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« Reply #150 on: September 17, 2010, 09:52:29 PM »

Truth, Justice, or the Obama Way

The Justice Department is forced to investigate itself.

BY Jennifer Rubin

September 27, 2010, Vol. 16, No. 02
It is about to get harder for both the Obama administration and the mainstream media to downplay the New Black Panther party scandal.

The mainstream media did their best to ignore this blatant case of voter intimidation by two New Black Panther party members at a Philadelphia polling place on Election Day 2008. Though the threatening behavior was captured on videotape, Obama political appointees dismissed the case on the eve of a default judgment. When in early June a key trial team member, Justice Department attorney J. Christian Adams, resigned and then testified before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, the media grudgingly reported on his testimony.

But, despite Adams’s testimony that the case was indicative of a widespread aversion in the Voting Section to colorblind enforcement of the civil rights laws, the media framed the story as an isolated case unworthy of continuing coverage. After all, just one witness was claiming that this was the mindset in the Justice Department. And besides, the head of the Civil Rights Division, Thomas Perez, had testified before both Congress and the commission that the case was legally and factually defective. He had also insisted there was no opposition in the department to enforcing civil rights laws against minority defendants.

In fact, there is ample evidence, including Justice Department emails obtained by The Weekly Standard, that Perez testified untruthfully. There is every reason to believe, moreover, that if allowed to testify, several other Justice Department attorneys would substantiate Adams’s allegations and contradict Perez’s sworn testimony. Not to mention that the department itself acknowledged last week that the matter of biased enforcement of voting laws requires investigation.

Until now, the Justice Department has refused to allow its lawyers to testify. On April 21, Jody Hunt, director of federal programs, whose office oversees the department’s dealings with other branches of government, emailed Adams’s attorney. Hunt explained:

On behalf of the Department of Justice, I have communicated to the Commission that your client has not been authorized to give testimony at the hearing. Indeed, as I understand it, your client has not been scheduled by the Commission to provide testimony at the hearing. The Commission has accepted the Department’s offer to hear testimony from Tom Perez, the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, at a separate hearing to be scheduled in May.

Department sources say that members of the trial team objected strongly and raised their objections with Hunt in writing. On May 11, for example, Adams emailed Hunt. He challenged the basis for the department’s refusal to allow his testimony, referring to his attorney’s legal citations. He then implored the department to change its position:

I would ask you to reconsider this decision and authorize at least one of the individuals who had factual and legal familiarity with the case to provide information to the Commission, whether me, former Voting Section Chief Christopher Coates, Deputy Chief Robert Popper, Attorney Spencer Fisher, or all four of us.

Adams specifically warned Hunt of the danger to the department in allowing an attorney unfamiliar with the New Black Panther party case, Perez, to testify instead of the attorneys who had the most direct knowledge of the case:

The first reason that the decision should be reconsidered is that there is the risk that inaccurate statements will be made about the case. I do not suggest that the scheduled witness will knowingly make false statements. Rather, my concern is that the scheduled witness did not participate in the case whatsoever, and will instead rely on characterizations of the facts and law provided by other Department employees, which I have reason to believe may be wildly inaccurate at best. Over the last several months, unattributed statements about the case by Department officials have been cited in media reports that are demonstrably false. Because the statements are never attributed, it is impossible to know whether these are people entirely unfamiliar with the matter, or are individuals upon whom the scheduled witness will rely. If the latter, there is a genuine risk that the scheduled witness will unknowingly provide inaccurate and incorrect testimony about the case. This could result in an extremely embarrassing situation for both the witness and the Department.  .  .  .  If the scheduled witness were to testify that there was no evidence, or insufficient or inadmissible evidence, to support agency liability [the legal theory for holding the New Black Panther Party and its head responsible], such testimony could prove to be grossly inaccurate.

He also warned Hunt:

Commanding our silence has created an inference that the attorneys who brought the case pursed a meritless action. Indeed, any future statements that the case did not have factual and legal merit would reinforce       this false inference. For example, there was testimony to the House Judiciary Committee [by Perez] that “Rule 11 [prohibiting frivolous actions] required” the dismissal of the action. Not only is this statement inaccurate, but it also calls into question the ethics of the attorneys who approved and brought the case. I can attest that my three colleagues were thoughtful, diligent, hard working, and beyond reproach throughout this case. Their experience with the Voting Rights Act is unmatched in any other part of the Department. Indeed, I would submit Christopher Coates and Robert Popper have far more experience in litigating voting law combined than just about any pair of Department attorneys you could produce.

To put it bluntly, Adams was warning the Department that Perez had already testified inaccurately before Congress and that allowing him to do so again would be an intentional attempt to mislead the civil rights commission.

Shortly thereafter Adams received a call from the Voting Section head, Chris Herren. Herren said he understood Adams wanted to meet with Perez. Adams said he had not asked for a meeting. Herren repeated, “You said you wanted to meet with Perez.” Adams reiterated that he had not. It became obvious, however, that Perez wanted to meet with him.

Hunt arranged a meeting on Tuesday, May 12, three days before Perez was to testify before the civil rights commission. Adams, Popper, Perez, Hunt, and two other department attorneys met in the 5th floor conference room in the Main Justice Department building. Coates joined them by speaker phone.

Coates, Popper, and Adams spoke for approximately 45 minutes. Coates informed Perez that the case had been dismissed because of hostility to equal enforcement of the civil rights laws. Popper went next, explaining how solid the case was. He became animated and lashed out at Perez for testifying that the attorneys had violated Rule 11—that is, committed an ethical violation. Adams spoke last, making the case that the 14th Amendment required equal enforcement of the civil rights laws and that it was dangerous for the department and the country to go down the road of unequal enforcement of the law.

During the meeting Perez said nothing. Was he taking the information to heart so he could investigate the serious allegations or simply, like an attorney in an explosive case, taking the deposition of the most powerful witnesses to see how effective they were and what damage they could do?

The answer became clear that Friday when Perez testified before the civil rights commission. He reiterated his view that the case was legally and factually deficient. Perhaps wary of Popper’s reaction, he avoided restating that the trial team had acted contrary to Rule 11.

Perez then testified under oath that the department had no attorneys opposed to the equal enforcement of the voting rights law. “We don’t have people that are of that ilk, sir,” he said in response to the questioning of commissioner Todd Gaziano. This was a blatant misstatement, as Coates and Adams had told him three days before. There was also this exchange:

Commissioner Gaziano: If someone came to you and said that someone—someone in your Division, I should say, came to you and said, “A supervising attorney” or “a political appointee” made the statement that the voting rights laws should never be enforced against blacks or other racial minorities, you would investigate that report, wouldn’t you?

Asst. Atty Gen. Perez: I would take a look at the person who made the statement. I would take a look at the statement. And we would have a conversation about it.

Commissioner Gaziano: You would want to interview the people who were supposedly present when that statement was made, wouldn’t you?

Asst. Atty Gen. Perez: Yes, sir.

But Perez conducted no investigation after being briefed by not one, but three attorneys.

Gaziano told me, “Perez’s refusal to give me a straight answer to many of my questions suggested he might be trying to hide something. If there is evidence that he knew of statements or actions in his division demonstrating hostility to the race-neutral enforcement of the civil rights laws before he testified, that would be very troubling. If so, his testimony would be misleading at best, instead of simply uninformed.”

Then suddenly last week, months after Perez’s testimony, the inspector general of the Department of Justice, who previously had refused to investigate the matter, sent a letter to representatives Lamar Smith and Frank Wolf advising them that in response to their requests in July and August the inspector general would undertake an investigation of the Voting Section’s enforcement of civil rights laws. Echoing the civil rights commission’s yearlong investigation, the inspector general’s probe will examine

the types of cases brought by the Voting Section and any changes in these types of cases over time; any changes in the Voting Section’s enforcement policies or procedures over time; whether the Voting Section has enforced the civil rights laws in a nondiscriminatory manner; and whether any Voting Section employees have been harassed for participating in the investigation or prosecution of particular matters.

It remains to be seen whether this is an effort by the department to take the investigation behind closed doors or actually to get to the bottom of a mushrooming scandal.

In any event, despite the Obama team’s best efforts to stonewall and the mainstream media’s indifference to an abuse of power in a Democratic administration, the notion that the New Black Panther party case is “no big deal” is crumbling. We know that a high ranking political appointee presented misleading testimony under oath and that multiple witnesses would testify to the Obama administration’s hostility to the equal enforcement of our civil rights laws. Now an internal investigation is exploring those issues. In a Republican administration that would be front-page news.

Jennifer Rubin is Commentary magazine’s contributing editor.

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« Reply #151 on: September 20, 2010, 08:29:47 PM »

SEPTEMBER 20, 2010 4:00 A.M.
Soros’s Anti-Human-Rights Agenda
Republicans and conservatives must stop leaving the important field of human rights to anti-American relativists.

George Soros’s enormous gift of $100 million to the non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch is a serious shot across the bow for Republicans and conservatives. Billionaire Sheldon Adelson once said he would become “the Right’s answer to George Soros,” but he has not. Although “human rights” is the most powerful political currency of our time, no one on the right has stepped up to the plate, and Soros has the playing field to himself.

The significance of his gift can be understood only by appreciating the web of connections associated with this human-rights organization and its resulting influence.

Thirty years ago, the undisputed leader among international human-rights NGOs was Amnesty International. Founded in order to shine a spotlight on individual prisoners of conscience and victims of torture, Amnesty had a focused purpose and succeeded in pressuring governments and liberating real people.

But corrupt governments in developing countries, Communist regimes, and the despotic rulers of Arab and Islamic states pushed back. Under the guise of protecting their sovereignty and natural resources from the ravages of Western imperialism, they commandeered the United Nations, disputed its foundational human-rights framework, and rolled out new and improved “human rights,” such as the right to development, the right of peoples to “international solidarity,” and the right to be free of “the adverse effects of toxic wastes.” No matter that the beneficiaries of such rights were essentially governments and not individuals, or that the rights of women and minorities were then trampled for the sake of maintaining a united front against the West.

Amnesty International jumped on the bandwagon. It expanded its original mandate to include rights violations which it says result from globalization, “business,” and   a wide gambit of social issues. Amnesty’s leaders, who bear the title of secretary general, harbored an anti-Western bias and a penchant for conceiving of developing countries as sympathetic underdogs whose inability to institute the rule of law was permanently someone else’s fault. In 2005, Secretary General Irene Khan, from Bangladesh, likened Guantanamo Bay to the Soviet Gulag. In 2010, after the head of Amnesty’s gender unit criticized Amnesty for its links to a major supporter of the Taliban, Amnesty reacted by suspending and then severing its relationship with the employee, not by severing its links to the Taliban devotee.

Arab and Muslim states were masters at this form of political gamesmanship. Anxious to rid themselves of the presence of a Jewish and democratic state uncomfortably close to them, and worried about the threat that universal human-rights norms posed to their legitimacy, they recast their extremism in terms of human rights. Though one-fifth of Israel’s people are Arabs, and they have more democratic rights than they would in any Arab state, these states accused Israel of apartheid. Arab and Muslim states, meanwhile, rendered themselves Judenrein, outlawed public displays of Christianity, and turned non-Muslims into second-class citizens in the name of protecting cultural rights, religious identity, and “national particularities.” To complete the metamorphosis, the Organization of the Islamic Conference seized effective power at the U.N.’s lead human-rights body, the Human Rights Council.

As human rights were being rewritten, the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch wrongly believed it had only two options. It could find itself defending the governments of the United States, Israel, and other allegedly colonialist-imperialist regimes — a tack that seemed to be at odds with the mandate of a human-rights NGO, for which governments are supposedly the adversaries by definition. Or it could join the party, trash Israel and America, and prove its bona fides on the world stage.

As Robert Bernstein, the founder of Human Rights Watch and its active chairman for 20 years until 1998, complained in the New York Times last October, Human Rights Watch chose the latter. Bernstein lamented the fact that the organization had jettisoned the crucial distinction between open democratic societies and closed societies, between societies that are willing to acknowledge and correct abuses and ones that deny and ignore them. Distancing itself from its American roots and embracing the timeworn strategy of scapegoating Jews, the organization began to rival the made-over Amnesty.

Human Rights Watch defended the U.N.’s “anti-racism” Durban Declaration despite its blatant discrimination against Israel and cast its lot with those who have painted the defenders of Jewish self-determination as racists. HRW supported the U.N.’s Goldstone report, a modern-day blood libel that claims Israel “deliberately” aimed to murder Palestinian civilians under the guise of defending its own people against Hamas terror. HRW championed the U.N. Human Rights Council and strongly advocated U.S. membership, in the full knowledge that the council has adopted more resolutions and decisions condemning Israel than all the other 191 U.N. member states combined.

Last year, representatives of Human Rights Watch unashamedly traveled to one of the world’s worst human-rights abusers, Saudi Arabia, to raise money by casting the organization as an antidote to what they labeled “pro-Israel pressure groups.” Since HRW had, as Bernstein put it, itself produced “far more condemnations of Israel . . . than of any other country in the region,” he rightly concluded that it had turned its back on its founding mission and significantly diminished its moral force.

Why, then, did George Soros deem it worthy of the largest gift he has ever made?

Because Soros has recognized what Republicans ignore at their peril — namely, the power of human-rights claims, legitimate or not.

Soros, logged as one of President Obama’s frequent White House guests, appreciates that a human-rights mantra, particularly when amplified with the U.N.’s global megaphone, is a formidable tool for manipulating public policy. A tool, mind you, and not a principle.

President Obama has styled himself a champion of the victims of human-rights violations. But he is the president who went to Egypt and spoke in support of Muslim women who want to cover their bodies while saying nothing in defense of those who want the freedom to do otherwise. He is the president who has let Iranian dissidents die in vain. The president who keeps mumbling about reset buttons while Russian human-rights defenders are systematically eliminated.

The U.N.’s Human Rights Council — which, in its earlier incarnation, was once presided over by Eleanor Roosevelt — opened its current session this week in Geneva with Libya taking a seat as a full-fledged voting member. Next week the General Assembly, which once adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, will again permit a call for the destruction of Israel to be made from its podium, as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad delivers his annual diatribe about Jewish global domination.

And outside the General Assembly Hall, the only NGO allowed to speak at microphones reserved for states is Human Rights Watch — which has specialized in delivering congratulatory messages to the U.N.

So Soros’s acquisition of Human Rights Watch, coupled with his legendary support of the Democratic party and the United Nations, creates the perfect storm. He has brought together the unelected, unaccountable NGO claiming to represent “civil society,” the Democratic party and its sitting president, and the world’s chief global organization, each supportive of the others in a plethora of financial and personal interrelationships, and all sharing common goals: diminishing American power and mothballing the idea of unadulterated universal values.

Soros makes no attempt to hide his agenda. As he wrote in The Bubble of American Supremacy: “People have different views and . . . nobody is in possession of the ultimate truth . . . [P]eople are supposed to decide for themselves what they mean by freedom and democracy. . . . What goes on within individual states can be of vital interest to the rest of the world, but the principle of sovereignty militates against interfering in their internal affairs.” The same speech has been made by China and Cuba and thugs the world over.

Soros’s view is the antithesis of human-rights protection. It directly contradicts the vision of common, inviolable rights and freedoms, which the visionaries who founded America, the United Nations, and Human Rights Watch understood. It is high time to launch  an equally well-endowed human-rights organization not beholden to the rapacious relativism and anti-Americanism of George Soros.

– Anne Bayefsky is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, teaches at Touro College, and is executive director of Human Rights Voices.
« Reply #152 on: September 20, 2010, 08:47:53 PM »

2nd post. If the Repubs take the house the investigations into this and various Demo money scandals ought to be amusing:

Political Appointees Involved in New Black Panther Case, and More DOJ Stonewalling
Jennifer Rubin writes in.

September 20, 2010 3:14 PM

Jennifer Rubin follows up on several recent stories she's written for THE WEEKLY STANDARD (see here, here, and here) with this email:

The Obama administration for over a year has insisted that the decision to dismiss an egregious case of voter intimidation against the New Black Panther Party was made by career attorneys. In a series of letters to Republican Reps. Lamar Smith and Frank Wolf, and in sworn testimony by the head of the civil rights division Thomas Perez, the Obama team stuck to its story that career attorneys made the call. (In fact the two individuals the Justice Department identified, Loretta King and Steve Rosenbaum, were then the interim head of the civil rights division and the deputy, both political positions.) THE WEEKLY STANDARD, however, previously reported that in written discovery responses to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights the Justice Department let on that both the associate attorney general (the number three man in the Justice Department) Thomas J. Perrelli and his boss Eric Holder had been consulted on the dismissal. Today, further evidence came to light indicating the Obama Justice Department has lied about the involvement of political appointees.

This morning Judicial Watch announced the results of its Freedom of Information Act request. Judicial Watch obtained the privilege log, that is, the list and description of those documents the Justice Department refused to turn over to the Civil Rights Commission in response to its subpoena. On that list were numerous documents suggesting the extensive and serious involvement of Obama political appointees, including Perrelli’s deputy Sam Hirsch who had multiple contacts with Rosenbaum. In a press release Judicial Watch explained:

[The documents listed in the log] contradict sworn testimony by Thomas Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, who testified before the U.S. Civil Rights Commission that no political leadership was involved in the decision (Judicial Watch v. Department of Justice (No. 10-851)). . .

The index describes eight email exchanges between Rosenbaum and Hirsch, taking place on April 30, 2009, the day before the Justice Department reversed course and declined to pursue much of the Black Panther case.  Listed among the email correspondence:

An “Email Chain with Attachments” from Rosenbaum to Hirsch dated April 30, 2009:  The email chain includes “…a detailed response and analysis of the proposed draft filings in NBPP (New Black Panther Party) litigation…The response includes a candid assessment of legal research and raises questions about the case law and proposed relief….This document also contains attorney discussion, opinions, and analyses of the draft documents and case law.”

The revelation that the Obama Justice Department had for over a year been concealing evidence of its political appointees’ interference with the decisions of the New Black Panther trial team and that Perez, as I reported last week, had testified untruthfully under oath is certainly unwelcome news for those who have been denigrating the efforts of Republican congressmen, the Civil Rights Commission and conservative news outlets to get to the bottom of the scandal. The cracks in the Obama stonewall are deepening.
Power User
Posts: 42467

« Reply #153 on: September 21, 2010, 12:48:15 AM »


Your first post was particularly interesting.  This is a theme worth keeping an eye on.

« Reply #154 on: September 21, 2010, 08:01:43 PM »

Extremist Thrives in Primary Fight
The party is courting its fringes, a bad omen for future policy.

You may have missed it amid all the hullabaloo surrounding Delaware, but there was another important primary last Tuesday.

The incumbent was a moderate, a pragmatist, someone who could reach across the aisle to work with those who were not traditional allies. He was willing to stand up to extremists and buck his party’s political orthodoxy. His opponent, on the other hand, appealed to the fringes of the party. He allied himself with powerful special-interest groups who poured money and manpower into his campaign. The campaign became increasingly nasty. There were even racial overtones. In the end, voters ignored the incumbent’s solid record of getting things done and tossed him out by a surprisingly large margin.

But this was not another one of those “tea party” uprisings (which are reliably misinterpreted by the mainstream media). It was the Democratic primary for mayor of Washington, D.C.
The incumbent, Adrian Fenty, was certainly no conservative, but he had shown himself willing to stand up to the special interests that have long dominated Democratic politics in this city. Example No. 1 was education. D.C. schools have long been among the nation’s worst, despite extraordinarily high per-pupil expenditures. Fenty and his school chancellor, Michele Rhee, stood up to the teachers’ union, forcing through a merit-pay contract, limiting tenure, and firing nonperforming teachers. And they achieved results: Reading and math scores were up substantially. A school system that just a few years ago didn’t know how many employees or students it had was making real, measurable progress.

Despite increased education spending and the recession, Fenty stuck to a pledge not to raise broad-based taxes. He slashed social spending and cut the city work force. As result, business investment poured into the city, and its population, which had been declining for decades, actually increased as people who had fled to the suburbs moved back.

But Fenty also incurred the enmity of the powerful teachers’ and public-employees’ unions. They rallied to the cause of Fenty’s opponent, city-council chairman Vincent Grey. Together they ran a nasty and racially charged campaign. As was the case in Delaware, this was a closed primary — independents could not vote — and Grey pitched his appeal to the liberal wing of the Democratic electorate. With turnout high among the party’s base, Grey won 54–45.

What transforms this from a local tragedy for Washington residents to something bigger is the fact that the unions were apparently able to intimidate the president into silence. Adrian Fenty was the first big city mayor to endorse Barack Obama for president. He was pursuing reforms, especially in education, that the president claims to support. According to local media reports, Fenty personally called the president and asked for his help. In an overwhelmingly African-American city, a word from Obama might have tipped the balance. The word never came, and Fenty was left twisting slowly, slowly in the wind.

The White House now says that the president doesn’t get involved in primaries, something that seems not to have occurred to the administration in the cases of, say, Pennsylvania and Colorado. (Perhaps Obama could have offered Grey a White House job, as he did in a bid to get Joe Sestak out of the race against Arlen Specter.)

In the wake of Grey’s victory, there were no front-page stories about the “civil war” in the Democratic party. You will not see evening newscasts full of worrying about Democratic extremism.

The tea parties are bringing millions of newly energized voters into the political process for the first time. In some ways, the phenomenon is similar to the 2008 Obama campaign in its ability to energize people and excite those who are not otherwise politically engaged. Conversely, the D.C. primary suggests that the Democratic party now is turning its attention to its narrowest base: the unions, the special interests, the left-wing fringe. There has not been much of a civil war in the Democratic party, because there are so few moderate Democrats around.

In the wake of the D.C. primary, there is one less.

— Michael Tanner is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and author of Leviathan on the Right: How Big-Government Conservatism Brought Down the Republican Revolution.
« Reply #155 on: September 24, 2010, 07:44:47 PM »

Oh my, look at what found its way into the WaPo today:

Bias led to 'gutting' of New Black Panthers case, Justice official says
By Krissah Thompson and Jerry Markon
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, September 24, 2010; 7:06 PM

The political fight over a 2008 voter intimidation case ratcheted up Friday as a Justice Department official testified before the federal civil rights commission that there were "irrational reasons" for "gutting" a case filed against a group of African Americans who allegedly discriminated against white voters.

Former voting section chief Christopher Coates, who was transferred to the U.S. attorney's office in South Carolina in the midst of a controversy over the New Black Panther Party voter intimidation case, testified Friday morning before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Justice Department officials strongly dispute his allegations against the agency.

The federal panel is investigating whether the Justice Department's civil rights division mishandled a lawsuit it filed against members of the New Black Panther Party several weeks before President Obama took office. The suit was focused on the party and two of its members, who stood outside a polling place in Philadelphia on Election Day 2008 wearing paramilitary gear. They were captured on video and were accused of trying to discourage some people from voting. One carried a nightstick.

Conservatives complained last year when the Obama Justice Department narrowed the case to the man with the nightstick. The matter caught the attention of some Republican lawmakers, who for months held up the confirmation of Obama's assistant attorney general for civil rights, asking for a congressional review of the case.

The conflict intensified in June when former Justice Department lawyer J. Christian Adams, who was hired during the Bush administration and helped develop the case, told the Commission on Civil Rights that he believed the case had been narrowed because some of his colleagues in the civil rights division were interested in protecting only minorities.

On Friday, Coates, who said he was testifying before the commission as a whistleblower and in violation of his Justice supervisor's instructions, said that there is a "hostile atmosphere" in the civil rights division that did not "reflect race-neutral policies." He said the country's major civil rights organizations are also biased against race-neutral enforcement.

He joined the Justice Department during the Clinton administration and became chief of the Civil Rights Division's Voting Section in December 2007. Coates left the job in December 2009 for an 18-month transfer to South Carolina, and said he had a "rough time" with the Obama appointees, who became his bosses.

As an example, Coates, who had the practice of asking all job applicants whether they would have a problem working on claims of racial discrimination involving white voters, said that Loretta King, who was then-acting Civil Rights Division chief, told him to stop asking the question. He said he believes that she does not support equal enforcement of the Voting Rights Act.

Coates also argued that there was evidence for broader prosecution of the New Black Panther case. "We had eyewitness testimony. We had videotape. One of them had a weapon. They were hurling racial slurs," said Coates, who originally brought the Panther case. "I've never been able to understand how anyone could accuse us of not having a basis of law in this case."

The Justice Department said in a statement that it had not authorized Coates's testimony and that Coates, who has worked in the U.S. attorney's office in South Carolina since January, is not "an appropriate witness to discuss the Civil Rights Division's current enforcement policies."

Tracy Schmaler, a Justice Department spokeswoman, called the civil rights commission probe a "so-called investigation" that is "is thin on facts and evidence and thick on rhetoric.''

She said the department "makes enforcement decisions based on the merits, not the race, gender or ethnicity of any party involved. We are committed to comprehensive and vigorous enforcement of the federal laws that prohibit voter intimidation.''

She added that the Obama administration has "changed" what internal watchdogs called a politicized atmosphere in the Civil Rights Division during the Bush administration.

"The politicization that occurred in the Civil Rights Division in the previous administration has been well documented by the [Justice Department] Inspector General, and it was a disgrace to the great history of the division.'' Schmaler said. "We have reinvigorated the Civil Rights Division.''

Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.), who has criticized the Justice Department over its handling of the case, said he "strongly" supported Coates's decision to testify and warned the department not to retaliate against him.

He said Coates had contacted him before his testimony "to share similar information relating to the equal enforcement of federal voting laws." In a letter to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., dated Thursday, Wolf said he assumes "that Mr. Coates will face no repercussions" for his decision to testify and that he expects Holder "to inform political and career supervisors to respect his decision."
Power User
Posts: 9466

« Reply #156 on: October 03, 2010, 12:54:12 PM »

I think we need a category for Unintended Consequences.  Removing meat preservatives increases botulism. Banning DDT causes Malaria outbreaks.  Raising minimum wage law increases unemployment.  Raising taxes on capital unemploys labor.  CFL light bulbs release Mercury when broken.  Smaller car means death more likely on impact.  Now reusable grocery bags breed bacteria.  Who knew?? I have long argued that every new piece of legislation should require that an Impact Statement of Unintended Consequences be debated and passed first, just like the requirement for a shopping center developer to first file an environmental impact statement.

DENVER -- They are good for the environment, but reusable grocery bags are also a breeding ground for bacteria.

Many responsible shoppers carefully choose their groceries and put them into the same cloth or plastic bags over and over again on every trip to the store.
Power User
Posts: 42467

« Reply #157 on: October 03, 2010, 04:40:03 PM »

Heartily agreed about the law of unintended consequences, but don't we already have a thread about govt. programs and regulations?
Power User
Posts: 42467

« Reply #158 on: October 11, 2010, 07:33:37 PM »

If at first you don't succeed, get some friends in high places to shut your opponents up. That's the latest Washington power play, as Democrats and liberals attack the Chamber of Commerce and independent spending groups in an attempt to stop businesses from participating in politics.

Since the Supreme Court's January decision in Citizens United v. FEC, Democrats in Congress have been trying to pass legislation to repeal the First Amendment for business, though not for unions. Having failed on that score, they're now turning to legal and political threats. Funny how all of this outrage never surfaced when the likes of Peter Lewis of Progressive insurance and George Soros helped to make Democrats financially dominant in 2006 and 2008.

Chairman Max Baucus of the powerful Senate Finance Committee got the threats going last month when he asked Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Douglas Shulman to investigate if certain tax exempt 501(c) groups had violated the law by engaging in too much political campaign activity. Lest there be any confusion about his targets, the Montana Democrat flagged articles focused on GOP-leaning groups, including Americans for Job Security and American Crossroads.

Mr. Baucus was seconded last week by the ostensibly nonpartisan campaign reform groups Democracy 21 and the Campaign Legal Center, which asked the IRS to investigate whether Crossroads is spending too much money on campaigns. Those two outfits swallowed their referee whistle in the last two campaign cycles, but they're all worked up now that Republicans might win more seats. Crossroads GPS, a 501(c)(4) affiliate of American Crossroads supported by Karl Rove, is a target because it has spent millions already in this election cycle.

Last Tuesday, the liberal blog ThinkProgress, run by the Center for American Progress Action Fund, reported that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce had collected some $300,000 in annual dues from foreign companies. Since the money went into the Chamber's general fund, the allegation is that it could have been used to pay for political ads, which would violate a ban on foreign companies participating in American elections. The Chamber says it uses no foreign money for its political activities and goes to great lengths to raise separate funds for political purposes.

That didn't stop President Obama from raising the issue in a Maryland speech last week, saying that "groups that receive foreign money are spending huge sums to influence American elections." Within hours of the ThinkProgress report, the bully boys at asked the Department of Justice to launch a criminal investigation of the Chamber. In a letter to the Federal Election Commission, Minnesota Senator Al Franken expressed his profound concern that "foreign corporations are indirectly spending significant sums to influence American elections through third-party groups." From the man who stole his Senate election in a dubious recount, this is rich.

Even Mr. Franken admits in his letter that the Chamber's commingling of funds in its general accounts is not "per se illegal," but apparently he thinks it's fine to unleash federal investigators because the Chamber cash might contribute to the defeat of fellow Democrats.

The outrage over the Chamber is especially amusing considering the role of foreigners in U.S. labor unions. According to the Center for Competitive Politics, close to half of the unions that are members of the AFL-CIO are international. One man's corporate commingling is another's union dues.

Unions and liberal groups are hardly cash poor this year in any case. The Campaign Media Analysis Group looked at the combined spending of candidates, their parties and outside groups and found that Democrats outspent Republicans $47.3 million to $40.8 million in a recent 60-day period.

Democrats claim only to favor "disclosure" of donors, but their legal intimidation attempts are the best argument against disclosure. Liberals want the names of business donors made public so they can become targets of vilification with the goal of intimidating them into silence. A CEO or corporate board is likely to think twice about contributing to a campaign fund if the IRS or prosecutors might come calling. If Democrats can reduce business donations in the next three weeks, they can limit the number of GOP challengers with a chance to win and reduce Democratic Congressional losses.

The strategy got a test drive in Minnesota earlier this year after Target Corporation donated $100,000 cash and $50,000 of in-kind contributions to an independent group that ran ads supporting the primary candidacy of Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer. accused the company of being anti-gay, organized a petition, and crafted a TV ad urging shoppers to boycott Target stores. Target made no further donations, and other companies that once showed an interest have since declined to contribute.

Then there's the curious reference to the tax status of Koch Industries by White House chief economist Austan Goolsbee. In a late August conference call with reporters, Mr. Goolsbee cited the closely-held Koch as an example of "really giant firms" that pay no corporate income tax because they file under other tax rules. But how in the world would Mr. Goolsbee know Koch's tax status? Could his knowledge be related to the White House-liberal campaign against Koch for contributing to Americans for Prosperity, a group that is supporting free-market candidates for Congress this year?

In an August 9 speech, Mr. Obama personally trashed Americans for Prosperity, hinting that it was funded by "a big oil company." He had to mean Koch, which makes no secret of its support for Americans for Prosperity.

The White House didn't respond to queries about Mr. Goolsbee's remark for weeks until GOP Senators requested an investigation. The Treasury's inspector general for tax matters has since announced such a probe, and last week White House spokesman Robert Gibbs finally got around to explaining that Mr. Goolsbee's statement "was not in any way based on any review of tax filings" and that he won't use the example again.

We're glad to hear it, but pardon our skepticism given the ferocity of this White House-led campaign against businesses that donate to political campaigns. Faced with electoral repudiation as the public turns against their agenda, Democrats are unleashing government power to silence their political opponents. Instead of piling on, the press corps ought to blow the whistle on this attempt to stifle political speech. This is one more liberal abuse of power that voters should consider as they head to the polls.

« Last Edit: October 11, 2010, 07:37:56 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #159 on: October 11, 2010, 07:52:24 PM »

Beyond Nixonesque.
« Reply #160 on: October 13, 2010, 11:55:31 AM »

Political Target Practice
A case study in what Democrats really mean by campaign 'disclosure.'
The White House is escalating its assault on corporate political donors, claiming that Democrats merely favor "disclosure." To understand their real goal, consider what happened to Target Corp. when it exercised its First Amendment rights in Minnesota.

In July, the superstore retailer based in Minneapolis donated $150,000 to an independent group called MN Forward, which used the funds to support the primary candidacy of Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer. Consistent with Target's interest, the donation helped pay for an ad highlighting Mr. Emmer's positions on taxes and spending, issues relevant to the state's business climate. Because Mr. Emmer was also a critic of gay marriage, however, within weeks the retailer found itself on the national left's political hit list. led the attack, organizing a petition and crafting a TV ad telling shoppers to boycott the chain. Soliciting donations to the anti-Target crusade, MoveOn warned that "Target became one of the first corporations to take advantage of the Citizens United decision when it donated to a far-right candidate for governor in Minnesota." It added, "If we don't fight back, this will be just the tip of the iceberg." Citizen's United is the January Supreme Court decision that said unions and companies can donate to independent political groups, which is what Target did.

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Associated Press
The attack on Target was especially dishonest because of the company's history on gay issues, which includes sponsoring gay pride events and offering benefits to domestic partners. Only months before, the company received a 100% score on Human Rights Campaign's 2010 Corporate Equality Index, which rates companies on sexual preference policies in the workplace.

So much for that goodwill. When the company declined to bow to demands from gay lobbies that it make amends for the "harm they've caused" by its donations to MN Forward, HRC President Joe Solmonese announced that the world would now "question Target's commitment to equality."

That says more about Mr. Solmonese than it does about Target. He and his group are willing to put partisanship and left-wing solidarity above their own ostensible priority of gay rights: To wit, electing a Democratic Governor apparently matters more to the Human Rights Campaign than does a corporation's support for benefits for gay couples. By the way, President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden also oppose gay marriage. Does that also make them "far-right" candidates whose "commitment to equality" is suspect?

Target's donation had to be disclosed under Minnesota's campaign-finance law, and the company's experience is especially illuminating because Democrats are touting the law as a model for other states and Congress. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that the Naderite Public Citizen has praised the state for having helped "lead the way" on disclosure.

Maryland State Senator Jamie Raskin, who is seeking similar legislation for his state, recently gave the game away by declaring that "The public's right of boycott is the final check against corporate dominance over our politics." In other words, the point of disclosure is not to inform the voting public. It is to turn corporate donors into political piñatas, embarrass them publicly, hurt their business—and ultimately convince them that the price of donating to non-liberal groups is too high.

Other companies also gave to MN Forward, but Target seems to have been singled out for its national profile to send other businesses a message. Target declined to answer our queries, though other sources tell us the company has stopped giving to MN Forward since it was mugged by the left. Other companies on the cusp of donating also declined once they saw what happened to Target.

That's a shame because it means Democrats and the left are succeeding in their attempt to silence business voices—unless, like Peter Lewis or Goldman Sachs executives, they support Democrats. The next time you hear a Democrat claim to favor "disclosure," keep in mind that what he really wants is more political Target practice.
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« Reply #161 on: November 30, 2010, 06:05:27 PM »

Craig Coffey, a retiree in Nevada who invested $55,000 in bonds in the old GM that are now worthless, was outraged that the union is on its way to recovering all its money before investors get even a cent of compensation.

Mr. Coffey has had to make ends meet by finding odd jobs, which can be difficult in the hard-hit Las Vegas area. He said it wasn't only the union that benefited from getting full repayment to its pension trust fund under the White House bankruptcy plan.

"That was a way for the government to avoid having the liability put on the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation," he said. Bankruptcy courts often discharge corporate pension obligations to the government insurance fund.




GM's union recovering after stock sale

Taxpayers and investors not as fortunate as UAW
By Patrice Hill

-The Washington Times

7:24 p.m., Thursday, November 25, 2010

General Motors Co.'s recent stock offering was staged to start paying back the government for its $50 billion bailout, but one group made out much better than the taxpayers or other investors: the company's union.

Thanks to a generous share of GM stock obtained in the company's 2009 bankruptcy settlement, the United Auto Workers is well on its way to recouping the billions of dollars GM owed it — putting it far ahead of taxpayers who have recouped only about 30 percent of their investment and further still ahead of investors in the old GM who have received nothing.

The boon for the union fits the pattern established when the White House pushed GM into bankruptcy and steered it through the courts in a way that consistently put the interests of the union ahead of many suppliers, dealers and investors — stakeholders that ordinarily would have fared as well or better under the bankruptcy laws.

"Priority one was serving the interests of the UAW" when the White House's auto task force engineered the bankruptcy, said Glenn Reynolds, an analyst at CreditSights. The stock offering served to show once again how the White House has handsomely rewarded its political allies, he said.

The union's health care and pension trust fund earned $3.4 billion through the sale of one-third of its shares in GM last week. Analysts estimate that it would break even if it sells the remaining two-thirds of its shares at an average price of $36 — close to where the stock traded shortly after the offering hit the market. GM shares closed at $33.45 on Wednesday.

For taxpayers to break even, by contrast, the stock would have to rise to at least $52 and by some estimates as high as $103 — levels that would take years to achieve.

In any event, after selling one-third of its shares last week, the U.S. Treasury has agreed not to sell any more of its GM stock for another six months, while the union fund is free to keep selling its shares.

Through the offering, the Treasury recouped $13.7 billion of its $49.5 billion cash infusion in GM, with another $1.8 billion possible by the end of the year. GM is repaying another $9.5 billion in loans from the Treasury, but that still leaves taxpayers a long way from breaking even.

Union claims ordinarily do not receive such special treatment in bankruptcies.

The generous share of GM stock given to the union trust fund under the White House deal puts it not only ahead of the Treasury but on a par with secured creditors such as banks, which normally receive the most favorable treatment from bankruptcy courts.

Perhaps the biggest losers are the investors in the old GM. None of the bankrupt company's previous stockholders got any money, while the claims of thousands of investors who purchased the company's bonds are still being kicked around in a Manhattan bankruptcy court.

"It gives outraged flashbacks to the old GM bondholders," who remain mired in the bankruptcy proceedings and are unlikely to recover more than 30 percent of their investments, Mr. Reynolds said.

He compared the deal to the corrupt crony capitalism in Russia under President Vladimir Putin.

The White House "took a page out of the Putin political asset reallocation and reward system" when it engineered the deal, he said.

Mr. Reynolds also described the White House deal as a combination of "Boss Tweed on steroids" and "Hugo Chavez on meds," as far as the bondholders are concerned.

Craig Coffey, a retiree in Nevada who invested $55,000 in bonds in the old GM that are now worthless, was outraged that the union is on its way to recovering all its money before investors get even a cent of compensation.

"We just sat and watched [the stock offering]. We got nothing," he said. "Screwed again."

Mr. Coffey has had to make ends meet by finding odd jobs, which can be difficult in the hard-hit Las Vegas area. He said it wasn't only the union that benefited from getting full repayment to its pension trust fund under the White House bankruptcy plan.

"That was a way for the government to avoid having the liability put on the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation," he said. Bankruptcy courts often discharge corporate pension obligations to the government insurance fund.

"They dodged a bullet there and pushed it back to the union," Mr. Coffey said. "Now, they've made them whole and screwed the bondholders."

Steve Rattner, the White House auto czar who engineered the deal, repeated the position he took throughout the bankruptcy — that the bondholders would have ended up with nothing if the government hadn't intervened.

"I think everybody was treated fairly," he told Bloomberg News last week. "If we had not saved General Motors, those bonds would be worth exactly zero."

UAW President Bob King celebrated the success of the stock offering last week. "We know that for the long-term viability and success of our membership, General Motors has to be successful," he said.

He hinted that the union in the next round of collective bargaining that begins next summer may seek to recoup still more of the concessions it made in bankruptcy, given GM's growing profitability.

"The best outcome is a successful GM that then shares fairly with our membership," he said.

John Paul McDuffie, a professor at the Wharton School of Business, said the full funding of the union's pension and health care trust fund through the bankruptcy process represents progress because it helped solve one of most "persistent and difficult" bones of contention between GM and its union.

GM and the UAW had been at loggerheads for years over how to deal with GM's so-called "legacy" costs — funding the generous worker health care and retirement benefits it promised in earlier eras.

The bankruptcy settlement enabled GM to proceed with a hard-won 2007 plan it negotiated with the union to spin off those huge liabilities and let them be funded in the future by the trust fund that received the stock.

Mr. McDuffie said the bankruptcy also proved useful in forcing the company to learn to survive in turbulent times.

© Copyright 2010 The Washington Times, LLC

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« Reply #162 on: December 26, 2010, 11:23:27 PM »

The Drunkard’s Progress
December 19, 2010 - by Richard Fernandez
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When Lady Gaga spoke at a rally in support of repealing the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy towards gays in the military, she said: “Our new law is called ‘If you don’t like it, go home!’” That kind of speech is described as a defense of tolerance. Today the New York Times narrates the case of a University of Nebraska astronomer who was denied a position at the University of Kentucky because he was “potentially evangelical.” The department voted to deny him the position because it would look bad for the university if it hired a religious nut. Both incidents highlight the new normal, whatever that is.

    … the smoking gun is an e-mail dated Sept. 21, 2007, from a department staff member, Sally A. Shafer, to Dr. Cavagnero and another colleague. Ms. Shafer wrote that she did an Internet search on Dr. Gaskell and found links to his notes for a lecture that explores, among other topics, how the Bible could relate to contemporary astronomy.

    “Clearly this man is complex and likely fascinating to talk with,” Ms. Shafer wrote, “but potentially evangelical. If we hire him, we should expect similar content to be posted on or directly linked from the department Web site.”

Just what is inappropriate in modern society is a matter of intense debate. Some people say that anything goes. Recently, Ann Althouse quoted Justice Scalia in connection with a case involving incest between a Columbia professor and Huffington Post blogger. She argued that morals legislation may effectively be dead. Scalia said where once there was a belief  “that certain forms of sexual behavior are ‘immoral and unacceptable’… the same interest furthered by criminal laws against fornication, bigamy, adultery, adult incest, bestiality, and obscenity,” those views were in his view increasingly untenable in view of recent jurisprudence. Scalia wrote:

    The Court today reaches the opposite conclusion. The Texas statute, it says, “furthers no legitimate state interest which can justify its intrusion into the personal and private life of the individual” … The Court embraces instead Justice Stevens’ declaration in his Bowers dissent, that “the fact that the governing majority in a State has traditionally viewed a particular practice as immoral is not a sufficient reason for upholding a law prohibiting the practice.” This effectively decrees the end of all morals legislation. If, as the Court asserts, the promotion of majoritarian sexual morality is not even a legitimate state interest, none of the above-mentioned laws can survive rational-basis review.

But a cursory glance around shows that moral judgments in some form refuse to go away. In fact, they are more pervasive than ever. Lady Gaga felt herself perfectly justified in asking those who objected to the repeal of DADT to “go home,” where they could presumably languish in their bigotry. And a university department believes that it may be unacceptable to hire someone who believes in the Bible as an astronomer. They were making moral judgments and felt perfectly entitled to do so.

Hate speech laws have been enacted by Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, the Council of Europe, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, India, Ireland, Jordan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Serbia, , Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. What you say and what you do, far from being your own business, is everywhere the public’s business. Recently, the head of the soccer federation FIFA warned homosexuals against engaging in sexual behavior in Qatr because they stood a good chance of running afoul of Islamic law. The FIFA head later apologized for offending gays. But whether that will help gays in Qatr is a different matter, because one may not criticize Islamic law either. So in all likelihood then, while Qatr may beat up the gays anyhow and not have any explaining to do, any European who simply mentions that Qatr might do it is engaging in offensive behavior.

Morals legislation appears to be as pervasive as ever. Nothing in the current environment suggests there exist opinions on which you may not be lectured. The extent of what is out of bounds is growing all the time. What has changed is the contents of that proscribed area. It may now be a crime to quote the Bible. For example, in May of 2010 a British preacher was arrested for handing out leaflets saying that homosexuality was a sin. A policeman appoached “to warn him they had received complaints and that if he made any racist or homophobic comments he would be arrested.”

    I told him homosexuality is a sin, and he told me “I am a homosexual, I find that offensive, and I’m also the liaison officer for the bisexual-lesbian-gay-transsexual community”,’ he said yesterday. ‘I told him it was still a sin.’

    Mr Adams last year represented Cumbria Police at the Gay Pride march in Manchester. On the social networking site MySpace, he describes his orientation as gay and his religion as atheist.

    After the warning, Mr Mcalpine took over preaching for 20 minutes, although he claims he did not cover homosexuality. But while he talked to a passer-by the PCSO radioed for assistance and he was arrested by uniformed officers.

    He was taken to a police station, had his pockets emptied and his mobile phone taken along with his belt and shoes, and was kept in the cells for seven hours where he sang hymns to keep his spirits up.

It is exactly the same process that might have occurred fifty years ago but with a policeman warning a homosexual he could not distribute leaflets advocating sodomy. What has changed isn’t that people are being warned off for their beliefs. What is different is which beliefs they are being warned against. The Ins and the Outs have changed places, but he door remains the same. Wikipedia writes that “views on public morality do change over time,” but whether public morality itself can ever be abolished is an open question.

One of the drivers of the new public morality is who can fight back. British policemen do not go around telling Muslim imams not to preach against homosexuality because such preachers may take strenuous exception to their warnings.  But the rules of the new morality are often capricious, unstated or simply arcane.

The offenses ascribed to Julian Assange illuminate what some publics regard as offensive and inappropriate. He is facing complaints from two Swedish women; both appeared to be ideological supporters of Assange. They have sworn out a complaint against him. Neither had problems with Assange’s practice of revealing classified information. “A fellow activist, she had invited Assange to stay at her flat while he was in Stockholm to address her political party, the centre-left Brotherhood Movement.” No, what deeply offended them was welshing on his promise to use a condom when engaging in sexual activity with them. The Swedish police described the crimes of the Wikileaks supremo. Miss A complained that:

    She tried to reach for a condom but Assange held her arms and pinned her legs, she stated to police. He then agreed to use a condom but, Miss A alleges, he did ‘something’ to it that resulted in it becoming ripped….

    Two days later, he slept with Miss W. She was a twentysomething who had attended his seminar and hung around hoping to meet him. After lunch and the cinema, she invited him to her apartment in Enkoping, near Stockholm, and he stayed.

    They used a condom the first time they had sex, but the next morning he allegedly had sex with her when she was still asleep, without protection. He maintains she was ‘half asleep’ and they joked about it afterwards.

    Either way, it was not long before the two women had learnt of each other, and were swapping notes. After taking stock, they took the drastic step of going to the police.

The hard part of living under the new morality is understanding what the rules actually are. Is it uncool to steal classified documents which may result in the death of hundreds of Afghans who’ve cooperated with NATO? Apparently not. Is it OK for Julian Assange to use his status as a “fugitive” to become a “babe magnet”? Why of course. Who ever said that being a fugitive meant not telling people who you were? You can be a fugitive only for public purposes and not to actually conceal your whereabouts. But it is apparently not ok not to use a condom in Sweden. This point of punctilo is apparently inviolable, and if it is not clear why to all of us, it is nevertheless evident to members of the relevant set.

Nothing so demonstrates plebeianism as the inability not to even know the rules. The real hallmark of membership in the new aristocracy is knowing all the etiquette without even having to ask — easy enough because they make the rules. What’s right is what Keith Olbermann and Lady Gaga say. Why? Well if you have to ask then  you must be immoral.  The new morality is above all the art of speaking in code and part of the power of political correctness springs precisely from its vagueness. The art of correct behavior today consists largely in sensing the prevailing fashion. It is a survival skill the Old Bolsheviks knew well. The important thing was to always to have opinions, but never to have opinions that were out of date.
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« Reply #163 on: December 27, 2010, 11:40:18 PM »

Barack and Michelle Obama hail Kwanzaa umoja
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« Reply #164 on: December 28, 2010, 12:04:36 AM »

Lets break this down a bit:

President Obama's statement marking Kwanzaa

Michelle and I extend our warmest thoughts and wishes to all those who are celebrating Kwanzaa this holiday season. Today [Dec. 26] is the first of a joyful seven-day celebration of African American culture and heritage.

*Since when?  It is a made up holiday.  If I am not mistaken, it was created, for political reasons, in the 1970s.  There is absolutely no tradition behind it whatsoever.

* Says who?  Black racists and progressives.

The seven principles of Kwanzaa --

1) unity,:  *In the contex here, unity means racial unity of black people.  In practice, this means non-progressive blacks are called "Uncle Toms", "house niggers" "race traitors" and the like.

2) self-determination, *In the context here, this term has black separatist connotations

3) collective work and responsibility, *i.e. commonly known as communism

4) cooperative economics, *more communism

5) purpose, *I am unaware of the origin of the presence of this term here.

6) creativity *perhaps a nod to the achievement of American blacks in music and other arts

7) and faith -- *fair enough if one means the black churches such as MLK, but one suspects in the context here it means black liberation theology such as that of BO's pastor, Rev. Wright.

are some of the very values that make us Americans. *No, it makes you racist progressives.

As families across America and around the world light the Kinara today in the spirit of umoja, or unity, *again, racial solidarity

our family sends our well wishes and blessings for a happy and healthy new year.
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« Reply #165 on: December 28, 2010, 12:33:41 AM »

Happy Kwanzaa
By: Paul Mulshine | Thursday, December 26, 2002

On December 24, 1971, the New York Times ran one of the first of many articles on a new holiday designed to foster unity among African Americans. The holiday, called Kwanzaa, was applauded by a certain sixteen-year-old minister who explained that the feast would perform the valuable service of "de-whitizing" Christmas. The minister was a nobody at the time but he would later go on to become perhaps the premier race-baiter of the twentieth century. His name was Al Sharpton and he would later spawn the Tawana Brawley hoax and then incite anti-Jewish tensions in a 1995 incident that ended with the arson deaths of seven people.

Great minds think alike. The inventor of the holiday was one of the few black "leaders" in America even worse than Sharpton. But there was no mention in the Times article of this man or of the fact that at that very moment he was sitting in a California prison. And there was no mention of the curious fact that this purported benefactor of the black people had founded an organization that in its short history tortured and murdered blacks in ways of which the Ku Klux Klan could only fantasize.

It was in newspaper articles like that, repeated in papers all over the country, that the tradition of Kwanzaa began. It is a tradition not out of Africa but out of Orwell. Both history and language have been bent to serve a political goal. When that New York Times article appeared, Ron Karenga's crimes were still recent events. If the reporter had bothered to do any research into the background of the Kwanzaa founder, he might have learned about Karenga's trial earlier that year on charges of torturing two women who were members of US (United Slaves), a black nationalist cult he had founded.

A May 14, 1971, article in the Los Angeles Times described the testimony of one of them: "Deborah Jones, who once was given the Swahili title of an African queen, said she and Gail Davis were whipped with an electrical cord and beaten with a karate baton after being ordered to remove their clothes. She testified that a hot soldering iron was placed in Miss Davis' mouth and placed against Miss Davis' face and that one of her own big toes was tightened in a vise. Karenga, head of US, also put detergent and running hoses in their mouths, she said."

Back then, it was relatively easy to get information on the trial. Now it's almost impossible. It took me two days' work to find articles about it. The Los Angeles Times seems to have been the only major newspaper that reported it and the stories were buried deep in the paper, which now is available only on microfilm. And the microfilm index doesn't start until 1972, so it is almost impossible to find the three small articles that cover Karenga's trial and conviction on charges of torture. That is fortunate for Karenga. The trial showed him to be not just brutal, but deranged. He and three members of his cult had tortured the women in an attempt to find some nonexistent "crystals" of poison. Karenga thought his enemies were out to get him.

And in another lucky break for Karenga, the trial transcript no longer exists. I filed a request for it with the Superior Court of Los Angeles. After a search, the court clerk could find no record of the trial. So the exact words of the black woman who had a hot soldering iron pressed against her face by the man who founded Kwanzaa are now lost to history. The only document the court clerk did find was particularly revealing, however. It was a transcript of Karenga's sentencing hearing on Sept. 17, 1971.

A key issue was whether Karenga was sane. Judge Arthur L. Alarcon read from a psychiatrist's report: "Since his admission here he has been isolated and has been exhibiting bizarre behavior, such as staring at the wall, talking to imaginary persons, claiming that he was attacked by dive-bombers and that his attorney was in the next cell. … During part of the interview he would look around as if reacting to hallucination and when the examiner walked away for a moment he began a conversation with a blanket located on his bed, stating that there was someone there and implying indirectly that the 'someone' was a woman imprisoned with him for some offense. This man now presents a picture which can be considered both paranoid and schizophrenic with hallucinations and elusions, inappropriate affect, disorganization, and impaired contact with the environment."

The founder of Kwanzaa paranoid? It seems so. But as the old saying goes, just because you're paranoid it doesn't mean that someone isn't out to get you.

ACCORDING TO COURT DOCUMENTS, Karenga's real name is Ron N. Everett. In the '60s, he awarded himself the title "maulana," Swahili for "master teacher." He was born on a poultry farm in Maryland, the fourteenth child of a Baptist minister. He came to California in the late 1950s to attend Los Angeles Community College. He moved on to UCLA, where he got a Master's degree in political science and African Studies. By the mid-1960s, he had established himself as a leading "cultural nationalist." That is a term that had some meaning in the '60s, mainly as a way of distinguishing Karenga's followers from the Black Panthers, who were conventional Marxists.

Another way of distinguishing might be to think of Karenga's gang as the Crips and the Panthers as the bloods. Despite all their rhetoric about white people, they reserved their most vicious violence for each other. In 1969, the two groups squared off over the question of who would control the new Afro-American Studies Center at UCLA. According to a Los Angeles Times article, Karenga and his adherents backed one candidate, the Panthers another. Both groups took to carrying guns on campus, a situation that, remarkably, did not seem to bother the university administration. The Black Student Union, however, set up a coalition to try and bring peace between the Panthers and the group headed by the man whom the Times labeled "Ron Ndabezitha Everett-Karenga."

On Jan. 17, 1969, about 150 students gathered in a lunchroom to discuss the situation. Two Panthers—admitted to UCLA like many of the black students as part of a federal program that put high-school dropouts into the school—apparently spent a good part of the meeting in verbal attacks against Karenga. This did not sit well with Karenga's followers, many of whom had adopted the look of their leader, pseudo-African clothing and a shaved head.

In modern gang parlance, you might say Karenga was "dissed" by John Jerome Huggins, 23, and Alprentice "Bunchy" Carter, 26. After the meeting, the two Panthers were met in the hallway by two brothers who were members of US, George P. and Larry Joseph Stiner. The Stiners pulled pistols and shot the two Panthers dead. One of the Stiners took a bullet in the shoulder, apparently from a Panther's gun.

There were other beatings and shooting in Los Angeles involving US, but by then the tradition of African nationalism had already taken hold—among whites. That tradition calls for any white person, whether a journalist, a college official, or a politician, to ignore the obvious flaws of the concept that blacks should have a separate culture. "The students here have handled themselves in an absolutely impeccable manner," UCLA chancellor Charles E. Young told the L.A. Times. "They have been concerned. They haven't argued who the director should be; they have been saying what kind of person he should be." Young made those remarks after the shooting. And the university went ahead with its Afro-American Studies Program. Karenga, meanwhile, continued to build and strengthen US, a unique group that seems to have combined the elements of a street gang with those of a California cult. The members performed assaults and robberies but they also strictly followed the rules laid down in The Quotable Karenga, a book that laid out "The Path of Blackness." "The sevenfold path of blackness is think black, talk black, act black, create black, buy black, vote black, and live black," the book states.

In retrospect, it may be fortunate that the cult fell apart over the torture charges. Left to his own devices, Karenga might have orchestrated the type of mass suicide later pioneered by the People's Temple and copied by the Heaven's Gate cult. Instead, he apparently fell into deep paranoia shortly after the killings at UCLA. He began fearing that his followers were trying to have him killed. On May 9, 1970 he initiated the torture session that led to his imprisonment. Karenga himself will not comment on that incident and the victims cannot be located, so the sole remaining account is in the brief passage from the L.A. Times describing tortures inflicted by Karenga and his fellow defendants, Louis Smith and Luz Maria Tamayo:

"The victims said they were living at Karenga's home when Karenga accused them of trying to kill him by placing 'crystals' in his food and water and in various areas of his house. When they denied it, allegedly they were beaten with an electrical cord and a hot soldering iron was put in Miss Davis' mouth and against her face. Police were told that one of Miss Jones' toes was placed in a small vise which then allegedly was tightened by one of the defendants. The following day Karenga allegedly told the women that 'Vietnamese torture is nothing compared to what I know.' Miss Tamayo reportedly put detergent in their mouths, Smith turned a water hose full force on their faces, and Karenga, holding a gun, threatened to shoot both of them."

Karenga was convicted of two counts of felonious assault and one count of false imprisonment. He was sentenced on Sept. 17, 1971, to serve one to ten years in prison. A brief account of the sentencing ran in several newspapers the following day. That was apparently the last newspaper article to mention Karenga's unfortunate habit of doing unspeakable things to black people. After that, the only coverage came from the hundreds of news accounts that depict him as the wonderful man who invented Kwanzaa.

LOOK AT ANY MAP OF THE WORLD and you will see that Ghana and Kenya are on opposite sides of the continent. This brings up an obvious question about Kwanzaa: Why did Karenga use Swahili words for his fictional African feast? American blacks are primarily descended from people who came from Ghana and other parts of West Africa. Kenya and Tanzania—where Swahili is spoken—are several thousand miles away, about as far from Ghana as Los Angeles is from New York. Yet in celebrating Kwanzaa, African-Americans are supposed to employ a vocabulary of such Swahili words as "kujichagulia" and "kuumba." This makes about as much sense as having Irish-Americans celebrate St. Patrick's Day by speaking Polish. One possible explanation is that Karenga was simply ignorant of African geography and history when he came up with Kwanzaa in 1966. That might explain why he would schedule a harvest festival near the solstice, a season when few fruits or vegetables are harvested anywhere. But a better explanation is that he simply has contempt for black people.

That does not seem a farfetched hypothesis. Despite all his rhetoric about white racism, I could find no record that he or his followers ever raised a hand in anger against a white person. In fact, Karenga had an excellent relationship with Los Angeles Mayor Sam Yorty in the '60s and also met with then-Governor Ronald Reagan and other white politicians. But he and his gang were hell on blacks. And Karenga certainly seems to have had a low opinion of his fellow African-Americans. "People think it's African, but it's not," he said about his holiday in an interview quoted in the Washington Post. "I came up with Kwanzaa because black people in this country wouldn't celebrate it if they knew it was American. Also, I put it around Christmas because I knew that's when a lot of bloods would be partying." "Bloods" is a '60s California slang term for black people.

That Post article appeared in 1978. Like other news articles from that era, it makes no mention of Karenga's criminal past, which seems to have been forgotten the minute he got out of prison in 1975. Profiting from the absence of memory, he remade himself as Maulana Ron Karenga, went into academics, and by 1979 he was running the Black Studies Department at California State University in Long Beach.

This raises a question: Karenga had just ten years earlier proven himself capable of employing guns and bullets in his efforts to control hiring in the Black Studies Department at UCLA. So how did this ex-con, fresh out jail, get the job at Long Beach? Did he just send a résumé and wait by the phone? The officials at Long Beach State don't like that type of question. I called the university and got a spokeswoman by the name of Toni Barone. She listened to my questions and put me on hold. Christmas music was playing, a nice touch under the circumstances. She told me to fax her my questions. I sent a list of questions that included the matter of whether Karenga had employed threats to get his job. I also asked just what sort of crimes would preclude a person from serving on the faculty there in Long Beach. And whether the university takes any security measures to ensure that Karenga doesn't shoot any students. Barone faxed me back a reply stating that the university is pleased with Karenga's performance and has no record of the procedures that led to his hiring. She ignored the question about how they protect students.

Actually, there is clear evidence that Karenga has reformed. In 1975, he dropped his cultural nationalist views and converted to Marxism. For anyone else, this would have been seen as an endorsement of radicalism, but for Karenga it was considered a sign that he had moderated his outlook. The ultimate irony is that now that Karenga is a Marxist, the capitalists have taken over his holiday. The seven principles of Kwanzaa include "collective work" and "cooperative economics," but Kwanzaa is turning out to be as commercial as Christmas, generating millions in greeting-card sales alone. The purists are whining. "It's clear that a number of major corporations have started to take notice and try to profit from Kwanzaa," said a San Francisco State black studies professor named "Oba T'Shaka" in one news account. "That's not good, with money comes corruption." No, he's wrong. With money comes kitsch. The L.A. Times reported a group was planning an "African Village Faire," the pseudo-archaic spelling of "faire" nicely combining kitsch Africana with kitsch Americana.

With money also comes forgetfulness. As those warm Kwanzaa feelings are generated in a spirit of holiday cheer, those who celebrate this holiday do so in blissful ignorance of the sordid violence, paranoia, and mayhem that helped generate its birth some three decades ago in a section of America that has vanished down the memory hole.
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« Reply #166 on: December 28, 2010, 05:58:07 PM »

Unlearning the Lessons Being Taught

by Ann Snyder  •  Dec 9, 2010 at 10:49 am

Islamists aren't the only threat to speech critical of Islam. Many European states, for example, have criminalized speech acts through legally enforced "political correctness" embodied in "hate speech" laws. In America, where it still remains (more or less) legal to think and speak, the assault on free expression is being waged on a different front, our universities. The target? The minds of America's youth.

Far from being bastions of free thought and critical inquiry, our universities, through speech codes, security fees, and other tactics, begin the "political correctness" indoctrination process early, teaching young Americans what they may and may not say (READ: think). Naturally, included in the realm of the verboten is expression deemed critical of Islam.

One Philadelphia organization, the Foundation for Individual Rights In Education (FIRE), an organization dedicated to protecting individual rights on America's campuses, is fighting back and has handled a few cases that will be of particular interest to our readers:

Student group slapped with "security fee" for Wilders event: In October of 2009, the student organization, Temple University Purpose (TUP), sponsored an event with Dutch politician, Geert Wilders, who currently faces prosecution for "hate speech" in the Netherlands. Several weeks later, the group received charges for an additional "security fee" for the event. Charging extra security fees for a controversial event because of a potential hostile reaction from the audience has been deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court because it financially burdens speech. Citing this precedent and through dogged persistence, the FIRE succeeded in having the fee withdrawn.

College Republicans investigated for fake flag "desecration" at anti-terrorism event: In 2007, San Francisco State University's College Republicans were subjected to disciplinary action for stepping on mock Hezbollah and Hamas flags as part of an anti-terrorism event. With help from the FIRE, the witch-hunt was ended and students escaped punishment. Later, with the assistance of the FIRE's Speech Codes Litigation Project and the Alliance Defense Fund, the College Republicans delivered a little disciplinary action of their own, raising and winning a constitutional challenge to the university's speech code.

"Portraits of Terror" art exhibit censored: In 2006, then Penn State student, Joshua Stulman's exhibit "Portraits of Terror" was pulled by the university just three days before its opening. According to FIRE President, Greg Lukianoff, the exhibit was censored "twice: first because administrators didn't like what it had to say, and later out of fear that violence would ensue if his artwork were shown on campus." The FIRE has helped raise awareness of the incident through writing and a short documentary. Is there anyone out there with the courage to show this exhibit?

Through cases like those enumerated above related to expression concerning Islam, and through countless others directed more generally at protecting individual liberty on our campuses, the FIRE is helping students to unlearn some dangerous lessons they are being taught at our colleges and universities about the scope of individual liberty. To paraphrase Judge Learned Hand, liberty lies in the hearts and minds of men and women; if it dies there, no laws can save it. Those at the FIRE understand this proposition and are fighting to keep liberty alive in one of the places it counts the most.

For our readers in Philadelphia, the FIRE will be presenting its work on December 10, 2010 at a CLE course they developed titled, "Free Speech 101: Protecting Free Expression and the First Amendment at our Nation's Colleges and Universities."
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« Reply #167 on: December 28, 2010, 07:11:47 PM »

Thanks for the piece on the origins of Kwanzaa GM.
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« Reply #168 on: December 28, 2010, 07:35:51 PM »

What I find interesting is how almost all of the Karenga legal records have disappeared. I assume California has laws like most every state requiring that all these records be archived and preserved as public records.
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« Reply #169 on: December 28, 2010, 07:43:34 PM »

May I tease you by pointing out that such suspicion of the integrity of government/state action is normally mocked by you? cheesy
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« Reply #170 on: December 28, 2010, 07:50:23 PM »

I would point out that there is a big difference between some documents getting purged and "9/11 was an inside job" or other conspiracy theories.
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« Reply #171 on: December 28, 2010, 09:59:51 PM »

No Three-Week Vacations for the Hajj? Don’t Worry, the DOJ’s On It
The DOJ throws its weight behind a middle-school teacher who claims her rights were violated when she wasn't allowed the time to go to Mecca.
December 27, 2010 - by Mike McDaniel

Two interesting poll results have come to light in recent days. The first was Barack Obama’s lowest ever approval rating, and the second was a poll commissioned by ABC News and the Washington Post that revealed that only 43% were in favor of ObamaCare with 52% opposed. Other polls have indicated as much as a 60% level of disapproval. However, Jake Tapper of ABC did mention the poll, calling it the “lowest level of popularity ever.” The Washington Post did not publish the results of its own poll.

Such selective publishing has also infected a very interesting story relating to a Muslim teacher and Eric Holder’s Justice Department, a story which has received little mainstream media press, but reasonable play in the blogosphere. In December of 2008, Safoorah Khan, a middle school teacher in the Berkeley school district (a Chicago-area district), asked her principal to give her three weeks off during the school year so she could make the hajj, a ritual journey to Mecca, the most holy city of Islam, that all Muslims are expected to make once in their lifetime if possible. Her principal refused because the request was not related to her professional duties and exceeded the union contract under which the school operates. He no doubt also refused because to grant her request would have disrupted the continuity of the educations of her students (Khan apparently offered to take the time without pay). Enter Eric Holder.

The Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 alleging that the school district violated Khan’s civil rights by refusing to accommodate her religious practices. The DOJ is demanding an order forcing the Berkeley district to adopt policies that would allows such religious observances, and is also seeking back pay, compensatory damages, and reinstatement for Kahn, whose actions led to her dismissal. “Employees should not have to choose between their religious practice and their livelihood,” said Thomas Perez, assistant attorney general for the Civil Right Division. The Equal Employment OpportunityCommission is also involved in the case. This is the first such case ever brought by the DOJ.

Many readers will no doubt remember Mr. Perez as instrumental in dismissing the voter intimidation case against the New Black Panthers, a case that was actually won, and arguably committing perjury to cover the fact that political appointees such as himself ruled the decision-making process. They will also no doubt recall that the Civil Rights Division has adopted an unwritten — though widely known — policy against protecting the civil rights of whites. All of this was brought to light by past and present Civil Rights Division attorneys and was documented and confirmed in a recent report of the United States Civil Rights Commission.

It is tempting, and likely correct, to believe that Mr. Holder’s DOJ is involved primarily because Ms. Khan is a Muslim, in the hope of righting what they see as anti-Muslim attitudes and prejudice rampant in the American population. That such rampant prejudice is essentially nonexistent seems to bother them not at all. For example, several years ago, NBC enlisted men in obviously Muslim garb to attend a NASCAR race in Virginia, making their presence obvious, even provocative, in the hope of obtaining incendiary footage of racist race fans, but the planted Muslims were treated no differently than anyone else. No racism; no footage. Mr. Obama’s support and rhetoric in favor of Muslim ideals and Muslim organizations, even those with clear links to terrorism, are equally well-known, so the DOJ’s involvement should hardly be a surprise to the well-informed.

But by entering into this case, the DOJ seeks to do much mischief in the support of Muslim tradition and Sharia (Islamic law). Schools have of late become primarily political footballs, when they’re not farm teams for professional football teams. All but ignored is that they exist to provide a free, common education for American children, an education not only in reading, writing, and arithmetic, but in shared American values and responsibilities, values and responsibilities that if actually taught and enforced will enable most children to one day become responsible citizens. Anything that interferes with this process should and must be resisted.

Competent educators know that the most important factor in student success is having competent, dedicated, hardworking teachers in each classroom. Such teachers do not want to be absent from their students, even for a single day. In this case, apparently Ms. Kahn did not attempt to organize her trip in advance of the school year, giving her principal the chance to determine if it would be possible to obtain a long-term substitute teacher. Even so, few if any principals would be disposed to allow any teacher to leave school for three successive weeks for what amounts to personal business, no matter how deeply felt the teacher’s need might be, religious or otherwise. This is particularly true in December, during which the final few weeks of the first semester fall. What many fail to realize is that a teacher’s summer vacation, which by the way grows shorter each year, is largely used by teachers to obtain state mandated re-certification credits (usually at their own expense), and to conduct the kind of personal business that is just not possible during the school year. In fact, most teachers would not make such a request, particularly on the spur of the moment, understanding it to be inherently unreasonable.

Teachers certainly do upon occasion have to leave the classroom for weeks at a time due to unexpected illness or family emergencies such as deaths or the unexpected needs of elderly parents, but such matters are understood and accepted and are commonly written into the polices of school districts, particularly those like the Berkeley district with a unionized work force. In this case, the union contract apparently did not allow such absences.

The courts, and the Justice Department, have traditionally extended substantial deference toward school authorities in such matters recognizing that interference would be far more likely to be harmful than helpful and that local control was of paramount importance. Of course, the Obama administration knows best, in this and in every other facet of our lives, so DOJ involvement in this matter likely represents only the nose of the camel under the tent.

The determining factor in this case will likely be encapsulated in one word: reasonable. In other words, was the Berkeley district unreasonable in failing to fully accommodate Kahn’s desire for a religious pilgrimage? By throwing the full weight and resources of the federal government behind Ms. Kahn, it is clear that the DOJ under Mr. Holder and Mr. Obama believe that the district was unreasonable, at least so far as the desires of Muslims are concerned. It is not unreasonable to believe that a Christian teacher suddenly struck with the idea of a religious pilgrimage to Jerusalem would not be accorded the same federal support.

Should the courts rule in favor of Ms. Kahn (and by extension, the DOJ and Mr. Obama), it is hard to imagine which Muslim religious observance would not have to be accommodated. After all, if it is legally reasonable for Muslim teachers to be given three weeks off for religious reasons upon request, what lesser imposition on public time and money — and the uninterrupted learning environments of their students — could be deemed unreasonable? Foot washing stations? Segregation of male and female students and wearing of the hijab for female teachers and students? Students being able to disrupt class when they please, laying down prayer rugs, facing Mecca and loudly praying? Should any of this sound farfetched, keep in mind that these matters, and more, have already been discussed and/or litigated in schools and colleges across the nation.

But perhaps this is really nothing but a tempest in a teapot. Perhaps this is nothing more than Mr. Obama’s continuing “outreach” to the Muslim world. After all, NASA’s primary new mission is to help Muslims to feel good about centuries old scientific accomplishments. After all, what’s a little Sharia among friends?

Mike McDaniel is a former police officer, detective, and SWAT operator.
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« Reply #172 on: December 29, 2010, 03:02:03 PM »

In a world where we are not allowed to use the word Christmas in public and especially not Hannakah, punditry happened to notice that an 'After Holiday Sale' began December 26th and comment that we finally learn what holiday they were referring to.  I wonder if Kwanzaa shoppers in the White House and across the fruited plain find the timing of such a sale offensive. 
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« Reply #173 on: December 30, 2010, 09:51:41 AM »
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« Reply #174 on: January 02, 2011, 10:29:22 AM »

what it has been advocating all these years leads to this , , ,

Published: January 1, 2011
LECCE, Italy — Francesca Esposito, 29 and exquisitely educated, helped win millions of euros in false disability and other lawsuits for her employer, a major Italian state agency. But one day last fall she quit, fed up with how surreal and ultimately sad it is to be young in Italy today.

It galled her that even with her competence and fluency in five languages, it was nearly impossible to land a paying job. Working as an unpaid trainee lawyer was bad enough, she thought, but doing it at Italy’s social security administration seemed too much. She not only worked for free on behalf of the nation’s elderly, who have generally crowded out the young for jobs, but her efforts there did not even apply to her own pension.

“It was absurd,” said Ms. Esposito, a strong-willed woman with a healthy sense of outrage.

The outrage of the young has erupted, sometimes violently, on the streets of Greece and Italy in recent weeks, as students and more radical anarchists protest not only specific austerity measures in flattened economies but a rising reality in Southern Europe: People like Ms. Esposito feel increasingly shut out of their own futures. Experts warn of volatility in state finances and the broader society as the most highly educated generation in the history of the Mediterranean hits one of its worst job markets.

Politicians are slowly beginning to take notice. Italy’s president, Giorgio Napolitano, devoted his year-end message on Friday to “the pervasive malaise among young people,” weeks after protests against budget cuts to the university system brought the issue to the fore.

Giuliano Amato, an economist and former Italian prime minister, was even more blunt. “By now, only a few people refuse to understand that youth protests aren’t a protest against the university reform, but against a general situation in which the older generations have eaten the future of the younger ones,” he recently told Corriere della Sera, Italy’s largest newspaper.

The daughter of a fireman and a high school teacher, Ms. Esposito was the first in her family to graduate from college and the first to study foreign languages. She has an Italian law degree and a master’s from Germany and was an intern at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. It has not helped.

“I have every possible certificate,” Ms. Esposito said dryly. “I have everything except a death certificate.”

Even before the economic crisis hit, Southern Europe was not an easy place to forge a career. Low growth and a corrosive lack of meritocracy have long posed challenges to finding a job in Italy, Greece, Spain and Portugal. Today, with the added sting of austerity, more people are left fighting over fewer opportunities. It is a zero-sum game that inevitably pits younger workers struggling to enter the labor market against older ones already occupying precious slots.

As a result, a deep malaise has set in among young people. Some take to the streets in protest; others emigrate to Northern Europe or beyond in an epic brain drain of college graduates. But many more suffer in silence, living in their childhood bedrooms well into adulthood because they cannot afford to move out.

“They call us the lost generation,” said Coral Herrera Gómez, 33, who has a Ph.D. in humanities but still lives with her parents in Madrid because she cannot find steady work. “I’m not young,” she added over coffee recently, “but I’m not an adult with a job, either.”

There has been a national debate for years in Spain about “mileuristas,” a nickname for college graduates whose best job prospects may well pay just 1,000 euros a month, or $1,300.

Ms. Herrera is at the lower end of the spectrum. Fed up with earning 600 euros a month, or $791, under the table as a children’s drama teacher, Ms. Herrera said she had decided to move to Costa Rica this month to teach at a university.

As she spoke in a cafe in Madrid, a television on the wall featured a report on the birthday of a 106-year-old woman who said that eating blood sausage was the secret to her longevity.

The contrast could not have been stronger. Indeed, experts warn of a looming demographic disaster in Southern Europe, which has among the lowest birth rates in the Western world. With pensioners living longer and young people entering the work force later — and paying less in taxes because their salaries are so low — it is only a matter of time before state coffers run dry.

“What we have is a Ponzi scheme,” said Lawrence Kotlikoff, an economist at Boston University and an expert in fiscal policy.

He said that pay-as-you-go social security and health care were a looming fiscal disaster in Southern Europe and beyond. “If these fertility rates continue through time, you won’t have Italians, Spanish, Greeks, Portuguese or Russians,” he said. “I imagine the Chinese will just move into Southern Europe.”


The problem goes far beyond youth unemployment, which is at 40 percent in Spain and 28 percent in Italy. It is also about underemployment. Today, young people in Southern Europe are effectively exploited by the very mechanisms created a decade ago to help make the labor market more flexible, like temporary contracts.

Because payroll taxes and firing costs are still so high, businesses across Southern Europe are loath to hire new workers on a full-time basis, so young people increasingly are offered unpaid or low-paying internships, traineeships or temporary contracts that do not offer the same benefits or protections.

“This is the best-educated generation in Spanish history, and they are entering a job market in which they are underutilized,” said Ignacio Fernández Toxo, the leader of the Comisiones Obreras, one of Spain’s two largest labor unions. “It is a tragedy for the country.”

Yet many young people in Southern Europe see labor union leaders like Mr. Fernández, and the left-wing parties with which they have been historically close, as part of the problem. They are seen as exacerbating a two-tier labor market by protecting a caste of tenured older workers rather than helping younger workers enter the market.

For Dr. Kotlikoff, the solution is simple: “We have to change the labor laws. Not gradually, but quickly.”

Yet in Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain, any change in national contracts involves complex negotiations among governments, labor unions and businesses — a delicate dance in which each faction fights furiously for its interests.

Because older workers tend to be voters, labor reform remains a third rail to most politicians. Asked at a news conference last year about changing Italy’s de facto two-tier system, Italy’s center-right finance minister, Giulio Tremonti, said simply, “You can’t make violent changes to the system.”

New austerity measures in Spain, where the unemployment rate is 20 percent, the highest in the European Union, are further narrowing the employment window. Spain has pledged to raise its retirement age to 67 from 65, but incrementally over the next 20 years.

“Now people are being sent into early retirement at age 55,” said Sara Sanfulgencio, 28, who has a master’s degree in marketing but is unemployed and living in Madrid with her mother, who owns a children’s shoe store. “But if I haven’t started working by age 28 and I already have to stop at 55, it’s absurd.”

In Italy, Ms. Esposito is finishing her lawyer traineeship at a private firm in Lecce. It pays little but sits better on her conscience than her unpaid work for the government.

“I’m a repentant college graduate,” she said. “If I had it to do over again, I wouldn’t go to college and would just start working.”
prentice crawford
« Reply #175 on: January 14, 2011, 10:05:28 AM »

 Oh if we only had a one world government no one would go hungry because food would be free and plentiful. tongue Right                    
« Last Edit: January 14, 2011, 10:51:57 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #176 on: January 14, 2011, 10:53:21 AM »

Or just maybe, the Fed's flooding of the world with dollars has something to do with it , , ,
prentice crawford
« Reply #177 on: January 14, 2011, 11:11:17 AM »

 We are being herded into colapse, me thinks.
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« Reply #178 on: January 14, 2011, 12:08:57 PM »

Yes, droughts freezes and floods, the Fed flooding dollars, how much fertile farm land is lost from food production by convoluted incentives to grow energy instead of food while leaving ready energy in the ground, and are we still really paying farmers to not grow at all??

We are collectively so slow and so stupid about correcting public policies regarding ongoing self inflicted wounds.

In the context of the torture distinction discussion I am hesitant to call misguided democratic policies fascism, but if/when we keep doing it until people are starving then maybe that is what it is.
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« Reply #179 on: January 26, 2011, 12:00:33 PM »

Well, Ralph Nader is really low on my list as a general rule, but here he describes a situation worth consideration.
I have long fought against the systemic disempowerment of investors in large public corporations, but the mistreatment of the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac shareholders, including me, is uniquely reprehensible.

For decades Fannie and Freddie behaved like other large, publicly held financial corporations. They were profit-seeking companies, listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). They displayed an unfettered drive for greater sales, profits, executive bonuses and stock options for the top brass. Their shareholders received dividends and rising stock values.

These so-called government sponsored enterprises (GSEs) dominated the secondary mortgage market. The implied government backstop slightly lowered their borrowing costs in return for a poorly enforced obligation to facilitate a mortgage market for lower-income home buyers. Otherwise, the GSE moniker meant little, since everybody knew that, like Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street giants, Washington viewed them as "too big to fail."

With the onset of the subprime mortgage collapse, Fannie and Freddie went down with the rest of the financial industry. The federal government moved into high bailout gear during the latter half of 2008 with three distinct rescue models for Wall Street and Detroit.

One model provided capital and credit lines to Bank of America, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan Chase and AIG, leaving their shareholders beaten down but intact to start recovering value.

The second model dispatched General Motors into a well-orchestrated, stunningly quick bankruptcy process. While the bankruptcy court treated the common shareholders like flotsam and jetsam, GM emerged well subsidized and tax-privileged with a clean balance sheet under temporary ownership by the U.S. and Canadian governments and the United Auto Workers.

View Full Image

Getty Images
 .The third model placed Fannie and Freddie under an indeterminate conservatorship scheme that kept but abused its common shareholders, who had already lost up to 99% of their investment. Neither vanquished nor given an opportunity to recover, the institutional and individual shareholders are trapped in limbo.

Here is how the scheme congealed. In return for providing an open credit line, the government received warrants to buy up to 79.9% of the GSEs' common stock for $0.00001 per share. The government's share stayed under 80% to avoid forcing the liabilities of these two behemoths onto the government's books. Treasury achieved this by having the common shareholders nominally own the other 20%.

Here's the rub: The zombie common shareholders have no rights or remedies against Fannie and Freddie, both operationally active companies, or their regulator—the Federal Housing Finance Agency. FHFA ordered the Fannie and Freddie boards and executives to suspend communications with shareholders and abolish the annual stockholders meeting.

In 2008, then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told Fannie and Freddie investors that the companies "are adequately capitalized." Moreover, another regulator, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (Ofheo), assured investors—including many mutual funds, pension trusts and small banks—of the soundness of their investment.

Fannie Mae's then-Senior Vice President Chuck Greener, backed by his then-CEO Daniel Mudd, said, "We are maintaining a strong capital base, building reserves for credit losses and generating solid reserves as our business continues to serve the market." That was on July 11, 2008.

These former officials (both have since left Fannie Mae) should have known better. On Sept. 8, 2008, when Treasury announced the conservatorship, the GSEs' common stock dropped to pennies and the shareholders realized they were misled.

Such statements by private executives controlling a publicly traded corporation should have prompted a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation. Such was the betrayal of trust of investors who were told for years that putting their money in these GSEs was second only to investing in Treasury bonds.

Still, some faithful shareholders, including me, held on, believing that they might have a chance to recover something—as did their counterparts in Citigroup, AIG and the rest of the rescued.

Then came the cruelest and most unnecessary diktat of all. On June 16, 2010, the FHFA directed Fannie and Freddie to delist their common and preferred stock from the NYSE. The exchange did not demand this move. True, Fannie had dropped slightly below the $1 per share threshold stipulated by NYSE rules, but the Big Board is quite flexible with time either to get back over $1 or to allow companies to offer a reverse stock split. Freddie was comfortably over the $1 level. Why delist with one irresponsible stroke of the government's pen and destroy billions of dollars of remaining shareholder value? This move took the shares down to the range of 30 cents, chasing away many institutional holders.

FHFA Director Edward J. DeMarco said: "A voluntary delisting at this time simply makes sense and fits with the goal of a conservatorship to preserve and conserve assets." What nonsense! Real people were affected. As always, shareholders were powerless to challenge management practices, and they were treated like bureaucratically useful apparitions whose last clinging value could be shredded arbitrarily without due process.

In the next few weeks, the Obama administration is sending Congress its proposals regarding the future of the GSEs. The common shareholders of Fannie and Freddie need to organize and make their voices heard in Washington. Clearly, they should have a say in how Fannie and Freddie are managed—in the board room and in Congress—from here onward. It would be the equitable thing to do given the unprecedented delisting, political manipulations and discriminatory abuses heaped on GSE investors.

Mr. Nader is a consumer advocate and the author of "Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us" (Seven Stories Press, 2009).

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« Reply #180 on: January 26, 2011, 12:31:55 PM »

Well I was intrigued by the last line of your post, "Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us" by Ralph Nader.
I found this op ed.  LOL the image of Warren Buffet leading the charge of supplies into New Orleans during Katrina. 
The twisted logic of Nader is reflective of the twisted logic of all super rich progressives.  Of course he chooses all the big super rich liberals and writes a fictional account of them having meetings and looking for ways to stop the big corporations from ruining the world. 
Of course these same people think big government is the only thing that can save us.  Buffett who thinks he should be taxed more.  Soros, what can I say. Phil Donahue is on this list?

 Ralph Nader: Only the Super Rich Can Save Us!
 At a little noticed meeting with Senate Democrats, Warren Buffett, the famous investors' guru, told the lawmakers that rich people are not paying enough taxes.

A tax increase for the very wealthy? Many of the Senators backed away from that recommendation, even though it came from the world's second richest man.

That is just one reason why Mr. Buffett plays a central role in my first work of fiction, Only the Super Rich Can Save Us! The title is derived from an exchange between Buffett and a woman from New Orleans.

Buffett is leading a convoy of critical supplies right after Katrina to help the fleeing poor stranded on the highways without food, water, medicine and shelter. At one stop, Buffett was distributing supplies when a grandmother clasped his hands, looked right into his eyes and cried out: "Only the super-rich can save us!"

Her words jolted Buffett to his core. Arriving back at his modest home in Omaha, he knew what he had to do.

The next scene is early January 2006. Buffett and 16 enlightened super-rich elders gather at a mountaintop hotel in Maui, and devise an elaborate strategy to take on the corporate goliaths and their Washington allies, and to redirect the country toward long overdue changes.

What follows is a top-down, bottom-up mobilization of Americans from all backgrounds in a head-on power struggle to break the grip of the corporate titans on our government.

With four out of five Americans believing that the U.S. is in decline, imagining the super-rich powerful engine revving up an organized citizenry is a precondition to revitalizing democracy.

Tom Peters, the best selling author of In Search of Excellence summed up my book's objective by calling it a work of fiction that he would love to see become nonfiction.

Step by step, week by week, Buffett's super-rich, who call themselves "the Meliorists" build their campaigns--first privately and then openly launching their initiatives during the 4th of July weekend with media, fanfare and parades.

Turning real, well-known people into fictional roles does not mean that their past achievements and beliefs are overlooked. To the contrary, I extend their achievements and beliefs to a much more intense level of what I believe they wish to see our country become.

Over the years, I have spoken to many super-rich and found many of them discouraged and saddened about our nation's inability to solve major problems--a society paralyzed because the few have too much political and economic power over the many.

Buffett, in my "political science fiction,' to use my colleague Matt Zawisky's phrase, selected people like George Soros, Ted Turner, Ross Perot, Sol Price, Yoko Ono, William Gates Sr., Barry Diller, Bill Cosby, Joe Jamail, Bernard Rapoport, Leonard Riggio, Phil Donahue, and others because each brought unique experience, determination, money and rolodexes to that secluded Maui hotel where they met every month.

The "Meliorists" address the enormous mismatch of resources between citizen groups and the corporate supremacists. This time the entrenched CEOs are challenged by the retired or elderly billionaires and megamillionaires who know the ways and means of business and political power, and can throw the resources, smarts and grassroot organizing talent against the corporate behemoths, who are not reluctant to counterattack.

In 1888, a Bostonian by the name of Edward Bellamy published a tremendous bestseller about a utopian U.S. in the year 2000 called "Looking Backward." The book inspired the then-growing progressive movement.

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« Reply #181 on: January 26, 2011, 01:23:52 PM »

There are many areas where the far left, distrustful of big business, and the far right distrustful of bug government, should be able to find agreement. All we seek is a fair and level playing field and that is at least partly their objective as well.  GSE's are inherently corrupt enterprises.  I cringe when I hear the term public-private partnerships or whatever version of that concept Obama was describing at the State of the Union.  Remember that Nader is far to the left of Obama, and even more so now that Obama is faking toward the middle.  The buyout he describes is unfair to put it mildly, buying 79.9% at $.000001/per share because 80% would have a reporting requirement! Then trashing the value of it for their own purposes. Using the clout of size to disproportionate squish those whose stake is financially smaller.  Same goes for unfair debt rearrangements in other government meddling, besides the illegality and unconstitutionality.  It doesn't seem to me that shareholders have control over companies, though I would prefer to disagree with Nader.  Ownership comes and goes but professional management is entrenched as long as things go acceptably well.  The only freedom or power the individual shareholder really has is to not buy the shares.
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« Reply #182 on: January 27, 2011, 12:27:41 PM »

2011 SOTU: The Patriot Response
"As a very important source of strength and security, cherish public credit. One method of preserving it is to use it as sparingly as possible [and] not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burthen which we ourselves ought to bear." --George Washington
Barack Hussein Obama delivered his third State of the Union address this week. The good news: We can remove this man and his dangerously inept Leftist regime in two years.

The bad news: He still has two years left, and according to his ObamaPrompter, he intends to stay the course toward economic implosion.

By way of decoding Obama's message to America, Reps. Paul Ryan and Michelle Bachmann provided good rebuttals. However, they were constrained by certain standards of collegiality, so I have taken the liberty of providing The Patriot Post's unvarnished response to select excerpts of the SOTU.

First, some general observations:

1. Obama is the least qualified person to be president in any room he enters, so he looked particularly juvenile and incompetent at the House chamber podium.

2. Obama is still making political fodder of the Tucson tragedy, eager for another undignified pep rally like the "memorial service" he headlined at the University of Arizona. There, he was constantly cheered by sycophantic students whom he never once attempted to silence in due respect for what should have been a solemn occasion. For the record, in the 24 hours prior to Obama's SOTU, there were 11 law enforcement officers wounded or killed by sociopathic products of Socialist policies ... but they received no mention on Tuesday night.

3. The "date-night" seating arrangements were a great touch, particularly with serious men like Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) sitting next to that bucktoothed moron, Al Franken (D-MN).

Here is the abbreviated version of the SOTU: "I want ... I believe ... I've seen ... I've heard ... I said ... I will be ... I'm asking ... I don't know ... I challenge ... I urge ... I set ... I know ... I'm proposing ... I ask ... I took ... I made ... I would ... I intend ... I've ordered ... I will not ... I've heard ... I am eager ... I'm not ... I'm not ... I'm not ... I am ... I've proposed ... I care ... I recognize ... I'm willing ... I've proposed ... I created ... I don't agree ... I am prepared ... I hear ... I will submit ... I ask ... I will veto ... I will travel ... I call on all ... I know ... I stand..."

For a more in-depth analysis, what follows are Barack Obama claims with The Patriot's rebuttals, keeping in mind that nothing Obama proposed has an authorizing provision in our Constitution:

Barack Obama: "We have to make America the best place on Earth to do business. ... That's how our people will prosper. That's how we'll win the future. ... We know what it takes to compete for the jobs and industries of our time."
The Patriot's Response: Obama's objective to socialize our economy is completely antithetical to "winning the future." After $850 billion in Keynesian "stimulus" spending, unemployment is higher than when Obama took office, and our national debt has grown by almost three TRILLION dollars, now bumping up against the $14.29 trillion debt ceiling just enacted in December. Here's a real stimulus plan: Reduce taxes and regulations, which will grow the economy, which will increase tax revenues, which will provide more government funding for legitimate expenditures.

BO: "To reduce barriers to growth and investment, I've ordered a review of government regulations."
TPR: This administration, which has implemented record government regulations, will now consider removing just a few of them but only if such revisions would not affect "values that are difficult or impossible to quantify, including equity, human dignity, fairness, and distributive impacts." Obama's taxes and regulations have, to this point, demoted our great nation to ninth place in Heritage Foundation's 2011 Index of Economic Freedom.

BO: "At stake right now is not who wins the next election -- after all, we just had an election."
TPR: Election, what election? As the Left is so fond of trying to forget.

BO: "Instead of re-fighting the battles of the last two years, let's fix what needs fixing and let's move forward."
TPR: Clearly, Obama lost the battle in last November's election. Losers always say things like "let's move forward."

BO: "Now that the worst of the recession is over, we have to confront the fact that our government spends more than it takes in. That is not sustainable. Every day, families sacrifice to live within their means. They deserve a government that does the same."
TPR: Bold words for a prez who has outspent all his predecessors, and who is now proposing more "stimulus spending," though he dared not use that term this time around, lest it be confused with the last colossal heap of waste.

BO: "Our government has provided cutting-edge scientists and inventors with the support that they need. That's what planted the seeds for the Internet."
TPR: And all this time we thought it was Al Gore.

BO: "We will make sure this is fully paid for ... and pick projects based on what's best for the economy, not politicians."
TPR: Obama is not interested in "what's best for the economy"; he's interested in picking economic "winners."

BO: "Over the next 10 years, nearly half of all new jobs will require education that goes beyond a high school education. And yet, as many as a quarter of our students aren't even finishing high school. The quality of our math and science education lags behind many other nations. America has fallen to ninth in the proportion of young people with a college degree. And so the question is whether all of us are willing to do what's necessary to give every child a chance to succeed."
TPR: And the answer is ... YES! Start by eliminating the Department of Education and its unconstitutional mandates. Encourage school choice and privatization. Sit back and watch education standards rise.

BO: "This is our generation's Sputnik moment."
TPR: Whoever wrote that line for the ObamaPrompter needs a one-way ticket into space.

BO: "I'm asking Democrats and Republicans to simplify the [tax] system. Get rid of the loopholes. Level the playing field. ... In fact, the best thing we could do on taxes for all Americans is to simplify the individual tax code."
TPR: How about eliminating the U.S. tax code altogether and replacing it with a flat or national sales tax? Of course, our voluminous tax code is the hammer that Democrats use to control the free market, reward their friends, and punish their enemies. They're not about to lay down that hammer.

BO: "If you have ideas about how to improve [ObamaCare] by making care better or more affordable, I am eager to work with you."
TPR: You mean like he "listened" during the original ObamaCare debate? Repeal it. Take that and work with it.

BO: "Invest ... investing ... investments ..."
TPR: As mentioned earlier, this is ObamaSpeak for unrestrained unconstitutional spending, in a year that the Congressional Budget Office projects a whopping $1.5 trillion deficit. The preamble for Obama's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform concluded: "After all the talk about debt and deficits, it is long past time for America's leaders to put up or shut up. The era of debt denial is over, and there can be no turning back." Obama threw those commissioners under the train.

BO: "Let's make sure that we're not [cutting government programs for] our most vulnerable citizens. ... If we truly care about our deficit, we simply can't afford a permanent extension of the tax cuts. ... We should ask millionaires to give up their tax break. It's not a matter of punishing their success. It's about promoting America's success."
TPR: Ah, yes, redistributing wealth is always about "promoting America's success."

BO: "We shouldn't just give our people a government that's more affordable. We should give them a government that's more competent and more efficient. We can't win the future with a government of the past. ... In the coming months, my administration will develop a proposal to merge, consolidate, and reorganize the federal government."
TPR: This is ObamaSpeak for further centralization of government power.

BO: "And so we must defeat determined enemies, wherever they are, and build coalitions that cut across lines of region and race and religion. And America's moral example must always shine for all who yearn for freedom and justice and dignity. And because we've begun this work, tonight we can say that American leadership has been renewed and America's standing has been restored."
TPR: So, Obama embarked on a worldwide apology tour, bowing to foreign dictators, and now "America's standing is restored"?

BO: "Now, the final critical step in winning the future is to make sure we aren't buried under a mountain of debt."
TPR: (Feel free to add your own rebuttal here, but don't mention the Red Chinese!)

BO: "We will argue about everything. The costs. The details. The letter of every law. Of course, some countries don't have this problem. If the central government wants a railroad, they build a railroad, no matter how many homes get bulldozed. If they don't want a bad story in the newspaper, it doesn't get written."
TPR: One of Obama's fundamental transformations of the U.S. Obama has never hidden his admiration for countries that "don't have this problem."

BO: "And we must always remember that the Americans who have borne the greatest burden in this struggle are the men and women who serve our country."
TPR: Obama begrudgingly delivered this tribute to the longest standing ovation of the evening.

BO: "Starting this year, no American will be forbidden from serving the country they love because of who they love."
TPR: No standing ovation for gays in the military.

BO: "We may have differences in policy, but we all believe in the rights enshrined in our Constitution. ... We share common hopes and a common creed."
TPR: Apparently the original Constitution we use has been replaced with a "new and improved version" Obama uses.

Finally, Obama proclaimed, "It makes no sense."

This was the only thing Obama said that actually made sense.

Evaluating Obama's SOTU performance, commentator Charles Krauthammer summed it up best: "This is a president who can give great speeches, and has. This was not one of them."

But Obama's speech was not designed to impress savvy political analysts and serious-minded Patriots. It was designed to play to popular polls, and it played well.

Commentator Mark Levin had this observation: "Obama was trying to deliver a 'best of' moment in his State of the Union Address, yet it looks as if he tried plagiarizing past speeches from Reagan and JFK. We know that Obama is an ideologue and his positions on cap and trade, entitlements, social security, et al., are not going to change, no matter how moderate he desperately tries to appear. Obama's future for America will deliver us misery and poverty; it's not progressive, it's regressive. Why is it that liberals continue to mess up words like, 'Social, justice, and reform?'"

For the record, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan's rebuttal said all that needed to be said in just a few minutes. As chairman of the House Budget Committee, Ryan has far more credibility and a far better grasp of our nation's fiscal peril than does Obama. Here are some excerpts:

"These budget debates are not just about the programs of government; they're also about the purpose of government. ... The principles that guide us are anchored in the wisdom of the Founders; in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence; and in the words of the American Constitution. They have to do with the importance of limited government; and with the blessing of self-government. We believe government's role is both vital and limited... We believe, as our Founders did, that 'the pursuit of happiness' depends upon individual liberty; and individual liberty requires limited government. ... Whether sold as 'stimulus' or repackaged as 'investment,' [Democrats'] actions show they want a federal government that controls too much; taxes too much; and spends too much in order to do too much. ... Our nation is approaching a tipping point. ... We need to chart a new course. ... We believe a renewed commitment to limited government will unshackle our economy and create millions of new jobs and opportunities for all people, of every background, to succeed and prosper. Under this approach, the spirit of initiative -- not political clout -- determines who succeeds. ... We need to reclaim our American system of limited government, low taxes, reasonable regulations, and sound money, which has blessed us with unprecedented prosperity. And it has done more to help the poor than any other economic system ever designed. That's the real secret to job creation -- not borrowing and spending more money in Washington. Limited government and free enterprise have helped make America the greatest nation on earth."


Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!

Mark Alexander
Publisher, The Patriot Post
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« Reply #183 on: February 16, 2011, 06:08:47 AM »
Anyone who doubts the trend toward socialism is pushing America toward ruin should examine the historical tables President Obama published Monday along with his $3.7 trillion budget.

In fiscal 2011, according to these tables, the Department of Health and Human Services will spend $909.7 billion. In fiscal 1965, the entire federal government spent $118.228 billion.

What about inflation? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' inflation calculator, $118.228 billion in 1965 dollars equals $822.6 billion in 2010 dollars. In real terms, the $909.7 billion HHS is spending this year is about $87.1 billion more than the entire federal government spent in 1965.

1965 was a key year in the advancement of socialism in the United States.

From 1776 until 1965, Americans generally did not rely on the federal government for health care unless they served in the military or worked in some other capacity for the federal government.

But in 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson and a Democratic Congress enacted two massive federal entitlement programs -- Medicare and Medicaid -- that fundamentally altered the relationship between Americans and the federal government by making tens of millions dependent on the government for health care.

Prior to 1937, the Supreme Court correctly understood the Constitution to deny the federal government any power to create and operate social-welfare programs. The Constitution held no such enumerated power, and the 10th Amendment left powers not enumerated to the states and the people.

From George Washington's administration to Franklin Roosevelt's, Americans took care of themselves and their own communities without resorting to federal handouts.

FDR sought to change what he believed was an unrealistic reliance on families in American life.

He used the crisis of the Great Depression to pass the Social Security Act of 1935, compelling Americans to pay a payroll tax in return for the promise of a federal old-age pension. This was blatantly unconstitutional. That same year, in Railroad Retirement Board v. Alton, the Supreme Court had justly slapped down a law mandating what amounted to a Social Security program for the railroad industry alone.

FDR attempted to defend the railroad pension law as a legitimate regulation of interstate commerce, justifiable under the Commerce Clause -- the same argument the Obama administration has used to defend the individual mandate in Obamacare.

The Court scoffed, suggesting that if the federal government could mandate a federal pension for railroad workers, the next thing it would do would be to mandate health care.

"The question at once presents itself whether the fostering of a contented mind on the part of an employee by legislation of this type is, in any just sense, a regulation of interstate transportation," the Court said answering FDR's argument. "If that question be answered in the affirmative, obviously there is no limit to the field of so-called regulation. The catalogue of means and actions which might be imposed upon an employer in any business, tending to the satisfaction and comfort of his employees, seems endless. Provision for free medical attention and nursing, for clothing, for food, for housing, for the education of children, and a hundred other matters, might with equal propriety be proposed as tending to relieve the employee of mental strain and worry."

When Social Security went to the Court in 1937, FDR used a different strategy. He argued that Article 1, Section 8, Clause 1 of the Constitution, which gave Congress the power to levy taxes to "provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States," meant the federal government could do virtually anything it deemed in the "general welfare" of Americans even if it was otherwise outside the scope of the Constitution's other enumerated powers.

FDR's interpretation of the General Welfare Clause effectively rendered the rest of the Constitution meaningless.

To persuade the same court that ruled against him in the railroad case to rule for him in the Social Security case, FDR proposed the Judicial Reorganization Act. This would allow him to pack the court by appointing an additional justice for each sitting justice who had reached age 70 and six months and not retired.

Faced with a potential Democratic takeover of the court, and thus a federal government controlled entirely by FDR's allies, Republican Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes and Associate Justice Owen J. Roberts flip-flopped from their position in the railroad case. They quietly voted in favor of Social Security and took the steam off FDR's court-packing plan.

That year, federal spending was 8.6 percent of gross domestic product, according to President Obama's historical tables.

When LBJ enacted Medicare and Medicaid -- and began fulfilling the court's prophecy in the 1935 railroad-pension case -- federal spending was 17.2 percent of GDP.

When George W. Bush expanded Medicare with a prescription drug benefit in 2003, federal spending was 19.7 percent of GDP.

This year, federal spending will be 25.3 percent of GDP.

In 2014, when Obamacare is scheduled to be fully implemented, HHS will become the first $1-trillion-per year federal agency. That year, Medicare and Medicaid will cost $557 billion and $352.1 billion respectively, or a combined $909.1 billion -- about what all of HHS costs this year.

In other words, when Obamacare is just getting started, Medicare and Medicaid will cost more than the $822.6 billion in 2010 dollars than the entire federal government cost in 1965 when LBJ signed Medicare and Medicaid into law.
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« Reply #184 on: February 16, 2011, 06:14:34 AM »

Second post of the morning

On Thursday, Feb. 10, 2011, Internet entrepreneur Andrew Breitbart, the impresario of the ACORN scandal and a growing investigative force in the conservative media, held a press conference at the Conservative Political Action Conference. At that press conference, he laid out evidence of a concerted effort by government officials, race-baiting lawyers and certain black non-farmers to defraud the federal government of millions of dollars by exploiting a legal settlement called Pigford. On Saturday, Feb. 12, 2011, Shirley Sherrod, the single largest recipient of cash from the Pigford settlement, filed a lawsuit against Breitbart for defamation.

Sherrod, you may remember, was a ranking Department of Agriculture official in Georgia. Breitbart released a video of Sherrod speaking to the NAACP, where she told a story about discriminating against a white farmer before realizing that such discrimination was wrong. The purpose of releasing the video, as Breitbart clearly stated, was to demonstrate that the same NAACP that labeled the tea party racist tolerated racism within its own ranks. The video accomplished that purpose -- members of the NAACP cheer and laugh as Sherrod describes her past racism in the video.

After the video broke, due to pressure from the Obama administration, Sherrod resigned; the NAACP also condemned her. Shortly thereafter, the NAACP released the full tape, which showed that Sherrod had in fact helped the white farmer at issue. In full attack mode, the leftist media went after Breitbart, accusing him of selectively editing the tape in order to target Sherrod. This despite the fact that Breitbart himself said he cared nothing about Sherrod and that his actual target was the NAACP; this despite the fact that Sherrod herself said the real problem was the Obama administration.

No matter what you think of the original Sherrod incident, Breitbart's commentary falls squarely within the protections of the First Amendment. Freedom of political speech lies at the core of the Constitution; we attack our political officials all the time without fear of reprisal. Sherrod was an outspoken public figure, one that unapologetically stated that she saw the world through the framework of Marxism.

Sherrod had indeed made racist statements in the past. In June 2009, for example, she explained to a group of college students that school integration was one of the "worst things that happened to black people" because integration undermined black self-sufficiency. She was quoted in 1996 as explaining that the federal government's role was "to be a force for keeping blacks on the land." Even in the NAACP speech at issue, she explained, "it is about black and white, but it's not."

Whether Breitbart is wrong isn't the issue here. It's whether Shirley Sherrod and her group of well-funded thug lawyers should be able to silence political opposition. Let's be frank: Sherrod's lawsuit is probably being backed by someone larger than Sherrod. Her lawyers are the famed law firm of Kirkland & Ellis. They wrote a 40-page complaint to lead things off. If Kirkland & Ellis charge Sherrod their usual rates, such a complaint probably would cost a minimum of $40,000 to produce. A full-scale lawsuit would cost Sherrod hundreds of thousands of dollars -- if she were paying.

In all likelihood, she isn't. Kirkland & Ellis just happens to be the second largest donor, through its employees, to President Barack Obama's 2008 campaign committee and leadership political action committee. Its lawyers are committed liberals, and as a Chicago-based firm, it is heavily tied in to the Democratic Party. As Andrew Breitbart drew the left's spotlight in 2009 and 2010 by defending the tea party, intensely pursuing Obama administration corruption and exposing liberal allies from unions to Hollywood, the left took notice. And they went to their favorite firm, Kirkland & Ellis, to deliver the knockout punch.

Unfortunately for the left, the Constitution stands in the way of such efforts. Sherrod's lawsuit is frivolous in the extreme. She can demonstrate no malice, because no malice existed; she can demonstrate no libel, because Breitbart's writings were fair comment on matters of public interest. Further, Sherrod has no damages -- she has been offered a promotion and made a cottage industry out of playing the victim.

The incredible cynicism of this lawsuit is obvious. The real culprits here are the members of the Obama administration who forced Sherrod's resignation -- and Sherrod even acknowledges that inconvenient fact in her lawsuit. Yet nobody in the Obama administration is a named defendant.

Andrew Breitbart has vowed that he will not be silenced. Thank God for the Constitution, which will allow him to continue his work, despite the legal bills he will have to incur. And shame on Shirley Sherrod for allowing herself to be used as a pawn in a chess match designed to shut down conservative criticism of the Obama administration once and for all.
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« Reply #185 on: March 10, 2011, 04:44:16 PM »

Democratic Socialism
Political Consequence of the Looming Debt Bomb Shockwave
"I place economy among the first and most important virtues and public debt as the greatest dangers to be feared." --Thomas Jefferson

Socialist EvolutionParaphrasing the noted economist and philosopher F.A. Hayek, Future Freedom Foundation President Jacob Hornberger wrote, "There is no difference in principle, between the economic philosophy of Nazism, socialism, communism, and fascism and that of the American welfare state and regulated economy."

Not only is there no economic distinction between socialist systems in different political wrappers, ultimately there is no consequential societal distinction between Marxist Socialism, Nationalist Socialism, or the most recent incarnation of this beast, Democratic Socialism. The conclusion of socialism by any name, once it has replaced Rule of Law with the rule of men, is tyranny.

Noted Russian dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn, no stranger to the consequences of statism, wrote, "Socialism of any type leads to a total destruction of the human spirit."

Democratic Socialism, like Nationalist Socialism, is nothing more than Marxist Socialism repackaged. Likewise, it seeks a centrally planned economy directed by a single-party state that controls economic production by way of regulation and income redistribution. The success of Democrat Socialism depends upon supplanting Essential Liberty -- the rights "endowed by our Creator" -- primarily by refuting such endowment.

So what do these observations have to do with the current state of economic and political affairs in our great nation? Unfortunately, more than most Americans currently realize.

However discomforting this fact might be, there is abundant and irrefutable evidence that Barack Hussein Obama and his socialist cadre are endeavoring to "fundamentally transform the United States of America" by planting a debt bomb, the future shockwave of which, they surmise, will break the back of free enterprise. From the ashes of that cataclysm, Obama and his ilk envision restructuring our nation as the USSA.

If you think such assertions are just rhetorical hyperbole, think harder.

As the direct result of Obama's "economic recovery plan," the central government budget forecast for the current fiscal year includes a historic $1.65 trillion deficit. Given the economic consequences of continued growth in unfunded government spending (including ObamaCare), the potential inflation on our immediate horizon (prompted primarily by increasing energy costs), and diminished confidence in the U.S. dollar, the deficit proportion of fiscal-year 2012's $3.73 trillion budget will set yet another appalling record.

More perilous for consumers is the potential for "stagflation," a remnant from the Carter era that combines static or decreasing wages (stagnant economic growth) with increasing commodity prices (inflation).

In February alone, Obama's central government accrued a record $223 billion deficit for one month. To put this in perspective, that single-month deficit exceeds the entire 2007 budget deficit under George W. Bush -- you know, the one that was Demo-gogued during the 2008 campaign cycle.

Republicans scraped together a few more cuts for their feeble $61 billion in proposed 2011 budget reductions, but Obama and his Senate Democrats declared they would approve only $4.7 billion in additional cuts. "Do we want jobs?" asked Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). "If we do, then we simply cannot pass the plan the Tea Party has already pushed through the House."

Indeed, the Senate voted down the House budget, which was to be expected. Reid went so far as to declare it "mean-spirited." Obama's Senate protagonist, John Kerry, defined the meager Republican cuts as an "ideological, extremist, reckless statement" that "would contribute to the reversal of our recovery. It might even destroy our recovery."

Since Democrats have lambasted and voted against any cuts proposed by Republicans, the Republican "leadership" should stand true to last fall's elections and propose those deep cuts promised on the campaign trail.

What is needed, if we're to have jobs in five years, is $4.7 billion in additional cuts for every day of this year's budget, and those that follow. There are budget solutions, but these require political courage and resolve, a rare commodity in our nation's Capital.

"Deficit spending," concluded Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors (1987-2006), "is simply a scheme for the hidden confiscation of wealth." And that is precisely the prescription necessary to establish Democratic Socialism.

If the future shock of this debt bomb set by Obama and his Useful Idiots does not yet cause you considerable heartburn, consider the implication of these statistics: Of total U.S. wages and employee benefits paid in 2010, 35 percent were paid by the central government as wages, or in fulfillment of entitlement programs. Read that again and let it sink in.

In 1960, wages and entitlement program distributions by the central government were 10 percent of total U.S wages and benefits. Over the next 40 years, that figure doubled to 20 percent. In just one decade since, that figure has increased to 35 percent, with the baby boomer wave yet to fully draw on government income and social services. This explains, in part, why federal spending has increased from $1.86 trillion in 2001 to $3.82 this year. Social welfare spending alone has increased by $514 billion since Obama took office.

Some 8 percent of the total work force is government employed, which is to say that the remaining 27 percent of government wages and benefits doled out by the welfare state is the foundation for Democratic Socialism.

Both political parties are resorting to tired old political formulas when asked about the challenge of balancing the national budget. Both suggest that it will take more than a decade -- a pathetic excuse that we have heard for decades. (As for those claims of surpluses in the Clinton years resulting from the economic growth set in motion during the Reagan years: not so when one takes into account the Social Security "lock box IOUs.")

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) concludes, "It is very difficult to balance the budget within 10 years without cutting seniors' benefits now, and as I said before, our vision of entitlement reform will protect today's seniors and those nearing retirement."

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) insists, "We're not going to [have a balanced budget] in 10 years, but we have to be on a very considered path to get there, certainly, within the next decade and a half or two decades."

Any pretense that Obama has any intention of balancing the budget is spurious, as the smallest estimated annual deficit that his budget will run during the next decade is $615 billion.

Meanwhile, he continues to recycle these prevarications: "Not only were we able to yank this economy out of the recession, not only were we able to get this economy going again, but in the last 15 months we've seen the economy add jobs. We didn't just rescue the economy; we put it on the strongest footing for the future."

As it stands now, Congress is borrowing 40 cents of every dollar it spends and our national debt is now at $14 trillion, which is about 97 percent of our nation's gross domestic product (economic production) in 2010.

So what are the political consequences when the money runs out, when the lenders withdraw, when the smoke clears and the mirrors shatter from the debt bomb shockwave?

Some will settle for the institution of Democratic Socialism.

However none should underestimate the potential groundswell of protest across our nation, composed primarily of legions of Patriots fully capable of intervening on behalf of the Rule of Law enshrined in our Constitution.

If those elected to national office, regardless of political affiliation, fail to abide by their oaths to Support and Defend our Constitution, particularly its limitations on the central government which have been disregarded for much of the last century, then we, the people, will restore the integrity of our Constitution, as is our right and obligation. Rest assured, there will come a time for choosing as outlined by Ronald Reagan, and that time must come.

One might recall that our Declaration of Independence and Constitution were the product of civil disobedience and revolution against a lesser form of tyranny than that imposed today. In the words of Founding Father Thomas Jefferson, "The tree of Liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

For those whom such notions offend, I offer these words of parting from Samuel Adams: "If ye love wealth better than Liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animating contest of freedom, go from us in peace. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen!"

Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!

Mark Alexander
Publisher, The Patriot Post

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Posts: 42467

« Reply #186 on: April 19, 2011, 10:41:02 AM »

How Vittorio Arrigoni Went to Gaza Hoping to Die
Is it really still a mystery why political pilgrims are exterminated by the totalitarian entities they worship?
April 18, 2011 - by Jamie Glazov   Share | 
Bit by bit, decorate it, arrange the details, find the ingredients, imagine it, choose it, get advice on it, shape it into a work without spectators, one which exists only for oneself, just for the shortest little moment of life.

—Michel Foucault, describing the pleasure of preparing oneself for suicide.

The Italian cheerleader for Hamas, Vittorio Arrigoni, has died at the hands of the Islamic terrorism that he venerated throughout his life. The fellow traveler journeyed to the Gaza Strip to prostrate himself before his secular deity, Hamas, and to assist its venture of perpetrating genocide against Israelis. Islamic terrorists, who call themselves “Salafists,” showed their gratitude to Arrigoni by kidnapping, mercilessly beating, and executing him.

This episode was, of course, all part of an expected script: even though the media and our higher literary culture never discuss the reasons, the historical record reveals one undeniable fact: like thousands of political pilgrims before him, Vittorio Arrigoni went to Gaza to die. Indeed, consciously or unconsciously, in their unquenchable quest for sacrificing human life on the altar of their utopian ideals, fellow travelers always lust for death, and if not the death of others, then of their own.

It is no coincidence that a short while before “Salafists” killed Arrigoni, Juliano Mer-Khamis, a cheerleader of terrorism in Israel who, like Arrigoni, dedicated his life to praising the Palestinian death cult and working for the annihilation of Israel, was murdered by Islamic terrorists in Jenin. It is no coincidence that Rachel Corrie, the infamous enabler of the International Solidarity Movement, a group that disrupts anti-terrorism activities of the Israel Defense Forces, committed suicide in protecting Hamas terrorists by throwing herself in front of an Israeli bulldozer. And it is no coincidence that female leftist “peace” activists are routinely raped, brutalized, and enslaved by the Arabs of Judea and Samaria that they come to aid and glorify in their Jew-hating odyssey against Israel. And don’t hold your breath, by the way, waiting for leftist feminists to protest this phenomenon; they are faithfully following in the footsteps of American fellow traveler Anna Louise Strong and the Stalinist German writer Bertolt Brecht, two typical leftist believers who were completely undisturbed by the arrests and deaths of their friends in the Stalinist purges — having never even inquired about them after their disappearance.

Beneath the leftist believer’s veneration of the despotic enemy lies one of his most powerful yearnings: to submit his whole being to a totalist entity. This psychological dynamic involves negative identification, whereby a person who has failed to identify positively with his own environment subjugates his individuality to a powerful, authoritarian entity, through which he vicariously experiences a feeling of power and purpose. The historian David Potter has succinctly crystallized this phenomenon:

. . . most of us, if not all of us, fulfill ourselves and realize our own identities as persons through our relations with others; we are, in a sense, what our community, or as some sociologists would say, more precisely, what our reference group, recognizes us as being. If it does not recognize us, or if we do not feel that it does, or if we are confused as to what the recognition is, then we become not only lonely, but even lost, and profoundly unsure of our identity. We are driven by this uncertainty into a somewhat obsessive effort to discover our identity and to make certain of it. If this quest proves too long or too difficult, the need for identity becomes psychically very burdensome and the individual may be driven to escape this need by renouncing his own identity and surrendering himself to some seemingly greater cause outside himself.

This surrender to the totality involves the believer’s craving not only to relinquish his individuality to a greater whole but also, ideally, to sacrifice his life for it. Lusting for his own self-extinction, the believer craves martyrdom for the idea. As Eric Hoffer points out in his classic The True Believer, the opportunity to die for the cause gives meaning to the believer’s desire to shed his inner self: “a substitute embraced in moderation cannot supplant and efface the self we want to forget. We cannot be sure that we have something worth living for unless we are ready to die for it.”

Thus, Vittorio Arrigoni, Juliano Mer-Khasin, and Rachel Corrie were simply just faithfully continuing the long suicidal tradition of their political faith. We are well aware, after all, of the dark fate of the believers who journeyed to Russia after the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution to build communism; we are well versed of what happened to the leftist Iranians who returned to their country after the 1979 Iranian Revolution to aid Khomeini in building the Islamic paradise. Only those who cannot accept the true motivations of utopian believers can still deny what those political pilgrims were searching for in their odyssey to shed themselves of their own unwanted selves.

Does one need to excessively explain why “progressive” feminist Naomi Klein called out for bringing “Najaf to New York” in her infamous 2004 column in The Nation, in which she reached her hand out in solidarity to Muqtada al-Sadr and his Islamofascist Mahdi Army in the Iraqi Shi’ite stronghold of Najaf? Bringing Najaf to New York would mean that the Iraqi Shi’ite stronghold, where Muqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army at one time ran their torture chambers and sowed their terror, would be replicated on America’s shores. What could Naomi Klein possibly see admirable in the vicious nihilistic terror of the Mahdi Army? Would she remain alive for more than sixty seconds upon contact with it?

Is it possible that Klein’s impulses are related to those of Noam Chomsky, a Jew, who has distinguished himself, among other intriguing ways, by traveling to Lebanon to personally embrace the leaders of Hezbollah, whose stated top priority is to rid the world of Jews?

The murder by Iraqi terrorists of American hostage Tom Fox in March 2006 was a perfect example of this pathological phenomenon. Fox was among four members of the leftist group Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) who were kidnapped by Islamic terrorists in Iraq in November 2005. Aside from voicing support for the terrorists, one of the group’s most powerfully articulated themes entailed the longing for death. In the 1984 speech, “God’s People Reconciling,” for example, which gave rise to the formation of the Christian Peacemaker Teams, Mennonite minister Ron Sider urged his listeners: “We must be prepared to die by the thousands.”

It is not unsurprising that when British and American troops rescued the other three CPT hostages and saved their lives, the freed captives refused to thank their liberators — who had risked their own lives participating in the rescue — or to cooperate in a critical debriefing session with intelligence officers. Doug Pritchard, the co-chairman of CPT, went out of his way to tell the world that the kidnapping itself (and by implication Fox’s murder) was America’s fault, not the kidnappers’ or the executioners’. “The illegal occupation of Iraq by multinational forces,” he affirmed, was the “root cause” of the kidnappings. In other words, the devil made them do it.

The freed captives resented the fact that they had been liberated by the very forces they despised. And the rescuers had robbed the remaining hostages of the idealized fate suffered by Fox. Jan Benvie, an Edinburgh teacher who was getting ready to go to Iraq with the group in the summer of 2006, learned the lesson well. She announced before her departure: “We make clear that if we are kidnapped we do not want there to be force or any form of violence used to release us.”

To the end of his life, the French philosopher Michel Foucault, who supported and adored Khomeini’s killing fields, adamantly defended “everyone’s right to kill himself.” Suicide, he boastfully wrote in a 1979 essay, was “the simplest of pleasures.” Is it a coincidence that Foucault, who had attempted to kill himself several times out of guilt feelings regarding his homosexuality, passionately supported an Islamic death cult that murdered homosexuals?

Gaza terrorists have a long history of kidnapping and abusing, raping and killing those who come to aid and abet them.

Vittorio Arrigoni knew that very well.

In the end, Arrigoni’s story is the story of the Left – a story best summarized by the dictum of Goethe’s devil, which Marx perpetually invoked, as he did in The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon: “All that exists deserves to perish.”

Arrigoni is the contemporary poster boy for the political pilgrims who traveled to despotisms to help build the paradises in which they hoped to shed themselves of their own unwanted selves.  They paid the ultimate price. And no lesser cost must be paid for the momentous transformation of sterilizing the unclean earth. Such disinfection can be made possible only by the purifying power of human blood — blood which, in the utopian enterprise, must, in the final chapter, become one’s own.

Jamie Glazov is the editor of He is the author of the new book United in Hate: The Left’s Romance with Tyranny and Terror.

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« Reply #187 on: April 27, 2011, 02:27:51 PM »

Suppose that during the civil rights movement segregationist governors ordered all state contractors to disclose their political donations in an attempt to expose civil rights supporters to harassment and retaliation. The Supreme Court would have had none of it.

In NAACP v. Alabama (1958), the court barred Alabama from forcing the NAACP to disclose its members. Those justices would have struck down a similar effort to force the release of the NAACP's financial supporters. They would have rightly viewed it as an infringement of the constitutional right to free association and free speech.

Today President Obama is ignoring the lessons of the civil rights era he claims to revere. According to a draft executive order leaked last week, Mr. Obama plans to require any company seeking a federal contract to disclose its executives' political contributions over $5,000—not just to candidates, but to any group that might make "independent expenditure" or "electioneering communication" advertisements.

If a small businesswoman wants to sell paper clips to the Defense Department, Mr. Obama would force her to reveal contributions to groups such as Planned Parenthood or the National Rifle Association. These donations are obviously irrelevant to whether she made the most reliable bid at the lowest price. The only purpose of the executive order is to dangle the specter of retaliation (by losing her contracts) and harassment (from political opponents).

It would be comforting if this order had been some aberration produced from somewhere deep in the bowels of the federal bureaucracy. Unfortunately, it was not. This order represents the latest salvo in the Obama administration's war on the First Amendment rights of its political opponents.

The conflict goes back to January 2010, with the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The court held as unconstitutional the McCain-Feingold Act's limits on the political spending of corporations, unions and other groups. Mr. Obama struck back, claiming that the decision "strikes at our democracy itself." He trotted out the usual suspects—"big oil, Wall Street banks, health-insurance companies and other powerful interests"—as the winners. He promised that the White House would "talk with bipartisan congressional leaders to develop a forceful response to this decision."

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 .There was no bipartisanship, but there was certainly a forceful response. Democrats proposed the Disclose Act, which would have muzzled political speech by prohibiting federal contractors from making contributions to federal candidates or parties. Though the act failed to overcome a filibuster last year in the Senate, its supporters remain undeterred.

Having failed to undo Citizens United by legislation, Mr. Obama apparently believes that he can veto the Supreme Court by naked presidential fiat. But before the administration barrels through with this attempt to suppress corporate political activity, it would do well to revisit NAACP v. Alabama.

The court declared that the privacy of group membership and political activity were critical to the "effective advocacy of both public and private points of view, particularly controversial ones." Privacy can be critical for free speech. "Inviolability of privacy in group association may in many circumstances be indispensable to preservation of freedom of association, particularly where a group espouses dissident beliefs," Justice John Marshall Harlan wrote for a unanimous court.

The court went on to recite a litany of potential retaliation—"economic reprisal, loss of employment, threat of physical coercion, and other manifestations of public hostility"—that could deter people from publicly supporting the NAACP. It did not matter, the justices observed, that the harassment would likely come from "private community pressures." What mattered is that such pressure would be prompted by "the initial exertion of state power."

Our era of instant mass communication exponentially multiplies this threat. Supporters of California's Proposition 8, which bars gay marriage, have faced relentless harassment after a federal court refused to bar the disclosure of their identities in 2009. Opponents promptly created a website that used the Prop 8 list to create a map of donors' homes. Widespread intimidation followed: Some Prop 8 supporters were fired from their jobs, and several of their businesses were boycotted.

Mr. Obama's executive order threatens to replicate the Prop 8 experience on a nationwide scale. In fact, it requires the release of contractors' political contributions in a publicly available electronic database to be posted online as soon as possible. It shouldn't matter here that disclosure would be the price for doing business with the government. In B oy Scouts of America v. Dale (2000), the Supreme Court made it clear that a group did not have to give up its right to associate in exchange for some government benefit.

Civil libertarians and liberals have so far been mum in the face of Mr. Obama's executive order. They're likely justifying their silence on the basis that businesses—not unions—will suffer. But if the president succeeds in reducing the free-speech rights of business today, it will be far easier to limit the same rights of other Americans tomorrow.

Imagine the outcry we'll hear from self-described First Amendment supporters when every professor applying for a government research grant has to disclose his political donations.

Mr. Marston is a lawyer and former U.S. attorney in Philadelphia. Mr. Yoo, a law professor at the University of California Berkeley and a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, served in the George W. Bush Justice Department.

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« Reply #188 on: April 29, 2011, 01:33:27 PM »

From the Left: The Enemies List
The Obama administration, fearful of the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United ruling in favor of free speech, is looking to change the rules of the campaign game for 2012. The administration is demanding that potential federal contractors make known any political donations over $5,000 made by the contracting company or its executives. Government contractors are already required to disclose political contributions to candidates, but this order will expand that to include independent groups, a category in which conservatives outspent liberals in the last election cycle.

The implications are obvious: If a company wants to win a federal contract while Obama is in the White House, it had better have a campaign donation record that reflects greater support for Democrats. Leftists attempted to rig the corporate donation game in 2010 with the Disclose Act, but it failed to pass. Now the White House is again extra-constitutionally taking matters into its own hands with the same intent -- reduce the overall dollar amount received in donations by independent conservative groups. Federal labor unions don't have to worry, though. The SEIU, AFL-CIO and other groups that brought Obama some $200 million worth of support in 2008 are conveniently exempted from the new disclosure rules in the executive order. Perhaps they slipped the president's mind.

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« Reply #189 on: May 25, 2011, 01:33:42 PM »

I'd go further than this editorial.  It seems to me like there's a real separation of powers problem here:

No one in Washington does moral indignation better than Elizabeth Warren, the de facto head of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. And yesterday she was in high dudgeon on Capitol Hill attempting to repel efforts to hold her new bureaucracy more accountable. We hope Republicans keep at it.

As George Mason University law professor Todd Zywicki explained at the same hearing yesterday, the consumer bureau's structure "may be unprecedented in American history." It has a single director, accountable only to the President. Its annual budget isn't subject to Congressional appropriations. Its regulations may be overturned by the new Financial Stability Oversight Council—a point Mrs. Warren likes to repeat—but only with the very high bar of a two-thirds vote.

That's why a May 2 letter from 44 Senate Republicans to President Obama deserves attention. The Senators propose three reforms: a board of directors to oversee the bureau; submitting the agency's budget to annual Congressional appropriations; and letting other regulators assess the implications of new bureau rules on the safety and soundness of the financial system.

Under the Dodd-Frank law, the bureau's director reports only to the President and can only be removed for "inefficiency, neglect of duty, or malfeasance." So a single person who's very hard to fire would have regulatory authority over consumer financial products and services ranging from mortgages to credit cards. Other financial regulatory agencies, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission, are governed by a board.

The bureau's director can also set the agency's budget annually, with a ceiling of several hundred million dollars. As the Senators point out, there's no mechanism to ensure those taxpayer monies are used prudently. Other consumer protection agencies face annual Congressional budget scrutiny—an ever more important democratic check amid ballooning deficits. Mrs. Warren yesterday evaded this criticism by calling the bureau a "banking regulator" and comparing it to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), which isn't subject to Congressional appropriations.

But her bureau isn't a traditional banking regulator like the Federal Reserve or OCC that ensure the safety and soundness of the financial system. The bureau's mandate is to regulate consumer-financial products, while the impact on bank health is someone else's problem. For precisely this reason, House Republicans want to let the Financial Stability Oversight Council overturn a bureau rule with a simple majority, rather than two-thirds.

Mrs. Warren's response to these efforts has been to say her critics want to "stick a knife in the ribs" of the agency; release a statement claiming Congress intends to "defund, delay, and defang" her agency "before it can help one family"; and in written testimony yesterday, declare that, "While making baseless claims might be shrewd tactics for those who want to undermine the Bureau's work, they are flatly wrong."

Mrs. Warren knows all about shrewd. Though her bureau doesn't assume full powers until July and President Obama still hasn't formally nominated a bureau director, she has been among those trying to extort $20 billion from banks for their mortgage foreclosure mistakes. She's also stacking her agency with liberals who want to allocate credit and punish the banks.

The political betting is that Mr. Obama will continue to evade Senate scrutiny by giving her a recess appointment as director. If Republicans won't put her agency out of business, the least they can do is rein it in.

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« Reply #190 on: May 26, 2011, 10:20:14 AM »

Out of Business

Mises Daily: Thursday, May 26, 2011 by A Manufacturer

The last few years as an executive in a manufacturing company gave me a frighteningly close look at the inner workings of regulators in our government. Maybe I'm just naïve, but what I discovered was shocking.

In the past, I realized our leaders were disingenuous when they spoke about "creating jobs" and "improving the economy." Now, I have a slightly different take. After my experiences this year, and after giving this a lot of thought, I am adamant that our leaders have no business in the first place "creating jobs," or "improving the economy," or even claiming they have the ability to do so.

In fact, I have witnessed the loss of jobs as a direct result of regulations by unnamed and unelected bureaucrats, who are backed up by threats of prosecution from the government. Our government is stifling job creation.

Although I am not a conspiracy theorist, I am certain that if I wrote about my experience with specifics, the company for which I work would suffer retribution by our government. I do not have the right to put them in jeopardy. And if the legal department of my employer knew I was writing this, they would "lose it." For these reasons, I feel it necessary to write anonymously and with some imprecision.

This fear of retribution, in and of itself, is a powerful statement about the sad conditions in which we live and do business in the United States.

So, here is the sanitized version of my story:

My employer makes very expensive pieces of equipment for use in an industry that has itself sustained undeserved attacks by our government and by unscrupulous so-called environmentalists.[1]

In any case, our pieces of equipment (let's call them tractors) use expensive components (let's call them engines) made and sold by Americans. The engines are used by American workers in multiple states and they make more energy available for Americans. That fact alone attracts the ire of some. But the fact that our service is very valuable and produces large profits makes the industry and the service an irresistible target.

This year, I learned that one agency of the federal government has created and is enforcing rules that strictly limit the types and numbers of engines we can buy to make our tractors. They limit how many of each type of engine we can buy in a year, and they limit the grand total we can buy. This is offensive for many reasons — not the least of which is that we would hire more people if we were allowed to make more tractors.

I could make an endless list of the unseen and damaging effects of their nonsense. But here is a short list:

Without these rules, we would hire more welders, assemblers, and accountants. This would result in the improvement of our local economy, because the new employees and their families would all need food, clothing, housing, entertainment, etc.

To keep up with our increased demand for the tractor engines we need, the engine manufacturers, their employees, and their families would benefit.  The companies to which we sell tractors would hire more operators. Their families and the places they shop at would benefit.

The companies who request our product would become more profitable, resulting in expansions, bonuses, etc.

And, last (and totally forgotten) are the American citizens. Each and every citizen would benefit from the larger supply of energy and the resultant lower prices.

Some people might say that it is good to limit the numbers of these engines in order to protect the environment. But that argument only holds water long enough for a ten-second sound bite. The reality is that this destructive government agency also has rules that permit smaller versions of the same engines. What that means is that we would be permitted to create 50 tractors using the (approved) smaller engines instead of 20 using the larger ones. It is true that the larger engine pollutes more than the smaller one. But using the smaller engines would require more tractors to be built and more fuel to bring them to the job sites. In other words, using fewer tractors with the larger (evil) engines produces fewer net emissions than more tractors with the smaller (approved) engines would.

So, who is causing all this, and why are they doing it?


You can answer that question for yourself by discovering who benefits from the regulations. The list includes the politicians who use these issues to their advantage regardless of the truth. It includes the government bureaucrats who want more power to justify their own salaries and positions. It also includes reporters who can't wait for the next "breaking news" about an "environmental threat," or "dire emergency." And it includes university professors and other academic elites who come in to petition for huge government grants and to get paid to speak as "experts." The dark irony is that all these supposed protectors are really engaging in a self-serving round robin of deceit.

The truth is they are horrifically destructive to the prosperity and well-being of all Americans. But because their public faces hide the despicable truth, they have been able to get away with it.

Our only hope is to get these people out of business — literally and figuratively. I've got to be honest, though. It won't be easy. They are fighting for their livelihoods, too.

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« Reply #191 on: May 27, 2011, 09:50:23 AM »

The Marxian Worm

For the last forty years in the U.S. — longer in other places — a worm has been gnawing at the roots and sickening the tree of civilization. That worm is the philosophy of Karl Marx.

May 27, 2011 - 12:03 am - by Sarah Hoyt

In ancient Norse myth the universe was a tree at whose roots a worm gnawed. When the worm brought the tree down, the ultimate battle between good and evil would happen.
Lately I’ve been wondering if they were mostly right.
Our own civilization is a sort of tree, with its roots in property rights and the rule of law, and its branches lifting the rarefied heights of science, technology, arts, and literature.
For the last forty years in the U.S. — longer in other places –  a worm has been gnawing at the roots and sickening the tree. That worm is the philosophy of Karl Marx.
Karl Marx is described as a nineteenth century philosopher (which is true) but also as an economist, a historian, and a sociologist (which are only true if prefaced with “very bad.”)
Marxist theory is now applied to all those fields and more. (In the 70s, in Portugal, I studied it in history, sociology, economics, literature, art, and philosophy. They were only waiting for the proper choreography to teach Marxist interpretive dance in Phys Ed). Because of its many permutations, and how it has been interpreted, it would take me a small tome to take Marx to the woodshed properly and cut through the Gordian knot Marxists have woven around his thought. (These disciples now, like a restaurant changing its name after a case of food poisoning, call themselves Marxian, instead of Marxist.)
I don’t have a small tome, so I’ll have to be brutally simplistic. At his most basic, Marx believed history could be described as a struggle between classes, in which each class rose to the top with each new change in the means of production and ownership of said means. He believed in the future the proletariat — urban workers — would seize the means of production and thereby institute a dictatorship. After that a miracle would occur, the state would naturally wither away, and this would lead to a utopian, classless society, where everything worked on the basis of “From each according to his ability and to each according to his need.” (I’ve always suspected this last step involved unicorn flatulence and, possibly, skittles.)
We were never told how this miracle would occur, though at least in the Soviet interpretation, it entailed the appearance of a new creature, a Homo Sovieticus, devoid of greed and egoism. Which shows you that even those trying to bring Marxist paradise to fruition realized that it required every man to be a combination saint and ant.
But it is worse than that. Even if the Homo Sovieticus had issued forth from Lenin’s laboring over Marx, neither this fabled creature nor its minions could make a Marxist society work.
Marx’s problems extend to the whole definition of “class.” He might have seen it as a purely economic concept, which is how it was taught to me in economics in Portugal. It might be he thought those who labored for others were always proletarians. But in the real world, things have become a lot more complex. Are farmers proletarian or not? What about tenant farmers? How about tenant farmers who own a cow? (Marx, the blood of the Kulaks is on your hands.)
More importantly — more damagingly — though, Marx managed to be an economist who did not understand the most fundamental concept of economics: value.
It is thought he based his theory of value on David Ricardo, who was already considered erroneous and out of date when Marx used it. Which is no wonder, because no functional economy can be built on Marx.
Marx believed that raw materials + labor = value. The more the raw materials were worth or the more labor put into transforming them, the more the end product would be worth. No other considerations applied.
Clearly Marx never taught a child to cook. You start with raw materials worth something, you spend hours on cooking (and putting out small fires), and the result is, more often than not, a mess that has to be thrown away. This disproves his theory, which is not exactly hard as it’s a very silly theory. It doesn’t take into account such things as distribution. Because to Marx, value is value is value. Marx thought an Appalachian quilt would be worth the exact same thing in the small town where it was made as in the most artsy areas of New York City — and no monetary reward should go to anyone who transports and resells the thing. More importantly, since no one should resell, if a NYC resident wants a quilt, he’d best intuit they exist and travel to the Appalachians to buy it. At least, according to Uncle Karl.
Meanwhile, back in the real world, where people don’t often wander the countryside looking for products they never heard of, value is based on what someone is willing to pay. Therefore, a quilt might be worth time and materials in the Appalachian, combined with its value as something to keep warm under. But it will be worth that plus a sizable premium for craft collectors in NYC. This means the middle-man who serves that market deserves the fee he pockets and — if he’s smart — goes back to the Appalachians and offers more money for better quilts so he can make more money.
Again in the real world, someone can invent a process that takes raw materials, up till then considered useless, and turns them into something valuable. (Gas powered engines. Various kinds of cosmetic mud. For that matter, going back far enough in history, pottery-clay and metal.)
In the Marxist world this makes no sense. First, his predictions for the future never took into account the possibility of technological innovation beyond his own era. Manufacturing would always be massive and labor-intensive, and the only way to make life more equitable was for the workers to own the means of production. Second, it never occurred to him that something valueless can be made valuable through innovation and invention.
This is why societies driven by Marxist principles only produce an abundance of turnips and, perhaps, size 52 shoes for the left foot — because value is value and what people want doesn’t matter.
But famines and the abject poverty of Marxian paradises notwithstanding, the damage is yet deeper.
His world was a closed economy of limited value. If raw materials + labor = value, then there is a finite amount of both and therefore a finite amount of value in the world and all we can do is slice it into ever thinner slices.
This lead Marx and his followers to believe that old prophet of doom, Malthus, and therefore view humans as a net drain on society. No matter how much they labored, after all, there was an upper limit to how productive they could be and besides they’d all have to use the same, dwindling, raw materials.  It also lead them to believe anyone who had more than the bare necessities had “stolen” the wealth from others. Also, since value was viewed as raw materials + labor, his theory now leaves all those who work in non-material products, like software, or books, or music, or movies (now that they’re divorced of the physical object) feeling like thieves who don’t do anything and yet get compensation.
Of course this is nonsense, but Marxist precepts are so imbued in society they’ve become the unexamined basis of many people’s thought. So, this explains the left’s twin obsessions with ridding the Earth of surplus humans (and in its ultimate iteration of all humans save for a chosen few living in harmony or something, aka Homus Avataricus) and the guilt of intellectuals over getting goods they didn’t “produce.”
But no one can live with guilt forever. Or at least no one –  except for a few monks — can live in guilt and holy poverty for very long. So our university indoctrinated/educated intellectuals eventually turn it around.
It goes like this — if all excess wealth is theft, then of course we should all have only the bare minimum. But in this corrupt modern society, with so many people, there’s always going to be theft. So, if someone is going to steal, why shouldn’t I? At least I feel guilty about it. And I’m a good person and — insert proof of “goodness” here — donate to progressive causes or eat organic food or volunteer at the homeless shelter or drive a Prius or…
People who perform acts of Marxian “atonement” feel like they have a license to steal. Everyone is doing it. And besides, they deserve it. And furthermore, ALL wealth is theft.
This attitude has corrupted both our government and our business to the point where capitalism works only by fits and starts and in the spaces between. People who believe they are in a world of thieves try to steal before they’re stolen from, to backstab before they’re stabbed in the back. And the government tries to oversee the theft in the serene belief its job is to distribute to those who have less and, of course, favor themselves and their friends, who look out for the “little people.”
Respect for private property erodes. Wealth is seen as evil and humans as drains on the system. Our finances lurch from crisis to bubble to crisis under the aegis of crony capitalism. Movies and books demonize business people and extol “selfless” bureaucrats.
Forget Ragnarok and the great battle between good and evil after the fall of the world tree. The battle is now and we’re in it.
I believe wealth can be created. I believe this is best facilitated by removing the Marxians from any power over the economy. I believe each human brings within himself the possibility of making an invention which can give us infinite wealth.
Who is with me?
Sarah Hoyt lives in Colorado with her husband, two sons and too many cats. She has published Darkship Thieves and 16 other novels, and over 100 short stories. Writing non-fiction is a new, daunting endeavor. For more on Sarah and samples of her writing, look around at Sarah A. or check out her writing and life blog at According to
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« Reply #192 on: May 29, 2011, 06:07:49 PM »

He believed in the future the proletariat — urban workers — ...

I stopped taking her seriously after this. clearly miss Hoyt should stick to writing fiction novels and take another hard look at what they tought her about Marx in Portugal. Or better yet, read another book about it.

There are so many holes in this article Im a bit reluctant to even comment it.

Proletariat is a very specific concept in raw Marx theory and it sure isnt blue collar urban workers. Like most of the heresay marxists "critics" she takes the term proletariat and understands it in its original, Roman use, of people who were landless and without property. Wrong to the bone. The notion of class, and implicitly of class strugle has nothing to do with social or economical classes or otherwise, it is a unique, basic premise, built on Hegelian dialectic.

Marx managed to be an economist who did not understand the most fundamental concept of economics: value.

Marx was an economist as much as mrs. Hoyt is a philosopher with this subpar reflecting on Marx.

Respect for private property erodes. Wealth is seen as evil and humans as drains on the system

She hasnt the slightest clue about what abolition of private property means.

And furthermore, ALL wealth is theft.

Even more, the lone notion of marxian private property is unknown to her.

Marx managed to be an economist who did not understand the most fundamental concept of economics: value.
It is thought he based his theory of value on David Ricardo, who was already considered erroneous and out of date when Marx used it. Which is no wonder, because no functional economy can be built on Marx.
Marx believed that raw materials + labor = value. The more the raw materials were worth or the more labor put into transforming them, the more the end product would be worth. No other considerations applied.

hahahaha, excellent.  Im sure she read the whole 3 parts of Das kapital, where the only thing he is analysing is how the owner, the worker, value and surplus value is generated and acclaimed. Funny how she puts it so simple again, when in reality there are myriads of controversies, empirical and counter empirical evidence supporting both sides of the falling profit rate fiasco. And the Ricardo pun, oh my god. Such voluntaristic claims are worthy of the most hardline freshwater economists, who think economy is one big balanced whole that can live on its own, where laws of physics apply.

This holistic critic of supposedly "what marx really said" is making her look even more dubious than those who look at Marx holistically today and take him seriously. What is timeless and incredibly deep in marxist philosophy is his method of understanding time and mans place within his creations. But there are countless people who, 200 years later, take specifics of his studies, who cannot even be taken as current empiry, and just shun him like a kid on the block. Narrowminded blobs in my opinion.

These types of articles of semi read, self thought and proclaimed critics, should be read with supreme caution, or maybe even not at all. Before you can even start to grasp the sum of his philosophy, you have to be at least partly knowledgable on the german transcendental idealism of Hegel, Schelling and to an extent Kant and Fichte on which Marx basis lies. It is really not the time nor the place to seriously debate this topic, because hardcorde philosophy underlines it, which is hard to talk about even in real life, let alone on an internet forum, where anyone can play and act the connoseur with google opened up in another tab.

And lastly, debating philosophy is not about giving answers, its not about who is right or wrong.

I provide a link to one of the most famous Slovenian thinkers of all times, marked by Times as one of the most influential thinkers in the world, besides Noam Chomsky. In my terms he is the true modern Marxist, and also one of the easiest entries to start reading seriously about Marx, without getting bored to death at page 5.

He is a true philosopher. Opens up crazy problems, is incredibly fun to listen to, provocative and isnt afraid to defend his wild claims.
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« Reply #193 on: May 29, 2011, 07:38:40 PM »

Glad you cleared that up for us, Andrew. I was wondering why Cuba and North Korea were such economic powerhouses.....   wink
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« Reply #194 on: May 29, 2011, 07:54:39 PM »

"Marxism is the opiate of academics".
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« Reply #195 on: May 29, 2011, 08:12:34 PM »

"Marxism is the opiate of academics".

That is actually true.  I had to smoke a bowl of "Marxism" before I got any of my degrees.  Too bad it was laced with research, data, and critical thinking.  
« Last Edit: May 29, 2011, 08:16:26 PM by bigdog » Logged
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« Reply #196 on: May 29, 2011, 08:43:48 PM »

I haven't had a chance to watch the clip yet, but this is very, very funny:

"Marxism is the opiate of academics".
« Last Edit: May 29, 2011, 09:16:26 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #197 on: May 29, 2011, 09:07:02 PM »

"That is actually true.  I had to smoke a bowl of "Marxism" before I got any of my degrees.  Too bad it was laced with research, data, and critical thinking."

Really? The history I know is filled with epic failure after epic failure to create worker's paradises. They did manage to create gulags and starvation and mass graves quite well though. Is there some marxist success story I've missed out on?
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« Reply #198 on: May 29, 2011, 09:13:04 PM »

I think you missed my point. 
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« Reply #199 on: May 29, 2011, 09:14:27 PM »

I might have.
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