Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The French have got more balls than Obama

President Obama wants a unified front against Iran, and to that end he stood together with Nicolas Sarkozy and Gordon Brown in Pittsburgh on Friday morning to reveal the news about Tehran's secret facility to build bomb-grade fuel. But now we hear that the French and British leaders were quietly seething on stage, annoyed by America's handling of the announcement.

Both countries wanted to confront Iran a day earlier at the United Nations. Mr. Obama was, after all, chairing a Security Council session devoted to nonproliferation. The latest evidence of Iran's illegal moves toward acquiring a nuclear weapon was in hand. With the world's leaders gathered in New York, the timing and venue would be a dramatic way to rally international opinion.

President Sarkozy in particular pushed hard. He had been "frustrated" for months about Mr. Obama's reluctance to confront Iran, a senior French government official told us, and saw an opportunity to change momentum. But the Administration told the French that it didn't want to "spoil the image of success" for Mr. Obama's debut at the U.N. and his homily calling for a world without nuclear weapons, according to the Paris daily Le Monde. So the Iran bombshell was pushed back a day to Pittsburgh, where the G-20 were meeting to discuss economic policy.

Le Monde's diplomatic correspondent, Natalie Nougayrède, reports that a draft of Mr. Sarkozy's speech to the Security Council Thursday included a section on Iran's latest deception. Forced to scrap that bit, the French President let his frustration show with undiplomatic gusto in his formal remarks, laying into what he called the "dream" of disarmament. The address takes on added meaning now that we know the backroom discussions.

"We are right to talk about the future," Mr. Sarkozy said, referring to the U.S. resolution on strengthening arms control treaties. "But the present comes before the future, and the present includes two major nuclear crises," i.e., Iran and North Korea. "We live in the real world, not in a virtual one." No prize for guessing into which world the Frenchman puts Mr. Obama.

"We say that we must reduce," he went on. "President Obama himself has said that he dreams of a world without nuclear weapons. Before our very eyes, two countries are doing exactly the opposite at this very moment. Since 2005, Iran has violated five Security Council Resolutions . . .

"I support America's 'extended hand.' But what have these proposals for dialogue produced for the international community? Nothing but more enriched uranium and more centrifuges. And last but not least, it has resulted in a statement by Iranian leaders calling for wiping off the map a Member of the United Nations. What are we to do? What conclusions are we to draw? At a certain moment hard facts will force us to make decisions."

We thought we'd never see the day when the President of France shows more resolve than America's Commander in Chief for confronting one of the gravest challenges to global security. But here we are.



A successful conservative governor

He says that he avoids ideology. But that is of itself a very conservative thing to do. Ideology is for the Left. Conservatives look at what works

The Indiana governor is answering a question he gets asked a lot these days. Will he run for president? He keeps saying no, but the collapse of such GOP notables as Sarah Palin and Mark Sanford has people looking north. Mr. Daniels is today something rare indeed: a popular Republican.

President Barack Obama eked out an upset in Indiana last year, but Mr. Daniels's re-election was almost as notable. Amid a Democratic wave, the Republican beat his opponent by 18 percentage points and received more votes than anyone who had ever run in the state. He swept 79 of 92 counties, nearly 60% of independents and 25% of Democratic voters. His approval rating is near 70%.

At a time when the GOP has done so much wrong, strategists are asking what Mr. Daniels is doing right. Hoosiers would point to his tough fiscal discipline and his overhaul of state government. The governor summed up his approach in a Washington speech earlier this year, saying that a conservatism "that will be credible in the years ahead will be active, will be forward-looking, constructive, intimately connected with the lives of average citizens, and friendly."

If this sounds a bit fuzzy and Midwestern, a colleague of Mr. Daniels puts it more concisely: "It's the old formula: ideas and a big tent. Mitch's success has been in aggressively pushing conservative reform, but not alienating folks along the way." Whether Mr. Daniels's particular brand of reform politics would work nationally—and whether he is the guy to do it—are big questions. But for now, he's in the spotlight.

"We are the initiators, we are always in motion." "Activism works, and we have to drive the agenda." "There is nothing inconsistent about having a conservative outlook and being vigorous."

These statements fly at me within 10 minutes of a two-hour interview in Mr. Daniels's cavernous office. Sitting in his shirt sleeves, the governor looks easygoing but earnest. Mr. Daniels's career has included working for Sen. Dick Lugar (R., Ind.), as an adviser to Ronald Reagan, a think-tank head (The Hudson Institute), a pharmaceutical executive, and budget director for George W. Bush. His fervor for cutting waste in that last post earned him a nickname from President Bush: The Blade.

The 60-year-old won in 2004 by promising to achieve one goal. "Every successful enterprise has a very clear strategic purpose. . . . So, we said, all right, the strategic purpose of our administration is to raise the net disposable income of Hoosiers," which has fallen dramatically in recent decades. "Everything else is just a means to that end."

Mr. Daniels's first step toward that goal was cleaning up a state balance sheet that 16 years of Democratic rule had left in bad shape. He turned what was a $700 million hole into a $1 billion surplus, making Indiana one of a handful of states that today remain in the black.

How? "Well, prepared to be dazzled," he says, with his trademark dry wit. "The answer is that we spent less money than we took in." This underplays the governor's high-profile budget fights with a spendthrift legislature—fights that he won—which allowed him to halve the state's rate of spending growth to 2.8% from 5.9% annually. That restraint has allowed Mr. Daniels to forgo the recent tax hikes of most states.

His approach works well in a state where, as Mr. Daniels puts it, "fiscal prudence never went out of style." He's earned high marks for his willingness to spar with his own party (this year's budget went into special session after he refused to let the GOP-run Senate spend away the surplus), and for his fight against pork. With the help of a power called "allotment"—the right not to spend money appropriated by the legislature—Mr. Daniels trimmed $800 million from state government in fiscal 2009. Allotment had in the past "been used very sparingly," says Mr. Daniels, smiling. "We don't use it sparingly."

He also hasn't spared state government. He axed $190 million renegotiating state contracts, bid out services, cut $250 million in unnecessary spending, and dropped 5,000 government positions. Austere as his budgets have been, they have directed more money to "priorities" like 800 new child-protection case workers, 250 more state troopers, and education spending. This approach has allowed the governor to deflect Democratic gripes that he is gutting the state in a recession. "You can invest in things, even with modest revenue growth, so long as you are willing to do a lot less of things that are a lot less important," he says.

Perhaps most appreciated was the governor's overhaul of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. It's gone from one of the worst in the country—a place, he says, "where people would take a copy of 'Crime and Punishment'"—to one of the best, with an "average visit time of seven minutes and 36 seconds."

In 2006, Mr. Daniels gave all state employees the option of switching to health plans with health-savings accounts. A year later, he signed bipartisan legislation creating the Healthy Indiana Plan, which puts those same HSAs at the center of a plan covering 130,000 uninsured. Participants contribute to their account based on income; the state picks up the rest, up to $1,100 per adult, after which private insurance kicks in.

"It's subsidized, yes," says Mr. Daniels, but it's "designed to make sure everybody, with a few exceptions, has skin in the game." It also "doesn't expose taxpayers to the catastrophe in Tennessee or Massachusetts of an entitlement program." More than half of the state's employees have switched to the HSA plan, and Healthy Indiana is fully subscribed.

All this, says Mr. Daniels, serves as a necessary "foundation" for the state to attract jobs and fulfill that goal of raising Hoosier income. "Spend as little as you can consistent with necessary public service, leave the rest in private hands, and you get more jobs in the end." Indiana, with its business-friendly tax environment, has attracted $8 billion in foreign investment in the past two years.

Policy is one thing; selling it another. And Mr. Daniels knows how to sell. Relatively unknown in the state before his 2004 run, he toured all 92 counties—at least twice—in an RV. He bypassed hotels, staying in Hoosier homes. He debuted "Mitch TV," a reality show that pictured, warts and all, the candidate meeting wary Indiana voters.

"We have, I think, tried to face a Republican reality, which is the stereotype that Republicans are disconnected from the lives of average people. It's unfair. It's untrue. A Democrat can be a blue-blood billionaire who wouldn't recognize a working family if his limousine ran over one, but still, they benefit from the presumption that their hearts are in the right place, and we bear the opposite burden," he says.

He's also studiously avoided ideological debate. Most would say that "what we've done was animated by conservative principles," he says. "But I leave the labels out. I rarely mention party names, ours or theirs. I don't use the i-word [ideology] or the c-word [conservative]. I don't use the p-word [privatization]. Because I don't think most people think in those categories."

He uses the example of smaller government. "Our principal goal is not to cut government spending for the sake of cutting government spending. . . . If the goal is 'what can we do, or do more quickly, or stop doing, to make it more likely the next job comes to Indiana,' well, of course that means squeezing tax dollars, it means keeping taxes down. I just don't tend to present it as an ideological imperative, but rather the smart things to do if we are trying to be a more prosperous, free state."




As regular readers here know, I do from time to time put up pictures and cartoons to illustate some news story. Every now and again I also look through the pictures in past postings to see which have an interest beyond their immediate use. I then put up a gallery of such "best" pictures. I am afraid that I have left it rather a long time to do that this time. The last gallery was of 2007 pictures. I have caught up a little however and have just posted a gallery of pictures and cartoons that appeared on my various blogs between January and June 2008. You might like to have a glance at them here. I will try to get up a gallery or two for more recent periods as soon as I get time.

ACORN's Man in the White House: "Newly discovered evidence shows the radical advocacy group ACORN has a man in the Obama White House. This power behind the throne is longtime ACORN operative Patrick Gaspard. He holds the title of White House political affairs director, the same title Karl Rove held in President Bush's White House. Evidence shows that years before he joined the Obama administration, Gaspard was ACORN boss Bertha Lewis's political director in New York. Lewis, the current "chief organizer" or CEO of ACORN, was head of New York ACORN from at least 1994 through 2008, when she took over as national leader of ACORN. With Gaspard at work in the White House, Lewis might as well be speaking to President Obama through an earpiece as he goes about his daily business ruining the country." Erick Erickson of the website RedState recently did an excellent job explaining the relationship of Gaspard to Lewis and President Obama."

Bank of America suspends dealings with ACORN housing entity: "Bank of America Corp. is suspending its work with the housing affiliate of embattled community organizing group ACORN. The decision comes as three Republicans in Congress ask Bank of America and 13 other financial institutions to give Congress a complete accounting of their dealings with the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now or its affiliates. In a statement, Bank of America said it would not enter into any further agreements with ACORN Housing Corp. until the bank is satisfied all issues have been resolved. ACORN Housing Corp. and Bank of America have worked together for years on mortgage foreclosure issues.”

Why Obama will throw ACORN under the bus: "The spotlight of scrutiny is shining brightly on ACORN these days and rightly so. Where ACORN’s defenders have the audacity to insist that the employees caught on undercover videotape giving advice to a perceived ‘pimp’ and ‘prostitute’ on how to defraud the Internal Revenue Service and internationally traffic in underage Guatemalan prostitutes were simply ‘a few bad employees,’ anyone with a brain recognizes that the problem is systemic in the organization. But what some are misdiagnosing or not completely understanding is how President Obama could be so nonchalant about the issue in recent interviews.”

What are they hiding? Minutes missing in OK City bombing footage: "Long-secret security tapes showing the chaos immediately after the 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building are blank in the minutes before the blast and appear to have been edited, an attorney who obtained the recordings said Sunday. ‘The real story is what’s missing,’ said Jesse Trentadue, a Salt Lake City attorney who obtained the recordings through the federal Freedom of Information Act as part of an unofficial inquiry he is conducting into the April 19, 1995, bombing that killed 168 people and injured hundreds more. Trentadue gave copies of the tapes to the Oklahoman newspaper, which posted them online and provided copies to the Associated Press.”

Iran’s missile tests create new standoff: "The United States, Israel and its allies are condemning Iran’s missile tests, conducted a few days after world leaders called out the country for building a secret underground nuclear facility. But Iran refuses to cave under world pressure, continuing its dangerous provocation instead. In a show of defiance, Iran tested short- and long-range missiles today and Sunday, including its longest-range missiles yet, which U.S. experts said are capable of hitting Israel and U.S. bases in Europe.”

Bumper-Sticker philosophy: "The following has apparently been making the rounds on Facebook lately: ‘No one should die because they cannot afford health care, and no one should go broke because they get sick. If you agree, please post this as your status for the rest of the day.’ It’s a nice, pretty idea, until you sit down and consider the implications. No one should die because they cannot afford health care. Tell me, please, how are you going to provide this health care to people who cannot afford it? Are you going to steal the money from other people and use it to pay for those who cannot afford it? Or Are you going to force health care professionals to work without compensation?”

The old standby : "Florida taxpayers should be forewarned that the huge drop in cigarette sales due to the state’s cigarette tax hike will come back to bite them. These taxes are borne by a small base that gets smaller as the tax goes up, because people quit or, more likely, find ways to circumvent the tax. That is already happening in Florida. This tax hike will burden Florida businesses and taxpayers, especially in the northern half of the state. Not to mention that such taxes fall predominantly on low-income earners.”


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, September 29, 2009

Obama ignores reality


Half a decade or so back, I wrote: "It's a good basic axiom that if you take a quart of ice cream and a quart of dog feces and mix 'em together the result will taste more like the latter than the former. That's the problem with the U.N."

Absolutely right, if I do say so myself. When you make the free nations and the thug states members of the same club, the danger isn't that they'll meet each other half-way but that the free world winds up going three-quarters, seven-eighths of the way.

That's what happened in New York last week. Barack Obama is not to blame for whichever vagary of United Nations protocol resulted in the president of the United States being the warm-up act for the Lunatic-for-Life in charge of Libya.

But it is a pitiful reflection upon the state of the last superpower that, when it comes to the transnational mush drooled by the leader of the free world or the conspiracist ramblings of a terrorist pseudo-Bedouin running a one-man psycho-cult of a basket-case state, it's more or less a toss-up as to which of them is more unreal. To be sure, Col. Gadhafi peddled his thoughts on the laboratory origins of swine flu and the Zionist plot behind the Kennedy assassination. But, on the other hand, President Obama said: "No nation can or should try to dominate another nation."

Pardon me? Did a professional speechwriter write that? Or did you outsource it to a starry-eyed runner-up in the Miss America pageant? Whether any nation "should try" to dominate another, they certainly "can," and do so with effortless ease, all over the planet and throughout human history.

And how about this passage? "I have been in office for just nine months — though some days it seems a lot longer. I am well aware of the expectations that accompany my presidency around the world. These expectations are not about me. Rather, they are rooted, I believe, in a discontent with a status quo that has allowed us to be increasingly defined by our differences ... .."

Forget the first part: That's just his usual narcissistic "But enough about me, let's talk about what the world thinks of me" shtick. But the second is dangerous in its cowardly evasiveness: For better or worse, we are defined by our differences — and, if Barack Obama doesn't understand this when he's at the podium addressing a room filled with representatives of Iran, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Venezuela and other unlovely polities, the TV audience certainly did when Col. Gadhafi took to the podium immediately afterward.

They're both heads of state of sovereign nations. But if you're on an Indian Ocean island when the next tsunami hits, try calling Libya instead of the U.S. and see where it gets you.

This isn't a quirk of fate. The global reach that enables America and a handful of others to get to a devastated backwater on the other side of the planet and save lives and restore the water supply isn't a happy accident but something that derives explicitly from our political systems, economic liberty, traditions of scientific and cultural innovation, and a general understanding that societies advance when their people are able to fulfill their potential in freedom.

In other words, America and Libya are defined by their differences. What happens when you pretend those differences don't exist? Well, you end up with the distinctively flavored ice cream I mentioned at the beginning. By declining to distinguish between the foreign minister of Slovenia and the foreign minister of, say, Sudan, you normalize not merely the goofier ad libs of a Gadhafi but far darker pathologies.

The day after the U.S. president addressed the U.N., the prime minister of Israel took to the podium and held up a copy of the minutes of the Wannsee Conference at which German officials planned the "Final Solution" to their Jewish problem. This is the pathetic state to which the U.N. has been reduced after six decades: The Jew-hatred of Ahmadinejad and others is so routine that a sane man has to stand up and attempt to demonstrate to lunatics that the Holocaust actually happened.

One sympathizes with Benjamin Netanyahu. But he's missing the point. Ahmadinejad & Co. aren't Holocaust deniers because of the dearth of historical documentation. They do so because they can, and because it suits their own interests to do so, and because in the regimes they represent, the state lies to its people as a matter of course and to such a degree that there is no longer an objective reality, only a self-constructed one. In Libya and Syria and far too many "nations," truth is simply what the thug in the presidential palace declares it to be.

But don't worry, Obama assures them, we're not "defined by our differences." Hey, that's great, isn't it? Yet if you can no longer distinguish between the truth and a lie, why be surprised that the lie metastasizes and becomes, if not yet quite respectable, at least semi-respectable and acceptable in polite society?

Some Western nations walked out of Ahmadinejad's speech: Canada was first; Austria stuck around; America left somewhere in between. "It is disappointing that Mr. Ahmadinejad has once again chosen to espouse hateful, offensive and anti-Semitic rhetoric," huffed U.S. spokesman Mark Kornblau. Oh, come off it, you ludicrous poseur. President Obama's position is that he's anxious to hold talks "without preconditions" with his Iranian colleague. How can you do that if you're going to flounce out like a big drama queen at the first itsy-bitsy pro forma Judenhass?

Although he affects a president-of-the-world manner, I don't think Barack Obama cares much about foreign affairs one way or the other. He has a huge transformative domestic agenda designed to leave this country looking much closer to the average Continental social democracy. His principal interest in the rest of the planet is he doesn't need some nutjob nuking Cleveland before he's finished reducing it to a moribund socialist swamp. And so, like many European nations, when it comes to the global scene, Obama has attitudes rather than policies. If you're on the receiving end — like Israel, Poland, Honduras — it's not pleasant, and it's going to get worse.

It was striking to hear Gadhafi and Chavez profess their admiration for Obama, call him "our son." and declare their fond hope that he remain president for life. The Chinese and Russians are more circumspect in public, and laughing their heads off in private. As for the saner members of the U.N., many Europeans still think they've got the American president they've always wanted: They would agree with John Bolton's indictment — that this was a post-American speech by a post-American president — but mean it as high praise.

As the contours of the post-American world emerge, they will have plenty of time to reconsider their enthusiasm.



Proof conclusive that Obama is a robot

Just watch the smile

Barack Obama's amazingly consistent smile from Eric Spiegelman on Vimeo.



Media trying to shoot the messenger: "Every journalism inquiry from the mainstream media continues to focus on the successful operation that exposed ACORN, not on ACORN itself, as if there is no evidence to sift through or common traits to be found in the videos. Why is the story about journalistic process rather than institutional corruption? The Washington Post and the Associated Press have had to issue embarrassing retractions for falsely implying Mr. O'Keefe's motives were racist. The New York Times, too, had to issue a retraction on an issue raised to impugn his tactics."

The French think pedophilia is OK: "France's political elite has rallied to the defence of Roman Polanski, calling on Switzerland to free the 76-year-old film director rather than extradite him to the United States. Artists and film makers also urged the release of Polanski, who faces charges of having sex with a girl of 13 in 1977, accusing Switzerland of being overzealous in pursuing such an old case and bowing to US demands. Polanski was due to receive a prize for his life's work at the Zurich Film Festival on Sunday, but was arrested on a 1978 US arrest warrant after arriving in Switzerland on Saturday. "I think this is awful and totally unjust," French Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand told reporters. "Just as there is an America which is generous and which we like, so there is an America which is frightening, and that is the America which has just revealed its face," he added. The culture ministry said French President Nicolas Sarkozy was following the case closely and wanted the swift release of Polanski, while Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said he had expressed his concerns to his Swiss counterpart." [Details of the crime here]

Two troops for every civil servant in Britain's defence ministry: "Britain has more military bureaucrats for every active serviceman than any of its Nato allies, it can be disclosed. Figures obtained by the Daily Telegraph show that the 27 other western alliance countries, including the United States, all employ proportionately fewer civilians in their defence ministries. While Britain has just two active troops for every civil servant in the Ministry of Defence, France has almost five, Spain has almost eight and several smaller countries have many more. The MoD employs 85,730 civil servants. Separate figures showed that the MoD spent more than £61 million on public relations last year – enough to pay the annual wage bill for 3,656 new privates in the Army. The Conservatives last night accused Bob Ainsworth, the Defence Secretary, of running a “bloated administration” while troops in Afghanistan faced equipment shortages. The bureaucracy figures will put pressure on Mr Ainsworth to divert funds to the front line or cut the MoD’s budget by reducing the number of officials in his department."

Obama rudely twists the lion's tail: "Barack Obama, as my Examiner colleague Byron York has noted, has been snubbing British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. This strikes me as highly regrettable and foolish in the extreme. Does Obama have some gripe against the British related to his Kenyan colonial heritage? If so, it’s time to get over it. Britain has been by and large an exemplary ally. It is one of the few nations in the world with a significant out-of-area military capacity, it maintains constructive ties with its former colonies through the Commonwealth, it shares with us an Anglospheric heritage based on common law and individual freedom which is of priceless value."

William Safire, 1929-2009: "Pulitzer Prize-winning conservative columnist, language expert and former White House speechwriter William Safire died Sunday, his assistant said. Safire, who was 79, had been diagnosed with cancer and died at a hospice in Maryland, assistant Rosemary Shields said. She declined to specify the type of cancer Safire had or say when he had been diagnosed.”

Job losses, early retirements hurt Social Security: "Big job losses and a spike in early retirement claims from laid-off seniors will force Social Security to pay out more in benefits than it collects in taxes the next two years, the first time that’s happened since the 1980s. The deficits — $10 billion in 2010 and $9 billion in 2011 — won’t affect payments to retirees because Social Security has accumulated surpluses from previous years totaling $2.5 trillion. But they will add to the overall federal deficit.”

Kelo battle ends in farce: "Weeds, glass, bricks, pieces of pipe and shingle splinters have replaced the knot of aging homes at the site of the nation’s most notorious eminent domain project. There are a few signs of life: Feral cats glare at visitors from a miniature jungle of Queen Anne’s lace, thistle and goldenrod. Gulls swoop between the lot’s towering trees and the adjacent sewage treatment plant. But what of the promised building boom that was supposed to come wrapped and ribboned with up to 3,169 new jobs and $1.2 million a year in tax revenues? They are noticeably missing. Proponents of the ambitious plan blame the sour economy. Opponents call it ‘poetic justice. … They are getting what they deserve. They are going to get nothing,’ said Susette Kelo, the lead plaintiff in the landmark property rights case. ‘I don’t think this is what the United States Supreme Court justices had in mind when they made this decision.’”

The common good = collectivism: "Politically-structured collectivism, in whatever form it manifests itself, debilitates and disables individuals, depriving each of us of our biological and experiential uniqueness. This, of course, is its purpose. As long as men and women think of themselves as little more than fungible units in a group-think monolith, they and their children will continue to be ground down into a common pulp useful only to their masters. Collectivism is a religion for losers; a belief system that allows the state to marshal the wealth and energies of people for a coerced redistribution to those it favors. Barack Obama did not invent this vulgar, anti-life concept that he works so assiduously to expand. The collectivist proposition had long been in place when George W. Bush echoed its sentiments in the phrase ‘if you’re not with us, you’re against us.’ Nor are the protoplasmic units (i.e., you and I) to be heard questioning the purposes or the costs of our subordination to what is the basic premise of every political system. The state shields itself from such inquiries under the pretense that ‘national security’ would be threatened thereby.”

How to lose friends …: "Instead of reaffirming the importance of our relationship with Israel, Obama has renewed our membership in the United Nations Human Rights Council, presided over by exemplars of self-determination and human dignity, such as Libya, Syria, and Angola. The hobbyhorse of this organization is accusing Israel of war crimes, which isn’t surprising. Noted intellectual George Gilder argues in his most recent book, The Israel Test, that where you stand on Israel — not always, but in general — is an indication about how you feel about the ideals of liberty and capitalism. The debate over Israel, he claims, is the manifestation of a deeper moral and ideological war around the world.”

California reports on excessive regulation: "A report was recently released by the State of California detailing the cost of regulation to the state’s economy. The results are damning. Regulation costs just under half a trillion dollars annually. It costs the state four million jobs. It costs the state twelve billion in taxes. The cost to the state’s economy is equal to what is currently one third of the state’s GDP. The twelve billion in taxes would close the existing budget gap without resorting to fancy accounting. The four million jobs would put the state’s unemployment rate below, instead of above, the national average.”

If you want to know what's true of Leftists, see what they say about conservatives: "One of the best lines in Sam Tanenhaus’s wonderful little book on The Death of Conservatism comes in its opening chapter. Surveying intellectual life on the right in the opening months of the Obama administration, Tanenhaus concludes that too many conservative intellectuals ‘recognize no distinction between analysis and advocacy, or between the competition of ideas and the naked struggle for power.’ Quite so, as one can see from the response (or non-response) of the right to Tanenhaus’s own book. Tanenhaus is a tough critic of the conservative movement, but he is also a deeply informed one.”


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, September 28, 2009

Barack Obama’s Dance with Despots

Here’s the lead from the Associated Press’ Havana bureau feed early on the morning of September 23, 2009: “HAVANA - Barack Obama's call for action on climate change and his admission that rich nations have a particular responsibility to lead has received strong praise from an unusual source - U.S. nemesis Fidel Castro.”

Now, here’s the problem with that lead: we now have a President of the United States whose most avid plaudits come from two-bit, tin-horn Marxist dictators who have spent their entire adult lives imprisoning, murdering, and maiming their enslaved minions.

And to make matters worse, that President – Barack “Sorry-to-be-an-American” Obama – is in lockstep agreement with all of what Castro says and much of what Castro does. How do we know that? Well, let’s look at the record.

In August of this year, Obama delivered a 53-minute medley of his favorite apologies to what amounted to a pep rally for Latin American dictators. Included among his supine we-a culpas was this gem in reference to the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion: “I’m grateful that President Ortega did not blame me for things that happened when I was three months old.”

Well, so much for the brave Cuban freedom fighters who died at the Bay of Pigs vainly attempting to rescue their country from the bloodied hands of Fidel Castro. So much for JFK’s declaration that “We will support any friend and oppose any foe to assure the survival and success of liberty.” And so much for the truth: Barack Obama wasn’t even born when the invasion occurred.

As if to make sure his amigo bueno Fidel got the bouquet, Obama then proceeded to pull the plug on the highly popular “Freedom Message” ticker on the US mission building in Havana. Twenty-five feet long, its bright red letters emblazoned in the sky, the ticker’s inspiring words of encouragement from democratic leaders like Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln, and Lech Walesa had served as a beacon of hope for the Cuban people. But, alas, that was clearly not the kind of “hope” Barack Obama intended to foster.

No wonder, then, Obama felt compelled to warmly embrace the Venezuelan despot Hugo Chavez at the same Latin America Despots Dance at which he cuddled up to Danny and Fidel. In return, Chavez lauded Obama as “more of a Marxist than Fidel and me.” He enthused that “the changes that started in Venezuela in the last decade of the 20th century have begun to reach North America.” And he warned his compadre Barack not to go too fast in socializing the US lest he create a backlash.

Obama, for his part – ever the faithful amigo intimo ¬– repaid Chavez loyalty first by appointing Arturo Valenzuela as the Obama Administration’s “Western Hemisphere Czar.” Sr. Valenzuela, it should be noted, considers Chavez one of the history’s greatest Latin American leaders. He has even gone so far as to praise Chavez’ crackdown on Venezuela’s formerly free press.

Not content with putting Hugo’s good buddy in charge of everything Latino, Obama added injury to insult by appointing Chavez’ lickspittle Mark Lloyd as the Federal Communications Commission’s “Diversity Officer.” Not only does Mr. Lloyd agree with Mr. Valenzuela that Venezuela’s free press was an anathema, he has even gone so far as to praise Chavez for his “incredible revolution” that gutted the country’s democratic institutions top to bottom.

So, it’s little wonder that we now have “a President of the United States whose most avid plaudits come from two-bit, tin-horn Marxist dictators who have spent their entire adult lives imprisoning, murdering, and maiming their own people” kowtowing to like-minded despots at every opportunity. And creating opportunities where none exist.

Which, of course, is exactly what he did in the UN speech that won Castro’s praise. In essentially apologizing (once again) for all things American and declaring that “rich nations have a particular responsibility to lead” in de-industrializing the world, Obama has shown (once again) that he can tout Marxist dogma with the best (no, make that the worst) of them.

It is, of course, the “rich” nations that gave the world such onerous commodities as electricity, transportation, modern communications, and advanced medicine. Not to mention food, potable water, the clothes on our backs, and the roofs over our heads. And it is the rich nations of the world that brought hope from despair, light from darkness, and dreams of a better tomorrow to the nightmarish lives of hundreds of millions of Third World minions.

That’s the message the President of the United States should have delivered to the Two-Bit Tyrants of Turtle Bay, who huddle in the lap of luxury to denigrate democracy while swilling its largesse. But, unfortunately, it is not what this President of the United States believes. So, he bellows his own bellicose denunciations of all who have labored long and hard to build a better world – while basking in the glow of Fidel Castro’s poisonous approval.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, a posturing, preening Barack Obama piously advised the American people to “Judge me by the people with whom I surround myself.” We are, Mr. Obama. Yes, sadly, we finally are.



Don't regulate banking – liberalise it

Comment from Britain: It's ludicrous to call the current financial system in Britain or the USA laissez-faire

Barack Obama's speech on Monday to Wall Street outlines an overhaul of the regulatory regime. On the anniversary of the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, politicians from both sides of the Atlantic are looking to remodel capitalism. The thirst for greater regulation is strong, united around Gordon Brown's judgment that "laissez-faire has had its day … the old idea that the markets were efficient and could work themselves out by themselves are gone".

The notion that the present financial system is "laissez-faire" is, of course, ludicrous. At present, we have a nationalised organisation that holds a state-granted monopoly on the issuance of currency. If this were any industry other than finance, the Bank of England would be seen as the Soviet-style planning board that it is.

Defending laissez-faire is therefore not a defence of the status quo; it is a positive prescription for a totally new regime. Here are three courses of action that would liberalise the banking system:

1. Legalise insider trading. The regulators have failed spectacularly. They did not foresee the systemic risk created by excess credit creation and over-leveraging, and it would be naive to expect any single organisation to steward an entire industry. Demonising hedge funds and banning short-selling miss the point since these are the ultimate protest vote for market participants. The meltdown of a year ago would not have happened had protesters been truly able to act on their knowledge; legalising insider trading would allow asset prices to integrate as much information as possible.

2. Repeal legal tender laws. When sovereigns control currency, they debase gold coins to augment their own coffers. When politicians control currency, they print money to monetise their debts. Even by giving control to independent central banks, we haven't found a way to protect the value of money, since there is still a monopoly provider with an incentive to inflate. The best form of consumer protection is competition, and commercial institutions should be allowed to offer currency to allow markets to determine the most effective medium of exchange.

3. Eradicate crony capitalism. The official narrative is that when Lehman Brothers failed, it sparked a crisis of such proportions that state action was the only way to prevent another Great Depression. But as we start to learn more about what went on behind closed doors, things become murkier. The haphazard manner in which some banks went bankrupt and others were bailed out probably has more to do with personal networks than economic necessity. But even if you have faith in the government to exercise its powers in the public interest, it simply doesn't have the knowledge to act. It's understandable that Hank Paulson put more emphasis on Wall Street than on conservative banks that spend less on lobbying, because that's the world he lives in. For the rest of us, these deals create regime uncertainty and weaken the power of markets.

These radical proposals challenge conventional wisdom and, in doing so, manifestly demonstrate that the present system is not laissez-faire. We have just scratched the surface of a free-market alternative, and critics have an intellectual obligation to admit this. Let's open the debate to a free market in money.



In Afghanistan, let U.S. troops be warriors

There was an international uproar when, on Sept. 4, in Afghanistan's Kunduz province, an American fighter jet under NATO command bombed a group of Taliban fighters who had hijacked two fuel tanker trucks. The trucks exploded, the fighters were killed, and so were a still-undetermined number of Afghan civilians.

The civilian deaths sent shudders through the American military command, already fearful that civilian casualties would further alienate the Afghan public. Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top American commander in Afghanistan, was said to be angry and determined to tighten the U.S. force's already-strict rules of engagement even more to avoid future civilian deaths.

Then something odd happened. When McChrystal met with local leaders in Kunduz, a few days after the bombing, he got an earful -- but not what he expected.

According to a detailed account in The Washington Post -- a story that has received too little attention in the ongoing debate over U.S. policy in Afghanistan -- the local Afghan leaders told McChrystal to stop being so fussy and to go ahead and kill the enemy, which they said would help bring stability to the region.

Post reporter Rajiv Chandrasekaran was given extraordinary access to the bombing investigation. According to his account, McChrystal began the meeting with a show of sympathy for those who had been killed or wounded. The general didn't get very far before he was interrupted by the provincial council chairman, Ahmadullah Wardak.

The security situation has been getting worse in Kunduz, Wardak told McChrystal. American and NATO troops haven't been aggressive enough in pursuing and killing the Taliban. In Wardak's view, the bombing of the fuel tankers, rather than a mistake, was the right thing to do.

"If we do three more operations like was done the other night, stability will come to Kunduz," Wardak said, according to the Post account. "If people do not want to live in peace and harmony, that's not our fault."

Chandrasekaran reported that McChrystal "seemed caught off guard." Wardak clarified a bit more: "We've been too nice to the thugs," he said.




Net neutrality is theft: "In an article for the Associated Press, reporter Daniel Lovering describes soon-to-be-proposed rules on ‘Net Neutrality’ as ‘prohibit(ing) Internet service providers from interfering with the free flow of information and certain applications over their networks.’ The cries of ‘interference’ are standard rhetoric from those who support regulation of the Internet, intentionally ignoring the fact that Internet infrastructure isn’t free. The very term, ‘neutrality’, is a nice-sounding but intentionally misleading description of the policy.” [See also here and here]

Volcker Says Obama Plan Leaves Opening for Bailouts: "Paul A. Volcker, a top White House economic adviser, said Thursday that the Obama administration’s proposed overhaul of financial rules would preserve the policy of “too big to fail” and could lead to future banking bailouts. Mr. Volcker, a former Federal Reserve chairman, told Congress that by designating some companies as critical to the broader financial system, the administration’s plans would create an expectation that those companies enjoy government backing in tough times. That implies those financial companies “will be sheltered by access to a federal safety net,” he said. He urged lawmakers to make clear that nonbank companies would not be saved with federal money."

Obama pursues arms control treaties; Iran builds the bomb: "The President brought his soaring sermon about "a world without [nuclear] weapons" before the U.N. General Assembly. He called for a new arms control treaty and won Security Council support for a vague resolution on proliferation. On cue yesterday, Iran showed the world what determined rogues think about such treaties. On the evidence of his Presidency so far, Mr. Obama will not let that reality interfere with his disarmament dreams. The disclosure that Iran has a second facility to make bomb-grade fuel, the latest of many Tehran deceptions, isn't exactly surprising. Administration officials say U.S. intelligence has known about the secret underground plant near the city of Qom for years. Iran sought other hidden sites after the Natanz facility was discovered in 2002, and now officials say they suspect there are other facilities too."

A property rights victory in New Jersey, of all places: "Last week saw a major victory for property rights, as besieged homeowners in New Jersey claimed victory against politicians and developers trying to seize their land. This continues the nationwide grassroots effort to stop government abuse of eminent domain power since the Supreme Court's misguided 2005 Kelo ruling. This story began back in the mid 1990s, when the city of Long Branch marked the well-kept neighborhoods of a cottagy beach community "in need of redevelopment." Residents were told that their homes and property were "blighted" and were to be handed over to real-estate developers for a more than $100 million condo project. The families, represented by the Institute for Justice, protested but the confiscation was initially allowed to proceed by state judge Lawrence Lawson. In August 2008, a three-judge panel of the New Jersey Appellate Division unanimously reversed and remanded that decision, saying that the city did not have enough evidence to declare the area blighted. And last Tuesday the city of Long Branch agreed to drop their eminent domain claims."

The law-ignoring lawyer: "As reported two weeks ago in The Patriot Post (and practically nowhere else), Indiana Treasurer Richard Murdock filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking review of the legality of the Obama-forced bankruptcy of Chrysler, LLC. Murdock is petitioning the Court to rule on Barack Obama's blatant disregard of the U.S. Constitution, Article 1, Section 8, which explicitly authorizes Congress, and not the president, to determine bankruptcy laws. In particular, Murdock is challenging the president's unashamed indifference to more than 220 years of bankruptcy precedent, which puts senior, or secured, creditors ahead of junior, or unsecured, creditors during bankruptcy proceedings."

Federal Reserve Scandal Bigger than ACORN: "But the question of what the Federal Reserve is doing with trillions of taxpayer dollars makes the ACORN scandal look like peanuts. For the first time, a hearing is being held on Rep. Ron Paul's Federal Reserve Transparency Act of 2009 (H.R. 1207) by the House Committee on Financial Services. Grass-roots pressure has been credited with forcing the hearing into what has happened to trillions of dollars supposedly spent by the Federal Reserve on the stabilization of the financial system... While the ACORN scandal involves tens of millions of taxpayer dollars and became a national scandal because of the videos, some other videos that examine what has happened to trillions of dollars involving the Federal Reserve have become increasingly popular. These videos, however, don't involve undercover footage. Rather, they show Rep. Alan Grayson trying to pin down government officials at congressional hearings on what has happened to the missing money."

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)


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Barack Obama, College Administrator

Our commander-in-chief seems to think he’s president of the University of America

By Victor Davis Hanson

If you are confused by the first nine months of the Obama administration, take solace that there is at least a pattern. The president, you see, thinks America is a university and that he is our campus president. Keep that in mind, and almost everything else makes sense.

Obama went to Occidental, Columbia, and Harvard without much of a break, taught at the University of Chicago, and then surrounded himself with academics, first in his stint at community organizing and then when he went into politics. It shows. In his limited experience, those who went to Yale or Harvard are special people, and the Ivy League environment has been replicated in the culture of the White House.

Note how baffled the administration is by sinking polls, tea parties, town halls, and, in general, “them” — the vast middle class, which, as we learned during the campaign, clings to guns and Bibles, and which has now been written off as blinkered, racist, and xenophobic. The earlier characterization of rural Pennsylvania has been expanded to include all of Middle America.

For many in the academic community who have not worked with their hands, run businesses, or ventured far off campus, Middle America is an exotic place inhabited by aborigines who bowl, don’t eat arugula, and need to be reminded to inflate their tires. They are an emotional lot, of some value on campus for their ability to “fix” broken things like pipes and windows, but otherwise wisely ignored. Professor Chu, Obama’s energy secretary, summed up the sense of academic disdain that permeates this administration with his recent sniffing about the childish polloi: “The American people . . . just like your teenage kids, aren’t acting in a way that they should act.” Earlier, remember, Dr. Chu had scoffed from his perch that California farms were environmentally unsound and would soon disappear altogether, “We’re looking at a scenario where there’s no more agriculture in California.”

It is the role of the university, from a proper distance, to help them, by making sophisticated, selfless decisions on health care and the environment that the unwashed cannot grasp are really in their own interest — deluded as they are by Wal-Mart consumerism, Elmer Gantry evangelicalism, and Sarah Palin momism. The tragic burden of an academic is to help the oppressed, but blind, majority.

In the world of the university, a Van Jones — fake name, fake accent, fake underclass pedigree, fake almost everything — is a dime a dozen. Ward Churchill fabricated everything from his degree to his ancestry, and was given tenure, high pay, and awards for his beads, buckskin, and Native American–like locks. The “authentic” outbursts of Van Jones about white polluters and white mass-murderers are standard campus fare. In universities, such over-the-top rhetoric and pseudo-Marxist histrionics are simply career moves, used to scare timid academics and win release time, faculty-adjudicated grants, or exemption from normal tenure scrutiny. Skip Gates’s fussy little theatrical fit at a Middle American was not his first and will not be his last.

Obama did not vet Jones before hiring him because he saw nothing unusual (much less offensive) about him, in the way that Bill Ayers likewise was typical, not an aberration, on a campus. Just as there are few conservatives, so too there are felt to be few who should be considered radicals in universities. Instead everyone is considered properly left, and even fringe expressions are considered normal calibrations within a shared spectrum. The proper question is not “Why are there so many extremists in the administration?” but rather “What’s so extreme?”

Some people are surprised that the administration is hardly transparent and, in fact, downright intolerant of dissent. Critics are slurred as racists and Nazis — usually without the fingerprints of those who orchestrated the smear campaign from higher up. The NEA seems to want to dish out federal money to “artists” on the basis of liberal obsequiousness. The president tells the nation that his wonderful programs are met with distortion and right-wing lies, and that the time for talking is over — no more partisan, divisive bickering in endless debate.

That reluctance to engage in truly diverse argumentation again reveals the influence of the academic world on Team Obama. We can have an Eric Holder–type “conversation” (a good campusese word), but only if held on the basis of the attorney general’s one-way notion of racial redress.

On most campuses, referenda in the academic senate (“votes of conscience”) on gay marriage or the war in Iraq are as lopsided as Saddam’s old plebiscites. Speech codes curb free expression. Groupthink is the norm. Dissent on tenure decisions, questioning of diversity, or skepticism about the devolution in the definition of sexual harassment — all that can be met with defamation. The wolf cry of “racist” is a standard careerist gambit. Given the exalted liberal ends, why quibble over the means?

Some wonder where Obama got the idea that constant exposure results in persuasion. But that too comes from the talk-is-everything mindset of a university president. Faculties are swamped with memos from deans, provosts, and presidents, reiterating their own “commitment to diversity,” reminding how they would not “tolerate hate speech,” and in general blathering about the “campus community.” University administrators instruct faculty on everything from getting a flu shot, to covering up when coughing, to how to make a syllabus and avoid incorrect words.

Usually the frequency of such communiqués spikes when administrators are looking for a job elsewhere and want to establish a fresh paper trail so that their potential new employers can be reminded of their ongoing progressive credentials.

Obama has simply emulated the worldview and style of a college administrator. So he thinks that reframing the same old empty banalities with new rhetorical flourishes and signs of fresh commitment and empathy will automatically result in new faculty converts. There is no there there in health-care reform, but opponents can be either bullied, shamed, or mesmerized into thinking there is.

Czars are a university favorite. Among the frequent topics of the daily university executive communiqués are the formulaic “My team now includes . . . ,” “I have just appointed . . . ,” “Under my direction . . . ” (that first-person overload is, of course, another Obama characteristic), followed by announcement of a new “special” appointment: “special assistant to the president for diversity,” “acting assistant provost for community affairs and external relations,” “associate dean for curriculum enhancement and development.”

Most of these tasks are either unnecessary or amply covered by existing faculty, department chairs, and deans. Czars, however, proliferated on campuses for fairly obvious reasons. First, they are spotlights illuminating the university administration’s commitment to a particular fashionable cause by the showy creation of a high-profile, highly remunerative new job. When loud protests meet the university’s inability to create a new department or fund a trendy but costly special program, administrators often take their loudest critics and make them czars — satisfying the “base” without substantial policy changes.

Second, czars are a way to circumvent the usual workings of the university, especially faculty committees in which there is an outside chance of some marginalized conservative voting against putting “Race, Class, and Gender in the Latina Cinema” into the general-education curriculum.

Special assistants for and associates of something or other are not vetted. Czars create an alternative university administration that can create special billets, hire adjuncts (with de facto security), and obtain budgeting without faculty oversight. The special assistant or associate rarely is hired through a normal search process open to the campus community, but rather is simply selected and promoted by administrative fiat.

One of the most disturbing characteristics of the new administration is a particular sort of whining or petulance. Dissatisfaction arises over even favorable press coverage — as we saw last weekend, when Obama serially trashed the obsequious media that he had hogged all day.

Feelings of being underappreciated by the public for all one’s self-sacrificial efforts are common university traits. We’ve seen in the past a certain love/hate relationship of Professor Obama with wealthy people — at first a Tony Rezko, but now refined and evolved much higher to those on Wall Street that the administration in schizophrenic fashion both damns and worships.

Michelle Obama during the campaign summed up best her husband’s wounded-fawn sense of sacrifice when she said, “Barack is one of the smartest people you will ever encounter who will deign to enter this messy thing called politics.”

Academic culture also promotes this idea that highly educated professionals deigned to give up their best years for arduous academic work and chose to be above the messy rat race. Although supposedly far better educated, smarter (or rather the “smartest”), and more morally sound than lawyers, CEOs, and doctors, academics gripe that they, unfairly, are far worse paid. And they lack the status that should accrue to those who teach the nation’s youth, correct their papers, and labor over lesson plans. Obama reminded us ad nauseam of all the lucre he passed up on Wall Street in order to return to the noble pursuit of organizing and teaching in Chicago.

In short, campus people have had the bar raised on themselves at every avenue. Suggest to an academic that university pay is not bad for ninth months’ work, often consisting of an actual six to nine hours a week in class, and you will be considered guilty of heresy if not defamation.

University administrators worship private money, and then among themselves scoff at the capitalism that created it. Campus elites, looking at a benefactor, are fascinated how someone — no brighter than they are — made so much money, even as they are repelled by a system that allows those other than themselves to have pulled it off. No wonder that Obama seems enchanted by a Warren Buffett, even as he trashes the very landscape that created Berkshire Hathaway’s riches. No president has raised more money from Wall Street or has given it more protection from accountability — while at the same time demagoguing it as selfish and greedy.

Many of the former Professor Obama’s problems so far hinge on his administration’s inability to judge public opinion, its own self-righteous sense of self, its non-stop sermonizing, and its suspicion of sincere dissent. In other words, the United States is now a campus, we are the students, and Obama is our university president.



Who does he think he's kidding?

On Wednesday, Barack Obama addressed the UN. If this was supposed to be a triumphant projection of the wonders of his foreign policy, his timing was singularly unfortunate. It was as if he had unveiled his shiny new bus after the wheels had come off and the engine had fallen out.

His speech set out the approach that we all know by now: soft power, apologising for America, hand of friendship extended to enemies of America, upholding human rights for enemy combatants, desire to channel foreign policy through the club of terror UN, ‘engaging with the world’ and ‘leading by example’ -- particularly by apologising for America. This approach was to be the antidote to the supposed gung-ho militarism of George W Bush. Swords would be beaten into ploughshares, genocidal lunatics would swap recipes and holiday snaps with their erstwhile victims and there would be peace on earth and the brotherhood of man. But we can see that everywhere Obama has applied this policy approach it has failed, humiliating America by revealing it to be weak, incompetent and naive to the point of imbecility and thus strenghtening the enemies of America and the free world.

In the Middle East, his policy has collapsed. Obama’s giant grovel to the Muslim world in Cairo failed to shift any belligerents or impress the rest.

His extended hand of friendship to Iran’s murderous regime had the effect of abandoning those Iranians who are fighting and dying for freedom from tyranny, while failing to stop, delay or in any way deter Iran from developing a nuclear bomb.

He made America less safe by abandoning the central European missile defence shield against Iran, showing contempt for Poland and the Czech Republic along the way.

He has rewarded North Korea for its continued belligerency by agreeing to its demand for bilateral talks.

His engagement with Syria has failed to end its support for Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza.

As far as Israel and the Palestinians are concerned, Obama marched his troops to the top of the hill only to have to march them down again with their tail between their legs. In response to his bullying over the settlements, Israel faced him down by agreeing to a Palestine state; but stipulating that for this to happen the Palestinians must accept the existence of Israel as a Jewish state. With the Palestinians loudly refusing to do so, thus demonstrating that it is they who refuse to accept a two-state solution, Obama has nevertheless forced ‘peace process’ negotiations to restart between Israel and a Palestinian leadership which refuses to accept the existence of Israel and says there is nothing to discuss. While he grovels to America’s enemies, Obama continues to treat its ally, Israel, as an enemy. As former UN ambassador John Bolton observed:
The most significant point of the speech was how the president put Israel on the chopping block in a variety of references, from calling Israeli settlements in the West Bank illegitimate to talking about ending ‘the occupation that began in 1967.’

On TV Bolton also said:
As I say, I think it’s the most anti-Israel speech I can remember by an American president, and the important thing is, when you have the Palestinians in as a weak of a position as they are now, and to have Barack Obama be their lawyer in effect, puts them in a very strong bargaining place.

Meanwhile, Obama is now dithering disastrously over his own policy in Afghanistan which he is trying to ditch. Having previously announced a ‘surge’ there of more troops he is now refusing to provide them, thus causing a major rift with the American commander in Afghanistan....

Then there is the catalogue of Mr. Obama's embarrassing moments on the world stage, a list which includes: giving England's Queen Elizabeth II an iPod with his speeches on it; giving British Prime Minister Gordon Brown a collection of DVDs that were not formatted to the European standard (by contrast, Mr. Brown gave Mr. Obama an ornamental desk-pen holder made from the oak timbers of Victorian anti-slaver HMS Gannet, among other historically significant gifts); calling ‘Austrian’ a language; bowing to the Saudi king; releasing a photo of a conference call with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in which the president was showing the soles of his shoes to the camera (an Arab insult); saying ‘let me be absolutely clear. Israel is a strong friend of Israel’s’; saying the United States was ‘one of the largest Muslim countries in the world’; suggesting Arabic translators be shifted from Iraq to Afghanistan where Arabic is not a native language; sending a letter to French President Jacques Chirac when Nicolas Sarkozy was the president of France; holding a town-hall meeting in France and not calling on a single French citizen; and referring to ‘Cinco de Cuatro’ in front of the Mexican ambassador when he meant Cinco de Mayo.

It would be hilarious if it weren’t so frightening that the leader of the western world, in the face of a war to destroy that world, should be so utterly incompetent and out of his depth.



BrookesNews Update

Stock market crashes and market efficiency: Despite the remarkable explanatory power of the Austrian theory of the boom bust cycle the vast economists insist on looking elsewhere for an explanation of market 'bubbles', speculative frenzies and depressions. They completely overlook the obvious: only sustained credit expansion can inflate share prices and fuel lengthy speculative frenzies
Why the Fed's monetary pumping is inflationary : The Fed's new monetary set-up to counter any threats to the economy without compromising the goals of price stability and full employment will result in a reckless monetary expansion that will destabilize the economy. In short, it will have the reverse effect
China's growth is no threat to the world's resources: The greens and their media stooges are at it again. China is going to ruin the planet by raping her resources and poisoning the atmosphere. Baloney. There is something vaguely obscene about comfortably placed Western intellectuals objecting to Third World peasants aspiring and striving to reach a Western standard of living. Obama appoints a radical
Muslim to top position in the Department of Home Security : Obama has appointed Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Arif Alikhan as Assistant Secretary for the Office of Policy Development at the Department of Homeland. The same Arif Alikhan who derailed the LAPD's plan to plan to monitor pro-terrorist activities the Los Angeles Muslim community, making the anti-terrorist program dead on arrival. The same man who hates Israel, supports its destruction and publicly defends the terrorist group Hamas. Under Obama Americans are becoming less safe by the day
Missile defence and Obama's abject surrender to Moscow and Tehran : On the 70th anniversary of the invasion of Poland by Soviet troops Obama broke a promise, destroyed US credibility, betrayed Central Europe, the NATO alliance and the American people by surrendering missile defence to Moscow and the islamo-Nazi regime that rules Iran. By doing so he signaled to Moscow, Tehran, North Korea and their allies that they now have a free hand. Only a leftwing ideologue who thinks America is the root of the world's problems could do something so incredibly stupid
Obama and the stakes in Honduras : Why did Obama and his advisers side with Zelay, a leftwing thug and a Chavez stooge, the man who wanted to turn Honduras into a Marxist dictatorship? No wonder Castro, Ortega and Chavez are happy. Obama is doing their dirty work for them. It seems that this administration is intent on legitimizing America's enemies at the expense of her allies.
The question is - why Is the US Government bankrupt? : Americans must either accept responsibility for their own lives and reduce the role of government in their most important affairs, or a chaotic future with citizen against citizen and neighbor against neighbor will be their fate. The founders and many great leaders warned Americans of the dangers of unlimited government
Color Me Racist :I'm in awe of the left. Though they have admitted not knowing the details of the 1,000 plus pages of the Obama health care 'reform', they have managed to divine what is in my heart. And the hearts of millions of others. And it's called racism. Despite having elected a black president, the left would have us believe that the millions of whites who voted for Obama still hate black people


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, September 26, 2009

Beware the Stalin in progressive hearts

If nothing else, the Obama eruption in American politics is steadily revealing the stark reality behind the progressive movement - the totalitarian temptation is always there and, for more than a few, possessing the official power to compel sooner or later becomes irresistible.

Not everybody on the left, of course. Some of the folks I most admire in this town are liberals whose work on behalf of values like transparency in government and protecting civil liberties is remarkable and essential.

Still, that this danger is real and growing becomes more obvious as public opposition grows to the president's across-the-board campaign to turn Washington into the all-powerful, centralized behemoth that Woodrow Wilson and FDR could only dream about. Consider: Nowhere does the Constitution grant Congress authority to require every American to buy a particular private service or product on pain of forfeiture of a significant portion of their wealth. Yet, every version of Obamacare currently being discussed in Congress requires just that.

Forcing all of us to buy officially approved health insurance is essential to a functioning government-run system. As Obama told Congress, "many of insurance reforms we seek - especially requiring insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions - cannot be achieved" without the individual mandate.

Why? Because the politicians and bureaucrats who will manage the government-run health care program know that, without the force of government behind them, they won't be able to make the rest of us do what they tell us to do.

Once the power is granted, the question becomes how severe will the enforcement be. Fines will suffice, for Obamacare, for now. For Stalin, the first choice was usually the Gulag, or a bullet. It's just a matter of degree.

But that is what government always does as it becomes more costly, intrusive and intolerant of dissent. As if to drive the point home, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a gag order this week telling all private companies participating in the Medicare Advantage program to shut up. Violators would face fines and jail time. Forget the First Amendment. The gag order was issued after Humana Corp. sent a letter to its policyholders who participate in Medicare Advantage telling them the facts about Obamacare's effect on the program. The companies were ordered "to end immediately all such mailings to beneficiaries and to remove any related materials directed to Medicare enrollees from your website."

The bureaucrats added this blunt threat: "Please be advised that we take this matter very seriously and, based upon the findings of our investigation, will pursue compliance and enforcement actions. ...." Those, my friends, are the words of soft tyranny. How much longer before it becomes a hard tyranny?

History - and the words of progressives themselves - suggest not long. Consider New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman's telling admiration for the communist thugs who run the Chinese government: "One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonabley enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century."

That in a nutshell is the totalitarian temptation that plagues all who would use the power of the state to impose their vision of the good society on the rest of us. It's the ever-present Stalin whispering in the progressive ear: "Ignore those reactionary, loud-mouthed, ignorant Tea Party protesters and decree Obamacare, Waxman-Markey, and all the rest of it. Do it now while you have the power!"

And if the dissenters won't be quiet, Bill Ayers, Obama's once-and-future colleague, can always dust off his copy of that old Weather Underground plan for FEMA re-education camps in the desert southwest.

You think I exaggerate? Read National Review Editor Jonah Goldberg's "Liberal Fascism," or historian Paul Johnson's "Modern Times," two books without which you cannot understand where we've been or where we are headed. We may have only two more chances to turn things around, in 2010 and 2012.



Can the Republicans win the House in 2010?

By: Michael Barone

There’s starting to be some speculation that Republicans might recapture a majority in the House in 2010. That would require them to gain 40 seats—the exact number they needed to gain in 1994, the last time they recaptured a majority from the Democrats. Interestingly, I don’t recall anyone predicting the Republicans would win a majority, much less gain the 52 seats they actually did that year, until July 1994, when I wrote an article in U.S. News & World Report suggesting there was a serious possibility they would do so. One reason the commentariat was so late in making such a prediction was that almost no one had been around the last time the Republicans won a majority of House seats, in 1952. In contrast, today’s commentariat remembers that there was a Republican majority in the House just three years ago.

One reason it’s hard to predict who will win which party will win a majority of House seats is that it’s impossible, or at least impracticable, for national pollsters to ask respondents in each of the 435 congressional districts which of the two major party candidates they’ll vote for. Challengers are typically little known even in the weeks just before the election, much less 14 months before—when most challengers haven’t even been picked and many haven’t started running. So pollsters ask the generic ballot question—which party’s candidate will you vote for in the election for House of Representatives. Currently Real Clear Politics reports that Democrats lead Republicans by only 41%-39% in the generic ballot. But there’s a clear difference between the results shown by pollster Scott Rasmussen, who limits his surveys to those he determines to be likely voters, and other pollsters. Rasmussen currently shows Republicans leading 42%-38% and has had them ahead every week since the results he reported June 28—just about the time the House was passing the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill by a 219-212 margin. Other pollsters during the same period have, on average, shown Democrats ahead 44%-39%, with Democrats leading in nine of ten such polls and Republicans ahead by just 1% in the other.

Now comes political scientist Andrew Gelman, on the blog run by the Obama enthusiast and gifted numbers cruncher Nate Silver, saying that the generic polls suggest that Republicans could recapture a House majority in 2010. I have noticed that over the years generic vote questions have tended to understate the ultimate Republican percentage of the popular vote for the House; Gelman says his research indicates “the out-party consistently outperforms the generic polls.” Gelman says that in current generic polls Democrats get 52% of the two-party vote, comparable to what they got in 1946, 1994 and 1998—all years in which Republicans got more popular votes and won more House seats than Democrats.

Wisely, Gelman notes it’s still early; opinion which has shifted away from the Democrats during the first eight months of the Obama term could shift the other way in the next 14 months. He also notes, again I think wisely, “the general unpopularity of the Republicans.” But I think there’s less to his third caveat, that “it will be year 2 of the presidential term, not year 6 which is historically the really bad year for the incumbent party.” Historically, yes, but not in recent times. Ronald Reagan’s Republicans and Bill Clinton’s Democrats lost more seats in year 2 than in year 6; only George W. Bush of the presidents of the last 30 years saw his party do worse in year 6 than year 2. Reagan’s Republicans suffered from recession and high unemployment; Clinton’s Democrats suffered from liberal overreach. Both factors could—not necessarily will, but could—work against Barack Obama’s Democrats next year.

Having said all that, I think the chances of the Republicans recapturing the House have to be rated now at well below 50%. But I think they’re not as negligible as I thought even a few weeks ago.



At the U.N., Terrorism Pays

It was my duty as defense minister to stop Hamas rockets, says EHUD BARAK below

This week the United Nation's Human Rights Council produced a 600-page report alleging that Israel carried out war crimes in Gaza. The Goldstone Report —named for its chief investigator Richard Goldstone— also asserts that Israel's motives for its operation against Hamas nine months ago were purely political. I am outraged by these accusations. Let me explain why.

It is the duty of every nation to defend itself. This is a basic obligation that all responsible governments owe their citizens. Israel is no different. After enduring eight years of ongoing rocket fire —in which 12,000 missiles were launched against our cities, and after all diplomatic efforts to stop this barrage failed— it was my duty as defense minister to do something about it. It's as simple and self-evident as the right to self-defense.

While such logic eluded Mr. Goldstone and his team, it was crystal clear to the thousands of Israeli children living in southern Israel who had to study, play, eat and sleep while being preoccupied about the distance to the nearest bomb shelter. When I accompanied then-presidential candidate Barack Obama on his visit to the shelled city of Sderot, he said "If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I'm going to do everything in my power to stop that. And I would expect Israelis to do the same thing." Too bad the Human Rights Council wasn't listening.

Whenever we are forced to defend our own lives, it is our obligation to do so in a way that ensures that the lives of innocent civilians on the other side are protected. This duty becomes extremely difficult when we have to face an enemy that intentionally deploys its forces in densely populated areas, stores its explosives in private homes, and launches rockets from crowded school yards and mosques. In Gaza, we reached out to the civilians via millions of leaflets, telephone calls and text messages urging them to leave areas before we acted.

So when the Goldstone mission gathers testimony from local residents in Hamas-ruled Gaza, but forgets to ask them whether they happened to notice any armed Palestinians during the Israeli operation, or didn't realize that its impartially chosen witnesses happened to be known Hamas operatives according to Israeli intelligence, I begin to question the methodology of such a "fact-finding" effort.

Although I am incensed by the Goldstone Report, I must admit that I was not surprised. It is, more than anything else, a political statement —not a legal analysis. This shameful document was produced by the Human Rights Council, a body whose obsession with Israel has led it to produce more resolutions condemning Israel than all other countries combined. By its lights, the evils of Israel far outweigh those of countries like Burma, Sudan and North Korea.

In its blind zeal to demonize Israel, the council has produced a document that undermines every other democracy struggling to defend itself against terrorism. The message broadcast by this report to the new world order? Terrorism pays.

Yet, an accusation, however ludicrous, is still an accusation, and it mustn't remain unanswered. If the U.N. or anyone else has complaints, they should direct them towards the Israeli government. I have in-depth knowledge about the extent of the Israel Defense Forces' (IDF) efforts to reduce civilian casualties, and I am convinced that the actions our government took are equal to or exceed actions taken by the armed forces of any other democratic nation. Strikes against extremely valuable Hamas targets were aborted in mid-operation due to the unexpected presence of civilians.

Hundreds of thousands of warnings of impending IDF activity were provided to the population by leaflet, radio, telephone and text messages. Humanitarian supplies were allowed to flow into Gaza despite the fact that Hamas shelled the convoys and confiscated the aid they carried.

Israel is not perfect. As much as we as a society try to uphold the IDF's ethical code, mistakes sometimes happen and deviations from procedure occur. Whether we like it or not, Israel is one of the most scrutinized countries in the world. And when we are told that things may not be right, we check it out and, when necessary, prosecute those involved. We are now pursuing two dozen criminal investigations regarding events that occurred in Gaza. We don't need the Human Rights Council, Richard Goldstone, or anyone else to teach us how to maintain the democratic principles which are our lifeblood.

As sobering as the thought may be, terrorists will welcome this report. It has made their work much easier, and the work of their potential victims more difficult. I believe that the time has come for us to put an end to this calculated erosion of common sense. The nations that share democratic values must not allow themselves to be handcuffed by the abusive application of lofty ideals. Democracies should be concentrating on defending themselves from extremism —not from accusations by kangaroo courts.




Veterans' promised tuition checks AWOL: "The U.S. government failed to send promised college tuition checks to tens of thousands of veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars before they returned to school this fall, even after being warned that it was inadequately staffed for the job. The Veterans Affairs Department blamed a backlog of claims filed for GI Bill education benefits that has left veterans who counted on the money for tuition and books scrambling to make ends meet. Out of more than 277,000 veterans who have filed for the college tuition benefits this semester, more than 200,000 claims have been processed and approved, but fewer than 11 percent of the veterans have received the funding, according to the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). The group says it has been contacted by thousands of veterans who have not received their benefits and that they are forced to take out loans or pay the money out of their pockets. "This is absolutely unacceptable," the group said. "The men and women who so courageously served our country in Iraq and Afghanistan deserve better." A VA spokeswoman did not return a call for comment, but in a statement the agency said employees are working overtime to deliver the checks and that retired claims processors have been rehired." [And Obama wants such bunglers to look after your healthcare!]

Jury rejects family's FEMA trailer claims: "A federal jury on Thursday rejected a New Orleans family's claims that the government-issued trailer they lived in after Hurricane Katrina was defective and exposed them to dangerous fumes. A jury of five men and three women decided that a trailer made by Gulf Stream Coach Inc. and occupied by Alana Alexander and her 12-year-old son, Christopher Cooper, was not "unreasonably dangerous" in its construction. The jury also concluded that Fluor Enterprises Inc., which had a contract to install FEMA trailers, wasn't negligent in doing so. The federal government wasn't a defendant in this first of several "bellwether" trials. Gulf Stream denied its trailer jeopardized the health of Alexander and her family. Andrew Weinstock, a lawyer for the Nappanee, Ind.-based company, said FEMA had purchased thousands of trailers from Gulf Stream since 1992 without receiving any formaldehyde complaints until 2006." [Great! The lawyers have lost a goldmine]

Glenn Beck: Probe of ACORN 'bogus': "Conservative commentator Glenn Beck said Thursday the ethics investigation into the community activist group ACORN will yield no meaningful findings unless it reaches into the top levels of the organization or the White House gets involved. "I think this whole thing is bogus," said Mr. Beck, a Fox News talk-show host. ACORN on Wednesday named former Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger, a Democrat, to lead an independent inquiry into the liberal group's social-services program. The inquiry follows the recent release of videotapes showing undercover operatives posing as a prostitute and pimp seeking tax and housing advice at five ACORN offices. "It's a show," Mr. Beck told The Washington Times' "America's Morning News" radio show. "They moved too fast, too quietly. The president is not involved. Until you start going to the people at the top ... the people connected to the White House, you cannot clean up this mess."

Obama at the U.N.: "Barack Obama's excellent New York adventure was all he hoped it would be. He got to make a speech, pave the streets of Manhattan with harmless platitudes, bask in the admiration of various Third World mediocrities and hear himself nominated to be president of the United States for life. "It was an excellent day," he said as night fell, as it always must. All in all, he did no particular harm, and we can all be grateful for that. The messiah had a rough summer, and he was entitled to the pleasure of presiding, if only for a day, over the Children's Hour. With President Obama presiding over "the historic session," the U.N. Security Council approved unanimously an American resolution committing all nations to work for - please sit up straight for this - a world free of nuclear weapons. Somewhere in the fine print was a clause praising small babies, little puppies and chocolate candy. The resolution was so harmless that even Russia, China and several "developing" nations (the usual euphemism for the socialist satraps) voted for the resolution. A good time was clearly had by all."

Spanish Judge expels woman wearing burqah: "A Spanish judge overnight expelled a Muslim woman wearing a burka from his court for refusing to show her face when testifying in the trial of a group of Islamic extremists. "Seeing your face, I can see if you are lying or not, if you are surprised by a question or not," Judge Javier Gomez Bermudez told the woman, the sister of an Islamic radical killed in a suicide bombing in Iraq in 2005. The woman said that her religion forbade her from appearing in public without her burqah, the all-covering article of clothing worn by some Islamic women. When she refused to reveal her face, the judge expelled her from the courtroom. But after speaking to the judge later in his chambers, a compromise was reached. She said she had agreed to testify on Tuesday minus the part of her burqah which normally covers the face "between the chin and the eyebrows" and with her back turned to the public and journalists in the courtroom".


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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)