Friday, October 26, 2012

About Those Horses And Ships and Bayonets

ALL troops still get bayonet training as far as I am aware.  I certainly did in the Vietnam war era.  Equating bayonets with horses is therefore ignorant. -- JR

At the foreign policy debate, President Obama thought he was putting something over on Mitt Romney when he acted as if the Republican was an imbecile for suggesting that the rapid decline in U.S. Naval strength was anything but a good idea:

You mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military’s changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines.

That was quite a zinger. In one fell swoop, he portrayed the Republican as ignorant about defense issues and established himself as the competent commander-in-chief. Except for the fact that he was dead wrong and did himself far more political damage than good.

Contrary to the president’s assertion, the creation of aircraft carriers and submarines did not mean that we needed fewer ships. Quite the contrary. Aircraft carriers need just as many if not more supporting vessels than the obsolete battleships that no are no longer under commission. So do subs. The decline in naval strength compromises America’s ability to project power abroad. That is particularly true in places like the Persian Gulf, where President Obama is trying to sound as tough with Iran as Romney.

Even more foolish is the president’s attempt to portray contemporary naval vessels with cavalry horses. That says more about his own lack of understanding of the military than Romney’s. It also may cost him some votes in a state that he still hopes to win: Virginia, home of the largest U.S. Naval base in the country and hotbed of support for a stronger military.

One more point about those horses and bayonets. For all of his contempt for them, it bears remembering that horses played a not insignificant role in the armed forces’ successful fight in Afghanistan, a point that Obama should have remembered. The Army and the Marines operating Afghanistan still use bayonets in close combat.

The more you think about this supposed zinger, the more it sounds as if Obama made a fool of himself, not Romney.



Department of Labor Denied

The other week a lady from the Department of Labor decided to audit the restaurant I worked for. I say “worked” for because I recently quit that job for a completely unrelated issue. Anyways, my employers were freaking out just a little bit. And can you blame them? Even though they do everything by the book, there is always something the state can trump up to extort money from you.

In the course of her audit she felt it was necessary to interrogate all of the employees. She walked into the kitchen one day, flashed her badge, and said she’d like to ask all of us some questions. She turned to me first. I politely said “one moment please.” Then I walked off and left the room. So, she began her questioning of others before she got to me. I made a B-line for my smart phone because I had zero intention of answering any of her questions. I also wanted to record the encounter.

You’ll note in this video how uncomfortable she is in front of a camera. No penalties were levied against me as a result of my refusal to participate. My employers even stayed cool. Their attitude was to just go along to get along. I made it clear to them and all of my colleagues that her job is to build a case against us to extort money, plain and simple. I think a lot of my colleagues were surprised that one could refuse to talk to the “authorities” and get away with it. I definitely see this as a victory since my colleagues have been shown, from somebody they know, that the state really is a paper tiger. Enjoy the video!



Fashion bigotry

By Bradley Scott, a young American designer from New York City

I was extremely disappointed and angry to read an article documenting a very serious controversy surrounding famed Vogue Fashion Editor Anna Wintour. It is being reported that she is discouraging designers, like myself, to stay clear of dressing Ann Romney because her politics do not align with the common place liberal beliefs in the fashion industry. That is pure discrimination which would result in a lawsuit against any employer should that be the reason behind excluding a prospective job application, or employee termination. How dare she…

It is widely known that Hollywood and Fashion take a far left position on politics and contrary to what you may believe, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. In fact, I welcome the difference in opinion because that’s the epitome of why America is by far, the greatest country in the world. We are a free people who can think and vote as we wish, without fearing professional consequences or having our freedoms being taken away.

It is these same freedoms that come under attack when people like Anna Wintour exert her pressure upon us. We should be allowed to operate our businesses, which we built, at our discretion, and under OUR leadership. Her sole job it is to promote fashion to ALL women, of every color, race, nationality, religion, etc.  Pressuring designers to turn to the evil disease of discrimination is an horrendously wrong turn for the industry.

In the most challenging times, which include global unrest, changing value of the US Dollar, shrinking profit margins to accommodate stores, and most of all, the intense effort to keep craftsmanship right here in the wonderful city of NY, we shouldn’t be dictated to by the “Queen of Fashion” that our ambition of seeing our designs on a wonderful woman like Ann Romney should be put back in our notebook as an off limits concept. How offensive!

Fox News reports: “Over the past year, the Vogue matriarch – who many say has enough power to make or break fashion careers – has become one of President Obama’s leading financiers. Wintour has raised over half a million dollars for the incumbent, hosted numerous lavish dinners in his name and even enlisted designer pals like Marc Jacobs and Thakoon Panichgul to design pro-Obama products”

It is one thing to be a fund-raiser, deploying designers to design for President Obama’s re-election bid as reported by Fox News, but it is another, to actually pressure designers to “say no” to the possibility of being honored by the possible next first lady if she should grace us with wearing something that ultimately took all our blood, sweat and tears to create.

I for one want absolutely nothing to do with this attack on women. This pressure upon designers should offend every woman in this country, not just the conservatives. Women all over should ask themselves why they read Vogue Magazine and think about why a magazine editor should be dictating who is deserving of our designs.

So I will close this op-ed by saying I hope all women, of every belief, faith and political stance, see this for what it truly is; an un-American, undemocratic, and unladylike attack upon not only Ann Romney, but the millions of American conservative women she insulted with this decree. After all, while the Devil wears Prada to cover major flaws, Ann Romney is pure class and I would be proud to have her wear my clothing, as would most other designers.



Well, I never ....

About 6 soldiers pull up on a main street in Halifax , Nova Scotia on some holiday.  They're in a standard issue WWII type Willys Jeep.

In the span of about 3 to 4 minutes they completely disassemble the vehicle  And reassemble it with no power tools and drive off in it fully operable!

The idea being to show the genius that went into the making of the jeep: And its basic simplicity. Fantastic!


Supersize This!

As everybody knows by now, it was announced earlier this month that this year’s Nobel Peace Prize will be awarded to none other than the European Union.

This can only further burnish the luster added to the Prize when it was presented to Barack Hussein Obama back in 2009.

Both these momentous occasions were simply the latest in a long series of distinguished recipients, who include Al Gore (2007), Mohamed El-Baradei (2005), Jimmy Carter (2002), Amnesty International (1977), the United Nations and Kofi Annan (2001), Yasser Arafat (1994), Desmond Tutu (1984), and International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (1985).

“But Baron,” you say, “none of this is news! Everyone knows the Nobel Peace Prize jumped the shark decades ago. Why, it’s become a dumping ground for progressive political hacks — as designated by progressive political hacks in Norway!”

And indeed it has. But let’s not give up on the much-maligned Prize just yet.

An unidentified entrepreneur has come up with an idea to merge Commerce with the Pursuit of World Peace ’n’ Justice:

If he’s willing to throw in a free 20-ounce Diet Pepsi, I just might take him up on the deal…



‘Wastebook’ unearths government excess

When Americans go to the polls we won’t just be making a decision about what kind of government we want. We will be making a decision about what kind of government we will tolerate. In recent elections politicians from both sides of the aisle promised to go through the budget line by line and make hard choices. That hasn’t happened. The only change Washington has been interested in is in your pocket.

This week I released my annual “Wastebook” report, featuring 100 examples of mismanagement, wasteful spending and special interest deals that illustrate just how far Washington continues to go to avoid setting priorities.  Consider a few examples:

Instead of working to close the massive hole in our federal budget, our government spent $350,000 through the National Science Foundation to study how golfers are better when they imagine a larger golf hole.

While millions of Americans are struggling to put enough food on the table for their families, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) spent $300,000 to tell Americans to eat caviar, one of the world’s most expensive delicacies.

At the same time, USDA and the Department of Commerce are spending more than $1.3 million to help PepsiCo Inc., the world’s largest snack food maker, build a Greek yogurt factory in New York.

As members of Congress complain about defense cuts, Congress split a new line of Navy littoral (near shore) ships between two completely different designs, needlessly increasing costs by $740 million while undermining the Navy’s capabilities.

The biggest waste of taxpayer dollars of all, however, was Congress itself, which I listed as the #1 waste of taxpayer dollars this year. With 23 million Americans unemployed and millions of others struggling to live within a budget, the Senate didn’t even bother to pass a budget for the third straight year.

Meanwhile, Washington spent much of the year talking instead of acting to avert a debt crisis and another downgrade. While members of Congress refused to back specific reforms and cuts, they were, however, very specific about what to fund. Robotic squirrels, Watermelon Queen Tours, climate change musicals, Moroccan pottery classes and pet shampoo products all received federal funding courtesy of future generations and potential foreign adversaries who are mocking us for our recklessness.

Wasteful spending matters because history has not been kind to great powers that lived beyond their means while wallowing in gratuitous excess. In Roman times, rulers used what was called “bread and circuses” — literally cheap food and entertainment — to pacify the populace in troubled times. Today, we make food stamps eligible at Starbucks and offer tax breaks for the NFL, NHL and the PGA (but not MLB). And instead of reforming Medicare for today’s seniors and near-retirees, we spend $1.2 million to see if encouraging them to play World of Warcraft, an online video game, will help them improve their cognitive function.

The purpose of detailing this waste isn’t just to remind the American people of what they already know — that Washington is doing less with more while they are doing more with less. The point is to remind taxpayers that they don’t have to accept the status quo. Every American has an opportunity to end spending behaviors in Washington that have become not just a punch line but the source of what Adm. Mike Mullen calls the greatest threat to our national security: our unsustainable $16 trillion national debt.

As I argue in “Wastebook,” each of the 100 entries highlighted in report is a direct result of Washington politicians who are preoccupied with running for re-election rather than running the country, which is what they were elected to do in the first place.

Some politicians and pundits try to rationalize excessive borrowing and spending as necessary until the economy gets back on track. But the fragile state of our economy is precisely why Washington must be more careful how tax dollars are spent. To do this Washington must set priorities, just like every family. The problem is Washington priorities are upside down. Important programs go bankrupt while outdated and outlandish projects continue to be funded.

The fact is advanced countries and economies like ours don’t stay advanced when we tolerate such silly spending decisions. Still, I believe We the People can cheat history and force Washington to make the hard decisions today that can give you and your children a brighter future tomorrow.




Pennsylvania desperation:  ""A bill that landed on Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett’s (R) desk this week would give companies that hire more than 250 new workers a gobsmacking tax incentive: 95 percent of those workers’ state income taxes would be paid to the employer, and not the state. It’s a bizarre strategy meant to attract companies from other states, specifically designed to lure California-based software maker Oracle into Pennsylvania. It’s also, as Philadelphia City Paper put it, 'lavish corporate welfare' writ large across state government."

From “Hope and Change” to … “Smirk and Disdain”:  "In the third, and mercifully last, presidential debate of this campaign, the candidates sliced razor-thin nuances in their foreign policy views. Romney was measured and presidential, and he avoided the trap being set for him as a warmonger. He actually seemed to be less interventionist than Obama, who ran against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but who has since become the sheriff from Blazing Saddles. As usual, when Obama was asked a question he would ignore it and revert to his tired talking points, mocking Romney on his foreign policy experience as governor of Massachusetts. ... Because he is losing steam, and because he is a whiner by nature, Obama attacked."



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


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


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Context, context!

As regular readers here will be aware, every now and again I get an unfortunate urge to revisit theological matters -- so I have been browsing through various scriptures today.  And in all my comments on such matters I always stress how looking at the context of a Bible passage can be very enlightening in showing what is actually meant.  And today I have noted a fairly hilarious thing that context does in Matthew 16.

Matthew 16 is of course home to the passage where Christ allegedly gave Peter keys to the Kingdom of Heaven.  Catholics base their  claims about the Pope on that passage.  I sent my son to a Catholic school so I have no animus against Catholicism but I have always seen the relationship between that passage and the Pope as poorly founded.

I have just noted, however, something that makes the Roman claim not only poorly founded but downright hilarious.  Just a few verses after the "keys" passage Jesus says this to Peter:

"But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men"

So if Peter was the first Pope, we have the authority of Jesus himself that the Pope was Satanic  -- plus some other unholy attributes!

Some old-time Protestants would agree  -- JR



North Carolina voters who went to vote for Mitt Romney complained electronic voting machines recorded votes for President Barack Obama instead.

According to MyFox8 in North Carolina, the problems occurred at the Bur-Mil Park polling location in Guilford County.

Voter Sher Coromalis told the station she cast her ballot for Romney, but the machine entered a vote for Obama on two straight occasions.  “I was so upset that this could happen,” Coromalis said, noting the machine correctly recorded her vote on the third attempt.

Guilford County Board of Elections Director George Gilbert told MyFox8 that such problems arise every election and can be resolved after machines are re-calibrated. “It’s not a conspiracy it’s just a machine that needs to be corrected,” Gilbert said.

Early voting in North Carolina ends November 3.



Obama’s lost generation

Since Barack Obama took office, the civilian non-institutional population has increased by 8.7 million, and yet only 437,000 people have been added to the civilian labor force — i.e. those working or seeking work. That’s an awful absorption rate of new population into the workforce of just 5 percent.

This has helped to keep the unemployment rate misleadingly low at its current 7.8 percent level. If the labor force participation rate had held steady since 2009, the jobless rate today would be more like 11 percent.

This has never happened before in modern U.S. history during peacetime, according to data by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics going back to 1900. Absorption of population into the labor force has historically averaged at a 59 percent rate.

At that rate, about 5 million people should have entered the labor force since the end of 2008, but have not. The question is why.

The only time population absorption by the economy contracted was from 1940 to 1944, when the population increased by 4.3 million but the civilian labor force shrank by 1 million.

But that came in World War II on the heels of 7.5 million of previously unemployed Americans — plus another 3.5 million who had other jobs — going off to fight overseas in Europe and the Pacific. They were not counted as part of the civilian labor force during those years.

But, after the war millions of servicemen left the military and were added back into the mix. Besides then, the absorption rate of new population by the labor force had never fallen below 32 percent.

Comparably, in the past four years, there was no major war to speak of that removed millions of Americans from the labor force to account for the precipitous drop in labor force participation.

While Baby Boomers retiring would be expected to lower the labor force participation rate, the population of those 65 years and older has only increased by about 4.4 million since Obama took office. So, a retirement boom alone cannot account for the anomaly.

To find the rest, one must observe the declining labor force participation particularly amongst those with some college and with college degrees, a population that grew by 9.4 million since Dec. 2008.

Since that time, the participation rate of college graduates has dropped significantly — from 77.6 percent to about 75.9 percent today. That accounts for about 1.1 million graduates who should have entered the labor force, but didn’t.

Another 1.7 million with some college or an associate’s degree should have also entered the labor force, but are nowhere to be found as the participation rate there dropped from 71.9 percent to 68.8 percent.

In addition, another 2 million or so folks lost their jobs and eventually gave up looking for another one.

All of which accounts for the 5 million individuals who should have entered the labor force in the past four years — Obama’s lost generation. It is an appalling state of affairs, and a trend that will not easily be reversed no matter who wins the White House in November.

The fact that it has never happened before in peacetime however should give particularly supporters of Obama pause. This is the worst labor market for new job seekers in modern history. And Obama has only made it worse by increasing eligibility for welfare by millions, creating a disincentive for Americans to return to the labor force.

To get back onto solid ground, the nation needs to get back to policies that will create jobs at a rate faster than the population grows. These include reducing the tax and regulatory burden on industry and strengthening the dollar to reduce the cost of doing business in the U.S., and in the meantime substantially decreasing welfare spending that discourages job-seeking.

The alternative is to continue to follow Obama down the road to serfdom we have been on for four years now. And good luck finding work there.



Can a conscientious liberal back Obama?

by Jeff Jacoby

YOU'RE A PASSIONATE and committed liberal. Four years ago, enthralled by Barack Obama's biography and inspired by his oratory, you voted for him with pride. You embraced his promise of hope and change. You were deeply moved by the racial progress he symbolized.  But above all you voted for him because he expressed such enlightened views.

You didn't just want a Democrat back in the White House, you wanted one who would bring progressive clarity to US national policy.

For eight years, you'd fumed at George W. Bush's offenses against the Constitution; now at last, you believed, you were supporting a president for whom civil liberties would be an unshakable priority. A president who wouldn't be beholden to Wall Street and its rivers of cash. Who would prosecute the war on terror without abandoning core American values or trampling basic human rights. Whose administration would function in the sunlight, a jewel of transparency, accountability, and due process.

That was the president you expected. It wasn't the president you got.

"I will make clear that the days of compromising our values are over," Obama had said in 2007 as he campaigned for the Democratic presidential nomination. In an address to the Woodrow Wilson Center, he had excoriated Bush's approach to counterterrorism – the excesses of the Patriot Act, the warrantless wiretapping, the indefinite detention of terror suspects – for reflecting a "false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we demand." In an Obama administration, he vowed, things would be different.

Yet the president you voted for hasn't abandoned Bush's antiterror legacy, not by a long shot. Since Obama took office, warrantless wiretapping of Americans' domestic communications has skyrocketed. According to a new report by the ACLU, "more people were subjected to [electronic] surveillance in the past two years than in the entire previous decade." Instead of repealing the Patriot Act, Obama signed a law extending it through 2015.

The president who was going to shut the US lockup at Guantanamo is now spending millions of dollars to upgrade it. Far from doing away with trials by military commission, he ordered them resumed. The eloquent progressive who vowed to roll back Bush's post-9/11 wartime excesses has become almost a caricature of what he used to condemn. He meets regularly to review a "kill list" of terrorist suspects and decide who should be targeted for death. He has drastically expanded the drone war that Bush began, raining down missiles on countries where we aren't at war, killing or maiming hundreds of innocent victims in the process. Astonishingly, he has even claimed – and exercised -- the power to order the extrajudicial killing of American citizensterrorist operatives. he believes to be

Neocon hawks may not blink at such things, but conscientious liberals like you were always appalled by them. "We have compromised our most precious values," Obama said as a candidate. Will you compromise your values by voting for him again?

And what about all those other values you counted on Obama to uphold?

On the campaign trail, his top priority was to codify Roe v. Wade. "The first thing I'd do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act," he declared. Once in office, it dropped from his agenda.

You trusted Obama when he said his administration would be "the most open and transparent in history." Instead it launched an unprecedented crackdown on whistleblowers and leaks, and retreated into a "bubble of non-accountability."

When you voted for Obama in 2008, could you have imagined that he would extend the Bush tax cuts? That he would commit US forces to war in Libya without the congressional approval he himself had said the law required? That he would show so little concern for pro-democracy dissidents and protesters resisting tyranny? That he would expel 1.2 million undocumented immigrants in three years, more than any president since the 1950s? That he would load his administration with so many former lobbyists – after having promised that he wouldn't?

If a Republican president compiled such an atrocious record, you would do everything you could to prevent his reelection. Can you vote in good conscience for a Democrat with such a record?



Obama's Nameless War With a Nameless Enemy

In the final presidential debate on October 22, President Barack Obama spoke briefly about the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack on U.S. officials and personnel in Benghazi. He outlined why the U.S. had gone into Libya before the attack. He outlined the answers he is still seeking following the attack. But he did not say why this terrorist attack had occurred or why the U.S. had been ill-prepared to meet it in what is, after all, a volatile city alive with militias recently freed from dictatorial rule. Nor did he tell us why his Administration strenuously avoided calling it a terrorist attack for two weeks, preferring instead to speak of a spontaneous assault in the course of a demonstration of Muslims offended by an anti-Muhammad video.

Mitt Romney did not pursue the subject, so we got no closer to the heart of the matter, yet the implication of this apologetic gloss of the first two weeks is obvious: Ambassador Chris Stevens was not murdered by Islamists who hate America and its allies and mean to attack us again; he was the victim of the local reaction to one of the products of American freedom of speech. Once the attack was acknowledged as the handiwork of terrorists, however, followers of al Qaeda, virtually the only officially acknowledged extremists, were cited as the perpetrators. And here lies the problem: the Obama Administration will not acknowledge that an extreme and violent segment of the Muslim world ranging far beyond the confines of al Qaeda is at war with us. To do so would have required him to explain why the U.S. had been empowering Islamists, including in Libya, some of whom may have been responsible for leaking information that enabled the terrorists to locate and kill the Americans.

Just why and how has this refusal to name the Islamist enemy come to characterize the four years of Obama's presidency? Because President Obama agrees with the view that Islamists as a force in world affairs are not be shunned and that wisdom dictates coming to terms with those among them who are hot engaged in active hostilities at this moment. The idea is defective, because common to all Islamists is Muslim supremacism and the undeviating pursuit to subvert the non-Islamic world.

Yet, since Barack Obama took office, Islamist antagonists, other than those involved in active hostilities like al Qaeda and the Taliban, whose hostility cannot be denied or ignored, have gone unnamed. Presidential statements on the anniversaries of the 1983 killing of 242 U.S. servicemen in Lebanon by Hizballah or the 1979 seizure by Islamist students of the U.S. embassy in Tehran, to name two examples, failed to even mention the perpetrators of these acts, as it had become U.S. policy to propitiate both parties.

Indeed, the Obama Administration has refused to associate terrorists attacking America with Islam. Administration officials have spent four years speaking of particular terrorists at home and abroad as isolated "extremists," even when Islamist terrorist connections (for example, between Fort Hood sniper Nidal Hassan and the American-born al Qaeda in Yemen leader, Anwar al-Awlaki, who advised him) were readily traceable.

In a May 2010 hearing of the House Judiciary Committee, Attorney-General Eric Holder only grudgingly and hypothetically conceded that radical Islam could be the inspiration for some individuals involved in recent acts of terrorism, before immediately asserting that such people were acting on a "version of Islam that is not consistent with the teachings of it." Similarly, in March 2011, Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough told a Muslim audience that extremists in their midst "falsely claim to be fighting in the name of Islam." When Rep. Peter King (R-NY), chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, held hearings on homegrown radical Islam the same month, the Administration publicly opposed it.

The Administration has also expressly disavowed the use of terms like "Islamism," "radical Islam," and "jihad." In May 2009, John O. Brennan, Obama's Chief National Security Adviser for Counterterrorism, contended that use of such terms "would lend credence" to the notion "that the United States is somehow at war against Islam.… Nor do we describe our enemy as jihadists or Islamists because jihad is holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam meaning to purify oneself or one's community." Such refurbishment of the term 'jihad' -- war waged against non-believers to extend and secure the dominion of Islam, is a religious duty which, according to authoritative Muslim sources, may at least at times be waged against civilians on the opposing side -- at once sanitizes it and precludes its use. Nor has it been explained how ignoring the ideology animating the terrorists somehow renders America at peace with those jihadists who regard themselves at war with the U.S.




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


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


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Democracy is at work in America

The decisions it produces are only as good as the quality of the average voter  -- and now that the voter base is on average very poorly educated the decision-making must suffer in quality.  With tens of millions of voters illiterate or barely literate, America is headed in the direction of Brazil

Elections supposedly prevent convulsions, serving as safety valves that vent social pressures and enable course corrections. November's election will either be a prelude to a convulsion or the beginning of a turn away from one.

America's public-policy dysfunction exists not because democracy isn't working but because it is. Both parties are sensitive market mechanisms, measuring more than shaping voters' preferences. The electoral system is a seismograph recording every tremor of public appetite. Today, the differences that divide the public are exceeded by the contradictions within the public's mind.

America's bold premise is the possibility of dignified self-government – people making reasonable choices about restrained appetites.

But three decades ago, Harvard political scientist Samuel Huntington postulated that America suffers regularly recurring political convulsions because the gap between the premise and reality becomes too wide to ignore.

Now Michael Greve, a constitutional scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, argues: "We like to tell ourselves that all our constitutional stories must have a happy ending." The founders' foremost problem, Greve says, was debt. To establish the nation's credibility, they needed to replace the Articles of Confederation with the Constitution. "We," Greve says, "merely have to return to it, if we can." He wonders whether we can.

The official national debt of $16 trillion (growing $4 billion a day), plus what the government owes its various trust funds, is more than 100 percent of GDP. Ninety percent is where economic anemia seems to deepen. States' debts are about $3 trillion and their unfunded pension liabilities probably are another $4 trillion. "Debts of this magnitude," Greve says, "will not be paid."

Barack Obama's risible solution is to add 4.6 points to the tax rate for less than 3 percent of Americans. Some conservatives have the audacity of hope – expecting 5 percent economic growth (the post-1945 average: 2.9 percent) and planning to continue financing the debt by borrowing at negative interest rates. Of our long slide into financial decrepitude, Greve says: "The rate of deterioration does not correlate in any obvious way with political control over the presidency and Congress."

The housing debacle was not the result of "a spontaneous outbreak of private irresponsibility." Public institutions and policies provided occasions and incentives for the exercise of private vices. Washington pays up to 80 percent of state Medicaid expenses, so states' citizens demand more Medicaid services. Although the elderly consider Social Security and Medicare benefits earned, Greve says: "Most retirees could not have earned their expected payment streams if they had worked two or three jobs."

"Our politics," says Greve, "aims at inspiration on the cheap." We should reduce government's complicity in illusions by, for example, sending retirees "a statement showing the estimated present value of their old-age benefits; their lifetime earnings and contributions; and the earnings and contributions that it would have taken to 'earn' those benefits. We might then ask them who precisely should earn and remit the missing millions and in what sense it would be 'unfair' to modify the empty promises."

Rash promises were made, Greve says, "in an era of prosperity, when and because we thought we could afford them." Now they "are far too entrenched to be dislodged in the course of ordinary politics." Even granting Mitt Romney's embrace of something like his running mate's reforms, this year's politics are terribly ordinary. Although consensus is supposedly elusive, it actually is the problem. "Our operative consensus," says Greve, "is to have a big transfer state, and not pay for it."

Democracy is representative government, which is the problem. Democracy represents the public's preferences, which are mutable, but also represents human nature, which is constant. People flinch from confronting difficult problems until driven to by necessity's lash. The Claremont Institute's William Voegeli, commenting on Greve and the dubious postulate of continuous 5 percent growth, says: "There's good reason to fear that if the economy builds a 5 percent levee the polity will just come up with a 6 percent flood. We humans adroitly use scant and equivocal evidence to convince ourselves that the most congenial interpretation of events is also the most plausible and durable."

Writing in 1830, Thomas Babington Macaulay asked, "On what principle is it that, when we see nothing but improvement behind us, we are to expect nothing but deterioration before us?" Greve's gloomy answer is: Because we actually see behind us protracted abandonment of the founders' flinty realism about the need to limit government because of the limitations of the people.



Obama Makes False Claim About Supreme Court Decision; Leftist "Fact-Checkers" Parrot It

Reading a Supreme Court decision is so hard! If you are a fact-checker, it’s much easier just to let President Obama, a critic of a Supreme Court decision, caricature the decision and then parrot the baseless caricature as if it were fact.

The Supreme Court’s 2007 decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., said employees who want to bring a pay discrimination lawsuit under Title VII (the federal antidiscrimination law with the shortest deadline) generally have to file a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 180 days. But it specifically left open the possibility they could sue later on – even if they failed to file a timely EEOC complaint — if they did not discover the discrimination until later. The case involved Lilly Ledbetter, who waited more than five years after learning of a pay disparity between her and her male co-workers to file an EEOC complaint.

The White House falsely claimed “The Court ruled that employees subject to pay discrimination like Lilly Ledbetter must file a claim within 180 days of the employer’s original decision to pay them less . . . even if the employee did not discover the discriminatory reduction in pay until much later (check out Justice Alito’s arguments in the Court’s opinion).” In yesterday’s debate, Obama falsely claimed the Supreme Court said Ledbetter could not sue even if she had no way of discovering the discriminatory pay disparity. He said “the Supreme Court said that she couldn’t bring suit because she should have found about it earlier, whereas she had no way of finding out about it.”

These claims are utterly false. The Supreme Court specifically left open the possibility employees who learn of the discrimination later can sue under the “discovery rule” exception to the 180-day deadline. In footnote 10 of its opinion, the Court wrote, “We have previously declined to address whether Title VII suits are amenable to a discovery rule. . . .Because Ledbetter does not argue that such a rule would change the outcome in her case, we have no occasion to address this issue.”

Thus, since Ledbetter didn’t even claim in her lawsuit she hadn’t discovered the pay discrimination in time to sue, relaxing the deadline for her would have done her no good. In addition, if she truly had lacked knowledge of the pay disparity as a result of being deceived by her employer, she could have had the deadline extended under the Supreme Court’s doctrines of equitable tolling and estoppel, which are longstanding exceptions to the deadline that are a bit narrower than the discovery rule. But she didn’t allege either of these exceptions applied in her case.

In reality, Ledbetter knew of the pay disparity she later claimed was discriminatory for over five years before filing a legal complaint over it, as she admitted in her deposition in her lawsuit. But later, Ledbetter falsely claimed to the contrary in a speech to the Democratic National Convention.

It’s not true, as she claimed to the Convention, that she didn’t learn of it until “two decades” after she began working at the company. She had worked for the company since 1979. She learned of the pay disparity by 1992, as excerpts from her deposition, filed in the Supreme Court as part of the Joint Appendix, make clear. In response to the question: “So you knew in 1992 that you were being paid less than your peers?” she answered simply, “Yes, sir.” (See Joint Appendix at pg. 233; page 123 of Ledbetter’s deposition.) But she did not file a legal complaint over it until July 1998, shortly before her retirement in November 1998. See Ledbetter v. Goodyear, 550 U.S. 618, 621 (2007).

Politifact parroted Obama’s false claim in an Oct. 16 commentary entitled “Obama: Mitt Romney refused to say whether he supports Lilly Ledbetter Act.” It wrote:

 In 2007, the Supreme Court had ruled in Ledbetter vs. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. that the 180-day statute of limitations started from the day an employer made the decision to discriminate — making it impossible for employees who learned of such discrimination later to get relief, such as back pay.

This is just wrong, and all PolitiFact had to do to debunk this claim was read the Supreme Court’s decision (which its commentary claims was one of the “sources” for its “fact check”), or various law review articles about it. Or just read my prior emails to them, which I sent to a legion of fact-checkers in September 2012, anticipating Obama would make this false claim, having made similar false claims in the past. This morning, I sent more emails — to each Politifact staffer listed as contributors to the Oct. 16 commentary. In response, I received an email from the principal author this morning, stating:

“Thanks for your email. I’ll look into it and talk about it with my editors. What I wrote was consistent with how we’ve described the case in the past.”

As of now, the error I identified has not been fixed. I suspect it won’t be, until it is too late to correct it in the print version of any newspaper that cites Politifact. So the error will live on in every news database as if it were fact.



How Leftist law has hijacked the U.S. constitution

What would those "dead white males" know?  The constitution has clear provisions for its own amendment and updating but Leftist lawyers have repeatedly managed to slide around that by contemptuous "interpretation" of it -- JR

Each September, the assumptions and methodologies of law-school curricula are handed down as if from Sinai to tens of thousands of 1Ls. They are readily accepted by the students, who are under enormous pressure to assimilate and adjust to them quickly. Students are told nothing of progressive philosophy’s origins or ultimate purposes, and notice little of its hostility to the Founders’ Constitution. Such lack of awareness is evident even among many law-school faculty members, who act as Moses without self-knowledge, sensible only of the first commandment.

For those with the passion to rule — which describes most bright twentysomethings — such a sensibility is very useful. They see themselves doing God’s work, or something like it, for they do at least know that God is banished from the public square. In his recent book Schools for Misrule, Walter Olson recounts how the dean of one of the nation’s most prestigious law schools routinely greeted incoming students by welcoming them to “the republic of conscience.”

Of course, it’s a conscience to be imposed by the cognoscenti, through the mechanism of the courts, on the unwashed masses who still conceive of politics as something to be done the old-fashioned way, i.e., consensually. What the students quickly imbibe in the law schools is uniquely well suited to breaking the constraints imposed by self-government and the Constitution.

The modern law school came into existence largely as an adjunct of progressive ideology. It was to be the training ground for progressives dedicated to overcoming early-20th-century judicial resistance to the political assault on our Constitution of limited and enumerated powers. As with the modern discipline of political science, the modern law school was built around core progressive assumptions: a philosophy of history, a faith in the power of scientific intelligence to smooth the movement of history, and a deep suspicion of existing institutional forms.

By the 1920s, leading legal scholars were confident they had discovered a new science of jurisprudence — one that would emphasize evolutionary growth rather than black-letter law or theories of law rooted in the permanent nature of human beings. This melding of social Darwinism and philosophical pragmatism animated the growing legal professoriate to direct its attention to processes, functions, and change more than principles, rules, and continuity. The new approach to the study of law had many manifestations. It defined the aspirations of important legal movements such as sociological jurisprudence and legal realism, which sought to ensure, respectively, that legal interpretation would be informed by social data, and that legal outcomes would be determined by perceived social benefits rather than the strict construction of law. The old-fashioned common lawyer was out, to be replaced by a progressive social engineer with legal training.

By the 1920s, a plethora of disciplines were deemed relevant to law in ways they had not been before. The insights, real or alleged, of all the social sciences were increasingly brought to bear on the legal curriculum. As economic, sociological, psychological, or political circumstances changed, so must the law, and it inevitably did. Curricular revisions and new faculty followed. Casebooks appeared with titles such as “Cases and Materials on X” rather than simply “Cases on X.” For example, Yale Law School in the 1930s added significant social-science material to its library holdings, hired more social scientists for its teaching faculty, and created a joint institute for the study of law and psychology. The sheer number and specialized nature of course offerings and supporting materials increased markedly at the leading realist institutions, driven by an understanding of law as inseparable from social problems — particularly those addressed by the administrative state. Through the 1930s and 1940s, courses in public-law fields, including administrative law, burgeoned, and they continued to grow throughout the postwar period.

These courses promoted a view of law as the problem-solving tool of the new age rather than a set of constraints on human conduct. Law tended to be seen as a means of social control and of dealing with corporate groups, which were to have their interests harmonized by elite mechanism rather than spontaneous activities in a large republic.

Nowhere was this clearer than in the development of the field of labor law during the 1920s. The move from “constitutional” law to “public” law in the law schools followed, paralleling the progressive mind’s shift from constitutionalism to the administrative state and the new emphasis on regulatory and entitlement politics in the regime as a whole.

Whatever the theoretical roots or disciplinary orientations of the realists, all saw the Constitution as a fundamentally flawed document and decried any efforts to interpret it on its own terms. Statutory law, and even more the Constitution, was seen as an epiphenomenon of deep class biases and social forces unrelated to principles of right or justice. At the same time, it was assumed the best and brightest could extract themselves from the influence of these social phenomena that swept others along like tiny corks on a great river. Given a clear-eyed view of what law “really” is, along with sympathetic legislatures, the right kinds of sociological arguments, and, eventually, a less conservative judiciary, they could put themselves in the vanguard of history. Healthy evolution always lay just over the horizon for most of the realists, as it had for the earlier advocates of sociological jurisprudence.

The relationship between legal ideas and legal practice was central. In 1921, while a judge on the New York Court of Appeals, Benjamin Cardozo was arguing publicly and theoretically, in his Storrs Lectures at Yale, for the centrality of sociological jurisprudence to the law. As Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes reduced law to questions of the management of social forces according to personal and class beliefs, academics worked out theories of the idiosyncratic role of judges. While Louis Brandeis concentrated on the role of social needs in deciding cases, Dean Roscoe Pound at Harvard formulated the same ideas in theory, writing that “the sociological movement in jurisprudence is a movement for pragmatism as a philosophy of law” and a movement away from “assumed first principles.”

By the time the New Deal hit Washington, there was a new sense of professionalism among law teachers, marked by a specialized knowledge of the new science of jurisprudence. The creation of the Association of American Law Schools at the dawn of the 20th century punctuated the importance of professionalism. Even today, the AALS website reminds students that lawyers once entered legal practice without — gasp — having gone to law school. The AALS did much to elevate the “educated” lawyer over the “trained” practitioner of yore, a key difference being the former’s knowledge of the latest trends in historicist jurisprudence.

As legal education through the 20th century transformed itself from a system of rules to be learned into principles or predictions to be gleaned from cases, and then into a vehicle for social change, American lawyers saw themselves as the facilitators of change and the formulators of public policy. Policymaking is always and everywhere a normative endeavor. It was a small step from a concern with policy to a concern with “values,” which quickly made their way into the law-school curriculum, particularly at elite institutions. This occurred largely in what is seen as the “post-realist” period commencing in the 1960s, a period better understood as an inevitable outgrowth of realism, or perhaps a realism that is simply clearer about its purposes.

Through this period and beyond, the case method persisted, but its function has come to be understood in an even more radicalized light. The inductive search for principles has fully given way to the search for strategies — rooted in various social-science disciplines — for winning policy outcomes. The “values” that guide the study and application of law come from outside the law. Law and constitutionalism itself are not to be revered for their reflection of eternal truths or their embodiment of the insights of the wise, but for what policy victories they can deliver to a variety of hungry constituencies.

Furthermore, while the early progressives concentrated on expanding the administrative state and its list of clients for the purposes of economic engineering, today’s progressives are far more enchanted by larger-scale social engineering best implemented through the prerogatives of the judicial branch. Progressive change is to be effected in courts of what now can only loosely be termed “law.”

And so it is that the chief justice of the United States [Roberts], schooled in the best “conservative” principles of today’s legally educated elites, could in good conscience declare constitutional a federal tax [Obamacare mandate] unlinked to any enumerated power that the Founders would have recognized. Careful reflection on the text and tradition of the Founders’ Constitution in its establishment of the national taxing power “to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States” might have led him to decide otherwise.




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


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Obama lied when people died

From Captain's Journal:

Too much focus has been given to whether the administration called the attacks on the American consulate at Benghazi an act of terror.  Parsing the questions is important both to frame our objections to Obama’s behavior after this incident and to point out larger problems with his foreign policy.

It’s well known that the administration rejected requests for increased security at the consulate.  The administration’s assumptions regarding the nature of the world has caused them to be unprepared for the Islamists at every turn over the last four years.  But their refusal to protect Americans, as shameful and loathsome as that is, constitutes a different issue than the one I am addressing.

As I’ve pointed out before, I published an assessment within one day of the attacks in which, despite focusing on issues related mostly to how we move forward with increased security, my own military readers concluded that this was a well-planned, well-coordinated attack with ensconced fighters, involving a complex ambush with the use of combined arms.

Take careful note.  The use of combined arms is deadly to your own fighters if it isn’t a well-rehearsed engagement.  Firing mortars or light [or heavy] machine guns at your own fighters kills them, and you must know where they are and what they’re doing at all times.

My article was well-visited that day by the State Department, Department of Homeland Security, DoD network domains, and others that were in a position to make a difference with the administration.  Glenn Reynolds linked the post, and the traffic his site drives isn’t the only interesting feature of his attention.  The quality of his traffic is even more remarkable.

So within 24 hours everyone knew that this wasn’t the action of an angry mob.  The administration also knew that very quickly from information to which only they would have been aware, as Former Spook points out:
"In recent posts, we’ve asked the fundamental question about the terrorist attack on our consulate in Benghazi, which resulted in the deaths of four Americans: what did the  administration know, and when did they know it?

As we’ve noted, there was a steady stream of intelligence reporting on the attack, delivered at the FLASH/CRITIC level.  Messages assigned that priority must be delivered to the President within 10 minutes of receipt.  This traffic captured conversations between the Islamist factions responsible for the attack, before and during the assault on our compound.  That’s why administration claims that incident was some sort of “demonstration gone bad” are nothing more than a lie.

Ditto for Joe Biden’s claim that Benghazi was some sort of intelligence failure.  By all accounts, the spooks did their job, and it was apparent within minutes  that our consulate was under attack by terrorists, not ordinary Libyans incensed over that internet video.  If Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has any shred of integrity remaining, he should resign immediately in protest over how his community is being “used” to conceal leadership failures of the first magnitude.

But terrorist phone traffic wasn’t the only source of information on the night of September 11, 2012.  According to Fox News military analyst Colonel David Hunt (who spent most of his Army career in special forces), various U.S. command centers–in the U.S. and overseas–received a running account of the attack –while it unfolded–from a State Department official inside the consulate.  Hunt detailed who was listening in during a recent interview with Boston radio host Howie Carr."
See his article for a continuation of the discussion.  So as we’ve observed, the administration knew.  But then as I mentioned above, so did you.  It didn’t take weeks or months of review, investigation and field work to know how this transpired.  My military readers told you within 24 hours.

And yet … some two weeks after the attack on the consulate, Obama went before the United Nations and gave that silly, sophomoric speech.
That is what we saw play out the last two weeks, as a crude and disgusting video sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world. I have made it clear that the United States government had nothing to do with this video, and I believe its message must be rejected by all who respect our common humanity. It is an insult not only to Muslims, but to America as well – for as the city outside these walls makes clear, we are a country that has welcomed people of every race and religion. We are home to Muslims who worship across our country. We not only respect the freedom of religion – we have laws that protect individuals from being harmed because of how they look or what they believe. We understand why people take offense to this video because millions of our citizens are among them....  There are no words that excuse the killing of innocents. There is no video that justifies an attack on an Embassy.

He very clearly blamed the attack on a video and pointed to mob-like behavior and outrage.  This is his lie.

He knew better.  Everyone knew better.  Yes, he and his administration has four deaths for which to answer.  They are on his conscience.  His foreign policy is an abysmal  failure.  Furthermore, as my own readers pointed out within one day of the attack, we lacked an effective QRF (Quick Reaction Force).  We were unprepared.  This is yet another problem.

Those are problems indeed.  But they belong in a different category, and parsing them is necessary when moderators and main stream media types talk about ridiculous things like when the administration used the word “terror.”  The word means nothing.  The attack would have inflicted terror regardless of whether it was a pre-planned attack or the actions of a mob.  In pointing to a video, Obama lied. The lie demands an answer separate from the failures of Obama’s foreign policy.

UPDATE #1: Seeing the problems ahead, it appears that the administration is returning to the lie, as a dog to its own vomit.



Does Mitt Romney Want to Let People Die?

Have you noticed that The New York Times editorial page is becoming increasingly strident, increasingly emotional and increasingly irrational? Here is Paul Krugman in last Monday’s column:

Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan… want to expose many Americans to financial insecurity, and let some of them die, so that a handful of already wealthy people can have a higher after-tax income.
No, that’s not a misprint. The Republicans actually want to let some people die so that they can reward their rich friends. It’s not an isolated comment either. Under the heading “Death by Ideology,” Krugman actually lists all of the ways in which a President Romney would proceed to kill people. For example:

 *  Mr. Romney wants…to repeal ObamaCare and slash funding for Medicaid — actions that would take insurance away from some 45 million nonelderly Americans, causing thousands of people to suffer premature death.

 *  And their longer-term plans to convert Medicare into Vouchercare would deprive many seniors of adequate coverage, too, leading to still more unnecessary mortality.

 *  [M]any, and probably most, older Americans — would be left with inadequate insurance, insurance that exposed them to severe financial hardship if they got sick, sometimes left them unable to afford crucial care, and yes, sometimes led to their early death.
So what, you may ask, is the basis for all this vitriol? Krugman is writing about health care — a subject about which he has proved time and again he knows virtually nothing. On this occasion he lets loose with this bold assertion:

The overwhelming evidence, however, is that [health] insurance is indeed a lifesaver, and lack of insurance a killer…there’s no real question that lack of insurance is responsible for thousands, and probably tens of thousands, of excess deaths of Americans each year.
Krugman claims to have reviewed the economics literature. If he has, then he is an embarrassment to the economics profession, despite his Nobel Prize. Then again, if he claims to have done so but really hasn’t, I suppose that’s equally embarrassing. (And remember, while all this is going on he is invariably calling everyone who disagrees with him a liar.)

Let me briefly set the record straight. Some studies actually have claimed that tens of thousands of people have died prematurely because they lacked health insurance. But these studies were not done by economists and were never accepted in any credible, peer-reviewed social science journal. They are basically junk science and they have been thoroughly discredited on several occasions, most notably by Richard Kronick, an economist who served in the Obama administration and actually helped design HillaryCare. Kronick writes that “there is little evidence to suggest that extending insurance coverage to all adults would have a large effect on the number of deaths in the United States.” I’ll get to the children below.

In general, the economics literature has found no evidence that lack of health insurance has any substantial effect on mortality. Prof. June O’Neill, former director of the Congressional Budget Office, thoroughly investigated this issue and found that among Americans above 250% of poverty, lack of health insurance does not affect mortality. Below 250% of poverty, people without health insurance have an 11% higher probability of dying. But the probability drops to under 3% when you take into account demographic differences in the two populations. In fact, it is likely that the differential probability would disappear altogether with a complete inclusion of all the demographic differences between the two groups. (See her PowerPoint slides.)

The most recent evidence on children comes from a paper posted by the National Bureau of Economic Research. It looks at the effects of Medicaid on mortality and finds:

 *  Medicaid insurance leads to a substantial decline in mortality in older black children.

 *  It has no effect on white children.

 *  It has no effect on children — black or white — in states with the most Medicaid expansion.

The last finding is the most important. Krugman claims that by expanding Medicaid, ObamaCare will save thousands of lives and that by repealing ObamaCare, Romney would cause thousands of people to die. The evidence says otherwise.



Is being less productive good for humanity?

It is not often that one comes across an article, especially one in arguably the most important newspaper in the country, that is so misguided across the board that one hardly knows where to begin in pointing out its errors. Unfortunately, such an article appears in the May 27 New York Times. Tim Jackson’s “Let’s Be Less Productive” argues that the quest for more and more productivity and efficiency has led us to make any number of mistakes with respect to priorities and policies. Furthermore, he suggests that whatever good that productivity gains have provided in the past, there may be “natural limits” to those gains that will eventually lead to the end of growth. He concludes that we should ease back on the quest for greater productivity as a way to ensure sustainable growth.

Would being less productive really be good for humanity?

Jackson’s problems begin with a profound misunderstanding of what economists mean by productivity and efficiency and the role that “output” plays in a market economy. His opening definition of productivity as “the amount of output delivered per hour of work” is perfectly serviceable. He also notes that it “is often viewed as the engine of progress in modern capitalist economies,” which is also accurate, although it is not the only or necessarily the primary engine. The trouble starts in the next sentence: “Output is everything.” Output for the sake of output is most certainly not what productivity is about. Producing what consumers want at the lowest cost possible is the goal.

Similar errors plague Jackson’s discussion of efficiency. Here too he seems to think the point is to just do things faster, regardless of what the thing is. He tries to show how silly that idea is by pointing to examples where doing things faster is strange, such as playing Beethoven’s Ninth faster and faster each year, or trying to do detailed craftwork faster and faster. These examples, however, knock over a straw man. In the very first weeks of Economics 101 teachers introduce the concept of efficiency by emphasizing that it cannot be understood outside of the end that is being pursued. It cannot be “more efficient” to play Beethoven faster because that is not what people want. The same is true of craft work: People want the care and detail that goes into such work, so it is not more “efficient” to get craft workers to work faster. It is inefficient given that what people want is a carefully produced, detailed piece of work (or to hear Beethoven’s Ninth more or less as he wrote it).

Jackson then points out how crafts, music, and other service industries are desirable because they are not about the “outpouring of material stuff” and therefore might promote sustainability. What Jackson fails to recognize here is one of the fundamental truths of economic history: The reason why cultural products and services are taking up such a large portion of economic activity is that we have become so very productive and efficient at making physical stuff.

Take agriculture. For most of human history, we have had to devote the overwhelming majority of human labor to just feeding ourselves. The incredible productivity growth of the agricultural sector has meant we can do that by employing, in the United States anyway, about 2 percent of the population. At first the labor no longer needed there went into manufacturing to produce the physical stuff we wanted. Of course we then got incredibly productive at making physical stuff. People claim that the U.S. manufacturing sector is stagnating because there has been little job growth, but when you look at what it actually produces, you see that it is stronger than ever—precisely because it is so productive that it doesn’t need more labor to make more stuff.

The combination of productivity gains, which produce higher wages, and declining costs of food and manufactured goods means that people have a great deal more disposable income. Some of it goes to buying more food and physical stuff, but much of it goes to buying services and enjoying culture, which people couldn’t afford before. The nonmaterial portion of “output” grew as we became increasingly productive. We consume more nonphysical stuff because we have continued to allow enough scope for the market that productivity gains are rewarded.

To commit, as Jackson would, to a low-productivity economy would cut this process short with two consequences he probably would not want. First, it would slow, if not stop, the very process that will enable us to have a smaller environmental footprint: more efficient ways of manufacturing things so we can increase the number of cultural and service jobs. Part of industrial efficiency is that producers learn how to turn what starts as “waste” products into productive inputs. The history of industry is full of such examples where efficiency considerations have reduced waste. (See Pierre Desrochers’s Freeman article “Saving the Environment for a Profit, Victorian-Style.”)

Second, restricting productivity growth would perpetuate poverty in the undeveloped world. The combination of markets and productivity growth has been a major engine of economic development across the globe. Jackson’s proposal to restrict productivity growth is but another example of Western eco-imperialism: We’ve got our wealth, but now you’ll have to stay poor longer to save the planet. I assume Jackson does not intend to consign billions to their current levels of poverty for longer than necessary, but that would be one major result of lower productivity; it would reduce exports and raise prices elsewhere in the world.

So why, in the end, does Jackson think productivity is a problem? Early in the essay he suggests there might be limits to our ability to grow. He presents no argument other than pointing to the financial crises, rising oil and other resource prices, and increasing ecological damage. He offers no explanation of why these are caused by, or reflections of, limits to growth. Apparently he assumes his readers will simply nod along.

Of course none of these problems results from growth or any supposed limits thereof. The financial crisis was the predictable result of excess money creation and of housing policies that fueled an artificial boom. Looked at over the long run, the real prices of natural resources are falling, not rising, and we have more proven oil reserves than ever before. Environmental damage has been reduced in the developed world through the very forces of productivity-generated wealth increases that Jackson rejects. None of these reflects “limits to growth.” In fact there are, as Julian Simon was quick to remind us, no limits to growth as long as we allow the human mind, what he called the “ultimate resource,” the necessary freedom to invent and create—and get more productive.

Jackson’s article is a sad reminder of how much work there is to do in communicating the larger story of economic history and the way in which market institutions have made possible a wealthier and cleaner world. Productivity gains are not the enemy of human progress but one of its central causes. To limit productivity is to limit our ability to continue the amazing story of better lives for more human beings.


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



List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for 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, October 22, 2012


I really HATE Google's new blogging program and its war on indenting.  I should have picked it up earlier on but my post below headed "Obama’s secret second term agenda revealed" was made VERY hard to follow by Google's brainless robotical elimination of most of my indenting.  It's not hard to fix by going into the html but you have to notice the problem first and I was rather tired when I put up the posts below.

I presume that Google will fix the bug eventually as it makes absolutely no sense as an intelligent policy.  I have now fixed the indenting in the post concerned.

The media master is on the move again

Should be good for conservatives.  He keeps all his titles right of center

News Corp Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch is looking to buy the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune, two of the country's largest newspapers, from struggling media conglomerate Tribune Co, a source familiar with his plans told Reuters on Friday.

News Corp executives - including Murdoch's son James - flew into Los Angeles twice this month to take a preliminary look at the storied daily's books, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the meetings were not publicized.

Rupert Murdoch is also eyeing the Chicago Tribune, whose publisher Tribune Co is now trying to exit bankruptcy.

News Corp executives are in early talks with Tribune Co debtholders, including hedge fund Oaktree Capital. The company wants to secure footholds in Los Angeles and Chicago, according to the Los Angeles Times, which first reported the news.

Murdoch has long eyed the LA Times, the newspaper reported. Oaktree declined to comment, while News Corp did not respond immediately to requests for comment.



President Obama's Closing Act: An Epic Collapse

The ongoing collapse of President Obama's campaign may lead to some extraordinary stunts during Monday's last debate, but no matter what he tries, it is very unlikely that the president can reverse the enormous momentum behind Mitt Romney's campaign.

(One data point. Congressman John Campbell, a frequent guest on my radio show, polled his district this week. It is Califronia's 45. John McCain carried it by 4.7 points in 2008. Mitt Romney is almost 20 points ahead in this cycle. Campbell reports that this sort of result is showing up across the country.)

The nation is simply finished with a president whose rhetoric has never been matched by his actions, and whose performance has removed Jimmy Carter from the bottom of the rankings of the modern president.

The president of course has his passionate supporters. These are the same people that spent last Tuesdaynight declaring him the winner of his second meeting with Mitt Romney, and Wednesday and Thursday trying to infuse the word "binder" with game-changing significance.

They are the same people who spent Friday denying that "not optimal" was not a big deal.

"Binder" --big deal. "Not optimal" --no deal at all. That's the state of the Obama campaign: A nearly Orwellian effort at making some words matter and others disappear while facts are pushed aside It hasn't worked. It won't work..

Mitt Romney by contrast followed two very strong debate showings with a wonderful set of remarks at the Al Smith dinner, the third time in two weeks that he has reassured those just tuning into the presidential campaign that he will be a steady and reliable force for good in the Oval Office.

Romney was ready for his close up. This is the primary reasion behind his surge.

And what a surge. Romney was up seven points in Thursday's Gallup tracking poll, and even the very partisan Democratic polling firm PPP has Romney ahead in Iowa and New Hampshire on Friday. The president is hidng from reporters to avoid more Libya questions, and when he hand-picks a safe zone --a comedy show hosted by a huge ally-- he still falls on his face, and not just with the "not optimal" comment but with his doubling down on closing Gitmo.

The market shudders, the quesiness about earnings, the goofy jobs data --all this and more is fueling the growing, now urgent sense of a need for a big change. A U-Turn. And Mitt Romney is the beneficiary.

Every motorist who gases up between now and election day (especially those in California) should recall last Monday's debate and the direct question to the president about gas prices which he refused to answer



Obama’s secret second term agenda revealed

The Washington Post‘s Ezra Klein has unearthed President Obama’s secret second term agenda. And it should scare the pants off anyone who doesn’t want the U.S. economy to tank this coming January. Klein writes:
I’ve criticized the Obama campaign for failing to detail much of a vision for a second term. But that’s not to say they don’t have one. They do. It’s just a hard one to campaign on.

After promising in 2008 to bring about a new era of cooperation in Washington, they’re campaigning in 2012 knowing that, if reelected, they will start their second term with a brutal, economy-shaking showdown with Republicans over spending and taxes.

If the Obama administration were to really lay out their plans, they would go something like this. In November, President Obama will reiterate, clearly and firmly, that he will veto any attempts to extend the high-income tax cuts or lift the big, dumb spending cuts without finding equivalent savings elsewhere.

That veto threat is the center of the Obama administration’s second-term strategizing. The Obama administration believes – and, just as importantly, they believe Republicans believe — that they’ve got the leverage here. … I’ve called this the GOP’s dual-trigger nightmare. It’s bad for the economy, but it also effectively ends our deficits with a mix of tax increases and spending cuts more progressive than anything any Democrat has dared propose. Republicans absolutely can’t let it happen. But the only way they can stop it from happening is to make a deal.
Obama and Klein are dead wrong: Republicans absolutely can let the fiscal cliff happen. Obama signed every law (either the original legislation or an extension of it), that has created the $500 billion tax hike/$100 billion spending cut fiscal cliff. It’s his economic disaster. He owns it. Why wouldn’t Republicans just love to make him sleep in the bed he made?

More importantly though, when you read Bob Woordward’s excellent new book, The Price of Politics, you can’t help but notice a common theme running through everyone of Obama’s failures.

* On the stimulus, Obama was certain he could get at least one Republican vote. He failed.
* On Obamacare, Obama was certain he could get at least one Republican vote. He failed.
* On the debt limit debate, Obama was certain he could strike a deal with House Speaker Boehner, R-Ohio, that raised taxes. He failed.

In the middle of the debt limit debate, Woodward reports:
“If the goal is to solve the problem,” Obama said, “I don’t understand why we don’t seize the opportunity. It would not violate either party’s positions. Revenues wouldn’t come from a vote. I understand this pledge that all these Republicans have taken.”

The Republicans thought he really didn’t understand at all. The scheme to decouple the middle- and lower-income tax brackets from the higher brackets was a transparent gimmick.
At every turn in his presidency, Obama believes he understands Republicans and can bully them into submission. And at every turn he has underestimated Republican resolve.

If Obama wins reelection he will no doubt try to govern in his second term the exact same way he tried to govern in his first. And he will get the exact same results. In other words, if Obama wins reelection, we are definitely going over the fiscal cliff.



Obama's 'war on women' canard is not fooling women

When President Obama speaks about women's issues, it's a safe bet he's telling tall tales. When Democrats talk of a "war on women," they are usually waging a war on facts. And women, it seems, aren't fooled.

In 20 seconds on Tuesday night, while discussing women's health during the presidential debate, Obama dissembled twice. First on birth control. Second on Planned Parenthood.

"Gov. Romney feels comfortable having politicians in Washington decide the health care choices that women are making. I think that's a mistake," Obama said. It seemed an odd criticism from a president whose major domestic initiative injects government further into all aspects of health care. But Obama actually was attacking his health law's critics.

"In my health care bill, I said insurance companies need to provide contraceptive coverage to everybody who is insured. Gov. Romney not only opposed it, he suggested that in fact employers should be able to make the decision as to whether or not a woman gets contraception through her insurance coverage."

What is Obama talking about? What is this diabolical Romney plan that would force women to beg their bosses for birth control?

Romney only got a few seconds Tuesday night to rebut that argument: "The president's statement of my policy is completely and totally wrong."

Here's the policy issue: Before last summer, many employer-provided health insurance plans covered birth control. Some covered sterilization. Some covered the "morning-after pill," which may cause abortions by killing a fertilized egg.

Some insurance plans covered 100 percent of the cost of birth control. Some insurance plans required a co-pay on birth control, just as they require on almost all drugs.

But wielding an Obamacare provision on "women's preventive care," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius imposed a new rule requiring almost all employers to cover every penny of contraception, sterilization and morning-after pills.

That means if you offer health insurance that doesn't cover sterilization, you're breaking the law. If you offer health insurance that covers all contraception, but requires a $5-a-month co-pay, you're breaking the law. If you offer two plans, and the one that covers all contraception and sterilization carries a higher premium, you're breaking the law. Or at least Sebelius' law.

Mitt Romney doesn't think those things should be illegal.

Wages, commuter benefits and vacation time are all matters of negotiation between bosses and the people they want to hire. But if you offer someone a job, and promise to pay them in cash instead of contraception, you're violating Obamacare.

So how do Obama and his surrogates characterize opposition to his mandate? They say Romney wants employers to keep you from getting contraception.

When Republicans proposed a broader conscience exemption to the new mandate last year, Obama's campaign said the GOP was forcing women to get a permission slip from their boss.

The mock permission slip on Obama's campaign website read:  "I have discussed the employee's contraceptive options with her, and I verify that her use of these methods (IS / IS NOT) in agreement with my personal beliefs. The employee (DOES / DOES NOT) have my permission to access birth control pills, intrauterine devices, or any other type of contraception."

At the Democratic National Convention, party-approved podium speeches rolled out this canard. Obama surrogate Sandra Fluke warned that Romney's America would be "an America in which access to birth control is controlled by people who will never use it." Obama fundraiser Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, said Romney would "end access to birth control."

In the debate Tuesday, Obama was a bit more careful in his misleading talk, but seemingly tried to instill fear that Romney will take away women's contraception, rather than simply get the government out of this one aspect of the employer-employee relationship.

Will Obama next warn that Romney wants to let your boss "make the decision as to whether or not you get Starbucks coffee through your employer"?

Obama's also played loose with the facts while defending federal subsidies for Planned Parenthood. He stated that women "rely on [Planned Parenthood] for mammograms." But Planned Parenthood doesn't provide mammograms.

A federal law requires certificates for operating mammography equipment. When the Alliance Defense Fund, a religious liberty group, requested Food and Drug Administration documentation of Planned Parenthood's licensed mammography facilities, the FDA said it had no record of any certificates.

The notion that Romney and Republicans are waging a "war on women" has always been laughable. Now it appears to be failing: Romney has completely closed the gap among female voters in swing states, according to this week's USA Today poll.  Obama, it seems, didn't believe women could tell when they're being lied to.



Black bully tries to protect voting fraud

Ranking Member of the House Oversight Committee Elijah Cummings is using intimidation tactics against the voter integrity group True the Vote with AFL-CIO, NAACP and other far left groups following his lead.

On October 4, Cummings sent a letter to True the Vote President Catherine Engelbrecht on official House Oversight and Government Reform Committee letterhead, demanding she turn over documents and training material used by the group for people planning to volunteer as poll watchers on Election Day. Engelbrecht responded to Cummings' request by offering to meet with him in Washington D.C. to explain the mission of True the Vote and to address his concerns.

"I believe we agree on many common goals, such as the right of every American to have the opportunity to participate in a fair and legal electoral process. It was of great concern to me that you had suddenly requested a considerable amount of documentation on the basis of news reports which offered limited balance and an over-simplification of the facts. I find it regrettable that your office did not reach out to True The Vote directly before launching a personal ad-hoc investigation. Election integrity is a serious concern across the nation – the state of Maryland is no exception. In this year alone, as reported by The Washington Post, a federal congressional candidate seeking to join Maryland’s Congressional Delegation was forced to resign from her race by Democratic Party officials after alleged felony double voting was uncovered in her voting history,"

Engelbrecht wrote. "It is both obvious and unfortunate that you are not familiar with all of the details of the mission or methods of True the Vote. This letter serves as an effort to coordinate a convenient meeting time in your Washington, D.C. office, during which I can brief you and your staff about our program and help dispel any misconceptions you may have. In the interim, if you anticipate making any future comments about True the Vote, please do not hesitate to contact me directly so that I may provide you with accurate information. As always, you are welcome to join an upcoming training session before Election Day."

Despite what Cummings implied in his letter, True the Vote doesn't have an obligation to "produce a single document." Cummings is in the minority, lacks subpoena power and has no authority to force True the Vote to hand over anything and therefore, he is resorting to intimidation tactics against True the Vote, its leadership and its members as a result. He is abusing his power on the Oversight Committee by using these tactics, implying he has more power on the Committee than he actually does and is misrepresenting the committee headed not by him, but Chairman Darrell Issa.




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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)