Thursday, April 30, 2009

How false Leftist assumptions about race are destroying America

One of my fellow psychologists speaks out about the way accusations of "racism" destroy rational thought and damage the future of American young people. I recycle his whole post below. See the original for links. I am glad I am not the only one willing to speak truth to power.

There are a few simple rules one must follow when talking about race. One must carefully adhere to the position that any inequality between Whites and Asians in which Hispanics and Blacks et al fare poorly must be explained as caused by racism or the legacy of racism while any inequality that favors Blacks and Hispanics must be studiously ignored. Without considering whether the disparity is caused by Nature (genetics, constitution) or Nurture (parenting, community standards, culture) it is clear, but dangerous to one's career for a White person to point out, that Blacks tend to be better athletes than Whites. (It is unexceptional for Charles Barkley to quip that "white men can't jump" but for a White commentator to make a similar point is to risk social opprobrium or worse.)

There is a high cost associated with our inability to speak honestly about race. Several recent examples come to mind.

Part of the reason for the financial collapse and our current recession is that people were given mortgages for over-priced properties that they had no real hope of ever being able to support. A majority of such mortgages were in four "sand states" (Florida, Arizona, Nevada, California.) As Steve Sailor has pointed out, there is something besides sand which these states have in common:
... the bubble was worse in Florida and California than in Georgia and Indiana. In the sand states in the fall of 2006, there were still Greater Fools around who believed that Hispanicization meant an unending increase in home values. The idea never gets fully articulated -- are home prices high because Hispanics can pay high prices? Or are home prices high because non-Hispanics are desperately paying high home prices to get their kids away from public schools full of Hispanics? When you spell out the logical alternatives, neither one sounds terribly sustainable, but the point is that political correctness keeps people from thinking it through. Young Wall Streeters just all emotionally believed Diversity = Goodness = Money.

It's one of those ideas -- that a constant influx of Hispanics meant ever growing property values -- that people get in their heads vaguely, but aren't allowed to interrogate under our reigning worldview and our reigning EEOC regulations, under which Malcolm Gladwell makes a fortune and Charles Murray makes nothing lecturing corporations.

For those with short memories, it is worth recalling that the impetus for the development of exotic mortgage products included the need to hide (and deny) the risk associated with changing lending standards for minorities, who had been "red lined" by racist banks and thus were unfairly denied homes. If we remain mute and in denial of this unfortunate fact, we will find ways to replicate the current disaster. In other words if we understand the disparity in home ownership as being based solely on racism rather than as a multi-factorial, complex array of inputs that eventuate in higher default rates for minorities than Whites or Asians, our "cure" for the financial meltdown will necessarily include the seeds of the next meltdown.

A second area where our denial distorts our social and economic functioning is on display at the Supreme Court. The New York Times offers a classic example of the kind of Mobius strip thinking required to support the insistence that discrimination is the only acceptable discourse to explain the disparity between White and Minority functioning:
A Bad Test

New Haven’s Fire Department administered an exam in 2003 for promotion to captain and lieutenant. A significant number of the 118 firefighters who took the test were black and Hispanic, but their pass rates were far lower than those of the white firefighters who took the test. If the Fire Department had promoted based on the test, two Hispanics and no blacks would have been eligible for the seven open captain positions. No Hispanics or blacks would have been eligible for the eight lieutenant positions.

Faced with a test that had such a strong adverse impact on minority applicants, New Haven decided to throw out the results and leave the supervisory positions open. In their lawsuit, the white firefighters insist that there was nothing wrong with the exam. They argue that the city’s refusal to rely on it was an unconstitutional race-based decision, motivated by a preference for promoting minority firefighters over white firefighters.

New Haven was in a bind once the results came in. If it had used the tests to make promotions, it would have opened itself up to a lawsuit by minority firefighters. When it decided not to use the results, it was sued by white firefighters....

New Haven still bears a good share of the blame for what has gone wrong. With all of the research that has been done on employment testing, it should have had a carefully constructed system for evaluating potential supervisors that could withstand a legal challenge.

The firefighters who took time out of their lives to study, did well on the test and then had their hard work nullified are right to feel as if they were treated badly. It does not mean that they should prevail. New Haven set aside the test results not to discriminate on the basis of race, but in a reasonable effort to avoid discriminating.

Is that clear? Since we cannot tolerate the idea that there might be an objective reality behind the disparity of results, we must discriminate, without calling it discrimination, against the White firemen and leave New Haven for the last five years with a more carefully selected (ie, diverse) set of temporary lieutenants, results be damned!

The sorry fact is that there is an entire industry that has sprung up that for forty years has attempted to create tests that will lead to equal outcomes between Minorities and Whites. The unspeakable secret is that whatever test has been devised, even those that are least reliant on language and those sub-tests that maximize Minority strengths, have consistently found that Whites and Asians out-perform Blacks and Hispanics. This has led to a third problem, the insistence on producing equality of results means that the upper limits of tests must be shifted downward; ie, we are dumbing down our society from top to bottom.

In the style that he has parlayed into a lucrative sinecure at the New York Times (though who knows for how much longer), Tom Friedman discusses the failure of our educational establishment to prepare our children for the modern world, and in his inimitable fashion manages to assume the critical rule without noticing how it impacts his argument:
Swimming Without a Suit

Just a quick review: In the 1950s and 1960s, the U.S. dominated the world in K-12 education. We also dominated economically. In the 1970s and 1980s, we still had a lead, albeit smaller, in educating our population through secondary school, and America continued to lead the world economically, albeit with other big economies, like China, closing in. Today, we have fallen behind in both per capita high school graduates and their quality. Consequences to follow.

For instance, in the 2006 Program for International Student Assessment that measured the applied learning and problem-solving skills of 15-year-olds in 30 industrialized countries, the U.S. ranked 25th out of the 30 in math and 24th in science. That put our average youth on par with those from Portugal and the Slovak Republic, “rather than with students in countries that are more relevant competitors for service-sector and high-value jobs, like Canada, the Netherlands, Korea, and Australia,” McKinsey noted.

Actually, our fourth-graders compare well on such global tests with, say, Singapore. But our high school kids really lag, which means that “the longer American children are in school, the worse they perform compared to their international peers,” said McKinsey. [Emphasis mine-SW]

There are millions of kids who are in modern suburban schools “who don’t realize how far behind they are,” said Matt Miller, one of the authors. “They are being prepared for $12-an-hour jobs — not $40 to $50 an hour.” .....

Using an economic model created for this study, McKinsey showed how much those gaps are costing us. Suppose, it noted, “that in the 15 years after the 1983 report ‘A Nation at Risk’ sounded the alarm about the ‘rising tide of mediocrity’ in American education,” the U.S. had lifted lagging student achievement to higher benchmarks of performance? What would have happened?

The answer, says McKinsey: If America had closed the international achievement gap between 1983 and 1998 and had raised its performance to the level of such nations as Finland and South Korea, United States G.D.P. in 2008 would have been between $1.3 trillion and $2.3 trillion higher. If we had closed the racial achievement gap and black and Latino student performance had caught up with that of white students by 1998, G.D.P. in 2008 would have been between $310 billion and $525 billion higher. If the gap between low-income students and the rest had been narrowed, G.D.P. in 2008 would have been $400 billion to $670 billion higher.

It is easy to talk about closing the educational achievement gap but incredibly stupid to refuse to question the conventional wisdom as to the cause of the gap. It is quite literally unthinkable for Tom Friedman to consider that the educational achievement gap between Whites and Asians versus Blacks and Hispanics, might actually reflect an underlying reality rather than that our schools are subtly racist. Further, the failure to recognize that among the many reasons our students do worse the longer they stay in school is precisely because we must expect less and less from them in order to minimize that gap, is unconscionable.

Again, it matters not for the purposes of understanding our problem whether the gap between Whites and Asians versus Hispanic and Blacks is cultural, constitutional, or some as yet unidentified element of the ether. Further, is doesn't even matter if the gap is, in fact, caused by residual racism. The denial of the gap, the denial that the gap persists despite 30 years and counting of efforts to address the gap with mountains of money and good intentions, is destroying our educational system.

In 8th grade, my daughter, an avid reader, was offered a list of intriguing books by her Honors English teacher. When Mrs. SW met the teacher and asked why these books were no longer on the standard reading list for 8th grade Honors English, she as told sotto voce that the distinct no longer allowed her to include such challenging books for her 8th graders because too many children could not do the work. If that is not the definition of "dumbing down", what is?

The gap exists; the gap in performance is predictive of success or lack thereof, in academic pursuits. Our need to deny the evidence before our eyes is burdening our society with the equivalent of adding epicycles to Ptolemaic cosmology. The system of discrimination to repair the effects of discrimination without allowing the awareness of the new reverse discrimination, just becomes more and more cumbersome until it collapses of its own internal contradictions. Beyond everything else, when our efforts to resolve the problem has still not shown any progress in over 40 years of social engineering, it is time to consider whether or not our assumptions are accurate and warranted.



Fox drops Obama, but is that a big deal?

Yes, it looks bad. Fox announced earlier today that it would not carry Barack Obama's prime-time press conference on Wednesday, opting to air Lie to Me instead. Now, it is rare for a network to tell a president "no,” but before we accuse Fox of political bias, greed, or abandoning civic responsibility, we should take a look at the record on presidential interruptions -- for all networks. In that light, Fox’s decision seems a lot less menacing.

The problem Fox faces is one of perception. Most viewers tend to think of the network as conservative, and think that FoxNews, home of Bill O'Reilly, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity , slants pro-GOP. (MSNBC, by contrast, is widely thought to support Democrats). Plus, Fox was the only network not to air the Democratic response to then-President Bush’s address on Iraq in 2007. Add all that up and it looks like the network simply didn’t want to dish out any of its precious sweeps time to the Democrat in the White House. The thing is, it only looks that way.

For one thing, Obama is not the first president snubbed by Fox. The network didn’t air a 2001 speech by Pres. Bush, then took the same tack three years later, joining all networks in declining to air Bush’s May 2004 speech on Iraq. What aired instead? Fear Factor...on NBC. Plus, if we’re really getting specific, Fox didn’t air two of the 2000 presidential debates, and ABC was the only network that didn’t air then-candidate Obama’s campaign infomercial.

So is it just the almighty dollar, then? Is Fox putting the Tim Roth procedural, Lie to Me (currently trying to attract sweeps dollars even though its ratings are trending downward), ahead of the civic good? Perhaps. But a Fox insider points out that the network typically comes in dead last in the ratings when it airs presidential interruptions (even coming in behind FoxNews most of the time), largely because Fox has no internal news division. There’s no Katie Couric or Brian Williams offering analysis or talking to pundits -- which is why most viewers turn to ABC, NBC, CBS, or the cable news outlets whenever the president invades primetime. And let’s face it, this president seems to enjoy interrupting our favorite shows, having already had three previous addresses/press conferences (and pre-empting Lie to Me before).

But we are in a recession. And two wars. And now we’re all freaked about swine flu. So yes, it would be nice if all the networks carried the president’s press conference. (We should note that an insider says Fox's decision is not a signal from new network chief Peter Rice that Fox will abandon the president indefinitely.) It would also be nice if we all watched, but that doesn’t happen either. Unless and until all of us would rather hear what’s going on with the nation than watch Lie to Me, maybe we should cut Fox just a bit of slack.


This swine flu scare is just another media-created panic anyway. It is now reported that there were only 7 cases in Mexico and other reports indicate that the mortality rate is similar to "normal" flu. And antivirals help cure it, with Relenza being best, I believe



British reservists to be trained for quick move to front line: "The Territorial Army is to be overhauled so that it can be deployed overseas more quickly, the Ministry of Defence has announced, a recognition of the military’s growing dependence on reservists in the war in Afghanistan. News of the overhaul came after months of speculation that the reserve force would be cut drastically to make savings in the defence budget. Bob Ainsworth, the Armed Forces Minister, told Parliament yesterday that there would be no drop in numbers, but that reservists would be relieved of “burdensome training that they don’t really need to do”, making them ready for deployment within three years. About 18,000 of Britain’s 33,000 active reservists have served in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003 and reservists make up 8 per cent of Forces deployed in theatre".

Britain upstaged by Poland: "Gordon Brown's attempt to put the economic misery of Britain behind him on a whistle-stop world tour were stymied today when Poland's Prime Minister embarrassed him with a lecture on the perils of excessive public borrowing and culture of debt. Speaking after a breakfast meeting between the two leaders in Warsaw, Donald Tusk, the Polish premier said that while he did not want to comment on any other economy, the Poles had fared so well because they behaved with "full responsibility in terms of their deficit". While Britain is struggling to cope with the effect of three quarters of economic contraction, Poland is basking in 12 years of consecutive, uninterrupted growth. With Mr Brown standing next to him, Mr Tusk said that one of the main reasons Poland has so far managed to avoid the ravages of the credit crisis was because Warsaw had "efficient supervision to banks and sticking to the rules.... not exaggerating with living on credit. These are the most certain ways of avoiding [the consequences] of financial crisis."


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


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Congratulations to all Israelis on their independence day

Their return to the land of their fathers is a modern miracle and their achievements are a beacon of light amid the stygian darkness of the Muslim lands that border them.

Welcome back Punditarian!

Consider this statement: "School bullies are inadequate people who endeavour to compensate for their own inadequacies by attacking vulnerable fellow-students".

Is there anything wrong with that statement? I don't think there is. But whether it is right or wrong, note what it does. It explains bullying by referring to two things: The characteristics of the bully ("inadequate") and the characteristics of the victim ("vulnerable"). And the entire social science discipline of Victimology does that. It sees victimization as an interaction between the characteristics of the victim and characteristics of the victimizer. And, being myself a social scientist I tend to look at human relations generally that way: as an interaction between different parties in different positions.

But here come the tricky bit: I do that when I speak of Jews too. I am the madman who thinks I am entitled to treat Jews like any other group and expect them to have both strengths and weaknesses. And you will see that I do that even in my side column. On the one hand I speak of Jews as being "the best we've got" and on the other I describe Jews in general as being politically stupid. And when I look at why Jews are persecuted and hated, I take into account vulnerabilities in Jews that might be one side of the explanation for the phenomenon. I think there is no doubt that doing that is good social science but it is of course politically perilous.

Which is where Punditarian comes in. He and I have engaged in dialogue about Jews several times and it has always been a civil and enjoyable exploration of the facts. He is himself one of the NY Ashkenazim so he does well to talk civilly with someone who tends to put him on the defensive. Jews are used to ignorant criticism but fact-based criticism from Goyim is normally beyond their experience. Jewish criticism of one-another is however a torrent. One only has to read the Israeli press to see that. Israelis who do their best to undermine Israel are appallingly common.

I recently put up a post about the role of high drive in both Jewish success and antagonism twoards Jews and Punditarian has just responded to that. I reproduce his comment:
"You are making a very old mistake, of seeking in some feature of the Jew the reasons for his persecution. Jew-hatred comes first, however, and the reasons the Jew-haters give come after.

While it may be true that the Ashkenazi Jews are a couple of standard-deviations [actually about half a standard deviation -- JR] more intelligent than the populations surrounding them, and that they may have an energy or drive that the surrounding populations seem to have lost, the Mizrachi or Eastern Jews in the Arab and Muslim countries were hated by the people around them, despite the fact that they don't test out with such substantially higher IQ results, and were not more prominent in their countries than other members of the middle and merchant classes.

I think my preamble about bullying etc. has adequately answered his first point so I will go straight to his point about the Mizrahim. He is quite right in saying that in IQ and in other characteristics the Mizrahim are not readily distinguishable from the Muslims among who they resided for many centuries. He is also right that they were oppressed by the Muslims. But were they any more oppressed than were the Christians living in Muslim lands? Not notably as far as I know. Muslims oppressed ALL "infidels". Mohammed during his early conquests did slaughter Jewish communities whom he thought stood in the way of his plans so The Koran in fact offered ample warrant for a holocaust against the Jews. But there was no holocaust. So I think that what Mizrahi Jews suffered was because they were kuffars (non-Muslims), not because they were Jews as such.

So I think the experience of the Mizrahim is quite dissimilar to the experience of the Ashkenazim and leaves the fate of the Ashkenazim in need of an explanation which considers just them and their experience. And I try to do that.

I might add that I do NOT go along with the story of a "golden age" for the Jews under the Moorish (Muslim) rulers of Spain. The Moors discriminated against Jews as much as did other Muslims. The grain of truth in the myth is that the Muslims were at least better than the Catholics -- who expelled all Jews from Spain once they had conquered the Moors.

It is always tempting to see deep similarities where there are only superficial similarities. In 1290 a Catholic King of England -- Edward I -- expelled all Jews from England too. That seems like pretty good comparability with Spain but it is not. The Spanish expulsion was motivated by religious fanaticism whereas Edward was mainly aiming at dodging his debts. The superficial similarity is there but the explanation is different.



Evening Newscasts Have Covered Obama More Than Bush & Clinton Combined: "The nonpartisan research group Center for Media and Public Affairs along with California's Chapman University released a study that found the nightly newscasts devoted 27 hours, 44 minutes to Pres. Obama's presidency in his first 50 days. That compares to 7 hours, 42 minutes for Pres. George W. Bush and 15 hours, 2 minutes for Pres. Bill Clinton during the first 50 days of their first terms. Not only has Obama gotten more coverage, but that coverage has been more positive than his predecessors. On the ABC, CBS, and NBC evening newscasts, 58% of all evaluations of the president and his policies have been favorable, while 42% were unfavorable. That compares with 33% positive in the comparable period of Bush's tenure and 44% positive for Pres. Clinton. CBS led the coverage with 365 stories and 10 hours 46 minutes of airtime, followed by NBC with 327 stories and 9 hours 38 minutes, and ABC with 329 stories and 7 hours 20 minutes. But Fox News stands apart from its competitors here - only 13% of comments were considered favorable. On ABC, 57% of the comments were favorable, compared to 58% for CBS and 61% for NBC.

Taxachusetts still in business: "House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo today plans to push a 1.25 percent sales tax increase, which would bring the state’s 5 percent sales tax to 6.25 percent, and bring in an estimated $900 million in new revenue. He wants to dedicate about $275 million to transportation — a maneuver designed to avoid increasing the state’s gas tax, as Governor Deval Patrick has proposed, according to a State House source briefed on the plan and a briefing document obtained by the Globe. Patrick has proposed a 19-cent increase in the gas tax, which would raise nearly double the amount for transportation that DeLeo’s plan would. DeLeo also wants to dedicate $200 million to restoring cuts in local aid.”

DC: Driveways now a no parking zone: “Beverly Anderson is mad as hell. She just started to get tickets for parking in her own driveway. That’s right. The District of Columbia is ticketing people who park their cars in their own driveways. ‘This is clearly an attempt by the city to extort money out of property owners,’ Anderson tells WTOP. Anderson has received two of the $20 tickets in the past month. Anderson has owned the Capitol Hill house (and the driveway, so she thought) for more than ten years and has never gotten a ticket. And she’s not alone. It seems Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton has also been breaking the law in the eyes of the D.C. Department of Public Works.”

The victory of the emotions: “While I agreed with many of their positions, in retrospect the anti-Bush movement was poisonous to the level of discourse in this country. At the time, I thought it was healthy for citizens to be vocal and active critics of the powerful. But millions of people, most of them my generational and cultural peers, became accustomed to viewing their political opponents as evil idiots. The battle lines drawn, they are incapable of thinking through a policy issue for themselves, adopting valid ideas from political movements other than their own, or perceiving a debate with a viewpoint uncolored by rank partisanship. Their politics reside at an unfortunate intersection of boring group-think and dangerous, assertive self-righteousness. Moreover, the fanaticism of the anti-Bush movement fueled the emotional, messianic campaign of Barack Obama, whose Presidency has wiped out any remaining impulse to be critical of power.”

Is Pelosi a war criminal?: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — then the ranking Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence — was briefed on CIA interrogation techniques including waterboarding when they were begun in 2002. She was among the ‘Big Eight’ present at the briefings — the Senate and House leaders and chairmen and ranking members on both intelligence committees. … what if Pelosi and the other Democrats had objected? [US Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO)] told me in a Friday interview that, ‘We know that when we object to planned activities by the CIA, they don’t do it.’”

Continuing attacks on the Georgian leadership: "The already embattled Georgian President Mikheil ‘Misha’ Saakashvili’s ill-fortunes don’t seem to be improving. In late March, Der Spiegel published a damning account of the yet-unreleased findings of the EU inquiry into the brief August war between Georgia and Russia. In short, the article places blame for the conflict most heavily upon the Georgian leadership, particularly Saakashvili. Paired with the PR blow of the New York Times‘ open questioning of the Georgian account in early November, there is a shifting consensus of the narrative. However, like the Times article, the circumstances of the Spiegel piece provide context for doubt and showcases more framed innuendo than evidence.”

Washington to regulate your bake sale: “Informal production and distribution, from small farms and homes, were once not only common, but the backbone of everyday life. Today, there’s a revival of much of this, as people begin to realize that corporate practices have increasingly relied upon putting additives in foods and plastics in other products. I have sad news for locavores and other health food fans hoping to buck the trend of corporate practice: H.R. 875, the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009. This new bill, now worming its way through the corridors of Capitol Hill, would require anyone who stores or sells any food products to any third party to register with the federal government and keep extensive records about every product bought, produced, modified, or sold.”


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


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Milton Friedman co-worker Anna Schwartz on the present financial problems

Yet isn't Bernanke a disciple of Friedman and Schwartz? He publicly refers to them as mentors, and, thanks to their scientific breakthrough, he has famously declared that "the Great Depression will not happen again." Bernanke is right about the past, Schwartz says, "but he is fighting the wrong war today; the present crisis has nothing to do with a lack of liquidity." President Obama's stimulus is similarly irrelevant, she believes, since the crisis also has nothing to do with a lack of demand or investment. The credit crunch, which is the recession's actual cause, comes only from a lack of trust, argues Schwartz. Lenders aren't lending because they don't know who is solvent, and they can't know who is solvent because portfolios remain full of mortgage-backed securities and other toxic assets.

To rekindle the credit market, the banks must get rid of those toxic assets. That's why Schwartz supported, in principle, the Bush administration's first proposal for responding to the crisis--to buy bad assets from banks--though not, she emphasizes, while pricing those assets so generously as to prop up failed institutions. The administration abandoned its plan when it appeared too complicated to price the assets. Bernanke and then-Treasury secretary Henry Paulson subsequently shifted to recapitalizing the banks directly. "Doing so is shifting from trying to save the banking system to trying to save bankers, which is not the same thing," Schwartz says. "Ultimately, though, firms that made wrong decisions should fail. The market works better when wrong decisions are punished and good decisions make you rich." She's more sympathetic to Treasury secretary Timothy Geithner's plan, unveiled in March, to give private investors money to help them buy the toxic assets, but wonders if the Obama administration will continue to support the plan if the assets' prices turn out to be so low, once investors start bidding for them, that they threaten the banks.

What about "systemic risk"--much heard about these days to justify the government's massive intervention in the economy in recent months? Schwartz considers this an excuse for bankers to save their skins after making so many bad decisions. "The worst thing for a government to do, though, is to act without principles, to make ad hoc decisions, to do something one day and another thing tomorrow," she says. The market will respond positively only after the government begins to follow a steady, predictable course. To prove her point, Schwartz points out that nothing the government has done to date has really thawed credit.

Schwartz indicts Bernanke for fighting the wrong war. Could one turn the same accusation against her? Should we worry about inflation when some believe deflation to be the real enemy? "The risk of deflation is very much exaggerated," she answers. Inflation seems to her "unavoidable": the Federal Reserve is creating money with little restraint, while Treasury expenditures remain far in excess of revenue. The inflation spigot is thus wide open. To beat the coming inflation, a "new Paul Volcker will be needed at the head of the Federal Reserve."

Who listens to her these days? "I'm not a media person," she tells me. She rarely grants interviews, which distract her from her current research: a survey of government intervention in setting foreign exchange rates between 1962 and 1985. Never before have these data been combined to show what works and what doesn't. In her nineties, she remains a trendsetter.



Bullets meant for bankers could kill the British welfare state

Note: "The City" is shorthand for London's financial services district. But it is the people there, not the geography, that matters and Britain's new higher taxes seem set to drive many of them abroad

My first reaction to Wednesday’s Budget was to focus on the increase in the top tax rate, rather than the explosion in public borrowing that horrified other commentators. On examining the Budget documents in greater detail, I am more confident than ever that the tax rise was Alistair Darling’s biggest blunder; but I have to concede that some other decisions and numbers hidden in the small print were far worse than I first thought....

The eye-catching measure in this respect was the increase to 50 per cent in the top tax rate, but there were several equally damaging changes, mostly relating to pensions, in the fine print. In terms of Treasury revenues, these reforms are likely to be self-defeating, or at best, utterly futile.

According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, behavioural changes, such as changes in work patterns, relocations abroad and conversion of wages into corporate profits or capital gains, will mean that the Treasury raises much less than the £2 billion of revenue predicted. And even in the unlikely event that Mr Darling’s pre-election tax gesture did manage to raise the odd billion, these sums would be far too small to have any impact on public borrowing projections running at £150 billion to £200 billion a year...

Hopes of the quick improvement in UK economic conditions assumed by Treasury forecasts rely more than ever on maintaining the City’s role as the dominant centre of global financial and business services and on reviving the top end of the housing market. The Budget Red Book says the financial sector provided 25 per cent of the £47 billion in Britain’s total corporation tax before the recession, plus a “significant” proportion of income tax and national insurance receipts....

Yet the Budget tax measures seem deliberately designed to ensure that Britain’s financial and business service sectors never return to the global dominance they enjoyed... That, in turn, means that the growth of government revenues and the solvency of the British welfare state will depend largely on what happens to the international competitiveness of the financial sector. The logic of the Budget is simple: those who want to punish the bankers could end up destroying the welfare state.



Suspicions of staggering corruption surround GE’s CEO Jeffrey Immelt

O’Reilly: “Will GE get paid for supporting President Obama? GE, which owns MSNBC, has been very aggressive in helping Barack Obama.

O’Reilly: “There is also emerging evidence that GE CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, and NBC News Chief Jeff Zucker, told CNBC personnel to stop criticizing Obama’s economic policies. Now, that would be a major breach of journalistic ethics. In fact, Obama critic Rick Santelli was reported to have said that he was sent to a “Re-education camp” by NBC. “

An O’Reilly Factor producer and GE stockholder, Jesse Watters, asked GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt the following question at a stockholders’ meeting in Florida: “Last week on MSNBC, Janeane Garofalo, said that Americans who attended tea parties and were protesting high taxes and government spending were racist rednecks. She was not challenged by the anchor on MSNBC. Are you okay with that? And do you consider this a form of hate speech sir?”

Immelt’s response: “Again, we have not censored MSNBC. Again, my own personal beliefs aside, I believe that MSNBC has some standards that they follow and that’s what you are seeing.

Watters: With all due respect, this is the kind of hate that MSNBC traffics in on a regular basis. Are you comfortable with this and do you think this hurts the GE brand?

Immelt: I don’t censor what they do or what they say despite the fact that I might disagree with some of it or much of it, some of the time.

O’Reilly: “Most CEOs would have stopped NBC’s corruption a long time ago. But Immelt may be looking for a major payout. When a powerful corporation which controls a major part of the American media may be using its power and the airwaves to influence politics in order to make money from government contracts - That kind of corruption would make Watergate look small.”

TDC asks: Why would GE CEO Immelt put his own beliefs aside when GE owns MSNBC? He wouldn’t. However, he would choose to do nothing about this hate speech if he is trying to get into Obama’s good graces.




Drugs in Portugal: A decriminalization success story: “Pop quiz: Which European country has the most liberal drug laws? (Hint: It’s not the Netherlands.) Although its capital is notorious among stoners and college kids for marijuana haze–filled ‘coffee shops,’ Holland has never actually legalized cannabis — the Dutch simply don’t enforce their laws against the shops. The correct answer is Portugal, which in 2001 became the first European country to officially abolish all criminal penalties for personal possession of drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine. At the recommendation of a national commission charged with addressing Portugal’s drug problem, jail time was replaced with the offer of therapy. The argument was that the fear of prison drives addicts underground and that incarceration is more expensive than treatment — so why not give drug addicts health services instead?”

Credit card folly: “By mandating that the credit card companies lower their fees, the government will severely hinder their tenuous profitability. In order to avoid bankruptcy, the companies will have to deny credit to marginal borrowers, which would reverse the ‘easy access’ policies that have defined the industry over the last generation.”

Strange idea in Nevada: "On a party-line vote, the Democrat-dominated Nevada Assembly on Tuesday backed a bill designed to neuter the 538-member Electoral College, guaranteeing the presidential candidate who wins the national popular plurality will always be declared president.The purpose of Assembly Bill 413 is to see to it that Nevada’s five electoral votes go to the presidential candidate who wins the most popular votes nationwide, regardless of which candidates carries the majority of Nevadans."

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


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


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Monday, April 27, 2009

Barack Obama and the CIA: why does President Pantywaist hate America so badly?

If al-Qaeda, the Taliban and the rest of the Looney Tunes brigade want to kick America to death, they had better move in quickly and grab a piece of the action before Barack Obama finishes the job himself. Never in the history of the United States has a president worked so actively against the interests of his own people - not even Jimmy Carter.

Obama's problem is that he does not know who the enemy is. To him, the enemy does not squat in caves in Waziristan, clutching automatic weapons and reciting the more militant verses from the Koran: instead, it sits around at tea parties in Kentucky quoting from the US Constitution. Obama is not at war with terrorists, but with his Republican fellow citizens. He has never abandoned the campaign trail.

That is why he opened Pandora's Box by publishing the Justice Department's legal opinions on waterboarding and other hardline interrogation techniques. He cynically subordinated the national interest to his partisan desire to embarrass the Republicans. Then he had to rush to Langley, Virginia to try to reassure a demoralised CIA that had just discovered the President of the United States was an even more formidable foe than al-Qaeda.

"Don't be discouraged by what's happened the last few weeks," he told intelligence officers. Is he kidding? Thanks to him, al-Qaeda knows the private interrogation techniques available to the US intelligence agencies and can train its operatives to withstand them - or would do so, if they had not already been outlawed.

So, next time a senior al-Qaeda hood is captured, all the CIA can do is ask him nicely if he would care to reveal when a major population centre is due to be hit by a terror spectacular, or which American city is about to be irradiated by a dirty bomb. Your view of this situation will be dictated by one simple criterion: whether or not you watched the people jumping from the twin towers.

Obama promised his CIA audience that nobody would be prosecuted for past actions. That has already been contradicted by leftist groups with a revanchist ambition to put Republicans, headed if possible by Condoleezza Rice, in the dock. Talk about playing party politics with national security. Martin Scheinin, the United Nations special investigator for human rights, claims that senior figures, including former vice president Dick Cheney, could face prosecution overseas. Ponder that - once you have got over the difficulty of locating the United Nations and human rights within the same dimension.

President Pantywaist Obama should have thought twice before sitting down to play poker with Dick Cheney. The former vice president believes documents have been selectively published and that releasing more will prove how effective the interrogation techniques were. Under Dubya's administration, there was no further atrocity on American soil after 9/11.

President Pantywaist's recent world tour, cosying up to all the bad guys, excited the ambitions of America's enemies. Here, they realised, is a sucker they can really take to the cleaners. His only enemies are fellow Americans. Which prompts the question: why does President Pantywaist hate America so badly?




GOP dumping a RINO: "Incumbent Senator Arlen Specter trails former Congressman Pat Toomey by 21 points in an early look at Pennsylvania's 2010 Republican Primary. Fifty-one percent (51%) of Republican voters statewide say they'd vote for Toomey while just 30% would support Specter. Specter is viewed favorably by 42% of Pennsylvania Republicans and unfavorably by 55%, according to a new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of voters in the state. Those are stunningly poor numbers for a long-term incumbent senator. Specter was first elected to the Senate in 1980. Toomey, who served in the House from 1999 to 2005, earns positive reviews from 66% and negative comments from just 19%. Though Specter has been in the Senate for 28 years, he has struggled to maintain grassroots support within his own party during recent years. Six years ago, the incumbent barely survived a primary challenge and defeated the more conservative Toomey by just two points, 51% to 49%. He then went on to win the general election in 2004 by a 53% to 42% margin. This time around, things could be even more challenging for Specter. He was one of only three Republicans in the Congress to vote for President Obama's $787 billion stimulus plan. Fifty-eight percent (58%) of Pennsylvania Republicans said they were less likely to vote for Specter because of his support for the stimulus package."

Presbyterians vote against queer clergy: "Efforts to allow gays and lesbians to serve as clergy in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) have been defeated again, sealed by votes Saturday. But the margin of defeat -- the final tally has yet to be determined -- is already guaranteed to be much closer than in previous years. That is encouraging for gay clergy supporters and concerning to opponents, with both sides expecting the issue to be revisited in the future. Last summer, the 2.3 million-member denomination's General Assembly voted to drop a constitutional requirement that would-be ministers, deacons and elders live in "fidelity within the covenant of marriage between and a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness." Any such change requires approval by a majority of the nation's 173 presbyteries, or regional church bodies. Those votes have been trickling in for months, and on Saturday enough "no" votes had been recorded to clinch the measure's defeat."

Nuclear chief says Obama shuns science: "Nuclear Energy Institute President Marvin Fertel said Wednesday that the Obama administration did not base its decision to close the Yucca Mountain nuclear storage site in Nevada on science, and therefore it is the federal government's obligation to find an alternative. Speaking to editors and reporters of The Washington Times, Mr. Fertel said he does not think Mr. Obama and Energy Secretary Steven Chu even looked at the scientific research before they deemed Yucca unfit to serve as the permanent storage depot for used nuclear fuel, contradicting President Obama's promise to base his administration's decisions on sound science."

Mortgage relief faces Senate defeat: "The centerpiece of President Obama's plan to keep thousands of people from losing their homes amid the worst economic crisis in decades appears headed for defeat next week in the Senate. A handful of Democrats are siding with Republicans in opposition to allowing people to seek mortgage relief in bankruptcy court. Critics say the change would unleash a torrent of loan defaults, ultimately driving up mortgage rates and introducing fresh uncertainty into an already ailing economy. The rejection would deal a direct blow to a popular president as he pushes an ambitious agenda to stabilize the economy. The number of homes under threat of foreclosure by banks has shot up since last year, when 2.3 million U.S. households received foreclosure filings."

Typical: British spy loses secrets in a handbag: "A BRITISH agent has thrown the war against drug traffickers into chaos by leaving top secret information about covert operations on a bus in South America. In a blunder that has cost taxpayers millions of pounds and put scores of lives at risk, the drugs liaison officer lost a computer memory stick said to contain a list of undercover agents’ names and details of more than five years of intelligence work. It happened when the MI6-trained agent left her handbag on a transit coach at El Dorado airport in Bogota, Colombia. Intelligence chiefs were forced to wind up operations and relocate dozens of agents and informants amid fears the device could fall into the hands of drugs barons. The incident, which was hushed up by the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca), the agent’s employer, is an embarrassment for the government. It is another blow for Jacqui Smith, the home secretary, who has ultimate responsibility for Britain’s anti-drugs operations and the safeguarding of criminal intelligence."

We’re fleeing high-tax Britain, say City tycoons: "Two of Britain’s best known entrepreneurs are considering leaving Britain in protest against Alistair Darling’s new 50% tax rate, as leading figures from business and the City line up to warn of a talent exodus. Hugh Osmond, the pubs to insurance entrepreneur, is thinking about a move to Switzerland. Peter Hargreaves, the £10m-a-year co-founder of Hargreaves Lansdown, the financial adviser, is looking at the Isle of Man or Monaco. More are likely to be follow. Osmond, whose net worth is estimated at £230m, said: “A lot of people will be off. It’s highly unlikely that I will continue to have the UK as my country of residence. It’s just as easy to work from any close location — Switzerland or wherever.” Hargreaves, facing an extra £500,000 on his tax bill, warned: “I won’t pay, I’ll leave.”

Commonwealth cousins prop up the British Army: "The British Army’s “foreign legion” of soldiers recruited abroad to fill its ranks has expanded to more than one in 10 of all troops. NonUK nationals now number about 10,430, just less than 11% of the army’s full-time troops, excluding reserves, according to new figures released under the Freedom of Information Act. Some nationalities have become so numerous that they could form their own units in the manner of the Nepalese Gurkhas. The number of Fijians has reached 2,110, the strength of a small brigade. Other nationalities such as Ghanaians and South Africans have also increased to 700-800 each, enough for a battalion apiece. Some fears have been voiced that burgeoning numbers of nonUK soldiers could foster a “mercenary” image, while other critics believe the armed forces’ British identity could be endangered... The army has now put a cap on the number of Commonwealth recruits in some units at 15% “in the interests of operational effectiveness”. The influx of foreigners has helped compensate for the army’s problems in retaining British-born soldiers. The number of Fijians in the forces as a whole has grown from just 10 in 1999 to 2,220 in January, the figures show. One attraction for the army is the Fijians’ prowess at rugby. Last year the army’s 12-man sevens squad included 10 Fijians and a South African. Its captain, Mark Lee, was the only British player."


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


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Steady descent into third world

Opening a can of worms always tempts a mischief-maker, but it's risky business. That can of worms might turn out to be a can of snakes, like Barack Obama's latest gift to the nation.

The president's on-again, off-again, maybe-he-will and maybe-he-won't decision to punish someone who loosened tongues of Islamist terrorists at Guantanamo suddenly threatens not only the CIA interrogators and Justice Department lawyers, but even members of Congress. Maybe it won't stop there: if the lawyers who offered legal opinions are at risk of punishment for their legal advice, why not the members of Congress who knew what was going on? Why not the secretaries who typed up the transcripts? Why not the interns who fetched the coffee? All were accessories either before or after the fact.

We're on unfamiliar ground now. No president before has sought to punish his predecessor for policy decisions, no matter how wrong or wrong-headed. Lyndon B. Johnson's management of the Vietnam War was often ham-handed, as anyone who was there could tell you, and his policy makers sometimes verged on criminal incompetence. But Richard Nixon was never tempted to send LBJ or any of those presidential acolytes to prison. Abraham Lincoln, by his lights, would have had ample opportunity to hang Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee, but even the rabid Republicans who survived the assassination stopped short of putting Davis in the dock, finally releasing him from imprisonment at Fort Monroe when judgment overcame lust for revenge. Lee was never touched.

Exacting revenge for unpopular policies is the norm in the third world, heretofore more likely in Barack Obama's ancestral Kenya than in America, more in the tradition of gangland Chicago than in Washington, where we count on cooler heads to prevail when raw emotion threatens to overwhelm sobriety and the undisciplined senses. We recall perceived national mistakes with the sadness of regret and even gratitude for lessons learned, not the frenzied catharsis of a St. Valentine's Day Massacre. Mr. Obama, having won the White House fair and square, is entitled to change any presidential policy he chooses, but the vindication of a national election does not entitle any president to exact mindless revenge.

The loquacious prince of Hyde Park should understand this, having eloquently sounded caution and reason on his inauguration as president, promising as he had during the long campaign to "look forward," not "backward." Rahm Emanuel, once described as the president's alter ego (if indeed such an outsized ego could have an "alter"), said as recently as Sunday that "it's not a time to use our energy and our time in looking back in any sense of anger and retribution."

This was in line with what the president had said all last summer when he was campaigning for the White House, what he had said on his inauguration, and in line with his oft-stated goal of restoring bipartisan civility and mutual goodwill to governing the country. Mr. Emanuel's reassurance was regarded in Washington as putting paid to an ugly era, an emphatic determination to "move on" to something close to national unity.

The president hadn't counted on the rage of the jackals on the leftmost fringe of his party, organizations like, which want only the "unity" of the lynch mob. They demand a hanging and the president promises only to think about it. Ever confident that his golden tongue, with or without the teleprompter, would mesmerize all foes and vanquish all rancor, Mr. Obama then threw George W. Bush's lawyers to the mob.

Perhaps the president imagines that nobody cares much about what happens to lawyers, but he has set in motion something neither he nor anyone else can control. Some of the Democrats in Congress, eager now to join the mob, will regret what they cry for. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, for one, was a member of the House intelligence committee and sat in on super-secret briefings after Sept. 11. She concedes that she heard about waterboarding but she doesn't remember exactly what she heard. Just like Barack Obama sleeping through 20 years of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's rabid sermons, Ms. Pelosi dozed through the briefings. Her colleagues on the intelligence panel say they remember her demanding that the CIA do more to get the "intelligence" to prevent another attack.

Republicans in the Senate, including John McCain and Lindsey Graham, are finally finding their voices. So is Joe Lieberman, a courageous Democrat. If we're going to have hangings, Ms. Pelosi may be at risk of becoming our most famous female hangee since Mary Surratt paid her debt at the end of a rope for hanging out with John Wilkes Booth.



Greatly Depressing

History is written by many people, but those who write government school textbooks tend to hold disproportionate sway. Sadly, their vision of America – which has driven conventional wisdom and popular opinion for decades – is built on many myths. The biggest myth of them all? That capitalism and our free market system caused the Great Depression – and that only a massive expansion of the federal government saved America from permanent economic ruin.

Nothing could be further from the truth – and yet as the true history of government meddling repeats itself all around us (with the direst of consequences for future generations), America seems incapable of learning from these mistakes for the simple reason that no one has ever taught them how destructive interventionism has been in the past and present.

Over a decade ago, Lawrence Reed of the Mackinac Center – a Michigan-based research and educational institute – penned an important analysis of the Great Depression. Written at the height of the dot-com boom (and shortly after President Bill Clinton told us that “the era of big government is over”) Reed’s treatise breaks the Depression down into sections and analyzes the cause and effect associated with each new development.

His conclusion? It’s a complete reversal of the textbook myth, an unflinchingly-candid, meticulously-documented proof that “government intervention worsened (the Depression) and kept the economy in a stupor for over a decade.” “The calamity that began in 1929 lasted at least three times longer than any of the country’s previous depressions because the government compounded its initial errors with a series of additional and harmful interventions,” Reed writes.

Anyone who follows things like money supply and interest rate adjustments knows that the Federal Reserve’s policies in the months leading up to the Great Crash of 1928 courted disaster. But it was the effect of government interventionism after the crash that did the real damage – which given the unprecedented $13 trillion intervention currently underway in our country should send shivers up and down every American’s spine.

Perhaps most importantly, Reed’s paper shatters once and for all the myth that President Herbert Hoover was the laissez-faire capitalist recalled by American textbooks. For starters, Hoover’s administration – with Congressional support – dramatically increased government spending from 16.4 percent to 21.5 of GNP in one year. Hoover also signed a foolhardy tariff that crippled trade, as well as the largest tax hike in American history in the spring if 1932. On top of that, during Hoover’s tenure the Federal Reserve imposed the biggest interest rate increase in its history. High tariffs, huge subsidies, deflationary monetary policy, tax increases – does that sound like a laissez-faire capitalist to you?

Ironically, Franklin Delano Roosevelt – whose New Deal policies were later revealed to have been taken straight out of Hoover’s playbook – won election by blasting his predecessor as “reckless and extravagant,” and presiding over “the greatest spending administration in peacetime in all of history.” Roosevelt, the “limited government” advocate, even bemoaned Hoover’s desire to “center control of everything in Washington.”

Obviously, Roosevelt flip-flopped after he was elected and put Hoover’s interventionist approach on steroids – much as President Barack Obama has done with the failed bailout mentality of his predecessor. The reality, though, is that none of these leaders differ all that much in their ideological approach to recession.

Now the question is this – does the big government approach work? Absolutely not. Prior to the Great Depression, no American recession had lasted longer than four years. Most were over in two. The Great Depression dragged on for nearly twelve years, however, with unemployment reaching as high as 25% at one point. And just as it is doing now, government over-taxed and over-regulated the economy the whole way through, starving it of desperately needed capital while consolidating frightening levels of power in Washington.

But that’s not the story told by government textbooks – just as it’s not the story that’s being told today by the America’s mainstream media. Politicians are relying on big government’s myth to make – and promote – some of the most monumentally foolhardy economic decisions in our nation’s history. Frankly, it’s past time that we started telling the truth about our past – and applying common sense to the future. The longer we wait, the deeper we dig the hole for future generations.




How a socialist government doesn't work: "More than four million Spanish people are out of work. According to the country's National Statistics Institute a record high figure of 17.4 per cent were unemployed in the first quarter of the year. Unemployment leapt from 13.9 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2008, the biggest quarterly jump since 1976. Joblessness in Spain has almost doubled in a year. The Bank of Spain had previously forecast that unemployment would not surpass 17.1 per cent for the year. Alarmingly, 1,068,400 families have every member out of work. And as the dole queues lengthen, labour unrest is growing. Two hundred pickets yesterday picketed a shipyard in the Basque country to protest at the employment of cheap Romanian and Portuguese workers that is threatening the jobs of 1,100 local workers."

Tony Blair opposes new 50 pence tax rate for high earners: "Tony Blair believes the new 50 per cent top rate of income tax introduced by Gordon Brown is a "terrible mistake". The former Prime Minister has privately expressed his despair at the Labour government's decision to target the wealthy in the Budget. Some of the leading architects of New Labour have also savaged the move, which they believe has cost Labour any hope of winning the general election. The revelation that Mr Blair has privately indicated his opposition to the headline 50 pence tax rate for people earning over £150,000 will cause consternation in Downing Street. One of Mr Blair's closest allies said: "The 50p tax move is a disaster. Blair would have cut taxes, not increased them." The hostile public reaction to the Budget, which signalled a return to the politics of class warfare, has intensified speculation that Mr Brown could face a leadership challenge. The mood of despair among Labour MPs deepened after figures published yesterday showed the economy contracted far more sharply in the first quarter than the Chancellor Alistair Darling predicted in his Budget statement only two days earlier."

The British police State: "Every phone call, email or website visit will be monitored by the state under plans to be unveiled next week. The proposals will give police and security services the power to snoop on every single communication made by the public with the data then likely to be stored in an enormous national database. The precise content of calls and other communications would not be accessible but even text messages and visits to social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter would be tracked. The move has alarmed civil liberty campaigners, and the country's data protection watchdog last night warned the proposals would be "unacceptable". Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, will argue the powers are needed to target terrorists and serious criminals who are taking advantage of the increasing complex nature of communications to plot atrocities and crimes."

Legion leader accepts apology from Napolitano: "More apologies came from Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Friday during and after a meeting with the commander of the American Legion about the disparaging language in a security assessment that suggested returning troops from Iraq or Afghanistan could be recruited for "right-wing" domestic terrorist attacks. "We connected meaningfully about the important issues that have emerged over recent days, and I offered him my sincere apologies for any offense to our veterans caused by this report," Ms. Napolitano said. "I pledge that the department has fixed the internal process that allowed this document to be released before it was ready." David K. Rehbein, commander of the veterans group, told Fox News he has forgiven the department for the report, but he will not forget it happened. "[Ms. Napolitano] said the report was not worthy of the department or the veterans of this country," Mr. Rehbein said."

NYT demise coming: "The nation's largest left-wing newspaper and the bible for network news producers and bookers may be going under. This week, The New York Times announced more staggering losses: nearly $75 million dollars in the first quarter alone. The New York Post is reporting that the Times Company owes more than $1 billion and has just $34 million in the bank. A few months ago, the company borrowed $250 million from Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim at a reported 14 percent interest rate. With things going south fast, pardon the pun, Slim might want to put in a call to Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. The problem is that under Sulzberger and executive editor Bill Keller, the Times has gone crazy left, attacking those with whom the paper disagrees and demonstrating a hatred for conservatives (particularly President Bush) that is almost pathological. That unfair and unbalanced approach has alienated a large number of readers and advertisers. According to a recent Fox News/Opinion Dynamics Poll, 46 percent of Americans define themselves as conservative. Just 34 percent say they are liberal. In this very intense marketplace, insulting half the country on a daily basis may not be a great business plan. The New York Times is most definitely a committed left-wing concern that is openly contemptuous of the conservative, traditional point of view. That is the primary reason the paper may soon dissolve. And all the cash in Carlos Slim's fat wallet is not going to change that."

Obama's Iraq Policy and a Surge of Violence: "On Thursday, Iraq suffered its worst death toll on a single day since the start of U.S. engagement there; 80 people perished after the supposed capture of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, al-Qaeda in Iraq’s leader and one of Iraq’s most wanted men. On Friday, there was another attack almost as deadly; 60 people died and 125 were injured when two suicide bombers attacked a Shia mosque in Baghdad. This upswing in violence comes on the heels of Obama’s new policies in the Middle East, which call for a phased withdrawal from Iraq starting this summer and lasting until 2011. An upswing in violence is almost certainly related to Obama’s adjustments in troop numbers"

Germany's slump risks 'explosive' mood: "A clutch of political and labour leaders in Germany have raised the spectre of civil unrest after the country's leading institutes forecast a 6pc contraction of gross domestic product this year, a slump reminiscent of 1931 and bad enough to drive unemployment to 4.7m by 2010. Michael Sommer, leader of the DGB trade union federation, called the latest wave of sackings a "declaration of war" against Germany's workers. "Social unrest can no longer be ruled out," he said. Gesine Swann, presidential candidate for the Social Democrats, said "the mood could turn explosive" over the next three months unless the government takes drastic action. While authorities have belatedly agreed to create a "bad bank" to absorb toxic loans and stabilise the credit system, further financial troubles are almost certainly in the pipeline. Swiss risk advisers Independent Credit View said a "second wave" of debt stress is likely to hit the UK and Europe this year as the turmoil moves from mortgage securities to old-fashioned bank loans"


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


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Saturday, April 25, 2009

ANZAC day today

Australia's most solemn day of commemoration
Another small meditation on antisemitism

I can't help myself, can I? I can't leave Die Judenfrage alone. I can never quite free myself from the dangerous delusion that my goodwill towards Israel in particular and Jews generally should permit me to speak freely about why I think Jews have the horrendous problems that they do have.

There has been much said about Ashkenazi IQ and I think that there is no doubt about a substantial Ashkenazi advantage in that regard. Much less noted is something that I think is equally important: High Ashkenazi drive. By that I mean motivation to "succeed" in various ways. And the combination of high drive and high IQ does put Ashkenazim into society's prestigious positions with great frequency -- a frequency which enraged Hitler and has enraged many others before and since.

It would be easy to say that the drive to succeed and grow rich is a natural response to persecution: Because of their horrendous past, Jews feel a need to "make up" for that past somehow or protect themselves in the event of a new Pogrom. And I think there must be an element of that. But I think, for what it is worth, that there is a genetic component too. There is plenty of evidence that personality is strongly inherited genetically so that is a fairly safe conclusion. The environmental influences that selected for high IQ could well have selected for high drive too. Jews should be brimming over with energy, and I think many are, from what I see.

What I now want to ask is whether that drive is safe. How do other people respond to finding that large numbers of people in positions of influence in their society are Jewish? I think that to ask the question is to indicate the answer: Lots of people resent having "aliens" telling them what to do and think. And while a significant subset of Jews retain a distinctive identity with distinctive practices Jews WILL be seen as aliens. So should Jews ignore that resentment? Maybe. German Jews once did. But I think it is very unsafe to ignore it. Germany was once the most cultured, enlightened and civilized society on earth with a large Jewish elite and look where it ended up.

Advice is the world's most oversupplied and useless commodity but I will venture some anyhow. I think Jews should ease up -- relax more. Among the Goyim there are many high IQ people who work happily away as butchers, mechanics etc. Their friends and family are their rewards in life. Could it be the same for Jews too? Fame and fortune may not really be as good as they are cracked up to be. They might just make you a more prominent and more resented target one day. There is no doubt that antisemitism is once again on the rise worldwide -- even in Japan, amazingly enough.

And achieving that fame and fortune may entail sacrifices that are not worth it. Take, for example, England's Susan Greenfield (ancestrally Gruenfeld, presumably). She is an academic neurologist so is clearly a smart lady. And she has certainly fulfilled what many would see as a dream. Britain's Labour Party government has made her a Baroness! She is a member of that august body, the House of Lords.

But how did she manage that? By becoming a sort of intellectual prostitute. She has used her academic position to propagandize in favour of many things that Britain's Leftist elite believe in -- such as the belief that the workers spend too much time in front of TV and entertaining themselves with computers. You can see an example of that here where I look at her latest attempt to justify medically that belief in the evils of computers. What she writes is sheer drivel -- pure speculation without an ounce of proof behind it. It is a very low place for a scientist to end up in. I personally think that scientific integrity would have become her better, even if fewer baubles came with it. One hopes that she eventually will come to that conclusion too.

Just for purposes of illustration, let me describe a high IQ, high drive Goy whom I know. I will call him "S". S is in his early 40s, has a beautiful wife and two attractive children. He has recently had a large and airy house built for himself and his family that is specifically designed for entertaining. He is as happy a man as any I know. I am sure he is not perfectly happy. Who is? But I am sure he is at least as happy as (say) Susan Greenfield. From the available online biographies of her I gather that she is divorced and childless. S has been in the military for all his working life and has risen through the ranks but not to a position of any great distinction. He recently served in the Gulf so is no chocolate soldier. As befits a military man his hobby is fighting -- martial arts -- and he is as a result very fit and healthy -- and his hobby is also a good outlet for any surplus energies. So he has lived a good life, greatly appreciated by his friends and relatives but entirely out of the public eye. So he is happy with no need for fame and fortune at all.

I am sure that the life S has chosen would not be attractive to many Jews -- though Greg Sher is remembered with great honour -- but I think it shows clearly that fame and fortune is not the only way to a good life.



Some economic sanity for a change: "Three cheers for President Obama's decision, announced quietly on Monday, to repudiate a campaign promise and not press for new labor and environmental regulations in the North American Free Trade Agreement. The last thing the Western Hemisphere needs are more trade barriers that would snarl supply chains and damage commerce. Perhaps we should call this Austan Goolsbee's revenge. Recall that last year the Obama economic adviser had told a Canadian diplomat to ignore Mr. Obama's Nafta campaign rhetoric; the candidate was merely pandering to Big Labor. When that disclosure became news, Mr. Goolsbee was banished to the campaign's isolation ward for imperfect spinners. Now we know Mr. Goolsbee -- not the candidate -- was the one telling the truth. Mr. Obama got an earful on trade from his counterparts at the Summit of the Americas over the weekend and that might have something to do with his Nafta walkback"

LOST at sea: “The return of piracy to the high seas demonstrates the limits of international law. The ‘international community’ might agree that it is wrong to seize ships for ransom, but a few thugs with guns in Somalia beg to differ. Paper guarantees cannot stop seajackings. Yet Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wants Congress to ratify the Law of the Sea Treaty, the ultimate in paper guarantees."

Abolish the “death tax”: “If there were a prize for the most destructive tax, the death tax surely would be a prohibitive favorite. Known to policy wonks as the estate tax, this levy is a punitive form of double taxation that penalizes people for trying to create a nest egg for their children. The damage to families, though, is just the tip of the iceberg. The real problem, at least to economists, is that the death tax discourages economic growth by reducing saving and investment.”

The drug war: A bonanza for the enemies of freedom: “If it had been dreamed up by Satan himself in the bowels of Hell, the War on Drugs couldn’t be more diabolically calculated to destroy our liberties and promote the cause of evil in the world. In the Netherlands, where marijuana is (de facto) legal, and most hard drugs are virtually decriminalized and available to addicts by prescription, the rates of drug use are actually lower than in the United States. That means we’ve militarized and corrupted our police forces, turned the Bill of Rights into toilet paper, and handed the country over to gangs (including gangs in police uniforms) — all for absolutely nothing.”

Is “sexting” same as porn?: “I am sure that Vermonters don’t like the idea of teens sending sexy pictures from one phone to another. Nor do Ohio and Utah parents want their kids using cellphone minutes to bare their bodies with their buddies. Nevertheless, their state legislatures are among the first trying to sensibly ratchet down the penalties for ’sexting.’ They are backing away from laws that currently treat a teenager with a cellphone the same way they treat a child pornographer. They know there’s a difference between truly dreadful judgment and a felony. Over the last months, sexting — that spicy combo of sex and texting — has created something between a moral panic and a reprise of ‘Trouble in River City.’”

New Obama adviser is anti-Israel: "While President Bush was "blindly" and "mindlessly" supportive of Israel, President Obama may be less willing to give the Jewish state "blank checks," says Rosa Brooks, the Obama administration's new adviser to one of the most influential Pentagon officials. Brooks will advise Michelle Fluornoy, the undersecretary of defense for policy, a position that wields enormous power over drafting U.S. military doctrine in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. Until accepting her position earlier this month, Brooks, who did work on behalf of George Soros' philanthropic foundation, also served as a columnist for the Los Angeles Times. A WND review of her opinion pieces in the newspaper finds trends that defenders of the Jewish state may view as anti-Israel, including distorting history to seemingly whitewash Palestinian terrorism."

N.Korea has world's largest artillery force: " The top US commander in South Korea said on Wednesday that North Korea has the world's largest artillery force and could rain fire on Seoul should the communist state decide to provoke all-out conflict. General Walter Sharp's comments came amid rising tensions on the peninsula. Last Saturday the North's military reminded South Korea that its densely populated capital is "only 50 km away" from the border. Sharp, commander of some 28,500 US troops in South Korea, said the North has "an old but very large military that is positioned in a very dangerous place, very close" to South Korea. "They have a very large special operating force. It has the world's largest artillery force that is positioned as far south as possible and that can rain on Seoul today," he told local business leaders. The North maintains 80,000 special forces and is believed to have some 13,000 artillery pieces deployed along the border, Sharp said. Cross-border relations are at their worst in a decade after South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak abandoned his predecessors' policy of providing almost unconditional aid to the North. Sharp said US and South Korean troops are prepared to "fight and win" at any moment, stressing they "have operational plans prepared in order to be able to meet any contingencies".


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


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Friday, April 24, 2009

Self confidence as a boost to educational achievement among bottom-performing blacks

The abstract below appears to be the study some Leftists refer to in their zeal to show that African IQ levels have more potential than is normally apparent. The article is not unreasonable. That blacks at the very bottom rung of educational achievement are there because of low IQ PLUS low motivation is a perfectly straightforward idea that raises no new issues. But is it true? The effects reported below cover only a 2 year time-span -- which is ludicrous for evaluating the effectiveness of the procedure. "Fadeout" of such improvements as the child moves into adulthood is the norm. There is no reason to believe that the procedures reported below will be any different
Recursive Processes in Self-Affirmation: Intervening to Close the Minority Achievement Gap

By Geoffrey L. Cohen et al.

A 2-year follow-up of a randomized field experiment previously reported in Science is presented. A subtle intervention to lessen minority students' psychological threat related to being negatively stereotyped in school was tested in an experiment conducted three times with three independent cohorts (N = 133, 149, and 134). The intervention, a series of brief but structured writing assignments focusing students on a self-affirming value, reduced the racial achievement gap. Over 2 years, the grade point average (GPA) of African Americans was, on average, raised by 0.24 grade points. Low-achieving African Americans were particularly benefited. Their GPA improved, on average, 0.41 points, and their rate of remediation or grade repetition was less (5% versus 18%). Additionally, treated students' self-perceptions showed long-term benefits. Findings suggest that because initial psychological states and performance determine later outcomes by providing a baseline and initial trajectory for a recursive process, apparently small but early alterations in trajectory can have long-term effects. Implications for psychological theory and educational practice are discussed.

Science 17 April 2009: Vol. 324. no. 5925, pp. 400 - 403


Presidential Poison

His invitation to indict Bush officials will haunt Obama's Presidency -- and make bureaucrats who might otherwise help Obama sit on their hands -- fearful of how a future GOP administration might use this precedent. Once again the man shows that he is a fool

Mark down the date. Tuesday, April 21, 2009, is the moment that any chance of a new era of bipartisan respect in Washington ended. By inviting the prosecution of Bush officials for their antiterror legal advice, President Obama has injected a poison into our politics that he and the country will live to regret.

Policy disputes, often bitter, are the stuff of democratic politics. Elections settle those battles, at least for a time, and Mr. Obama's victory in November has given him the right to change policies on interrogations, Guantanamo, or anything on which he can muster enough support. But at least until now, the U.S. political system has avoided the spectacle of a new Administration prosecuting its predecessor for policy disagreements. This is what happens in Argentina, Malaysia or Peru, countries where the law is treated merely as an extension of political power.

If this analogy seems excessive, consider how Mr. Obama has framed the issue. He has absolved CIA operatives of any legal jeopardy, no doubt because his intelligence advisers told him how damaging that would be to CIA morale when Mr. Obama needs the agency to protect the country. But he has pointedly invited investigations against Republican legal advisers who offered their best advice at the request of CIA officials.

"Your intelligence indicates that there is currently a level of 'chatter' equal to that which preceded the September 11 attacks," wrote Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee, in his August 1, 2002 memo. "In light of the information you believe [detainee Abu] Zubaydah has and the high level of threat you believe now exists, you wish to move the interrogations into what you have described as an 'increased pressure phase.'"

So the CIA requests a legal review at a moment of heightened danger, the Justice Department obliges with an exceedingly detailed analysis of the law and interrogation practices -- and, seven years later, Mr. Obama says only the legal advisers who are no longer in government should be investigated. The political convenience of this distinction for Mr. Obama betrays its basic injustice. And by the way, everyone agrees that senior officials, including President Bush, approved these interrogations. Is this President going to put his predecessor in the dock too?

Mr. Obama seemed to understand the peril of such an exercise when he said, before his inauguration, that he wanted to "look forward" and beyond the antiterror debates of the Bush years. As recently as Sunday, Rahm Emanuel said no prosecutions were contemplated and now is not a time for "anger and retribution." Two days later the President disavowed his own chief of staff. Yet nothing had changed except that Mr. Obama's decision last week to release the interrogation memos unleashed a revenge lust on the political left that he refuses to resist.

Just as with the AIG bonuses, he is trying to co-opt his left-wing base by playing to it -- only to encourage it more. Within hours of Mr. Obama's Tuesday comments, Senator Carl Levin piled on with his own accusatory Intelligence Committee report. The demands for a "special counsel" at Justice and a Congressional show trial are louder than ever, and both Europe's left and the U.N. are signaling their desire to file their own charges against former U.S. officials.

Those officials won't be the only ones who suffer if all of this goes forward. Congress will face questions about what the Members knew and when, especially Nancy Pelosi when she was on the House Intelligence Committee in 2002. The Speaker now says she remembers hearing about waterboarding, though not that it would actually be used. Does anyone believe that? Porter Goss, her GOP counterpart at the time, says he knew exactly what he was hearing and that, if anything, Ms. Pelosi worried the CIA wasn't doing enough to stop another attack. By all means, put her under oath.

Mr. Obama may think he can soar above all of this, but he'll soon learn otherwise. The Beltway's political energy will focus more on the spectacle of revenge, and less on his agenda. The CIA will have its reputation smeared, and its agents second-guessing themselves. And if there is another terror attack against Americans, Mr. Obama will have set himself up for the argument that his campaign against the Bush policies is partly to blame.

Above all, the exercise will only embitter Republicans, including the moderates and national-security hawks Mr. Obama may need in the next four years. As patriotic officials who acted in good faith are indicted, smeared, impeached from judgeships or stripped of their academic tenure, the partisan anger and backlash will grow. And speaking of which, when will the GOP Members of Congress begin to denounce this partisan scapegoating? Senior Republicans like Mitch McConnell, Richard Lugar, John McCain, Orrin Hatch, Pat Roberts and Arlen Specter have hardly been profiles in courage.

Mr. Obama is more popular than his policies, due in part to his personal charm and his seeming goodwill. By indulging his party's desire to criminalize policy advice, he has unleashed furies that will haunt his Presidency.



A budget worthy of Mr Bean

Britain is making large financial mistakes too -- driving out its most productive industries via the usual destructiveness of kneejerk Leftist ideas. High British taxes have already driven a lot of large firms out of Britain so what has the Labour government just done? Put up taxes even more! "Give more British jobs to foreigners" seems to be the motto

Alistair Darling has saved the economy. Unfortunately the economy he has saved is the wrong one. In true Mr Bean fashion, yesterday’s Budget saved the economies of Switzerland, Luxembourg, Jersey, Hong Kong and other low-tax jurisdictions (polite society no longer describes them as tax havens), which only three weeks ago his boss Gordon Brown had boasted of closing down. As for the British economy, one can only sigh in disbelief. To cram so much bad news and so many policy blunders into an hour-long speech was quite an achievement.

To understand all these statements, let us start by focusing on just one figure, the only figure that really meant anything in the Budget speech and the only one that Mr Cameron studiously failed to mention amid all his ritual fulmination against zillions of pounds in borrowing and scandalously inaccurate Treasury forecasts. This figure was 50 per cent, the new tax rate on the rich....

First, the announcement of any significant tax increase, at a time when the Chancellor was trying to restore business confidence and boost housing and consumption, went completely against the logic of efforts of the Government’s faith in fiscal stimulus. Mr Darling’s biggest mistake in the PreBudget Report (PBR) was to negate the benefits of his VAT cut by preannouncing a big increase in income tax and national insurance, but instead of learning from this mistake he decided to repeat it....

In different circumstances, when global finance was booming, when Britain boasted of its light-touch business-friendly regulation, when law firms and multinational companies were willing to pay telephone-number salaries to retain London staff, a Labour government might have been able to impose a 63 per cent tax on senior employees (which is what the marginal tax rate will amount to once income tax and national insurance are combined) without displacing significant amounts of business....

But this is no longer the case. Global finance and multinational businesses are in a period of ruthless restructuring and cost reduction. The same is true of all the ancillary activities such as law, accountancy, architecture, advertising, management consultancy, design and so on, which ultimately depend on their proximity to the decision makers in globalised business and finance.

In the past few years, the difference between the 50 per cent of income left after tax and national insurance in Britain and the 70 per cent left to most residents in Switzerland might not have been enough to motivate many corporate relocations. But in today’s more cost-conscious environment, banks and multinational companies will be sorely tempted by the near-doubling of net pay that they can achieve for their employees simply by moving out of Britain before Mr Darling’s new taxes and national insurance charges are imposed.

The result is likely to be a substantial shift of global businesses from Britain, at precisely the time when London needs to restore its credentials as the leading global centre for finance and business services.... Moreover, it appears on the basis of postwar experience that most of the industries in which Britain has comparative advantage – not just banking and business services, but also pharmaceuticals, energy, electronic technology, entertainment and design – are dependent on workers who are both highly paid and internationally mobile.

It is likely, therefore, that banks and hedge funds will not be the only businesses encouraged to move out of Britain – pharmaceutical and oil companies, architects and designers may be just as motivated by the prospect of paying much lower tax in other business centres, whether in Europe, America or the Far East.




Ann Coulter's mother has just passed away and Ann has written a beautiful eulogy to her here.

Obama intelligence official says interrogation provided 'high value information': "President Barack Obama's top intelligence official sent a memo to his staff saying "high value information" was obtained during interrogations using controversial techniques. The document from Admiral Dennis Blair, Director of National Intelligence, was issued last week on the same day as the White House released secret Bush administration legal memos authorising the use of methods that Mr Obama has described as torture. But a condensed version provided to the press omitted the detail about the value of the information – a move that has incensed Mr Obama's critics and opened him up to accusations of manipulation for political purposes. Adml Blair's original note to his staff last Thursday said "high value information came from interrogations in which those methods were used and provided a deeper understanding of the al-Qaeda organisation that was attacking this country". The memo is an embarrassment for Mr Obama because the conclusion reached by Adml Blair, who oversees the CIA and 15 other US intelligence agencies or departments, undermines a central plank of the White House argument – that the harsh techniques did not work."

We've got it all wrong on fishing strategy, says EU: "Europe’s fishing industry is on the brink of suicide and several species are in danger of extinction after 25 years of policy failure,the European Commission said yesterday. Officials admitted five key failings in the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy as they prepared to tear up the idea of a centrally dictated strategy. They launched the search for an alternative, saying that much of the responsibility for fishing must be returned to EU member states. One key failing that has led to the near-extinction of stocks of cod, bluefin tuna and anchovy is the “deep-rooted problem” of fleet overcapacity, with campaign groups arguing for a 40 per cent cut in the EU’s 90,000 vessels. Its admission that Europe’s controversial fisheries policy had failed was broadly welcomed by the fishing industry. The Commission said that 88 per cent of EU stocks were overfished, compared with only 25 per cent worldwide."

Right on! "Police officers should wear name tags on their uniforms and those who deliberately hide their identity could be sacked, Met Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson said today. The police has come under severe criticism for its handling of the G20 protests and Sir Paul, Britain's most senior policeman, said he wants officers to be more easily identifiable to the public. He also made it clear though that he wanted his senior officers to take a more robust approach in supervising the rank and file officers to ensure they could both be praised and have problem areas identified."


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


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)