt. So Yahveh simply got fed up with Moses.

If my account of Yahveh portays him in a very human light, forgive me. Exodus does the same.


Leftist bias beats facts every time

PZ Myers is an American biology professor but his dismissal below of work by Satoshi Kanazawa is just Leftist bluster -- all too reminiscent of that old fraud Stephen Jay Gould. He accuses Kanazawa of being unscientific but what does he offer in replacement of Kanazawa's data and arguments? He offers a personal anecdote, some reasoning and lashings of self-righteous abuse. His resort to bad language and an accusation of racism shows how thin his arguments are. I have no background in the psychology of aesthetic judgments so have no opinion about the rightness or wrongness of Kanazawa's claims -- but at least Kanazawa seems to have had some data. Myers offers none

Kanazawa is the guy who claimed to look objectively at the data and thereby determined that black women are ugly (he also thinks Africans are stupid), and whose data were examined and found to have been selectively extracted. He got a lot of flak for that, and while he wasn't kicked out of Psychology Today, where he had his column, he hasn't posted anything there in over a year, so I suspect there was some pressure applied. Which is too bad.every time he opens his mouth, he's a great target for beating up bad science.

He argues that he was just paying attention to other people's data. He attended a seminar in which data on the dating behavior of 20,000 college people was discussed, and part of that data showed that black females and Asian males had the fewest dating partners, and he just wanted to explain it:

"My initial suspicion was that this might be because black females and Asian males were less physically attractive than their competitors. Thus began my scientific interest in race differences in physical attractiveness. "

And we're off! That's a very peculiar leap: why would you assume that the number of dating partners would correlate with physical attractiveness? My wife is a very attractive woman, but she had one partner in college (me). I'm a homely guy, and I also had one partner in college (her). It seems to me that number of partners is going to be more strongly affected by the strength and stabiity of relationships, which is going to be a consequence of far more than just appearance, and it's simply odd to leap to the hypothesis that it's because of physical beauty or lack thereof.

It's also odd because of Kanazawa's own premises. Listen to his introductory interview on Big Think, if you can; right at the beginning, he announces that the evolutionary goal of all organisms is reproductive success, and the key to achieving that is 1) status, and 2) access to resources. He must know that status is going to involve more than just appearance. So why doesn't he listen to the data in that seminar and think, "Hmm, maybe black women have lower socioeconomic status and fewer resources - I wonder if further analysis of the data would show that?" But no, that's complicated. He instead jumps to the conclusion that black women must be ugly. Why? Because he's a goddamned racist.



U.S. Government: Fire Good Employees, Hire Bad Ones‏

Hans Bader

The Obama administration is pressuring employers outside the financial sector to hire felons, even as its regulations force employers in the financial sector to fire “thousands of employees,” including exemplary employees who once committed misdemeanors decades ago. As Walter Olson notes:

Thanks to new federal banking and mortgage guidelines with $1-million-a-day penalties for noncompliance, banks are scrambling to fire any employee who has previously been convicted of a crime involving dishonesty. Among those tossed out: a bank employee with seven years’ service who used a slug in a washing machine in 1963, and a 58-year-old customer service representative with a shoplifting conviction forty years ago. A lawyer says thousands of employees have been fired under the new rules.

The Des Moines Register notes,“Big banks have been firing low-level employees like Eggers since the issuance of new federal banking employment guidelines in May 2011 and new mortgage employment guidelines in February.” (Richard Eggers is the 68-year-old Wells Fargo employee fired for using a slug in 1963, nearly half a century ago.) Additional coverage of this can be found in USA Today and the ABA Journal.

While pressuring banks to fire good employees, the Obama administration is pressuring other employers to hire bad employees. The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, dominated by anti-business Obama appointees, recently sued Pepsi for doing criminal background checks on job applicants, forcing it to pay $3.1 million to settle the lawsuit. It has previously sued other employers who take serious criminal records into account, or use criminal background checks, even though employers who hire criminals end up getting sued when those employees commit crimes. The EEOC’s demands place employers in a no-win position where they can be sued no matter what they do.

Employers’ ability to hire and fire based on merit is being undermined by the EEOC, which has ordered employers to discard useful employment tests and accommodate incompetent employees. For example, a hotel chain was recently compelled to pay $132,500 for dismissing an autistic desk clerk who did not do his job properly, in order for it avoid a lawsuit by the EEOC that would have cost it much more than that to defend. The EEOC has sued companies that quite reasonably refuse to employ truck drivers with a history of heavy drinking, even though companies that hire them will be sued under state personal-injury laws when they have an accident. The EEOC is also threatening employers who require high-school diplomas with lawsuits under the ADA. The EEOC forced a cafe owner to pay $20,000 for not selecting a hearing- and speech-impaired applicant for a cashier’s position, even though such impairments obviously affected the applicant’s qualifications for the job.

The Obama administration has interfered with employers’ merit-based hiring, thus discouraging job creation, by imposing a wide array of costly, harmful new labor and employment rules on American manufacturers.

The administration has also harmed the economy through Obamacare, which has caused layoffs in the medical device industry, and wiped out jobs in other industries. The Dodd-Frank financial law passed in 2010 is also expected to shift thousands of jobs from America to foreign countries. The administration has managed to alienate even some Democratic businessmen, like Steve Wynn, who called President Obama “the greatest wet blanket to . . . job creation in my lifetime.”



Christianity is Compatible with Ayn Rand

Katie Kieffer

Increasingly, priests and pastors are preaching that socialism (in the name of “social justice”) is Christ-like. In truth, capitalism, not socialism, reflects Christian values. I think Christians would be less likely to embrace socialism if they understood that the economic philosophy of Ayn Rand is compatible with Christianity.

‘Social Justice’ Evolves

In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle speaks of a general form of justice that encompasses all virtue. Describing general justice, Aristotle writes: “It is complete virtue and excellence in the fullest sense… It is complete because he who possesses it can make use of his virtue not only by himself but also in his relations with his fellow men; for there are many people who can make use of their virtue in their own affairs, but who are incapable of using it in their relations with others.”

Thomas Aquinas, a renowned Catholic philosopher adopted a form of Aristotle’s idea of general justice. Eventually, the Catholic Church attempted to modernize Aristotle and Aquinas’ idea of general justice by calling it “social justice.”

The Catholic Church developed the term primarily to help explain justice in a modern society that was moving from farming to more complex forms of production and human interaction. As Michael Novak with the Heritage Foundation points out, Pope Leo XIII specifically slammed socialism and praised the natural differences in talents and abilities among human beings as beneficial to society.

Novak explains how, over time, progressives warped the term “social justice” to mean “equality” (redistribution of wealth and resources based on arithmetic, not individual production), the “common good” (determined by federal bureaucrats) and “compassion” (forced sharing).

Today, numerous pastors are preaching a version of social justice that is basically no different from socialism. I encourage Christians to exchange the convoluted idea of “social justice” for “capitalism.”

Atheism, A Mere Distraction

Rand was one of the best defenders and articulators of capitalism. Unfortunately, many Christians dismiss her economic philosophy because of her personal beliefs on religion.

Rand was an atheist. However, one does not need to be an atheist in order to be a capitalist. Indeed, in Rand’s magnum opus novel, Atlas Shrugged, the core takeaway is not that the hero is an atheist but that he is a capitalist.

Rand and her fictional heroes believe with almost religious zeal that there is no God—a belief that takes “faith.” For, it is impossible to prove beyond reasonable doubt that God does not exist, just as it is impossible to prove beyond reasonable doubt that he does exist. To say either with absolute certainty takes faith (rational yet unconfirmed belief).

If it is rational for Rand to believe (without proof) that God does not exist, it is also rational for a Christian to believe that God exists. Since both atheists and Christians are rational, atheism is unessential to being a capitalist.

If there is a God, He is a Capitalist

That said, one may not believe in any “god” and still claim to be rational. For example, one cannot believe that God condones socialism because socialism is inherently irrational and violates natural law, as I explained here.

Natural law (that which we know through reason alone) tells us that private property and freedom are inherent human rights. Aquinas writes in his Treatise on Law that all human laws must stem from natural law: “But if in any point it [human law] deflects from the law of nature, it is no longer a law but a perversion of the law.”

Jesus did not say: “Blessed are the wicked, for they shall obtain equal salvation.” Jesus did not tell Caesar: “Take 90 percent from the wealthy and redistribute it among the poor.” As I’ve written, Jesus’ own biblical teachings were capitalistic in nature. So, if you claim to be a rational Christian, you must admit that Jesus is a capitalist.

Capitalism, Not Social Justice, Reflects Christianity

Rand may have been an atheist, but she embraced reason and natural law. Christians must do likewise. As Aquinas writes, if Christians embrace laws that violate reason and natural law, such as wealth redistribution mandates, they are in fact embracing injustice.

When Rand’s hero, John Galt, explains justice, he does so in a manner that is consistent with Aristotle, Aquinas and the biblical definition justice—in relation to objective truth and goodness: “Justice is the recognition of the fact that… just as you do not pay a higher price for a rusty chunk of scrap than for a piece of shining metal, so you do not value a rotter above a hero—that your moral appraisal is the coin paying men for their virtues or vices, and this payment demands of you as scrupulous an honor as you bring to financial transactions…”

I think Christians should avoid rushing to judgment on Rand’s philosophy because, at core, she has much to say about living with integrity and pursuing true happiness. No matter what term a pastor uses (think “social justice”), socialism is neither ethical nor Christian. Next week I will delve deeper into explaining how Rand’s beliefs are compatible with Christianity.



Fourth Amendment: RIP

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution is, for all practical purposes, dead and buried on the streets of New York City. Police are doing things today to the citizenry there that they wouldn't have dared to even think about doing only a few years ago.

One no longer enjoys the basic fundamental constitutional right of personal security against unreasonable searches and seizures while simply walking down the street. New York City Police officers are randomly searching people without reasonable suspicion or probable cause that a crime has been committed or that a subject has committed a crime.

I'm not talking about people at airports boarding airplanes that might have bombs or guns in their handbags. This is about innocent pedestrians taking their dirty clothes to the Laundromat or returning home from the grocery store.

"I was coming home from the Laundromat and I was stopped by the police officer. Asking me, `Let me see your ID. `Where are you from?' `Do you live around here?," says Chris Bilal, a black man who was simply walking down the street in his Brooklyn neighborhood when he was stopped by a police officer for no reason whatsoever.

The cop then rummaged through Bilal's bag of freshly cleaned and folded laundry to see if he was carrying anything illegal. He wasn't. "They were searching for drugs. The funny thing was that it was a mesh laundry bag. I'm not sure what I could hide," Bilal said.

Since arriving in the city a little over a year ago, he's been repeatedly stopped on the street, asked what he's doing, where he's going, and often being frisked. "I feel guilty all the time," he explained. "I feel like I'm being watched and targeted all the time."

Bilal is the frequent victim of the NYPD's policy of Stop, Question and Frisk, in which officers randomly stop a person to determine if they are up to any wrongdoing or possess weapons and contraband items. In 2011, the New York City Police Department stopped 685,724 people wholly without probable cause of whom an overwhelming 88 percent were deemed innocent.

Yes, I suppose it is a very effective policy for deterring crime. Random searches of citizens' homes would be equally effective but the only problem with that -- it blatantly violates the Fourth Amendment:

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."


SCOTUS is adept at crafting exceptions to constitutional provisions and they might well do so if the cops were restricting the policies mentioned above to high crime areas. A rationale could be that just by the person being in a high crime area the search is justified as "reasonable suspicion". I have no idea whether the NYPD does so restrict itself but it would be rational if the controversial searches are in high crime areas. I gather that Brooklyn is a high crime area. This map shows a lot of robberies in Brooklyn North and a lot of shouting in Broooklyn South (!) -- JR


My identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my old Facebook page as I rarely accessed it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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, September 11, 2012

The Evil One's party rips off the mask

Whether you regard Satan as a person or the evil in human nature, the Democrats have nailed their colors to the mast -- and the way their leadership ignored the vote shows you that the name of their party is a Satanic deception. They are "Democrats" who have no respect for democracy -- JR

By Doug Giles

Well, the DNC just wrapped, folks, and it looks like the Prince of Darkness has finally found his political party: the God-booing Democrats!

Booing God? Who the heck boos God? I’ll tell you who: Satan, his principalities and powers, devil worshippers and DNC delegates, that’s who.

Look, I get Democrats raising hell over a picture of George W. Bush, or Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s hairdo, or a video of Rosie speed drinking gallon jugs of chocolate milk … but God? Really?

Hey, media: You can say what you will about Republicans and their foibles, but you’ll never have audio or video of them, en masse, telling God to blank off. Wow.

I believe that three-minute display of divine disdain might have Chick-fil-A’ed the Dems come this November. I know if I were Romney I would run commercial loops of that sound bite over and over and over and over again. Back and forth. Back and forth. God handed Mitt a nugget that the greatest writers in Hollywood couldn’t script. Flog it, Mitt. Flog it.

One of the many funny things about the DNC’s Cirque du Freak last week was when queried about why God was removed from their party’s platform and Jerusalem scrubbed as the capital of Israel, Dick Durbin and other dipsticks said it was no big whoop, that the Dems are down with Yahweh and that Republicans were grasping at straws.

This, of course, satiated the lamestream media and sounded totally peachy until the delegates voted on whether or not the big man upstairs was welcome back to the big scam downstairs, and God got a resounding “screw off” from Obama’s backers.

If you haven’t seen the video clip of over two-thirds of the Democratic delegates shouting down the God vote and Villaraigosa’s teleprompted skewing of the delegates’ overwhelming decision to dis God, you must watch it here.

Obama thought he could bamboozle the U.S. and remedy the national outcry against his party’s platform by having a faux vote reinstating Jesus and Jerusalem to his group’s ticket. The only thing he did not figure on was his multitudinous freak patrol shouting that motion down.



How did this hate-filled bimbo get into a responsible position in ANY American political party?

More evidence of the decline of the Democrats: Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Chair of the Democratic National Committee) caught in a lie. First she claims that a Conservative paper misquoted her. Then the audio surfaces showing that she did say what she was reported as saying.

According to her, Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren claimed that what the Republicans are doing is dangerous for Israel. He denied saying that -- then she denied saying that he said that. But she did say that. It's the mentality of a six year old (with apologies to smart six-year olds) and the morality of a psychopath.


Job Creation Nation: America Faces Harsh Realities In 2013

Government must get off the backs of small business

The political conventions have passed, the August jobs report is out, and many Americans are said to be “giving up hope.”

So how can we jumpstart our greatest engine of economic growth – the American small business market – and get our economy growing again?

Regardless of which presidential candidate wins this November, in 2013 Americans will have to focus on saving, and expanding, the small business marketplace. The sector of our economy that makes up nearly 60% of the entire American private sector workforce, and creates between 60 and 80% of all new jobs, has been under attack over the past few years by politicians who have created lots of bad laws.

And if Americans are serious about expanding actual employment (rather than merely expanding government welfare and entitlement programs), then we will have to make better choices at the ballot box, and hold our elected leaders responsible for making serious changes. To start, let’s consider consider this harsh reality: the so-called “fiscal cliff” is real, and President Obama’s proposed solution to it is potentially lethal.

Under current federal law, both income tax rates and Social Security tax rates are set to rise dramatically on January 1st of 2013. Along with these tax increases, a dramatic reduction in government services will take hold at the same time.

This confluence of private citizens having more of their money taken away (higher taxes), and a reduction of government services (which means that private citizens will have to fill the gap and spend more of their own money) is expected to trigger a new recession next year. As a means of preventing a “double dip,” both Republicans and Democrats in the Congress have proposed that taxation rates be frozen where they are at, and held steady in 2013.

But President Obama has insisted that taxes should be raised on so-called “rich people” next year, and has refused to do what most economists and many members of his party have said is the one thing that could save us from another downturn.

And with the President polling as well as he is, it seems apparent that millions of Americans are far more excited about his “make the rich pay” rhetoric than they are aware of the consequences of his proposals. Obama supporters may get their wish in November, but it will come at a painful price – a price that all of us will pay.

And here’s another harsh reality: Americans need to get comfortable with other people’s financial successes. Since the early days of his first presidential campaign in 2007, Barack Obama has been pouring fuel on the fires of resentment and envy towards the wealthy. As a political strategy this has worked well for the President, but as government policy this has been bad for all of us.

The President’s tax-hike push is a perfect example, as many of America’s small businesses are set-up under the I.R.S. code as “Sub-chapter S” corporations. These are businesses wherein the company profits are reported to the I.R.S. directly as personal income by the business owners and are subject to personal income tax rates – and many of these business owners are being targeted by President Obama for an income tax-hike.

If the President gets his wish, and the government begins confiscating more money from the owners of Sub-chapter S corporations, by definition this leaves less money in these corporations for hiring and expansion. Thus Americans have a choice to make – do we want to employ our President for another four years so he can satiate the hatred some of us have towards “the rich” and take away more of their money? Or would we like private business owners to have money available to employ more of us? From the way things appear right now, we probably can’t do both.

And here’s harsh reality number three: Americans have to stop Obamacare from wiping-out small businesses. A central feature of this law is the mandate that businesses provide healthcare insurance to their workers. It sounds great – workers will now be “guaranteed” health insurance – but once again, the “make somebody else pay” approach is heaping more weight on the shoulders of small business owners.

Americans must decide how serious they are about job creation – even if it means that some jobs won’t include health benefits. If we honestly want employers to employ more, we must force the Congress and the President to fix this devastating component of Obamacare next year.

And here’s yet another harsh reality: Americans must stop making small businesses a scapegoat on illegal immigration. Roughly two-thirds of Americans want our national borders secured and a coherent immigration policy, yet for over a decade Washington has refused to do the former and has scarcely attempted the latter.

Amid the frustration, businesses have become the target of Americans’ wrath. If business owners would simply quit hiring illegals -so the reasoning goes -the illegals would go away.

Mitt Romney has pledged that, if elected, he will seek to require American employers and workers to register with the federal government’s “e-verify” website, as a means of policing the problem. But this adds even more bureaucratic burdens to small business owners, and ignores our failed immigration policies and un-secured borders.

Do we want politicians who merely tell us what we want to hear? Or do we want leaders in our government who can actually enable businesses to grow? Americans must become more discerning-and face some harsh realities.



Twilight Zone Week

The Democratic National Convention is an elaborate effort to sanitize a failed record that cannot be rehabilitated, even by the glib sophistry of former President Bill Clinton.

President Obama has often lamented that it is not that his performance has been inferior but that he has failed to fully explain the wonders of it all in terms we bitter clingers can grasp.

It's not that his policies are misguided or that they've yielded objectively horrendous results; it's that he just hasn't figured out a way to condescend far enough to our level to make us understand. The convention gives his team one last chance to put his theory to the test and change our misperceptions.

Charlotte, N.C., is a desperate Hail Mary to turn Obama's ears into a silk purse. Unfortunately for Democrats, it involves a series of contradictions.

On the one hand, it is an orchestrated charade to depict his disastrous record as a striking success, and on the other, it's a simultaneous admission that it is a failure -- a failure caused solely by dastardly Republicans. By day, it is an embarrassing freak show, with speaker after speaker exhibiting contempt for traditional American values, and by night, it is toastmasters cunningly presenting the Democratic Party as the guardian of those values they've spent the entire day trashing.

The daytime and early evening speakers are angry, loud caricatures eerily redolent of Edvard Munch's painting "The Scream," hand-picked to feed the frenzy of the malcontented base. The prime-time roster features more polished figures -- Julian Castro, Michelle Obama and Bill Clinton -- carefully selected to present a reasonable and winsome face to the American public. But as the Democrats don't have a deep enough bench to fill all the prime-time slots, they are forced to -- or happily choose to -- showcase the social extremism of figures such as Sandra Fluke.

The entire week has been a concentrated conspiracy to convince the American people that they must ignore their lying eyes. Things are not as they seem; they are not as we know them to be from our own observations, experience, intellect and reason.

Thus, Michelle Obama spends the better part of her remarks endeavoring to convince us that the cool, detached character to whom she is married is really a warmblooded, sensitive, caring human being who spends his evenings agonizing sympathetically over letters from hurting Americans. Clinton takes almost a full hour reconstructing the nonfiction novel of Obama's actual record into a fictionalized fantasy of nonpareil success. Castro emotionally embraces the very values with which his party is at war.

This is the party of Barack Obama, the party that consciously and defiantly omitted God (and Jerusalem as Israel's capital) from its platform. It is the party that has cynically elevated the banning of protection of the innocent unborn to the highest moral act.

With due respect to Mayor Castro, his party is not the one that values rugged individualism, personal responsibility and equal opportunity for all. With ample deference to President Clinton for his virtuosity in manipulating damning data into a mythical yarn of national triumph, President Obama's record, in all categories, has been deplorable -- from economic policy to the debt to foreign policy to working with Republicans.

Democrat after Democrat complains about the free market while pretending he reveres it. "It's not the system we don't like; it's that it's rigged." Well, the only rigging we see is President Obama's unconstitutional favors for his friends and pet projects, including his favoring his union buddies and cheating secured creditors in the Chrysler restructuring, disproportionately retaining General Motors and Chrysler dealerships for women and minorities, illegally subordinating taxpayers to loans of private investors in Solyndra, killing a voter intimidation case against his New Black Panther Party allies, funneling money to his corporate executive buddies, and much more.

The Democrats' effort to make political hay from bad-mouthing the economy they've presided over for the past four years is nothing short of surreal. Their denunciation of cronyism when they are its primary practitioners is bizarre. Their portrayal of the worst economy since Jimmy Carter as a robust, job-creating marvel is delusional. Their vilification of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan as hellbent on destroying entitlement programs -- for which they have presented credible, workable plans to save and strengthen and for which Obama would surely destroy by obstructing Republican plans and offering none of his own -- is patently offensive.

We are witnessing the Twilight Zone, not the TV series, not the feature-length movie but an entire week of jaw-dropping unreality.

Don't get too worked up over this, though, because, in the end, the American people are too savvy to buy into the illusions. No number of words could change what they know they're experiencing -- the assault on our values, the smothering of the private sector, the destruction of our economy and our impending national bankruptcy.




Texas raises speed limit to 85 mph: Other states could, too: "Texas' new highest-in-the-nation speed limit - 85 mph on a 41-mile stretch of toll road between Austin and San Antonio -- could mean that other states will soon see higher speed limits, experts say. The Texas Transportation Commission approved the new speed limit on Aug. 30; the first section of the toll road opens later this year"

The hope of freedom in the American character: "On the eve of World War I, British foreign secretary Sir Edward Grey stated, 'The lamps are going out all over Europe. We shall not see them lit again in our time.' The lamps or lights were freedom and peace. Grey did not see them again. Today the lights are going out all over America. Many people are sick at heart about the future of freedom, and understandably so. But there is no need to live in darkness."

Collective bargaining: Mythical right turned constitutional in Michigan?: "Everyone knows that our Founding Fathers’ primary motive during the revolution was to preserve collective bargaining for the carriage industries. That as Washington crossed the Delaware he was shouting, 'Save collective bargaining, Christian soldiers!' Natch. But this is what labor unions in Michigan would have you believe."


My identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my old Facebook page as I rarely accessed it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


Monday, September 10, 2012

American politics sinks to moron level

A clear message from the Democrat convention is that it is a basic human right to have someone else pay for your contraception. Never in any other place or in any other time in history has such an idea been proposed. It clearly shows that the "market" of the Democratic party is the lower IQ end of the population plus those who are capable of entertaining ideas that only an intellectual would believe in -- JR


Left Behind

According to a new poll by The Hill newspaper in Washington, D.C., 54 percent of likely voters believe President Obama does not deserve another term based on his economic record. With rising gas prices once again punishing working Americans and with fear in the air over unemployment, there is a very good chance that Obama will join Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush as a one-term president.

And if Obama goes down, so does the liberal movement in America, which has made great strides over the past three and a half years. Consider the following developments:

--Gay marriage is now accepted by most folks.

--"Medical marijuana" is openly sold in many cities to people with no maladies whatsoever.

--Anyone who opposes abortion can be categorized as biased against women.

--Successful Americans and prosperous small-business owners are not paying their "fair share" in taxes.

--And you are racist if you oppose Obama's liberal political viewpoint.

In addition, nearly half of American households are now receiving government benefits, but if you want to control entitlements, you are anti-poor. Almost 50 million folks are receiving food stamps, and a record amount of workers are filing for disability payments.

The federal colossus in Washington is reaching into every area of American life even as Obama has increased the debt by more than $5 trillion in less than four years. This is liberal nirvana: a big-spending central government dispensing "social justice" and calling many shots in the free marketplace. Soon the feds will control the health care industry.

Of course, the results of the left-wing blitz have been disastrous. The economy is moribund, with banks refusing to lend capital for expansion because they fear business failure. Our currency is tottering because the USA has to borrow billions of dollars every day in order to service debt. And employers are loath to hire because they don't know how Obamacare will affect their bottom line.

You would think the left would take a look at the chaos in Europe and slow down a bit. Not happening. If you watched the Democratic convention coverage, you heard some incredible stuff. Sandra Fluke and her crew not only want you to pay for female birth control; they also want you to pay for "transgender medical needs." That means if Harry meets Sally, and they want to switch genders through expensive surgical procedures, the American taxpayer gets the bill. And if you oppose that, you are a bigot.

I believe most Americans are uneasy with the liberal direction even if they are not fully convinced it is at stage three. But it is. The USA is on the verge of becoming a combination of Greece and Sweden, where almost anything goes and fiscal responsibility is a joke. If the president wins reelection, this country will continue to undergo a radical social and economic upheaval.

But if Obama loses, the liberal movement in America will be dealt a crushing blow. That's what's at stake on November 6th.



The Democrats' Soft Extremism

Peggy Noonan

Barack Obama is deeply overexposed and often boring. He never seems to be saying what he's thinking. His speech Thursday was weirdly anticlimactic. There's too much buildup, the crowd was tired, it all felt flat. He was somber, and his message was essentially banal: We've done better than you think. Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?

There were many straw men. There were phrases like "the shadow of a shuttered steel mill," which he considers writerly. But they sound empty and practiced now, like something you've heard in a commercial or an advertising campaign. It was stale and empty. He's out of juice.

Beneath the funny hats, the sweet-faced delegates, the handsome speakers and the babies waving flags there was something disquieting. All three days were marked by a kind of soft, distracted extremism. It was unshowy and unobnoxious but also unsettling.

There was the relentless emphasis on Government as Community, as the thing that gives us spirit and makes us whole. But government isn't what you love if you're American, America is what you love. Government is what you have, need and hire. Its most essential duties—especially when it is bankrupt—involve defending rights and safety, not imposing views and values. We already have values. Democrats and Republicans don't see all this the same way, and that's fine—that's what national politics is, the working out of this dispute in one direction or another every few years. But the Democrats convened in Charlotte seemed more extreme on the point, more accepting of the idea of government as the center of national life, than ever, at least to me.

The fight over including a single mention of God in the platform—that was extreme. The original removal of the single mention by the platform committee—extreme. The huge "No!" vote on restoring the mention of God, and including the administration's own stand on Jerusalem—that wasn't liberal, it was extreme. Comparing the Republicans to Nazis—extreme. The almost complete absence of a call to help education by facing down the powers that throw our least defended children under the school bus—this was extreme, not mainstream.

The sheer strangeness of all the talk about abortion, abortion, contraception, contraception. I am old enough to know a wedge issue when I see one, but I've never seen a great party build its entire public persona around one. Big speeches from the heads of Planned Parenthood and NARAL, HHS Secretary and abortion enthusiast Kathleen Sebelius and, of course, Sandra Fluke.

"Republicans shut me out of a hearing on contraception," Ms. Fluke said. But why would anyone have included a Georgetown law student who never worked her way onto the national stage until she was plucked, by the left, as a personable victim?

What a fabulously confident and ingenuous-seeming political narcissist Ms. Fluke is. She really does think—and her party apparently thinks—that in a spending crisis with trillions in debt and many in need, in a nation in existential doubt as to its standing and purpose, in a time when parents struggle to buy the good sneakers for the kids so they're not embarrassed at school . . . that in that nation the great issue of the day, and the appropriate focus of our concern, is making other people pay for her birth-control pills. That's not a stand, it's a non sequitur. She is not, as Rush Limbaugh oafishly, bullyingly said, a slut. She is a ninny, a narcissist and a fool.

And she was one of the great faces of the party in Charlotte. That is extreme. Childish, too.

Something else, and it had to do with tone. I remember the Republicans in Tampa bashing the president, hard, but not the entire Democratic Party. In Charlotte they bashed Mitt Romney, but they bashed the Republican Party harder. If this doesn't strike you as somewhat unsettling, then you must want another four years of all war all the time between the parties. I don't think the American people want that. Because, actually, they're not extreme.



The Clinton speech

All agreed he'd done what he'd needed to do: turn those Republicans every way but loose. And explain that prosperity was just around the corner, to borrow a phrase from Herbert Hoover. His self-absorption didn't prevent Bill Clinton from inundating his audience with facts-'n'-figures and general fun with numbers. He would need all that wonktalk to make the two basic numbers for this administration go away: An unemployment rate still above 8 percent after almost four years in office, and a national debt that topped $16 trillion just as this convention was getting under way.

For a time, listening to Bill Clinton with an open if not empty mind, with the kind of willing suspension of disbelief that any poetic flight requires of its listeners, with a concentrated effort and a mighty pull, folks might forget those two basic, looming unforgettable numbers. Almost. But even when they do, the queasy feeling those big, bad numbers generate won't go away. It's a feeling of dissatisfaction, of general unease. In the gut.

The suspicion that the country has been headed in the wrong direction has been hardening into a conviction. And it's hard to talk people out of what they feel. Bill Clinton is enough of a politician, more than enough, to recognize that feeling, and respond to it. The nub of his response:
"President Obama started with a much weaker economy than I did. No President -- not me or any of my predecessors -- could have repaired all the damage in just four years. But conditions are improving, and if you'll renew the President's contract you will feel it."

Bill Clinton's knowledge of history is as reliable as ever, that is, not very. The historian, or at least the good one, knows better than to make sweeping generalizations that sweep the exceptions under the nearest rug. "(N)ot me or any of my predecessors could have repaired all the damage in just four years."

The biggest bulge under that rhetorical rug is the remarkable, the historic, turnaround in the American economy that came to be known as the Reagan Recovery -- for within four years it had repaired the damage of the Carter Years, which was one heck of a lot.

How did the Gipper do it? By following policies that in retrospect sound remarkably like the ones a current presidential candidate is now advocating, and his name isn't Barack Obama.

How sum up the course Ronald Reagan and his merry band of supply-siders chose at a time when their ideas, too, were being ridiculed as unworkable? "An amiable dunce," Clark Clifford called Ronald Reagan at the onset of his presidency, and Clark Clifford was supposed to know. He was the Wise Old Man of the Democratic Party at the time and had been for years. Today that honorary post is held by Bill Clinton, who says of Mitt Romney's ideas: "The numbers don't add up."

One of the Wise Old Men in Washington who really is a wise old man is George Shultz, the former secretary of labor, director of the Office of Management and Budget, secretary of the Treasury, secretary of state and former just about everything else in the Reagan administration. Here's how he explains the Reagan Recovery, 1981-84:
"When Ronald Reagan took office, inflation was in the teens, the prime rate was in the 20s, and the economy was going nowhere. We still had the remnants of wage and price controls, particularly in oil and gas. And Jimmy Carter said we were in malaise. It was a bad time. I'm convinced the economy can be turned around because I watched Ronald Reagan do it. . . . It took long-term thinking. I'll give you an example. (Reagan) knew and we all advised him you can't have a decent economy with the kind of inflation we've got. . . . And he held a political umbrella over (Federal Reserve Chairman) Paul Volcker, and Paul did what needed to be done. And by late '82 early '83, inflation was under control, the tax changes that he made were kicking in, and the economy took off." And it was morning in America again.

Can it be again? Or is this the best we can do? The best that America can do? That's the essential question being debated in this year's presidential election. Shall we hold to this course and hope for the best? Or strike out anew? With a new captain and a new crew and new hope. We the People will supply the answer November 6, 2012.



Obama minions: Gov't 'can override your religion'

Court brief says corporations not allowed to reflect faith of their owners

The Obama administration today argued in court that the government can make a requirement that violates religious beliefs and that a company cannot reflect the religious faith of its owners.

The administration’s statements came in a court filing that asserts the federal government has the authority to order private companies to provide abortifacients for their employees.

A case against the order was brought by the Thomas More Law Center on behalf of Legatus, the nation’s largest organization of top Catholic business leaders, and Weingartz Supply and its owner.

The Department of Justice attorneys argued the challenge by Weingartz Supply Company and its owners “rests largely on the theory that a self-described secular corporation established to sell outdoor power equipment can claim to exercise religion and thereby avoid the reach of laws designed to regulate commercial activity.” “This cannot be.”

The federal attorneys – Stuart F. Delery, Barbara L. McQaude, Sheila M. Lieber, Michelle Bennett and Ethan P. Davis – are arguing in federal court in Michigan against a request for a preliminary injunction that would prevent the enforcement of an Obamacare mandate requiring employers to provide such abortifacients through health programs for employees.

The plaintiffs argue that the federal order conflicts with the U.S. Constitution by requiring them to violate their religious faith.

The Michigan case is just one of dozens nationwide that raise similar issues.

Much more HERE


The last functioning synagogue in Egypt has been closed

It's rare for me to have difficulty writing an article given the fact that I concentrate on Israel, the Middle East, terrorism and Islam. However when something news worthy occurs, but no news outlets report it, it is almost impossible.

That unfortunately was the case with this story, it took me more time to try and track it down than it did to write it.

What I found most surprising is that the story of the closure of Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue in Alexandria, Egypt was not even on the website "Historical Society of Jews from Egypt", but then again, the latest post on their website was from February 2012 and given the current situation in Egypt perhaps it is understandable.

Up until the 1940s, as many as 80,000 Jews lived in Egypt, significantly contributing to the country culturally and economically. But after the birth of Israel in 1948, and in the aftermath of the Arab-Israeli wars, thousands of Jews fled Egypt. The shuls (synagogues) were sold, torn down and built over or locked up. Today, there are fewer than fifty Jews-most of whom are intermarried, elderly and poor-left in all of Egypt. Insecure and afraid, the few Jews left are careful not to draw attention to themselves.

I would not have heard the story of the closing of the last synagogue in Egypt had it not been brought to my attention by my friend Rabbi Aryel Nachman. It originally appeared in "Frontpage Mag" on August 31, 2012. Yet, every other story I could find on this was just a regurgitation of the Frontpage story,

The history of this synagogue is truly amazing; it is the largest in the Middle East and the way it stands today is from a rebuilding in the mid-19th century. Before its last rebuilding it had been destroyed twice; the last time under the decree of Napoleon. It was later repaired by an Italian architect and financed by members of the local Jewish community together with Sir Moses Montefiore.

But the importance of this synagogue goes far beyond its historical value; this was the last remaining functioning synagogue in Egypt. Now the Jews that have remained there no longer have a place of worship other than their own homes. This is more of the new "Democratic" government and what the so called "Arab Spring" has brought us thanks to the Muslim Brotherhood and the likes of the new Egyptian President, Mohamed Morsi.

The fact is Anti-Semitism is on the rise from Europe to the U.S. and the Muslim countries are doing what they do best... Not allowing other religions to even exist...

With the closing of the Eliyahu Hanavi synagogue we see the end of over 2000 years of Judaism in Egypt. The Jews have been shut out regardless of how many may remain, the Coptic Christians there are being murdered for their beliefs and all the while the world stands and applauds the exciting new Arab Spring Democracy.


There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.


My identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my old Facebook page as I rarely accessed it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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)


Sunday, September 09, 2012

Denialist Democrats

The party of government refuses to even entertain the possibility that we can no longer afford it

What was your favorite unintentionally revealing moment of Tuesday night's kickoff of the Democratic National Convention? Was it the welcome-to-Charlotte video whose narrator let slip that "government is the only thing that we all belong to"? Perhaps Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn's exhortation to "make the will of the people the law of the land"? Or former Ohio gov. Ted Strickland's thunderous, populist twaddle about "economic patriotism"?

All of these were fun, but for me the biggest direct reveal of how current Democratic rhetoric leads to bad public policy was one of the evening's honorary former Republicans, Cincinnati firefighter Doug Stern. "The Republican Party left people like me," Stern complained. "Somewhere along the way, being a public employee—someone who works for my community—made me a scapegoat for the GOP. Thank goodness we have leaders like President Obama and Vice President Biden who still believe that public service is an honorable calling."

It was classic major-party Manicheasm: Eastasians do bad things for the simple reason that their hearts are bad; Eurasians' hearts are good, so they don't do bad things.

In this idyllic landscape of Democratic magical thinking, there is no state and local budget crises, no unaffordable and underfunded defined-benefit public pension obligations, nothing at all standing in the way of "investing" in our public safety, except (in ex-Republican Stern's words) "right-wing extremists." Vallejo, California is not bankrupt because of public employee pensions, and the rest of the state is not following suit. It's a hell of a place, this Democrat-land. Wish I could live there.

Last night's speeches were notable less for what they contained and more for what they did not: any engagement with the issue of having a debt load (of $16 trillion) that is now larger than GDP, of having a long-forecasted entitlement time bomb marching northward toward 100 percent of federal spending, of having underfunded obligations in the trillions of dollars promised by politicians addicted to handing out "free" benefits.

"If you want to get America back to work, you don't fire cops, teachers, nurses and firefighters. You invest in them," said Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.). It really is that simple. Keynote speaker and mayor of San Antonio Julian Castro offered a similarly basic formula: Spend Invest more money on education, and education will improve. It's worked so well up to now.

"We have to come together and invest in opportunity today for prosperity tomorrow," Castro said, in a speech long on policy banality. "We know that you can't be pro-business unless you're pro-education." And we know that you can't be "pro-education" unless your idea of education policy involves spending more money on it.

Virginia Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley summed up this worldview succinctly, in a question to Republican nominees Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan: "How much less, do you really think, would be good for our country? How much less education would be good for our children?" When you are unbounded by spending restraints, government budgets can be boiled down to a simple question: How much, at long last, do you care?

What makes last night's fiscal denialism even more appalling was that many of the speakers themselves have had to fight tooth and nail with public sector unions over compensation and work rules. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel outraged police and fire unions by tackling pension reform and pointing out that "city government is not an employment agency." Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a former labor leader, has called teachers unions an "unwavering roadblock to reform." Newark Mayor Cory Booker has been there as well. Needless to say, such talk was absent from the podium last night.

One of the great ironies of this convention already is that speaker after speaker denounces Republicans for being unable to tell the truth or get their facts straight. Meanwhile, one of the most important truths of modern governance—we are well and truly out of money—sits neglected in the corner. This might be a great way to rally the Democratic base, but it's thin gruel for the majority of Americans who think, correctly, that the nation's finances have spun out of control.



Regulations bar upward mobility

Let's pretend that we have the political guts to expand economic opportunities for people at the lower end of the economic spectrum. What vested interests should be attacked, and what economic regulations should be targeted for elimination?

It doesn't take a lot of money to become a taxi owner-operator and earn more than $40,000 a year. One needs a car, an insurance policy and ancillary interior equipment to make a car a taxi. In New York City, to be a taxi owner you'd have to purchase a license – called a medallion – that in June 2012 cost $704,000. New York's Taxi and Limousine Commission restrictions that generate such a license price outlaw taxi ownership by people who don't have access to a $704,000 loan. By contrast, in Washington, D.C., the annual fee for a license to own a taxi is $125. I'll let you guess which city has more taxis per capita, cheaper fares and more black taxi ownership.

For decades, the Institute for Justice has been successfully bringing suit against egregious taxi regulations. Last year, it filed suit, Ghaleb Ibrahim v. City of Milwaukee. In Milwaukee, a taxi license costs $150,000. The suit will be argued before the Milwaukee County Circuit Court in December 2012.

Taxi regulations such as those in New York, Milwaukee, Chicago, Boston and other cities just didn't happen. There are people with vested interests who benefit from keeping outsiders out and therefore enrich both companies with large fleets and single taxi owners at the expense of would-be owners and the riding public through higher prices.

Suppose you are affiliated with a poor congregation and wish to sell them caskets as did the Rev. Nathaniel Craigmiles. Casket retailers neither perform funerals nor handle dead bodies, but the state of Tennessee required anyone selling caskets to be a licensed funeral director, which takes years of costly training, including learning how to embalm. The Institute for Justice brought suit, Craigmiles v. Giles, and successfully got the law repealed. The institute has attacked and is attacking similar regulations in other states.

What kind of money does it take to get into the business of African-style hair braiding? The main inputs are the skills and a place in which to braid. However, in some states – such as Utah, Minnesota, Mississippi, Ohio and California – a person had to spend thousands of dollars in tuition and anywhere from 1,500 to 2,000 hours at a cosmetology school to obtain a beautician's license. Safety is not an issue, because African-style braiders do not use chemicals, shave or give facials. Most of what's in cosmetology school curricula is irrelevant to hair braiding. As a result of Institute for Justice lawsuits on behalf of hair braiders, a number of restrictive state licensing laws have been struck down or repealed by state legislators under the threat of suits. Nonetheless, hair braiding restrictions remain in some states.

As I have documented in my recent book "Race and Economics" (2012), historically, occupational licensing and economic regulation have been used to keep blacks out of particular trades. For example, the Plumbers, Gas and Steam Fitters Official Journal, in January 1905, wrote, "There are about 10 Negro skate plumbers working around here (Danville, Va.), doing quite a lot of jobbing and repairing, but owing to the fact of not having an examination board (licensing agency) it is impossible to stop them, hence the anxiety of the men here to organize." Black scholars Lorenzo Greene and Carter G. Woodson said, "A favorite method of barring (Negroes) from plumbing and electrical work was to install a system of unfair examinations which were conducted by whites."

Today we don't hear racist intentions for restrictive economic regulations and licensure laws, but the intentions behind those laws do not change their effects. Their effects are to prevent people with meager means and little political clout from getting a foothold on the bottom rungs of the economic ladder. Politically, it's preferable to give handouts than attack these and many other vested interests.



Those who will not learn from the past .....

Here’s a letter to the Washington Post from economist Donald Boudreaux:

E.J. Dionne praises Elizabeth Warren for “presenting government Wednesday not as an officious meddler in people’s lives but as an ally of families determined to help their children rise. Government, Warren said, ‘gave the little guys a better chance to compete by preventing the big guys from rigging the markets’” (“Bill Clinton’s tutorial on the need for government,” Sept. 6).

Ignore here the countless ways that government does meddle in people’s lives not only officiously but also obnoxiously – actions such as rampant imprisonment of non-violent drug ‘offenders,’ hiking the cost of food through agricultural tariffs and other farm programs, and abuse of eminent domain to enrich large corporations with property confiscated from middle-class families.

Focus instead on the fact that Mr. Dionne’s “Progressive” view of government really isn’t so progressive. Its premise was known to, and rejected by, America’s founding generation. Here’s Thomas Paine:

“Almost everything appertaining to the circumstances of a nation, has been absorbed and confounded under the general and mysterious word government. Though it avoids taking to its account the errors it commits, and the mischiefs it occasions, it fails not to arrogate to itself whatever has the appearance of prosperity. It robs industry of its honours, by pedantically making itself the cause of its effects; and purloins from the general character of man, the merits that appertain to him as a social being.”*

Thomas Paine and America’s other founders were never so na├»ve about the essence of government – nor as incognizant about the nature of society – as are Prof. Warren and Mr. Dionne.



Russia is bulking up its gold reserves

I can’t imagine it means anything cheerful that Vladimir Putin, the Russian czar, is stockpiling gold as fast as he can get his hands on it.

According to the World Gold Council, Russia has more than doubled its gold reserves in the past five years. Putin has taken advantage of the financial crisis to build the world’s fifth-biggest gold pile in a handful of years, and is buying about half a billion dollars’ worth every month.

Putin’s moves may matter to your finances, because there are two ways to look at gold.

On the one hand, it’s an investment that by most modern standards seems to make no sense. It generates no cash flow and serves no practical purpose. Warren Buffett has pointed out that we dig it out of one hole in the ground only to stick it in another, and anyone watching this from Mars would be very confused.

You can forget claims that it’s “real” money. There’s no such thing. Money is just an accounting device, a way of keeping track of how much each of us produces and consumes. Gold is a shiny and somewhat tacky looking metal that is malleable, durable and heavy. A recent research paper by Duke University’s Campbell Harvey and co-author Claude Erb raised serious questions about most of the arguments in favor of gold as an investment.

But there’s another way to look at gold: As the most liquid reserve in times of turmoil, or worse.


It is perfectly clear why Putin is buying gold. The way the Fed has been printing gushers of new dollars all dollars have got to lose a lot of their buying power not far down the track. Gold is more likely to retain its buying power. I bought a reserve of gold years ago



Record 88,921,000 Americans ‘Not in Labor Force’—119,000 Fewer Employed in August Than July: "The number of Americans whom the U.S. Department of Labor counted as “not in the civilian labor force” in August hit a record high of 88,921,000. In July, there were 155,013,000 in the U.S. civilian labor force. In August that dropped to 154,645,000—meaning that on net 368,000 people simply dropped out of the labor force last month and did not even look for a job. There were also 119,000 fewer Americans employed in August than there were in July. In July, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 142,220,000 Americans working. But, in August, there were only 142,101,000 Americans working."

Norris: “1,000 years of darkness” if Obama wins: "A video released this weekend by action movie hero Chuck Norris claims that America faces '1,000 years of darkness' if President Barack Obama is reelected. 'If we look to history, our great country and freedom are under attack,' Norris warns, standing next to his wife. 'We’re at a tipping point and, quite possibly, our country as we know it may be lost forever if we don’t change the course in which our country is headed.' The pair go on to explain that Obama won in 2008 because more than 30 million evangelical Christians stayed home on Election Day."

Canada: Separatist party wins power in Quebec: "A separatist party won power in the French-speaking province of Quebec on Tuesday night, but another referendum to break away from Canada isn't expected any time soon after the party failed to win a majority of legislative seats. Parti Quebecois leader Pauline Marois, who becomes Quebec's first female premier, replaces Liberal Jean Charest, Quebec's leader for nearly a decade."

Israeli “skunk” fouls West Bank protests: "Imagine taking a chunk of rotting corpse from a stagnant sewer, placing it in a blender and spraying the filthy liquid in your face. Your gag reflex goes off the charts and you can't escape, because the nauseating stench persists for days. This is 'skunk,' a fearsome but non-lethal tool in Israel's arsenal of weapons for crowd control. It comes in armored tanker trucks fitted with a cannon that can spray a jet of stinking fluid over crowds who know how to cope with plain old tear gas. While the army calls skunk an attempt to minimize casualties, rights groups dismiss it as a fig-leaf for the use of deadlier force against protesters in the occupied West Bank."

Why liberals should love low taxes: "You can say two things for certain about modern liberals -- they love spending government (read: your) money, and they hate the wealthy. Which makes the liberal loathing of low taxes especially baffling. For the truth of the matter is that lower tax rates often bring in more, not less, revenue for the federal government. And when they do, that revenue is overwhelmingly plucked from the pockets of the 'millionaires and billionaires' whom liberals constantly decry."

TSA: Keeping America safe … from Ron Paul?: "Congressman Ron Paul, of course, famously introduced the 'American Traveler Dignity Act' to rein in this unaccountable agency and its goons; while his son, Senator Rand Paul, has similarly vocally led the charge to abolish the TSA .... Yesterday, TSA took its revenge, detaining and demanding a thorough search of the Paul family and plane, over the objections of their pilot."

NH cleared by feds to implement new voter ID law: "The U.S. Department of Justice has cleared the way for the state to implement its new voter identification law for the upcoming elections. New Hampshire is among a group of states, including Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama, that are required under the Voting Rights Act of 1964 to submit any election law changes to the Department of Justice for review to determine whether they would result in racial discrimination."

DNC: Less hope, more “rope-a-dope”: "The Democratic National Convention, held in Charlotte, N.C., is playing out as scripted this week. It was good to see that the Democrats chose the U.S. as the host country for their event again this year, narrowly defeating bids from France and Venezuela. ... The size and scope of the DNC had to be scaled back considerably. At first the Dems thought they needed the Charlotte Motor Speedway, capacity 165,000, to hold all of Obama's loving fans. When they realized that the 'mainstream' press corps is not that big, they looked for smaller venues."


My identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my old Facebook page as I rarely accessed it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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)