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Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
Topic: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces (Read 321299 times)
Say it ain't so Charles....well, he was a Democrat in the past
Reply #1400 on:
January 11, 2015, 11:23:26 AM »
The average Joe taxpayer finally gets a bit of a break (at the pump) and now we have even (faux) conservative calling for this to immediately be taken away by assessing a huge tax increase on gas. Charles we don't all make a million a year like you. Charles is now moved to my phoney list.
**********Raise the gas tax. A lot.
By Charles Krauthammer Opinion writer January 8
For 32 years I’ve been advocating a major tax on petroleum. I’ve got as much chance this time around as did Don Quixote with windmills. But I shall tilt my lance once more.
The only time you can even think of proposing a gas tax increase is when oil prices are at rock bottom. When I last suggested the idea six years ago, oil was selling at $40 a barrel. It eventually rose back to $110. It’s now around $48. Correspondingly, the price at the pump has fallen in the last three months by more than a dollar to about $2.20 per gallon.
As a result, some in Congress are talking about a 10- or 20-cent hike in the federal tax to use for infrastructure spending. Right idea, wrong policy. The hike should not be 10 cents but $1. And the proceeds should not be spent by, or even entrusted to, the government. They should be immediately and entirely returned to the consumer by means of a cut in the Social Security tax.
The average American buys about 12 gallons of gas a week. Washington would be soaking him for $12 in extra taxes. Washington should therefore simultaneously reduce everyone’s FICA tax by $12 a week. Thus the average driver is left harmless. He receives a $12-per-week FICA bonus that he can spend on gasoline if he wants — or anything else. If he chooses to drive less, it puts money in his pocket. (The unemployed would have the $12 added to their unemployment insurance; the elderly, to their Social Security check.)
The point of the $1 gas tax increase is not to feed the maw of a government raking in $3 trillion a year. The point is exclusively to alter incentives — to reduce the disincentive for work (the Social Security tax) and to increase the disincentive to consume gasoline.
It’s win-win. Employment taxes are a drag on job creation. Reducing them not only promotes growth but advances fairness, FICA being a regressive tax that hits the middle and working classes far more than the rich.
As for oil, we remain the world champion consumer. We burn more than 20 percent of global output, almost twice as much as the next nearest gas guzzler, China.
A $1 gas tax increase would constrain oil consumption in two ways. In the short run, by curbing driving. In the long run, by altering car-buying habits. A return to gas-guzzling land yachts occurs every time gasoline prices plunge. A high gas tax encourages demand for more fuel-efficient vehicles. Constrained U.S. consumption — combined with already huge increases in U.S. production — would continue to apply enormous downward pressure on oil prices.
A tax is the best way to improve fuel efficiency. Today we do it through rigid regulations, the so-called CAFE standards imposed on carmakers. They are forced to manufacture acres of unsellable cars in order to meet an arbitrary, bureaucratic “fleet” gas-consumption average.
This is nuts. If you simply set a higher price point for gasoline, buyers will do the sorting on their own, choosing fuel efficiency just as they do when the world price is high. The beauty of the tax — as a substitute for a high world price — is that the incentive for fuel efficiency remains, but the extra money collected at the pump goes right back into the U.S. economy (and to the citizenry through the revenue-neutral FICA rebate) instead of being shipped overseas to Russia, Venezuela, Iran and other unsavories.
Which is a geopolitical coup. Cheap oil is the most effective and efficient instrument known to man for weakening these oil-dependent miscreants.
And finally, lower consumption reduces pollution and greenhouse gases. The reduction of traditional pollutants, though relatively minor, is an undeniable gain. And even for global warming skeptics, there’s no reason not to welcome a benign measure that induces prudential reductions in CO2 emissions.
Gasoline hasn't been this cheap since 2009. But why now, and how long will prices stay low? Here's what you need to know, in two minutes. (Gillian Brockell/The Washington Post)
The unexpected and unpredicted collapse of oil prices gives us a unique opportunity to maintain our good luck through a simple, revenue-neutral measure to help prevent the perennial price spikes that follow the fool’s paradise of ultra-cheap oil.
We’ve blown this chance at least three times since the 1980s. As former French foreign minister Jean François-Poncet said a quarter-century ago, “It’s hard to take seriously that a nation has deep problems if they can be fixed with a 50-cent-a-gallon” — 90 cents in today’s money — “gasoline tax.” Let’s not blow it again.
Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
Reply #1401 on:
January 11, 2015, 12:43:26 PM »
Well, although the idea is not well thought out IMHO, in fairness we must note that he seeks to offset the tax with tax cuts elsewhere.
Reply #1402 on:
January 11, 2015, 08:47:25 PM »
"Well, although the idea is not well thought out IMHO, in fairness we must note that he seeks to offset the tax with tax cuts elsewhere"
Why is it to a liberal (not you Crafty I mean in general) government spending of more tax receipts a great "stimulator" of the economy, but a tax cut is no more than a gift to the rich.
Now we have a gas price drop and even some Repubs are calling to negate most of this with a tax increase? When did sourKraut decide we need to increase tax on gas to because we must decrease gas usage. Is this his nod to Climate Change?
Does he pretend the money will go for "infrastructure"? We all know what that means : pork, favoritism, nepotism, more lobbyist government contracts, maybe organized crime in the construction business.
Rationalizing a tax decrease on wages will not incentivize work. Most people who need a tax break just to want a job? Is that why people don't work? What is he thinking?
Most of these people will not work because they can't get wages that are worth the 40 hours of sweat more then they can get collecting unemployment or disability or a pension.
Not because of their taxes.
It would help people to work just as much if they can afford to get to work.
More Rhino social engineering every bit as absurd as the lefts'.
Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
Reply #1403 on:
January 11, 2015, 08:58:21 PM »
Again, I disagree with CK' idea, I am just pointing out that it is not a net increase, but a purportedly revenue neutral shift from taxing one thing to taxing a different thing with the goal of increasing economic efficiency. That's all.
VDH: Multi-Culti Suicide
Reply #1404 on:
January 17, 2015, 09:21:34 PM »
Union of concerned scientists
Reply #1405 on:
January 18, 2015, 12:31:26 PM »
Of course because they are "scientists" they have no axes to grind or agendas or political or financial conflicts of interests. It is all in the name of their religion: science.
Does this author really think the average person has any knowledge or information on the thousands of regulations we get yearly? Who elected these people?
*****How Congress is Cutting Science Out of Science Policy (Op-Ed)LiveScience.com By Celia Wexler, Union of Concerned Scientists
January 16, 2015 1:51 PM
ˠ➕✓✕Content preferences Done Celia Wexler is a senior Washington Representative for the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), where she focuses on food and drug safety, protections for scientist whistle-blowers and government transparency and accountability. She is the author of "Out of the News: Former Journalists Discuss a Profession in Crisis" (McFarland, 2012). She contributed this article to Live Science's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.
You can say one thing about the U.S. House of Representatives leadership. They're good about recycling — holding repeated votes on the same bills they've already passed. So I guess no one should be surprised that one of the first bills the new House will vote on this week is a retread, and a nasty one at that. The bill, the Regulatory Accountability Act (RAA), sounds pretty harmless and wonky. It is wonky, buried in thousands of words that mask its true intention, which is not harmless at all. The bill would take a sledge hammer to science-informed policymaking at federal agencies. [Why I'll Talk Politics With Climate Change Deniers — But Not Science ]
Why should the nation care? Because instead of science informing the decisions our government makes about protecting our environment, public health and safety, those decisions would be driven by the wants of regulated industries, putting average Americans in jeopardy.
The bill's impact dramatically affects the fundamental regulatory process, so that nearly every type of protective regulation is vulnerable. As a result, the RAA is opposed by groups who advocate on a variety of issues, ranging from consumer safety and financial reform to food safety and worker rights.
Slowing the pace of government to a crawl
Currently, when agencies want to issue a regulation, they already must follow a process dictated by at least six existing laws. They have to give the public and those interests affected by the regulation a chance to comment on it. They must explain why the regulation is needed and routinely attempt to estimate its costs and benefits. Regulations can also be challenged in court. This ensures that agencies take procedural requirements seriously when they develop a rule, because the failure to do so can lead to the rule being rejected by the court, sending the agency back to the beginning of the process to start all over again.
Years pass between the time a rule is proposed and its implementation. Even when a regulated industry does not oppose a rule, such as a rule that imposes stronger safety requirements on the operation of construction cranes and derricks, it can take more than six years for a final rule to be issued.
But the RAA would add dozens of new procedures for agencies to follow, and likely would add several more years to the current process.
For example, this bill would require agencies to estimate not only the direct costs and benefits of a proposed regulation but also "indirect" costs, including impacts on jobs and wages — yet the bill doesn't define what an indirect cost is. It requires agencies to examine every alternative to the rule being proposed and the indirect and direct costs of each. It requires the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to produce mandatory guidelines stipulating how agencies should do these estimates. If agencies fail to do exactly as OMB requires, this alone can be a reason for a judge to throw out the regulation altogether. And, the bill would require agencies to conduct a formal "hearing" for any rule that has a $1 billion or greater cost (though anyone who objects to smaller rules — those that cost $100 million or more — can petition the agency to conduct a formal hearing, as well).
Such hearings would give regulated industries the right to cross-examine agency officials, and to re-examine, in a trial setting, the agency's justification of costs and benefits and alternatives to the rule. When the administrative law and regulatory experts at the American Bar Associationlooked at an earlier version of the RAA, they found this hearing requirement particularly troubling, noting that "trial-type methods are usually unsuitable in generalized rulemaking proceedings," and that "not one scholarly article" written over the past 30 years supported this type of formal rulemaking.
The rise of the zombie bills
You might want to call this the first in what we expect to be a long list of "zombie bills" — retreads of bills which failed to become law in previous years, but have been resurrected one more time. These legislative proposals harm science-informed policy, jeopardizing public health, safety and the environment.
The House leadership isn't crazy. They suspect that the shift in power in the U.S. Senate means that these terrible bills may have a chance at life this Congress. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), the powerful chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and conservative Democratic co-sponsor Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) claim that the bill would "modernize" the regulatory process. That is absolutely not what the bill would do, nor what it was designed to do.
This is much more about delaying and blocking regulations and preventing agencies from carrying out their statutory missions. Goodlatte has been an ardent criticof the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) rules on a variety of issues. And Peterson has been waging war against the Administration's efforts to address climate change.
The bill has never drawn substantial bipartisan support. When the RAA passed the House late last year, it received the votes of 28 Democrats, but that was largely because it was part of a package that include a positive proposal, a bill that would help veterans get jobs. House members, particularly in vulnerable districts, were wary of voting against that provision right before the election. Roughly half of the Democrats who supported the bill either retired or were defeated last November.
But the bill has had the consistent and vigorous support of big business groups. Indeed, the Chamber of Commercehas listed passage of the RAA as one of its major goals this year.
Deciphering the details
This bill is deliberately complicated. You would have to be a regulatory lawyer to perceive all the traps, and even then you might miss some. Essentially what the RAA would do is hamstring federal agencies with additional procedural burdens when they try to carry out their mandates using the best available science. [How Much Say Should Congress Have in Science Funding? ]
When James Goodwin of the Center for Progressive Reform looked at the bill, he found it would add a whopping 74 additional procedural requirements agencies would have to undertake to propose and implement regulations, including those that protect the environment, public health and safety.
Even assessing risk, which should be in the hands of scientists, would be second-guessed by White House officials. Goodlatte's proposal requires that the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) develop guidelines for assessing risk, and that agencies must conform to whatever OIRA imposes — despite the fact that OIRA's small staff, which includes only a handful of scientists, lacks the scientific and technical expertise that federal agency scientists possess. OIRA bean counters should not be in the business of determining what constitutes a scientifically valid risk assessment.
In passing bipartisan laws such as the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, Congress told the EPA that preserving the environment and protecting public health was its core mission, and directed that it should not nickel-and-dime regulations that have ensured that future generations have access to unpolluted lakes and rivers and breathable air.
The RAA would jeopardize that mandate. The EPA would be much more vulnerable to legal challenges of its rules based on their costs, even if those rules were crucial to protecting air and water and safeguarding public health — indeed, even if those rules have enormous long-term economic benefits or savings.
That's because costs are specific and supplied by regulated industries. But benefits, particularly long-term ones, are far more difficult for an agency to quantify. How do you figure out the value of your children not getting asthma from smoggy air and being able to play outside? The RAA emphasizes the costs to businesses, not the long-term benefits to the public.
The worst part of the bill is the blatant cynicism it demonstrates. This bill harms science, but it also harms democracy. In rushing this complicated legislative proposal during the first weeks of Congress, House leaders are subverting the democratic process. If Congress wants an open and public debate on the value of bipartisan public protections built over the past century, then it should do so directly.
But Goodlatte, Peterson and others may suspect that they'd lose in a fair fight over the value of clean air and water and public health and safety. Last year, when respected pollster Celinda Lake Recent did national polling and convened focus groups to measure public attitudes towards regulation and regulatory enforcement, she was surprised to find strong support for federal agencies that crosses party and ideological lines. Even the EPA, often the target of congressional critiques, received the support of more than half of those polled, well above popular support for Congress, which hovers around 10 percent. The average voter understands and respects the work of agencies and knows the value of regulations that protect public health, safety and the environment. Those polled want regulations to be enforced, and enforced fairly. They don't like the idea of big companies rigging the system. And the RAA not only ups the game, but gives priority seats to select players — regulated industries.
So instead of having a fair debate over the merits of science-informed public policies, Goodlatte and Peterson and House leaders want to sneak this bill through. Their efforts suggest that they know full well that most House members, particularly the 73 House freshmen who can barely find their offices, won't understand the bill, or its full implications.
I will give the House leadership points for one thing: This blatant attempt to subvert public protections has brought together science, consumer, public health, financial reform and environmental activists. Americans continue to believe that democracy means that our elected officials ought to make policies that benefit their constituents, not their big donors. Let's hope the nation can drive a stake through the heart of this and future "zombie" bills.
Follow all of the Expert Voices issues and debates — and become part of the discussion — on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher. This version of the article was originally published on Live Science.
Reply #1406 on:
January 20, 2015, 08:15:35 AM »
It's all about the world now. I didn't see any mention of "coutry". Just the temporary nod to reality by using the term "governments" as liberals like this Columbia University Professor push for one world government:
Jeffrey D. Sachs
DEC 9, 2014 7
The Year of Sustainable Development
NEW YORK – The year 2015 will be our generation’s greatest opportunity to move the world toward sustainable development. Three high-level negotiations between July and December can reshape the global development agenda, and give an important push to vital changes in the workings of the global economy. With United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s call to action in his report “The Road to Dignity,” the Year of Sustainable Development has begun.
In July 2015, world leaders will meet in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to chart reforms of the global financial system. In September 2015, they will meet again to approve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to guide national and global policies to 2030. And in December 2015, leaders will assemble in Paris to adopt a global agreement to head off the growing dangers of human-induced climate change.
The fundamental goal of these summits is to put the world on a course toward sustainable development, or inclusive and sustainable growth. This means growth that raises average living standards; benefits society across the income distribution, rather than just the rich; and protects, rather than wrecks, the natural environment.
The world economy is reasonably good at achieving economic growth, but it fails to ensure that prosperity is equitably shared and environmentally sustainable. The reason is simple: The world’s largest companies relentlessly – and rather successfully – pursue their own profits, all too often at the expense of economic fairness and the environment.
Profit maximization does not guarantee a reasonable distribution of income or a safe planet. On the contrary, the global economy is leaving vast numbers of people behind, including in the richest countries, while planet Earth itself is under unprecedented threat, owing to human-caused climate change, pollution, water depletion, and the extinction of countless species.
The SDGs are premised on the need for rapid far-reaching change. As John F. Kennedy put it a half-century ago: “By defining our goal more clearly, by making it seem more manageable and less remote, we can help all people to see it, to draw hope from it, and to move irresistibly toward it.” This is, in essence, Ban’s message to the UN member states: Let us define the SDGs clearly, and thereby inspire citizens, businesses, governments, scientists, and civil society around the world to move toward them.
The main objectives of the SDGs have already been agreed. A committee of the UN General Assembly identified 17 target areas, including the eradication of extreme poverty, ensuring education and health for all, and fighting human-induced climate change. The General Assembly as a whole has spoken in favor of these priorities. The key remaining step is to turn them into a workable set of goals. When the SDGs were first proposed in 2012, the UN’s member said that they “should be action-oriented,” “easy to communicate,” and “limited in number,” with many governments favoring a total of perhaps 10-12 goals encompassing the 17 priority areas.
Achieving the SDGs will require deep reform of the global financial system, the key purpose of July’s Conference on Financing for Development. Resources need to be channeled away from armed conflict, tax loopholes for the rich, and wasteful outlays on new oil, gas, and coal development toward priorities such as health, education, and low-carbon energy, as well as stronger efforts to combat corruption and capital flight.
The July summit will seek to elicit from the world’s governments a commitment to allocate more funds to social needs. It will also identify better ways to ensure that development aid reaches the poor, taking lessons from successful programs such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. One such innovation should be a new Global Fund for Education, to ensure that children everywhere can afford to attend school at least through the secondary level. We also need better ways to channel private money toward sustainable infrastructure, such as wind and solar power.
These goals are within reach. Indeed, they are the only way for us to stop wasting trillions of dollars on financial bubbles, useless wars, and environmentally destructive forms of energy.
Success in July and September will give momentum to the decisive climate-change negotiations in Paris next December. Debate over human-induced global warming has been seemingly endless. In the 22 years since the world signed the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change at the Rio Earth Summit, there has been far too little progress toward real action. As a result, 2014 is now likely to be the warmest year in recorded history, a year that has also brought devastating droughts, floods, high-impact storms, and heat waves.
Back in 2009 and 2010, the world’s governments agreed to keep the rise in global temperature to below 2° Celsius relative to the pre-industrial era. Yet warming is currently on course to reach 4-6 degrees by the end of the century – high enough to devastate global food production and dramatically increase the frequency of extreme weather events.
To stay below the two-degree limit, the world’s governments must embrace a core concept: “deep decarbonization” of the world’s energy system. That means a decisive shift from carbon-emitting energy sources like coal, oil, and gas, toward wind, solar, nuclear, and hydroelectric power, as well as the adoption of carbon capture and storage technologies when fossil fuels continue to be used. Dirty high-carbon energy must give way to clean low- and zero-carbon energy, and all energy must be used much more efficiently.
A successful climate agreement next December should reaffirm the two-degree cap on warming; include national “decarbonization” commitments up to 2030 and deep-decarbonization “pathways” (or plans) up to 2050; launch a massive global effort by both governments and businesses to improve the operating performance of low-carbon energy technologies; and provide large-scale and reliable financial help to poorer countries as they face climate challenges. The United States, China, the European Union’s members, and other countries are already signaling their intention to move in the right direction.
The SDGs can create a path toward economic development that is technologically advanced, socially fair, and environmentally sustainable. Agreements at next year’s three summits will not guarantee the success of sustainable development, but they can certainly orient the global economy in the right direction. The chance will not come along again in our generation.
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PreviousImmigration and the New Class Divide
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Reply #1407 on:
January 21, 2015, 01:18:31 PM »
Jan. 20, 2015 7:42 p.m. ET
The recent terror attacks in Paris at the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, and at a kosher supermarket, leaving 17 people dead, represented the latest offensive in a struggle that most people, even many of its casualties, are unaware is even taking place.
Globalization has effectively compressed the world in size, increasing the mobility of goods, capital and labor. Simultaneously this has led to globalization across time, as the 21st century collides with cultures and regimes intent on existing as in centuries past. It is less the famous clash of civilizations than an attempt by these “time travelers” to hold on to their waning authority by stopping the advance of the ideas essential to an open society.
Radical Islamists, from the Taliban and al Qaeda to Boko Haram and Islamic State, set the time machine to the Dark Ages and encourage the murder of all who oppose them, often supported by fatwas and funds from terror sponsors like Iran. The religious monarchies in the Middle East are guilty by association, creating favorable conditions for extremism by clamping down on any stirring of freedom.
Vladimir Putin wants Russia to exist in the Great Power era of czars and monarchs, dominating its neighbors by force and undisturbed by elections and rights complaints. The post-Communist autocracies, led by Mr. Putin’s closest dictator allies in Belarus and Kazakhstan, exploit ideology only as a means of hanging on to power at any cost.
In the East, Kim Jong Un ’s North Korea attempts to freeze time in a Stalinist prison-camp bubble. In the West, Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela and the Castros in Cuba use anachronistic socialist propaganda to resist increasing pressure for human rights.
What unites the time travelers is their rejection of modernity—or what we should instead call modern values, to replace the obsolete and condescending term “Western values.” With violence and with violent rhetoric, the time travelers’ natural target is often the traditional champion of the rights that threaten them: the United States. The guaranteed freedoms represented by the First Amendment frighten the radical mullahs and dictators more than any drone strike or economic sanction.
Reply #1408 on:
January 23, 2015, 11:11:07 AM »
The Troubnle with Limited Government
Reply #1409 on:
January 23, 2015, 02:53:48 PM »
The Trouble With Limited Government
Why even Reagan couldn't stop spending from skyrocketing--and what to do about it.
BY WILLIAM VOEGELI
Wednesday, November 7, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST A quarter century ago president Ronald Reagan declared in his first inaugural address: "In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. . . . It is my intention to curb the size and influence of the federal establishment and to demand recognition of the distinction between the powers granted to the federal government and those reserved to the states or to the people." In 1981, the year of that speech, the federal government spent $678 billion; in 2006, it spent $2,655 billion. Adjust that 292% increase for inflation, and the federal government is still spending 84% more than it did when Reagan became president--in a country whose population has grown by only 30%.
To put the point another way, if per capita spending after 1980 had grown at the rate of inflation, federal outlays would have been $1,883 billion in 2006 instead of $2,655 billion. The 41% increase from 1981 to 2006 is considerably lower than the 94% increase in real per capita spending in the previous 25 years, from 1956 to 1981. In the past two decades, the federal establishment grew steadily, rather than dramatically. Nonetheless, Reagan's pledge to curb the government's size and influence has hardly been fulfilled. Inflation-adjusted federal spending increased in every year but two over the past 26 years.
Military spending is a minor factor in the overall growth of government. It was 23.2% of federal spending and 5.2% of gross domestic product in 1981.
Those percentages peaked in 1987 at 28.1% and 6.1%, respectively. Defense spending fell steadily thereafter, and was just over 16% of the federal budget and 3% of GDP from 1999 through 2001. Since September 11, defense spending has climbed to 20% of the federal budget and 4% of GDP. Despite the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, both figures are lower than they were at any point during Jimmy Carter's presidency.
The engine driving the growth of government has been "human resources"--the Office of Management and Budget's category that includes Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, along with other programs for health, education, veterans and income security. Spending on human resources in 1981 was $362 billion, slightly more than half (53.4%) of all federal outlays. That proportion declined to slightly less than half (49.7%) by the time Reagan left office in 1989. But it turns out there was a peace dividend after the fall of the Berlin Wall: National defense spending dropped from 26.5% of federal outlays in 1989 to 16.1% in 1999. That savings--a tenth of the budget--migrated to human resources, where spending climbed to 60% of outlays by 1995. The category has stayed above that level ever since, reaching almost two-thirds of federal spending (65.6%) and 13.1% of GDP in 2003.
The numbers confirm what every despondent conservative already knows. Since Reagan's stunning victory in 1980, conservative journals have annihilated forests to print articles about excessive government spending. Conservative think tanks have produced sweeping plans for reducing the welfare state. Republicans occupied the White House for 18 of the 26 years after 1980, and held a Senate majority for 16 1/2 years and a House majority for 12 years. Yet the result is a federal establishment bigger and more influential today than in 1980.
Reagan was elected president 25 years after the first issue of National Review declared its intention to "stand athwart history, yelling Stop." This was an amazing ascent for a political movement that started out, in the words of NR's first editorial, "superfluous" and "out of place." In the 25 years since Reagan's election, however, conservatives determined to scale back the welfare state might as well have been standing a respectful distance behind history, whispering "Please slow down."
If conservatism has a future, those who want to fashion it need to acknowledge and understand this stunning defeat. In National Review last year Ramesh Ponnuru said the "real crisis" is that, while a conservatism whose "central mission" does not emphasize the fight against Big Government is inconceivable, a "political coalition in America capable of sustaining a majority" for that mission is unimaginable. Conservatism, in other words, can have a purpose or it can have a prospect. It cannot, apparently, have both.
This political problem will only become more acute as the challenges of governance become more severe. One yardstick may help conservatives feel a little better about themselves. In 1981 federal spending was 22.2% of GDP; last year it was 20.3%. This measure hovered in a very narrow band for the whole era, never exceeding 23.5% or falling below 18.4%. Adding expenditures by states and localities confirms the picture of a rugby match between liberals and conservatives that is one interminable scrum in the middle of the field. Spending by all levels of government in America amounted to 31.6% of GDP in 1981, and 31.8% in 2006.
Conservatives, though, can't take much solace from fighting Big Government to a draw. Looking back, the dynamic growth of the American economy after 1982--real per capita GDP was two-thirds higher in 2006 than in 1981--offered a great opportunity to reduce the relative size of the public sector. This economic vigor meant that more people had more money to spend on their own health, education and welfare, presumably enabling the government to spend less for such purposes. It also meant that government spending could have grown robustly and still expanded more slowly than the economy, leaving the public sector to absorb a significantly smaller portion of GDP in 2006 than it did in 1981. Even this modest achievement eluded conservatives.
Republicans abandoned their promises to abolish the departments of Energy and Education. Efforts to zero out smaller and supposedly vulnerable agencies like the National Endowment for the Arts accomplished nothing. The only important victory here was the 1996 law abolishing Aid to Families with Dependent Children, a victory that may turn out to be hollow. The New Republic celebrated rather than lamented the 10th anniversary of AFDC's demise, arguing that because of the law, "welfare-bashing has lost its political resonance . . . [and] welfare reform has expanded the constituency for activist government. Democrats now have more political room to fight Republican austerity--and to propose, in its place, a stronger safety net."
Looking forward, government spending as a percentage of GDP is about to rise dramatically. The oldest baby boomers, born in 1946, will be eligible for Social Security's early retirement benefits in 2008 when they turn 62, and become Medicare beneficiaries when they turn 65 in 2011. These two programs, along with Medicaid, accounted for 41% of federal spending in 2006, even before the baby boom cohort had started collecting benefits. All three will increase relentlessly due to the longevity and sheer numbers of Americans born between 1946 and 1964. The columnist Bruce Bartlett estimates that the magnitude of this growth will be "on the order of 10% of the gross domestic product over the next generation even if no new government programs are enacted or current ones expanded." This is the Swedenization of America on autopilot.
Many conservative commentators, in their assessments of these ominous prospects and past opportunities lost, have resorted to finger-pointing. The title of Mr. Bartlett's book, "Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy" (2006), hints at the villain he identifies. "Leviathan on the Right" (2007), by Michael D. Tanner of the Cato Institute, makes "big-government conservatives" and their ideas the culprit.
Though these books were published in the past two years, the blame game has been going on since Reagan was elected. Newt Gingrich famously derided Bob Dole as the "tax collector for the welfare state." Dick Armey said that what "killed us" during the 1995 government shutdown was that Mr. Gingrich and his House deputies were "full of themselves," boasting about the shutdown in advance. President George H.W. Bush was savaged by conservatives for his 1990 tax increase.
In "Dead Right," published in 1994, David Frum carried the assignment of blame to its logical conclusion. He argued that capitulating to the welfare state is not a betrayal of the Reagan legacy; it is the Reagan legacy:
There was no arithmetic reason that the Reagan program could not have succeeded. Reagan's budgets were wrecked by the inability and unwillingness of the most conservative administration since Coolidge's to resist the rise of social welfare spending. . . . The doctrine was that the welfare state should be allowed to hurtle forward whenever the political cost of halting it was likely to be inconvenient in the shortest of short runs.
There would be many more harsh judgments about how this or that faction betrayed the conservative campaign against Big Government. All such explanations, however, agree on one dubious premise: But for the weakness or hubris of some key player, the conservative project could have succeeded.
That premise disregards the central fact--cutting back the welfare state is very, very difficult. Paul Pierson, a political scientist at Berkeley, showed in "Dismantling the Welfare State?" (1994) that Margaret Thatcher had no more success in curtailing Britain's social programs than our conservatives had in undoing ours. As prime minister for 11 years, Mrs. Thatcher had more leverage to change policy than President Reagan or Speaker Gingrich ever possessed. Mr. Pierson concludes, however, that her government "had only modest success" in cutting back individual welfare state programs, while her record in modifying the context of future struggles over the welfare state "was if anything less impressive."
Lacking an appreciation of the challenges they would face, conservatives never developed a political strategy adequate to the task. There was no systematic effort to pare back the welfare state, no disciplined preparation for the inevitable and aggressive counterattacks by interest groups and liberal journalists. Instead, conservatives time and again were shocked to discover that the people who built the welfare state were so unhelpful about dismantling it. Right-wingers fell into long periods of sullen, stupefied resentment, punctuated by frontal assaults that were brief, furious and futile. Think of David Stockman's crusade to cut spending in 1981; or the
1995 government shutdown, the Pickett's Charge of the Gingrich rebels.
Early on, in the wilderness years, conservatives had a surer sense of what they were up against. The first issue of National Review described conservatism as "a position . . . unattenuated by a thousand vulgar promises to a thousand different pressure groups." Unattenuated in theory, conservatism in practice has been hemmed in constantly by the fact that the people insist that promises made to them, vulgar or not, must be kept.
Robert Samuelson recently wrote, "Most Americans . . . think that they automatically deserve whatever they've been promised simply because the promises were made."
As a result, it is much harder for conservatives to dismantle the welfare state than for liberals to build it. The main impediment to the New Deal was the "legitimacy barrier," the prelapsarian conviction held by many jurists and citizens that government had no rightful business undertaking a whole range of social improvements, no matter how gratifying the beneficiaries might find them. The New Deal overcame--demolished, really--that barrier, and with it the constitutional and political impediments to building the welfare state. That victory, according to James Q. Wilson, guaranteed not only the permanent existence but the permanent growth of Big Government:
New programs need not await the advent of a crisis or an extraordinary majority, because no program is any longer "new"--it is seen, rather, as an extension, a modification, or an enlargement of something the government is already doing. . . . Since there is virtually nothing the government has not tried to do, there is little it cannot be asked to do.
After the legitimacy barrier is overwhelmed, the political calculus of how benefits and burdens are apportioned and, crucially, perceived strengthens liberals "seeking to extend benefits to large numbers of people" against conservatives "seeking to take those benefits away," according to Mr. Pierson. Liberals must worry only about a "diffuse concern about tax rates," a problem they can usually finesse "through reliance on indirect taxes and social insurance 'contributions.' " The conservative project, on the other hand, requires "the imposition of concrete losses on a concentrated group of voters in return for diffuse and uncertain gains." Every cutback necessitates "a delicate effort to transform programmatic change into an electorally attractive proposition," an effort that is in constant danger of being negated by "a substantial public outcry," such as the one against President Bush's Social Security proposals in 2005.
Conservatives have always had to negotiate the trade-offs, inherent in Mr. Ponnuru's dilemma, between adhering to the mission and assembling a majority. It hardly suffices to say that Barry Goldwater, the first National Review-era conservative hero, favored the mission. "I do not undertake to promote welfare," he announced in "The Conscience of a Conservative" (1960), "for I propose to extend freedom. My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new programs, but to cancel old ones that do violence to the Constitution, or that have failed in their purpose, or that impose on the people an unwarranted financial burden." Rather than compromise his mission to gain political victory, Goldwater in 1964 went out of his way to tell voters what they didn't want to hear.
At the other end of the spectrum, House Republicans kept their majority for eight years after Newt Gingrich resigned in 1998, but the revolutionaries who came to Washington in 1994 to do big things wound up staying around just to be big shots. After the 1995 government shutdown, the mission of the congressional Republican Party shrank steadily, and finally amounted to nothing more than clinging to its majority. In the end, the meagerness of that aspiration negated it. Voters connected the unprincipled personal behavior of thieves and frauds like Duke Cunningham and Mark Foley with the unprincipled political behavior of a congressional majority that spent millions on a bridge to nowhere and billions on a Medicare drug plan to the moon. After the House majority leader, Tom DeLay, declared in 2005 that there was really nothing left to cut in the federal budget, voters concluded, plausibly, that if we're going to have Big Government we might as well entrust it to politicians who don't pretend they oppose it.
Supply-side economics was, in political terms, an effort to break out of Mr. Ponnuru's dilemma, to secure a majority without sacrificing the mission. In 1963, Sen. Goldwater had voted against the Kennedy tax cuts, saying the dangers of inflation and deficits required "firm, principled decisions" about spending prior to any tax reductions. The "Reagan gambit," as Mr. Frum called supply-side economics, was an attempt to reverse the political equation. Liberalism had flourished by making government spending the independent variable and taxes the dependent one: Give the people a cluster of attractive and successful social welfare programs, the logic went, and voters will gladly pay the taxes required to support them. Supply-side conservatives tried to make taxes the independent variable and spending the dependent one: Give the people a cluster of appealing tax cuts and count on their attachment to them to set spending at the level defined by the resulting revenue stream. To the extent that lower taxes, along with smarter regulatory and monetary policies, strengthened the economy, they would also increase government revenues and make the attainment of revenue-defined spending levels that much easier.
The experience of a quarter century shows that tax cuts have served important purposes, but the cause of scaling back Big Government is not one of them. Fiscal policy-making is an ongoing political science experiment, testing the relative strength of the aversion to taxes, the appetite for government programs, and the feasibility of large-scale borrowing. The results are in, and they're not ambiguous: Under every set of circumstances, the levels of taxing and borrowing increase to accommodate government spending, to a far greater extent than government spending decreases in order to avoid excessive taxation or deficits.
In David Stockman's bitter but compelling memoir about his embattled years as President Reagan's OMB director, he describes his own reckoning with Mr.
Ponnuru's dilemma: "The politics of American democracy made a shambles of my anti-welfare state theory . . . [which] rested on the illusion that the will of the people was at drastic variance with the actions of the politicians."
In reality, "congressmen and senators ultimately deliver what their constituencies demand. The notion that Washington . . . [is] divorced from the genuine desires of the voters . . . constitutes more myth than truth."
The Pity Party: The Folly of Liberal "Compassion"...
Reply #1410 on:
January 27, 2015, 06:39:46 AM »
The Pity Party
Posted By Daniel Greenfield On January 27, 2015
Progressives will always claim that no matter how badly their plans go wrong, at least their terrible policies were well-intentioned.
The regimes that shot orphans, starved entire cities into submission and committed genocide were “caring” in comparison to the heartless Dickensian capitalists who did nothing for the poor except create cheap products and jobs. They might have killed millions, but their red hearts were in the right place.
They didn’t just spend all their time gobbling caviar and diving into swimming pools full of all money like the millionaires of the West. Instead they gave speeches about Marxism-Leninism, killed anyone who wasn’t up on their dialectical materialism and then gobbled working class caviar and dove into proletarian swimming pools full of money.
The path to everything from death panels to gulags was paved by outrage over the oppressed and compassion for the less fortunate… even if the real less fortunate turned out to be those on whom the tender-hearted compassion of progressives was practiced on.
That compassion is the theme of William Voegeli’s “The Pity Party: A Mean-Spirited Diatribe Against Liberal Compassion.” Going from Bill Clinton’s “I Feel Your Pain” to Barack Obama’s “Yes, We Can,” Voegeli challenges the conspicuous compassion and self-centered emotional displays on which the contemporary progressive argument is built.
Rather than dealing with the issues, the left deals in narratives. Its pornography of misery bypasses facts, particularly those which demonstrate that it is the left’s policies that create misery, thereby showing the dangers of placing compassion above any other value; including truth. And that is one of the subjects explored in Voegeli’s book whose themes occupy the moral realm as much as the sphere of government policy.
“So many Americans,” Voegeli writes, take for granted, “that moral growth requires little else than feeling, acting and being more compassionate.”
The conspicuous compassion of progressivism results in the appearance of goodness, without its substance. It is easy to mandate social welfare. Especially at someone else’s expense. What is difficult is grappling with human limitations and aspirations. That’s why the War on Poverty failed.
FDR explicitly laid out the moral double standard for the right and the left. The Pity Party quotes him as saying, “Divine justice weighs the sins of the cold-blooded and the sins of the warm-hearted in different scales. Better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference.”
There lies the high-minded formula for dismissing the crimes of the left as the “occasional faults” of warm-blooded leftists over the neglect of a conservative government. FDR was saying that it was better to do something, even if it was the wrong thing, than to do nothing. It was a left-wing indictment of nothing less than the United States Constitution. The argument is echoed today in defense of amnesty and any other disastrous Obama policy by asserting that doing something is better than nothing.
The good leftist may destroy lives, but at least he doesn’t neglect his warm-hearted duty to meddle. Better a caring killer, than a constitutionalist who doesn’t care enough to death panel the sick.
In The Pity Party, Voegeli explores the failure of progressive ideas and the immunity of those failures to reform. Looking at the global and national consequences of progressive policymaking he shows that the politics of conspicuous compassion are self-contradictory and lead to bad results and advises conservatives on how to counter the caring spin cycle of the left.
In the age of Tumblr and Twitter when the Social Justice Warrior deploys limitless outrage, bile and spleen in empathy’s name, progressive pathos has become a revolutionary hysteria that trips easily into riots and violent threats. The primacy of compassion as the only significant virtue makes it impossible to distinguish between empathy and self-serving rhetoric, between caring and egotistical hysteria.
At the big government and big media level, every argument is triangulated as being between caring progressives and uncaring conservatives. Their human shields; children, the elderly, designated minority victim classes and gentle giants, are infinite. Their personal stories, even if they happen to be those of Democratic activists covertly posing as ordinary people at a State of the Union address, negate the facts.
Every dispute, no matter how technical, eventually culminates with the left trotting out its human shields to take the debate out of the realm of facts and into the realm of personal anecdote. Since creative types can figure out how to personalize every debate, every debate becomes an empathy test. The issue stops being whether a policy will work, but whether a politician represents our values of caring. And this is where Democrats routinely trounce Republicans in polling questions.
The longstanding tactic of the left is to turn every debate into a question of which side consists of good people and which side consists of bad people. It is a tactic that Republicans have done a very poor job of fighting because they do not believe of the left what it believes about them.
A secularized empathy provides religion without deity or scripture. The new temple becomes the government building and its new bible is a million pages of ObamaCare regulations that no one reads. Its messiahs are community organizers. Its clergy hold “die-ins” and seek absolute power to regulate every detail of human life. Thus the tyranny of compassion transforms America into a Socialist theocracy.
The compassion of the left exists in a space formerly occupied by religion and is therefore immune to analysis and factual critique. It serves as the supporting ideology for leftist policy and cloaks it in the same self-serving air of a spiritual compassion that should not be examined to see how many people ended up in the gulags or death panels.
Voegeli’s critique serves as a warning that a policy based on the theatrics of compassion without moral substance or factual analysis is doomed to destroy its own unexamined founding virtues. In the name of compassion, the left hurts the very people it claims to want to help while serving its own interests.
Every crime, from Green Energy corruption to totalitarian health care regulations, is justified by an appeal to compassion. But the truly compassionate attribute is not the arrogant paternalism of leftist policymakers, but the empowerment of our fellow man through political and economic freedom.
"You have enemies? Good. That means that you have stood up for something, sometime in your life." - Winston Churchill.
Mind the Gap
Reply #1411 on:
January 28, 2015, 11:08:37 AM »
Mind the Gap
January 28, 2015 | 09:00 GMT Print Text Size
By Jay Ogilvy
The Charlie Hebdo attack and its aftermath in the streets and in the press tempt one to dust off Samuel Huntington's 1996 book, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. Despite the criticisms he provoked with that book and his earlier 1993 article in Foreign Affairs, recent events would seem to be proving him prescient.
Or was he?
While I am not about to deny the importance of religion and culture as drivers of geopolitical dynamics, I will argue that, more important than the clashes among the great civilizations, there is a clash within each of the great civilizations. This is the clash between those who have "made it" (in a sense yet to be defined) and those who have been "left behind" — a phrase that is rich with ironic resonance.
Before I make my argument, I warn that the point I'm trying to make is fairly subtle. So, in the interest of clarity, let me lay out what I'm not saying before I make that point. I am not saying that Islam as a whole is somehow retrograde. I am not agreeing with author Sam Harris' October 2014 remark on "Real Time with Bill Maher" that "Islam is the mother lode of bad ideas." Nor am I saying that all religions are somehow equal, or that culture is unimportant. The essays in the book Culture Matters, which Huntington helped edit, argue that different cultures have different comparative advantages when it comes to economic competitiveness. These essays build on the foundation laid down by Max Weber's 1905 work, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. It is only the "sulfuric odor of race," as Harvard historian David Landes writes on the first page of the first essay in Culture Matters, that has kept scholars from exploring the under-researched linkages between culture and economic performance.
Making It in the Modern World
The issue of the comparative advantages or disadvantages of different cultures is complicated and getting more so because with modernity and globalization, our lives are getting more complicated. We are all in each other's faces today in a way that was simply not the case in earlier centuries. Whether through travel or telecommunications or increasingly ubiquitous and inexpensive media, each and every one of us is more aware of the cultural other than in times past. This is obvious. What is not so obvious are the social and psychological consequences of the inevitable comparisons this awareness invites us to make: How are we measuring up, as individuals and as civilizations?
In the modern world, the development of the individual human, which is tied in part to culture, has become more and more important. If you think of a single human life as a kind of footrace — as if the developmental path from infancy to maturity were spanning a certain distance — then progress over the last several millennia has moved out the goal posts of maturity. It simply takes longer to learn the skills it takes to "make it" as an adult. Surely there were skills our Stone Age ancestors had to acquire that we moderns lack, but they did not have to file income taxes or shop for insurance. Postmodern thinkers have critiqued the idea of progress and perhaps we do need a concept that is forgivingly pluralistic. Still, there have been indisputable improvements in many basic measures of human progress. This is borne out by improved demographic statistics such as birth weight, height and longevity, as well as declining poverty and illiteracy. To put it very simply, we humans have come a long way.
But these historic achievements have come at a price. It is not simple for individuals to master this elaborate structure we call modern civilization with its buildings and institutions and culture and history and science and law. A child can't do it. Babies born into this world are biologically very similar to babies born 10,000 years ago; biological evolution is simply too slow and cannot equip us to manage this structure. And childhood has gotten ever longer. "Neoteny" is the technical term for the prolongation of the period during which an offspring remains dependent on its parent. In some species, such as fish or spiders, newborns can fend for themselves immediately. In other species — ducks, deer, dogs and cats — the young remain dependent on their mothers for a period of weeks. In humans, the period of dependency extends for years. And as the generations and centuries pass, especially recently, that period of dependency keeps getting longer.
As French historian Philippe Aries informed us in Centuries of Childhood, "in medieval society, the idea of childhood did not exist." Prior to modernity, young people were adults in miniature, trying to fit in wherever they could. But then childhood got invented. Child labor laws kept children out of the factories and truancy laws kept them in public schools. For a recent example of the statutory extension of childhood known as neoteny, consider U.S. President Barack Obama's announcement that he intends to make community college available for free to any high school graduate, thus extending studenthood by two years.
The care and feeding and training of your average human cub have become far greater than the single season that bear cubs require. And it seems to be getting ever longer as more 20-somethings and even 30-somethings find it cheaper to live with mom and dad, whether or not they are enrolled in school or college. The curriculum required to flourish as an adult seems to be getting ever longer, the goal posts of meaningful maturity ever further away from the "starting line," which has not moved. Our biology has not changed at anywhere near the rate of our history. And this growing gap between infancy and modern maturity is true for every civilization, not just Islamic civilization.
The picture gets complicated, though, because the vexed history of the relationships among the world's great civilizations leaves little doubt about different levels of development along any number of different scales of achievement. Christian democracies have outperformed the economies and cultures of the rest of the world. Is this an accident? Or is there something in the cultural software of the West that renders it better able to serve the needs of its people than does the cultural software called Islam?
Those Left Behind
Clearly there is a feeling among many in the Islamic world that they, as a civilization, have been "left behind" by history. Consider this passage from Snow, the novel by Nobel Prize-winning Turkish author Orhan Pamuk:
"We're poor and insignificant," said Fazul, with a strange fury in his voice. "Our wretched lives have no place in human history. One day all of us living now in Kars will be dead and gone. No one will remember us; no one will care what happened to us. We'll spend the rest of our days arguing about what sort of scarf women should wrap around their heads, and no one will care in the slightest because we're eaten up by our own petty, idiotic quarrels. When I see so many people around me leading such stupid lives and then vanishing without a trace, an anger runs through me…"
Earlier I mentioned the ironic resonance of this phrase, "left behind." I think of two other recent uses: first, the education reform legislation in the United States known as the No Child Left Behind Act; the second, the best-selling series of 13 novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins in which true believers are taken up by the Rapture while the sinners are "left behind." In both of these uses, it is clearly a bad thing to be left behind.
This growing divide between those who have made it and those who are being left behind is happening globally, in each of the great civilizations, not just Islam. To quote my fellow Stratfor columnist, Ian Morris, from just last week:
Culture is something we can change in response to circumstances rather than waiting, as other animals must, for our genes to evolve under the pressures of natural selection. As a result, though we are still basically the same animals that we were when we invented agriculture at the end of the ice age, our societies have evolved faster and faster and will continue to do so at an ever-increasing rate in the 21st century.
And because the fundamental dynamics of this divide are rooted in the mismatch between the pace of change of biological evolution on the one hand (very slow) and historical or technological change on the other (ever faster), it is hard to see how this gap can be closed. We don't want to stop progress, and yet the more progress we make, the further out the goal posts of modern maturity recede and the more significant culture becomes.
There is a link between the "left behind" phenomenon and the rise of the ultra-right in Europe. As the number of unemployed, disaffected, hopeless youth grows, so also does the appeal of extremist rhetoric — to both sides. On the Muslim side, more talk from the Islamic State about slaying the infidels. On the ultra-right, more talk about Islamic extremists. Like a crowded restaurant, the louder the voices get, the louder the voices get.
I use this expression, those who have "made it," because the gap in question is not simply between the rich and the poor. Accomplished intellectuals such as Pamuk feel it as well. The writer Pankaj Mishra, born in Uttar Pradesh, India, in 1969, is another rising star from the East who writes about the dilemma of Asian intellectuals, the Hobson's choice they face between recoiling into the embrace of their ancient cultures or adopting Western ways precisely to gain the strength to resist the West. This is their paradox: Either accept the Trojan horse of Western culture to master its "secrets" — technology, organization, bureaucracy and the power that accrues to a nation-state — or accept the role of underpaid extras in a movie, a very partial "universal" history, that stars the West. In my next column, I'll explore more of Mishra's insights from several of his books.
Piers Morgan on American Sniper
Reply #1412 on:
January 30, 2015, 12:07:20 AM »
Re: Piers Morgan on American Sniper
Reply #1413 on:
January 30, 2015, 08:13:23 AM »
Quote from: Crafty_Dog on January 30, 2015, 12:07:20 AM
Morgan isn't a complete idiot.
Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
Reply #1414 on:
February 07, 2015, 09:46:09 PM »
A lot of outrage over Brain Williams over his lies to embellish himself.
Why is there not even more outrage over the repeat and serial lying from our politicians? Why are not they held to a high standard?
The answer ought not to be, "they all do it".
This is not or should not be acceptable. Yet it seems to be just fine for many.
Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
Reply #1415 on:
February 15, 2015, 12:06:44 PM »
Well if your going to listen to a speech from someone who will proceed to insult some of the Supreme Court Justices, most of Congress, or/and half the population of the United States you may as well get drunk and pass out. OTOH she probably agrees with him 90% of the time.
Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
Reply #1416 on:
February 15, 2015, 04:39:23 PM »
My strong dislike for RBG is a matter of record around here, but I file this under "little old lady had a bit too much wine at dinner; BFD."
A first; someone else gets it!!!
Reply #1417 on:
February 15, 2015, 06:38:12 PM »
Finally someone besides me who hits the nail on the head. From Walter Williams. I keep saying we need efforts at real fairness. We don't need class envy or victimhood but we do need a full scale up and down evaluation of the playing field. Government has only added to the unfairness in our country. Not reduced it.
REcasting the East-West Dialogue
Reply #1418 on:
February 18, 2015, 07:39:23 AM »
Recasting the East-West Dialogue
February 18, 2015 | 09:01 GMT
By Jay Ogilvy
At a crucial turning point in his book, An End to Suffering: The Buddha in the World, Pankaj Mishra includes a long speech by one of his friends, Vinod. Mishra asks his friend about a picture of Vinod's sister, Sujata, whose in-laws, disappointed with her dowry, drenched her in kerosene and burned her alive. Vinod's impassioned reply takes up fully eight pages of Mishra's book. One paragraph of that long speech:
It is people like Gautama Buddha and Gandhi who have misled us. They have taught us to be passive and resigned. They have told us of the virtuous life; they have told us to deny ourselves in order to be content. But they haven't told us how to live in the real world — the world that grows bigger and bigger and more complex all the time. This is why Vivekananda is important. He could see why the old habits of fatalism and resignation — the habits of village people — wouldn't work any more. He saw that they had made us the slaves of the Muslims and then the British, why these people coming from outside could rule over India for so long. He was totally unsentimental, and he was brutally frank. He told us that we were sunk in tamas, darkness. There was no point in trumpeting our spiritual success, our philosophical wisdom. All that was in the past. It was meant for primitive people. This was now the age of big nations. India was one such nation but it was way behind Europe and America. The West had technology, it had mastered nature, it had exploded nuclear bombs, it had sent people to the moon. When someone asked Gandhi what he thought of western civilization, he made a joke. He said that western civilization would be a good idea. But Vivekananda knew that the West had much to teach us. The first lesson was that we have to be materialists first. We have to learn to love wealth and comfort; we have to grow strong, know how to take pleasure in things, and recognize that there is no virtue in poverty and weakness. We have to know real manhood first. Spirituality comes later, or not at all. Perhaps we don't need it.
I quote Mishra, quoting Vinod, at such length because I think this speech, coming from this source, is the best response I can make to a very thoughtful response to my last column, Mind the Gap. In that column, I described the growing divergence — in Islam and in each of the great civilizations — between those who have "made it" and those who have been left behind. I used the expression "made it" precisely to avoid a callow economism that would value only financial success. But one reader responded:
One of the reasons certain peoples and cultures might be outperformed or "left behind" is they simply do not define or strive for the same type of "progress." The view of "progress" has become ethnocentric and the western interpretation is clearly the dominant one. Whereas in Western society we are taught to strive for economic progress, in the east progress can take non monetary forms such as familial harmony or spiritual ascendancy as these are valued at least as much as economic prosperity.
Yes, there's a danger of wielding an ethnocentric measuring rod of progress, which is why I used the willfully ambiguous expression "making it" rather than a more precise one, such as "high GDP per capita." But the charge of ethnocentrism does not stick because, from people including Vinod and Mishra, we are hearing some arguments very similar to mine, made from a very different ethnic center: modern India.
I find it fascinating that Mishra, a relatively young Indian scholar, is able to speak with a tongue that is so profoundly forked between East and West in his fast-growing body of work. The East-West discussion is no longer a comparison of cultures and traditions to find common ground for some universal belief system, as was the work of philosophers such as F.S.C. Northrop and religious historians such as Huston Smith. Nor is it a matter of fleeing one set of customs for another, forsaking the fallen gods of one's elders and seeking elsewhere in a kind of grass-is-greener syndrome. I reference the procession of journeyers to the East, from Lawrence of Arabia to the Beatles.
Now we're beyond all that. Figures such as Mishra represent a new generation of writers who are integrating East and West in ways that take the dialectic of sameness and otherness through new and different cycles of shock and recognition.
From the Ruins of Empire
Modernization, colonialism, industrialization, globalization, Westernization — these are huge forces and dynamics that have shaken Asian cultures to their ancient foundations. As Mishra puts it in From the Ruins of Empire: The Intellectuals Who Remade Asia:
The much-heralded shift of economic power from the West to the East may or may not happen, but new perspectives have certainly opened up on world history. For most people in Europe and America, the history of the twentieth century is still largely defined by the two world wars and the long nuclear stand-off with Soviet Communism. But it is now clearer that the central event of the last century for the majority of the world's population was the intellectual and political awakening of Asia and its emergence from the ruins of both Asian and European empires. To acknowledge this is to understand the world not only as it exists today but also how it is continuing to be remade not so much in the image of the West as in accordance with the aspirations and longings of former subject peoples.
The shift in perspectives from that of the rulers to that of the ruled reveals a history — past, present and future — quite different from those written by Western scholars. But the perspective of Asian intellectuals is riven with contradiction: According to Mishra, they want to hold on to their religious and cultural traditions, and yet they cannot stand up to the West without adopting its ways in place of their own.
From the Ruins of Empire: The Intellectuals Who Remade Asia follows the careers of several Asian intellectuals who wrestled with the choice of whether to Westernize or not. Some of the names are familiar: Gandhi, Ataturk, Tagore. But some, such as Jamal al-Din al-Afghani, are new to me. According to Mishra, "It is impossible to imagine, for instance, that the recent protests and revolutions in the Arab world would have been possible without the intellectual and political foundation laid by al-Afghani's assimilation of Western ideas and his rethinking of Muslim traditions." If that judgment is anywhere near correct, al-Afghani merits more consideration.
So what are some of the intellectual and political foundations laid by al-Afghani? And how do they put a new spin on the East-West dialogue of old? "He advocated both nationalism and pan-Islamism; he lamented the intolerance of Islam; he evoked its great glories in the past; he called for Muslim unity; he also asked Muslims to work with Hindus, Christians and Jews, and did so himself." The dilemmas facing al-Afghani were so deep there seemed no way of resolving them short of working both sides of several streets as each new country and each new situation demanded.
Al-Afghani got around. He spent almost two years in Istanbul before being expelled in 1871. Why? "Indian Muslims harassed by the British, and Muslim Tatars ill-treated by the Russians, were beginning to call for the Ottoman sultan to assume leadership of the Muslim world and declare jihad (holy war) on infidels." But pan-Islamism was in its infancy and al-Afghani's efforts in Istanbul were unsuccessful. In the late 1870s, al-Afghani's career as an outside agitator took him to Egypt where he gave speeches in Cairo and Alexandria in 1878 before being expelled back to India in 1879.
How does al-Afghani's legacy, as opportunistic and inconsistent as it may be, put a new spin on the East-West dialogue? For one thing, al-Afghani is not a Gandhi. He did not preach non-violence. For another, he was not a Tagore, not a vividly spiritual man, not a sage. As such, he upsets the stereotype that would oppose the spiritual East to the materialistic West — the very stereotype invoked by that thoughtful and welcome respondent to my last column, the very stereotype so passionately rejected by Mishra's friend, Vinod. With al-Afghani's enthusiasm for an Islamic Reformation, and a corresponding separation of church from state, he holds out some hope for a politically moderate Islam. But don't get your hopes up too fast: The wounds and humiliations of empire struck so deep in al-Afghani's soul that his deepest and most abiding commitment was to anti-imperialism. It is a sentiment alive and well in the Arab Spring and in other recent conflicts across the East. Perhaps the contradictions lived by al-Afghani and expressed by Mishra will lead us to a deeper understanding of modern conflicts in the Muslim world and of the East-West dialogue at the heart of it all.
Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
Reply #1419 on:
February 22, 2015, 08:51:58 AM »
Well, I can say I don't recall anyone who headed the DNC who garnered my appreciation or admiration. It is interesting when we occasionally hear stories of unethical behavior from Democrats when one of more of them are pissed off by another one of their kindred.
The phony anti-Semitic and anti-woman card:
**********In 2013, Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz “sensed” President Barack Obama might try to replace her as chair — and it led her to set in motion an ethically questionable plan to prevent her ouster, according to a new Politico report.
She “began to line up supporters to suggest the move was both anti-woman and anti-Semitic,” the report states, citing anonymous sources.
Schultz did indeed keep her position as DNC chair and sources who have reportedly spoken with the Democratic congresswoman said she believes no one will remove her before her term ends in 2017.
The Politico report also outlined Schultz’s isolation within the Democratic Party and indicates she has barely even talked to Obama since 2011:
Throughout her time as chair, Wasserman Schultz has turned off colleagues, other top Democrats and current and former staff for a management style that strikes many as self-centered — even for a politician — and often at the expense of the DNC or individual candidates or campaigns. Many top Democrats, including some she counts as supporters and friends, privately complain about her trying to use the DNC as a vehicle for her own personal promotion, and letting her own ambition get in the way of larger goals.******
Reply #1420 on:
February 22, 2015, 08:55:58 AM »
Well, she is right about one thing: Obama is anti-Semitic.
She is also beneath contempt, and clearly cares only for her own self-promotion.
"You have enemies? Good. That means that you have stood up for something, sometime in your life." - Winston Churchill.
Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
Reply #1421 on:
February 23, 2015, 08:53:15 PM »
"Well, she is right about one thing: Obama is anti-Semitic"
I agree but,
1) That wouldn't have been why she would have been ousted. She is incompetent.
2) She is not really Jewish. She is a Democrat.
VDH: The Liberal Circus
Reply #1422 on:
March 03, 2015, 12:15:51 AM »
The Liberal Circus
March 2, 2015 7:30 am / 9 Comments / victorhanson
by Victor Davis Hanson // PJ Media
This Nov. 28, 2012 file photo shows then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton listening as President Barack Obama speaks in the Cabinet Room at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)
This Nov. 28, 2012 file photo shows then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton listening as President Barack Obama speaks in the Cabinet Room at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)
Lately liberalism has gone from psychodrama to farce.
Take Barack Obama. He has gone from mild displeasure with Israel to downright antipathy. Suddenly we are in a surreal world where off-the-record slurs from the administration against Benjamin Netanyahu as a coward and chickensh-t have gone to full-fledged attacks from John Kerry and Susan Rice, to efforts of former Obama political operatives to defeat the Israeli prime minister at the polls, to concessions to Iran and to indifference about the attacks on Jews in Paris. Who would have believed that Iranian leaders who just ordered bombing runs on a mock U.S. carrier could be treated with more deference than the prime minister of Israel? What started out six years as pressure on Israel to dismantle so-called settlements has ended up with a full-fledged vendetta  against a foreign head of state.
Hillary Clinton likewise has gone from a rather run-of-the-mill liberal grandee to a political grafter . She apparently solicited donations from foreign government officials and wealthy foreign nationals to contribute to the Clinton Foundation — and this was while she was secretary of State conducting the foreign policy of the United States. If those charges are proven accurate, how could she ever be trusted to become commander in chief? Unfortunately, in the last year almost every cause that Hillary Clinton has taken up has been belied by her own actions.
Inequality and fairness? At time when students struggle under a collective $1 trillion-plus student debt, much of it because of universities hiking fees and tuitions above the inflation rate, Hillary has serially charged universities well over $200,000  for 30-minute boilerplate speeches.
Women’s issues? We learn that women on Senator Clinton’s staff once made considerably less than their male counterparts . Had Bill Clinton worked at a university, corporation or government bureau, his sexual peccadillos long ago would have had him thrown off the premises. The latest disclosures about his junkets with convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein  are so bizarre that no one quite knows what to make of them — the would-be first female and feminist president married to a man who serially cavorted with a convicted sexual pervert?
Transparency? Consider the recent disclosures that Hillary knew almost immediately that the Benghazi killings were the preplanned work of terrorists and not due to spontaneous rioters angry over a video — and yet continued to deceive the public that just the opposite was true. The problem with Hillary’s scandals are not just that they reveal a lack of character, but that they are illiberal to the core on hallmark progressive issues of concern for equality, transparency and feminism.
We no longer live in an age of debate over global warming. It has now transmogrified well beyond Al Gore’s hysterics, periodic disclosures about warmists’ use of faked data, embarrassing email vendettas, vindictive lawsuits, crony green capitalism, and flawed computer models. Now Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), the ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, has taken the psychodrama to the level of farce in a two-bit McCarthyesque effort  to demand from universities information about scientists who do not embrace his notions of manmade global warming. Where are the ACLU and fellow Democratic congressional supporters of free speech and academic freedom to censure such an Orwellian move? Finally, even the American Meteorological Society had to condemn the unhinged Grijalva for his bizarre efforts.
Attorney General Eric Holder came into office alleging racism and calling the American people cowards, and six years later is exiting, still blaming racism for his own self-inflicted failures. In between, Holder became the first attorney general to be cited for contempt by Congress. He stonewalled the Fast and Furious investigations. His plans to try terrorists in federal civilian courts were tabled almost immediately. He ordered electronic taps and surveillance on the communications of Associated Press and Fox reporters for supposed leaks. He ignored wrongdoing in the IRS mess, a scandal that continues to grow. He got caught using his government jet  to take his daughters and their boyfriends to the Belmont Stakes.
But Holder will be remembered largely for his racialist tenure. He dropped a strong case of voting intimidation by armed Black Panthers at the polls. In congressional testimony, he referred to blacks as “my people”; anyone else — except Joe Biden — who had said the same would have been asked to resign. He promised federal action on Ferguson and the Trayvon Martin shootings — and then quietly backed off when the evidence for civil rights violations did not meet his own rhetorical excesses. The problem, he pleaded, was not that his targets were not guilty under the law, but that the law itself had to be changed to make them guilty. Holder claimed repeatedly that opposition to Obama was race-based, and he leaves office as a caricature of incompetence and racial divisiveness.
The IRS scandal likewise went from melodrama to farce. The president said there was not a “smidgeon” of corruption in the selective targeting of conservatives. Lois Lerner, the focus of investigations, pled the Fifth Amendment after having received over $100,000 in merit bonuses. When congressional investigators wanted to subpoena her computer records, IRS officials claimed both that her hard drive had crashed and that its data was unrecoverable. The latter proved untrue; but then so far so has everything the IRS has said. The only lesson is that any private citizen who replied to IRS inquiries in the manner that the IRS responded to public subpoenas would be jailed.
Debt? Barack Obama stated out in 2008 calling George W. Bush unpatriotic for piling up nearly $5 trillion in eight years; he may be on target to double that amount — and trump the combined red ink of all prior presidents. Obama raised taxes, slashed defense, and still ended up with over a $500 billion annual deficit, as he declared the age of austerity over.
So it has become with most liberal issues. The debate over illegal immigration has gone from arguments over closing the border to Social Security cash rebates to illegals and presidential threats to punish Border Patrol officers who enforce existing law. State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf assures us that poverty and unemployment are catalysts to terrorism , just as so-called Jihadi John, the psychotic ISIS beheader, is revealed to be a preppie British subject from the upper middle class. The president brags that gas prices have gone down because frackers ignored his efforts to stop them — and then vetoes the Keystone Pipeline.
The Trayvon Martin controversy descends from the purportedly preteen of released photos who was shot down in cold blood by a white vigilante into doctored NBC tapes, airbrushed photos, the New York Times’ invented rubric “white Hispanic,” the president weighing in on Trayvon’s shared racial appearance, girlfriend Rachel Jeantel’s explanation of Trayvon’s violence as a sort of homophobic act of “whoop ass” — only to be echoed by MSNBC talking head Melissa Harris-Perry’s ugly sanction of violence on Martin Luther King Day with the amplification of Jeantel’s term “whoop”: “I hope [Martin] whooped the sh-it out of George Zimmerman .” It would be hard for a satirist to make all that up.
Michael Brown goes from the icon of a “gentle giant” in vain calling out “hands up, don’t shoot” only to be gunned down by a white racist cop — to a thug who strong-armed a store clerk, walked out into the middle of the road under the influence and then attacked a police officer. Conspiracists once warned us that the government was buying up ammo to prevent private gun owners from purchasing it; now we learn that Obama by executive order may ban  the most popular type of sporting ammunition. Is there one element of Obamacare that has not been modified, delayed, or ignored — from the employer mandate to the fine for noncompliance?
Why this descent into travesty?
The liberal left got what it wanted in 2009 with a supermajority in the Senate and large majority in the House, a subservient mainstream media, the good will of the American people, and the most liberal president in American history. It only took that the liberal hierarchy six years to erode the Democratic Party to levels that we have not seen since the 1920s. Almost every policy initiative we have seen — whether climate change, foreign policy, health care, or race relations — has imploded.
The answer to these failures has not been introspection, humility, or reevaluation why the liberal agenda proved unpopular and unworkable, but in paranoid fashion to double-down on it, convinced that its exalted aims must allow any means necessary — however farcical — to achieve them.
The logical result is the present circus.
The Environmental Religion
Reply #1423 on:
March 16, 2015, 10:27:41 AM »
Too bad the piece does not address the reality of serious environmental problems, but not without insight nonetheless.
Notable & Quotable: Environmental Religion
Environmentalism is a perfect 21st century remapping of traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs and myths.
March 15, 2015 5:55 p.m. ET
From a speech by the late novelist Michael Crichton to the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco, 2003:
Today, one of the most powerful religions in the Western World is environmentalism. Environmentalism seems to be the religion of choice for urban atheists. Why do I say it’s a religion? Well, just look at the beliefs. If you look carefully, you see that environmentalism is in fact a perfect 21st century remapping of traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs and myths.
There’s an initial Eden, a paradise, a state of grace and unity with nature, there’s a fall from grace into a state of pollution as a result of eating from the tree of knowledge, and as a result of our actions there is a judgment day coming for us all. We are all energy sinners, doomed to die, unless we seek salvation, which is now called sustainability. Sustainability is salvation in the church of the environment. Just as organic food is its communion, that pesticide-free wafer that the right people with the right beliefs, imbibe. . . .
There is no Eden. There never was. What was that Eden of the wonderful mythic past? Is it the time when infant mortality was 80%, when four children in five died of disease before the age of five? When one woman in six died in childbirth? When the average lifespan was 40, as it was in America a century ago. When plagues swept across the planet, killing millions in a stroke. Was it when millions starved to death? Is that when it was Eden?
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This one leaves me speechless
Reply #1424 on:
March 23, 2015, 03:08:48 PM »
Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
Reply #1425 on:
March 23, 2015, 05:06:28 PM »
Wow! There are big problems in the black community; most of the visible and statistical ones come from black males. This is what a pack of black females can look like. I argue strongly that this kind of dysfunctionality comes from a learned culture, and is not race-based. This is proven to me by how easily a black can opt out and how easily a white or anyone else can opt in.
The observer making comments and opinions happens to be black. Assuming we all believe in free speech, anyone should be able to make those same comments. Good luck with that.
Nothing will turn a culture like that around instantly. The Dems say more money to job training, health care, etc. is the answer. Maybe a shovel-ready project on the site, lol. If you are a job trainer, do you want one of these people to be required to attend your class, at taxpayer expense, against their will? Who would benefit? No one. Who would lose out? Those who really wanted job training.
Paraphrasing the premise of George Gilder's bestselling book "Wealth and Poverty" (1981), you cannot study poverty. Poverty is by definition the lack of something. You can't study something that isn't there. Instead, study wealth (success). Then when you see poverty, you can look to see what elements of wealth and success are missing.
These people may or may not fit the definition of poverty. If they are largely part of an inner-city demographic common in other cities, they have all the basics of life paid for, free food, shelter, clothing, schooling, etc. If they are among the so-called poor in America, then statistically they also have air conditioning, cable tv, smart phones, 2 cars and surround sound video theater. But to the extent that their main source of income is not earned, they most likely lack other important things, such as self discipline, individual responsibility and a schedule full of priorities and commitments.
When those things are gone, other things fill the void, like time on their hands with little or no sense of being invested in the community. This video is what the result of that can look like.
Patriot Post: The Sum of all Lies
Reply #1426 on:
April 01, 2015, 02:09:54 PM »
The Sum of All Lies
Terror Does Not Tolerate a Vacuum
By Mark Alexander • April 1, 2015
“There is a rank due to the United States, among nations, which will be withheld, if not absolutely lost, by the reputation of weakness. If we desire to avoid insult, we must be able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful instruments of our rising prosperity, it must be known that we are at all times ready for war.” --George Washington (1793)
The "Sum of All Fears" was one of many well-written novels by the late Tom Clancy, whose fictional military, intelligence and terrorism plots were woven with fact-based tradecraft.
The title was inspired by a quote from Winston Churchill: "You may take the most gallant sailor, the most intrepid airman or the most audacious soldier, put them at a table together -- what do you get? The sum of their fears."
Clancy's plot focused on an Islamist terror group's endeavor to detonate a nuclear weapon in the U.S. A Syrian cell with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine reconstituted the nuke after discovering the necessary fissile material at an Israeli aircraft crash site.
True to Hollywood form, however, filmmakers grossly altered Clancy's original plot, resulting in a much less plausible but more politically correct version. In the movie, the terrorists are not Islamists, but "right-wing" neo-Nazis conspiring to detonate a nuclear bomb in Baltimore harbor -- and to start a war between the U.S. and Russia as a catalyst for cementing fascist alliances in the rest of Europe. Leave it to Tinseltown's Left-coast libs to cast these murderous villains as right-wing white supremacists rather than expose the real Islam!
Despite Hollywood's revisionism, Clancy's original plot was close to reality back in 1992, and it's much closer to the stark reality of today, given that Islamists may soon have fissile material from Iran to wage surrogate Jihad against the U.S.
The probability of al-Qa'ida and/or Islamic State actors gaining access to a nuclear weapon and then detonating it in the U.S. (most likely in an East Coast urban center) is increasing by the day.
That escalating threat is due solely to the "sum of all lies" being propagated by Barack Hussein Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, whose record of treasonous treachery dates back to his collaboration with our enemy during the Vietnam War.
There is another "Iran Hostage Crisis" unfolding here, but, unlike the one resolved minutes after Ronald Reagan took office in 1981, this time all Americans are being held hostage, and the current president is a collaborator.
The Middle East is devolving into an expanding theater of warfare between Iranian Shiites and Arab Sunnis, who could very well combine forces against Israel. Obama, with the help of Kerry and his predecessor, Hillary Clinton, have presided over the political disintegration of North Africa and the Middle East -- that dissolution being the direct result of a series of deceptions promulgated to suit Obama's domestic political agenda.
The first and foremost of those deceptions was rooted in Obama's 2012 bid for re-election. Amid the cascading failure of his domestic economic and social policies, BO centered his campaign upon faux foreign policy "successes" built around two fraudulent pretexts. First: "Four years ago, I promised to end the war in Iraq. I did." Second: "Al-Qa'ida is on the run."
In fact, Obama's calamitous retreat from Iraq in order to create a campaign slogan bumper sticker left a regional vacuum for the resurgence of a far more dangerous manifestation of Islamic terrorism under the ISIL label, which, in conjunction with a thriving al-Qa'ida terrorist network, poses a dire asymmetric terrorist threat to the West.
In a strategic region where former President George W. Bush's doctrine of preemption resulted in costly but significant strides toward regional stability and the protection of our critical national interests, Obama has managed to undo the hard-won success of Operation Iraqi Freedom and is doing his best to undermine Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
And just six months ago, Obama declared that his counterterrorism policies "have [been] successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years."
Well, take a gander at the state of Obama's poster-nations today.
How bad has it become?
Earlier this week, Obama’s former ambassador to Iraq, James Jeffrey, stated bluntly, “We’re in a g-ddamn free fall here."
Stop for a moment and ponder that assessment fully.
Of course, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn have already affirmed Jeffrey's appraisal.
Recall in his Senate testimony, Clapper stated that the direct links between ISIL and domestic terror networks have created “the most diverse array of threats and challenges I’ve seen in my 50-plus years in the [intelligence] business." He added, "When the final accounting is done, 2014 will have been the most lethal year for global terrorism in the 45 years such data has been compiled. ... I don’t know of a time that has been more beset by challenges and crises around the world. I worry a lot about the safety and security of this country. ... The homegrown violent extremists continue to pose the most likely threat to our homeland.”
And Flynn is firmly on record regarding Obama's failure to confront the Islamic threat: “You cannot defeat an enemy you do not admit exists. ... I think there is confusion about what it is that we are facing. It’s not just what has been defined as 40,000 fighters in the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, it’s also a large [radicalized segment of Muslims] who are threatening our very way of life."
As for the Obama/Kerry negotiations with Iran, Flynn notes, "Iran is [not only] a state sponsor of terrorism. Iran has killed more Americans than al-Qa'ida has through state sponsors, through their terrorist network Hezbollah. ... My sense of where the policy is -- it's almost a policy of willful ignorance. ... Here we are talking to Iran about a nuclear deal with this almost complete breakdown of order in the Middle East."
In February, former Acting Director of the CIA Mike Morell said that negotiating over the number of nuclear-enriching centrifuges is futile. “If you are going to have a nuclear weapons program, 5,000 is pretty much the number you need,” Morell said. “If you have a power program, you need a lot more. By limiting them to a small number of centrifuges, we are limiting them to the number you need for a weapon.”
Just last week, current CIA Director John Brennan declared that Iran "is still a state-sponsor of terrorism," but the CIA's current Worldwide Threat Assessment no longer lists Iran and Hezbollah as terrorist threats.
Who's in charge of this debacle?
As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu noted during his recent address to Congress, Obama's nuclear negotiations have "two major concessions: one, leaving Iran with a vast nuclear program and, two, lifting the restrictions on that program in about a decade. That's why this deal is so bad. It doesn’t block Iran’s path to the bomb; it paves Iran’s path to the bomb." Netanyahu further warned, "Iran’s neighbors know that Iran will become even more aggressive and sponsor even more terrorism when its economy is unshackled and it’s been given a clear path to the bomb."
"Free fall." "The most diverse array of threats." "Willful ignorance." "The number you need for a weapon." "[The deal] paves Iran’s path to the bomb."
And now, after claiming al-Qa'ida's demise, victory in Iraq and success in Somalia and Yemen, Obama and Kerry are trying to sell us on their nuclear weapons "deal" with Iran under the pretense that it will render the Middle East and our homeland safe from nuclear terrorism?
Negotiations with Iran were slated to conclude last night, March 31st, but it's "April Fools' Day," and, accordingly, Obama and Kerry have announced yet another extension of negotiations with Iran. Apparently three is not the charm.
Make no mistake, this "deal" is not designed to prevent nuclear terrorism, and at best may just delay it. Of course, no deal is better than a bad deal.
Thomas Sowell notes that Obama's motivation for this charade with Iran, despite robust objections from Senate and now 367 House Republicans and Democrats, is that "such an agreement will serve as a fig leaf to cover his failure to do anything that has any serious chance of stopping Iran from going nuclear. Such an agreement will protect Obama politically, despite however much it exposes the American people to unprecedented dangers."
In the end, the central issue is not whether Iran can be trusted, but that Obama can't be trusted. Clearly, Obama's foreign policy malfeasance and his blinding Islamophilia pose the greatest threat to U.S. national and homeland security.
Pro Deo et Constitutione -- Libertas aut Mors
Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis
Mookie on women in combat and more
Reply #1427 on:
April 02, 2015, 04:08:29 AM »
The War on the Private Mind
Reply #1428 on:
April 02, 2015, 10:14:37 AM »
In a related vein:
Last Edit: April 02, 2015, 10:21:00 AM by Crafty_Dog
The Alinsky Way of governing
Reply #1429 on:
April 13, 2015, 08:52:39 PM »
The Alinsky Way of Governing
What happens when those in power adopt ‘rules for radicals’ to attack their less powerful opponents.
By Pete Peterson
April 9, 2015 6:50 p.m. ET
Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva, the ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, recently caused a stir by sending letters to seven university presidents seeking background information on scientists and professors who had given congressional testimony that failed to endorse what is the conventional wisdom in some quarters regarding climate change. One of the targets was Steven Hayward, a colleague of mine at Pepperdine’s School of Public Policy.
Though the congressman lacked legal authority to demand information, his aggressive plan, which came to light in late February, should not be a surprise at a time when power holders from the White House on down are employing similar means against perceived enemies.
Mr. Grijalva left a clue about how he operates in 2013 when the magazine In These Times asked about his legislative strategy. “I’m a Saul Alinsky guy,” he said, referring to the community organizer and activist who died in 1972, “that’s where I learned this stuff.”
What sort of stuff? Mr. Grijalva sent his letters not to the professors but to university presidents, without (at least in the case of Mr. Hayward) the professors’ knowledge. Mr. Hayward was not even employed by Pepperdine at the time of his congressional testimony in 2011.
But targeting institutions and their leaders is pure Alinsky; so are the scare tactics. Mr. Grijalva’s staff sent letters asking for information about the professors, with a March 16 due date—asking, for instance, if they had accepted funding from oil companies—using official congressional letterhead, and followed up with calls from Mr. Grijalva’s congressional office. This is a page from Alinsky’s book, in both senses of the word: “Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have,” reads one tip in his 1971 “Rules for Radicals.”
Yet adopting Alinsky’s tactics may not in this case fit with Alinsky’s philosophy. This is Alinsky with a twist. Despite myriad philosophical inconsistencies, “Rules for Radicals” is meant to empower the weaker against the stronger. Alinsky writes: “The Prince was written by Machiavelli for the Haves on how to hold power. Rules for Radicals is written for the Have-Nots on how to take it away.”
In a similar vein, the political philosopher Jean Bethke Elshtain supported Alinsky’s work in getting disengaged communities—typically in lower socio-economic strata—to assume the difficult responsibilities of citizenship. As a way of challenging “big government,” even conservatives such as former House Majority Leader Dick Armey have recommended Alinsky’s tactics (minus his professed hatred of capitalism, etc.).
But what happens when Machiavelli’s Prince reads and employs “Rules for Radicals”? In 2009 President Obama’s friend and adviser Valerie Jarrett was asked on CNN about media bias, particularly at Fox News, and she responded: “What the administration has said very clearly is that we’re going to speak truth to power.” I remember thinking: “Wait a minute, you’re the White House. You are the power.”
In that sense President Obama’s election was both the climax of Alinsky’s vision and an existential crisis for that vision. Alinsky promoted the few tactics available to the downtrodden: irreverence, ridicule and deception. “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it,” he wrote. So the rise to power of the world’s most famous community organizer raises a question: Should Alinskyite tactics be employed by those in power, or should they be reserved for those without?
Mr. Grijalva’s campaign against seven academics serves as a cautionary tale of what can happen when power adopts these strategies to suppress opposition. The congressman’s office arranged additional pressure by notifying national and local media that these professors were under “investigation.” On the day the letters went out, the Washington Post blared: “House Dems: Did Big Oil seek to sway scientists in climate debate?”
After receiving a call from a Grijalva staffer, our local Malibu Times obliged with the front-page headline, “Pepperdine Professor Investigated by Congressman.” The online Delaware News Journal, the hometown newspaper for David Legates at the University of Delaware, wrote: “UD’s David Legates caught in climate change controversy.” Alabama’s Huntsville Times had a piece under the headline: “Arizona congressman asking questions about outside funding for UAH climate expert John Christy.”
To their credit, several editorial boards came to the defense of the professors. The Arizona Republic, the home-state newspaper of Mr. Grijalva and targeted Arizona State University professor Robert Balling, wrote that Mr. Grijalva’s campaign “fits the classic definition of a witch hunt.” Rep. Grijalva on March 2 acknowledged to National Journal that some of the information he demanded from the universities was “overreach” but defended his demand for information about funding sources.
How did it come to this? The inability of politicians to confront another’s argument, much less to attempt to persuade the other side, has become standard operating procedure. Now this toxic approach is extending to the broader world of policy—including scientific research. Instead of evaluating the quality of the research, opponents make heavy-handed insinuations about who funds it—as though that matters if the science is sound. And now just about every climate scientist employed by an American university knows that Washington is watching.
More broadly, what has happened is that a generation of American politicians who came of age during Saul Alinsky’s lifetime has moved into positions of institutional power that he so often derided as “the enemy.” They are showing an inability to leave behind Alinsky’s tactics that were intended for the weak against the strong. Civil discourse and academic freedom suffer while the “Prince” becomes more powerful.
Mr. Peterson is the executive director of the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement at Pepperdine’s School of Public Policy.
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