DISSECTING LEFTISM MIRROR
Leftists just KNOW what is good for us. Conservatives need evidence..

Why are Leftists always talking about hate? Because it fills their own hearts

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22 August, 2014

Our Descent into Madness

by EDWARD CLINE

"Whom the gods destroy, they first make mad." - Euripides, 5th Century B.C. Greek tragedian

No, we are not all descending into madness. Just our political leaders, our news media, our schools, and assorted loose human cannons who are plumbing the depths of insanity and institutional irrationality to see when their and our craniums crack. And they seem to want the rest of us to go berserk and take up residence with them in their loony bin where we can all tiptoe through the tulips and have huggy-bear sessions with our killers. They are mad, and they wish to make us mad. Insanity is the new norm.

In a sane world, men would not, for example, protest the right of Israel or any other sovereign nation to defend itself against attacks by its neighbors or by terrorist groups like Hamas. Instead, they would urge the Israeli government to wipe out its enemies and uproot them, or at least spray Hamas with a root-killing chemical (shall we call it "DDT" - Deter Deranged Terrorism?) and leave their former subjects and human shields to fend for themselves.

Another mark of madness is the spectacle of Jews opposing Israel's existence and blaming Jews for anti-Semitism, and even accusing them of racism. Daniel Greenfield, in his August 8th FrontPage article, "J Street Accuses Jews of Racism, Blames Jews for Anti-Semitism," noted another form of madness:

After Hamas violated yet another ceasefire, anti-Israel group J Street stepped up to do what it does best. Attack Jews and Israel. Jeremy Ben Ami [a spokesman for J Street] then launched into a pitch for letting Hamas smuggle as many weapons as it wants "Occupation, Blockade, Frustration, etc...), accused Israel of racism, warned Israel to "heed to the advice of its friends in the White House and the State Department and at a minimum should show them the respect that the country's closest ally deserves." Then Jeremy Ben Ami claimed that the conflict was promoting anti-Semitism and ranted about "growth and extent of hatred of the other, intolerance and outright racism in our own Jewish community."

For example, one would have thought that the virulent anti-Semitism that as a rule in the past expressed itself Nazi-style in murders, fire-bombings, attacking Jews, and in loud and noisy demonstrations against Jews and Israel was a disease that had been eradicated or at least suppressed, like polio or malaria. There was a time when, if one was an anti-Semite, one kept it to oneself. There was a time when it was at the risk of social embarrassment and even ostracism to blurt it out. Now tens of thousands of people are flaunting it, boasting of it, spitting out their venom under the pretence of "freedom of speech." It is a form of Kristallnacht, practiced by Muslims and their allies on the Left in demonstrations and by roving mobs. Douglas Murray, in his August 13thGatestone Institute article "Are ‘Integrated Muslims' Integrated?" writes:

"The Gaza War has produced flagrantly anti-Semitic protests, attacks on Jews and the burning down of Jewish buildings. Those protests have come as a surprise to parts of the European public - nowhere more so than in Germany, where a hatred thought to have been disgraced for all time has found its way back onto European streets under a new guise....

Most noticeable was that the protests across Western European cities have overwhelmingly been led by Muslims - not Islamists - just normal, "integrated" Muslims, who stay at home when any other war occurs. (Where were their protests against Qatar for funding Hamas?)"

Where were they? Whatever advances the imposition of an Islamic caliphate is justified, even when it's a violent imposition, and not a candidate for protest. It's nothing to shout about, not an opportune time to carry signs that say, "Islam will dominate" and "Kill those who insult the Prophet." The Koran permits latitude of discretionary protesting. To wit, one of many, many instances:
Sura 8:38-42 (Keep fighting them until they stop persecuting believers and until Islam is established. If they stop fighting then stop. Now, a fifth of all the booty belongs to God and His leader.)

"Say to the unbelievers, if (now) they desist (from unbelief), their past would be forgiven them, but if they persist, the punishment of those before them is already (a matter of warning for them)." And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in God altogether and everywhere. But if they cease, verily God doth see all that they do. [YA: "If they cease from fighting and from the persecution of truth, God judges them by their actions and their motives, and would not wish that they should be harassed with further hostility."]

There are 164 such verses in the Koran, each as bloody minded as the next.

And what is the policy of the mad men who know what a global Islamic "world order" would entail, which is slaughter, rapine, destruction, and legalized looting? To submit peacefully and without prejudice to Islam, for otherwise there would be "violence."

Notwithstanding the mountains of data and evidence about the fundamental means and ends of Islam and Islamic terrorist organizations such as Hamas, our political culture is poisoned with the Kantian/Hegelian imperative that the West must, in the name of "peace," negotiate and tolerate our executioners. These urgent supplications have come from such demonstrable fools and professional altruists, and gadflies for "peace" such as Jimmy Carter, former U.S. president, and Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland in their Foreign Policy article , "How to Fix it," of August 4th

According to Carter and Robinson, Israel is guilty by the fact that regardless of Israel being attacked by Hamas, and its rockets deliberately pointed at Israeli citizens, hoping to inflict as many deaths as possible, especially of Israeli children, it had no right to retaliate with all the force it could muster, and regardless of Hamas's using Palestinians as human shields, including men, women and children, Israel is more guilty than Hamas because more Palestinians died than did Israelis.

This is topsy-turvy thinking, if can be called thinking at all. It is lunacy. It defies reason, logic, and all measures of morality. Carter and Robinson must know down deep - or perhaps they don't, and that is a measure of their insanity - that if Israel meets all of Hamas's demands, it would be signing its own death warrant.

Andrew McCarthy, in his PJ Media article of August 6th, "Carter and Robinson: The Hamas Jihad's Useful Idiots," noted that:
Carter and Robinson are desperate to derive or otherwise manufacture Hamas's purported agreement to the Quartet conditions because Hamas has made quite clear that it will never actually agree to renounce the jihad and accept Israel's right to exist. The authors would cut Hamas slack on this score because, they say, the organization cannot be expected to "cooperate in its own demise."

Even by loathsome Carter-Robinson standards, the assertion is breathtaking. The operating assumption of their op-ed is that Israel must cooperate in its own demise by ceasing to defend itself and abandoning the blockades absent which Hamas would quickly acquire even more deadly mass-destruction weapons.

Furthermore, Hamas' raison d'être is the annihilation of Israel by terrorist jihad; so by the authors' reasoning, it could never be expected to agree to non-violent coexistence with a Jewish state since that would amount to the demise of Hamas. Without the demise of Hamas, there is no chance for peace in the Middle East. It will require tuning out terror's useful idiots.

In his FrontPage article of August 6th, "Jimmy Carter: The Only Way to Fix Gaza is by Giving Hamas Everything It Wants,"Daniel Greenfield notes that:

"Carter skips over that by claiming that peace will only come from a PLO-Hamas agreement (what's more likely to bring peace than a unity agreement between two terror groups?) and urges a lifting of the blockade and replacing Egyptian and Israeli border monitoring with the UN.

"The international community's initial goal should be the full restoration of the free movement of people and goods to and from Gaza through Israel, Egypt, and the sea. Concurrently, the United States and EU should recognize that Hamas is not just a military but also a political force. Hamas cannot be wished away, nor will it cooperate in its own demise. Only by recognizing its legitimacy as a political actor - one that represents a substantial portion of the Palestinian people - can the West begin to provide the right incentives for Hamas to lay down its weapons."

Carter presumes that Hamas wants to lay down its weapons. There is no evidence of that whatsoever. Hamas is an acronym for "Islamic Resistance Movement". The goal of terrorist groups is to take power, not put down their weapons. Hamas deals with dissent by shooting dissenters.

Hamas, if Israel is foolish enough to empower it with concessions, means to commit genocide, just as the "Islamic State or ISIS is committed to the genocide of the Yazidis, by kidnapping Yazidi women and girls for rape and sex slavery. An unsigned Catholic Online article of August 14th, "300 Kurds kidnapped for rape: The Islamic state plans to breed out the blonde Iraqis," reports:
There are fears that the 300 Yazidi women who have been kidnapped by militants from the Islamic State last week will be used to bear children in order to break up the ancient community's bloodline....

Referencing the kidnapping of the Yazidi women, Adnan Kochar, chairman of the Kurdish Cultural Center in London told MailOnline: "The Kurds and Yazidis are originally Aryans. But because the Yazidis are such a closed community they have retained a fairer complexion, blonder hair and blue eyes. They don't marry non-Yazidis. Kochar continued: "ISIS have taken around 300 women from Sinjar to give to jihadists to marry and make pregnant to have a Muslim child. If they can't kill all Yazidis, they will try to smash the blond bloodline."

This story was also carried by the Daily Mail and other sites. Well, there's Islam's tolerance and absence of racism for you.

Meanwhile, in Europe and other places, anti-Semitism is raising its ancient and ugly head. Here is a photo gallery of the cities in which anti-Israel (and anti-Semitic) "protests" took place, with the Gaza War, which Hamas was losing, being the excuse to vent one's hatred. Or madness.

The U.S. has seen its share of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel demonstrations. But the Metropolitan Opera has committed the most outrageous and contemptible expression of anti-Semitism by going ahead with the production of an "opera" that decidedly blames Jews for their murders. Surely this is a sign of troubling derangement. The opera is The Death of Klinghoffer. The New York Post reported on June 16th in its article, "Metropolitan Opera romanticizes one NYer's murder":

"In 1985, New Yorker Leon Klinghoffer, 69, and his wife Marilyn took a cruise to celebrate their 36th wedding anniversary. Leon never came back: Four members of the Palestine Liberation Front hijacked the Achille Lauro, shot him in the head and threw him overboard in his wheelchair."

The show has widely been denounced as anti-Semitic and sympathetic to the hijackers. Performances planned in Boston and elsewhere were cancelled shortly after 9/11. If it wasn't then, what makes it acceptable now for Lincoln Center to glorify the murderers of a disabled New Yorker?...."

The Metropolitan Opera receives local, state and federal funding. Will taxpayer funds support anti-Semitism? What is the artistic value in celebrating the murder of innocents?

Put another way, staging The Death of Klinghoffer is tantamount to staging an opera, complete with atonal singing and music and an absurdist script, about the shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman during the Ferguson, Missouri riots over the shooting of Michael Brown, a thug, by a city police officer. It, too, would also be elevating criminality and unreason to a high art, and celebrating insanity.

The gods are not destroying us and Western civilization. We are destroying ourselves and it.

SOURCE

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The Hell That Is The Obama White House

by DAVID HOROWITZ

Let me begin by acknowledging that this inspirational title is lifted from a tweet by screen actor James Woods. And now I will explicate his tweet.

Every sentient human being whose brain isn't stuffed with ideological fairy dust can see that Obama is behind every major scandal of his administration from Benghazi to the I.R.S. disgrace. How can one know this? Because the culprits haven't been fired. Moreover, if they are serial liars like Susan Rice, they've actually been promoted to posts where their loyalty to the criminal-in-chief can do America and its citizens even more damage, if that is possible.

A president faced with a scandal created by underlings behind his back would be naturally furious at their misbehavior, and want heads to roll. This didn't happen in any of these scandals because their point of origin was the White House itself. Promoting the culprits is a way of keeping them quiet.

And what exactly is the I.R.S. scandal about - to take just one case? It's a plan unprecedented in modern American politics to push the political system towards a one-party state by using the taxing authority of the government to cripple and destroy the political opposition.

The administration's campaign to promote voter fraud by opposing measures to stop it (and defaming them as "racist" is guided by the same intentions and desire).

And why shouldn't Obama want to destroy the two-party system since he is also in utter contempt of the Constitutional framework, making law illegally, and defying an impotent Congress to stop him? Of course every radical, like Obama, hates the Constitutional framework because, as Madison explained in Federalist #10, it is designed to thwart "the wicked projects" of the left to redistribute income and destroy the free market.

The same desire to overwhelm and permanently suppress the opposition drives the war that Obama and the Democrats have conducted against America's borders and therefore American sovereignty. Their plan is to flood the country with illegals of whatever stripe who will be grateful enough for the favor to win them elections and create a permanent majority in their favor. The immediate result of these efforts is that we have no secure southern border, and therefore no border; and therefore we have effectively invited criminals and terrorists to come across and do Americans harm.

Which brings us to the deepest level of Obama's hell, which is his anti-American foreign policy...

SOURCE

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For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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

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21 August, 2014

Authoritarianism and the Leftist mental bubble

Nothing could be more obvious than the fact that Leftism is authoritarian. Wanting to "change society" in some way is definitional of Leftism. That wish, in various forms, is what makes you a Leftist. Conservatives want change too but generally in the direction of unwinding Leftist changes. But, as Margaret Thatcher memorably said, there is no such thing as society. There are only people. So the Leftist wants to change what people do. And that is the essence and goal of the authoritarian. And once they gain untrammelled power, socialists such as Robespierre, Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot etc show how very authoritarian they in fact are.

But no Leftist seems to be able to see that. They are in fact so heavily defended against reality that they believe it is conservatives who are the authoritarians. I have on my bookshelf a book by Robert Altemeyer which is titled: "Enemies of freedom". Any conservative would immediately identify the Left as the enemies of freedom but to Altemeyer the enemy is a type of conservative. Like most Leftist psychologists, Altemeyer has obviously read nothing of what conservatives actually advocate. Leftists need their cloak of self-righteousness so badly that they have to stay within a mental bubble formed by fellow Leftists -- a bubble into which uncomfortable thoughts must not intrude.

And that malarkey has been going on for a long time. The ball really got rolling with the publication of "The authoritarian personality" under the lead authorship of Marxist theoretician Theodor Adorno (born Theodor Wiesengrund) in 1950. And Altemeyer's writings are just an update on that. Adorno identified conservatives as the authoritarians.

In my days doing psychological research, I had over 100 papers published pointing to the holes in the Adorno theory but the papers had nil effect. My findings could not be allowed to penetrate the little mental bubble that enabled Leftists to tar conservatives with what were in fact the traits of Leftists.

Occasionally, however, some courageous person pokes his head above the parapet and endeavours to question the demonization of conservatives. I have commented previously on the work of Yancey, who points out that the flood of hate directed at Christians by Leftists makes claims of "hate" among conservatives look ludicrous. Just to disagree with Leftists allegedly makes you a "hater". To see what real hate looks like you have to see what Leftists say.

And I have just become aware of the work of Jarret T. Crawford, who is at least even-handed in finding fault on both the Left and the Right. It is rather a wonder that he gets away with it, but, like Yancey, he appears to have some African ancestry. So he is at that rate a member of a protected class and can say what he likes. For anybody with social science interests a list of some of his writings is here.

Another reason for the acceptance of his work is that he operates within conventional Leftist parameters -- accepting Leftist measuring instruments such as the RWA and SDO scales at face value. That is rather a pity as both instruments are abortions. Although allegedly a measure of "Right-wing authoritarianism", the RWA scale offers no useful prediction of vote at election time! Not very right-wing, is it? In psychometric terms the scale lacks predictive validity. And the SDO scale is an even bigger joke -- as I pointed out some years ago.

I look forward to Crawford discovering psychometrics. With better measuring instruments there is no telling what he might find. My paper on SDO does offer some alternatives.

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Anti-Capitalist Administration Makes for Tough Economic Sledding

The true scope of the damage that the Great Recession inflicted on the American economy, along with the Obama administration’s poor management of the crisis and its regular bent against the free market, is put in stark relief by some recent economic reports.

One study by Kansas City Federal Reserve economist Andrew Foerster calculates that continued economic uncertainty has cost the U.S. one million jobs since 2010, the year after the recession was officially declared “over.” Foerster maintains that high uncertainty in the economic recovery was generated by three separate incidents – the May 2010 European sovereign debt crisis, the 2011 U.S. debt ceiling debacle, and mixed signals over the Federal Reserve Bank’s June 2013 plan to wind down its bond buying program. The result was muted employment in the U.S. job market, about 16,000 fewer jobs per month between 2010 and 2013.

The current job market is also experiencing a sharp decline in male participation. Men have been leaving the workforce steadily since the late 1940s, but the trend has risen sharply in recent years. After World War II, 87% of adult men held jobs or were actively seeking employment. As of last month, that number dropped to just over 69%. The male participation rate has dropped three points since 2009 alone. In the cohort of men ages 25-54, there are 1.85 million “missing workers,” able-bodied males who have given up looking for jobs due to weak opportunities.

There are a number of factors at play behind this sharp decline of male workers. Manufacturing, a male-dominated profession, once accounted for one-quarter of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product but has fallen to around 11%. Education, social services and other service jobs traditionally held by women, have been on the rise, now claiming a large share of GDP. Women have entered the work force in greater numbers since the 1960s, and the female participation rate is at 57%. Women are also earning more college degrees these days, making them better suited overall for a more skilled workforce. There are some men who have made a lifestyle choice to stay at home and let their spouses be the breadwinner, but that’s a small portion of the total. The drop in labor is due largely to lack of opportunities.

Are there any signs of relief in the job market? That depends on who you listen to. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez insists that talk of the recovery consisting only of low-wage jobs is “categorically inaccurate,” adding, “This recovery is creating a lot of good jobs.” According to The Washington Post, nearly 40% of the jobs created in the last six months have been in high-wage industries such as construction and professional services. However, a recent U.S. Conference of Mayors and HIS Global Insights report reveals there is still a 23% wage gap in sectors hardest hit by the recession such as construction and manufacturing. Low-wage industries have seen the bulk (41%) of job growth in the last year. Mid-wage and high-wage industries have seen 26% and 33% growth, respectively, but there are still 1.2 million fewer jobs in those industries than prior to the recession.

Five years after the end of the recession, the Obama “recovery” can still be categorized as anemic, and without a doubt that’s due to the Obama administration’s policies. The high tax burden on investors and businesses has reduced capital investment and the incentive to put money into growing companies and hiring more workers. ObamaCare has also kept a number of small and mid-size businesses from growing at all, but especially beyond 49 employees, as they seek to remain below the law’s costly regulatory threshold for mandatory insurance coverage.

There is also a marked anti-capitalist flavor to the rhetoric continually coming out of the administration and its choir on Capitol Hill. We have listened to six years of incessant calls for making the rich “pay their fair share,” sparking class warfare and inspiring jealousy and disdain of success. The president told entrepreneurs they don’t deserve the fruits of their labor because they “didn’t build that,” in reference to the infrastructure that made their success possible. It’s no wonder so much intellectual and monetary capital is sitting on the sidelines or drifting overseas through corporate inversions, which Obama slams as a lack of “economic patriotism.” Eight years is a long economic malaise, so we must work to make sure 2017 brings a free-market oriented administration willing to allow the American economy to reach its full potential.

SOURCE

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The President's True Colors Finally Revealed

When I first glanced at the headline on today's Jerusalem Online and reports in the Jerusalem Post and other Israeli newspapers, I thought they must have been a satire: "Washington officials have told Egypt that the US will grantee Israel's commitment to any agreement signed." But it was not a satire. The was deadly serious, confirmed by other Israeli newspapers and sources in Cairo.

The US offering to Hamas to "guarantee" Israeli commitments to any agreement signed? As if anyone needed proof of the Obama Administration's antipathy to Israel, here it was in black and white. If anyone party needed a commitment to enforce its agreements in any deal, it would have been Hamas, that has been known to break every commitment it ever made. To pick just a few at random:

Hamas recently violated 9 cease fire agreements, including two of its own

Hamas illegally siphoned thousands of tons of cement and steel shipments it received from international donors and Israel that it had committed to use the build the civilian infrastructure in Gaza for hospitals, schools and apartment buildings; instead it spent upwards of $500 million of these humanitarian shipments to covertly build numerous tunnels buried deep underground into Israel in order to carry out murderous raids on Israeli civilian communities intended to kill tens of thousands of Israelis

Hamas violated the 2012 Cease Fire negotiated by then State Department Secretary Hillary Clinton together with then Egyptian Muslim President Mohammed Morsi in which Hamas committed to stop smuggling weapons and missiles into Israel, of which nearly 4000 were recently launched into 80% of Israel's population centers

Hamas violated the commitment to the Palestinian Authority that it would never launch a coup d'état against the PA after Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005. But in 2007, Hamas did exactly that in a bloody takeover of Gaza, kicking out and killing PA officials.

Hamas violated a publicly solemn commitment to its own civilians that it would uphold the rule of law (yea, right) when it took over Gaza only to subsequently execute hundreds of dissident Gazans, torture and imprison thousands of political opponents, violently persecute the minority of Christians still living in Gaza and imprison and prosecute suspected gay Gazans.

Violating a commitment it made in the Clinton negotiated 2012 truce that it would cease its missile attacks on Israel.

And at the same time, it should be noted that President Obama personally signed an official letter at the time of the 2012 negotiated cease fire to Prime Minister Netanyahu that the US would provide Israel with the technology to defeat and stop Hamas smuggling of weapons. But subsequent to that empty promise, Hamas soon received in massive quantities from Iran, Sudan, and North Korea. That promise was never carried out.

Israel on the other hand meticulously fulfilled its part of the bargain by severely relaxing the blockade on Gaza, allowing tons of previously restricted cement and steel into Gaza, increasing the number of daily truckloads of food, medical stuff and building equipment through the two Israeli checkpoints into Gaza by more than 250 truckloads a day (a commitment is still upheld during the Hamas war against Israel, a fact mostly ignored by the mainstream media blindly committed to the Hamas narrative that Israel was the aggressor).

Remember when Obama spoke to the annual AIPAC conference a few years back and ceremoniously declared, "I got your back." This is the same President who, as the Wall Street Journal disclosed last week, personally held up the Israeli request for additional Hellfire missiles that it had depleted in its war with Hamas.

As far back as 1967, the United States had made a firm promise to Israel that it would never allow the Egyptians to blockade the Straits of Hormuz, considered the lifeline of Israel. But when the Egyptians blockaded the Straights of Hormuz in May 1967, what did the US do? Nothing.

And in the current round of negotiations being held in Cairo now, according to leaked details in Egyptian newspapers reported by today's Jerusalem Online, Israel agreed to make the following astonishing concessions:

"Israel will stop its attacks in Gaza - in land, sea and air. No ground operations will be conducted."

Israel has agreed to the "opening of crossings between Israel and Gaza [in which] Movement of people and merchandise will be allowed, to rebuild Gaza."

"Eliminating the buffer zone in the North and East of Gaza and deployment of Palestinian military forces starting from January 1, 2015"

"Freedom of fishing and action in the territorial waters of the Palestinians in Gaza to a range of 6 miles. The range will gradually be increased, to no less than 12 miles..."

"Israeli authorities will assist the Palestinian Authority to restore the foundations in Gaza, as well as help provide the necessary living needs for those who were forced to leave their homes due to the battles. Also, Israel will provide emergency medical attention to the wounded and will supply humanitarian assistance and food to Gaza as soon as possible."

It should be noted that even during the recent murderous war waged by Gaza, Israel had opened up its borders to treat wounded Gaza civilians in Israeli hospitals and continued to supply daily more than 500 tons daily of humanitarian assistance and food to Gaza even as the Hamas launched thousands of rockets and attempted mass murder of Israeli civilians by attempts, fortunately thwarted by Israel, to infiltrate dozens of fully armed Hamas terrorists into Israel via the tunnels dug by Hamas.

And what did the Hamas commit to?

"All Palestinian factions in Gaza will stop the attacks against Israel, in the land, the sea and the air; also, building tunnels from Gaza to Israeli territory will be stopped."

That was it. Virtually the same identical commitments it agreed to in December 2012. Quite interestingly, Hamas insisted-which Israel did not agree to-to the immediate opening of a Gaza seaport and airport. But the party that suggested to Hamas that they insist on these demands was none other than the Qataris, the country-which is the top financial patron in the world today to Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and many of its terrorist offshoots-curiously selected personally by Obama to be the official diplomatic interlocutor in the Cairo talks.

The role that Qatar was supposed to play was to convince the group to make concessions. But curiously the opposite happened. Qatar, the country to which that the US just sold $11 billion worth of military weapons, actually sabotaged the negotiations. So far, the President has been studiously silent on this betrayal.

In light of the fact that Hamas has manifestly never upheld any of the commitments it has ever made, the salient question that has to be asked is why Obama did feel compelled to assuage Hamas with an assurance that the US would "guarantee" that Israeli upheld its commitments? The word "guarantee" has a rather expansive and vague latitude for definition. The most recent demonstration of an American guarantee that Israel would halt its defensive war against Hamas was the suspension of critical military deliveries to Israel during the height of the conflagration instigated by Hamas.

Indeed, for all the public affirmations made last week-after the WSJ expose-- by the Obama Administration that the US was "totally committed to the security of Israel," Obama suddenly decides to make a promise to Hamas-whose covenant differs not one bit from the fascist radical Islamic doctrine adopted by ISIL-that it would enforce the commitments made by Israel, which in fact have historically been studiously upheld by Israel.

If Obama was truly sincere in his now obviously contrived promises to "watch [Israel's] back", he would have offered to guarantee Hamas commitments, a terrorist group that has repeatedly violated its commitments in previous agreements. But with his statement that he would "guarantee" Israeli commitments and not those made by Hamas, the President has revealed his true colors for everyone to see.

SOURCE

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For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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

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20 August, 2014

Healthcare Gouging Culprits

It's no wonder why routine healthcare costs in the United States are so ridiculously high, and why health insurance premiums are skyrocketing. Today's healthcare providers are gouging patients like highway robbers.

They do it because they can.

Hospitals are charging patients a small fortune for the most minor of services; treatments like applying a Band-Aid to a small cut. A New Jersey man found this out the hard way when he was gouged almost $9,000 after an ER aide treated a small cut on his middle finger.

The man cut his finger with a hammer and thought he might need stitches so he went to the local ER at Bayonne Medical Center. He didn't need stitches. He got a tetanus shot from a nurse practitioner who sterilized the cut, applied some antibacterial ointment, a bandage and sent him home.

Later he received the bill: $8,200 for the ER visit; $180 for the shot; $242 for the bandage; $8 for the ointment; and nearly $370 for the nurse. "I got a Band-Aid and a tetanus shot. How could it be $9,000? This is crazy," the man told reporters.

Yes, this is crazy.

Now the hospital says it charged that amount because the man's insurance carrier refuses to offer fair reimbursement rates. This hospital apparently believes that $9,000 is a fair charge for applying a Band-Aid to a small cut.

The insurance carrier says that this hospital is just trying to gouge its patients.

Gee, do ya think?

A spokesperson for the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute says that the right price for getting a finger bandaged should be $400 to $1,000.

That, of course, is equally ridiculous. In fact, it's outrageous! I say that if a hospital can't apply a Band-Aid to a small cut and then send the patient home for less than $100, that hospital shouldn't be treating patients. Its administrator's and staff should be in jail.

This is a primary reason why healthcare costs are out of control in the U.S. Just about everyone now has insurance to cover every treatment from the most insignificant to the most complicated. When everyone has insurance covering everything, they go to the doctor or hospital for things like cut fingers, and the healthcare providers start gouging.

They do it because they can. After all, the insurance company or the government is paying the bill. If patients had to pay for minor medical treatments out of their own pockets this kind of thing wouldn't happen.

That's how healthcare was administered in the old days and it worked quite well. But those days are gone and today we have only healthcare gouging culprits.

SOURCE

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Are insurers still dodging the sick?

Ending insurance discrimination against the sick was a central goal of the nation's health care overhaul, but leading patient groups say that promise is being undermined by new barriers from insurers.

The insurance industry responds that critics are confusing legitimate cost-control with bias. Some state regulators, however, say there's reason to be concerned about policies that shift costs to patients and narrow their choices of hospitals and doctors.

With open enrollment for 2015 three months away, the Obama administration is being pressed to enforce the Affordable Care Act's anti-discrimination provisions. Some regulations have been issued; others are pending after more than four years.

More than 300 patient advocacy groups recently wrote Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell to complain about some insurer tactics that "are highly discriminatory against patients with chronic health conditions and may ... violate the (law's) nondiscrimination provisions."

Among the groups were the AIDS Institute, the American Lung Association, Easter Seals, the Epilepsy Foundation, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the National Kidney Foundation and United Cerebral Palsy. All supported the law.

Coverage of expensive drugs tops their concerns.

The advocates also say they are disappointed by how difficult it's proved for consumers to get a full picture of plans sold on the new insurance exchanges. Digging is often required to learn crucial details such as drugs covered, exact copayments and which doctors and hospitals are in the network.

Washington state's insurance commissioner, Mike Kreidler, said "there is no question" that discrimination is creeping back. "The question is whether we are catching it or not," added Kreidler, a Democrat.

Kansas' commissioner, Sandy Praeger, a Republican, said the jury is out on whether some insurers are back to shunning the sick. Nonetheless, Praeger said the administration needs to take a strong stand.

"They ought to make it very clear that if there is any kind of discrimination against people with chronic conditions, there will be enforcement action," Praeger said. "The whole goal here was to use the private insurance market to create a system that provides health insurance for all Americans."

The Obama administration turned down interview requests.

An HHS spokeswoman said the department is preparing a formal response to the advocates and stressed that today's level of consumer protection is far superior to what existed before President Barack Obama's law, when an insurance company could use any existing medical condition to deny coverage.

The law also takes away some of the motivation insurers have for chasing healthy patients. Those attracting a healthy population must pay into a pool that will reimburse plans with a higher share of patients with health problems. But that backstop is under attack from congressional Republicans as an insurer "bailout."

Compounding the uncertainty is that Washington and the states now share responsibility for policing health plans sold to individuals.

Although the federal government is running insurance markets in 36 states, state regulators are still in charge of consumer protection. A few states refuse to enforce any aspect of the law.

Kreidler said the federal government should establish a basic level of protection that states can build on. "We're kind of piecemealing it right now," he said.

Much of the concern is about coverage for prescription drugs. Also worrisome are the narrow networks of hospitals and doctors that insurers are using to keep premiums down. Healthy people generally shop for lower premiums, while people with health problems look for access to specialists and the best hospitals.

Before Obama's overhaul, insurance plans sold on the individual market could exclude prescription coverage. Now the debate is over what's fair to charge patients.

Some plans are requiring patients to pay 30 percent or more for drugs that go for several thousand dollars a month. HIV drugs, certain cancer medications, and multiple sclerosis drugs are among them.

Although the law sets an overall annual limit on what patients are required to pay, the initial medication cost can be a shock.

California resident Charis Hill has ankylosing spondylitis, a painful, progressive form of spinal arthritis. To manage it, she relies on an expensive medication called Enbrel. When she tried to fill her prescription the pharmacy wanted $2,000, more than she could afford.

"Insurance companies are basically singling out certain conditions by placing some medications on high-cost tiers," said Hill. That "is pretty blatant discrimination in my mind."

Hill, a biking advocate from the Sacramento area, has been able to get her medication through the manufacturer's patient assistance program.

The insurance industry trade group America's Health Insurance Plans says there's no discrimination because patients have many options on the insurance exchanges. Gold and platinum plans feature lower cost-sharing, but have higher premiums. Standard silver plans generally require patients to pay a greater share of medical bills, but some have fairly robust drug coverage.

"There are plans on the exchanges that are right for people who have these health conditions," said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for the group.

For 2015, the administration says it will identify plans that require unusually high patient cost-sharing in states where Washington is running the exchange. Insurers may get an opportunity to make changes. Regulators will collect and analyze data on insurers' networks.

"People who have high cost health conditions are still having a problem accessing care," said law professor Timothy Jost of Washington and Lee University in Virginia. "We are in the early stages of trying to figure out what the problems are, and to what extent they are based on insurance company discrimination, or inherent in the structure of the program."

SOURCE

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Steyer Benefits From Progressive Double Standard

With Election Day less than a hundred days away, we can expect the campaign season to bring out some of the worst in human behavior. It encourages politicians, activists, and the journalists who cover them to participate in all sorts of shenanigans.

However, much of what are self-styled elite opinionmongers would dismiss as “silly” perhaps isn’t. Perhaps it’s only their failure to hold their ideological compatriots to the same standards. Take the case of billionaire hedge-fund manager and progressive megadonor Tom Steyer, who regularly commits so many of the sins conservatives are accused of--and gets a free from progressives.

Take, for example, the handwringing and hyperventilating over money in politics, which progressives argue is corrosive to democracy. It’s a cause célèbre on the left, who fight against it in the court of public opinion and in the halls of Congress. Their chief bogeyman at the moment is the Super PAC, an independent political committee that may raise and spend unlimited amounts of money in support of political candidates. The Super PAC, according to many of the left, amounts to nothing less than the wholesale buying of elections.

But their squeamishness about big-dollar Super PAC donors influencing politics doesn’t seem to extend to Steyer--who is, according to the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation, the single biggest Super PAC donor of this election cycle. As of the third week of July, Steyer had already shelled out a cool $20 million for progressive candidates. Liberals who decry the Super PAC always point fingers at wealthy conservative donors--but in the Sunlight Foundation’s analysis, the top five conservative Super PAC donors combined still fall short of what Steyer has dropped on this year’s races.

And this year, every major fact-checking organization has long been on the record against a wild claim that Steyer’s Super PAC, NextGen Climate Action, recently made in Iowa against Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst. In short, an ad run by the Steyer group charges that Ernst’s signing of Americans for Tax Reform’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge is tantamount to support for American companies sending jobs overseas. The Pledge, Steyer’s ad argues, protects tax credits for those companies despite the pledge including no such promises.

Every major fact-checking site: Adwatch, FactCheck.org, and Politifact, as well as local organizations in cities like Seattle and Las Vegas, have debunked this claim in the previous two election cycles when it’s been made against other candidates signing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge.

Even as Steyer has invested in the 2014 midterms more heavily than anyone else – giving more than twice as much as this cycle’s next largest Super PAC donor, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg – his motives for doing so have escaped media scrutiny. It hardly needs to be said that the same courtesy is never extended to conservative donors, to whom the media tends to ascribe nefariously self-interested motives for their political giving.

And yet Steyer burst onto the political scene by opposing the Keystone XL pipeline, a project which promises lower energy prices and thousands of new jobs. His opposition to the pipeline was heralded as a public spirited act of social conscience.

Actually, it turns out that Steyer held a financial stake in the Kinder Mountain pipeline, a competing pipeline, and stood to profit significantly if regulators killed the Keystone project in favor of Kinder Mountain. Steyer has since divested himself of his interests in fossil fuels, but the media never questioned his motives, choosing instead to praise his activism and coo over the possibility that he might run for office someday.

Commentators often refer to the runup to Election Day as “the silly season.” But what’s truly silly is a double standard that protects Tom Steyer while he freely commits some of the worst sins in the progressive catechism.

SOURCE

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Grocery Chain Stands Up to Bloomberg’s Anti-Gun Obsession

Oh good… Another big business is being pressured to boycott law abiding gun owners. However, unlike Starbucks, Jack in the Box, Chipotle, and Target, Kroger has decided to reject the Bloomberg-inspired requests to ban guns on their property. I guess they (for some strange reason) didn’t feel like experiencing an uptick in violent crime and robberies.

In recent months years, Bloomberg’s anti-gun groups have taken a decisively effective tactic of targeting (excuse the pun) and intimidating businesses into being the enforcers of gun restrictions that otherwise had no hope of passing local legislatures. Of course, this new trend tends to show the difference between the Left and the Right on issues of public policy. While gun-loving Americans might dislike the idea of their favorite retail chain banning guns, they tend to respect that such decisions are within the rights of private property owners… As a result, they simply stop eating cheap Mexican food (Chipotle), or buying overpriced fast food (Jack in the Box).

Leftists, on the other hand, seem to have a love affair with intimidating the masses into compliance with their utopian vision. And, really, this seems to go to the heart of what is at stake in the debate over more government. While a libertarian, or conservative, utopia might expose more people to the horror of a law abiding gun owner peacefully carrying his holstered weapon, a liberal utopia tends to restrict and suffocate the actions of a handful of law-abiding citizens.

SOURCE

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For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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

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19 August, 2014

Böhm-Bawerk: Austrian Economist Who Said “No” to Big Government

We live at a time when politicians and bureaucrats only know one public policy: more and bigger government. Yet, there was a time when even those who served in government defended limited and smaller government. One of the greatest of these died one hundred years ago on August 27, 1914, the Austrian economist Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk.Böhm-Bawerk is most famous as one of the leading critics of Marxism and socialism in the years before the First World War. He is equally famous as one of the developers of “marginal utility” theory as the basis of showing the logic and workings of the competitive market price system.

But he also served three times as the finance minister of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire, during which he staunchly fought for lower government spending and taxing, balanced budgets, and a sound monetary system based on the gold standard.

Danger of Out-of-Control Government Spending

Even after Böhm-Bawerk had left public office he continued to warn of the dangers of uncontrolled government spending and borrowing as the road to ruin in his native Austria-Hungary, and in words that ring as true today as when he wrote them a century ago.

In January 1914, just a little more than a half a year before the start of the First World War, Böhm-Bawerk said in a series of articles in one of the most prominent Vienna newspapers that the Austrian government was following a policy of fiscal irresponsibility. During the preceding three years, government expenditures had increased by 60 percent, and for each of these years the government’s deficit had equaled approximately 15 percent of total spending.

The reason, Böhm-Bawerk said, was that the Austrian parliament and government were enveloped in a spider’s web of special-interest politics. Made up of a large number of different linguistic and national groups, the Austro-Hungarian Empire was being corrupted through abuse of the democratic process, with each interest group using the political system to gain privileges and favors at the expense of others.

Böhm-Bawerk explained:

“We have seen innumerable variations of the vexing game of trying to generate political contentment through material concessions. If formerly the Parliaments were the guardians of thrift, they are today far more like its sworn enemies.

“Nowadays the political and nationalist parties . . . are in the habit of cultivating a greed of all kinds of benefits for their co-nationals or constituencies that they regard as a veritable duty, and should the political situation be correspondingly favorable, that is to say correspondingly unfavorable for the Government, then political pressure will produce what is wanted. Often enough, though, because of the carefully calculated rivalry and jealousy between parties, what has been granted to one [group] has also to be conceded to others—from a single costly concession springs a whole bundle of costly concessions.”

He accused the Austrian government of having “squandered amidst our good fortune [of economic prosperity] everything, but everything, down to the last penny, that could be grabbed by tightening the tax-screw and anticipating future sources of income to the upper limit” by borrowing in the present at the expense of the future.

For some time, he said, “a very large number of our public authorities have been living beyond their means.” Such a fiscal policy, Böhm-Bawerk feared, was threatening the long-run financial stability and soundness of the entire country.

Eight months later, in August 1914, Austria-Hungary and the rest of Europe stumbled into the cataclysm that became World War I. And far more than merely the finances of the Austro-Hungarian Empire were in ruins when that war ended four years later, since the Empire itself disappeared from the map of Europe.

A Man of Honesty and Integrity

Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk was born on February 12, 1851 in Brno, capital of the Austrian province of Moravia (now the eastern portion of the Czech Republic). He died on August 27, 1914, at the age of 63, just as the First World War was beginning.

Ten years after Böhm-Bawerk’s death, one of his students, the Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises, wrote a memorial essay about his teacher. Mises said:

“Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk will remain unforgettable to all who have known him. The students who were fortunate enough to be members of his seminar [at the University of Vienna] will never lose what they have gained from the contact with this great mind. To the politicians who have come into contact with the statesman, his extreme honesty, selflessness and dedication to duty will forever remain a shining example.

“And no citizen of this country [Austria] should ever forget the last Austrian minister of finance who, in spite of all obstacles, was seriously trying to maintain order of the public finances and to prevent the approaching financial catastrophe. Even when all those who have been personally close to Böhm-Bawerk will have left this life, his scientific work will continue to live and bear fruit.”

Another of Böhm-Bawerk’s students, Joseph A. Schumpeter, spoke in the same glowing terms of his teacher, saying, “he was not only one of the most brilliant figures in the scientific life of his time, but also an example of that rarest of statesmen, a great minister of finance . . . As a public servant, he stood up to the most difficult and thankless task of politics, the task of defending sound financial principles.”

The scientific contributions to which both Mises and Schumpeter referred were Böhm-Bawerk’s writings on what has become known as the Austrian theory of capital and interest, and his equally insightful formulation of the Austrian theory of value and price.

The Austrian Theory of Subjective Value

The Austrian school of economics began 1871 with the publication of Carl Menger’s Principles of Economics. In this work, Menger challenged the fundamental premises of the classical economists, from Adam Smith through David Ricardo to John Stuart Mill. Menger argued that the labor theory of value was flawed in presuming that the value of goods was determined by the relative quantities of labor that had been expended in their manufacture.

Instead, Menger formulated a subjective theory of value, reasoning that value originates in the mind of an evaluator. The value of means reflects the value of the ends they might enable the evaluator to obtain. Labor, therefore, like raw materials and other resources, derives value from the value of the goods it can produce. From this starting point Menger outlined a theory of the value of goods and factors of production, and a theory of the limits of exchange and the formation of prices.

Böhm-Bawerk and his future brother-in-law and also later-to-be-famous contributor to the Austrian school, Friedrich von Wieser, came across Menger’s book shortly after its publication. Both immediately saw the significance of the new subjective approach for the development of economic theory.

In the mid-1870s, Böhm-Bawerk entered the Austrian civil service, soon rising in rank in the Ministry of Finance working on reforming the Austrian tax system. But in 1880, with Menger’s assistance, Böhm-Bawerk was appointed a professor at the University of Innsbruck, a position he held until 1889.

Böhm-Bawerk’s Writings on Value and Price

During this period he wrote the two books that were to establish his reputation as one of the leading economists of his time, Capital and Interest, Vol. I: History and Critique of Interest Theories (1884) and Vol. II: Positive Theory of Capital (1889). A third volume, Further Essays on Capital and Interest, appeared in 1914 shortly before his death.

In the first volume of Capital and Interest, Böhm-Bawerk presented a wide and detailed critical study of theories of the origin of and basis for interest from the ancient world to his own time. But it was in the second work, in which he offered a Positive Theory of Capital, that Böhm-Bawerk’s major contribution to the body of Austrian economics may be found. In the middle of the volume is a 135-page digression in which he presents a refined statement of the Austrian subjective theory of value and price. He develops in meticulous detail the theory of marginal utility, showing the logic of how individuals come to evaluate and weigh alternatives among which they may choose and the process that leads to decisions to select certain preferred combinations guided by the marginal principle. And he shows how the same concept of marginal utility explains the origin and significance of cost and the assigned valuations to the factors of production.

In the section on price formation, Böhm-Bawerk develops a theory of how the subjective valuations of buyers and sellers create incentives for the parties on both sides of the market to initiate pricing bids and offers. He explains how the logic of price creation by the market participants also determines the range in which any market-clearing, or equilibrium, price must finally settle, given the maximum demand prices and the minimum supply prices, respectively, of the competing buyers and sellers.

Capital and Time Investment as the Sources of Prosperity

It is impossible to do full justice to Böhm-Bawerk’s theory of capital and interest. But in the barest of outlines, he argued that for man to attain his various desired ends he must discover the causal processes through which labor and resources at his disposal may be used for his purposes. Central to this discovery process is the insight that often the most effective path to a desired goal is through “roundabout” methods of production. A man will be able to catch more fish in a shorter amount of time if he first devotes the time to constructing a fishing net out of vines, hollowing out a tree trunk as a canoe, and carving a tree branch into a paddle.

Greater productivity will often be forthcoming in the future if the individual is willing to undertake, therefore, a certain “period of production,” during which resources and labor are set to work to manufacture the capital—the fishing net, canoe, and paddle—that is then employed to paddle out into the lagoon where larger and more fish may be available.

But the time involved to undertake and implement these more roundabout methods of production involve a cost. The individual must be willing to forgo (often less productive) production activities in the more immediate future (wading into the lagoon using a tree branch as a spear) because that labor and those resources are tied up in a more time-consuming method of production, the more productive results from which will only be forthcoming later.

Interest on a Loan Reflects the Value of Time

This led Böhm-Bawerk to his theory of interest. Obviously, individuals evaluating the production possibilities just discussed must weigh ends available sooner versus other (perhaps more productive) ends that might be obtainable later. As a rule, Böhm-Bawerk argued, individuals prefer goods sooner rather than later.

Each individual places a premium on goods available in the present and discounts to some degree goods that can only be achieved further in the future. Since individuals have different premiums and discounts (time-preferences), there are potential mutual gains from trade. That is the source of the rate of interest: it is the price of trading consumption and production goods across time.

Böhm-Bawerk Refutes Marx’s Critique of Capitalism

One of Böhm-Bawerk’s most important applications of his theory was the refutation of the Marxian exploitation theory that employers make profits by depriving workers of the full value of what their labor produces. He presented his critique of Marx’s theory in the first volume of Capital and Interest and in a long essay originally published in 1896 on the “Unresolved Contradictions in the Marxian Economic System.” In essence, Böhm-Bawerk argued that Marx had confused interest with profit. In the long run no profits can continue to be earned in a competitive market because entrepreneurs will bid up the prices of factors of production and compete down the prices of consumer goods.

But all production takes time. If that period is of any significant length, the workers must be able to sustain themselves until the product is ready for sale. If they are unwilling or unable to sustain themselves, someone else must advance the money (wages) to enable them to consume in the meantime.

This, Böhm-Bawerk explained, is what the capitalist does. He saves, forgoing consumption or other uses of his wealth, and those savings are the source of the workers’ wages during the production process. What Marx called the capitalists’ “exploitative profits” Böhm-Bawerk showed to be the implicit interest payment for advancing money to workers during the time-consuming, roundabout processes of production.

Defending Fiscal Restraint in the Austrian Finance Ministry

In 1889, Böhm-Bawerk was called back from the academic world to the Austrian Ministry of Finance, where he worked on reforming the systems of direct and indirect taxation. He was promoted to head of the tax department in 1891. A year later he was vice president of the national commission that proposed putting Austria-Hungary on a gold standard as a means of establishing a sound monetary system free from direct government manipulation of the monetary printing press.

Three times he served as minister of finance, briefly in 1895, again in 1896-1897, and then from 1900 to 1904. During the last four-year term Böhm-Bawerk demonstrated his commitment to fiscal conservatism, with government spending and taxing kept strictly under control.

However, Ernest von Koerber, the Austrian prime minister in whose government Böhm-Bawerk served, devised a grandiose and vastly expensive public works scheme in the name of economic development. An extensive network of railway lines and canals were to be constructed to connect various parts of the Austro-Hungarian Empire—subsidizing in the process a wide variety of special-interest groups in what today would be described as a “stimulus” program for supposed “jobs-creation.”

Böhm-Bawerk tirelessly fought against what he considered fiscal extravagance that would require higher taxes and greater debt when there was no persuasive evidence that the industrial benefits would justify the expense. At Council of Ministers meetings Böhm-Bawerk even boldly argued against spending proposals presented by the Austrian Emperor, Franz Josef, who presided over the sessions.

When finally he resigned from the Ministry of Finance in October 1904, Böhm-Bawerk had succeeded in preventing most of Prime Minister Koerber’s giant spending project. But he chose to step down because of what he considered to be corrupt financial “irregularities” in the defense budget of the Austrian military.

However, Böhm-Bawerk’s 1914 articles on government finance indicate that the wave of government spending he had battled so hard against broke through once he was no longer there to fight it.

Political Control or Economic Law

A few months after his passing, in December 1914, his last essay appeared in print, a lengthy piece on “Control or Economic Law?” He explained that various interest groups in society, most especially trade unions, suffer from a false conception that through their use or the threat of force, they are able to raise wages permanently above the market’s estimate of the value of various types of labor.

Arbitrarily setting wages and prices higher than what employers and buyers think labor and goods are worth – such as with a government-mandated minimum wage law – merely prices some labor and goods out of the market.

Furthermore, when unions impose high nonmarket wages on the employers in an industry, the unions succeed only in temporarily eating into the employers’ profit margins and creating the incentive for those employers to leave that sector of the economy and take with them those workers’ jobs.

What makes the real wages of workers rise in the long run, Böhm-Bawerk argued, was capital formation and investment in those more roundabout methods of production that increase the productivity of workers and therefore make their labor services more valuable in the long run, while also increasing the quantity of goods and services they can buy with their market wages.

To his last, Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk defended reason and the logic of the market against the emotional appeals and faulty reasoning of those who wished to use power and the government to acquire from others what they could not obtain through free competition. His contributions to economic theory and economic policy show him as one of the greatest economists of all time, as well as his example as a principled man of uncompromising integrity who in the political arena unswervingly fought for the free market and limited government.

SOURCE

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

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For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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

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18 August, 2014

Muslim Mob Abducts Christian Nurse From Her Home and Gang Rapes Her Over And Over Again

If the world thinks that pretending that this is not happening, or worse, ignoring it, is going to spare them the same fate, they are gravely mistaken.

This is the jihad that Obama aided and abetted in ushering in. This is Obama's Libya - after his surrender in Benghazi.

The abduction of this young Filipino Christian took place only a few days after a Filipino construction worker was beheaded, amid allegations that he was killed for not being a Muslim.

But the UN seeks to prosecute Israelis for "war crimes" for defending themselves against this pox against humanity.

Every rational and freedom-loving man cannot fathom why the world is submitting to such savagery.

"A Filipino Christian nurse in Libya was abducted by Muslims from her home and gang raped by up to six Muslim men. According to one report:

A Filipino nurse has been kidnapped and gang-raped in the Libyan capital of Tripoli.

The woman was seized outside her residence on Wednesday and taken to an unknown location, where she was sexually abused by up to six men, the Philippines' Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose told reporters.

She was released about two hours later and taken to hospital for treatment.

The incident took place only a few days after a Filipino construction worker was beheaded, amid allegations he was killed for not being a Muslim.

Following the latest incident, the Filipino government called for the evacuation of its 13,000 citizens in Libya, which has been rocked by violence in the last few months.

A recent report explains how the Filipino government is now escorting all of its people from Libya:

The Philippines has dispatched its foreign secretary to oversee the evacuation of 13,000 citizens from Libya after a Filipino construction worker was beheaded and a nurse gang-raped there.

Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said on Thursday he was flying to Djerba island in neighbouring Tunisia to "try to convince our people to leave [Libya] because the situation there is very dangerous".

The Philippine government ordered a mandatory evacuation on July 20, hours after the discovery in Benghazi city of the beheaded remains of a Filipino construction worker who had been abducted five days earlier.

On Wednesday a Filipina nurse was abducted by a gang of youths outside her residence in the capital Tripoli, then taken elsewhere where she was gang-raped by up to six suspects, the foreign department said.

She was released about two hours later and a Filipino consular team took her to hospital for treatment, a foreign department spokesman said.

"We condemn these crimes that have been committed against our people," President Benigno Aquino's spokesman Herminio Coloma said in Manila.

Why would the Muslims do this? Because their Filipino victims were Catholics, and anyone who has read Church History, will know what vicious and violent hatred Islam has had for the Papacy from the beginning. One news agency connected the rape and the beheading to the anti-Catholic vitriol of the Muslims in Libya:

Despite broad acceptance, the Filipino community has been harassed by Islamic extremists, partly because of the Catholic faith practiced by most Filipinos.

From the Reconquista to the Crusades, the Catholic Church was, and is still, the primary enemy of the Muslim heresy.

SOURCE

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Joy for the Dutch

Once such a sane country

A senior employee of the Dutch Justice Ministry said the jihadist group ISIS was created by Zionists seeking to give Islam a bad reputation. Yasmina Haifi, a project leader at the ministry’s National Cyber Security Center, made the assertion Wednesday on Twitter, the De Telegraaf daily reported. “ISIS has nothing to do with Islam. It’s part of a plan by Zionists who are deliberately trying to blacken Islam’s name,” wrote Haifi, who described herself on the social network LinkedIn as an activist for the Dutch Labor Party, or PvdA.

Haifi later removed her original message, explaining, “I realize the political sensitivity in connection with my work. That was not my intention.”

Two right-wing lawmakers, Joram van Klaveren and Louis Bontes of the VNL faction, asked the ministry how one with such views reached a prominent position in the ministry and if Haifi’s employment constituted a security risk.

A series of rallies supporting ISIS, which is considered a terrorist organization in many Western countries, were held in the Hague in July and earlier this month. Some demonstrators called for violence. The demonstrations on July 2 and 24 featured calls to kill Jews.

When anti-ISIS demonstrators tried to march through the heavily Muslim neighborhood of Schilderswijk on Aug. 10 to express their disapproval, a crowd of approximately 200 men barricaded the main street and staged an illegal counterdemonstration in support of ISIS.

Some of the protesters hurled stones at police who tried to remove the obstacles. Six people were arrested.

SOURCE

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Muslim aggression has been a problem for a long time. Time to stop the rot?

In 732 AD the Muslim Army which was moving on Paris was defeated and turned back at Tours, France, by Charles Martell.

.in 1571 AD the Muslim Army/ Navy was defeated by the Italians and Austrians as they tried to cross the Mediterranean to attack southern Europe in the Battle of Lapanto.

...in 1683 AD the Turkish Muslim Army, attacking Eastern Europe, was finally defeated in the Battle of Vienna by German and Polish Christian Armies.

...this crap has been going on for 1,400 years and half of the politicians don't even know it !!! If these battles had not been won we might be speaking Arabic and Christianity could be non - existent;

Judaism certainly would be... And let us not forget that Hitler was an admirer of Islam and that the Mufti of Jerusalem was Hitler's guest in Berlin and raised Bosnian Muslim SS Divisions: the 13th and 21st Waffen SS Divisions who killed Jews, Russians, Gypsies, and any other "subhumans".

More recently:

1. In 1968, Bobby Kennedy was shot and killed by a Muslim male.
2. In 1972 at the Munich Olympics, athletes were kidnapped and massacred by Muslim males.
3. In 1972 a Pan Am 747 was hijacked and eventually diverted to Cairo where a fuse was lit on final approach, it was blown up shortly after landing by Muslim males.
4. In 1973 a Pan Am 707 was destroyed in Rome, with 33 people killed, when it was attacked with grenades by Muslim males.
5. In 1979, the US embassy in Iran was taken over by Muslim males.
6. During the 1980's a number of Americans were kidnapped in Lebanon by Muslim males.
7. In 1983, the US Marine barracks in Beirut was blown up by Muslim males.
8. In 1985, the cruise ship Achille Lauro was hijacked and a 70 year old American passenger was murdered and thrown overboard in his wheelchair by Muslim males.
9. In 1985, TWA flight 847 was hijacked at Athens , and a US Navy diver trying to rescue passengers was murdered by Muslim males.
10. In 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 was bombed by Muslim males.
11. In 1993 , the World Trade Center was bombed the first time by Muslim males.
12. In 1998, the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed by Muslim males.
13. On 9/11/01, four airliners were hijacked; two were used as missiles to take down the World Trade Centers and of the remaining two, one crashed into the US Pentagon and the other was diverted and crashed by the passengers. Thousands of people were killed by Muslim males.
14. In 2002, the United States fought a war in Afghanistan against Muslim males.
15. In 2002, reporter Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and beheaded by---you guessed it was a--- Muslim male.
16. In 2013, Boston Marathon Bombing 4 Innocent people including a child killed, 264 injured by Muslim males.

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Australia: We’ll fight radical Islam for 100 years, says ex-army head Peter Leahy



AUSTRALIA needs to prepare for an increasingly savage, 100-year war against radical Islam that will be fought on home soil as well as foreign lands, the former head of the army, Peter Leahy, has warned.

Professor Leahy, a leading defence and strategic analyst, told The Weekend Australian the country was ill-prepared for the high cost of fighting a war that would be paid in “blood and treasure” and would require pre-emptive as well as reactive action.

“Australia is involved in the early stages of a war which is likely to last for the rest of the century,” he said. “We must be ready to protect ourselves and, where necessary, act pre-emptively to neutralise the evident threat. Get ready for a long war.”

Senior intelligence officials have moved to shore up public support for the Abbott government’s tough new security laws, including enhanced data-retention capabilities enabling agencies to track suspect computer usage.

Australian Security Intelligence Organisation director-general David Irvine said the proposed data laws, which require phone and internet companies to retain records for two years, were “absolutely crucial” to counter the jihadist terror threat.

The government’s security package also includes a $630 million funding boost to intelligence agencies and police to help prevent domestic terrorist attacks.

Professor Leahy — a former lieutenant general who ran the army for six years, from 2002-2008 — said the threat of radical Islam would require action on several fronts, including a strengthening of controls against biological, chemical and nuclear attacks.

It would also include greater protection for critical infra­structure and iconic targets against attack.

The Western withdrawal from Afghanistan did not constitute the end of the so-called war on terror, “nor, as was claimed by prime minister Julia Gillard, in January 2013, a transition from the 9/11 decade”, he said.

Michael Krause, a former senior Australian Army officer res­ponsible for planning the coalition campaign in Afghanistan, said he agreed “absolutely” with Professor Leahy. “I have seen these people,” the retired major general said.

“I know how they think. I know how they fight. There is no compromise possible.

“These long wars require long commitment to outlast radical ideas and provide viable, meaningful alternatives which require a whole-of-government response, rather than assuming the military can or should do it all.’’

Professor Leahy said politicians needed to “develop an honest and frank dialogue” with the Australian public.

“They should advance a narrative that explains that radical Islam­ism and the terrorism it breeds at home and abroad will remain a significant threat for the long term, it will require considerable effort, the expenditure of blood and treasure and it will, of necessity, restrict our rights and liberties,” he said.

Professor Leahy is the director of Canberra University’s National Security Institute and part of the Abbott government’s team carrying out a comprehensive review of Defence.

He said radical Islamists intent on a new world order were already a threat to the survival of nations in the Middle East and Africa.

If the declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq survived, bases would be established there for attacks on the West and that would embolden “home grown” radicals to attempt attacks in Australia. Military action would be needed to eliminate the threat.

Radicals saw the West as “the far enemy” and they were undoubtedly planning more attacks in Australia. Senior intelligence believes the view that the threat posed by radical Islam would pass was “optimistic”.

Mr Irvine, who took the unusual step of speaking to the media yesterday, said the current terrorism threat level of “medium” meant that a terrorism “event” in Australia was likely.

“Where our volume of work has increased is that this event could occur in a dozen different places now, whereas before it was in a small, refined area,” he said.

Professor Leahy said that when Australia did choose to be involved its aims must be measured and realistic, with nations under the greatest threat from radical Islamists supported while care was taken not to inflame local tensions.

The solution had to come from within the Muslim world, which so far seemed disinclined or unable to imagine a path to peace.

Professor Leahy said the threat was likely to worsen as radicals returned from overseas and the internet dumped Islamist propaganda into Australian
living rooms.

Some efforts at deradicalisation had begun but a much greater effort must be made to engage Muslim clerics and Islamic thought leaders to debunk radical ideologies being offered to young Australians.

“Dual nationality must be reviewed and, where appropriate, terrorists and their sympathisers either expelled from Australia or denied re-entry,” he said.

Professor Leahy said Australia must support moderate nations with radical Islamist problems, such as Indonesia and The Philippines.

SOURCE

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For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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

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17 August, 2014

Picture of Michael Brown (on right), the black who was shot in Ferguson, Missouri

He certainly displays attitude in the pic. He appears to have attacked police and you can see that he is a big guy. Police may have had no choice but to shoot him in self defense. If there were shots in the back, however, the police story falls apart



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Truth is First Casualty When Hamas Intimidates Media

In the ongoing Israeli/Hamas hostilities, a dark and unsavory feature of reportage has clearly emerged — journalists reporting the war from Gaza have often been in no position to tell the true or full story. The evidence that truth has been thus the first casualty is already abundant.

For example, Hamas maintains a major military headquarters in a basement beneath the Shifa hospital in Gaza City. Yet, during this conflict, we saw no footage of Hamas occupying the hospital.

We also saw hardly any footage of Hamas terrorists firing rockets or operating in residential areas of Gaza, though this is occurring literally every day. Not one of 37 images from three slideshows published by The New York Times during July showed even a single Hamas gunman.

Why? Intimidation of journalists. Consider the following cases:

French-Palestinian journalist Radjaa Abu Dagga wrote that he was forcibly blocked from leaving Gaza, detained and then interrogated by members of Hamas at a room in Shifa hospital next to the emergency room. He wrote an account of his treatment in the French newspaper Liberation — before asking the paper to take it down.

Italian reporter Gabriele Barbati disclosed that Israeli was telling the truth and Hamas was lying when he confirmed that the deaths of 10 people at the Al-Shati refugee camp on July 28 was not the result of Israeli fire, as had been widely reported (and, in the case of NBC, never corrected), but of a misfired Hamas missile. But when did Barbati disclose this? — only when he was out of Gaza, beyond the reach of Hamas retaliation.

Israeli filmmaker Michael Grynszpan recounted on Facebook the reply of a Spanish journalist who had just left Gaza to his question regarding the absence of footage of Hamas in action: “It’s very simple. We did see Hamas people there, launching rockets. They were close to our hotel, but if ever we dared pointing our camera on them, they would simply shoot at us and kill us.”

After Australian Channel Nine News reporter Peter Stefanovic tweeted that he had seen rockets fired into Israel from near his hotel, a pro-Hamas tweeter issued a scarcely veiled threat: “in WWII, spies got shot.”

The conclusion is obvious: When journalists operate in a terror haven under the close scrutiny of pitiless murderers, we cannot simply rely on terrorist-compliant reports. All too often, the reports we have seen or heard of Israeli strikes on schools or of killing large numbers of Palestinian civilians have proved to have been fabricated by Hamas.

Thus, on Aug. 3, media reports claimed that Israel had targeted and hit a UN school in Rafah, resulting in 10 deaths. Israel was widely condemned. Yet, only a few publications, such as The Wall Street Journal disclosed that the Israelis had in fact targeted three Islamic Jihad terrorists on a motorbike outside the UN facility, which is where the missile struck, as the Israelis said all along.

In fact, of three UN schools that Israel was reported to have hit in the last two weeks — and for which it received strong international condemnation — the evidence now shows that the civilian deaths in one case was probably the result of a misfired Hamas rocket, a second was hit by Israel fire while Palestinian terrorists were firing from within it and a third was simply never struck directly by Israel at all.

The media also shows a propensity to accept Hamas casualty figures and report them as coming from something seemingly respectable, like “the Palestinian Ministry of Health” or the United Nations. The trouble is that the Palestinian Ministry of Health is part of Hamas, which is not only an internationally recognized terrorist organization but has a vested interest in inflating Palestinian casualty figures. It also turns out that the UN normally has made no precise estimates of its own. It generally repeats the figures Hamas gives it, which are then often reported as being “UN figures.”

One example of Hamas inflating figures: as of July 29, the Meir Amit Intelligence Center, staffed by seasoned former Israeli military and intelligence officers, estimated that Israel had killed 335 terrorist operatives, 347 civilians and 440 as yet unidentified Palestinians. In contrast, Hamas’ claim that 852 civilians had been killed was being regularly reported that day.

More than doubling the figures of Gazan civilian fatalities, has a clear political purpose: it enables Hamas to claim that something like 70 percent of Gazan casualties are civilians, thus helping to paint Israel as a reckless bully rather than the most careful army in the world.

The combination of fear, intimidation and willingness on the part of journalists and NGOs to retail Hamas propaganda distorts vital truths about this war. Israel has not developed incisive methods for dealing with this. As Winston Churchill once said, “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”

SOURCE

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Study: 'Cash for Clunkers' an even bigger lemon than thought

The government’s "Cash for Clunkers" program – pitched as a plan to jump-start U.S. auto sales and clean up the environment by getting gas-guzzling vehicles off the road -- may have been a clunker itself, according to a new economic study.

Researchers at Texas A&M, in a recently released report, measured the impact of Cash for Clunkers on sales and found the program actually decreased industry revenue by $3 billion over a nine-to-11-month period. Meanwhile, the "stimulus" also cost taxpayers $3 billion.

The Car Allowance Rebate System, commonly called Cash for Clunkers, was part of a 2009 economic stimulus program that was sold as a lifeline from the federal government to a sinking U.S. auto industry.

The program let people turn in their old cars for up to $4,500 in cash to be used toward the purchase of a more fuel-efficient alternative. Nearly 700,000 vehicles were traded in through the program.

But the Texas A&M University study, for the National Bureau of Economic Research, shows the program may have actually created a drag on the economy. While the program’s fuel-efficiency restrictions led to the purchase of more fuel-efficient cars, Americans ended up buying cheaper cars than they otherwise would have, the study found.

"Strikingly, we find that Cash for Clunkers actually reduced overall spending on new vehicles," the researchers reported, noting households "tended to purchase less expensive and smaller vehicles such as the Toyota Corolla, which was the most popular new vehicle purchased under the program."

They found buyers who participated "spent an average of $4,600 less on a new vehicle than they otherwise would have."

During the two months of the program, the frequency of purchasing a new vehicle was around 50 percent higher for those who qualified for the program compared with those who did not. But after the program ended, the researchers found, car-buying habits returned to normal.

Congress originally appropriated $1 billion to the program but was forced to add another $2 billion when the program ran out of money a month after it started and two months sooner than the government expected.

SOURCE

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More bureaucracy we don't need -- in Maine!

The Portland (Maine) Press Herald had a fun slice-of-life feature on their hands. They found a woman, Reilly Harvey, who takes a small boat out into the state's waters full of delicious homemade pies and entire lobster dinners to sell to boaters. Here's a quick, mouth-watering description:

The desserts were just the beginning. Harvey's boat, Mainstay, is rigged with a three-burner propane stove set in the stern, and three pots sat waiting for lobster, clams and butter, all of which Harvey had aboard. There were tubs of cauliflower-curry tofu salads with yogurt-lime-cilantro dressing and homemade biscuits that had come out of the oven less than an hour ago. Very deliberately, Harvey tries to make Mainstay look like a boat you'd see on a Venetian canal, loaded down with beautifully arranged wares. She'd succeeded. The vase full of flowers tipped the whole thing over the top. Her new customers couldn't stop gushing. "This is like a Fellini movie," said Peter Polshek, as the dog made a valiant attempt to board.

By now his wife, Nina Hofer, was perched on the gunwale of the Adeline, smiling like the Cheshire cat, her hands clapped together in glee. "Who are you and where are you coming from?" she asked Harvey.

I want one to show up here right now, even though I'm about eight miles from the Pacific Ocean, very, very far away from Harvey. She started her business in 2012, looking for a way to build a stable life for herself in the area. The Press Herald thoroughly profiles her background and tags along as she serves happy boaters thrilled at the opportunity to buy fresh food without having to leave the water.

The day after the story appeared in the newspaper it was over. The state shut her down. There are rules, man! Where are her sinks? She has to have running water! From the Press Herald's follow-up coverage:

"It makes me feel sick to my stomach and sad," said Reilly Harvey, who runs Mainstay Provisions out of an old boat she keeps on Andrews Island. Harvey said she was contacted by a state health inspector and told she must pass health inspection standards for mobile vendors – think food trucks – and get her vintage 22-foot wooden launch, the Mainstay, fitted with sinks and hot and cold running water if she is going to continue to serve hot food.

That licensing would happen through the Division of Environmental Health's inspection program. If she wants to continue to serve desserts, she must pass an additional inspection by the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

There are only 3½ weeks left in her season. Unless she is able to comply with the regulations, it is unlikely she'll be able to operate Mainstay Provisions as usual in 2014.

The state requires her to add to her little boat a three-bay sink and a separate hand sink, and must have hot and cold running water and follow the same rules as food trucks. They also complained about her being barefoot in the boat. They've offered to "expedite" her application as soon as she gets one in, though it's unclear in the story how her small boat could meet these requirements. It sounds like she may be done, at least for this summer season.

UPDATE: Ira Stoll has alerted me that Harvey has been granted a reprieve, requiring her to have a wash basin, five gallons of water, a food thermometer and a bucket to drain hot water. The permission-based society is so kind!

SOURCE

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The big lie of Gaza

As a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas is hammered out, much talk is heard about aid packages for Gaza, as though none previously existed. The refrain is heard that Gazans are living in a teeming, open-air prison. Repeated endlessly by those under obligation to know the facts, the myth has it that Gaza is, according to:

Robert Fisk, veteran Middle East correspondent: “the most overpopulated few square miles in the whole world.”

Christopher Gunness, spokesman for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency: “one of the most densely populated parts of this planet.”

Amjad Attlah and Daniel Levy of the New American Foundation: “the world’s most densely populated territory.”

James Zogby, founder and president of the Arab American Institute: “one of the most densely populated places on earth.”

Untrue.

Yes, Gaza is heavily populated. But its urban density is neither extreme nor the source of its woes.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2012 Statistical Abstract, Gaza had in 2010 11,542 people per square mile. That is about as densely populated as Gibraltar (11,506).

Gaza is considerably less densely populated than Hong Kong (17,422) or Singapore (17,723). It is far less densely populated than Monaco (39,609). And Macau (52,163) is over four times more densely populated than Gaza.

No one has called Hong Kong, Singapore, Monaco or Macau teeming, open-air prisons –– with reason.

Hong Kong has the world’s third largest financial center. Singapore has the third highest per capita income in the world, the fourth biggest financial center and the fifth busiest port. Monaco has the world’s highest GDP per capita. Macau is one of the world’s richest cities –– testimony enough to what hard work, solid industries and responsible government can achieve in small, resource-poor territories.

The idea of Gaza being the most densely populated place in the world is a propaganda fabrication with a very clear underlying logic. Meshing that claim with scenes of poverty easily conjures up the idea that Palestinians lack land and resources.

Once you believe that, it is a small jump to the conclusion that Israel should be giving them both.

In fact, Gaza has been in Arab control since Israel evacuated it in 2005, withdrawing every living and dead Israeli from its soil. Israel left behind an expensive infrastructure of greenhouses and empty synagogues, all of which were swiftly destroyed in an orgy of hate. Hamas ejected Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah from Gaza in 2007 and has exponentially increased rocket assaults on Israel –– over 9,000 since that date.

Gaza could be home to a large, prosperous population, providing that it was industrious, prudentially managed, well-governed and –– above all –– peaceful. It could be the Singapore of the Middle East. But it isn’t –– it’s governed by Hamas, whose Charter calling for war with the Jews until their obliteration is well-known to those who elected it. (Unsurprisingly, Gazans are more supportive of Hamas and of anti-Israel terror attacks than West Bankers).

Gaza, along with the West Bank, has been the recipient of the highest levels of per capita aid in the world. Investment not siphoned off by Hamas has produced results: Gaza boasts shopping malls, five theme parks and 12 tourist resorts.

Compare that to dismally poor Niger, with high infant mortality, life expectancy of a mere 52 years and only one doctor for every 33,000 people. But as Niger is not dispatching terrorists to murder its neighbors, few know and fewer care –– and Niger gets little aid.

In the last two years, Hamas has spent an estimated $1.5 billion, not on schools, hospitals or businesses, but on an underground infrastructure of terror tunnels deep into Israel for the purpose of mounting Mumbai-like mass-casualty terror assaults. Hamas’s leaders see jihadist terror as a paramount objective, while death and destruction in Gaza is not their concern.

“Their time had come, and they were martyred,” spoke a Hamas TV host of the Gaza dead during the current fighting, “They have gained [Paradise] … Don’t be disturbed by these images … He who is Martyred doesn’t feel … His soul has ascended to Allah.” More succinctly, Hamas ‘prime minister’ Ismail Haniyeh has said, “We love death like our enemies love life! We love Martyrdom.”

The woes of Gaza are not the creation of population density, but of hate and jihad density. The answer lies not in more territory, resources or aid, but in its population and leadership prioritizing life and peace over death and war. As yet, there is no sign of this on the horizon. Irrespective of the eventual ceasefire, we can expect further wars in Gaza.

SOURCE

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For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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

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15 August, 2014

Gladwell

Steve Sailer demolishes in short order the ideas of Malcolm Gladwell here. Gladwell is a real intellectual lightweight. His grades were not good enough for graduate school. There is nothing creditable about propounding striking ideas if those ideas are wrong or unproven. I think it is mainly the bush of African hair on his head that gets Gladwell uncritical acceptance. He runs fast, though. I have mentioned previously the demolition of Gladwell's most recent book by Christopher Chabris, a psychology professor and psychometrician.

It is generally conceded, however, that Gladwell is a good entertainer. It is perhaps in that light that we can understand the success that his academically unsatisfactory writings have brought him.

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Democrats Pay Black Staffers 30% Less

Campaign staffers who are people of color routinely get paid less than their white counterparts, and are often given less glamorous jobs. How an antiquated understanding of race relations results in minority staffers getting the short shrift.
If you’re a person of color hoping to get hired by a political campaign, here’s the ugly truth: You’ll probably get paid less than your white counterparts, if you’re even hired at all.

On both sides of the aisle, there is a racial pay gap in campaign politics. Asian, Black and Latino staffers are paid less than their white counterparts, according to an analysis by the New Organizing Institute.

For example, African-American staffers on Democratic campaigns were paid 70 cents for each dollar their white counterparts made. For Hispanic staffers in Democratic campaigns, the figure was 68 cents on the dollar.

And a recent study by PowerPAC+, funded by a major Democratic donor, revealed that less than 2 percent of spending by Democratic campaign committees during the past two election cycles went to firms owned by minorities.

Political operative Michael Gomez Daly worked on two congressional campaigns in 2012 with similar budgets. On one campaign, Daly, who describes himself as “a very light-skinned Hispanic,” was brought in as a field director, primarily for his skills as a Latino operative who could reach out to the Hispanic community. On the second campaign, where they did not know he was Hispanic, “I just came in as ‘Michael Daly,’ instead of ‘that Latino operative,’” he said. “Right off the bat they offered me twice the amount for the same job.”

Most of the operatives interviewed for this article, all of whom have years of experience in campaign politics, said they had to make an early, conscious decision to avoid being pigeonholed as a specialist in minority outreach. For minority campaign staffers, they said, the path to enduring success lies in saying “no” to jobs like that early on in your career.

“It was pretty clear to me early on that you can get put in a box pretty quickly. You get offers for jobs: African-American outreach, Asian-American outreach. Oftentimes when you start doing that work, it's hard to get out of it.”

“It was pretty clear to me early on that you can get put in a box pretty quickly. You get offers for jobs: African-American outreach, Asian-American outreach. Oftentimes when you start doing that work, it’s hard to get out of it,” said Sujata Tejwani, president of Sujata Strategies, a Democratic firm.

Added Rodell Mollineau, a past president of the progressive tracking organization American Bridge, “As a person of color [at the start of your career], you’re always put in situations where a primary part of your job is communicating with or working with other people of color.”

The NOI statistics on the campaign race pay gap compare all staffers of each race, and average out the salaries. One of the explanations for lower minority wages could be that they tend to be represented in lower-paying campaign roles.

“Most minority staffers get hired in campaigns in field jobs, and field jobs pay less,” explained Jamal Simmons, a Democratic political operative. “The problem is: they don’t hire African Americans, Latinos in the parts of the campaigns where they spend the most money. The most money in campaigns is spent in communications, polling and data. In those parts of the campaign, it’s very much mostly white.”

Conventional campaign wisdom is that voters best respond to pitches made by those who are similar to them. But this limits the roles that minority campaign staffers are able to play.

“There’s a presumption that minorities can’t manage ‘white’ issues. There’s a presumption that white voters won’t like to see a black press secretary, or that white voters won’t want to see an African-American or Latino political director,” Simmons said. “There’s just a general prejudice factor,” he said, that’s based in an antiquated understanding of race relations.

The issue of race can sometimes create doubts even in the minds of the most experienced operatives. “If the swing population [in an election] are white, you do wonder if you’re going to get hired,” said Tejwani, an Indian-American with decades of experience on campaigns.

The hidden prejudices present in broader American society are part of the problem. One operative compared campaigns to business startups that are constantly shutting down and restarting. With deadlines looming, top campaign staff may lean subconsciously on stereotypes about minorities.

Said one operative with experience in Virginia and Georgia: “The structural racism that happens in the United States, and how it is reinforced by a lot of presumptions, don’t get dropped because you’re working on a campaign.”

SOURCE

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Who Is Responsible for the Death of the Young Black Man in Ferguson?

In a black neighborhood of Los Angeles called Watts, a six-day riot erupted in August 1965, covering 46-square miles and causing 34 deaths. The spark that set off the riot was a simple traffic stop, but it quickly turned into a confrontation pitting angry mobs against police. Afterward black leaders met with the police, the mayor ordered a blue-ribbon study and three years later the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights held a hearing in Los Angeles. Sound familiar?

It’s easy to sympathize with the frustration of LA blacks in 1965 when racism and discrimination were genuine problems. But big change has occurred in the ensuing 50 years. On a per capita basis, blacks have been the majority beneficiaries of the trillions spent on entitlement programs ostensibly meant to ameliorate the causes of black-white inequality. Yet black racial animus is stronger than ever, which one might argue was the point – developing and maintaining an angry Democrat constituency. Author Larry Elder says that whites would be shocked to hear what’s said about them in black barbershops.

Last weekend in Ferguson, Missouri, another riot followed the shooting of a black teenager by a police officer. Local black outrage was followed by another commentary from the “Rev.” Al Sharpton and another promised federal probe by Attorney General Eric Holder.

CNN tells us that Ferguson was “wracked by violence,” but that’s actually nothing new for this St. Louis suburb. Eighteen-year-old Michael Brown was just visiting Ferguson that day, and he might have been the victim of a wrongful police shooting – details are still in question so we’ll reserve judgment. Whatever the case, we’re saddened by his untimely death. The biggest problem isn’t this incident, however. It’s the people that created and perpetuate the conditions that killed him. In fact, it could be argued Al Sharpton killed Brown.

People like Sharpton, with no personal stake in the game except the big bucks they collect, play the role of black “leader,” legal advocate, sympathetic social scientist or aggrieved professor. From them comes the dogma that this “community” – this 12% of the American population living in diverse places, having diverse interests and diverse levels of education – is for some unfathomable reason obliged to follow.

As someone once said, “Sometimes [among] African-Americans … there’s the notion of acting white, the notion that there is some authentic way of being black, that if you’re going to be black you have to act a certain way, and wear a certain kind of clothes, that, you know, that has to go.”

Who said it? Barack Obama.

Kids are at once demotivated to do well in school or get a job and simultaneously afraid to do so. Apparently, the message isn’t understood by kids under eight because until about third grade black kids keep up with their peers.

As economist Thomas Sowell has frequently noted, in the post-World War II years, American blacks experienced the best conditions in their history. They still suffered harassment and harm from evil people, but things had improved significantly since the pre-war years. Most lived in well-maintained communities in which they took great pride. They had their own professional class and enjoyed both lower unemployment and divorce rates than whites. Then, in the space of a decade, all these things that took centuries to achieve against such great odds began to unravel. We all know why.

The last thing the Leftmedia wants to report is the effects of a child’s being raised by a single, barely literate mother in a dangerous environment. And it’s no surprise that so many black men become violent offenders when they’ve been raised by third generation 18-year-old welfare “baby mommas.”

Black gangs have been around for a century, but it took the Great Society to free them to become the vicious thugs represented by Crips and Bloods. Once, black fathers would have stood against gangs, but there are few black fathers now. Gangs have more freedom than the mafia did because the Leftmedia won’t honestly report on them, opting instead to blame “gun violence” and the like.

While we’ve focused on blacks, Latinos are also in moral free-fall, following the same path of self-segregation and wallowing in grievances that blacks have taken. They too have their advocates, lawyers and professors. And they even have their own media.

Change can only come from within the two groups, though unfortunately any genuine reformer has been slandered as being “too white” or an “Uncle Tom.” There’s a long way to go to repair the cultural rot of our inner cities, but it can be done. We close with the words of Ronald Reagan, who in the 1980 election campaign said, “I will not stand by and watch this great country destroy itself under mediocre leadership that drifts from one crisis to the next, eroding our national will and purpose. The time is now, my fellow Americans, to recapture our destiny, to take it into our own hands.”

SOURCE

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Healthcare Gouging Culprits

It’s no wonder why routine healthcare costs in the United States are so ridiculously high, and why health insurance premiums are skyrocketing. Today’s healthcare providers are gouging patients like highway robbers.

They do it because they can.

Hospitals are charging patients a small fortune for the most minor of services; treatments like applying a Band-Aid to a small cut. A New Jersey man found this out the hard way when he was gouged almost $9,000 after an ER aide treated a small cut on his middle finger.

The man cut his finger with a hammer and thought he might need stitches so he went to the local ER at Bayonne Medical Center. He didn’t need stitches. He got a tetanus shot from a nurse practitioner who sterilized the cut, applied some antibacterial ointment, a bandage and sent him home.

Later he received the bill: $8,200 for the ER visit; $180 for the shot; $242 for the bandage; $8 for the ointment; and nearly $370 for the nurse. "I got a Band-Aid and a tetanus shot. How could it be $9,000? This is crazy," the man told reporters.

Yes, this is crazy.

Now the hospital says it charged that amount because the man’s insurance carrier refuses to offer fair reimbursement rates. This hospital apparently believes that $9,000 is a fair charge for applying a Band-Aid to a small cut.

The insurance carrier says that this hospital is just trying to gouge its patients.

Gee, do ya think?

A spokesperson for the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute says that the right price for getting a finger bandaged should be $400 to $1,000.

That, of course, is equally ridiculous. In fact, it’s outrageous! I say that if a hospital can’t apply a Band-Aid to a small cut and then send the patient home for less than $100, that hospital shouldn’t be treating patients. Its administrator’s and staff should be in jail.

This is a primary reason why healthcare costs are out of control in the U.S. Just about everyone now has insurance to cover every treatment from the most insignificant to the most complicated. When everyone has insurance covering everything, they go to the doctor or hospital for things like cut fingers, and the healthcare providers start gouging.

They do it because they can. After all, the insurance company or the government is paying the bill. If patients had to pay for minor medical treatments out of their own pockets this kind of thing wouldn’t happen.


That’s how healthcare was administered in the old days and it worked quite well. But those days are gone and today we have only healthcare gouging culprits.

SOURCE

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For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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

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14 August, 2014

American Conservatives Are the Forgotten Critics of the Atomic Bombing of Japan

The large civilan deaths must surely concern any conservative -- particularly since Japan was already on its knees at that point. The man who ordered the bombing was a Democrat -- Truman

“The use of the atomic bomb, with its indiscriminate killing of women and children, revolts my soul,” he wrote. “The only difference between this and the use of gas (which President Franklin D. Roosevelt had barred as a first-use weapon in World War II) is the fear of retaliation.”

Those harsh words, written three days after the Hiroshima bombing in August, 1945, were not by a man of the American left, but rather by a very prominent conservative—former President Herbert Hoover, a foe of the New Deal and Fair Deal.

In 1959, Medford Evans, a conservative writing in William Buckley’s strongly nationalistic, energetically right-wing magazine, National Review, stated: “The indefensibility of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima is becoming a part of the national conservative creed.” Just the year before, the National Review had featured an angry, anti-atomic bomb article, “Hiroshima: Assault on a Beaten Foe.” Like Hoover, that 1958 essay had decried the atomic bombing as wanton murder. National Review’s editors, impressed by that article, had offered special reprints.

Those two sets of events—Hoover in 1945 and National Review in 1968-69—were not anomalies in early post-Hiroshima U.S. conservatism. In fact, many noted American conservatives—journalists, former diplomats and retired and occasionally on-duty military officers, and some right-wing historians and political scientists—criticized the atomic bombing. They frequently contended it was unnecessary, and often maintained it was immoral and that softer surrender terms could have ended the war without such mass killing. They sometimes charged Truman and the atomic bombing with “criminality” and “slaughter.”

Yet today, this history of early anti-A-bomb dissent by conservatives is largely unknown. In about the past 20 years, various American conservatives have even assailed A-bomb dissent as typically leftist and anti-American, and as having begun in the tumultuous 1960s. Such a view of postwar American history is remarkably incorrect.

Journalists

In mid-August, 1945, in the conservative United States News (now U.S. News & World Report), with a circulation somewhat under 200,000, that magazine’s founder and longtime editor, David Lawrence, condemned the atomic bombing in a spirited editorial, “What Hath Man Wrought!” America, he asserted, should be “ashamed” of the atomic bombing. During the next 27 years, on some A-bomb anniversaries, Lawrence, a well known conservative who died in 1973, proudly republished his 1945 editorial.

Felix Morley, the former editor of the Washington Post and ex-president of Haverford College, felt similarly about the atomic bombing. A recognized conservative, he published in 1945 a strong anti-A-bomb editorial—“The Return to Nothingness”—in his small circulation, conservative newsletter, Human Events. He called Hiroshima and Pearl Harbor atrocities. The atomic bombing, he charged, was “an infamous act of atrocious revenge.”

The right-wing journalist Walter Trohan of the conservative Chicago Tribune periodically contended that the atomic bombing had been unnecessary and that an early Japanese surrender could have been otherwise achieved. Charging a coverup, he implied there had been a Roosevelt-Truman conspiracy to prolong the war. Beginning in August 1945, Trohan’s anti-A-bomb articles received front-page attention, and the Tribune in 1947 termed the bombings “criminality.”

In 1948, the rightward-leaning Time-Life-Fortune publisher Henry Luce told an international Protestant meeting that “unconditional surrender” had violated St. Thomas’ just-war doctrine, and that softer surrender terms in 1945 could have ended the war without the atomic bombing, which “so jarred the Christian conscience.”

Ex-U.S. Diplomats

Truman’s former 1945 Under Secretary of State Joseph Grew, who retired shortly after Japan’s surrender, and two of his former State Department associates, Japan experts Eugene Dooman and Joseph Ballantine, later angrily castigated the atomic bombing. Recognized as conservatives, they sharply criticized the defense of the bombings by President Truman and the retired Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, who had presided over the wartime A-bomb project.

Grew, Dooman and Ballantine all believed that the atomic bombing had been unnecessary, that softer surrender terms (mostly allowing a constitutional monarchy) would have ended the war, and that Truman had gravely erred. Dooman often charged that the bombing had been immoral.

Similar harsh judgments came from William Castle, a close associate of Herbert Hoover who had served as Hoover’s Under Secretary of State when Stimson was secretary. Castle complained that Stimson’s postwar, widely publicized A-bomb defense “was consciously dishonest.” Japan, Castle believed, had been near surrender before the atomic bomb was used. He even suspected that Stimson and others had prolonged the war in order to use the A-bomb on Japan.

U.S. Military Leaders

Perhaps surprisingly, after V-J day, the right-wing Gen. Curtis LeMay, whose Air Force had pummeled Japan in the last months of the Asian war, periodically criticized the atomic bombing. In mid-September 1945, for example, he publicly declared that it had been unnecessary and that Japan would have speedily surrendered without it. The bomb, he asserted, “had nothing to do with the end of the war.”

Public criticism of the atomic bombing also appeared in the postwar memoirs by two retired military leaders on the moderate right—in 1949 by Gen. Henry H. Arnold, the wartime head of the Army Air Forces, and in 1952 by Admiral Ernest J. King, wartime chief of naval operations.

Shortly after the end of the war, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, a fervent anti-New Dealer, had publicly contended that the atomic bombing was unnecessary. In 1960, in discussing that bombing with ex-President Hoover, MacArthur condemned it as unnecessary “slaughter.”

MacArthur’s 1945 psychological-warfare chief, Gen. Bonner Fellers (later Colonel) after retiring from the Army, wrote a widely read article contending that Japan had been near surrender and that the nuclear bombing had been unnecessary. A proud conservative serving as public relations director for the Veterans of Foreign War (VFW), he published his article in the VFW’s monthly, “Foreign Service,” with a circulation of over a half-million. That month, the conservative-leaning Reader’s Digest, with a readership probably exceeding 10 million, reissued it in slightly compressed form.

The strongest postwar criticism of the atomic bombing by a prominent American ex-military leader probably came from Admiral William Leahy, a conservative who had also been a top military adviser to Presidents Roosevelt and Truman. In his 1950 memoir, the recently retired Leahy declared, “the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of not material assistance in our war against Japan.” That nation, he contended, was defeated and ready to surrender before the atomic bombing. He likened the use of the bomb to the morality of Genghis Khan. The crusty admiral wrote about the 1945 bombing, “I was not taught to make war in that fashion.” The United States, he asserted, “had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages.”

Meanings

Spirited contentions that the atomic bombing was unwise, unnecessary and immoral are not new, nor did they start in the 1960s. These charges appeared in much of the earlier post-Hiroshima criticism, which came substantially from conservative American publications and people. Such conservative support does not necessarily make those criticisms right or wrong, or good or bad history, but certainly an important part of an earlier postwar dissenting culture.

That is an important but mostly forgotten part of the past, which Americans today—whether young or old, Republicans or Democrats—usually do not know. Mistakenly, many believe that the loose conservative-liberal/radical divide of recent years on attitudes toward the 1945 atomic bombings and that prominent American conservatives in contrast overwhelmingly endorsed those atomic bombings. That history is far more complex, and is important to understand to gain perspective on American attitudes and values on war-fighting, forms of killing, and uses of nuclear weapons on enemies.

SOURCE

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Effects of Lead Pollution in gasoline

The original proponent of the lead scare -- Needleman -- was an outright crook so I have always been skeptical in the matter. But there are nonetheless some real correlations between gasoline usage and crime. I have always dismissed such correlations with the basic truth that correlation does not prove causation. That point is however rather weak if one cannot propose a third factor which is the real cause. Steve Sailer below fills that gap with the proposal that increased automobile use was the causative factor in crime rise etc -- with gasoline usage merely a byproduct of that

Here’s a new lead pollution causes bad behavior study by Jessica Wolpaw Reyes using National Longitudinal Study of Youth 1979 and NLSY97 data. I reviewed her first attempt on this important topic back in 2007 in “Lead Poisoning and the Great 1960s Freakout.”

Now by comparing self reports and parental reports of behavior problems in the NLSY studies versus state results of average lead levels in blood, she finds more support for the lead > bad behavior, but less so for lead > violent crime nor for lead > black bad behavior. This is big news because it helps explain why Robert Heinlein’s 1939 prediction that the 1960s-1970s would be the Crazy Years turned out pretty accurate, but it shoots down explanations for the black-white crime gap based on putative lead pollution.

LEAD EXPOSURE AND BEHAVIOR: EFFECTS ON ANTISOCIAL AND RISKY BEHAVIOR AMONG CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS

Jessica Wolpaw Reyes

Abstract

It is well known that exposure to lead has numerous adverse effects on behavior and development. Using data on two cohorts of children from the NLSY, this paper investigates the effect of early childhood lead exposure on behavior problems from childhood through early adulthood. I find large negative consequences of early childhood lead exposure, in the form of an unfolding series of adverse behavioral outcomes: behavior problems as a child, pregnancy and aggression as a teen, and criminal behavior as a young adult. At the levels of lead that were the norm in United States until the late 1980s, estimated elasticities of these behaviors with respect to lead range between 0.1 and 1.0.

“These are sizable elasticities, suggesting a substantial effect of early childhood blood lead on criminal behavior as a teenager. To assess effects on more specific crime categories, I construct two (non-comprehensive) sub-categories: violent crime, comprised of assault and robbery, and property crime, comprised of theft, burglary, destruction of property, and other property offenses.56 For violent crime, the results are insignificant. For property crime, the elasticity is significant in the NLSY79 sample but not in the NLSY97 sample. ….

Indeed, gasoline lead seemed to hurt middle class white children more than poor blacks:

“To investigate these factors in the NLSY data, I perform the above analyses separated by parental education (less than high school vs. high school vs. college or more), income (less than twice the poverty line vs. more than thrice the poverty line), and race/ethnicity (black or Hispanic vs. white). I find that, while all children are harmed by lead, advantaged groups are harmed more by lead.

In other words, this might explain why times at Ridgemont High were so fast in the 1970s compared to the 1930s — the movie was filmed in Sherman Oaks at the shopping mall right at the Ventura (101) and San Diego (405) freeways, the busiest freeway interchange in America for much of the era. But, this data can’t support the idea that blacks were hurt worse by gasoline lead pollution than whites were:

"The estimated effects of lead are larger and more consistently significant for children whose parents are more highly educated, whose families have higher income, or who are white. For the education and income breakdowns, this divergence between advantaged groups and disadvantaged groups is particularly apparent when looking at lead’s effects on child behavior problems."

In order to understand this result, recall that lead from gasoline was ubiquitous in the 1980s: it was in the very air children breathed, and everyone was affected regardless of income, education, or race. While children in more advantaged families might have been protected from many of the adverse environmental or social influences that children in disadvantaged families had to contend with, they were not protected from gasoline lead. Thus, whereas for the disadvantaged children lead may have been just one more adverse influence (on top of numerous others), for many of the advantaged children it was perhaps the only or the primary adverse influence. In a way, the advantaged children had more to lose. Consequently, gasoline lead may have been an equalizer of sorts.”

That’s what I wrote a awhile ago in Taki’s: lead might have been a major cause of what Heinlein predicted to be The Crazy Years, but it doesn’t explain why blacks have worse average civic order before during and after the Lead Years

Yet one of the more obvious differences between Chicago’s black and white areas is the heavier traffic in the expensive, safe zones. People who can afford cars tend to move away from black slums, leaving them bleak. In the Chicago area, race and class palpably determine the homicide rate. For example, compare the next-door neighbors Oak Park and Austin west of The Loop. The Eisenhower Expressway runs through Oak Park, but not through Austin. Yet the homicide rate is several dozen times worse in Austin.

[Kevin] Drum, who lives in Irvine, at least should be familiar with Southern California, where South-Central is fairly light in traffic compared to the jammed freeway interchanges of upscale West LA and Sherman Oaks.

And across the country, the densest neighborhoods are typically the various Chinatowns, which suffer little street crime and enjoy high math scores.

Reyes goes on:

"Note that the story for paint lead may be substantially different, since paint exposures are likely to follow the familiar pattern whereby the disadvantaged suffer greater exposure and the advantaged are largely insulated."

But fears of poor children eating lead paint flakes off the walls were a big deal in the newspapers in the middle of the 20th Century. In Chicago, liberals argued for tearing down old tenements and constructing giant high rise public housing projects like Cabrini Green specifically to cut down on poor children’s exposure to lead paint.

How’d that work out?

I’d add that Reyes should watch out for statistically assuming that the amount of lead spewed into the atmosphere by cars roaring about is the causal variable on more risky, more liberated youth behavior. It could be that cars themselves were what were causing youths in states with lots of driving to behave in less old-fashioned ways by getting them out from under the supervision of elders.

A measure of gasoline lead pollution in a state also serves as a measure of the number of automobiles and the number of miles driven in a state, which over the course of the 20th Century tended to correlate with loosening strictures on the behavior of young people, who were off gallivanting about doing who knows what in the back seats of their cars. See American Graffiti and countless other movies for details

For most of the 20th Century, for instance, California tended to be car crazy and tended to lead the country in youth trends, a point made by Tom Wolfe in his first breakthrough essay The Kandy Kolored Tangerine Flake Streamline Baby. As noted brain chemical researcher Brian Wilson pointed out:

And she’ll have fun, fun, fun
Until her daddy takes the T-Bird away


SOURCE


13 August, 2014

Piper's Lament

by Mark Steyn

Mark Levin was on cracking form the other day on the superiority of certain cultures and what he calls "the decomposition of this society". This passage will strike a chord with SteynOnline readers:

"They're putting in place laws and programs and bureaucracies to smother us, so the social engineers can manipulate. Come this fall many of you with young children going to public schools, you're going to see a change in the bake sales at your schools because the federal government, the First Lady has determined that your kids shouldn't be selling cupcakes. And your kid should be eating cupcakes."

Now, I've said this before: a government that has the power to dictate whether or not your kids can sell or eat cupcakes as a result of late local bake sale is a tyranny. It is a government way, way out of power, out of sync. And it's gonna get worse. It's not gonna get better.

I'm with the Great One on this. We reported here recently on a modest victory against the Cupcake Comissars, but it was an exception that proves the rule. I've got a whole section on bake sales et al in After America (personally autographed copies of which are exclusively available, etc, etc, he pleads pitifully with an eye to his current lawsuit) - because, as Mark says, it's not a small thing. Page 89 of my book:

"No matter how you slice it, this is tyranny. When I first came to my corner of New Hampshire, one of the small pleasures I took in my new state were the frequent bake sales – the Ladies' Aid, the nursery school, the church rummage sale. Most of the muffins and cookies were good; some were exceptional; a few went down to sit in the stomach like overloaded barges at the bottom of the Suez Canal. But even then you admired if not the cooking then certainly the civic engagement. In a small but tangible way, a person who submits to a state pie regime is a subject, not a citizen – because participation is the essence of citizenship, and thus barriers to participation crowd out citizenship. A couple of kids with a lemonade stand are learning the rudiments not just of economic self-reliance but of civic identity."

I mentioned one of these stories on Rush a year or two back and some guy responded, "Why are you talking about this? It's not important." That's why I'm talking about it. Because if you won't push back against the small-scale stuff, by the time they come for the big things you'll no longer know how to rouse yourself. In old, settled societies, tyranny starts at the edge and works its way inwards. And the essence of tyranny is its capriciousness. It's easy to say, "Well, I don't go to bake sales, so what do I care?"

Every day in this country tyranny's whimsy descends on some law-abiding person out of the blue. You buy an imported vintage car, and you wake up with Homeland Security agents surrounding your home and confiscating your property. This weekend it was two of my fellow Granite Staters - 17-year-old Campbell Webster and Eryk Bean, of Concord, New Hampshire.

Instead of enjoying meth and twerking like normal well-adjusted teens, they like bagpipes. Master Webster comes from a long line of bagpipers: his father Gordon was pipe-major for the 1st and 2nd Batallion the Scots Guards and personal piper to the Queen. So he passed on the 1936 family bagpipes to his son, and young Campbell uses them to play in pipe championships in North America and around the world. So this weekend he was returning to New Hampshire from a competition in Canada, which is how a newspaper story comes to open with a sentence never before written in the history of the English language:

"BAGPIPERS have expressed their fear over a new law which led to two US teenagers having their pipes seized by border control staff at the weekend"

They can chisel that on the tombstone of the republic. On the northern border, bagpipers are "expressing their fear", while on the southern border gangbangers have no fear and stroll through the express check-in. Putin has no fear of American power, the mullahs have no fear of American power, the Chinese politburo has no fear of American power, ISIS has no fear of American power, but the world's bagpipers fear it, and with good reason.

The figleaf of a pretext for seizing Messrs Webster and Bean's bagpipes is what The Scotsman (as usual, any real news about America has to be gleaned from the foreign press) calls "new laws" introduced a month ago. By "laws", they don't mean something passed by the people's representatives in a legislature - there's not a lot of that going on these days - but a little bit of regulatory fine-tuning by some no-name bureaucrats at the Department of Paperwork. The upshot of which is that, if you own a vintage bagpipe containing ivory and you wish to take it to a competition in Montreal, you have to get a Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) certificate from the US Fish & Wildlife Service.

Got that? You have to get your musical instrument approved by Fish & Wildlife.

Oh, but Messrs Webster and Bean were on top of that. They'd gone to Fish & Wildlife, gotten their CITES certificates, and presented them to the US Customs & Border Protection agent upon returning to the United States via a Vermont border crossing (presumably either Highgate or Derby Line, both of which I use frequently).

At which point the Commissar of Bagpipes said, "Ah, yes, the CITES certificate is valid but..."

Here it comes, boys and girls! Stand well back; it's the Bollocks of the Day from your friendly all-American Bureau of Compliance:

"The CITES certificate is valid but...it's only valid at 38 designated ports of entry." And this wasn't one of them. So he confiscated the bagpipes.

Why don't they just put a big sign up on the border? "US Government Paperwork Not Accepted At This US Government Border Post."

So Customs & Border Protection will wave through "unaccompanied minors", but if the minor's accompanied by a bagpipe the guy in the full Robocop will seize it and tell the kid he's "never going to see them again". And then the Robocop goes home having done a full and rewarding day of work.

Americans should be ashamed at what Mark Levin calls the "decomposition of the country". In all manner of areas from banking and health care to bake sales and bagpipes, US citizens now enjoy less freedom than those of countries they regard as socialist basket cases. When I've said as much before, I get emails from readers saying, "Ah, yes, but we have the First Amendment and the Second Amendment." But they're meant to be bulwarks against tyranny, so, if you never actually use them to defend liberty, eventually they have no more real-world meaning than all the theoretical freedoms listed in the Soviet constitution. It's easy to say, "I don't do home-baking. Or buy imported cars. Or play bagpipes" - or whatever next week's provocation is. But by the time they come for something you value, it will be too late. As Mark Levin says, "It's gonna get worse. It's not gonna get better." And then he adds a further point:

"Have you heard a single Republican in leadership talk to you the way I'm talking to you? Have you heard a single Republican in leadership talk about the seriousness of what this nation is facing? Have you heard any guests for the most part on our favorite cable channel, FOX, discuss this in any logical way? Nope... The problem is Republican administrations participate in the deconstruction of the country, in the decomposition of the country. They're not ideological about it and in some ways they're unwitting about it. Very few tried to push back. Very few try to unravel this federal leviathan that's been created over the last century."

Have any of my somewhat unsatisfactory roster of New Hampshire Senate candidates said anything about their constituents' bagpipe seizure? America has a two-party system in which one party is committed to making things worse and the other party isn't committed to making things any better. And, like the Great One, I'd like a bit more of a choice than that.

To be sure, a lot of these things are kinda fringey activities. Why can't the vintage-car guy drive a Toyota Corolla like a normal person? Why can't the bagpiper get into rap like a regular kid? Increasingly in America any deviation from the norm is enough to attract the attention of the punitive bureaucracy. But a society that agrees to be that cowed and compliant will not be a dynamic or innovative one, and eventually will be in steep and terminal decline.

The degeneration of "law" into regulation is a problem. The post-constitutional order is, too. But something bigger is in play. To remain free, a people need something more basic - the spirit of liberty. Once you've lost that, there are no easy roads back.

SOURCE

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Fed court ruling: Police can kick in your door and sieze guns without warrant or charges

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals may have just dealt a serious blow to the U.S. Constitution

In a unanimous decision earlier this month the Court determined that law enforcement officers are not required to present a warrant or charges before forcibly entering a person’s home, searching it, and confiscating their firearms if they believe it is in the individual’s best interests.

The landmark suit was brought before the court by Krysta Sutterfield of Milwaukee, who had recently visited a psychiatrist for outpatient therapy resulting from some bad news that she had received. According to court records Sutterfield had expressed a suicidal thought during the visit, perhaps tongue-in-cheek, when she said “I guess I’ll go home and blow my brains out.” This prompted her doctor to contact police.

For several hours the police searched for Sutterfield, speaking with neighbors and awaiting her return home. They received an update from her psychiatrist who said that Sutterfield had contacted her and advised that she was not in need of assistance and to “call off” the search, which the doctor did not agree to. Police eventually left and Sutterfield returned home, only to be visited later that evening by the lead detective on the case:

Sutterfield answered Hewitt’s knock at the front door but would not engage with her, except to state repeatedly that she had “called off” the police and to keep shutting the door on Hewitt. Sutterfield would not admit Hewitt to the residence, and during the exchange kept the outer storm door closed and locked. Unable to gain admittance to the house, Hewitt concluded that the police would have to enter it forcibly.....

Sutterfield called 911 in an effort to have the officers leave; as a result of that call, the ensuing events were recorded by the emergency call center. Sutterfield can be heard on the recording telling the officers that she was fine and that she did not want anyone to enter her residence....

After informing Sutterfield of his intention to open the storm door forcibly if she did not unlock it herself, Berken yanked the door open and entered the house with the other officers to take custody of Sutterfield pursuant to the statement of detention. A brief struggle ensued.

Sutterfield can be heard on the 911 recording demanding both that the officers let go of her and that they leave her home. (Sutterfield would later say that the officers tackled her.) Sutterfield was handcuffed and placed in the officers’ custody...

At that point the officers conducted a protective sweep of the home. In the kitchen, officer James Floriani observed a compact disc carrying case in plain view. He picked up the soft-sided case, which was locked, and surmised from the feel and weight of its contents that there might be a firearm inside. He then forced the case open and discovered a semi-automatic handgun inside; a yellow smiley-face sticker was affixed to the barrel of the gun, covering the muzzle. Also inside the case were concealed-carry firearm licenses from multiple jurisdictions other than Wisconsin. Elsewhere in the kitchen the officers discovered a BB gun made to realistically resemble a Glock 29 handgun.

The contents of the case were seized along with the BB gun and placed into police inventory for safekeeping.

Berken would later state that he authorized the seizure of the handgun in order to keep them out of the hands of a juvenile, should a juvenile enter the house unaccompanied by an adult while Sutterfield remained in the hospital.

Sutterfield subsequently filed a lawsuit against the City of Milwaukee with the district court, a case that was initially dismissed. She then filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th District claiming that her Second and Fourth Amendment rights were violated.

In a 75-page opinion the court, while pointing out that the intrusion against Sutterfield was profound, sided with the city of Milwaukee:

“The intrusions upon Sutterfield’s privacy were profound,” Judge Ilana Rovner wrote for three-judge panel.

“At the core of the privacy protected by the Fourth Amendment is the right to be let alone in one’s home.”

But the court also found, that on the other hand, “There is no suggestion that (police) acted for any reason other than to protect Sutterfield from harm.”

“Even if the officers did exceed constitutional boundaries,” the court document states, “they are protected by qualified immunity.”

As noted by Police State USA, the court may have just created a legal loophole for law enforcement officials around the country, giving them immunity from Constitutional violations if they merely suggest that exigent circumstances exist and that they are acting in the best interests of the health and safety of an alleged suspect, regardless of Constitutional requirements:

In short, Sutterfield’s privacy (which was admittedly encroached upon) was left unprotected by the Bill of Rights because of the “exigent circumstances” in which police executed an emergency detention — with no warrant, no criminal charges, and no input from the judiciary. Similarly, the gun confiscation was also deemed as acceptable due to the so-called “emergency” which police claimed had been taking place for 9 consecutive hours.

The federal ruling affirms a legal loophole which allows targeted home invasions, warrantless searches, and gun confiscations that rest entirely in the hands of the Executive Branch. The emergency aid doctrine enables police to act without a search warrant, even if there is time to get one. When the government wants to check on someone, his or her rights are essentially suspended until the person’s sanity has been forcibly validated.

The implications of the courts legal decision are alarmingly broad. Though this particular case involved exigent circumstances in which an individual suggested she wanted to commit suicide, albeit tongue-in-cheek, the court’s opinion suggests that such tactics can be applied for any “emergency” wherein police subjectively determine that an individual may be a danger to themselves or others.

Under new statutes passed by the federal government these emergencies and dangers could potentially include any number of scenarios. Senator Rand Paul recently highlighted that there are laws on the books that categorize a number of different activities as having the potential for terrorism, including things like purchasing bulk ammunition. Last month, when a group of concerned citizens assembled at Bundy Ranch in Nevada to protest government overreach, Senator Harry Reid dubbed them “domestic terrorists.” Even paying with cash or complaining about chemicals in water can land an American on the terror watch list. Non-conformists who do not subscribe to the status quo can now be considered mentally insane according to psychiatrists’ Diagnostic and Statistics Manual of Mental Disorders.

Law enforcement has an almost unlimited amount of circumstances they can cite to justify threats to one’s self or others, and thus, to ignore Constitutional requirements when serving at the behest of the local, state or federal government.

Has the Federal Court’s latest decision made it possible for these vaguely defined suspicious activities to be molded into exigent circumstances that give police the right to enter homes without due process, confiscate legally owned personal belongings, and detain residents without charge?

SOURCE

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For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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

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12 August, 2014

Obamacare



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Business Startups Dwindle as Government Jobs Thrive

Rabi Molla at the Wall Street Journal notes, "Nearly 1 in 6 jobs in the U.S. are working for the government, more than any single private industry." The number actually peaked in 2009, then took a bit of a nosedive that caused panic—not in the streets, but in punditry hallways. But it's rising again, largely because of state and local government hiring. By contrast, at the beginning of the 20th century, "one out of 24 workers was on a government payroll," according to an economic paper published in 1949, with only 1 out of 15 taking goverment paychecks right after World War I.

So, blips aside, the state has been a growth industry.

The people taking government jobs certainly aren't matched by counterparts starting new businesses. The U.S. economy is increasingly dominated by older, established firms, according to a new Brookings Institution study.

Like the population, the business sector of the U.S. economy is aging. Our research shows a secular increase in the share of economic activity occurring in older firms—a trend that has occurred in every state and metropolitan area, in every firm size category, and in each broad industrial sector.

The share of firms aged 16 years or more was 23 percent in 1992, but leaped to 34 percent by 2011—an increase of 50 percent in two decades. The share of private-sector workers employed in these mature firms increased from 60 percent to 72 percent during the same period. Perhaps most startling, we find that employment and firm shares declined for every other firm age group during this period.

What's causing the ossification of American enterprise? Authors Ian Hathaway and Robert Litan say "a secular decline in entrepreneurship is playing a major role." What they refer to as "business dynamism" has been on the decline for three decades.

Hathaway and Litan don't have a clear explanation for the decine in entrepreneurship, though they note that business failure rates have been on the rise for younger firms, while flat for already established businesses. That suggests that starting and running a new firm has become more difficult than in the past.

Hathaway and Litan refer to this development as "especially disturbing" because of the innovative breakthroughs made by startups. They suggest we "find ways to encourage and make room for the startups of the future," but don't go into detail about what that means.

It's worth pointing out here that the United States has been sliding on both major international rankings of economic freedom. The Index of Economic Freedom puts the U.S. in 12th place, behind Estonia, and notes, "The U.S. is the only country to have recorded a loss of economic freedom each of the past seven years."

The Fraser Institute's Economic Freedom of the World: 2013 Annual Report (PDF) is even tougher, noting that the U.S. slid from third place to 19th place from 2000 to 2011. While there was widespread slippage, the biggest problem, noted the report, was with eroding government respect for legal systems and property rights.

Is declining economic freedom smothering the entrepreneurial spirit that once made the United States such a hotbed of innovation? That looks suspiciously likely. And we'll all suffer if, instead of creating new businesses, Americans flock to safe government sinecures instead—paid for by whoever remains in the sclerotic private sector.

SOURCE

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Live by Big Government, Die by Big Government

Given that our commander in chief is a surprisingly decent firearm salesman, it’s a little odd that one of America’s most prolific gun manufacturers might soon be facing an agonizing financial death. But, that’s exactly where Colt’s Manufacturing Company is headed if things don’t change drastically.

It takes a very specialized form of failure for a gun company to miss out on the President Obama-inspired run on guns, the “assault weapon” craze of the 2000s, and the proliferation of concealed carry in the 1990s, but that’s exactly what happened. And, worse, this isn’t Colt’s first foray into fiscal failure.

In fact, this tendency of Colt to stumble onto hard times has a name in the industry: It’s called the “Colt curse.” It’s been around since Samuel Colt first bankrupted his hopeful arms company in the 1830s. God may have made man, and Samuel Colt may be credited with making men equal; but, it has always been an uphill battle. It turns out Colt was pretty good at making guns, but he was a failure at marketing and selling his contribution to the world of weaponry.

Lucky for Colt (and the generations that would later benefit from his contribution to the industry), the war with Mexico broke out in the 1840s. The aspiring gunsmith quickly found an audience in the U.S. Army for his innovative firearm designs. Realizing the full potential of crony-capitalism, the entrepreneur almost went broke entertaining politicians, generals, and frontiersmen. He was, undoubtedly, the Solyndra lobbyist of his day. With the helpful contract from America’s military, Colt quickly etched his name in America as the creator of the “gun that won the West.”

The company, however, was never quite capable of shaking their addiction to government contracts. In fact, it quickly became a centerpiece of their business model.

In the 1970s firearm manufacturing in the U.S. was adopting the model of America’s automotive giants. Unionization was prolific, and innovation was an afterthought. It didn’t work out for Detroit, and it almost ended in disaster for the firearm industry as well.

While most American companies scrambled for ways to avoid the Union-led decline into mediocrity, Colt happily hummed along with the help of military contracts and large government shipping orders.

The iconic manufacturer’s business was booming, right up until the moment that unions decided to do what they do best: go on strike. By 1988, the company had lost a number of high-dollar contracts, and the end of their beginning was clearly at hand.

In the decade to follow, their competitors warmly embraced America’s new-found fascination with the civilian market, concealed carry, and home defense. Colt, on the other hand, decided to take a more pragmatic approach. And, by pragmatic, I mean liberal approach:

A wealthy industrialist from the heart of a non-gun-owning Manhattan family decided he could steer the company to better times. With a man who knew nothing about guns at the helm, Colt embarked on their reimagined path to prosperity by introducing (and supporting) the idea of smart guns and federal gun permits.

As strange as it might seem, telling your most ardent customers that they should ask a fickle and hostile federal government for permission to handle your product isn’t a great business practice.

The new CEO (the last one was fired pretty quickly) still decided to put civilian ownership on the back-burner as he focused on appealing to the same Pentagon cronies that nearly drove the company into the trash-bin of history. There are only a handful of industries that relish the advent of war, and they all have something in common: they work for the Pentagon. As the Iraq War picked up, and with their sudden boom in government contracts, it looked like good times might finally be on the horizon.

In fact, good times seemed inevitable. Well, at least in theory. But if Colt had proven anything in its 178 years of existence, it’s that turning a profit is kinda tough sometimes. The company’s decision to whittle their civilian division down to a few obligatory 1911s wasn’t really doing them any favors, given that their competitors were rushing to fill the demand of a gun-hungry republic.

While Vice President Joe Biden, Obama, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) rambled on about gun control, Colt casually dismissed the idea of focusing on the civilian market. Heck, it was only within the last few years that Colt finally got around to deciding that a pocket pistol (the .380 Mustang) might be a good idea.

Today, the industry is seeing a decline from last year’s boom in sales. Colt’s civilian offerings are proving to be “too little, too late” for a market that is currently saturated with high-quality alternatives. And so, with a very specialized degree of failure, Colt has managed to paint itself into near bankruptcy. Their corporate bonds are rated as junk, and they’re continuing to pile on millions of dollars’ worth of debt.

The company might still survive. After all, they represent a history, a quality, and a heritage that is rare in today’s world. Their guns are quality products (even if you do pay a premium for those ponies on the slide) and their reputation is strong. But the company embraced too many values of the Left to survive long in a world that has proven to be hostile to their industry.

In the end, there are really only three things that are responsible for killing Colt: cronyism, support for gun control, and unions. You would think a gun manufacturer would know better than to sleep with government. I guess nobody shared that lesson with Colt’s management.

SOURCE

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Federal Court Refuses To Block N.C. Voter ID Law

At Netroots Nation, liberals slammed voter ID laws, labeling them something akin to “Jim Crow” laws. Yesterday, the U.S. District Court For The Middle District Of North Carolina refused to block the state’s voter ID law, which will be enforced in the upcoming midterm elections.

Here's what the Court said in their opinion:

"After careful consideration, the court concludes that Defendants’ motion for judgment on the pleadings should be denied in its entirety. Plaintiffs’ complaints state plausible claims upon which relief can be granted and should be permitted to proceed in the litigation. However, a preliminary injunction is an extraordinary remedy to be granted in this circuit only upon a “clear showing” of entitlement.

After thorough review of the record, the court finds that as to two challenged provisions of SL 2013-381 [ NC’s voter ID law], Plaintiffs have not made a clear showing they are likely to succeed on the merits of the underlying legal claims. As to the remaining provisions, the court finds that even assuming Plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits, they have not demonstrated they are likely to suffer irreparable harm - a necessary prerequisite for preliminary relief - before trial in the absence of an injunction. Consequently, the motions for preliminary injunction and the United States’ request for federal observers will be denied. This resolution renders the motions to exclude expert testimony moot."

Over at PJ Media, J. Christian Adams, who served as an election lawyer in the Voting Rights Section at the U.S. Department of Justice, wrote that the DOJ actually spent tax dollars on a "turnout-doesn’t-matter-because-life-is-harder" expert to help make their argument:

"The Justice Department had actually argued that even if black voters turned out at higher rates under voter ID (which they do), because blacks have to take the bus more and their life is generally harder, then voter ID and curtailing early voting violates the Voting Rights Act....

The Justice Department actually used your tax dollars to pay for an expert to introduce the turnout-doesn’t-matter-because-life-is-harder argument. Enterprising folks will submit a Freedom of Information request to find out how many tens of thousands of dollars that nonsense costs you.

Hans von Spakovsky, former DOJ voting official, says it is going to be a very bad weekend for lawyers at the Justice Department Voting Section. “Eric Holder has been beaten now twice in the Carolinas on voter ID. Today’s ruling shows just how wrong he is when it comes to election law.”

SOURCE

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Three Reasons Why It's No Surprise Hamas Violated the Latest Ceasefire

I think they continue to attack because they are enraged by the neutering of their tunnel strategy -- JR

(1) By my unofficial count, this is the seventh ceasefire or truce that Hamas has rejected, violated, or broken since the current conflict began last month. The genesis of this war, by the way, was the kidnap and murder of three Israeli teenagers, perpetrated by a Hamas-funded terrorist cell in the West Bank. When Israeli entered the West Bank in search of the perpetrators (local Palestinians pelted the ambulance carrying the boys' bodies with rocks), Hamas stepped up its rocketing campaign targeting Israeli civilians. That bombardment has been going on for years, ticking up ever since Israel unilaterally pulled out of Gaza in 2005.

Israel responded with force, culminating in the land incursion aimed at destroying Hamas' network of terror tunnels -- the purpose of which was to bypass Israel's weapons blockade, and to allow militants to slip into Israel to carry out attacks. The tunnels were built over a period of years, using supplies earmarked for projects such as schools and infrastructure construction. Child labor was reportedly exploited to built the passageways, reportedly resulting in approximately 160 deaths during the treacherous process.

(2) Hamas explicitly warned that it was preparing to resume its rocketing as soon as the latest 72-hour ceasefire expired. In fact, it looks like a miscue may have accidentally blown up a few of their own men in preparation for the resumption of hostilities. They ended up not just breaking the pause, but outright violating the temporary truce. Again. Perhaps they don't have functioning clocks, or perhaps they had itchy trigger fingers, or perhaps Hamas doesn't have control over the hive of violent radicals that pervade the Gaza strip.

Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the Egyptian government were all in favor of an unconditional extension of the truce. Hamas said no. Israel is now fighting back.

By the way, a New York Times analysis of recent casualties in Gaza determines that the most disproportionately represented demographic group among the dead are…young men in their 20's -- a.k.a. the people most likely to fit the militant profile. Women and children under the age of 15, meanwhile, "were the most underrepresented." Why, it's almost as if Israel has been going to extraordinary lengths to narrowly target terrorists and avoid civilian collateral damage -- even as Hamas uses the latter group as human shields, firing salvos from crowded neighborhoods, storing rockets inside UN schools, and using a crowded hospital as a command center.

(3) The most depressing and most elementary reality is this: The Hamas radicals don't want peace. Their demands are slippery and ever-shifting; most recently, they're insisting that Israel lift its blockade in such a way that would allow Hamas to re-arm, unfettered, so they could gear up for the next war. (Israel already allows food, medicine, fuel, and legitimate commercial goods to pass through. Israel also provides much of the strip's electricity).

The spokesman that Hamas has selected to represent them in Western media has been unable to answer questions about his own insane blood libel against Jews, nor has he backed away from they group's charter, which openly calls for genocide. If Hamas would simply acknowledge Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state and renounce violence, they would have peace. But they don't. People who reflexively blame Israel for the other side's genocidal hatred are flat-out siding with terrorism and barbarity over pluralism, peace and democracy.

SOURCE

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For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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

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11 August, 2014

Useful idiot’s Gaza Holocaust

While no civilian casualties are good, reports are now emerging that strongly question the number of civilian casualties in Gaza. The BBC's head of statistics highlighted that the figures presented are highly improbable. He explains that, "some of the conclusions being drawn from them may be premature."

and (remember this is the BBC's head of statistics)

"Nonetheless, if the Israeli attacks have been "indiscriminate", as the UN Human Rights Council says, it is hard to work out why they have killed so many more civilian men than women"

With that, the Hamas's illusion begins to crack. The reality behind it is far uglier, and far more dangerous, than many have realised.

Far away from the Middle East there are two additional sets of victims, neither Israeli not Palestinian. The first are Jews, faced raising antisemitism. The second group of victims includes many of those spewing out antisemitism. They too are victims as they act against their values in aid of a greater purpose. Those who have fallen into this trap will explain the uniqueness of the current conflict, and reflect on the reported number of civilian casualties. Their call to arms, however, rests on a carefully manufactured illusion.

It seems, statistically speaking, that the high civilian casualty rate in Gaza is very likely concealing many Hamas combatants. This is no surprise as a similar situation occurred in Operation Cast Lead (2008-2009) when Hamas, at the time, claimed only 50 fighters were killed but later admitted to a figure of between 600 and 700 fighters, a figure almost identical to Israeli reports during the conflict.

The supposedly disproportionate civilian casualty rate has been used not only to justify and mobilise hostility to Israel, but also to defend outright antisemitism including comparisons to the Holocaust. How dare you raise the issue of antisemitism when so many people are being killed! One former Facebook friend wrote to me. If the number of civilian casualties is in fact similar to other conflicts, or proportionally less than other conflicts, when comparing the rate of civilian to combatant casualties, then a lot of people have been working off a false premise.

The reliance on a false premise led many to the conclusion that Israel deserved unique condemnation, and the issue deserved priority above all else on the international agenda. If the conflict was not exceptional, there was no basis for this special treatment.

As I write this, rockets have resumed and the IDF just announced they are about to take action to eliminate the threat. One Twitter user, with a free Palestine image, responded saying that another Nuremberg was waiting for Israel. This Holocaust analogy is a spectacularly bad analogy, and deliberately antisemitic. I've seen that Gaza Holocaust analogy repeated so many times is becoming a Big Lie. And therein lies the second crack in the Hamas illusion.

The antisemitic imagery used in this conflict is beyond anything we have seen before. It looks like a deliberate social media strategy of Hamas, and one that follows perfectly from the antisemitism in their mainstream media channels, including on children's TV shows like Tomorrow's Pioneers . When you realise Hamas has form for such media strategies, it's time to dig deeper.

The treatment of all casualties as civilians and the overt antisemitism, particular the comparison of Gaza to the Holocaust, are it now emerges, part of a coherent Hamas social media strategy. The strategy has been openly promoted to activists via official Hamas channels, in Arabic of course. MEMRI translated this guide in mid July, but it seems it didn't get enough attention.

Let's consider what we're seeing in light of two points taken from the guide:

"Avoid entering into a political argument with a Westerner aimed at convincing him that the Holocaust is a lie and deceit; instead, equate it with Israel's crimes against Palestinian civilians"

"Anyone killed or martyred is to be called a civilian from Gaza or Palestine, before we talk about his status in jihad or his military rank. Don't forget to always add 'innocent civilian' or 'innocent citizen' in your description of those killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza."

Our cracks suddenly open into fissures, and ground on which Hamas's illusion rests should by all rights start to fall way. Both these point from the guide are being repeated time and time again in social media. Only some of that repetition is from hard core Hamas supporters who may have seen the guide. Much of it comes from people who have no idea about the ideology of Hamas, never mind Hamas's social media war strategy.

There is a technical term for those people who have been suckered in to support the Hamas social media strategy, and therefore Hamas more broadly, without their knowledge. That term is "useful idiots". Rich Lowry has written a great piece about the impact of these useful idiots, but missed the Hamas strategy to deliberately create more of them. I previously noted that Facebook was caught in a social media war, but I missed how antisemitism and the creation of useful idiots was part of this strategy.

In recent days I've explained the problem with the Holocaust analogy a number of times. Eventually I created a resource page to help others explain it. Some, including Muslims friends, quickly saw the problem. Others, anti-racism activists with no specific connection to the conflict, refused to see it. For them raising antisemitism was trying to dodge the issue of the casualties and the criticality of stopping Israel. Having not yet seen the fissures in the Hamas illusion, I felt I was staring down a rabbit hole. Comparisons between Israel and the Nazis are given explicitly as an example in the Working Definition of Antisemitism. It's not a matter of interpretation or debate, it's a matter of recognising what's right in front of you.

They way people around the world have been mislead as part of a deliberate Hamas run propaganda strategy is deserving of anger. The real civilian deaths, inevitable in any armed conflict, are still a tragedy, but to use support for human rights as part of a war strategy is morally reprehensible. We knew they were doing it with the living, now we see they are doing it with the dead as well. To promote Holocaust trivialization as part of a war strategy is also utterly reprehensible. Hamas advocates genocide of Jews in its charter, but how did anti-racists come to adopt this vile poison?

Those who have fallen for the Hamas propaganda strategy have fallen hard. Many have been told their comments are antisemitic, and reacted strongly against this. These people have been not only misled, but led to act entirely against their values. Hamas have turned anti-racism activists into tools promoting the agenda of genocide.

Many have dug themselves in deeply, defending their position and use of antisemitic language with reference to the "unique nature" of the current conflict. With that premise exposed as a deliberate illusion, a propaganda construction, they have a very bitter pill to swallow. Many will seek other ways to validate their actions, at least to themselves. In doing so many may fall further into the arguments of racism which not only Hamas, but antisemites of all flavours, are currently flooding across social media.

I don't have a solution, but unless people stop and take stock, Hamas may well achieve its real purpose, harm not to Israel, but to harm Jewish people around the globe. The rise in antisemitism is a key outcome of this war, and it seems it is far from an accident.

SOURCE

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Muslim Opinion Polls

A "Tiny Minority of Extremists"?

Have you heard that Islam is a peaceful religion because most Muslims live peacefully and that only a "tiny minority of extremists" practice violence? That's like saying that White supremacy must be perfectly fine since only a tiny minority of racists ever hurt anyone. Neither does it explain why religious violence is largely endemic to Islam, despite the tremendous persecution of religious minorities in Muslim countries.

In truth, even a tiny minority of "1%" of Muslims worldwide translates to 15 million believers - which is hardly an insignificant number. However, the "minority" of Muslims who approve of terrorists, their goals, or their means of achieving them is much greater than this. In fact, it isn't even a true minority in some cases, depending on how goals and targets are defined.

The following polls convey what Muslims say are their attitudes toward terrorism, al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, the 9/11 attacks, violence in defense of Islam, Sharia, honor killings, and matters concerning assimilation in Western society. The results are all the more astonishing because most of the polls were conducted by organizations with an obvious interest in "discovering" agreeable statistics that downplay any cause for concern.

(These have been compiled over the years, so not all links remain active. We will continue adding to this).

ICM Poll: 20% of British Muslims sympathize with 7/7 bombers
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1510866/Poll-reveals-40pc-of-Muslims-want-sharia-law-in-UK.html

NOP Research: 1 in 4 British Muslims say 7/7 bombings were justified
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/08/14/opinion/main1893879.shtml&date=2011-04-06
http://www.webcitation.org/5xkMGAEvY

People-Press: 31% of Turks support suicide attacks against Westerners in Iraq.
http://people-press.org/report/206/a-year-after-iraq-war

YNet: One third of Palestinians (32%) supported the slaughter of a Jewish family, including the children:
http://pajamasmedia.com/tatler/2011/04/06/32-of-palestinians-support-infanticide/
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4053251,00.html

World Public Opinion: 61% of Egyptians approve of attacks on Americans
32% of Indonesians approve of attacks on Americans
41% of Pakistanis approve of attacks on Americans
38% of Moroccans approve of attacks on Americans
83% of Palestinians approve of some or most groups that attack Americans (only 14% oppose)
62% of Jordanians approve of some or most groups that attack Americans (21% oppose)
42% of Turks approve of some or most groups that attack Americans (45% oppose)
A minority of Muslims disagreed entirely with terror attacks on Americans:
(Egypt 34%; Indonesia 45%; Pakistan 33%)
About half of those opposed to attacking Americans were sympathetic with al-Qaeda’s attitude toward the U.S.
http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/pipa/pdf/feb09/STARTII_Feb09_rpt.pdf

Pew Research (2010): 55% of Jordanians have a positive view of Hezbollah
30% of Egyptians have a positive view of Hezbollah
45% of Nigerian Muslims have a positive view of Hezbollah (26% negative)
43% of Indonesians have a positive view of Hezbollah (30% negative)
http://pewglobal.org/2010/12/02/muslims-around-the-world-divided-on-hamas-and-hezbollah/

Pew Research (2010): 60% of Jordanians have a positive view of Hamas (34% negative).
49% of Egyptians have a positive view of Hamas (48% negative)
49% of Nigerian Muslims have a positive view of Hamas (25% negative)
39% of Indonesians have a positive view of Hamas (33% negative)
http://pewglobal.org/2010/12/02/muslims-around-the-world-divided-on-hamas-and-hezbollah/

Pew Research (2010): 15% of Indonesians believe suicide bombings are often or sometimes justified.
34% of Nigerian Muslims believe suicide bombings are often or sometimes justified.
http://pewglobal.org/2010/12/02/muslims-around-the-world-divided-on-hamas-and-hezbollah/

16% of young Muslims in Belgium state terrorism is "acceptable".
http://www.hln.be/hln/nl/1275/Islam/article/detail/1619036/2013/04/22/Zestien-procent-moslimjongens-vindt-terrorisme-aanvaardbaar.dhtml

Populus Poll (2006): 12% of young Muslims in Britain (and 12% overall) believe that suicide attacks against civilians in Britain can be justified. 1 in 4 support suicide attacks against British troops.
http://www.populuslimited.com/pdf/2006_02_07_times.pdf
http://www.danielpipes.org/blog/2005/07/more-survey-research-from-a-british-islamist

Pew Research (2007): 26% of younger Muslims in America believe suicide bombings are justified.
35% of young Muslims in Britain believe suicide bombings are justified (24% overall).
42% of young Muslims in France believe suicide bombings are justified (35% overall).
22% of young Muslims in Germany believe suicide bombings are justified.(13% overall).
29% of young Muslims in Spain believe suicide bombings are justified.(25% overall).
http://pewresearch.org/assets/pdf/muslim-americans.pdf#page=60

Pew Research (2011): 8% of Muslims in America believe suicide bombings are often or sometimes justified (81% never).
28% of Egyptian Muslims believe suicide bombings are often or sometimes justified (38% never).
http://www.people-press.org/2011/08/30/muslim-americans-no-signs-of-growth-in-alienation-or-support-for-extremism/

Pew Research (2007): Muslim-Americans who identify more strongly with their religion are three times more likely to feel that suicide bombings are justified
http://pewresearch.org/assets/pdf/muslim-americans.pdf#page=60

ICM: 5% of Muslims in Britain tell pollsters they would not report a planned Islamic terror attack to authorities.
27% do not support the deportation of Islamic extremists preaching violence and hate.
http://www.scotsman.com/?id=1956912005
http://www.danielpipes.org/blog/2005/07/more-survey-research-from-a-british-islamist.html

Federation of Student Islamic Societies: About 1 in 5 Muslim students in Britain (18%) would not report a fellow Muslim planning a terror attack.
http://www.fosis.org.uk/sac/FullReport.pdf
http://www.danielpipes.org/blog/2005/07/more-survey-research-from-a-british-islamist

ICM Poll: 25% of British Muslims disagree that a Muslim has an obligation to report terrorists to police.
http://www.icmresearch.co.uk/reviews/2004/Guardian%20Muslims%20Poll%20Nov%2004/Guardian%20Muslims%20Nov04.asp
http://www.danielpipes.org/blog/2005/07/more-survey-research-from-a-british-islamist

Populus Poll (2006): 16% of British Muslims believe suicide attacks against Israelis are justified.
37% believe Jews in Britain are a "legitimate target".
http://www.populuslimited.com/pdf/2006_02_07_times.pdf
http://www.danielpipes.org/blog/2005/07/more-survey-research-from-a-british-islamist

Pew Research (2013): At least 1 in 4 Muslims do not reject violence against civilians (study did not distinguish between those who believe it is partially justified and never justified).
http://www.pewforum.org/uploadedFiles/Topics/Religious_Affiliation/Muslim/worlds-muslims-religion-politics-society-full-report.pdf

Pew Research (2013): 15% of Muslims in Turkey support suicide bombings (also 11% in Kosovo, 26% in Malaysia and 26% in Bangladesh).
http://www.pewforum.org/uploadedFiles/Topics/Religious_Affiliation/Muslim/worlds-muslims-religion-politics-society-full-report.pdf

See also: http://wikiislam.net/wiki/Muslim_Statistics_(Terrorism) for further statistics on Islamic terror.

SOURCE

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

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For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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

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10 August, 2014

the true extent of the hamas tunnels .... the true extent of the strategic israeli victory in its attack on gaza ....

Some good comments below from another blogger. I have retained his aversion to capital letters

a friend sent me an article that caused me to search out an article entitled "stories from the battlefield: hamas tunnels used to target israel's kindergartens," by mordechai ben-menachem, dated 07.27.2014, at the daily caller

now, maybe i have been inattentive and have simply missed the publication of the facts set forth in this post, but, for the first time i have seen the true scope of the hamas plans involving the use of the tunnels, and understand for the first time the true extent and importance of the israeli victory over hamas. [as i neared completion of this article, "live links" started to pop out all over about these tunnels. obviously, this story is known in the blogosphere, even if not reported on abc, nor nbc nor cbs.:jjj.]

and, maybe this article will convince you of the true perfidy of the mass media, and its utter complicity in the goals of destruction hamas intends someday to deliver upon israel. if this article by mordechai ben-menachem is known by me, it is known by the media types, and they are not coughing it up. not in america, at least. the reason is simple. the facts in ben-menachem's post run counter to the left's meme on the israeli-hamas struggle.

quite simply, the western media is evil. it is state-sponsored, ideologically driven, evil.

the tunnels were designed to launch attacks on israeli children, the attacks set to attack on sept. 24, 2014. the tunnels are not little rat holes, but, shored up structures large enough to drive vehicles through. and, large enough to move a considerable number of troops through, in a hurry. they went from gaza into israel, and stopped at israeli settlements underneath and near israeli schools.

they were designed to deliver attacks upon israeli children, during the israel high holidays.

they were equipped with explosives, ammunition, and with tranquilizers to subdue any israeli prisoners that might have resulted from their operations.



this tunnel is reinforced w/ steel beams and heavy materials for shoring. it is also supplied with electricity, and there is considerable conduit for the same, seen in the photo. it addition, this section of the tunnel is connected by a shaft to some location above ground, for the use of bringing in a lot of material, and presumably, troops.

there are lots of stores in this tunnel. no provision for civilians to take shelter, but, lots of stores.

but, in a larger sense, this story is very important. because now, we are being treated to the inevitable spin of the mass media, about how this was not an israeli victory, and that hamas has tricked them and prevailed in the "land war" between hamas and israel. and, that israel has suffered a "strategic defeat," even if it operated with impunity on a tactical level.

the story of these tunnels renders any such assertion as nonsense.

hamas had planned a major attack on israel. israel has thwarted that attack, rendered its possibility a nullity, and has destroyed hamas's ability to utilize the tunnels, even as it continues to destroy the tunnels. israel has dealt to hamas a very crippling blow.

and, israel has exposed the complicity of governments and private concerns related to the digging of these tunnels. someone came in and showed hamas how to construct them, and supplied the material and stores by which to arm them. and, someone financed the construction of the tunnels. (hint: that would be the united nations, the obama administration and the euro leftist behind these bullshit schemes, and, quite obviously, the russians. in other words, the usual group of thugs intent on israel's destruction.)

in sum, israel suffered no defeat. israel enjoys, this day, a major victory. and, you should know about it, and understand it.

SOURCE

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Nanny-State Mindset Leads to Police Brutality

By Scott Rasmussen

In Florida recently, police pulled up to a young boy playing in the park and asked where his mother lived. According to a report on WPTV, the mom was then arrested for "allowing her son to go to the park alone." Her son had a cellphone, and she would check in with him along the way. The mom believes "he's old enough, but Port St. Lucie Police disagree."

There is a tendency to dismiss stories such as this as a silly mistake by an overzealous police officer, but sadly it's part of a larger problem. In fact, a similar story of arresting a mom for not supervising her child 24/7/365 took place a few weeks back in South Carolina. A Washington Post column reported these incidents as part of a series on "the increasing criminalization of everything and the use of the criminal justice system to address problems that were once (and better) handled by families, friends, communities and other institutions."

This abuse of governmental authority is the natural extension of nanny-state efforts such as the crusade to ban large sugary drinks. Once you accept the premise that so-called experts should decide what's best for the rest of us, the only question remaining is how to deal with people who don't comply.

It's the same mindset that believes the National Security Agency should be allowed to read all our emails and monitor our phone calls in the name of national security. Just trust us, they say. We're from the government, and we're here to help.

How's this for help? In Georgia, a SWAT team broke into a house searching for drugs and threw a flash-bang grenade inside a child's crib.

The excessive force was disgusting to begin with. Even worse is the fact that the police had the wrong house and there were no drugs. The child is in critical condition.

Amazingly, the local sherriff and other Georgia authorities said the officers didn't do anything wrong. That's ludicrous. They deployed a grenade developed for war in a private home and sent a child to the hospital fighting for his life. Something is terribly wrong.

It's important to note that most police officers are great public servants. Just a few years ago, a local officer in my hometown literally saved my life and the lives of my family. We called him a hero. He said he was just doing his job. Naturally, we have tremendous respect for the job that such officers do and the courage they display.

However, a National Review article correctly notes that "respecting good police work means being willing to speak out against civil-liberties-breaking thugs who shrug their shoulders after brutalizing citizens." That means speaking out against stories like this:

"On Thursday in Staten Island, an asthmatic 43-year-old father of six, Eric Garner, died after a group of policemen descended on him, placing him in a chokehold while attempting to arrest him for allegedly selling cigarettes."

Stories like these are not random exceptions. They are the natural result of a governing philosophy that believes government experts should dictate how the rest of us live. If we want to reign in such over-the-top police actions, the first step must be to get rid of the nanny-state mindset. This means recognizing every American has the right to make decisions about how to live his or her own life.

SOURCE

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Nine Things Voters Can Learn From Michelle Nunn's Campaign Strategy

Last week, National Review gave the Washington beltway a juicy tidbit of afternoon reading. Somehow, its reporter Eliana Johnson got her hands on a leaked copy of U.S. Senate Democrat candidate Michelle Nunn’s campaign plan.

The 144-page memo rips the curtain away from the modern campaign. For us writing about Washington outside the beltway, we see this document as a guidebook on political communication. Think of it as the Democrats' strategy to win friends and influence people.

In the next few months, the midterm elections will gear up and candidates all around the country like Michelle Nunn will run television spots, pose for photo-ops and kiss babies. By understanding Nunn’s strategy, we understand more of how the politicians are trying to convince us that they should be the ones going to Congress next year. We also learn how the Left, specifically, targets certain demographics and plays certain groups to accomplish its goals.

Here’s what we learned reading through the document:

The modern campaign takes a lot of science and number crunching. This may be a no-brainer. However, the memo starts off by looking at the history of voter turnout in Georgia and estimates how many votes the Nunn campaign should rake onto their side. The Feldman Group wrote, “[W]e need 1,378,001 votes to win. Rounding up reduces the risk and so 1.4 million is my recommended goal.” For this purpose, the Georgia Democratic Party keeps a massive voter list, probably with data such as voter history and the like. In fact, voter data is big, shadowy business.

The Nunn campaign was researching to find out what voters wanted to hear. When this memo was written in December, Nunn didn’t define much of her message. Only a few months later, when her challenger would be decided in the Republican primary, would she forge the details of her running platform. For us not living in the swamp along the Potomac, this shows a candidate is not motivated by integrity, but by what tickles the ears of the voters during election season. They certainly ride the winds of opinion.

The Nunn campaign said it was looking for groups of Republicans to endorse Nunn. The Nunn campaign created two political groups to help lend some weight to their campaign. The groups, Republicans for Nunn and Independents for Nunn (we’re sure there is no pun intended), would be on call to be quoted in the media. This was an effort to reach demographics that Nunn herself was not comfortable reaching in person – like conservative, rural folks.

The Nunn campaign, in conjunction with Georgia’s Democratic Party, has a Voter Protection Program, which is there to deploy people to monitor the campaign, work the polls, and deal with any “voter protection incidents.” Election law is no joke. Mess with ballots, or manipulate voters, and you are manipulating the democratic process itself. For this reason, the Nunn campaign wanted to recruit lawyers or law students. For the non-law types, it was going to create an outline for those people to bone up on their election law, then turn around to advise the campaign. Go figure.

What kind of voter you are depends on what message you’ll hear. In the memo, there was a PowerPoint slide labeled “CONFIDENTIAL & PROPRIETARY” in which it identifies three kinds of audiences. First, there are the “Strong supporters.” In their mailboxes, Facebook accounts and online ads, they see messages reminding them to vote, give money or volunteer. Second, the “Drop-off voters” are probably people who support the candidate but somehow don’t make it to the polls. They need more persuasion when it comes to getting out and voting. Third, “swing voters” need to be persuaded about the candidate.

If the campaign were to get dirty, Nunn would be prepared. Early on, her campaign was compiling books of information about her possible Republican opponents. Her staff would gather all the information the public record had to offer on her opponent. Furthermore, the Democrat Party of Georgia hired a tracker. His or her job is to show up at press conferences, county fairs, fundraisers and videotape the opposition candidate whenever possible. The footage would be transcribed and analyzed for quotes, developments in the opposition’s campaign and for possible attack ads hitting the airwaves. The campaign’s research also went into debate preparation – policy documents refuting the arguments Nunn’s opposition would make.

Nunn’s memo bluntly goes through several demographics and their use to the campaign. Like a typical liberal, Nunn planned to use blacks and Latinos for their votes, and she targeted Jews, homosexuals, Asian-Americans and CEOs for their money. But these are not the only groups the Nunn campaign targeted. Her campaign viewed religious leaders as “validators” – people that she could leverage to get voters, especially Latino voters. For gun owners, Nunn herself wouldn’t reach the Second Amendment crowd (probably not her type of person). Instead, she would target the group around hunting season, releasing a newspaper ad or two, using people who did own guns as endorsers of her campaign.

When it came to Veterans, Nunn’s campaign had plans for them too, using them as “validators.” In her memo, the campaign wrote: “The veterans community will be organized primarily as validators. The campaign will work to recruit leaders in all areas of the military community and release their support prior to the primary. Following the primary, the campaigns will release their names of a larger number of military supporters, thus showing growing support.” Like many politicians, the Nunn campaign only gives veterans lip service in exchange for more votes. Such respectful treatment for the people who chose to bear the responsibilities of uniform!

Finally, the campaign has a love-hate relationship with the media because much of the outreach to voters is played out in the media, which can write whatever it wants. The campaign’s goal is to stick to a set of campaign talking points and repeat them again and again until Election Day. The media is hounding the campaign for any crack or deviation in the message. “In fact – in 21st century campaigns with wall-to-wall media coverage and super-pacs able to put millions of dollars behind video behind a single cellphone video – a slight deviation from the agreed upon message could end up being very damaging to the campaign,” the memo said. The communications team even rehearses the stump speech. Part of the team’s job is to “push back against negative research hits” using the strategy to “kill or muddy the story.” Remember that the next time you read a political piece on a candidate.

SOURCE

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For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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

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8 August, 2014

Obama's half-brother writes memoir contradicting 'Dreams from my Father' and exposing their common father's chronic drunken physical abuse

Barack Obama's Ivy-League educated half-brother is publishing his autobiography next month, painting a dramatically different picture of their few meetings from the one the president related in his best-selling 'Dreams from My Father' memoir.

Mark Obama Ndesandjo includes an appendix in his book, cataloguing what he says are factual errors in 'Dreams' – including words falsely attributed to his mother, a Jewish woman named Ruth.

'A lot of the stuff that Barack wrote is wrong in that book, and I can understand that,' he told the Associated Press last year when he planned to self-publish his book.

'To me,' Ndesandjo said then, 'for him the book was a tool for fashioning an identity and he was using composites. I wanted the record to be straight. I wanted to tell my own story, not let people tell it for me.'

His book, 'An Obama's Journey: My Odyssey of Self-Discovery across Three Cultures,' is due in stores September 16 and published by Globe Pequot Press.

Describing a two-day stretch in 1988 when the two half-brothers first met and shared a next-day lunch, Ndesandjo, who bears only a vague family resemblance to the president, writes that 'overall, it was a very awkward, cold meeting.'

Barack Sr., he explains, was someone he tried not to think of since he had divorced Ruth years earlier and descended further into alcoholism and a downward career spiral.

But with Barack Jr. suddenly in his living room, brought for a visit by the future president's aunt, avoiding thoughts about their common father became uncomfortably impossible. It was, he writes, as 'though the skeleton that no one ever talked about had strayed into the middle of a family party.'

Ndesandjo, according to a writer at WND.com who obtained an advance copy of the book, 'described their lunch together during that second day as filled with tension, as Barack struggled to embrace the African heritage of a father Ndesandjo had rejected.'

The author 'had refused even to use the Obama name, unable to forget, as a child, experiencing the alcoholism and brutality of their father.'

The elder Barack was a blithely self-involved alcoholic, once killing a man in a DUI auto accident and dying at age 46 while driving drunk. His viciousness is largely absent from the president's 'Dreams' – President Obama met Barack Sr. just once after his infancy, at age 10 – and is relegated to Obama quoting his half-brother criticizing Barack Sr.

'You think that somehow I’m cut off from my roots, that sort of thing,' Ndesandjo tells the future president in 'Dreams.'

'Well, you're right. At a certain point, I made a decision not to think about who my real father was. He was dead to me even when he was still alive. I knew that he was a drunk and showed no concern for his wife or children. That was enough.'

In 'Dreams,' Obama casts himself as the all-seeing observer trying to connect himself back to his Kenyan roots. But Ndesandjo now recalls details that never made it into the president's 1995 book.

'My impression at the first meeting,' he writes, 'was that Barack thought that I was too white, and I thought that he was too black.'

'He was an American search for his African roots. ... I'm an American but I was living in Kenya, searching for my white roots.'

'I remember that when I spoke with him about the heroes of Western culture, he rolled his eyes impatiently,' he has told Maariv, an Israeli newspaper.

'My feeling was that, here is an American who in many ways is trying to be a local Kenyan youth. This is something I tried to flee my entire life.'

Ndesandjo says his effort to escape his African cultural roots was furthered in part by a desire to escape the legacy of his violent father. 'His self-hatred and tendency toward self-sabotage was passed down and became part of my identity,' he acknowledges in his new book.

'My mother's lily-white skin and my father's ebony-black visage come to symbolize an eternal incompatibility in my mind's eye. For a long time I hated to have anything to do with what my father represented, whether it was him personally, or even the positive aspects of African culture.'

'In violent reaction to him,' he concludes, 'I turned passionately toward Western culture and music, which brought me a measure of solace.'

After earning degrees in physics from Brown and Stanford Universities, Ndesandjo honed his artistic talents in China where he lives with his wife. He is an accomplished pianist and recording artist who often gives lessons to orphans in the Chinese boom town of Shenzhen.

More criticisms of Barack Sr. surfaced in 2009 when the new president visited China during his first year in the White House.

That's when Ndesandjo published his first book, an autobiographical novel titled 'Nairobi to Shenzhen: A Tale of Love In The East.' It paints Barack Obama Sr. as an abusive drunk who repeatedly beat him and his mother in episode after rage-filled episode.

'There were some thumps as of someone falling,' reads one passage that Ndesandjo wrote in the third-person. 'His father's angry voice raised itself. ... He didn't remember what they were fighting about, but his stomach felt sick and empty.' 'His mother was being attacked and he couldn't protect her. "You bastard!" he remembered her screaming out. And that was just one night. There were many more.'

One of those nights, Ndesandjo writes in 'An Obama's Journey,' resulted in his blitzed father holding a knife to his mother's throat after she obtained a restraining order against him.

'We Obamas have big hands. They can be used to create or to debase,' reads one portion. 'My hands enable me to comfortably reach across twelve keys and play piano well. My father would use his big hands to knock my mother down when he came home from a night of drinking.'

'I would move protectively toward her and clutch her legs, crying,' writes Ndesandjo. 'I know now why I mostly remember her legs, not her torso, or even her face.'

His parents met when Obama Sr. was a graduate student at Harvard University. They moved to Kenya in 1964, where he and his brother David were born. David later died in a motorcycle accident.

Obama Sr. had earlier divorced President Obama's mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, following Obama's 1961 birth.

Ndesandjo's mother later divorced the elder Barack Obama and married another man, whose surname both mother and son also took.

SOURCE

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Victory over Operation Choke Point

Gun retailers are no longer on a hit list deemed “high risk” by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. after the banking regulator formally withdrew Monday the list it put together that outlined what merchants may be considered risky for banks to do business with as part of the Obama administration’s “Operation Choke Point.”

The agency said its explanatory warning list “led to misunderstandings” about how it’s supervising banks’ ties to third-party payment providers, according to Bloomberg News. The regulator said it never meant to prevent banks from doing financial transactions with the types of businesses on the list.

“Those that are operating with the appropriate systems and controls will not be criticized for providing payment-processing services to businesses operating in compliance with applicable law,” the FDIC said in its updated industry guidelines, issued Monday.

Richard Osterman, the agency’s acting general counsel, admitted to the American Banker newspaper Monday that the list had been “misinterpreted” by financial institutions.

Republican lawmakers have criticized the FDIC for unfairly targeting legitimate businesses that operated in its so-called high-risk category, including gun retailers and payday lenders. The Washington Times reported in May that many banks were dropping businesses in these high-risk industries as the bankers wanted to avoid higher scrutiny from the federal regulator.

The FDIC has been helping the Department of Justice run “Operation Choke Point,” which is intended to combat online fraud by cutting off fraudsters’ access to payment systems. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa, California Republican, has said the effect of the program has been to squeeze out legitimate businesses.

“If you empower the government to pick winners and losers within lawful enterprises, then there’s no place to stop,” Mr. Issa said this month in an appearance at the libertarian Cato Institute.

Industry advocates pushing to repeal Operation Choke Point said the FDIC did not go far enough Monday.

“Altering a website is window dressing and doesn’t end the unjust practices associated with Operation Choke Point,” said Brian Wise, a senior adviser for the U.S. Consumer Coalition, which is seeking an end to Operation Choke Point.

“While we support the FDIC’s decision to remove the list of ‘high-risk merchants’ from the FDIC website, damage has already been done to countless businesses across the country who have already lost their bank accounts,” he added. “Whether the list is published on the FDIC’s website or not, we expect banks will still be fearful of doing business with these lawful industries.”

SOURCE

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GOVERNMENT HAS GROWN OUT OF CONTROL!

Imagine waking up to the sight of armed police officers raiding your house. You know you’ve done nothing wrong, but yet you are terrified just the same.

You look out your window and see an entire column of police cars and Department of Homeland Security vehicles race towards your house with sirens blazing.

When they arrive, they don’t head for the door, nor do they go after any individual. The go right to your car, lift the hood to read the VIN number, and then tow it away.

For Jennifer Brinkley, this was her reality. What was her crime? She wasn’t a drug dealer and she wasn’t accused of hurting anyone…



No, her crime was that she owned a 1984-5 Land Rover SUV that, according to Homeland Security, violated the Clean Air Act. The above picture shows the model that the government has apparently decided is illegal to own…

This isn’t a joke. Jennifer Brinkley had her North Carolina home raided by Homeland Security because her vintage SUV apparently violated the Clean Air Act.

What the hell is this country coming to???

We have thousands of illegals crossing the border every day, bringing drugs, diseases, and God knows what else into the country. But Obama won’t use Homeland Security resources to seal the border. No, he would rather use the full weight of the Federal Government to shake down a woman for owning an old SUV known for crummy emissions!

Tell Congress to STOP the administration’s wanton targeting of American citizens! Homeland Security should be used to secure the border, not to raid and shakedown citizens!

When police and Homeland Security arrived at Jennifer Brinkley’s home, they compared the VIN on the car to a list they had and determined that the SUV may violate the Clean Air Act.

This is a law that requires all vehicles to maintain a certain emissions standard. But the agents didn’t even test the car’s emissions… they just looked at the VIN and assumed that it wasn’t in compliance.

Not only is this a ridiculous reason to have an armed raid and impound a motor vehicle, but also the officers involved weren’t even sure if the Land Rover did violate the law.

The owner contends that she put $60,000 into restoring the car and that she was close to getting it inspected. Once done, she completely expected it to pass its inspection, including the emissions section of the test.

But before she had a chance to bring her car in to be inspected, Homeland Security swooped in and seized it right out from under her!

Words can’t describe how angry this makes me. This woman had her property seized by government forces sworn to protect her interests. Instead, she had her liberty and property rights trampled on.

To this day, Jennifer Brinkley has no idea where the government has taken her car. According to agents, her car was just one of forty that Homeland Security was seizing on that day alone.

This is what our government has come to… Instead of honoring their oath and defending the American people, government agencies like Homeland Security look for every chance to catch Americans violating some random law or statute.

Why the hell was Homeland Security even involved in the raid? Agents admitted that Jennifer Brinkley had not done anything else wrong, so why was Homeland Security – an agency charged with combatting drug smuggling and terrorism – involved in an EPA raid?

If you look up “out of control government” in a dictionary, this story should show up.

There are so many laws on the books that it is impossible for any average citizen to stay on the right side of the law. Judges will always claim that ignorance of the law is no excuse. But it has gotten to the point that if you actually took the time to read every law on the books, by the time you finished you’d have to start over because laws would have been added and changed!

Ignorance of the law may be no excuse, but it is also inexcusable to have entire government agencies built around fining and penalizing citizens for running afoul of the law!

We have a Homeland Security Agency that leaves the border unsecure while it targets an SUV owner for violating emissions standards!

We have an FDA that uses SWAT teams to go after farmers for selling raw milk and unpasteurized cheese products!

We have an EPA that fines homeowners thousands of dollars for creating unlicensed ponds on their property!

We have a Bureau of Land Management that tries to shakedown cattle ranchers to make them pay grazing fees to use public land!

The DOJ has openly admitted to targeting gun stores and forcing banks to drop them as customers!

The government has grown far too big and too powerful! And it is up to us to right the ship!

For a government agency to use an environmental law to seize a $60,000 car should be a shock. But the sad thing is, this happens every day across America. This is merely the symptom of the larger disease…

If it can happen to Jennifer Brinkley, it can happen to anyone.

SOURCE

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For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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

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7 August, 2014

With or Without the Subsidies, Obamacare May Fall Apart

The Obamacare subsidies depend on Halbig’s outcome, and whether millions of Americans can afford their healthcare plans depends on the subsidies. At least, that’s the narrative. Commentators warn of a coming “death spiral” of extraordinary costs and insufficient incoming premiums as people cancel their plans without the subsidies. But what they’re ignoring is that Obamacare is on track to fail regardless of what the court decides.

What people aren’t grappling with is that with or without the subsidies, health insurance under Obamacare is simply too expensive. The hundreds of pills and procedures every insurance plan is now federally required to cover has bloated premiums beyond what most Americans want to, or often can, pay. That’s why Obamacare subsidizes the plans.

The whole point of Obamacare was supposedly to make health insurance more affordable. The problem is that Obama’s promise that “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan,” never squared with his plan to replace so-called catastrophic care plans with comprehensive coverage. Companies can’t cover breast implants and Viagra for the same price as covering cancer and car wrecks only.

Subsidies were the answer for affordable care. The federal government pays up to 100 percent of the premiums for certain insurance plans for people with low incomes. In total, the administration claims 6.7 million people will receive tax credits to pay their premiums and 70 percent, or 4.7 million, are using a federal exchange.

However, even with Medicaid expansion and subsidies, Obamacare still failed spectacularly to reduce premiums. Instead of reducing what every American family pays for health insurance by $2,500 per year, as candidate Obama promised in 2008, insurance premiums increased for millions of Americans once Obamacare made their existing plans illegal. Families can expect to pay 32% more per year to stay covered under Obamacare. And that’s with the subsidies.

Money for subsidies has to come from somewhere. Here’s where things really get tricky for Obamacare. The entire premise is that, even with subsidies, young, healthy people’s premiums will subsidize care for the sick and elderly. Turns out that young people don’t really want to do that. And why should they? The plan hoses young, relatively poor people right when they least need high bills for services they’re not using. And it helps older, relatively rich people who should be able to afford the care they need.

Nick Gillespie and Veronique de Rugy have pointed out for Reason magazine that today’s seniors are far wealthier than today’s young adults. While, 36% of millennials are still living under their parents’ roof, 83% of elderly households own a home. Poverty rates for those over 65 years of age are much lower than most other demographics. Households headed by people 65 or older have 22 times the wealth of households headed by people under 35.

Not only are many young people either unemployed or underemployed, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau estimates that people under 40 owe 67% of the roughly $1.4 trillion that Americans owe on school loans. That’s on top of an average of several thousand dollars of credit card debt.

Obamacare forces people who can scarcely afford the extra cost to subsidize care for people who absolutely can afford to pay for their own health services. Obamacare’s solvency also requires that people who aren’t eligible for subsidies sign up. That, too, doesn’t really appear to be happening. Shockingly, people aren’t into paying a lot for services other people use more than they do. The plan will fail to reach solvency because it’s too expensive for the very people the plan needs on board in order to stay solvent.

Obamacare only works if many more young, healthy, and wealthy people get insured than were insured previously. Instead, Obamacare has only reduced the percentage of uninsured Americans by 3%, from a peak of 18 percent last year to 15 percent. And most of the signups are sick, poor, old people.

If the Administration prevails, 7.3 million people will continue to get subsidies, according to recent analysis from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. According to the Henry J. Kaiser Foundation, 83% of Obamacare plans are subsidized to some extent. Subsidizing the vast majority of health insurance plans without signing up a lot of new, healthy, unsubsidized payers simply does not work out, mathematically.

The Halbig case is certainly interesting. But even if the Administration gets its way, they’re a long way from out of the woods when it comes to Obamacare.

SOURCE

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Obamacare: Will Mandates for Doctors Come Next? Central planning is replacing individual choice

John Foust, a Democrat running for the 10th congressional seat in Northern Virginia, is—like Gov. Terry McAuliffe and other state Democrats—gung-ho to expand Medicaid. His wife’s position is, shall we say, a bit more nuanced.

Foust has slammed his opponent, Republican Del. Barbara Comstock, for her opposition to expansion. He has spoken of the need to “make health care available to 400,000 Virginians,” insisting it is “the right thing to do.”

Foust’s wife, Dr. Marilyn Jerome, practices with Foxhall OB/GYN in northwest Washington, D.C. Six of its physicians made Washingtonian magazine’s list of “Top Docs,” and one of them—Nichole Pardo—was featured on the cover. Not too shabby.

The practice is notable for another reason as well: It doesn’t accept Medicaid patients.

This draws attention to an under-covered aspect of the debate over Medicaid expansion. While advocates speak of it as “making health care available” to the needy, what it really does is make coverage, rather than care, available to them. A newly enrolled Medicaid patient can get the money to pay a doctor. But can she get the doctor to take it?

On his website, Foust blasts insurance companies that “hiked insurance premiums and gouged consumers. … Insurance companies denied care to those with pre-existing conditions … and refused coverage to those who needed it most. … We cannot go back to the days when insurance companies could arbitrarily … deny coverage.” In a commentary on the Foxhall practice’s website, Dr. Jerome praises the Affordable Care Act—particularly because now “women cannot be denied insurance” and because the plan’s standards mandate coverage for a wide variety of treatments.

Doctors, however, can operate under a much different set of standards. They can deny care all they want. Statewide, roughly one in five physicians will not accept new Medicaid patients—usually because Medicaid pays only two-thirds as much as private insurance does, on average.

The point here isn’t to shame physicians or to provoke a marital spat. The incongruity goes to a much broader issue—regarding individual responsibility in a system that is becoming increasingly collectivized.

You might have read recently about the blowback some pharmaceutical companies have been getting for charging stratospheric prices for new wonder drugs, such as Sovaldi—a life-saving treatment for Hepatitis C. Two U.S. senators, Democrat Ron Wyden and Republican Charles Grassley, are demanding the company that makes Sovaldi justify its $84,000 price tag. Similar questions have been raised about Kalydeco, a life-saving treatment for cystic fibrosis that costs more than $300,000 per year.

Prices like that provoke a lot of anger. Many people think it’s wrong to charge more than patients can pay. Much of the outrage also comes from insurance-company self-interest. The trade group AHIP (America’s Health Insurance Plans) routinely cranks out diatribes against what it considers unjustified prices and profit margins in the pharmaceutical industry.

This is a sore spot for the insurance industry. Under Obamacare’s medical-loss-ratio rules, insurers must spend at least 80 percent of premium dollars to pay for treatment (rather than, say, for overhead). Drug companies face no such government-imposed caps. Yet.

Indeed, insurance companies now face a whole raft of mandates governing whom they must insure and what treatments they must cover. The rationale for such requirements is that to deny someone insurance because of a previous medical condition, or to decline to pay for certain categories of medical care, is immoral.

Obamacare also imposes obligations on individuals: Everybody must obtain insurance coverage, or pay a hefty fine (or, as Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts calls it 50 percent of the time, a “tax”). This is partly for people’s own good, but mostly the requirement exists to make Obamacare work. Without the individual mandate, the rules on insurance companies would bankrupt them, and the whole system would collapse.

Abiding by the individual mandate therefore constitutes what President Obama, in another context, recently called “economic patriotism.” He was castigating companies that use overseas mergers to avoid U.S. taxes. “You know,” he said, “some people are calling these companies corporate deserters.”

Ominous language. Treating private enterprise as a conscript in service to the State is a philosophy with an ugly lineage. In liberal democracies, government is supposed to be the servant—not the master. In health care, however, the relationship is growing increasingly inverted. As a result individuals are forced to buy insurance, and insurance companies are forced to accept them. Now many people want to force drug companies to cut prices. And so on.

Forcing doctors to accept Medicaid patients would be an obvious, logical extension of these trends. If insurance companies can’t turn people away, then why should physicians be allowed to? If drug companies can’t charge more than people can afford, then why should doctors? So far, no elected officials have yet proposed reining in the limited liberty that doctors still enjoy. But such proposals could very well come, one of these days. Though probably not from John Foust.

SOURCE

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How the Media Craft Victory for Hamas

On Tuesday, CNN's Wolf Blitzer hosted Hamas spokesman Osama Hamden. The week before, Hamdan labeled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "a new image of Hitler" on the network. But now, for some reason, Blitzer stumbled into a random act of journalism: He asked Hamdan about comments he had made suggesting that Jews used Christian blood in matza. Hamdan stumbled around and blamed the Jews for their action in Gaza.

Blitzer called Hamdan's comments an "awful, awful smear."

The very fact that this represented a unique moment in the media coverage of the Israel-Hamas Gaza war demonstrates the malpractice of the media. The first questions on the media's collective tongue should have been: What does Hamas stand for? What are its goals? Why does it use women and children as human shields? Why does it hide military resources in civilian areas?

But that had to wait for a month.

In the meantime, CNN viewers saw an unending stream of dramatic images from Gaza of Palestinian Arab suffering: heavy blasts from Israeli ordinance, screaming women, bleeding children. Every so often, CNN punctuated its coverage with death toll statistics -- never mentioning that it received those statistics from the Palestinians themselves, and neglecting to mention the Palestinians' regular practice of classifying dead terrorists as civilians. Then CNN asked questions about Israeli "proportionality" and wondered aloud about whether Israeli strikes were sufficiently "targeted."

If you want to know why the conflict between the dramatically overpowering Israeli military and the sadistically brutal Hamas has continued for weeks, look no further than CNN and its like-minded media brethren. Hamas' goals in this conflict did not include military victory; Hamas may be evil, but it is not stupid. Its main goal was to shore up its base by achieving small concessions from Israel and Egypt, as well as the Palestinian Authority; those concessions could only be achieved if Israel could be portrayed as an international aggressor against a terror group.

And that's where the media manipulation came in. Hamas placed heavy restrictions on journalists and even threatened them. Hamas put women and children and mentally ill people in harm's way for the cameras, and as a deterrent to Israeli military action.

And the media went right along with it, proclaiming balance all the way. When I was on CNN this week with Alisyn Camerota, she maintained that CNN provided balance by presenting "both sides," to which I responded that presenting both sides in a battle between Hamas and Israel is not balance, but anti-Israel bias. No Western media member would, in 1944, have assumed that balance meant quoting both Winston Churchill and Julius Streicher. To do so would have been to forward propaganda.

But that is precisely what the media have done. They have turned balance into a synonym for amorality. In doing so, they have handed a propaganda victory to evil.

SOURCE

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New research questions calorie counting

The results of the research, which examines the effects of the balance of protein, fat and carbohydrate on metabolic health, ageing and longevity in mice, were published in March in the prestigious scientific journal Cell Metabolism. Their work showed that:

A high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet resulted in reduced body fat and food intake but also led to a shorter lifespan and poor cardiometabolic health.

A high-carbohydrate, low-protein diet resulted in longer lifespan and better cardiometabolic health, despite also increasing body fat.

A low-protein, high-fat diet provided the worst health outcomes, with fat content showing no negative influence on food intake, leading to obesity.

Food intake is regulated primarily by dietary protein and carbohydrate, and not by the number of calories consumed.

“To the extent that this research on mice reflects the situation in humans, it has enormous implications for how much food we eat, our body fat, our heart and metabolic health, and ultimately the duration of our lives,” said Professor Simpson. “We have shown explicitly why it is that calories aren’t all the same. We need to look at where the calories come from and how they interact.”

Co-author Professor David Le Couteur added: “this represents an enormous leap in our understanding of the impact of diet quality and diet balance on food intake, health, ageing and longevity. We now face a new frontier in nutrition research.”

By examining mice fed a variety of 25 diets, the research team used an innovative state-space nutritional modelling method developed by Professors Simpson and Raubenheimer to measure the interactive effects of dietary energy, protein, fat and carbohydrate on food intake, cardiometabolic health and longevity.

The results suggest that lifespan could be extended in animals by manipulating the ratio of macronutrients in their diet – the first evidence that pharmacology could be used to extend lifespan in normal mammals.

Although mice were the subjects of this study, Le Couteur said the results from the study aligned with previous research in humans, but with a much larger number of dietary treatments and nutritional variables.

“Up until this point, most research has either concentrated on a single nutritional variable, such as fat, carbohydrate or calories, so much of our understanding of energy intake and diet balance is based on one-dimensional single nutrient assessments,” he said.

“The advice we are always given is to eat a healthy balanced diet, but what does that mean? We have some idea, but in relation to nutritional composition we don’t know terribly well. This research represents an important step in finding out.”

In terms of practical advice, the researchers predict that a diet with moderate amounts of high quality protein (15-20 per cent of total calorie intake) that is relatively low in fat and high in good quality complex carbohydrates will yield the best metabolic health and the longest life.

SOURCE

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For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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

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6 August, 2014

Why we want to be here — a Tisha Be’av message for the Jewish People from Battalion 969

Tisha B'Av is regarded as the saddest day in the Jewish calendar so it is sadly fitting to find Jews fighting for their people against a relentless enemy on its occasion this year. Ari Abramowitz has below an uplifting message from the warzone. He is a sharpshooter when called up and a media personality in civilian life. His message is for Jews but I think we can all learn from it. I will never apologize for it but while war rages in the Holy Land I cannot help posting rather a lot about Israel

Upon learning that we would be released next week – a month after our emergency call-up to fight this war – my reserve unit drafted a petition expressing our willingness and desire to continue in this war effort and defeat those who have been murdering and terrorizing our nation.

As a soldier in Battalion 969 allow me to share why we drafted this petition and why we want to be here.

We want to continue fighting not because we love war, but because we love you.

On a personal level, the paradox of the past month is that in the face of heartbreaking pain and the violence of war, my experience has been one of unparalleled love.

The Hebrew word for “love” is “ahava” – the root of which is “hav,” which means “to give.” When you love someone you desire to give to them – and when you give enough to someone you come to love them.

The love I have felt for my fellow soldiers during this war has transcended anything I have experienced before.

While the bond of “brothers in arms” is a universal phenomenon, I find the love I feel for my fellow soldiers overtaking me like a wave. It is hard to explain as I don’t fully understand it myself. All I know is that I would happily give my life for any one of my fellow soldiers and I don’t doubt for a moment that they would do the same for me. Together we would not hesitate to give our lives for you.

Throughout this war we have felt the love you have showered upon us – you have given us so much. I have never felt so much love from so many. Jews from both Israel and the Diaspora have flooded us with more care packages, clean underwear, dry socks, candy, potato chips and toothpaste then we can use. Jewish communities, federations, missions and individuals have not let the dangers of this war stop them from coming and volunteering. Hospitals have had to issue statements requesting that people refrain from visiting the wounded, for the lines to visit them were clogging the hallways and stairwells.

Tens of thousands comfort the families of the soldiers slain and communities around the world hold solidarity and memorial rallies.

We hang up your children’s letters next to our beds. I know a couple of them by heart. We read the articles, videos and Facebook posts with which you defend us and support us as we fight this just and moral war.

While there will always be exceptions, from here it seems that this wave of solidarity spans the entirety of the religious, ideological and political spectrum. From the Gaza border the unity behind us feels unprecedented.

But why? Why do we love each other so much? Today is Tisha Be’av, the darkest day on the Jewish calendar. It is the day our Temple was destroyed.

Our sages explain that the Temple was destroyed not because we were weak but because there was “baseless hatred” among us. Yet in those times there was rampant corruption and existential ideological rifts within the nation. Nonetheless, our sages have made it clear that regardless of how compelling an argument one can make, hatred within our nation is fatally destructive and never justified.

We love each other because we love Israel. I am not referring merely to the state or the land. Israel was the name of Jacob, the father of the 12 tribes from which we are all descended. We are not a race or a religion – we are a family. We share a home, a father, a future and a fate.

The reason that I and my fellow soldiers want to continue putting our lives in jeopardy, sleeping night after night in the dirt under mortar fire, rocket attacks and the perpetual danger of terrorist attacks via tunnels is because this war is not yet over. Israel is in danger and when Israel is in danger every member of the Jewish family is in danger.

Today Jews around the world are experiencing the greatest fear and insecurity since the Holocaust.

The masks are coming off and it is increasingly clear that this is not a war against Israel, but a war against the Jewish People. This week’s cover of Newsweek was titled “Why Europe’s Jews are fleeing once again.” Scarcely a day goes by when there is not another horrific act of anti-Semitism somewhere in the world. A poll this week indicates that a vast majority of Jews in France are considering leaving. A friend in the army told me that there is not a family in Holland that is not considering leaving. We have seen how quickly the winds can change and we are here fighting this war to protect your home for when you should want – or need – to return.

So to our Jewish brothers and sisters around the world, we are grateful for your love, and we are grateful for the privilege of serving in the IDF and expressing our love for you.

To our Jewish brothers and sisters around the world – thank you for feeling our pain – for crying as we cry.

In the poetic words of King David “He who sows with tears reaps with joy.”

As we cry together this Tisha Be’av as one loving family, may we soon merit the opportunity to laugh together and celebrate with love and joy.

SOURCE

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ZEG

In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG mocks the Left for their love of Muslims and their hatred of Israel

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Wisconsin anti-union law: state Supreme Court ruling probably the final say

Act 10 essentially ended collective bargaining for most public workers, sparking court challenges and protests. But a ruling Thursday by the Wisconsin Supreme Court leaves opponents with little choice but to move on.

Ever since it became law in 2011, Act 10 in Wisconsin – which essentially ended collective bargaining for most public workers – has sparked countless court challenges, generated angry protests at the State Capitol, and fueled a recall campaign of the governor.

A ruling Thursday by the state Supreme Court indicates the law will stand, leaving opponents with little choice but to move on.

“This is the end of the pending challenges and is unlikely to be replaced by some persuasive new challenge that hasn’t already been attempted,” says Charles Franklin, a law professor and polling director at Marquette University in Milwaukee.

The 5-to-2 decision found that Act 10 does not violate the First Amendment, because collective bargaining powers by labor organizations are a benefit, not an enshrined constitutional right at the federal or state level.

“No matter the limitations or ‘burdens’ a legislative enactment places on the collective bargaining process, collective bargaining remains a creation of legislative grace and not constitutional obligation. The First Amendment cannot be used as a vehicle to expand the parameters of a benefit that it does not itself protect,” Justice Michael Gableman wrote in the ruling.

Act 10 survived multiple legal challenges. One decision late last year overturned a contempt-of-court order by a Dane County circuit judge who had ruled that the law was unconstitutional. A federal court struck down parts of the bill in March 2012, but was overturned by a federal appeals court last year after the state sued.

The issue also catapulted Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) into the national spotlight, making him a pariah to Democrats and a hero to Republicans. He survived a 2012 recall election, which emboldened his message that Act 10 will benefit the state economy.

Governor Walker released a statement Thursday saying Act 10 saved taxpayers “more than $3 billion,” calling it “a victory for those hard-working taxpayers.” The majority of savings cited by Walker are accurate, local media report, although they say that morale among state workers has been damaged and recruitment may be difficult.

Act 10 is not necessarily threatened by the upcoming gubernatorial election, either. Mary Burke, a former state secretary of Commerce and Walker’s Democratic opponent in November, has backed away from pledging to overturn the law, even though she says she supports the ability of public workers to collectively bargain. One reason for her position, according to Professor Franklin: Public opinion polls show that most voters agree with elements of the law requiring public workers to contribute more to their retirement and health-care benefits.

Another reason is practical: Ms. Burke would have no power to overturn the law with both legislative chambers expected to remain under Republican control.

“Without Democratic control of both houses, the governor’s prospect of repealing Act 10 is extremely limited,” Franklin says. “We’re looking at more years and more election cycles before it can be plausible to see a substantial change in the law.”

Act 10’s passage has emboldened Republican governors in nearby states like Indiana and Michigan to successfully push through similar bills, although Franklin says those efforts will be sustained only if Republicans have a lock on all branches of government.

“At this point, [collective bargaining] is not an area that lends itself to compromise between Republican governors and Democratic legislatures. Both sides are too influenced by interest groups and core supporters that would make it very unlikely for states to go halfway on this issue,” he says.

SOURCE

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Raymond Blanc praises McDonald's and gives the organic movement a roasting

He has long been known as a fierce critic of factory farming and fast food, and a champion of “le correct” way of cooking – all delivered in a heavy French accent, of course.

But now Raymond Blanc has turned the tables and accused the organic movement of being “elitist”, while at the same time praising McDonald’s – so long regarded as the bête noire of the restaurant world – for its commitment to quality ingredients.

The restaurateur says that while organic is preferable, it is not always practical or realistic, and that the freshness of ingredients is more important to their nutritional value than whether chemicals have been used in their production.

“Organic should be best, but the reality of the world may be different,” he said.

“I used to hate compromise – compromise was evil because it’s the start of devaluing what you’re doing – but sometimes it is the only way. You can compromise without selling out.”

He added: “Freshness is more important. It is a mistake to say organic always tastes better. It depends on parentage. Some organics are simply terrible.”

Blanc, who runs Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire, says that while the original aim of the organic movement was to make good food available to all, it has now become the preserve of the well-off. “It has shot itself in the foot by creating a movement that has become elitist by being so expensive,” he said.

Blanc now prefers the principles of Linking Environment and Farming (Leaf), a charity founded in a 1991 to promote “sustainable food and farming”.

Leaf gives its marque to growers and farmers who “maintain high standards of food production with minimum environmental impact”. A fifth of agricultural produce in Britain now carries its seal of approval, including fruit and vegetables sold in Waitrose. Leaf methods involve using minimal chemicals, and only when “absolutely necessary”.

Blanc told The Telegraph: “Normally my heart is organic. All of Le Manoir is totally organic. The moment I came in, there were no chemicals. “But it’s easier on vegetables than it is for fruit. Organic uses lots of copper and sulphates and I don’t like that. I will abandon my principles, and the orchard won’t be organic but Leaf.”

If that might be considered a dramatic turn-around in Blanc’s methods, then his new-found admiration for McDonald’s will come as an even bigger surprise. As he says in the interview, he once felt of their food that “I could break down the chemicals and colourings in my mouth. I felt they killed people by encouraging obesity.”

But he says he has come to recognise the fast-food chain has made huge strides.

Earlier this year, Blanc, president of the Sustainable Restaurant Association, presented McDonald’s UK with a Sustainability Hero award, recognising the chain’s contribution to improving food. He said: “I was amazed. All their eggs are free-range; all their pork is free-range; all their beef is free-range.

“[They show that] the fast-food business could change for the better. They’re supporting thousands of British farms, and saving energy and waste by doing so. “I was as excited as if you had told me there were 20 new three-star Michelin restaurants in London or Manchester.”

But Blanc warns that Britain still has a long way to go, and that unless we get a grip on our dietary habits, we are heading for disaster. He said: “We’re still number one in Europe for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. We have a health service that is already so strained, under so much pressure that we cannot go on to create more ill health. It’s an epidemic.”

To help tackle the problem, Blanc’s eldest son, Olivier, 38, has launched a community garden in south-east London with Chris Collins, the former Blue Peter gardener. Local schools will have a plot each, and will use the gardens for science and cooking lessons.

He said: “Gardening will, I hope, be the next thing to go on to the curriculum.”

Blanc said: “We are the spoilt generation who grew up with everything put into our mouths … and didn’t ask a simple question, where our food came from. The biggest revolution is the revolution in the hands of our children.

SOURCE

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

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For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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

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5 August, 2014

"We are all living in Israel"

Prominent atheist, Sam Harris, recognizes the huge and dangerous evil in Muslim practice. Below is an annotated version of a podcast

The question I’ve now received in many forms goes something like this: Why is it that you never criticize Israel? Why is it that you never criticize Judaism? Why is it that you always take the side of the Israelis over that of the Palestinians?

Now, this is an incredibly boring and depressing question for a variety of reasons. The first, is that I have criticized both Israel and Judaism. What seems to have upset many people is that I’ve kept some sense of proportion. There are something like 15 million Jews on earth at this moment; there are a hundred times as many Muslims. I’ve debated rabbis who, when I have assumed that they believe in a God that can hear our prayers, they stop me mid-sentence and say, ‘Why would you think that I believe in a God who can hear prayers?’ So there are rabbis—conservative rabbis—who believe in a God so elastic as to exclude every concrete claim about Him—and therefore, nearly every concrete demand upon human behavior. And there are millions of Jews, literally millions among the few million who exist, for whom Judaism is very important, and yet they are atheists. They don’t believe in God at all. This is actually a position you can hold in Judaism, but it’s a total non sequitur in Islam or Christianity.

So, when we’re talking about the consequences of irrational beliefs based on scripture, the Jews are the least of the least offenders. But I have said many critical things about Judaism. Let me remind you that parts of Hebrew Bible—books like Leviticus and Exodus and Deuteronomy—are the most repellent, the most sickeningly unethical documents to be found in any religion. They’re worse than the Koran. They’re worse than any part of the New Testament. But the truth is, most Jews recognize this and don’t take these texts seriously. It’s simply a fact that most Jews and most Israelis are not guided by scripture—and that’s a very good thing.

Of course, there are some who are. There are religious extremists among Jews. Now, I consider these people to be truly dangerous, and their religious beliefs are as divisive and as unwarranted as the beliefs of devout Muslims. But there are far fewer such people.

For those of you who worry that I never say anything critical about Israel: My position on Israel is somewhat paradoxical. There are questions about which I’m genuinely undecided. And there’s something in my position, I think, to offend everyone. So, acknowledging how reckless it is to say anything on this topic, I’m nevertheless going to think out loud about it for a few minutes.

I don’t think Israel should exist as a Jewish state. I think it is obscene, irrational and unjustifiable to have a state organized around a religion. So I don’t celebrate the idea that there’s a Jewish homeland in the Middle East. I certainly don’t support any Jewish claims to real estate based on the Bible. [Note: Read this paragraph again.]

Though I just said that I don’t think Israel should exist as a Jewish state, the justification for such a state is rather easy to find. We need look no further than the fact that the rest of the world has shown itself eager to murder the Jews at almost every opportunity. So, if there were going to be a state organized around protecting members of a single religion, it certainly should be a Jewish state. Now, friends of Israel might consider this a rather tepid defense, but it’s the strongest one I’ve got. I think the idea of a religious state is ultimately untenable. [Note: It is worth observing, however, that Israel isn’t ‘Jewish’ in the sense that Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are ‘Muslim.’ As my friend Jerry Coyne points out, Israel is actually less religious than the U.S., and it guarantees freedom of religion to its citizens. Israel is not a theocracy, and one could easily argue that its Jewish identity is more cultural than religious. However, if we ask why the Jews wouldn’t move to British Columbia if offered a home there, we can see the role that religion still plays in their thinking.]

Needless to say, in defending its territory as a Jewish state, the Israeli government and Israelis themselves have had to do terrible things. They have, as they are now, fought wars against the Palestinians that have caused massive losses of innocent life. More civilians have been killed in Gaza in the last few weeks than militants. That’s not a surprise because Gaza is one of the most densely populated places on Earth. Occupying it, fighting wars in it, is guaranteed to get woman and children and other noncombatants killed. And there’s probably little question over the course of fighting multiple wars that the Israelis have done things that amount to war crimes. They have been brutalized by this process—that is, made brutal by it. But that is largely the due to the character of their enemies. [Note: I was not giving Israel a pass to commit war crimes. I was making a point about the realities of living under the continuous threat of terrorism and of fighting multiple wars in a confined space.]

Whatever terrible things the Israelis have done, it is also true to say that they have used more restraint in their fighting against the Palestinians than we—the Americans, or Western Europeans—have used in any of our wars. They have endured more worldwide public scrutiny than any other society has ever had to while defending itself against aggressors. The Israelis simply are held to a different standard. And the condemnation leveled at them by the rest of the world is completely out of proportion to what they have actually done. [Note: I was not saying that because they are more careful than we have been at our most careless, the Israelis are above criticism. War crimes are war crimes.]

It is clear that Israel is losing the PR war and has been for years now. One of the most galling things for outside observers about the current war in Gaza is the disproportionate loss of life on the Palestinian side. This doesn’t make a lot of moral sense. Israel built bomb shelters to protect its citizens. The Palestinians built tunnels through which they could carry out terror attacks and kidnap Israelis. Should Israel be blamed for successfully protecting its population in a defensive war? I don’t think so. [Note: I was not suggesting that the deaths of Palestinian noncombatants are anything less than tragic. But if retaliating against Hamas is bound to get innocents killed, and the Israelis manage to protect their own civilians in the meantime, the loss of innocent life on the Palestinian side is guaranteed to be disproportionate.]

But there is no way to look at the images coming out Gaza—especially of infants and toddlers riddled by shrapnel—and think that this is anything other than a monstrous evil. Insofar as the Israelis are the agents of this evil, it seems impossible to support them. And there is no question that the Palestinians have suffered terribly for decades under the occupation. This is where most critics of Israel appear to be stuck. They see these images, and they blame Israel for killing and maiming babies. They see the occupation, and they blame Israel for making Gaza a prison camp. I would argue that this is a kind of moral illusion, borne of a failure to look at the actual causes of this conflict, as well as of a failure to understand the intentions of the people on either side of it. [Note: I was not saying that the horror of slain children is a moral illusion; nor was I minimizing the suffering of the Palestinians under the occupation. I was claiming that Israel is not primarily to blame for all this suffering.]

The truth is that there is an obvious, undeniable, and hugely consequential moral difference between Israel and her enemies. The Israelis are surrounded by people who have explicitly genocidal intentions towards them. The charter of Hamas is explicitly genocidal. It looks forward to a time, based on Koranic prophesy, when the earth itself will cry out for Jewish blood, where the trees and the stones will say ‘O Muslim, there’s a Jew hiding behind me. Come and kill him.’ This is a political document. We are talking about a government that was voted into power by a majority of Palestinians. [Note: Yes, I know that not every Palestinian supports Hamas, but enough do to have brought them to power. Hamas is not a fringe group.]

The discourse in the Muslim world about Jews is utterly shocking. Not only is there Holocaust denial—there’s Holocaust denial that then asserts that we will do it for real if given the chance. The only thing more obnoxious than denying the Holocaust is to say that it should have happened; it didn’t happen, but if we get the chance, we will accomplish it. There are children’s shows in the Palestinian territories and elsewhere that teach five-year-olds about the glories of martyrdom and about the necessity of killing Jews.

And this gets to the heart of the moral difference between Israel and her enemies. And this is something I discussed in The End of Faith. To see this moral difference, you have to ask what each side would do if they had the power to do it.

What would the Jews do to the Palestinians if they could do anything they wanted? Well, we know the answer to that question, because they can do more or less anything they want. The Israeli army could kill everyone in Gaza tomorrow. So what does that mean? Well, it means that, when they drop a bomb on a beach and kill four Palestinian children, as happened last week, this is almost certainly an accident. They’re not targeting children. They could target as many children as they want. Every time a Palestinian child dies, Israel edges ever closer to becoming an international pariah. So the Israelis take great pains not to kill children and other noncombatants. [Note: The word ‘so’ in the previous sentence was regrettable and misleading. I didn’t mean to suggest that safeguarding its reputation abroad would be the only (or even primary) reason for Israel to avoid killing children. However, the point stands: Even if you want to attribute the basest motives to Israel, it is clearly in her self-interest not to kill Palestinian children.]

Now, is it possible that some Israeli soldiers go berserk under pressure and wind up shooting into crowds of rock-throwing children? Of course. You will always find some soldiers acting this way in the middle of a war. But we know that this isn’t the general intent of Israel. We know the Israelis do not want to kill non-combatants, because they could kill as many as they want, and they’re not doing it.

What do we know of the Palestinians? What would the Palestinians do to the Jews in Israel if the power imbalance were reversed? Well, they have told us what they would do. For some reason, Israel’s critics just don’t want to believe the worst about a group like Hamas, even when it declares the worst of itself. We’ve already had a Holocaust and several other genocides in the 20th century. People are capable of committing genocide. When they tell us they intend to commit genocide, we should listen. There is every reason to believe that the Palestinians would kill all the Jews in Israel if they could. Would every Palestinian support genocide? Of course not. But vast numbers of them—and of Muslims throughout the world—would. Needless to say, the Palestinians in general, not just Hamas, have a history of targeting innocent noncombatants in the most shocking ways possible. They’ve blown themselves up on buses and in restaurants. They’ve massacred teenagers. They’ve murdered Olympic athletes. They now shoot rockets indiscriminately into civilian areas. And again, the charter of their government in Gaza explicitly tells us that they want to annihilate the Jews—not just in Israel but everywhere. [Note: Again, I realize that not all Palestinians support Hamas. Nor am I discounting the degree to which the occupation, along with collateral damage suffered in war, has fueled Palestinian rage. But Palestinian terrorism (and Muslim anti-Semitism) is what has made peaceful coexistence thus far impossible.]

The truth is that everything you need to know about the moral imbalance between Israel and her enemies can be understood on the topic of human shields. Who uses human shields? Well, Hamas certainly does. They shoot their rockets from residential neighborhoods, from beside schools, and hospitals, and mosques. Muslims in other recent conflicts, in Iraq and elsewhere, have also used human shields. They have laid their rifles on the shoulders of their own children and shot from behind their bodies.

Consider the moral difference between using human shields and being deterred by them. That is the difference we’re talking about. The Israelis and other Western powers are deterred, however imperfectly, by the Muslim use of human shields in these conflicts, as we should be. It is morally abhorrent to kill noncombatants if you can avoid it. It’s certainly abhorrent to shoot through the bodies of children to get at your adversary. But take a moment to reflect on how contemptible this behavior is. And understand how cynical it is. The Muslims are acting on the assumption—the knowledge, in fact—that the infidels with whom they fight, the very people whom their religion does nothing but vilify, will be deterred by their use of Muslim human shields. They consider the Jews the spawn of apes and pigs—and yet they rely on the fact that they don’t want to kill Muslim noncombatants. [Note: The term ‘Muslims’ in this paragraph means ‘Muslim combatants’ of the sort that Western forces have encountered in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. The term ‘jihadists’ would have been too narrow, but I was not suggesting that all Muslims support the use of human shields or are anti-Semitic, at war with the West, etc.]

Now imagine reversing the roles here. Imagine how fatuous—indeed comical it would be—for the Israelis to attempt to use human shields to deter the Palestinians. Some claim that they have already done this. There are reports that Israeli soldiers have occasionally put Palestinian civilians in front of them as they’ve advanced into dangerous areas. That’s not the use of human shields we’re talking about. It’s egregious behavior. No doubt it constitutes a war crime. But Imagine the Israelis holding up their own women and children as human shields. Of course, that would be ridiculous. The Palestinians are trying to kill everyone. Killing women and children is part of the plan. Reversing the roles here produces a grotesque Monty Python skit.

If you’re going to talk about the conflict in the Middle East, you have to acknowledge this difference. I don’t think there’s any ethical disparity to be found anywhere that is more shocking or consequential than this.

And the truth is, this isn’t even the worst that jihadists do. Hamas is practically a moderate organization, compared to other jihadist groups. There are Muslims who have blown themselves up in crowds of children—again, Muslim children—just to get at the American soldiers who were handing out candy to them. They have committed suicide bombings, only to send another bomber to the hospital to await the casualities—where they then blow up all the injured along with the doctors and nurses trying to save their lives.

Every day that you could read about an Israeli rocket gone astray or Israeli soldiers beating up an innocent teenager, you could have read about ISIS in Iraq crucifying people on the side of the road, Christians and Muslims. Where is the outrage in the Muslim world and on the Left over these crimes? Where are the demonstrations, 10,000 or 100,000 deep, in the capitals of Europe against ISIS? If Israel kills a dozen Palestinians by accident, the entire Muslim world is inflamed. God forbid you burn a Koran, or write a novel vaguely critical of the faith. And yet Muslims can destroy their own societies—and seek to destroy the West—and you don’t hear a peep. [Note: Of course, I’m aware that many Muslims condemn groups like ISIS. My point is that we don’t see massive protests against global jihadism—even though it targets Muslims more than anyone else—and we do see such protests over things like the Danish cartoons.]

So, it seems to me, that you have to side with Israel here. You have one side which if it really could accomplish its aims would simply live peacefully with its neighbors, and you have another side which is seeking to implement a seventh century theocracy in the Holy Land. There’s no peace to be found between those incompatible ideas. That doesn’t mean you can’t condemn specific actions on the part of the Israelis. And, of course, acknowledging the moral disparity between Israel and her enemies doesn’t give us any solution to the problem of Israel’s existence in the Middle East. [Note: I was not suggesting that Israel’s actions are above criticism or that their recent incursion into Gaza was necessarily justified. Nor was I saying that the status quo, wherein the Palestinians remain stateless, should be maintained. And I certainly wasn’t expressing support for the building of settlements on contested land (as I made clear below). By ‘siding with Israel,’ I am simply recognizing that they are not the primary aggressors in this conflict. They are, rather, responding to aggression—and at a terrible cost.]

Again, granted, there’s some percentage of Jews who are animated by their own religious hysteria and their own prophesies. Some are awaiting the Messiah on contested land. Yes, these people are willing to sacrifice the blood of their own children for the glory of God. But, for the most part, they are not representative of the current state of Judaism or the actions of the Israeli government. And it is how Israel deals with these people—their own religious lunatics—that will determine whether they can truly hold the moral high ground. And Israel can do a lot more than it has to disempower them. It can cease to subsidize the delusions of the Ultra-Orthodox, and it can stop building settlements on contested land. [Note: Read that again. And, yes, I understand that not all settlers are Ultra-Orthodox.]

These incompatible religious attachments to this land have made it impossible for Muslims and Jews to negotiate like rational human beings, and they have made it impossible for them to live in peace. But the onus is still more on the side of the Muslims here. Even on their worst day, the Israelis act with greater care and compassion and self-criticism than Muslim combatants have anywhere, ever.

And again, you have to ask yourself, what do these groups want? What would they accomplish if they could accomplish anything? What would the Israelis do if they could do what they want? They would live in peace with their neighbors, if they had neighbors who would live in peace with them. They would simply continue to build out their high tech sector and thrive. [Note: Some might argue that they would do more than this—e.g. steal more Palestinian land. But apart from the influence of Jewish extremism (which I condemn), Israel’s continued appropriation of land has more than a little to do with her security concerns. Absent Palestinian terrorism and Muslim anti-Semitism, we could be talking about a ‘one-state solution,’ and the settlements would be moot.]

What do groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda and even Hamas want? They want to impose their religious views on the rest of humanity. They want stifle every freedom that decent, educated, secular people care about. This is not a trivial difference. And yet judging from the level of condemnation that Israel now receives, you would think the difference ran the other way.

This kind of confusion puts all of us in danger. This is the great story of our time. For the rest of our lives, and the lives of our children, we are going to be confronted by people who don’t want to live peacefully in a secular, pluralistic world, because they are desperate to get to Paradise, and they are willing to destroy the very possibility of human happiness along the way. The truth is, we are all living in Israel. It’s just that some of us haven’t realized it yet.

SOURCE

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For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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

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4 August, 2014

In defence of Zionists

by Michael Oren

Israelis stand ready to defend their nation. They risk their lives for an idea.

The idea is Zionism. It is the belief that the Jewish people should have their own sovereign state in the Land of Israel. Though founded less than 150 years ago, the Zionist movement sprung from a 4,000-year-long bond between the Jewish people and its historic homeland, an attachment sustained throughout 20 centuries of exile. This is why Zionism achieved its goals and remains relevant and rigorous today. It is why citizens of Israel—the state that Zionism created—willingly take up arms. They believe their idea is worth fighting for.

Yet Zionism, arguably more than any other contemporary ideology, is demonized. "All Zionists are legitimate targets everywhere in the world!" declared a banner recently paraded by anti-Israel protesters in Denmark. "Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances," warned a sign in the window of a Belgian cafe. A Jewish demonstrator in Iceland was accosted and told, "You Zionist pig, I'm going to behead you."

In certain academic and media circles, Zionism is synonymous with colonialism and imperialism. Critics on the radical right and left have likened it to racism or, worse, Nazism. And that is in the West. In the Middle East, Zionism is the ultimate abomination—the product of a Holocaust that many in the region deny ever happened while maintaining nevertheless that the Zionists deserved it.

What is it about Zionism that elicits such loathing? After all, the longing of a dispersed people for a state of their own cannot possibly be so repugnant, especially after that people endured centuries of massacres and expulsions, culminating in history's largest mass murder. Perhaps revulsion toward Zionism stems from its unusual blend of national identity, religion and loyalty to a land. Japan offers the closest parallel, but despite its rapacious past, Japanese nationalism doesn't evoke the abhorrence aroused by Zionism.

Clearly anti-Semitism, of both the European and Muslim varieties, plays a role. Cabals, money grubbing, plots to take over the world and murder babies—all the libels historically leveled at Jews are regularly hurled at Zionists. And like the anti-Semitic capitalists who saw all Jews as communists and the communists who painted capitalism as inherently Jewish, the opponents of Zionism portray it as the abominable Other.

But not all of Zionism's critics are bigoted, and not a few of them are Jewish. For a growing number of progressive Jews, Zionism is too militantly nationalist, while for many ultra-Orthodox Jews, the movement is insufficiently pious—even heretical. How can an idea so universally reviled retain its legitimacy, much less lay claim to success?

The answer is simple: Zionism worked. The chances were infinitesimal that a scattered national group could be assembled from some 70 countries into a sliver-sized territory shorn of resources and rich in adversaries and somehow survive, much less prosper. The odds that those immigrants would forge a national identity capable of producing a vibrant literature, pace-setting arts and six of the world's leading universities approximated zero.

Elsewhere in the world, indigenous languages are dying out, forests are being decimated, and the populations of industrialized nations are plummeting. Yet Zionism revived the Hebrew language, which is now more widely spoken than Danish and Finnish and will soon surpass Swedish. Zionist organizations planted hundreds of forests, enabling the land of Israel to enter the 21st century with more trees than it had at the end of the 19th. And the family values that Zionism fostered have produced the fastest natural growth rate in the modernized world and history's largest Jewish community. The average secular couple in Israel has at least three children, each a reaffirmation of confidence in Zionism's future.

Indeed, by just about any international criteria, Israel is not only successful but flourishing. The population is annually rated among the happiest, healthiest and most educated in the world. Life expectancy in Israel, reflecting its superb universal health-care system, significantly exceeds America's and that of most European countries. Unemployment is low, the economy robust. A global leader in innovation, Israel is home to R&D centers of some 300 high-tech companies, including Apple, Intel and Motorola. The beaches are teeming, the rock music is awesome, and the food is off the Zagat charts.

The democratic ideals integral to Zionist thought have withstood pressures that have precipitated coups and revolutions in numerous other nations. Today, Israel is one of the few states—along with Great Britain, Canada, New Zealand and the U.S.—that has never known a second of nondemocratic governance.

These accomplishments would be sufficiently astonishing if attained in North America or Northern Europe. But Zionism has prospered in the supremely inhospitable—indeed, lethal—environment of the Middle East. Two hours' drive east of the bustling nightclubs of Tel Aviv—less than the distance between New York and Philadelphia—is Jordan, home to more than a half million refugees from Syria's civil war. Traveling north from Tel Aviv for four hours would bring that driver to war-ravaged Damascus or, heading east, to the carnage in western Iraq. Turning south, in the time it takes to reach San Francisco from Los Angeles, the traveler would find himself in Cairo's Tahrir Square.

In a region reeling with ethnic strife and religious bloodshed, Zionism has engendered a multiethnic, multiracial and religiously diverse society. Arabs serve in the Israel Defense Forces, in the Knesset and on the Supreme Court. While Christian communities of the Middle East are steadily eradicated, Israel's continues to grow. Israeli Arab Christians are, in fact, on average better educated and more affluent than Israeli Jews.

In view of these monumental achievements, one might think that Zionism would be admired rather than deplored. But Zionism stands accused of thwarting the national aspirations of Palestine's indigenous inhabitants, of oppressing and dispossessing them.

Never mind that the Jews were natives of the land—its Arabic place names reveal Hebrew palimpsests—millennia before the Palestinians or the rise of Palestinian nationalism. Never mind that in 1937, 1947, 2000 and 2008, the Palestinians received offers to divide the land and rejected them, usually with violence. And never mind that the majority of Zionism's adherents today still stand ready to share their patrimony in return for recognition of Jewish statehood and peace.

The response to date has been, at best, a refusal to remain at the negotiating table or, at worst, war. But Israelis refuse to relinquish the hope of resuming negotiations with President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority. To live in peace and security with our Palestinian neighbors remains the Zionist dream.

Still, for all of its triumphs, its resilience and openness to peace, Zionism fell short of some of its original goals. The agrarian, egalitarian society created by Zionist pioneers has been replaced by a dynamic, largely capitalist economy with yawning gaps between rich and poor. Mostly secular at its inception, Zionism has also spawned a rapidly expanding religious sector, some elements of which eschew the Jewish state.

About a fifth of Israel's population is non-Jewish, and though some communities (such as the Druse) are intensely patriotic and often serve in the army, others are much less so, and some even call for Israel's dissolution. And there is the issue of Judea and Samaria—what most of the world calls the West Bank—an area twice used to launch wars of national destruction against Israel but which, since its capture in 1967, has proved painfully divisive.

Many Zionists insist that these territories represent the cradle of Jewish civilization and must, by right, be settled. But others warn that continued rule over the West Bank's Palestinian population erodes Israel's moral foundation and will eventually force it to choose between being Jewish and remaining democratic.

Yet the most searing of Zionism's unfulfilled visions was that of a state in which Jews could be free from the fear of annihilation. The army imagined by Theodor Herzl, Zionism's founding father, marched in parades and saluted flag-waving crowds. The Israel Defense Forces, by contrast, with no time for marching, much less saluting, has remained in active combat mode since its founding in 1948. With the exception of Vladimir Jabotinsky, the ideological forebear of today's Likud Party, none of Zionism's early thinkers anticipated circumstances in which Jews would be permanently at arms. Few envisaged a state that would face multiple existential threats on a daily basis just because it is Jewish.

Confronted with such monumental threats, Israelis might be expected to flee abroad and prospective immigrants discouraged. But Israel has one of the lower emigration rates among developed countries while Jews continue to make aliyah—literally, in Hebrew, "to ascend"—to Israel. Surveys show that Israelis remain stubbornly optimistic about their country's future. And Jews keep on arriving, especially from Europe, where their security is swiftly eroding. Last week, thousands of Parisians went on an anti-Semitic rant, looting Jewish shops and attempting to ransack synagogues.

American Jews face no comparable threat, and yet numbers of them continue to make aliyah. They come not in search of refuge but to take up the Zionist challenge—to be, as the Israeli national anthem pledges, "a free people in our land, the Land of Zion and Jerusalem." American Jews have held every high office, from prime minister to Supreme Court chief justice to head of Israel's equivalent of the Fed, and are disproportionately prominent in Israel's civil society.

Hundreds of young Americans serve as "Lone Soldiers," without families in the country, and volunteer for front-line combat units. One of them, Max Steinberg from Los Angeles, fell in the first days of the current Gaza fighting. His funeral, on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, was attended by 30,000 people, most of them strangers, who came out of respect for this intrepid and selfless Zionist.

I also paid my respects to Max, whose Zionist journey was much like mine. After working on a kibbutz—a communal farm—I made aliyah and trained as a paratrooper. I participated in several wars, and my children have served as well, sometimes in battle. Our family has taken shelter from Iraqi Scuds and Hamas M-75s, and a suicide bomber killed one of our closest relatives.

Despite these trials, my Zionist life has been immensely fulfilling. And the reason wasn't Zionism's successes—not the Nobel Prizes gleaned by Israeli scholars, not the Israeli cures for chronic diseases or the breakthroughs in alternative energy. The reason—paradoxically, perhaps—was Zionism's failures.

Failure is the price of sovereignty. Statehood means making hard and often agonizing choices—whether to attack Hamas in Palestinian neighborhoods, for example, or to suffer rocket strikes on our own territory. It requires reconciling our desire to be enlightened with our longing to remain alive. Most onerously, sovereignty involves assuming responsibility. Zionism, in my definition, means Jewish responsibility. It means taking responsibility for our infrastructure, our defense, our society and the soul of our state. It is easy to claim responsibility for victories; setbacks are far harder to embrace.

But that is precisely the lure of Zionism. Growing up in America, I felt grateful to be born in a time when Jews could assume sovereign responsibilities. Statehood is messy, but I regarded that mess as a blessing denied to my forefathers for 2,000 years. I still feel privileged today, even as Israel grapples with circumstances that are at once perilous, painful and unjust. Fighting terrorists who shoot at us from behind their own children, our children in uniform continue to be killed and wounded while much of the world brands them as war criminals.

Zionism, nevertheless, will prevail. Deriving its energy from a people that refuses to disappear and its ethos from historically tested ideas, the Zionist project will thrive. We will be vilified, we will find ourselves increasingly alone, but we will defend the homes that Zionism inspired us to build.

The Israeli media have just reported the call-up of an additional 16,000 reservists. Even as I write, they too are mobilizing for active duty—aware of the dangers, grateful for the honor and ready to bear responsibility.

SOURCE

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Hey, Liberals Who Oppose Israel: You’re All Right-Wingers Now

Imagine a politician ascending to the governorship of a small southern state. Having campaigned on a platform of extreme patriotic fervor and religious zeal—in his stump speech, he thundered that by the grace of God, America will last as long as there exist Heaven and Earth—the governor wasted no time translating his beliefs into law. Because the governor believed that homosexuals were “a minority of perverts and the mentally and morally sick,” he outlawed them, instructing his police officers to seek, capture, beat up, and imprison every gay individual in the state. Similarly, women were deemed better off tending to their families than wasting their time with such corrupting pursuits as jobs. A special educational program was devised and approved to teach young girls the fundamentals. These future wives and mothers, read the governor’s statement, “must be fully capable of being aware and of grasping the ways to manage their households. Economy and avoiding waste in household expenditures are prerequisites to our ability to pursue our cause in the difficult circumstances surrounding us.” The men of the state reveled in this new way of life, asserting themselves as lords of their manors; before too long, nearly half of them took to regularly battering their wives.

How many of those who define themselves as liberals would support the governor? Very few, if any. More likely, our hypothetical politician would have galvanized the left into action: The cleverly worded emails from progressive organizations, the fiery segments on The Daily Show, the pledges from celebrities to stop the menace—all would have been upon us before too long. And yet when the same politician appears halfway across the world, sporting a beard and proceeding far beyond the relatively tame scenario described above—sacrificing his own nation’s children and eager to murder innocent civilians across the border—all clarity seems to dissipate. All the homicidal zealot has to do is mumble something about justice and disproportionality and self-determination, and he’s transformed into a respectable, not to say sympathetic, figure.

Which boggles the mind. Never mind that Hamas’ charter specifically states that its goal is the utter destruction of Israel—“Israel,” it reads, “by virtue of its being Jewish and of having a Jewish population, defies Islam and the Muslims”—and never mind that fundamentalist Islamic organizations like it have sprouted from different terrains and under different historical and political circumstances: For Hamas’ liberal apologists, it’s all still about the Israeli occupation. Israel withdrew nearly a decade ago? Please, that’s too confusing—as long as any conflict involving Israel anywhere is unresolved, any and all violence against Israelis, liberals now seem to believe, is justified.

Enthusiasts of nuance may argue that criticizing Israel isn’t the same as supporting Hamas. That is nominally true. It’s also largely irrelevant. Let’s indulge in one more thought exercise and assume for one moment that Israel accepted all the liberal critiques of its behaviors and acted accordingly. The force it was using was disproportionate? It withdrew most of its soldiers, curbed its artillery, and pulled back the deeply unfair advantage of the Iron Dome missile defense system. Gaza is an open-air prison, the responsibility for which lies solely with Israel and not with Gaza’s other neighbor, Egypt? Israel removed its naval and aerial blockade and opened wide its borders. You don’t have to be a three-star General to realize the outcome of such moves. Which leads us back to a terrible observation: wars are so ghastly in part because they crush so much of the ambiguity and nuance that permeates everyday life in times of peace. They’re so awful because often they force us to make stark choices that are scary and absolute, and annihilate so much of the space that exists in between polar opposites. War requires us to choose.

To my former friends on the left who see themselves as champions of progressive values while criticizing Israel’s attempts at self-defense I have this to say: You have already chosen. You’re all right-wingers now. You would probably want to cancel that monthly contribution to Planned Parenthood; the Gazan maniacs you tolerate don’t really go for that kind of stuff. And go ahead and give the membership department of the National Rifle Association a call, as you are now putting up with an organization whose passion for bearing arms at all costs far exceeds even that of the most fervent American survivalist. So please: Stop whining about the Koch brothers or the Tea Party or the Hobby Lobby ruling. In making excuses for Hamas, you’re endorsing a force of religious intolerance and a purveyor of oppression far, far more demonic than those benign forces at home you characterize as the destroyers of civil liberties and human rights.

If this terrifies you, it’s not too late to repent. All you have to do is look at your friends on what was formerly known as the right. They’re busy defending the right of a democratic nation to protect its civilians against mayhem. Like all democratic nations, the one they support is imperfect. The ongoing conflict led some Israelis to make unacceptably hateful statements; but then nearly 10,000 others joined in on a Facebook group called “Racists Who Oppress Me,” publicly shaming the bigots and calling for a civilized discourse even as the fighting continues. And despite substantial efforts to minimize civilian casualties, Palestinian non-combatants were killed; but then Israel set up a military hospital near the border crossing to make sure anyone who needed it received immediate and excellent treatment.

These, dear liberals, are the values you claim to espouse. Before you say one more thing about this conflict, ask yourself which side is fighting for a society most like the one in which you’re likely to want to live, and then support that side passionately and vigorously. And understand, please, that we’re at war, and that philosophical inquiries, existential ponderings, and musings about identity are all welcomed and valued in free societies, but that to entertain such soulful pursuits said free societies must first survive the attacks of their enemies. Unless you’re willing to embrace everything you claim to despise, we’d love to see you joining us in this war; Lord knows we could use all the help we can get.

SOURCE

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For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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

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3 August, 2014

Something to think about



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Labor Unions Are Anti-Labor

Many Americans, perhaps a substantial majority, still believe that, irrespective of any problems they may have caused, labor unions are fundamentally an institution that exists in the vital self-interest of wage earners. Indeed, many believe that it is labor unions that stand between the average wage earner and a life of subsistence wages, exhausting hours of work, and horrific working conditions.

Labor unions and the general public almost totally ignore the essential role played by falling prices in achieving rising real wages. They see only the rise in money wages as worthy of consideration. Indeed, in our environment of chronic inflation, prices that actually do fall are relatively rare.

Nevertheless, the only thing that can explain a rise in real wages throughout the economic system is a fall in prices relative to wages. And the only thing that achieves this is an increase in production per worker. More production per worker — a higher productivity of labor — serves to increase the supply of goods and services produced relative to the supply of labor that produces them. In this way, it reduces prices relative to wages and thereby raises real wages and the general standard of living.

What raises money wages throughout the economic system is not what is responsible for the rise in real wages. Increases in money wages are essentially the result just of the increase in the quantity of money and resulting increase in the overall volume of spending in the economic system. In the absence of a rising productivity of labor, the increase in money and spending would operate to raise prices by as much or more than it raised wages. This outcome is prevented only by the fact that at the same time that the quantity of money and volume of spending are increasing, the output per worker is also increasing, with the result that prices rise by less than wages. A fall in prices is still present in the form of prices being lower than they would have been had only an increase in the quantity of money and volume of spending been operative.

With relatively minor exceptions, real wages throughout the economic system simply do not rise from the side of higher money wages. Essentially, they rise only from the side of a greater supply of goods and services relative to the supply of labor and thus from prices being lower relative to wages. The truth is that the means by which the standard of living of the individual wage earner and the individual businessman and capitalist is increased, and the means by which that of the average wage earner in the economic system is increased, are very different. For the individual, it is the earning of more money. For the average wage earner in the economic system, it is the payment of lower prices.

What this discussion shows is that the increase in money wages that labor unions seek is not at all the source of rising real wages and that the source of rising real wages is in fact a rising productivity of labor, which always operates from the side of falling prices, not rising money wages.

Indeed, the efforts of labor unions to raise money wages are profoundly opposed to the goal of raising real wages and the standard of living. When the unions seek to raise the standard of living of their members by means of raising their money wages, their policy inevitably comes down to an attempt to make the labor of their members artificially scarce. That is their only means of raising the wages of their members. The unions do not have much actual power over the demand for labor. But they often achieve considerable power over the supply of labor. And their actual technique for raising wages is to make the supply of labor, at least in the particular industry or occupation that a given union is concerned with, as scarce as possible.

Thus, whenever they can, unions attempt to gain control over entry into the labor market. They seek to impose apprenticeship programs, or to have licensing requirements imposed by the government. Such measures are for the purpose of holding down the supply of labor in the field and thereby enabling those fortunate enough to be admitted to it, to earn higher incomes. Even when the unions do not succeed in directly reducing the supply of labor, the imposition of their above-market wage demands still has the effect of reducing the number of jobs offered in the field and thus the supply of labor in the field that is able to find work.

The artificial wage increases imposed by the labor unions result in unemployment when above-market wages are imposed throughout the economic system. This situation exists when it is possible for unions to be formed easily. If, as in the present-day United States, all that is required is for a majority of workers in an establishment to decide that they wish to be represented by a union, then the wages imposed by the unions will be effective even in the nonunion fields.

Employers in the nonunion fields will feel compelled to offer their workers wages comparable to what the union workers are receiving — indeed, possibly even still higher wages — in order to ensure that they do not unionize.

Widespread wage increases closing large numbers of workers out of numerous occupations put extreme pressure on the wage rates of whatever areas of the economic system may still remain open. These limited areas could absorb the overflow of workers from other lines at low enough wage rates. But minimum-wage laws prevent wage rates in these remaining lines from going low enough to absorb these workers.

From the perspective of most of those lucky enough to keep their jobs, the most serious consequence of the unions is the holding down or outright reduction of the productivity of labor. With few exceptions, the labor unions openly combat the rise in the productivity of labor. They do so virtually as a matter of principle. They oppose the introduction of labor-saving machinery on the grounds that it causes unemployment. They oppose competition among workers. As Henry Hazlitt pointed out, they force employers to tolerate featherbedding practices, such as the classic requirement that firemen, whose function was to shovel coal on steam locomotives, be retained on diesel locomotives. They impose make-work schemes, such as requiring that pipe delivered to construction sites with screw thread already on it, have its ends cut off and new screw thread cut on the site. They impose narrow work classifications, and require that specialists be employed at a day’s pay to perform work that others could easily do — for example, requiring the employment of a plasterer to repair the incidental damage done to a wall by an electrician, which the electrician himself could easily repair.

To anyone who understands the role of the productivity of labor in raising real wages, it should be obvious that the unions’ policy of combating the rise in the productivity of labor renders them in fact a leading enemy of the rise in real wages. However radical this conclusion may seem, however much at odds it is with the prevailing view of the unions as the leading source of the rise in real wages over the last hundred and fifty years or more, the fact is that in combating the rise in the productivity of labor, the unions actively combat the rise in real wages!

Far from being responsible for improvements in the standard of living of the average worker, labor unions operate in more or less total ignorance of what actually raises the average worker’s standard of living. In consequence of their ignorance, they are responsible for artificial inequalities in wage rates, for unemployment, and for holding down real wages and the average worker’s standard of living.

All of these destructive, antisocial consequences derive from the fact that while individuals increase the money they earn through increasing production and the overall supply of goods and services, thereby reducing prices and raising real wages throughout the economic system, labor unions increase the money paid to their members by exactly the opposite means. They reduce the supply and productivity of labor and so reduce the supply and raise the prices of the goods and services their members help to produce, thereby reducing real wages throughout the economic system.

SOURCE

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More US Firms Will Flee America's 'Anti-Business' Corporate Tax Regime

Unless the US slashes its corporate tax rates, more firms will quit to countries such as the UK and Luxembourg to sniff out lower bills from the government, according to the boss of deVere Group.

Nigel Green, the founder and chief executive of global financial advisory firm deVere, made the claim days after US pharmaceutical firm AbbVie merged with its Dublin-based counterpart Shire in a move that will reportedly slash its tax bill.

And two failed mergers between US firms Omnicom and Pfizer and British companies were allegedly motivated by a desire to lower tax bills by rebasing in the UK. Such mergers are known as "inversions".

In the US, the standard corporate tax rate on profits is 40%. In the UK, it has been steadily slashed to 21% in 2014 – and another 1% will come off next year. In 2010, when Chancellor George Osborne took his Treasury seat, it was 28%.

"Unless the current corporation tax is slashed, it is highly likely that an increasing number of America's multinationals will relocate to overseas jurisdictions with lower tax rates," said Green, whose deVere Group operates across 100 countries and advises 80,000 clients on $10bn (£5.88bn €7.4bn) worth of investments.

"The current US rates are widely perceived in the corporate world as uncompetitive and therefore comparatively anti-business. This is evidenced by the fact that a growing number of American firms are considering such a move out of the US.

"It is our experience that the vast majority of American companies do want to remain headquartered in America but with the tax code as it stands, and with obligations to shareholders, there is mounting pressure to consider overseas, lower tax destinations."

SOURCE

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Centralisation is a bad idea

Centralisation is a bad idea. Its disadvantages include a reduction in choices, quality, and opportunity, an increase in arbitrary order, and a concentration of power. Given its various disadvantages, why has it been so frequently adopted? Centralisation generates benefits to those at the centre of power.

So, why centralise? Did the Scottish clans benefit from centralisation after 1707? Judging by their attitude in fighting for further independence as late as 1744, presumably not. Certainly their being cleared off the Highland territories by British soldiers did not indicate a benefit to them. Certain land owners definitely gained a benefit in grabbing lands that were "vacant" after having been "cleared" though these euphemisms make as little sense in Scotland as similar sayings like "manifest destiny" make in the United States. When people are forced off their land, killed, beaten, robbed, sentenced to "transportation" for alleged crimes on scant evidence, and end up in North America against their will, where they are sometimes conscripted into an army to force Native Americans off their lands, to be killed, beaten, robbed, and sentenced to a Trail of Tears, one does begin to wonder where the imaginary benefits of centralisation are to be found. Those who gained by these exercises in racism and brutality should probably raise their hands and step forward to be identified.

Do you imagine, then, that the centralisation of economic power in, say, an electric power utility that has a monopoly to distribute power into a metropolitan area makes any sense for the consumer of electric power? Are you better off with one electric company, or would you be better off with ten to choose from? Wouldn't you be even better off still if you were to buy solar panels and harvest your own electricity?

Yes, there are definitely economies of scale from making a big power plant, burning a large amount of coal, oil, natural gas, or diesel fuel, or generating electricity from nuclear materials. But who profits from these economies? Do the consumers of residential electricity benefit? Do the companies operating malls, office buildings, and factories benefit? One can be sure that the agencies which regulate power consumption and power distribution come into existence and benefit from the monopoly since that monopoly cannot exist without government sanction. The company which holds the monopoly power gets monopoly pricing advantages, subject to approval from the regulators, and they probably buy off those regulators in various ways in a well-known process called "regulatory capture." It is very doubtful that the people in general benefit in any way. Given the lack of disaster preparedness at sites like Fukushima, we can also wonder whether the long term consequences might be even more negative for the people living around these power plants.

For some time, the idea that we are all better off with more centralisation, more single points of failure, and more agglomeration of power, has been questioned. In the period of empire building, roughly the 15th to early 20th Centuries, the number of "countries" in the world was reduced again and again as more territory was grabbed by imperial powers. Since World War Two, the number of countries has been on the rise, roughly tripling in about 70 years. That trend seems destined to continue, with South Sudan being a recent example of a new country being formed out of one of the giant swaths of territory claimed by a former imperial power.

About 1969, the United States military recognised that a devastating nuclear attack by Russia might wipe out a large amount of computing power, but the remaining computer systems might want to communicate through some sort of inter-networking protocol. So they had some very intelligent people develop the Internet. As a result, the protocol developed for that communications system is extremely decentralised. There are reasons to think that the future of computer communications is going to involve continuing decentralisation, the elimination of more and more single points of failure, and the ability for "routers" to automatically route around damaged nodes.

You now find information very widely distributed, stored on an enormous number of computers, and available for download to your own computer any time you need it. So you can access nearly every book ever published, a great many news sources, images, videos, music, art, and other information wherever you are, about as close to instantly as your communications nodes can manage.

Since the 1970s, a trend has emerged to change the way that software is developed. Software is the code used to operate your computer and make applications available to you. The code that operates the hardware of your computer and tells it, for example, what parts of the screen to illuminate with different colours, or how to send a signal to the printer, is called the operating system or OS. You may have heard of "Windows," and "Apple OS" which are fairly common, and Linux, which is an open source operating system. It turns out that having a software company in control over the development, upgrading, and release of an operating system has inherent disadvantages to the users. Since a great many computer users are also skilled software developers, they collaborated on open source development of Linux. There are now a great number of open source operating systems.

Similarly, the software which runs under a given operating system that makes it possible to, say, process words into a text file, or format them into a document, is an application. There are thousands of applications for all kinds of purposes. And, again, people have begun developing them as open source projects. Open source simply means that the source code, or actual logical operations that are performed by the application, is available for scrutiny. That turns out to have advantages in cost, in distribution, in development speed, in error identification, in error correction, and in other ways.

Very recently, the giant central government of the United States decided to crap all over the open source movement. In particular, its Internal Revenue "Service" has decided to attack applications for tax-exempt status from groups developing open source software. So, equality for everyone, but some are more equal than others (to paraphrase Orwell).

More HERE

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For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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

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1 August, 2014

Why is the West declaring a new cold war on Russia?


It seems a thin excuse that Ukrainian independence fighters misused Russian-made weapons! This can't end well. Economic sanctions are always ineffective so tend to lead to escalation. There is a view that Western leaders want to stop Ukrainian oil and gas from falling under Russian control. A war for oil?

Spurred to action by the downing of the Malaysian airliner, the European Union approved dramatically tougher economic sanctions Tuesday against Russia, including an arms embargo and restrictions on state-owned banks. President Barack Obama swiftly followed with an expansion of U.S. penalties targeting key sectors of the Russian economy.

The coordinated sanctions were aimed at increasing pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin to end his country's support for separatists in eastern Ukraine whom the West blames for taking down the passenger jet nearly two weeks ago. Obama and U.S. allies also warned that Russia was building up troops and weaponry along its border with Ukraine.

"Today Russia is once again isolating itself from the international community, setting back decades of genuine progress," Obama said. "It does not have to be this way. This a choice Russia and President Putin has made."

Tuesday's announcements followed an intense lobbying effort from Obama aimed at getting European leaders to toughen their penalties on Russia and match earlier U.S. actions. Europe has a far stronger economic relationship with Russian than the U.S., but EU leaders have been reluctant to impose harsh penalties in part out of concern about a negative impact on their own economies.

However, Europe's calculus shifted sharply after a surface-to-air missile brought down the passenger jet, killing nearly 300 people including more than 200 Europeans. Obama and his counterparts from Britain, France, Germany and Italy finalized plans to announce the broader sanctions Monday in an unusual joint video conference.

European Union President Herman Van Rompuy and the president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, said the sanctions sent a "strong warning" that Russia's destabilization of Ukraine cannot be tolerated.

"When the violence created spirals out of control and leads to the killing of almost 300 innocent civilians in their flight from the Netherlands to Malaysia, the situation requires urgent and determined response," the two top EU officials said in a statement.

Obama, responding to a question after his announcement at the White House, said, "No, it's not a new cold war."

The new European penalties include an arms embargo on Moscow and a ban on the unapproved sale to the Russians of technology that has dual military and civilian uses or is particularly sensitive, such as advanced equipment used in deep-sea and Arctic oil drilling.

To restrict Russia's access to Europe's money markets, EU citizens and banks will be barred from purchasing certain bonds or stocks issued by state-owned Russian banks, according to EU officials.

SOURCE

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A dissident comment from Australia

Julie Bishop [Australia's foreign minister] is choosing her words more carefully in Kiev and starting to doubt the motives of President Poroshenko who is systematically murdering thousands of his own Ukrainian citizens. He has little interest in MH17, his interest is genocide.

The Ukrainian military is bombing its own undefended eastern cities, razing schools, hospitals, suburban infrastructure, water and electricity supplies. It is showering mortars indiscriminately on rural nationals who are fleeing as refugees from their own country in numbers approaching a quarter million.

Yet, if Putin dares to assist in stemming the genocide he is labelled a supporter of separatists and rebels by the West.

Poroshenko is feigning co-operation with the Dutch and Australians in order to precipitate further Western sanctions on Russia. It’s working. Julie Bishop and Tony Abbott are now hoping they have backed the right horse in Poroshenko. Clearly they haven't.

They are trusting this tyrant to secure the MH17 site when his sole interest is to ethnically cleanse the East of all Russian sympathisers. The problem is that Putin will now be forced to meet the Poroshenko behemoth head on, leaving MH17 irrecoverable in the midst of an escalating white hot warzone.

SOURCE

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Unconstitutional Obamacare legislation defended by Leftist judges

A federal appeals court on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit that sought to invalidate the president’s health-care reform law on grounds that the massive piece of legislation did not originate in the House of Representatives as required by the Constitution.

A three-judge panel of the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia rejected the lawsuit filed on behalf of an Iowa artist and part-time National Guardsman.

The artist, Matt Sissel, pays for medical expenses out of pocket and does not want to be forced to purchase a required level of health insurance or pay a tax to the government.
Recommended: How much do you know about health-care reform? Take our quiz!

He challenged the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, charging, in part, that Congress followed improper procedure by initiating the health-care law in the Senate rather than the House.

The Constitution’s Origination Clause says: “All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.”

The provision is intended to ensure that any effort by Congress to raise money from the American people must first receive the approval of those lawmakers closest to the people – and presumably more receptive to the wishes and concerns of voters.

The ACA’s journey from debate to bill to law was somewhat unusual. What would become the ACA was actually drafted in the Senate. Senate Democrats then gutted a bill that passed the House – offering tax credits to military veterans buying a first home – jettisoning every provision of that measure. All that remained was the designation – HR 3590.

Into that empty shell the Senate poured the full contents of what became the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The approved Senate version was then sent to the House for approval.

Sissel’s lawyers noted that in 2012, Chief Justice John Roberts upheld the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate on the grounds that it was enacted under Congress’s taxing authority.

They argued that if the ACA is a tax, it had to have been passed by Congress in compliance with the Origination Clause.

In rejecting that argument, the appeals court panel said the ACA is not subject to the terms of the Origination Clause because the ACA is not a “bill for raising revenue.”

As such, the court said it had no reason to conduct a detailed examination of how the ACA was passed in Congress.

In dismissing the lawsuit, the appeals court said the purpose of the underlying bill was critical to determine whether the Origination Clause would apply.

“After the Supreme Court decision [upholding the ACA], it is beyond dispute that the paramount aim of the Affordable Care Act is to increase the number of Americans covered by health insurance and decrease the cost of health care, not to raise revenue by means of the shared responsibility payment,” Judge Judith Rogers wrote for the court.

Judge Rogers acknowledged that although the ACA’s individual mandate might raise up to $4 billion a year by 2017, “it is plainly designed to expand health insurance coverage,” rather than to raise revenue.

The upshot of the appeals court’s ruling is that the ACA’s required payment for failing to purchase health insurance is a “tax” significant enough to support Congress’s authority to pass such a measure, according to the US Supreme Court. But the required payment does not qualify as “tax” for constitutional provisions dictating how Congress passes such legislation, according to the DC Circuit court.

Two of the judges on the appeals court panel were appointed by President Obama. Rogers was appointed by President Clinton.

“The mere fact that [the individual insurance mandate] may have been enacted solely pursuant to Congress’s taxing power does not compel the conclusion that the entire Affordable Care Act is a bill for raising revenue subject to the Origination Clause,” Rogers wrote.

“Where, as here, the Supreme Court has concluded that a provision’s revenue-raising function is incidental to its primary purpose, the Origination Clause does not apply,” she said.

One of Sissel’s lawyers, Timothy Sandefur of the conservative Pacific Legal Foundation, said the court’s decision was “disappointing.” He suggested they were considering filing an appeal to the US Supreme Court.

Mr. Sandefur said the appeals court relied on “a new and unprecedented distinction to exempt the Obamacare tax from the Constitution’s rules for enacting taxes.”

“The Constitution makes no such distinction, and neither does Supreme Court precedent,” Sandefur said in a statement.

“The precedents say that the only kinds of taxes that don’t have to originate in the House are penalties and fines,” he said. “But the Supreme Court itself ruled in 2012 that Obamacare’s individual mandate is not a penalty or a fine. So the Origination Clause should therefore apply.”

Sandefur added: “The DC Circuit for the first time holds that judges can decide for themselves what the ‘main object or aim’ of a tax is, and then pick and choose whether the constitutional rules on the enactment of new taxation should apply. We think that’s wrong, and that’s what we’ll be taking to the Supreme Court if necessary.”

SOURCE

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Obama to the rescue – of Hamas

by CAROLINE GLICK

Operation Protective Edge is now two weeks old. Since the ground offensive began Thursday night, we have begun to get a better picture of just how dangerous Hamas has become in the nine years since Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip. And what we have learned is that the time has come to take care of this problem. It cannot be allowed to fester or grow anymore.

We have known for years that tunnels were a central component of Hamas's logistical infrastructure.

What began as the primary means of smuggling weapons, trainers and other war material from Hamas's sponsors abroad developed rapidly into a strategic tool of offensive warfare against Israel.

As we have seen from the heavily armed Hamas commando squads that have infiltrated into Israel from tunnels since the start of the current round of warfare, the first goal of these offensive tunnels is to deploy terrorists into Israel to massacre Israelis.

But the tunnels facilitate other terror missions as well.

Israel has found tunnels with shafts rigged with bombs located directly under Israeli kindergartens.

If the bombs had gone off, the buildings above would have been destroyed, taking the children down with them.

Other exposed shafts showed Hamas's continued intense interest in hostage taking. In 2006 the terrorists who kidnapped Cpl. Gilad Schalit entered Israel and returned to Gaza through such a tunnel.

Today the presence of sedatives and multiple sets of handcuffs for neutralizing hostages found in tunnel after tunnel indicate that Hamas intends to abduct several Israelis at once and spirit them back to Gaza.

These tunnels must be found and destroyed not merely because they constitute a physical danger to thousands of Israelis. They must be located and destroyed, and Hamas's capacity to rebuild them must be eliminated because the very idea that they exist makes a normal life impossible for those immediately threatened.

Hamas's tunnels are also the key component of their command and control infrastructure inside Gaza. Hamas's political and military commanders are hiding in them. The reinforced bunkers and tunnel complexes enable Hamas's senior leadership to move with relative freedom and continue planning and ordering attacks....

By Tuesday morning, IDF forces in Gaza had destroyed 23 tunnels. The number of additional tunnels is still unknown.

While Israel had killed 183 terrorists, it appeared that most of the terrorists killed were in the low to middle ranks of Hamas's leadership hierarchy.

As Israel has uncovered the scope of Hamas's infrastructure of murder and terror, the US has acted with the UN, Turkey and Qatar to pressure Israel (and Egypt) to agree to a cease-fire and so end IDF operations against Hamas before the mission is completed.

To advance this goal, US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Cairo on Monday night with an aggressive plan to force on Israel a cease-fire Hamas and its state sponsors will accept.

SOURCE

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For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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

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Postings from Brisbane, Australia by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.) -- former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party.

Leftism is fundamentally authoritarian. Whether by revolution or by legislation, Leftists aim to change what people can and must do. When in 2008 Obama said that he wanted to "fundamentally transform" America, he was not talking about America's geography or topography but rather about American people. He wanted them to stop doing things that they wanted to do and make them do things that they did not want to do. Can you get a better definition of authoritarianism than that?

Conservatives adapt to the world they live in. Leftists want to change the world to suit themselves

MESSAGE to Leftists: Even if you killed all conservatives tomorrow, you would just end up in another Soviet Union. Conservatives are all that stand between you and that dismal fate. And you may not even survive at all. Stalin killed off all the old Bolsheviks.


MYTH BUSTING:


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)

Just the name of Hitler's political party should be sufficient to reject the claim that Hitler was "Right wing" but Leftists sometimes retort that the name "Democratic People's Republic of Korea" is not informative, in that it is the name of a dismal Stalinist tyranny. But "People's Republic" is a normal name for a Communist country whereas I know of no conservative political party that calls itself a "Socialist Worker's Party". Such parties are in fact usually of the extreme Left (Trotskyite etc.)

Most people find the viciousness of the Nazis to be incomprehensible -- for instance what they did in their concentration camps. But you just have to read a little of the vileness that pours out from modern-day "liberals" in their Twitter and blog comments to understand it all very well. Leftists haven't changed. They are still boiling with hate

Who said this in 1968? "I am not, and never have been, a man of the right. My position was on the Left and is now in the centre of politics". It was Sir Oswald Mosley, founder and leader of the British Union of Fascists

The term "Fascism" is mostly used by the Left as a brainless term of abuse. But when they do make a serious attempt to define it, they produce very complex and elaborate definitions -- e.g. here and here. In fact, Fascism is simply extreme socialism plus nationalism. But great gyrations are needed to avoid mentioning the first part of that recipe, of course.

Two examples of Leftist racism below (much more here and here):

Beatrice Webb, a founder of the London School of Economics and the Fabian Society, and married to a Labour MP, mused in 1922 on whether when English children were "dying from lack of milk", one should extend "the charitable impulse" to Russian and Chinese children who, if saved this year, might anyway die next. Besides, she continued, there was "the larger question of whether those races are desirable inhabitants" and "obviously" one wouldn't "spend one's available income" on "a Central African negro".

Hugh Dalton, offered the Colonial Office during Attlee's 1945-51 Labour government, turned it down because "I had a horrid vision of pullulating, poverty stricken, diseased nigger communities, for whom one can do nothing in the short run and who, the more one tries to help them, are querulous and ungrateful."

The Zimmerman case is an excellent proof that the Left is deep-down racist

Defensible and indefensible usages of the term "racism"

The book, The authoritarian personality, authored by T.W. Adorno et al. in 1950, has been massively popular among psychologists. It claims that a set of ideas that were popular in the "Progressive"-dominated America of the prewar era were "authoritarian". Leftist regimes always are authoritarian so that claim was not a big problem. What was quite amazing however is that Adorno et al. identified such ideas as "conservative". They were in fact simply popular ideas of the day but ones that had been most heavily promoted by the Left right up until the then-recent WWII. See here for details of prewar "Progressive" thinking.

Leftist psychologists have an amusingly simplistic conception of military organizations and military men. They seem to base it on occasions they have seen troops marching together on parade rather than any real knowledge of military men and the military life. They think that military men are "rigid" -- automatons who are unable to adjust to new challenges or think for themselves. What is incomprehensible to them is that being kadaver gehorsam (to use the extreme Prussian term for following orders) actually requires great flexibility -- enough flexibility to put your own ideas and wishes aside and do something very difficult. Ask any soldier if all commands are easy to obey.

It would be very easy for me to say that I am too much of an individual for the army but I did in fact join the army and enjoy it greatly, as most men do. In my observation, ALL army men are individuals. It is just that they accept discipline in order to be militarily efficient -- which is the whole point of the exercise. But that's too complex for simplistic Leftist thinking, of course



R.I.P. Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet deposed a law-defying Marxist President at the express and desperate invitation of the Chilean parliament. He pioneered the free-market reforms which Reagan and Thatcher later unleashed to world-changing effect. That he used far-Leftist methods to suppress far-Leftist violence is reasonable if not ideal. The Leftist view that they should have a monopoly of violence and that others should follow the law is a total absurdity which shows only that their hate overcomes their reason

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a war criminal. Both British and American codebreakers had cracked the Japanese naval code so FDR knew what was coming at Pearl Harbor. But for his own political reasons he warned no-one there. So responsibility for the civilian and military deaths at Pearl Harbor lies with FDR as well as with the Japanese. The huge firepower available at Pearl Harbor, both aboard ship and on land, could have largely neutered the attack. Can you imagine 8 battleships and various lesser craft firing all their AA batteries as the Japanese came in? The Japanese naval airforce would have been annihilated and the war would have been over before it began.

FDR prolonged the Depression. He certainly didn't cure it.

WWII did NOT end the Great Depression. It just concealed it. It in fact made living standards worse

FDR appointed a known KKK member, Hugo Black, to the Supreme Court

Joe McCarthy was eventually proved right after the fall of the Soviet Union. To accuse anyone of McCarthyism is to accuse them of accuracy!

The KKK was intimately associated with the Democratic party. They ATTACKED Republicans!

People who mention differences in black vs. white IQ are these days almost universally howled down and subjected to the most extreme abuse. I am a psychometrician, however, so I feel obliged to defend the scientific truth of the matter: The average African adult has about the same IQ as an average white 11-year-old and African Americans (who are partly white in ancestry) average out at a mental age of 14. The American Psychological Association is generally Left-leaning but it is the world's most prestigious body of academic psychologists. And even they have had to concede that sort of gap (one SD) in black vs. white average IQ. 11-year olds can do a lot of things but they also have their limits and there are times when such limits need to be allowed for.

America's uncivil war was caused by trade protectionism. The slavery issue was just camouflage, as Abraham Lincoln himself admitted. See also here

Did William Zantzinger kill poor Hattie Carroll?

Did Bismarck predict where WWI would start or was it just a "free" translation by Churchill?

Malcolm Gladwell: "There is more of reality and wisdom in a Chinese fortune cookie than can be found anywhere in Gladwell’s pages"



IN BRIEF:

The 10 "cannots" (By William J. H. Boetcker) that Leftist politicians ignore:
*You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
* You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
* You cannot help little men by tearing down big men.
* You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
* You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
* You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money.
* You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
* You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.
* You cannot build character and courage by destroying men's initiative and independence.
* And you cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves.

A good short definition of conservative: "One who wants you to keep your hand out of his pocket."

Beware of good intentions. They mostly lead to coercion

A gargantuan case of hubris, coupled with stunning level of ignorance about how the real world works, is the essence of progressivism.

The U.S. Constitution is neither "living" nor dead. It is fixed until it is amended. But amending it is the privilege of the people, not of politicians or judges

It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong - Thomas Sowell

Leftists think that utopia can be coerced into existence -- so no dishonesty or brutality is beyond them in pursuit of that "noble" goal

When using today's model of society as a rule, most of history will be found to be full of oppression, bias, and bigotry." What today's arrogant judges of history fail to realize is that they, too, will be judged. What will Americans of 100 years from now make of, say, speech codes, political correctness, and zero tolerance - to name only three? Assuming, of course, there will still be an America that we, today, would recognize. Given the rogue Federal government spy apparatus, I am not at all sure of that. -- Paul Havemann

Economist Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973): "The champions of socialism call themselves progressives, but they recommend a system which is characterized by rigid observance of routine and by a resistance to every kind of improvement. They call themselves liberals, but they are intent upon abolishing liberty. They call themselves democrats, but they yearn for dictatorship. They call themselves revolutionaries, but they want to make the government omnipotent. They promise the blessings of the Garden of Eden, but they plan to transform the world into a gigantic post office."

It's the shared hatred of the rest of us that unites Islamists and the Left.

American liberals don't love America. They despise it. All they love is their own fantasy of what America could become. They are false patriots.

The Democratic Party: Con-men elected by the ignorant and the arrogant

The Democratic Party is a strange amalgam of elites, would-be elites and minorities. No wonder their policies are so confused and irrational

Why are conservatives more at ease with religion? Because it is basic to conservatism that some things are unknowable, and religious people have to accept that too. Leftists think that they know it all and feel threatened by any exceptions to that. Thinking that you know it all is however the pride that comes before a fall.

The characteristic emotion of the Leftist is not envy. It's rage

Leftists are committed to grievance, not truth

The British Left poured out a torrent of hate for Margaret Thatcher on the occasion of her death. She rescued Britain from chaos and restored Britain's prosperity. What's not to hate about that?

Something you didn't know about Margaret Thatcher

The world's dumbest investor? Without doubt it is Uncle Sam. Nobody anywhere could rival the scale of the losses on "investments" made under the Obama administration

"Behind the honeyed but patently absurd pleas for equality is a ruthless drive for placing themselves (the elites) at the top of a new hierarchy of power" -- Murray Rothbard - Egalitarianism and the Elites (1995)

A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money. -- G. Gordon Liddy

"World socialism as a whole, and all the figures associated with it, are shrouded in legend; its contradictions are forgotten or concealed; it does not respond to arguments but continually ignores them--all this stems from the mist of irrationality that surrounds socialism and from its instinctive aversion to scientific analysis... The doctrines of socialism seethe with contradictions, its theories are at constant odds with its practice, yet due to a powerful instinct these contradictions do not in the least hinder the unending propaganda of socialism. Indeed, no precise, distinct socialism even exists; instead there is only a vague, rosy notion of something noble and good, of equality, communal ownership, and justice: the advent of these things will bring instant euphoria and a social order beyond reproach." -- Solzhenitsyn

"The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left." -- Ecclesiastes 10:2 (NIV)

My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government. -- Thomas Jefferson

"Much that passes as idealism is disguised hatred or disguised love of power" -- Bertrand Russell

Evan Sayet: The Left sides "...invariably with evil over good, wrong over right, and the behaviors that lead to failure over those that lead to success." (t=5:35+ on video)

The Republicans are the gracious side of American politics. It is the Democrats who are the nasty party, the haters

Wanting to stay out of the quarrels of other nations is conservative -- but conservatives will fight if attacked or seriously endangered. Anglo/Irish statesman Lord Castlereagh (1769-1822), who led the political coalition that defeated Napoleon, was an isolationist, as were traditional American conservatives.

Some useful definitions:

If a conservative doesn't like guns, he doesn't buy one. If a liberal doesn't like guns, he wants all guns outlawed.
If a conservative is a vegetarian, he doesn't eat meat. If a liberal is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for everyone.
If a conservative is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation. A liberal wonders who is going to take care of him.
If a conservative doesn't like a talk show host, he switches channels. Liberals demand that those they don't like be shut down.
If a conservative is a non-believer, he doesn't go to church. A liberal non-believer wants any mention of God and religion silenced. (Unless it's a foreign religion, of course!)
If a conservative decides he needs health care, he goes about shopping for it, or may choose a job that provides it. A liberal demands that the rest of us pay for his.

There is better evidence for creation than there is for the Leftist claim that “gender” is a “social construct”. Most Leftist claims seem to be faith-based rather than founded on the facts

Leftists are classic weak characters. They dish out abuse by the bucketload but cannot take it when they get it back. Witness the Loughner hysteria.

Death taxes: You would expect a conscientious person, of whatever degree of intelligence, to reflect on the strange contradiction involved in denying people the right to unearned wealth, while supporting programs that give people unearned wealth.

America is no longer the land of the free. It is now the land of the regulated -- though it is not alone in that, of course

The Leftist motto: "I love humanity. It's just people I can't stand"

Why are Leftists always talking about hate? Because it fills their own hearts

Envy is a strong and widespread human emotion so there has alway been widespread support for policies of economic "levelling". Both the USA and the modern-day State of Israel were founded by communists but reality taught both societies that respect for the individual gave much better outcomes than levelling ideas. Sadly, there are many people in both societies in whom hatred for others is so strong that they are incapable of respect for the individual. The destructiveness of what they support causes them to call themselves many names in different times and places but they are the backbone of the political Left

Gore Vidal: "Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little". Vidal was of course a Leftist

The large number of rich Leftists suggests that, for them, envy is secondary. They are directly driven by hatred and scorn for many of the other people that they see about them. Hatred of others can be rooted in many things, not only in envy. But the haters come together as the Left. Some evidence here showing that envy is not what defines the Left

Leftists hate the world around them and want to change it: the people in it most particularly. Conservatives just want to be left alone to make their own decisions and follow their own values.

The failure of the Soviet experiment has definitely made the American Left more vicious and hate-filled than they were. The plain failure of what passed for ideas among them has enraged rather than humbled them.

Ronald Reagan famously observed that the status quo is Latin for “the mess we’re in.” So much for the vacant Leftist claim that conservatives are simply defenders of the status quo. They think that conservatives are as lacking in principles as they are.

Was Confucius a conservative? The following saying would seem to reflect good conservative caution: "The superior man, when resting in safety, does not forget that danger may come. When in a state of security he does not forget the possibility of ruin. When all is orderly, he does not forget that disorder may come. Thus his person is not endangered, and his States and all their clans are preserved."

The shallow thinkers of the Left sometimes claim that conservatives want to impose their own will on others in the matter of abortion. To make that claim is however to confuse religion with politics. Conservatives are in fact divided about their response to abortion. The REAL opposition to abortion is religious rather than political. And the church which has historically tended to support the LEFT -- the Roman Catholic church -- is the most fervent in the anti-abortion cause. Conservatives are indeed the one side of politics to have moral qualms on the issue but they tend to seek a middle road in dealing with it. Taking the issue to the point of legal prohibitions is a religious doctrine rather than a conservative one -- and the religion concerned may or may not be characteristically conservative. More on that here

Some Leftist hatred arises from the fact that they blame "society" for their own personal problems and inadequacies

The Leftist hunger for change to the society that they hate leads to a hunger for control over other people. And they will do and say anything to get that control: "Power at any price". Leftist politicians are mostly self-aggrandizing crooks who gain power by deceiving the uninformed with snake-oil promises -- power which they invariably use to destroy. Destruction is all that they are good at. Destruction is what haters do.

Leftists are consistent only in their hate. They don't have principles. How can they when "there is no such thing as right and wrong"? All they have is postures, pretend-principles that can be changed as easily as one changes one's shirt

A Leftist assumption: Making money doesn't entitle you to it, but wanting money does.

"Politicians never accuse you of 'greed' for wanting other people's money -- only for wanting to keep your own money." --columnist Joe Sobran (1946-2010)

Leftist policies are candy-coated rat poison that may appear appealing at first, but inevitably do a lot of damage to everyone impacted by them.

A tribute and thanks to Mary Jo Kopechne. Her death was reprehensible but she probably did more by her death that she ever would have in life: She spared the world a President Ted Kennedy. That the heap of corruption that was Ted Kennedy died peacefully in his bed is one of the clearest demonstrations that we do not live in a just world. Even Joe Stalin seems to have been smothered to death by Nikita Khrushchev

I often wonder why Leftists refer to conservatives as "wingnuts". A wingnut is a very useful device that adds versatility wherever it is used. Clearly, Leftists are not even good at abuse. Once they have accused their opponents of racism and Nazism, their cupboard is bare. Similarly, Leftists seem to think it is a devastating critique to refer to "Worldnet Daily" as "Worldnut Daily". The poverty of their argumentation is truly pitiful

The Leftist assertion that there is no such thing as right and wrong has a distinguished history. It was Pontius Pilate who said "What is truth?" (John 18:38). From a Christian viewpoint, the assertion is undoubtedly the Devil's gospel

Even in the Old Testament they knew about "Postmodernism": "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" - Isaiah 5:20 (KJV)

Was Solomon the first conservative? "The hearts of men are full of evil and madness is in their hearts" -- Ecclesiastes: 9:3 (RSV). He could almost have been talking about Global Warming.

"If one rejects laissez faire on account of man's fallibility and moral weakness, one must for the same reason also reject every kind of government action." - Ludwig von Mises

The naive scholar who searches for a consistent Leftist program will not find it. What there is consists only in the negation of the present.

Because of their need to be different from the mainstream, Leftists are very good at pretending that sow's ears are silk purses

Among intelligent people, Leftism is a character defect. Leftists HATE success in others -- which is why notably successful societies such as the USA and Israel are hated and failures such as the Palestinians can do no wrong.

A Leftist's beliefs are all designed to pander to his ego. So when you have an argument with a Leftist, you are not really discussing the facts. You are threatening his self esteem. Which is why the normal Leftist response to challenge is mere abuse.

Because of the fragility of a Leftist's ego, anything that threatens it is intolerable and provokes rage. So most Leftist blogs can be summarized in one sentence: "How DARE anybody question what I believe!". Rage and abuse substitute for an appeal to facts and reason.

Because their beliefs serve their ego rather than reality, Leftists just KNOW what is good for us. Conservatives need evidence.

Absolute certainty is the privilege of uneducated men and fanatics. -- C.J. Keyser

Hell is paved with good intentions" -- Boswell's Life of Johnson of 1775

"Almost all professors of the arts and sciences are egregiously conceited, and derive their happiness from their conceit" -- Erasmus

THE FALSIFICATION OF HISTORY HAS DONE MORE TO IMPEDE HUMAN DEVELOPMENT THAN ANY ONE THING KNOWN TO MANKIND -- ROUSSEAU

"Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him" (Proverbs 26: 12). I think that sums up Leftists pretty well.

Eminent British astrophysicist Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington is often quoted as saying: "Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine." It was probably in fact said by his contemporary, J.B.S. Haldane. But regardless of authorship, it could well be a conservative credo not only about the cosmos but also about human beings and human society. Mankind is too complex to be summed up by simple rules and even complex rules are only approximations with many exceptions.

Politics is the only thing Leftists know about. They know nothing of economics, history or business. Their only expertise is in promoting feelings of grievance

Socialism makes the individual the slave of the state -- capitalism frees them.

Many readers here will have noticed that what I say about Leftists sometimes sounds reminiscent of what Leftists say about conservatives. There is an excellent reason for that. Leftists are great "projectors" (people who see their own faults in others). So a good first step in finding out what is true of Leftists is to look at what they say about conservatives! They even accuse conservatives of projection (of course).

The research shows clearly that one's Left/Right stance is strongly genetically inherited but nobody knows just what specifically is inherited. What is inherited that makes people Leftist or Rightist? There is any amount of evidence that personality traits are strongly genetically inherited so my proposal is that hard-core Leftists are people who tend to let their emotions (including hatred and envy) run away with them and who are much more in need of seeing themselves as better than others -- two attributes that are probably related to one another. Such Leftists may be an evolutionary leftover from a more primitive past.

Leftists seem to believe that if someone like Al Gore says it, it must be right. They obviously have a strong need for an authority figure. The fact that the two most authoritarian regimes of the 20th century (Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia) were socialist is thus no surprise. Leftists often accuse conservatives of being "authoritarian" but that is just part of their usual "projective" strategy -- seeing in others what is really true of themselves.

"With their infernal racial set-asides, racial quotas, and race norming, liberals share many of the Klan's premises. The Klan sees the world in terms of race and ethnicity. So do liberals! Indeed, liberals and white supremacists are the only people left in America who are neurotically obsessed with race. Conservatives champion a color-blind society" -- Ann Coulter

Politicians are in general only a little above average in intelligence so the idea that they can make better decisions for us that we can make ourselves is laughable

A quote from the late Dr. Adrian Rogers: "You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."

The Supreme Court of the United States is now and always has been a judicial abomination. Its guiding principles have always been political rather than judicial. It is not as political as Stalin's courts but its respect for the constitution is little better. Some recent abuses: The "equal treatment" provision of the 14th amendment was specifically written to outlaw racial discrimination yet the court has allowed various forms of "affirmative action" for decades -- when all such policies should have been completely stuck down immediately. The 2nd. amendment says that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed yet gun control laws infringe it in every State in the union. The 1st amendment provides that speech shall be freely exercised yet the court has upheld various restrictions on the financing and display of political advertising. The court has found a right to abortion in the constitution when the word abortion is not even mentioned there. The court invents rights that do not exist and denies rights that do.

"Some action that is unconstitutional has much to recommend it" -- Elena Kagan, nominated to SCOTUS by Obama

Frank Sulloway, the anti-scientist

The basic aim of all bureaucrats is to maximize their funding and minimize their workload

A lesson in Australian: When an Australian calls someone a "big-noter", he is saying that the person is a chronic and rather pathetic seeker of admiration -- as in someone who often pulls out "big notes" (e.g. $100.00 bills) to pay for things, thus endeavouring to create the impression that he is rich. The term describes the mentality rather than the actual behavior with money and it aptly describes many Leftists. When they purport to show "compassion" by advocating things that cost themselves nothing (e.g. advocating more taxes on "the rich" to help "the poor"), an Australian might say that the Leftist is "big-noting himself". There is an example of the usage here. The term conveys contempt. There is a wise description of Australians generally here

Some ancient wisdom for Leftists: "Be not righteous overmuch; neither make thyself over wise: Why shouldest thou die before thy time?" -- Ecclesiastes 7:16

Jesse Jackson: "There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery -- then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved." There ARE important racial differences.

Some Jimmy Carter wisdom: "I think it's inevitable that there will be a lower standard of living than what everybody had always anticipated," he told advisers in 1979. "there's going to be a downward turning."



The "steamroller" above who got steamrollered by his own hubris. Spitzer is a warning of how self-destructive a vast ego can be -- and also of how destructive of others it can be.

Heritage is what survives death: Very rare and hence very valuable

Big business is not your friend. As Adam Smith said: "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty or justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary

How can I accept the Communist doctrine, which sets up as its bible, above and beyond criticism, an obsolete textbook which I know not only to be scientifically erroneous but without interest or application to the modern world? How can I adopt a creed which, preferring the mud to the fish, exalts the boorish proletariat above the bourgeoisie and the intelligentsia, who with all their faults, are the quality of life and surely carry the seeds of all human achievement? Even if we need a religion, how can we find it in the turbid rubbish of the red bookshop? It is hard for an educated, decent, intelligent son of Western Europe to find his ideals here, unless he has first suffered some strange and horrid process of conversion which has changed all his values. -- John Maynard Keynes

Some wisdom from "Bron" Waugh: "The purpose of politics is to help them [politicians] overcome these feelings of inferiority and compensate for their personal inadequacies in the pursuit of power"

"There are countless horrible things happening all over the country, and horrible people prospering, but we must never allow them to disturb our equanimity or deflect us from our sacred duty to sabotage and annoy them whenever possible"

The urge to pass new laws must be seen as an illness, not much different from the urge to bite old women. Anyone suspected of suffering from it should either be treated with the appropriate pills or, if it is too late for that, elected to Parliament [or Congress, as the case may be] and paid a huge salary with endless holidays, to do nothing whatever"

"It is my settled opinion, after some years as a political correspondent, that no one is attracted to a political career in the first place unless he is socially or emotionally crippled"


Two lines below of a famous hymn that would be incomprehensible to Leftists today ("honor"? "right"? "freedom?" Freedom to agree with them is the only freedom they believe in)

First to fight for right and freedom,
And to keep our honor clean


It is of course the hymn of the USMC -- still today the relentless warriors that they always were. Freedom needs a soldier

If any of the short observations above about Leftism seem wrong, note that they do not stand alone. The evidence for them is set out at great length in my MONOGRAPH on Leftism.

3 memoirs of "Supermac", a 20th century Disraeli (Aristocratic British Conservative Prime Minister -- 1957 to 1963 -- Harold Macmillan):

"It breaks my heart to see (I can't interfere or do anything at my age) what is happening in our country today - this terrible strike of the best men in the world, who beat the Kaiser's army and beat Hitler's army, and never gave in. Pointless, endless. We can't afford that kind of thing. And then this growing division which the noble Lord who has just spoken mentioned, of a comparatively prosperous south, and an ailing north and midlands. That can't go on." -- Mac on the British working class: "the best men in the world" (From his Maiden speech in the House of Lords, 13 November 1984)

"As a Conservative, I am naturally in favour of returning into private ownership and private management all those means of production and distribution which are now controlled by state capitalism"

During Macmillan's time as prime minister, average living standards steadily rose while numerous social reforms were carried out



JEWS AND ISRAEL

The Bible is an Israeli book

"And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" -- Genesis 12:3

"O pray for the peace of Jerusalem: They shall prosper that love thee" Psalm 122:6.

If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy -- Psalm 137 (NIV)

Israel, like the Jews throughout history, is hated not for her vices but her virtues. Israel is hated, as the United States is hated, because Israel is successful, because Israel is free, and because Israel is good. As Maxim Gorky put it: “Whatever nonsense the anti-Semites may talk, they dislike the Jew only because he is obviously better, more adroit, and more willing and capable of work than they are.” Whether driven by culture or genes—or like most behavior, an inextricable mix—the fact of Jewish genius is demonstrable." -- George Gilder

To Leftist haters, all the basic rules of liberal society — rejection of hate speech, commitment to academic freedom, rooting out racism, the absolute commitment to human dignity — go out the window when the subject is Israel.

My (Gentile) opinion of antisemitism: The Jews are the best we've got so killing them is killing us.

I have always liked the story of Gideon (See Judges chapters 6 to 8) and it is surely no surprise that in the present age Israel is the Gideon of nations: Few in numbers but big in power and impact.

If I were not an atheist, I would believe that God had a sense of humour. He gave his chosen people (the Jews) enormous advantages -- high intelligence and high drive -- but to keep it fair he deprived them of something hugely important too: Political sense. So Jews to this day tend very strongly to be Leftist -- even though the chief source of antisemitism for roughly the last 200 years has been the political Left!

And the other side of the coin is that Jews tend to despise conservatives and Christians. Yet American fundamentalist Christians are the bedrock of the vital American support for Israel, the ultimate bolthole for all Jews. So Jewish political irrationality seems to be a rather good example of the saying that "The LORD giveth and the LORD taketh away". There are many other examples of such perversity (or "balance"). The sometimes severe side-effects of most pharmaceutical drugs is an obvious one but there is another ethnic example too, a rather amusing one. Chinese people are in general smart and patient people but their rate of traffic accidents in China is about 10 times higher than what prevails in Western societies. They are brilliant mathematicians and fearless business entrepreneurs but at the same time bad drivers!

Conservatives, on the other hand, could be antisemitic on entirely rational grounds: Namely, the overwhelming Leftism of the Diaspora Jewish population as a whole. Because they judge the individual, however, only a tiny minority of conservative-oriented people make such general judgments. The longer Jews continue on their "stiff-necked" course, however, the more that is in danger of changing. The children of Israel have been a stiff necked people since the days of Moses, however, so they will no doubt continue to vote with their emotions rather than their reason.

I despair of the ADL. Jews have enough problems already and yet in the ADL one has a prominent Jewish organization that does its best to make itself offensive to Christians. Their Leftism is more important to them than the welfare of Jewry -- which is the exact opposite of what they ostensibly stand for! Jewish cleverness seems to vanish when politics are involved. Fortunately, Christians are true to their saviour and have loving hearts. Jewish dissatisfaction with the myopia of the ADL is outlined here. Note that Foxy was too grand to reply to it.

Fortunately for America, though, liberal Jews there are rapidly dying out through intermarriage and failure to reproduce. And the quite poisonous liberal Jews of Israel are not much better off. Judaism is slowly returning to Orthodoxy and the Orthodox tend to be conservative.

The above is good testimony to the accuracy of the basic conservative insight that almost anything in human life is too complex to be reduced to any simple rule and too complex to be reduced to any rule at all without allowance for important exceptions to the rule concerned

Amid their many virtues, one virtue is often lacking among Jews in general and Israelis in particular: Humility. And that's an antisemitic comment only if Hashem is antisemitic. From Moses on, the Hebrew prophets repeatedy accused the Israelites of being "stiff-necked" and urged them to repent. So it's no wonder that the greatest Jewish prophet of all -- Jesus -- not only urged humility but exemplified it in his life and death

"Why should the German be interested in the liberation of the Jew, if the Jew is not interested in the liberation of the German?... We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time... In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.... Indeed, in North America, the practical domination of Judaism over the Christian world has achieved as its unambiguous and normal expression that the preaching of the Gospel itself and the Christian ministry have become articles of trade... Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist". Who said that? Hitler? No. It was Karl Marx. See also here and here and here. For roughly two centuries now, antisemitism has, throughout the Western world, been principally associated with Leftism (including the socialist Hitler) -- as it is to this day. See here.

Leftists call their hatred of Israel "Anti-Zionism" but Zionists are only a small minority in Israel

Some of the Leftist hatred of Israel is motivated by old-fashioned antisemitism (beliefs in Jewish "control" etc.) but most of it is just the regular Leftist hatred of success in others. And because the societies they inhabit do not give them the vast amount of recognition that their large but weak egos need, some of the most virulent haters of Israel and America live in those countries. So the hatred is the product of pathologically high self-esteem.

Their threatened egos sometimes drive Leftists into quite desperate flights from reality. For instance, they often call Israel an "Apartheid state" -- when it is in fact the Arab states that practice Apartheid -- witness the severe restrictions on Christians in Saudi Arabia. There are no such restrictions in Israel.

If the Palestinians put down their weapons, there'd be peace. If the Israelis put down their weapons, there'd be genocide.


Alfred Dreyfus, a reminder of French antisemitism still relevant today

Eugenio Pacelli, a righteous Gentile, a true man of God and a brilliant Pope


ABOUT

Many people hunger and thirst after righteousness. Some find it in the hatreds of the Left. Others find it in the love of Christ. I don't hunger and thirst after righteousness at all. I hunger and thirst after truth. How old-fashioned can you get?

The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody. And I have NO investments in oil companies, mining companies or "Big Pharma"

UPDATE: Despite my (statistical) aversion to mining stocks, I have recently bought a few shares in BHP -- the world's biggest miner, I gather. I run the grave risk of becoming a speaker of famous last words for saying this but I suspect that BHP is now so big as to be largely immune from the risks that plague most mining companies. I also know of no issue affecting BHP where my writings would have any relevance. The Left seem to have a visceral hatred of miners. I have never quite figured out why.

I imagine that few of my readers will understand it, but I am an unabashed monarchist. And, as someone who was born and bred in a monarchy and who still lives there (i.e. Australia), that gives me no conflicts at all. In theory, one's respect for the monarchy does not depend on who wears the crown but the impeccable behaviour of the present Queen does of course help perpetuate that respect. Aside from my huge respect for the Queen, however, my favourite member of the Royal family is the redheaded Prince Harry. The Royal family is of course a military family and Prince Harry is a great example of that. As one of the world's most privileged people, he could well be an idle layabout but instead he loves his life in the army. When his girlfriend Chelsy ditched him because he was so often away, Prince Harry said: "I love Chelsy but the army comes first". A perfect military man! I doubt that many women would understand or approve of his attitude but perhaps my own small army background powers my approval of that attitude.

I imagine that most Americans might find this rather mad -- but I believe that a constitutional Monarchy is the best form of government presently available. Can a libertarian be a Monarchist? I think so -- and prominent British libertarian Sean Gabb seems to think so too! Long live the Queen! (And note that Australia ranks well above the USA on the Index of Economic freedom. Heh!)

Throughout Europe there is an association between monarchism and conservatism. It is a little sad that American conservatives do not have access to that satisfaction. So even though Australia is much more distant from Europe (geographically) than the USA is, Australia is in some ways more of an outpost of Europe than America is! Mind you: Australia is not very atypical of its region. Australia lies just South of Asia -- and both Japan and Thailand have greatly respected monarchies. And the demise of the Cambodian monarchy was disastrous for Cambodia

Throughout the world today, possession of a U.S. or U.K. passport is greatly valued. I once shared that view. Developments in recent years have however made me profoundly grateful that I am a 5th generation Australian. My Australian passport is a door into a much less oppressive and much less messed-up place than either the USA or Britain

Following the Sotomayor precedent, I would hope that a wise older white man such as myself with the richness of that experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than someone who hasn’t lived that life.

IQ and ideology: Most academics are Left-leaning. Why? Because very bright people who have balls go into business, while very bright people with no balls go into academe. I did both with considerable success, which makes me a considerable rarity. Although I am a born academic, I have always been good with money too. My share portfolio even survived the GFC in good shape. The academics hate it that bright people with balls make more money than them.

I have no hesitation in saying that the single book which has influenced me most is the New Testament. And my Scripture blog will show that I know whereof I speak. Some might conclude that I must therefore be a very confused sort of atheist but I can assure everyone that I do not feel the least bit confused. The New Testament is a lighthouse that has illumined the thinking of all sorts of men and women and I am deeply grateful that it has shone on me.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age. Conservatism is in touch with reality. Leftism is not.

I imagine that the RD are still sending mailouts to my 1950s address

Most teenagers have sporting and movie posters on their bedroom walls. At age 14 I had a map of Taiwan on my wall.

"Remind me never to get this guy mad at me" -- Instapundit

It seems to be a common view that you cannot talk informatively about a country unless you have been there. I completely reject that view but it is nonetheless likely that some Leftist dimbulb will at some stage aver that any comments I make about politics and events in the USA should not be heeded because I am an Australian who has lived almost all his life in Australia. I am reluctant to pander to such ignorance in the era of the "global village" but for the sake of the argument I might mention that I have visited the USA 3 times -- spending enough time in Los Angeles and NYC to get to know a fair bit about those places at least. I did however get outside those places enough to realize that they are NOT America.

"Intellectual" = Leftist dreamer. I have more publications in the academic journals than almost all "public intellectuals" but I am never called an intellectual and nor would I want to be. Call me a scholar or an academic, however, and I will accept either as a just and earned appellation


My academic background

My full name is Dr. John Joseph RAY. I am a former university teacher aged 65 at the time of writing in 2009. I was born of Australian pioneer stock in 1943 at Innisfail in the State of Queensland in Australia. I trace my ancestry wholly to the British Isles. After an early education at Innisfail State Rural School and Cairns State High School, I taught myself for matriculation. I took my B.A. in Psychology from the University of Queensland in Brisbane. I then moved to Sydney (in New South Wales, Australia) and took my M.A. in psychology from the University of Sydney in 1969 and my Ph.D. from the School of Behavioural Sciences at Macquarie University in 1974. I first tutored in psychology at Macquarie University and then taught sociology at the University of NSW. My doctorate is in psychology but I taught mainly sociology in my 14 years as a university teacher. In High Schools I taught economics. I have taught in both traditional and "progressive" (low discipline) High Schools. Fuller biographical notes here

I completed the work for my Ph.D. at the end of 1970 but the degree was not awarded until 1974 -- due to some academic nastiness from Seymour Martin Lipset and Fred Emery. A conservative or libertarian who makes it through the academic maze has to be at least twice as good as the average conformist Leftist. Fortunately, I am a born academic.

Despite my great sympathy and respect for Christianity, I am the most complete atheist you could find. I don't even believe that the word "God" is meaningful. I am not at all original in that view, of course. Such views are particularly associated with the noted German philosopher Rudolf Carnap. Unlike Carnap, however, none of my wives have committed suicide

Very occasionally in my writings I make reference to the greats of analytical philosophy such as Carnap and Wittgenstein. As philosophy is a heavily Leftist discipline however, I have long awaited an attack from some philosopher accusing me of making coat-trailing references not backed by any real philosophical erudition. I suppose it is encouraging that no such attacks have eventuated but I thought that I should perhaps forestall them anyway -- by pointing out that in my younger days I did complete three full-year courses in analytical philosophy (at 3 different universities!) and that I have had papers on mainstream analytical philosophy topics published in academic journals

As well as being an academic, I am an army man and I am pleased and proud to say that I have worn my country's uniform. Although my service in the Australian army was chiefly noted for its un-notability, I DID join voluntarily in the Vietnam era, I DID reach the rank of Sergeant, and I DID volunteer for a posting in Vietnam. So I think I may be forgiven for saying something that most army men think but which most don't say because they think it is too obvious: The profession of arms is the noblest profession of all because it is the only profession where you offer to lay down your life in performing your duties. Our men fought so that people could say and think what they like but I myself always treat military men with great respect -- respect which in my view is simply their due.

A real army story here

Even a stopped clock is right twice a day and there is JUST ONE saying of Hitler's that I rather like. It may not even be original to him but it is found in chapter 2 of Mein Kampf (published in 1925): "Widerstaende sind nicht da, dass man vor ihnen kapituliert, sondern dass man sie bricht". The equivalent English saying is "Difficulties exist to be overcome" and that traces back at least to the 1920s -- with attributions to Montessori and others. Hitler's metaphor is however one of smashing barriers rather than of politely hopping over them and I am myself certainly more outspoken than polite. Hitler's colloquial Southern German is notoriously difficult to translate but I think I can manage a reasonable translation of that saying: "Resistance is there not for us to capitulate to but for us to break". I am quite sure that I don't have anything like that degree of determination in my own life but it seems to me to be a good attitude in general anyway

I have used many sites to post my writings over the years and many have gone bad on me for various reasons. So if you click on a link here to my other writings you may get a "page not found" response if the link was put up some time before the present. All is not lost, however. All my writings have been reposted elsewhere. If you do strike a failed link, just take the filename (the last part of the link) and add it to the address of any of my current home pages and -- Voila! -- you should find the article concerned.

COMMENTS: I have gradually added comments facilities to all my blogs. The comments I get are interesting. They are mostly from Leftists and most consist either of abuse or mere assertions. Reasoned arguments backed up by references to supporting evidence are almost unheard of from Leftists. Needless to say, I just delete such useless comments.

You can email me here (Hotmail address). In emailing me, you can address me as "John", "Jon", "Dr. Ray" or "JR" and that will be fine -- but my preference is for "JR"




Index page for this site


DETAILS OF REGULARLY UPDATED BLOGS BY JOHN RAY:

"Tongue Tied"
"Dissecting Leftism" (Backup here)
"Australian Politics"
"Education Watch International"
"Political Correctness Watch"
"Greenie Watch"
"Food & Health Skeptic"
"Eye on Britain"
"Immigration Watch International" blog.


BLOGS OCCASIONALLY UPDATED:

"Marx & Engels in their own words"
"A scripture blog"
"Recipes"
"Some memoirs"
"Paralipomena"
To be continued ....
Queensland Police -- A barrel with lots of bad apples
Australian Police News
Of Interest


BLOGS NO LONGER BEING UPDATED

"Leftists as Elitists"
Socialized Medicine
Western Heart
OF INTEREST (2)
QANTAS -- A dying octopus
BRIAN LEITER (Ladderman)
Obama Watch
Obama Watch (2)
Dissecting Leftism -- Large font site
Michael Darby
The Kogarah Madhouse (St George Bank)
AGL -- A bumbling monster
Telstra/Bigpond follies
Optus bungling
Vodafrauds (vodafone)
Bank of Queensland blues


There are also two blogspot blogs which record what I think are my main recent articles here and here. Similar content can be more conveniently accessed via my subject-indexed list of short articles here or here (I rarely write long articles these days)



Main academic menu
Menu of recent writings
basic home page
Pictorial Home Page (Backup here).
Selected pictures from blogs (Backup here)
Another picture page (Best with broadband. Rarely updated)



Note: If the link to one of my articles is not working, the article concerned can generally be viewed by prefixing to the filename the following:
http://pandora.nla.gov.au/pan/42197/20121106-1520/jonjayray.comuv.com/