Friday, March 15, 2013

New pope, Jorge Mario Bergogli of Argentina, has Jewish connections

It seems clear that the new Pontifex Maximus is a man of genuine humility and real holiness.  I am delighted.  Although Argentinian by nationality he is of course of Italian descent and speaks Italian.  He will fit right in at the Vatican.  I wish him good health -- JR

Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the Argentinian cardinal who was elected pope late Wednesday and will take the name Francis I, is said to have a good relationship with Argentinian Jews.

Bergoglio, 76, a Jesuit, was the choice of the College of Cardinals following two days of voting in Vatican City. He is the first pope to come from outside Europe in more than a millennium; reflecting the changing demographics of Catholics, he comes from Latin America.

As archbishop of Buenos Aires, Bergoglio attended Rosh Hashanah services at the Benei Tikva Slijot synagogue in September 2007.

Rabbi David Rosen, the director of interfaith affairs for the American Jewish Committee, told JTA that the new pope is a "warm and sweet and modest man" known in Buenos Aires for doing his own cooking and personally answering his phone.

After the bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in 1994, he "showed solidarity with the Jewish community," Rosen said.

In 2005, Bergoglio was the first public personality to sign a petition for justice in the AMIA bombing case. He also was one of the signatories on a document called "85 victims, 85 signatures" as part of the bombing's 11th anniversary. In June 2010, he visited the rebuilt AMIA building to talk with Jewish leaders.

"Those who said Benedict was the last pope who would be a pope that lived through the Shoah, or that said there would not be another pope who had a personal connection to the Jewish people, they were wrong," Rosen said.

Soon after the chimney of the Sistine Chapel sent up a puff of white smoke signifying that the cardinals had selected a successor to Pope Benedict XVI, Francis addressed thousands of faithful from the balcony of St. Peter’s Baslica.

“Buonasera,” he told them, saying "Good evening" in Italian, and thanked his fellow cardinals for going “almost to the ends of the earth” to find him.

Benedict was the first pontiff to step down since 1415.

Israel Singer, the former head of the World Jewish Congress, said he spent time working with Bergoglio when the two were distributing aid to the poor in Buenos Aires in the early 2000s, part of a joint Jewish-Catholic program called Tzedaka.

“We went out to the barrios where Jews and Catholics were suffering togeher,” Singer told JTA. “If everyone sat in chairs with handles, he would sit in the one without. He was always looking to be more modest. He's going to find it hard to wear all these uniforms.”

Bergoglio also wrote the foreward of a book by Rabbi Sergio Bergman and referred to him as “one of my teachers.”

Last November, Bergoglio hosted a Kristallnacht memorial event at the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral with Rabbi Alejandro Avruj from the NCI-Emanuel World Masorti congregation.

He also has worked with the Latin American Jewish Congress and held meetings with Jewish youth who participate in its New Generations program.

“The Latin American Jewish Congress has had a close relationship with Jorge Bergoglio for several years," Claudio Epelman, executive director of the Latin American Jewish Congress, told JTA. "We know his values and strengths. We have no doubt he will do a great job leading the Catholic Church."

In his visit to the Buenos Aires synagogue, according to the Catholic Zenit news agency, Bergoglio told the congregation that he was there to examine his heart "like a pilgrim, together with you, my elder brothers."

"Today, here in this synagogue, we are made newly aware of the fact that we are a people on a journey and we place ourselves in God’s presence," Zenit quoted the then-archbishop as saying. "We must look at him and let him look at us, to examine our heart in his presence and to ask ourselves if we are walking blamelessly."

Renzo Gattegna, the president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, offered Italian Jewry's congratualations to the new pope with the “most fervent wishes” that his pontificate could bring “peace and brotherhood to all humanity.”

In particular, Gattegna voiced the hope that there would be a continuation “with reciprocal satisfaction” of “the intense course of dialogue that the Jews have always hoped for and that has been also realized through the work of the popes who have led the church in the recent past."



Obama and his advisers plan his trip to the Middle East

Some satire from Israel


Maine's Battle to Save America from EMP

Your life may depend upon what happens in Augusta, Maine on March 21.  Please bear with me patiently a little, as some background is needed to explain why.  But first and foremost, no surprise, it has to do with the ineptitude of Washington.

Yet another symptom that Washington is broken, perhaps beyond repair, is that the federal government is now failing in its most basic function--"to provide for the common defense" of the American People.  Exhibit Number One proving the incompetence and dereliction of Washington is its failure to protect the people from the genocidal consequences of a natural or nuclear electromagnetic pulse (EMP).

The EMP Threat--and Solutions

For nearly a decade, the Congressional EMP Commission and other responsible expert bodies of the U.S. Government have been warning that terrorists or rogue states--armed with a single crude nuclear weapon--could use a missile or balloon or other delivery system to loft a warhead to high-altitude, 30 kilometers or more anywhere over the United States, to inflict an EMP catastrophe.  Any nuclear weapon detonated at high-altitude will generate a powerful electromagnetic pulse that will fry electronics and cause cascading failures that would collapse the electric power grid and other critical infrastructures--communications, transportation, banking and finance, food and water--that make possible modern civilization.

The Sun can cause an even worse EMP catastrophe.  Roughly every century, the Sun causes a geomagnetic super-storm on Earth, so powerful that it would collapse electric grids and life-sustaining critical infrastructures everywhere, plunging the entire world into a protracted blackout--perhaps permanently.  The last such geomagnetic super-storm happened in 1859, called the Carrington Event.  The Carrington Event made telegraph wires burst into flame causing forest fires, burned down telegraph stations, and fried the newly laid intercontinental telegraph cable, miles down at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.  Fortunately, in those horse and buggy days, electricity was still a novelty, and not the foundation of civilization, as it is today.

The Congressional EMP Commission estimated, given the nation's current utter unpreparedness, within a year of a natural or nuclear EMP catastrophe, about two of every three Americans would perish.  EMP by destroying the high-tech foundations of civilization, kills millions of people the old fashioned way--through starvation, disease, and societal collapse.  In the aftermath of an EMP, America's over 300 million people would find themselves, virtually overnight, confronted with exactly the same structural deficiencies that in underdeveloped nations cause mass famines--too many mouths, not enough resources.

Yet there is no excuse for the United States to be vulnerable to EMP.  The Department of Defense has known for 50 years how to protect military forces from EMP.  Technologies currently exist to protect the national electric grid--the most important of the critical infrastructures.  The Congressional EMP Commission concluded that, if the electric grid is protected from EMP, the other critical infrastructures can also be quickly recovered--but the electric grid must be protected if there is to be any hope for recovery.

Nor would it be costly to protect the national electric grid from EMP.  Estimates range from a high of $2 billion to less than $100 million, depending upon the technology used and the hardness level desired,  to protect the entire contiguous United States.  $2 billion is what the United States spends on foreign aid to Pakistan every year.  The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission estimates that protecting the national electric grid from EMP can be accomplished at a cost to the average rate payer of merely 20 cents annually.

EMP protection of the grid would also mitigate all other threats--including cyber attack, sabotage, and natural disasters like hurricanes.  

Washington Fails to Act

So is Washington crashing on a program to protect the national electric grid, and the American people, from an EMP catastrophe?  The short answer is--no.  "Sequestration" and the endless politics of the federal budget and--above all--the 2014 congressional elections, are the only "crises" visible to most in Washington.

However, there are a valiant few in Washington who have tried to protect the nation from a looming EMP catastrophe.  Rep. Trent Franks (R) has formed the bipartisan Congressional EMP Caucus, co-chaired with Rep. Yvette Clarke (D).  Franks and Clarke for two years have tried to pass the SHIELD Act, which would grant the federal government the necessary legal authorities to require the electric power industry to protect the national grid from EMP.  It is the absence of these authorities that has been the chief obstacle to achieving national EMP preparedness.

Earlier, when Democrats controlled the House, Rep. Edward Markey and Rep. Henry Waxman succeeded in passing the GRID Act--a bill virtually identical to the SHIELD Act--with unanimous bipartisan support, only to have the bill blocked from a vote by a single Senator.  Strangely, in a Congress bitterly polarized on almost everything, the media have shown no interest in the strong bipartisan virtual unanimity on the singular issue of national EMP preparedness.  If the GRID or SHIELD Acts are allowed to come to the floor, one of them would pass overwhelmingly.

But the electric power industry has very deep pockets, and an army of K Street lobbyists, and so far has always been able to buy just the right member of Congress to keep GRID or SHIELD locked-up in committee.  Consequently, after nearly a half decade of trying, the Congress has been unable to implement the most important recommendation of the EMP Commission--protection of the electric grid.

Maine to the Rescue?

Enter Maine State Rep. Andrea Boland (D).  Boland learned about EMP from the struggle over the SHIELD Act, and visited Washington to urge the Maine delegation to support SHIELD.  Frustrated with the lack of progress in Washington, Boland introduced a bill in the Maine legislature--LD-131 "An Act To Secure the Safety of Electrical Power Transmission Lines" that would have the practical effect of protecting the Maine electric grid from EMP.

Boland reasons, correctly, that if Washington will not protect the American people from an EMP catastrophe, then it is the obligation of state governments to step into the leadership breach and protect at least the citizens of their state.  Although states tend to be part of a larger regional electric grid, it is technically possible, at low cost, to "island" that portion of the electric grid within a state, so that it is protected from EMP.  Not only would this spare the citizens of that state from the probably fatal consequences of a protracted blackout from a natural or nuclear EMP event--but it would very significantly increase the energy security of neighboring states.

If Maine is protected from EMP, it would greatly facilitate the repair and restoration of neighboring states belonging to the New England grid.  Nothing is harder, it may not even be possible, to "black start" a national or regional electric grid that has collapsed into complete blackout.  If the lights stay on in Maine, it will be much easier to bring them back on in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.

Maine and New England have special reasons to be concerned about becoming the victims of an EMP catastrophe.  All of these states are at relatively high northern latitudes, and most of them have granitic soil geology, which makes them more susceptible to geomagnetic storms.  New England is in a neighborhood known to be dangerous for geomagnetic storms.  In 1989, the Hydro-Quebec geomagnetic storm damaged and blacked out the electric grid of eastern Canada, causing billions of dollars in economic losses.

The 1989 Hydro-Quebec Storm also destroyed an extra high voltage transformer at the Salem nuclear power reactor in New Jersey.  One of the more worrisome consequences of a natural or nuclear EMP is the protracted blackout resulting in meltdown of nuclear reactors or of their fuel rods in cooling ponds, as happened at the Fukushima nuclear reactors in Japan.  A Carrington Event would probably be one hundred times more powerful than the Hydro-Quebec Storm.

Moreover, Maine and New England are in a dangerous neighborhood for nuclear EMP attack because of their proximity to New York City.  Terrorists have a demonstrated preference for attacking New York.  A nuclear EMP attack centered on New York City would encompass all of New England too.          

Finally, there are non-nuclear EMP devices, more commonly known as Radio Frequency Weapons, that are becoming increasingly available and common in the activities of terrorists, criminals, and even disgruntled individuals.  Indeed, it is possible to build a Radio Frequency Weapon using design information available on the internet and parts purchased from Radio Shack or any electronics store.  A Radio Frequency Weapon does not have the range or power to threaten the entire nation.  But we have arrived at a place where, for the first time in history, a lunatic armed with an RFW could topple the technological pillars of an entire metropolis, and blackout a major city.

Underdog Rep. Andrea Boland is in a showdown against the entire electric power industry in Maine over her bill for protecting the electric grid.  Beginning virtually alone, Boland is garnering significant support among her colleagues.

Maine's Joint Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology deserves high praise for learning quickly and showing grave concern about the EMP threat, that has been dropped in their laps because of paralysis in Washington.  The Joint Committee has displayed professionalism and competence worthy of such a grave issue, asking excellent and exhaustive questions of both EMP experts and the electric power industry.    

Boland's bill has survived intense scrutiny before the Maine legislature, where her bill LD-131 has been under debate since February.  Boland has brought in scientific and strategic experts from Washington and around the nation to testify in support of her bill in Augusta, the Maine state capitol.

The Boland bill merely asks the electric power industry to protect the Maine grid from EMP, and trusts that they will do so.  Yet ISO New England opposes even this modest bill.  This strongly suggests that the electric power industry cannot be trusted to do anything for EMP protection.                  

As Rep. Andrea Boland's bill to protect Maine from an EMP catastrophe draws closer to a vote, the electric power lobby is growing more frantic in its opposition, hoping to duplicate in Maine the success they had in Washington blocking the bipartisan GRID and SHIELD Acts.  They are on the hunt for that one politician or influential official in Maine who can save their day by derailing or defeating LD-131.

Other states are looking to Maine to see if it is politically possible to bypass Washington and launch their own initiatives to protect their electric grids and their people from EMP.  Alaska, New York, North Carolina, Texas, and Utah all have groups interested in "islanding" their state grids to protect their families and communities from an EMP catastrophe.

If Andrea Boland succeeds in Maine, other states will follow, and the bureaucratic logjam that has for so long impeded national EMP preparedness in Washington will at last be broken.




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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Utter Contempt

Our Israeli correspondent MC returns with a reflection on the commonalities that can be observed among Socialism, National Socialism, and Islam

The recent dialogue featured on Gates of Vienna between the Baron and an unnamed British journalist got me thinking a bit…

Of note was the utter contempt with which the journalist approached a right-of-centre position, and the holder of that position.

I grew up among Socialists, but I did a very unacceptable thing: I kept an open mind.

I suppose it started around the family television, there used to be a programme “All our Yesterdays: This Week 25 Years Ago”.

I was really too young to understand this programme, but in an unheated house in winter there was only one room kept warm enough for comfort, and the TV was in that room, and, of course the TV dominated.

I could not understand why National Socialists were bad, but Socialists were good. Yet my grandfather had been a convener for the early Labour Party in the twenties; Socialism was not to be questioned.

However, being very naïve, I asked my father, who just happened to be at home at the time on one those rare visits (he was an officer in the Royal Navy). My father did not answer the question; he just made me feel about six inches (rather than four feet) tall.

I had touched on a very sore point, and perhaps a key deception that is a prime cause of the trouble our countries find themselves in today.

It was many years later that I became comfortable with the idea that National Socialism is just another form of Socialism, one which is almost identical to Stalinist Communist Socialism.

The idea of extreme left, and extreme right is a fabrication. Stalin invaded Poland two weeks after Hitler did. In 1941, the Allies had to rehabilitate Stalin by creating a propaganda myth:

“Hitler bad, Stalin good. The political left is honest and caring; the political right is corrupt and greedy.”

Many have fallen for this meme, and it is now burnt into the BIOS (Basic Input Output System) of those who have “never thought of thinking for themselves at all”, a.k.a. Lenin’s useful idiots .

So Mr. Indoctrinated British Journalist approaches the dialogue with a preconceived notion that the Baron is part of a greedy and corrupt right wing establishment only worthy of the contempt of civilised “educated” people.

The sign of a good journalist is that he or she can recognise bias, and can therefore contain contempt. I have utter contempt for the leftist establishment; but then, I make no claim to being a journalist either.

As a child, I was taught to be contemptuous of certain types and classes of people. My mother’s family was very anti-Semitic, even though their father was Jewish (maybe because their father was Jewish). My father’s family (from Manchester) was very contemptuous of our very ‘nice’ southern English accents, and the accusation of being “la di dah” was not unknown…

I never knowingly met a Jew until University, where my Maths tutor was Orthodox. I got on very well with him.

I had my first clash with the reality of Socialism at university (in the form of the Student Union) as well, and I discovered to my horror that the reality of hard-left Socialism was extremely nasty. As a moderate Socialist, I was deemed contemptible and was treated with derision. There was no respect due to anything or anybody that did not conform to their core beliefs.

Islam too holds everything outside of Islam in contempt, and there is commonality of belief in this. In fact, Socialism and Islam hold so much in common it prompts the question: Did they come from the same source?

In a way, yes; Socialism arose through the trashing of the Bible in the 19th century. It resulted from the combined culture shocks of Darwin, Freud and Einstein. Darwin posited the first realistic alternative to creation, Freud redefined the human psyche, and Einstein redefined Newtonian physics. From these culture shocks arose a belief system based upon the idea that man is God.

Islam is, in effect, the worship of Mohammed, a 7th century brigand king who espoused the belief that one man (himself) could be the sole mouthpiece of god. For those who delve, there is a connection here. Mohammed used Allah as a kind of ventriloquist’s dummy — whenever he needed to make a statement, Allah, would give it voice through Mohammed. So Islam is a belief system that sees a man as God.

Any difference is semantic.

In their extreme forms, both Socialism and Islam believe in world domination, both use violence and terror as acceptable forms of evangelism, and both believe in an elite vanguard controlling the backward masses. Islam shows a contempt for women, seeing them as live ‘meat’ and other more vulgar epithets, ensnaring men in their evil sexuality and thus denying women entry into heaven. The Socialists show contempt for women in the role of mother, carer and giver of life; in their view women should be men, and work for a living. Women should bestow their sexual favours according to need and desire (especially the needs and desires of the Socialist elite) and, if necessary, murder the consequences.

The contempt shows up in many ways. In this case, the Baron is guilty of “inhumanity” because a Norwegian psychopath happened to read his blog posts and agree with some of them. Whilst this association is totally irrational, contempt makes it plausible in the context that, if the Baron had not expressed (contemptible) opinions, the shootings might not have happened.

Curiously, this fluffy teddy-bear logic endows the Baron with a supernatural ability to control events, and thus be responsible for them, by expressing his opinions, in writing, in a blog where he has no control whatsoever on the readership. This is the stuff of fairy tales!

And of such is the poison of Utter Contempt.



Slow Train Coming?

Misguided Economic Regulation of U.S. Railroads, Then and Now

The last few decades have seen tremendous improvements in the U.S. railroad industry. After a century of severe regulation nearly brought the United States railroad industry to ruin, policy makers in the 1970s began a process that ultimately resulted in the Staggers Rail Act of 1980, which largely deregulated the industry. But that has not put an end to the political fight over freight rail.

Beginning with the enactment of the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887, the federal government increasingly regulated railroad ownership, operations, and investments in the United States through the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC). While initially the ICC had little power to enforce rulings, it was subsequently granted significant ratemaking, entry and exit, and operational authority due to the efforts of the Progressive movement. Once railroads became heavily regulated, innovation slowed and American railroads began their long decline. During World War I, the heavily regulated railroads were nationalized by President Woodrow Wilson. After the war, the railroads were returned to private management—albeit in the context of a stultifying regulatory environment.

In the 1930s, new competition from motor carriers and more advanced waterborne transportation began costing the railroads passengers and freight. The U.S. railroad industry enjoyed a brief resurgence during World War II, as tires and gasoline were tightly controlled for consumers and the military relied heavily on the railway network to move goods and troops.

Yet following World War II, the railroads continued their decline. By the 1960s, it had become apparent to all that the industry was in dire straits. It was during this decade that economists, regulators, and politicians began seriously considering deregulatory relief—as the alternative, widely discussed at the time, was outright and permanent nationalization of the nation’s railroads.

Following the 1970 bankruptcy of the Penn Central Railroad—the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history until it was eclipsed by Enron in 2001—Congress and the Nixon administration began advancing a deregulatory agenda. In the meantime, the federal government created Amtrak to take responsibility for unprofitable passenger movements and Conrail to assume control of freight rail operations in the Northeastern U.S.

Finally, in 1980, Congress passed the Staggers Rail Act, which largely deregulated the railroads. Since 1980, America’s railroads—and indeed their customers and consumers—have enjoyed large gains. These include steep declines in real freight rates and train accidents, and a massive increase in railroad worker productivity. Unlike other modes of transportation, the railroad industry has financed these improvements—to the tune of $500 billion since the Staggers Act.

But some shippers are upset with the market rates they must pay to access rail carriers’ private networks. The most vocal are bulk commodity shippers in the West and Midwest, who may lack access to inland waterways and may be served by only one or two railroads. They allege that railroads are using their market power to extract monopoly rents and that federal regulators must step in to resolve this problem.

These claims are not new and they are baseless. These shippers are pushing a set of policies that will ultimately harm railroads, shippers, consumers, and the overall U.S. economy.



Sam’s Smear: Preposterous history from The New Republic

‘Every contributor to this collection . . . blandly ignores the possibility that there could be any real issue of a rational kind in American politics today which would justify the existence of an opposition, and proceeds to a sociological-psychological analysis of the extraordinary fact that there is one.”

Frank Meyer was writing more than 50 years ago, but the impulse he described is still at work. The explanation for conservatives’ opposition to President Obama and his agenda must be found not in our ideas but in our pathologies.

Thus many liberals seem to have convinced themselves that we resist Obama’s agenda because he is black. It is a theory that does not depend on evidence. Liberals read elaborations of the theory not to understand the world around them but to feel the warm glow of moral superiority.

It is a glow that suffuses the long cover story Sam Tanenhaus, the editor of the New York Times Book Review, recently wrote for The New Republic. Titled “Original Sin: Why the GOP Is and Will Continue to Be the Party of White People,”

Tanenhaus’s essay purports to show that Republicans’ crippling weakness among non-whites ultimately has its roots in the infatuation of conservative intellectuals with — John C. Calhoun.

Yes, the antebellum politician best known for his defense of slavery as a “positive good” is, on Tanenhaus’s telling, the real founder of the conservative movement: “When the intellectual authors of the modern right created its doctrines in the 1950s, they drew on nineteenth-century political thought, borrowing explicitly from the great apologists for slavery, above all, the intellectually fierce South Carolinian John C. Calhoun.”

Now Tanenhaus doesn’t want you to think he is saying that today’s conservatives are just a bunch of racists. Certainly not. He is up to something much more subtle than that. “This is not to say conservatives today share Calhoun’s ideas about race. It is to say instead that the Calhoun revival, based on his complex theories of constitutional democracy, became the justification for conservative politicians to resist, ignore, or even overturn the will of the electoral majority.”

With that to-be-sure throat-clearing out of the way, Tanenhaus continues with an essay that makes sense only as an attempt to identify racism as the core of conservatism.  Rarely has slander been so tedious.

That slander does not consist of reminding us that many conservatives, including William F. Buckley Jr. and National Review, were grievously wrong about the civil-rights movement. That fact is something all conservatives should ponder. Nor does it consist of suggesting, correctly, that certain conservative principles — federalism, traditionalism, economic freedom, judicial restraint — contributed to this moral error (just as certain liberal tendencies led The New Republic and the New York Times to make their apologias for Mussolini, Castro, and Stalin). Instead, Tanenhaus seeks to make, without defending, the dubious claim that any invocation of these principles is necessarily an implicit or explicit appeal to Calhoun’s worldview.

Because Calhoun was an articulate exponent of arguments for state sovereignty properly credited to Jefferson, Madison, and other Founders, many conservatives, including Buckley himself, occasionally quoted him. The notion that the conservative movement was ever enthralled to Calhoun is, however, not merely wrong, but preposterous.

Tanenhaus wildly overstates Calhoun’s status in the early years of National Review. Calhoun, he says, was the conservative movement’s “Ur theorist.” Yet in George Nash’s universally respected book The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945, Calhoun’s name appears twice: the first time in a favorable quote from the liberal historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr., the second 50-odd pages later, in Schlesinger’s criticism of Russell Kirk for lumping Calhoun and abolitionist John Quincy Adams into the same political tradition.

Calhoun is absent from the memoirs of the supposedly “Calhounist” William Rusher, the longtime publisher of National Review. He is mostly absent from the writings of James Burnham, although Burnham does reject Calhoun’s idea of a plural executive in a brief discussion in Congress and the American Tradition.

There’s no mention of Calhoun in Tanenhaus’s own biography of Whittaker Chambers. Perhaps more telling, there’s no mention of Calhoun in his more recent book The Death of Conservatism, which he marketed as the official autopsy of the intellectual Right. Odd that he missed the role of conservatism’s ur-theorist.

And Calhoun’s infrequent appearances in Buckley’s writings betray no adulation. The one reference in Buckley’s Miles Gone By, for instance, notes that Calhoun practiced his speeches in a field and then wrote them down when he came back inside. If that is a Calhounist dog whistle it must be one that only a liberal can hear (which, as it happens, is the case with most allegedly racist code from the right).



Limits on the Right to Exit: The New Slavery

The federal fascists respond with threats and vilification when a few knowledgeable citizens renounce their American citizenship and move — with capital and assets that they have accumulated by honest endeavor — to a more hospitable state, one that does not mulct them as rigorously by the theft benignly called taxation. The government bullies, who threaten to follow the departed and to claim their “rightful share” of the emigrant’s assets, apparently mean to wreak violence upon those who exercise their right to exit. Such threats sound less hollow now that the current political apparatus has emasculated all vestige of the rule of law in the cases of Osama bin La-den and Anwar al-Awlaki.

We live in strange and frightening times. Most of my ancestors came to this land two or three centuries ago in search of a free life. They had tired of the constant wars and rumors of war, of conscription and compulsion and slavery, of princes and other jackals who robbed rich and poor alike, enabling the robber to live an unproductive life of ease. In those halcyon days of yore, most immigrants came to this new and lightly populated land far from the Arabic, Asian, and European maladies, to a place where distance alone provided them a better and freer opportunity to make their own choices and to abide by the results. To those sturdy yeomen, freedom was not a word bandied about recklessly; it comprised an essential concept of universality and duality: liberty meant that one chose his path in life and bore responsibility for the consequences of his choice, and it also necessarily and concurrently entailed recognition that all other persons deserved the equivalent freedom.

In simple terms that even a modern United States senator should comprehend, the freedom to come to America necessarily includes the freedom to leave this country for any reason whatsoever without having to explain and defend that choice and without any fine or tax or any other penalty. In the context of interstate immigration and emigration within the United States, the Supreme Court of the United States has placed its imprimatur on an unimpeded right of mobility to move within the union. By a parity of any acceptable reasoning, that right of mobility must include the right to outbound mobility as well, an absolute freedom to leave this country without any requirement to state or prove any “acceptable” reason.

Any restriction on the freedom to exit disparages a fundamental human right and necessarily condemns the emigrant to a modern and odious slavery. Does that assertion of slavery misstate or overstate the case? The untutored mass, graduates of public institutions of state indoctrination, associate slavery with skin color. In fact, readers of history recognize that the past is littered with slaves of every kind, kindred, color, and other description. Slavery exists when one class or group within a society enjoys legal power to direct the conduct of another class or group to their detriment and in contradiction to the equal liberties all others enjoy. The right to leave represents a seminal element of human liberty, a cognate extension of the fundamental right to life. Hence, the new slavery differs little from the old failed systems, and it deserves the opprobrium of all free men.




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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Florida Senate axes Rick Scott’s Medicaid expansion

Last month, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, the one-time foe of President Obama’s health care law, rocked the health care policy world by announcing plans to participate in the legislation’s expansion of Medicaid. At the time, I criticized Scott, while noting that the decision would ultimately be left in the hands of the state legislature. On Monday, the Florida Senate joined the state House in saying no to the expansion, effectively killing it.

The decision by the legislature, if final, would mean about 1 million fewer beneficiaries on the Medicaid rolls. As I previously wrote, ” After the Supreme Court decision, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that adding 11 million people to Medicaid would cost $643 billion over the next decade — meaning a back of the envelope estimate is that Scott’s decision could ultimately cost federal taxpayers about $58 billion over the next decade.” Now, that decision has been blocked.



Beware liberals' hyperbole

Gregory Kane

Not that I planned it this way, but for the past year I've been quite the frequent visitor to Johns Hopkins Hospital. The shortest, quickest route from the venerable Baltimore institution back to my home in the northwest section of the city takes me past a collection of buildings far less venerable.

One is the Maryland State Penitentiary, a building that has been around since the 19th century. Another is the Central Booking and Intake Facility; in linguistically simpler times, we called this the Baltimore City Jail. I call the series of edifices "the house of reprobates." And yes, the Maryland State Penitentiary does have a death row.

During a recent drive home from Hopkins -- I ALWAYS always seem to get done in the middle of afternoon rush-hour traffic -- I saw a lone protester standing in front of the entrance to the Central Booking and Intake Facility. He held up a sign that read, "The death penalty is a hate crime." In a flash, I was reminded, once again, of why I just love liberals, progressives and leftists.

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The main reason I love them is that they say and do things, constantly, to make me glad I'm not one of them. Take the lone protester, for instance. As I mentioned, it's the Maryland State Penitentiary that houses the state's death row. The protester should have been on the other side of the complex, where the penitentiary is located. But his problem with geography was less pronounced than his problem with hyperbole.

That brings me to yet another quality about liberals-progressives-leftists that I love: Their yen for hyperbole causes them to frequently cram their feet down their throats.

"The death penalty is a hate crime," is it? There are probably grade-schoolers who can point out the flaw in the logic. A careful reading of the Constitution -- which liberals-progressives-leftists seldom read but love to rewrite -- reveals that the death penalty is not only not a hate crime, but also not even a crime.

The Fifth Amendment states that "No person shall ... be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law." The 14th Amendment adds: "no state shall deprive any person of life, liberty property without due process of law."

So, in two different amendments, we learn that the death penalty is perfectly legal if the person being executed has been given due process of law. Liberals-progressive-leftists conventiently forget this language when, with their flair for hyperbole, they claim that capital punishment violates the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

When they're not using hyperbole, this same bunch tends to make cheap, tawdry appeals to emotion, since they have so few facts to back up their arguments. In the death penalty debate, they drag in racial disparity, knowing race to be a topic that rouses emotions. When they couldn't show that blacks convicted of murder were being executed disproportionately, they tried to move the goal posts.

Those who ended up on death row, they claimed, were more likely to have gotten there if they murdered whites.

Felony homicide is the path that leads most miscreants to death row. FBI stats show that the majority of felony homicide victims are white; the majority of those who commit felony homicide are black. The liberals have yet to talk about this particular racial disparity. That's because they won't even acknowledge the disparity. They can't talk about what they won't even acknowledge.

The death penalty is a "hate crime"? It looks more like opponents of capital punishment have resorted to cheap demagoguery.



Why do the Koch Brothers get all the sunshine?

Here's a couple of data points that bear serious thought this week by transparency advocates celebrating Sunshine Week and by everybody else who cares about protecting and preserving a free and independent press:

1,130 - Number of results for search term "Koch Brothers" on The New York Times web site.

64 - Number of results for search term "The Tides Foundation" on The New York Times web site.

For the few stray souls out there who don't know, the Koch Brothers are Charles and David, principals of the Koch corporate conglomerate and chief bete noirs of President Obama, liberal journalists covering national politics and Citizens United obsessives everywhere.

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It's equally certain that few reading this post know anything at all about the San Francisco-based Tides Foundation, even though its roots go deep into the radical student movement of the 1960s and it has helped fund or startup virtually every significant liberal, progressive and radical cause in the years since.

Similar results appear from the same searches on The Washington Post web site, which turns up 277 links to the Koch Brothers and 11 for Tides. And on the New Yorker web site, Koch Brothers generated 35 links and none for Tides.

The contrast was even more dramatic on the Common Cause site, where the Koch Brothers were linked 4,560 times versus one for Tides.

What do these search results tell us? Only that it appears the Koch Brothers are of vastly heightened interest to two of America's greatest daily newspapers and to the dean of campaign finance reform advocacy organizations than is the Tides Foundation.

Which is curious, considering that it is all but certain nobody in these two August newsrooms or among the leadership of Common Cause would reject the proposition that "the rich" have far too much influence in American politics, thanks to their wealth.

Consider these numbers, derived from multiple searches of foundation grant databases, IRS Form 990s and other public records:

Three Koch foundations made a total of 181 grants worth $25,405,525 in 2010 (most recent available records). The one Tides Foundation made a total of 2,627 grants worth $143,529,590 in 2010.

Put otherwise, for every one grant made by a Koch foundation, Tides made more than five grants.

There are important qualifications to these numbers, including that the two Koch brothers also contributed to numerous political candidates, there may be other Koch-controlled foundations that didn't surface in this study, not all of the grants included here went to political or ideological groups or causes, and the two men may have significant influence on yet other foundations not under their direction.

What is crystal clear is this: The Koch Brothers get vastly more attention from two of the nation's elite media outlets and the grand sire of the "too much money corrupts" school of campaign finance reform than an obscure foundation that bankrolls multiple legions of leftist political groups and causes.

Might we conclude then that, like the collectivized creatures of Animal Farm, some of the rich money in American politics is more equal than others?



False hopes in the new employment numbers

White House economic adviser Alan Krueger greeted last Friday's employment numbers with optimism, noting that they suggest "the recovery that began in mid-2009 is gaining traction." His sanguine assessment echoes previous Obama administration claims in 2010, 2011 and 2012 that the recovery was just around the corner. Could it finally be for real?

To be sure, the report's top line contained signs of hope, such as better-than-expected net job gains and a modest tick downward in the unemployment rate. But this bit of good news was tempered by the fact that more Americans gave up looking for work and dropped out of the labor force last month (296,000) than took new jobs (260,000).

And at 63.5 percent, the share of Americans participating in the labor force -- that is, either working or looking for work -- has fallen again to last year's low, which had not been seen since the Carter era. What's more, this ominous trend obscures the labor market's true condition because the unemployment rate goes down every time someone stops trying to find work.

Unfortunately, there is worse news than this. One of the most important but least-covered stories of the 2012 election was the labor market depression currently being experienced by Americans between the ages of 25 and 54. These are the Americans in the midst of making something of themselves -- building careers and lives, reaching their peak earning years, forming families, and providing the economy with vitality and innovative thinking. Sadly, this is no longer the case in the Obama era.

It was dispiriting enough that 5.2 million Americans aged 25 to 54 lost their jobs in the Great Recession, which ran from December 2007 through June 2009. Far more unsettling is the fact that in the time since -- after three years and nine months of the Obama "recovery," during which millions of lost jobs were restored -- not a single net job has been regained in this age group. In fact, the number of midcareer adults working today is still lower than it was not only in June 2009 but also in May 1997, despite a 20 percent increase in U.S. population over the last 16 years. And the number of Americans in this age group neither working nor seeking work has surged in recent months to a new all-time high, after falling sharply last fall and creating new false hopes.

Nearly all of the jobs regained in the Obama recovery have gone to the over-55 age group. The "gray jobs" recovery has emerged through a combination of workers aging and near-retirees hanging on longer than they once did. This suggests that America is losing a generation of workers -- millions with blank years in their resumes that make them less employable. In the long term, their lack of job experience will diminish their value as replacements for the growing number of older and highly experienced workers who will eventually retire. In the longer term, today's lost young adults threaten to become impoverished wards of the state in retirement.

This reality underscores the inefficacy of the 2009 stimulus package. If it accomplished anything, it appears only to have allowed employers to hang on to their oldest and most experienced employees. The continued stagnation also demonstrates the need for President Obama to put job creation ahead of ideological objectives such as the abolition of coal, the establishment of futile renewable energy projects and tax changes whose primary purpose is to punish someone rather than raise revenue. Stop killing the job market, and it might just come back to life.



The TSA is just theater

Today the NY Post published an exclusive titled "Former Newark Airport TSA screener says the job does little to keep fliers safe" in the article the former TSA agent states:   "We're [the TSA] not any big deterrent. It's all for show."

Well, you don't say! At the cost of approximately 8 billion dollars annually, according to TSA News, it is one hell of an expensive show. The budget cuts and sequester didn't seem to affect the show too much either as the TSA just ordered 50 million dollars in new uniforms.

CNS reported on March 5:

    "The impending sequester did not prevent the Transportation Security Administration (TSA)  from acting in late February to seal a $50-million deal to purchase new uniforms for its agents--uniforms that will be partly manufactured in Mexico.      The TSA employs 50,000 security officers, inspectors, air marshals and managers. That means that the uniform contract will pay the equivalent of $1,000 per TSA employee over the course of the year."

Well at least the TSA will look good while groping us if nothing else.

Just last week the TSA made the news because an undercover TSA inspector got a fake bomb through security at Newark Liberty International Airport. The fake improvised explosive device was stashed in his pants and he cleared two different layers of security and managed to be cleared to board a commercial flight.

CBS New York reported:  "The incident was part of an undercover inspection at Newark and followed an abysmal performance on an audit last October."

    The audit found that Newark TSA agents:

    * Followed proper pat down procedures just 16.7 percent of the time.

    * Confiscated banned items from carry-on luggage just 25 percent of the time.

What's worse is that the TSA evidently didn't catch 3 out of 4 fake bombs. The NY Post reported:  "Only one member of the four-man "Red Team" that purported to bring explosives onto planes on Feb. 25 was caught, according to the report. That actor was detected with an IED hidden inside a doll, though sources told the Post that it had wires sticking out of it and was quite obvious."

I have written 10 different articles on the TSA over the years and spoken about the "joke of security" that it is. I have stated time and time again both on my radio program as well as in my lectures "it isn't a question of if we will suffer another terrorist attack but, rather, when." Once again, I must refer back to the NY Post interview where the former TSA agent stated:

    "What are the chances of you being on a flight where something happens? We always said it's not a question of if terrorists get through - it's a question of when. Our feeling is nothing's happened because they haven't wanted it to happen."

That sounds familiar. What I found to me one of the most disturbing things in the interview was where the former agent explained:      "These are the employees who could never keep a job in the private sector. I wouldn't trust them to walk my dog."

He explained the education level needed to work as an agent as well:    "Did you know you don't need a high-school diploma or GED to work as a security screener? These are the same screeners that TSA chief John Pistole and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano refer to as a first-class first line of defense in the war on terror."

"First line of defense?" That is a joke. As my friends and family know I hate to fly, if I can drive there I'll opt for the car ride rather than being in the air. It's not due to a fear of flying as much as that I know the truth behind our so-called security.




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Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Talks on the great climate fraud

·         Tuesday 12th March: Evening (7:00 pm) Irish Club, 175 Elizabeth Street Brisbane CBD. opp. The HILTON

·         Wednesday 13th March: Gold Coast: Wednesday 13 March: 7:30 pm (Daylight saving time) at Coolangatta/Tweed Heads Golf Club, (end of) Soorley St, Tweed Heads South

·         Thursday 14th March - Evening (7:00) Gold Coast:  288 Gooding Drive CARRARA ~Reach Out For Christ Church; ~QLD launch of Rise Up Australia Party.

·         Friday 15th March - Cairns - Evening (7:00) Croswell Hall, Cairns State High School, Digger Street Entrance

·         Saturday 16th March - Daytime (1:00pm) Rockhampton - Elizabethan room, Leichardt Hotel, Bolsover Street

Talk by Lord Monckton

Lord Monckton is in Brisbane at the moment.  So if any readers here are from Brisbane, they might like to attend a talk he will be giving this evening (Tues.) at the Irish Club  -- at 7pm, 175 Elizabeth Street, City.  A thorough demolition of global warming guaranteed.  He is a most impressive and witty  speaker.  The club is almost directly across the road from the Wintergarden foodcourt. Parking is accessible at Wintergarden and Myer Centre carparks.

The Gruesome Reality of Racist South Africa

For decades, the country of South Africa was the focus of an international rallying cry against the injustices of apartheid. On June 17, 1991, South Africa's Parliament abolished the legal framework for the practice of racial persecution. In 1994, Nelson Mandela and his Marxist African National Congress (ANC) assumed the reins of power. The international community looked away, satisfied that justice had prevailed. They continue to look away, even as South Africa has degenerated into another racist pit, best described by an Afrikaner farm owner: "It's politically correct to kill whites these days."

In July of 2012, Dr. Gregory Stanton, head of the nonprofit group Genocide Watch, conducted a fact-finding mission in South Africa. He concluded that there is a coordinated campaign of genocide being conducted against white farmers, known as Boers. "The farm murders, we have become convinced, are not accidental," Stanton contended. "It was very clear that the massacres were not common crimes," he added - especially because of the absolute barbarity used against the victims. "We don't know exactly who is planning them yet, but what we are calling for is an international investigation," he added.

The number of farm murders, or "plaasmoorde" as it is called in Afrikaans, is staggering. Over the last decade, it is estimated that at least 3000 Boers have been killed. Estimating the number of murders is necessary because the ANC has banned crime statistics from being compiled, claiming they scare off foreign investment. Moreover, the world knows little about the savagery that accompanies those killings. Many victims, including women and infant children, are raped or tortured before they are killed. Some have boiling water poured down their throats, some are burned with hot pokers, and some are hacked to death with machetes, or disemboweled. Several others have been tied to their own cars and dragged for miles.

The ANC, whose leader Jacob Zuma was reelected with over 75 per cent of the total voting delegates at the ANC National Conference held in Bloemfontein last December, denies that genocide is occurring, insisting that such attacks are part of the larger crime problem. Yet a report filed by the South African Institute of Race Relations notes that while crime has ostensibly declined between 1994 and 2011, "substantial numbers" of police stations have manipulated their crime statistics. The report sub-headline underscores the corrupt nature of crime statistics in the country: "Is this a true reflection of the crime statistics in South Africa? Who knows!" it states.

What is known is that the ANC celebrated in 100th year anniversary with a song led by President Zuma himself. "Dubula iBhunu" or "Shoot the Boer" was a line in the lyrics of an apartheid-era song, "Ayesaba Amagwala" ("the cowards are scared") that violates the South Africa constitution prohibiting the "advocacy of hatred that is based on race . and that constitutes incitement to cause harm."  Yet Zuma apparently felt no compunction to refrain from singing it, because the ANC considers it an integral part of the anti-apartheid movement that is part of their heritage.

In 2010, Julius Malema, then leader of the ANC Youth League, revived the practice of singing the song after many years. After the South Africa High Court ruled it was hate speech, the ANC appealed. Last October, the ANC and AfriForum, a lobby group that wanted the song banned from public performance, reached an out-of-court settlement.

Dr. Stanton concluded that Malema's revival of a song advocating murder moved South Africa from the fifth stage on his genocidal scale to stage six. When the South African judiciary ruled it to be unlawful hate speech, Genocide Watch put South Africa back at stage five. When President Zuma was caught on tape January 2012 singing, "We are going to shoot them with the machine gun, they are going to run/You are a Boer, we are going to hit them, and you are going to run/shoot the Boer." South Africa was raised to stage six once again.

Stage six is known as Preparation: "Victims are identified and separated out because of their ethnic or religious identity. Death lists are drawn up. Members of victim groups are forced to wear identifying symbols. Their property is expropriated. They are often segregated into ghettoes, deported into concentration camps, or confined to a famine-struck region and starved."

The sixth stage is followed by stage seven: Extermination.

In December, more than 200 protesters of the Afrikaner civil rights group AfriForum, which included families of murdered farmers and survivors of farm attacks, marched in the capital city of Pretoria. They were commemorating the second anniversary of the murders of farm caretaker Attie Potgieter and his family. Potgieter was stabbed and hacked 151 times with a knife, a fork, and a machete, while his wife and two-year-old daughter were forced to watch. They were then executed with shots to the head. "If you kill a rhinoceros in South Africa, you get more time in jail then if you kill a person," said Susan Nortje, 26, Mrs. Potgieter's younger sister. "I don't think people understand. We must show people what's really happening."

The group is calling for attacks on South Africa's mostly white farmers to be designated a crime of national priority. They delivered a memorandum to the country's police minister, Nathi Mthethwa, urging him to give the murder of farmers the same level of urgency aimed at rhinoceros poachers and copper cable thieves. Mthethwa was not present at the time, but police spokesman Zweli Mnisi accused the protesters of "grandstanding." "They are only representing people based on their color," he contended. "For us, racializing crime is problematic. You can't have a separate category that says, farmers are the special golden boys and girls. You end up saying the life of a white person is more important. You cannot do this," he added.

Yet according to Johan Burger, a senior researcher with the Pretoria-based Institute for Security Studies' crime and justice program, white farmers' concerns are legitimately "special." He reveals that it is now twice as dangerous to be a farmer in South Africa than a police officer. The overall murder rate in the nation is 31.9 per 100,000 people, 30 times that of Great Britain. For police it's 51 out of 100,000. For farmers, who are overwhelmingly white, the rate soars to 99 out 100,000. Burger rejects the notion that such a rate constitutes genocide-even as he concedes that many murderers "take out their hatred for all those past wrongs, and show who's in control now."

Like so many societies where demonstrating who's in control becomes a necessity, disarming the population becomes a priority. In 2010, the ANC-led regime changed the Firearms Registration Act, demanding that all legal guns be re-registered by July 31, 2011. In the process of re-registration, more than half the applicants were turned down, and 90 percent were turned down again on appeal. Thus, white farm families were forced to relinquish their last line of defense against the tens of thousands of criminal gangs roaming the countryside-armed with AK47s. and as Genocide Watch noted on its website last July one more step was taken as well. "The government has disbanded the commando units of white farmers that once protected their farms, and has passed laws to confiscate the farmers' weapons," it reported. "Disarmament of a targeted group is one of the surest early warning signs of future genocidal killings."

There is also a movement, much like the one that occurred in Zimbabwe, to confiscate white farmers' land. Julius Malema led the charge, saying all whites are criminals, and that his ANC Youth League members were going to take all the land back without compensation, unless farmers relinquish 80 percent of it. At a conference in 2011, Malema reiterated his plans, contending that the nation's "willing buyer, willing seller" program, aimed at redistributing 30 percent of white-owned land to blacks within the first five years of the country's democracy (a deadline later shifted to 2014, and then to 2025), wasn't working. "You can never be diplomatic about willing-buyer, willing-seller. It has failed. You have not come with an alternative," said Mr. Malema at the time. "We are giving you an alternative; we must take the land without payment."

That is a recipe for famine, as revealed by Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti. In 2009, he told Parliament that more than half of the farms purchased for black farmers, at a cost of $891 million in government outlays, had either failed or were "declining."

Yet ANC president Zuma remains undeterred. "The structure of the apartheid economy has remained largely intact," Mr. Zuma said, in a speech given June 26, 2012 to thousands of delegates at ANC's policy conference, held every five years, where the party's pre-presidential election platform is discussed. "The ownership of the economy is still primarily in the hands of white males, as it has always been."

Embedded in that platform is the idea that making peace with white South Africans following the end of apartheid has "hampered" the transfer of wealth to black South Africans. Thus, a "second transition," was proposed, which even the see-no-progressive-evil New York Times was forced to concede represents a "sharp leftward shift for the A.N.C., which despite its roots has largely backed a free-market economy with minimal state intervention."

Stanton sees a bigger picture. In a speech in Pretoria, organized by the Transvaal Agricultural Union, Stanton claimed the ANC was demonizing white farmers, who have been in South Africa since the 1600s, by calling them "settlers." A Genocide Watch reports reveals the strategy behind those efforts. "High-ranking ANC government officials who continuously refer to Whites as `settlers' and `colonialists of a special type' are using racial epithets in a campaign of state-sponsored dehumanization of the White population as a whole," it stated. "They sanction gang-organized hate crimes against Whites, with the goal of terrorizing Whites through fear of genocidal annihilation."

ANC President Jacob Zuma continues to fan the flames of racial division. Last December, he admonished black South Africans for being dog owners, saying that doing so amounts to copying white culture. Zuma's office contended the message was aimed at "the need to decolonize the African mind post-liberation."

It is a post-liberation effort that remains alarmingly on track to emulate all the other historically blood-soaked efforts by Marxists, who invariably need an enemy at whom to direct their anger. White African farmers are that enemy. Pieter Mulder, leader of political party FF Plus and South Africa's deputy agriculture minister, who was focused on the excesses of Julius Malema a year and a half ago, nevertheless offered an inadvertently prescient statement about his country's future. After noting that Malema and his ilk were attempting to take the country "back to the period before 1994 when violence and even the possibility of a civil war was part of the South African debate" he revealed why such forces remain seemingly unstoppable. "We don't have a Mandela that stands up and says: `This is wrong,'" he warned.



DNA tests reveal Hitler's Jewish and African roots

Socialists never let reality bother them.  It has often been claimed that Hitler had some Jewish ancestry.  That would seem to be confirmed below.  Note however that they did not have a sample of AH's own DNA  -- only that of his relatives

The Fuhrer 'would not have been happy' to learn he was more Berber tribesman than Aryan superman.

Adolf Hitler may have owed more to the 'subhuman' races he tried to exterminate than to his 'Aryan' compatriots, according to new finding published in Belgium this week.

In research for the Flemish-language magazine Knack, journalist Jean-Paul Mulders traced Hitler's living relatives in the Fuhrer's native Austria, as well as the United States.

"The results of this study are surprising," said Ronny Decorte, a geneticist interviewed by Knack. "Hitler would not have been happy."

Geneticists identify groups of chromosomes called haplogroups, 'genetic fingerprints' that define populations. According to Mulders, Hitler's dominant haplogroup, E1b1b, is relatively rare in Western Europe - but strongest in some 25 percent of Greeks and Sicilians, who apparently acquired the genes from Africa: Between 50 percent and 80 percent of North Africans share Hitler's dominant group, which is especially prevalent among in the Berber tribes of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, and Somalis.

More surprising still, perhaps, is that Hitler's second most dominant haplogroup is the most common in Ashkenazi Jews.  "The findings are fascinating if you look at them in terms of the Nazi worldview, which ascribed such an extreme priority to notions of blood and race," Decorte said.

Knack said it would now petition Russian government archives to release a human jawbone wrapped in a blood-soaked cloth, retrieved from a Berlin bunker where Hitler is thought to have committed suicide and believed to have belonged to the Fuhrer, who dreamed of engineering a Nazi superman.

"For modern science, there are no more races, Decorte said. "This pure type of 'superman' and the [Nazi] breeding programs to perfect 'purity' were sheer fabrication."



Obama Keeps it Real: Fake Plant for Fake Products for Fake Cars

Here's something that slipped through the cracks thanks to the fake drama that was going on during the fake fiscal crisis coming from our fake government in Washington, DC: Another fake green company boondoggle has resulted in federal dollars being spent on .nothing.

According to a report issued by the Department of Energy's own inspector general, employees at LG Chem, a Korean company that operates a battery plant in Holland, Michigan- a plant that's supposed to support the Chevy Volt- were paid for playing video games, board games, volunteer work at Habitat for Humanity and other local charities.

Another fake-work program brought to you by the DOE and Nate Silver.

"An investigation by the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Inspector General," reports, "blasted the federal government for negligent oversight and LG Chem for wasteful spending of a $151 million stimulus project to build batteries for electric cars. Despite spending a majority of the money, LG Chem has yet to produce a battery."

LG Chem's defense seems to be: "Oh. You mean, we were supposed to WORK for that money, not play video games?"  

Wired Magazine says, "LG Chem officials submitted those non-productive labor costs [that is, the costs for playing video games, etc.] for reimbursement because they were `unfamiliar with the types of costs that were allowable.'"

That seems to be a familiar complaint under the Obama administration.  Not being familiar with stuff is kind of rampant. See, for example Ghazi, Ben.

This is not exactly a government that recognizes boundaries, laws, the United States Constitution, common sense, Generally Accepted Accounting Practices (GAAP), or even basic shapes and colors.

These are the same guys who pay unemployment benefits to convicts serving time for murder; they pay an adult male, who wears a diaper, a disability payment so said male- so-called- can pursue the "lifestyle" of an "adult baby." Oh, and they pay the diaper changer who tends to him too.    

So, really who can blame LG Chem?

Not manufacturing a single battery for the Chevy Volt- the sole purpose for which LG Chem built a plant in Holland, Michigan- actually seems kind of like an act of mercy toward the taxpayers comparatively speaking.

Yes, wasting over $75 million in tax dollars on a plant was fool-hearted, but at least the losses end at some point, probably.

In contrast, three years into manufacturing the GREATEST CAR IN THE HISTORY of the Empire, designed by the GREATEST PRESIDENT EMPEROR EVEH! the Volt just keeps losing money, selling poorly and is still not using the batteries that LG Chem was supposed to provide.

Fake batteries for a fake Car-of-the-Year.  Gee: And some wonder why Detroit is going bankrupt?  

So, congrats to the US Senate and Korea's LG Chem on their new, low scores. Both have gone zero-for-three-years: LG Chem failed to produce a single battery for the Chevy Volt and the US Senate failed to produce a single vote for an Obama budget, fake or otherwise.

Since 2011, it's gotten so bad that Democrats have pleaded with The Big Zero to submit no budget at all.

Which leads us to the burning issue of the day.  

What's a better use of taxpayer dollars? Funding high scores on Grand Theft Auto for employees of Korean crony capitalists, or funding the United States Senate to be against raising taxes before they were for them?

Although LG Chem has reimbursed Uncle Same Ole, Same Ole about $900,000 for the fraudulent labor, the real fraud here is elsewhere.

Because the fake budget item that allowed the theft to begin with, WAS authorized by the United States Senate.

The problem it seems for LG Chem and "those non-productive labor costs" was that the costs just weren't big enough. Steal $900,000 and you're just faker.

Steal over $75 million and you're an official line item in the last budget passed by fake Democrat majority.


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



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Monday, March 11, 2013

Train Men Not to Rape? Or Train Women to Shoot to Kill?

 Doug Giles

Last week on Hannity a “Democratic Strategist” named Zerlina Maxwell told Sean and his audience that guns are not the proper deterrent to dissuade rapists, but rather “teaching men not to rape is the key”. When I heard that chunk of stupidity I blew apple juice out of my nostrils -- and I haven’t had any apple juice in the last eight years.

That’s what you call “strategy”, Zerlina? Man, I hope she advises the Dems in the upcoming midterms and in 2016, because she’s denser than a chunk of Turkish walnut.

First off, I don’t know what planet Maxwell hails from, but here on Mother Earth I would say, aside from certain countries influenced by the religion of peace, pretty much everyone and their dog knows it’s wrong to put a knife or gun up to a woman’s noggin and then forcibly molest her.

Secondly, I don’t think, from a viability standpoint, her plan is workable. Primarily, because no matter how much men are “trained not to rape women” our society counters that tutelage by fueling notions of entitlement and narcissism within an atmosphere of violence that’s saturated with porn, where if you don’t get what you want then you act out.

From Zerlina’s zinger of teaching men not to rape, we then move to the brilliance of a girl named “Liberal Chick” who, in order to eschew an “evil gun” firearm defense in rape situations, states that we should train boys to …

1. Play with dolls so they will learn to be gentle.

2. Avoid hunting, football and other macho stupid activities that lead to rape.

3. Be vegetarians and suppress their love of eating meat that also leads to rape.

4. Purchase Prius’s instead of big SUV’s, which we all know macho, stupid rapists drive.

5. Become gay, or at least metro sexual, so that as men they will be more delicate and complex.

Look, if I were a lass I’d tell both Zerlina and Liberal Chick, “No, gracias, senoritas”. Liberal Chick’s and Maxwell’s brain farts are right up there with Democratic Congressman Salazar’s “rape whistle” and University of Colorado’s “pee your pants” prevention in molestation situations.

Given our malevolent milieu, here are three ditties that’ll greatly decrease your chances of getting raped, ladies.

1. Hone your BS Detector. The BS detector is essentially that little voice inside your head telling you to listen to the little voice inside your head. It’s an internal salvific alarm alerting you to dangerous situations. If you hone your BS Detector and listen to it when it starts screaming at you, you’ll be safer.

2. Become an expert in self-defense. In this violent environment you’re crazy to play the damsel in distress. Learn to kick some ass. Take formal training, throughout your life, as much as you can, by the best of the best.

3. Get a gun. Forget rape whistles, pepper spray and screaming for help. Get a firearm, sister. It is the great equalizer. A 5’1” petite coed with a Colt Python or a pump 20-guage, who knows how to use it, is a scary girl indeed. Think Lara Croft.

The thing that’s truly pathetic and evil is that Maxwell and her Leftist cabal, in order to forward their anti-gun agenda, will table such unworkable, scat-based nonsense to the very women they claim to champion.



How the demographic shift could hurt Democrats, too

Since the November election, in which President Obama won huge majorities among minority voters, it’s been taken as gospel that the Republican Party must, for its own survival, seek to appeal to those groups by moving to the left on topics such as immigration reform. But as the nation becomes more diverse, the demographic shift can cut the other way, too: Some Democratic voters are likely to move to the right.

It’s assumed that, as the United States becomes increasingly non-white, white Democrats will continue to support the party. But a substantial amount of social-science evidence suggests a different conclusion: As the United States becomes more racially and ethnically diverse, liberal whites might start leaning Republican.

Consider a straightforward experiment I conducted last year: Over two weeks, I sent pairs of Latino men in their 20s to ride commuter trains in the greater Boston area, often cited as one of the nation’s most liberal regions.

These people were not asked to do anything out of the ordinary, just to wait for the train and ride it. The pairs I sent were native Spanish speakers, so when they spoke to each other, it was probably in Spanish. To gauge other riders’ attitudes about Latinos, I surveyed them before the experiment and two weeks into the tests. In each case, the trains and times were randomly selected and were later compared with a control group of riders on different trains. These trains originated in communities with very few Latino residents, and the men I sent to ride the trains were often the only Latinos at those stations on a day-to-day basis. In this sense, the experiment was testing how people react when a very small group of Latinos moves to a new community.

The results were clear. After coming into contact, for just minutes each day, with two more Latinos than they would otherwise see or interact with, the riders, who were mostly white and liberal, were sharply more opposed to allowing more immigrants into the country and favored returning the children of illegal immigrants to their parents’ home country. It was a stark shift from their pre-experiment interviews, during which they expressed more neutral attitudes.

Political scientists, economists, sociologists and psychologists have long noted that, under most circumstances, when people from different ethnic, racial and religious groups come into new contact, conflict ensues. Just look at the battles over busing students from different neighborhoods into public schools in the 1960s and ’70s.

And those conflicts often change the way people vote.

In the 1930s, political scientist V.O. Key found evidence that, in Southern counties with large numbers of African Americans, white voters were politically mobilized: They voted more than whites in neighboring counties and supported candidates espousing discriminatory views in greater numbers. A similar trend recurred a generation later, when liberal Sen. Paul Douglas of Illinois lost his 1966 reelection bid, in large part because of votes cast by whites living in parts of Chicago that had seen an influx of African Americans.

In a more recent example, the city of Chicago began a massive effort in 2000 to overhaul its public housing. Large and notorious housing projects, such as Cabrini-Green, were demolished, and their residents were relocated. More than 99 percent of the relocated residents were African American. The outcome of the effort was the reverse of my experiment in Boston — rather than coming into contact, groups were separated.

Did that separation result in more liberal political views? Voting patterns among white residents living near these projects before and after their demolition showed that it did. After their African American neighbors left, fewer white residents turned out to vote, and voters became less likely to choose Republican candidates, whom they had previously supported at higher levels than had residents in other parts of the city. It seems that the contact with African Americans had politically mobilized whites in Chicago, similar to how Southern whites were mobilized in the 1930s.

To explore whether there was a similar effect among minority voters, in 2008 I conducted an experiment in which I sent a letter to African American voters just before an election in Los Angeles. The content of the letter was simple: It reminded people to vote and included a map noting how often people on their block voted compared with a nearby block. In some randomly selected cases, the comparison block consisted of African American residents; in others, it was largely Latino. When the letter pointed to a majority-Latino block, African Americans were significantly more likely to vote, suggesting that they were concerned about political competition with Latinos — even though both groups vote overwhelmingly for Democrats.

In that same year, I examined the voting of Latinos in Los Angeles and found that those who lived near predominantly African American neighborhoods were far less likely to vote for Obama than Latinos who lived farther away — suggesting that contact with their African American neighbors may have prompted them to vote against an African American candidate.

As different groups come into contact, people often have adverse reactions, and this can cause them to vote for a party that represents opposition to other groups. In today’s electoral landscape, that might mean white Democrats would be more willing to vote Republican. There is some evidence that when most people vote against their party identification — perhaps as a Reagan Democrat, just once — they return to their regular partisan identity within an election or so. However, if people make that switch during their impressionable years, in their teens or 20s, it can last a long time. And if they become familiar with members of the other group on a personal level, then the initial aversion might diminish. For example, this might be why attitudes about same-sex marriage are changing — as more people come to know gay friends, neighbors, co-workers or family members.

Of course, people might change the way they vote for reasons other than the race or ethnicity of their neighbors, such as a change in their job or the birth of a child. However, these experiments tell us that, all else equal, contact between different groups, such as native whites and Latino immigrants, leads to more conservative voting.

None of these findings bode well for Democrats. As ethnic groups mix, voters become more exclusionary and tend to vote for more racially conservative candidates — which may make it more difficult to maintain a diverse Democratic Party and could tilt the field in favor of Republicans.



Amateur Beats Gov't at Digitizing Newspapers: Tom Tryniski’s Weird, Wonderful Website

A retiree with a scanner builds one of the world's largest historic newspaper sites while tax-funded projects stall.

One computer expert working alone has built a historic newspaper site that's orders of magnitude bigger and more popular than one created by a federal bureaucracy with millions of dollars to spend. Armed only with a few PCs and a cheap microfilm scanner, Tom Tryniski has played David to the Library of Congress’ Goliath.

Tryniski's site, which he created in his living room in upstate New York, has grown into one of the largest historic newspaper databases in the world, with 22 million newspaper pages. By contrast, the Library of Congress' historic newspaper site, Chronicling America, has 5 million newspaper pages on its site while costing taxpayers about $3 per page.[*] In January, visitors to accessed just over 6 million pages while Chronicling America pulled fewer than 3 million views.

Fourteen years ago, Tryniski, a retired engineer, launched his website after a friend loaned him a collection of old postcards of Fulton, New York, the town where he's lived all his life. He decided to scan and share them online with his neighbors.

Fulton fell on hard times in the mid-1970s, and Tryniski is nostalgic for the thriving factory town in which he grew up. He relishes in particular the small details of life in old Fulton—wedding announcements, obituaries, school events, society gossip—the sort of information that's the bread and butter of local newspapers.So after the postcards, he digitized the entire run of the Oswego Valley News, which is the paper of record for Fulton and its surrounding county. It took about a year to finish scanning by hand the entire run of the paper, which began publishing in 1946. really got going in 2003, when Tryniski, a high school graduate, bought a scanner that handles microfilm for $3500 in a fire sale. That meant he didn't need access to the original newspaper copies and he could work quickly because microfilm scanners are largely automated. He installed a keyword recognition program, set up a network of PCs to do the heavy processing, and began uploading his scans to a server that's located in a gazebo on his front deck. He never bothered to change the original name of his website.

Tryniski pays all expenses for the site himself. The only significant costs are bandwidth, for which he pays $630 per month, and hard drives, which run him about $200 per month. He gets his microfilm at no cost from small libraries and historical societies. In exchange, he gives them a copy of all the scanned images analyzed for keyword recognition. Most of the papers Tryniski has digitized are from New York, but he’s rapidly expanding his coverage to other states as well. He is adding new content at a rate of about a quarter-million pages per month with no plans to slow down.



Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

Russia’s ruling party put up patriotic billboards around the city of Orel last month showing an image of a soldier in a tank and wishing residents a Happy Defender of Fatherland Day. Rather than showing a Russian soldier and tank, however, the photo actually featured an Israeli soldier in an Israeli-made Merkava III tank.

The United Russia party of President Vladimir Putin commissioned the billboards in honor of the Russian nationalistic holiday, celebrated on February 23, which is dedicated to soldiers serving in the Russian Armed Forces.

A Russian blogger identified the armored vehicle as an Israeli-made Merkava III. The photo, showing a reserves exercise by the IDF’s Armored and Engineering Corps, was quickly traced back to the IDF’s Flickr account.  

The blogger drew attention to the irony of a foreign-produced tank featuring on a sign in honor of Defender of the Fatherland Day.




British fashionista criticizes Mrs. Obama's style:  "Dame Vivienne Westwood is giving Karl Lagerfeld a run for his money in the provocative quotes stakes. Speaking to the New York Times , Westwood seemed to recoil when asked about Michelle Obama's style, saying "Don't talk about her. It's dreadful what she wears… I don't want to talk about it. Really, I can't." "She's a very nice looking lady, but it's a non-starter regarding clothes that suit her," she elaborated, before going on to compare her to the eternally-stylish Jackie Kennedy. "Jackie Kennedy was a different matter altogether. It just has to suit her and be something that makes a human being more glamorous.  That's what fashion is there for. It's there to help, not just to make you look more conservative."

U.S. unemployment is nearly double the official figures:  "The official unemployment rate is 7.7%. However, if you start counting all the people who want a job but gave up, all the people with part-time jobs that want a full-time job, all the people who dropped off the unemployment rolls because their unemployment benefits ran out, etc., you get a closer picture of what the unemployment rate is. That number is in the last row labeled U-6.  U-6 is much higher at 14.3%. Both numbers would be way higher still, were it not for millions dropping out of the labor force over the past few years.    Digging under the surface, much of the drop in the unemployment rate over the past two years is nothing but a statistical mirage. Things are much worse than the reported numbers indicate."



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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Why Jonathan Haidt is wrong

Jonathan Haidt is a remarkable man.  He is the dominant thinker on the psychology of morality today.  And he got there by doing something amazing.  He listened to what conservatives have to say about moral issues!  For someone with his liberal background that was a wrenching move.  Leftist psychologists have built up in their own minds a caricature of what conservatism is and work with that (e.g. here).  It is however a caricature that is more or less totally divorced from reality.  But since they never talk to conservatives they never find that out.  Haidt did talk -- and listen.

And what Haidt found was a real revolution in psychology.  He found that liberals were simplistic thinkers on questions of right and wrong (can you get much more simplistic than:  "There is no such thing as right and wrong"?) while conservatives had a much more complex account of moral issues. And that conclusion was precisely the opposite of what Leftist psychologists had been preaching for over 60 years at least.

I share that broad conclusion.  In my own academic career in the 70's and 80's I regularly got research published which challenged the prevailing notion that it was the conservatives who were the simple thinkers.

So where does Haidt go wrong?  I have set that out previously but the essence is that Haidt believes what people say about their own motivations.  He believes Leftists when they talk about their noble motivations of achieving equality etc.

Haidt has therefore built his castle on sand.  Ever since the work of LaPiere in the '30s psychologists have known of the large gap between people's attitudes and behaviour.  What they say about their values and intentions is a poor guide to what they will actually do in any given situation.

Why is that so?  Why can you not rely on what people report about their own inner life?  A very common answer to that which has been around for a long time is that people commonly "fake good":  They say what they think will make you think well of them.  They hide their real thoughts because they suspect that other people will disapprove of such thoughts.  And as a result, psychologists routinely use "Lie scales" or "social desirability scales" in their questionnaires to get some handle on such distortions.

I would argue that looking at what actually happens or has happened in politics (history) gives us a much more accurate interpretation of what actually drives people.

Leftists for instance are big preachers of tolerance but just listen to what they regularly say about conservatives and Christians.  Very often it is pure hate.  They have no actual tolerance at all.  They tolerate only their own views.  I document it often on my TONGUE-TIED blog.

And they rail against discrimination.  But as Haidt himself has emphasized, liberal professors discriminate heavily against conservatives in hiring and firing.  See also here.

And Leftists regularly claim to be anti-authority but in the global warming debate almost their only argument is that "the authorities" support global warming.  That the whole global warming scare relies on totally hypothetical (and improbable) "tipping points" seems generally to be unknown to them.   I document that authoritarianism regularly too  -- on my GREENIE WATCH blog.  And that arguments from authority are among the classic informal fallacies of logic seems to bother them not a bit.

And what about the great volte face from pre-war Leftism to modern-day Leftism?  Before WWII, Democrats and socialists generally energetically advocated eugenics, were great patriots, convinced racists and were by far the most antisemitic.  FDR turned back Jewish refugees and TR (founder of America's "progressive" party)  and his allies built battleships, invaded several other countries and  glorified war, seeing it as a purifying force. But Hitler had those ideas too so, when he was defeated, Leftists reversed direction and disowned most of their previous enthusiasms.  In other words, they stand for nothing. They have NO lasting principles or moral anchors.

So what DOES motivate Leftists and their Greenie fellow-travellers?  I think it's obvious if you look at real-life politics: Anger/Rage/Hate, closely related emotions that readily  morph into one-another.  Leftists are always claiming that hate motivates conservatives but that is just projection.  And projection is a good protective strategy.  It tends to make people say:  "A pox on both their houses!"

Like that great hater, Karl Marx, today's Green/Left hate just about everything in the world about them and want to change it.  And the torrent of abuse directed at those who disagree with them is patently in many cases pure hate.  Abuse is their shtick, not factual argument.  Haidt is failing to see the wood for the trees.  He is naive in a way that no psychologist should be.  He needs to look at real life political behaviour, not self-serving lies and airy theories.


Three Takeaways from Rand Paul's Filibuster About Drone Strikes

Yesterday's 12-hours-plus filibuster led by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is among the most electrifying and insipiring events in recent political memory. The point of the filibuster - which derailed a confirmation vote on John Brennan as Barack Obama's CIA head - was to call attention to the president's insufficient answers to questions about his policy of targeted killings via drones and, one assumes, other methods.

Here are three takeaways from yesterday's epic event:

1. It shows what one man can do to call attention to a hugely important issue that nonetheless is largley ignored by the mainstream media and the political establishment.

Elected in 2010, Rand Paul has rarely been the Republican - or the Democrat's - media favorite. He's been heckled big time from his own side (which initially worked against his election) and across the aisle as an irresponsible ideologue (he's a dirty tea-bagger don't you know!). Among a good chunk of his father's most devoted followers, he's been assailed as a neo-con war hawk who was willing to trim his libertarian bona fides to win favor with the D.C. party crowd. His sad-sack opponent in the general election  the GOP primary, Jack Conway, set new lows with the infamous "Aqua Buddha" ad that accused Paul of everything short of devil worship; his general election opponent in the GOP primary, Trey Grayson, had already trotted out many of the same pathetic lines.

reasonYet since showing up in D.C., Paul has been exactly what Reason dubbed him: "The most intersting man in the Senate" who has offered specific legislation and made extended arguments for a unified vision of limited government that is not only fully within some great lines of American political tradition but urgently needed in the current moment. Senators who pride themselves on their foreign policy expertise and have free-loaded for decades in D.C. haven't made a speech as thoughtful and out-front as the one he delivered a while back at The Heritage Foundation, for god's sake.

Rand Paul didn't speak or act alone yesterday, of course - and props to the dozen or so colleagues (including a Democrat or two) who joined him on stage or otherwise engaged him. But the opthamologist from Bowling Green, Kentucky almost singelhandedly brought the news cycle to a halt yesterday by insisting that the American government answer some basic questions about how, when, where, and under what circumstances it thinks it has the right to kill its own citizens.

2. It shows the power of transpartisan thought and action. Make no mistake: Despite the presence of Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), yesterday's filibuster was a GOP-conducted orchestra. But what was most bracing and ultimately powerful thing about the filibuster was that none of the speakers exempted the Republican Party or former President George W. Bush, whose aggrandized view of executive power still roils the sleep of the Founding Fathers, from withering criticism and scrutiny. How else to explain that hard-left groups such as Code Pink were proud to #standwithrand yesterday on Twitter? The same with reliable Rand and GOP critic Eugene Robinson and many others who up until yesterday thought little of Rand Paul.

The filibuster succeeded precisely because it wasn't a cheap partisan ploy but because the substance under discussion - why won't the president of the United States, his attorney general, and his nominee to head the CIA explain their views on limits to their power? - transcends anything so banal or ephemeral as party affiliation or ideological score-settling.

The chills started early in the filibuster as Paul said things along the lines of, "If you're gonna kill people in America [as terrorists], you need rules and we need to know your rules," and "To be bombed in your sleep - there's nothing American, nothing constitutional, about that" (these quotes are paraphrases). Those are not the words of a career politician trying to gain an advantage during the next round of horse-trading over a pork-barrel project. They are the words of a patriot who puts his country first and they inspire accordingly.

3. It ties a direct line between the abuses of power and the growth of the state.

Despite using various self-identifiers over the years (he's called himself a libertarian, a conservative, a constitutional conservative, etc.) Rand Paul has always been rightly understood as an advocate of sharply limited and small government. During his Senate race, for instance, he said questions about drug legalization should be pushed back towards the states, where different models could be tried in accordance with the wishes of the people most directly affected. He presented a budget that was heavy on spending cuts that would have balanced the budget in five years. He has called for either actually declaring war on countries such as Iraq and Libya or getting the hell out. What unites his positions is a default setting against giving the federal government a free hand to do whatever it wants irrespective of constitutional limits.

A year or so ago, we were debating whether the government had the right to force its citizens to engage in particular economic activity - that was the heart of the fight over the mandate to buy insurance in Obamacare. That overreach - and the fear that a government that can make you buy something can also theoretically make you eat broccoli - was at the heart of Rand Paul's opposition to the Affordable Care Act. The Supreme Court ruled that in fact, the federal government not only has the right to regulate commercial transactions that take place anywhere in these United States, it has the right to force them to take place.

And now, we're arguing over whether the president of the United States in his role as commander in chief in an ill-defined, barely articulated "global war on terror" has the right to kill U.S. citizens without presenting any sort of charges to any sort of court. In fact, it's worse than that, since the president won't even share his rationale for what he may or may not believe with the country's legislature.

By foregounding the issues of limited government, transparency, and oversight as they relate specifically to the most obvious and brazen threat to civil liberties imaginable, Rand Paul and his filibuster have also tied a direct line to a far more wide-ranging and urgently needed conversation about what sort of government we have in America - and what sort of government we should have.



To create growth, unleash the invisible foot

Across the political spectrum, there is a growing recognition that while short-term battles over government spending are important, they would be far less ferocious and intense if our economy were growing at a faster clip. But while conservatives and liberals alike clamor for more growth, they disagree about how to produce it. The key is unleashing what the economist Joseph Berliner once called the “Invisible Foot,” the neglected counterpart to Adam Smith’s “Invisible Hand.”

Before we turn to the Invisible Foot, let’s think through the prescriptions for growth offered by Democrats and Republicans. President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies often argue that substantial increases in public investment will deliver robust growth. Republicans, in contrast, emphasize the notion that reductions in marginal tax rates will spur growth by increasing the incentives to work and invest. These approaches are obviously far apart, yet they face at least two common obstacles. First, the aging of the population and the high cost of health entitlements severely limit the government’s ability to increase spending or cut taxes. Second, advanced economies have by definition already taken advantage of the most obvious sources of productivity growth and so are forced to innovate to find new sources of productivity growth. And innovation is a trial-and-error process that is far more expensive and arduous than simply following the leader.

So the question of the day isn’t whether we want growth (yes, we want it badly) or whether we can dramatically increase public investment or dramatically cut taxes (neither strategy is in the cards). Rather, it is whether there is anything we can do to make the American economy friendlier to the kind of risk-taking and innovation that will eventually yield productivity gains without breaking the bank.

Enter the invisible foot. Despite sluggish growth, large U.S. business enterprises have fared reasonably well in the post-crisis years. Corporate profits after taxes have hovered around 10 percent of gross domestic product, almost twice as high as they were during the Reagan years. High corporate profits aren’t an intrinsically bad thing. Yet we’d normally expect that they would over time be reduced by competition from new entrants enticed by the prospect of making their own fortunes. This invisible foot of new competition is what drives incumbent firms to either step up their games ‑ a process that often involves burning through stockpiles of cash and shrinking profits ‑ or go out of business.

Unfortunately, this reallocation of resources ‑ from inefficient incumbents to innovative upstarts and the incumbents that manage to keep up with them ‑ stops when incumbent firms succeed in erecting regulatory and legal barriers to shield themselves against competitors, which is why regulatory reform and patent reform are so important. It is also why we ought to take care not to give large incumbents any undue advantages in our tax code.

As it turns out, the U.S. tax code does give large incumbents an enormous advantage over start-ups by subsidizing corporate debt. When businesses want to raise money for operations, they can pour their profits back into the business, they can sell shares or they can borrow. In an ideal world, we’d want business enterprises to make these decisions on the basis of what makes the most sense based on underlying economic conditions. But in the United States, we allow companies to deduct interest expenses from their taxes but not dividends on their stocks. This makes it far cheaper for companies to raise money by borrowing than by selling shares.

One reason this debt bias is a problem is that it leads companies to take on large amounts of debt, which raises the risk that they will go bankrupt. Yet there is another problem: It is much easier for some companies to borrow than for others. Specifically, well-established firms ‑ for example, large incumbents with pricing power that have been around for years ‑ find it much easier to borrow than new, unproven firms with high-growth potential, which have little choice but to rely on selling shares to finance investment. And so the tax-deductibility of interest expenses and not dividends gives the entrenched corporate Goliaths that have the option to borrow a big boost, while doing nothing for the would-be corporate Davids eager to take them on.

With this in mind, Robert Pozen of the Brookings Institution and Harvard Business School and his research associate, Lucas Goodman, have devised an ingenious plan to level the playing field. First, they call for cutting the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent. This lower statutory rate will make the U.S. a much more attractive destination for profitable investment projects, particularly since our current corporate tax rate of 35 percent is the highest in the industrialized world. To finance this substantial cut, Pozen and Goodman propose a modest 60 percent to 85 percent cap on the amount of interest companies can deduct from their tax bills, sharply reducing debt bias and keeping the proposal revenue-neutral. Firms that rely heavily on debt would cry foul, and for some the process of reducing debt levels would be painful. Yet start-ups that don’t have the option of raising money by taking on enormous amounts of debt would find themselves at far less of a disadvantage. The end result could be an entrepreneurial renaissance, as lumbering corporate dinosaurs that had used cheap credit to scare off competitors are forced to reckon with innovative new rivals.

And if reducing the debt bias really does encourage start-up activity, the implications for employment levels could be significant. As the economists John Haltiwanger, Ron Jarmin, and Javier Miranda have observed, start-ups and young firms make a substantial direct contribution to creating jobs. Yet they can also make an indirect contribution to job creation by forcing incumbent firms out of their defensive crouch and into a fight to retain and gain market share. Consumers will also stand to benefit from this kick of the invisible foot as competition forces down prices and gives rise to entirely new products and services.

There is obviously no guarantee that reducing the tax code’s debt bias will be a silver bullet for economic growth. But Pozen and Goodman’s plan has enormous upside potential and, if designed with care, wouldn’t add a dime to the deficit. It would be foolish not to give it a try.




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