Monday, November 30, 2009

'This isn't the Britain we fought for,' say the neglected warriors of WWII

Sarah Robinson was just a teenager when World War II broke out. She endured the Blitz, watching for fires during Luftwaffe air raids armed with a bucket of sand. Often she would walk ten miles home from work in the blackout, with bombs falling around her. As soon as she turned 18, she joined the Royal Navy to do her bit for the war effort. Hers was a small part in a huge, history-making enterprise, and her contribution epitomises her generation's sense of service and sacrifice. Nearly 400,000 Britons died. Millions more were scarred by the experience, physically and mentally.

But was it worth it? Her answer - and the answer of many of her contemporaries, now in their 80s and 90s - is a resounding No. They despise what has become of the Britain they once fought to save. It's not our country any more, they say, in sorrow and anger.

Sarah harks back to the days when 'people kept the laws and were polite and courteous. We didn't have much money, but we were contented and happy. 'People whistled and sang. There was still the United Kingdom, our country, which we had fought for, our freedom, democracy. But where is it now?!'

The feelings of Sarah and others from this most selfless generation about the modern world have been recorded by a Tyneside writer, 33-year-old Nicholas Pringle. Curious about his grandmother's generation and what they did in the war, he decided three years ago to send letters to local newspapers across the country asking for those who lived through the war to write to him with their experiences. He rounded off his request with this question: 'Are you happy with how your country has turned out? What do you think your fallen comrades would have made of life in 21st-century Britain?'

What is extraordinary about the 150 replies he received, which he has now published as a book, is their vehement insistence that those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the war would now be turning in their graves. There is the occasional bright spot - one veteran describes Britain as 'still the best country in the world' - but the overall tone is one of profound disillusionment. 'I sing no song for the once-proud country that spawned me,' wrote a sailor who fought the Japanese in the Far East, 'and I wonder why I ever tried.' 'My patriotism has gone out of the window,' said another ex-serviceman.

In the Mail this week, Gordon Brown wrote about 'our debt of dignity to the war generation'. But the truth that emerges from these letters is that the survivors of that war generation have nothing but contempt for his government. They feel, in a word that leaps out time and time again, 'betrayed'.

New Labour, said one ex-commando who took part in the disastrous Dieppe raid in which 4,000 men were lost, was 'more of a shambles than some of the actions I was in during the war, and that's saying something!' He added: 'Those comrades of mine who never made it back would be appalled if they could see the world as it is today. 'They would wonder what happened to the Brave New World they fought so damned hard for.'

Nor can David Cameron [wishy washy Conservative party leader] take any comfort from the elderly. His 'hug a hoodie' advice was scorned by a generation of brave men and women now too scared, they say, to leave their homes at night.

Immigration tops the list of complaints. 'People come here, get everything they ask, for free, laughing at our expense,' was a typical observation. 'We old people struggle on pensions, not knowing how to make ends meet. If I had my time again, would we fight as before? Need you ask?'

Many writers are bewildered and overwhelmed by a multicultural Britain that, they say bitterly, they were never consulted about nor feel comfortable with. 'Our country has been given away to foreigners while we, the generation who fought for freedom, are having to sell our homes for care and are being refused medical services because incomers come first.'

Her words may be offensive to many - and rightly so - but Sarah Robinson defiantly states: 'We are affronted by the appearance of Muslim and Sikh costumes on our streets.' But then political correctness is another thing they take strong issue with, along with politicians generally - 'liars, incompetents and self-aggrandising charlatans' (with the revealing exception of Enoch Powell).

The loss of British sovereignty to the European Union caused almost as much distress. 'Nearly all veterans want Britain to leave the EU,' wrote one. Frank, a merchant navy sailor, thought of those who gave their lives 'for King and country', only for Britain to become 'an offshore island of a Europe where France and Germany hold sway. Ironic, isn't it?'

As a group, they feel furious at not being able to speak their minds. They see the lack of debate and the damning of dissenters as racists or Little Englanders as deeply upsetting affronts to freedom of speech. 'Our British culture is draining away at an ever increasing pace,' wrote an ex-Durham Light Infantryman, 'and we are almost forbidden to make any comment.'

A widow from Solihull blamed the Thatcher years 'when we started to lose all our industry and profit became the only aim in life'. Her husband, a veteran of Dunkirk and Burma, died a disappointed man, believing that his seven years in the Army were wasted. 'It is 18 years since I lost him and as I look around parts of Birmingham today you would never know you were in England,' she wrote. 'He would have hated it. He also disliked the immoral way things are going. I don't think people are really happy now, for all the modern, easy-living conveniences. 'I disagree with same-sex marriages, schoolgirl mothers, rubbish TV programmes, so-called celebrities and, most of all, unlimited immigration. 'I am very unhappy about the way this country is being transformed. I go nowhere after dark. I don't even answer my doorbell then.'

A Desert Rat who battled his way through El Alamein, Sicily, Italy and Greece was in despair. 'This is not the country I fought for. Political correctness, lack of discipline, compensation madness, uncontrolled immigration - the "do-gooders" have a lot to answer for. 'If you see youngsters doing something they shouldn't and you say anything, you just get a mouthful of foul language.'

Undoubtedly, some of the complaints are 'grumpy old man' gripes, as the veterans themselves recognise - from chewing gum on pavements and motorists using mobile phones to the march of computerisation ('why can't I just go to the station and buy a railway ticket?') and the dearth of pop music tunes you can hum. But it is the fundamental change in society's values which they find hardest to come to terms with. Bring back birching and hanging, the sanctions they grew up with, they say. Put more bobbies back on the beat.

'We were rigidly taught good manners and respect for older people,' said a wartime WAAF, 'but the nanny state has ruined all that. Television programmes are full of violence and obscene language. This Land of Hope and Glory is in reality a land of yobs, drug addicts, drunkard youths and teenage mothers who think they are owed all for nothing.' Aged 85, she has little wish to go on living.

For others, the strength of character that got them through the war is still helping them to survive the disappointments of peacetime. A crofter's son from Scotland who served on the Arctic convoys taking supplies to Russia found the immediate post-war years hard. 'In those days we had no welfare support from any source. It was as though we had served our country to the full and were then forgotten. 'However, we were very resilient and determined to make a go of it, and many of us, including myself, succeeded. 'How times have changed now, with the countless many clamouring to get welfare benefits for the asking.'

A medic who made it through Dunkirk and D-Day thought the fallen would be appalled by the lack of manners in modern life and the worship of celebrities, plus 'the patent dishonesty of politicians'.

Another common issue was their bemusement at the idea anyone could live in constant debt. 'We were brought up to believe that if you hadn't the money, you waited till you had!' one wrote. However, this particular man was unusual among the 150 respondents in believing that there were many pluses to modern life. He even had a good word to say about the European Union and felt it would appeal to the fallen 'if only for maintaining the peace in Europe over the past 60 years or so'.

He praised the breaking down of class barriers in Britain compared with the years when he was young and 'infinitely' increased prosperity. 'More clothes, cars, holidays abroad, home ownership. As a young teacher in the Fifties I had one suit (Army issue) and the luxury of a sports jacket and flannels at the weekend. 'Education has made vast progress. In my early days I taught classes of 50. Only five per cent of children went on to further education compared with over 40 per cent today. 'The emancipation of women has also been a huge plus, with the introduction of the Pill a large contributor. Before the war, women teachers were dismissed as soon as they married.'

A Land Girl who laboured on farms in Devon during the war agreed that 'we have so much to be grateful for. 'So much progress has been made to transform the standard of living since the war.' But she could not help asking whether people were any happier. She bemoaned the advent of the Pill and the collapse of sexual morality. 'In my day, drugs were unknown, families remained together, divorce was a rarity and children felt secure. 'Were our sacrifices made so hooligans may run wild? And aggressive behaviour be accepted as the norm by TV interviewers and society in general?'

A captain with a Military Cross for valour under fire thought Britain was still the best country in the world. The 'occasional' sight of parents and nicely dressed children gave an otherwise gloomy veteran of the Italian campaign a sense that 'what we did all those years ago was not for nothing'.

A grandmother, the widow of a Royal Marine who took part in the D-Day landings, felt the National Health Service had descended into chaos but was grateful for a pensioner's free television licence, 'which brings art, travel and animals into my home', and being able to text her grandchildren. Just being alive was a bonus. 'Although I hate what is happening to our country, I am so happy to be here, grumbling, but remembering better, happier days,' she wrote.

But one of the bitterest complaints of the veterans was that their trenchant views on many of the matters aired here were constantly ignored by those in authority. Their letters of complaint to councillors and MPs went unanswered. It was as if they didn't matter, except when wheeled out for the rituals of Remembrance Day. 'Why do so many of the British public confuse sentimentality with genuine concern for others?' asked one letter-writer.

But this was the generation honoured in Remembrance services last weekend, showered with gratitude and teary-eyed sentiments as their dwindling ranks marched unsteadily past the Cenotaph and other war memorials throughout the UK. The overall impression any reader of the letters gets is that this generation feel unheard, unwanted and unimportant. This remarkable collection of their thoughts should give us pause for reflection.

They may be deemed beyond their sell-by date (and many of their views may seem unacceptable, flouting every sort of 'ism' imaginable) but, by their deeds of 60-plus years ago, they have won the right to be listened to and their disillusionment noted with respect. In one letter in this collection, an RAF mechanic quoted a poem about comrades who fell in battle: 'I mourned them then, But now surviving in a world, Indifferent to their hopes and dreams, I grieve more for the living.'



Where the Real Fear Is

You should be very afraid. No, not of Islamic extremists plotting to kill their fellow Americans. After all, “At this point, there is no information to indicate Major Nidal Malik Hasan had any co-conspirators or was part of a broader terrorist plot,” the FBI announced almost immediately after Hasan allegedly opened fire at Fort Hood. That must be the federal version of, “move along, nothing to see here, folks.” And you certainly shouldn’t fear a rapacious and steadily growing federal government. No. Your biggest concern should apparently be…the right-wing militia movement.

“The truth is, is that these groups are popping up like mushrooms after a spring rain,” Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center told CNN reporter Jim Acosta. The network recently aired a long series of reports on the militia movement. The series included images of supposed extremists pledging -- hold on to your hat for this one -- allegiance to the American flag. It also featured men, women and, yes, children, learning how to handle firearms.

“Well, any time we get a Democratic president in the office, people become concerned, including myself, and we get a resurgence out here,” one member told Acosta. He “didn’t want to give his last name,” Acosta explained, over “worries the government will eventually take away his gun rights.”

Well, the last thing anyone wants these days is to catch Uncle Sam’s eye. Liberal civil-liberties attorney Harvey Silverglate estimates the average American now commits three felonies every day without even knowing it (hence the title of his recent book, “Three Felonies a Day”).

Examples abound. A 12-year-old in Georgia spent two days in jail for bringing a Boy Scout knife to school. A Texas man was sent to prison for selling orchids. An Alaska man was detained by federal agents for failing to properly label a UPS package. In today’s overcriminalized society, if the feds decide to charge you with a crime, they’ll find something to pin on you.

Still, the militia members seem more giving than fearful. “They’re prepared to teach anyone, even this reporter, how to fire a semiautomatic weapon like this Russian assault rifle,” Acosta reported over video of himself shooting. If these people were zealots plotting to overthrow the government, would they really be so friendly with a reporter and his camera crew? It sounds as if they’re gun-lovers who simply want to teach others how to use weapons.

“There really is this kind of terrible fear mixed with fury about the idea that President Obama is somehow leading a kind of socialistic, you know, takeover of America,” the SPLC’s Potek adds.

But is “socialism” such a wild accusation? In the last several months the House of Representatives has passed a massive cap-and-trade bill that would raise taxes in order to supposedly combat global warming. It’s passed a massive health care reform bill that could change everyone’s access to medical care in order to supposedly “bend the cost curve.” And it’s passed a “stimulus” bill and a budget that will combine to spend your children and grandchildren into the poorhouse.

And it’s worth noting that the real fear and loathing in this country is on the left. Recently, the liberal publisher of the Falls Church News-Press attempted to explain what’s driving the tea party movement. Conservatives aim to, “Go after those African-Americans (including your president), those immigrants, those gays! Don’t let them have health care! Don’t let them have equal rights! Harass them, beat them up! Yeah, that’s ‘freedom,’ man!” Nicholas Benton wrote. It’s great when the mask slips and liberals show what they really think of their fellow citizens. No wonder they’re so afraid of conservatives, if they really believe this is how we think and act.

A few years ago, the Supreme Court issued its infamous Kelo decision, mistakenly finding it would be constitutional for the city of New London, Conn. to seize private property and turn it over to developers. Dozens of people lost their homes. Ironically, the company that had planned to build an office complex on the land pulled out recently. Now it’s just empty space. That underlines the point: government doesn’t give, it merely takes away.

This Thanksgiving week, let us celebrate above all else the wisdom of the Founding Fathers. Not simply for bequeathing to us the Constitution -- the single greatest governing document in the history of mankind -- but for actually having the foresight to write it down. That ensures that, no matter how mangled the supposed “living” Constitution becomes over the years, there’s at least the chance our country can someday return to its roots by simply reading and following the actual words of our Founders.



ACORN and "Journalistic Standards"

Those who live in glass houses .....

The LA Times' James Rainey writes in his "On Media" column about how the reporting of Hannah Giles and James O'Keefe doesn't stand up to the "standards of journalism." That may be true -- but it takes a lot of nerve to make that claim with a straight face. Especially if you work for the LA Times, which wears its left-wing politics on its sleeve and frequently pays the price for it in reduced credibility.

Rainey castigates Giles and O'Keefe for failing to get ACORN's side of the story. But what does he have to say -- just to take one example -- of the LA Times' decision to run a story alleging mistreatment of women by Arnold Schwarzenegger right before the gubernatorial election in 2003? Democrat Susan Estrich (a professor of law and expert on gender law) pointed out that "Anonymous charges from years ago made in the closing days of a campaign undermine fair politics." That strikes me as a violation of "journalistic standards," too. Yet the Times never apologized.

There are so many examples of misreporting and bias that it would take an eternity to lay it all out. But just to get a little closer to home, how 'bout The New York Times' decision to "cut bait" on a story about Obama's links to ACORN? Anyone think a story that might have damaged, say, Sarah Palin would have been abandoned so readily? (Not if the AP has anything to say about it!)

At the moment, the real journalistic scandal surrounding the press and ACORN has nothing to do with Giles and O'Keefe. Rather, it's how the mainstream press allowed an obviously corrupt organization to continue to operate in the political arena, accepting taxpayer money, with virtually no reporting on its routine illegalities.

This ACORN story that Giles and O'Keefe got was out in the open for every big MSM organization to see. They could have embedded an undercover reporter as a member of ACORN, or done any other countless number of things. And it's hard to believe that, if, say, Operation Rescue had been accused of the kinds of corruption and law-breaking that have longbeen linked with ACORN, the MSM would have politely looked away.

Rainey needs to understand that if he's worried about hard-hitting stories been reported in conformity with "journalistic standards," well, maybe then the press had better start doing some investigative work of its own -- and not just directed against one side of the political spectrum. Nature abhors a vacuum; now that the internet allows regular people to publicize the stories that the MSM conveniently overlooks, this is going to happen more and more.


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 (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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, November 29, 2009

Nothing Israel can offer will ever suit the Palestinians

It was the moment the Palestinians might have had a state, with a capital in East Jerusalem. For a single moment, the dove of peace hovered hopefully over the Middle East. On September 16 last year, the then Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, offered the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, the most far-reaching and comprehensive peace deal any Israeli prime minister has ever offered. Mr Olmert recalls his pleas to Mr Abbas to accept the deal: "I said to him, do you want to keep floating forever - like an astronaut in space - or do you want a state? I told him he'd never get anything like this again from an Israeli leader for 50 years."

Mr Olmert, who as a rule avoids the media these days, has undertaken hours of discussion and interviews with The Weekend Australian and provided unprecedented detail of his peace offer to Mr Abbas. The interviews took place amid growing tension over West Bank settlements. Palestinians appealed to the US yesterday to raise pressure on Israel, saying an Israeli plan to halt new construction in the West Bank was insincere. Presidential adviser Yasser Abed Rabbo urged US envoy George Mitchell to bring about "a real peace process" that would halt all settlement construction.

Mr Olmert says such disputes could have been resolved with his deal. He recalls meeting Mr Abbas more than 35 times for "intense, serious" negotiations, in the two years leading up to the September 16 offer last year. Mr Olmert says his offer to Mr Abbas included a Palestinian state occupying 94 per cent of the West Bank and all of Gaza. This would have allowed Israel to keep the major Jewish population areas in the settlements in the West Bank. But in return he would have given the Palestinians an equal parcel of land from Israel proper in compensation. He offered Palestinian sovereignty over all the Arab areas of East Jerusalem, so that it could function as a capital for the new Palestinian state.

Dividing Jerusalem is an explosive issue in Israeli politics. Mr Olmert recalls his own struggle to come to grips with his offer on Jerusalem: "This was a very sensitive, very painful, soul-searching process. While I firmly believed that historically and emotionally Jerusalem was always the capital of the Jewish people, I was ready that the city should be shared."

Perhaps Mr Olmert's most radical and audacious proposal was for an international administration of the sites in Jerusalem holy to Jews, Muslims and Christians. Mr Olmert proposed forming an area of "no sovereignty" to be administered jointly by Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the new Palestinian state, Israel and the US. He offered to build a tunnel, under Palestinian control, between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Mr Olmert says every European leader, and senior Americans, who knew of the plan acknowledged it as the most far-reaching and extensive peace offer Israel has made.

Mr Olmert still regards Mr Abbas as a peace partner for Israel. "I think he's genuine in his desire to achieve a Palestinian state and he recognises the right of Israel to exist," he says. Mr Olmert speculates that Mr Abbas didn't accept the deal because he felt he could not deliver the Palestinian commitment to it, or perhaps because he feared the outcome of approaching Israeli elections. But nor did Mr Abbas directly reject the deal. Instead he said he wanted to bring experts back with him the next day. But the next day, the Palestinians' chief negotiator postponed the meeting. "I never saw him again," Mr Olmert says.



Israel readying new arms to meet Iran challenge

With cutting-edge anti-missile systems and two new submarines that can carry nuclear weapons, Israel is readying a new generation of armaments designed to defend itself against distant Iran as well as Tehran's proxy armies on its borders.

Having failed to crush Hamas' firepower in its Gaza offensive last winter, or Hezbollah's in its 2006 war in Lebanon, Israel is turning to an increasingly sophisticated mix of defensive technology.

A system that can unleash a metallic cloud to shoot down incoming rockets in the skies over Gaza or Lebanon has already been successfully tested, according to its maker, and is expected to be deployed next year. The army is developing a new generation of its Arrow defense system designed to shoot down Iran's long-range Shihab missiles outside the Earth's atmosphere.

It has three German-made Dolphin submarines and is buying two more. They can be equipped with nuclear-tipped missiles which analysts say could be stationed off the coast of Iran. Israel says Iran, despite its denials, is trying to acquire atomic weapons. It has never confirmed its Dolphin fleet has nuclear capabilities, but senior officials acknowledge that commanders are fast at work devising a strike plan in case diplomacy fails.

Under their overarching fear of nuclear annihilation by Iran, whose regime has repeatedly called for Israel's extinction, the more immediate threat is seen as coming from Iranian-backed Hezbollah and Hamas. Israel's military believes Hezbollah has tripled its prewar arsenal to more than 40,000 rockets, some of which can strike virtually anywhere in Israel _ a dramatic improvement over the short-range missiles fired in 2006.

Hamas has also increased its rocket arsenal since last winter's fighting, said a senior military official who spoke on condition of anonymity in accordance with army regulations. Hamas recently test-fired a rocket that can travel up to 60 kilometers (40 miles), putting the Tel Aviv area within range for the first time, according to Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin, Israel's military intelligence chief.

Israel's defense industry says it is close to deploying Iron Dome, a system that will use cameras and radar to track incoming rockets and shoot them down within seconds of their launch. The system is so sophisticated that it can almost instantly predict where a rocket will land, changing its calculations to account for wind, sun and other conditions in fractions of a second.

Shooting down a missile is a bit like stopping a bullet with a bullet. But Eyal Ron, one of Iron Dome's developers, said his system will fire an interceptor that explodes into a cloud of small pieces which make it unnecessary to score a direct hit.

"It's a great advantage because to bring an interceptor to a target flying at incredible speed to an exact point is very hard," said Ron, a specialist at mPrest Systems Ltd., an Israeli software firm developing the system along with local arms giant Rafael.

He said recent tests in Israel's southern desert were successful, and a final dress rehearsal is expected in December before the system goes live next year.



Texas vs. California -- and the lesson for America as a whole

New Geography, the online magazine created by Joel Kotkin and others with a special focus on demographics and trends, has been tracking the implosion of California in an interesting way: by comparing it to Texas.

Texas and California are America’s two most populous states, together numbering approximately 55 million people, which is only about 6 million less than the United Kingdom, where I live. California, as everyone knows, has a coolness factor that Texas cannot match. Hollywood, Silicon Valley, and wine. Say no more. But, unless one has been living in a cave, everyone knows that the cool state is also the broke state. If Hollywood turned California’s budget and fiscal position into a movie, it would be a blockbuster horror film indeed.

Texas, on the other hand, is growing, creating wealth, and attracting the entrepreneurial and creative classes that too many people think only go to places like New York and California. This interesting post by Tory Gattis at New Geography explains why. He shares a four-point analysis from Trends magazine:

First, Texans on average believe in laissez-faire markets with an emphasis on individual responsibility. Since the ’80s, California’s policy-makers have favored central planning solutions and a reliance on a government social safety net. This unrelenting commitment to big government has led to a huge tax burden and triggered a mass exodus of jobs. The Trends Editors examined the resulting migration in “Voting with Our Feet,” in the April 2008 issue of Trends.

Second, Californians have largely treated environmentalism as a “religious sacrament” rather than as one component among many in maximizing people’s quality of life. As we explained in “The Road Ahead for Housing,” in the June 2009 issue of Trends, environmentally-based land-use restriction centered in California played a huge role in inflating the recent housing bubble. Similarly, an unwillingness to manage ecology proactively for man’s benefit has been behind the recent epidemic of wildfires.

Third, California has placed “ethnic diversity” above “assimilation,” while Texas has done the opposite. “Identity politics” has created psychological ghettos that have prevented many of California’s diverse ethnic groups and subcultures from integrating fully into the mainstream. Texas, on the other hand, has proactively encouraged all the state’s residents to join the mainstream.

Fourth, beyond taxes, diversity, and the environment, Texas has focused on streamlining the regulatory and litigation burden on its residents. Meanwhile, California’s government has attempted to use regulation and litigation to transfer wealth from its creators to various special-interest constituencies.

I wrote an article for New Geography related to the second point last spring. The role played by housing regulations in the housing bubble is one of the most under-reported and under-analyzed factors contributing to the 2008 financial crisis, and nowhere was its destructive force more evident than in California. Regulators lathered on rule after rule to construction requirements, escalating costs so dramatically that lenders had to design “exotic” mortgages so even relatively affluent people could afford homes. One of Texas’s attractions, meanwhile, was the opportunity of much more affordable homeownership.

Perhaps the analysis above falls a bit short, though, in not giving enough attention to role that the tax structure in California has played in driving people away, and the parallel problem of the state’s hemorrhaging public sector workforce. Kotkin has written in Forbes that California’s government workforce has saddled the state’s budget with $200 billion in unfunded pension liabilities. Kotkin also points out that California has been losing high-tech jobs to the Southwest and elsewhere because of its increasingly hostile tax and regulatory environment.

By now, the subtext of this post should be clear: the Obama administration is behaving as though California were its model for growth. Increasing unfunded liabilities, proposing $1 trillion in new healthcare spending, responding to the economic crisis with new regulatory agencies but balking on the core causes of the problem —all of this and more betrays a sinister psychology of policy making.



BrookesNews Update

Obama's economic policies are turning into a global disaster : A country can no more devalue its way to prosperity then it can spend its way into solvency. The effect will be lower real wages, which means a lower standard of living. But look on the bright side: Buffett will still be fabulously rich as will be all those super rich Hollywood Democrats
Will the exchange rate kill manufacturing : The world is facing is a grave monetary disorder and depreciating currencies and rapidly changing exchange rates are symptoms of this disorder. As a result American and Australian manufacturing have been hit particularly hard. Until central banks come to understand that manipulating their money supplies creates malinvestments and distorts the pattern of international trade these problems will only worsen
The resources boom signals good times, but is manufacturing telling another story? : If manufacturing is sensitive to monetary changes then it is very likely that any further tightening will cause manufacturing to continue to contract irrespective of the demand for resources. So it seems that the country's capital structure is being dangerously distorted by domestic monetary policy and China's policy of creating masses of credit to fuel growth
Islam and the Dark Age of Byzantium : Instead of saving civilization did Islam bury it. Historical evidence is now emerging that the rise of Islam was a disaster for the ancient world and civilized values. That it was a plundering and parasitic culture that heralded a Dark Age
The Obama/Holder Bushwhack : The New York terrorist trial is really about making the case against former President George W. Bush as a war criminal while the whole world watches. It's what the Obama campaign promised its America-hating base. To this pair of leftists Republicans are the real enemy, not terrorism
The Khalid trial: Bombs and Circuses in New York : It's hard to escape the conclusion that the Obama administration wants to use Khalid's trial to embarrass Bush and expose more details of enhanced interrogation. It is truly disgusting that any president would use a mass murderer to embarrass a predecessor while causing immense pain to those who survived the atrocity. One would have to be incredibly callous to do such a thing
Why can't White people celebrate their own culture? : Why don't we all just take Martin Luther King's advice and judge people based on the content of their character instead of the color of their skin? That way we could do away with all those groups that focus on skin color, like the Congressional Black Caucus, and the Hispanic 'La Raza
When I like the outcome -- democracy, when I like the outcome : "What is striking about the Democratic Party is that it is totally anti-democratic. Only when an electoral decision favours them do they approve of democracy. Hence all Republican administrations are illegitimate



The "Gatecrasher" story, where an univited couple attended a White House dinner in honour of the Prime Minister of India, is rather amazing. How could security be so lax? Anything could have happened. I have just got around to reading some details of the matter and I think I know how it happened. It was political correctness run riot. The lady concerned was wearing some sort of Indian garb and security staff were afraid to challenge her in case they goofed and got accused of racism.

Here Comes the Judge?: "Given Hillary Clinton's stated regret that the United States is not a signatory to the International Criminal Court, there is a real possibility that the Obama administration intends to allow American soldiers in Afghanistan to be tried in the in the Hague. This is not only terribly wrong, it is gravely dangerous to US security. If America -- which has some of the world's strictest rules of engagement, and already punishes those who trangress them -- agrees to subject its soldiers to inherently selective international prosecution, no one could blame young people for declining to join the military. What's more, it allows a bunch of international judges effectively to define the permissible limits of the warfare conducted by Americans, and offers an opportunity for them to wield enormous (and unjustified) authority over our troops, our strategy and our defenses -- a clear violation of our sovereignty. Soldiers' hands are already being tied enough -- and their ability to defend themselves constrained enough -- by the new, PC era in the Obama armed forces. Subjecting them to international jurisdiction would be the last straw."


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 (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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, November 28, 2009

Real Pilgrims Sought Purity, Not Tolerance or Diversity

As American families sit down to their traditional Thanksgiving feasts they will naturally recall the familiar story of the Pilgrims taught to every school kid and, in the process, distort the true character of the nation’s religious heritage.

Most children learn that the Mayflower settlers came to the New World to escape persecution and to establish religious freedom. But the early colonists actually pursued purity, not tolerance and sought to build fervent, faith-based utopias, not secular regimes that consigned religion to a secondary role. The distinctive circumstances that allowed these fiery believers of varied denominations to cooperate in the founding of a new nation help to explain America’s contradictory religious traditions – as simultaneously the most devoutly Christian society in the western world, and the country most accommodating to every shade of exotic belief and practice.

Concerning the Pilgrims who celebrated the First Thanksgiving in 1621, they didn’t travel directly from their English homes to the “hideous and desolate wilderness” of Massachusetts. They sailed the Atlantic only after living for twelve years in flourishing communities in Holland—the most tolerant and religiously diverse nation of Europe. They left the Netherlands not because that nation imposed too many religious restrictions but because the Dutch honored too few. The pluralism they found in Amsterdam and Leyden horrified the Pilgrims. They were separatists who considered themselves “a people apart” and who preferred isolation on a distant shore that facilitated the building of a unified, disciplined, strictly devout commonwealth, not some wide-open sanctuary for believers of every stripe. The famous Mayflower Compact defined their purpose explicitly as “the Glory of God and advancement of the Christian Faith…”

The like-minded Puritans who followed them (and whose much larger settlement of Massachusetts Bay annexed the Pilgrims’ Plymouth in 1691) showed similar determination to build a model of single-minded religious rigor. The leaders of this idealistic venture were in no sense the victims of oppression back home, but rather counted as wealthy and influential gentleman who wielded considerable political influence. Even after their fellow Puritans won total power (and executed a king in 1649) the Massachusetts colonists chose to remain in their “city upon a hill” in the New World rather than to return to the compromises and complications necessitated by the fractious politics of England. The famous shipboard sermon by which Governor John Winthrop inspired his flock for the challenges of their “errand into the wilderness” declared that “when God gives a special commission he looks to have it strictly observed in every article….to serve the Lord and work out our salvation under the power and purity of his holy ordinances.”

Beyond the four New England colonies (which each began as energetic theocracies representing various strands of Puritanism), other major settlements took shape according to the dreams and dictates of other denominations. William Penn and his fellow Quakers followed their “inner light” to establish Pennsylvania as a “holy experiment,” while the aristocratic Calvert family set up Maryland as a refuge and a base of operations for devout British Catholics. Even the less explicitly religious colonies, where early settlers seemed to care more about finding gold than finding God, received royal charters that declared their underlying mission of spreading the faith. Virginia’s charter described a mandate for the “propagating of Christian Religion as such People as yet live in Darkness.” At the first landing of the original Jamestown expedition (April 26, 1607), Captain Christopher Newport took it upon himself to erect the colony’s first structure: a large cross at Cape Henry to mark their arrival.

How, then, did these enthusiastic true believers with their often uncompromising standards ever manage to join together in a new nation in 1776 – a nation that has been characterized ever since by a religious diversity and inter-denominational cooperation altogether unprecedented in human history?

The Revolutionary struggle forced their hand, with soldiers from more than a dozen Christian traditions and sects (as well as a disproportionate representation of the colonies’ tiny Jewish minority) fighting side by side in the Continental Army. When General Washington ordered “divine services” to build morale among his weary troops, he made some effort to avoid excluding New England Congregationalists or Virginia Baptists or Carolina Methodists or, for that matter, the random Catholic or Mennonite. In the eight year struggle, Massachusetts soldiers served willingly under the brilliant Quaker General Nathanael Greene – even though their Puritan forebears might have been among those who order the occasional hanging of his co-religionists in the previous century.

Violent struggles had broken out from time to time in the past among various faith communities—with Puritans challenging Catholics for control of Maryland, for instance, and fighting the bloody Battle of the Severn in 1655. But for the most part the wide open spaces of the new continent allowed even the most impassioned theological enthusiasts to build their own spheres of influence without confronting or oppressing their potential rivals in far flung neighboring settlements. The constant threat of Indian violence and the even more dire menace of British suppression made some level of mutual respect a practical necessity, even for localities that bitterly disagreed.

The First Amendment to the Constitution ratified this arrangement of uncontested local authority with its careful wording: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…” The Constitutional formulation limited the power of the federal government to impose a single national faith, and to provoke the dangerous battles accompanying such an attempt, but did nothing in the eyes of the zealous founders to interfere with the established churches (that received direct government funding and endorsement) on the state level. The esteemed liberal scholar Laurence Tribe of Harvard Law School writes: “A growing body of evidence suggests that the Framers principally intended the Establishment of Religion Clause to perform two functions: two protect state religious establishments from national displacement, and to prevent the national government from aiding some, but not all, religions.” With this understanding in mind, religious voting restrictions (limiting the franchise to Trinitarian Protestant Christians, for instance) continued in several states for more than forty years under the Constitution.

The Pilgrims and their spiritual descendants never had to retreat from religious fervor or Biblical demands to join the new Republic, thanks to the continued existence of more or less autonomous, localized refuges and enclaves. No one can suggest that our Founders embraced secularism or relativism, but they did come to accept the notion of separate faith communities following their own distinctive rules while managing to live side-by-side and to cooperate where necessary.

Thanksgiving in that sense doesn’t celebrate religious freedom, but rather coexistence. We remain a nation of impassioned, fiercely committed, openly competing believers who have nonetheless established a long tradition of letting other faith communities go their own way. We can be pious and uncompromising at our own Thanksgiving tables, without menacing, or even questioning the very different proceedings in the home next door. The limitless boundaries and vast empty land of the fresh continent, plus the challenges of a long Revolutionary struggle, gave the faith-filled fanatics of the founding the chance for a freedom more profound than mere religious tolerance: the right, in their own communities, to be left alone.



So Much for Transcending Race

Given how high the hopes were for Barack Obama -- and how many of those hopes were pinned on the candidate's supposed ability to bridge America's racial divide -- it is sobering to analyze this linked Gallup survey.

The President's approval has slid to 39% among whites; the only reason it remains in the high 40's overall is because he enjoys a 73% approval among non-whites (and even higher, understandably, in the African American community alone). Apparently, the racial divide remains with us for the foreseeable future -- perhaps, ironically, worse than ever, to the extent that African Americans perceive any unfairness in the critiques of the President that they attribute, rightly or wrongly, to his race.

But even if the President has proved unable to transcend race, he has done a great favor for America, especially its young, albeit unwittingly. Every generation must be reminded anew about how precious freedom is, and how insidiously government can begin to take over -- and how destructive (to our liberties, to our economy, to our culture, even) an overweening, hyperactive, steroidal government can be.

Jimmy Carter taught an earlier generation about the disaster that lefty economics and soft foreign policy creates. Perhaps it may be that Barack Obama and his "Big Government knows best" agenda is doing the same thing. And if that's the case, I'm thankful -- for that and so much more.



Why Won’t the Mainstream Media Cover the ACORN Story?

It’s blindingly obvious why corrupt leftist lawmakers including House Judiciary Committee chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) and his subcommittee chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) won’t investigate their good friends at ACORN, but as evidence continues to mount of ACORN’s habitual, potentially criminal wrongdoing, why does the mainstream media refuse to investigate a scandal that “could be as historically significant as Watergate“?

Big Media seems to be taking cues from what NewsReal blogger Kathy Shaidle calls the George Soros Steno Pool at Media Matters for America. Throughout the continuing revelations about ACORN, Media Matters has steadfastly defended its allies at ACORN. One has to wonder if ACORN is keeping Media Matters on retainer and if so how big the regular checks must be.

Soon after the first few hidden-camera videos of James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles surfaced in September showing the public ACORN’s barely concealed criminal proclivities, John V. Santore of Media Matters launched a sleaze attack against O’Keefe, Giles, and their online publisher, Andrew Breitbart. Because O’Keefe, Giles, and Breitbart are conservatives there is no way they could be honest reporters of facts, implied Santore. Giles even attended events at the National Journalism Center, he noted. Heavens! Of course ideological disqualification never applies to left-of-center media outlets.

Santore also focused on the journalistic ethics involved in the undercover video sting operation, arguing that because the reporters had an animus against ACORN they couldn’t be trusted. Tell that to the award-winning crusading journalists throughout American history who have helped to bust up (other) crime gangs and expose malfeasance everywhere. Having an opinion or a desire to do the right thing isn’t a requirement to be a reporter nor does it disqualify a person from being a reporter.

Appropriately, on his TV show Glenn Beck observed: "The New York Times wonders why they are losing readers. It’s because reading their paper is like entering a time machine or reading the news in your rearview mirror. They didn’t even bother to jump on the ACORN story, which came complete with corruption, hookers and pimps."

The ACORN scandal is a great story yet apart from Fox News and a few other media outlets, the media has been ignoring it. What coverage we’ve seen –especially from the Associated Press– tends to focus not on ACORN’s corruption, but instead on the political ramifications of what is now happening to the radical advocacy group-cum-organized crime syndicate. Still other news stories focus on the journalistic ethics involved in the hidden-camera videos of James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles that helped to show the public ACORN’s barely concealed criminal proclivities. Particularly tedious are the whiny, typo-laden essays of Eric Boehlert of Media Matters who declares that whatever the videos are, they’re “not really journalism at all.”

Media critic Jack Shafer of the liberal website excoriates the mainstream media for ignoring the ACORN story. Shafer wrote: "The liberal advocacy group Media Matters for America complains that the ACORN videos, which aren’t a “major story,” are driving an “incomplete, misleading” media stampede. But Media Matters is wrong. Independent news organizations, including the Washington Post, the New York Post, and the Baltimore Sun, are chasing the ACORN story not because they’ve been bamboozled by the Breitbart exposé but because the dress-up stunt has pointed them toward what could be fertile grounds for wrongdoing."

Actually, when Shafer wrote the above referenced column on Sept. 23 it appeared the media was actually going to do its job and thoroughly investigate ACORN. Alas, it was not to be.




The President of France supports a pedophile: "Roman Polanski’s family yesterday praised the role played by Nicolas Sarkozy in securing the film director’s release on bail after two months in a Swiss prison. The French President “has been very effective” behind the scenes, according to the film director’s sister-in-law Mathilde Seigner, as Mr Polanski prepared to move from a cell to house arrest in his luxury chalet in the exclusive Alpine village of Gstaad. The Swiss authorities said that Mr Polanski would be allowed out once the agreed bail of 4.5 million Swiss Francs had been received. They have ordered that he should not leave his chalet - for fear that the first-rate skier might slip over the nearby border via a mountain pass into his adopted French homeland and escape US justice a second time. Mr Polanski must turn in his passport and have a surveillance system installed at his chalet, where he will wear electronic tagging, the Swiss Federal Office of Justice said in a statement. “He must not leave this house,” the ministry said. Should he violate the terms of release, the bail, raised against the director’s apartment in Paris, will be forfeited to the Swiss Government."

Irish Catholic Church 'covered up' sickening catalogue of child abuse by paedophile priests: "Thirty years of sex abuse by paedophile priests was covered up by the Roman Catholic Church on an 'astonishing scale', a damning report has found. Four archbishops were among those condemned for allowing hundreds of vulnerable children to suffer so they could protect the Church's reputation. The Catholic hierarchy was granted police immunity and Church leaders protected abusers in some cases with the blessing of senior law enforcers. Hundreds of crimes were not reported while police treated clergy as above the law, investigators said. Fear of the public anger that would have followed high-profile prosecutions of priests was seen as more important than preventing the sex offenders from repeating their crimes, it concluded. Instead of reporting the allegations, Church leaders shifted the accused from parish to parish, allowing them to prey on new victims. The report, by the Commission of Investigation, said: 'The Dublin archdiocese's preoccupations in dealing with cases of child sexual abuse, at least until the mid 1990s, were the maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of the reputation of the Church, and the preservation of its assets.' The archdiocese 'did its best to avoid any application of the law of the state', it added".

Seattle silliness: "After 13 years of delays, and cost-overruns that tripled its estimated cost, Seattle finally finished the first 14 miles of its insanely impractical light rail system. Running between downtown and the airport, “Central Link” cost an unprecedented $330,000,000 per mile—nearly $200,000 per yard. Of course, ridership is barely half what officials predicted—and interest on construction expenses alone means a subsidy of $200 per ride. My wife and I tried the new system, experiencing a jerky, pokey ride that took 45 minutes. Officials claim the normal time will be 36 minutes, but acknowledge that the popular 194 Bus travels the same route (at a lower fare) in just 32 minutes! To force the unwilling public to use the white elephant light rail, they’ve arrogantly announced cancellation of the 194 Bus, starting in February."

Obama's grandmother in Mecca for 'Hajj' ceremony: "The grandmother of US president Barack Obama has arrived in Saudi Arabia for the 'Hajj' or Islamic pilgrimage to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, a Saudi daily said on Wednesday. Sarah Obama, 87, is being accompanied by a nephew and Obama's cousin, Omran. On Wednesday Sarah Obama was in the valley of Mina with an African delegation, according to the Saudi daily Okaz. Obama, the mother of the American president's father, lives in a village in Kenya and is one of the many guests of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud." [During the election campaign, it was claimed that the the woman concerned was a CHRISTIAN]

NY Democrat says Obama an 'obstacle to peace': "In defiance of President Obama's demands that Israel cease building in sections of Jerusalem and the West Bank, New York state assemblyman Dov Hikind laid the cornerstone for the second phase of a new Jewish construction project in the Nof Tzion neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem. Together with Knesset Member Danny Danon, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party, Hikind spoke with reporters about the Jewish right to build in Israel's capital city. Hikind, a Democrat, asserted banning Jews from building in neighborhoods was segregation. He expressed wonder that an African-American president would endorse such a policy in the 21st century. Speaking with the media, Hikind blamed Obama for stalling the peace process. According to the assemblyman, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has latched onto Obama's calls for a settlement freeze as an excuse not to negotiate with Israel. According to Hikind, a Jew cannot even build a bathroom in Jerusalem without international condemnation".

Diversity has jumped the shark, horrifically: "It cannot be said often enough that the chief of staff of the United States Army, Gen. George Casey, responded to a massacre of 13 Americans in which the suspect is a Muslim by saying: "Our diversity ... is a strength." As long as the general has brought it up: Never in recorded history has diversity been anything but a problem. Look at Ireland with its Protestant and Catholic populations, Canada with its French and English populations, Israel with its Jewish and Palestinian populations. Or consider the warring factions in India, Sri Lanka, China, Iraq, Czechoslovakia (until it happily split up), the Balkans and Chechnya. Also look at the festering hotbeds of tribal warfare – I mean the beautiful mosaics – in Third World hellholes like Afghanistan, Rwanda and South Central L.A. "Diversity" is a difficulty to be overcome, not an advantage to be sought. True, America does a better job than most at accommodating a diverse population. We also do a better job at curing cancer and containing pollution. But no one goes around mindlessly exclaiming: "Cancer is a strength!" "Pollution is our greatest asset!"


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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)


Friday, November 27, 2009

If the Races Were Reversed, We’d Be Hearing About This Nationwide

By Debbie Schlussel

If White people were targeting Black men at a big city mall in America and beating them senseless and filming it for racial snuff films, I guarantee it’d be a national media story. In fact, we’d see Presidential campaign commercials vilifying the Republican Presidential nominee with it. But, sadly, since it’s the other way around here, it remains a news story confined to Denver. The roles of the races and racism in this case simply don’t fit the mainstream media’s preferred narrative of victims and victimhood.
Peter DeQuattro, a 25-year-old cook, exited the Mall Ride at Civic Center Station around 8:30 p.m. on Nov. 8, after his shift at a Lower Downtown bar. His next recollection was writhing on a gurney in the back of an ambulance, an eye swollen shut and adrenaline pumping as EMTs struggled to restrain him. DeQuattro, who is white, was one of the most recent men targeted in a downtown-centered spree of attacks where small groups of black men and youths — many with admitted gang ties — tried to knock out white or Latino men with whacks to the head. They sometimes stole from them or taunted them with racial epithets.

DeQuattro never knew what hit him, though police have told him three men blindsided him from behind and then pummeled his face while he struggled from the ground to fight them off. In the process, they broke a bone just above his eye. The maroon bruise is just starting to fade, two weeks later.

“I usually don’t have to worry about these things,” said DeQuattro, hinting that his 6-foot, 4-inch stature normally deters would-be muggers. In this case, it might have been an incentive. “I never thought I would be the victim of a hate crime.”

No way. A hate crime like this–a race-based hate crime–would never happen in this Obama era of post-racialism. Would it?
Denver police announced Friday that they’d been investigating the spree of similar assaults in tourist areas like the 16th Street Mall and LoDo for four months and had arrested 32 suspects. Police apprehended a 33rd man, Torrence McCall, when he turned himself in Sunday afternoon after first calling a local television station.

A gang-prevention leader, the Rev. Leon Kelly, has suggested the assaults are being videotaped and used to show how quickly the assailants can knock out their victims. According to Kelly, the recordings are traded on the black market and bolster street credibility.

Hmmm . . . there’s a market for beat-the-cracker snuff films. What does that tell you about racism against White people in the Black community in America? It’s far too accepted. That’s what it tells me.
The 26 attacks that police know about have followed a similar pattern. A small group of black men approach their white or Latino victim. Sometimes, racial epithets are used to taunt victims before they’re attacked. But often, they’re sucker-punched with “a whack to the head” and sometimes robbed, said Lt. Matt Murray.

Like I said, this one is restricted to Denver media reporting because only White on Black racism merits national attention in America.



Obama and the Democrats do NOT have America's best interests at heart

It is time to cast aside all remaining doubt. President Obama is not trying to lead America forward to recovery, prosperity and strength. Quite the opposite, in fact.

In September of last year, American Thinker published my article, Barack Obama and the Strategy of Manufactured Crisis. Part of a series, it connected then-presidential candidate Barack Obama to individuals and organizations practicing a malevolent strategy for destroying our economy and our system of government. Since then, the story of that strategy has found its way across the blogosphere, onto the airwaves of radio stations across the country, the Glenn Beck television show, Bill O'Reilly, and now Mark Levin.

The methodology is known as the Cloward-Piven Strategy, and we can all be grateful to David Horowitz and his Discover the Networks for originally exposing and explaining it to us. He describes it as: "The strategy of forcing political change through orchestrated crisis. The "Cloward-Piven Strategy" seeks to hasten the fall of capitalism by overloading the government bureaucracy with a flood of impossible demands, thus pushing society into crisis and economic collapse."

Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven were two lifelong members of Democratic Socialists of America who taught sociology at Columbia University (Piven later went on to City University of New York). In a May 1966 Nation magazine article titled "The Weight of the Poor," they outlined their strategy, proposing to use grassroots radical organizations to push ever more strident demands for public services at all levels of government. The result, they predicted, would be "a profound financial and political crisis" that would unleash "powerful forces ... for major economic reform at the national level."

They implemented the strategy by creating a succession of radical organizations, most notable among them the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), with the help of veteran organizer Wade Rathke. Their crowning achievement was the "Motor Voter" act, signed into law by Bill Clinton in 1993 with Cloward and Piven standing behind him.

As we now know, ACORN was one of the chief drivers of high-risk mortgage lending that eventually led to the financial crisis. But the Motor Voter law was another component of the strategy. It created vast vulnerabilities in our electoral system, which ACORN then exploited. ACORN's vote registration scandals throughout the U.S. are predictable fallout.

The Motor Voter law has also been used to open another vulnerability in the system: the registration of vast numbers of illegal aliens, who then reliably vote Democrat. Herein lies the real reason Democrats are so anxious for open borders, security be damned.

It should be clear to anyone with a mind and two eyes that this president and this Congress do not have our interests at heart. They are implementing this strategy on an unprecedented scale by flooding America with a tidal wave of poisonous initiatives, orders, regulations, and laws. As Rahm Emmanuel said, "A crisis is a terrible thing to waste."

The real goal of "health care" legislation, the real goal of "cap-and-trade," and the real goal of the "stimulus" is to rip the guts out of our private economy and transfer wide swaths of it over to the government to control. Do not be deluded by the propaganda. These initiatives are vehicles for change. They are not goals in and of themselves except in their ability to deliver power. They and will make matters much worse, for that is their design...

More here


Effort To Curb Financial Giants May Worry Markets Even More

More taxpayer bailouts or increase markets' regulatory uncertainty? That may be the trade-off from legislation dealing with financials deemed "too big to fail." The House Financial Services Committee voted 38-29 last week to expand federal power over Tier 1 firms, which face more scrutiny because they pose a systemic risk. It was an amendment by Rep. Paul Kanjorski, D-Penn., to the Financial Stability Improvement Act. "(The) Kanjorski amendment would empower federal regulators to rein in and dismantle financial firms that are so large, inter-connected, or risky that their collapse would put at risk the entire American economic system, even if those firms currently appear to be well-capitalized and healthy," Kanjorski said in a press release. "Therefore, American taxpayers should no longer be on the hook for bailouts, as financial companies would not be able to become 'too big to fail.'"

Critics say investors will be wary of putting money into activities of companies when regulators can later order those firms to discontinue those activities. "These firms may be held back from profitable ventures their non-Tier 1 competitors can enter," said John Berlau, director of the Center for Investors and Entrepreneurs at the free-market Competitive Enterprise Institute. "Investors will take into account that these firms may receive greater harm from regulators than their competitors." ...

"The only way to end taxpayer bailouts is to end taxpayer bailouts," said Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, and a member of the Financial Services Committee. Hensarling says the Kanjorski amendment would create more political uncertainty in markets. "It is completely irrational to believe that substituting the arbitrary actions of unelected federal bureaucrats for the judgments of well-informed market participants will reduce the government's moral hazard for the impact of its actions on shareholders, creditors, counterparties and others," he said...

More here


Judge punishes 'repulsive' bank and writes off subprime mortgage

Hard to understand why the bank was so foolish. It failed to apply basic principles for dealing with debtors in default. Flexibility and compromise are the keys to best outcome. The bank should fire whatever moron was in charge of the matter

Greg and Diane Horoski's story may seem familiar. They bought their home before the boom and, when house prices soared, increased their mortgage to finance a small business. Interest rates rose, health bills poured in, and then the housing market crashed so that they ended up owing thousands of dollars more than their bungalow was worth.

Yesterday they went to court in New York expecting to be thrown out - but instead they emerged with their debt of $500,000 written off and a mortgage-free home. Judge Jeffrey Spinner ruled that their lender's behaviour had been “harsh, repugnant, shocking and repulsive to the extent that it must be appropriately sanctioned so as to deter it from imposing further mortifying abuse”.

Facing financial difficulties because of Mr Horoski's health problems, the couple began having trouble making the mortgage payments in 2005. IndyMac Bank, a division of the California-based OneWest Bank, which services the loan for Deutsche Bank, sought to evict the couple.

IndyMac claimed that with interest and penalties they owed more than $US527,437. Because the case involved a high-interest “subprime” mortgage, the bank was required by New York state law to attend a court conference to seek a settlement that would keep the owners in their home before completing the foreclosure. The bank, however, rejected repeated offers by the Horoskis to make reduced monthly payments with help from their adult daughter. It flatly turned down an offer by the daughter to buy the house for its current value with money from another lender to pay off the bulk of the mortgage.

The judge was outraged and accused the bank's representatives of an “opprobrious demeanour and condescending attitude”. He pointed out that the Horoskis had turned up for court on six occasions, despite Mrs Horoski's difficulty in walking and her husband's many health problems. “At each appearance, they have assiduously attempted to resolve this controversy in an amicable fashion, only to be callously and arbitrarily turned away,” he wrote. Eviction would leave the Horoskis and their daughter homeless, “leading to an additional level of problems, both for them and for society”. The mortgage was “hereby cancelled, voided, avoided, nullified, set aside and is of no further force and effect”.

Mr Horoski told the New York Post that negotiating with the bank was “like dealing with organised crime”. He said: “I think the judge felt it was almost a personal vendetta. The bank was so intransigent that he decided to punish them.”




Sarah Palin memoir tops US book sales: "Republican former governor Sarah Palin's memoir Going Rogue shot to the top of the US bestseller list in its first week after publication, industry figures showed overnight. With almost half a million copies sold, Going Rogue: An American Life beat new blockbusters by James Patterson and Stephen King to become the highest-selling book in the country, according to Nielsen BookScan. She launched the memoir, published November 16 by HarperCollins, with a blitz of media appearances and a political campaign-style book tour. Her appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show received huge attention, both contributing to publicity for the book and also boosting Oprah's own ratings -- in some markets doubling viewership, Nielsen said. Ms Palin's electability remains in dispute, but in the book race she does well against other Washington heavyweights. First week sale statistics show Going Rogue selling 469,000 copies, less than former president Bill Clinton's 2004 memoir, My Life at the same period of sales, but just ahead of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's 2003 Living History. Going Rogue trounces the performance of President Barack Obama's 2007 Audacity of Hope which had sold 67,000 copies a week after publication, Nielsen figures show."

Europe's new "Foreign minister" is a former peacenik and friend of the Soviets: "Baroness Ashton of Upholland’s past came back to haunt her yesterday when the European Union’s new foreign affairs chief was forced to deny taking funds from the Soviet Union during her days as treasurer for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. Lady Ashton, a surprise choice for her post, was challenged to deny that she had contact with Russian sources while she was in charge of its accounts at the height of the Cold War. The Times has learnt that concerns about her CND involvement are felt across countries from the former Iron Curtain now in the EU and that MEPs plan to question her about it when she appears before them for the hearing to confirm her in her post. Nigel Farage, the UK Independence Party leader, raised the matter on the floor of the European Parliament yesterday, earning himself a reprimand for referring to Lady Ashton and Herman Van Rompuy, the new European President, as pygmies. Mr Farage added: “She was treasurer during a period when CND took very large donations and refused to reveal the sources."

Ireland’s Christian Brothers to pay £146m to victims of child abuse: "The Christian Brothers religious order is to give €161 million (£146 million) in cash and property in reparation for its role in decades of child abuse in Ireland. The Brothers said that €34 million in cash would be used to help victims of abuse, whose plight was identified in a government report in May. However, the move was criticised, with one victims’ group describing it as “mere smoke and mirrors”. The Ryan report chronicled cases of tens of thousands of children who suffered systematic sexual, physical and mental abuse over decades at residential homes run by 18 congregations. It concluded that the Brothers order was responsible for most of the cases. A transfer of €127 million in property will be used to “begin to repair trust with so many people in Ireland, who felt betrayed by the Brothers”, the order said in a statement. “We understand and regret that nothing we say or do can turn back the clock for those affected by abuse,” the statement said. “Our response reflects the moral obligation we collectively and individually feel.” The Christian Brothers made their announcement on the eve of publication of another report, which is expected to shake the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland."

CA: Bureaucratic tyranny. Man jailed after housing homeless on ranch: "A California rancher who houses homeless people on his property chose to serve 90 days in jail rather than accept probation after being convicted of misdemeanor safety violations. Dan de Vaul says the terms of probation offered Monday would prevent him from sheltering about 30 people who reside at his ranch and participate in a substance abuse recovery program. The 66-year-old de Vaul says he is proud to go to jail for housing the homeless. About 30 supporters applauded as he was led out of court in handcuffs.”

Bureaucrats with badges: "There is no shortage of shameful exploits by TSA agents and other airport security personnel in the post 9/11 era. An octogenarian World War II hero was delayed and repeatedly searched when he attempted to board a plan carrying his Congressional Medal of Honor. A planeload of soldiers were forced to remain in their jetliner during a four-hour layover. TSA officials ruled the servicemen posed a security threat because they had weapons stored in the belly of the aircraft. The soldiers were en route home after a tour of duty in Afghanistan. Another soldier, who had his jaw wired shut following surgery for a bullet wound, was prohibited from boarding his aircraft because he possessed a small pair of wire cutters required to cut open his jaw in a medical emergency. These embarrassing episodes are not surprising to anyone familiar with government bureaucrats armed with ‘rules, policies and procedures’ and employing no commonsense.”

Revisiting and expanding the Laffer Curve: "The Laffer curve is about how much imposition or other types of trouble, people are willing to tolerate from their fellows. Arthur Laffer, a professor at the University of Southern California, is supposed to have drawn a bell shaped graph on a napkin once to show that up to an indeterminate but peak point of the curve people are very likely to put up with the burden of taxation. The peak isn’t the same for everyone, but everyone does have such a peak.”

AZ: Would you pay a toll to beat traffic?: "Solo drivers on Interstate 10 could soon zip past traffic by paying a toll to use the carpool lane if a prediction by former U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters proves right. She says high-occupancy toll, or HOT, lanes on I-10 could soon be available for frustrated drivers. In two months, the cash-strapped Arizona Department of Transportation begins courting private investors to improve the highway system. Already, state and regional transportation agencies have fielded inquiries from numerous would-be investors, consultants and contractors about all kinds of projects, including HOT lanes.”


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 (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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)


Thursday, November 26, 2009

This Thanksgiving, Celebrate without guilt

Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday. It is used to celebrate man's ability to produce. It is a day filled with wonderful things to commemorate a person's production throughout the year. The mouth-watering turkey, aromatic pies, savory trimmings and, in some cases, cosmopolitan decorations are a testament to weath creation. It is these facets of the holiday that should be a source of pride to every self-reliant person.

However, there are those, motivated by hatred for mankind and our comfort and happiness, who would rather make Thanksgiving into a day based on guilt. Thanksgiving critics, such as environmentalists and religionists, criticize our lifestyles. They say that Americans should be ashamed for consuming so much (especially food). Our material abundance, they say, contributes to a depletion of things like the planet's natural resources.

Critics insist that the construction of homes and buildings, usage of fossil fuels, abundance of food and drink, driving vehicles are cause, not for celebration, but should be condemned. That we should feel guilt for our selfish ways and that Americans have a duty to give reparations to those less fortunate. They shudder at the possibility of the rest of the world being able to consume the way Americans do.

If the world came to consume the way we do, it will result in a utopia, not a dystopia as many doom-gloomers insist. For the world to embrace economic freedom, even in minimal amounts, means that the production of wealth is multiplied.

Human survival is not automatic. In order for someone to live, their life depends on producing successfully. From the food we eat, the clothes on our backs, the science researched and art forms we enjoy, every act of production requires thought. The greater the thought, the greater the creation. Yet all production is the result of creation. The wealth created where it didn't exist before and was the result of human effort to reshape places and elements considered of little value into a scheme to benefit mankind. Not the result of mystical creation as told in holy texts such as the Bible or Koran.

In terms of Thanksgiving, less than a year after the founding of the Jamestown settlement in the 1600's, only 46 of the 104 original colonists were left alive, most having perished for lack of food. This was due, in large part, to the colonists casting off their relgious tenets, since applying them to their way of life was destructive. At first, colonial land and farming was owned and worked on a communal basis along with the care and raising of children. It wasn't until rejecting their religious beliefs and embracing free trade that the death, famine and misery that resulted from the Jamestown colonists initial communistic policy ended. The Pilgrims were so pleased with the results from their change of heart that they prospered and didn't starve that they saw it as an occasion for a Thanksgiving.

However, the colonist's bold step required thought and action to put their new policies to work. In order to survive, the colonists had to produce. And to produce, they used their logic and reason.

It was Abraham Lincoln who made the first Thanksgiving an official holiday in 1863. Upon making his declaration, Lincoln stated that we have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven. Yet this statement and the many declarations made by clergy and environmentalists condemning our abundance while calling on us to sacrifice for the greater good or because society or some mystical element - such as God or nature - demands it, is an insult to everything we work for throughout the year.

Thanksgiving is not about faith and charity. It is about thought and production. The proper thanks for one's wealth is not mystical guilt, sacrifice or condemnation but celebration, if one has rightly and morally earned it. When you sit at the dinner table with family and friends ready to consume your dinner on fine china, ignore those who damn your ability to live by calling for you to sacrifice -- and revel in the day since it is done in commemoration of your hard work and effort. You have earned it.



Obama secrecy: Another broken promise

Big rethink when he has got something to hide. But the secrecy tells most of the story anyway

After seven months of stonewalling their FOIA requests, Don Loos and the National Right To Work Legal Defense Foundation have been forced file a complaint with the U.S. District Court demanding the Department of Labor be compelled to give them the information they seek. So much for Obama's promise to run the the most open and transparent administration in history.

On Obama's first day in office, the Department of Justice issued the following memorandum regarding FOIA requests:
The President directed that FOIA “should be administered with a clear presumption: In the face of doubt, openness prevails.” Moreover, the President instructed agencies that information should not be withheld merely because “public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract fears.”

Agencies were directed to respond to requests “promptly and in a spirit of cooperation.” The President also called on agencies to “adopt a presumption in favor of disclosure” and to apply that presumption “to all decisions involving [the] FOIA.” This presumption of disclosure includes taking “affirmative steps to make information public,” and utilizing “modern technology to inform citizens about what is known and done by their Government.”

The Obama administration's full-throated endorsement of transparency here only makes the administration's utter failure to respond to FOIA requests that much more infuriating. Loos has been trying for months to get basic information regarding the relationships between union bosses and Obama Labor department employees, including:

* Records from communications and recorded events where specified Obama appointees and Big Labor official were present

* Lists of lawsuits involving the Department of Labor and Deborah Greenfield within the past eight years.

* List of any gifts received by Solis in the past 5 years from Big Labor or its officials

* Specifically provide in detail (a) notes, (b) agreements, (c) communications, and (d) agendas related to the regulations related to the labor union and officer disclosure rules

* Copies of phone logs

* Copies of any notes or documents related to any enforcement of any labor laws and any outside groups such as labor unions, American Rights at Work, or ACORN

None of this information should be a closely guarded state secret. To the contrary, the public is probably owed such knowledge. And as bad as the Department of Labor is behaving, stonewalling FOIA requests is common throughout the Obama administration.



The “Science Presidency”

Remember when President Obama said that he was going to “restore science to its rightful place”? Apparently, that statement needed to be translated from the vagaries of “hope and change” to modern English: Right-wing anti-science policies are out; left-wing anti-science policies are in.

For starters, President Obama appointed Cass Sunstein as the head of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. Mr. Sunstein believes that all recreational hunting should be banned. He also believes that meat consumption should be phased out in the United States, and he holds the unique belief that animals should have the right to sue humans in court. Naturally, the animal would be represented by a human lawyer—a policy other than that would just be silly. But who exactly would represent the animals in court is unclear at this point. Dr. Doolittle might be available, though.

All satire aside, with someone this disconnected from reality working in the White House, one wonders what impact he could have on the ability of scientists to conduct biomedical animal research.

Also, remember Mr. Obama’s obsession with creating green technology jobs as a way of leading us out of the recession? According to a report described by George Will in his Washington Post column, Spain’s massive subsidization of renewable energy has cost that country 110,000 jobs. Far from helping Spain’s economic crisis, this foolish subsidization appears to have contributed to its mind-blowing 19.3% unemployment rate.

As if this weren’t bad enough, a fantastic op/ed by Joel Frezza brought up several more examples of “junk science” coming from the White House, a few of which I’ll summarize and expand upon.

Mr. Frezza describes how the Obama Administration is asking for areas of Alaska to be deemed “critical habitat” for polar bears. This move could severely limit the ability to drill for oil and gas in the region, in a time when our nation is in desperate need of energy sources. It appears that, once again, Mr. Obama has caved to propaganda-spewing environmentalists who have ignored recent evidence indicating that polar bear populations are increasing. In fact, polar bear researcher Mitch Taylor claims that of the 19 populations of polar bears, only two have exhibited declining numbers. As a side issue, it’s also interesting to note that people like Captain Planet (Al Gore) who refer to polar bears as “endangered” don’t even have their facts straight: Polar bears are officially listed as “vulnerable”—an entirely different conservation status. This status is given to animals which may become endangered if conditions don’t change. Arguably, however, conditions are changing because their population has been increasing.

Finally, Mr. Frezza points out the economically ludicrous and scientifically unsound subsidization of biofuels. Liberals see the subsidization of biofuels as killing two birds with one stone: Fixing the planet and helping out America’s farmers. However, science has something entirely different to say about biofuels. The production of biofuels emits nitrous oxide, otherwise known as laughing gas. The planet, unfortunately, doesn’t find it very funny, since nitrous oxide is a much more potent contributor to the greenhouse effect than is carbon dioxide. As The Economist points out in this article, a policy meant to make things better is merely an expensive way of making things worse.

Honestly, this list could go on and on. What is so infuriating is the fact that Mr. Obama self-righteously proclaimed to be the protector of science, when the truth is that he simply replaced Mr. Bush’s special interests with his own. In what has to be the most stunning broken promise in Mr. Obama’s presidency, instead of “restoring science,” he has simply resorted to “politics as usual.”




KY: Officials say census worker staged suicide: "A Census Bureau worker in Kentucky who was found dead in September with ‘FED’ written on his chest killed himself and staged his death to look like a homicide, state and federal law enforcement officials said Tuesday. … investigators concluded that Sparkman wrote the word on his own chest, then strung a rope from a tree, placed a noose around his neck and leaned forward, using his own body weight to cut off oxygen to his brain. Witnesses told investigators that Sparkman had discussed ending his life. He had also discussed recent federal investigations of Kentucky public officials and the negative perceptions of federal agencies expressed by some residents of Clay County, Ky., where he lived, investigators said. Before his death, Sparkman also secured two life insurance policies, totaling $600,000, that would not pay out for suicide.” [No apology from the hysterical Left for prejudging the matter?]

The "Bing" strategy behind News Corp, Microsoft link-up: "The surprising feature of the reaction to Rupert Murdoch's statement that he wanted to charge for online access to his media empire's content, was that anyone was surprised that he would want to. Well, we are now getting some clue to how Murdoch might think he can do it. By playing off Microsoft's desire to build an alternative search engine to the Google dominance. Reports out of Europe suggest plans are afoot for publishers to `de-link' from Google -- request Google not to, prohibit it from, linking to their content. And going exclusively with the Microsoft alternative. The 'charge''would come from Microsoft paying for that exclusivity. In effect paying for a franchise to publish an online version of the print product. There are a huge range of both competition and practical questions raised by the idea. And it would remain to be seen how successful -- or not -- it could end up. But it goes some way to answering the puzzle unleashed by Murdoch's observation."

Great! Airlines fined for stranding travellers on plane: "The US government has imposed its first-ever punishment against airlines for stranding passengers aboard aircraft, fining three carriers $175,000 for a six-hour ordeal in Minnesota. Continental Airlines and its ExpressJet Airlines affiliate were fined $US100,000, while Mesaba Airlines, a unit of Delta Air Lines, was fined $US75,000, the Transportation Department said. Continental, ExpressJet and Mesaba all reached settlements with the government's Aviation Enforcement Office. The action served as a sharp reminder to carriers about service just as the busy Thanksgiving Day travel period gets under way. Regulators found all three airlines violated a law prohibiting unfair and deceptive practices for their roles in the August 8 incident in Rochester, Minnesota. Forty-seven passengers were stranded overnight aboard a Continental Express plane en route from Houston to Minneapolis that diverted to Rochester due to bad weather. ExpressJet operated Flight 2816 for Continental while Mesaba was the only airline staffing the Rochester airport at the time. Mesaba refused to let passengers exit the plane and enter the terminal because there were no federal security personnel on duty at the time. Government officials concluded that passengers could have entered the terminal so long as they remained in the secure area."

'Godfather of Spam' jailed for four years: "A Hong Kong resident and three other men, including the self-proclaimed "Godfather of Spam", have been sentenced to prison for their roles in an email stock fraud scheme, the Justice Department said. The sentences, ranging from 32 to 51 months in prison, were handed down by US District Judge Marianne Battani in federal court in Detroit, the department said. Alan Ralsky, 64, of West Bloomfield, Michigan, and his son-in-law, Scott Bradley, 48, also of West Bloomfield, were sentenced to 51 months and 40 months in prison respectively on the same charges. FBI special agent Andrew Arena said Ralsky, the self-proclaimed "Godfather of Spam", flooded email boxes with unwanted spam email and attempted to use a botnet to hijack computers to assist them in the scheme. A botnet is a network of computers infected by malicious software. According to court documents, the conspirators used spam emails to manipulate thinly traded stocks between January 2004 and September 2005. They would profit by trading in the stocks once their share prices increased on purchases by recipients of the spam emails."

Losing Nicaragua: "With U.S. policymakers distracted by the situation in Honduras, Nicaragua continues to move toward authoritarianism. On October 19, a Nicaraguan Supreme Court panel overturned a constitutional provision limiting presidents to two non-consecutive terms in office. The ruling will allow incumbent Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega — the Sandinista party leader, former Soviet client, vociferous critic of the United States, and current Hugo Chavez acolyte — to run for another term in 2011. If there were any doubts that Nicaraguan democracy is slowly being extinguished, this latest development should remove them. The Nicaraguan Supreme Court is composed of 16 members. Thanks to a political deal made by Ortega and Arnoldo Aleman, a former Nicaraguan president who went to jail for massive corruption, half the magistrates are appointed by the ruling Sandinistas, and the other half are appointed by the opposition Liberals. But due to the May 2009 death of one Liberal-appointed magistrate, and the fact that his seat still has not been filled, the Sandinistas currently enjoy an 8-7 majority, which means the court is effectively a Sandinista rubber-stamp.”

Seven big lies about the stimulus: "1. Raises = jobs: This one turns out to be pretty common. For example, the Associated Pressreported that one nonprofit in Georgia used stimulus money to give its employees raises, then multiplied its total number of employees (508) by the percentage points of the raises (1.84) and told the White House that the stimulus had saved 935 jobs. (Its directors said they were just following instructions they received from the White House.) Other nonprofits did the same. According to the AP, this fraud exaggerated the number of jobs created or saved by 9,300.”

Our bills should be written in plain English: "Our Founding Fathers wrote the documents creating the greatest nation the world has ever known using plain English. Although drafted by highly educated and talented people, they knew that in order to get the public to support their efforts the common folk, as well as the cultured, had to understand it. There is not a doubt in my mind that the average American high school student today can fully understand and appreciate the words and the meaning of the Declaration of Independence, The Constitution and the Amendments thereto — including the Bill of Rights. The same cannot be said of the healthcare bill passed by the House. … There is no way even the average legislator can fully understand a 1, 900+ page highly technical bill — even with the help of the ample staff members who work for them.”

America's Al-Qaeda lawyers: "Some of the nation’s wealthiest and most powerful law firms have donated hundreds of millions of dollars in free legal services to terror suspects at the Guantanamo Bay prison. Their work, bolstered by left-wing activists groups, has helped to free, or force the transfer, of hundreds of al Qaeda suspects to third countries. Some have gone back to terrorism and the job of trying to kill Americans.”


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)