Friday, January 11, 2013

America's untouchable Leftist aristocracy

Suffering the consequences of hypocrisy is usually reserved for public figures on the political right.  The mere rumors of infidelity dissolved Herman Cain’s presidential nomination viability.  It is easy to recall famous conservatives who have fallen from grace for not living up to a personal standard.  But it is harder to remember the name of a disgraced liberal.  The impeachment of Bill Clinton over a substantiated sexual affair seemed to take no more of a toll on his political capital than if he were a French prime minister.

Hypocrisy is simply a matter of common human imperfection.  Most of us who pursue a high-minded standard inevitably do fall short.  But within the intrinsic position of liberal is a rejection of traditional standards of behavior.  So public figures on the left are less likely to agree to being held accountable to some high watermark.  Easy.

But it seems that in light of recent election successes, the liberal elite has emerged with a new ennobling status free from the obligations that they themselves have imposed on the masses.  Now, I am not talking about the left-wing rank and file.  That growing segment of the American electorate has voluntarily exchanged civil freedom for civic security.

But there emerges a new nobility, a special caste of liberal who holds status as an elected official, Hollywood superstar or business tycoon.  Examples include conflicted American characters such as Warren Buffett, Rosie O’Donnell, and Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin.

Nebraska’s lovable and quirky billionaire Warren Buffett is known for having an unquestionable knack for effective investing.  In both of the past two elections, Buffett strongly supported Barack Obama for President.  He even supplied Obama with the silly campaign issue known as the “Buffett Rule.”  Warren Buffett could have readily subjected his own personal compensation to the higher withholding tax rates by simply paying himself a salary rather than recognizing his income as capital gains.  But so far, Mr. Buffett continues to maintain a personal tax rate that is about half that of his famously salaried secretary.

But what really qualifies Mr. Buffett for membership in the new bourgeoisie are his fight to avoid paying the one billion dollars in taxes that he owes and his influence on President Obama to put a stop to the development of the Keystone oil pipeline project.  One would think that a businessman like Buffett would welcome the tens of thousands of new jobs that Keystone would have generated in the U.S.  However, a Keystone pipeline would potentially have cost Buffett’s company over $2 million per day in lost revenue by competing with his existing rail transportation of oil.

Rosie O’Donnell joins Warren Buffett in the new bourgeoisie club with her position on personal gun ownership.  During a broadcast of her talk show, O’Donnell announced her position on the matter, "You are not allowed to own a gun, and if you do own a gun, I think you should go to prison."  One year later, O’Donnell found herself having to defend the public news that her bodyguard had applied for a concealed weapons permit at the Greenwich, Connecticut Police Department.  “[My bodyguard] has the right as a person who’s residing in Connecticut a lot of the time due to his work with me to request to carry a gun. … He’s an individual and he works for a security firm,” O’Donnell told Today host Katie Couric.

But Rosie doesn’t hold a candle to R.C. Soles, a Democratic State Senator whom the National Association for Gun Rights called, “one of the most outspoken anti-gun legislators in North Carolina.”  In many states, defending one’s home from an intruder with a firearm is a legally acceptable response.  Evidently, this is not the environment that Senator Soles has worked to establish in North Carolina.  Soles shot 22-year-old Kyle Blackburn in the leg, claiming that he was acting in self-defense after Blackburn and another man tried to kick in the door of his home.  Senator Soles has been indicted on a felony charge of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious bodily injury.

Eduardo Saverin is one of the founding principles of Facebook and is estimated to be receiving over three billion dollars from the company’s initial public offering.  While Saverin, a 4% original owner, has not played the same high profile role in supporting Barack Obama’s elections as his Harvard classmates, it is generally assumed that he is cut from the same idealistic cloth.  But Saverin has had a change of heart about coughing up capital gains on $3 Billion.  So much so that he decided to denounce his U.S. citizenship and vanish John Galt style to Singapore.  This clever accounting move not only saves Saverin tens of millions in taxes, it also jiggles the handle of Democratic senators who really want that money.  Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is threatening pursuit and banishment, stating “We aren't going to let him get away with it."

The emergence of the new bourgeoisie is the natural response from the segment of well-to-do liberals who have sponsored the imposition of a new code for commoners.  While these folks may appear to be hypocrites, it was never their intent that they should be subjected to the same personal limitations appointed to the common caste.  Remember that the same Joe Biden whom President Obama just assigned to develop gun control proposals said of fellow candidate Obama in 2008, “I guaranty ya, Barack Obama ain’t takin’ my shotgun!”


Fascism In America

It is often argued by critics of the Obama administration that it is socialistic, i.e. expanding governmental authority over the means of producing and distributing goods. Alas, there is something to be said for this point of view. As I see it, however, a more accurate way to describe the Obama government is corporatism or a political system in which the principal economic functions are designated and given favorable treatment. The most appropriate way to assign meaning to this phenomenon is fascism.

During the Nazi period firms such as Mercedes Benz and Krupp Steel was given tax advantages and privileges denied other German companies. Not only did these companies favor Hitler's regime, but they were favored by the regime. This inextricable nexus benefited both parties since privilege was conferred by government which in turn bought political and economic support.

The recent U.S. government deal to avert the fiscal cliff by legislating income tax and capital gains hikes obscured another part of the arrangement: 75 special interest tax breaks - a list of corporate interests that receive tax perks and are not publicly revealed. Nonetheless, some of this special treatment has leaked.

For example, there is an accelerated tax write off for owners of Nascar tracks. There is a tax credit for companies operating in American Samoa, including the StarKist factory owned by Nancy Pelosi's husband. Distillers received a $222 million rum tax rebate. Most notable, film and television producers can expense the first $15 million of production costs incurred in the United States. This Hollyood special will cost the taxpayers $430 million over the next year. It obviously paid for Hollywood to back President Obama in the last campaign.

As one might guess, renewable energy in the form of wind and algae received $2 billion of credit even though the nation is going through a natural gas drilling boom. The more one is green, the more green bucks flow. Needless to contend, the total cost will be far greater than these estimates. And even though the stock market hasn't yet revealed its sentiments about this shady deal, this misallocated capital will assuredly slow economic growth.

The question that remains puzzling is the silence of the left about this corporate welfare scheme. Where are the voices of indignation? What happened to the outspoken Occupy Wall Street crowd? Does Obama get a pass for his soothing rhetoric?

Even if one believes tax increases on "the rich," those earning over $450,000, is warranted there certainly isn't a constituency for corporate greed. On the one hand, the administration acknowledges dramatically increased expenditures that must be curbed; on the other hand, it maintains expenditures be damned. Designated friends of the Obama government deserve special treatment because they supported him when he needed their help. If this isn't a classic display of fascism, what is it?

Since the word fascism evokes fear and anger, it is rarely used. But as I see it, the word does describe what is going on. This goes beyond "crony capitalism;" in fact, it doesn't resemble capitalism. In this system markets don't work at all; it is who you know and the kind of influence you can exert.

It is not coincidental that the Obama administration pushed aside the primary bond holders of General Motors in an effort to give the Union of Automobile Workers (UAW) effective control of the company. In this instance, as in so many other cases, the president secured the votes he needed for reelection. The union did not forget what he did for them.

This kind of corporatism eats away at the public confidence in government. After the bill was struck, the president had the temerity to praise the legislation by noting: "further reforms to our tax code so that the wealthiest corporations and individuals can't take advantage of loopholes and deductions that aren't available to most Americans." By any interpretation this is a bald faced lie. The special privileges granted designated corporations represent the loopholes and deductions unavailable to the rest of Americans.

Where is Orwell when you need him? In this administration you say the opposite of what you do. Count on public ignorance to promote the fraud. Speak the language of FDR and apply the principles of Bonnie and Clyde. The public may not realize it, but this fiscal cliff deal makes it clear that fascism has come to America.



A Man's Home Is His Subsidy

John Stossel

The Obama administration now proposes to spend millions more on handouts, despite ample evidence of their perverse effects.
Shaun Donovan, secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, says, "The single most important thing HUD does is provide rental assistance to America's most vulnerable families -- and the Obama administration is proposing bold steps to meet their needs." They always propose "bold steps."

In this case, HUD wants to spend millions more to renew Section 8 housing vouchers that help poor people pay rent.

The Section 8 program ballooned during the '90s to "solve" a previous government failure: crime-ridden public housing. Rent vouchers allow the feds to disperse tenants from failed projects into private residencies. There, poor people would learn good habits from middle-class people.

It was a reasonable idea. But, as always, there were unintended consequences.

"On paper, Section 8 seems like it should be successful," says Donald Gobin, a Section 8 landlord in New Hampshire. "But unless tenants have some unusual fire in their belly, the program hinders upward mobility."

Gobin complains that his tenants are allowed to use Section 8 subsides for an unlimited amount of time. There is no work requirement. Recipients can become comfortably dependent on government assistance.

In Gobin's over 30 years of renting to Section 8 tenants, he has seen only one break free of the program. Most recipients stay on Section 8 their entire lives. They use it as a permanent crutch.

Government's rules kill the incentive to succeed.

Section 8 handouts are meant to be generous enough that tenants may afford a home defined by HUD as decent, safe and sanitary. In its wisdom, the bureaucracy has ruled that "decent, safe and sanitary" may require subsidies as high as $2,200 per month. But because of that, Section 8 tenants often get to live in nicer places than those who pay their own way.

Kevin Spaulding is an MIT graduate in Boston who works long hours as an engineer, and struggles to cover his rent and student loans. Yet all around him, he says, he sees people who don't work but live better than he does.

"It doesn't seem right," he says. "I work very hard but can only afford a lower-end apartment. There are nonworking people on my street who live in better places than I do because they are on Section 8."

Spaulding understands why his neighbors don't look for jobs. The subsidies are attractive -- they cover 70 to 100 percent of rent and utilities. If Section 8 recipients accumulate money or start to make more, they lose their subsidy.

"Is there a real incentive for the tenants to go to work? No!" says Gobin. "They have a relatively nice house and do not have to pay for it."

Once people are reliant on Section 8 assistance, many do everything in their power to keep it. Some game the system by working under the table so that they do not lose the subsidy. One of Gobin's lifetime Section 8 tenants started a cooking website. She made considerable money from it, so she went to great lengths to hide the site from her case manager, running it under a different name.

"Here's a lady that could definitely work. She actually showed me how to get benefits and play the system," says Gobin.

Although Section 8 adds to our debt while encouraging people to stay dependent, it isn't going away. HUD says it will continue to "make quality housing possible for every American."

Despite $20 billion spent on the program last year, demand for more rental assistance remains strong. There is a long waitlist to receive Section 8 housing in every state. In New York City alone, 120,000 families wait.

Some are truly needy, but many recipients of income transfers are far from poor.

America will soon be $17 trillion in debt, and our biggest federal expense is income transfers. They are justified on the grounds that some of that helps the needy. But we don't help the needy by encouraging dependency.

Government grows. Dependency grows.



Leftist America: Obama Opponents 'A--Holes'

This week's column is brought to you by the word "a--holes." It's one of the left's favorite words these days, fond as they are of shutting down the debate and casting their political opponents out like lepers.

Take, for example, the website Gawker. The website is liberal. And as liberal Obama backers, they feel the necessity not only to support the Obama agenda, but also silence those on the other side through bully tactics. Hence their decision this week to publish a full list of all the registered gun owners in New York City. The title of their big reveal: "Here Is a List of All The A--holes Who Own Guns in New York City." That's an inaccurate title, of course -- the worst people who own guns in New York City likely own them illegally. But it fits with the leftist conceit that those who disagree on gun policy are just bad people.

It's not just gun owners who are "a--holes" according to the left. This week, restaurant chain Wendy's announced that they would have to cut back worker hours in order to preserve their employment thanks to additional costs imposed by Obamacare. This, of course, is basic economics -- when you impose additional costs on a business, they have to cut back. But to the left, reality is a mere inconvenience. If you experience additional costs from the vaunted Obamacare program, you're supposed to lift your chin and soldier on, even if it means bankruptcy.

And so ultra-thug Dan Savage tweeted, "A--holes: Wendy's Cuts Employee hrs. to Part-Time 2 Avoid Obamacare." Savage is, amazingly enough, one of President Obama's anti-bullying czars -- he runs the It Gets Better Project, which is closely associated with the White House. He also bullies conservatives routinely. When Chick-Fil-A's ownership turned out to be pro-traditional marriage, Savage tried to redefine Chick-Fil-A to mean a graphically perverse sexual act; he did the same with Rick Warren's Saddleback Church after Warren expressed his opposition to same-sex marriage; he did the same with Rick Santorum's name after Santorum had the gall to speak out for traditional notions of heterosexual marriage. Savage has also berated Christian students for walking out on one of his anti-Christian screeds and suggested that politicians with whom he disagrees should be murdered.

Savage wasn't the only one taking on Wendy's for failing to magically exempt itself from the laws of economics. Potty-mouth comedienne Sarah Silverman tweeted, "What lame period faces." And Nathan Fillion's of "Firefly" fame wrote, "I just boycotted Wendy's. And broke up with Wendy. Via tweet."

Leave aside the fact that the leftist solution to Wendy's cutting back hours is to cut their profit margin even further, forcing them to fire people. Focus instead on the morality play leftists shoehorn into the Wendy's scenario: greedy corporation wants to avoid helping people get health care, and so cuts back their hours. Again, the leftist position rests on the thuggish notion that those on the other side are morally inferior to them.

The truth is that the left is morally inferior when it plays these games. Instead of looking for actual solutions to problems of crime and murder and bankruptcy, leftists prefer to grandstand. It makes them feel good to label those who oppose their agenda "a--holes," even if it doesn't save lives. It makes them feel good to rip Wendy's rather than Obamacare, because you don't win points for backing business -- but you do win points for slandering business in the name of the collective.

The left has become a collection of bullies, knee-jerk moralists without the morality. They aren't interested in the best policy. They're just interested in the glow they feel when they self-perceive as having defended a "victimized group." Too bad the only real victims are those who end up on the short end of their insulting cretinism.




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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)

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a war criminal. Both British and American codebreakers had cracked the Japanese naval code so FDR knew what was coming at Pearl Harbor.  But for his own political reasons he warned no-one there.  So responsibility for the civilian and military deaths at Pearl Harbor lies with FDR as well as with the Japanese.  The huge firepower available at Pearl Harbor, both aboard ship and on land, could have largely neutered the attack.  Can you imagine 8 battleships and various lesser craft firing all their AA batteries as the Japanese came in?  The Japanese naval airforce would have been annihilated and the war would have been over before it began.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Medicine and government: A bad mixture

by Roderick T. Beaman

When I first started medical practice in 1972, a physician could get started in practice on a shoestring budget. All you needed was a couple of rooms, some furnishings, a few pieces of equipment that you could add too later, a telephone and possibly someone to answer it and schedule appointments. The joke was that you could set up your office in early orange crate style. Overhead was about one-third of the usual expected incomes. Those days are long gone.

One of the first causative things to spring to mind is the cost of medical malpractice insurance. Certainly, that’s part of it but far from the only part and may not even be a major part. The daily costs of simply operating an office have soared as well.

If you go into any medical office consisting of two or more physicians, for starters, you are likely to find a receptionist and one person for the billing. In essence, she chases money. Her salary, including benefits is likely to be in the $80,000 a year range. The receptionist answers the telephone and primarily does the scheduling. Her services come at a cost also.

Each physician is likely to have one or two people assisting him, directly, in patient care. That would include ensuring follow-ups and tests including laboratory and imaging studies such as x-rays. They come at their own costs. There also might be laboratory and x-ray technicians who actually perform those tests if the office does them in-house.

In addition, there is likely to be an office manager who is responsible for office staff scheduling and other tasks which might include PR work. The office manager may be just as likely traipsing around town drumming up referrals. She is the future of the office but the billing manager is the lifeblood of the office. There would be no future without the present lifeblood.

The billing manager spends her time on the telephone talking to claims representatives and sometimes several of them when there are multiple carriers involved. This happens with regularity when a patient has different private insurers and each expects the others to pay. It can get really complicated if, for instance, a patient has also been involved in an automobile accident.

No third party payer issues reimbursement without absolute proof of coverage and a requirement to pay. That proof sometimes will require multiple exchanges of information. It is usual for payment to be delayed months and each day it is delayed, can mean, in aggregate, tens of thousands of dollars in interest. This is a huge unspoken bonus incentive for them, whether government or private.

There is often some blurring of these roles and the physicians’ assistants may do some scheduling and answering of the telephones or assist in the billing but there is a lot that is required in a medical office today as opposed to years ago when a physician might need but one person, a receptionist, to help. All of this personnel and overhead come at costs that you as a patient are paying for, directly or indirectly.

Sometimes the payer demands records so it can determine the appropriateness and necessity of the treatment. The payer can then deny payment and demand a refund and even charge fraud. This is a part of the worry but, sometimes from sheer exhaustion or oversight, the office gives up on obtaining payment and thus the office loses that income for the services rendered. The third party is that much richer.

One of the most worrisome aspects of practice is medical records. Just twenty years ago, a few lines used to suffice. Today, it’s unlikely that any visit generates less than half a page and two or three pages are possible. As you can imagine, this has meant an explosion in the size of records, not to mention an explosion in the consumption of paper. Records of twenty visits used to be able to fit into a thin manila folder. Now they can be the size of a small telephone book.

Often, the job of being a physician includes small talk with a patient. It rarely adds much to the overall impression but it often helps the patient which is, after all, our primary function. In the past, such comments would hardly merit more than a brief blurb in the record but, with a little imagination, that off-the-cuff comment can be parlayed into three paragraphs of logorrhea to snow any reviewer. It takes a while to adjust to this mentality. A maxim of college English is to say the most with the least number of words and physicians experienced this in undergraduate school. Generations of college freshmen have had their papers savaged by an English teacher for verbosity but when you deal with a bureaucrat, the reverse is the operative rule. No one likes verbiage more than a bureaucrat. If you can say the same thing three different ways, you have a leg up. Professor Irwin Corey would have loved it.

When you add up all of the salaries of the ancillary personnel and lost income, it is a staggering percentage and contributes to physician discouragement. It is rampant in the various health care professions. It is only going to get worse under Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. You can expect overhead to soar with little of it contributing to medical care.

Litigation will skyrocket with attendant costs. There are many potential new avenues for litigation. Medical journals are already issuing warnings about possible future liability actions, many of which may not be covered by medical malpractice insurance. It could be years before they are all fully explored. Nothing fills the legal profession with more glee than new laws. You could wind up needing a lawyer every time you seek medical care and every medical office could conceivably need to have one on retainer. “Do you have a question about your rights under the Affordable Care Act? Call the law firm of Dewey, Scruem and Howe.” There’s a maxim in the legal profession that in a small town one lawyer does poorly but two lawyers do well. Just think about that.

To show you how liability can be contorted, a New Jersey attorney once tried to sue every member of a staff due to the purported malpractice of one physician on the grounds that they had tolerated his incompetence and should have done something about it! The case was thrown out but it had to be defended at a cost, possibly by each and every physician and after it was over, the attorney still maintained the case had merit!

Another problem is, when the last round of inflated demands becomes the norm, and physicians have adjusted to them, they up the ante. The monster just grows and grows and grows and adds to the need for more office personnel by both physicians, hospitals, insurance companies and the government, etc., again all at a cost.

It’s no accident that many of the recent great fortunes are governmentally related. H. Ross Perot made much of his fortune designing computer systems for Medicaid. You can hardly turn on the TV, especially to a cable station, without seeing an ad for some product that is ‘guaranteed’ to be covered by Medicare. The Scooter Store is one and there are numerous others, diabetic supplies for example. Indirectly, they’re all feeding at the public trough and you pay for it either with your health care premiums or taxes.

As a government program, health care has become a political football. The budget battles are simply analogues of the school budget battles and they are both approaching break points. Within the past year, there were several proposed reductions of Medicare ’s physician reimbursements. One was nearly 30%. Since many private companies base their reimbursements on the Medicare rates, the effect would have had huge ramifications on physicians’ incomes and their abilities to even pay their staffs. Physician payments are often targeted for cost control but I have never seen the regulations and their costs of administration targeted or even discussed by the politicians and government.

Numerous hospitals across the country have had to close under the burdens of Medicare and Medicaid regulations. In Rhode Island alone, at least two hospitals have closed completely since Medicare and Medicaid were enacted and two others became simply outpatient facilities.

In the late 70s, I was talking with another physician about the financial burdens of those two entitlement programs. He told me that before them a local hospital had gotten along with just two vice-presidents. By our decade and a half later, the hospital had 17 or 19 v.s., all because of Medicare and Medicaid and their regulations. Of course, they all had to be paid salaries with benefits that came out of the health care dollar.

At our small 80-bed hospital, the proliferation of bureaucrats was obvious. We had a woman who used to talk to patients about their follow up care. She’d review their coverage, make arrangements for them and label the talk ‘crisis intervention.’ A fifteen-minute talk - crisis intervention. Wow!

To even get a handle on what Obamacare may mean for the country, consider how our compulsory educational system has become a force for things only very marginally related to education in just our lifetimes. Among them you have the sensitivity, sex education, diversity issues, etc. Now contrast that with what it was in your school days and compare that to what it was probably like when the first governmentally sponsored schooling started in Dorchester, Massachusetts in the 1830s.

Now turn your attention to the medical system and begin contorting your mind as to potential costs, legal, administrative, etc. No matter how far fetched or how unlikely you think it might be, it is likely tame next to what is coming.

Around 1984, (an interesting year for such a thing), the Department of Education decided that if any student used a Basic Educational Opportunity Grant (BEOG) for college tuition that should be considered a subsidy to the college, not just the student. It then demanded that Grove City College in Pennsylvania comply with its Title IX regulations. The college fought it and the court agreed.

Ted Kennedy was the most dangerous American demagogue of my lifetime, a peddler of hatred and paranoia, lolling on the lunatic left fringe of American politics. Subsequently, he sponsored his Orwellian titled Civil Rights Restoration Act that required it. It was vetoed by President Ronald Reagan but then Congress overrode his veto. Note, that this entire case arose and came to a head under the most avowedly conservative president of the 20th century. Just think of what will happen under this Marxist administration.

Other seemingly benign things such as government sponsored basic education resulted for years in Jim Crow segregation (bad), later desegregation (decent) and busing to achieve integration (bad) that was opposed even by many blacks. Many people dismissed the possibility of school busing when the idea was first floated during the mid and late 1950s. Hubert Humphrey scoffed at the suggestion that the 1964 Civil Rights Bill would lead to quotas by stating he would eat a copy of the bill on the floor of the Senate if it did. It did and he didn’t.

Finally, (I am sure any reader by now has just heaved a sigh of relief that this is a finally), think the unthinkable. Remember that the involuntary and unknowing sterilization of American citizens was done in this country as late as the 1960s and maybe even more recently. It was ruled constitutional by the Supreme Court and continued well after the collapse of Germany’s national socialist government. Realize further, that the sterilizations and exterminations under the eugenics program of German National Socialism and they all occurred under this same banner of Progressivism, something progressives will never address. It is not a question that such horrors can happen here, they have happened here!

The scoffed at Death Panels will emerge with their calculations of comparative worth of the lives of various people. Failures and runaway expenses will be blamed on everything but government just as all they have throughout history, such as the failures of Soviet Socialism.

Get ready for a very rough ride.



My Recent Kafkaesque Experiences

Tibor R. Machan, a refugee from Communist Hungary, experiences the Soviet USA

It may not be the kind of experience many others have had other than at the Department of Motor Vehicles but I recently went through one that brought to mind Franz Kafka.

I have been trying to refinance my house for months but my bank, Wells Fargo, refused to even talk about it. I had there one of the brusquest bankers, as bad as any bureaucrat I’ve dealt with from the feds. But in time my tenacity won out and I divorced Wells Fargo but not before I went through a pretty wild bureaucratic side trip.

To get refinanced I was told I had to come up with my social security card. I received that back in 1956 and haven’t seen it since so I didn’t even try to find it but went straight to trying to get a replacement copy. To do this I had to send Social Security my passport to prove that I am a citizen. (I am a naturalized one of those and having been smuggled out of Hungary, I have no birth certificate.)

I filled out the needed forms and sent in the passport but never heard back from them with the new card I needed. Well, since I was planning a trip abroad, I had to have a passport but social security played deaf and dumb. Finally I went to Los Angeles, a 100 mile round trip, and got a brand new passport (after spending hours on the phone about it all), which cost me a couple of 100 mile road trips to the federal building there, plus some $200 and price of passport pictures, etc., etc. I was to pick up the new passport at 1 PM one day but of course they didn’t get it ready until 2 plus. And dealing with these folks is a pain since they all treat you like you are some subject, never mind being a citizen of a supposedly free country by whom they are supposedly employed.

So in time I did get the new passport into my hands and was ready to board my plane. Since where I was to go requires a visa, that added another small bureaucratic step to the proceedings. (My private sector travel agent was very helpful with this, also very pleasant, in contrast to the public servant federal agents I encountered.)

Of course all the steps I needed to take were routine but no less drab and annoying for that. The federal building in Los Angeles reminded me of that monstrosity in Bucharest that the Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceau┼česco built over several acres, an architectural obscenity if there ever was one. This American version was just a little bit more tolerable and no more user friendly.

Mind you, thousands go through the experience of dealing with the feds and paying for their ineptitude. I was told that the reason I needed to come up with the social security card is that Homeland Security now requires it when one refinances or buys a home but then just after I did my best to comply with this, I was informed that it wasn’t really needed, after all. But by then I had mailed my passport off and the loss of it was pretty much guaranteed. (It’ll probably turn up somewhere “in the system” over the next year and I will be able to stick it away as a souvenir.)

One element of these relatively petty experiences is that one just has no leverage with the several functionaries one must deal with. Since any one of them can put a monkey wrench in the proceedings, standing there and looking intimidating in their uniforms, even I refrain from arguing with them. (Why do they say 1 PM when it is actually 2 PM? Why do they say they needed the Social Security card but then it turns out they do not?)

Not that these are earth shaking matters but if one multiplies them by several hundred thousands, even millions, one begins to grasp just how inefficient governments are and how readily they muck things up in society. The functionaries certainly do not treat you as citizen-customers to whom they need to show some deference! They all comport themselves with the attitude that they have the upper hand and you should be grateful that they do their jobs for you. Or something.



Chuck Hagel: another RINO

Biographically, the former Nebraska senator and decorated Vietnam War hero makes a great choice. As the president noted, "He'd be the first person of enlisted rank to serve as secretary of defense, one of the few secretaries who have been wounded in war and the first Vietnam veteran to lead the department."

But temperamentally, not so much. While Obama lauded Hagel for representing "the bipartisan tradition we need more of in Washington," I think that what the president really meant is that Hagel is his favorite kind of Republican, the self-loathing kind.

Make that: the kind whom Democrats like because Republicans do not.

Hagel alienated some on the right when he turned against the Iraq War, for which he had voted in 2002. A lot of people changed their minds about that war, but Hagel went so far as to say in 2007 that "of course" the Iraq War was about oil.

Hagel angered folks from both parties when he said during a 2006 interview, "The Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here."

The Jewish lobby? Not the Israeli lobby? That's why Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told CNN on Sunday that the Hagel pick was an "in-your-face nomination."

Hagel's opposition to sanctions against Iran led Bill Kristol, editor of the conservative Weekly Standard, to warn that "nominating a person who is clearly soft on Iran would send exactly the wrong message to Tehran."

The Washington Post, which endorsed Obama in 2012, editorialized that Hagel is the wrong choice because his "stated positions on critical issues, ranging from defense spending to Iran, fall well to the left" of the president's first-term policies.




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)

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a war criminal. Both British and American codebreakers had cracked the Japanese naval code so FDR knew what was coming at Pearl Harbor.  But for his own political reasons he warned no-one there.  So responsibility for the civilian and military deaths at Pearl Harbor lies with FDR as well as with the Japanese.  The huge firepower available at Pearl Harbor, both aboard ship and on land, could have largely neutered the attack.  Can you imagine 8 battleships and various lesser craft firing all their AA batteries as the Japanese came in?  The Japanese naval airforce would have been annihilated and the war would have been over before it began.


Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Obama, Race and Affirmative Action: Why the Second Term Will Be Worse (Part II)

The executive branch isn’t the only arena in which the Obama affirmative action crusade will be felt over the next four years. The legislative branch, too, offers manifold opportunities for mischief. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-148), or “Obamacare,” for example, offers a generous supply of tripwire. Section 5301, which defines criteria for federal aid to medical schools, contains a subsection, “Priorities in Making Awards.” It states: “The Secretary [of Health and Human Services] shall give priority to qualified applicants that…have a record of training individuals who are from underrepresented minority groups.” Section 5303, which spells out criteria for aid to schools of dentistry, contains similar language. In neither case does the law specify what constitutes “a record.” One thus can expect medical and dental schools to do everything possible to boost minority enrollment, including lowering admission standards, in order to stay clear of being sued. Lowering the standards among today’s students almost by necessity undermines the quality of tomorrow’s health care professionals.

The Obama-backed Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (P.L. 111-203, or the Dodd-Frank law) also contains a cornucopia of racial favoritism. The law, among other things, gives banks a window of opportunity to escape safety and soundness requirements if they lend heavily to blacks and Hispanics, especially in neighborhoods where they predominate. An orderly liquidation of an insolvent institution, states the law, should “take into account actions to avoid or mitigate potential adverse effects on low-income minority or underserved communities affected by the failure of the covered financial company.” The legislation also created a Financial Stability Oversight Council, to be headed by the Treasury Secretary, which would consider a struggling financial institution’s “importance as a source of credit for low-income, minority or underserved communities” before taking it over. The law also creates an Office of Minority and Women Inclusion within the Treasury Department, the Comptroller of the Currency, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and other federal housing-related finance agencies.

One only can envision the opportunities for shakedowns of mortgage lenders not getting aboard the diversity express – and the fearful compliance by lenders. Already, the capitulation has begun. Recently, the American Bankers Association advised its roughly 5,000 member institutions to give rejected minority loan applicants “a second look.” Such reconsideration, noted the ABA, “can result in suggested changes in underwriting standards.” Translation: Banks should be more willing to lose money on bad loans if they make them to blacks and Hispanics.

Disturbing as this expanded role for the legislative branch is, it may have an equally potent rival in the judicial branch. Any number of Obama-friendly (if not Obama-appointed) federal judges are working overtime to force racial-ethnic diversity upon for-profit and educational institutions. The affirmative action juggernaut, for example, got a huge boost last November 15 when the U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit, invalidated a ban on race-based admissions at the University of Michigan and other public colleges and universities in the state. By a thin 8-to-7 margin, the court ruled that the ban, approved by 58 percent of Michigan voters in a November 2006 referendum, violated the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause. With typically convoluted reasoning, Judge R. Guy Cole, writing for the majority, stated that the referendum “targets a program that inures to the benefit of the minority and reorders the political process in Michigan in a way that places special burdens on racial minorities.” The new arrangement, he said, “undermines the equal protection clause’s guarantee that all citizens ought to have equal access to the tools of political change.”

In the view of Judge Cole (who is black), a race-neutral higher education admissions process somehow creates “special burdens” on nonwhites because of the likelihood of lower admissions rates. This sophistry, in large measure, was made possible by the unwillingness of any branch of government to challenge the doctrine of disparate impact. A silver lining: The State of Michigan plans to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, especially in light of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling this April upholding a similar ban (Proposition 209) in California.

Racial favoritism possibly got an even bigger boost in September when the City of St. Paul, Minn. unexpectedly withdrew its appeal of a February 2012 circuit court decision to U.S. Supreme Court. The case, which appeared on the Supreme Court docket as Magner v. Gallagher, grew out of an allegation that St. Paul’s aggressive enforcement of its housing code had a disparate impact against minorities. A group of residential landlords, led by Thomas Gallagher, invoked the Fair Housing Act to invalidate the enforcement procedure, though not the code itself. City officials, led by Vacant Building Manager Steve Magner, moved to have the case dismissed. A district court granted the motion, arguing the code enforcement was not discriminatory. Gallagher appealed, and an Eighth Circuit Court sided with him and denied Magner’s request for a rehearing. Magner and other city officials in turn filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court, which granted them certiorari. But the City of St. Paul for some reason pulled out.

Some leading members of Congress believe they know why: The Department of Justice had put the squeeze on the city. A group of ranking Republican lawmakers and oversight committee chairmen sent Attorney General Holder a letter in September which stated in part: “Mr. Perez fretted that a decision in the city’s favor would dry up the massive mortgage lending settlements his division was obtaining by suing banks for housing discrimination based on disparate effects rather than any proof of intent to discriminate.” The letter suggested the department made a quid pro quo deal: In exchange for St. Paul dropping its appeal, the DOJ would refrain from intervening in a separate $180 million suit against the City invoking the False Claims Act. Justice Department officials deny using such intimidation. A DOJ spokesperson said, “The decision was appropriate and made following an examination of the relevant facts, law and policy considerations at issue.”

Even if the Justice Department is truthful in letter, it is dishonest in spirit. The department, which for the next four years will be in the hands of affirmative action fanatics, has proven to be unyielding in its application of the disparate impact standard as broadly as possible. Currently the DOJ has at least five active lending discrimination suits and has opened another 30 investigations. At a Columbia University forum last February, Holder asked about affirmative action: “The question is not when does it end, but when does it begin? When do people of color truly get the benefits to which they are entitled?”

In a nutshell, Holder has summarized the Obama administration’s arrogance and contempt for constitutional liberty. Never mind that diversity enthusiasts regularly use intimidation to extract financial concessions from their targets under the guise of combating discrimination. Never mind as well that there might be good reasons to oppose such an approach to law. Holder insists the process barely has begun and thus must expand radically. As for his notion that people are morally entitled to the fruits of others’ labors by virtue of not being white (“people of color”), it is nothing less than a rationale for legalized theft.

Affirmative action began in earnest more than 40 years ago. And its pace is accelerating. The real question should be: When will it end? One thing is for sure: It’s not going to end, or even begin to end, as long as Eric Holder’s employer, Barack Obama, occupies the White House. Obama’s success as a presidential campaigner in 2008, if one recalls, rested heavily on his self-constructed image as a racial “healer,” someone who by virtue of mixed-race heritage and uplifting rhetoric could bring the nation together. But just underneath the surface was a man whose self-definition was heavily driven by his patrimonial (i.e., East African) ancestry and animosity toward whites. Even a cursory reading of his 1995 book memoir, “Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance,” reveals as much.

Obama and allied anti-white shakedown artists, from Eric Holder to Al Sharpton, see government coercion of white-managed institutions as laudable because the goal is full social equality. Unfortunately, it’s a goal that can’t be achieved without chipping away at the foundations of liberty. And in any event, it is unachievable.

A little over 50 years ago, well before affirmative action platoons swung into action, the late Austrian economist-legal philosopher Friedrich Hayek, in his classic book, “The Constitution of Liberty,” foresaw the futility of this project. He wrote:

"From the fact that people are very different it follows that, if we treat them equally, the result must be inequality in their actual position, and that the only way to place them in an equal position would be to treat them differently. Equality before the law and material equality are therefore not only different but are in conflict with each other; and we can achieve either the one or the other, but not both at the same time…(W)here the state must use coercion for other reasons, it should treat all people alike, the desire of making people more alike in their condition cannot be accepted in a free society as a justification for further and discriminatory coercion."

This, then, is the central problem. The current administration believes that because whites as a whole are better off than nonwhites, their advantageous position necessarily must be due to illegal and immoral “discrimination.” Obama, Holder, Perez and other affirmative action soldiers decry any social arrangements that allow whites, even under an assumption of color-blindness, to come out ahead. They see such an outcome, by its very nature, as unfair.

This view is 180 degrees removed from the principle of rule of law. “Discriminatory coercion,” to use Hayek’s term, is precisely what describes the Obama administration’s approach to law and social policy. And it is whites, not nonwhites, who have much to lose. The mandatory “diversity” of Obama’s first term in the White House may be an omen of a far more onerous set of mandates in the second term.



Zombies among us

Without going much into the lore, literature, and filmography of zombies, there is an appropriate analogy to be drawn between the notion of the "living dead" and the living that deserves to be illustrated. Metaphorical zombies rule our current political culture, as well. At least, that is how I often feel when engaging others in a discussion of politics and even esthetics and contemporary human behavior. Try as one might, such people are proof against reason, beyond redemption or reclamation.

So, what is a zombie? It is a metaphysically impossible creature, dead, but magically reanimated by a virus or a curse or other pseudo-scientific jiggery-pokery, with a functioning motor and autonomous system, a non-causal appetite, a robot oblivious to the weather and its surroundings, conscious but not conscious, volitional but not volitional, teleologically driven or programmed to consume living flesh to survive. But, then, how can the dead "survive"? Survive what? And what for? These are paradoxical questions that needn't be examined, because they are semantic follies. Call a zombie a humanoid plant, or a kind of non-religious Golem.

Americans, too many of them, have an unhealthy fascination with zombies, whatever the antecedents of their favorite walking dead. And too many of them also have functioning motor and autonomous systems, perfect digestive systems, and are selectively conscious. They are eclectically volitional from choice or from habit, and their moral codes make them teleologically driven to consume the living flesh of their fellow men - in the way of social services, government-paid entitlements, surrendering to the state their own lives together with the lives, fortunes and purposes of others. As in "The Walking Dead," they gather in herds and move in herds, chiefly aimlessly, until they find the living.

If, after having seen for themselves what destruction has been wrought by President Barack Obama and his nihilistic policies, and they remain stubbornly blind to that destruction and to the guarantee that he will author even more, and they voted him into a second term, then they are zombies.

If they expect the state to solve every real or imagined crisis, and refuse to grasp that most economic and social crises are caused by government interference or mismanagement or corruption or the systematic expropriation of wealth and effort redirected by force into the bottomless pits of subsidies, welfare, and "social justice," then they are zombies.

If they believe that the state can manage, regulate, or juggle the economy and/or their lives for the public good and for their children and future generations, and guarantee a permanently prosperous, vibrant, and stable society, then they are zombies.
If they believe that incalculable wealth can be stolen from the poor to make others rich, or that a nation's wealth is a static entity that should be divided equally among all, then they are zombies.

If they believe that their mere existence entitles them to economic and spiritual support by their fellows via the state, through taxes, special legislation, and protective privileges, then they are zombies.

If they believe that America was founded as a majority-rule "democracy" and that the principles enunciated by the Founders in the Constitution are inapplicable to the "modern" world, or that the Constitution is a "living" one that can be interpreted any way a court or law professor or bureaucrat or politician wishes to conform with the fiat populism or fallacy of the moment, then they are zombies.

If they believe that principles are merely prejudices or con games designed to manipulate or fool the ignorant and superstitious, then they are zombies. If they believe that the greed of a successful businessman is evil, but that their own greed for the unearned is supremely virtuous, then they are zombies.

If they believe that words have no demonstrable and permanent meaning, that all opinions are merely subjective utterances determined by one's race, gender, class, age, ancestry, or education, then they are zombies. If they further believe that words accrue meaning solely by consensus or fiat law, then they are zombies.

If they believe that the state is the author, dispenser, and steward of all individual rights, and that rights are merely privileges bestowed and granted by the state at the behest and will of a real or fictive majority, and can be withdrawn or obviated at any time, then they are zombies.

If they believe that freedom of speech, guns, and the profit motive are the sole causes of massacres and crime, which they call "tragedies," then they are zombies. If they further believe that speech, guns, and the profit motive should be regulated, and even banned, for the safety and benefit of all, so as to prevent more "tragedies," then they are zombies.

If they believe that unquestioning "faith" in the ability of government to solve all their problems is justifiable, then they are zombies. If they believe that government is imbued with the power of a deity to work wonders and promise paradise and salvation, then they are zombies. "Faith," by the way, is responsible for the partial lobotomy of most men's minds, making them the walking semi-dead. To many of these zombies, Earth and existence are just a way station to the future or some ethereal realm. Why bother with freedom? Why overvalue it?
If they believe that government can create a tolerable economic and social condition which amounts to tyranny, these zombies are insensible to the consequent loss of freedom. They never understood it and would not miss it, even in their own penury. If you are not a zombie, there's no place in their paradise for you, the living.

The poverty and hardships imposed by the government today will make possible the luxuries and ease of living for everyone tomorrow. Anyone who believes that is a zombie.

On a final, esthetic note, if a person doesn't see a difference between Michelangelo's "David" and Giacometti's "Walking Man," he is a zombie.

Doubtless many readers have friends, acquaintances, work colleagues, and even family who fit some or all of the foregoing criteria of zombiehood. To know them is not necessarily to love them, but rather to keep them at arm's length before they take a chunk out of one's arm or neck or wallet or bank account.

But today's zombies needn't get up front and personal to be a slobbering, life-threatening menace. They can elect career zombies to do it for them. Herds of them are busy in Washington and every state capital and municipal town hall, day and night, chomping away at the wealth of individuals and businesses.




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)

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a war criminal. Both British and American codebreakers had cracked the Japanese naval code so FDR knew what was coming at Pearl Harbor.  But for his own political reasons he warned no-one there.  So responsibility for the civilian and military deaths at Pearl Harbor lies with FDR as well as with the Japanese.  The huge firepower available at Pearl Harbor, both aboard ship and on land, could have largely neutered the attack.  Can you imagine 8 battleships and various lesser craft firing all their AA batteries as the Japanese came in?  The Japanese naval airforce would have been annihilated and the war would have been over before it began.


Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Will we ever see his like again?

He still speaks for me


Miss me yet?

You may have supported me as President or not, but one thing I NEVER did to ANY of you as your President is raise your taxes. In fact instead I cut taxes twice for you which led to millions of new jobs and record revenue for the Treasury.


More abuse of executive authority

Federal Court: DOJ Must Reimburse South Carolina for Voter ID Folly
A federal court has ruled that South Carolina was the prevailing party in the unnecessary Voter ID litigation, and therefore the Justice Department is liable for paying the state’s costs. South Carolina spent $3,500,000 to obtain federal court approval of the state’s Voter ID law as non-discriminatory under the Voting Rights Act. The lawsuit was made necessary only because of the political and ideological radicalism of Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez and his deputy Matthew Colangelo

PJ Media had this exclusive report detailing that career Voting Section employees, including Voting Section Chief Chris Herren, recommended that the Voter ID law be approved in the first place by DOJ after a careful written analysis inside the Voting Section.  Documents prepared by the career staff urged Perez and Colangelo to grant administrative approval to the South Carolina Voter ID law — but they refused. Their refusal was, in part, designed to energize a moribund political base heading into the 2012 election. The cost to the American taxpayers for their stunt will be significant.

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson’s office was quick to respond to the court’s ruling late yesterday:

“The state Attorney General’s Office blamed the U.S. Department of Justice for the high cost of the case. They accused the federal government of delaying the case by 120 days by filing numerous frivolous motions, including challenging the 12-point font size on a document the state filed.

“The Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., bears responsibility for the litigation costs,” said Mark Powell, Wilson’s spokesman. “The decision was so emphatic, even the Department of Justice and Interveners did not appeal it. South Carolina was forced to pay a hefty price because a handful of Washington insiders refused to do the right thing.”

Whether Congress will hold Perez and Colangelo accountable remains to be seen. Members of Congress, including Senator Lindsey Graham, have already demanded that Perez turn over the documents about which PJ Media first reported on September 11, 2012. So far, sources tell me that Graham has not received what he has asked for, though he may already possess the documents from other sources.

Tellingly, DOJ has not denied that such internal approval memos exist. They can’t.

All of this raises the question — will Perez and Colangelo be held accountable for what amounted to an expensive use of the Justice Department to energize President Obama’s political base? As we now know, there was no merit to the objection. A federal court approved the law. The many career staff who looked at it said the South Carolina law did not discriminate.

Congress might get answers if they haul DOJ Voting Section Chief Christopher Herren before the House Judiciary Committee for answers. The Democrats could hardly object — after all, they dragged Bush-era Voting Section Chief John Tanner before the Democrat-run House Judiciary Committee to answer questions about Georgia Voter ID. There is precedent. Democrats could hardly object when the Voting Section Chief during the Bush administration was made to dance the dance before the Committee.



'Toxic Nationalism'?  How about toxic religion?

Robert D. Kaplan has long been among America's most insightful analysts of global trends. I'd rather argue with him than agree with most others. Right now, I'm going to do a bit of both.

In "Toxic Nationalism," an essay published in the Wall Street Journal last week, Kaplan observes that "Western elites" regard their beliefs as "universal values." Because they approve of "women's liberation," they conclude that all thinking people from Albania to Zanzibar believe in women's liberation. Western elites place a priority on "human rights," assuming that must be the consensus view. Western elites are convinced that international organizations are breaking down the remaining "boundaries separating humanity," so that must be what they're doing, and what they seek to do.

These are, Kaplan understands, illusions: "In country after country, the Westerners identify like-minded, educated elites and mistake them for the population at large. They prefer not to see the regressive and exclusivist forces - such as nationalism and sectarianism - that are mightily reshaping the future."

He cites, as an example, Egypt, where the hope that decades of dictatorship were giving way to liberal democracy has faded. His explanation: "Freedom, at least in its initial stages, unleashes not only individual identity but, more crucially, the freedom to identify with a blood-based solidarity group. Beyond that group, feelings of love and humanity do not apply. That is a signal lesson of the Arab Spring."

I think Kaplan is right on all points save one: The Islamists who are coming to power are not a "blood-based solidarity group." They are a religion-based solidarity group. Egyptian Islamists feel no solidarity with Egyptian Christians - despite blood ties tracing back millennia. This is a crucial distinction, one that makes "Western elites" - Kaplan included - profoundly uncomfortable. So they ignore it.

Kaplan, who currently holds the catchy title of "chief geopolitical analyst for Stratfor, a private global intelligence firm," goes on to worry that in Europe there is now "a resurgence of nationalism and extremism." He's not wrong on that, but is it remotely conceivable that the skinheads and neo-Nazis in Finland, Ukraine, and Greece pose as serious a threat to freedom and human rights as do the jihadists of al-Qaeda and Iran, or even the more gradualist Islamists of the Muslim Brotherhood?

Similarly, in Asia, Kaplan sees China, Japan, and other nations "rediscovering nationalism," undermining the notion that "we live in a post-national age." He adds: "The disputes in Asia are not about ideology or any uplifting moral philosophy; they are about who gets to control space on the map." True, but is the revival of such nationalistic sentiment really a crisis or even a major problem? Meanwhile, much more significant, Islamists are offering an alternative to both the old nationalist and the newer post-nationalist models.

Islamists insist that one's primary identity is - and must be - based on religion, not nationality, not citizenship, not race, not class. More to the point, they demand that their religion be acknowledged as superior to all others. They are committed to making their religiously derived ideology the basis for revolutionary transformation not only in the so-called Muslim world but also in Africa, Asia, Europe, the U.S. - anywhere there are Muslims who can be enlisted into the struggle. As Hassan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, succinctly put it: "It is the nature of Islam to dominate, not to be dominated, to impose its law on all nations and to extend its power to the entire planet."

They see the global map not as fractured into blood-based nations squabbling over "space" but as divided into just two spheres: the Dar al-Islam, the realm where Muslims rule, and the Dar al-Harb, where infidels still hold power and must be fought, and, in time, decisively defeated so that the Dar al-Islam can become universal.

I am confident that Kaplan knows all this. By not taking it into account, he ends up in some odd cul-de-sacs. For example, he charges that among Russians there is a high incidence of "race-hatred against Muslims." No, Muslims do not constitute a race.

That said, there may be conceptual utility in Kaplan's vision of a global "battle between two epic forces: Those of integration based on civil society and human rights, and those of exclusion based on race, blood and radicalized faith." Note that in this last phrase Kaplan has finally acknowledged the disconcerting fact that religion is shaping the international conflict now underway.

Indeed, by including Islamists among the forces whose ideologies are based on exclusion and antipathy toward human rights, he is reopening the idea - "politically incorrect" and therefore rejected by Western elites - that Islamism is a version of fascism, albeit one based on religion rather than race or extreme nationalism. If Western elites, not least those on the left, can accept that unpleasant reality, perhaps they can find the will to combat it. Along those lines, Kaplan argues that the "second force" can and must be overcome, but to achieve that, one "must first admit how formidable it is."

"To see what is in front of one's nose," George Orwell once wrote, "needs a constant struggle." By calling attention to a dangerous truth from which Western elites prefer to avert their gaze, Kaplan has rendered a service. But there's more to it than he's acknowledged and less time than we might like to get it in focus.



People are truly good at heart? Sadly, no

by Jeff Jacoby

ELEVEN YEARS AGO, al-Qaeda terrorist Richard Reid tried to blow up American Airlines Flight 63 with a bomb hidden in his shoes. As a result, air travelers to this day must remove their shoes to pass through security at US airports.

In 2006, terrorists plotted to destroy as many as 10 planes flying from London to North America using peroxide-based liquid explosives smuggled in their carry-on luggage. So passengers now must limit any liquids they carry through security checkpoints to minuscule containers sealed in clear plastic bags.

On Christmas Day in 2009, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight over Detroit by means of an explosive device sewn into his underwear. The government's response: full-body X-ray scans to detect even contraband concealed in one's groin.

Our irritating, inconvenient airport security rules are one reflection of a common view that the way to prevent evil in this world -- in this case, the evil of jihadist terrorism -- is to intercept the instruments evildoers use. Thus, if the 9/11 hijackers used box cutters to carry out their airborne atrocities, box cutters must be barred from subsequent flights. If other terrorists find other means of committing brutal acts, we bar those means as well.

This fixation on stopping bad things -- as opposed to stopping bad people or bad behavior -- goes beyond keeping air travel safe from al-Qaeda. On the international stage, it shows up in campaigns to reduce strategic arsenals and destroy nuclear warheads, regardless of the moral caliber of the governments possessing them. In schools, zero-tolerance drug and alcohol policies have been applied so rigidly, USA Today observes, that "kids have been kicked out of school for possession of Midol, Tylenol, Alka Seltzer, cough drops, and Scope mouthwash."

More recently, the shrill demands for more restrictions on guns in the wake of the Newtown massacre have been a classic illustration of the phenomenon.

For countless people, especially on the left, it's axiomatic that Adam Lanza's bloodbath was caused by America's gun culture. Many angrily demonize guns and the advocates of gun rights; they are convinced that only an ignoramus or a moral monster could oppose tighter gun control. In an interview on CNN, Piers Morgan lashed out at the executive director of Gun Owners of America, calling him "an unbelievably stupid man" and seething: "You don't give a damn, do you, about the gun murder rate in America?" When the National Rifle Association's Wayne LaPierre argued for more armed security rather than fewer arms, he too was drenched with scorn.

"Look, a gun is a tool," LaPierre said. "The problem is the criminal." But that can only be true if crime is rooted in the bad character, depraved values, or evil choices of those who use guns to murder. And that can only be true if men and women, by and large, are not innately good and kind - if decent behavior, like monstrous behavior, is a matter of free choice, not a hardwired instinct.

It is fundamental to the Judeo-Christian outlook that human beings are not naturally good. "The intention of man's heart," God says in Genesis, "is evil from his youth." To use the Christian formulation, man is "fallen." All of us are tugged by conflicting moral impulses, and whether we do the right thing or the wrong thing is up to each of us.

Peace, justice, and compassion are not the natural human condition. With rare exceptions, criminal violence can't be blamed on external culprits. Murder isn't caused by poverty or gory videogames or low self-esteem - or guns. Nor are wars caused by nuclear missiles, or al-Qaeda terrorism by box cutters. We fool ourselves if we imagine that by fixating on missiles and box cutters we can avoid reckoning with the cruel side of human nature.

"It's a wonder I haven't abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical," 15-year-old Anne Frank confided to her diary on July 15, 1944. "Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart. I simply can't build my hopes on a foundation of confusion, misery, and death."

Three weeks after those heartbreaking words were written, the Gestapo discovered the secret annex where Anne and seven others had been hiding. She died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp the following March.

The desire to believe, like Anne Frank, that "people are truly good at heart" is powerful. Sadly, history refutes the idea that human nature alone will make a good world. Controlling bad things may sometimes be prudent. But it is above all by controlling ourselves - by fortifying the better angels of our nature -- that the struggle against evil progresses.



Been Jealous Much?

Today, NAACP President Ben Jealous spends his time not fighting for his people, not rooting out the true unfairness still baked into the American system, but attacking the Tea Party, Republicans, black conservatives and especially black Tea Party Republicans. Enter U.S. Sen. Tim Scott.

Scott, a Republican from South Carolina and the only member of the Senate who is black, found himself on the end of an attack from the NAACP for not caring about civil rights. Yes, you read that right. How did the NAACP come to this conclusion? Because Scott, as a member of the House of Representatives, didn’t support unions or progressives for judgeships and other government positions. Because that’s what constitutes “civil rights” these days.

Jealous burns his calories attacking anyone who supports individual responsibility and a sense of self-reliance. So he doesn’t have the energy to address the destruction of the black family, the 50 percent abortion rate of black pregnancies, the 70 percent of black births to unmarried women, the education system that fails its children or the black unemployment rate of 14 percent. As long as blacks vote for Democrats, the progressive agenda will be advanced, and these numbers will get worse. It’s a sad truth the NAACP is more interested in advancing the progressive agenda and maintaining power than in doing anything that remotely resembles its mission. It’s ironic the NAACP would become a de facto arm of the Democratic Party, the party of slavery, the party of Jim Crow, and the party that replaced those chains of slavery and inhumanity of Jim Crow with the chains of government dependence and the inhumanity that accompanies it.

Then again, when you realize progressives founded the idea of self-appointed intellectual superiors overseeing those who didn’t measure up to their standards, including the extermination of people they deemed unworthy or unproductive, it only makes sense they’d be silent on a system and culture that does nothing but produce dupable dependent voters to maintain their hold on power. Were Ben Jealous capable of shame, he would be drowning in it. Since he’s clearly not, he’ll just keep cashing those fat checks and attacking role models such as Tim Scott. Sickening.


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)

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a war criminal. Both British and American codebreakers had cracked the Japanese naval code so FDR knew what was coming at Pearl Harbor.  But for his own political reasons he warned no-one there.  So responsibility for the civilian and military deaths at Pearl Harbor lies with FDR as well as with the Japanese.  The huge firepower available at Pearl Harbor, both aboard ship and on land, could have largely neutered the attack.  Can you imagine 8 battleships and various lesser craft firing all their AA batteries as the Japanese came in?  The Japanese naval airforce would have been annihilated and the war would have been over before it began.


Monday, January 07, 2013

Obama, Race and Affirmative Action: Why the Second Term Will Be Worse

The accelerated transformation of the American economy and polity into a mandatory racially-based spoils system was a defining trait of President Barack Obama’s first term in office. Though perhaps understated, it is set to become an even more defining trait of his second.

Obama, by various accounts, wants to be more aggressive about suing banks, employers, schools and other institutions whose practices, however unintentionally, adversely affect “disadvantaged” (read: nonwhite) populations. This is the doctrine of “disparate impact.” Attorney General Eric Holder already has used it to extract hundreds of millions of dollars in coerced settlements from Wells Fargo and other major banks. Its widespread application is further evidence, as if any more were needed, that “civil rights” has become a well-organized shakedown racket.

For too long, whites, including many self-described conservatives, have been muted in their criticism of mandated racial preferences. For them, a struggle somehow isn’t worth the trouble. Thus, they go along with campaigns to rebrand such coercion as “affirmative action” and, even better, “diversity.” The language may be benign, but the desired end is enforceable goals, quotas and timetables, accompanied by close monitoring to ensure “progress.” Equality of outcome, not equality of opportunity, is the overriding goal. If an employer’s work force, for example, is only two percent black and the surrounding labor market area is 10 percent black, that employer may have to explain to a government agency why it has “only” one-fifth the number of black employees it should have. Employee traits such as perseverance, punctuality, intelligence and an ability to work with others don’t matter much, if at all, in such a context.

Ground zero for this egalitarian enthusiasm is the ostensibly race-neutral Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Affirmative action took root during the Johnson administration and then took off during the Nixon administration. In 1969, President Nixon’s Labor Secretary, George Shultz, with approval from Attorney General John Mitchell, oversaw the creation of a mandate known as the Philadelphia Plan, which required contractors working on large federally-funded construction projects to adopt numerical goals and timetables for black hires. Even more far-reaching, however, was the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1971 ruling in Griggs v. Duke Power Company. This 8-0 decision surely must rank as one of the worst decisions in the history of the High Court. It invalidated employee aptitude tests which, though race-neutral, had the effect of reducing the likelihood of blacks getting hired or promoted. The court rationalized that the tests were unrelated to job requirements, though common sense would dictate that if this were the case, the employer wouldn’t have administered the tests in the first place.

Bad law or not, however, Griggs would provide racial egalitarians with an Ur-text. For the first time in U.S. history, it now was possible to file a discrimination suit against organized activity unwittingly producing statistical disparities by race.

“Disparate impact” is at once bad law and a near-guarantee of full employment within the legal profession. It’s noteworthy that not a single presidential administration has ventured to challenge it. Only once, briefly, in the mid-Nineties, has Congress – more accurately, a few Republican members such as Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., and Rep. Charles Canady, R-Fla. – made a go of it. Facing at best token opposition, affirmative action supporters within and outside government have had almost free reign. As a report released in April 2011 by the Congressional Research Service indicated, affirmative-action federal regulatory mandates are more numerous than ever.

President Obama remains unsatisfied. He has little reason to fear further “progress,” since his administration is home to many diversity zealots, most of all, Attorney General Eric Holder and his chief civil rights enforcer, Thomas Perez. In December 2011 the Justice Department extracted a commitment from Bank of America for $335 million to settle allegations that its Countrywide Financial Unit had discriminated against black and Hispanic borrowers during 2004-08 – the period immediately before BoA took over the insolvent Countrywide. Perez and his team of prosecutors this past July also announced a $175 million “settlement” with Wells Fargo Bank for racial disparities in home mortgage lending. The government didn’t demonstrate any intent to discriminate, and for that matter, never looked for such intent. It didn’t matter; Wells Fargo succumbed. This sum, moreover, was in addition to a sizable out-of-court settlement the bank reached with the City of Baltimore and a prodigious one it reached with the City of Memphis and surrounding Shelby County, Tenn. It’s hard to conclude which was more appalling – the enthusiasm of government or the timidity of bank management.

President Obama says he wants to close “persistent gaps” in economic and social outcomes across race. At the same time, he knows enforced affirmative action isn’t popular among the nation’s white majority (with good reason!). While white members of Congress are fearful of acquiring the tag of “racist” if they openly oppose it, at the same time they are fearful of losing re-election if they openly promote it. Thus, the administration has made heavy use of the lawsuit, knowing even the threat of one can strike fear across a wide swath of organizations and not just one organization under a federal microscope. This has been a prevalent pattern at cabinet-level federal agencies that have a civil rights division, such as the Department of Justice, the Department of Labor, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). A new player in Washington, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), may emerge as the most powerful agency of all.

Authorized by the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation of 2010, the CFPB is vested with broad powers to sic affirmative action attack dogs on potentially offending organizations to ensure their practices produce the right racial breakdowns. Bureau Director Richard Cordray already has flexed his muscles, remarking that his agency will protect consumers from unfair lending practices – as well as those that have “a disparate impact on communities of color.” Just to make sure lenders get the message, he added: “That doctrine is applicable for all of the credit markets we touch, including mortgages, student loans, credit cards and auto loans.” In his haste to achieve racial balance in loans, regardless of borrower creditworthiness, Cordray intends to subject all credit reporting agencies, including the three major ones – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – to “effects tests.” Thus, if applications by blacks and Hispanics for mortgage or credit cards produce significantly higher rejection rates than applications by whites, these reporting agencies could be sued even if their risk analyses in no way took race into consideration.

Institutional lending isn’t the only realm where the Obama administration plans to turn up the temperature. Also likely to be closely monitored are: college admissions guidelines; voter ID requirements (all the better to fight minority “disenfranchisement”); school disciplinary codes; professional licensing examinations; employee background checks; and prison sentencing guidelines. The intent is to minimize or eliminate “disparities.” Because equality of outcome is the goal, equality of process – i.e., rule of law – necessarily becomes an obstruction.

The Obama administration over the last several months has given us a taste of what to expect. Last July, for example, HUD intervened on behalf of the National Fair Housing Alliance and the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center to drop their lawsuit against the State of Louisiana over its administration of federal “Road Home Program” grants to homeowners whose properties were damaged by Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita in 2005. The catch was this: In exchange, the state would agree to make available an extra $62 million to about 1,300 black homeowners (nearly $50,000 per homeowner) in Cameron, Orleans, Plaquemines and St. Bernard Parishes.

Under the Road Home Program, a qualifying homeowner could receive as much as $150,000 toward rebuilding and temporary resettlement. The black grant program allocated $16.7 billion for resettlement and reconstruction costs, of which $13.4 billion went to Louisiana. This aid package would seem generous to a fault. Certain nonprofit civil rights groups didn’t think so. And so they sued.

The bone of the plaintiffs’ contention was the method of calculating award sizes. The State of Louisiana had used a standard insurance industry practice to derive grant amounts. Homeowners would receive the lower of either the pre-storm fair market value or the cost of repairing the damages. Because most, if not all, homes in black low-income New Orleans neighborhoods had low property values to begin with, Louisiana officials wound up setting aid levels on the basis of the market-value rather than cost-replacement method. The plaintiffs claimed this method had a “discriminatory impact on African-American homeowners.”

The suit, in other words, was preposterous. It was no different in principle than demanding that an insurance company pay $20,000 for parts and labor to fix a $10,000 car totaled in a wreck. The Department of Housing and Urban Development, predictably, sided with the plaintiffs. HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan rationalized: “This agreement is a huge help to families who clearly want to get back into their homes but continue to struggle to make the needed repairs to their properties.”

Affirmative action zealots within the U.S. Department of Education under President Obama also have been on the march lately. This past October, department bureaucrats coaxed an agreement from the Oakland, California school district to impose “targeted reductions” in the number of suspensions of black, Hispanic and “special education” students for violent or otherwise disruptive behavior. The district’s suspension policy allegedly had a “disparate impact.”

Russlyn J. Ali, assistant secretary for civil rights at the Department of Education, thinks such legal actions are overdue. “Disparate impact is woven through all civil rights enforcement of this administration,” she glowed back in 2010. The possibility that blacks, far more than whites, engage in behavior that should result in a suspension apparently is immaterial. Here’s a statistic that might be of interest to Ms. Ali: Nationally, the homicide rate among males ages 14-17 is nearly 10 times higher for blacks than it is for the average of whites and Hispanics in that age range. Here’s another statistic: In Chicago public schools, the very system headed not long ago by Obama Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, black students were arrested 25 times more often than white students during September 2011-February 2012. The Oakland case is one of about 20 similar cases underway across the nation.



Unholy Alliance Comes Out of the Shadows and Into Your Living Room

Al Gore has sold his failing Current TV network to Al Jazeera, which plans to rename it Al Jazeera America - and so the Leftist/jihadist alliance is now official. While the American Left has been cooperating and collaborating with forces of the global jihad and Islamic supremacism for years, now their alliance is open and indisputable. Gore is even slated for a spot on Al Jazeera America's advisory board.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Current TV's co-founder and CEO, Joel Hyatt, explained that Al Jazeera was a perfect fit for the sale. Al Jazeera, he said, "was founded with the same goals we had for Current." Among those goals were "to give voice to those whose voices are not typically heard" and "to speak truth to power."

Some of the voices that would not typically have been heard but for Al Jazeera have included some of the world's foremost jihad terrorists. Pamela Geller has noted that Al Jazeera has "for years been the recipient of numerous Al Qaeda videos featuring bin Laden, Zawahiri, and American traitor Adam Gadahn. Yet they never seem to be able to trace where these videos are coming from. They have repeatedly been set up at the point of attack right before a bomb went off, so that they could take the picture of the slaughtered, dismembered bodies." What's more, "Al Jazeera is the leading terrorist propaganda organization in the world. Jihad murder mastermind Anwar al-Awlaki has praised Al Jazeera, and several years ago one of its most prominent reporters was arrested on terror charges."

Judea Pearl, father of the journalist Daniel Pearl who was murdered by jihadists in Pakistan, has dubbed Al Jazeera "the most powerful voice of the Muslim Brotherhood."

This is the organization that Joel Hyatt says has the "same goals we had for Current." Meanwhile, another group had also approached Current with an offer to buy the struggling network, but was refused - according to the Journal, they were "told on initial calls that [Current] wouldn't sell to someone they weren't ideologically in line with." A Current official explained that "the legacy of who the network goes to is important to us and we are sensitive to networks not aligned with our point of view."

The group that was not ideologically in line with Current was Glenn Beck's media company, The Blaze, which, the Journal said, "would have replaced Current programming with The Blaze programming."

So a Qatari network that consistently presents a favorable view of jihad terrorists who are sworn enemies of the United States is "ideologically in line" with Al Gore's network, but a conservative American one is not. Transforming Current TV into Al Jazeera America is so satisfying to Gore that he is going to serve on its advisory board; turning it into The Blaze would have been an unacceptable ideological deviation, a betrayal of its core principles.

Gore and Hyatt have thus confirmed the charges that conservatives have made against the Left for years, and that Leftists, when they have deigned to acknowledge them at all, have dismissed as baseless slanders: above all, that the Left hates America and traditional American values so much that it will sooner ally with the sworn enemies of this nation and its guiding principles than with any group that is dedicated in any way to preserving and protecting them.

This peculiar and suicidal impulse results from a variety of factors. Chief among them is the likelihood that Leftists generally underestimate their Islamic supremacist friends and allies, believing that once the Right and traditional American principles have been destroyed, the jihadis will be easy enough to control. This in turn rests on several false assumptions: one is that Islam is a Religion of Peace that has been hijacked by a tiny minority of extremists, who themselves are merely reacting to the evils perpetrated by the American imperialist war machine. Once that imperialist machine is irreparably damaged and put out of action, and its client Israel is destroyed, Muslims' grievances will all be assuaged, and they won't have any reason to commit acts of terror.

Or at least so goes the Leftist reasoning, or substitute for reasoning, which completely fails to take into account the martial teachings of the Qur'an, the Sunnah, and all the schools of Islamic jurisprudence, which teach that Muslims must wage war against and subjugate Infidels not because of the ills of their foreign (or domestic) policies, but simply because they are Infidels.

The second false assumption undergirding the Leftist assumption that they will not be co-opted and swallowed up by their Islamic supremacist friends is that religious people are ignorant and easy to manipulate. They believe this more about Christians than they do about Muslims, but Leftists generally underestimate the strength and power of the religious impulse, and believing their own unexamined dogmas about Islam's peacefulness, believe that that impulse doesn't really matter, anyway.

And as Jamie Glazov details in his superb United In Hate: The Left's Romance With Tyranny and Terror, there is an ideological kinship between the two allies as well: both Leftists and Islamic supremacists share a taste for authoritarianism, and a distaste for the freedom of speech and political dissent.

In any case, first the great foe of both must be completely defeated: the American Right, constitutional principles of free speech, and the values of freedom that have been the foundations of American society up to now. Al Jazeera America is certain to be on the front lines of that battle. And that's just the way Al Gore wants it.




France: Famous comic artist refuses top honor:  "One of France’s best-known comic book creators, Jacques Tardi, has refused the country’s highest honor saying he does not want to fall under any political influence. Tardi, best known for his works on the horrors of war and his Adele Blanc-Sec fantasy series, said he had learned this week that he was to receive the Legion d'Honneur medal. 'Being fiercely attached to my freedom of thought and creativity, I do not want to receive anything, neither from this government or from any other political power whatsoever,' he said in a statement. 'I am therefore refusing this medal with the greatest determination.'"

Iran to Citizens: Flee Isfahan:  "Iranian officials have instructed residents of Isfahan to leave the city, renewing concerns that a nearby nuclear site could be leaking radioactive material.  An edict issued Wednesday by Iranian authorities orders Isfahan's one-and-a-half million people to leave the city "because pollution has now reached emergency levels," the BBC reported.   However, outside observers suspect that the evacuation order may corroborate previous reports indicating that a uranium enrichment facility near Isfahan had been leaking radioactive material."



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)

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a war criminal. Both British and American codebreakers had cracked the Japanese naval code so FDR knew what was coming at Pearl Harbor.  But for his own political reasons he warned no-one there.  So responsibility for the civilian and military deaths at Pearl Harbor lies with FDR as well as with the Japanese.  The huge firepower available at Pearl Harbor, both aboard ship and on land, could have largely neutered the attack.  Can you imagine 8 battleships and various lesser craft firing all their AA batteries as the Japanese came in?  The Japanese naval airforce would have been annihilated and the war would have been over before it began.