Friday, April 12, 2013

Another spurt of Leftist hate

Leftist hate towards conservatives is so common that I doubt that admirers of Lady Thatcher are much surprised or moved by the antics of young British Leftists in recent days.  Their antics certainly need no explanation.  Hate and abuse is what they do.  It is so common it has become meaningless as information about anything in particular  -- but a warning about what they would do if they could

Many time-honoured social conventions have been discarded in recent times in our headlong rush to demonstrate how modern and relaxed we have all become, but we still, more or less, stick to the maxim of “not speaking ill of the dead”. At least not in the immediate aftermath of their demise, when their families’ grief is still raw.

Yet news of the passing of the frail 87-year-old Baroness Thatcher, so confused that she had to be reminded almost daily that her husband was dead, was greeted with street parties in Brixton, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool and Glasgow. In south London, the scene of rioting in 1981 during her first term in office, the letters on the billboard outside a cinema were rearranged by masked vandals to read “Margaret Thatchers dead LOL [Laugh Out Loud]”. In Glasgow’s George Square, revellers drank champagne, wore party hats and sang, “Ding, dong, the witch is dead”. In Leeds, they shared a celebration cake. In Liverpool they gathered for a “death party”, and in Bristol joined forces under the banner, “May she never RIP”.

Cold comfort, then, for her children, neither of them saints, but still human beings trying to absorb the loss of their mother. We all have a mother, so we should all have enough empathy to imagine a little of what they are feeling. But apparently not.

Of course, Margaret Thatcher, as a three times prime minister whose economic, political and social legacy remains alive and hotly disputed to this day, wasn’t any old mother. And so some, mainly on the political fringes, appear to regard her as such a hate figure that the normal rules of engagement don’t apply.

The most mainstream voice to be heard in this mob was that of Radio 4 regular Mark Steel, who tweeted: “what a terrible shame – that it wasn’t 87 years earlier.” In the chorus was Socialist Worker – circulation under 8,000 and admittedly probably not on order at Mark or Carol Thatcher’s newsagents – with a front-page mock-up of her tombstone and the word “Rejoice” in capital letters. (The editor was too busy yesterday to take a call asking for an explanation of the image.)

And there too, inevitably, was George Galloway MP, never one to mince words when he might make headlines, with: “May she burn in the hellfires.” It is, as far as I can remember, the first time a recently deceased figure has been pushed so publicly and unceremoniously into the medieval pit since the death in 2002 of the Moors Murderess, Myra Hindley.

So has a line been crossed? There is an argument that says that, in life, Margaret Thatcher relished controversy, so why should we think she would object in death? As countless retired cabinet ministers, one-time opponents and commentators have remarked, she enjoyed a fight, adopted a presidential style that dispensed with distinctions between herself and her policies, wasn’t above flamboyantly rubbishing even close colleagues (notably Geoffrey Howe, albeit with disastrous consequences), and, in the words of her biographer the late Hugo Young, “cared little if people liked her”. Presumably in death she will care even less.



Snarks from the American Left too

The legendary British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher died, and the national media tried to pay their respects, not only for breaking Britain's "glass ceiling" with a "bruising" political style, but for transforming Britain and helping wind down the Cold War.

Still, Thatcher was a conservative and one of Ronald Reagan's staunchest friends in the world, so you can be sure these journalists were Thatcher-bashers when she was in power. Some of them were American anchors and reporters.

Let's start with a few quotes from long after she left 10 Downing Street. On Nov. 19, 1999, NBC reporter Jim Avila brought the liberal contempt in a story on a sex scandal in higher education: "Hillsdale College is supposed to be different: a liberal arts college where liberals are unwanted, where Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan are regarded as heroic deep thinkers, prayer is encouraged and morality is taught alongside grammar."

That knock on "heroic deep thinkers" shows that Avila wrote the story before he showed up at Hillsdale. Reagan and Thatcher were great leaders and certainly great combatants in the war on ideas. But Hillsdale teaches Locke and Montesquieu and Alexis de Tocqueville. One wonders if TV reporters have heard of those philosophers before they mock conservative "deep thinkers." Obviously, if a Fox News reporter mocked college students viewing Obama and Bill Clinton as "heroic deep thinkers," they would be dismissed as street rabble who'd never opened a book.

In 2000, Time magazine and CBS News picked the most important people of the 20th century. On CBS on Christmas Eve, Bryant Gumbel and Dan Rather took turns suggesting Thatcher wasn't worthy. Gumbel began: "On the women's front, Eleanor Roosevelt is obviously a given. Do we agree with the Margaret Thatcher pick?" Rather replied: "I don't, to be perfectly honest."

Gumbel agreed: "I don't either." Rather demeaned her: "My guess, Margaret Thatcher is there, as much as any reason, because she is a woman."

I'm not making this up. Eleanor Roosevelt, best known as a First Lady and then as an esteemed lecturer of liberal nonsense, is to Gumbel and Rather "obviously a given" on the world stage, while Margaret Thatcher is a mere footnote, only worth mentioning because she was a woman. Neither took exception with the other American woman on the list of the century's leaders: radical leftist Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood.

During Thatcher's time in power, as she boldly argued for less socialism at home and less communism across Europe, American reporters often brought the same dismissive rhetoric to their Thatcher stories that they did to their Reagan stories. On May 3, 1989, NBC reporter Arthur Kent asserted, "Thatcher has ruthlessly applied her conservative solutions." NBC didn't report that Obama "ruthlessly applied his liberal solutions" when he forced Obamacare down America's throat in 2010.

On that same night, a foolish ABC reporter named John Laurence made Thatcher sound like a despot: "Mrs. Thatcher has proved to be an Iron Lady at home and abroad. ... And in the process, she converted 10 Downing Street into what's been described as an elective dictatorship."

That's what the Left says when conservatives win repeated landslides.

This tilt may have been established in part because when Mrs. Thatcher sat down for interviews with the American networks, she brought her usual firm approach. In her memoir "Reporting Live," CBS correspondent Lesley Stahl tells of interviewing Thatcher in the depths of Iran-Contra, pushing the prime minister to admit Reagan as a liar, feeling that she was "demolished" by Thatcher "seeming to question my love of country."

"What are you doing your level best to put the worst foot forward? Why? America is a great country," Thatcher insisted. "I beg of you, you should have as much faith in America as I have."

Stahl told of receiving bags full of negative mail. Thatcher was originally livid at Stahl's quite-typical battering, but changed her mind when the letters came in, like one telling Stahl "We applauded when Mrs. Thatcher chopped you into bits."

Our media devoted many more hours of weepy airtime to Princess Diana in 1997 than the spare minutes they'll offer in Thatcher's memory. They have already treated her as faded and forgotten. In 2009, when Michelle Obama came to London, NBC turned to an "expert" named Helen Kirwan-Taylor, who proclaimed Mrs. Obama is "absolutely terrifying for the British, because the British like their women subdued and doe-eyed, modest and soft-spoken, I mean, Princess Di. And here comes this woman who's in your face. Everything about her says 'I'm confident. I know what I want. I can do anything.'"

This quote can only be disseminated by people who know this is Thatcher-ignoring nonsense. Liberals claim to love strong women, but not when those women are conservatives.



Are Right-wingers nicer than Left-wingers?

I don't mean in a Nazis vs Communists, Hitler vs Stalin, way. I mean in a moderate way: Conservative activists vs Labour activists, you might say.

It's difficult to imagine Conservative activists behaving like the people who celebrated Margaret Thatcher's death in Glasgow and Brixton. That's partly because it's hard to think of any Left-wing leader who had as powerful an effect on the country as she did.

But, still, between them, Harold Wilson and Jim Callaghan – with quite a lot of help from Edward Heath – led to a disastrous decline in British fortunes in the 1970s, as opposed to the Thatcher economic turnaround. But their deaths barely raised a whimper, let alone a distasteful celebration. Some Right-wingers will, presumably, feel a little private inner glow at the death of a properly wicked dictator, like Fidel Castro; but it's difficult to imagine them taking to the streets to celebrate with such public gusto.

Why is this? Part of the reason is that conservatives accept the unfairnesses and shortcomings of the world as an inevitable reflection of the human condition. In their understanding that public spending cannot be infinite, that there must be some realistic restraint on altruistic impulses, they are often thought to be ruthless and heartless.

That supposed heartlessness is, more often than not, pragmatism. Margaret Thatcher didn't actively want to put lots of miners out of work, as those who celebrated her death might think. What she saw, in an utterly pragmatic way, was that there was no economic sense in propping up a failing industry – she didn't close down the mines; she refused to go on subsidising them. If they had been making money, they would still be open today.

The knowledge that their pragmatic, economic good sense is often perceived as being heartless often makes conservatives rather diffident, self-effacing and apologetic – all nice characteristics (although, it must be said, Margaret Thatcher, for all her personal kindness and decency, didn't have these particular qualities in abundance).

It's the other way round on the Left. Because you are always advocating milk and honey for the oppressed – even if that milk and honey is economically unaffordable or impossible to get hold of – you are protected by a forcefield of advertised niceness. With your public goodness established, you can then allow yourself all the personal bile in the world – by, say, opening a bottle of champagne on the death of a frail, 87-year-old woman.

Which is better? Public niceness and personal nastiness, or public pragmatism and personal niceness?



Take My Child...Please

A few years ago, Hillary wrote a book titled "It Takes a Village."  That was a palatable notion. The family had the primary responsibility, but there was also community environmental impact as well.  Hillary's observation was mostly reasonable, acceptable, and very politically correct.

But the gradual morphing of the Liberal Progressive message is suddenly obvious.  MSNBC's  Melissa Harris-Perry said...

    "...break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents, or kids belong to their families, and recognize that kids belong to whole communities."

Where in the world would parents get the "private idea" that that child was actually theirs?  How old fashioned and backward thinking!

What is more bothersome is that the notion, the "private idea", is easily dismissed by the single parent, especially when they are encouraged to do so by the likes of Melissa Harris-Perry. The child is of the community they are told, and hence becomes the community's responsibility.  The notion is welcomed.  Maybe the mother and the child are both somehow victims too.  We await Melissa Harris-Perry to tell us.

From the New York Times..

    "73 percent of black children are born outside marriage, compared with 53 percent of Latinos and 29 percent of whites."

And when the unwed woman gets pregnant, we are led to believe that it was due to a shortfall in women's healthcare, i.e. the availability of contraceptive products, that is the real culprit.  So the community is responsible for providing "women's healthcare", i.e. contraception....but the community is also responsible for the child born out of wedlock.

Right Sandra Fluke?

There is also the troubling disconnect between the "pro choice" camp and the "communal child" camp.  "It is my body", but it will be "your child".  The choice is mine alone,  but the child "belong(s) to the whole community". Asking a liberal to logically square these positions is futile.

As the child grows, the notion that "how they do in school is solely up to the teacher" is a natural extrapolation of the communal concept.  And what else?  Where they are and what they do in their spare time is also more of a community issue then a familial one.

If the child ends up in a "flash mob" certainly this is not poor decision making or an underperformance of parenting but a failure of the community.

Is there a clearer depiction of the liberal left's attitude on individual responsibility?

How convenient and how easily received and embraced is this notion that your mistake is now 'our' mistake.  Spread the wealth and spread the responsibilities, or more appropriately the irresponsibilities.

Notice the precise word selection.  The "private idea" is a bad idea...kind of like "private industry". "Private" is suggested a bad word. "Communal" and "collective" are offered as good words. Communal...communism.  Collective responsibility....collectives.  These terms are right out of the Marx-Engels dictionary.

These ideas, these concepts of shedding and then spreading responsibility are easily sold to a certain stratum of our population.  It is born, pardon the analogy, in the same womb as "victimhood".

But the grand subliminal suggestion is that because the child is of the community, and the community is reliant upon the Federal Government, we can now read, "It takes a government" to raise a child.  That is the actual mantra. Forward.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Will Cyprus trigger inflation?

Now that bank deposits have been revealed as unsafe, will people rush to spend their money before they lose it?  China has been on a worldwide buying spree for a few years now.  They don't trust the value of all those greenbacks they hold and want to exchange them for more tangible things.  Maybe they know something.

When people and institutions stop spending -- as has happened in recent years -- economists call it "a collapse in the velocity of circulation of money".  But if people suddenly do the opposite and start to spend up big time that will bid up the prices of everything -- which will also bring about destruction of the value of savings.  So you can only win by getting in early -- JR

The balance sheet of the bank in which you deposit/lend your hard-earned savings should always be a matter of keen interest to you.  Any scheme that supposedly de-risks deposits without truly reflecting the cost of removing such risks is just allowing them to accumulate to unsustainable levels - with predictable consequences as we have seen in Cyprus.

I do believe some good will come of the events in Cyprus.  Middle class savers have had their eyes opened and are now being forced to pay attention to:

1) bank balance sheets - deposit insurance schemes are a global fiction which, in part, have allowed modern banks to become the highly leveraged, opaque, risk agglomerating machines that they are;

2) alternatives to bank deposits as capital preservation tools with consequences for the velocity of money and inflation; and

3) the risk of outright wealth confiscation and sudden capital controls as the new in extremis method of financing bankrupt states.

There has been much discussion about the collapse of the velocity of money since 2008.  Despite certain reservations that the concept of the velocity of money may be simply an accounting identity with no real existence outside of economics textbooks, there has certainly been an increased preference on the part of the middle class to hold money balances with the idea that deposits at banks, although they generate meagre returns, will not generate nominal losses.

That fiction is being stripped away.  Middle class wealth is the only the source of funds to bail out the insolvent state and financial sectors and what remains of that capital is largely held in bank deposits and pension plans.  To date, it has been sufficient to "appropriate" this wealth slowly via negative real interest rates, but as events move progressively more swiftly in the bankrupt developed world, the well proven gradual process appears to be failing to yield the requisite funds - hence the transition to bail-ins and outright deposit confiscation.  A steady 5-6% a year real interest rate tax is not sufficient when 30% or more is required overnight.

Where such confiscations are imposed, capital controls will not be far behind in order to prevent any remaining middle class wealth from fleeing, worsening state and financial sector solvency further and depriving the political class of future emergency funds.   Will the next stage of the developed world financial crisis witness confiscatory bail-in schemes followed by severe clampdowns on all ways to get capital to safe harbours?

This leads me to my point on the velocity of money.  If bank deposits are finally revealed to be vastly more risky than the 1-2% nominal interest rates they provide and capital flight is going to be progressively more difficult, then perhaps we are about to see an increase in the velocity of money, whereby middle class capital rotates into real assets outside of the financial system - passive, un-leveraged hard asset investments with reliable cash generating capacity where possible.

Think of the growing interest in investing in farmland and other productive assets as examples.  Time will tell, but we may look back on the events in Cyprus as the catalyst for an upswing in headline rates of inflation - at least in real assets. Ask yourself if a physical gold holding is now really more risky than a European bank deposit and the consequences this may have on nominal real asset prices?



In Tribute To The Iron Lady: The 25 Greatest Quotes From Margaret Thatcher

If we had more leaders with Margaret Thatcher's heart, courage and wisdom, this would be a different, better world.  As you read these quotes from one of the towering figures of the 20th century, you'll see why.

25) "Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t."

24) "I too have a certain idea of America. Moreover, I would not feel entitled to say that of any other country, except my own. This is not just sentiment, though I always feel ten years younger – despite the jet-lag – when I set foot on American soil: there is something so positive, generous, and open about the people – and everything actually works. I also feel, though, that I have in a sense a share of America."

23) "They’ve got the usual Socialist disease — they’ve run out of other people’s money."

22) "My policies are based not on some economics theory, but on things I and millions like me were brought up with: an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay; live within your means; put by a nest egg for a rainy day; pay your bills on time; support the police."

21) "If you want to cut your own throat, don’t come to me for a bandage."

20) "Constitutions have to be written on hearts, not just paper."

19) "I never hugged him, I bombed him." -- Thatcher on dictator, Muammar Gaddafi

18) "I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left."

17) "It is always important in matters of high politics to know what you do not know. Those who think that they know, but are mistaken, and act upon their mistakes, are the most dangerous people to have in charge."

16) "I think we have gone through a period when too many children and people have been given to understand 'I have a problem, it is the Government’s job to cope with it!' or 'I have a problem, I will go and get a grant to cope with it!' 'I am homeless, the Government must house me!' and so they are casting their problems on society and who is society? There is no such thing! There are individual men and women and there are families and no government can do anything except through people and people look to themselves first… There is no such thing as society. There is living tapestry of men and women and people and the beauty of that tapestry and the quality of our lives will depend upon how much each of us is prepared to take responsibility for ourselves and each of us prepared to turn round and help by our own efforts those who are unfortunate."

15) "The choice facing the nation is between two totally different ways of life. And what a prize we have to fight for: no less than the chance to banish from our land the dark, divisive clouds of Marxist socialism and bring together men and women from all walks of life who share a belief in freedom."

14) "A man may climb Everest for himself, but at the summit he plants his country's flag."

13) "Whether it is in the United States or in mainland Europe, written constitutions have one great weakness. That is that they contain the potential to have judges take decisions which should properly be made by democratically elected politicians."

12) "The defence budget is one of the very few elements of public expenditure that can truly be described as essential. This point was well-made by a robust Labour Defence Minister, Denis (Now Lord) Healey, many years ago: ‘Once we have cut expenditure to the extent where our security is imperiled, we have no houses, we have no hospitals, we have no schools. We have a heap of cinders.’"

11) "...The larger the slice taken by government, the smaller the cake available for everyone."

10) "Whether manufactured by black, white, brown or yellow hands, a widget remains a widget – and it will be bought anywhere if the price and quality are right. The market is a more powerful and more reliable liberating force than government can ever be."

9) "To be free is better than to be unfree – always. Any politician who suggests the opposite should be treated as suspect."

8) "During my lifetime most of the problems the world has faced have come, in one fashion or other, from mainland Europe, and the solutions from outside it."

7) "There is much to be said for trying to improve some disadvantaged people’s lot. There is nothing to be said for trying to create heaven on earth."

6) "Left-wing zealots have often been prepared to ride roughshod over due process and basic considerations of fairness when they think they can get away with it. For them the ends always seems to justify the means. That is precisely how their predecessors came to create the gulag."

5) "It is one of the great weaknesses of reasonable men and women that they imagine that projects which fly in the face of commonsense are not serious or being seriously undertaken."

4) "...Conservatives have excellent credentials to speak about human rights. By our efforts, and with precious little help from self-styled liberals, we were largely responsible for securing liberty for a substantial share of the world’s population and defending it for most of the rest."

3) "Oh, but you know, you do not achieve anything without trouble, ever."

2) "Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It's not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it's when you've had everything to do, and you've done it."

1) "Of course it's the same old story. Truth usually is the same old story."



'Proportional' Response?

Thomas Sowell

Since when has it been considered smart to tell your enemies what your plans are?

Yet there on the front page of the April 8th New York Times was a story about how unnamed "American officials" were planning a "proportional" response to any North Korean attack. This was spelled in an example: If the North Koreans "shell a South Korean island that had military installations" then the South Koreans would retaliate with "a barrage of artillery of similar intensity."

Whatever the merits or demerits of such a plan, what conceivable purpose can be served by telling the North Koreans in advance that they need fear nothing beyond a tit for tat? All that does is lower the prospective cost of aggression.

When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, should we have simply gone over and bombed a harbor in Japan? Does anyone think that this response would have stopped Japanese aggression? Or stop other nations from taking shots at the United States, when the price was a lot lower than facing massive retaliation?

Back before the clever new notion of "proportional" response became the vogue, our response to Pearl Harbor was ultimately Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And Japan has not attacked or even threatened anybody since then. Nor has any war broken out anywhere that is at all comparable with World War II.

Which policy is better? There was a time when we followed the ancient adage "By their fruits ye shall know them." The track record of massive retaliation easily beats that of the more sophisticated-sounding proportional response.

Back in ancient times, when Carthage attacked Rome, the Romans did not respond "proportionally." They wiped Carthage off the face of the earth. That may have had something to do with the centuries of what was called the Pax Romano -- the Roman peace.

When Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands in 1982, the British simply sent troops to take the islands back -- despite American efforts to dissuade Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher from doing even that.

For more than a century since the British settled in the Falkland Islands, Argentina had not dared to invade them. Why?

Because, until recent times, an Argentine attack on a British settlement would be risking not only a British counterattack there, but the danger of a major British attack on Argentina itself. That could mean leaving Buenos Aires in ruins.

Today, Argentina's government is again making threatening noises about the Falkland Islands. Why not? The most the Argentines have to fear is a "proportional" response to aggression -- and the Obama administration has already urged "negotiations" instead of even that. When threats are rewarded, why not make threats, when there are few dangers to fear?

Can you think of any war prior to Iraq and Afghanistan where the United States announced to the world when it planned to pull its troops out? What has this accomplished? "By their fruits ye shall know them." What have been the fruits?

First of all, this constant talk in Washington about not only pulling out, but announcing in advance what their pullout timetable was, meant that Iraqi political leaders knew that a powerful Iran was on their border permanently, while Washington was a long way away and intended to stay away.

Should we be surprised that the Iraqi government has increasingly come to pay more attention to what Iran wants than to what Washington wants? Once more, vast numbers of American lives have been sacrificed winning victories on the battlefield that the politicians in Washington then frittered away and turned into defeat politically.

What about other countries around the world who are watching what the American government is doing? Many have to decide whether they want to cooperate with the United States, and risk the wrath of our enemies, or cooperate with our enemies and risk nothing.

There is no need to respond to a North Korean artillery barrage by wiping North Korea off the map. But there is also no need to reassure the North Koreans in advance that we won't.

What announcing the doctrine of "proportional" response does is lower the price of aggression. Why would we want to do that?



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Moral Foundations of Society

In November 1994, Lady Thatcher delivered the concluding lecture in Hillsdale Center for Constructive Alternatives seminar, "God and Man: Perspectives on Christianity in the 20th Century" before an audience of 2,500 students, faculty, and guests. In an edited version of that lecture, she examines how the Judeo-Christian tradition has provided the moral foundations of America and other nations in the West and contrasts their experience with that of the former Soviet Union.

The Moral Foundations of the American Founding

History has taught us that freedom cannot long survive unless it is based on moral foundations. The American founding bears ample witness to this fact. America has become the most powerful nation in history, yet she uses her power not for territorial expansion but to perpetuate freedom and justice throughout the world.

For over two centuries, Americans have held fast to their belief in freedom for all men-a belief that springs from their spiritual heritage. John Adams, second president of the United States, wrote in 1789, "Our Constitution was designed only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other." That was an astonishing thing to say, but it was true.

What kind of people built America and thus prompted Adams to make such a statement? Sadly, too many people, especially young people, have a hard time answering that question. They know little of their own history (This is also true in Great Britain.) But America's is a very distinguished history, nonetheless, and it has important lessons to teach us regarding the necessity of moral foundations.

John Winthrop, who led the Great Migration to America in the early 17th century and who helped found the Massachusetts Bay Colony, declared, "We shall be as a City upon a Hill." On the voyage to the New World, he told the members of his company that they must rise to their responsibilities and learn to live as God intended men should live: in charity, love, and cooperation with one another. Most of the early founders affirmed the colonists were infused with the same spirit, and they tried to live in accord with a Biblical ethic. They felt they weren't able to do so in Great Britain or elsewhere in Europe. Some of them were Protestant, and some were Catholic; it didn't matter. What mattered was that they did not feel they had the liberty to worship freely and, therefore, to live freely, at home. With enormous courage, the first American colonists set out on a perilous journey to an unknown land-without government subsidies and not in order to amass fortunes but to fulfill their faith.

Christianity is based on the belief in a single God as evolved from Judaism. Most important of all, the faith of America's founders affirmed the sanctity of each individual. Every human life-man or woman, child or adult, commoner or aristocrat, rich or poor-was equal in the eyes of the Lord. It also affirmed the responsibility of each individual.

This was not a faith that allowed people to do whatever they wished, regardless of the consequences. The Ten Commandments, the injunction of Moses ("Look after your neighbor as yourself"), the Sermon on the Mount, and the Golden Rule made Americans feel precious-and also accountable-for the way in which they used their God-given talents. Thus they shared a deep sense of obligation to one another. And, as the years passed, they not only formed strong communities but devised laws that would protect individual freedom-laws that would eventually be enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.

Freedom with Responsibility

Great Britain, which shares much of her history in common with America, has also derived strength from its moral foundations, especially since the 18th century when freedom gradually began to spread throughout her socie!y Many people were greatly influenced by the sermons of John Wesley (1703-1791), who took the Biblical ethic to the people in a way which the institutional church itself had not done previously.

But we in the West must also recognize our debt to other cultures. In the pre-Christian era, for example, the ancient philosophers like Plato and Aristotle had much to contribute to our understanding of such concepts as truth, goodness, and virtue. They knew full well that responsibility was the price of freedom. Yet it is doubtful whether truth, goodness, and virtue founded on reason alone would have endured in the same way as they did in the West, where they were based upon a Biblical ethic.

Sir Edward Gibbon (1737-1794), author of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, wrote tellingly of the collapse of Athens, which was the birthplace of democracy. He judged that, in the end, more than they wanted freedom, the Athenians wanted security. Yet they lost everything-security, comfort, and freedom. This was because they wanted not to give to society, but for society to give to them. The freedom they were seeking was freedom from responsibility. It is no wonder, then, that they ceased to be free. In the modern world, we should recall the Athenians' dire fate whenever we confront demands for increased state paternalism.

To cite a more recent lesson in the importance of moral foundations, we should listen to Czech President Vaclav Havel, who suffered grievously for speaking up for freedom when his nation was still under the thumb of communism. He has observed, "In everyone there is some longing for humanity's rightful dignity, for moral integrity, and for a sense that transcends the world of existence." His words suggest that in spite of all the dread terrors of communism, it could not crush the religious fervor of the peoples of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.

So long as freedom, that is, freedom with responsibility, is grounded in morality and religion, it will last far longer than the kind that is grounded only in abstract, philosophical notions. Of course, many foes of morality and religion have attempted to argue that new scientific discoveries make belief in God obsolete, but what they actually demonstrate is the remarkable and unique nature of man and the universe. It is hard not to believe that these gifts were given by a divine Creator, who alone can unlock the secrets of existence.

Societies Without Moral Foundations

The most important problems we have to tackle today are problems, ultimately, having to do with the moral foundations of society There are people who eagerly accept their own freedom but do not respect the freedom of others-they, like the Athenians, want freedom from responsibility. But if they accept freedom for themselves, they must respect the freedom of others. If they expect to go about their business unhindered and to be protected from violence, they must not hinder the business of or do violence to others.

They would do well to look at what has happened in societies without moral foundations. Accepting no laws but the laws of force, these societies have been ruled by totalitarian ideologies like Nazism, fascism, and communism, which do not spring from the general populace, but are imposed on it by intellectual elites.

It was two members of such an elite, Marx and Lenin, who conceived of "dialectical materialism," the basic doctrine of communism. It robs people of all freedom-from freedom of worship to freedom of ownership. Marx and Lenin desired to substitute their will not only for all individual will but for God's will. They wanted to plan everything; in short, they wanted to become gods. Theirs was a breathtakingly arrogant creed, and it denied above all else the sanctity of human life.

The 19th century French economist and philosopher Frederic Bastiat once warned against this creed. He questioned those who, "though they are made of the same human clay as the rest of us, think they can take away all our freedoms and exercise them on our behalf." He would have been appalled but not surprised that the communists of the 20th century took away the freedom of millions of individuals, starting with the freedom to worship. The communists viewed religion as "the opiate of the people." They seized Bibles as well as all other private property at gun point and murdered at least 10 million souls in the process.

Thus 20th century Russia entered into the greatest experiment in government and atheism the world had ever seen, just as America several centuries earlier had entered into the world's greatest experiment in freedom and faith.

Communism denied all that the Judeo-Christian tradition taught about individual worth, human dignity, and moral responsibility. It was not surprising that it collapsed after a relatively brief existence. It could not survive more than a few generations because it denied human nature, which is fundamentally moral and spiritual. (It is true that no one predicted the collapse would come so quickly and so easily. In retrospect, we know that this was due in large measure to the firmness of President Ronald Reagan who said, in effect, to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, "Do not try to beat us militarily, and do not think that you can extend your creed to the rest of the world by force.")

The West began to fight the mora! battle against communism in earnest in the 1980s, and it was our resolve-combined with the spiritual strength of the people suffering under the system who finally said, "Enough!"-that helped restore freedom in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union-the freedom to worship, speak, associate, vote, establish political parties, start businesses, own property, and much more. If communism had been a creed with moral foundations, it might have survived, but it was not, and it simply could not sustain itself in a world that had such shining examples of freedom, namely, America and Great Britain.

The Moral Foundations of Capitalism

It is important to understand that the moral foundations of a society do not extend only to its political system; they must extend to its economic system as well. America's commitment to capitalism is unquestionably the best example of this principle. Capitalism is not, contrary to what those on the Left have tried to argue, an amoral system based on selfishness, greed, and exploitation. It is a moral system based on a Biblical ethic. There is no other comparable system that has raised the standard of living of millions of people, created vast new wealth and resources, or inspired so many beneficial innovations and technologies.

The wonderful thing about capitalism is that it does not discriminate against the poor, as has been so often charged; indeed, it is the only economic system that raises the poor out of poverty. Capitalism also allows nations that are not rich in natural resources to prosper. If resources were the key to wealth, the richest country in the world would be Russia, because it has abundant supplies of everything from oil, gas, platinum, gold, silver, aluminum, and copper to timber, water, wildlife, and fertile soil.

Why isn't Russia the wealthiest country in the world? Why aren't other resource-rich countries in the Third World at the top of the list? It is because their governments deny citizens the liberty to use their God-given talents. Man's greatest resource is himself, but he must be free to use that resource.

In his recent encyclical, Centesimus Annus, Pope John Paul I1 addressed this issue. He wrote that the collapse of communism is not merely to be considered as a "technical problem." It is a consequence of the violation of human rights. He specifically referred to such human rights as the right to private initiative, to own property, and to act in the marketplace. Remember the "Parable of the Talents" in the New Testament? Christ exhorts us to be the best we can be by developing our skills and abilities, by succeeding in all our tasks and endeavors. What better description can there be of capitalism? In creating new products, new services, and new jobs, we create a vibrant community of work. And that community of work serves as the basis of peace and good will among all men.

The Pope also acknowledged that capitalism encourages important virtues, like diligence, industriousness, prudence, reliability, fidelity, conscientiousness, and a tendency to save in order to invest in the future. It is not material goods but all of these great virtues, exhibited by individuals working together, that constitute what we call the "marketplace."

The Moral Foundations of the Law

Freedom, whether it is the freedom of the marketplace or any other kind, must exist within the framework of law. 0thenvise it means only freedom for the strong to oppress the weak. Whenever I visit the former Soviet Union, I stress this point with students, scholars, politicians, and businessmen-in short, with everyone I meet. Over and over again, I repeat: Freedom must be informed by the principle of justice in order to make it work between people. A system of laws based on solid moral foundations must regulate the entire life of a nation.

But this is an extremely difficult point to get across to people with little or no experience with laws except those based on force. The concept of justice is entirely foreign to communism. So, too, is the concept of equality. For over seventy years, Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union had no system of common law. There were only the arbitrary and often contradictory dictates of the Communist Party. There was no independent judiciary There was no such thing as truth in the communist system.

And what is freedom without truth? I have been a scientist, a lawyer, and a politician, and from my own experience I can testify that it is nothing. The third century Roman jurist Julius Paulus said, "What is right is not derived from the rule, but the rule arises from our knowledge of what is right." In other words, the law is founded on what we believe to be true and just. It has moral foundations. Once again, it is important to note that the free societies of America and Great Britain derive such foundations from a Biblical ethic.

The Moral Foundations of Democracy

Democracy is never mentioned in the Bible. When people are gathered together, whether as families, communities or nations, their purpose is not to ascertain the will of the majority, but the will of the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless, I am an enthusiast of democracy because it is about more than the will of the majority. If it were only about the will of the majority, it would be the right of the majority to oppress the minority. The American Declaration of Independence and Constitution make it clear that this is not the case. There are certain rights which are human rights and which no government can displace. And when it comes to how you Americans exercise your rights under democracy, your hearts seem to be touched by something greater than yourselves. Your role in democracy does not end when you cast your vote in an election. It applies daily; the standards and values that are the moral foundations of society are also the foundations of your lives.

Democracy is essential to preserving freedom. As Lord Acton reminded us, "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." If no individual can be trusted with power indefinitely, it is even more true that no government can be. It has to be checked, and the best way of doing so is through the will of the majority, bearing in mind that this will can never be a substitute for individual human rights.

I am often asked whether I think there will be a single international democracy, known as a "new world order." Though many of us may yearn for one, I do not believe it will ever arrive. We are misleading ourselves about human nature when we say, "Surely we're too civilized, too reasonable, ever to go to war again," or, "We can rely on our governments to get together and reconcile our differences." Tyrants are not moved by idealism. They are moved by naked ambition. Idealism did not stop Hitler; it did not stop Stalin. Our best hope as sovereign nations is to maintain strong defenses. Indeed, that has been one of the most important moral as well as geopolitical lessons of the 20th century. Dictators are encouraged by weakness; they are stopped by strength. By strength, of course, I do not merely mean military might but the resolve to use that might against evil.

The West did show sufficient resolve against Iraq during the Persian Gulf War. But we failed bitterly in Bosnia. In this case, instead of showing resolve, we preferred "diplomacy" and "consensus." As a result, a quarter of a million people were massacred. This was a horror that I, for one, never expected to see again in my lifetime. But it happened. Who knows what tragedies the future holds if we do not learn from the repeated lessons of histoy? The price of freedom is still, and always will be, eternal vigilance.

Free societies demand more care and devotion than any others. They are, moreover, the only societies with moral foundations, and those foundations are evident in their political, economic, legal, cultural, and, most importantly, spiritual life.

We who are living in the West today are fortunate. Freedom has been bequeathed to us. We have not had to carve it out of nothing; we have not had to pay for it with our lives. Others before us have done so. But it would be a grave mistake to think that freedom requires nothing of us. Each of us has to earn freedom anew in order to possess it. We do so not just for our own sake, but for the sake of our children, so that they may build a better future that will sustain over the wider world the responsibilities and blessings of freedom.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


Tuesday, April 09, 2013

In memoriam

It is one of the ironies of nature that Margaret Thatcher never inspired great affection despite having done more for Britain and the world than almost anyone else in modern times.  She showed that it is possible to break the ratchet of socialism and in so doing made government ownership of business an idea whose time had gone.  She will be remembered.

And she will be a permanent rebuke to feminist madness.  Britain's first female Prime Minister was not a feminist yet was hugely influential.  Had feminists truly been advocates for women they would have embraced her as their icon and beacon of hope.  In fact they despised her and she ignored them.  She was a real woman who loved her children to distraction and derived much of her strength and assurance from the unfailing support of her devoted husband.  No wonder feminists hate her.

There are some gracious tributes to her (as well as some mindless hate from British Leftists) here

How it should be

Americans who have been put through the wringer by the TSA when they travel by air might like to reflect on the following report from a New Zealand mother (and her husband) arriving home after a trip overseas with her 2-year old daughter (Hannah) in her arms.
We landed home in Queenstown to a cold but sunny day with Daylight Saving on its last day.  Having Hannah in our arms always gets us through customs quickly as security sends us through the express line and we were greeted by customs with a smile, after reading our arrival card she said "welcome home".

Wouldn't we all like to be treated like that by officials?  I think it is arguable that New Zealand is the last outpost of civilization.  Maybe there's some remnant of it in small-town America.  My favorite New Zealand story is here.


Obama double standards again

Some media types these days don’t like “Bible thumping.” But there are times when, as the author of Cultural Literacy, Prof. E. D. Hirsch noted, the Bible can be a useful communications tool. Let’s take that Jesus phrase, “swallow camels while straining at gnats.” That’s a pretty succinct way of describing our all-too-human tendency to commit huge mistakes in judgment while getting choked up on lesser things.

Take the current controversy over sequestration. Our colleague, Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council, notes that the Obama administration is releasing prisoners who have entered the U.S. illegally. But this Obama administration wants to deport a family of German refugees who are living a quiet and godly life in Tennessee.

Swallowing camels—releasing actual lawbreakers—straining at gnats—trying to harass harmless Christian parents and kids. Nothing so well describes the absurdity of government action under the Obama administration. The Romeike family (roh-MIKE-uh) fled Germany and sought asylum in the U.S. in 2008. This is because they are not allowed to homeschool their children in Germany. The Romeikes were initially granted refugee status, but the Obama administration is opposed to this and is seeking their deportation

Fortunately, the Home School Legal Defense Association ( is raising an alarm. This pioneering group has a long history of defending parental rights. HSLDA is asking us to sign a petition to the Obama White House to stop the cruel and unjust persecution of the Romeikes.

HSLDA recognizes that the position being taken by the Obama administration poses a grave threat to religious freedom for all Americans. The Obama view has recently been advanced that “freedom of worship” may be conceded, grudgingly, but freedom of religion—a broader right—is seriously questioned. The Obama administration went before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012 in a critical case. There, a Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod school was trying to defend its historic doctrine that Christian teachers are ministers. The Obama administration said, no, we will decide who is and is not a minister in your church schools.

The U.S. Supreme Court slapped down the Obama administration on a rare vote of 9-0. Even Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan voted to reject the extreme secularist views of the Obama administration. We can all be grateful that the High Court could not swallow that particular camel! But here they are again, persecuting these modern-day Pilgrims. The Romeikes and their children are as inoffensive and law-abiding a group of refugees as you could want.

Just contrast this hounding of the Romeikes with the slap-dash performance of federal officials who allowed dangerous terrorists to enter our country prior to 9/11. As our friend Terry Jeffrey wrote some years ago, the 9/11 Commission Report sharply criticized the failures to check Saudi visa applications thoroughly:

"In fact, the hijackers submitted a total of 24 U.S. visa applications, of which 20 were retained in U.S. State Department files. “All 20 of these applications,” a 9/11 Commission staff report concluded, “were incomplete in some way, with a data field left blank or not answered fully.” “Three of the hijackers submitted applications that contained false statements that could have been proven to be false at the time they applied,” said the staff report, entitled “Entry of the 9/11 Hijackers into the United States.” “During their stays in the United States at least six of the 9/11 hijackers violated immigration laws,” said the report. According to the report, the 9/11 hijackers who were given visas to enter and stay in the U.S.: “Included among them known al Qaeda operatives who could have been watchlisted; Presented passports ‘manipulated in a fraudulent manner;’ Presented passports with ‘suspicious indictors’ of extremism; Made detectable false statements on their visa applications; Were pulled out of the travel stream and given greater scrutiny by border officials; Made false statements to border officials to gain entry into the United States; and Violated immigration laws while inside the United States.”

The Obama administration today wants to boot dad Uwe and mom Hannalore Romeike and their children out of the United States because “homeschooling is not a fundamental right. ”Therefore, Obama officialsargue, these refugees are not really facing persecution at home.

We praise German Chancellor Angela Merkel for saying that Christians throughout the world are suffering the greatest persecution of any religious group. She’s right about that. But her own government has a blind spot when it comes to homeschooling.

The reason why Germany’s history was so tragic for a hundred years—from the 1840s to the 1940s—is because their government failed to recognize the fundamental religious freedom of their people. Our Supreme Court said it well as long ago as 1925: “The child is not the mere creature of the state.”

Therefore, we all need to rally to the Romeikes. Our own religious freedom depends upon it. If the Obama administration succeeds in trampling parental rights, we will see our government continuing to swallow camels.



Reverend Leon and Obama Wrong on Easter

 Bruce Bialosky

A controversy exploded into the national forum when President Obama and his family crossed the street to attend Easter services at St. John’s Church, an Episcopal church attended by every President since James Madison. In the end both the Reverend who delivered the sermon and the President were wrong.

In the sermon, Reverend Luis Leon lurched into a political diatribe against conservatives. He is quoted as saying “It drives me crazy when the captains of the religious right are always calling us back…for blacks to be back in the back of the bus, for women to be back in the kitchen, for gays to be in the closet, and for immigrants to be back on their side of the border.”

First, Leon is wrong on the facts. Maybe he needs a primer on history. As for Blacks, he could just watch the recent movie Lincoln where he would see it is Republicans who lead the fight for the emancipation of Black people. He could go back to 1964 where the people stonewalling against The Civil Rights Act of 1964 were Democrats. Or he could take measure of the recent Supreme Court case regarding Gay Rights. The centerpiece of the case was a woman who was unable to inherit her partner’s assets upon her death in the same manner as heterosexual couples. The Reverend should look at who has tried to eliminate the Death Tax and which party has kept Gays from equal rights on inheritance – Democrats. Lastly, Leon should point out the Conservative or member of the religious right that has ever spoken negatively about legal immigrants to this country. He would be hard-pressed to find one.

The more important issue focuses on why Reverend Leon delivered this sermon in the first place. As a Jew, I am not an expert on Christian customs. But it would seem to me there are two days where religious leaders might keep their opinions on public policy to themselves – that would be Christmas and Easter. One would think they could stick to the subject at hand because it would seem those days are like the Super Bowl of Christianity. But Mr. Leon could not help himself and had to divert from the discussion of the Resurrection to assert himself into the national debate.

Now we do not believe that President Obama had anything to do with the inappropriate behavior of the Reverend as he used the opportunity of having the leader of the Free World to pontificate. Instead of taking a position of principle and state that as a Christian he would have preferred to hear a strictly religious sermon, Mr. Obama sent his spokesperson out to flop and flounder defending the non-defensible. Another instance of no leadership from this President.

That there are people that are upset about the Reverend doing this is almost laughable – to Jews. We have been abused by this political rhetoric at the Jewish High Holy Day services for years. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur would seem to be sacrosanct times where Rabbis would reserve their comments to be focused on the Torah, Israel, and a commitment to Jewish Life. Just as frequently Rabbis see their biggest crowd of the year and think it is their opportunity to educate the flock on great Jewish issues like Climate Change. When George W. Bush was President, many Rabbis railed against whatever Bush had recently done that irritated them.

A bigger-picture question has to be what makes these people qualified to be religious leaders in the first place. Certainly we have seen religious leaders like Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan -- a man of massive abilities and leadership. The new Pope appears to be that way. But there are a lot of people entering the clergy who are doing so to further their public policy positions. Many of the candidates coming out of rabbinical school seem as impressive as wet noodles.

We have had some discussions with experienced rabbis who are summarily unimpressed with young Rabbis. When we asked what the credentials are for getting into rabbinical school, it certainly seemed like it was not high standards. More importantly, they are not drawing the cream of the crop of Jewish youth. Many are deeply confused about a central tenet of Jewish life today – Israel. They are not becoming Rabbis because they have heard a calling, but as we said to advance their favorite social issues.

What I saw of Reverend Leon fit right into this class of political leader. He seems entirely unimpressive as a man and deeply confused about what he should be doing in front of his parishioners. Unfortunately, our President did not see the clear rationale to set him straight. Easter is a holy day. Keep your political opinions off the pulpit.



Fight for the right to grow raisins

The Supreme Court could soon end one of the federal government's most archaic practices.

Since the 1930s, the Agriculture Department has turned California raisin growers into pawns of its Raisin Administrative Committee, which can commandeer up to half of the farmer's crop and then pay them little or nothing for the product.

Marvin Horne, a 67-year-old raisin farmer in Fresno, Calif., was fined almost $700,000 for refusing to surrender control of much of his harvest to the government committee in 2002. Horne, who has been growing raisins for more than 40 years, has battled the raisin committee for more than a decade and describes its regime as "involuntary servitude."

His challenge -- which is supported by many California raisin growers -- landed in front of the Supreme Court last month.

According to the Obama Administration and USDA, the Raisin Administrative Committee needs vast power to protect farmers against themselves. Otherwise, farmers might sell too many raisins and cause a plunge in prices. Justice Antonin Scalia aptly described USDA as offering farmers a choice: "your raisins or your life." Since farmers chose to sell their crop in interstate commerce, the government claims that it is entitled to nearly unlimited sway over the harvest.

The Obama Administration and USDA insist that, even though the government commandeers raisin farmers' harvest, there is no "taking" because the seizure drives up the price of the remaining raisins.

Justice Stephen Breyer was dumbfounded by this argument, declaring that "I can't believe that Congress wanted the taxpayers to pay for a program that's going to mean they have to pay higher prices as consumers."

Breyer apparently never heard of USDA's sugar program, which intentionally inflates prices and costs consumers billions of dollars a year. Actually, the raisin regime is even more perverse -- since it intentionally dumps allegedly "surplus" raisins on world markets at firesale prices. Foreigners often pay much lower prices for California raisins than do Americans.

Justice Elena Kagan suggested that 1937 Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act, which authorizes the raisin restrictions, could be "the world's most outdated law." Though purportedly created to serve farmers, the act creates endless administrative hoops and legal tripwires for its beneficiaries. Brian Leighton, one of the lawyers for the dissident raisin growers noted,"Thieves, murderers and rapists have far greater rights of due process and speedy appeal than do farmers regulated under USDA marketing orders."

There is nothing about unique about raisins that requires nullifying the constitutional rights of raisin growers. Markets for raisins are volatile -- as are the markets for hundreds of other farm products grown in the U.S. The raisin committee's sweeping powers have failed to prevent vast swings in prices farmers receive. Many California farmers have simply given up, and the acreage devoted to raisin production decreased by 75,000 acres since 2000.

"All we want to do is pack our raisins and sell them," Marvin Horne recently declared. "The only thing I wanted, along with my group, was to be free." Free markets are not perfect but they are far superior to the iron fists of government committees that scorn both farmers and consumers. If the Supreme Court cannot smack down the raisin racket, then it should forfeit any pretense of safeguarding Americans' rights and liberties.



Nederland in trouble too

Ironically, the Netherlands, widely viewed as a model economy, is facing the kind of real estate crisis that has only affected the United States and Spain until now. Banks in the Netherlands have also pumped billions upon billions in loans into the private and commercial real estate market since the 1990s, without ensuring that borrowers had sufficient collateral.

Private homebuyers, for example, could easily find banks to finance more than 100 percent of a property's price. "You could readily obtain a loan for five times your annual salary," says Scheepens, "and all that without a cent of equity." This was only possible because property owners were able to fully deduct mortgage interest from their taxes.

Instead of paying off the loans, borrowers normally put some of the money into an investment fund, month after month, hoping for a profit. The money was to be used eventually to pay off the loan, at least in part. But it quickly became customary to expect the value of a given property to increase substantially. Many Dutch savers expected that the resale of their homes would generate enough money to pay off the loans, along with a healthy profit.

More than a decade ago, the Dutch central bank recognized the dangers of this euphoria, but its warnings went unheeded. Only last year did the new government, under conservative-liberal Prime Minister Mark Rutte, amend the generous tax loopholes, which gradually began to expire in January. But now it's almost too late. No nation in the euro zone is as deeply in debt as the Netherlands, where banks have a total of about €650 billion in mortgage loans on their books.

Consumer debt amounts to about 250 percent of available income. By comparison, in 2011 even the Spaniards only reached a debt ratio of 125 percent.

The Netherlands is still one of the most competitive countries in the European Union, but now that the real estate bubble has burst, it threatens to take down the entire economy with it. Unemployment is on the rise, consumption is down and growth has come to a standstill. Despite tough austerity measures, this year the government in The Hague will violate the EU deficit criterion, which forbid new borrowing of more than 3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).


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


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


Monday, April 08, 2013

Buying Off Discontent: The Economic Wreckage of Disability Benefits in America

You lose the factory job you’ve had since high school due to cut-backs. When the unemployment runs out, the only jobs around for high school graduates are fast food joints and entry-level work – a huge pay cut. You discover you can make nearly as much money on disability. Your doctor diagnoses you with chronic back pain (all those years of standing on the factory floor), and you have joined the ranks of “not-unemployed-but-disabled.” The state in which you live is happy because you don’t need any more of their unemployment money, and the federal government is happy that you are not an unemployment statistic, gumming up jobless rates.

Or there’s this. You scrape by on your job, managing bare essentials, but it’s tough. There’s no health insurance. You find out from your kid’s school counselor that because he has ADHD and isn’t learning at grade level, he may be eligible for disability. Suddenly, you’ve got $700 more every month, so long as your kid stays below grade level. You have a perverse hope that your kid doesn’t catch up in school.

It’s a boardwalk shell game with the federal government as huckster: Is the money under the shell marked “unemployment,” “disability” or “Social Security”? Is the disabled person the kid who can’t read, the factory worker whose unemployment ran out, or the truly disabled? The shells get moved, sleight of hand is performed, and the player’s money is quickly scooped up.

Disability has become America’s hidden welfare and unemployment program. People on disability don’t count in the ranks of the unemployed, and those unwilling to work but not eligible for welfare can often find a medical issue to keep checks rolling in. Perhaps most devastating, we’ve unwittingly created a system where people who could genuinely be helped by neighbors, churches, and charitable organizations are simply sent a check and told to go away.

By now, NPR’s Unfit for Work: the startling rise of disability in America has made the media rounds. Chana Joffe-Walt spent months researching the enormous rise in disability payments in the United States. Is the health of Americans spiraling downward at an alarming rate? Are disability claims being rubber-stamped by careless government wonks? Why are 14 million Americans (more than the total number of employees in the manufacturing sector of the economy) categorized by the government to be so ill that they’re unable to work?

In Samuel Gregg’s Becoming Europe, he examines the entitlement state that is modern Europe. In today’s European Union, people expect life-long job security, health care and education, along with cushy pensions. Politicians, not wanting to deal with civil unrest and eager to please voters, have been happy to “buy off discontent” (Gregg) despite the cost.

That’s the problem: “Wilhelm Röpke pointed out that welfare states are like progressive taxation: once one accepts the basic principle, there is nothing in the welfare state’s conception to set a limit to it,” Gregg writes.

In other words, where does it stop? When does the government say, “We can’t and won’t pay for that?” In the EU’s case, the answer seems to be “never”.

Increasingly, this seems to be the American answer as well. Is it hard to get disability? Yes and no. The process is tedious, but the categories that constitute disability are broad and ambiguous. An infographic for those researching disability says this: “If you believe you’re eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, don’t be discouraged by funding issues. These should ease when the economy improves and the government tightens spending on lower priorities.”

Americans should not only be discouraged, but deeply alarmed by funding issues. Since 1960, entitlement programs (like Social Security, unemployment and disability) have grown twice as fast as personal income. Today, government entitlement accounts for two-thirds of government spending. One in five Americans now receives some form of government benefit. The cost for disability, including health care for the disabled, is at least $260 billion a year.

Beyond the obvious fiscal nightmare, there is a cultural timbre that resonates throughout the numbers, statistics, and programs: We are a nation of takers. Increasingly, we want what our European counterparts have: a guaranteed paycheck, free education and health insurance, all government-provided.

There has always been a generous spirit in America towards the downtrodden, but it’s time to realize that we are no longer being generous: the government is leading us merrily along the path of fiscal fugue. If you’ve got a job, you’re paying for someone else’s big screen TV, disability check and health insurance. This is not to say that there are not those who are genuinely disabled. However, America has millions of people who could work but don’t. There aren’t jobs for them, they don’t have the skills for the jobs available, or they just plain don’t want to work. We’ve got children whose inability to read well is helping pay the family rent.

This is our miserable “system”: we have a cultural climate that wants something for nothing. We’ve got people who’d like to work, but have to function in a stagnant economy that removes incentives to creativity and entrepreneurship. For jobs that are available, there are millions of under-skilled people. We are paying to keep children from learning. We’re in the midst of shredding a safety net for the truly needy, attempting to solve issues such as learning disabilities, under- and unemployment with a program that can’t and won’t ever resolve those problems, and are stalled in finding real solutions because the federal disability program as it stands now is essentially hiding these dilemmas.

America is attempting to buy off people in their discontent. The discontent remains, the money will dry up, and we’re left with 14 million people who’ve been taught their gifts and talents have no value in this American society. Our disability system needs to be dismantled.



Vermont First State To Reveal Big Incentive For People To NOT Buy Health  Insurance‏

Vermont is the first state to reveal what insurers will likely be charging for policies on its exchange.  That also makes Vermont the first state to reveal that many individuals and families will have a big financial incentive to forego insurance and pay the ObamaCare penalty.

Here are some of the examples the Vermont exchange provides of the premiums people will pay after the tax credits kick in.  Keep in mind that the ObamaCare penalty for not buying coverage is $695 or 2.5% of one’s income*, whichever is higher.:

1. One article about Vermont notes that a “single self-employed person earning $40,000 a year could go from a $600 a month premium, down to $317 a month.”  That’s about $3,804 a year.  Since the ObamaCare penalty for this person is $1,000 ($40,000 * 2.5%), the single self-employed person will have about $2,804 worth of incentive to decline insurance.  But what if he gets sick?  Well, ObamaCare has “guaranteed issue” which means that an insurance company must sell him a policy at anytime.  So why pay $3,804 a year when he could pay $1,000 knowing that he’ll still be able to buy coverage if he falls ill?

2. According to a Vermont Exchange press release, “a family of four with a household income of $75,000 per year will pay a little under $600 per month for family coverage with a federal premium tax credit. This is compared to over $900 for the lowest cost small group plans available today.”  The Exchange forgot to mention that also is compared to the $1,875 penalty which is about $5,325 less than the $7,200 that family will be paying for coverage annually.  In this case, ObamaCare not only incentivizes the family to forego insurance, it incentivizes the parents to teach the children that it’s best to wait until you get sick to get coverage.  Who says family values are dead?

For more on the fiasco that is the individual mandate, see this excellent post by Avik Roy from July of last year.

*$695 or 2.5% of income is the ObamaCare penalty in 2016.  In 2014 it is $95 or 1.5% and in 2015 it is $325 or 2%.  Of course, that means that in 2014-15 people have even more incentive not to buy coverage.



Small Cities in Small Counties

I love county-level political events.

Unlike major Washington, DC-based events or national political conventions, the people who come to Lincoln Day (on the GOP side) or Jefferson-Jackson Day (for the Dems) dinners, or county picnics during the summer, or participate in parades are the people who are truly the backbone of American politics.

The tickets to the event here at the local Shrine hall were, I think $35 per head. Silent auction, extra. The meal itself would have cost $85 each at a restaurant in downtown Washington.

I am certainly not opposed to events that bring in the high rollers. You don't have to have a PhD in political science to understand that an event that will attract 50 guests at $1,000 per will raise a lot more money than an even that has 250 people at $35 each. ($50,000 vs. $8,750.)

County events are a collection of people who know each other. In a county like Washington (one of Ohio's 99), these same people belong to the Rotary, or Lion's clubs or the Masonic lodge.

They are retailers, run small engineering, public relations, or manufacturing firms. Or they are the lawyers and CPAs who support them.  Their spouses are school teachers or scout leaders or manage the Sunday school at their church.

These are people who could have moved to, and been successful in, Columbus, or L.A. or New York, but they chose to stay here.

They have known each other since grade school. They played on the same teams in Little League or Legion Ball. They had the same teachers in high school - or they are the high school teachers and the Little League coaches.

They remember the same stories and retell them with relish every time they get together - the rolling eyes of their spouses notwithstanding. They tell the stories at their Saturday golf game, or their regular Thursday girls-night-out dinner.

At election time they walk their precincts and drop of materials at the homes of people they know are Republicans and skip the homes of the people who are Democrats (or the other way around). They know which is which without computer print-outs or micro-targeting reports because they knew their parents were Republicans (or Democrats).

When they attend a Lincoln or Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner they don't come back later asking for an Ambassadorship to France or an appointment to a national Commission. They might need a curb cut for the new garage to house the truck they just bought for their business, but $35 isn't likely to buy that decision.

It doesn't matter if MSNBC is pushing the most Liberal Democrat, or Fox is pushing the most Conservative Tea Party candidate. It doesn't matter what the national print reporters are tweeting about, or what the cable punditry is focused on.

These people are trying to elect members of the City Council. Or County Commissioners. Or local judges. Or a State Representative.

I got to talk about being Dan Quayle's and Newt Gingrich's press secretary and being a senior advisor on the Fred Thompson campaign. I think they liked hearing about my being on TV with Donna Brazile and Bob Beckel, but only in the way they might thumb through a magazine in the checkout line at the supermarket.

This Lincoln Day dinner was special for me because I've known many of these people for decades - the MC, in fact, said that next year will mark our 40th year of knowing one another.

They listened to me on the radio as the local news director. They saw me covering events - both news events and community events. One person reminded the audience that a long-ago Mayor declared I was a major pain in his "posterior."

I was a City Councilman here. Many of the people at the dinner voted for me, lo those many years ago. Nancy Hollister, the woman who took my Council seat when we moved to DC went on to become the Lt. Governor of Ohio.

She was there, too.

The Mullings Director of Standards & Practices and our son were born here.

If you wonder why I make such a big deal about Marietta, Ohio 45750 it’s because, as I said in my remarks "I wasn't born here, I wasn't raised here, but I came of age here."

Small cities, in small counties are the backbone of American politics and, in a very real way, are the heart and soul of the American dream.



The Progressive Bible

Since I have absolutely no authority to amend or alter the Word of God, who better than me to follow in the equally unqualified and arrogant footsteps of the secularists and do so anyway. True, I could be risking Hell by doing so, but Rob Bell has convinced me Hell doesn’t exist so I’m good to go. After all, if you can’t rely on a wannabe shaman peddling postmodernism in hipster glasses who can you trust?

Thus, to make the Bible more contemporary, inclusive, and progressive, here are my top 10 verses that need to be “updated” for our enlightened age.

10. In the beginning the god of your understanding watched the “big bang” occur, and then stood idly by for billions of years curious to see how this whole evolution thing would turn out.

9. For we so love the state that we give it our only begotten offspring. Whosoever believes in the state will not perish but get an Obama-phone and cash for clunkers.

8. Thou shall steal when it’s your “right”, when someone is “rich,” or when you’re a victim of white privilege.

7. Therefore, whatever god you recognize gave you over to the pure desires of your loins, to hit it with any consenting adult and/or organic orifice that floats your boat.

6. And one day every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess that god is whomever you need him/her/it to be.

5. Judge not lest ye believe in redistributing wealth, then judge much and judge harshly.

4. Do not murder, unless you’re going to be “punished with a baby.”

3. And Moses said to the theocratic authoritarian denying diversity in Egypt: “Let my people go into the wilderness so that they may recycle, commune with nature, and repent for their carbon footprint.”

2. Jesus’ mother came to him because the same-sex wedding party had run out of legalized marijuana. Jesus replied, “Maternal unit, why do you involve me? I am still buzzing from our last stash.” Jesus’ mother replied to the undocumented immigrants tending the wedding, “Do whatever he tells you.” So Jesus told them: “Puff, puff, pass man…puff, puff, pass.”

1. Jesus said, “I am a good moral teacher. Believe in what you will, for all roads lead to Heaven.”



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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Sunday, April 07, 2013

Why the No-Fly List Doesn't Fly

Innocent people don't know why they're on it and get off

Flying commercial can be a terrible hassle these days, but not for Steven Washburn. The people in charge of airport security have decided to spare him all the inconveniences. No taking off his shoes and belt, no putting his liquids in a plastic bag, no enduring a naked body scan. Oh, and one more thing: no flying.

Washburn is on the government's no-fly list. He doesn't know why, and the government won't tell him. Nor will it take him off. He's much like Franz Kafka's Gregor Samsa, who wakes up to find he has turned into a bug. There is no accounting for it and no escape. He may go to the grave without ever flying again — or learning the reason.

He's just one of the many people tabbed as potential terrorists who must be kept off the nation's airliners, including, at one point, Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. An estimated 21,000 people now populate the no-fly list.

That number alone should raise serious questions about its accuracy. Since Sept. 11, 2001, there is no known instance of the Transportation Security Administration catching a terrorist trying to board a plane.

Remember all those sleeper cells of al-Qaida operatives, waiting for the right moment to strike? They never turned up either. Since 9/11, the number of terrorist attacks in the United States amounts to 127. If you believe there are 21,000 fanatics itching to blow up a regional jet, I have some Mitt Romney inauguration tickets to sell you.

But none of this is any comfort if you're one of the unfortunates who are not free to move about the country — or out of it. So the American Civil Liberties Union has gone to court on behalf of 13 people (including four military veterans) who had flown for years only to show up at the airport and find themselves persona non grata. Each petitioned the Department of Homeland Security to be removed from the no-fly list — and each was rebuffed without explanation.

The ACLU is not dreaming big here. It doesn't ask that the government take these individuals off the list. It doesn't insist that they be exempt from monitoring. The only request is that they be told why they are deemed so dangerous and have the chance to show why they really aren't.

Being on the no-fly list is not a trivial matter. It prevents Washburn from seeing his wife, a Spanish citizen who lives in Ireland. Some people never fly. But for anyone who does so even occasionally, it is a serious burden to be told: You can drive, or you can stay home.

The "right to travel" is not just a pleasant notion; it's a constitutional guarantee. Although it's not mentioned in the text, the Supreme Court has long treated it as thunderously obvious. In 1900, it said that "the right to remove from one place to another according to inclination is an attribute of personal liberty" firmly "secured by the Fourteenth Amendment and by other provisions of the Constitution."

The document also guarantees the right of due process, which those on the no-fly list can only dream about. The decision is made in secret by unseen officials who provide no reasons, entertain no disputes and allow no independent review. You could get a fairer hearing from a crowd toting tar and feathers.

This is only one of the defects in the system. A bigger one is why the list is needed at all. Since the 9/11 hijackings, various steps have been taken to prevent a repetition —reinforcing cockpit doors, putting thousands of armed marshals on flights, screening liquids and patting down travelers. Passengers, meanwhile, will no longer sit quietly if someone becomes a problem.

The Transportation Security Administration feels so confident about its ability to defuse genuine risks that it's decided to allow small knives on board aircraft. But if the government can keep troublemakers from employing the weapons they need, the troublemakers will have only pitifully ineffectual options — which means they aren't likely to fly in the first place.

The nice thing about these other security measures is that they work not only against anyone who is deemed dangerous but also anyone who is not. And they impede the guilty without inflicting serious harm on the innocent.

Maybe the people who compile the no-fly list can say the same thing. But I don't really want to take their word for it. If Ted Kennedy were around, he wouldn't either.



ObamaCare Was Designed, Passed, and Implemented by Democrats. Obviously Republicans Must Be Responsible for Its Failures

It was probably inevitable that as ObamaCare began to fail, Republicans would get the blame. After all, Republican legislators in Congress didn’t vote for it, Republican voters have never supported it, and nearly every Republican governor has let the federal government build and run the law’s health exchange in their state. Republican critics of the law warned before it was passed that it would be too expensive, to complicated, and too onerous on both individuals and businesses. So of course now that the implementation process has begun to reveal signs of trouble, it’s the Grand Old Party’s fault. Who else could possibly be responsible?

If you want the complete argument for why Republicans are the culprit here, you can find it in Think Progress health wonk Igor Volsky’s piece making the case for, in his words, “why Republicans are to blame for ObamaCare’s delays.” The piece is hooked to this week’s announcement that the choice option in ObamaCare’s small business exchanges would be delayed for a year, and the short version is that because Republicans refused to implement the law themselves in the states and have declined to provide additional funding for implementation at the federal level, the GOP is on the hook for delays and failures.

It’s hard to blame Republicans for the delay of the small business choice option: it’s not something that Republicans have focused on to any great degree, and the main reasons for the delay seems to be a the technical challenge of designing a multitude of plans that fit the exchange requirements and the administrative burden of having to design those plans while working on other exchange features in the law. Republican opposition doesn’t have anything to do with it.

Overall, Volsky makes a good try, but sorry, no: Democrats are to blame for the failures and problems of a law designed by Democrats, passed by Democrats, and implemented by Democrats. That it is not working now is the fault of the people who said it would work, decided to try making it work, and are now tasked with the responsibility to make it work. They are failing, and the law is failing because of them—not because of Republicans.

More generally, though, this offers a lesson in why it’s ill advised to pass major legislation on strict party lines that is supported by neither the opposition party nor the bulk of the public. Especially when the law is predicated on the assumption that the opposition will cheerfully help with implementation. That Democrats seem to have assumed that Republicans would give in and play ball suggests some mix of deep arrogance, wishful thinking, and willful ignorance of the national political dynamic. It’s just plain bad policy design: A law passed by Democrats that can only work if Republicans decline to oppose the law is a law that almost certainly will not work.

And sure enough, three years after passage, ObamaCare shows signs that it might not be quite as wonderful as promised. But ObamaCare’s supporters are so determined to avoid admitting that it might be a failure—or even just less functional than they insisted it would be—that they are refusing to take responsibility for the politically troubled bureaucratic mess they created.



Record 89,967,000 Not in Labor Force; Another 663,000 Drop Out In March

A record 89,967,000 Americans were not in the labor force in March, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That is an increase of 663,000 from the 89,304,000 Americans who were not in the labor force in February.

The BLS counts a person as not in the civilian labor force if they are at least 16 years old, are not in the military or an institution such as a prison, mental hospital or nursing home, and have not actively looked for a job in the last four weeks. The department counts a person as in the civilian labor force if they are at least 16, are not in the military or an institution such as a prison, mental hospital or nursing home, and either do have a job or have actively looked for one in the last four weeks.

The number of people that BLS considers "in the labor force" affects the unemployment rate--which is the percentage of people "in the labor force" who are unable to find a job during the month. If someone previously considered "not in the labor force" were to go out and search for a job and not find one, they would have to be counted as in the labor force for that period--and thus would increase the unemployment rate.

To the degree that Americans choose to simply drop out of the labor force rather than search unsuccessful for a job they decrease the unemployment rate.

In keeping with the increase in the number of people not in the labor force, the labor force participation rate decreased from 63.5 percent in February to 63.3 percent in March. The labor force participation rate is the percentage of Americans in the civilian population over age 16 who did not have a job or seek a job during the month.

In January 2009, when Obama was first inaugurated, there were 80,507,000 people not in the labor force compared to the 89,967,000 who were not in the labor force in March.



Smiley-Face Lies and Homicide Hogwash in Dem Hellholes

President Obama's hometown of Chicago still goes by the old nickname "Windy City." But after three miserable decades of strict gun control and permanent Democratic rule, Chicago has cemented its reputation as America's Bloody City.

No amount of statistical whitewashing can cover up the stains of the left's ideological failures there. But as Obama continues to wage war on law-abiding gun owners, his home team is trying its hardest to spread smiley-face lies upon damned lies to downplay Chicago homicide statistics.

On Monday, April Fools' Day, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy held a press conference to tout a "dramatic" drop in the city's homicide rate. The headlines read: "March homicides drop dramatically in Chicago" (USA Today); "Murders fall 42 percent in America's deadliest city: Chicago" (NBC News); and "March homicides drop 69 percent in Chicago" (Las Vegas Sun)."

Emanuel trumpeted the drop as a "good sign." He hyped statistics to the Associated Press showing that first-quarter 2013 murders in Chicago tied the same time period in 2009. Murders decreased 69 percent compared to the same month last year; first-quarter homicides fell by 42 percent compared to the same time frame last year. Emanuel insisted: "We are clearly having an impact on the homicides."

But it's all in how you slice, dice and spin it, of course.

Let's face it. Gun-grabbers in Democratic-dominated cities have an institutional incentive to fudge the numbers. In New York City, which rivals Chicago when it comes to out-of-control gun-control regulations, a New York Police Department whistleblower recently exposed systemic manipulation of crime data.

As anti-Second Amendment crusader Michael Bloomberg made the rounds last spring touting the Big Apple as "the safest big city in America," an internal NYPD report confirmed that more than a dozen crime reports had been manipulated — including felonies downgraded and incident reports deep-sixed — to lower the crime rate. As punishment for exposing the tampering and corruption, the whistle-blowing officer, Adrian Schoolcraft, who secretly taped the manipulation, was suspended and forced into a psych ward.
He's still fighting for justice and has never received an apology.

So, call me crazy, but I wouldn't put it past Team Obama's Chicago theater directors to goose their numbers to improve the optics for Dear Leader. Speaking of the lobbyist in chief, he parachuted into Colorado this week and surrounded himself with Denver police officer human props during a gun-control campaign event. The rank-and-filers were none too happy with being exploited for political purposes. "To protect and serve" is supposed to be a public safety imperative, not a campaign imperative.

But back to the Bloody City. In 2012, Chicago racked up the nation's deadliest death toll, with 506 of its residents murdered. The murder rate has simply returned to its bloody business as usual over the past five years. Here's the first-quarter death toll breakdown:

2013: 70
2012: 120
2011: 75
2010: 75
2009: 70

The Second City Cop crime blog adds that Emanuel's claim regarding the homicide rate dropping to levels not seen since the 1950s "is based solely on the population decrease in the city of Chicago. This is an amazing abuse of numbers, but as Mark Twain said, 'There are lies, damned lies and statistics.' Welcome to 'statistics.'"

Local Chicago CBS 2 reporter Jay Levine didn't buy the whitewashing bunk, either. He challenged City Hall with a piece entitled: "City Touts Lower Homicide Stats, But Context Reveals Return To Normal." Put simply, "2013's 70 first-quarter homicides was a major improvement over 2012's 120 — but not over 2011 or 2010 or 2009."

While Emanuel sang "Don't Worry, Be Happy" for the press, the Bloody City was still reeling after a 6-month-old baby was shot and killed in gang crossfire. On Easter weekend, a mob of violent teens terrorized shoppers in the Magnificent Mile district. Similar outbreaks of racially driven attacks have escalated in Chicago under the reign of Daley-Emanuel-Obama. By some police estimates, gang violence accounts for up to 80 percent of the city's homicides.

Plagued by juvenile delinquency, organized crime, ruinous government dependency, corruption and out-of-control spending, these liberal-dominated hellholes have proved impervious to progressive "social justice" engineering. It's the insane demagogues blaming guns who need their heads examined.




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