Friday, February 14, 2014

The Privileged People

John Stossel

Politicians say, "We're all equal," and pretend that they represent everyone. But, in fact, they constantly pick winners and losers. America is now like the place described in George Orwell's book "Animal Farm": "All animals are equal," but some are "more equal than others." "Animal Farm" was about Communism, but today the allegory applies to our bloated democracy, too.

During the "fiscal cliff" negotiations that Congress and the media made sound so tough -- as if every last penny were pinched -- Congress still managed to slip in plenty of special deals for cronies.

--NASCAR got $70 million for new racetracks.

--Algae growers got $60 million.

--Hollywood film producers got a $430 million tax break.

When America's going broke, how do moviemakers get a special break? By lobbying for it. Movies are a sexy business, so 42 states offer film producers "incentives" to film there. (State legislatures are as shortsighted as Congress).

Michigan offered the juiciest handouts until the state ran out of taxpayers' money. Now Ohio, Louisiana and Georgia (that's why the latest "Hunger Games" movie was shot in Georgia) offer the biggest handouts. The mayor of Los Angeles recently declared a "state of emergency" -- not over an earthquake or storm, but because so much moviemaking has left California for states with bigger subsidies.

The U.S., which used to pride itself on being more free-market than Europe, is now hardly different from France, which crippled its economy by subsidizing all sorts of old industries, and even gives money to producers of American films that mention France.

Politicians everywhere are always eager to help out people who helped get them elected. In the U.S., labor unions were big supporters of President Barack Obama, and -- presto -- unions got 451 waivers from Obamacare.

Congressional staff got a special exception, too. Funny how many of these laws are supposed to be great for all of us but, once passed, look ugly to the privileged class. So they exempt themselves.

Even the crusade to save the earth is captured by the "special" people. Subsidies for "green energy" were supposed to go to the best ideas. Yet somehow your money went to companies like Solyndra, whose biggest shareholder just happened to be an Obama backer who bundled money for the president.

And somehow Al Gore, who had a modest income when he entered politics, reaped $200 million from brilliant investments after he left office. He must just be really smart.

On my TV show this week, progressive commentator Ellis Henican says this cronyism is "inevitable" and doesn't really bother him: "If we want roads and bridges and prisons and a military and a safety net, someone somewhere is going to benefit from that. But you can't use that as an excuse to not do important things for our society."

I say it's one more reason to keep government small.

Politicians doling out favors quietly shift where society's resources flow, who gets employed, what ideas are pursued.

It distorts the economy and the culture -- and it turns us into a nation of favor-seekers instead of creators and producers.

What about all the new businesses that would have gotten investment money but didn't have Gore on their boards? What new ideas might have thrived if old industries weren't coddled? We don't know. We will never know the greatness of what might have existed had the state not sucked the oxygen out of the incubator.

Because of government's favor-granting, Washington, D.C., is now the place where the well-connected go to get rich. For the first time in history, six of the richest counties in the U.S. surround D.C. When a small group of people gets to dispense $3.6 trillion and set rules that can help or kill your idea, you want to suck up to them.

As long as government has the power to grant favors, cronies and their lobbyists will seek those favors out.  The privileged win. The people lose.



Coverage Gap Leaves Millions Struggling

A growing insurance coverage gap is trapping millions of low-income Americans without affordable coverage thanks to yet another failure of ObamaCare. When the law was passed in 2009, Democrats in Washington believed they could hide its tremendous cost by passing some of it on to the states through forced expansion of their Medicaid programs. Thankfully, the Supreme Court put an end to that farce in 2012 when it struck down the provision, though regrettably it stopped short of throwing the whole law in the trash.

By that time, Medicaid had already grown prohibitively expensive in some states, consuming as much as 50% of their annual budgets. Freed of the burden of carrying the federal government's water, Republican governors and legislators in 24 states refused to take the bait, opting instead to protect their states' fiscal health. Now, many low-income families are learning the hard way that they don't earn enough to qualify for federal subsidies to purchase insurance, but they also earn too much to enroll in Medicaid. In other words, they're caught in a coverage gap. And then there's the problem highlighted last week of people opting not to work as much in order to avoid losing their subsidies. Only a law born in Washington could create such a cosmic joke.

Well, people may not be able to keep their insurance, but at least they can keep their doctor, right? Not exactly. Reports are coming in from around the nation of chronic care patients in danger of losing their coverage as insurance companies cut hospitals and other providers from their plans. For example, Seattle Children's Hospital is threatening legal action against Washington State's insurance commissioner over being excluded from a major insurance network. Dr. Sandy Melzer said, "We're seeing denials of care, disruptions in care. We're seeing a great deal of confusion and, at times, anger and frustration on the part of these families who bought insurance thinking their children were going to be covered, and they've found that it's a false promise." Indeed, the bottom line is that ObamaCare is a false promise.



Political targeting of Walker supporters proves it can happen here

It can’t happen here.  Government targeting and intimidation against political opponents is something found in North Korea or Iran, not in the United States of America.

Tell that to conservative groups in the state of Wisconsin whose leaders have had their private homes raided by local police due to their attempts to support Gov. Scott Walker (R) during the labor unions’ failed attempt at recalling him from office.

After losing at the ballot box, Big Labor allies in the Milwaukee County district attorney’s office have conducted a secret witch hunt of their opponents’ activities that is specifically designed to intimidate and discourage their future political participation.

Using leaks to the media to question credibility, coupled with kicking in a few doors to make a dramatic statement, the Milwaukee district attorney has proven that it can, in fact, happen here.

Now, one of those groups has had enough and has filed a federal lawsuit against the high-profile Walker opponent.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of the Wisconsin Club for Growth and its director, Eric O’Keefe, names four Milwaukee prosecutors including special prosecutor Francis Schmitz and District Attorney John Chisholm.

The lawsuit’s description is eerily reminiscent of the actions of the IRS in targeting conservative groups. It charges that the defendants have spent four years using their official offices attempting to harass and silence political opponents.

Wisconsin has been at the center of a heated legislative battle that has seen many public employee unions lose their capacity to compel employees to pay dues. Attempts to change the majority in the Senate as well as to recall the governor have fallen flat. Now, the AFL-CIO, SEIU, NEA and their state affiliates are engaged in a last-ditch challenge to Walker’s reelection.

Chisholm, who appeared in an ad supporting the public-employee-union-led effort to recall Walker, is charged with using his office to affect the outcomes of the upcoming 2014 election by knocking potential Walker supporters to the sidelines through legal intimidation.

O’Keefe and the Wisconsin Club for Growth serve as exhibit A for the impact of this local prosecutor’s jihad against Walker supporters, as they have been forced to hire a bevy of lawyers while avoiding normal political activity.

As the federal lawsuit moves forward, the bullying tactics of prosecutors will be laid bare as they are forced to defend their actions.

And Americans will learn that, yes indeed, it can happen here. The only question is do they still care?



Poof: A Scandal Disappears

IRS corruption

Remember the IRS scandal? It's gone. Poof. So flaccid has press interest in the story become that President Barack Obama made bold in an interview with Fox News to say there was not a "smidgen of corruption" in the IRS's conduct.

It requires terrific confidence in the passivity of the press to float the discredited "Cincinnati did it all" dodge since we know that IRS employees in that office were taking direction from Washington. We further know that IRS offices in California, Oklahoma, Washington, D.C. and other places have been identified as singling out groups with "Tea Party" or "Patriot" in their names.

Obama's confidence in the press is not misplaced. Despite juicy opportunities to delve into the story of government abusing its power, reporters have let the matter drop.

There was no smoking gun showing that Obama personally ordered the harassment of conservatives, some explain. Is that the standard? Because it seems the press applied a different yardstick to Chris Christie. Well, there's a "scandal attention cycle," says the Columbia Journalism Review. To some extent, this is true. But there are different rules for Democrats, and particularly for Obama.

To review: When the behavior of the IRS was first revealed in May of 2013, the press furor was considerable. The president was alarmed enough about the damaging story to hold a press conference. "If ... IRS personnel engaged in the kind of practices that have been reported on," he said, " ... then that is outrageous, and there is no place for it." He continued, "I will not tolerate it, and we will make sure that we find out exactly what happened on this."

Or not. Now it's just "bone-headed decisions out of a local office." This is tamely accepted. If it concerned just a local office, why did Obama fire the director of the IRS? Why did Lois Lerner plead the Fifth and resign? (Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee erred by not granting her use immunity and intensely questioning her about what really happened. They could still do it.)

It was also a non-scandal when the Justice Department appointed an Obama donor to investigate the IRS. Nor did the press follow up on uncontested accounts of IRS employees leaking confidential taxpayer information -- which is a felony.

Last week, Catherine Engelbrecht, a small businesswoman from Texas who founded True the Vote and King Street Patriots, testified about her ordeal at the hands of the federal government. After she became politically active, she was subject to personal and business audits by the IRS going back several years. Then the FBI came knocking to ask about someone who attended one of the meetings of the King Street Patriots. The IRS returned with an armamentarium of questions about True the Vote. Then the Occupational Safety and Health Administration showed up to examine her business with a fine-tooth comb. (They fined her $17,500.) Finally, the Engelbrechts were graced with a visit from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.

Engelbrecht's experience should chill anyone concerned about government intimidation, overreach, arrogance and abuse of power. But most of all, it should alarm the press -- supposedly the fierce guardians of the First Amendment. The press made Sandra Fluke a household name when she testified before a House subcommittee about the terrible injustice she would suffer if taxpayers did not purchase her contraceptives for her. Yet Engelbrecht, an ordinary person merely attempting to join with other Americans in petitioning the government for redress of grievances, was hammered by a succession of powerful government agencies. Not even a bleat from the press about this flagrant assault on free speech.

Government agencies should operate in a strictly neutral and nonpartisan fashion. If they become politicized, we've entered banana republic territory. The press, by failing to beat the drums on this, is complicit in corruption that goes far beyond a "smidgen."



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, 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, February 13, 2014

Is intelligence written in the genes?

The evidence keeps piling up.  Many genes are now known to be involved, which reinforces my view that high IQ is just one aspect of general biological good functioning

A gene which may make people more intelligent has been discovered by scientists.  Researchers have found that teenagers who had a highly functioning NPTN gene performed better in intelligence tests.

It is thought the NPTN gene indirectly affects how the brain cells communicate and may control the formation of the cerebral cortex, the outermost layer of the human brain, also known as ‘grey matter.’  Previously it has been shown that grey matter plays a key role in memory, attention, perceptual awareness, thought and language.

Studies have also proved that the thickness of the cerebral cortex correlates with intellectual ability. However, until now no genes had been identified.

Teens with an underperforming NPTN gene did less well in intelligence tests.

Dr Sylvane Desrivières, from King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry and lead author of the study, said: “We wanted to find out how structural differences in the brain relate to differences in intellectual ability.

“It’s important to point out that intelligence is influenced by many genetic and environmental factors. “The gene we identified only explains a tiny proportion of the differences in intellectual ability.”

An international team of scientists, led by King’s, analysed DNA samples and MRI scans from 1,583 healthy 14 year old teenagers.

The teenagers also underwent a series of tests to determine their verbal and non-verbal intelligence.

The researchers looked at over 54,000 genetic variants possibly involved in brain development.

They found that, on average, teenagers carrying a particular gene variant had a thinner cortex in the left cerebral hemisphere, particularly in the frontal and temporal lobes, and performed less well on tests for intellectual ability.

The genetic variation affects the expression of the NPTN gene, which encodes a protein acting at neuronal synapses and therefore affects how brain cells communicate.

Their findings suggest that some differences in intellectual abilities can result from the decreased function of the NPTN gene in particular regions of the left brain hemisphere.

Although the genetic variation identified in this study only accounts for an estimated 0.5 per cent of the total variation in intelligence.

However, the findings may have important implications for the understanding of biological mechanisms underlying several psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia, autism, where impaired cognitive ability is a key feature of the disorder.

The study was published in Molecular Psychiatry



A video to ponder



Barkin mad

Her Eastern European roots are showing

On Wednesday, actress Ellen Barkin announced on Twitter that as long as Barack Obama is President, the people of the United States belong to him, Twitchy reported.

The actress made her opinion known in an exchange that started when she announced that she voted for Obama to "protect" all of "his" people.

"Yes I vote Pres protect his ppl,ALL his ppl.The poor,the middle class,the jobless...the 1's that need our help..I vote 4 humanity, (sic)" she tweeted.

"HIS people?? Holy s**t you communists are insane," user "Linsey" tweeted in response.

"Right now he is the President of our country.He is our leader & we are his people, (sic)" Barkin tweeted.

Conservatives gave Barkin the civics lesson she should have received in grade school, letting her know in no uncertain terms that the American people are not the property of the state, or the president.

"Conservatives know a President doesn't own the American people but works for them," tweeted "Nathan Duffy," in response to a racially-charged tweet Barkin sent.

"He doesn't have any people - Americans are a free people. That means our presidents serve us, not us them. Kings have people," added "Teresa Graves."

"Doug" added: "I thought we weren't a monarchy? Is this like @donnabrazile referring to his beginning 'his rule' in 2008?"

"[W]ow, you sure are dumb," one person tweeted, while another called her "psychotic."

The staff at Twitchy suggested Barkin "seek help."

Barkin, the 58-year-old actress who appears in "The New Normal," a new NBC series about a gay couple who wants to have a baby using a surrogate, caused controversy in July when she expressed her hatred for conservatives in a series of profane tweets.

In August, she retweeted a message hoping that Tropical Storm Isaac would kill Republicans by washing them out to sea during the RNC convention.



Obama Doesn't Care to Enforce ObamaCare

For the 27th time, Barack Obama has issued a unilateral delay of an ObamaCare provision, this time the one requiring businesses with 50-99 full-time workers to offer health benefits. Obama had already delayed that mandate until 2015, but now it's not effective until 2016. Furthermore, businesses with more than 100 employees need not cover 100% of employees, but rather only 70% of workers by 2015 and 95% in 2016 and after.

Or, you know, whenever. The Obama Treasury Department wrote, “As these limited transition rules take effect, we will consider whether it is necessary to further extend any of them beyond 2015.” Whatever politically benefits Democrats. Republicans certainly can't challenge it or they would appear to support the mandate.

Last week's CBO report showed that ObamaCare is costing the economy big time, but the White House insisted that it's liberating workers. “Well, which is it?” asks The Wall Street Journal. “Either ObamaCare is ushering in a worker's paradise, in which case by the White House's own logic exempting businesses from its ministrations is harming employees. Or else the mandate really is leading business to cut back on hiring, hours and shifting workers to part-time as the evidence in the real economy suggests.”

For the Obama administration, it's both. While assuring low-info voters that ObamaCare enables people to “make a decision about how they will work, and if they will work,” the White House can also give businesses a reprieve until after the mid-term election. The previous delay put businesses in the position of accounting for the mandate right before the election and that simply wouldn't do. But the effect of yet another delay and the prospect of who knows how many others is that businesses can't plan for the law. Therefore, the economy will remain stagnant.

As an aside, the timing of this delay is especially interesting given that House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) just said immigration reform was unlikely because Republicans don't trust Obama to enforce the law. The president's doubling down on ObamaCare should completely take immigration off the table.

Speaking of timing, it's incredibly ironic that, on a visit to Thomas Jefferson's home with French President Francois Hollande, Obama reportedly said, “[A]s a president, I can do whatever I want.” Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, didn't have kind things to say about Obama's brand of tyranny. “The tree of liberty,” wrote Jefferson, “must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.”



Unemployment Data Brutalize Krugman and Keynes

When Republicans dug in their heels and allowed extended unemployment benefits to expire for 1.3 million people in late December, "progressives" charged that this "heartless" move would cause people to stop looking for work, and that the reduction in government spending (i.e., "stimulus") would slow job growth.

Oops. After falling by an average of 48,000/month during 2013, labor force participation surged by 523,000 in January. The total number of full-time-equivalent* (FTE) jobs shot up by 678,000, for the biggest one-month gain since April 2000. The number of long-term unemployed (27 weeks or more) declined by 232,000, or 6%, in a single month.

Although the reported headline (U-3) unemployment rate fell by only 0.1 percentage points in January, the true unemployment rate (adjusted to the labor force participation rate of December 2008) fell by 0.3 percentage points, to 10.6%. The broader U-6 unemployment rate fell by even more, 0.4 percentage points.

Given the spectacular results produced by the Republicans' courageous refusal to renew extended unemployment benefits, it would be tragic for them to give in now, and vote to extend a program that has had the unintended consequence of extending unemployment.

Recent economic data have been brutal on Keynesians, who believe that GDP and employment growth are driven by fiscal and monetary stimulus.

The Federal Reserve's "tapering" of its bond-buying binge (a.k.a., quantitative easing) was supposed to slow the economy. The jobs numbers belie this.

During the first 11 months of 2013, the Fed expanded the monetary base by an average of $91.9 billion/month. It then began to "taper." The monetary base rose by $31.8 billion in December, and by only $12.7 billion in January. This amounts to a pretty drastic tapering.

The results? FTE job growth averaged 103,000/month for the first 11 months of 2013, but came in at 240,000 for December, followed by 678,000 for January.

We have seen this pattern before, in both the employment and GDP numbers. During both QE2 and QE3, the performance of the economy was inversely correlated with the amount of quantitative easing done by the Fed. "Printing money" just made things worse, at least for ordinary people.

Recent GDP numbers have also been unkind to Keynesians in the area of fiscal stimulus, the notion that higher government deficits boost the economy.

Federal borrowing fell by 32% from 2012 to 2013, while our real GDP (RGDP) growth rate (4Q over 4Q) increased by 40%.

OK, so if Keynesianism doesn't explain what we are seeing, what does? Supply-side economics does. Let's revisit Jude Wanniski's "wedge model," and its implications for our economic future under ObamaCare.

Progressive welfare-state programs involve taxing things that we want more of (e.g., work, profits, capital gains, savings) to subsidize things that we want less of (e.g., idleness, disability, irresponsibility). The taxes and subsidies create a "wedge" between economic decision-makers and reality.

As an example, let's take America's corporate income tax, which is the highest in the world. This tax causes investors to locate factories in places like Ireland, when the actual cost of production would be lower in the U.S. Because jobs follow investment, the corporate tax wedge reduces employment in the U.S., and suppresses American wages.

Our system of unemployment insurance taxes working, and subsidizes not working. Accordingly, it would not surprise any supply-sider that when unemployment checks stopped flowing to millions of people in late December (and when even more people noticed that the rules of the game had changed), both labor force participation and total FTE employment increased.

The Obama administration and progressive pundits (like Paul Krugman) had to scramble last week after the CBO predicted that ObamaCare would reduce the labor force by the equivalent of 2.5 million FTE workers by 2024. The best that the liberals seemed to be able to come up with was to praise ObamaCare for "increasing worker choice."

Great concept, guys. If we want to maximize "worker choice," why not raise payroll taxes to 80%, and institute ObamaChow (to pay for food), ObamaCar (transportation), and ObamaCrib (housing)? Then everybody could choose not to work.

The worst thing about ObamaCare is that it will kill people by suppressing private sector investment in medical research. However, its second-worst feature is that it adds to a welfare state wedge that is already far too large.

In 2012, the Pennsylvania State Secretary of Public Welfare determined that a single mother in his state was no better off earning $69,000 than $29,000. In other words, the government "wedge" (taxes plus phase-outs of welfare state benefits) between these two income levels was 100%. If you want to know why more and more Americans are becoming trapped in the underclass, look no farther.

The supply-side wedge model explains the economic data we are seeing, and the Keynesian demand-side model does not. The way forward to prosperity is clear. We must shrink the welfare-state wedge.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, 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, February 12, 2014

The Israel Boycott Mirage

US Secretary of State John Kerry is warning that Israel faces economic embargoes if a US-drafted framework agreement with the Palestinians fails to go forward. While the merits of the current American diplomatic initiative are debatable, Kerry's warnings clearly have a deleterious effect: they feed the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign being waged by Israel's enemies, and create the false impression that this campaign is a significant threat to Israel.

The BDS effort has thus far had little success. For the moment and for the near future, it constitutes a bearable nuisance for Israel, not more.

Due to wise economic policies that have gradually distanced Israel from its socialist past, the Jewish state has adapted well to a globalized economy. With the exception of isolated cases, Israeli exports are well received all over the world, particularly if they are competitive in quality and price. Israel has found ways to penetrate important markets and Israeli products are even imported by Arab states. Moreover, some Israeli-made products have unique qualities which make them indispensable. Israeli high-tech components have become part of core embedded systems of many global brands. Most Israeli businessmen hardly meet obstacles that are connected to political animosity toward Israel.

Moreover, it is important to note that many previous American diplomatic efforts to bring peace in the Middle East have failed, yet this has not created long-term adversarial conditions for Israel – even if Israel was partly blamed for the lack of American success. The linkage between American diplomatic efforts and the fate of Israeli economy is tenuous, at best.

A survey of the international scene also indicates that the impact of BDS efforts is unlikely to grow dramatically in the coming years. Attempts to boycott Israeli products are unlikely to be successful in America, Israel's number one export country. American public support for Israel has remained stable for the past two decades at over 60 percent. A variety of legislative steps have already been adopted to prevent a boycott of Israeli products or institutions. Even the current administration, which has been more than once at loggerheads with Israel on Middle East issues, firmly states its opposition to BDS.

Several Western European states, prime recipients of Israel's exports, are indeed displaying a growing anti-Israel bias, despite good bilateral relations. Many Europeans have lost the shame of being anti-Semitic as Holocaust memories fade away. Therefore, a heightened boycott of Israeli products is conceivable. Yet as the Euro crisis lingers and the European population ages, the purchasing power of European countries is in decline. In addition, even in Europe there are strong pockets of pro-Israeli sentiment. The EU itself has announced that it has no plans whatsoever to boycott the Israeli economy. Israeli products originating beyond the Green Line are a different story, but only a small part of Israeli economic activity is sourced in the settlements.

Israeli exports are gradually, albeit too slowly, being redirected to Asian markets. The large Chinese and Indian economies are growing fast, and these societies do not carry historical anti-Semitic baggage. Moreover, Israel is generally viewed in Asia as a successful country and a model to be emulated. This is true even in Central Asian states whose populations are largely Muslim.

At the same time, the political clout of the Arab world – considered a natural ally of the Palestinians – is decreasing. The Arab world is in the midst of a deep political and socio-economic crisis, with failed states such as Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Libya. Egypt, the most important Arab state, faces tremendous domestic challenges and is allied with Israel against Islamic radicalism. Saudi Arabia is more concerned with the rise of Iran than the Palestinian issue, as is most of the Sunni world. Finally, the growing energy independence of the US diminishes Arab leverage.

Thus, Israel has overcome the boycott of the relatively stronger Arab world, and the BDS movement's attempts to harm the Israeli economy are unlikely to produce a different outcome.

Indeed, it takes a lot of imagination to see a concerted international effort to boycott the Jewish State. If Israel continues to make products with a clear qualitative edge at competitive prices, there will be many customers to buy them.

This leads to the conclusion that the boycott threat is exaggerated. Secretary Kerry is simply echoing the arguments of the Israeli political Left, which claims that an agreement with the Palestinians is the only way to escape international isolation. Moreover, irresponsible elements of the Left are asking for foreign pressure on Israel, realizing that they have no chance to change Israeli policies at the ballot box. The Left's electoral decline makes it more desperate and less democratic; hence its conclusion that "Israel has to be saved from herself" by the international community.

Fortunately, Israel is not internationally isolated and most of the world does not care enough about the Palestinians to sacrifice the benefits of good bilateral relations with Israel. Israel has the leeway to decide for itself what is good for its future.



The Secular Religion of the Left

For most of human history, men and women have derived their moral dimension of life from the family and religion. Both of those are now dead or dying in the West under the influence of its new moral and ethical system. That system is one that we know in its various forms as the left.

The left can be summed up as moral materialism. It is a secular religion that claims to add a moral
dimension to materialism. Its obsessions are largely economic, from its early class warfare focus to its modern environmentalism. Even its racial politics code class warfare by skin color.

Kill off religion and what do you have left? The answer can be seen in China. You're left with materialism and family interests.. Cast off the shackles of the family for individualistic consumerism and you're left with nothing except materialism as can be seen in any major Western city.

Modern urban man is much too "smart" for religion. At least his own. He wants to add an ethical dimension to life without having to believe in anything except the sense of fairness that he already has, but which he does not realize is not nearly as valid objectively as it is subjectively in his inner emotional reality.

And that is what the left is. It strips away everything except that egotistical sense that things should be run more fairly with predictably unfair results.

Liberalism, and the milder flavors of the left, provide a permission slip for materialism by elevating it through political activism. This is the philosophical purpose of environmentalism's green label. It tells you that you are a good person for buying something and soothes the moral anxieties of an urban class with no coherent moral system except the need to impose an ethical order on the consumerism that defined their childhood, their adolescence and their adult life.

Those most in need of the moral system of materialism are the descendants of the displaced, whether by immigration to the United States or migration within the United States from rural to urban areas, who have become detached from a large extended family structure that once sustained them.

Their grandparents had already loosened their grip on religion and as the family disintegrated, materialism took its place. Their grandparents worked hard to provide for their children, but the children no longer saw maintaining the family as a moral activity. Sometimes they didn't even bother with a family. They became lonely individuals looking for a collective. A virtual political family.

Liberalism fills the missing space once inhabited by religion and the family. It provides a moral and ethical system as religion did and the accompanying sense of purpose and its state institutions replace and supplant the family. It does both of these things destructively and badly as its institutions forever try to patch social problems created by the disintegration of the family and its ideas provide too few people with a sense of purpose of a meaningful life.

And yet it isn't entirely to blame for this state of affairs. The left has actively tried to destroy the family and religion, but the American liberal was until recently less guilty on both charges. His main crime was collaborating with the left while refusing to acknowledge its destructive aims. The process by which the displacement of liberal ideas and their replacement by the ideas of the far left is nearly complete. The American liberal is now an aging relic. In his place is the resentful radical.

The process that led to this state of affairs isn't the left's fault either. Even if it's not for lack of trying. In some ways the left isn't the problem, it's a symptom of the problem. Its ability to fundamentally transform people is limited. The transformation that has occurred is because of the choices that people have been led into making trading religion and family for a dead end materialism. Those choices evolved organically from the natural direction of society and technology.

And into that empty space, the left came. It dominates because there is nothing else to fill that space. It can only be truly resisted by cultural groups that have maintained hold of family and religion. Without that sense of purpose, there is only the endless baffled retreat of the Republican Party.

Liberalism appeals more to the middle class and the upper class because it is a religion of materialism. It makes very little sense to those who don't have material things. The underclass might embrace the harsher populism of the left, but shows little interest in its larger collectivist philosophy. The underclass is losing family and religion at a faster rate than the upper class, but it clings to what it has and finds meaning in it. It may be nakedly materialistic, but it doesn't believe that it is too smart for religion or too individualistic for family. It has many flaws, but arrogance isn't one of them.

Ennobling consumerism is a difficult task. The left doesn't come anywhere close to succeeding at it. Instead it makes it more expensive and raises the entry barriers for everything by working to eliminate cheap food, cheap household goods and cheap everything. It's a class issue.

Why does the left really hate Walmart? It doesn't really have a lot to do with unions and has a lot to do with class. Walmart's crime is industrial. It's the crime of the factory and the supermarket and every means of mass production and consumption. It makes cheap products too readily available to the masses. Liberals like to believe that they oppose consumerism, but what they really want to do is raise the entry levels to the lifestyle. Liberal consumerism is all about upselling ethics.

When tangible goods become too easy to produce, you add value through intangibles. The fair trade food tastes the same as non-fair trade food. Organic, a category with a debatable meaning, doesn't really provide that much more value. And environmental labels are worth very little. And yet the average product at Whole Foods is covered in so many "ethical liberal" labels that it's hard to figure out what it even is.

Intangible value is all about class. And class is all about creating barriers to entry.

Liberalism has become a revolt against the middle class that its grandparents struggled to reach, a rejection of their "materialism" while substituting the "ethical materialism" of liberalism in its place that envisions a much smaller upper and middle class that derives its wealth and power not from hard work in the private sector, but highly profitable social justice volunteerism in the public sector.

An American Dream of universal prosperity has been pitted against the left's dream of a benevolent feudal system in which the few will be very well paid to oversee the income equality of the many.

The left's private argument against the American Dream is that it's little more than Walmart. And to some degree they're right. Easy availability of the necessities of life does not lead to a meaningful life. But the easy contempt that the left has for it shows its basic inability to understand how important these things are and how hard they were to come by for most of human history.

Salt was once a precious commodity. Today it sells for pennies a pound. The ability to light the darkness meant the difference between studying at night and living in ignorance. Today a light bulb goes for a quarter. At least it did until the left banned them. And electricity, the left also keeps raising the price of that. Few of the post-apocalyptic fantasies spilling out of Hollywood really describe what would happen if the people manufacturing them were thrown back before the industrial revolution..

Progress has made a good life materially possible, but it has also displaced and damaged the social mechanisms that make a good life socially possible. We have easy access to technology and streets full of vicious illiterate thugs. We can discuss anything with anyone, but we live in a society that values few things worth discussing. We have mass production, but not mass character.

For all its feigned populism, such elitist critiques of society are not foreign to the left. The left's elitist critiques differ in some regards, but they are on the same basic wavelength as those of the social conservative. And its solution is to promote what it considers social progress by reversing or slowing down industrial, commercial and technological progress. The environmental movement is only the latest ideological incarnation of this philosophy which strives to slow down the rate of progress.

The left's social collectivism however is no replacement for what is being lost. What it really does is attempt to apply industrial and commercial strategies to human relationships. Not only is it not a challenge to a consumeristic society, but it attempts to worsen the damage by rebuilding society on the model of the factory and the department store as an impersonal system.

That's not a solution to the problem. It is the problem.

The left cannot escape its own materialism. Its attempts at adding an ethical dimension to materialism fail because its ethical dimension is still materialistic. Its pathetic efforts at injecting pastiches of Third World and minority spirituality into its politics to provide the illusion of a spiritual dimension are hollow and racist. The left cannot fill its own hole, because it is the hole.

Like Islam, it provides something for people to believe in, but the thing it provides is the compulsion to find meaning by forcibly remaking other people's lives in a perpetual revolution which becomes its own purpose.

The left can't replace family or religion. Its social solutions are alien and artificial. They fix nothing and damage everything. Their appeal is to those who are arrogant and starved for meaning, who want religion without religion and family without family only to discover that they are not enough.  



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, 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, February 11, 2014

History is crazy

No wonder the Left keep revising history.  The reality is so strange that only conservatives could cope with it.

Take for instance the death of Queen Victoria at  the age of 81 in 1901.  She died in the arms of a member of her family.  Who was  that family member?  You would  never guess.  It was Kaiser Bill, Wilhelm II, the German emperor!  He was her grandson.

And yet Germany and Britain were at war only 13 years later.

Such a strange sequence of events requires explanation.  Because she had so many daughters, Queen Victoria became the grandmother of Europe.  An English princess was a great catch so the German emperor  -- father of Kaiser Bill -- got one.  Her descendants eventually occupied the thrones of no less than nine European countries

And Edward VII, Victoria's son, who was such a scapegrace in his youth as to be the complete despair of his strait-laced parents,  actually turned out to be a very good King.  He had the mildly reformist ideas of his father  -- Prince Albert -- and was a generally good-natured soul who was known for treating everybody equally, regardless of their rank or importance.  So if there was a problem for Britain anywhere in the world, the Foreign Office would send him out to visit.  Even as a young man he was a great success abroad.  When he visited America  in his capacity as Prince of Wales in 1860, he was so popular that he spent months there, meeting just about everybody who was anybody.   Prayers for the Royal family were said in Trinity Church, New York, for the first time since 1776.

So on his Royal visits he would shake hands all round, make all the right noises and charm everybody.  And that part of the world would then resume lying down peacefully under the British crown.  Having met the King himself and finding him such a pleasant and reasonable chap, how could they do otherwise?  So against his parents' initial expectations, Edward turned out to be a great asset to British diplomacy.  And Edward's wife was the sister of the Tsarina of Russia!  And that Tsarina had a son who in time became Tsar Nicholas II of Russia. So the new Tsar was Edward's nephew.  Beat that!

And, as it happens, Edward got on well with his nephew the Tsar.  But NEITHER got on well with Wilhelm II. Queen Vic. kept the peace between them all while she was alive but after that  it all went downhill.  So we see that personalities can influence politics.  Wilhelm was even a frequent visitor to Balmoral in Vic's lifetime and there are as a result of that a number of photos of Wilhelm in Highland dress.

I have written previously on the multifarious causes of the dreadful WWI.  This adds another, though more minor one.

Below is a picture of Wilhelm as a child accompanying his father (later Friedrich III).  Both are in Highland dress, at Balmoral.  So Queen Victoria's autumn retreat in Scotland was a familiar place for Wilhelm.


Leftist hate of their own society pops out again

In theory, Leftists should be vehemently critical of Islam.  It stands for everything they claim to oppose:  religious rule, maltreatment of women and executing homosexuals.  So why do Leftists cosy up to Islam?  Because the only genuine motive of the Left is hatred of Western society.  And Muslims share that hate

What are you doing for Valentine's Day? Bleeding-heart progressives across the country are raising money for "an evening of music, song and sharing love for recently released People's Lawyer Lynne Stewart." Warm fuzzies for one of the world's most notorious terrorist helpers? I can't think of a more stomach-turning way to mark the holiday.

Thanks to the Obama administration, Stewart walked out of prison on New Year's Eve. She is reportedly suffering stage-four breast cancer. Now she's passing the plate among her supporters, asking them to foot the bill for her health insurance deductibles and co-pays, as well as for a "special diet, vitamins and other healing methods." What, no Obamacare?  

Has Stewart shown exceptional remorse or good behavior to warrant such compassion? Don't forget: Both the Bureau of Prisons and a federal judge previously had denied Stewart's petition for a compassionate release, but a U.S. Attorney intervened. This preferential treatment is extraordinary: Since 1992, the annual average number of prisoners who receive compassionate release has been less than two-dozen.  

Let me remind you of what she did, who benefited, who died and how she has acted since being caught red-handed and freed.  

Stewart was convicted in 2005 of helping terrorist Omar Abdel Rahman -- the murderous Blind Sheik -- smuggle coded messages of Islamic violence to outside followers in violation of an explicit pledge to abide by her client's court-ordered isolation. Rahman, Stewart's "political client," had called on Muslims to "destroy" the West, "burn their companies, eliminate their interests, sink their ships, shoot down their planes, kill them on the sea, air or land." He issued bloody fatwas against U.S. "infidels" that inspired the 1993 WTC bombing, the 1997 massacre of Western tourists in Luxor, Egypt, and the 9/11 attacks.

Stewart ignored a judge's communications ban, transmitting Rahman's edicts of violence to fellow jihadist Rifa'l Ahman Tara in Egypt. She smuggled out a coded order to his followers lifting a ceasefire between his terrorist group and the Egyptian government.



The Sunstone is losing its shine

Sunstein's "Paranoid Libertarianism" Is Just As Mainstream As Modern Liberalism

The specter of "paranoid libertarianism" continues to haunt American liberals. Hot on the heels of Sean Wilentz's recent fretting in The New Republic that Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, and Julian Assange have undermined the case for big government by drawing too much attention to various instances of big government malfeasance, former Obama administration official Cass Sunstein has now weighed in with his own contribution to the genre, an op-ed titled "How to Spot a Paranoid Libertarian."

According to Sunstein, paranoid libertarianism is characterized by such pathologies as "a presumption of bad faith on the part of government officials--a belief that their motivations must be distrusted," as well as "a belief that liberty, as paranoid libertarians understand it, is the overriding if not the only value, and that it is unreasonable and weak to see relevant considerations on both sides."

Sunstein tries very hard to make that sound like dangerous and exotic stuff, but in fact what he's really describing is mainstream American jurisprudence when it comes to such vast areas of the law as free speech, voting, abortion, privacy, and gay rights. In those areas, our judicial system basically operates exactly as Sunstein describes: it subjects government regulations to what lawyers call strict (or intermediate) scrutiny. In essence, judges presume that the government has acted illegitimately when it legislates in such areas, and therefore forces the government to shoulder the burden of proof and justify its actions with extremely convincing rationales. Why do the courts place these government actions under the microscope? To protect the people's liberty to speak, vote, associate, and enjoy various forms of privacy. One more thing: American liberals overwhelmingly favor this approach in such cases.

Here's a recent example. During the March 2012 oral argument over the constitutionality of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act in United States v. Windsor, Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan openly questioned the motives of each and every member of Congress who voted in favor of that law. "We have a whole series of cases which suggest the following," Kagan told Republican lawyer Paul Clement, who was arguing in favor of DOMA. "That when Congress targets a group that is not everybody's favorite group in the world, that we look at those cases with some...some rigor to say, do we really think that Congress was doing this for uniformity reasons, or do we think that Congress's judgment was infected by dislike, by fear, by animus, and so forth?"

Is Elena Kagan a "paranoid libertarian"? Judging by Sunstein's definition, the answer is yes. Welcome to the brave new world.



Young People Still Getting Hosed by Unemployment in Obama's Economy, Losing Prime Earning Years

For two months in a row, and quite frankly for the past five years, the unemployment report from the Department of Labor has been nothing short of pathetic. Although the unemployment rate is falling, giving the false perception that less people are out of work, millions have stopped looking for work and have dropped out of the labor force. But there's one subsection of the unemployment picture that doesn't get discussed enough: the young unemployed can't find jobs and haven't been able to for years.

The teenage unemployment rate sits at 21 percent, which is more than three times the national unemployment rate of 6.6 percent. CNSNews breaks down the numbers:

 The teen unemployment rate went up in January to 20.7% -- from 20.2% in December-- and is now more than three times the national unemployment rate of 6.6%, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Then of course there's the millennial generation. According to Generation Opportunity, the unemployment rate for 19-31-year-olds is 15.8 percent.

 The declining labor force participation rate has created an additional 1.922 million young adults that are not counted as "unemployed" by the U.S. Department of Labor because they are not in the labor force, meaning that those young people have given up looking for work due to the lack of jobs.

The effective (U-6) unemployment rate for 18-29 year olds, which adjusts for labor force participation by including those who have given up looking for work, is 15.8 percent (NSA). The (U-3) unemployment rate for 18-29 year olds is 11.3 percent (NSA).

In addition, a new report shows nearly one in four 26-year-olds are living at home with mom and dad.

 A ten-year survey of millennials reveals that almost one in four (22.6%) 26-year-olds are still living with their parents.

The U.S. Department of Education report confirmed that, if you are tired of living with Mom and Dad, then do your homework and stay in school. According to the survey titled "Where Are They Now," education makes a difference: generally those with more schooling were less likely to be living at home. The study shed some light on how older millennials have been faring during the Great Recession.

According to a Pew Research analysis of the 2012 data, lower levels of employment, an increase in college enrollment, and a decrease in young people getting married are major factors in the increase of millennials living at home.

By the time Barack Obama leaves office, millennials will have spent nearly a decade and prime working years, jobless. Considering 2/3 of lifetime wage growth occurs in a person's 20s, the young unemployment trend is alarming.

 Dr. Meg Jay, author of a new book called The Defining Decade, says that a significant portion of your lifetime earning potential happens in your 20s, making it critical to get out there and get working. She estimates that as much as two-thirds of lifetime wage growth happens during just the first 10 years of a career. Once you hit your 40s, salaries will peak or plateau, making it hard or impossible to catch up if you only start getting serious about your career in your 30s.



The TSA: An Inside Scoop

Former TSA agent Jason Edward Harrington has gone public describing the uglier aspects of his five year gig acting in airport security theater. “I hated it from the beginning,” Harrington said. “It was a job that had me patting down the crotches of children, the elderly and even infants as part of the post-9/11 airport security show. I confiscated jars of homemade apple butter on the pretense that they could pose threats to national security. I was even required to confiscate nail clippers from airline pilots – the implied logic being that pilots could use the nail clippers to hijack the very planes they were flying.”

Of course, none of that is really news to anyone who has flown since 9/11, but this is confirmation straight from a former agent. Harrington went even further explaining the preposterous protocol: “Once, in 2008, I had to confiscate a bottle of alcohol from a group of Marines coming home from Afghanistan. It was celebration champagne intended for one of the men in the group – a young, decorated soldier. He was in a wheelchair, both legs lost to an I.E.D., and it fell to me to tell this kid who would never walk again that his homecoming champagne had to be taken away in the name of national security.” It's heartbreaking and outrageous that a man who lost his limbs in service to his country was subsequently treated just like the Islamofascist terrorists who made his mission necessary.

As for those infamous $150,000-apiece full-body scanners, Harrington said, “We knew [they] didn't work before they were even installed.” He recalled that an instructor admitted that distinguishing between body fat and plastic explosives was nearly impossible. But on the other hand, yes, the “security” agents could see you naked and, yes, they were laughing at you. Harrington concluded, “Most TSA officers I talked to told me they felt the agency's day-to-day operations represented an abuse of public trust and funds.” We can't argue with that.

Finally, we'd be remiss if we didn't note that the TSA was brought to you by a Republican Congress and a Republican president. Indeed, it should be incumbent on the party to explain why, if given the reins of power again, things would be different next time.


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, 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, February 10, 2014

My Rebuttal to a Progressive who Admonished Me to Play Nice ....

The essay below is from 4 years back but it is  just as relevant today.  She too has encountered the absolute bone-headedness of the abusive Left  -- who just will not listen to any facts that conflict with their simple little theories  -- JR

The following rebuttal is mine alone. I do not speak for my husband, for my friends, for my children, but solely for myself.

I am tired of being told to sit down and shut up. I am tired of being told what I can and can not say.  What is “acceptable”, while my ideas and values are mocked and trampled.

Enough. I have had enough.

I remained stoic when your acolytes spit on my car and called my husband a “baby killer” when I crossed through your phalanx at Walter Reed to take my children for medical care. I refused to respond as you smashed your fists into the hood of my car, destroyed my mirrors with bottles and keyed my doors in California, my children mute and terrified as you screamed your hate and bile.

I remained calm the day after 9/11 when the progressives in my office, in typical overwrought hyperbole of your side, were shrieking about “TANKS IN THE STREETS”, when in fact it was nothing more than two National Guardsman, fresh-face boys of about 19, stationed at an intersection, armed with whistles and a Humvee, deployed as extra eyes and ears two blocks from the White House.

I stayed silent when your leadership called my friends and my husbands' colleagues “Cold Blooded Killers” and judged them guilty in the court of media opinion.

I turned the other cheek when your liberal propaganda outfits refused to report on the humanitarian success stories in Iraq and Afghanistan, but delighted in the roll call of the lost as a way to bludgeon and demoralize our military.

I stopped listening to CNN and MSNBC when they openly reported lies about Marines in OIF – I know-- my husband was one of them.

I began paying attention to FOX news when only they – Oliver North, Bill Hemmer and like-minded conservatives like G. Gordon Liddy, had the courage to travel into the most dangerous parts of the battlespace to actually report on the successes of the surge, rather than filing reports that affirmed the narrative of the LSM from behind the Jersey barriers of the Green Zone.

I have been silent long enough. I have bent, I have yielded, I have endured slander, dishonesty, ad hominem attacks and actual physical threats.

Anger is a powerful motivator.  I began to push back. The first time was when I decided to counter demonstrate against the Code Pink harridans who had set up shop outside the Pvt Bolio gate at the Defense Language Institute on November 18, 2007 to ostensibly run a “Torture Teach-In” and to demonize and excoriate our troops.

Approaching them first with logic, facts and civility didn't work.
I explained that the School of Americas isn't even on the west coast (it's on the east coast), and has nothing to do with the mission of DLI.  That pertinent fact was “irrelevant” and dismissed.

I then patiently explained that the SOA does not teach “torture”, and that policy is in contravention to the doctrine of our military forces.  I was called a liar.

I tried a third time to explain that my husband had just returned from a tour of duty in Iraq where he was an advisor to the Iraqi army, and he had specifically advised them against torture as a method of intelligence gathering and intimidation.  I was called naïve.

So, you see, I have had multiple first hand encounters where it has been obvious that your side is intellectually lazy, refuses to do their own research, and dismisses facts that don't fit with the pre-established narrative.

I then disengaged, but not before telling them I was personally very proud of my husband, and the thousands of other men and women in uniform, who chose to defend their right to conduct protests, (even fallacious ones) against US policy and the military, but asked simply that they honor that by being at least honest with their facts and information.

No acknowledgment.

My girlfriends and I then retreated to my home where we elected to play by their rules and stage a protest against their encampment and Islamofascist “love-in”. We tried very hard to channel our best moonbattery, but it was difficult, since we were still tethered to reality.

Some of our signage included:

I will never be a Dhimmi.
Hands off my clitoris.
Got Freedom – Thank a Vet!
My husband fights for your right to protest!

We staged ourselves on the sidewalk on Lighthouse Avenue, with our backs to Camp Pink(o), and facing the oncoming traffic.

We got honks, cheers, chuckles, and a plethora of thumbs-up out of the windows of passing cars.  In very liberal, deep blue Monterey.

The Pinkies were very pleased with this turn of events, and started to cheer as well when cars gave us an energetic “toot-toot” of approval.

Then we turned around to face them and showed them our signs.  Some moments in time are priceless. That is one I will cherish for a long time. The look of the faces of the Camp Pink(o) will be forever etched in my mind.

The Left likes to use what they believe to be witty signage (although I am not sure how BUSHCHIMPHITLER qualifies as “witty”), props and sheer numbers of die hard believers and rent-a-students to validate the “justness” of their cause-du-jour and to manufacture a sense of widespread support for their “issue”.

So we took your tools and began to employ them against you. And you don't like it very much. Except we don't have to pay anyone to come to our rallies, and that just infuriates you further.

I don't “do” protests, because I think the time and resources are better employed elsewhere. I also don't do sarcasm and contempt well either, because I prefer to discuss facts and measurable outcomes, but you have framed the terms of the engagement, and I am learning as fast as I can.

Contrary to your false accusations against the genesis of the Tea Party, I began protesting the bailouts before Obama was selected and around the time that McCain had elected to suspend his campaign in order to rush back to Washington to sell us all out.

I went to the big April 15th rally with a “violent” sign forged from pink posterboard which simply stated, “Give all of Congress Pink Slips”. Frightening imagery, I know.

I went to the first 9/12 rally in DC, which you did your best to disrupt by shutting down the orange metro line and turning away buses, and which your scribes and stenographers diminished and which the White House refused to acknowledge. We weren't deterred. We were there. We knew the size of the crowd – and more importantly – the fastness of their determination. A sleeping giant had been awakened.

I went to 8-28 and to the following 9-12 rally. I began commenting on blogs, writing letters to the editor, and showing up for Tea Party strategy sessions.

I donated money to outlier Tea Party candidates who were mocked by the “all knowing” media and had been dismissed by the Establishment. Some of them actually won. They are the hired mercenaries of the Tea Party. Do not underestimate or misunderstand their mission and their support. They are on the front lines in the upcoming battle of ideas and the direction of our nation.

No where in the history of civilization has the welfare state succeeded over the long term. From Plato to Thatcher, warnings about the propensity for the professional politicians to expand the looting of the public treasury and to debase the currency as a mechanism for retaining power has been well documented and a rallying cry for sound money and conservative principles.

I challenge you to name one state where it has survived longer than two generations, for it is nothing more than a Ponzi scheme predicated on the willingness of our youth to voluntarily shackle themselves.

You have seized the public schools and the universities and conducted a purge of any non-compliant conservatives; a massive re-education for the faculty was in order. You believe you can turn our children against us. Unfortunately for you, all it takes is one look at their first paycheck as working adults for them to question the validity of your wealth redistributive economic policies. Homeschooling, constitutionally upheld, is on the rise; Ron Paul now fills college auditoriums, while the Won struggles to fill them without piggybacking on the coat tails of a free pop concert.

Your side knows you can not prevail on the battlefield of open and honest ideas, so you retreat behind the fortification of expanded regulation, unelected czars who rule by decree and diktat, and a boy-king who is being urged by the janissaries to complete the transformation to a totalarian state by executive orders.

Except, that to emplace your policies and “vision” requires the consent of the people. You can not hire enough guards, build enough prisons, operate enough courts to entrap and control the whole population of these (for-now) united states. It only takes a small percentage of dissenters, non-conformists and cascading acts of strategic civil disobedience to bring your entire command-and-control crashing all around you. Decapitating by legal and tax retributive means, a few titular heads of the resistance, will only serve to strengthen and embolden the diffuse movement. Look back at how the Solidarity movement was organized and how it ultimately prevailed before you declare Victory.

Your side has chosen to engage in a low-level, asymmetric campaign for decades. Deceit, dishonesty and exploiting the mechanisms of state have been your weapons.

Unfortunately for you, you can no longer hide and your methods have been revealed and exposed for what they are. The Fabian operational concepts are only successful when they are hidden and cloaked in disingenuous “narrative”. Thousands now are aware of, and have read, Alinsky and his fellow socialists and have formulated a counter strategy.

At first, your team mocked and lied and delighted in debasing our ideals and beliefs. Why wouldn't you feel confident? It had worked so well in the past, and you had the stenography class to support you.

Then you lowered yourselves even further by deriding anyone not in agreement with your viewpoint as “low information voters”. Given what we know now about the mortgage fraud, the chicanery of the stimulus, the hidden deceptions of Obamacare … who, pray tell, is the “low information” voter?

You were jubilant November, 2008. You strutted, you crowed, you reveled. Newsweek triumphantly declared, “We are all Socialists Now!”.

Except for one thing. You misunderstood the battlespace. You failed to recognize the numbers who stayed home rather than vote for a progressive RINO like McCain. You misread the temperment of the people, who wanted an end to the theft, the lies, the spending, the corruption and the deceit. Instead, you doubled down.

The people went underground. Everyday work folk, alarmed at the rising tide of tyranny and the rhetoric of hate, weary of the false accusations and the lies, joined the libertarian and conservatives and forged an underground resistance. The town halls in that raucous summer were not an aberration – they are the new norm. Get used to it.

Word spread – from uncensored blogs, to private e-mails and forwarded commentary, meet-ups large and small, the resistance grew and strengthened. There were gatherings of the clans across the nation. The movement began to grown organically, a leadership structure evolved, and a long term plan developed.

“Burn down the House”.

Yes, in your world, graphic or martial imagery is only to be exploited by the Left.

“We bring a gun”

“Get in their faces”

Oh yes, your side “went there”. Not only was there no outcry about the “violent imagery”, there were claps and cheers of agreement. You framed the imagery. Own it.

“Retreat and Reload”and “Burn down the house”. Get used to it. Don't think for a moment you've earned the right to open your mouth in protest.

Here's some more martial imagery for you.  Yes, we will burn down the house of Progressive Democrats and lay waste to the entire construct of the welfare state. It will be a long, decades-long battle, but we will prevail because we learned the consequences of not teaching our young ourselves. We delegated that to you, and that was our first mistake. We assumed you were honest brokers, but now we know better.

Carthago delenda est.

I accept that's the intellectually lazy response, but I have to work with what you can understand.

My preference is more of a “Thucydides account of the no-mercy overthrow of the oligarchs at Corcyra” type of historical reference.

Either way, I am confident you can deduce the “tone”of my rebuttal.

Realizing that you are losing your grip on the public schools, that the youth that propelled the boy-king to victory have abandoned you, that the bitter, blue collar white workers are now Tea Party grandmas and grandpas, that you have lost control of the federal checkbook and the legislative calendar, now you want to petition for peace?  now you cry out for civility and consensus?  I have a message for you:  Go. To. Hell.

When you retreat back to the comfort and safety of your salon filled with like-minded Hopeium addicts, perhaps you can rouse them from their stupor long enough to send them this message.

We don't want civility.
We don't want to “play nice”.
We don't want to “compromise” with you.

From coffee shops to soccer fields and everywhere in between, the message has been clear.  Draw a line in the sand.

Those who we have sent to Washington this January who yield will be removed from the field and replaced. Make no mistake about it.

We came to you with ideas and a sincere intent to find common ground.  Our emissaries were told, “I won”.

We tried to engage you and bring alternative solutions to the health care crisis. We met in good faith at Blair House. Our concerns and our emissaries were rudely dismissed.

So, this is our message to you:  The scorched earth policy is in effect.  A court of accounting will be convened.  Fix bayonets.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, 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)


Sunday, February 09, 2014

Lumen Fidei

"Lumen Fidei" (light of faith) is the first encyclical of Pope Francis, though Francis admits that it was mostly written by Benedict, his predecessor.  And in my usual eccentric way I used part of my secular Sabbath to read it.

There is no doubt we encounter the mind of a real scholar in it. He actually mentions the name of God (YHWH) as given in the Hebrew Bible -- which is bordering on the eccentric in both the Christian and Jewish traditions.  It would appear however to be what YHWH himself wanted according to Psalms 83:18 ("That men may know that thou, whose name alone is Jehovah, art the most high over all the earth" KJV) and other OT passages. That the commandment to respect YHWH's name is taken to require suppression of it is incredibly perverse and would certainly make YHWH throw up his hands if he had any hands.

And Benedict's attempt to reconcile a Septuagint rendering of Isaiah with the Masoretic version is surely heroic, given the obvious divergence.  But the fact that he refers to the Septuagint at all is impressive.  There is a view that the Septuagint  -- or at least part of it -- is based on a text older than the Masoretic version and may hence be closer to the original.

But despite such flashes of unusual scholarship, the encyclical as a whole is quite unoriginal.  Perhaps an encyclical has to be that way.  The encyclical is a very thorough survey of past and present enthusiasm about faith and that is about it.  But that may enthuse others more than it does this hard-hearted old atheist.


Rep. Paul Ryan: 'We Have an Increasingly Lawless Presidency'

 Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopolous” that President Barack Obama’s presidency is becoming “increasingly lawless,” because the president is “actually contradicting law” or “proposing new laws without going through Congress."

“We have an increasingly lawless presidency where he is actually doing the job of Congress, writing new policies and new laws without going through Congress,” Ryan said. “Presidents don't write laws. Congress does, and when he does things like he did in health care - delaying mandates that the law said was supposed to occur when they were supposed to occur, that's not his job.”

“The job of Congress is to change laws if he doesn't like them - not the presidency. So executive orders are one thing, but executive orders that actually change the statute, that's totally different,” Ryan said.

Stephanopolous asked Ryan if he really thought Obama’s proposals are unconstitutional, pointing out that the rate of the president’s executive orders is far behind Presidents Reagan, Bush and Clinton.

According to the National Archives Federal Register, Obama has signed 167 executive orders as of Dec. 23, 2013. President George W. Bush signed 291 executive orders, and his father, President George H.W. Bush signed 166 executive orders. President Bill Clinton signed 364 executive orders.

“It's not the number of executive orders. It's the scope of the executive orders," said Ryan. "It's the fact that he's actually contradicting law like in the health care case, or proposing new laws without going through Congress, George. That's the issue. So this is a big concern. We have an increasingly lawless presidency."



RNC Launches Black History Push

Liberty is colorblind

The Republican National Committee has launched a Black History Month ad campaign that also honors recipients of this year's Black Republican Trailblazers Awards. The RNC has made minority outreach a priority after the 2012 election, recognizing that Republicans have ceded far too much ground to Democrats when it comes to engaging minority voters. Democrats have won and held the loyalty of black voters over the last several decades by claiming to offer them opportunities while holding them in an endless cycle of government dependency - the poverty plantation, if you will.

The fact that Democrats hold such an overwhelming majority of black votes year in and year out represents a sad historical irony. The Republican Party was founded in 1856 with an anti-slavery platform, and it was Republican votes that added the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution. Jim Crow was a Southern Democratic invention, and for decades it was Democrats who stymied the advancement of civil rights legislation. Yet, leftist propaganda would have us believe that the GOP has a long history of racism. Just the opposite is true. Democrat President Lyndon Johnson may have been behind the push to pass the 1964 Civil Rights Act, but he was also responsible for creating welfare programs that have not done anything to improve the lives of minorities - and arguably the opposite - for over 60 years.

Yet the GOP has a lot of work to do to reverse this long-entrenched lie that is perpetuated by the Leftmedia. They can start by communicating the real history of the Republican Party, and explain that the GOP platform is actually in the best interest of everyone, including minorities. Blacks embrace Democrats because they have been led to believe there is no alternative but state dependence. It's up to the GOP to spread the word that opportunity comes from personal responsibility and Liberty, not government subsidies.

Democrats have very successfully politicized race, making it an issue of conflict in electoral politics. But all people deserve freedom of opportunity, and Republicans need to push that message. After all, as Mark Alexander wrote Wednesday, Liberty is colorblind.



Leftwing antisemitism:  So what else is new?

A politician from the main opposition party in Greece caused an uproar after posting an anti-Semitic rant on his Facebook page accusing the Greek prime minister of heading a Jewish conspiracy.

Theodoros Karypidis, the left-wing Syriza Party's candidate for governor of Western Macedonia, said Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras was at the head of a Jewish plot to visit "a new Hanukkah against the Greeks."

At the heart of Karypidis' theory was a move last year by Samaras to shut the allegedly corrupt Hellenic Broadcasting Authority and replace it with the New Hellenic Radio and Television, known by its Greek acronym NERIT.

According to Karypidis, NERIT is derived from the Hebrew word for candle, "ner," which he links to the festival of Hanukkah.

"Samaras is lighting the candles in the seven branched candelabra of the Jews and lighting Greece on fire after his visit to the Thessaloniki Synagogue," wrote Karypidis. "He is organizing a new Hanukkah against the Greeks."

Samaras visited the synagogue as part of the commemorations marking the destruction of the Jewish community of Thessaloniki by the Nazis.  A spokesman for Samaras condemned the comments as "unacceptable, racist and anti-Semitic."

Syriza, the second-largest party in Greece, was due to meet Thursday to discuss the issue, the Kathimerini daily newspaper reported.

In recent years most of the anti-Semitic vitriol in Greece has come from the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn Party. But Syriza also has a clear anti-Israel stance. Several of its members took part in the flotilla to break Israel's naval blockade of Gaza.


The Greek "Golden Dawn" party is sometimes described as "far right" but that is what Leftists call Fascism.  And Golden Dawn is certainly both nationalistic and antisemitic so it deserves to be associated with old Adolf & co. But, like Hitler, Golden Dawn is also socialistic.  One of the headings on the Golden  Dawn website is  "Golden Dawn's socialism".   It's just a rival version of socialism, not "right wing" at all  -- JR


Lottery winners:  More evidence that conservatives are the happy people

After buying a new house, a sports car and going on holiday with their winnings, the next thing people do is support a right-wing party, academics found.

While those who hit the jackpot could be expected to vote for low taxes to protect their money, people who scoop relatively modest sums also become more right-wing, the study revealed.

Researchers at Warwick and Melbourne Universities looked at survey results from 4,000 people from Britain who scooped up to œ200,000 between 1996 and 2009.

They found that among those who won more than œ500 on the lottery, 45 per cent said they vote Conservative. Among those who had not won a prize, just 38 per cent indicated that they supported the Tories.  They found that the trend was more pronounced among men than women.

The study, which is the first of its kind, also revealed the larger the win the more people tilt to the right.

The transformation in political views happens quickly - and 18 per cent said they switched to voting Conservative immediately.

Professor Andrew Oswald, from Warwick University, said that on the back of the results he was doubtful that morality was an objective choice.

'In the voting booth, monetary self-interest casts a long shadow, despite people's protestations that there are intellectual reasons for voting for low tax rates,' he said.

None of the people who responded to the survey had won large jackpots.




More fraudulent history from the Left:  "I'm not here to attempt to claim that the decision to name the GOP's new digital division Para Bellum Labs was brilliant, and frankly, it would make a better title for our "Guns & Gear" section.  What I can tell you is that the knee-jerk leftist reaction to it by Gawker's Adam Weinstein was moronic, as he attempted to claim "Para Bellum" was the creation of Nazism in an article titled The GOP Just Named its Hot New Innovation Lab After a Nazi Pistol. The 9mm Parabellum was not a gun, but a cartridge. The 9mm Parabellum cartridge was designed in 1902. The Nazis didn't exist for another 18 years.  It was originally designed for the P08 Luger pistol by Georg Luger himself. Oh, and the standard Nazi pistol was the Walther P38, not the P08 Luger, which was regarded as unreliable"

There, He Fixed It:  "A young fry cook lamented to the president that ObamaCare is costing him hours at work. "We were broken down to part time to avoid paying health insurance," he said, adding that he's making $7.25 an hour. He concluded, "We can't survive, it's not living." Obama's cut-and-paste solution? "I am working to encourage states, governors, mayors, [and] state legislators to raise their own minimum wage," Obama said. "Obviously, the way to reach millions of people would be for Congress to pass a new federal minimum wage law." Employers already are addressing increased costs by reducing employee hours, but Obama's "solution" is to make those hours more expensive.

GOP Pulls Back on Immigration:  "The House GOP rank-and-file have seemingly succeeded in delaying the leadership's immigration "reform" - at least for the time being. House Speaker John Boehner explained why reform could be shelved: "There's widespread doubt about whether this administration can be trusted to enforce our laws, and it's going to be difficult to move any immigration legislation until that changes. . [We] do not believe that the reform that we're talking about will be implemented as it was intended to be. The president seems to change the health care law on a whim, whenever he likes. Now he's running around the country telling everyone that he's going to keep acting on his own." We're hesitant to ascribe savvy strategic thinking to the GOP, but it's possible that they rolled out a reform proposal only to withdraw it while highlighting Obama's untrustworthiness. Then again, rumor has it Boehner's job was on the line, and maybe that's what gave him strategic perspective

'Religion Is Under Threat':  "As the saying goes, if it weren't for double standards, the Left wouldn't have any. Barack Obama demonstrated this point to perfection at the annual National Prayer Breakfast where he warned that "freedom of religion is under threat . around the world." He neglected to mention, however, that organizations like Little Sisters of the Poor and Hobby Lobby are suing his administration because they object to contraceptives mandated under ObamaCare in violation of their religious views. Even more astoundingly, Obama claimed, "We . believe in the inherent dignity of every human being," and "the killing of the innocent is never fulfilling God's will; in fact, it's the ultimate betrayal of God's will." Remember, this is a man who supports abortion under any and all circumstances, even in its most appalling partial-birth form, and who once told Planned Parenthood "God bless you." The seemingly total lack of self-awareness is beyond shocking. [But typically psychopathic  -- JR]

One Insurer's Bailout:  "Remember that ObamaCare insurance bailout? Well, the first stats are in for one insurer and it's not pretty. The American Enterprise Institute's Scott Gottlieb writes, "Humana announced that it expects to tap the three risk adjustment mechanisms in ObamaCare for between $250 and $450 million in 2014. This amounts to about 25 percent of the insurer's expected exchange revenue." That's also just one insurer! More will undoubtedly follow. Not only that, but Humana enrolled 202,000 people via the ObamaCare exchanges as of Jan. 31, and some 82% of them were eligible for subsidies. The price of Hope 'n' Change just keeps going up.

There is a  new  lot of postings by Chris Brand just up. Chris has been in one of Britain's government hospitals -- getting the sort of appalling treatment that I foresaw. He left waving his fist and shouting abuse at them over the treatment he got. He has a short submission today,  with an account of his hospital experiences leading off  --JR


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