Friday, January 23, 2015

The Prince of Thieves

During his lame-duck term, Barack Obama intends to pursue what he calls "middle-class economics," i.e., proposals to reduce income inequality through taxation. Apparently a one-trick pony, Obama is back to raising taxes on the rich.

In last night's State of the Union Address, Obama explained "middle-class economics" as "the idea that this country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, everyone does their fair share, everyone plays by the same set of rules. We don't just want everyone to share in America's success, we want everyone to contribute to our success."

Except his policies don't give everyone a fair shot, or set the same rules for everyone. And only a few at the top "contribute to our success."

The Hill calls him Robin Hood, taking from the rich and giving to the poor and middle class. But that's misrepresenting his theft. The idea of Obama's "giving" anything to the American middle class, for whom his enmity is all but palpable, is ridiculous, but the notion of his playing Robin Hood insults our intelligence. During the Obama era, both the middle class and the poor have lost more ground economically than during any time in the last four decades, yet suddenly along comes Robin Hood to right the wrongs of his first six years.

As Rush Limbaugh astutely explained Monday, Robin Hood did not steal from the rich to give to the poor. According to legend, Robin Hood reclaimed the excessive taxes extorted by the sheriff of Nottingham from the commoners in his shire. In modern parlance, Obama is the sheriff, not the woodsman.

Yet Obama's appeal to those who believe the wealthy steal from the rest of society has served him well. Rush alluded to exit polls in the 2012 presidential election that showed 81% said they voted for Obama because he "cares about people like me." For decades, the Left has sweetly whispered into the ears of the unhappy, the aggrieved and the gullible, telling them the rich have stolen everyone else's wealth. If only the playing field could be equalized, if only everyone had an equal share, all would be peachy.

The socialist utopian dream just will not die because there is always wealth to be redistributed. Obama claims tax hikes will help balance wealth distribution, but not a dime will ever reach a single productive person. Ironically, much of what's not swallowed by the gaping maw of government will likely go to Obama's buddies in Big Business, purportedly the Left's most hated foe.

The Left has seized upon a recent study by two neo-socialist economists, who claim the top 1% (written "0.01" to increase its impact) hold 80% of the wealth in the United States. But like all lefties in good standing, they leave out relevant facts. In this case, they ignore the wealthiest sector of the nation: the United States government.

The federal government forcibly extracted more than $3 trillion from American citizens in 2014 -- the first time it crossed that threshold. The study's authors complain about billionaires but say not a word about the trillionaire in the room. And according to the latest Forbes list of worldwide billionaires, the aggregate wealth of them all totals only $6.4 trillion, barely enough to finance the U.S. government for a year-and-a-half. It's also less than a third of federal debt. Added to the federal government, the states have their own billionaire club, particularly California, which has one of the largest economies (and hence, governments) in the world.

Enhancing its rather extravagant income, the federal government owns vast swaths of real estate inside our borders (including 87% of the land in the West), an asset of enormous value. So in comparison, the wealthy in our country, two-thirds of whom according to Forbes earned their wealth, could be among the lowest 1% when compared to government.

The authors conclude that the "public will favor more progressive taxation only if it is convinced that top income gains are detrimental to the 99%." So keep feeding them class envy.

We don't mean to be apologists for wealthy corporatists, some of whom -- such as George Soros and Tom Steyer -- use their wealth to buy our political system. (This while leftists hypocritically attack the Koch brothers or other conservative financiers, whose contributions are dwarfed by leftists.) Of course, others are admirable people who've made a fortune by grit and guts. This nation's founding principles guarantee every person the right to the fruits of his labor. Since the 16th Amendment passed, however, that principle has been turned on its head by busybody activists and government officials -- hypocritical officials, we might add.

Inside the most exclusive club in the world, congressmen and women "earn" more than several average families combined -- on average, just one of them surpasses 18 families' incomes. And the Redistributionist in Chief lives the life of royalty on a scale never before witnessed, jetting around in the world's most expensive plane with entourages of hundreds in tow. Where does he -- the laughable "savior" of the 99% -- get off demanding higher taxes from a "10% family" earning 225,000 badly devalued dollars?

Unfortunately, as long as Democrats can buy votes with taxpayer money, the class warfare of "middle-class economics" will live on. All Obama did Tuesday night was preview the central message of the 2016 presidential campaign.



The Legend of Chris Kyle

The late Chris Kyle is an American legend, joining the likes of Jim Bowie, Daniel Boone and Alvin York. When a solider suffering from PTSD killed Kyle at a gun range in 2013, Kyle's legacy as one of the great American snipers, with nearly 160 confirmed kills in Iraq, was already cemented into the annals of American war. And when "American Sniper," the film depicting Kyle's life, blew out the box office this past weekend, Kyle's reputation was preserved as an American icon.

To put "American Sniper" in perspective, its opening weekend earned the film $89.5 million. Usually, only superhero movies like "Guardians of the Galaxy" and "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" do this well. But Americans wanted to see the biopic of a real hero. It's Kyle's story -- with its focus on the cost of war and the struggle he had balancing duty to country with duty to family -- that resonated with the American audience. After all, it's an American story.

The film, starring Bradley Cooper and directed by Clint Eastwood, was nominated for six Academy Awards, but that didn't stop (or perhaps led to) some members of Hollywood's leftist elite lambasting the film. Actor Seth Rogen said, "American Sniper kind of reminds me of the movie showing in the third act of Inglorious Basterds." Did Rogen just compare the life of Chris Kyle to a Nazi propaganda film? Rogen is about as moronic as the character he plays in the assassination-comedy "The Interview," which is being used as anti-North Korean propaganda.

Anti-gun documentarian Michael Moore mocked Kyle as a coward: "My uncle killed by sniper in WW2. We were taught snipers were cowards. Will shoot u in the back. Snipers aren't heroes. And invaders r worse." The only coward here is the one who does his sniping from behind a camera -- using a high-capacity magazine full of made-up "facts," we might add.

Run-of-the-mill liberals also joined in the clamor against "American Sniper," saying the film is racist because Kyle describes jihadis as savages in the movie, or that Kyle is a war-drunk killer.

There is a difference between Chris Kyle the man and Chris Kyle the legend. The Leftmedia could dredge up enough valid dirt on the man, but they attack the legacy of the fallen sniper because of the American values Kyle represents. Kyle, like any man, was flawed. For example, he was perhaps prone to exaggerated braggadocio, likely fabricating some stories -- including having punched former pro-wrestler and Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura in the face. Ventura won a defamation suit over it, which is difficult to do.

But Kyle didn't return to Iraq again and again because he was arrogant or gloried in killing. According to Kyle, he returned to protect his brothers in arms. "The ideal thing would be if I knew the number of lives I saved, because that's something I'd love to be known for," Kyle said in 2012. "But you can't calculate that."

If that isn't an American ideal, what is?

Kyle's widow, Taya Kyle, took to Facebook to express how overwhelmed she was that "American Sniper," an "honest" depiction of her husband's life, was so successful in movie theaters.

"Thank you for being willing to watch the hard stuff," she wrote, "and thank you for hearing, seeing, experiencing the life of our military and first responders. I put them together because the battlefields may be different but the experience is the same on many spiritual levels."

If Kyle has become our hero, he shows the values America still holds dear on and off the battlefield. We laud the man who runs toward the sound of chaos, who handles a gun with ease, yet is still gentle enough to hang up the weapons of war to be with wife and children.

Violence comes at a price, as Eastwood explores in his cannon of films, and that may cost a man his soul or his mind. For thousands of American soldiers, war is a hell that rages in their minds in the form of PTSD. Yet as Kyle shows, that is a burden the American hero bears out of love of country.



Conservatives Rethink Liberty Vs. Order

This week, the Supreme Court made a decision that was somewhat newsworthy: upholding the right of a prison inmate to do something the prison authorities prohibit. What made it really unusual is that the decision was unanimous, with all the conservative justices signing on, and that the opinion was written by one of the most conservative, Samuel Alito.

Alito is not a staunch friend of prison reformers. In a case involving the treatment of inmates in California, he wrote scornfully, "The Constitution does not give federal judges the authority to run state penal systems. Decisions regarding state prisons have profound public safety and financial implications, and the states are generally free to make these decisions as they choose." Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas have been no more sympathetic.

Yet here they were, joining the court's liberals to tell the Arkansas Department of Corrections that it may not force a Muslim convict to shave his face. That demand, the court said, violates his freedom to practice his religion.

The case is a reminder of the everlasting tension within conservative thought between the rights of individuals and the power of the authorities, particularly in matters of public safety and order.

Many on the right instinctively side with police, intelligence agencies and corrections officers when their conduct comes under fire. But another strand of conservative thinking preaches the need to protect citizens against government overreaching and abuse. It's the authoritarian school vs. the libertarian school, Rudy Giuliani vs. Rand Paul.

Jack Hunter, writing in The American Conservative, says controversies like those over torture and police abuse show "there is a significant and perhaps even irreconcilable philosophical contradiction developing on the right."

But in this case, the conservative members of the Supreme Court sounded unabashedly libertarian -- forcing the government to accommodate the inconvenient demands of a violent felon who follows a minority religion that is distrusted by many Americans.

The inmate, Gregory Holt, is doing a life sentence in a supermax prison for burglary and domestic battery. The Arkansas Department of Corrections bans beards (except for medical necessity) because, it says, they can be used to hide dangerous items like razor blades and needles and can be grown or removed for purposes of disguise.

Holt argued that under the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), he is entitled to grow whiskers in accordance with his faith. A federal district court and a federal appeals court were not persuaded. They insisted on leaving the matter up to the people charged with running the prisons.

But the Supreme Court disagreed. Alito said the ban on beards violates that law, which limits the government's right to limit the religious freedom of prisoners. The justices had no trouble substituting their judgment for that of corrections officers.

Inmates, the court noted, could also hide weapons in their hair, clothing or shoes. "Nevertheless," wrote Alito, "the Department does not require inmates to go about bald, barefoot or naked."

Why did the conservatives on the court side with the criminal? One reason is RLUIPA, which was partly meant to limit the power of prison wardens. But part of it is that the rule affected something conservatives generally care a lot about: religion.

In 1990, the Supreme Court allowed the denial of unemployment benefits to drug counselors fired for using peyote in a Native American Church ceremony. The decision, written by Scalia, mocked the idea that religious conduct should be exempt from certain laws. "Any society adopting such a system would be courting anarchy," he proclaimed.

But conservatives soon realized that, in a society where Christianity has lost ground, laws that could burden minority religions could also burden their own. They got Congress to pass laws to head off that prospect.

One of those, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, was crucial in last year's Hobby Lobby decision by the Supreme Court. It let for-profit employers who oppose contraceptives on religious grounds exclude them from health insurance coverage. Without the statute, a forerunner of RLUIPA, "Hobby Lobby would probably have lost," says Douglas Laycock, a University of Virginia law professor.

In that case and this one, the conservative justices showed a notable sensitivity to claims of religious believers. They also showed a new willingness to place individual liberty and autonomy above security and order.

They even dared to question whether sacrificing liberty actually enhances security. The authoritarian element of conservative thought persists, but it may be getting weaker.



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, January 22, 2015

Supreme Court Agrees to Define Marriage

I should perhaps mention the libertarian perspective here.  Conservatives find much libertarian thought congenial and they might find the libertarian perspective on marriage helpful as well in a legal environment that is hostile to the traditional view of marriage.

Libertarians think governments should butt out of involvement with marriages altogether. Libertarians hold the view (And I know some who have put it into practice) that marriage is simply an agreement between two people and that such an agreement or contract may be whatever suits the couple concerned.  The contract could be formalty registered as a contract in some way and then it would be just another contract under normal contract law.  And two homosexuals could obviously make contracts with one another.

But people have always wanted heavy social recognition of such contracts and that is where churches, mosques or temples have always figured prominently.  So a traditional marriage is basically a religious occasion.  And until about a century ago, church records were the only formal records we had of who had married whom.  Libertarians ask:  Can that be so hard to go back to?  The traditional nature of such arrangements should be attractive to conservatives.

And churches can of course have different views about who gets their blessings.  Episcopalians would probably marry dogs if asked and Catholics won't marry divorced people.  But that is just part of the rich texture of society and as long as nothing is forced upon us, let people go to hell in their own way (As Elizabeth I once said to the King of Spain).

So ALL marriage laws should be abolished and replaced by contracts that can  be solemnized in any way that can be agreed on by the parties concerned.


For Americans who maintain that marriage is between one man and one woman, gear up for the next battle. On Friday, the Supreme Court announced it had agreed to hear cases regarding same-sex marriage. Given the track record of activist judges on the High Court, we are not overly optimistic the justices will rule in favor of the third pillar of Liberty.

In October, the Supreme Court declined to hear cases from five states seeking to preserve their lawful, voter-approved definitions of marriage. By choosing not to take on those cases, the Supreme Court left in place lower court rulings overturning laws on same-sex marriage.

And two years ago, the Supreme Court tossed Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, ruling that the federal government is bound to recognize same-sex marriages from states in which they are legal. The justices did not, however, go so far as to declare same-sex marriage a right – yet.

The result of that decision led to most of the lower courts striking down numerous state bans on same-sex marriage.

There was one exception: The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld traditional marriage laws in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. Judge Jeffrey Sutton said in that ruling it was not the place of the courts to decide such an important social issue. What a novel concept. “When the courts do not let the people resolve new social issues like this one, they perpetuate the idea that the heroes in these change events are judges and lawyers,” Sutton wrote. “Better in this instance, we think, to allow change through the customary political processes, in which the people, gay and straight alike, become the heroes of their own stories by meeting each other not as adversaries in a court system but as fellow citizens seeking to resolve a new social issue in a fair-minded way.”

Given the split among the circuit courts, it was almost certain the Supreme Court would step in to settle the dispute.

It’s worth noting the timing of the Court’s announcement. There is growing capitulation among Republicans on the issue, and the party’s candidates offered little debate over marriage during the campaign season. The GOP’s new congressional majorities are occupied with other agenda items. Should the Supreme Court rule to redefine marriage (as many political pundits presume it will), the GOP could be further divided on this issue leading up to the 2016 presidential election.

Regardless of whether the Supreme Court discovers a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, any Republican candidate who has or continues to oppose same-sex marriage will be portrayed as a bigot. But a Court ruling could move the needle further. There will also be many potential candidates who would argue that, since the Court ruled, the matter is settled.

On the other hand, there could also be ample opportunity for candidates to stand firmly on principle. Ramesh Ponnuru of National Review notes, “If the Supreme Court does issue such a ruling, Republicans in the presidential primaries will be under a bit more pressure to say that they back a constitutional amendment reversing the decision and to say explicitly that they’ll appoint justices who don’t tend to agree with that sort of decision.”

Aside from the political fallout for the GOP from a Supreme Court decision that is presumed to side with the homosexual agenda, the greater impact will be on the people. A majority of voters in a majority of states have said that marriage is a sacred institution that does not change at the whim of progressive lobbyists and activist judges. Their voice will have been rejected.

And don’t think for a moment that a ruling redefining marriage will have no impact on churches and religious liberty in America. If the Supreme Court can redefine marriage, then is that same Supreme Court not powerful enough to impose its will on those who preach, teach and believe that the only true marriage is that between one man and one woman? Where does it end? Bakers, florists and photographers are already under assault – just wait until same-sex marriage is a “constitutional right.”

America had better wake up, because regardless of which way the Court rules the issue of what constitutes marriage isn’t going away any time soon.



The case against annual health insurance contracts

In Australia, health insurance is bought by individuals dealing directly with insurance companies, all of which are private businesses.  Having insurance tied to your employer is virtually unknown. And once you buy a health insurance policy, the policy stays current for as long as you pay your monthly premiums  -- unto death even. So permanent insurance can be done.  And health insurance in Australia is much more affordable than in the USA.

The new U.S. Congress—and the American public—will be hearing numerous ideas for improving the healthcare system, including several spelled out in publications such as Independent Institute Senior Fellow John C. Goodman’s Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis and Healthcare Solutions for Post-Obamacare America. But one of the most badly needed reforms may be so obvious that, paradoxically, we usually overlook it. That reform, according to Independent Institute Senior Fellow John R. Graham, is for the United States “to move beyond the ‘Heliocentric Doctrine’ of health insurance, whereby patients and insures switch dance partners every January 1.”

“This nonsensical Heliocentric Doctrine is enshrined in employer-based plans, Obamacare exchange plans, and Medicare plans,” Graham writes in the Daily Caller. Not only is the practice of tying most insurance plans to the calendar year completely arbitrary, but it can lead to costly absurdities. Graham makes this point with a hypothetical example of two brothers—identical twins—both diagnosed with a genetically caused cancer in the second half of last year. Their medical histories are exactly alike in every relevant way except one: one of them incurred medical expenses stemming from a skiing accident in the first half of the year, leading him to reach his out-of-pocket limits earlier than the other. This difference can result in the brothers paying wildly different costs for their cancer treatments. But it doesn’t have to be this way—not if we drop the Heliocentric Doctrine of health insurance.

“In other countries where private health insurance dominates, with Switzerland being the prime example, no one tolerates this absurdity,” Graham continues. “Instead, patients and insurers have contracts that last multiple year, and each are rewarded for good behavior during the long term. This type of health insurance is especially effective for very sick people with lots of illnesses, who would no longer have to worry about losing their doctors because of having to choose a new plan every year.”



Liberals Push Dental Coverage for All, Health Insurance for Illegals--And More

 At a time when Republicans are trying to roll back certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act (if not the entire law), a liberal advocacy group is looking ahead to the next round of taxpayer-subsidized health care "reform."

Families USA says the ACA was a good start, but it has now outlined 19 specific proposals "to improve health care for everyone in our nation."

The plan, called Health Reform 2.0, would "improve coverage and extend care."

That means making dental coverage universally available; reducing cost-sharing, with low-cost, low-deductible plans; expanding Medicaid in every state; getting rid of fee-for-service care; enabling "public payers" (the government) to set prescription drug prices; and stopping hospital mergers and other "uncompetitive" provider consolidations that can drive up prices.

Health care for illegal immigrants

"One other coverage matter demands attention: the uninsured status of American immigrants," says Health Reform 2.0.

"At a time when Congress refuses to consider pathways to citizenship and scorns administrative proposals that would enable people to stay in the country, practical proposals to secure health coverage for immigrants are elusive.

"However, immigrants -- who often fill key jobs that disproportionately place them in harm's way -- should be able to obtain necessary health care. We must ensure that immigrants can receive health coverage so that they can get the care they need."

Families USA said the Affordable Care Act granted every legal resident the "right to health coverage," which it calls a "historic achievement."

"However, enacting this unprecedented legal right is not the same as making it a living reality. We must take additional steps to ensure that health coverage and care become concrete realities for everyone. In Health Reform 2.0, we identify the steps necessary to transform America’s health care system to ensure that all Americans are able to get the high-quality care they need, when they need it, at an affordable price."

The nonprofit group says in the years ahead, it will start building support for its radical proposals to speed their adoption:

"The time is right to promote this forward-looking agenda. Since meaningful social change does not occur overnight and is never easy, we must lay the groundwork now for the essential goals that lie ahead. It is in this spirit that we offer our call to action, Health Reform 2.0."

Families USA, aided in 2013 by a $1 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, collects "personal health care stories" of people who have benefited from Obamacare, then distributes those stories to the media.



Controversy builds at U.S. consumer protection bureau

The arrogance of America's  mainly Leftist bureaucracy on display

Costly building renovations at the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are raising more congressional concerns that the agency is out of control.

A government report pegs the price of the work at $210 million — $120 million more than initial estimates, with off-site leasing costs included.

“That’s more per square foot than the Bellagio hotel-casino in Las Vegas,” said John Berlau, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

And, critics add, CFPB doesn’t even own the building.

The Office of Inspector General for the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve Board found that “approval of funding for the renovation was not in accordance with the CFPB’s current policies for major investment.”

“A sound business case is not available to support the funding of the renovation,” the OIG concluded.

Lawmakers have mocked the project, which includes a glass staircase, concession kiosk and a ‘water wall’ ending in a splash pool.

CFPB Director Richard Cordray countered: “We don’t own the building, but the notion we are building some kind of palace is ridiculous.”

Cordray acknowledged, however, that he did not know the square footage of the office located near the White House. Still, the project lives.

The building battle is an ironic twist for the 4-year-old CFPB, whose website declares, “We want to help consumers make smarter decisions.”

“They say they need sensitive mortgage and credit card data to do their job,” said Berlau. “No other agency has this power — they’re rivaling the National Security Agency.”

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling said the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, which created the CFPB, made the agency “unaccountable to taxpayers and to Congress.”

“We’re seeing the results of this dangerous unaccountability today in a Washington bureaucracy that is running amok, spending as much as it wants on whatever it wants,” the Texas Republican said.

Hensarling estimated that halting the renovation plans and finding a cheaper office would save the bureau about $100 million. He recommends that the government sell the building to the highest bidder.



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)


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Obama has no shame:  Releasing Illegal Alien Criminals!

Max McGuire

All we ever hear from liberals is that you “can’t deport all the illegal aliens.”  Personally, I think that’s wrong. But one thing that people on both sides should be willing to admit is that there are illegal aliens who SHOULD be deported.

And many of them are scheduled to be kicked out of the country. There’s only one problem: Obama won’t let law enforcement do its job!

Apparently, no sooner had Obama announced his amnesty plan, law enforcement across the country began receiving orders to stand down and let captured illegal aliens go.

We’re not talking about little children caught trying to cross the border. ICE agents were told to stop going after criminal illegal aliens and to release detained illegals who were scheduled to be deported.  In these cases, a judge had already signed off on deportation.

Immigration enforcement agents have begun calling this the Obama “get out of jail free” card.

Illegal aliens who have pending criminal cases are just being released;  In many cases, local law enforcement drops lesser charges against illegals under the assumption that they’ll be deported. Obama is letting those illegals out of prison;

The Federal government is releasing illegal aliens with significant traffic violations like drunk driving, felony hit-and-run, and even grand theft auto;

These criminals are being set free without even warning their victims.

This is just so shameful. But not only that… these releases are illegal and unconstitutional.

These aliens have been given deportation orders by federal judges. The Obama administration does not have the constitutional authority to simply disregard these court orders.

Congress has to put a stop to this clear executive overreach. No president has the authority to go against a lawful court order, not even King Obama.

The White House is clearing out the prisons and sending criminal illegal aliens back into society.

President Obama released thousands of illegal aliens from prison last year. He’s already released hundreds since announcing his amnesty executive actions.



Martin Luther King, Jeremiah Wright and Barack Obama: From Dream to Nightmare

By Mark Alexander

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’ … I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. … And if America is to be a great nation this must become true.” –Martin Luther King Jr., August 28, 1963

Today, the once-noble Democratic Party of MLK’s era has devolved into a propaganda machine fueled by hate and division, which has turned the wisdom of this iconic sovereign’s most quoted remark upside down. It’s as if King had said, “I have a dream that my children will one day be judged by the color of their skin, not the content of their character.”

To keep you fully informed, your Patriot team follows Sun Tzu’s maxim from “The Art of War”: “Know your enemy.” Thus, we review the whole spectrum of news, policy and opinion, including notable daily dispatches from organizations like the Communist Party USA and other leftist groups, in order to better engage the adversaries of Liberty.

To that end, I attended this year’s MLK “Unity Prayer Breakfast,” ostensibly in honor of Martin Luther King, featuring keynote speaker Jeremiah “GD America” Wright. My objective was to determine if Wright was still wrong.

As you recall, Wright was the charismatic “pastor” to Barack Obama, who, for two decades prior to 2008, indoctrinated his disciple with the black supremacist doctrines of hate and the Marxist “social gospel.” Wright married Barack and Michelle, baptized their children and later was identified by Obama in his biography as his primary “father figure.”

But in 2008, as Obama was seeking to dupe American voters and slide into the White House, Wright disappeared from the political grid after videos of his hate-filled “US-KKK-A” racist rhetoric hit YouTube. Who can forget some of his more colorful protests: “‘God Bless America.’ No, no, no, G-d d–m America – that’s in the Bible – for killing innocent people. G-d d–m America for treating our citizens as less than human. G-d d–m America for as long as she acts like she is god and she is supreme.”

Shortly after those videos surfaced, Obama tried to distance himself from decades under Wright’s rhetoric, claiming in 2008, “I am outraged by the comments that were made. His comments were not only divisive and destructive; I believe they end up giving comfort to those who prey on hate… They offend me. They rightly offend all Americans. And they should be denounced.”

Of course, Obama, himself a master of the “the BIG Lie,” was elected and re-elected on “divisive and destructive” rhetoric preying on hate – and indeed, he learned from a master!

Now that Obama has completed his last election – the 2014 midterm in which his policies were, as he claimed, “on the ballot, every single one of them,” all of which were resoundingly defeated – Jeremiah Wright has come out of exile.

Needless to say, Wright’s message was NOT about “unity.”

Front and center at this event was the table of honor reserved for the “peace-loving” Nation of Islam leaders, and, according to those introducing Wright, he was selected to “raise holy hell” and “set us ablaze.” But, we were reminded, “Our speaker has often been misquoted and misunderstood … as most voices for God are.”


Wright began by ingratiating himself to his audience for a few minutes – before dragging them down to hell. He declared that we should all be thankful for Obama’s two inaugurals, saying, “Praise God and Party, but the race ain’t over yet.” It took him almost five minutes before singling out conservative white folks as “racist,” suggesting that among those looking down on black folks today are “the countless bodies of estranged fruit hung up in the trees and left hanging in a country that is taught to hate the color of their skin. … Black men, women and children lynched, watching to see if we understand that the Tea Party ain’t nothing but a 2.0 upgrade of a lynch mob!”

Sitting next to me at Wright’s hatefest was my colleague, Tennessee Tea Party principal Mark West, and of course he and I were in the one-percent minority at this venue. The grassroots Tea Party movement is about Liberty for all Americans, as was Martin King’s dream, but Wright would have none of that.

We believe that Liberty is colorblind, but asserting individual rights and responsibilities is an affront to Wright and other race-baiters, including Obama’s chief race relations counselor, Al Sharpton, and Attorney General Eric Holder.

Wright wasted no time heating up Obama’s latest race-bait stew: “Michael Brown was left rotting in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, in the hot August sun like road kill … while his murderer walks free because the prosecutor orchestrated a verdict not to indict. … Eric Garner … choked to death in front of a video camera while his murderers are set free by bigoted bozos.”

And so Wright continued – ad nauseum.

In addition to my Tea Party colleague, there were three other people at our table, black folks, who were genuinely devoted to “unity in Christ” as clearly distinguishable from Wright’s message of racial disunity. One of them had an interesting observation: “If one was to examine the civil rights movement of the Sixties and compare it to the social justice movements of today, you would find one glaring difference. MLK’s success was partly due to thousands of college students and young people actively engaged and empowered by the message and practice of non-violence. But young people are not as engaged in the ‘social justice’ movements of the Al Sharptons and the Jeremiah Wrights because we are several generations removed from the racism and discrimination that was experienced by blacks prior to the civil rights movement.

The next generation has no actual point of reference for such racism. We have enjoyed the fruit of King’s labor. Thus, the Baby Boomers of the civil rights movement endeavor to instill their hate and bitterness into the current generation by fomenting social unrest over incidents like Brown and Garner. When those race baiters are dead and gone, then we might be truly ‘free at last.’”

At Martin King’s funeral, one Bible passage, Matthew 5:9, summed up his life’s mission: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.”

But Obama and his cadres of race-baiters are anything but peacemakers. They have betrayed King’s legacy, turning his dream into a nightmare for millions of black men, women and children now enslaved on urban poverty plantations by five decades of failed “Great Society” economic and social policies.



Robert E. Lee

Today we take a moment to remember the birth anniversary of Robert E. Lee (1807-1870), one of the greatest military commanders in American history. He was also a great man of faith who gave his all for the cause of Liberty and states' rights.

There were many honorable men of the Confederate States of America, whose objective was, first and foremost, the protection of states rights, and decidedly not the continuation of abhorrent institution of slavery. For a better understanding on the issues of the day, read this perspective on Abraham Lincoln, which was not included in your grade-school civics class. The honor we give these men has its roots in the founding of this great nation.

Mark Alexander notes in his essay, “Lincoln’s Legacy at 200,” that “the causal case for states' rights is most aptly demonstrated by the words and actions of Gen. Lee, who detested slavery and opposed secession. In 1860, however, Gen. Lee declined President Abraham Lincoln’s request that he take command of the Army of the Potomac, saying that his first allegiance was to his home state of Virginia: ‘I have, therefore, resigned my commission in the army, and save in defense of my native state… I hope I may never be called on to draw my sword.’ He would, soon thereafter, take command of the Army of Northern Virginia, rallying his officers with these words: ‘Let each man resolve to be victorious, and that the right of self-government, liberty, and peace shall find him a defender.’”



Another stupid new Leftist theory

Martin Hutchinson

In an inevitable development, the proponents of greater government spending have developed a new theory to encourage it. With Senator Bernie Sanders (I.-VT)'s appointment of its proponent University of Missouri-Kansas City professor Stephanie Kelton as minority chief economist to the Senate Budget Committee, the new Modern Monetary Theory is about to get a serious airing. Those of us who are hoping against hope that some day the global economy will return to sound monetary and fiscal principles should understand this new form of economic sophistry, and divert some of our fire against it.

Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) goes back a fair way; the beginnings of the theory were propounded in a 1905 work "State Theory of Money" by Georg Friedrich Knapp (1842-1926), since when others including Wynne Godley and Hyman Minsky have added to the superstructure. Knapp was the first to propound that money had no intrinsic value and was simply a government token; he was unlucky to live long enough for the Weimar Republic's Rudolf von Havenstein to put this theory to a thorough test and disprove it pretty decisively.

Under MMT, the central bank printing money and the Treasury running a budget deficit are regarded as equivalent; both involve the public sector running a deficit, thereby allowing the private sector to run a surplus. Hence balanced budgets are regarded as highly restrictive, as is taxation in general. An MMT government seeking to maximize private sector output would run permanent large budget deficits, thereby encouraging the private economy to invest and expand. Cutting budget deficits curbs private saving, since the saving/investment relationship is supposed to be fixed.

On the trade side, the last couple of decades have made MMT look somewhat plausible. MMT theorists consider that the goods are irrelevant to a trade transaction; it the demand for the importer's currency that makes it work. Thus imports are beneficial to an economy, because they provide valuable goods and services, whereas exporters deprive domestic users of the goods and services exported. Under MMT therefore, the continual U.S. $500 billion payments deficits for the last decade are beneficial, the result of sound policy.

Under MMT, while private sector debt is genuinely debt, government debt is really a benefit to the private sector, since governments can always fund their own debt by handing out newly printed $100 bills to the lender. The theory rests on a central fallacy: that governments and countries can continue increasing their debts ad infinitum, without ever having to pay them back.

It was indeed the Weimar Republic's von Havenstein, as President of the money-printing Reichsbank, who provided the clearest disproof of that theory. By trying to fund the Weimar Republic's excessive deficits through printing money, he produced hyperinflation and collapse. The Weimar authorities had found the proto-MMT attractive, because it appeared to provide them with the collateral benefit of bilking the Allies of the war reparations they demanded. However even in this limited objective it failed over any but the shortest timeframe.

However 1923 is not really within living memory, even in Germany, and we need to examine the implications of MMT to today's economy, in which inflation appears notably absent. Clearly MMT provides a renewed rationale for those whose principal wish is to increase government spending, of whatever kind. If government can either print or borrow money, without having to increase taxes or suffer any other adverse consequences for the economy, then government spending is indeed a free good. Were that true, the left could indeed indulge their hobby of devising infinite new ways to hand out what, according to MMT, is not even the taxpayers' money.

There's no doubt that the policies pursued in 2009-11 followed the prescriptions of MMT pretty closely. The Federal budget deficit was allowed to soar well over $1 trillion, aided by $800 billion of spending "stimulus" while interest rates were kept at rock bottom levels and the Fed engaged in multiple rounds of "quantitative easing" – buying Treasury bonds rather than printing money directly, thus subsidizing Wall Street rather than ordinary people.

Since 2012, while the Fed has continued to pursue the dictates of MMT, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives has reversed course, allowing taxes to rise at the end of 2012 and then imposing the spending "sequester" in 2013 and to a lesser extent in 2014-2015. This has resulted in an acceleration of growth and job-creation, as government's deadweight on the economy has been forced to decline. Because of the deficit's decline, banks have been less able to buy government bonds and borrow short-term, profiting from the interest rate "gap." Thus bank lending to small and medium sized businesses has increased, by 16.2% in the year to December 2014 according to Fed figures, reversing the dearth of 2009-12. Of course, MMT would have predicted the opposite to occur in both cases.

Via email

There is a  new  lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc. He has some good comments on Muslims this time


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, January 20, 2015

Does Australia have the ideal healthcare system?

You might not think so from the news report below.  The report covers just one episode of inaccessible healthcare but it is typical of what happens all the time in all states in Australia and in Britain.  Both Australia and Britain have a system of "free" hospitals and local doctors but also (unlike Canada) allow private health services.  And it is a testimony to how bad the "free" system is  that 40% of Australians have private health insurance, which enables them to take advantage of Australia's large network of excellent private hospitals at little or no out-of-pocket cost.

Why would you pay for something if you can have it for free?  The answer of course is that the "free" system is so bad as to be life threatening on occasions.  As the various parts of Obamacare go live, Americans too will experience that. For many, health services will be "free" but unavailable.

Private health insurance is affordable in Australia.  Many people on relatively low incomes have it.  I pay $160 a month for mine. It is bought directly by the person covered rather than through an employer.  So it is a significant budget item for many and the majority would rather spend their money on beer and cigarettes than on insurance.  So they rely on the taxpayer for "free" health care.  They rely on bureaucratic healthcare provision.

And the ineffectiveness of that gets steadily worse.  Bureaucracies do not die overnight.  They are like cancer, slowly growing but they will kill you eventually. They gradually choke themselves to death.  And what we read below shows that process to be in an advanced state in Australia  -- the State health services all go back many decades.  And the services will get even worse in future.

So the present situation is in fact mostly fair.  If you put your money into beer and cigarettes instead of health insurance you deserve only third-rate care and that is what you get. You are mainly raiding people who have already paid for their own care and asking them to pay for your care too.

Can that be improved?  Do the improvident public have to be treated so badly?  If you think improvement is needed the way to it would probably be to get the beer and cigarettes money redirected into private health insurance -- so that the government system is left to care for the few who cannot afford even beer and cigarettes.  If that were done, much of the demand would be taken off the government service and the genuinely poor would get better service.

So if you see the situation described below as a problem, your rational response would be to mandate private health insurance for all but the very poor.  But if you don't like the compulsion in that you can console yourself that the existing system may be rather horrible for many but it is at least fair for the great majority.  Most of those being poorly treated could have chosen otherwise

I have a fairly average health insurance policy so my treatment in a recent health emergency is instructive.  I had an attack of kidney stones.  So I went straight to the Wesley private hospital here in Brisbane -- a church-run hospital named after two great Christians. Within less than two hours of the pain developing, I was given morphine as pain relief and within 6 hours I was on the operating table.  The ideal is possible and readily available in Australia.  It just isn't free

If America ever gets a rational Congress and President, I think they could learn something from Australia

A Sydney hospital left a patient in its emergency department for almost six days, prompting condemnation from an expert in emergency medicine.

Details about the incident are scarce. But a hospital source said the patient was  admitted to Blacktown Hospital's emergency department on Wednesday evening the week before last.

The hospital confirmed the patient had been sitting in a recliner chair in its emergency department and was discharged at some time on Tuesday last week.

"This is absolutely extreme," said Clinical Associate Professor Paul Middleton from Sydney University. "In 25 years working in hospital emergency departments I've never seen anybody stay for that long.

"The lights are on all the time. It's noisy. There are wailing children, mental health patients, people pissed off with waiting and shouting; there's trauma; there's blood and there's vomiting. It's not a place to spend a long time. Patients don't do well [in emergency]."

The hospital, citing patient confidentiality, declined to provide details about the patient's illness. It said they had been treated while in the emergency department and been referred to hospital specialists.

Danny O'Connor, the CEO of the western Sydney local health district, said the patient was discharged after the hospital was satisfied with their progress.

Mr O'Connor also said the case "presented many social complexities" and that the hospital continued to care for patients who were unable to leave for "family or social reasons".

But Professor Middleton said a ward was the only place for a patient in hospital that long.

"There are also alternatives to staying in hospital [such as refuges]," he added.

The Health Minister, Jillian Skinner, declined to comment.

"Our members are sick of being abused by patients who are facing major delays," said Judith Kiedja from the nurses' and midwives' union.

The union advocates the government impose a ratio of one nurse for every three patients to maintain standards of care. Blacktown's emergency department has often run at twice that ratio of nurses this fortnight.

Tanya Whitehouse, from the Macarthur Domestic and Family Violence Service, said she found the case baffling.

"If the patient was facing domestic violence or homelessness, they should have seen a social worker and been found a refuge," she said.

A spokesman for the Family and Community Services Minister, Gabrielle Upton, said over the next three years the government would "invest a record half billion dollars to tackle homelessness across the state".

This latest case comes after a fortnight of major delays at Blacktown Hospital, where between 40 and 60 beds have been closed for the holidays.

A dozen patients, half aged over 80, were waiting more than two days in emergency two weeks ago.

There were further delays last week. Paramedics waited for 17 hours to hand one patient over to the care of the hospital.

"If they're closing that many beds it's a potential for disaster," Professor Middleton said.



NYC may yank terrorism report to appease mosque ‘spying’ critics

You can be sure that the hate-filled De Blasio will do all he can get away with to facilitate the Muslim haters

In top-secret talks to settle federal lawsuits against the NYPD for monitoring mosques, the city is weighing a demand that it scrub from its Web site a report on Islamic terrorists, The Post has learned.

The groundbreaking, 92-page report, titled “Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat,” angers critics who say it promotes “religious profiling” and discrimination against Muslims. But law-enforcement sources say removing the report now would come at the worst time — after mounting terror attacks by Islamic extremists in Paris, Boston, Sydney and Ottawa.

“The harm is that it sends the message that the NYPD is ­going to back down on its counterterrorism effort in the name of political correctness,” said a former NYPD official. “Shame on the NYPD if they do.”

Sources familiar with the case confirmed that removal of the NYPD report is one of the major sticking points in settlement negotiations.

Also on the table are demands that the NYPD halt any ongoing surveillance in the Muslim community and that records of prior monitoring be expunged, sources said.

With what seems today like a crystal ball, the 2007 NYPD report identified an “emerging threat” — al Qaeda-inspired jihadists in the United States and abroad, hell-bent on attacking their host countries.

“Radicalization is something the NYPD saw happening in Europe,” said the former NYPD official. “It was prescient in identifying this phenomenon and predicting it would increase.”

Among the report’s warnings:

    “The majority of radical individuals began as ‘unremarkable’ — they had ‘unremarkable’ jobs, had lived ‘unremarkable’ lives and had little, if any criminal history.”

    Most terrorist wannabes are reasonably well-educated male Muslims between ages 18 and 35, local residents, second- or third-generation with roots in the Middle East or South Asia, and from middle-class families.

    “The Internet is a driver and enabler for the process of radicalization” — providing information on extremist beliefs to practical advice on constructing weapons

    Recent converts to Islam can be the most radical. “Their need to prove their religious convictions to their companions often makes them the most aggressive.”

    Potential jihadists flock to mosques as their religious beliefs deepen, then withdraw from them when “the individual’s level of extremism surpasses that of the mosque.”

    Once a person is radicalized, an attack can happen very quickly. “While the other phases of radicalization may take place gradually, over two to three years, this jihadization component can be a very rapid process, taking only a few months, or even weeks.”

Under former Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, the report served as a blueprint for the NYPD’s “demographic unit,” which sent plainclothes detectives into Muslim cafes, stores and mosques to detect potential terrorists.

After the initiative was exposed by The Associated Press, Muslim leaders and groups filed two lawsuits in Brooklyn federal court claiming they were subjected to unwarranted surveillance.

The suits complain the radicalization report puts virtually all Muslims under suspicion.

Last April, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton disbanded the intelligence-gathering unit.

A spokesman for the city Law Department said, “Discussions are ongoing, and nothing is final.”



Why Orthodox Jewish Women are Happy

Orthodox Jewish women and conservative Muslim women both follow modesty rules, but Orthodox Jewish women are devout without abandoning their individuality and civil liberties.

26-year-old Hayat Boumedienneis the suspected accomplice in last week’s 3-day terror attack in Paris, France. Her common law husband, Amedy Coulibaly, murdered four Jews and a policewoman in a kosher Paris market.

Boumedienne is now the poster girl for young, insecure Western women who abandon Western mores for radical Islam. Boumedienne’s close friend described her to France24 News as an emotional basket case “who often cries and has little confidence in herself.” After discarding her string bikini for a niquab and a crossbow, she became violent instead of loving and merciful. In other words, her radical religious zeal seemed to make her more dark and vengeful than serene and peaceful.

Orthodox Jewish women in France now feel unsafe practicing their faith in public. Jewish women are emigrating from France to Israel in historically high numbers even as scores of young French women are being recruited by ISIS. It is crucial for you and me to ask whether political correctness is misleading women.

Orthodox Jewish women who meticulously follow the Torah abide by “tznius” or modesty laws that direct them to wear stockings, skirts or dresses that fall below the knees as well as blouses that cover their elbows and collarbone. But the Orthodox Jewish woman’s face is always unmasked: her mouth is unrestricted, showing that her religious community values her voice and opinion; she is a unique individual; she is equal to men.

A woman who is free to speak her mind would not feel compelled to cover her mouth with a black cloth. Orthodox Judaism recognizes that all women have a natural right to free speech, and therefore does not ask women to hide their mouths.

Orthodox Jewish women who cover their hair with a wig after marriage are saving some parts of their beauty for their marriage—while retaining their freedom and distinct personalities. Even after marriage, Orthodox Jewish women retain their individuality and their femininity: waistlines, the shape of the lower legs, the slenderness of the ankle and other curves remain visible.

Certainly there are many Muslims of integrity such as Lassana Bathily, a store employee at the kosher supermarket in Paris who courageously helped police gain control over the violence on January 9.

But we also don’t hear repeated stories of Jewish, Christian or atheist men attacking their wives with acid; stoning alleged adulteresses without due process; or refusing to let women drive.

As individuals, we must reject political correctness in our elected representatives and ourselves. Instead of trying to please everyone, let us strive to live our lives as we see fit while allowing our neighbors to do the same. This means being tolerant of others’ words, actions and faith—as long as they do not use their faith to justify violence, coercion or sexism. Religious freedom, not radical relativism, is the key to happiness.



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, January 19, 2015


The Committee for Symbol Security has released its tentative redesign of the American flag to include the previously unrepresented District of Columbia, which is not part of any of the 50 states. This omission is now rectified by giving Washington, DC, it's rightful place - a super star with the 50 states nestled safely between its legs.

The committee initially proposed the D.C. star be on the far left, before realizing when seen from the reverse side it would be on the far right. To solve that problem the idea of a one-sided flag was entertained until it was pointed out, while a one-sided media is possible, a one-sided flag was a physical impossibility. While the D.C. star placement issue seems settled, some committee members have not given up and have appealed to President Obama to issue an executive order that the wind must always blow from the left.

The White House responded that the red and white stripes should be dropped because, "It's the twenty-first century, nobody cares what the original intent of the flag's designers was." The committee announced it will form a special task force to study the suggestion.



Sorry, liberals, Scandinavian countries aren’t utopias

In the American liberal compass, the needle is always pointing to places like Denmark. Everything they most fervently hope for here has already happened there.

So: Why does no one seem particularly interested in visiting Denmark? (“Honey, on our European trip, I want to see Tuscany, Paris, Berlin and . . . Jutland!”) Visitors say Danes are joyless to be around. Denmark suffers from high rates of alcoholism. In its use of antidepressants it ranks fourth in the world. (Its fellow Nordics the Icelanders are in front by a wide margin.) Some 5 percent of Danish men have had sex with an animal. Denmark’s productivity is in decline, its workers put in only 28 hours a week, and everybody you meet seems to have a government job. Oh, and as The Telegraph put it, it’s “the cancer capital of the world.”

So how happy can these drunk, depressed, lazy, tumor-ridden, pig-bonking bureaucrats really be?

Let’s look a little closer, suggests Michael Booth, a Brit who has lived in Denmark for many years, in his new book, “The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia” (Picador).

Those sky-high happiness surveys, it turns out, are mostly bunk. Asking people “Are you happy?” means different things in different cultures. In Japan, for instance, answering “Yes” seems like boasting, Booth points out. Whereas in Denmark, it’s considered “shameful to be unhappy,” newspaper editor Anne Knudsen says in the book.

Moreover, there is a group of people that believes the Danes are lying when they say they’re the happiest people on the planet. This group is known as “Danes.”

“Over the years I have asked many Danes about these happiness surveys — whether they really believe that they are the global happiness champions — and I have yet to meet a single one of them who seriously believes it’s true,” Booth writes. “They tend to approach the subject of their much-vaunted happiness like the victims of a practical joke waiting to discover who the perpetrator is.”

Danes are well aware of their worldwide reputation for being the happiest little Legos in the box. Answering “No” would be as unthinkable as honking in traffic in Copenhagen. When the author tried this (once), he was scolded by his bewildered Danish passenger: “What if they know you?” Booth was asked.

That was a big clue: At a party, the author joked, it typically takes about eight minutes for people to discover someone they know in common. Denmark is a land of 5.3 million homogeneous people. Everyone talks the same, everyone looks the same, everyone thinks the same.

This is universally considered a feature — a glorious source of national pride in the land of humblebrag. Any rebels will be made to conform; tall poppies will be chopped down to average.

The country’s business leaders are automatically suspect because of the national obsession with averageness: Shipping tycoon Maersk McKinney Moller, the richest man in the country before his death in 2012, avoided the national shame of being a billionaire by being almost absurdly hoi polloi. He climbed stairs to his office every day, attended meetings until well into his 90s and brown-bagged his lunch.

An American woman told Booth how, when she excitedly mentioned at a dinner party that her kid was first in his class at school, she was met with icy silence.

One of the most country’s most widely known quirks is a satirist’s crafting of what’s still known as the Jante Law — the Ten Commandments of Buzzkill. “You shall not believe that you are someone,” goes one. “You shall not believe that you are as good as we are,” is another. Others included “You shall not believe that you are going to amount to anything,” “You shall not believe that you are more important than we are” and “You shall not laugh at us.”

Richard Wilkinson, an author and professor who published a book arguing for the superiority of egalitarian cultures, told Booth, “Hunter-gatherer societies — which are similar to prehistoric societies — are highly egalitarian. And if someone starts to take on a more domineering position, they get ridiculed or teased or ostracized. These are what’s called counter-dominance strategies, and they maintain the greater equality.”

So Danes operate on caveman principles — if you find it, share it, or be shunned. Once your date with Daisy the Sheep is over, you’d better make sure your friends get a turn. (Bestiality has traditionally been legal in Denmark, though a move to ban it is under way. Until recently, several “bestiality brothels” advertised their services in newspapers, generally charging clients $85 to $170 for what can only be termed a roll in the hay.)

The flip side of the famous “social cohesion” is that outsiders are unwelcome. Xenophobic remarks are common. At gatherings, the spirit of “hygge” — loosely translated as cozy — prevails. It’s considered uncouth to try to steer the conversation toward anything anyone might conceivably disagree about. This is why even the Danes describe Danes as boring.

In addition to paying enormous taxes — the total bill is 58 percent to 72 percent of income — Danes have to pay more for just about everything. Books are a luxury item. Their equivalent of the George Washington Bridge costs $45 to cross. Health care is free — which means you pay in time instead of money. Services are distributed only after endless stays in waiting rooms. (The author brought his son to an E.R. complaining of a foreign substance that had temporarily blinded him in one eye and was turned away, told he had to make an appointment.) Pharmacies are a state-run monopoly, which means getting an aspirin is like a trip to the DMV.

Other Scandinavian countries (Booth defines the term broadly, to include Nordic brethren Iceland and Finland in addition to Denmark, Sweden and Norway) raise other questions about how perfect the nearly perfect people really are. Iceland’s famous economic boom turned out to be one of history’s most notorious real estate bubbles. A common saying in Denmark about Icelanders: They wear shoes that are too big for them, and they keep tripping over the shoelaces.

The success of the Norwegians — the Beverly Hillbillies of Europe — can’t be imitated. Previously a peasant nation, the country now has more wealth than it can spend: Colossal offshore oil deposits spawned a sovereign wealth fund that pays for everything.

Finland, which tops the charts in many surveys (they’re the least corrupt people on Earth, its per-capita income is the highest in Western Europe and Helsinki often tops polls of the best cities), is also a leader in categories like alcoholism, murder (highest rate in Western Europe), suicide and antidepressant usage.

Their leading filmmaker, Aki Kaurismaki, makes features so “unremittingly morose they made [Ingmar] Bergman look like Mr. Bean,” reports Booth.

Finnish etiquette demands little in the way of conversation (the men, especially, speak as if being charged by the syllable) but much in the way of alcohol abuse. It’s considered poor form to leave the party when there is anything left in a bottle. Although their overall alcohol consumption is near the European average, they binge-drink more than almost any other country on the continent. Booze-related disease is the leading cause of death for Finnish men, and second for women.

The suicide rate is 50 percent higher than in the US and more than double the UK rate. Party guests, even at upscale gatherings, report that, around 11:30 at night, things often take a fighty turn.

It turns out that the “warrior gene” — actually the enzyme monoamine oxidase A, which is linked to impulsive behavior, violence and alcoholism — is especially prevalent in Finland. “Dark” doesn’t just describe winter in the Arctic suburbs, it applies to the Finnish character.

Macho isn’t a problem in Sweden. Dubbed the least masculine country on Earth by anthropologist Geert Hofstede, it’s the place where male soldiers are issued hairnets instead of being made to cut their hair.

But Scandinavian cohesion may not work in conjunction with massive immigration: Almost one-third of the Swedish population was born elsewhere. Immigration is associated in the Swedish mind with welfare (housing projects full of people on the dole) and with high crime rates (these newcomers being more than four times as likely to commit murder). Islamist gangs control some of the housing projects. Friction between “ethnic Swedes” and the immigrants is growing.

Welfare states work best among a homogeneous people, and the kind of diversity and mistrust we have between groups in America means we could never reach a broad consensus on Nordic levels of social spending.

Anyway, Sweden thought better of liberal economics too: When its welfare state became unsustainable (something savvy Danes are just starting to say), it went on a privatization spree and cut government spending from 67 percent of GDP to less than half. In the wake of the global financial crisis, it chose austerity, eliminating its budget deficit (it now runs a slight surplus).

As for its supposedly sweet-natured national persona, in a poll in which Swedes were asked to describe themselves, the adjectives that led the pack were “envious, stiff, industrious, nature-loving, quiet, honest, dishonest and xenophobic.” In last place were these words: “masculine,” “sexy” and “artistic.”

Scandinavia, as a wag in The Economist once put it, is a great place to be born — but only if you are average. The dead-on satire of Scandinavian mores “Together” is a 2000 movie by Sweden’s Lukas Moodysson set in a multi-family commune in 1975, when the groovy Social Democratic ideal was utterly unquestioned in Sweden.

In the film’s signature scene, a sensitive, apron-wearing man tells his niece and nephew as he is making breakfast, “You could say that we are like porridge. First we’re like small oat flakes — small, dry, fragile, alone. But then we’re cooked with the other oat flakes and become soft. We join so that one flake can’t be told apart from another. We’re almost dissolved. Together we become a big porridge that’s warm, tasty, and nutritious and yes, quite beautiful, too. So we are no longer small and isolated but we have become warm, soft and joined together. Part of something bigger than ourselves. Sometimes life feels like an enormous porridge, don’t you think?”

Then he spoons a great glutinous glob of tasteless starch onto the poor kids’ plates. That’s Scandinavia for you, folks: Bland, wholesome, individual-erasing mush. But, hey, at least we’re all united in being slowly digested by the system.



Another dose of Leftist hypocrisy

There will be an election for the State government in my home State of Queensland on 31st of this month.  And the campaigns reflect much of what is true elsewhere.  This campaign is an excellent example of how Leftists live in an eternal and unprincipled present.  The Left is attacking the ruling conservatives over the sell-offs of government property that the conservatives are doing.  Yet the last Leftist government also did big sell-offs, including the government freight railroad.  What is good for the goose is evidently not good for the gander.  What makes a policy right when Leftists do it but wrong when others do it?

A small excerpt from a current news report below:

The first stop in Cairns was Barron Gorge hydro power station — owned by Stanwell, one of the government-owned corporations slated for privatisation under the Newman government. And in Townsville, Ms Palaszczuk will continue her anti-privatisation message, attending a rally in the north Queensland capital The policy difference is the key contrast between the ALP and the LNP ahead of the January 31 poll.



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, January 18, 2015

Nazi ideology

I have been including in my postings here occasional comments on history because I believe that you need to know how we got to where we are today before you can understand what is going on in the world today.  Leftists, of course shrink from knowing anything about history because of the way it falsifies their claims.  In particular it shows that their "solutions" to the problems of today have already been tried and found wanting.  They are like a dog returning to its vomit (Proverbs 26:11).

My offering today is an excerpt from psychohistorian  Richard A. Koenigberg.  He shows where collectivism leads and in so doing displays how alien to conservatism Nazism was.  There was NOTHING "Right wing" about it. It was totally alien to the individual liberty concerns that have always been basic to conservative thought

Robert J. Lifton's book, The Nazi Doctors (1986) provides evidence that the fantasy that drove Hitler's thinking drove the thinking of other Nazis as well. Lifton spent several years interviewing 29 men who had been significantly involved at high levels with Nazi medicine. Lifton's reconstruction of the deep-structure of Nazi ideology presented in his book is based upon these interviews, combined with an analysis of written accounts, documents, speeches, diaries, and letters.

The central fantasy uncovered by Lifton was that of the German nation as an organism that could succumb to an illness. Lifton cites Dr. Johann S. who spoke about being "doctor to the Volkskorper (‘national body’ or ‘people's’ body)." National Socialism, Dr. Johann S. said, is a movement rather than a party, constantly growing and changing according to the "health" requirements of the people's body. "Just as a body may succumb to illness," the doctor declared, so "the Volkskorper could do the same."

When Lifton asked another doctor, Fritz Klein, how he could reconcile the concentration camps with his Hippocratic Oath to save lives, he replied "Of course I am a doctor and I want to preserve life. And out of respect for human life, I would remove a gangrenous appendix from a diseased body. The Jew is the gangrenous appendix in the body of mankind." Lifton mentioned this phrase "gangrenous appendix" to another Nazi, Dr. B., who quickly answered that his overall feeling and that of the other Nazi doctors was that "Whether you want to call it an appendix or not, it must be extirpated (ausgerottet, meaning also "exterminated," "destroyed," "eradicated").

Goebbels put it this way: "Our task here is surgical; drastic incisions, or some day Europe will perish of the Jewish disease." Hans Frank, General Governor of Poland during the Nazi occupation, called Jews "a lower species of life, a kind of vermin, which upon contact infected the German people with deadly diseases." When the Jews in the area he ruled had been killed, he declared that, "Now a sick Europe will become healthy again."

Finally, on February 22, 1942, Hitler made the following astonishing statement: "The discovery of the Jewish virus is one of the greatest revolutions that have taken place in the world. The battle we are engaged in is of the same sort as the battle waged during the last century, by Pasteur and Koch."



Ducking Reality: Administration Goes to Rhetorical Extremes on Terror Attacks

Jonah Goldberg

Could this argument be any dumber?  The Obama administration has forced America and much of the world into a debate no one wanted or needed. Namely, does Islamic terrorism have anything to do with Islam.

This debate is different than the much-coveted "national conversation on race" that politicians so often call for (usually as a way to duck having it), because that is a conversation at least some people want. The White House doesn't want a conversation about Islam and terrorism.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest says, "We have chosen not to use that label [of radical Islam] because it doesn't seem to accurately describe what happened."

What happened was the slaughter last week at the satirical French newspaper Charlie Hebdo. The sound of the terrorists' gunfire was punctuated by shouts of "Allahu akbar!" and "We have avenged the prophet Muhammad!"

Since no one questions the sincerity of these declarations, that alone should settle the issue of whether Islam had anything to do with the attack. And for normal people it would.

The problem is that the White House's position is categorical denial. It is not that the role of Islam in such attacks is exaggerated. Nor is it that these attacks should not be used to disparage more than a billion peaceful Muslims around the world. These are mainstream and defensible positions.

But, again, that's not what the White House is saying. It is saying that one should not associate these attacks with the word "Islamic," no matter what adjective you hang on it -- radical, extreme, perverted, etc. -- even when the murderers release videos attesting to their faith and their association with Islamist terror groups.

By taking this radical and extremist rhetorical approach, the Obama administration invites people to talk about Islam more, not less.

Think of it this way. A bird waddles into the room. It walks like a duck, it talks like a duck, it gives off every indication of duckness. If Josh Earnest says, "That's not a mallard," well, OK. You can have a reasonable conversation about which species the bird might be. But if Earnest says, "That is not a duck. It has no relation or similarity to anatine fowl in any way, shape or form, and any talk of ducks is illegitimate"

Well, now we have a problem. Such rhetorical extremism almost forces people into an argument about what a duck is. Likewise, by denying the role of radical Islam, they invite sane people everywhere to focus more, not less, on Islam.

There are, of course, many problems with this analogy. The most important one is that ducks cannot talk. They cannot say, “Look, I am a duck.”

Terrorists can talk. And they do. They also form organizations with magazines and websites and Twitter accounts. They issue manifestos. They recruit in mosques. When we capture them alive, they demand Qurans and pray five times a day, bowing toward Mecca.

You know who else can talk? Non-extremist Muslims. And millions of them routinely refer to the bad guys as radical Islamists and the like.

I could go on, but you get the point — if you don’t work at this White House.

The Obama administration seems to believe that the wonder-working power of their words can get everyone to stop believing their lying eyes and ears. It’s tempting to ask, “How stupid do they think we are?” But the more relevant question is, “How stupid do they think the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims are?” Whatever appeal the Islamic State may or may not have in the larger Muslim world, Barack Obama insisting “it is not Islamic” surely makes no difference whatsoever. And as for the jihadists, it’s not like his words speak louder than his drone strikes.

It’s true that the Obama administration has had remarkable success playing word games. They “created or saved” millions of jobs — as if that was a real economic metric. (For what it’s worth, I do or save 500 pushups every morning). They decimated “core al-Qaeda,” with the tautological definition of “core al-Qaeda” being “the parts of al-Qaeda that we have decimated.”

But this is different. Those distortions were political buzzphrases intended for domestic consumption and a re-election campaign. This is a much bigger deal. The threat of Islamic extremism transcends Obama’s theological hubris and lexicological shenanigans. All that Obama’s insipid rhetorical gamesmanship does is send the signal to friend and foe alike that he can’t or won’t see the problem for what it is.



Leftmedia Self-Censors to Appease Violent Islamists

The Leftmedia’s resolve to uphold the freedom of speech buckled this week as, one by one, television news stations reported on the latest Charlie Hebdo edition featuring a weeping Muhammad but did not show the cover. (We haven’t shown the cover for the simple reason that it’s lousy and even phallic.)

NBC’s “Today” and ABC’s “Good Morning America” told its viewers what to think of the image that they didn’t show, describing the front page as “a triumph for free speech.” SkyNews went so far as to reprimand a writer for Charlie Hebdo when she tried to show the image during a live interview. As she held up the paper, the station cut away and the anchor said, “We at SkyNews have chosen not to show that cover, so we’d appreciate it, Caroline, not showing that.” He continued, “I do apologize, for any of our viewers who may have been offended by that.”

CNN digressed even further when its religion editor, Daniel Burke, compared the Muslim communities in France to the community in Ferguson, Missouri. “There is a prevailing feeling in France among many Muslims that they are not treated as part of the state at large,” Burke complained. Pandering to violent extremism is only one sign that our culture’s moral fortitude has begun to decay.



Don't Get Sick in Canada! Wait Times Grow Even Longer

The Doctor Will See You in 18.2 Weeks

An updated report by a Canadian think tank documents long waits for necessary medical care in Canada's government-run, single-payer health care system. Canada’s single-payer health system is frequently touted as a model for the United States to follow.

According to the report, by Bacchus Barua and Frazier Fathers of the Fraser Institute, Canadians wait for necessary medical treatments an average of 18.2 weeks between referral from a general practitioner and the time the patient receives treatment from a specialist. Barua and Fathers surveyed specialist physicians across 10 provinces and 12 specialties and found the average wait time is 96 percent longer than in 1993, when it was just 9.3 weeks.

“Canada rations through long waiting times and limited access,” said Dr. Roger Stark, a health care policy analyst at the Washington Policy Center and a retired physician. “These long waits would not be acceptable to Americans who are rightly accustomed to timely health care.”

The Fraser report was the 25th annual report on wait times in Canada.

Variation in Waits

The wait times reported by Barau and Fathers are median waits, meaning half of the patients are seen in less than the reported time while half are seen in more than the reported time.

The report found a great deal of variation between provinces in the total wait times patients face.  Ontario has the shortest total wait, 14.1 weeks, followed closely by Saskatchewan with an average wait of 14.2 weeks.

At the other end of the spectrum, patients in New Brunswick have the longest wait at 37.3 weeks, with Prince Edward Island reporting waits of 35.9 weeks and Nova Scotia patients wait 32.7 weeks.

Wait times also varied by specialties. The longest wait is for orthopedic surgery, 42.2 weeks, while neurosurgery patients wait an average of 31.2 weeks. Cancer patients have relatively short waits, only 3.3 weeks for medical oncology and 4.2 weeks for radiation oncology. Elective cardiovascular surgery patients wait 9.9 weeks.

Barua told Health Care News Canadian taxpayers are funding a very expensive system that is failing to deliver timely access to health care for patients in need of medically necessary treatment.

“Wait times have become a defining feature of Canada’s health care system, and they can have serious consequences,” said Barua. “For example, they may force some patients to endure months of physical pain and mental anguish, they may result in lower worker productivity and forgone wages, they can sometimes result in a potentially treatable illness being transformed into a debilitating permanent condition, and in the worst cases they may result in death.”

Wait Lists Growing

According to Dr. Barua, it’s easy to understand what hasn’t caused waiting times to soar from 9.3 weeks in 1993 to 18.2 weeks in 2014.

“It clear that it is not likely due to insufficient funding, as health care expenditure per capita increased about 51 percent (after adjusting for inflation) during the period,” said Barua. “We also currently have one of the most expensive universal health care systems in the world – we’re just not receiving commensurate value in return.”

Barua points to the nature of single-payer health care as the cause of the waits. “The necessity to ration health care through wait times essentially results from an basic imbalance between demand and supply -- a situation that is a product of the government monopoly on the financing and delivery of core medical services, the lack of appropriate incentives for providers, and the absence of means-tested cost-sharing for patients,” explained Barua.

Dr. John Dale Dunn, an emergency physician and policy advisor to The Heartland Institute, identifies the bureaucratic nature of Canadian health care as a source of the problem.

“The reason this happens is that a province gets a global budget which is arbitrarily set by bureaucrats with no effort made to respond to what people need,” Dunn said. “The people in control of this money know they must spend everything, but not go over the budget, so they do this by restricting access.”

Dunn described how the incentive for bureaucrats is to treat less-serious cases ahead of patients with more serious medical issues in order to avoid going over budget.

“Say you need an operation, you are by definition in the Canadian system defined as an outlier,” explained Dunn. “You are going to have to bang on the door to get any treatment. So what they do is fill their beds with people who don't have exotic care and this restricts access,” for patient with expensive and complex medical needs.

“This is indirect rationing -- it's the kind of thing that is bound to happen with global budgets,” Dunn said. “Almost 30 years ago, I started to see doctors leaving Canada because they were disgusted with the system because it prevented them from treating patients.”

U.S. Single Payer Advocates

Despite the continued problem of long waits for needed medical care, as well as the recent abandonment of a single-payer health system by longtime proponent Governor Peter Shumlin of Vermont, there remains some support in the U.S. for moving towards a completely government-financed health system.

The New York State Assembly’s health committee will hold a hearing tomorrow, January 13, on Assembly Member Richard Gottfried’s (D-Manhattan) legislation to adopt single-payer health care in the state of New York. Gottfried chairs the health committee.



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