Friday, June 20, 2014

My hand is healing well from surgery and it is my Sabbath tomorrow so I thought I had better put up a few things today -- JR

The political divide


How the worm turns!

Don Surber comments:  "I never bought this Fat Is Evil bullshit either. Carbon dioxide is good for you too"


Barry The Red

by L. Neil Smith

Barack Obama grew up surrounded by old-time, CPA card-carrying communists. His maternal grandfather, Stanley Dunham, who filled most of the father-shaped space in his life, was a well-known communist activist, and Soviet operative, and so was his grandmother, Madelyn. Mommy, Stanley Ann Dunham, was a commie. Frank Marshall Davis, another genuine communist whom the radio host believes was his real father, was certainly Obama's intellectual, philosophical, and ideological father. Weather Underground bomber Bill Ayers is Obama's spiritual uncle.

Barry is what's called a "Red-diaper baby".

Knowing that, and understanding that nothing in what we know of his educational background counteracts his Marxist proclivities, what else do we need to know about the convictions and objectives of a man who has deliberately and systematically (with a little help from the Republicans) obliterated the relative peace, freedom, progress, and prosperity of what was once the greatest nation-state the world ever knew?

Acting out of a deep, poisonous class and race hatred, Obama has destroyed the most powerful and benevolent politico-economic system in history, and somehow made off with something like seventeen trillion dollars. People speculate a lot over what Vladimir Putin must think of Obama, a product of what is almost certainly an old, abandoned Soviet deep-espionage program. My guess is that what he feels, mostly, is astonished envy—and perhaps more than a little worry about future competition.

In the 1940s, due to the idiotic blundering and malign stupidity of at least three generations of leaders, perhaps half a million young Americans were sacrificed in an armed conflict with collectivism, German-style. (This may come as news to those of my readers educated in the public school system: Hitler was a socialist, a man of the left; in German, "NAZI" was short for "National Socialist German Workers' Party".

In the 1950s, tens of thousands more were killed in an undeclared (and therefore illegal) war against Korean, Chinese, and Russian communists. (How I know about the Russians is a story for another time.)

In the 1960s, 58,000 Americans were killed in Vietnam, fighting communism.

And now, the very sort of evil that our fathers and grandfathers fought and bled and died to stop is fully in control of the United States Government. Its minions mean to disarm, impoverish, and imprison every one of us—and kill any who resist—and the few politicians opposing them are too cowardly to say or do anything about it.

I hate it when predictions come unbidden to my mind, but I am a science fiction writer, and it's reflexive. The next decade is going to be truly ugly, perhaps the ugliest in human history. Americans will not be put down as easily as our domestic enemies presently expect.



Some sense from Britain

David Cameron [PM] should abolish corporation tax for small firms so they are better able to compete with large companies, Lord Saatchi has said.

The former Tory chairman said the party should pledge to no longer charge the levy on firms with fewer than 50 employees.

Lord Saatchi, who is chairman of the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS), has also called on the Conservatives to stop imposing capital gains tax on investors in small companies.

The recommendations come in a report celebrating the 40th anniversary of the think tank co-founded by Baroness Thatcher.

Lord Saatchi said getting rid of the £8billion annual corporation tax bill for small business would be a ‘call to arms’ for the Conservatives, which would bring a culture shift on the scale of Right to Buy in the 1980s.

He said the policy would show ‘how the awesome power of taxation can be used to the benefit of everyone’ and allow small firms to ‘challenge cartel capitalism’.

Under the policy, millions of people would ‘enjoy the opportunity to say, “I am the captain of my ship”,’ he added.

The report to be published tomorrow will add: ‘By allowing profitable small companies to retain more of their earnings it will become easier for them to self-finance their own expansion.’

Lord Saatchi boasted that the removal of corporation tax for smaller firms would quicken the economic recovery.

He told the Telegraph: ‘It’s worth remembering that the average UK company has five employees.  The Policy, as I call it, would therefore abolish corporation tax for 90 per cent of UK companies, reduce the deficit faster than predicted by the Office for Budget Responsibility, expand employment faster than it predicts, increase competition, challenge cartel capitalism and let millions of people grow tall.’

In an article for the newspaper, he said that Mrs Thatcher knew that big companies posed as big a ‘threat to freedom’ as big government and that competition made capitalism work.

The CPS report, entitled The Road FROM Serfdom, reports polls for the think tank that show people have a distrust of big government, which Lord Saatch argues is a ‘sorry outcome for all believers in free-market capitalism’.  Lord Saatchi said that socialism became unpopular and now capitalism has also become unpopular.

He said that the tax system has been reduced from being a tool for ‘social engineering’ to being for ‘revenue generation’.

He added: ‘It is on a par, at least, with the NHS or the criminal justice system in its impact on human lives, and its relationship between the government and the people.’

Corporation tax is currently set at 20 per cent of profits for businesses with less than £300,000 profit.

Maurice Saatchi co-founded the advertising agency Saatchi and Saatchi with his brother Charles.

The firm was closely associated with Margaret Thatcher’s three successive election victories and famously came up with the ‘Labour Isn’t Working’ poster during the 1979 election campaign.

He was co-chairman of the Conservative Party from 2003 until 2005.   He stepped down from the role after the party lost the 2005, for which he was responsible for running its election campaign.

Lord Saatchi was created a life peer in the House of Lords by the party in 1996 and under Iain Duncan Smith served as shadow Treasury spokesman in the upper house.



The coup-free zone

In Tuesday’s post I left readers with a question: Which countries belong to the “coup-free zone”?  By this I mean, which countries have passed the last 50 years as independent nations without a single coup d’├ętat, coup attempt or armed revolution?

I define “coup” broadly, to mean any forceful seizure of central government power.  A coup is a disorderly, unpredictable transfer of power, accomplished through physical force or intimidation.  The term encompasses military coups, violent palace intrigue and street revolutions.  The effort to seize power need not succeed; serious but failed attempts still count.  Finally, the term “coup” embraces an “executive coup,” whereby a constitutional leader radically and forcefully extends his scope of power or term of service, as in Chancellor Hitler’s 1933 hijacking of Germany with Nazi thugs.

This is how it looked by the end of 2010.


The full list:

1. United States of America
2. Canada
3. Mexico
4. Costa Rica
5. Iceland
7. Norway
8. Sweden
9. Denmark
10. Finland
11. Ireland
12 United Kingdom
13. Netherlands
14. Belgium
15. Luxembourg
16. Germany
17. Austria
18. Switzerland
19. Israel
20. Japan
21. Australia
22. New Zealand
23. South Africa

Very "incorrect" for me to notice it but nearly every one is (predominantly) ethnically Northern European.  And the Ashkenazi (Western) influence is dominant in Israel too, and was until recently in South Africa.  India does not appear on the list because of the "Emergency"


The Economy May Be Improving. Worker Pay Isn’t.

The latest economic data out Tuesday morning was generally good. Home building activity remained above the one million a year rate. Consumer prices rose 0.4 percent in May, such that inflation over the last year is now 2.1 percent, about in line with what the Federal Reserve aims for.

But that inflation news carried with it a depressing side note. Now that the Consumer Price Index for May has been published, it is possible to determine inflation-adjusted hourly earnings for the month. And the number is not good.

Average hourly earnings for private sector American workers rose about 49 cents an hour over the last year, to $24.38 in May. But that wasn’t enough to cover inflation over the year, so in real or inflation-adjusted terms, hourly worker pay fell 0.1 percent over the last 12 months. Weekly pay shows the same story, also falling 0.1 percent in the year ended in May.

Pause for just a second to consider that. Five years after the economic recovery began, American workers have gone the last 12 months without any real increase in what they are paid.

There had been some hints here and there that worker pay was starting to rise in the last few months, including anecdotal reports of employers having to offer raises to recruit or retain workers and a few pieces of data hinting that the trend was taking effect broadly.

By the same measure cited above — average hourly earnings for private sector workers — the year that ended in February showed a strong 2.1 percent gain in pay versus only 1.1 percent inflation, which works out to a 1 percent annual gain in real hourly pay. That was the strongest in five years, and if it had been sustained would have been great news for American workers.

But it was not sustained. The numbers since then suggest two things: The strong gain in hourly pay reported for the 12 months ended in February looks to have been an anomaly. And while inflation has picked up since then, reducing the value of workers’ paychecks, worker pay has only barely kept up with the higher prices.

The latest numbers should give pause to any Federal Reserve officials who see wage pressures as evidence that the economy is overheating. It might have been arguably true earlier in the year. It might prove true later in the year, if workers start successfully demanding wage increases in excess of inflation.

But for right now, the evidence points to more of what we’ve seen for most of the last six years: Employees have little negotiating power to demand higher pay.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, 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)


Thursday, June 19, 2014


No posts today.  I have just had surgery on my right hand to remove a small cancer.  So I am supposed to give my hand a rest for a couple of days.  But you can't keep a good blogger down for long so I should be back soon.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Leftist projection never stops

They have been blaming the socialist Hitler on "The Right" for decades so it is no surprise that the Left have a kneejerk tendency to blame aggrieved mass shooters similarly, even though such shooters usually turn out to be from the Left.  The latest notorious shooters are no different.  The  Las Vegas Cop Killers,  Jerad and Amanda Miller were referred to by "Salon" as "Right-wing anger turned deadly".  They were in fact members of  the Far Left "Occupy" Movement.  Conservatives tend to be contented people.  It is the Left who are full of anger

We have been bombarded with the Millers' connection to the Bundy Ranch, Alex Jones and the liberty movement in general. The liberty movement is massive and it does not emcompass only the right-wing. But we were led to believe that the Millers were Tea Party-loving right-wing extremists. That is what the media wants America to believe.

. it will come as no surprise to our readers that the Millers were involved in the "Occupy Movement." Again, the liberty movement is massive but the Occupy Protests tend to be attributed to the left. Bundy Ranch tends to be associated with the right. They are both cases of civil disobedience but obviously the media wants to paint a picture of the Millers as being people who voted for Romney rather than Obama. This is how the media constantly pushes the agenda of the left. Nearly every news publication in America printed something about the associations of the Millers, but very few printed this:

According to CBS Chicago:

While living in Lafayette, Jerad and his wife Amanda took part in last November's "Million Mask March" - a gathering of protesters from the Occupy movement, anarchists, and hacktivists.

Nick Wertz, one of the organizers of the Lafayette march, said it attracted many people upset over a lot of issues.  "Everyone there just seem kind of like normal people. At least they were going to stick up with what they thought was right," he said.

Wertz said he didn't really know the Millers, but weeks after the march, Amanda Miller contacted him. "She was moving to Vegas for whatever reason and they had a dog they couldn't take with - and I was like, `If I can help,'" Wertz said.  But that was the end of it, he said.

The Millers were not alone.  Several #Occupy members were arrested for assault, robbery, vandalism, rape and murder.



Does democracy  work in Muslim lands?

Even in Muslim countries where there is some democracy -- Turkey, Indonesia, Pakistan -- democracy alternates with military rule.  And Obama is making the situation worse.  Comment from Australia below

When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, President George Bush chased him and his "million strong" army out of there. Despite the urgings of the hawks he had the intelligence to stop at the border, refusing to go on and take Baghdad.

When Al Queda attacked New York, President George W Bush felt enough was enough... he had to attack something. But he attacked the wrong something.

Afghanistan and its links with Pakistan was the real threat, Iraq was never a threat to the West. But it is now that America has poked the hornet's nest.

They hung strong man Saddam Hussein high, high enough to decapitate him, yet Saddam was the only person who was holding the dysfunctional State together.

Now he's gone and so is Iraq's stability, along with most of its oil fields, taken over by a bunch of Islamic extremists in utes who call themselves the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

These are the worst of the world's worst of Islamic extremists, they are the people who decapitate children, inflict the most heinous and sexually fatal injuries on women and eat male opponents' organs.

These are the people hundreds of Australian Islamic youths have gone to fight alongside.

They have spilled over from their unwinnable Syrian crisis and are now marching south to Baghdad.

    Good luck with getting as far as Baghdad!

Iran is now aligning with its bitter enemy, Iraq, to repel the ISIS while America is preparing to launch drones from its aircraft carriers in the Gulf.

The ISIS rebels are heartened by their ability to take over most of the unguarded oilfields in the north of Iraq, they are selling gas and electricity to Syria to finance their atrocities, while Obama's CIA provides them with weapons and Putin provides Syria's Assad with bigger weapons.

Syria won't fall to the ISIS and it knows it, despite Obama's assistance. It has now turned its sights on a weakened Iraq.

At least Putin has his priorities in order. Incredibly, Obama is about to bomb the very same people he has armed.

North Africa's strong man Gaddafi was holding Libya together before the Americans killed him. America doesn't like strong men, they don't fit plans for its ridiculous aim of democratising the Middle East.

And now Islamic extremists slaughter American diplomats and fire-bomb installations like in Benghazi.

The cause of the current Middle East powder keg is Obama. He created it! He prematurely withdrew his forces for electoral reasons and now he needs to drone-bomb the very people he has armed. They also intend to kill Syria's Assad.

    Good luck with that too!

The ISIS realises just how vulnerable Iraq is now that the Americans have "restructured" its government and armed forces. It is so weak that, when confronted by the ISIS, they showed their innate Islamic cowardice, dropped their guns and ran, leaving their American tanks and materiel for the enemy... despite the fact that they outnumber the ISIS invaders forty to one.

Will President Obama's makeshift Afghanistan government be any different after he withdraws forces there too? Of course not, the Taliban will take over and enforce its Barbaric Sharia law with even greater fervour.

Obama is either as thick as pig shit or he is knowingly encouraging Islamic extremism in the Middle East. That extremism will eventually reach the West in the form of increasingly sophisticated terrorism?

Just look at what this Obama bloke has done!

1. He has defied Congress and the Constitution and sent arms to the Al Queda backed Syrian rebels via the CIA, hoping to kill another strong man, Al-Assad. Those same Al Queda offshoot extremists are supported by hundreds of Islamic Australians who have travelled there to fight in a dirty internal war. It's the perennial Sunni against Shia, and Iraq's Kurds in the north look on for a piece of the pie.

2. Obama has created a humanitarian crisis of over a million refugees who are pouring on to Europe's doorstep, Turkey. Just imagine the horrific result if Damascus fell and Assad with it. At least Putin has imagined it and is trying to stabilise the situation despite Obama's determination to further destabilise it.

3. Obama is releasing Gitmo terrorists and feting army deserters.

4. Obama bent his knee and bowed his head to the Saudi King and his rotten family of crooks who are arming the ISIS right now.

5. Obama has alienated the only democratic country the West has as an ally, that pinprick of donated territory called Israel.

6. Obama encouraged Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood to overthrow its strong man Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, the only autocratic symbol of stability in the Middle East. To Obama's delight Egypt's very first election saw the Brotherhood's Morsi installed as its first elected President. To assist the original founders of terrorism, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Obama Administration ensured them another $1.3 billion shipment of state-of-the-art weaponry. The Brotherhood lasted only months before it was overthrown, marginalising even moderate Islamists. Christian Churches now continue to be burnt down while the new President, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, looks on.

7. Obama refuses to use the terms "terrorism" and "Islam" in the same sentence.

8. Obama promoted the building of a mosque adjacent to the destroyed World Trade Centre.

9. Obama's State Department found that, "Islam and terrorism are not linked."

10. Obama if not an Islamist, is an apologist for Islam. Islamic terrorism has mushroomed under his watch. On his left hand he has worn a gold ring since he was a teenager. Michelle took it and slipped it on his ring finger when they were married. On it is an Arabic hieroglyphic that says, "There is no god except Allah."

Post Obama, the one lesson America should take from the mess it has created in the Middle East is that it should ignore the grandstanding rhetoric of Middle East strong men, they are speaking to a domestic market, as is North Korea's Kim Jong-un. As was Saddam Hussein and Gaddafi, as was Iran's mad midget, Ahmadinejad and as is Bashar al-Assad.

Leave them be. While they are busy killing each other they aren't killing us. Isolate them, ignore them the moment we no longer need their filthy oil.

They have been killing each other for 2,000 years. They will quickly change sides when it suits, as we are seeing now, and when they get tired of that they will start killing each other again.

They are driven by a Barbaric Islamic culture we should not even try to understand... but we should join Europe in rejecting further Islamic immigration. The UK is proposing to disallow Middle East immigrants receiving social benefits for the first six months after arrival.

Only fools would allow the Middle East's despicable culture of Islam to gain new footholds in the West.

Unfortunately Obama ain't the only fool in the West



VA Whistleblowers Faced Retaliation For Speaking Out

Last week, we reported on the Veterans Affairs Department's internal audit that determined that more than 100,000 US veterans are either presently languishing on medical wait lists, or never received an appointment at all over the last decade. The probe comes in the wake of revelations that VA bureaucrats across the country engaged in "systemic" manipulation of official wait-time statistics in order to conceal the true extent of the problem, and to protect their own performance-based bonuses. Whistleblowers have emerged from coast to coast, shining the spotlight on the fraudulent practices, malpractice, outrageous care, and "crime syndicate" culture. Given the breadth of dysfunction and corruption at the agency, some may wonder why these sources didn't step forward sooner. The answer is twofold: First, some did sound the alarm. Red flags were raised, investigated, and ignored for years. Second, the VA bureaucracy clamped down hard on people who spoke out of school. The New York Times reports:

"Staff members at dozens of Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals across the country have objected for years to falsified patient appointment schedules and other improper practices, only to be rebuffed, disciplined or even fired after speaking up, according to interviews with current and former staff members and internal documents...In interviews with The New York Times, a half-dozen current and former staff members - four doctors, a nurse and an office manager in Delaware, Pennsylvania and Alaska - said they faced retaliation for reporting systemic problems. Their accounts, some corroborated by internal documents, portray a culture of silence and intimidation within the department and echo experiences detailed by other V.A. personnel in court filings, government investigations and congressional testimony, much of it largely unnoticed until now."

The culture of cover-up and muzzling is pervasive and dates back many years:

"The federal Office of Special Counsel, which investigates whistle-blower complaints, is examining 37 claims of retaliation by V.A. employees in 19 states, and recently persuaded the V.A. to drop the disciplining of three staff members who had spoken out. Together with reports to other watchdog agencies and the Times interviews, the accounts by V.A. whistle-blowers cover several dozen hospitals, with complaints dating back seven years or longer...The number of claims of retaliation by V.A. whistle-blowers is among the highest of any federal agency, said Carolyn Lerner, who runs the Office of Special Counsel, and have been documented by Congress going back at least two decades. In 1992, a congressional report concluded that the V.A. discouraged employees from reporting problems by "harassing whistle-blowers or firing them." In 1999, a House subcommittee hearing on "Whistleblowing and Retaliation in the Department of Veterans Affairs" found little had changed. Today V.A. employees and whistle-blower lawyers say the problem has only gotten worse."

Click through to read individual cases of VA doctors, nurses and other officials being reprimanded, put on administrative leave, and even escorted out of the building by security for raising objections to fraudulent practices. When one doctor refused to cease and desist writing up formal complaints, he was deemed "disruptive" by the apparatchiks and fired. A pyschologist's performance reviews suddenly grew hostile and negative after she spoke out against certain policies. And then there's this:

"In Pittsburgh, two V.A. doctors specializing in Legionnaires' disease, Dr. Janet Stout and Dr. Victor Yu, said they were forced out after complaining about budget and salary matters in 2006. The V.A. then closed their lab and destroyed their specimens - decisions the doctors contend contributed to a 2011 outbreak of Legionnaires' at the Pittsburgh hospital that killed six people. "The V.A. isn't a place where you speak out," Dr. Stout said in an interview."

Each and every story detailed in the article is outrageous. Incredibly, the VA has frequently used supposed violations of doctor-patient confidentiality as a pretext for sacking problematic employees, arguing that reporting misconduct is tantamount to breaching protocols. This is what unaccountable, government-run, bureaucrat-administered healthcare looks like.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, 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, June 17, 2014

Lois Lerner, the IRS and the "lost" emails about targeted tea party groups

I put up yesterday one of the many criticisms of the preposterous claim that a whole swag of Obama administration emails had been lost.  Even if they have, is that the end of the matter?  The Snowden revelations lead us too believe that the NSA has copies of just about every email ever sent. Why can we not recover the emails from them?


Exaggerated claims of racism

Last Friday I discussed the crow-calls of "racism" that are always emanating from the Left and pointed out that such calls are mostly projection.  The practising racists (as in "affirmative action", antisemitism etc) are in fact on the Left.  The article below was written for an Australian audience and it too points out how minor are the things that Leftists pick on to distract attention from their own obsessive racism

So who’s a racist? Not you, of course. Certainly not me. Hey, maybe none of us.

No, that’s not what people were saying this week as the sports commentator Warren Ryan quit his job over an on-air quote from Gone with the Wind that included the word "darky".

Here was another controversy, depressingly fresh on the heels of last year's furore over indigenous AFL player Adam Goodes being called an ape by a young spectator.

It may pay to look at the bigger picture. After all, aren’t we living in a era when evil is an outmoded concept, when there are no bad people, only bad acts? On that basis it seems counter-intuitive and frankly crazy to label people racist on the basis on one or two remarks.

Yes, of course, "the standard I walk past is the standard I accept", to quote another example of vogue reasoning. Sorry but I have walked past it plenty.

I walked past it when a man in Spain told me he was "working like a black", when an old girlfriend asked whether I still "smoke like a Turk" and when a fella in country NSW offered me his ultimate accolade: "Thanks mate, you’re a white man."

Hey, I also walked past it when people assert that Australia is a uniquely wicked racist country. Get real.

Yes, Australian country towns once banned Aborigines from swimming pools. From this came the Freedom Rides led by Charlie Perkins. And the treatment of indigenous Australians by white settlers and government authorities remains unfinished business.

But how many people alive today are honest to god racist? You know, willing to stand at the school gates like a southern US governor in the 1950s and ’60s and say non-white children will not pass? Refuse to shake the hand of a non-white person? Oddly, when Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani failed to offer his hand to European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton, there was not a glimmer of protest. (Rouhani saw fit to shake hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin).

Are white South African migrants to Australia racist? Are black Zimbabwean leaders racist for pushing whites off farms? Considering the hierarchy of oppression that is so fashionable now, are any non-white people racist at all?

Certainly it is much easier then to turn on some middle-aged white bloke for saying something, well, stupid.

For seemingly endless days in May, CNN’s television coverage was obsessed with the Donald Sterling controversy. The billionaire owner of the US basketball team the Los Angeles Clippers was rightly denounced in all quarters for moronic comments about black people. He now has to sell the franchise and will end his days as a pariah. Isn’t that enough? Not for CNN, though that network was not alone. Its anchors weighed every nuance, parsing comments by his wife that Sterling had dementia, interviewing each other endlessly.

For what? Only because there are dollars at stake did Sterling even matter. Otherwise that old man’s thoughts are irrelevant to everyone but him and the nurse with the bedpan. I’d rather ask how healthy it is for any sporting team to be owned by a single plutocrat.

My contention is that people can say racist things because they are afflicted, temporarily or permanently, with stupidity, but that doesn’t make them a racist. Why? Because I don’t believe there are that many true racists. These would be people obsessed with the supremacy of their race to the exclusion of any other topic. Sure they are out there. But their numbers are negligible. And if the best frontman they can present is still Jim Saleam, as John Safran found in Good Weekend last Saturday, they ain’t growing the brand. Pauline Hanson? Sorry. Seriously, no.

I’d wager that the overwhelming majority of us, no matter the colour, are roughly as "racist" as each other. In other words, not really racist at all. It’s just that we sometimes say the stupidest things.



One of the world's major subnational units has just had an election

Ontario has renewed its trust in a corrupt, big spending  Lesbian liberal.  Below Ezra Levant  gives his evaluation of the event in his normal reserved and nuanced way

Put aside the scandals and corruption and police investigations into the Ontario Liberal Party. That’s just morality and ethics stuff, and Ontarians are apparently fine with that.

But what about the economy created by the Liberals, happily accepted by voters last Thursday?

For seven years running, Ontario has had a higher unemployment rate than the national average. Ontario is a have-not province, now subsidized by others, including Saskatchewan and Newfoundland, two new have provinces.

Stop and let that sink in.

Ontario’s taxes are high, and about to grow higher: Premier Kathleen Wynne’s campaign centrepiece was a new payroll tax for a provincial pension plan, deducted from every employee’s paycheque.  In other words, a job tax.

There will be other taxes too, including on Pearson Airport, the airport already saddled with the highest user fees in the world.

And Ontario’s disastrous experiment with wind turbines and solar panels will continue for decades — that’s the length of time Ontario will force residents and companies to buy power at inflated rates to subsidize their green schemes.

Even as power prices fall in other provinces and competitor states in the U.S. It’s surely a coincidence that the former president of the Liberal Party is a wind turbine executive.

That’s what’s so dispiriting.

Not that Ontarians are fine with a corrupt political class.

But that Ontarians are fine with economic decline and that more and more economic “success stories” aren’t entrepreneurs, but rather crony capitalists with ties to the government.

Ontarians, for more than a century the economic engine of Canada, are fine now being an economic brake. The decline first brought on by Dalton McGuinty is no longer a blip. It’s a trend.

It seems unthinkable that Ontario could ever be anything other than the biggest and strongest province. But it surely felt that way in Montreal, too, for the longest time.

But take the story of the Bank of Montreal to see how things don’t last forever.

The Bank of Montreal is Canada’s oldest bank, founded in 1817. And for 160 years, it was headquartered in — obviously — Montreal. But in 1970, politics brought risk and cost to Quebec in a way not seen before.

The FLQ crisis brought terrorism and martial law. In 1976, the Parti Quebecois won the election. So in 1977, the Bank of Montreal moved its head office operations to Toronto.

For two lifetimes it was unthinkable that the Bank of Montreal would leave Montreal. But in the course of 20 years it happened.

Politics matters.

Ontarians just renewed their bonds with a party that deliberately campaigned to the left of the NDP; a party that has overtly joined the cause of government workers unions, against the interests of taxpayers.

Ontario’s so-called Sunshine List — the annual publication of government workers earning more than $100,000 — used to be a source of embarrassment. Now it’s the government’s base of support.

Ontario has chosen the takers against the makers. Thirtynine percent of Ontarians were fine with that and voted Liberal. And most of the 24% who voted for the NDP were fine with it too.

The day after the election was instructive. Mere hours after the election, Joe Fontana, the Liberal mayor of London, was convicted of fraud. But Wynne happily met with Fontana earlier this year, while he was before the courts — and merely by associating with him, gave him her political stamp of approval.

At exactly the same time, banks from around the world issued credit warnings about Ontario’s debt, and the province’s cost to borrow jumped the most it had in six months.

An official credit downgrade is imminent, though some banks say they’re waiting for the provincial budget, to make it official.

Corruption and debt.  Can they really bring down Canada’s economic colossus?

Ask Detroit — for decades, the highest-paid, most industrialized city in America. After two generations of Democratic rule, it’s an impoverished ghost town.

Oh, this is just the beginning.  Let’s see what new taxes and rules Toronto’s next mayor, socialist Olivia Chow, will bring with her.

Anyone want to bet on when the Bank of Montreal moves to Calgary?



Flag day

Back when Democrats were patriotic, Woody Wilson said this:

"I therefore suggest and request that throughout the nation and if possible in every community the fourteenth day of June be observed as FLAG DAY with special patriotic exercises, at which means shall be taken to give significant expression to our thoughtful love of America, our comprehension of the great mission of liberty and justice to which we have devoted ourselves as a people, our pride in the history and our enthusiasm for the political programme of the nation, our determination to make it greater and purer with each generation, and our resolution to demonstrate to all the world its, vital union in sentiment and purpose, accepting only those as true compatriots who feel as we do the compulsion of this supreme allegiance."

The official Twitter account of the Democrat party, @TheDemocrats, sent out this tweet yesterday to mark their celebration of Flag Day:

"Happy flag day"

In accord with their modern priorities, the child was the "correct" color but that is not a correct picture of an American flag.  At best it's bunting.  While the flag has changed considerably throughout the years, there has never been a version that included a blue stripe as opposed to a blue field.  The American flag looks like this:



In the media's America, “Mainstream” Means Left

Just when Tea Party obituaries were being sounded around the country, Washington fixture of 42 years, Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran, loses to upstart Tea Party candidate Chris McDaniel.

And one week later, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, in the blockbuster of this year’s political season, is booted out of office in the Virginia Republican primary by an economics professor from Randolph-Macon College, total undergraduate enrollment - 1,312 students.

Turns out that reports of the death of the Tea Party are greatly exaggerated.

According to the New York Times editorial page, writing about Cantor’s defeat, the Tea Party is “producing candidates who are light-years from the mainstream.”

But if mainstream means not clearly on one side of the political spectrum or the other, a new report from Pew Research shows that what is supposedly mainstream today is not mainstream at all. The report, “Political Polarization in the American Republic,” shows that it is now the minority of Americans who are not clearly on the left or the right.

Only 39 percent of Americans define themselves in the middle, as a mixed bag of liberal and conservative values. The majority of Americans, the other 61 percent, see themselves as on the liberal left or the conservative right. Thirty four percent say they are mostly or consistently liberal and 27 percent say they are mostly or consistently conservative.

Just ten years ago 49 percent – ten percentage points more – defined themselves in the mixed middle.

The New York Times would like us to believe that there is a “mainstream” in America today because what “mainstream” means is status quo – don’t rock the boat. Because of the massive growth of government over recent years, today’s status quo means acceptance of a great lurch leftward, which has already occurred.

It sounds so measured and sober to call a candidate “mainstream.”  But “mainstream” is not measured and sober.

It means shrugging your shoulders at $17 trillion in federal debt, $4 trillion in federal spending, and a tax code of over 73,000 pages.

In polling reported by Gallup, for 45 years from 1952 to 1997, over 80 percent of Americans said there is “plenty of opportunity” in the country. By last year this was down to 52 percent.

The Tea Party is not an ideological movement. It is a movement of decent, hard-working Americans from quiet communities who are no longer willing to accept freedom and opportunity disappearing as result of the massive growth of government and a power-satiated political class in Washington.

America has no center today. You either accept a left-wing status quo or you are fighting against it.


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, 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, June 16, 2014

I, playwright

In my own personal view of myself I have always thought of myself as primarily a literary type.  In my early years I read huge amounts of classical fiction and have always enjoyed poetry.  Out of a class of 1,000 students I got the highest mark awarded for the poetry paper in my first-year English course at the University of Qld many years ago and to this day it does not take much to provoke me into reciting large slabs of Chaucer in the original Middle English.

But it always seemed clear to me that literature was no way to make a living so I concentrated my studies on the social sciences instead.

My son seems to be much the same.  He wrote his first story when he was 9 but obviously concluded he had to study more practical things at university.  So he took a B.Sc. degree with first class honours in Mathematics.  He then started on a study program for a Ph.D. in mathematics.  But he has just abandoned that program and has started to write fiction instead.  He has decided to follow his natural bent no matter how impractical it may be.

I think he is wiser than I was.  So at age 70 I have decided to write a few plays.  They are just trifles for home performance but in case anybody is interested, you can access them here


Are Conservatives Dumber Than Liberals?

It depends on how you define "conservative." The research shows that libertarian conservatives are smartest of all

Ronald Bailey

Conservatives exhibit less cognitive ability than liberals do. Or that's what it says in the social science literature, anyway. A 2010 study using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, for example, found that the IQs of young adults who described themselves as "very liberal" averaged 106.42, whereas the mean of those who identified as "very conservative" was 94.82. Similarly, when a 2009 study correlated cognitive capacity with political beliefs among 1,254 community college students and 1,600 foreign students seeking entry to U.S. universities, it found that conservatism is "related to low performance on cognitive ability tests." In 2012, a paper reported that people endorse more conservative views when drunk or under cognitive pressure; it concluded that "political conservatism may be a process consequence of low-effort thought."

So have social scientists really proved that conservatives are dumber than liberals? It depends crucially on how you define "conservative."

For an inkling of what some social scientists think conservatives believe, parse a 2008 study by the University of Nevada at Reno sociologist Markus Kemmelmeier. To probe the political and social beliefs of nearly 7,000 undergraduates at an elite university, Kemmelmeier devised a set of six questions asking whether abortion, same-sex marriage, and gay sex should be legal, whether handguns and racist/sexist speech on campus should be banned, and whether higher taxes should be imposed on the wealthy. The first three were supposed to measure the students' views of "conservative gender roles," and the second set was supposed to gauge their "anti-regulation" beliefs. Kemmelmeier clearly thought that "liberals" would tend to be OK with legal abortion, same-sex marriage, and gay sex, and would opt to ban handguns and offensive speech and to tax the rich. Conservatives would supposedly hold the opposite views.

Savvy readers may recognize a problem with using these questions to sort people into just two ideological categories. And sure enough, Kemmelmeier got some results that puzzled him. He found that students who held more traditional views on gender and sex roles averaged lower on their verbal SAT and Achievement Test scores. "Surprisingly," he continued, this was not true of students with anti-regulation attitudes. With them, "all else being equal, more conservative respondents scored higher than more liberal respondents." Kemmelmeier ruefully notes that "this result was not anticipated" and "diametrically contradicts" the hypothesis that conservatism is linked to lower cognitive ability. Kemmelmeier is so evidently lost in the intellectual fog of contemporary progressivism that he does not realize that his questionnaire is impeccably designed to identify classical liberals, a.k.a. libertarians, who endorse liberty in both the social and economic realms.

So how smart are libertarians compared to liberals and conservatives? In a May 2014 study in the journal Intelligence, the Oxford sociologist Noah Carl attempts to answer to that question. Because research has "consistently shown that intelligence is positively correlated with socially liberal beliefs and negatively correlated with religious beliefs," Carl suggests that in the American political context, social scientists would expect Republicans to be less intelligent than Democrats. Instead, Republicans have slightly higher verbal intelligence scores (2–5 IQ points) than Democrats. How could that be?

Carl begins by pointing out that there is data suggesting that a segment of the American population holding classical liberal beliefs tends to vote Republican. Classical liberals, Carl notes, believe that an individual should be free to make his own lifestyle choices and to enjoy the profits derived from voluntary transactions with others. He proposes that intelligence actually correlates with classically liberal beliefs.

To test this hypothesis, Carl uses data on political attitudes and intelligence derived from the General Social Survey, which has been administered to representative samples of American adults every couple of years since 1972. Using GSS data, respondents are classified on a continuum ranging from strong Republican through independent to strong Democrat. Carl then creates a measure of socially liberal beliefs based on respondents' attitudes toward homosexuality, marijuana consumption, abortion, and free speech for communists, racists, and advocates for military dictatorship. He similarly probes liberal economic views, with an assessment of attitudes toward government provision of jobs, industry subsidies, income redistribution, price controls, labor unions, and military spending. Verbal Intelligence is evaluated using the GSS WORDSUM test results.

Comparing strong Republicans with strong Democrats, Carl finds that Republicans have a 5.48 IQ point advantage over Democrats. Broadening party affiliation to include moderate to merely leaning respondents still results in a Republican advantage of 3.47 IQ points and 2.47 IQ points respectively. Carl reconciles his findings with the social science literature that reports that liberals are more intelligent than conservatives by proposing that Americans with classically liberal beliefs are even smarter. Carl further reports that those who endorse both social conservatism and economic statism also have lower verbal IQ scores.

"Overall, my findings suggest that higher intelligence among classically liberal Republicans compensates for lower intelligence among socially conservative Republicans," concludes Carl. If the dumb, I mean socially conservative, Republicans keep disrespecting us classical liberals, we'll take our IQ points and go home.

As gratifying as Carl's research findings are, it is still a deep puzzle to me why it apparently takes high intelligence to understand that the government should stay out of both the bedroom and the boardroom.


Bailey covers the issues pretty well above but could have emphasized even more strongly that it all depends on how you define conservative.  Most of the relevant research has been done by Leftists and thanks to their general lack of contact with reality, most of them have not got a blind clue about what conservatism is.  All they know is what they have picked up from their fellow Leftists.  So they define conservatism very narrowly and miss out that the central issue for conservatives is  individual liberty.

One result of that is that their lists of questions that are supposed to index conservatism usually show no correlation with vote!  Many of the people who are critical of homosexuality, for instance, are Democrat voters, not Republicans.  Blacks, for instance, are often religious and are also conservative on many social issues so a low average score on IQ for religious conservatives could simply reflect the low average IQ score of blacks while telling us nothing about whites

Just to give you the feel of black attitudes, a common Caribbean word for a homosexual is "Poopman"


IRS “Loses” Lois Lerner Emails!

The IRS has fought tooth and nail to stall and hold out on surrendering Lois Lerner's emails to Congressional committees.

First, the IRS told Congress that it would take years to access and, if necessary, redact Lois Lerner's emails. Then, the administration tried to tell Congress what emails it could and couldn't have.

Throughout the administration's stonewalling, real Conservatives in Congress (yes, they really exist) stood strong and demanded that the IRS obey the lawful Congressional subpoena for ALL of Lois Lerner's emails.

Well, after exhausting all options of stopping the investigation into the IRS scandal, the Obama administration has decided to try a new tactic: they are claiming that a "computer crash" has destroyed Lois Lerner's emails!

The so-called "crash" didn't destroy all of Ms. Lerner's emails. Any in-department emails between Lerner and other IRS employees are still accessible. However, all of the emails between Ms. Lerner and the White House, FEC, DOJ, and Congressional Democrats have now been destroyed!

They think you are an idiot! They think that they can destroy evidence connecting Lois Lerner and the White House and that you won't figure out what is going on!

At least Richard Nixon admitted to withholding the Watergate tapes and ordering them to be destroyed. The Obama administration thinks they can stop the investigation into the IRS scandal by claiming that almost all of Lois Lerner's emails were "accidentally" destroyed!

It is almost comical how the administration expects us to believe that all emails connecting Lois Lerner with the Obama White House have been tragically and accidentally lost.

We are supposed to just sit back and accept the fact that all the evidence was destroyed that connected Lois Lerner's targeting program with the White House, DOJ, FEC, and House Democrats…

We know for a FACT that Lois Lerner communicated with Democrats in Congress, such as Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD). That is undeniable! We know that these Democrat lawmakers reached out to the IRS and asked them to target their political opponents. Now, the administration has apparently destroyed all evidence of these communications.

We know for a FACT that Lois Lerner reached out to Eric Holder's Justice Department about prosecuting conservative non-profit groups. That is undeniable! Now, the administration has apparently "lost" all evidence of these communications as well.

We know for a FACT that Lois Lerner was regularly communicating with Federal Election Commission bureaucrats in her pursuit to undermine the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling. Again, we are being told that those emails have conveniently been destroyed.

Do they understand how the Internet works? Even if there was a crash or if a catastrophic virus did infect Lois Lerner's computer — conveniently during a criminal investigation — are we really supposed to believe that this same crash/virus has affected all of the recipients of these emails as well?!

Anyone who has used the Internet knows that when an email is sent, there isn't just one record of it. The sender and recipient both have copies of the communication.

But, we are being told that basic Internet logic doesn't apply here and that all records of Lois Lerner's crimes have been destroyed. How convenient for the President and his administration…

What did the White House find in these emails that was so damning that they had to be destroyed? Who else was Lois Lerner conspiring with to silence conservative groups and to stop them from participating in the 2012 election?

Every time that Congress gets close to uncovering the truth about the IRS scandal, the administration does something to try to stop the investigation in its tracks.

Now, the administration has begun destroying documents… I mean, the administration had a convenient "computer crash."

Enough is enough! Lois Lerner is a criminal who must be thrown in jail, and whoever in the Obama administration conspired to destroy this evidence must also be thrown behind bars!

Congress has the power to do all of this, but they will only use this authority to jail these criminals if YOU tell them to!



It doesn’t seem to be true that inequality damages the economy

We're all aware of the mobs of screaming harpies telling us that inequality is damaging to the economy, nay to the very life of the nation. We even had a whole book about it, The Spirit Level, which manipulated (and badly) every statistic it could to try and convince us of this point. The problem for the thesis is that if this were true, if inequality were bad for the economy, then we would see the economies of places which are more unequal doing worse than the economies of places which were more equal. And, to be frank about it, this isn't what we see:

When we talk about competitiveness, we don’t talk much about fairness. Fairness is more a moral issue. If you look at the top countries on our list, they are not the equal countries, with the exception of Sweden. The U.S., Switzerland, Hong Kong and Singapore are countries where income inequality tends to be high. If you look at our data, there is a U-shaped relationship when it comes to income inequality. Countries that are very competitive or not competitive at all tend to be very unequal. The two extremes are the U.S. and Venezuela. Both countries are quite unequal. The countries where economic inequality is quite low, rank high but they are certainly not on the top. There is a price to pay in order to promote or guarantee a certain level of equality and that comes at the expense of competitiveness.

As we've noted around here before, Venezuela's problems do not stem from the inequality in that country, rather from the silly, even pig ignorant, methods they've tried to use to reduce that inequality. Similarly Sweden is both more equal and competitive because they do two things right. Firstly, underneath the tax burden, they run an intensely classically liberal economy and secondly, they raise that monstrous amount of tax revenues by taxing consumption, not capital or corporations.

Which leads us to two observations: the first being that we don't actually have any evidence that inequality harms the growth prospects of the economy. The second is that even if it does whether reducing that inequality will reduce the performance of the economy depends upon precisely how we reduce the inequality. We might try price controls, rationing, import substitution, nationalisation, the Venezuelan route, or we might try a properly free market economy with a high VAT to give us the money to redistribute, the Swedish way. That latter works, in that the country is more equal (if that's something you want to worry about and we don't) and also remains competitive. The former doesn't work in either sense: but sadly if we look around UK politics we see those concerned with inequality arguing for those Venezuelan policies rather than those Swedish ones.

Which end of the political spectrum is said to be the evidence based one again?



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, 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, June 15, 2014

Jihadistan Rising

In December 2011 at Fort Bragg, Barack Obama boasted of his grand achievement in ending the war in Iraq as the last U.S. troops were removed. “We knew this day would come,” he said. “We’ve known it for some time. But still there is something profound about the end of a war that has lasted so long. It’s harder to end a war than begin one. Everything that American troops have done in Iraq – all the fighting, all the dying, the bleeding and the building and the training and the partnering, all of it has landed to this moment of success. … We’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self reliant Iraq with a representative government that was elected by its people. We’re building a new partnership between our nations and we are ending a war not with a final battle but with a final march toward home. This is an extraordinary achievement.”

Today, the news coming out of Iraq is yet another sad reminder of the utter failure of Barack Obama’s leadership on the world stage. The jihadist group known as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) seized the Iraqi cities of Mosul and Tikrit this week in lightning fast strikes that sent unprepared Iraqi security forces scrambling. ISIS has made steady progress in its campaign against government forces in recent months, having seized much of Anbar Province earlier in the spring. Its forces are now poised less than a hundred miles from Baghdad. By the way, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the new leader of ISIS, was released from U.S. custody in 2009. Anyone still think those five Taliban leaders “are not a threat to the United States”?

America’s national security team assures us that Baghdad will not fall because of the high concentration of military forces there. But U.S. embassy officials are laying out contingency plans for evacuation. Last one to the helicopter on the roof can turn out the lights.

It’s a stunning turn of events, particularly for those gullible enough to believe Obama’s claims about his “extraordinary achievement.” For instance, let’s recall his boast upon pulling U.S. forces out of Iraq: “Al-Qaida is decimated.” Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta declared in July 2011 that the U.S. was close to “strategically defeating” al-Qaida. It turns out that al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI), the major jihadi force that U.S. troops were fighting before Obama’s ignominious retreat, was not actually defeated. It just morphed into something else that is even more of a threat.

As recently as Wednesday, responding to the news of ISIS’s military gains, our Nobel Peace Prize-winning president maintained, “The world is less violent than it has ever been.” Perhaps true when compared to, say, World War II, but his statement is willfully ignorant of realty. Iraq is unraveling, Ukraine is fighting for its very existence against a resurgent Russia, and Boko Haram continues to terrorize Nigeria, just to pull three examples from the headlines.

The Middle East is a raging battlefield once again, with al-Qaida at the center of the conflagration. Call the brand of al-Qaida whatever you like, the blame for this rapidly unfolding disaster lays squarely at the feet of this president. Obama was so eager to end George W. Bush’s “dumb war” that he ignored the advice of senior Pentagon officials to leave a sizable American force in Iraq. He doesn’t seem to comprehend that leaving a battlefield is not synonymous with victory on the battlefield.

The growth and success of ISIS is a direct result of Obama’s complete foreign policy malfeasance. The Islamic militant group is made up of Sunni fighters from Syria and Iraq motivated to create a Pan-Islamic caliphate stretching from the Mediterranean Sea to the Iranian border. The civil war in Syria, which Obama refused to dirty his hands with, inevitably spilled over the porous border with Iraq, and militants traveled back and forth in that region for the last two years or more, causing death and destruction and growing stronger by the day.

It’s a mistake to assume that ISIS is just another al-Qaida affiliate that can be neutralized with drone strikes. This is not some ragtag band of fighters roaming the desert in rusty pickups. They are trained soldiers, equipped with more than military hardware left behind by fleeing Iraqi National Security forces and abandoned U.S. military outposts. They are motivated, which is more than can be said for the White House.

Just as Bill Clinton’s willful ignorance of al-Qaida in the 1990s left us unprepared for 9/11, so too Obama’s self-centered hubris has allowed Iraq to come to the brink of anarchy. Headlines say the White House was “caught off guard” by the advance of al-Qaida. Perhaps Obama only found out about ISIS’s military gains from news reports.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has begged the administration to consider air strikes against ISIS staging areas since May. Going back as far as March, American advisers who visited Baghdad had been told by senior Iraqi leaders that air power was sorely needed to turn the tide against the insurgents. Yet the requests fell on deaf ears.

Now, Obama says all options are on the table to help the Iraqis. “I don’t rule out anything because we do have a stake in making sure that these jihadists are not getting a permanent foothold in either Iraq or Syria.” Not getting a permanent foothold? His oblivion knows no bounds. Maybe he can try a few Twitter hashtags on his way to Laguna Beach for golf and a fundraiser.

Things have gotten so bad that Iran is now getting into the fight on behalf of the embattled Iraqi government, sending Revolutionary Guard units to combat its Sunni foes. So, while Iran remains a state sponsor of terrorism, props up Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria and continues its quest for nuclear weapons, it’s defending U.S. interests in Iraq better than Obama is. Even Assad is offering to help. To put it conservatively, Iraq is a total mess.

Obama has made it plain he has no intention of correcting his egregious mistakes in Iraq – he’s given away everything we fought for and he’s proud of it. We will likely have to watch chaos spread across the region for another two years until, hopefully, a new president does what’s needed to stabilize the region and protect U.S. national security interests. Thursday’s anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s challenge to Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall reminds us that America can be a beacon of freedom and security in the world. Unfortunately, we’ve gone a long way in the wrong direction.



The VA Morass Deepens

With each passing day and new revelation, the Veterans Affairs secret wait-list scandal shows a rotten and decaying system where corruption was rampant and accountability nonexistent. Inspection visits to under-performing facilities were “paused” for two years, bonuses were tossed out like candy at a parade, to the tune of over $100 million in a three-year period, and whistleblowers were threatened with firing – or worse.

All this has led to the opening of an FBI investigation, meaning it’s quite possible that some hospital administrators could fall on the sword for their role in poor patient care and secret “death panel” waiting lists. The Phoenix FBI office is taking the lead, as the story originated from that facility, but this is a nationwide problem – the VA’s own inspector general is looking at a total of 69 facilities, and that number is likely to grow.

Congress is also moving with unusual speed – particularly in light of an oncoming election – to address some aspects of the problem. Bills are on the fast track in both the Senate and House, and they are considered to be similar enough that no more than a perfunctory conference session would be needed. Items likely to make the cut are a prohibition on bonuses to VA executives through 2016, allowing the VA to shift $500 million in its budget to hire more medical staff, and allowing certain veterans who live far from VA facilities to seek out private providers on the VA’s tab. The VA would also be encouraged to contract with private medical facilities as needed to reduce wait times.

Still, if the VA system is the epitome of government-run health care – and it is – the clamor to eliminate ObamaCare should be deafening. The VA’s public relations and patient confidence holes are getting deeper and wider with each revelation, and the millions of veterans and their families who depend on the VA for their health don’t just deserve better care – they deserve answers as to what went wrong and why.



Mother Jones shoots and misses at Dave Brat on Fannie, Freddie

Formerly unknown congressional candidate Dave Brat has been in the headlines ever since he ousted soon-to-be former House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor for Virginia’s 7th Congressional District Republican nomination.

Now, Brat faces an even greater challenge in the general election. First up is taking on the left-wing political intelligentsia, which is attempting to eviscerate his election chances.

For example, writing for Mother Jones, Molly Redden and David Corn try to discredit Brat’s critique of government policies that led to the financial crisis.

“An economics professor at Randolph-Macon College in central Virginia, Brat frequently has repeated the conservative canard that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae brought down the housing market by handling the vast majority of subprime mortgages,” write Redden and Corn, adding, “That is, he absolves Big Finance and the banks of responsibility for the financial crisis that triggered the recession.”

Redden and Corn are referring to Brat’s frequent refrain on the campaign trail that “Fannie and Freddie made two-thirds of all subprime mortgages.”

At this point, it is probably best to defer to American Enterprise Institute resident fellow Edward Pinto, former Fannie Mae executive vice president and chief credit officer, on this count. After all, he literally wrote the book on how Government Sponsored Enterprise (GSE), congressional, and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) policies were among the primary causes in the build-up of hundreds of billions of dollars non-traditional mortgages that nearly crashed the global economy.

Now, even if one takes a broad view of “subprime” as “residential mortgages issued to high-risk borrowers, such as those with a history of late payments or bankruptcy,” as the Financial Times does, or simply, mortgages that are not prime, a better term would be Pinto’s non-traditional mortgages.

Also, it would be more accurate to say more than two-thirds of the crappy loans were Fannie, Freddie, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), Federal Home Loan Bank, and Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) required loans.

Per Pinto’s forensic study: “As of June 30, 2008 over 70 percent of the 26.7 million NTMs with weak or high risk characteristics — 19.25 million loans – were owned or guaranteed by (a) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (11.9 million), (b) the Federal Housing Administration and other federal agencies (4.8 million); (c) Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB) investments in Alt-A and Subprime Private MBS (0.3 million) or (d) banks and other lenders originating loans pursuant to CRA requirements and HUD‘s Best Practices program (2.2 million, net of CRA loans already accounted for in (a) and (b). These numbers suggest that government policies and requirements were the source of the loans with weak or high risk characteristics, and thus the cause of the financial crisis.”

Those quibbles aside, Brat is pretty much right. The federal government was responsible for more than two-thirds of the risky mortgages that were made in the bubble.

Adding to the trouble, the GSEs were undercapitalized as a matter of policy, and enabling them to lead the market in low-income borrowing, according to Pinto: “The GSEs only needed $900 in capital behind a $200,000 mortgage they guaranteed — many of which by 2004-2007 had no borrower downpayment. In order for the private sector to compete with Fannie and Freddie, it needed to find ways to increase leverage.”

When Americans for Limited Government reached out to Pinto in 2010 about a draft version of his forensic study, he told us that the GSEs were driving the market for non-traditional mortgages and that the “market response was: if it’s okay with Fannie and Freddie (the de facto standards setters) it must be okay for us.”

The build up by Fannie and Freddie was deadly, would have never been possible without HUD mismanagement, and had unquestionably negative feedback throughout mortgage markets, Pinto notes: “HUD’s policy of continually and disproportionately increasing the GSEs’ goals for low- and very-low income borrowers led to further loosening of lending standards causing most industry participants to reach further down the demand curve and originate even more NTMs. As prices rose at a faster pace, an affordability gap developed, leading to further increases in leverage and home prices. Once the price boom slowed, loan defaults on NTMs quickly increased leading to a freeze-up of the private MBS market. A broad collapse of home prices followed.”

Together with the HUD and the FHA, Fannie and Freddie helped to cause the crisis by weakening underwriting standards, lowering down payments, and generally degrading the quality of credit in both government and private backed loans.  Also, because of the implicit backing of taxpayers, the GSE-issued securities were automatically granted AAA bond ratings, and the Fannie and Freddie were even able to misrepresent the quality of mortgages that underlined those securities.

As if that was not bad enough, Fannie and Freddie crafted a marketing plan that promised a higher rate of return than treasuries, but with the same risk associated with a taxpayer guarantee.

It was that implicit guarantee that enabled the GSEs to sell some $4.7 trillion of mortgage-backed securities, $1.5 trillion of which were sold overseas to investors, as reported by the New York Times. As more securities were sold, Fannie and Freddie bought more mortgages and bundled them into securities. As a direct result, Fannie and Freddie were able to acquire about half of all mortgages as of July 2008.

By 2008, Fannie and Freddie held $1.835 trillion in higher-risk mortgages and mortgage-backed securities: $1.646 trillion, were GSE-issued mortgage-backed securities, and $189 billion of subprime and Alt-A private mortgage-backed securities.

Brat is correct to lay the crisis largely at the feet of Fannie and Freddie. They, along with HUD, FHA, and Congress were the ones that loosened the underwriting standards. Private sector leverage was largely a response to what Fannie and Freddie were doing in the market.

To see which institutions had the larger role to play, just look at the size of the bailouts. To date, the Federal Reserve has bought back more than $1.6 trillion of mortgage backed securities (MBS) that were issued by the GSEs, including Fannie, Freddie, and also Ginnie Mae (which guarantees FHA and VA loans), according to the 2010 Federal Reserve audit of the MBS purchase program. In addition, the GSEs received $187 billion directly from taxpayers.

Therefore, the GSEs were responsible for approximately $1.8 trillion of the crisis. Comparatively, AIG needed an infusion of $182 billion of loans from the Federal Reserve and TARP for its role in insuring subprime and other risky loans against default. The Bear Stearns deal was $25 billion. Another $289 billion in TARP loans were made to affected institutions, too. So, on a bailout scale, $1.8 trillion was spent on GSEs in direct bailouts and about $500 billion was lent to the private sector. More than 3 to 1.

The difference is the private sector paid back their emergency loans. The $1.8 trillion spent on Fannie and Freddie was a direct subsidy from the Fed and from Congress. How it will be recouped, for example, if the Fed will simply hold the mortgages to maturity, transmitting interest earned to the Treasury, or the securities are sold to private sector actors, remains to be seen.

But on Brat’s primary contention, yes, government policies, including the GSEs, were responsible for 72 percent of the risky lending. Private institutions on their own accounted for 28 percent.

Brat was not absolving anyone, but he could be more specific — perhaps just include Ginnie in the statement “Fannie and Freddie made two-thirds of all subprime mortgages” — but the general idea that the government was responsible for the vast majority of the risky lending is spot on accurate.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, 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)