Saturday, April 06, 2013

It's my Sabbath today but just a brief reminder of what sane people are up against

Friday, April 05, 2013

Stockton Was Murdered

Were a rational person given the assignment to search this planet to find the best place for human beings to live and build wealth, he might well settle on San Joaquin County, Calif.

That is where Americans built a city called Stockton -- the municipality a federal bankruptcy judge just declared dead.

How did Stockton die? It was cold-blood murder.

San Joaquin County truly enjoys as many natural advantages as any place on Earth. It sits in the broad valley that lies between California's Coast Range and the Sierra Nevada. Two massive navigable river systems -- the Sacramento and the San Joaquin -- descend from the Sierras and converge in an inland delta upon whose eastern edge the city of Stockton stands.

Anciently, these rivers deposited rich soils in the valley. More recently, they have provided the world with access to the agricultural wealth the valley produces. Oceangoing cargo ships can sail the San Joaquin right into the heart of Stockton itself.

Yet, despite being surrounded by fresh water, Stockton basks beneath warm and sunny skies from early in spring until well into fall.

"San Joaquin County has a dry climate, marked by very little rain," says a county planning document. "Its summers are long and dry (with a growing season averaging 292 days around Stockton), and colder, rainy weather is typical between November and April. Average annual rainfall ranges from 8 inches a year in the southern part of the county to 18 inches in the northern part."

The pioneers who arrived there in the 19th century looked at the abundant water, the dark soil and the sunny skies and did the obvious thing: They built incredible farms, planting things that would not grow in other parts of the country or would not grow as well.

Driving down a secondary highway in 20th century San Joaquin County meant driving for miles and miles along unbroken avenues of grape vines and cherry, peach and walnut trees.

Culturally, in the age of the automobile, San Joaquin County had the privilege of being about two hours east of San Francisco and two hours west of the high mountains. It was neither snowbound in winter like the mountains, nor fogbound in summer like the city -- but was within easy driving distance of some of the most desolate places in the country and some of the most cosmopolitan.

So what happened to this place so favored by geology, geography and climate?

On Monday, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Klein allowed Stockton to move forward into Chapter 9 bankruptcy.

The city's biggest bill is for the pensions of government employees -- which are run by a state agency called the California Public Employee Retirement System (CalPERS).

"Stockton's biggest creditors insured $165 million in bonds the city issued in 2007 to keep up with CalPERS payments as property taxes plummeted during the recession," The Associated Press reports. "Stockton now owes CalPERS about $900 million to cover pension promises, by far the city's largest financial obligation."

In Stockton, as in many other American cities, government became the dominant industry.

Data developed by the Census Bureau on the economic characteristics of Stockton in the years from 2007 to 2011 show that the city had an adult population (16 or older) of 212,365. Among these, there were only 84,204 private-sector wage and salary workers and another 6,927 people who were self-employed in their own unincorporated businesses.

That added up to 91,131 people in Stockton working in the private sector for a wage or salary or for their own business.

Another 18,778 in the city worked for government, and 11,426 collected food stamps.

Assuming (for the sake of argument) that none of the government workers were also collecting food stamps, there was a combined 30,204 government workers and food stamp collectors in Stockton. Those 30,204 people living off the taxpayers in the city equaled one for every three private-sector workers and self-employed business owners.

For every family in Stockton where both the mom and dad work and a teenage child also toils at, say, the local fast-food place, there is one person working for the government or collecting food stamps.

To the degree that government does not redistribute wealth from other parts of California or the nation to Stockton, that local mom, dad and teenager must carry on their shoulders the 30,204 local government workers and food stamp collectors.

Then there is that $900 million Stockton owes to the state's government worker pension system. That, too, must rest on the shoulders of the local mom, dad and working teenager -- unless the state or federal government taxes money away from people elsewhere to pay for the pensions of retired Stockton government workers.

A little more than two years ago in this column, I wrote that government had killed the state of California. That crime has now been repeated on a municipal scale. Nature gave America something with unparalleled potential in Stockton and its environs. Government murdered it.



How the US oil, gas boom could shake up global order

Without fanfare, China passed the United States in December to become the world's leading importer of oil – the first time in nearly 40 years that the U.S. didn’t own that dubious distinction. That same month, North Dakota, Ohio and Pennsylvania together produced 1.5 million barrels of oil a day -- more than Iran exported.

As detailed in the first two installments of Power Shift, an NBC News/CNBC special report, the United States is reaping the benefits of an energy boom created by new drilling technologies that have unlocked vast domestic oil and natural gas reserves. Coupled with decreasing demand due to energy efficiency and continued cultivation of alternative energy sources, an increasing number of experts believe the U.S. could achieve energy independence by the end of the decade – realizing a dream born during the gas crisis of 1973.

But who would be the global winners and losers in such a scenario?

Most U.S. policy makers and experts agree that the U.S. and its allies – particularly its North American neighbors -- would be the biggest beneficiaries.

In fact, they say, the West already has realized one major benefit: the success of international sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program.

Carlos Pascual, the State Department’s coordinator for international energy affairs, noted last month at the CERAWEEK energy conference in Houston that increased U.S. oil production, coupled with a boost in exports from Iraq and Libya, has kept oil prices stable despite the loss, because of sanctions, of up to 1.5 million barrels a day in Iranian exports.

“What this has taught us, and helped underscore, is that within the world we live in today, hard security issues and energy policy issues have become fundamentally intertwined,” he said.

Hossein Moussavian, a former Iranian ambassador to Germany and nuclear negotiator who's now a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University, said "the radicals" in Tehran failed to foresee the changing energy picture, believing that sanctions wouldn't be imposed and that, if they were, they wouldn't work because oil prices would surge.

"The Iranian mistake was to believe …  the threats of referring Iran to the United Nations Security Council, imposing sanctions, was just a bluff," he said.

In the longer term, observers say that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and many of its member nations are likely to be the biggest losers if the U.S. continues to cut oil imports, likely decreasing oil prices in the process.

"A dramatic expansion of U.S. production could … push global spare capacity to exceed 8 million barrels per day, at which point OPEC could lose price control and crude oil prices would drop, possibly sharply," the U.S. intelligence community's internal think tank, the National Intelligence Council, said in its “Global Trends 2030” report in December. "Such a drop would take a heavy toll on many energy producers who are increasingly dependent on relatively high energy prices to balance their budgets."

With some analysts predicting that oil prices could drop as low as $70 to $90 a barrel – down from the current price of nearly $110 per barrel of Brent crude oil – a “scramble” among OPEC members for market share could ensue, said Edward Morse, an energy analyst with Citigroup and co-author of a recent report on titled “Energy 2020: Independence Day.”

An International Monetary Fund analysis indicates that many major oil-producing states need more than that lowest price level to meet their budgets and would be forced to increase output or reduce spending, which could trigger unrest. Among them, according to the report: Iran, Libya and Russia, at $117 a barrel; Iraq, $112; Yemen, $237; and the UAE, $84.

Iraq, which has had production from its rich oil fields curtailed by war or sanctions for half of the 53 years of OPEC’s existence, poses another challenge to the organization.

Now that it’s finally free of such interference, its production is increasing by between 500,000 and 900,000 barrels a year, making it the second fastest growing oil-producing country in the world after the U.S.

“And, by God, no one’s going to impose any quota limitations on them,” said Morse, referring to Iraq’s OPEC partners. “So part of the challenge to OPEC is internal as well as external.”

For its part, OPEC professes to be not unduly alarmed by the U.S. oil and natural gas boom. It highlights the "considerable uncertainties" surrounding wells drilled using hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” and associated technologies.

Yergin said he believes that the Saudis will be able to withstand the turbulence, and that they will provide a buffer for the organization’s lesser producers.

“It's too quick to write the obit for OPEC,” he said. “… The Saudis will figure it out. They are re-orientated to Asian markets, turning left instead of right.”

But some members of the oil cartel -- particularly Nigeria and Angola -- already are feeling the impact of the U.S. production surge, according to the Citigroup report. U.S. imports from the two countries dropped to 700,000 barrels a day at the end of 2012, down from 1.6 million barrels in 2007. That’s because U.S. production of light, sweet crude -- the kind of oil the West African nations produce -- has burgeoned in recent years. Citigroup forecasts that by the end of 2013, the market for Nigerian oil at Gulf Coast refineries could entirely dry up.

Longer term, say by 2020, cheaper heavy oil from Canada, freed from the so-called oil sands by new recovery technologies, could push similar oil from Venezuela out of the U.S. Gulf Coast market,  (assuming the Obama administration approves construction of the Keystone XL pipeline to carry it), according to forecasts.

Mexico also is expected to increase production, offering the U.S. access to another convenient and friendly provider.

"The Eagle Ford formation in Texas extends into Mexico and if you look at the Gulf, you'll see thousands of black dots marking oil platforms on the U.S. side but nothing on the Mexican side,” said Yergin. “That's changing. There is a political consensus among the three major parties on energy. You will see less immigration from Mexico. Mexico could become more of a BRIC (the term used for fast-developing economies like Brazil, Russia, India and China) than Brazil."



National Science Foundation subsidizes authors of left-wing racism

Your tax dollars subsidized left-wing “consultants” who published a race-baiting op-ed in the Washington Post falsely claiming that white men commit virtually all mass shootings, and that we need to collectively ”hold them accountable” for a culture that spawns such killings. The website of consultants Charlotte and Harriet Childress boasts that they have “received close to a million dollars in grants from the National Science Foundation.” As the Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto notes, “The NSF is a federal agency, so your tax dollars have subsidized the authors of what can only be described as a racist rant.”

Many other leftists, like David Sirota, have made this argument in a less extreme form, arguing that it is noteworthy that more than 70 percent of mass murderers are white. (But that really isn’t noteworthy, in light of the fact that more than three-quarters of all Americans are white. It’s also not clear why we should focus on just mass murder, rather than all murders — slightly less than half of all murders are committed by whites, even though they are a substantial majority of the overall population. By contrast, blacks, who are only 13% of the U.S. population, commit nearly half of America's murders). The Journal’s Taranto lists a number of well-known cases in which mass murders were committed by non-whites, cases that the Childresses ignored even though they would be obvious to any competent researcher writing about this issue. The Childresses ignored even high-profile mass murders committed by non-whites that occurred in the Washington Post‘s own backyard, like the Beltway Sniper mass killings.

Earlier, another federal agency, the National Institutes of Health, used Federal cancer research money to fund a “laughable conspiracy-theory report smearing” the Tea Party as being created by the tobacco companies, which we earlier debunked. The left-wing academics that authored it had “received $7 million” from the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health. That “study” was a tissue-thin, 10-page smear, produced using federal grants that reportedly exceeded $1 million, that contained wild claims, such as the ridiculous assertion that “the Tea Party has origins in the ultra-right John Birch Society of the 1950s.”




AR: House votes to override veto of voter turnout suppression bill:  "The Republican-controlled Arkansas House of Representatives voted on Monday to override a veto by the state's Democratic governor of a bill that would require voters to show photo identification. Representatives voted 52-45 to override Governor Mike Beebe's veto, joining the state Senate, which had voted on March 27 to override the governor's veto."

CA: Judge allows Stockton to enter bankruptcy:  "The people of Stockton will feel financial fallout for years after a federal judge ruled Monday to let the city become the most populous in the nation to enter bankruptcy. But the case is also being watched closely because it could answer the significant question of who gets paid first by financially strapped cities -- retirement funds or creditors."

Liberal hypocrisy on Bloomberg’s moneyed gun control fight:  "'Bloomberg is buying another term in office! It’s an outrage!' That’s what lots of my fellow liberals said when billionaire Michael Bloomberg spent $102 million of his own cash to win re-election as New York mayor in 2009. ... So why aren’t these same critics complaining, now that Mr. Bloomberg is showering his millions on candidates who back gun control and same-sex marriage? Because liberals like these causes, of course. ... [I]f we are truly opposed to the undue influence of money in politics, we should protest that influence in all cases -- no matter who wins. If we only call for limits on campaign spending when our team is losing, then we don’t really believe in those limits at all."



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Thursday, April 04, 2013

Is Leftism the politics of envy?

Because there are so many rich Leftists, I have long argued (see the sidebar here) that material envy is not now, if it ever was, the driver of Leftism.  Even Marx, Engels and the Russian Bolsheviks were middle class rather than working class.  They were not generally poor.  I have argued that hate of the world about them and the people in it are  the key factors behind Leftism.  And the people Leftists hate most are those who cheerfully get on with life, as conservatives do.  Much more here.

So it is interesting that an academic journal article has recently emerged that also discounts the role of envy.  I reproduce the journal abstract below.

It should be noted however that the sampling underlying the article is fairly ludicrous. Sophisticated internet users do not represent the population at large.  And the over-representation of Democrat voters in the sample confirms that.

Additionally, the possibility of getting honest answers about political questions from Leftists has to be discounted.  They know how dismal is their internal world so tend to misrepresent it. Pol Pot tells you how Leftists really think.  So the article is a straw in the wind rather than anything conclusive.
Envy, politics, and age

By Christine R. Harris and Nicole E. Henniger

In the last 5 years, the phrase “politics of envy” has appeared more than 621 times in English-language newspapers, generally in opinion essays contending that political liberalism reflects and exploits feelings of envy. Oddly, this assertion has not been tested empirically. We did so with a large adult sample (n = 357). Participants completed a Dispositional Envy Scale and questions about political ideology, socioeconomic status, and age. Envy and age were moderately correlated; younger people reported greater envy. Political ideology and envy were weakly correlated; however, this relationship was not significant when controlling for age.



Liberals really do feel that way


A little bit of history

Then Senator Al Gore, a leading sponsor in the Senate of the Brady Bill talked incessantly about "safety" and "the children." Note this doofus however looking down the barrel of his M-16 when he was in Vietnam (as a reporter no less - though he looks all tricked out like an infantryman). Note also that there is no magazine in his rifle there could be one in the chamber. Now, having said that, if you were in a combat zone, would you be stupid enough NOT to have a magazine in your weapon? Me neither.


Black racism getting worse

Attacks on whites by groups of blacks are happening in many places in America but "dozens of mob groups" reported below seems an ominous escalation.  When the Left are constantly telling blacks that they are the victims of discrimination by whites, however,  the result is no surprise

Several teens were arrested after dozens of mob groups began attacking pedestrians on Chicago’s downtown Magnificent Mile area on Saturday night.  Police said 28 teens were arrested during the incident and no serious injuries were reported.

The teens charged with misdemeanor reckless conduct and battery and later released, according to News Affairs Officer Perkus.
Eleven other teens were charged with the same misdemeanor charges after they attacked a group of women on the CTA Red Line, police said.

“You have over three to four hundred teenagers with mob action, jumping on individuals that are downtown,” said community activist Andrew Holmes. “Multiple people have been arrested and I caution those parents that get this call about your child being arrested -- maybe you need to check your child.”

Officers began breaking up the attacks by ushering teens to the Red Line. Chaos continued underground but many attackers reportedly left the area.

“I just saw a cluster run down to the Red Line,” said Red Line passenger Amanda Dobson. “I didn't know what was going on. I just kind of stepped back and let the police do what they needed to do.”

Police continued to patrol the area on bikes, horses and on foot as smaller groups wandered around the Loop.

It is not clear if the attacks are related to a similar mobbing of Ford City Mall last month.

Residents were concerned that this could be the first in a long line of attacks after warm weather brought on a string of similar instances last year.

"It's been happening a lot around here," said Eric Baldinger, who works along the Magnificent Mile. "Just keep your wallet close and your purse closer."

Others said the attacks were disappointing and feared for the future of the city.  "I think it’s very childish," said resident Angelica Wilson. "That’s what wrong with the generation today because there’s always petty fights going on down here and everybody getting hurt. We don’t need more problems."



Five simple ways to create economic growth

Americans want lower deficits and more economic growth; that much is clear. The problems arise when we leave it to lawmakers to agree on policies to achieve those goals. Republicans oppose new taxes, while Democrats abhor cuts to entitlement spending. Even the sequester, which included minimal cuts off a growth budget of eight percent for defense spending and five percent for other spending, was passed with great opposition.

Fortunately, there are common-sense policies that would spur economic growth if political leaders would put aside their partisanship and compromise for the good of the country. Here’s my advice for five simple ways to cut spending or add revenue sources, and jumpstart economic growth:

1. Cut Medicare and Medicaid spending. Lawmakers should encourage competition between U.S. pricing and international pricing for drugs. Americans are now the chumps pay the highest price in the world.  With competition, pharmaceutical companies will lower the prices of drugs in the U.S.

 To cut costs, doctors should be reimbursed based on procedures, not based on a percentage of drug costs or tests performed. To reduce end-of-life procedures for the terminally ill, Americans should be asked to state their end-of-life wishes when they renew their driver’s licenses. This could help ill patients who, if conscious, might say they want compassion and pain relief rather than uncomfortable and ineffective treatments.

2. Stop the war on drugs. Like Prohibition before it, the war on drugs has failed. An innovator doesn’t insist on repeating the same mistakes he’s already made; he learns from them and pursues new tactics with a higher likelihood of success.

Legalizing and taxing marijuana would not only generate new revenue, but it would also curb our spending on overcrowded jails. State lawmakers in Washington are hoping for hundreds of millions of dollars a year in new tax revenue because of a now-legal pot market. For many of the unemployed, legalizing marijuana would also create new job opportunities.

3. Give Green Cards to the best and brightest. Those who receive advanced science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) degrees in our universities should be encouraged to stay here. The world’s brightest people help our best companies create new ventures and train others. If they can stay in the U.S., they will help our economy, create jobs and generate new tax revenue.

4. Require those getting unemployment benefits to volunteer. Research shows the longer unemployment benefits are given, the longer the jobless stay jobless. Instead of incentivizing the jobless to find work, we continue to pay them benefits. If we simply require the unemployed to volunteer 20 hours a week at a non-profit, the unemployment rolls would drop and those volunteering would develop skills and create job networks.

5. Allow companies to bring back foreign profits. American companies have parked more than a trillion dollars overseas because the money was made abroad and has been taxed by another country. The U.S. uniquely taxes it again and does so at one of the highest corporate tax rates in the developed world. If we want to jump-start the economy, jobs, and thus tax revenue, companies should be allowed to return their profits at a lower rate (say, 10 percent) if at least half the money is spent on new U.S. jobs or capital investment.

To cut our deficit and jump-start our economy, we need creative, bipartisan thinking. By adopting ideas like these, we can begin to meet sequestration goals without raising taxes or cutting entitlements. These are common-sense solutions that will help our nation balance the budget and put the U.S. back on the path to prosperity



If There Are No Winners, We’re All Losers

 Robert Knight

The last time I was in Ipswich, Massachusetts, I had one of the tastiest plates of fried clams imaginable. They were fresh, full-bellied and cooked perfectly. Try getting something like this outside the Bay State.

If it weren’t for the bizarre political culture, which ranges from the Kennedys on the left to the Kennedys on the far left, Massachusetts would be a wonderful place to live if only to enjoy the superlative seafood.

But I’ve thought about this a lot, and have concluded that it’s unfair. Yes, it’s not right that this little mom-and-pop place should have an advantage over restaurateurs who serve mediocre food. It’s especially unfair to restaurateurs in land bound places like Iowa or Nebraska, where fish sticks pretty much rule the seafood scene.

To even things up, the Ipswich eatery ought to dump its clams and start serving something you can get anywhere, say, a greasy burger. Then, everyone will feel better.

I gleaned this idea from the principal of the Ipswich Middle School, David Fabrizio, who recently cancelled the school’s tradition of Honors Night. That’s when top students are recognized for their scholarship. I’ll let Mr. Fabrizio explain, from the letter he sent to parents:

"The Honors Night, which can be a great sense of pride for the recipients' families, can also be devastating to a child who has worked extremely hard in a difficult class but who, despite growth, has not been able to maintain a high grade-point average," Fox News reported.

In other words, because not everyone wins, no one should win. This is the liberal mantra of “equality,” which, taken to the extreme, results in regular assaults on common sense.

Any parent with a child in an organized sport knows what I’m talking about. Regardless of merit, your kid can rack up a whole shelf full of trophies just for showing up. Who needs to win?

The problem is that the world does not work like this. When feminists, trying to cheat nature in the name of equality, insist on giving their daughters trucks to play with and encourage their sons to find their inner mommy, they’re not preparing them for real life. And when the children are directed toward games where winning doesn’t matter, they are being set up for disappointment when their boss finds their work ethic lacking.

Enforced sameness for the sake of equality breeds all sorts of unnatural outcomes. Strong-arm edicts issued under Title IX to make sports participation exactly equal for men and women on campuses, has produced a striking result: colleges are dropping traditionally male sports as fast as they can.

“The total number of athletes, the gender ratio of the athletes in your athletic department must mirror the gender ratio of your undergraduate student population,” said Eric Pearson, chairman of the American Sports Council, which works to reform Title IX. Since female students now comprise 57 percent of undergraduates but only 43 percent of student athletes, sports like wrestling are getting the boot.

Like children, many progressives live in the present, fixated with “equality,” and oblivious or resistant to historic norms. Even the idea of “norms” is offensive to some.

The very existence of norms challenges the paramount importance that liberal culture places on self-fulfillment. Plus, it was once the norm in parts of America to own slaves and later to put Jim Crow laws on the books, not to mention denying women the right to vote or own property. All points taken. But the civil rights movement, created to right profound wrongs, has been hijacked by people engaged primarily in expanding government and creating dependency in the name of equality.

Along with the obsession with equality, progressives tend to embrace change, any change, that is, unless it's toward traditional or conservative ends.

In his new book Return to Order (on which I consulted on an early draft), author John Horvat II coins a phrase to summarize our culture’s dizzying, fast-paced, and increasingly unstable core: “frenetic intemperance.”

The term describes a spirit of lawlessness combined with a frantic drive to satiate desires. The result is an inability to distinguish the important from the trivial, and to surrender to “a bland secularism that admits few heroic, sublime or sacred elements to fill our lives with meaning.”

Mr. Horvat, who heads the Tradition, Family Property Commission for American Studies, says that, “We do not think it is caused by our vibrant system of private property and free enterprise as so many socialists are wont to claim…. Far from promoting a free market, frenetic intemperance undermines and throws it out of balance and even prepares the way for socialism.”

One manifestation of our culture’s becoming unhinged from its heritage is the recent creation of same-sex “marriage.” People contemptuous of the past and who yearn to evolve to some imagined ideal actually argue with a straight face (pun intended) that marriage was invented to exclude homosexuals. That was the basic finding of U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker, who struck down California’s voter-approved marriage amendment.

Judge Walker, who has his reasons, wants the option of marrying a man instead of a woman, so he dismissed 6,000 years of history, the state constitutional amendment process, and the idea of self-government. He declared that “animus” toward same-sex relationships was the reason that men have been marrying women since time began.

If you’re living solely in the present and are obsessed with faux equality, it’s necessary to deconstruct marriage, plucking it from the rich soil of kinship and making it strictly about individuals’ feelings.

However, living only in the present has some odd advantages. You can spend trillions of dollars that we don’t have and not worry about the next couple of generations who will have to pay for it all. We’re busy creating equality!

You can turn over the world’s finest health care system to the government and hope that it won’t evolve into a giant Division of Motor Vehicles with band-aids.

As for future generations, well, pass some clams, will you? That’s still okay for now in Ipswich.




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Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Libertarians (And Fiscal Conservatives) Should Oppose Road Socialism

Libertarians and transport economists for decades have advocated tolling as an alternative to fuel taxes, which have always been a poor proxy for charging users and have since become obsolete. That’s why it was so disheartening to read Rachel Alexander’s recent Townhall article “Toll Roads and Double Taxation: The Left and Libertarians Converge.” Instead of bringing greater market discipline to road funding, Alexander pushes the view that perpetuating certain government subsidies is consistent with libertarian principles.

This argument is based on a faulty premise. Instead of asking, “How should we pay for roads?” we should be asking, “How should we be paying for roads?” This distinction may seem minor, but it is not. Alexander accuses libertarians of “agree[ing] with the left on double taxation.” In this context, “double taxation” is a buzzword for a myth propagated by the trucking industry, which wants to continue receiving government subsidies.

Tolling opponents argue that roads have already been paid for, so any further funding for their upkeep therefore constitutes “double taxation.” Construction has been completed, they claim, so why should we continue to charge users for something they’ve already paid for? The idea that roads, once they have been built, are paid for is absolutely false. The majority of costs associated with a given highway over time are operating, maintenance, and rehabilitation costs—not initial construction. In fact, tolling can make it possible for users to internalize the social costs of accidents and congestion.

Another favorite argument of the “double taxation” crowd is that we are already paying for roads through other means. This is technically true, but what are those other means? Primarily, it comes in the form of non-user taxes such as property taxes or general revenue bailouts of transportation trust funds. As Alexander highlights, the majority of road spending in the United States does not come from user fees. This is a problem; it means that federal, state, and local authorities are taxing everyone to subsidize the road use of some. The proper and pragmatic libertarian solution would be to expand tolling in order to shrink the share of non-user revenue and eventually phase it out completely.

The idea that tolling is too costly ignores recent research. A recent Reason Foundation study found that modern all-electronic toll collection costs were now broadly on par with collection costs for fuel excise taxes. And under all-electronic tolling, there is no need for costly and congestion-inducing manual tollbooth collection.

In contrast to the claim that public-private partnerships (P3s) are “essentially crony capitalism,” P3s are important tools to advance private-sector ownership and control of the road network. While long-term concessions based on a “design-build-finance-operate-maintain” model do not technically amount to full privatization, they do increase private sector involvement in infrastructure ownership and management. P3s also serve as demonstration models that could facilitate full privatization at the end of the concession agreements.

Alexander also repeats the “Lexus Lane” myth that toll lanes are only for rich motorists. On the contrary, lower-income commuters also need to get places on time and are often willing to pay for the ability to do so, as research findings show. Yet somehow, Alexander suggests that denying lower-income drivers the choice to pay for travel-time savings is consistent with libertarian principles. Equity concerns could be better addressed by offering lower-income drivers toll reimbursements or travel vouchers.

Furthermore, linking the monstrously irresponsible Central Artery project in Boston (widely known as “The Big Dig”) with tolling is disingenuous at best. The article she cites as proof of toll collection’s inherent evil focuses on engineering and construction mismanagement that led to shoddy infrastructure and out-of-control cost overruns. Nowhere is tolling mentioned—probably because Massachusetts’ limited use of tolling had absolutely nothing to do with The Big Dig disaster.

Concern over penalties for turnpike scofflaws and arguments to continue our current road subsidization schemes ignore the most important question: how should we be paying for roads? To transportation experts at national libertarian think tanks, including the Reason Foundation, Cato Institute, Independent Institute, and my own Competitive Enterprise Institute, the answer is clear: more tolling, more decentralization, and more private-sector provision of roads. And it isn’t just libertarians: conservative transportation analysts affiliated with the Heritage Foundation and American Enterprise Institute share our goal of curtailing road socialism.

Is it the case that virtually every libertarian transportation scholar in existence holds profoundly un-libertarian views regarding transportation and that their support for tolling is an egregious ideological sin? I suppose it’s possible, but Alexander’s case as presented runs against the overwhelming opinion of experts at some of the most renowned free-market think tanks in the United States



Why Do Liberals hate Success?

There are many successful liberals, so why do so many of them wish to subsidize failure for the poor, instead of showing them how to succeed?

Take Dr. Ben Carson, as one example. Dr. Carson, the renowned neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Md., is enjoying a certain amount of celebrity unrelated to his profession for speaking his mind about how individuals and the nation might succeed if more Americans were less dependent on government.

Dr. Carson, who is African-American, has been denounced as insufficiently black because he won't toe the liberal line when it comes to big government and the implication that those in the African-American voting bloc, huge supporters of the Democratic Party, who fall below the poverty line, cannot succeed without it. The fact that many have not succeeded with government has apparently escaped the notice of his critics.

Speaking with Megyn Kelly on Fox News' "America Live" last week, Dr. Carson addressed some of the slurs tossed at him, saying they are what you might expect to hear "on a third grade playground." He appealed to his detractors to "move beyond" such rhetoric "and let's have a real discussion about the real facts. If somebody disagrees, let's talk about why they disagree, let's talk about the pros and cons, let's see if we can find some accommodation."

That is precisely what the left does not want to do, because to have such a discussion would expose liberalism's failure to solve the problems of poverty and education -- to cite just two examples -- through government.

MSNBC's Toure Monday has called Dr. Carson a token "black friend" to the Republican Party. I don't recall Carson ever saying he belongs to the Republican Party, do you? Even so, labels should not define the man. What Carson is saying and what he represents ought to be the beginning point for the discussion he is trying to initiate.

Dr. Carson dismissed one suggestion he might be an "Uncle Tom" this way: "Well, obviously they don't know what an Uncle Tom is because they need to read Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel 'Uncle Tom's Cabin.' You'll see that he was very, very subservient, kind of go along to get along type of person. Obviously, that's not what I'm doing."  Obviously.

In the Kelly interview, Dr. Carson hit his main point about liberal reaction on subjects ranging from Obamacare to higher taxes: "They feel that if you look a certain way then you have to stay on the plantation."

Isn't such a personal attack also a form of racism? All whites don't think alike, why should all African-Americans be expected to?

If government were the solution and not the problem, shouldn't we expect that the amount of money spent on anti-poverty programs -- $15 trillion since 1964, according to a CATO Institute analysis -- might have moved the needle on poverty? Instead there are nearly as many poor people today as there were 49 years ago. According to the Wall Street Journal, "Enrollment in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, as the modern-day food-stamp benefit is known, has soared 70 percent since 2008 to a record 47.8 million as of December 2012." Government as solution isn't working and Dr. Carson wants to discuss why. For this he is attacked?

The nightmare for liberals would be if Ben Carson became a role model for the poor instead of a target. If more of the poor had mothers like his (and maybe active fathers, which he didn't have), who focused on reading and discipline, more might grow up to be like him. They might reject the lie that they are incapable of succeeding because of their circumstances.

In addition to Carson's remarks about government dependency, he is also under attack for his unorthodox positions on same-sex marriage and evolution, which the National Review Online reports has led to a petition being circulated at Johns Hopkins Medical School asking that he be disinvited as commencement speaker. That would add censorship to racism.



Bureaucratic Incompetence and the VA

Sadly, bureaucracy is a time-honored tradition in the United States government, but perhaps no greater bureaucratic juggernaut exists today than the Veteran’s Administration (VA) run by the Obama Administration.

The abject failure of the VA under the leadership of the three-ring circus we know as the Obama Administration is a case in point that increasing funding does little to inject competence or efficiency.

Recent documents from an Internal Veterans Affairs Department reveal some veterans actually die before receiving the care they need and others are forced to wait up to eight months to see a doctor, well beyond the VA’s standard of 14 days.

A House Veterans Oversight and Investigations committee appointed to look into the problem found evidence the VA is falsifying numbers and closing out veterans’ appointment requests in response to the backlog. According to the Military Times, the committee chairman, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO), cites reasons for the closeouts include: “the request was years old, too much time had elapsed, or the veteran had died.”

A March 14, 2013 witness testimony by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) Health Care Director, Debra Draper stated no one actually knows how long veterans are waiting for care because “the reported dates are unreliable” -- a large number of VA appointment schedulers don’t know how to do their job, the whole system is obsolete, and dates are massaged to “show clinic wait times within VHA’s performance goals.”

I digress to note that similar complaints are also documented within Britain’s National Healthcare System where workers manipulate numbers to meet quotas to keep their jobs. If the VA can’t provide benefits to our nation’s veterans, how does the Obama administration plan to deliver healthcare for 30-plus million Americans?

Liberals would have us believe that a bloated federal government has the ability to play a meaningful role in nurturing people’s lives, but if they can’t get this one right, they just need to just fuhgeddaboutit. Case closed. Done.

Additionally, internal VA documents secured by the Center for Investigative Reporting found wait times for first-time disability compensation claims and other benefit claims are much longer than the VA cares to admit, with claims taking anywhere from 316 to 642 days.

In the first year of President Obama’s presidency, 11,000 veterans were on a claim waiting list for more than a year. Five years later, despite promises for improvement, and massive dollars “invested,” the situation has deteriorated.

Those on a one-year waiting list for claims rose by more than 2000 percent, to 245,000 in 2012. Currently, the average wait time for 900,000 veterans who have been willing to sacrifice life and limb for our freedom is 273 days. With that kind of malfeasance taking place under my watch, I think I’d do a little less golfing if I were president.

If you think this has something to do with “the mess Obama inherited,” then think again. The Center for Investigative Reporting found, “the average wait time for veterans filing disability claims fell by more than a third under President George W. Bush, even as more than 320,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans filed disability claims.”



Faith in Freedom

 Rick Santorum
On Easter Sunday, Christians around the world celebrated the resurrection of the Lord, Jesus Christ. For us, it was a time of renewal -- a renewal of our baptismal promises, a rebirth of our faith in the Father, a moment to rejoice in our love for the church and its teachings. Also, our Jewish friends and neighbors recently observed Passover and hosted Seder dinners for family and friends.

It's a joyous time of year, and I'm grateful we live in a country where we are free to observe and celebrate our traditions and our faiths -- a country where people of different faiths can respect one another. It's something we often take for granted here in America, for the same cannot be said in many other parts of the world. Too often people endure daily slights for their religious beliefs -- or worse. In many cases, they live in fear of persecution, imprisonment or death for what they believe. Millions are denied what we believe to be a basic right: the right to live their faith freely in a free society.

Our Founding Fathers themselves were witness to much religious persecution and, therefore, sought to create a nation that treated freedom to worship as a fundamental right, the first freedom. In the Declaration of Independence, our founders highlighted our inalienable rights -- which come from our Creator, not government. As the leaders of free people around the world, it is my hope that we would advance our founders' vision and serve as voices for the millions around the world who are oppressed.

But sadly, I'm too frequently reminded that this is not happening. Either it has not been a priority or our leaders don't truly believe in protecting this first freedom. Either way, this is unacceptable. For example, on multiple occasions, President Barack Obama has chosen not to raise concerns with Chinese leaders about their frequent imprisonment of human rights advocates or treatment of Tibetan Buddhists, Uighur Muslims and Falun Gong members -- all of whom have been oppressed because the Chinese government views them as a threat. The administration also has chosen not to speak out on the one-child policy.

But notwithstanding the recent admission by the Chinese government that the country has aborted more than 336 million unborn children -- many by force -- over the past four decades, China's treatment of minority religions is nothing like the oppression suffered by millions in the Middle East today. A recent study by The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life found that just 4 percent of people in the Middle East and Africa are Christian, down from more than 20 percent a century ago. In the cradle of Christianity, nearly all of the Christians have fled. In Egypt, Syria, Algeria, Iran and Pakistan, among many others, there come reports of the tormenting and murdering of Christians. And we have basically abandoned them. Despite the president's now quite famous 2009 speech in Cairo -- in which he committed to upholding religious freedom around the world -- we have done almost nothing to help these people as radical and intolerant Islamist regimes come to power.

Throughout these Muslim countries, religious minorities are being purged from lands they have occupied for 7,000 years. In recent months in Nigeria, as many as 50 Catholic churches have been destroyed by Boko Haram, a militant Islamist group. They also reportedly have targeted and killed Christians and intend to "Islamize" the country. Across the region daily, reports such as the one from Egypt in which a family of eight was sentenced to 15 years in prison for converting to Christianity are very common. You probably won't hear much from our leaders or the mainstream media on this, though. But please know that not all enjoy the freedom to worship that we do.

During his recent trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories, President Obama said he would do his best to help the people of the Holy Land keep the Christian presence there. His visit was met with appreciation from Christian leaders in the region, one of whom described the visit as a "pilgrimage" to a place that is "important for the whole of mankind." Time will tell whether his words were more than hollow gestures. I pray that they are.

Throughout history, our great nation has confronted and defeated threats to human rights here at home and abroad. From civil rights to defeating the Nazis and liberating the concentration camps to going toe-to-toe with the Soviets, we've had leaders who, when they've seen injustice and egregious violations of human rights, have stepped up and, in the spirit of our founders, have protected our first principles and beliefs as a nation. It's time our leaders stood up for the equal treatment of women and the freedom of conscience of religious minorities around the world, for example. And we must stand up against violence in the name of religion. Perhaps more importantly, we also must recognize that religious liberty is under assault by not only Muslim radicals but also radical secularists who are intolerant of expressions of faith. Many of these secularists hold prominent public positions in Western nations.




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Tuesday, April 02, 2013

The Chart from Hell

On August 7, 2009 Barack Obama thumped his chest in the Rose Garden and proclaimed "We've rescued our economy from catastrophe."  Supposedly, the economic recovery had officially begun two months earlier.  

That was 1328 days ago.  But, try telling that to somebody that has to work for a living.  Median Household Income continues to fall.

While the President pretends that the end to life as we know it is near because of the incy wincy sequester cuts, families have been forced to live on less for years – and, it's still getting worse.

As reported by the New York Times:

"For the first time in over a year, median annual income fell by a statistically significant amount from the previous month, according to a report from Sentier Research.

Median annual household income in February 2013 was $51,404, about 1.1 percent (or $590) lower than the January 2013 level of $51,994. The numbers are all pretax, and are adjusted for both inflation and seasonal changes.

… The longer-run trends are even more depressing.

February’s median annual household income was 5.6 percent lower than it was in June 2009, the month the recovery technically began; 7.3 percent lower than in December 2007, when the most recent recession officially started; and 8.4 percent lower than in January 2000, the earliest date that this statistical series became available."

Note that these numbers are "pretax."  In January, the Payroll Tax was increased by 2 percent by Obama's $600 billion fiscal cliff tax hike.  On average, that tax increase will suck another $700 per year out of the wallets of 160 million Americans.

Little wonder that 6-in-10 Americans believe the economy is still in recession.  And, the really big hit from ObamaCare is right around the corner.  

And, what do we get from the White House?  Denial.  Last month, Joe Biden said Americans are "no longer worried" about the economy.



1913 — the final days of the old regime in the United States

In 1913, exactly a century ago, the United States was a flourishing, economically advanced country. Its real output per capita was the world’s highest. It produced a great abundance of agricultural products and was a leading exporter of cotton, wheat, and many other farm products. Yet it also had the world’s largest industrial sector, producing as much manufactured output as France, Germany, and the United Kingdom combined. It brought forth new technological marvels almost daily, and its cities featured well paved and lighted streets, automobiles, modern sewerage and water-supply systems, central electrical-supply systems, skyscrapers, street cars, subways, and frequent intercity train service. During the preceding fifty years, its real income per capita had grown by about 2 percent per year, on average, and its total real output by about 4 percent per year, on average. All races, classes, and regions participated in this progress. In 1913, the rate of unemployment was 4.3 percent, and the price level was roughly the same as its average during the nineteenth century.

Yet the United States in 1913 had no federal income tax, no central bank, no social security taxes, no general sales taxes, no Securities and Exchange Commission, no Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, no Department of Health and Human Services, no National Labor Relations Board, no federal this, that, and the other as far as the eye can see. Except for restrictions on Chinese and Japanese immigration, nothing but perfunctory health examinations impeded the free flow of foreigners into the country, and hundreds of thousands arrived each year, mostly from Europe. All governments combined spent an amount equal to about 7 percent of GDP; the federal government’s part amounted to only about 3 percent of GDP. Local governments were the biggest actors in terms of regulations and expenditures. The average American had no regular contact with the federal government aside from the postman and little or none with the state and local governments aside from the school teachers and the public streets. The country was on an official gold standard. Gold and silver coins circulated as normal media of exchange, and gold certificates issued by individual commercial banks, as well as their checking accounts, served the public for making larger transactions.

Never before had so much prosperity been attained by a comparably large population, and never before had so many people enjoyed such spacious freedom to live their lives and go about their business as they chose in a context where voluntary transactions dominated economic affairs and governments were relatively inconsequential factors in the economy and society. Such was the garden in which the serpents of war would soon whisper in the ears of politicians and government officials, who shortly afterward would blast this auspicious scene to smithereens.

The Old Regime would then be lost forever, as the war’s pervasive legacies insinuated themselves permanently into economic and political life. Gone forever was a world that, notwithstanding its many defects and crying needs, had been traveling a sure road to improvements and remedies largely within a nurturing spontaneous order. Henceforward, the intrusion of politics and governments into ever more aspects of social and economic life would poison the people’s public affairs and turn them away from creative activity and self-responsibility toward more and more political conflict, suppression of freedom, and plunder of one another.



The Left's Continuing War on Women

 Ann Coulter

The New York Times caused a sensation with its kazillion-word, March 17 article by Michael Luo on the failures of state courts to get guns out of the hands of men in domestic violence situations.

The main purpose of the article was to tweak America's oldest civil rights organization, the National Rifle Association, for opposing some of the more rash anti-gun proposals being considered by state legislatures, such as allowing courts to take away a person's firearms on the basis of a temporary restraining order.

It's a new position for liberals to oppose the rights of the accused. Usually the Times is demanding that even convicted criminals be given voting rights, light sentences, sex-change operations and vegan meals in prison.

Another recent Times article about communities trying to keep sex offenders out of their neighborhoods quoted a liberal saying: "It's counterproductive to public safety, because when you have nothing to lose, you are much more likely to commit a crime than when you are rebuilding your life."

But that was about convicted child molesters. This is about guns, so all new rules apply.

As is usually the case when liberals start proposing gun restrictions, they assume only men will be disarmed by laws taking guns from those subjected to temporary restraining orders. But such orders aren't particularly difficult to get. It doesn't occur to liberals that an abusive man could also get one against his wife, whether or not his accusations are true.

Rather than helping victims of domestic abuse, this -- and other Times' proposals on guns -- only ensures that more women will get killed. A gun in the hand of an abused woman changes the power dynamic far more than keeping a gun out of the hands of her abuser, who generally can murder his wife in any number of ways.

The vast majority of rapists, for example, don't even bother using a gun because -- as renowned criminologist Gary Kleck notes -- they typically have a "substantial power advantage over the victim," making the use of a weapon redundant.

As the Times eventually admits around paragraph 400: "In fairness, it was not always clear that such an order (taking guns from the accused wife abuser) would have prevented the deaths."

No kidding. In one case the Times cites, Robert Wigg ripped a door off its hinges and heaved it at his wife, Deborah, after having thrown her to the floor by her hair.

Deborah Wigg moved out, got a protective order and filed for divorce. But doors were not an impediment to Robert Wigg. He showed up at her new house and, in short order, broke down the door and murdered her.

He happened to have used a gun, but he might as well have used his fists. Or an illegal gun, had the court taken away his legal guns. Or another door.

As her husband was breaking in, Deborah called her parents and 911. Her neighbors called 911, too. But the police didn't arrive in time. Even her parents got to the house before the cops did, only to find their daughter murdered.

The protective order didn't help Deborah Wigg; the police couldn't help; her neighbors and parents couldn't help. Only if she'd had a gun and knew how to use it -- after carefully disregarding everything Joe Biden has said on the subject -- might she have been able to save her own life.

Numerous studies, including one by the National Institute of Justice, show that crime victims who resist a criminal with a gun are less likely to be injured than those who do not resist at all or who resist without a gun. That's true even when the assailant is armed.

Liberals' advice to rape and domestic abuse victims is: Lie back and enjoy it. The Times' advice is: Get a protective order. The NRA's advice is: Blow the dirtbag's head off. Or, for the delicate: Resist with a gun, the only effective means to stop an attack.

Apparently a lot of abused women prefer not to lie back and take it. Looking at data from Detroit, Houston and Miami, Margo Wilson and Martin Daly found that the vast majority of wives who killed their husbands were not even indicted, much less convicted, because it was found they were acting in self-defense.

But the Times doesn't want abused women to have a fighting chance. Instead, it keeps pushing gun control policies that not only won't stop violent men from murdering their wives, but will disarm their intended victims.



Disability abuse

In the U.S. we like to think we’re all about enabling people. We ban discrimination based on creed or color. We insist that facilities be accessible to the disabled. We brag about an America where anyone can climb the ladder of success.

We’re also a compassionate people, eager to help each other. That’s why there’s a generous safety net in place, to catch anyone who happens to fall while climbing the ladder. Welfare, Social Security, Medicaid, food stamps and many other programs are in place to help those who are down-on-their-luck.

The problem is when the safety net becomes an actual net, ensnaring people and preventing them from rising.

Consider the Social Security Disability program. Here’s a safety net built especially to catch those who are severely injured and simply unable to work. That’s been a problem throughout human history, of course. People get hurt at work, lose digits or limbs, or simply wear out after decades of hard labor. Many have needed some help over the decades.

However, in our time, most work is less physically taxing than it’s ever been. Rather than plowing the fields, most people ply computer keyboards. Rather than working with big industrial machines such as Stephen King’s “The Mangler,” most people work in safe office buildings. Even smoking on the job, once ubiquitous, is a thing of the past.

And yet, the share of the U.S. population on Social Security Disability almost doubled between 1985 and 2005. And that’s before the 2008 recession hit.

“A record 5.4 million workers and their dependents have signed up to collect federal disability checks since President Obama took office, according to the latest official government data, as discouraged workers increasingly give up looking for jobs and take advantage of the federal program,” Investor’s Business Daily wrote last year.

Not only are there more people filing for disability benefits, there are more people getting stuck on disability.

“Once people go onto disability, they almost never go back to work. Fewer than 1 percent of those who were on the federal program for disabled workers at the beginning of 2011 have returned to the workforce since then,” NPR’s Chana Joffe-Walt reports. “Disability has also become a de facto welfare program for people without a lot of education or job skills. But it wasn't supposed to serve this purpose; it’s not a retraining program designed to get people back onto their feet.”

Something scary is going on here. Far from enabling Americans to rise, we’re trapping millions at the bottom. And once they’ve gone to the government and announced “I can’t work,” the chances are slim that they’ll change their minds five or ten years later. “Going on disability means, assuming you rely only on those disability payments, you will be poor for the rest of your life. That’s the deal. And it’s a deal 14 million Americans have signed up for,” Joffe-Walt adds.

Disability programs can be mentally as well as physically disabling. A friend who used to handle worker’s compensation claims told me about a woman who “tested out” of the disability program. A third-party medical review stated she was fit to return to work, so her benefits were scheduled to end. The recipient was so upset she threatened to jump off her balcony. “That’s when I knew I had to leave that job,” my friend comments. Luckily, she left it for another job, not to go on disability.

The message of empowerment remains powerful in American politics. “We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else,” the president announced during his second Inaugural Address.

Set aside questions about whether that is true (it will simply never be possible to give a child born in “the bleakest poverty” the same opportunities that Bill Gates’ children enjoy). Instead, we should ask whether we’re really empowering poor children, and poor Americans in general, today.

Today’s bleak economy has many fathers, so there will be no easy solution. But as a starter we need to regulations and encourage companies to hire again. And we need to enable more Americans to work, by reducing the number stuck on disability. Only when we do that will we be true to our American creed.


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, April 01, 2013

The New York Times is a Crypto-Nazi Paper

The New York Times has become the official paper of Israel’s Western would-be eradicators.

Joseph Levine's latest oped argued that Israel has no right to exist and that history should be reversed: “I conclude, then, that the very idea of a Jewish state is undemocratic, a violation of the self-determination rights of its non-Jewish citizens, and therefore morally problematic”. The New York Times' relentless attacks could well play out in ways that indeed attempt to put an end to Israeli sovereignty.

According to Levine's racist belief, “native species” originate in a certain place and that is where they “belong.” Hence, Israel’s "colonization" threatens the “original” Arab environment. This is pure and simple Nazism. The New York Times’ Israel-bashers use a style similar to the language used by anti-Semites the world over: Israel is inferior and must not enjoy the rights accorded to other peoples.

The New York Times articles are not attacking the “occupation” anymore, but the very idea of a Jewish state. The Times' incitement against Zionism is compulsive, full of half-baked truths and ill-disguised hysteria. The Times just hosted  an oped by Rashid Khalidi, the PLO supporter and anti-Zionist militant from Columbia University. In his latest column, he charges Israel of being an alien, settler entity, comparing its existence to South Africa's apartheid.

At the Times there are also those who do not advocate eradicating Israel, but work to remove any shred of justification for supporting it by following some elementary rules: promoting the myth of Palestinian "moderation", whitewashing terror groups and demonizing the "settlers".

As in the 1930's, when the New York Times downplayed the Nazi genocide of European Jews in order to avoid being seen as a “Jewish” newspaper, today Thomas Friedman, Roger Cohen (the dupe of Tehran) and Nicolas Kristof are the Jewish journalists who have been leading the charge in demonizing Israel and unabashedly praising the "Arab Spring" and Iran's "pragmatism".

Thomas Friedman plays a major role in shaping Obama’s plan for Israel’s return to the pre-1967 armistice line, which the late Abba Eban dubbed the “Auschwitz borders”. It was Friedman who wrote that the White House is “disgusted” with Israeli interlocutors. The famous Jewish columnist has always been a militant suporter of the Palestinian cause. According to the US columnist, Israeli settlers are a “cancer for the Jewish people” and those who “collaborate” in the building of settlements are “enemies of peace” and “enemies of America’s national interest”, no less.

“What Israeli settlers and Palestinian suicide bombers have in common is that they are each pushing for the maximum use of force against the other side”, he wrote after the killing of young grade-schooler Kobi Mandell. For Friedman, building a home on disputed territory is apparently the moral equivalent of stoning Jews - even school age ones -  to death. To equate the two, as Friedman always does, is to create moral mush. At age fourteen, Kobi was immobilized and stoned to death as was his friend, his body hidden in a cave. The terrorists soaked their hands in the boy’s blood and smeared the walls of the cave with it.

Friedman also crossed the Rubicon when he opined that "Jewish money" (note not Israeli money) caused the standing ovations Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, gave the Prime Minister of Israel, Binyamin Netanyahu.

As far back as 1929, during the Arab riots, the local Times correspondent Joseph Levy boasted that he was a committed anti-Zionist. Eighty years later, when the Fogels were slaughtered in Itamar, the New York Times chose not to cover that event on the front page, nor to comment it.

And how to forget the "Pharisees on the Potomac” headline by New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd on what she considers to be the moral hypocrisy of Republican Party?

Every morning, opening the New York Times, the reader finds very accurate stuff about the Holocaust, the most extreme demonstration of Jewish powerlessness, (ignored and put on the back pages of the Times while it was taking place) along with opeds like that of Peter Beinart titled “To Save Israel, Boycott the Settlements”.

The New York Times’ avid PLO supporters and propagandists are the descendamts of one of the most celebrated journalists of his time, the first New York Times Pulitzer Prize winner, Walter Duranty, who in the thirties fed the American public instantly-rewritten history of the famine in the Ukraine. By persuading the world that Stalin’s version of events was true, Duranty’s fairy tales cost thousands,if not millions,of lives.

The Times consistently ignores the genocidal anti-Semitism that governs Hamas and Hizbullah, described therein as "militant" groups concerned with the social welfare of Palestinians and Lebanese. The Times' articles from Jenin, Nablus, Tulkarem and Bethlehem during the Second Intifada could have been written about the Taliban in the Afghan caves. These depicted the Palestinian terrorists as freedom fighters meeting their noble fate.

That favorable press in the New York Times encourages the Arabs to believe they can get away with murder is a given. By reinforcing the Islamic claim that those who died on the Temple Mount were martyred defenders of holy places, mowed down by savage, unprovoked Israeli authorities, the New York Times also helped inflame millions of Muslims against Israel. By calling the area “Muslim compound” and omitting any mention of the Temple Mount or its Jewish connection, the New York Times convinced the world that Ariel Sharon had intruded upon a site holy solely to Islam, helping to trigger the second Intifada.

As the latest Levine's oped shows, the New York Times is a crypto-Nazi publication whose message is, plain and simple, “Jews, go home, again”. There is a Klezmer [Jewish traditional music] festival in Krakow this year.



The Bloody Company Hollywood Keeps

Michelle Malkin

Bleeding-heart liberal Robert Redford is already the subject of early Oscar buzz. His much-hyped new film glamorizing the lives of Weather Underground domestic terrorists, "The Company You Keep," will be released in the U.S. next week. But peace-loving moviegoers should save their money and take a stand.
Hollywood's romanticizing of murderous radicals is an affront to decency. Redford and Company's rose-colored hagiography of bloodstained killers defiles the memory of all those victimized by leftwing militants on American soil.

Tinseltown cheerleaders can't stop gushing about Redford's paean to gun-toting progressives, of course. Variety called the flick an "unabashedly heartfelt but competent tribute to 1960s idealism." The entertainment daily effused: "There is something undeniably compelling, perhaps even romantic, about America's '60s radicals and the compromises they did or didn't make." One of the film executives promoting the Weather Underground movie slavered: "This is an edge-of-your-seat thriller about real Americans who stood for their beliefs, thinking they were patriots and defending their country's ideals against their government."

Compelling? Romantic? Real Americans? Patriots? The movie plot centers on a 1970s Michigan bank robbery perpetrated by fictional Weather Underground members Sharon Solarz (portrayed by bigwig Democratic activist Susan Sarandon) and Jim Grant (played by Redford). The group shoots and kills one off-duty police officer working as a bank security guard. Grant goes on the lam and assumes a fake identity; decades later, a reporter launches an investigation into his role in the crime. The movie drums up "unabashedly heartfelt" sympathy for Grant as he works to exonerate himself.

Moviegoers would be better served by educating themselves about the real-life bank robbery and murder on which the movie is loosely based. In 1981, rich-kid Weathermen ideologues and lovers Kathy Boudin and David Gilbert joined forces with Black Liberation Army thugs and other ragtag commie revolutionaries to hold up an armored Brink's vehicle in Nyack, N.Y. Their booty: $1.6 million to fund their violent activities. Before taking up her assignment as the getaway vehicle driver, Boudin dropped off her toddler son, Chesa Boudin, at a babysitter's house.

Two of the holdup victims gunned down in the botched Brink's robbery were police officers. One was a private security guard. All three were veterans from working-class backgrounds. Their names: Waverly Brown, Edward O'Grady and Peter Paige.

Boudin and Gilbert were convicted and sent to prison. Prior to her arrest in Nyack, she had been an 11-year fugitive from justice after an accidental homemade bomb explosion at her New York City townhouse resulted in the death of three people. At the time of her arrest in Nyack, Boudin gave police one of many false identities she had used to evade the law.

Boudin was paroled in 2003 after convincing parole board members that she acted nobly out of "white guilt" to protest racism against blacks. Never mind that one of the officers killed, Waverly Brown, was black.

While Redford glorifies his fictional Weather Underground murderers as "patriots," he ignores the patriotic legacy of the victims of Weather Underground violence. And while Redford lionizes the Weather Underground zealots as compassionate parents, where are his passion and compassion for the children of the Weather Underground victims?

Brown served in the Air Force after the Korean War and had two grown daughters and a teenage son when he died in the brutal shootout. O'Grady, who served in the Marines and did two tours of duty in Vietnam, left behind a wife and three children -- 6, 2 and 6 months old. Paige, a Navy veteran, also left behind a wife and three kids -- 19, 16 and 9.

The sons and daughters of those gunned down by Weather Underground killers have lived in obscurity. Meanwhile, as I first reported more than a decade ago, Chesa Boudin has lived a pampered life surrounded by tenured academics and celebrity friends. His adoptive parents? The infamous pals of Barack Obama, Weathermen organizers Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn.

Refresher course: Dohrn declared war on "AmeriKKKa," helped stage the "Days of Rage" in Chicago, when Weathermen blew up a memorial statue to police officers and rioted violently, leaving 75 policemen wounded and one permanently injured in a wheelchair, and then spent years as a fugitive from justice before settling into a comfy post as director of the Children and Family Justice Center at Northwestern University.

Ayers remains in the limelight after celebrating the Weathermen bombing the Pentagon and flitting from campuses to socialist regimes and back preaching education as the "motor force for revolution."

Chesa Boudin attended Yale, won a prestigious Rhodes scholarship, shilled for Hugo Chavez, wrote books and keeps a busy speaking schedule. He still stands by the Weathermen's revolutionary agenda: "My parents were all dedicated to fighting U.S. imperialism around the world. I'm dedicated to the same thing."

Cinematically and metaphorically, Redford manufactures the same stance that unrepentant Weather Underground criminals and apologists still hold of themselves today: Not guilty.



A nation suckered

Bilking billions from the government

No doubt you were shocked, shocked to learn that Jeffrey Hillman, the “barefoot beggar” who famously received a free pair of boots from a kindly NYPD cop, turned out to be a scam artist who preys on the kindness of strangers to provide him with an apartment, money and plenty of footwear — as a Post investigation discovered.

That’s right — someone pretending to be in dire straits turns out to be a) not destitute, b) not homeless and c) not shoeless.

But then, Hillman’s just a piker when it comes to the rising culture of sham dependency that is rapidly turning this country from a nation of self-reliant citizens to shuffling pseudo-mendicants and conniving criminals who have one hand extended to collect government largesse while the other is busily picking your pocket.

Consider the numbers:

* The Government Accountability Office estimates that improper — i.e., fraudulent — Medicare payments amount to at least $17 billion per annum. Other independent estimates run even higher — as much as one-fifth of total federal health-care spending (about $550 billion), according to one Harvard analyst.

And that’s before ObamaCare fully kicks in.

* A fresh source of abuse is the Bush-era prescription-drug benefit, which one physician’s publication has called “staggeringly complicated and largely incomprehensible to the very population it was intended to help . . .the drug program’s very complexity is a source of fraud.”

* The jobless recovery may equal misery for millions of Americans, but it’s created a boom in Social Security disability claims, many of them no doubt sheer gold-bricking via “personality disorders” and other imaginary illnesses.

Nearly 18 million people — one in 20 Americans — are collecting some $170 billion a year in disability payments, a record high, and the government estimates that fraud and other improper payments account for $25 billion of disability spending over a recent four-year period.

Like the “barefoot beggar,” who only needs to take his shoes off to get free stuff, Dependency Nation has learned how easy it is to take the government for a ride. In many cases, it’s simply a matter of correctly — if fraudulently — filling out the right forms and sending them in.

Unseen by human eyes, claims are processed by computer and checks go flying out in return; Medicare alone handles some 1.2 billion such claims annually.

Another tactic is fictitious patients and procedures: One dentist a few years ago bilked New York’s Medicaid program of more than $1 million in part by claiming she performed 991 procedures in a single day.

Organized crime has horned in on the act as well, setting up sham companies to fool the feds, stealing drugs meant for AIDS patients and getting kickbacks on unnecessary items such as motorized wheelchairs that Medicare is only too happy to shell out for.

In 2009, the Government Accountability Office catalogued examples of waste, fraud and abuse in just about every federal do-gooder program, including school lunches ($1.4 billion), children’s health insurance ($800 million, or roughly 15 percent of the total), the Earned Income Tax Credit ($12 billion), plus housing subsidies, child-care, unemployment insurance . . . You name it, and some sizable chunk of it is a scam.

In all, the cost to the taxpayers is estimated at some $100 billion a year.And things are only likely to get worse.

Take Social Security and Medicare, which together accounted for a whopping 36 percent of total federal expenditures in fiscal 2011. Everyone knows they’re unsustainable at current funding levels, so expect higher taxes. Yet more money going to the feds inevitably means more waste, fraud and abuse — because as famed robber Willie Sutton said of banks: That’s where the money is.

But in a kind of bureaucratic Catch-22, greater oversight would also mean more regulations and soaring enforcement costs, thus redirecting resources away from the very people the programs were meant to help — while still allowing the scam artists to enrich themselves.

Just ask Jeffrey Hilman, the “shoeless” man who, as it happens, has at least 30 pairs of shoes and boots — courtesy of the suckers.




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Sunday, March 31, 2013

When did I miss the “tipping point”?

This is really the sort of country I long for as articulated by Troy Senik:

"I want a “leave me alone” society — one where Christian schools can turn people away for rejecting their doctrine, just as gay rights groups can reject those who don’t share their beliefs. I don’t want us all to get along — not because I’m misanthropic (well, not just because I’m misanthropic), but because I know that “consensus” is usually a fancy word for muting minority viewpoints. I want us all to be free to be annoyed with each other from our separate corners. Is that too much to ask?"

Apparently.  Ask Sarah Conly (I still can’t get over the title of her book [“Against Autonomy: Justifying Coercive Paternalism.”] and the implication it carries which, if she even realizes it, should chill her to the bone).  Ask Mayor Bloomberg.  Ask most of the left and a good portion of the right.

How did we ever wander away from that direction and end up on the one where a major news organ, the NYT, even gives a forum to crypto-fascists like Conly?  What a horrifying person she is.  Imagine someone as cavalier about your rights actually in a position of power.  Imagine the possibilities.  Oh, that’s right, we don’t have too, do we.  We have history to provide the examples.  Tons of them.

And yet here is this supposed “learned” academic parroting the same authoritarian themes in a soothing voice designed to lull you into feeling good about giving everything away to the authoritarians (or at least enough so that at some point they can just take the rest).

I want what Senik wants.  I don’t have a problem with most discrimination.  Yeah, I know – that’s heresy isn’t it?  Look, if someone wants to discriminate let them – and let them pay the “stupid tax” for doing so.  But here’s the point – you should be free to do that.  You should have the right to be stupid and to do stupid things (with the usual caveat that it’s only okay as long as your stupid acts don’t harm others or violate their rights). You should have the right to fail, get fat, smoke, drink, and be an ignorant slob without the do gooders deciding they have to save you from yourself and the only way to do that is to take your freedom away.  Or to tell you how to act, talk, or interact with penalties for not being politically correct.

Why is it that the Sarah Conlys of the world are published in the NYT and the ideas of the Troy Seniks of the world have to settle for blogs?  When did Senik's idea, which was once very main stream in this country, become extremist while what was once not only extremist, an anathema to America,  but thoroughly discredited throughout history somehow gain respectability again?

When you boil it all down, it is that dilemma which amply describes why we’re in the awful shape we’re in and why we see our freedoms under constant assault and slowly being taken away.

I’m just wondering when the tipping point occurred.



Mike Bloomberg, Liberal Fascist

That’s New York City’s nasty little fascist mayor, the ersatz and erstwhile “Republican” who used the party to sneak into Gracie Mansion in the wake of the Giuliani administration’s successful war on street crime, and then double-crossed the GOP in his bald-faced but successful attempt to subvert term limits, lecturing David Gregory in his Boston honk that he knows what’s best for New Yorkers — and us.

Yes, it’s the Soda Jerk himself, tossing his pint-sized weight around as he attempts to remain politically viable after his reign as the successor to such corrupt and incompetent wretches as Jimmy Walker, William O’Dwyer, Abe Beame and David Dinkins mercifully comes to an end. Let’s unpack a little of what the Terror of Tinytown had to say.

We’re not banning anything.  All we’re saying is, we want to show you just how big the cup is. If you want 32 ounces, take two cups to your seat. If you want 64, carry four. But our hope is, if you only take one, you won’t go back.

If you believe that, Bloomberg has a bridge to Brooklyn to sell you. And to which the only proper response — the one that until New York turned into a city of Upper West Side conformist sheep he would have justly received — is (to quote Kurt Schlichter) “bite me.”

Note how piously the unctuous Nanny Bloomberg claims he’s not “banning anything,” when in fact that’s exactly what he tried to do until a New York state judge drop-kicked his assertion of unfettered government authority and bureaucratic oversight through the goal posts of personal freedom — a concept that is itself under direct attack by fascists like Bloomberg, who has married his $27 billion personal fortune to his power as NYC mayor in an attempt to impose his will on the residents of the five boroughs and beyond.

Our job is to educate .., all we’re trying to do is educate.

No, yer honor, your job is to manage the city government, to make sure the snow gets shoveled and the trash gets picked up, not to lecture the rest of us and use the power of City Hall to impose your particular life-style choices on everybody else. But that’s what happens when conservatives let the Left seize the narrative and promote governmental mission creep. Once government “addresses” a problem by throwing taxpayer money at it, it’s only a short hop to government claiming — as Bloomberg does in the clip — that because government spends money on a “problem,” it now has the right to dictate personal behavior. Sheer genius, really.

By now, the notion that government from the feds on down has the “right” to interfere in every aspect of American life is well-established and nearly unquestioned. Two generations of red-diaper babies have grown up with visions of the Frankfurt School dancing in their heads; they’ve adapted Marxist tactics to the capitalist system in the furtherance of their world-view — George Soros, take a bow — but their goal remains the same: power, disguised as “compassion.”

The collapse of free societies doesn’t start with the Vandals’ assault on the gates of Rome. It starts with “reasonable” restrictions on freedom, “carve-outs” and “exemptions” to constitutional principles, “temporary” taxes and suspensions of civil liberties — all designed to inure the public to the destruction of bedrock guarantees ( i.e. “Congress shall make no law…”) in the name of what’s good for them.

Gregory asks, “Where’s the line? Where is too far for government to go?” Bloomy’s comforting answer: "I do not think we should ban most things."  And to think this man still harbors a desire to run for president.

UPDATE: His Bloominess is launching another capitalism-financed regressive assault on the Second Amendment this very day:

[A] $12 million ad blitz targeting senators wavering on gun control will be just the beginning, Mayor Bloomberg warned Sunday.

“I have a responsibility … to try to make this country safer,” Bloomberg said on “Meet the Press” when asked if he’d spend big-time in next year’s elections to target the National Rifle Association and members of Congress for opposing gun restrictions.

“If I can do that by spending some money, and taking the NRA from being the only voice to being one of the voices, so the public can really understand the issues, then I think my money will be well spent and I think I have an obligation to do that,” he said.



“Me too” Republicans

by Thomas Sowell

Many ideas presented as "new" are just rehashes of old ideas that have been tried before – and have failed before. So it is no surprise that the recent "Growth and Opportunity Project" report to the Republican National Committee is a classic example of what previous generations called "Me too" Republicanism.

These are Republicans who think that the key to winning elections is to do more of what the Democrats are doing. In effect, they say "me too" on issues such as immigration, in hopes of gaining more new votes than they lose by betraying their existing supporters.

In the wake of last year's presidential election debacle for the Republicans, the explanation preferred by "moderate" Republicans has been that the GOP has been too narrowly ideological, and needs to reach out to minorities, women and young people, rather than just to conservatives.

In the words of the "Growth and Opportunity Project," the problem is that conservative Republican candidates have been "driving around in circles on an ideological cul-de-sac."

But the report itself says that the Republicans' election problems have been at the national level, not at the state level, where a majority of the governors are Republicans. Are the Republican moderates suggesting that the reason Mitt Romney lost in 2012 is that he was driving around in a conservative cul-de-sac? Romney was as mushy a moderate as Senator John McCain was before him – and as many other Republican losers in presidential elections have been, going all the way back to the 1940s. The only Republican candidate who might fit the charge of being a complete conservative was Ronald Reagan, who won two landslide elections.

The report to the Republican National Committee is on firmer ground when it says that national Republican candidates have not articulated their case very well – that "we too often sound like bookkeepers." Republican candidates "need to do a better job talking in normal, people-oriented terms."

Absolutely. It doesn't matter how good your case is, if you don't bother to articulate it so that voters understand you.

The heart of the report, however, is the argument that Republicans need to reach out to minorities, women and young people. With Hispanics and blacks becoming a growing proportion of the American population – and both groups voting overwhelmingly for Democrats – the Republicans are obviously in big trouble in future elections if they don't do something.

But if they do what this report advocates, they could be in even bigger trouble. Here again, facts seem to mean nothing to those who wrote this report.

They propose going through such organizations as the NAACP to reach black voters, as if the NAACP owns blacks, in violation of the 13th Amendment. Not only is the NAACP virtually a wholly owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party, the kind of black voters that the Republicans have some hope of winning over are unlikely to be enthralled to the NAACP, and many of them may see through such race hustlers.

Or do all blacks look alike to those who wrote this report?

It is the same story with Hispanics and Asian Americans. The Republicans are supposed to go through these groups' "leaders" as well – mostly leaders tied to the Democratic Party ideologically or otherwise. You might think that a Republican Party that talks about individualism would try to appeal to individuals.

Individuals whom the Republicans have some chance of winning over may well be a small minority within these groups. However, if the GOP can reduce the Democrats' 80 percent of these groups' votes to 70 percent, that can swing elections.

But a shotgun approach to minorities won't do it.

When it comes to minority votes, the Democratic Party is much like Eastman Kodak during the long period when it sold the vast majority of the film and cameras in the country. How did its competitors manage to drive Kodak into bankruptcy?

Not by saying "me too" while trying to imitate Kodak and trying to outdo Kodak with better film and better film cameras. They went digital instead. But that approach requires a lot more thought than apparently went into this report. Polls and focus groups are not a substitute for thought.



Democrat extremism

The American left cares so much for humanity that it even expends copious draughts of compassion toward us, toward you and me, toward suave, degage conservatives. The left's members really fret over how elements of the "extreme right" are undermining the Republican Party, consigning it to oblivion.

The latest moral colossus to perform this exemplary task is Richard Cohen of the Washington Post, but there are many more from all the precincts of the left. This past weekend, I even detected this concern for us from the pollster, Andrew Kohut of the Pew Research Center. Writing a piece on the future of the Republican Party, he expressed his concern that advocates of "staunch conservatism" have left the Republican Party "estranged from America." If moderate Republicans do not smarten up and presumably rid the party of these "staunch conservatives," the party will go so far to the right that it will be replicating the political suicide of Senator George McGovern and his McGovernite zealots back in 1972.

If you are old enough you may remember how in 1972 the left was apoplectic that McGovern was leading the Democratic Party out into the wilderness. You do not recall it that way? You have forgotten? It did not seem like that at the time? The left in 1972 was full of its usual brag and bounce that crazy George was on the right side of history, and victory was only months away. Is Kohut mistaken?

I think he is. Actually, this grave concern by the left over the projects of the "staunch conservatives" within the Republican Party is one vast sham. A similar concern by the left for the extremist tilt of the Democratic Party is never apparent, and the reason is obvious. The concern does not exist. Yet the Democratic Party over the years has, for a certitude, gone left, far left. Review the evidence. On issue after issue -- from social policy to fiscal policy -- the Democrats have moved leftward. With the help of their amanuenses in the media, the left is never forced to talk about it, but it is a fact. With the leftward rush of the party proclaimed in the Prophet Obama's State of the Union address, it is the Democrats who are extreme. Their day of reckoning will come on Nov. 4, 2014.

The left's sham is not without its effects on weak-kneed Republicans and independents, however. Senator Ted Cruz, Texas's latest gift to American politics, is reportedly stunned by his wobbly-legged Republican colleagues, who patter up and down the halls of the Senate. Apparently, they believe that the American left really has the best interests of the Republicans at heart. Of course, they are wrong.

Perhaps one has to live out in the states and the congressional districts to see how wrong the left and susceptible Republicans are. Out across the fruited plain, a majority of governors' mansions (30) are controlled by the Republicans. The Republicans also control a majority of state legislatures (Republicans 27, Democrats 17). Back in Washington, the Republicans control the House of Representatives, and as of yesterday, five Senate Democrats are stepping down in 2014. The upper chamber is very delicately balanced now and will probably shift to the Republicans in 2014. Then there is one additional element to give the Republicans something to smile about. Back in 2012, the year that gave the left so much reason for hope, the Prophet Obama won 3,591,303 fewer votes than in 2008. The Democrats suppressed the Republican turnout in 2012 by rendering Mitt Romney an oligarch. What is more, they had a splendid ground game that got out theretofore non-voting minorities in the swing votes. But 2014 will be different.

Then, thanks to the cost and confusion of Obamacare and the ongoing economic malaise, the same issue will be salient that was salient in 2010, the economy. Roughly 42 percent of the American electorate is conservative compared to 18-20 percent that is of the left. Roughly 35 percent of the electorate is independent. The majority of the independents, provoked by the sour economy and by budget overruns, voted with the conservatives in 2010 and 2012. If the "staunch conservatives" turn out to vote in 2014 it is going to be another landslide on the order of 2010 ... and you know who won that landslide.




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