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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1350 on: August 29, 2014, 10:07:17 AM »

Actually Top Dog could do some AMAZING reads (first time he met my then girlfriend he turned and looked at me and said "She must drive your crazy interrupting you when you are reading".  There was NO way he could have known that!

I too had many a read where the woman was surprised at how I could have known that.  If you break down the analytical framework, the variables assessed followed a lot of Jungian pyschology (thinking, feeling, sensation, intuition, introverted, extroverted, etc) and a lot of it simply made sense; a hard thick stubby muscular hand would tend to correlate to a personality that was more impulsive than a hand that was long, slender, and delicate.

 
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G M
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« Reply #1351 on: August 29, 2014, 10:23:50 AM »

http://www.secrets-explained.com/derren-brown/cold-reading

How would it differ from cold reading?
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1352 on: August 29, 2014, 11:34:22 AM »

My secrets revealed!   cheesy
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1353 on: August 30, 2014, 04:15:49 PM »



http://www.steynonline.com/6543/the-reformation-of-manners
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1354 on: September 02, 2014, 08:02:24 PM »

No doubt this will get the same level as Cindy Sheehan's utterances to Bush-2:

=============================

"After finally choosing to view the barbaric, on-camera beheading by ISIS of freelance war correspondent James Foley, I have been left with a level of rage known only to those of us who have sacrificed unspeakable offerings on the altar of world peace.

My offering was my only son — Aaron Carson Vaughn. Aaron was a member of SEAL Team VI. He was killed in action when a CH47D Chinook, carrying thirty Americans and eight Afghans was shot down in the Tangi River Valley of Afghanistan on Aug. 6, 2011.

Many times over the past three years, I have been asked what drove my son to choose his particular career. What made him want to be a Navy SEAL? My answer is simple.

Aaron Vaughn was a man who possessed the courage to acknowledge evil. And evil, once truly acknowledged, demands response. Perhaps this is why so few are willing to look it in the eye. It is much simpler — much safer — to look the other way.

That is, unless you are the leader of the Free World.

As Commander-in-Chief, your actions — or lack thereof — Mr. President, cost lives. As you bumble about in your golf cart, slapping on a happy face and fist-pounding your buddies, your cowardly lack of leadership has left a gaping hole — not only in America’s security — but the security of the entire globe. Your message has come across loud and clear, sir: You are not up to this job. You know it. We know it. The world knows it.

Please vacate the people’s house and allow a man or woman of courage and substance to seize the reigns of this out-of-control thug-fest and regain the balance we, America, have provided throughout our great history.

Thanks to your “leadership” from whatever multi-million dollar vacation you happen to be on at any given moment, the world is in chaos. What’s been gained, you’ve lost. What’s been lost, you’ve decimated. You’ve demolished our ability to hold the trust of allies. You’ve made a mockery of the title “President.” And you’ve betrayed the nation for which my son and over 1.3 million others have sacrificed their very lives.

But this should come as no surprise, since your wife uttered a vile statement on Feb. 18, 2008, during the primary campaign — one that speaks volumes of your true convictions. “For the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country,” she said.

I am sure my deceased son thanks you for that, Mrs. Obama. Oh, and you’re welcome.

Never in my lifetime have I witnessed such despair and such growing fear that the world’s last best hope, America, has finally been dismantled. Perhaps the better word is transformed — fundamentally transformed. Come to think of it, it’s become difficult — if not impossible — to believe things haven’t gone exactly as you planned, Mr. President.

Amazingly, in five short years, your administration has lurched from one disaster to another. You spearheaded the ambitious rush to end the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan — with no plan on how to do so effectively. Also, the release of “the Taliban five” in exchange for one American — without consulting Congress — is also on your shoulders.

You have been at the helm during unprecedented national security leaks — including, but not limited to the outing of SEAL Team VI on the Bin laden raid, the outing of the Pakistani doctor who provided the intelligence for that raid, the outing of Afghanistan’s CIA station chief, and the outing of your personal “kill list” to make you look tough. In addition, 75 percent of American deaths in Afghanistan and 83 percent of Americans-wounded-in-action have occurred on your watch, according to icasualties.org.

And now, we have this recent, heinous event: the beheading of an American citizen by a barbaric organization you foolishly referred to as “the JV team” in your statements to the New Yorker magazine in January.

You, sir, are the JV team. It’s time for you to step down and allow a true leader to restore our honor and protect our sons and daughters.

America has always been exceptional. And she will be again. You, Mr. President, are a bump in our road."

Reprinted with family's permission



Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/art...sident-Obama-s-resignation.html#ixzz3CCH02irl
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objectivist1
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« Reply #1355 on: September 03, 2014, 09:31:07 AM »

I think this is an excellent analysis of the question.  I've been mulling this over myself for some time, as I've heard cries from both libertarians and those in our camp regarding their alarm over "police militarization."  My question has always been - as long as the citizens have access to the same weaponry - what's the issue?

The ‘Militarization’ of the Police?

Posted By Jack Kerwick On September 3, 2014

Making the rounds through libertarian (and other) circles in the wake of the police shooting death of Michael Brown is the notion that the “militarization” of local police forces is a huge problem besetting the country.

Though I self-identify as a conservative, I have a considerable affection for libertarianism. In fact, it is precisely because of this fondness that I am compelled to put out to pasture all of this “militarization” talk.

(1)The mere possession of weaponry of a kind on the part of police is no more objectionable—no more a justification for the charge of “militarization”—than is the mere existence of guns or SUV’s objectionable.

For starters, it is unclear as to what libertarians even mean in claiming that the police are “militarized.” From what I can gather—sorry, but no self-avowed libertarian writer who I have yet encountered is clear on this—it is the fact that today’s police forces are equipped with weaponry of a technologically sophisticated sort, the sort with which our soldiers are armed when confronting enemies overseas, that warrants the charge of “militarization.”

How the mere possession of things is a cause of alarm for, of all people, the libertarian, is beyond me. In personifying inanimate objects he comes perilously close to sounding like just those enemies of liberty against whom he’s tirelessly railing, those who would personify guns, wealth, and, say, SUV’s.

Moreover, libertarians are the first to champion the (law-abiding, adult) citizen’s constitutional, even “inalienable,” right to bear virtually whatever arms he prefers. How, we must ask, does it turn out to be permissible—not “militarized”—for the janitor next door to possess a machine gun, but somehow impermissible—“militarized”—for the police to do the same?

(2) The distribution of arms among the police, on the one hand, and the citizenry, on the other, utterly fails to establish that the police, or anyone, haven’t a right to arm themselves like Rambo—i.e. it fails to supply a single warrant for the charge of “militarization.”

If the libertarian insists that it isn’t the possession by police of weaponry as such to which he objects, but the fact that, as things currently stand, the police have access to these weapons to which other citizens are denied, then it is the distribution of this access, and not the access itself, that has him upset.

But if this is the case, then the proper complaint is not, “The police are ‘militarized’!” The proper complaint is that, “We should be allowed to be ‘militarized’ too,” or something like this.

In other words, the charge of “militarization” makes no sense here.

(3) The concept of “militarization” encompasses the concepts of collective purpose and coercion.

Government, by definition, has a monopoly on force. Yet, theoretically, the libertarian, unlike the anarchist, has no objections to this: the libertarian recognizes the authority of government to both enact and enforce laws. Since police officers are government agents, the libertarian affirms their authority to deploy the power at their disposal to coerce citizens into abiding by the laws that police are committed to safeguarding.

So, the sheer fact that police are endowed with the power to coerce prospective and actual violators of the law can’t be something with which the libertarian has a problem, for he has no problem with government per se.

In other words, that police are using force to maintain law and order—precisely what police have always done and what they’ve always been meant to do—can’t be the spring of the libertarian’s howls of “militarization.”

Only if government agents—whether police or otherwise—are coercing citizens in the service of fulfilling some grand collective purpose will the charge of “militarization” apply. Coercion, in and of itself, is insufficient to constitute “militarization.”

But this, in turn, means that the actual weaponry with which the police (or any other agent of the government) are endowed is irrelevant to determining whether the police, or any other agent of government, are “militarized.” If police were armed only with clubs, but used these clubs in order to insure that citizens were exercising three days a week for the purpose of producing “The Physically Fit Society,” say, then this would indeed show that the police had a “militarized” set of mind. Conversely, if the police are armed to the teeth with the stuff of soldiers but used their arms only to insure that the rule of law was preserved, to protect the life, limb, and property of citizens from those—like the rioters in Ferguson—who are intent upon undermining civilization, this would fail to establish that they are “militarized.”

(4) Police brutality, dereliction of duty, abuse of power and the like are issues that should count for much for all decent people, especially the libertarian. But none of these things are necessarily a function of “militarization,” much less equivalent to it.

That there are police officers that abuse their authority and power is not only an empirically verified fact; it is a no-brainer to the lover of liberty who knows, along with Lord Acton, that while “absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely,” even a limited degree of “power tends to corrupt.”

But when police do violate their oath to serve and protect, then we can and should call out their violations for what they are. Conflating or obscuring issues with bumper-sticker friendly misnomers like “militarization” is counterproductive.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1356 on: September 15, 2014, 11:33:08 AM »



The Rectification of the Names!

As the guy with the shovel despairingly said from the bottom of a deep pit in the woods, "How did I get started on this?"

Oh right. I meant to say earlier, I am crawling like Andy Dufresne on his exodus from Shawshank toward an idea for a new book. It's just an idea. As Marcus Aurelius (the Richard Harris version) might say, it's a dream. I can only whisper it. Anything more than a whisper and it might vanish.

In the course of my developing this whisper-of-an-idea for a book, my AEI colleague Michael Auslin pointed me to a Confucian concept called "the rectification of names." Maybe you know all about it because you're a smarty-pants Confucian scholar, which would be an interesting twist on who I imagine you, my "Dear Reader," to be. But it was new to me and it's really an exciting idea because it connects a lot of different exciting ideas into a potentially fully functional Death Star, I mean book, idea.

Anyway, the gist is that society goes ass-over-teakettle (to borrow a phrase from the academic literature) when names no longer describe the things they are assigned to.

Take it away Confucius:

"A superior man, in regard to what he does not know, shows a cautious reserve. If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things. If language be not in accordance with the truth of things, affairs cannot be carried on to success. When affairs cannot be carried on to success, proprieties and music do not flourish. When proprieties and music do not flourish, punishments will not be properly awarded. When punishments are not properly awarded, the people do not know how to move hand or foot. Therefore a superior man considers it necessary that the names he uses may be spoken appropriately, and also that what he speaks may be carried out appropriately. What the superior man requires is just that in his words there may be nothing incorrect."

Now, I'm just starting my reading on all of this and, so far, I don't much care for the way the concept was used to justify castes and classes in feudal China or any of that jazz. And, yes, I am aware that a similar concern was in fact a central point of my last book (Now out in paperback, noodle-salad-eaters). It's central to Orwell's "Politics and the English Language" — never mind to 1984 — and Ludwig Wittgenstein had much to say on the subject as well. And anyone who ate funny brownies in college has grooved on the relationship between words and reality (and the puzzle of the Skipper & Gilligan's limited wardrobe).

But I very much like the idea that societies get themselves into trouble when language becomes a tool not for describing reality but concealing it.

This is one of the many reasons I loathe the self-described pragmatists who insist they want to solve problems by getting "beyond labels." You cannot solve problems if you cannot describe the problem — and the solution — accurately. Try fixing a flat tire with a wet hamster. Now, call the hamster a "tire iron." Has it gotten any easier? Shakespeare tells us that a rose by another name will smell just as sweet, but if you can't tell sh*t from shinola, your shoes are going to smell awful.

When Facts Are Treason

The disconnect between names and the named becomes most pronounced in totalitarian societies where words become weapons of the State. When language ceases to be a tool for labeling reality and higher truths and becomes one for upholding the agenda of a regime, the society rots and invites revolt. Try as they might, tyrants rarely have much success at persuading miserable people they are happy or hungry people they are full. As a result, regimes feel required to tighten their grip on society even more. Use of the wrong word — or the right word the wrong way — becomes ever more damning evidence of disloyalty or treason. And you know what? The tyrants are right: It is disloyalty and treason to an evil regime to accurately tell the truth.

I think there's something very profound about the Chinese idea that revolutions are primarily an effort to bring about the rectification of names; that the demand for justice is first and foremost a demand that words and reality come back into alignment. Nothing is more infuriating than to be told not to believe your lying eyes — or your empty stomach. Take a moment to ponder various revolutions around the globe over history and ask yourself if there isn't something to that.

One last point before I fulfill my obligation to put some news-related content in this "news"letter: Free societies are not immune to this problem, it's just that we have better antibodies. We have more opportunities and mechanisms to get words and things lined up properly. In a society where children won't be beaten or executed for pointing out that the emperor has no clothes, the nakedness of the emperor will be a much more frequent topic of conversation.

But that just means it takes longer — and more work — for names to get messed up. Who can dispute that political correctness is, to a large extent, an organized effort to keep truth from being applied to the problems of reality? Who can deny that our politics is shot through with words that don't line up properly with what they are supposed to describe?

They're Not Islamic, They're Not Even I-Curious

For instance, my column today is on the president's contention that the Islamic State is not Islamic. The assertion fits perfectly with the extended philosophical throat-clearing you just waded through. I mean talk about letting names and things wander off from each other!

Imagine, just for the sake of argument that, say, the State Department's Jen Psaki sat down to interview an Islamic State fighter over coffee.

Psaki: "Hi. What's your name?"

Mohammad: "Mohammed."

Psaki: "Were you named after your father?"

Mohammed: "No. I am named after the One True Prophet Mohammed."

Psaki: "Interesting. So what's the name of your organization?"

Mohammed: "The Islamic State."

Psaki: "Oh, that's exotic. What does that do?"

Mohammed: "We have sworn to Allah that we will bring about a global caliphate as he commands us through Mohammed and the Koran. Inshallah, we will kill the pagans, Jews, and infidels and convert the Christians to the one true faith.

Psaki: "Oh my, that sounds like quite a project. So, let me ask you, what religion should I put down here, Mohammed."

Mohammed: "I am Muslim. I will give my life for Islam. It's right there in the name: Islamic State."

Psaki: "Well, I can see that this will just remain one of those mysteries. I'll just put down agnostic."

Large-Scale Counterterrorism Operations Are Hell

Sadly, only after I wrote my column did I learn that not only does the administration insist that the Islamic State isn't even a smidgen Islamic — as the president might say — but we aren't at war with it either. "If somebody wants to think about it as being a war with [the Islamic State], they can do so, but the fact is that it's a major counterterrorism operation that will have many different moving parts," Secretary of State John Kerry explained yesterday.

"We're engaged in a major counterterrorism operation," he told CBS, "and it's going to be a long-term counterterrorism operation. I think war is the wrong terminology and analogy but the fact is that we are engaged in a very significant global effort to curb terrorist activity."

Okay, wait a second. I can understand — no matter how ridiculous I think the claim may be — the argument that we are not at war with the Islamic State. I can certainly understand the argument — again, even though I reject it — that we don't want to pay the terrorist group the "compliment" of saying we're at war with it.

But hold the phone. John Kerry is saying that "war" is the wrong analogy? Really? It is okay to analogize the fights against poverty, cancer, climate change etc., to war, but we can't analogize sustained bombing campaigns with coordinated ground offensives to it? Oh my stars and garters.  It's like the effort to get rid of the Islamic State is the Moral Equivalent of Pension Reform.

It gets worse. Olivier Knox of Yahoo News asked White House press secretary Josh Earnest, "What does victory [in the fight against the Islamic State] look like here?"
Earnest earnestly replied, "I didn't bring my Webster's dictionary with me up here." Meanwhile, the disconnect between names and things has gotten to the point where a senior administration official thinks Saudi Arabia is "galvanized" against the Islamic State because it has an "extensive border with Syria." Except for the fact that it doesn't, this is a very powerful point. So much for Mark Twain's observation that "God created war so that Americans would learn geography."

Of course, the administration is simply following the president's lead. Given how rabid Kerry, Hagel, and others were just a few weeks ago, it's pretty obvious that Obama has told his team "opstay ayingsay arway." In his heart the president just doesn't like words like "war" or "win." That's why he "ended" the Iraq War. That's why when asked to explain what "destroy" means he said it meant to reduce to a manageable problem. That's why the administration keeps talking about mitigation. That's why they long ago replaced the "War on Terror" with "overseas contingency operations" and rogue states with "states of concern." Hey, maybe we should just start calling it "the Islamic State of Concern"?

This of course reminds me of Winston Churchill's famous line, "We shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall mitigate on the beaches, we shall degrade them on the landing grounds, we shall reduce them to manageable problems in the fields and in the streets. . ."

Really, anyone can play. Release the dogs of overseas contingency operations! Haven't you read Sun Tzu's "The Art of Mitigation"?

Look, as I suggest in my column, there's room in a war for bending the truth if it helps win the war. The problem here is that when you're bending the truth that you're even at war, what truths are worth telling? As I wrote last week , I still think Obama's greatest concern isn't how to conquer — or even "manage" — the Islamic State or terrorism in general but how to find the right words that will rescue him from political hassles, responsibility, and blame. Rather than say he misjudged the Islamic State, he told Chuck Todd he never even called them the "Jayvee" team, which was a lie.

If Obama's theory of the world is right, this may all work out for him. If jihadism is a minor nuisance that we can manage without much distraction or effort, then his word games might even make sense. But if we are really facing a more substantial and long-term threat, then his word games are not just stupid, they are dangerous because they put further distance between names and reality, between problems and solutions.

I am not a fan of the philosopher Carl Schmitt, but I always liked his line, "Tell me who your enemy is, and I will tell you who you are." I don't think it captures anything like the whole truth, but it does capture an important truth: To stand for something requires standing against something. If you stand for democracy, you must stand against tyranny. If you stand for truth, you must stand against lies. It is a tactical and strategic question whether we need to go to literal war against the Islamic State. But if we are not figuratively or spiritually at war with what the Islamic State stands for, then, my God, what do we stand for?
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ccp
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« Reply #1357 on: September 17, 2014, 09:38:10 AM »

http://theweek.com/article/index/268182/this-is-what-happens-when-republicans-actually-enact-their-radical-agenda 

« Last Edit: September 17, 2014, 03:38:51 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1358 on: September 17, 2014, 03:39:22 PM »

Please post on "The Way Forward" thread.
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objectivist1
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« Reply #1359 on: September 24, 2014, 10:00:35 AM »

iSocialism, Science and Stupidity

Posted By Daniel Greenfield On September 24, 2014 @ frontpagemag.com

Every ideology needs to believe in its inevitability. Religions get their inevitability from prophecies; secular ideologies get theirs from the modernist fallacy.

The modernist fallacy says that history is moving on an inevitable track toward their ideology. Resistance is futile, you will be liberalized. Marxism predicted the inevitable breakdown of capitalism. Obama keeps talking about being “on the right side of history” as if history, like a university history curriculum, has a right side and a wrong side. All everyone has to do is grab a sign and march “Forward!” to the future.

The bad economics and sociology around which the left builds its Socialist sand castles assume that technological progress will mean improved control. Capitalism with its mass production convinced budding Socialists that the entire world could be run like a giant factory under technocrats who would use industrial techniques to control the economic production of mankind in line with their ideals.

The USSR and moribund European economies broke that theory into a million little pieces.

The dot com revolution with its databases and subtle tools for manipulating individuals on a collective basis led to a Facebook Socialism that crowdsources its culture wars and “nudges” everyone into better habits, lower body masses and conveniently available death panels.

The iSocialist, like his industrial predecessor, assumes that technology gives superintelligent leftists better tools for controlling everything. The planned economy failed in the twentieth because the tools of propaganda posters, quotas and gulags were too crude. This time he is certain that it will work.

Intelligence is to leftists what divine right was to the crowned kings of Europe. They frantically brand themselves as smart because in a technocracy, superiority comes from intelligence. Their vision is the right one because they are the smart ones. Their shiny future is backed by what they call “science.”

Science, the magic of the secular age, is their church. But science isn’t anyone’s church. Science is much better at disproving things than at proving them. It’s a useful tool for skeptics, but a dangerous tool for rulers. Like art, science is inherently subversive and like art, when it’s restricted and controlled, it stops being interesting.

Neil deGrasse Tyson’s defenders reacted to his basic errors by asserting that even if he had made a mistake, science, collectively, was right. Science is of course neither right nor wrong; its methodology can be used to determine whether something is right or wrong.

In Tyson’s case, science determined long ago that at least one of his claims was wrong. Neil deGrasse Tyson doesn’t embody science. No individual does. What Tyson embodies is manufactured intelligence. Manufactured intelligence is how we knew that Obama was smart. But manufactured intelligence has the same relationship to intelligence as a painting of the ocean does to the real thing.

The real ocean is complicated and messy. So is real intelligence. Manufactured intelligence is the fashion model playing a genius in a movie. Real intelligence is an awkward man obsessing over a handful of ideas, some of them ridiculously wrong, but one of which will change the world.

Real intelligence isn’t marketable because it doesn’t make an elite feel good about its power.

Biblical fake prophets were often preferred to real prophets because they made rulers feel comfortable about the future. The modern technoprophet assures a secular elite that it can effectively control people and that it even has the obligation to do so. It tells them that “science” is on their side.

The easy way to tell real religion from fake religion is that real religion doesn’t make you feel good. It doesn’t assure you that everything you’re doing is right and that you ought to keep on doing it.

The same holds true for science. Real science doesn’t make you feel smart. Fake science does.

No matter how smart you think you are, real science will make you feel stupid far more often than it will make you feel smart. Real science not only tells us how much more we don’t know than we know, a state of affairs that will continue for all of human history, but it tells us how fragile the knowledge that we have gained is, how prone we are to making childish mistakes and allowing our biases to think for us.

Science is a rigorous way of making fewer mistakes. It’s not very useful to people who already know everything. Science is for stupid people who know how much they don’t know.

A look back at the march of science doesn’t show an even line of progress led by smooth-talking popularizers who are never wrong. Instead the cabinets of science are full of oddballs, unqualified, jealous, obsessed and eccentric, whose pivotal discoveries sometimes came about by accident. Science, like so much of human accomplishment, often depended on lucky accidents to provide a result that could then be isolated and systematized into a useful understanding of the process.

Modernism is a style that offers a seamless vision of perfection that doesn’t exist. The accomplishments of our age haven’t changed human nature and they have not made us infallible.

Real science tells us that we are basically stupid. A close study of history proves it. And that’s a good thing. Stupid people can learn from their mistakes. Self-assured elites convinced of their own superior intelligence can’t. Everyone makes mistakes. The future belongs to those who recognize them.

The inability of Neil deGrasse Tyson and his defenders to acknowledge that he is wrong is a revealing look at the rotten core of the liberal elite which is incapable of admitting its errors, but sneers and smears its way out of a moral reckoning every time. Its ideology with its assumption of central control over lives and economies is too dependent on its own illusion of genius not to lie about its failures.

It is too big to fail and that makes its failure inevitable.

Tysonism is why ObamaCare suffered a disastrous launch, why the VA reorganization didn’t work and why we’re back in Iraq. Technocrats don’t make mistakes. They can’t. They’re only at the top because they’re smart. If they ever admitted to being stupid, they would lose their right to rule.

Like Lysenkoism, Tysonism uses ideology to determine the outcomes of science. That’s how we keep ending up with Global Warming as settled science no matter how often the actual science contradicts it.

Tysonism appropriates science without understanding it. Its science consists of factoids, some right and some wrong, which simplify and clarify everything. Its manufactured intelligence makes people feel smart without actually giving them the critical tools to question the false assumptions of a Tyson.

What the left calls science is really a hypothesis accepted as a fact without the skepticism. Its intelligence is a conclusion without bothering to determine whether it’s true. Science and intelligence are perpetual processes that are never truly settled. But in law and government, as in all other fields, the left discards the process and asserts an inevitable outcome by virtue of its superiority.

Intelligence as ideology is at the heart of the left. Its Orwellian twist discards the need for using intelligence to question its ideology by asserting that the issue is settled. To be smart is to be left and to be left is to be smart. And only stupid people would question that.

There is no need to think about anything because the smart people have already done all the thinking. You can show you are smart by accepting their conclusions or show your stupidity by questioning them.

Science and skepticism are the tools of stupid people. As Socrates put it, I know that I know nothing. We have the most to fear from the smart people who don’t know and will never admit how little they know.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1360 on: September 24, 2014, 01:49:57 PM »

Islamic Jihad -- Target America
Should You Be Concerned?
By Mark Alexander • September 24, 2014
"The establishment of civil and religious liberty was the Motive which induced me to the Field." --George Washington (1783)


Despite assurances to the contrary from our nation's commander in chief, it turns out that global Jihad is thriving. And it constitutes a greater threat to our nation's security today than at any time in history.

Should you be concerned?

Of course, the answer is "yes," but with qualification.

The most imminent domestic threat to your life and property, statistically, emanates from the sociopathic drug/gang culture, which continues to metastasize on urban poverty plantations and is now spilling into suburban and rural communities. That threat has been cultivated for the last five decades by ruinous political and social policies that were, ostensibly, enacted to eradicate the poverty those policies institutionalized.

That notwithstanding, the elevated threat to your life from Islamic extremists should be a concern -- not because the probability of being an individual victim of an Islamist assault will soon be higher than the drug/gang culture threat, but because the probability of being among the cumulative victims of a catastrophic attack on our homeland -- be it conventional, nuclear or biological -- is escalating largely unabated.

The 9/11 attack on our country was perpetrated by 19 al-Qa'ida operatives. Its immediate effects -- the loss of lives and the longer-term economic impact -- were devastating. It would only take five to 10 al-Qa'ida operatives to create destruction on a 100-fold scale, with a little help from Iran or other terror-sponsoring states.

How real is that threat?

Islamic terrorist groups are surging worldwide, including Jabhat al-Nusra, Boko Haram, Hamas, Hezbollah, the Taliban, Jamaat-e-Islami, Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Khorasan Group and now, front and center, ISIL, a.k.a. the Islamic State -- all of which together constitute Jihadistan, that borderless nation of Islamic extremists aligned under the Qur'anic umbrella.

Currently there are many American Islamists actively fighting among the ranks of ISIL in the Middle East -- and they have significant networks of support in the United States. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper concludes that the direct links between ISIL and those domestic networks has created "the most diverse array of threats and challenges as I've seen in my 50-plus years in the [intelligence] business."

How did this surge get underway?

In 2012, amid the cascading failure of his domestic economic and social policies, Barack Obama centered his re-election campaign on his faux foreign policy successes, which were built upon the following two boasts: "Four years ago, I promised to end the war in Iraq. I did." And "al-Qa'ida is on the run."

The reality, however, is that Obama's "hope and change" retreat from Iraq left a vacuum for the resurgence of a far more dangerous incarnation of Muslim terrorism under the ISIL label, which has displaced al-Qa'ida as the dominant asymmetric Islamic terrorist threat to the West.

Clearly, it is Obama's foreign policy malfeasance that poses the greatest threat to U.S. national and homeland security.

So, is the Islamic State actually, well, Islamic?

Not according to Obama. While he subscribes to the hate-driven rhetoric of Afro-centric theology, six formative years of his early life were spent attending Islamic schools in Indonesia.

In his address to the nation last week, he claimed, "Let’s make two things clear: ISIL is not Islamic. ... And ISIL is certainly not a state.”

Reasonable people may disagree on whether the Islamic State now occupying much of Syria and Iraq is, at least by the Western definition, a state, but it certainly is a state in the Jihadistan context given the Islamic World of the Qur'an recognizes no political borders.

But for Obama to suggest "ISIL is not Islamic" is flatly absurd. Why else are American taxpayers providing Islamist prisoners at Gitmo copies of the Qur'an and payer rugs?
It is equally asinine, of course, for Secretary of State John Kerry to perpetuate the lie that "Islam is the Religion of Peace™" by claiming, "We must continue to repudiate the gross distortion of Islam that ISIL is spreading."

Their errant assertions prompted this rebuke from Islamic State spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani: "[Obama and Kerry] turned into Islamic jurists, muftis, sheikhs and preachers, standing up for Islam and the Muslims, so it appears that they no longer have confidence in the ability or sincerity of their sorcerers..."

So, is Islamic Jihad really "Islamic"?

There are many excellent resources for understanding Islamic extremism and the rise of Islamic terrorism. But allow me to offer a brief overview of Islam and the schism that gave rise to global Islamic Jihad.

In 570 AD, Abū al-Qāsim Muhammad was born in Mecca (in modern-day Saudi Arabia). In the year 610, Muhammad went into the hills and claims to have received instruction from an angel to spend the next 22 years as the exclusive transcriber of Allah's message, the Qur'an, which means "recitation." Its 114 Surahs, or chapters, outline the religious, military, civil, social, commercial and legal systems of Islam. Most Muslims believe that Islam originated with the prophet Adam, and that Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus were Islamic prophets.

After Muhammad's death in 632, Islam split into two factions, Sunni and Shi’ite -- a split originating from a dispute about whether the religion should be led by strict adherence to the Qur'an, or led by Ali, the son-in-law of Muhammad. The Sunnis (from "Ahl al-Sunna," meaning ”people of the tradition”) bonded through Muslim orthodoxy. The Shias (from “Shiat Ali,” meaning ”party of Ali”) were a political alliance formed around Muhammad's descendant.

Despite the split, Islam thrived, and by the 17th century, a vast Muslim empire was controlled by a powerful military and was the cultural cradle of mathematics, architecture, art, law and science. But the rise of Western military power would divide and conquer the Muslim empire by the end of the 18th century, followed by European occupations of much of that former empire over the next century.

By the end of World War I, Islam's Ottoman Empire was lost. Many Muslims adapted to Western culture, while some held to old Islamic traditions. But the re-constitution of the State of Israel in 1948 seeded a resurgence of Islamic fervor, a fervor that would unleash itself 30 years later under the watch of Jimmy Carter's administration.
In 1979, the powerful and strategic state of Iran fell to the Islamic Revolution, and Shia cleric Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returned to power. Student revolutionaries seized the U.S. embassy in Tehran, taking 52 Americans hostage, and that act galvanized both Shia and Sunni Islamist activists throughout the Middle East.

Today, Shia Muslims represent majorities only in Iran, Iraq and Bahrain.

But Islamic Jihad, including al-Qa'ida and subsequent terrorist groups, is rooted in Sunni orthodoxy. Sunnis represent about 85% of Muslims worldwide, including countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

So again, is Islamic Jihad "Islamic"? Indeed, it is.

The Suras of the Qur'an and the Hadith (Muhammad's teachings) require jihad, or "holy war," against all "the enemies of God." For the record, orthodox Sunnis understand that these "infidels" include all Muslim or non-Muslim people who refute any teachings of Muhammad -- which is why ISIL Sunnis are slaughtering Iraqi Shias.

Rebutting Obama's assertion that Islamic Jihad is disconnected from Islam, Hoover Institution Fellow Dennis Prager writes: "Killing 'unbelievers' has been part of -- of course not all of -- Islam since its inception. Within 10 years of Muhammad’s death Muslims had conquered and violently converted whole peoples from Iran to Egypt and from Yemen to Syria. Muslims have offered conquered people death or conversion since that time. ... More than 600 years after Muhammad, Ibn Khaldun, the greatest Muslim writer who ever lived, explained why Islam is the superior religion in the most highly regarded Muslim work ever written, 'Muqaddimah,' or 'Introduction to History': 'In the Muslim community, the holy war is religious duty, because of the universalism of the Muslim mission and (the obligation to) convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force.'"

Thus, if you're among those who resist or refute Muhammad's teachings, you're a de facto enemy of Islam.

According to Muhammad in the Qur'anic verses, Allah commands, "I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them."

Do you refute any teachings of Muhammad?

Based on the Sunni Islamist history of violence, it is clear that Islam is not "the Religion of Peace," though there are obviously many Muslims worldwide and in the U.S. who do not subscribe to Islamist Jihad theology. But the number of Sunni Muslims who do support that totalitarian theology is staggering.

According to the Pew Research Center, there are 2.75 million Muslims in the U.S. today. Notably, about 90% of American Muslims are Sunni. The Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Nation of Islam have now established more than 2,200 mosques, some of which have become hotbeds of support for Sunni Islamist extremists. The ethnic group with the fastest growing conversion rate to Islam is Latino -- 12 million of whom are now in the U.S. illegally, and who continue to pour across our southern border.

Do any of those grim statistics concern you?

At the conclusion of the American Revolutionary War, George Washington wrote that our nation has its roots in "the establishment of civil and religious liberty."
Islam, on the other hand, is founded on the abolition of civil and religious liberty -- which is to say it is diametrically opposed to the notion that Liberty is "endowed by our Creator."

Pro Deo et Constitutione -- Libertas aut Mors
Semper Fortis Vigilate Paratus et Fidelis
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« Reply #1361 on: September 25, 2014, 08:01:36 AM »

Obama Brings the Ferguson Lynch Mob to the U.N.

Posted By Matthew Vadum On September 25, 2014

President Obama used an opportunity on the world stage this week to encourage America’s enemies to continue promoting the tired old left-wing narrative that the U.S. is an irretrievably racist hotbed of injustice.

Instead of just focusing on the topic of the day, namely, what the U.S. government is planning to do to undermine the extraordinarily brutal Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), Obama suggested that his own country’s race relations problems are on par with leading world crises. And Islam is perfectly innocent. Only bad people who aren’t real Muslims are causing trouble in the world.

It’s bread and circuses, with America’s own Caesar running the show.

According to Obama, the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown, a black man, by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo., in itself is proof that race relations are poisonous in the United States. As the Left sees it, Brown was the latest in a long line of helpless black victims mowed down by racist cops who are part of America’s corrupt criminal justice system. It’s just more left-wing sloganeering, staples of which are knee-jerk cop hatred and making excuses for black criminals.

Anti-American fanatics, such as the Iranians, have used the events in Ferguson as propaganda to defame the United States. Obama is telegraphing to the Islamist totalitarians that they are on the right track and have entirely legitimate criticisms.

“I realize that America’s critics will be quick to point out that at times we too have failed to live up to our ideals; that America has plenty of problems within its own borders,” Obama told the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday in a speech that focused on foreign policy and national security issues.

“This is true,” he told the gathering of delegates from nations that enslave people, chop off their hands and heads, mutilate their genitals, and sanction the gang rape of infidels, women, and youngsters. He continued:

In a summer marked by instability in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, I know the world also took notice of the small American city of Ferguson, Missouri — where a young man was killed, and a community was divided. So, yes, we have our own racial and ethnic tensions.

Apart from the vile moral equivalency, that is, the implied comparison of the Brown shooting with Islamist atrocities, Obama never bothered to point out that there is still not even a scintilla of evidence that what transpired last month in Ferguson was in any way racially motivated. Investigators keep digging and coming up empty-handed.

Nor did he point out that his administration is leading the way, trying to inflame racial and ethnic tensions. Egged on by violent left-wing mobs and race-obsessed profiteers like Obama allies Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson Sr., the U.S. Department of Justice is conducting a race-baiting witch hunt aimed at the entire police force in Ferguson.

It is nothing more than a taxpayer-funded Democratic Party voter registration drive disguised as a civil rights investigation. Such hoaxes are the stock in trade of the radical community organizers who run the Obama White House.

But it’s a costly hoax. At least 40 federal agents have reportedly been on the ground in the St. Louis area desperately searching for proof of racial animus on the part of Darren Wilson, the decorated Ferguson police officer who shot Brown Aug. 9 after the suspected gang member beat him and tried to take his handgun.

That figure of two-score agents is apparently more than the Obama administration has assigned to all the other major scandals embroiling the administration combined. Those other scandals include Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi bungling, IRS persecution of conservative groups, New Black Panther Party voter intimidation charges, the Fast and Furious gun-running episode, and the NSA’s domestic spying.

The rest of Obama’s UN speech consisted of bromides and inane mantras about the Islamic world he holds so dear.

Although Islam has been generating terrorists and Islamic supremacists for over a millennium, Islam’s been done wrong by those who have hijacked it, Obama argued.

A “more lethal and ideological brand of terrorists“ have “perverted one of the world’s great religions,” he said. These terrorists are “employing the most brutal methods to intimidate people within their communities,” he said, without mentioning that his allies in SEIU and Saul Alinsky-inspired activist groups do much the same to American communities.

Obama glossed over the centuries of Islamic irredentism and religious violence to claim that, notwithstanding the often-graphic verses of the Holy Koran, that “Islam teaches peace.” In his view, “Muslims the world over aspire to live with dignity and a sense of justice,” he said without mentioning that to many Mohammedans the world over justice consists of Jews’ and Christians’ severed heads on public display.

Obama even said that “we reject any suggestion of a clash of civilizations,” even though a clash of civilizations is precisely what is taking place.

Now that Obama’s approval ratings on national security and terrorism have taken a beating, the president feels he needs to sound like an actual president who cares about the good of the nation and is willing to use the nation’s military might in a just cause.

What ISIS is doing is outrageous, Obama complains. But his hatred of ISIS is conditional, based on polling. As long as voters are concerned about ISIS, he’ll pretend to be concerned about ISIS.

“No God condones this terror,” he said. “No grievance justifies these actions. There can be no reasoning — no negotiation — with this brand of evil. The only language understood by killers like this is the language of force. So the United States of America will work with a broad coalition to dismantle this network of death.“

This is likely the same pep talk Obama gave to former IRS enforcer Lois Lerner as she geared up to harass and intimidate Tea Party nonprofits.

In Obama’s eyes, only American conservatives, not medieval Islamic savages, are permanent foes worthy of eternal enmity.
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« Reply #1362 on: September 25, 2014, 01:30:16 PM »

Churning up racial hatred is the only card Obama has left in the wake of his failed presidency.
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« Reply #1363 on: September 27, 2014, 08:17:47 PM »

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDFrNQAjDYA
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« Reply #1364 on: October 02, 2014, 06:23:51 PM »


INNOVATION STARVATION
Neal Stephenson

MY LIFE SPAN ENCOMPASSES the era when the United States of America was capable of launching human beings into space. Some of my earliest memories are of sitting on a braided rug before a hulking black-and-white television, watching the early Gemini missions. In the summer of 2011, at the age of fifty-one—not even old—I watched on a flatscreen as the last space shuttle lifted off the pad. I have followed the dwindling of the space program with sadness, even bitterness. Where’s my donut-shaped space station? Where’s my ticket to Mars? Until recently, though, I have kept my feelings to myself. Space exploration has always had its detractors. To complain about its demise is to expose oneself to attack from those who have no sympathy that an affluent, middle-aged white American has not lived to see his boyhood fantasies fulfilled.
Still, I worry that our inability to match the achievements of the 1960s space program might be symptomatic of a general failure of our society to get big things done. My parents and grandparents witnessed the creation of the automobile, the airplane, nuclear energy, and the computer, to name only a few. Scientists and engineers who came of age during the first half of the twentieth century could look forward to building things that would solve age-old problems, transform the landscape, build the economy, and provide jobs for the burgeoning middle class that was the basis for our stable democracy.

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010 crystallized my feeling that we have lost our ability to get important things done. The OPEC oil shock was in 1973—almost forty years earlier. It was obvious then that it was crazy for the United States to let itself be held economic hostage to the kinds of countries where oil was being produced. It led to Jimmy Carter’s proposal for the development of an enormous synthetic fuels industry on American soil. Whatever one might think of the merits of the Carter presidency or of this particular proposal, it was, at least, a serious effort to come to grips with the problem.

Little has been heard in that vein since. We've been talking about wind farms, tidal power, and solar power for decades. Some progress has been made in those areas, but energy is still all about oil. In my city, Seattle, a thirty-five-year-old plan to run a light rail line across Lake Washington is now being blocked by a citizen initiative. Thwarted or endlessly delayed in its efforts to build things, the city plods ahead with a project to paint bicycle lanes on the pavement of thoroughfares.

In early 2011, I participated in a conference called Future Tense, where I lamented the decline of the manned space program, then pivoted to energy, indicating that the real issue isn’t about rockets. It’s our far broader inability as a society to execute on the big stuff. I had, through some kind of blind luck, struck a nerve. The audience at Future Tense was more confident than I that science fiction (SF) had relevance—even utility—in addressing the problem. I heard two theories as to why:

1. The Inspiration Theory. SF inspires people to choose science and engineering as careers. This much is undoubtedly true, and somewhat obvious.

2. The Hieroglyph Theory. Good SF supplies a plausible, fully thought-out picture of an alternate reality in which some sort of compelling innovation has taken place. A good SF universe has a coherence and internal logic that makes sense to scientists and engineers. Examples include Isaac Asimov’s robots, Robert Heinlein’s rocket ships, and William Gibson’s cyberspace. As Jim Karkanias of Microsoft Research puts it, such icons serve as hieroglyphs—simple, recognizable symbols on whose significance everyone agrees.

Researchers and engineers have found themselves concentrating on more and more narrowly focused topics as science and technology have become more complex. A large technology company or lab might employ hundreds or thousands of persons, each of whom can address only a thin slice of the overall problem. Communication among them can become a mare’s nest of e-mail threads and PowerPoints. The fondness that many such people have for SF reflects, in part, the usefulness of an overarching narrative that supplies them and their colleagues with a shared vision. Coordinating their efforts through a command-and-control management system is a little like trying to run a modern economy out of a politburo. Letting them work toward an agreed-on goal is something more like a free and largely self-coordinated market of ideas.

SPANNING THE AGES

SF has changed over the span of time I am talking about—from the 1950s (the era of the development of nuclear power, jet airplanes, the space race, and the computer) to now. Speaking broadly, the techno-optimism of the Golden Age of SF has given way to fiction written in a generally darker, more skeptical, and ambiguous tone. I myself have tended to write a lot about hackers—trickster archetypes who exploit the arcane capabilities of complex systems devised by faceless others.

Believing we have all the technology we’ll ever need, we seek to draw attention to its destructive side effects. This seems foolish now that we find ourselves saddled with technologies like Japan’s ramshackle 1960s-vintage reactors at Fukushima when we have the possibility of clean nuclear fusion on the horizon. The imperative to develop new technologies and implement them on a heroic scale no longer seems like the childish preoccupation of a few nerds with slide rules. It’s the only way for the human race to escape from its current predicaments. Too bad we’ve forgotten how to do it.

“You’re the ones who’ve been slacking off!” proclaims Michael Crow, president of Arizona State University (and one of the other speakers at Future Tense). He refers, of course, to SF writers. The scientists and engineers, he seems to be saying, are ready and looking for things to do. Time for the SF writers to start pulling their weight and supplying big visions that make sense. Hence the Hieroglyph project, an effort to produce an anthology of new SF that will be in some ways a conscious throwback to the practical techno-optimism of the Golden Age.

SPACEBORNE CIVILIZATIONS

China is frequently cited as a country now executing the big stuff, and there’s no doubt they are constructing dams, high-speed rail systems, and rockets at an extraordinary clip. But those are not fundamentally innovative. Their space program, like all other countries’ (including our own), is just parroting work that was done fifty years ago by the Soviets and the Americans. A truly innovative program would involve taking risks (and accepting failures) to pioneer some of the alternative space launch technologies that have been advanced by researchers all over the world during the decades dominated by rockets.

Imagine a factory mass-producing small vehicles, about as big and complicated as refrigerators, which roll off the end of an assembly line, are loaded with space-bound cargo and topped off with nonpolluting liquid hydrogen fuel, then are exposed to intense concentrated heat from an array of ground-based lasers or microwave antennas. Heated to temperatures beyond what can be achieved through a chemical reaction, the hydrogen erupts from a nozzle on the base of the device and sends it rocketing into the air. Tracked through its flight by the lasers or microwaves, the vehicle soars into orbit, carrying a larger payload for its size than a chemical rocket could ever manage, but the complexity, expense, and jobs remain grounded. For decades, this has been the vision of such researchers as physicists Jordin Kare and Kevin Parkin. A similar idea, using a pulsed ground-based laser to blast propellant from the backside of a space vehicle, was being talked about by Arthur Kantrowitz, Freeman Dyson, and other eminent physicists in the early 1960s.

If that sounds too complicated, then consider the 2003 proposal of Geoff Landis and Vincent Denis to construct a twenty-kilometer-high tower using simple steel trusses. Conventional rockets launched from its top would be able to carry twice as much payload as comparable ones launched from ground level. There is even abundant research, dating all the way back to Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, the father of astronautics beginning in the late nineteenth century, to show that a simple tether—a long rope, tumbling end over end while orbiting Earth—could be used to scoop payloads out of the upper atmosphere and haul them up into orbit without the need for engines of any kind. Energy would be pumped into the system using an electrodynamic process with no moving parts.

All are promising ideas—just the sort that used to get an earlier generation of scientists and engineers fired up about actually building something.

But to grasp just how far our current mind-set is from being able to attempt innovation on such a scale, consider the fate of the space shuttle’s external tanks (ETs). Dwarfing the vehicle itself, the ET was the largest and most prominent feature of the space shuttle as it stood on the pad. It remained attached to the shuttle—or perhaps it makes as much sense to say that the shuttle remained attached to it—long after the two strap-on boosters had fallen away. The ET and the shuttle remained connected all the way out of the atmosphere and into space. Only after the system had attained orbital velocity was the tank jettisoned and allowed to fall into the atmosphere, where it was destroyed on reentry.

At a modest marginal cost, the ETs could have been kept in orbit indefinitely. The mass of the ET at separation, including residual propellants, was about twice that of the largest possible shuttle payload. Not destroying them would have roughly tripled the total mass launched into orbit by the shuttle. ETs could have been connected to build units that would have humbled today’s International Space Station. The residual oxygen and hydrogen sloshing around in them could have been combined to generate electricity and produce tons of water, a commodity that is vastly expensive and desirable in space. But in spite of hard work and passionate advocacy by space experts who wished to see the tanks put to use, NASA—for reasons both technical and political—sent each of them to fiery destruction in the atmosphere. Viewed as a parable, it has much to tell us about the difficulties of innovating in other spheres.

EXECUTING THE BIG STUFF

Innovation can’t happen without accepting the risk that it might fail. The vast and radical innovations of the mid-twentieth century took place in a world that, in retrospect, looks insanely dangerous and unstable. Possible outcomes that the modern mind identifies as serious risks might not have been taken seriously—supposing they were noticed at all—by people habituated to the Depression, the World Wars, and the Cold War, in times when seat belts, antibiotics, and many vaccines did not exist. Competition between the Western democracies and the communist powers obliged the former to push their scientists and engineers to the limits of what they could imagine and supplied a sort of safety net in the event that their initial efforts did not pay off. A grizzled NASA veteran once told me that the Apollo moon landings were communism’s greatest achievement.

In his book Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure, Tim Harford outlines Charles Darwin’s discovery of a vast array of distinct species in the Galapagos Islands—a state of affairs that contrasts with the picture seen on large continents, where evolutionary experiments tend to get pulled back toward a sort of ecological consensus by interbreeding. “Galapagan isolation” versus the “nervous corporate hierarchy” is the contrast staked out by Harford in assessing the ability of an organization to innovate.
Most people who work in corporations or academia have witnessed something like the following: A number of engineers are sitting together in a room, bouncing ideas off one another. Out of the discussion emerges a new concept that seems promising. Then some laptop-wielding person in the corner, having performed a quick Google search, announces that this “new” idea is, in fact, an old one—or at least vaguely similar—and has already been tried. Either it failed, or it succeeded. If it failed, then no manager who wants to keep his or her job will approve spending money trying to revive it. If it succeeded, then it’s patented and entry to the market is presumed to be unattainable, since the first people who thought of it will have “first-mover advantage” and will have created “barriers to entry.” The number of seemingly promising ideas that have been crushed in this way must be in the millions.

What if that person in the corner hadn’t been able to do a Google search? It might have required weeks of library research to uncover evidence that the idea wasn’t entirely new—and after a long and toilsome slog through many books, tracking down many references, some relevant, some not. When the precedent was finally unearthed, it might not have seemed like such a direct precedent after all. There might be reasons why it would be worth taking a second crack at the idea, perhaps hybridizing it with innovations from other fields. Hence the virtues of Galapagan isolation.

The counterpart to Galapagan isolation is the struggle for survival on a large continent, where firmly established ecosystems tend to blur and swamp new adaptations. Jaron Lanier, a computer scientist, composer, visual artist, and author of the book You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto, has some insights about the unintended consequences of the Internet—the informational equivalent of a large continent—on our ability to take risks. In the pre-Net era, managers were forced to make decisions based on what they knew to be limited information. Today, by contrast, data flows to managers in real time from countless sources that could not even be imagined a couple of generations ago, and powerful computers process, organize, and display the data in ways that are as far beyond the hand-drawn graph-paper plots of my youth as modern video games are to tic-tac-toe. In a world where decision makers are so close to being omniscient, it’s easy to see risk as a quaint artifact of a primitive and dangerous past.

The illusion of eliminating uncertainty from corporate decision making is not merely a question of management style or personal preference. In the legal environment that has developed around publicly traded corporations, managers are strongly discouraged from shouldering any risks that they know about—or, in the opinion of some future jury, should have known about—even if they have a hunch that the gamble might pay off in the long run. There is no such thing as “long run” in industries driven by the next quarterly report. The possibility of some innovation making money is just that—a mere possibility that will not have time to materialize before the subpoenas from minority shareholder lawsuits begin to roll in.

Today’s belief in ineluctable certainty is the true innovation killer of our age. In this environment, the best an audacious manager can do is to develop small improvements to existing systems—climbing the hill, as it were, toward a local maximum, trimming fat, eking out the occasional tiny innovation—like city planners painting bicycle lanes on the streets as a gesture toward solving our energy problems. Any strategy that involves crossing a valley—accepting short-term losses to reach a higher hill in the distance—will soon be brought to a halt by the demands of a system that celebrates short-term gains and tolerates stagnation, but condemns anything else as failure. In short, a world where big stuff can never get done.
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« Reply #1365 on: October 03, 2014, 11:25:48 AM »

The New Bureaucratic Brazenness
Official arrogance is the source of public cynicism.
By Peggy Noonan
Oct. 2, 2014 6:22 p.m. ET

We're all used to a certain amount of doublespeak and bureaucratese in government hearings. That's as old as forever. But in the past year of listening to testimony from government officials, there is something different about the boredom and indifference with which government testifiers skirt, dodge and withhold the truth. They don't seem furtive or defensive; they are not in the least afraid. They speak always with a certain carefulness—they are lawyered up—but they have no evident fear of looking evasive. They really don't care what you think of them. They're running the show and if you don't like it, too bad.

And all this is a new bureaucratic style on the national level. During Watergate those hauled in and grilled by Congress were nervous. In Iran-Contra, Olllie North was in turn stoic, defiant and unafraid to make an appeal to the public. But commissioners and department heads now—they really think they're in charge. They don't bother to fake anxiety about public opinion. They care only about personal legal exposure. They do not fear public wrath.

All this became apparent in the past year's IRS hearings, and was pronounced in Tuesday's Secret Service hearings.

Julia Pierson, the director, did not seem at all preoccupied with what you thought of her. She was impassive, generally unresponsive and unforthcoming. She didn't bother to show spirit or fiery commitment. She was the lifeless expression of consultant-guided anti-truth.

No question was answered straight and simple. Everything was convoluted and involved extraneous data, so that listeners couldn't follow the answer and by the end couldn't remember the question. I am certain government witnesses do this deliberately—the rounded words, long sentences that collapse, the bureaucratic drone—so reporters will fall asleep and fail to file. An hour in Tuesday I expected the TV camera to slowly slide toward the ceiling, with the screen covered in a cameraman's drool. "Mistakes were made." "Our security plan was not property executed." Yes, you could say that of a story in which a nut with a knife burst into the White House and ran around the ceremonial rooms. Ms. Pierson neglected to mention in her testimony the story that would break shortly after she finished: Secret Service agents in Atlanta a few weeks before had allowed on to an elevator carrying the president a private security man, who reportedly jumped around taking pictures and was later found to be carrying a gun.

Ms. Pierson resigned after bad reviews of her performance. That's a tragedy in the sense it's tragic she wasn't fired.

But does anybody in the government feel it is necessary to be truthful about anything anymore? Does anyone in the federal government ever think about concepts like "taxpayers" and "citizens" and their "right to know"?

Everything sounds like propaganda. That will happen when government becomes too huge, too present and all-encompassing. Everything almost every level of government says now has the terrible, insincere, lying sound of The Official Line, which no one on the inside, or outside, believes. The other day, during the big Centers for Disease Control news conference on the Dallas Ebola case, a man from one of the health agencies insisted in burly (and somehow self-satisfied) tones that the nation's health is his group's No. 1 priority. And I thought, just like a normal person, "No, your No. 1 priority is to forestall a sense of panic. To do that you'll say what you need to say. Your second priority, connected to the first, is to assert the excellence and competence of the agency with which you are associated. Your third priority is to keep the public safe."

Everyone who spoke was very smooth. "I think 'handful' is the right characterization," said the CDC director to a Wall Street Journal reporter who asked if the sick man had contact with others before he was hospitalized. (That became "up to 100" the next day.) The officials were relentlessly modern-bureaucratic in their language. They have involved all "stakeholders."

Was the sick man an American or a foreign national? "The individual was here to visit family." Oh. The speaker's tone implied he'll tell us more down the road if he decides we can handle it.

What about those who traveled on the same plane as the man, and which flight was it? "Ebola is a virus. It's easy to kill if you wash your hands," said CDC chief Thomas Frieden . You are only infectious once you are sick, not before.

Ebola will not, all agreed, produce a full-fledged American epidemic. "We are stopping it in its tracks in this country," Dr. Frieden said.

That may be true. But nobody thinks it because government doctors and professionals said it. Americans do not have confidence in what The Officials tell them anymore.

This is not only because we live in a cynical age. In this case it's because people know the truth always contains uncomfortable elements, and in the CDC news conference very few uncomfortable elements were allowed.

They say the only thing you have to fear is personal contact, but they shy away from clearly defining personal contact. They suggest it has to do with bodily fluids, so you immediately think of the man sneezing next to you on the train. They do not want to discuss the man sneezing next to you on the train.

They did not want to discuss who the sick man was, his nationality, exactly what flight he came in on. They are good to their global masters! Sorry, just reacting like a normal person. There was a persistent sense the professionals had agreed to be chary with information that might alarm America's peasants and make them violent.

We are locked in some loop where the public figure knows what he must pronounce to achieve his agenda, and the public knows what he must pronounce to achieve his agenda, and we all accept what is being said while at the same time everyone sees right through it. The public figure literally says, "Prepare my talking points," and the public says, "He's just reading talking points." It leaves everyone feeling compromised. Public officials gripe they can't break through the cynicism. They cause the cynicism.

The only people who seem to tell the truth now are the people inside the agencies who become whistleblowers. They call a news organization, get on the phone with a congressman's staff. That's basically how the Veterans Affairs and Secret Service scandals broke: Desperate people who couldn't take the corruption dropped a dime. What does it say about a great nation when its most reliable truth tellers are desperate people?

Sometimes it looks as if everyone in public life is in showbiz, only showbiz with impermeable employee protections. Lois Lerner of IRS fame planted the question, told the lie, took the Fifth, lost the emails and stonewalled. Her punishment for all this was a $100,000-a-year pension for the rest of her life. Imagine how frightened she was. I wonder what the Secret Service head's pension will be?

A nation can't continue to be vibrant and healthy when the government controls more and more, and yet no one trusts a thing the government says. It's hard to keep going that way.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1366 on: October 05, 2014, 03:07:56 PM »



http://time.com/3444749/camille-paglia-the-modern-campus-cannot-comprehend-evil/
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MikeT
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« Reply #1367 on: October 13, 2014, 12:38:29 PM »

Pentagon preps for 'war' on global warming....


http://www.latimes.com/world/mexico-americas/la-fg-hagel-climate-change-20141013-story.html

Ok, why I am posting this here: because this is complete hyperbole and conjecture on my part...  

A couple of months ago, I read about a war game developed by the army for a potential 'zombie apocalypse.'

My first thought was of course, 'hoax'.  But I looked it up and its real. The report itself basically says 'hey, this is just for a lark' in the introduction.  I recall that it was (from memory)  somebody's war college thesis or something.  But, in essence it was a plan for the implementation of martial law in the event of a widespread biological outbreak.  At the time I remember thinkoing:  it doesn't take a rocket scientist to either ask the question:  does the US Army war college really ever do ANYTHING 'on a lark'?, and b) to conclude that it's a pretty easy thing to mentally 'find and and replace' the farcical 'zombie apocalypse' with 'Ebola apocalypse', 'EMP apocalypse', 'economic apocalypse' and etc.  That's the impression I was left with anyway. 

Accordingly, what with everything that's going on in the world right now, when I saw this report today and was like 'really?!!!', I was suddenly struck by the admittedly quite paranoid possibility of asking huh,'what if global warming' (in the context of military preparedness) was just one big straw man?

Seems to me it would draw a lot less attention to say that 'the Pentagon is preparing for this [unlikely] event that most people think won't even happen' than 'the Pentagon is preparing for worldwide destabilization resulting from threat X that people see as being much more likely'.

That, or the idiots really are driving the bus. Presented with this alleged fact (the Pentagon's preparedness for GW), I don't really see other alternatives...?
« Last Edit: October 13, 2014, 12:48:28 PM by MikeT » Logged
ccp
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« Reply #1368 on: October 21, 2014, 06:29:03 PM »

Oh really?  (This woman is definitely from Venus.)  Think again.  He will do grave damage to this country for 26 more months.  Then we have Hillary to contend with.  And the rest of the left machine.
We didn't even win midterms yet.  And even if we do we can't stop what he is about to do to us.  Yup.  He screwed this country over good.

***seen on Fox and Friends

President Obama told Al Sharpton's radio show that Democrats who are avoiding him before the midterm elections actually do support his agenda.

“The bottom line though is, these are all folks who vote with me, they have supported my agenda in Congress. ... This isn’t about my feelings being hurt, these are folks who are strong allies and supporters of me,” said Obama, citing agreements with these candidates on issues like the minimum wage, fair pay, infrastructure spending and early childhood education.

"I tell them, I said you know what, you do what you need to win. I will be responsible for making sure that our voters turn out."

The comments come after the president said that his policies are on the ballot on Election Day.

Laura Ingraham rejected Obama's comment about his feelings, arguing "it is all about his feelings being hurt."

She said the president can't get over the fact that he's "finished" and that his policies have failed.
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ccp
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« Reply #1369 on: October 21, 2014, 06:45:34 PM »

Again what planet is Ingraham from?  Obama done?  Why, he is just starting.  Who is going to stop him?  A coup of Treasury agents?   The MSM?   Hollywood?  Silicon Valley?  Wall Street?  The hapless and truly helpless Republicans? 

****Obama to Unilaterally Admit 100,000 Haitians Without Congress

By: Daniel Horowitz

October 20th, 2014

While Republicans are playing defense on immigration – curled up in the fetal position waiting for the transformational executive amnesty – Obama is already issuing “smaller” unilateral immigration edicts to the detriment of the country. 

As noted before, Obama has already issued several executive orders expanding immigration or implementing incremental amnesty since Congress left town to hit the campaign trail.  This time, he plans to admit 100,000 more impoverished immigrants from Haiti without input from Congress.

At a time when hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants from Central America - which has demonstrated public health concerns - that will place additional burden on our already overextended welfare system are being dispersed throughout our country, Obama’s Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson announced on Friday that they will extend the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Honduras and Nicaragua.  On the same day, DHS announced that it would expand chain migration from Haiti with the Haitian Family Reunification Parole (HFRP), allowing as many as 100,000 more Haitians into the country beginning next year.




Obama is exploiting the generosity of our nation’s citizens and taking it to suicidal levels – all for his personal agenda of remaking America.


This is yet another example of Obama putting the priorities of Americans last by opening our doors to the third-world at a time when we have record legal and illegal immigration from some of these countries.  Obama is exploiting the generosity of our nation’s citizens and taking it to suicidal levels – all for his personal agenda of remaking America. 

Long before the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, we opened our doors to this very poor and uneducated country.  According to the 2013 American Community Survey of the Census Bureau, we have almost 600,000 immigrants from Haiti.  We’ve given out roughly 169,000 green cards to Haitian nationals since 2007, based on a quick glance of the most recent DHS yearbook on immigration.  Remember this is a tiny country with a population just under 10 million. 

Americans have been extremely generous to impoverished countries, particularly those from Latin America.  Americans have always pitched in with charity and adoptions more than any other country in the world.   And yes, we have opened our immigration system to these countries over the past few decades like never before.  Now, Obama is taking that generosity and categorically expanding it across the board so that the remaining relatives of those recipients of our generosity can come here – without any regard for their qualifications.   

Section 212(a)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) clearly states that barring temporary, catastrophic situations, immigrants must be assessed on a case-by-case basis to ensure that they do not become a public charge.


(B) Factors to be taken into account.- (i) In determining whether an alien is excludable under this paragraph, the consular officer or the Attorney General shall at a minimum consider the alien’s-


As we all know, Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world. More than 50% of the population is illiterate. According to the Center for Immigration Studies, Haiti and Honduras are among the countries from which the immigrant population has the lowest rate of entrepreneurship.

They [Republicans] must use all their leverage, including the budget process, during the lame duck session to execute their first duty: protecting Americans first.
Temporary Protective Status and parole were only designed for a case-by-case basis for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.  Categorically importing the third-world, especially given our current situation, certainly does not constitute a significant public benefit and it definitely is not being done on a case-by-case basis.  Something this consequential must certainly not be done without the input from the American people through their elected representatives.

Contrast the current leadership under Obama and situation with the past. During a speech before a group of newly-arrived immigrants in 1924, President Calvin Coolidge asserted a basic premise supported by both political parties: “As a nation, our first duty must be those who are already our inhabitants, whether native or immigrants.”

Between Obama’s continued unilateral acts breaking our immigration system, his backward policy with the threat of infectious diseases, and his incoherent policy dealing with the threat from Islamic terror, it’s time for House Republicans to reconvene in an emergency session of Congress. They must use all their leverage, including the budget process, during the lame duck session to execute their first duty: protecting Americans first.

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ccp
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« Reply #1370 on: October 23, 2014, 10:44:50 AM »

It really is remarkable how as far as I can tell there is no mention of self responsibility or blame of Clinton or Hillary.  Just bash the Drudgereport.  And then turn it around to a politically correct agenda about online bullying...... angry;  Just remarkable.  And the left wingers scoop it right up.

*****Questions surround Lewinsky's return
    
 By Kevin Cirilli - 10/23/14 06:00 AM EDT

Monica Lewinsky is back — and this time she has a cause.

The woman who became a punch line for sexual encounters with Bill Clinton is returning to the spotlight after more than a decade, hoping to become an advocate for ending bullying online.



ADVERTISEMENT

While her speech on the topic in Philadelphia drew a standing ovation, it remains to be seen whether Lewinsky can escape her past — and the politics of being “that woman” — to help end what she calls a “culture of humiliation.”

Vanity Fair, which hired Lewinsky as a contributor, said the response to her first foray into public advocacy has been “very positive.”

"Even [liberal comedian] Bill Maher said, 'I was very moved by it,'" said Vanity Fair spokeswoman Beth Kseniak.

Lewinsky, who declined comment through a representative, said one of the “principal reasons” she decided to break her silence was the 2010 death of Tyler Clementi, a Rutgers University student who committed suicide after intimate pictures of him were posted online to humiliate him and "expose" him as being gay.

"While it touched us both, my mother was unusually upset by the story and I wondered why," Lewinsky said in her speech. "Eventually it dawned on me: she was back in 1998, back to a time when I was periodically suicidal; when she might very easily have lost me; when I, too, might have been humiliated to death."

Lewinsky specifically mentioned The Tyler Clementi Foundation in her speech, providing a boom of publicity for the organization that his parents started.

"We're very appreciative she'd mention our foundation and our work," Clementi's mother Jane said in an interview with The Hill.

Jane Clementi said a "mutual friend" introduced her to Lewinsky after her first Vanity Fair column, and the two discussed her son.

"She shared with us how Tyler's story impacted her and her mom," Clementi said.

Some advocates say they do not want Lewinsky to become the face of the anti-bullying movement.

StopCyberbullying founder Parry Aftab said Lewinsky's involvement would "set back" their efforts.

"I find it a bit insulting to the people who have been cyber bullied to have Monica Lewinsky step out and say she's the poster-child for cyber bullying," said Aftab, whose nonprofit is organized in 76 countries and began in 1995.

Aftab said that Lewinsky's baggage would take attention away from the main issue.

"Look at her interviews — it's all about Monica," Aftab said. "She's setting us back years. She doesn't know what she's talking about."

Aftab argued that Lewinsky wasn't cyber bullied after her affair with Clinton was exposed by the Drudge Report, a conservative website, because she became "a public figure and it was newsworthy."

While StopCyberbullying has sought to appeal to young people by working with MTV, the Spiderman comic book series and celebrities such as Nick Lachey and Victoria Justice, Aftab said the group has no interest in working with Lewinsky.

"One of the housewives from 'Real Housewives of Orange County' came to us the other week — I don't even remember her name," Aftab said. "We said, 'No.' These people just want the publicity."

Forbes editor Randall Lane, who helped organize the Philadelphia event and book Lewinsky’s appearance, disagreed, arguing that Lewinsky has the “ultimate point of view” on cyber bullying from having experienced it “first hand.”

"There's not a single person in this age group — the first generation to grow up with the Internet — that hasn't either been cyber bullied or know someone who has," Lane said. "They innately get what she's talking about."

"Also, she made a mistake in her 20s that will haunt her for the rest of her life — that resonates, too."

The Clementi Foundation says Lewinsky’s advocacy is helping them reinvigorate the national debate on cyber bullying and share Tyler's story.

"Unfortunately, most people only think about Tyler's final hours," Clementi's mother Jane said. "That's sad because that's so not Tyler. He was a sweet, kind, caring, giving and thoughtful person.”

"In a moment of despair, he didn't find the right answer," she said. "This is all outside of my world — it's not what I'm used to, but there's an importance in sharing someone's story and starting a conversation."

But can Lewinsky help?

"I believe that she can," Clementi said. "If Tyler could see the impact he's had — I think it'd be overwhelming and amazing for him."

— This report was updated at 8:37 a.m.
« Last Edit: October 23, 2014, 12:56:39 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1371 on: October 29, 2014, 10:32:59 PM »

Things You Wouldn’t Have Believed About President Obama and the 2014 Election

Think back six years to the day President Obama was elected. Tens of thousands gathered in Grant Park in Chicago. There was cheering in the streets across the country. Commentators were breathless and tearful. The president-elect gave an excellent speech. Most Americans exulted at Hope and Change.

Imagine if someone had told you that night that within six years, the man just elected president would have:

Pivoted from a campaign theme of unity to a habit of insinuating Americans who opposed his policies were racists, sexists, classists, or bigots.

Run one of the most divisive reelection campaigns in recent memory on a theme of class warfare.

Lost the Massachusetts Senate seat formerly held by Ted Kennedy to a Republican with health care as the issue.

Driven approval of the Democratic Party to its lowest point in 30 years, with Republicans on the verge of their largest majority in the House in more than half a century.

Allowed western Iraq, then a story of hard-earned recovery, to fall into the hands of a terrorist organization more extreme than Al Qaeda that would declare it had reestablished the caliphate.

Allowed Vladimir Putin to invade and annex a large territory of a major European country.

Done nothing when Russian militants shot down a civilian airliner flying over Europe.

Declared as a "red line" the use of chemical weapons in Syria and then done nothing when it was crossed.

Abandoned several longstanding U.S. allies in the Middle East in favor of Islamist agitators--allowing Egypt, a tourist destination in 2009, to fall into the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood and Libya to fall into the hands of terrorists.

Entered negotiations with Iran that did not require Iran to halt its nuclear weapons program.

Caused a humanitarian crisis with a flood of immigrant children on our border, who came here because the President promised not to send them home and declared his intention to grant amnesty by executive order.

Told the American people a Soviet-style lie about this crisis, saying the children on the border suddenly came to the U.S. because of violence which had been going on in Central America for years (a lie which the media accepted with barely a comment).

Signed a law reorganizing the country's health care system despite the fact that neither he nor a single person who voted for it had read it.

Passed his health care law supposedly to achieve universal coverage, only to have roughly as many people uninsured 5 years later.

Caused millions of Americans to have their health insurance plans canceled, after promising repeatedly they could keep them.

Caused premiums to increase by 100% in Delaware, 90% in New Hampshire, 54% in Indiana, 53% in California -- the list goes on.
Spent $2 billion on a health care website that became a national embarrassment.

Assured Americans Ebola would not spread to the United States, weeks before it did.

Insisted all employers provide free contraception to their employees, even over their religious objections.

Won the Nobel Peace Prize while waging two wars and killing hundreds of civilians a year with drones.

Allowed the U.S. to spend four years (and counting) without the capability to send its astronauts into space, forcing us to rely on Putin’s Russia for access to space.
Characterized supporting a traditional definition of marriage (as he did when he was elected) as divisive and discriminatory.

Spent weeks misleadingly characterizing a premeditated terrorist attack that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya as a spontaneous protest, apparently for political reasons.

Brushed off extensive evidence that senior IRS officials targeted his political opponents, calling it the work of "two dilberts in Cincinnati" which involved "not a smidgen of corruption."

Overseen an IRS that mysteriously lost the hard drives and backups of up to 20 IRS employees at the center of the targeting scandal.

Tolerated damaging national security leaks that cast him in a favorable light.

Placed a respected Fox News reporter under criminal investigation for his story about North Korean nuclear tests.

Employed for years an Attorney General who was held in contempt of Congress for refusing turn over evidence about his knowledge of a program that resulted in the death of a
border patrol agent, and who lied under oath about the DOJ snooping on phone records of AP reporters.

If someone had looked into a crystal ball and made any one of these predictions in isolation, you probably would not have believed it. If you had been read the entire list, you would have concluded that President Obama turned out to be the exact opposite of what Candidate Obama promised--and you would have understood why Democrats would be in such a precarious position heading into election day 2014.

Your Friend,
Newt
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DougMacG
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« Reply #1372 on: October 30, 2014, 10:11:23 AM »

That is quite a post by Newt from Crafty.  Really it's sad that it's so easy to find fault with this President.  I failed to comprehend then or now what voters saw in him.  I think we nailed it here on the forum, that he was (intentionally) a blank slate where the voter could imagine him as their own wish list.  He was against gay marriage but those with that interest knew that he was not against it, just needed to say that to get elected.  He was for getting past racial divisions but he would still exploit them enough to win and advance an agenda.  He was against war but presumed to be smart enough to not let the world go to hell.  Whoops.  He opposed and dismantled all the precepts of growth economics but people believed the economy would magically grow anyway.  It didn't.

What should come out of this is that we learn from and focus on the failure of these policies rather than of the failures of this one man who is leaving office anyway.

We could learn (again) that peace comes through strength and deterrence, not through wishful thinking.  Economic growth comes from a foundation of economic policies that support growth, not from one that attacks vital components of the economy like energy and investment.  We get past racial divisions by adopting racial blindness, where we look past color into character *Who said that?), not from expecting people to vote for you because of color.  We get the best healthcare when we have a say in our own choices and decisions, not decries from far away bureaucracies.  
« Last Edit: October 30, 2014, 10:50:58 AM by DougMacG » Logged
ccp
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« Reply #1373 on: October 30, 2014, 10:30:48 AM »

"What needs to come out of this is that we learn more from the failure of the policies than the failures of this man"

Well said and in my opinion the key challenge confronting those of us on the right.  The left will NEVER admit to failure of policy.  They will only make excuses and blame the messenger or his political adversaries as being this diabolical evil entity that fights back their glorious agenda.  That is their self identity.  Their narcissism.  They believe in  a perfect fair and equitable world.  Just believing this and voting for party the deceptively pretends to champion this they think they are better, smarter, more righteous than the rest of us.  It absolves them of all sins.  They are GOOD.  We are EVIL.  They are the Democrats.  The Schultz's  (from my other post).

Like liberal aunt asks me when I explain why I am a Conservative, "what about the poor".   My response is why cannot the poor take care of themselves.  Who is stopping them?
She looked at me with an aghast look as though I am heartless.  I said your answer to everything is more government more tax.  Why is it my job to support those who make it a lifetime of being poor despite many programs already in place to help them?

No answer.  Just left with the her thoughts that she is for the poor and I am heartless.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #1374 on: October 30, 2014, 10:54:13 AM »

Like liberal aunt asks me when I explain why I am a Conservative, "what about the poor".   My response is why cannot the poor take care of themselves.  Who is stopping them?
She looked at me with an aghast look as though I am heartless.  I said your answer to everything is more government more tax.  Why is it my job to support those who make it a lifetime of being poor despite many programs already in place to help them?

No answer.  Just left with the her thoughts that she is for the poor and I am heartless.

She asks a great and serious question.  We need to answer it better. 
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ccp
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« Reply #1375 on: October 30, 2014, 11:40:17 AM »

Doug,

You and I both know that overall trickle down will work better than trickle up.  Yet the widened gap between rich and poor does give the enemy ammo that enriching bankers while everyone in the middle stagnates and those at the bottom do worse as a counterargument.

I still think the right has to do better with the concept of leveling the playing field.

As one who is a big victim of those without scruples and with access to influence and money I know full well how hard work and talent can be thwarted and robbed.

That said one idea the concept of leveling taxes to a falt rate.  I prefer one rate for everyone without deductions including all economic rungs.  Since the left will seize upon this to say this hurts the poor the most I would be willing to compromise for two rates.  Not a zero one but a lower and a higher one.

Republicans can do more to reach out to minorities and promoting them to positions of political power within our party (as obviously they are doing).

Would a minority rather be a member that promotes the welfare state or a member that promotes everyone has chances and opportunity to share in the American Dream.

Of course these are only a sampling of ideas (surely not new).

It would be highly ironic if the first Black President germinated the first real minority movement away from the Democrat party.  That is from within the urban areas and not just religious minorities.

In '08 Obama stated the way we were was not working.  Instead many are (finally) waking up to the fact this his way is the old way and already proven wrong.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #1376 on: October 30, 2014, 01:49:59 PM »

"Doug, You and I both know that overall trickle down will work better than trickle up. "

   -  ccp, Trickle down was a misnomer.  We didn't give money to the rich hoping they would spread it around and some might get to the poor and middle class, as alleged.  We sometimes allowed people (including the rich) to keep part of what the earned, because it is the right thing to do.  Yes, producers tend to invest, grow businesses, build factories, hire people etc. and that is good too.

"Yet the widened gap between rich and poor does give the enemy ammo that enriching bankers while everyone in the middle stagnates and those at the bottom do worse as a counterargument."

    - Income inequality got worse under liberal-progressive policies.  We need to promise to do what is right and articulate it MUCH better.

"I still think the right has to do better with the concept of leveling the playing field."

    - Agree.  Social spending should be aimed at helping those who can lift themselves up and out of the need for assistance.  Not mentioned in your response to your liberal aunt, we DO support a good safety net for those truly in need.  It should be part government, part charity and it will be much better funded in the long run if we have a healthy, prosperous economy than it is in a sinking ship.

"As one who is a big victim of those without scruples and with access to influence and money I know full well how hard work and talent can be thwarted and robbed."

    - These crimes and so many others are already against the law.   Setting up a system where less influence is peddled is a start and enforcing laws already on the books is a must.  Rand Paul sends the opposite message when he says, let people out who committed only non-violent crimes.  Maybe some financial crimes could be paid back with something like three-fold damages instead of time served, but as you suggest, the perception of tolerance for white collar BS is part of our political problem, even while it seems to be Dems committing most of it.

"That said one idea the concept of leveling taxes to a flat rate.  I prefer one rate for everyone without deductions including all economic rungs.  Since the left will seize upon this to say this hurts the poor the most I would be willing to compromise for two rates.  Not a zero one but a lower and a higher one."

    - Agree!  There should be a minimum and a maximum tax rate based on efficiency and moral principles, and the only deductions should be the expenses incurred generating the income.  Tax capital gain same as ordinary income, but allow a subtraction for the inflationary component of the income at the same CPI adjustment rate that we use for social security.  Move corporate tax rates down from highest in the world to within the lower one-third of OECD countries, our economic competitors, and let companies operate where they want around the world.

"Republicans can do more to reach out to minorities and promoting them to positions of political power within our party (as obviously they are doing)."

    - Yes!  Reach out by treating them like people, not interest groups.
...
"It would be highly ironic if the first Black President germinated the first real minority movement away from the Democrat party.  That is from within the urban areas and not just religious minorities. "

    - That would be the logical reaction to what we learned from the effects of these policies.  They might also be tired of the pandering, pressuring, guilting, etc. in exchange for nothing but being stuck in bad place.

"In '08 Obama stated the way we were was not working.  Instead many are (finally) waking up to the fact this his way is the old way and already proven wrong."
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G M
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« Reply #1377 on: October 30, 2014, 04:38:13 PM »

"What needs to come out of this is that we learn more from the failure of the policies than the failures of this man"

Well said and in my opinion the key challenge confronting those of us on the right.  The left will NEVER admit to failure of policy.  They will only make excuses and blame the messenger or his political adversaries as being this diabolical evil entity that fights back their glorious agenda.  That is their self identity.  Their narcissism.  They believe in  a perfect fair and equitable world.  Just believing this and voting for party the deceptively pretends to champion this they think they are better, smarter, more righteous than the rest of us.  It absolves them of all sins.  They are GOOD.  We are EVIL.  They are the Democrats.  The Schultz's  (from my other post).

Like liberal aunt asks me when I explain why I am a Conservative, "what about the poor".   My response is why cannot the poor take care of themselves.  Who is stopping them?
She looked at me with an aghast look as though I am heartless.  I said your answer to everything is more government more tax.  Why is it my job to support those who make it a lifetime of being poor despite many programs already in place to help them?

No answer.  Just left with the her thoughts that she is for the poor and I am heartless.

Capitalism is the greatest mechanism ever invented to raise people out of poverty.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1378 on: October 30, 2014, 09:19:19 PM »

 
Live and let live, but in fear.
by Pointman

This article is about terrorism, more specifically terrorism and its impact on the people and democracies of the developed world. It's time for some direct talking, not to the terrorists because they're beyond reason, but to the ordinary person who is their target.

I've heard on more than one occasion that the reason a few hundred thousand Britons could rule over the huge population of India in the heyday of the British Empire, was that they never interfered with the local culture or religion, and indeed even went native themselves in subtle ways.

That's a fundamentally erroneous idea springing from a basic ignorance of historical fact and reinforced by the residual feel-good attitudes of that failed experiment we called multiculturalism. If they found a local practice repugnant according to their own moral code, they outlawed it and simply hung or imprisoned anyone who persisted in doing it.
For example, the practice of Suttee involved the voluntary or sometimes involuntary burning of widows atop their husband's funeral pyre. They outlawed it. Another example would be them annihilating the Thuggee sect, who believed the people they strangled were sacrifices to placate the death goddess Kali. Anybody who aided or abetted those activities risked the hangman's noose, and that's why both the practise of Suttee and the cult of the Thuggees died out in India.

So, if you're the boss of the country and some small section of people in it are indulging in a practise you find deeply offensive, you have the right to forbid them from doing it and punish them if they persist. Stating that in an unvarnished way, it's your country and they do as you tell them or they suffer or get out of it. That's always been the rule, despite what some deluded people might have come to think in recent decades.

There are some stark realities in the coming years that various parties are going to have to face up to whether they like it or not, because as always, times change and you have to respond realistically to those new circumstances or accept being at the mercy of them.

The first one is we have to concede that the western attitude of live and let live without interfering in the lives of minorities is no longer viable when a terrorism threat is originating from that area and killing ordinary people. If ruling liberal elites continue to act as if there's no problem and consequently hamstring efforts by the police and security services to go after it and root it out, then after enough deaths they'll be forced to take the more draconian action demanded by their frightened electorates.

There is somehow an implicit assumption that terrorism only poses a threat to America, it's their problem and everyone else can relax. Don't kid yourself, whatever country you live in, no matter how enlightened you feel it is, you're under threat too; it's just a matter of time. After 9/11 in New York, 7/7 in London, the Madrid bombings and most recently the tragic murders in Canada, attitudes had to change. On every one of those occasions, people were genuinely shocked that it could be happening in their country, and was even being done by born and bred nationals of those countries.

What compounded the shock was that the then fashionable idea of multiculturalism had engendered the idea that being part of a minority made one good and above criticism. If you dared to disapprove of any aspect of their culture, you were automatically howled down as a bigot or even worse, a racist. Knowing they could operate under this cloak of virtual invulnerability, extremist sections within these communities relied on it to radicalise, recruit and train followers to carry out acts of terrorism. They did exactly that and we're now looking at the results of it; an enemy within.

Even the criminal element within those communities used this get out of jail free card to their advantage. For instance, the recent conviction of a large gang of Asian men in the UK who'd been sex trafficking white girls and boys for over a decade, did so with the police and social services turning a blind eye because they feared the race card would be played if they intervened. There was a different law being applied or not, dependent on nothing more than a person's colour or ethnicity. It was the children who suffered.
To quote Angela Merkel, multiculturalism failed "utterly" but the effects of that failure live on. The Chairman of the UK Commission for Racial Equality, said that the end result of multiculturalism was ghettoisation. I'd agree with that assessment though perhaps by a different line of reasoning outlined in a previous article. The attitude of live and let live combined with the natural opacity of what's going on in a ghetto, allowed the threat to grow unseen until it was far too late.

Even when the murderous threat materialised, certain sections of the liberal intelligentsia and media, after a suitable silence of a week or two, had the temerity to voice the opinion that in reality it was somehow all our fault for being oppressors of some or other minority. That's coming at you Canada. It's not just that they're divorced from reality of common opinion, but that they just cannot let go of that idea that being any sort of minority automatically makes you better than one of the local natives, whom to be frank they despise anyway.

That sort of attitude, while of course permissible in a democracy, plays into the hands of terrorists because terrorism does work on occasion, despite what we like to think. For instance, Spain in the immediate aftermath of the Madrid bombings withdrew what few troops it had deployed in the gulf. The intimidation worked and Spain by giving in to it, has put their citizens even further into harm's way. If some gang of terrorists wants to change Spanish government policy, just explode a few more bombs there. That's why we should never give in to terrorism, because in essence it's a transfer of power from an elected government to a few murderous thugs.

Terrorism combined with the residual delusions of multiculturalism even works to inhibit or suppress pointed comment in various forums. One of the strongest weapons we have against totalitarianism and extremism is to point out its inconsistencies using humour, and yet I've never heard a stand up comedian having a go at radical Islam. They're happy to constantly denigrate Christianity or Judaism because they're safe targets, but stay well away from the Muslims or they might suffer the death threats of that cartoonist in Denmark. There is an urban legend of an Aussie comedian who has a go but if so, he seems to be unique. If you feel too scared to laugh at them, then that's a big win for the terrorists.

There are equally pressing issues thrown up by terrorism for people who are members of minority communities who rightly or wrongly are being associated with their atrocities.
The major one is that the religion of Islam has been hijacked by the terrorists who use an obscene interpretation of it as justification for their outrages. For better or worse, people now talk about Muslim terrorists not extreme Muslim terrorists. Living in an environment of distrust and fear of any minority generates a simple view of the world, uncomplicated by such nice distinctions. Perception trumps fact every time and the only way of changing that perception is to demonstrate what a marginal influence extremists have in your communities.

A measured denunciation by some obscure imam in the wake of the latest mass atrocity just isn't making the grade. It merely reinforces the paranoid idea that the terrorists are just some deniable military arm advancing some hidden agenda of your community. That's neither fair nor true but that's the perception. You have to start actively preaching out against these people, rooting them out of positions of influence and yes, rendering to the police and security services all the help they need to combat such elements who injure us all. A bomb on a crowded bus or railway carriage doesn't stop to consider the religious persuasion of the passengers, whether Muslim or not.

Terrorism has changed the world for you too. Instead of the majority needing to be ultra sensitive to your cultural needs, the position has been reversed and you now have to be sensitive to their needs, because their attitudes and tolerance towards minorities have worn pretty thin. Things like lobbying hard to get a mosque built right next to the Twin Towers site was the worst sort of insult to the memory of two thousand slaughtered innocents, no matter what religious sophistry was being used to justify it.

To the terrorists, I'd say you've had all your cheap hits. Things are tougher for you now. The assumption that the apparently lax attitudes of democracies meant we were weak and a pushover will yet again prove to be baseless. We're not only on guard against you but we've got good men actively hunting you. You'd be surprised at how ruthless we can be to defend our freedoms, so you better be prepared to be dragged out of some hole for nothing better than a bullet between your eyes. If that means we're prepared to trade down an element of our personal freedom, so be it.

We all lost something in the fire.

On the day the planes hit the twin towers, a younger brother of mine was a lecturer in socialist economics. He stood and watched in the campus of a university in central London rich fee-paying Arabic students of his dancing around in joy of what was happening. That not only showed him how much he didn't really know what was their mindset but killed forever the unconditional live and let live ethos of his liberal politics which had always divided us.

On the day the planes hit the twin towers, I was managing a team at Canary Wharf, the financial centre of London. There was a rumour that a London bound plane nobody could get in touch with was heading in our direction. The top management were patently doing nothing more than denial and displacement activity with their thumb up their arse and in the meantime everyone should stand by their desk and await further orders, so I told my crew to go home. That's the duty of care. Nobody moved so for the first time ever I ordered them to just get the fuck out of there in a loud enough voice for other people to hear. They moved. What the rest did, I don't know.

When I was sure they'd all gone, I retired to a local bar and watched helplessly the tragedy unfold on television. I was joined by a friend who'd also told his team to go home but who also couldn't leave the vicinity because helping hands might just be needed if it all came down. He asked me what I was thinking and in an unguarded moment of anger I spoke what was on my mind. Three things. I told him it was a massive intelligence failure, a brilliant operation from their perspective and we'd kill their arse for doing it. All three were true.

Take a look at the picture heading up this piece. Take a really hard look. There's five men carrying another injured one in a chair because there's nothing like a stretcher available. They're getting him to safety. In the ordinary way of things, it should only take two or three at most to carry that weight but they're working in an atmosphere of choking cement dust which makes breathing almost impossible. None of them are looking to each other for support because each one of them is fighting their own individual battle against their own clogged lungs to get that injured man out of there.

I don't know whether the man they were carrying made it or not, and I do hope he did, but what I'm damn sure of is that every one of those men who got him to safety turned around and went straight back into that hell to save anyone else who'd survived the attack.

They're exactly why I know we're going to beat the terrorists.
©Pointman

Related articles by Pointman:
Why Multiculturalism failed.
The times they are a changing and a righteous kill.
Click for a list of other articles.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1379 on: November 04, 2014, 10:40:08 AM »

http://www.dennisprager.com/lefts-tactics-personal-example/
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« Reply #1380 on: November 06, 2014, 06:01:37 AM »

The Democratic Party’s Civil War Is Here

Posted By Daniel Greenfield On November 6, 2014 @ frontpagemag.com

There are really two Democratic parties.

One is the old corrupt party of thieves and crooks. Its politicians, black and white, are the products of political machines. They believe in absolutely nothing. They can go from being Dixiecrats to crying racism, from running on family values to pushing gay marriage and the War on Women.

They will say absolutely anything to get elected.

Cunning, but not bright, they are able campaigners. Reformers underestimate them at their own peril because they are determined to win at all costs.

The other Democratic Party is progressive. Its members are radical leftists working within the system. They are natural technocrats and their agendas are full of big projects. They function as community organizers, radicalizing and transforming neighborhoods, cities, states and even the country.

They want to win, but it’s a subset of their bigger agenda. Their goal is to transform the country. If they can do that by winning elections, they’ll win them. But if they can’t, they’ll still follow their agenda.

Sometimes the two Democratic parties blend together really well. Bill Clinton combined the good ol’ boy corruption and radical leftist politics of both parties into one package. The secret to his success was that he understood that most Democrats, voters or politicians, didn’t care about his politics, they wanted more practical things. He made sure that his leftist radicalism played second fiddle to their corruption.

Bill Clinton convinced old Dems that he was their man first. Obama stopped pretending to be anything but a hard core progressive.

The 2014 election was a collision course between the two Democratic parties. The aides and staffers spilling dirt into the pages of the New York Times, the Washington Post and Politico reveal that the crackup had been coming for some time now. Now the two Democratic parties are coming apart.

Reid is blaming Obama. The White House is blaming Reid. This isn’t just a showdown between two arrogant men. It’s a battle between two ideas of what the Democratic Party should be.

Senate Dems chose to back away from Obama to appeal to Middle America. Obama wanted to double down on his 2012 strategy of energizing the base at the expense of moderate voters. Reid and his gang are complaining that Obama didn’t back away far enough from them. Instead he reminded voters in the final stretch that the senators were there to pass his agenda. Obama’s people are dismissing them as cowards for not taking him to battleground states and running on positions even further to the left.

Reid’s people think that Obama deliberately tied them to him and that’s probably true. It’s not just about Obama’s ego. His campaigns and his time in office were meant to showcase the progressive position that the only way to win was from the left. Obama and his people would rather radicalize the Democratic Party and lose, than moderate their positions and stand a chance of winning.

The left isn’t interested in being a political flirtation. It nukes any attempt at centrism to send the message that its allies will not be allowed any other alternative except to live or die by its agenda.

Obama deliberately sabotaged Reid’s campaign plans, as Reid’s chief of staff discussed, because that strategy involved disavowing Obama and his legacy. In the time honored tradition of the radical left, Obama would rather have a Republican senate than a Democratic senate won by going to the center.

Republicans benefited from a Democratic civil war. They were running a traditional campaign against a more traditional part of the Democratic Party. They didn’t really beat the left. They beat the old Dems.

The old Dems were crippled by the progressive agenda. They were pretending to be moderates while ObamaCare, illegal alien amnesty and gay marriage were looking over their shoulders. They married Obama and it was too late for them to get a divorce. And it doesn’t look any better down the road.

The Clintons became the public face of the Democrats, but instead of turning things around, they presided over a series of defeats. Bill Clinton couldn’t even save Mark Pryor in Arkansas. Not only that, he had to watch Republicans take every congressional seat in Arkansas and the governor’s mansion.

Bill had wanted Hillary to play Sarah Palin, turning her into a kingmaker and building on a narrative of female empowerment by having her back female senators. Instead Kay Hagan, Michelle Nunn, Alison Lundergan Grimes and Amanda Curtis lost. Not only did Hillary Clinton fail to deliver, but the War on Women narrative was turned inside out by the rise of Joni Ernst.

Ernst’s emergence as the definitive new senator of the election killed any chance that Democrats had of spinning the election results as sexist; even if Harkin’s Taylor Swift crack hadn’t done that on its own.

The Dems had gambled that the War on Women could offset Obama’s unpopularity, but voters were more concerned about the economy than the culture war. Not only novelty candidates like Wendy Davis, but incumbents like Mark Udall, tried for what they thought was a winning strategy. But the War on Women wasn’t a strategy, it was a fake talking point that their own consultants had forgotten to tell them was disinformation that they had created to seed the media and spread fear among Republicans.

Romney had won white women in every age group. Increased turnout by minority women had skewed the numbers, but those numbers reflected racial solidarity, not a gender gap. Progressives had not bothered to tell their old Dem cousins what they were doing. The Senate Dems marched into political oblivion by adopting the Wendy Davis platform to the bafflement and ridicule of female voters.

The War on Women meme was greeted with laughter in New York and Colorado. Senator Udall was dubbed Mark Uterus by his own supporters and performed worse with female voters than in 2008. Meanwhile in Iowa, Joni Ernst had split the female vote which Harkin had won by 64 percent in 2008.

Not only did Hillary Clinton do more damage to her brand by failing to deliver white and women voters, but the Democratic Party is stunned, confused and divided. And the damage is self-inflicted.

The Clintons thought that they could reunite a splintering Democratic Party by taking on a Republican midterm election wave. Obama sabotaged Reid to keep the Democratic Party leaning to the left. Reid is now attacking Obama openly in a way that would have been inconceivable a year ago. Obama’s people are returning the favor by going after Reid and Schumer. The war of the two parties has begun.

The old Dems have no ideas and no agenda. The progressives want to get as much of their agenda done even if it’s by executive order and even if it makes them even more unpopular than they are now. The old Dems have realized that they are the ones who will pay a political price for progressive radicalism.

And waiting in the wings is the 2016 election.

Obama has made it clear that he is willing to nuke his own party to get amnesty done. But for the first time his party seems less than eager to sacrifice its short term greed for the agendas of the left. And the only man who could tie the two wings together has emerged weakened from the Battle of Arkansas.

Amnesty promises radical demographic change, but red state Dems want to protect their positions today. They aren’t doing it for the ideology. They want to stay in office. The mutual backstabbing ended in disaster for the Democrats and there’s no reason to think that the backstabbing is going to stop.

Obama won’t just have to fight Republicans for the next two years. He’ll also have to fight Democrats.
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« Reply #1381 on: November 06, 2014, 08:05:22 AM »

"Obama won’t just have to fight Republicans for the next two years. He’ll also have to fight Democrats."

The right's analogy to this could be the Tea Party vs the  Republican McConnell/Bush crowd.

Maybe like a Marc Levin vs a Jeb Bush or a Boehner.

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« Reply #1382 on: November 10, 2014, 11:00:38 AM »



https://www.billwhittle.com/speaking/david-horowitz-freedom-center-palm-beach-fl
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« Reply #1383 on: November 13, 2014, 02:28:31 PM »

Why Innocent People Plead Guilty
Jed S. Rakoff
NOVEMBER 20, 2014 ISSUE

The criminal justice system in the United States today bears little relationship to what the Founding Fathers contemplated, what the movies and television portray, or what the average American believes.

To the Founding Fathers, the critical element in the system was the jury trial, which served not only as a truth-seeking mechanism and a means of achieving fairness, but also as a shield against tyranny. As Thomas Jefferson famously said, “I consider [trial by jury] as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution.”

The Sixth Amendment guarantees that “in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury.” The Constitution further guarantees that at the trial, the accused will have the assistance of counsel, who can confront and cross-examine his accusers and present evidence on the accused’s behalf. He may be convicted only if an impartial jury of his peers is unanimously of the view that he is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and so states, publicly, in its verdict.

The drama inherent in these guarantees is regularly portrayed in movies and television programs as an open battle played out in public before a judge and jury. But this is all a mirage. In actuality, our criminal justice system is almost exclusively a system of plea bargaining, negotiated behind closed doors and with no judicial oversight. The outcome is very largely determined by the prosecutor alone.

In 2013, while 8 percent of all federal criminal charges were dismissed (either because of a mistake in fact or law or because the defendant had decided to cooperate), more than 97 percent of the remainder were resolved through plea bargains, and fewer than 3 percent went to trial. The plea bargains largely determined the sentences imposed.

While corresponding statistics for the fifty states combined are not available, it is a rare state where plea bargains do not similarly account for the resolution of at least 95 percent of the felony cases that are not dismissed; and again, the plea bargains usually determine the sentences, sometimes as a matter of law and otherwise as a matter of practice. Furthermore, in both the state and federal systems, the power to determine the terms of the plea bargain is, as a practical matter, lodged largely in the prosecutor, with the defense counsel having little say and the judge even less.

It was not always so. Until roughly the end of the Civil War, plea bargains were exceedingly rare. A criminal defendant would either go to trial or confess and plead guilty. If the defendant was convicted, the judge would have wide discretion to impose sentence; and that decision, made with little input from the parties, was subject only to the most modest appellate review.

After the Civil War, this began to change, chiefly because, as a result of the disruptions and dislocations that followed the war, as well as greatly increased immigration, crime rates rose considerably, and a way had to be found to dispose of cases without imposing an impossible burden on the criminal justice system. Plea bargains offered a way out: by pleading guilty to lesser charges in return for dismissal of the more serious charges, defendants could reduce their prison time, while the prosecution could resolve the case without burdening the system with more trials.

The practice of plea bargaining never really took hold in most other countries, where it was viewed as a kind of “devil’s pact” that allowed guilty defendants to avoid the full force of the law. But in the United States it became commonplace. And while the Supreme Court initially expressed reservations about the system of plea bargaining, eventually the Court came to approve of it, as an exercise in contractual negotiation between independent agents (the prosecutor and the defense counsel) that was helpful in making the system work. Similarly, academics, though somewhat bothered by the reduced role of judges, came to approve of plea bargaining as a system somewhat akin to a regulatory regime.

Thus, plea bargains came to account, in the years immediately following World War II, for the resolution of over 80 percent of all criminal cases. But even then, perhaps, there were enough cases still going to trial, and enough power remaining with defense counsel and with judges, to “keep the system honest.” By this I mean that a genuinely innocent defendant could still choose to go to trial without fearing that she might thereby subject herself to an extremely long prison term effectively dictated by the prosecutor.

All this changed in the 1970s and 1980s, and once again it was in reaction to rising crime rates. While the 1950s were a period of relatively low crime rates in the US, rates began to rise substantially in the 1960s, and by 1980 or so, serious crime in the US, much of it drug-related, was occurring at a frequency not seen for many decades. As a result, state and federal legislatures hugely increased the penalties for criminal violations. In New York, for example, the so-called “Rockefeller Laws,” enacted in 1973, dictated a mandatory minimum sentence of fifteen years’ imprisonment for selling just two ounces (or possessing four ounces) of heroin, cocaine, or marijuana. In addition, in response to what was perceived as a tendency of too many judges to impose too lenient sentences, the new, enhanced sentences were frequently made mandatory and, in those thirty-seven states where judges were elected, many “soft” judges were defeated and “tough on crime” judges elected in their place.

At the federal level, Congress imposed mandatory minimum sentences for narcotics offenses, gun offenses, child pornography offenses, and much else besides. Sometimes, moreover, these mandatory sentences were required to be imposed consecutively. For example, federal law prescribes a mandatory minimum of ten years’ imprisonment, and a maximum of life imprisonment, for participating in a conspiracy that distributes five kilograms or more of cocaine. But if the use of a weapon is involved in the conspiracy, the defendant, even if she had a low-level role in the conspiracy, must be sentenced to a mandatory minimum of fifteen years’ imprisonment, i.e., ten years on the drug count and five years on the weapons count. And if two weapons are involved, the mandatory minimum rises to forty years, i.e., ten years on the drug count, five years on the first weapons count, and twenty-five years on the second weapons count—all of these sentences being mandatory, with the judge having no power to reduce them.

In addition to mandatory minimums, Congress in 1984 introduced—with bipartisan support—a regime of mandatory sentencing guidelines designed to avoid “irrational” sentencing disparities. Since these guidelines were not as draconian as the mandatory minimum sentences, and since they left judges with some limited discretion, it was not perceived at first how, perhaps even more than mandatory minimums, such a guidelines regime (which was enacted in many states as well) transferred power over sentencing away from judges and into the hands of prosecutors.

One thing that did become quickly apparent, however, was that these guidelines, along with mandatory minimums, were causing the virtual extinction of jury trials in federal criminal cases. Thus, whereas in 1980, 19 percent of all federal defendants went to trial, by 2000 the number had decreased to less than 6 percent and by 2010 to less than 3 percent, where it has remained ever since.

The reason for this is that the guidelines, like the mandatory minimums, provide prosecutors with weapons to bludgeon defendants into effectively coerced plea bargains. In the majority of criminal cases, a defense lawyer only meets her client when or shortly after the client is arrested, so that, at the outset, she is at a considerable informational disadvantage to the prosecutor. If, as is very often the case (despite the constitutional prohibition of “excessive bail”), bail is set so high that the client is detained, the defense lawyer has only modest opportunities, within the limited visiting hours and other arduous restrictions imposed by most jails, to interview her client and find out his version of the facts.

The prosecutor, by contrast, will typically have a full police report, complete with witness interviews and other evidence, shortly followed by grand jury testimony, forensic test reports, and follow-up investigations. While much of this may be one-sided and inaccurate—the National Academy of Science’s recently released report on the unreliability of eyewitness identification well illustrates the danger—it not only gives the prosecutor a huge advantage over the defense counsel but also makes the prosecutor confident, maybe overconfident, of the strength of his case.

Against this background, the information-deprived defense lawyer, typically within a few days after the arrest, meets with the overconfident prosecutor, who makes clear that, unless the case can be promptly resolved by a plea bargain, he intends to charge the defendant with the most severe offenses he can prove. Indeed, until late last year, federal prosecutors were under orders from a series of attorney generals to charge the defendant with the most serious charges that could be proved—unless, of course, the defendant was willing to enter into a plea bargain. If, however, the defendant wants to plead guilty, the prosecutor will offer him a considerably reduced charge—but only if the plea is agreed to promptly (thus saving the prosecutor valuable resources). Otherwise, he will charge the maximum, and, while he will not close the door to any later plea bargain, it will be to a higher-level offense than the one offered at the outset of the case.

In this typical situation, the prosecutor has all the advantages. He knows a lot about the case (and, as noted, probably feels more confident about it than he should, since he has only heard from one side), whereas the defense lawyer knows very little. Furthermore, the prosecutor controls the decision to charge the defendant with a crime. Indeed, the law of every US jurisdiction leaves this to the prosecutor’s unfettered discretion; and both the prosecutor and the defense lawyer know that the grand jury, which typically will hear from one side only, is highly likely to approve any charge the prosecutor recommends.

But what really puts the prosecutor in the driver’s seat is the fact that he—because of mandatory minimums, sentencing guidelines (which, though no longer mandatory in the federal system, are still widely followed by most judges), and simply his ability to shape whatever charges are brought—can effectively dictate the sentence by how he publicly describes the offense. For example, the prosecutor can agree with the defense counsel in a federal narcotics case that, if there is a plea bargain, the defendant will only have to plead guilty to the personal sale of a few ounces of heroin, which carries no mandatory minimum and a guidelines range of less than two years; but if the defendant does not plead guilty, he will be charged with the drug conspiracy of which his sale was a small part, a conspiracy involving many kilograms of heroin, which could mean a ten-year mandatory minimum and a guidelines range of twenty years or more. Put another way, it is the prosecutor, not the judge, who effectively exercises the sentencing power, albeit cloaked as a charging decision.

rakoff_2-112014.jpg
Brittany Murray/Long Beach Press-Telegram/AP Images
Brian Banks and his lawyer from the Innocence Project at the dismissal of his wrongful conviction on rape and kidnapping charges, Long Beach, California, May 2012. Banks, who had been a high school football star with a scholarship to USC at the time of his arrest, served five years in prison for a crime he never committed after accepting a plea bargain under the advisement of his original lawyer.
The defense lawyer understands this fully, and so she recognizes that the best outcome for her client is likely to be an early plea bargain, while the prosecutor is still willing to accept a plea to a relatively low-level offense. Indeed, in 2012, the average sentence for federal narcotics defendants who entered into any kind of plea bargain was five years and four months, while the average sentence for defendants who went to trial was sixteen years.

Although under pressure to agree to the first plea bargain offered, prudent defense counsel will try to convince the prosecutor to give her some time to explore legal and factual defenses; but the prosecutor, often overworked and understaffed, may not agree. Defense counsel, moreover, is in no position to abruptly refuse the prosecutor’s proposal, since, under recent Supreme Court decisions, she will face a claim of “ineffective assistance of counsel” if, without consulting her client, she summarily rejects a plea bargain simply as a negotiating ploy.

Defense counsel also recognizes that, even if she thinks the plea bargain being offered is unfair compared to those offered by other, similarly situated prosecutors, she has little or no recourse. An appeal to the prosecutor’s superior will rarely succeed, since the superiors feel the need to support their troops and since, once again, the prosecutor can shape the facts so as to make his superior find his proposed plea acceptable. And there is no way defense counsel can appeal to a neutral third party, the judge, since in all but a few jurisdictions, the judiciary is precluded from participating in plea bargain negotiations. In a word, she and her client are stuck.

Though there are many variations on this theme, they all prove the same basic point: the prosecutor has all the power. The Supreme Court’s suggestion that a plea bargain is a fair and voluntary contractual arrangement between two relatively equal parties is a total myth: it is much more like a “contract of adhesion” in which one party can effectively force its will on the other party.

As for the suggestion from some academics that this is the equivalent of a regulatory process, that too is a myth: for, quite aside from the imbalance of power, there are no written regulations controlling the prosecutor’s exercise of his charging power and no established or meaningful process for appealing his exercise of that power. The result is that, of the 2.2 million Americans now in prison—an appalling number in its own right—well over two million are there as a result of plea bargains dictated by the government’s prosecutors, who effectively dictate the sentences as well.

A cynic might ask: What’s wrong with that? After all, crime rates have declined over the past twenty years to levels not seen since the early 1960s, and it is difficult to escape the conclusion that our criminal justice system, by giving prosecutors the power to force criminals to accept significant jail terms, has played a major part in this reduction. Most Americans feel a lot safer today than they did just a few decades ago, and that feeling has contributed substantially to their enjoyment of life. Why should we cavil at the empowering of prosecutors that has brought us this result?

The answer may be found in Jefferson’s perception that a criminal justice system that is secret and government-dictated ultimately invites abuse and even tyranny. Specifically, I would suggest that the current system of prosecutor-determined plea bargaining invites the following objections.

First, it is one-sided. Our criminal justice system is premised on the notion that, before we deprive a person of his liberty, he will have his “day in court,” i.e., he will be able to put the government to its proof and present his own facts and arguments, following which a jury of his peers will determine whether or not he is guilty of a crime and a neutral judge will, if he is found guilty, determine his sentence. As noted, numerous guarantees of this fair-minded approach are embodied in our Constitution, and were put there because of the Founding Fathers’ experience with the rigged British system of colonial justice. Is not the plea bargain system we have now substituted for our constitutional ideal similarly rigged?

Second, and closely related, the system of plea bargains dictated by prosecutors is the product of largely secret negotiations behind closed doors in the prosecutor’s office, and is subject to almost no review, either internally or by the courts. Such a secretive system inevitably invites arbitrary results. Indeed, there is a great irony in the fact that legislative measures that were designed to rectify the perceived evils of disparity and arbitrariness in sentencing have empowered prosecutors to preside over a plea-bargaining system that is so secretive and without rules that we do not even know whether or not it operates in an arbitrary manner.

Third, and possibly the gravest objection of all, the prosecutor-dictated plea bargain system, by creating such inordinate pressures to enter into plea bargains, appears to have led a significant number of defendants to plead guilty to crimes they never actually committed. For example, of the approximately three hundred people that the Innocence Project and its affiliated lawyers have proven were wrongfully convicted of crimes of rape or murder that they did not in fact commit, at least thirty, or about 10 percent, pleaded guilty to those crimes. Presumably they did so because, even though they were innocent, they faced the likelihood of being convicted of capital offenses and sought to avoid the death penalty, even at the price of life imprisonment. But other publicized cases, arising with disturbing frequency, suggest that this self-protective psychology operates in noncapital cases as well, and recent studies suggest that this is a widespread problem. For example, the National Registry of Exonerations (a joint project of Michigan Law School and Northwestern Law School) records that of 1,428 legally acknowledged exonerations that have occurred since 1989 involving the full range of felony charges, 151 (or, again, about 10 percent) involved false guilty pleas.

It is not difficult to perceive why this should be so. After all, the typical person accused of a crime combines a troubled past with limited resources: he thus recognizes that, even if he is innocent, his chances of mounting an effective defense at trial may be modest at best. If his lawyer can obtain a plea bargain that will reduce his likely time in prison, he may find it “rational” to take the plea.

Every criminal defense lawyer (and I was both a federal prosecutor and a criminal defense lawyer before going on the bench) has had the experience of a client who first tells his lawyer he is innocent and then, when confronted with a preview of the government’s proof, says he is guilty. Usually, he is in fact guilty and was previously lying to his lawyer (despite the protections of the attorney–client privilege, which many defendants, suspicious even of their court-appointed lawyers, do not appreciate). But sometimes the situation is reversed, and the client now lies to his lawyer by saying he is guilty when in fact he is not, because he has decided to “take the fall.”

In theory, this charade should be exposed at the time the defendant enters his plea, since the judge is supposed to question the defendant about the facts underlying his confession of guilt. But in practice, most judges, happy for their own reasons to avoid a time-consuming trial, will barely question the defendant beyond the bare bones of his assertion of guilt, relying instead on the prosecutor’s statement (untested by any cross-examination) of what the underlying facts are. Indeed, in situations in which the prosecutor and defense counsel themselves recognize that the guilty plea is somewhat artificial, they will have jointly arrived at a written statement of guilt for the defendant to read that cleverly covers all the bases without providing much detail. The Supreme Court, for its part, has gone so far (with the Alford plea of 1970) as to allow a defendant to enter a guilty plea while factually maintaining his innocence.

While, moreover, a defendant’s decision to plead guilty to a crime he did not commit may represent a “rational,” if cynical, cost-benefit analysis of his situation, in fact there is some evidence that the pressure of the situation may cause an innocent defendant to make a less-than-rational appraisal of his chances for acquittal and thus decide to plead guilty when he not only is actually innocent but also could be proven so. Research indicates that young, unintelligent, or risk-averse defendants will often provide false confessions just because they cannot “take the heat” of an interrogation. Although research into false guilty pleas is far less developed, it may be hypothesized that similar pressures, less immediate but more prolonged, may be in effect when a defendant is told, often by his own lawyer, that there is a strong case against him, that his likelihood of acquittal is low, and that he faces a mandatory minimum of five or ten years in prison if convicted and a guidelines range of considerably more—but that, if he acts swiftly, he can get a plea bargain to a lesser offense that will reduce his prison time by many years.

How prevalent is the phenomenon of innocent people pleading guilty? The few criminologists who have thus far investigated the phenomenon estimate that the overall rate for convicted felons as a whole is between 2 percent and 8 percent. The size of that range suggests the imperfection of the data; but let us suppose that it is even lower, say, no more than 1 percent. When you recall that, of the 2.2 million Americans in prison, over 2 million are there because of plea bargains, we are then talking about an estimated 20,000 persons, or more, who are in prison for crimes to which they pleaded guilty but did not in fact commit.

What can we do about it? If there were the political will to do so, we could eliminate mandatory minimums, eliminate sentencing guidelines, and dramatically reduce the severity of our sentencing regimes in general. But even during the second Obama administration, the very modest steps taken by Attorney General Eric Holder to moderate sentences have been met by stiff opposition, some from within his own department. For example, the attorney general’s public support for a bipartisan bill that would reduce mandatory minimums for certain narcotics offenses prompted the National Association of Assistant US Attorneys to send an “open letter” of opposition, while a similar letter denouncing the bill was signed by two former attorney generals, three former chiefs of the Drug Enforcement Administration, and eighteen former US attorneys.

Reflecting, perhaps, the religious origins of our country, Americans are notoriously prone to making moral judgments. Often this serves salutary purposes; but a by-product of this moralizing tendency is a punitiveness that I think is not likely to change in the near future. Indeed, on those occasions when Americans read that someone accused of a very serious crime has been permitted to plea bargain to a considerably reduced offense, their typical reaction is one of suspicion or outrage, and sometimes not without reason. Rarely, however, do they contemplate the possibility that the defendant may be totally innocent of any charge but is being coerced into pleading to a lesser offense because the consequences of going to trial and losing are too severe to take the risk.

I am driven, in the end, to advocate what a few jurisdictions, notably Connecticut and Florida, have begun experimenting with: involving judges in the plea-bargaining process. At present, this is forbidden in the federal courts, and with good reason: for a judge to involve herself runs the risk of compromising her objectivity if no bargain is reached. For similar reasons, many federal judges (including this one) refuse to involve themselves in settlement negotiations in civil cases, even though, unlike the criminal plea bargain situation, there is no legal impediment to doing so. But the problem is solved in civil cases by referring the settlement negotiations to magistrates or special masters who do not report the results to the judges who handle the subsequent proceedings. If the federal rule were changed, the same could be done in the criminal plea bargain situation.

As I envision it, shortly after an indictment is returned (or perhaps even earlier if an arrest has occurred and the defendant is jailed), a magistrate would meet separately with the prosecutor and the defense counsel, in proceedings that would be recorded but placed under seal, and all present would be provided with the particulars regarding the evidence and issues in the case. In certain circumstances, the magistrate might interview witnesses or examine other evidence, again under seal so as not to compromise any party’s strategy. He might even interview the defendant, under an arrangement where it would not constitute a waiver of the defendant’s Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.

The prosecutor would, in the meantime, be precluded from making any plea bargain offer (or threat) while the magistrate was studying the case. Once the magistrate was ready, he would then meet separately with both sides and, if appropriate, make a recommendation, such as to dismiss the case (if he thought the proof was weak), to proceed to trial (if he thought there was no reasonable plea bargain available), or to enter into a plea bargain along lines the magistrate might suggest. No party would be required to follow the magistrate’s suggestions. Their force, if any, would come from the fact that they were being suggested by a neutral third party, who, moreover, was a judicial officer that the prosecutors and the defense lawyers would have to appear before in many other cases.

Would a plan structured along these lines wholly eliminate false guilty pleas? Probably not, but it likely would reduce their number. Would it present new, unforeseeable problems of its own? Undoubtedly, which is why I would recommend that it first be tried as a pilot program. Even given the current federal rules prohibiting judges from involving themselves in the plea-bargaining process, I think something like this could be undertaken, since most such rules can be waived and the relevant parties could here agree to waive them for the limited purposes of a pilot program.

I am under no illusions that this suggested involvement of judges in the plea-bargaining process is a panacea. But would not any program that helps to reduce the shame of sending innocent people to prison be worth trying?

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2014/nov/20/why-innocent-people-plead-guilty/
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« Reply #1384 on: November 24, 2014, 04:03:08 PM »

The Next Prez and the Obama Way
Prosecutorial discretion? OK, how about not enforcing the 73,954 pages of tax code?
By Kimberley A. Strassel
Nov. 20, 2014 7:00 p.m. ET
Getty Images
Date: Jan. 21, 2017
To: POTUS
From: Your loyal and determined GOP advisers
Re: Your First 100 Days.

Hey Boss!

Congrats again (and fab party last night). Eight long years, and a Republican is finally back behind the Resolute desk. Pity about the Senate; Harry Reid is already vowing to shut the place down again. We put your chances of getting your agenda through that chamber in the range of slim to snowball.

But we’ve been thinking. Yes, the Constitution matters—Article I, Article II, blah, blah—though let’s be honest: What really counts in this town is precedent. And the ace news is that your predecessor blew up about 230 years of it. We’ve attached an 87-page list (check your spam box) of President Obama ’s unilateral actions: altering the ObamaCare statute; refusing to enforce federal drug laws; granting waivers to education reforms; using Justice Department suits to impose new industry rules; drafting agency regulations to go around Congress. Don’t forget 2014, when he rewrote federal immigration law. Like, all of it. By himself.

And here’s where it gets sweet. We’ve been analyzing the Obama team’s justifications. Some are p-r-e-t-t-y creative, but they boil down to this: Whenever a law is “unworkable,” or inadequately “funded”—and Congress won’t do anything—the president gets to act! How is that for new precedent? Think about it. This city has yet to produce a single statute or reg that is “workable” or that has, according to Democrats, enough money. Not a one. Remember that old Imagine Dragons tune, “I’m On Top of the World”? That’s you, boss. That’s you.

So here’s our plan for getting your entire agenda done—all of it!—by May:

Prosecutorial discretion: Love this. Your top item? Cutting taxes. We have two words and one number for you: Tax Code, 73,954 pages. Is there a more unworkable law? ROFL! We’ve got an executive order ready instructing IRS agents not to enforce the code on any person or company who refuses to pay more than our new rates. Goodbye Alternative Minimum Tax, death tax, capital gains, restrictions on nonprofits. Hello, flat tax on a postcard.

Speaking of taxes, do remember to thank Chief Justice John Roberts for declaring the ObamaCare individual mandate a tax. Not enforcing that one, either! That’s O-Care repealed. Check. You ran on reducing the regulatory burden. We’re sending a list of rules under major laws that you can instruct agencies and the Justice Department to no longer uphold. You know, the damaging stuff buried in the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, the National Labor Relations Act, Dodd-Frank, McCain-Feingold. All unworkable!

We’re also readying a memo for the Justice Department, listing areas in which it should forgo suits for federal violations: Title IX, voting rights, affirmative action, wages and overtime. It’s not like anyone can “make” us do anything. Ask all those marijuana smokers in Alaska.

Waivers: You ran on fixing the debt, by fixing entitlements. Done. You know all those states getting waivers to experiment with Medicaid or welfare? Smart, but small. We’re thinking that with an elastic enough reading of laws, we can waive our way out of an entitlement system altogether. Medicaid vouchers? Child’s play. Did you know the Social Security Act allows sweeping waivers to its programs in the case of a national emergency? We so feel a national emergency coming on. A big one. Long—four years, maybe eight. Don’t laugh. Mr. Obama made anything conceivable.

Agencies: Justice now has time on its hands, so we’re setting up a task force to bring criminal charges against slippery characters (folks who, bonus, Americans love to hate): trial firms, union shops. Obama showed with his banking and BP BP.LN -0.22% suits that if we go big and ugly, we won’t even have to test legal theories; the targets will roll, and agree to new restrictions. That’s tort and labor reform done. And we’re already directing your agencies to start authorizing moves that Congress won’t: drilling off the East Coast and in ANWR; health insurance across state lines; school vouchers. Sky’s the limit! What the last guy showed is that the federal architecture is now so complex that you can always find a loophole. Look at his climate program. (BTW, we are shutting that down. Today.)

Is any of this constitutional? Meh. (Shred this memo.) We suppose you could ask legal advice, but Obama was certainly never that dumb. Here was his epiphany: Nobody can really stop a president. Congress can only complain. The judiciary moves too slowly to make a difference (look at Obama’s illegal recess appointments). Turns out the only thing that ever really restrained the chief executive was that oath he took. Our side has always taken that seriously. Hmmm.

We know you ran on restoring the Constitution, and the other side is counting on your base holding you to that. What they don’t understand is plenty of our people would be equally happy to see you stick it to them. We could do the right thing; arguably should.

Then again, who will they be to complain if we don’t?

Respectfully, Your Team.

Write to kim@wsj.com.
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« Reply #1385 on: November 26, 2014, 09:51:24 AM »

Ferguson offers a good opportunity to point out a very commonly used, liberal (false) logic string that I call "And another thing..."

So often the first thing a liberal says, the premise or foundation of their larger argument, is false.  Then, instead of backing up the first (false) point, they continue on with second and third points and so on, as if each additional point further demonstrates the validity of the first (false) point

Here it is out of Ferguson.  The (false) logic behind the big uproar goes something like this:  Not only did Blacks fail to get justice in this case, but did you know all these other things about racism in America?

The starting point is false - as usual.  Justice was done in this case.  A big, stupid man attacked a cop with a gun and ended up dead.  The cop used justifiable force to protect his own life.  Race had nothing to do with the attack, the struggle or the shooting.  Race had nothing to do with the legal proceedings that followed.  The Grand Jury included a mixture of races; they looked at everything and judged fairly.  If anything they bent over backwards because of the potential race implications of the result.

The starting point in the current "no Justice, no peace" arson and disruption campaign is that Brown and his family failed to get justice because he is black.  In addition to that (and another thing...), this is what always happens in America.  Life is really unfair to blacks everywhere, all the time.  The liberals and agitators making this point and organizing these protests have no qualms about the fact that their launching point for such an important campaign is abjectly false.

Even if one of the supporting points has truth in it, it is a new or separate point, not support for the original, false starting point, as presented.

Similar examples of this are found in most liberal arguments on issues, such as income inequality, minimum wage, war in Iraq, taxes on the rich, education funding, you name it.
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« Reply #1386 on: November 26, 2014, 10:17:01 AM »

Agree with you Doug.

One problem I see is the right is not unified in its' response to the left's propaganda along with the obvious disadvantage of being up against a biased MSM and academia and big government "complex".

The arguments coming out of Ferguson defy logic to such an extant I don't know what we are even arguing about anymore.    Listening to Rachel Maddow's rants last PM about how "weird" the presentation from the prosecutor was etc in itself was just disgusting.  Like Levin asks is she so screwed up with her leftist idealogy she just ignore reason, truth, and logic?

The answer is YES.

They just continue arguing when there is NO real argument.  They just won't stop. 


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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1387 on: November 26, 2014, 10:21:07 AM »

The Race thread on SCH would be a good place for continuing this discussion.
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« Reply #1388 on: November 28, 2014, 04:24:50 PM »



https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10152314396513715&set=vb.673253714&type=2&theater
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« Reply #1389 on: December 02, 2014, 08:04:05 AM »

You Can Kill, But Not Murder

Posted By Dennis Prager On December 2, 2014

That is the King James translation of the sixth commandment. It is a magnificent translation. But this one has led to much moral confusion.

Yesterday, PragerUniversity.com, which has had more than 20 million views this year, released 11 courses (each five-minutes long) — the Ten Commandments and an introduction.

The reason we made these video courses is that I believe that everything we need to make a good world and rid ourselves of evil is contained in the Ten Commandments.

For the next few weeks, my column will be selected transcripts of the courses, all of which I present.

Whatever your faith, or if you have no faith, I invite you to watch the videos at www.prageru.com — from the introduction through the tenth, or any of the Ten. They are cleverly animated with text and graphics.

Here is the text of commandment six — explaining why the King James translation is wrong:

You would think that of all the Ten Commandments the one that needs the least explaining is the sixth, because it seems so clear. It is the one that the King James Bible, the most widely used English translation of the Bible, translates as, “Thou shall not kill.”

Yet, the truth is the quite the opposite. This is probably the least well understood of the Ten Commandments. The reason is that the Hebrew original does not say, “Do not kill.” It says, “Do not murder.” Both Hebrew and English have two words for taking a life — one is “kill” (harag, in Hebrew) and the other is “murder” (ratzach in Hebrew).

The difference between the two is enormous. Kill means:

1) Taking any life — whether of a human being or an animal.

2) Taking a human life deliberately or by accident.

3) Taking a human life legally or illegally, morally or immorally.

On the other hand, murder can only mean one thing: The illegal or immoral taking of a human life. That’s why we say, “I killed a mosquito,” not, “I murdered a mosquito.” And that’s why we would say that “the worker was accidentally killed,” not that “the worker was accidentally murdered.”

So why did the King James translation of the Bible use the word “kill” rather than “murder”? Because 400 years ago, when the translation was made, “kill” was synonymous with “murder.” As a result, some people don’t realize that English has changed since 1610 and therefore think that the Ten Commandments prohibits all killing.

But, of course, it doesn’t. If the Ten Commandments forbade killing, we would all have to be vegetarians, as killing animals would be prohibited. And we would all have to be pacifists — since we could not kill even in self-defense.

However, you don’t have to know how the English language has evolved to understand that the Ten Commandments could not have prohibited all killing.

The very same part of the Bible that contains the Ten Commandments — the Five Books of Moses, the Torah as it is known by Jews — commands the death penalty for murder, allows killing in war, prescribes animal sacrifice and allows eating meat.

A correct understanding of the commandment against murder is crucial because, while virtually every modern translation correctly translates the commandment as “Do not murder,” many people cite the King James translation to justify two positions that have no biblical basis: opposition to capital punishment and pacifism.

Regarding capital punishment and the Bible, as I note in my Prager University course on capital punishment, the only law that appears in each one of the Five Books of Moses is that murderers be put to death. Opponents of the death penalty are free to hold the view that all murderers should be allowed to live. But they are not free to cite the Bible to support their view.

Yet, many do. And they always cite the Commandment, “Do not kill.” But that, as should now be abundantly clear, is not what the commandment says, and it is therefore an invalid argument.

As regards pacifism, the belief that it is always wrong to kill a human being, again, anyone is free to hold this position, as immoral as it may be. And what other word than “immoral” can one use to describe forbidding the killing of someone who is in the process of murdering innocent men, women and children, in, let’s say, a movie theater or a school?

But it is dishonest to cite the commandment against murder to justify pacifism.

There is moral killing — most obviously when done in self-defense against an aggressor — and there is immoral killing. And the word for that is “murder.”

The Ten Commandments are portrayed on two tablets. The five commandments on the second tablet all concern our treatment of fellow human beings.

The first one on that list is “Do not murder.” Why? Because murder is the worst act a person can commit. The other four commandments — prohibiting stealing, adultery, giving false testimony and coveting, are all serious offenses.

But murder leads the list because deliberately taking the life of an innocent person is the most terrible thing we can do. That is why it is so important to understand that the commandment prohibits murder, not all killing. When people liken killing in self-defense to murder — such as when they equate killing the terrorist who is murdering people with the murders that the terrorist is committing — all they are doing is reducing the evil that murder is. And when they use the Ten Commandments to justify that position, all they are doing is making the Ten Commandments, the moral foundation of Western Civilization, morally irrelevant.

The next time you hear someone cite, “Do not kill” when quoting the sixth commandment, gently but firmly explain that it actually says, “Do not murder.”
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"You have enemies?  Good.  That means that you have stood up for something, sometime in your life." - Winston Churchill.
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« Reply #1390 on: December 02, 2014, 09:49:15 PM »

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VaS5eJaJYpE&feature=player_detailpage
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« Reply #1391 on: December 23, 2014, 12:24:32 PM »

Fantasyland, U.S.A.
December 22nd, 2014 - 4:53 pm


One way of reinventing reality is to warp the meaning of words. No president in memory has waged such a war on the English language as has Barack Obama — changing the meaning of vocabulary to hide what he fears might otherwise be unpopular.

Take executive orders. He brags that he does not issue them as commonly as his predecessors, but that is only true because Obama has now renamed some of his executive orders presidential “memoranda.” Add up both categories, and no president in the last half-century has so frequently bypassed Congress to unilaterally make new or ignore existing laws.

If Obama suddenly does not get his legislative way after losing the Congress, and boasts in defiance about his plans to act unilaterally (“I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone”), then why the need to hide that brag with linguistic gymnastics?

When Obama faced reelections, he pointed to increased deportations. But that claim hinged on changing the meaning of deportee. All of a sudden, illegal aliens who were stopped and turned away right at the border count as deportees. By changing the meaning of words, Obama believed that he could reinvent the reality of open borders into tough border enforcement.

But then again, when he found it useful to brag of open borders, suddenly he pointed to lower deportations, as the vocabulary once again readjusted its meaning.

On another front, Obama simply makes up names that imply the opposite of reality. The Affordable Care Act was hardly affordable. Obama knew that he could not save the American family the promised $2,500 in premiums, or reduce deductibles, or lower the deficit through health care reform. Instead, insurance policy premiums have gone up, plans and doctors have been dropped, and deductibles have soared. According to Jonathan Gruber, these known downsides of Obamacare had to be disguised from the supposedly “stupid” American people.

In the world of the Obama administration, Bowe Bergdahl, the deserter who was exchanged for four terrorists held at Guantanamo, did not, as National Security Advisor Susan Rice insisted, serve “with honor and distinction.” Instead, he abandoned his fellow soldiers at the front, and walked over to find the enemy Taliban. Traitor, like the word jihadist, has been excised from the Obama vocabulary.

There seems to be no global Islamic terrorist culpability behind the murdering of innocents worldwide. If the Islamic fundamentalist Taliban blow up school children in Pakistan, if the Tsarnaev brothers claim an Islamic inspiration to kill and maim Americans during the Boston Marathon, if Major Nidal Hasan screams “Allahu Akbar“ as he shoots American soldiers, the Obama administration will either ignore the role of radical Islam or construct a circumlocution to mask the fact of Islamic terrorism.

In the latest Sony Corporation debacle, Obama warns us about the dangers of letting foreign nationals like the North Korean hackers censor free expression on American soil. Yet he did not invoke such ethical concern when he blasted — and later had jailed — Nakoula Nakoula. The latter was a U.S. resident filmmaker who caricatured Islam in a video and then was falsely blamed by the Obama administration as the culprit for the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi.

Indeed, Obama in that case played the role of North Korea by ensuring that Nakoula’s videos ceased, that radical Islamists were satiated, and that Obama could win multicultural reelection points against supposed illiberal film makers.

We also live in an age of little collective memory that prevents us from identifying reality. Guantanamo was promised to be closed, and so it is — sort of. Obama reiterates before critical elections that he has no powers to grant blanket amnesties; to do so without congressional action would be the work of a dictator or emperor, he warns his supporters. But then he does just that when there are no more elections, and suddenly he is neither a dictator nor emperor. Our only guide to his mendacity is the occasional emphatic, like “no kidding,” “in truth,” “make no mistake about,” “let me be perfectly clear,” which serves as an unconscious verbal tic of the untruth to follow.

We are supposed to believe that Obama’s opposition to fracking, horizontal drilling, and the Keystone pipeline has somehow led to lower gas prices. Do we forget that he is on record that he favored higher electricity rates, while his former energy secretary dreamed of European-style gas prices? How strange is the Obama principle: “I will brag about the results of how my failed efforts did not stop something I opposed.” Or perhaps, “All fracking and horizontal drilling are bad, except when they revive my moribund economy.”

The list of Obama-era fantasies is endless. Turkey is a special partner that offers a democratic Islamic alternative to the usual Middle East mess. Sanctions should be considered against Israel, but withdrawn from Cuba and Iran. Reset with Russia tamed Putin, who worked with us to corral the Assad government in Syria. ISIS is a jayvee organization. Iran is seriously discussing quitting the nuclear acquisition business. China is now a fellow advocate of reducing global warming. Young black men are in mortal danger from the police, as opposed to other young black men. There is not a smidgeon of corruption at the IRS. We live in a world in which Obamacare is an affordable act and terrorist murder on a military base is workplace violence. If rape does not take place at the University of Virginia fraternity, it could have; and if Michael Brown was not shot with his hands up, screaming, “don’t shoot,” in theory he certainly might have been.

The use of language to distort reality, the fables, and the contorted logic all result from a central fact: the way in which Obama and his cohort wish to fundamentally transform America is not where the majority of Americans wish to end up. Given that fact, Obama must find fantasies to mask reality — and do so by any means necessary.
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G M
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« Reply #1392 on: December 23, 2014, 03:50:15 PM »

An entire presidency built on lies.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1393 on: December 25, 2014, 04:40:00 PM »

BTW Gents, I just noticed that this is our first thread to hit 300,000 reads!


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« Reply #1394 on: December 25, 2014, 04:40:51 PM »

Second post:

A number of noteworthy points made in this piece:

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/dont-forget-the-persecuted/article/2557808 
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« Reply #1395 on: December 29, 2014, 01:38:01 PM »

Guest Column: Europe's Year of the Jihadist
by Abigail R. Esman
Special to IPT News
December 29, 2014
http://www.investigativeproject.org/4713/guest-column-europe-year-of-the-jihadist
 
Among the trends of 2014 – "Gone, Girl," Lena Dunham, and $55,000 potato salad – was another the list-makers seem to have missed: it was also a very good year for Islamic jihad. And while this was true on the battlefields of Syria and the cities and villages of Pakistan, it was true, too, in more subtle ways throughout the West – and especially in Europe. It was, for instance, the year of Mehdi Nemmouche's slaughter of four Jews at the Jewish Museum in Brussels.

It was the year that Belgium itself was named a "terrorist recruiting hub" by the Wall Street Journal. And in Germany, France, England, and the Netherlands, pro-Islamic State demonstrations laid bare the growing support of terrorism and Islamic jihad among Europe's expanding Muslim population – all while politicians either stood back or even contributed to the praise.

Throughout 2014, Europeans faced pro-IS, anti-Jew demonstrations in Paris, Hamburg, Amsterdam, London and The Hague, and the establishment of "sharia zones" in London, Wupperthal, and elsewhere. True, such zones do not necessarily delineate areas in which sharia law, rather than state law, applies. But the term helps them define those largely-Muslim neighborhoods whose residents tend to be radical and who often support jihadist movements both at home and abroad.

Combined, these events signal the increasing success of Islamists who are working to change Europe from within – sometimes through violence, but more often through strategies known as "stealth jihad" – a way of applying social and political pressures to transform the current culture.

Take, for instance, the response of Josias van Aartsen, mayor of The Hague, to radical Muslims who called for the death of Dutch non-Muslims and Jews during pro-IS rallies in August: then on holiday, Van Aartsen declined to return home, ignoring even the throwing of stones at non-Muslims and the police. Only when a counter demonstration against IS was planned in the same, Muslim-majority neighborhood did Van Aartsen take action: he forbade it. "Too provocative," he said.

Or there are the recently-leaked intelligence briefs in France, as reported by the Gatestone Institute, that "Muslim students are effectively establishing an Islamic parallel society completely cut off from non-Muslim students," while "more than 1000 French supermarkets, including major chains such as Carrefour, have been selling Islamic books that openly call for jihad and the killing of non-Muslims."

In England, an "Operation Trojan Horse" outlined plans to Islamize schools in Muslim neighborhoods. According to the Guardian, a government investigation of the program last summer found a "'sustained, coordinated agenda to impose segregationist attitudes and practices of a hardline, politicised strain of Sunni Islam' on children in a number of Birmingham schools." Among those responsible for the "Operation" were the Association of Muslim Schools – UK and the Muslim Council of Britain – the same organization that, in 2011, declared that women who do not veil their faces "could be guilty of rejecting Islam."

Ironically, it seems to have been England's own culture that allowed the rise of Islamist teachings in its schools to begin with. Even Britain's education secretary Nicky Morgan admitted to the New York Times that much of the operation's success could be attributed to public "fear of being accused of racism and anti-Islamic views." Not for nothing did former Obama advisor Lawrence Krauss declare the British "too polite" and "scared of offending 'vocal and aggressive Muslims.'"

The government's discovery of "Operation Trojan Horse" and immediate efforts to dismantle it are commendable, but it is difficult to assess the damage already done to Muslim children in the British schools. By some accounts, as many as 2,000 Britons have joined the (Sunni-led) jihad in Syria and Iraq. That includes the man known as "Jihadi John," who beheaded U.S. journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff. And, experts warn, the number of so-called "junior jihadis" – children under 10 who have become radicalized – is on the rise.

Not that such warnings are likely to do much good: The UK has, until recently, spent tremendous resources on programs aimed at preventing Muslim youth from joining militant groups, which have for the most part failed. "Having undertaken the 'most significant domestic program by any Western country to foster a moderate version of Islam and prevent radicalization, the UK has effectively given up trying to stop jihadists from being created," James Brandon, the former research director at one such program, told Reuters.

Despite such developments, European lawmakers have had a hard time figuring out how to deal with Muslim radicals, especially with returnees from Syria and Iraq. England is hardly the only place where politicians fear "offending" the sensibilities of Muslim groups. Although an estimated 450 Germans have joined the jihad in Syria, German Green Party domestic policy expert Irene Mihalic told the magazine Der Spiegel in September that tougher counterterrorism laws were unnecessary because "there are already 'sufficient levers available to impose bans and limitations' on terrorists and their supporters." Majority parties apparently disagreed. Later that month, Germany became the first country to fully outlaw IS, along with all expressions of support for the terrorist group, from banners and graffiti to public demonstrations and endorsements by local mosques.

Such has hardly been the case in Denmark, though, where unwillingness to "offend" or "provoke" the country's Muslim community has translated into a program that seeks to rehabilitate returning jihadists, rather than imprison them. In the country that boasts the second-largest number (per capita) of Muslims to join jihadist groups, returnees receive generous handouts in the form of government assistance in finding homes and jobs, or tuition aid in order to continue their education. In addition, the rehab program "does not try to change the fundamentalist beliefs of the returning fighters – as long as they don't advocate violence," CNN reports.

Evidently pampering jihadists isn't working very well: Danish intelligence recently warned that returnees from IS and Al Nusra camps now pose a "significant" threat to the country. One jihadist profiled by CNN said that he plans to return to Syria to rejoin the caliphate once he completes his Danish government-funded education.

Other European governments have been reluctant to prosecute those recruiting for ISIS and other terrorist groups – groups that are in effect encouraging people to commit murder. In December, Dutch courts declared a 20-year-old woman "not guilty" of recruiting women to join the jihad in Syria on the grounds that women in IS are not permitted to fight – and hence cannot be considered terrorists. In another case, 23-year-old "Imad al-O" was found guilty of helping a 16-year-old girl travel to Syria via Egypt. His sentence? Three months prison time and 240 hours of community service.

Through it all, "lone wolf" radicals continue their attacks in European cities, such as the Dec. 21 attack in Dijon by a man who drove a car into a crowd of pedestrians, claiming he was "acting for the children of Palestine."

The attack "for the children of Palestine" occurred just as French officials determined to join Sweden in recognizing a Palestinian state – a kind of international version, you might say, of England's decision to stop trying to keep Muslim youth from radicalizing and becoming warriors for Islam. Unlike Kickstarter potato salads, it's a trend we can well leave behind as we move into the new year.

Abigail R. Esman, the author, most recently, of Radical State: How Jihad Is Winning Over Democracy in the West (Praeger, 2010), is a freelance writer based in New York and the Netherlands.
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« Reply #1396 on: December 31, 2014, 04:26:04 PM »

Full speech Citizenship In A Republic:

Strange and impressive associations rise in the mind of a man from the New World who speaks before this august body in this ancient institution of learning. Before his eyes pass the shadows of mighty kings and war-like nobles, of great masters of law and theology; through the shining dust of the dead centuries he sees crowded figures that tell of the power and learning and splendor of times gone by; and he sees also the innumerable host of humble students to whom clerkship meant emancipation, to whom it was well-nigh the only outlet from the dark thraldom of the Middle Ages.


This was the most famous university of mediaeval Europe at a time when no one dreamed that there was a New World to discover. Its services to the cause of human knowledge already stretched far back into the remote past at a time when my forefathers, three centuries ago, were among the sparse bands of traders, ploughmen, wood-choppers, and fisherfolk who, in hard struggle with the iron unfriendliness of the Indian-haunted land, were laying the foundations of what has now become the giant republic of the West. To conquer a continent, to tame the shaggy roughness of wild nature, means grim warfare; and the generations engaged in it cannot keep, still less add to, the stores of garnered wisdom which where once theirs, and which are still in the hands of their brethren who dwell in the old land. To conquer the wilderness means to wrest victory from the same hostile forces with which mankind struggled on the immemorial infancy of our race. The primaeval conditions must be met by the primaeval qualities which are incompatible with the retention of much that has been painfully acquired by humanity as through the ages it has striven upward toward civilization. In conditions so primitive there can be but a primitive culture. At first only the rudest school can be established, for no others would meet the needs of the hard-driven, sinewy folk who thrust forward the frontier in the teeth of savage men and savage nature; and many years elapse before any of these schools can develop into seats of higher learning and broader culture.


The pioneer days pass; the stump-dotted clearings expand into vast stretches of fertile farm land; the stockaded clusters of log cabins change into towns; the hunters of game, the fellers of trees, the rude frontier traders and tillers of the soil, the men who wander all their lives long through the wilderness as the heralds and harbingers of an oncoming civilization, themselves vanish before the civilization for which they have prepared the way. The children of their successors and supplanters, and then their children and their children and children's children, change and develop with extraordinary rapidity. The conditions accentuate vices and virtues, energy and ruthlessness, all the good qualities and all the defects of an intense individualism, self-reliant, self-centered, far more conscious of its rights than of its duties, and blind to its own shortcomings. To the hard materialism of the frontier days succeeds the hard materialism of an industrialism even more intense and absorbing than that of the older nations; although these themselves have likewise already entered on the age of a complex and predominantly industrial civilization.


As the country grows, its people, who have won success in so many lines, turn back to try to recover the possessions of the mind and the spirit, which perforce their fathers threw aside in order better to wage the first rough battles for the continent their children inherit. The leaders of thought and of action grope their way forward to a new life, realizing, sometimes dimly, sometimes clear-sightedly, that the life of material gain, whether for a nation or an individual, is of value only as a foundation, only as there is added to it the uplift that comes from devotion to loftier ideals. The new life thus sought can in part be developed afresh from what is roundabout in the New World; but it can developed in full only by freely drawing upon the treasure-houses of the Old World, upon the treasures stored in the ancient abodes of wisdom and learning, such as this is where I speak to-day. It is a mistake for any nation to merely copy another; but it is even a greater mistake, it is a proof of weakness in any nation, not to be anxious to learn from one another and willing and able to adapt that learning to the new national conditions and make it fruitful and productive therein. It is for us of the New World to sit at the feet of Gamaliel of the Old; then, if we have the right stuff in us, we can show that Paul in his turn can become a teacher as well as a scholar.


Today I shall speak to you on the subject of individual citizenship, the one subject of vital importance to you, my hearers, and to me and my countrymen, because you and we a great citizens of great democratic republics. A democratic republic such as ours - an effort to realize its full sense government by, of, and for the people - represents the most gigantic of all possible social experiments, the one fraught with great responsibilities alike for good and evil. The success or republics like yours and like ours means the glory, and our failure of despair, of mankind; and for you and for us the question of the quality of the individual citizen is supreme. Under other forms of government, under the rule of one man or very few men, the quality of the leaders is all-important. If, under such governments, the quality of the rulers is high enough, then the nations for generations lead a brilliant career, and add substantially to the sum of world achievement, no matter how low the quality of average citizen; because the average citizen is an almost negligible quantity in working out the final results of that type of national greatness. But with you and us the case is different. With you here, and with us in my own home, in the long run, success or failure will be conditioned upon the way in which the average man, the average women, does his or her duty, first in the ordinary, every-day affairs of life, and next in those great occasional cries which call for heroic virtues. The average citizen must be a good citizen if our republics are to succeed. The stream will not permanently rise higher than the main source; and the main source of national power and national greatness is found in the average citizenship of the nation. Therefore it behooves us to do our best to see that the standard of the average citizen is kept high; and the average cannot be kept high unless the standard of the leaders is very much higher.


It is well if a large proportion of the leaders in any republic, in any democracy, are, as a matter of course, drawn from the classes represented in this audience to-day; but only provided that those classes possess the gifts of sympathy with plain people and of devotion to great ideals. You and those like you have received special advantages; you have all of you had the opportunity for mental training; many of you have had leisure; most of you have had a chance for enjoyment of life far greater than comes to the majority of your fellows. To you and your kind much has been given, and from you much should be expected. Yet there are certain failings against which it is especially incumbent that both men of trained and cultivated intellect, and men of inherited wealth and position should especially guard themselves, because to these failings they are especially liable; and if yielded to, their- your- chances of useful service are at an end. Let the man of learning, the man of lettered leisure, beware of that queer and cheap temptation to pose to himself and to others as a cynic, as the man who has outgrown emotions and beliefs, the man to whom good and evil are as one. The poorest way to face life is to face it with a sneer. There are many men who feel a kind of twister pride in cynicism; there are many who confine themselves to criticism of the way others do what they themselves dare not even attempt. There is no more unhealthy being, no man less worthy of respect, than he who either really holds, or feigns to hold, an attitude of sneering disbelief toward all that is great and lofty, whether in achievement or in that noble effort which, even if it fails, comes to second achievement. A cynical habit of thought and speech, a readiness to criticise work which the critic himself never tries to perform, an intellectual aloofness which will not accept contact with life's realities - all these are marks, not as the possessor would fain to think, of superiority but of weakness. They mark the men unfit to bear their part painfully in the stern strife of living, who seek, in the affection of contempt for the achievements of others, to hide from others and from themselves in their own weakness. The rôle is easy; there is none easier, save only the rôle of the man who sneers alike at both criticism and performance.


It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. Shame on the man of cultivated taste who permits refinement to develop into fastidiousness that unfits him for doing the rough work of a workaday world. Among the free peoples who govern themselves there is but a small field of usefulness open for the men of cloistered life who shrink from contact with their fellows. Still less room is there for those who deride of slight what is done by those who actually bear the brunt of the day; nor yet for those others who always profess that they would like to take action, if only the conditions of life were not exactly what they actually are. The man who does nothing cuts the same sordid figure in the pages of history, whether he be a cynic, or fop, or voluptuary. There is little use for the being whose tepid soul knows nothing of great and generous emotion, of the high pride, the stern belief, the lofty enthusiasm, of the men who quell the storm and ride the thunder. Well for these men if they succeed; well also, though not so well, if they fail, given only that they have nobly ventured, and have put forth all their heart and strength. It is war-worn Hotspur, spent with hard fighting, he of the many errors and valiant end, over whose memory we love to linger, not over the memory of the young lord who "but for the vile guns would have been a valiant soldier."


France has taught many lessons to other nations: surely one of the most important lesson is the lesson her whole history teaches, that a high artistic and literary development is compatible with notable leadership im arms and statecraft. The brilliant gallantry of the French soldier has for many centuries been proverbial; and during these same centuries at every court in Europe the "freemasons of fashion: have treated the French tongue as their common speech; while every artist and man of letters, and every man of science able to appreciate that marvelous instrument of precision, French prose, had turned toward France for aid and inspiration. How long the leadership in arms and letters has lasted is curiously illustrated by the fact that the earliest masterpiece in a modern tongue is the splendid French epic which tells of Roland's doom and the vengeance of Charlemange when the lords of the Frankish hosts where stricken at Roncesvalles. Let those who have, keep, let those who have not, strive to attain, a high standard of cultivation and scholarship. Yet let us remember that these stand second to certain other things. There is need of a sound body, and even more of a sound mind. But above mind and above body stands character - the sum of those qualities which we mean when we speak of a man's force and courage, of his good faith and sense of honor. I believe in exercise for the body, always provided that we keep in mind that physical development is a means and not an end. I believe, of course, in giving to all the people a good education. But the education must contain much besides book-learning in order to be really good. We must ever remember that no keenness and subtleness of intellect, no polish, no cleverness, in any way make up for the lack of the great solid qualities. Self restraint, self mastery, common sense, the power of accepting individual responsibility and yet of acting in conjunction with others, courage and resolution - these are the qualities which mark a masterful people. Without them no people can control itself, or save itself from being controlled from the outside. I speak to brilliant assemblage; I speak in a great university which represents the flower of the highest intellectual development; I pay all homage to intellect and to elaborate and specialized training of the intellect; and yet I know I shall have the assent of all of you present when I add that more important still are the commonplace, every-day qualities and virtues.


Such ordinary, every-day qualities include the will and the power to work, to fight at need, and to have plenty of healthy children. The need that the average man shall work is so obvious as hardly to warrant insistence. There are a few people in every country so born that they can lead lives of leisure. These fill a useful function if they make it evident that leisure does not mean idleness; for some of the most valuable work needed by civilization is essentially non-remunerative in its character, and of course the people who do this work should in large part be drawn from those to whom remuneration is an object of indifference. But the average man must earn his own livelihood. He should be trained to do so, and he should be trained to feel that he occupies a contemptible position if he does not do so; that he is not an object of envy if he is idle, at whichever end of the social scale he stands, but an object of contempt, an object of derision. In the next place, the good man should be both a strong and a brave man; that is, he should be able to fight, he should be able to serve his country as a soldier, if the need arises. There are well-meaning philosophers who declaim against the unrighteousness of war. They are right only if they lay all their emphasis upon the unrighteousness. War is a dreadful thing, and unjust war is a crime against humanity. But it is such a crime because it is unjust, not because it is a war. The choice must ever be in favor of righteousness, and this is whether the alternative be peace or whether the alternative be war. The question must not be merely, Is there to be peace or war? The question must be, Is it right to prevail? Are the great laws of righteousness once more to be fulfilled? And the answer from a strong and virile people must be "Yes," whatever the cost. Every honorable effort should always be made to avoid war, just as every honorable effort should always be made by the individual in private life to keep out of a brawl, to keep out of trouble; but no self-respecting individual, no self-respecting nation, can or ought to submit to wrong.


Finally, even more important than ability to work, even more important than ability to fight at need, is it to remember that chief of blessings for any nations is that it shall leave its seed to inherit the land. It was the crown of blessings in Biblical times and it is the crown of blessings now. The greatest of all curses in is the curse of sterility, and the severest of all condemnations should be that visited upon willful sterility. The first essential in any civilization is that the man and women shall be father and mother of healthy children, so that the race shall increase and not decrease. If that is not so, if through no fault of the society there is failure to increase, it is a great misfortune. If the failure is due to the deliberate and wilful fault, then it is not merely a misfortune, it is one of those crimes of ease and self-indulgence, of shrinking from pain and effort and risk, which in the long run Nature punishes more heavily than any other. If we of the great republics, if we, the free people who claim to have emancipated ourselves form the thraldom of wrong and error, bring down on our heads the curse that comes upon the willfully barren, then it will be an idle waste of breath to prattle of our achievements, to boast of all that we have done. No refinement of life, no delicacy of taste, no material progress, no sordid heaping up riches, no sensuous development of art and literature, can in any way compensate for the loss of the great fundamental virtues; and of these great fundamental virtues the greatest is the race's power to perpetuate the race. Character must show itself in the man's performance both of the duty he owes himself and of the duty he owes the state. The man's foremast duty is owed to himself and his family; and he can do this duty only by earning money, by providing what is essential to material well-being; it is only after this has been done that he can hope to build a higher superstructure on the solid material foundation; it is only after this has been done that he can help in his movements for the general well-being. He must pull his own weight first, and only after this can his surplus strength be of use to the general public. It is not good to excite that bitter laughter which expresses contempt; and contempt is what we feel for the being whose enthusiasm to benefit mankind is such that he is a burden to those nearest him; who wishes to do great things for humanity in the abstract, but who cannot keep his wife in comfort or educate his children.


Nevertheless, while laying all stress on this point, while not merely acknowledging but insisting upon the fact that there must be a basis of material well-being for the individual as for the nation, let us with equal emphasis insist that this material well-being represents nothing but the foundation, and that the foundation, though indispensable, is worthless unless upon it is raised the superstructure of a higher life. That is why I decline to recognize the mere multimillionaire, the man of mere wealth, as an asset of value to any country; and especially as not an asset to my own country. If he has earned or uses his wealth in a way that makes him a real benefit, of real use- and such is often the case- why, then he does become an asset of real worth. But it is the way in which it has been earned or used, and not the mere fact of wealth, that entitles him to the credit. There is need in business, as in most other forms of human activity, of the great guiding intelligences. Their places cannot be supplied by any number of lesser intelligences. It is a good thing that they should have ample recognition, ample reward. But we must not transfer our admiration to the reward instead of to the deed rewarded; and if what should be the reward exists without the service having been rendered, then admiration will only come from those who are mean of soul. The truth is that, after a certain measure of tangible material success or reward has been achieved, the question of increasing it becomes of constantly less importance compared to the other things that can be done in life. It is a bad thing for a nation to raise and to admire a false standard of success; and their can be no falser standard than that set by the deification of material well-being in and for itself. But the man who, having far surpassed the limits of providing for the wants; both of the body and mind, of himself and of those depending upon him, then piles up a great fortune, for the acquisition or retention of which he returns no corresponding benefit to the nation as a whole, should himself be made to feel that, so far from being desirable, he is an unworthy, citizen of the community: that he is to be neither admired nor envied; that his right-thinking fellow countrymen put him low in the scale of citizenship, and leave him to be consoled by the admiration of those whose level of purpose is even lower than his own.


My position as regards the moneyed interests can be put in a few words. In every civilized society property rights must be carefully safeguarded; ordinarily, and in the great majority of cases, human rights and property rights are fundamentally and in the long run identical; but when it clearly appears that there is a real conflict between them, human rights must have the upper hand, for property belongs to man and not man to property. In fact, it is essential to good citizenship clearly to understand that there are certain qualities which we in a democracy are prone to admire in and of themselves, which ought by rights to be judged admirable or the reverse solely from the standpoint of the use made of them. Foremost among these I should include two very distinct gifts - the gift of money-making and the gift of oratory. Money-making, the money touch I have spoken of above. It is a quality which in a moderate degree is essential. It may be useful when developed to a very great degree, but only if accompanied and controlled by other qualities; and without such control the possessor tends to develop into one of the least attractive types produced by a modern industrial democracy. So it is with the orator. It is highly desirable that a leader of opinion in democracy should be able to state his views clearly and convincingly. But all that the oratory can do of value to the community is enable the man thus to explain himself; if it enables the orator to put false values on things, it merely makes him power for mischief. Some excellent public servants have not that gift at all, and must merely rely on their deeds to speak for them; and unless oratory does represent genuine conviction based on good common sense and able to be translated into efficient performance, then the better the oratory the greater the damage to the public it deceives. Indeed, it is a sign of marked political weakness in any commonwealth if the people tend to be carried away by mere oratory, if they tend to value words in and for themselves, as divorced from the deeds for which they are supposed to stand. The phrase-maker, the phrase-monger, the ready talker, however great his power, whose speech does not make for courage, sobriety, and right understanding, is simply a noxious element in the body politic, and it speaks ill for the public if he has influence over them. To admire the gift of oratory without regard to the moral quality behind the gift is to do wrong to the republic.


Of course all that I say of the orator applies with even greater force to the orator's latter-day and more influential brother, the journalist. The power of the journalist is great, but he is entitled neither to respect nor admiration because of that power unless it is used aright. He cna do, and often does, great good. He can do, and he often does, infinite mischief. All journalists, all writers, for the very reason that they appreciate the vast possibilities of their profession, should bear testimony against those who deeply discredit it. Offenses against taste and morals, which are bad enough in a private citizen, are infinitely worse if made into instruments for debauching the community through a newspaper. Mendacity, slander, sensationalism, inanity, vapid triviality, all are potent factors for the debauchery of the public mind and conscience. The excuse advanced for vicious writing, that the public demands it and that demand must be supplied, can no more be admitted than if it were advanced by purveyors of food who sell poisonous adulterations. In short, the good citizen in a republic must realize that the ought to possess two sets of qualities, and that neither avails without the other. He must have those qualities which make for efficiency; and that he also must have those qualities which direct the efficiency into channels for the public good. He is useless if he is inefficient. There is nothing to be done with that type of citizen of whom all that can be said is that he is harmless. Virtue which is dependant upon a sluggish circulation is not impressive. There is little place in active life for the timid good man. The man who is saved by weakness from robust wickedness is likewise rendered immune from robuster virtues. The good citizen in a republic must first of all be able to hold his own. He is no good citizen unless he has the ability which will make him work hard and which at need will make him fight hard. The good citizen is not a good citizen unless he is an efficient citizen.


But if a man's efficiency is not guided and regulated by a moral sense, then the more efficient he is the worse he is, the more dangerous to the body politic. Courage, intellect, all the masterful qualities, serve but to make a man more evil if they are merely used for that man's own advancement, with brutal indifference to the rights of others. It speaks ill for the community if the community worships these qualities and treats their possessors as heroes regardless of whether the qualities are used rightly or wrongly. It makes no difference as to the precise way in which this sinister efficiency is shown. It makes no difference whether such a man's force and ability betray themselves in a career of money-maker or politician, soldier or orator, journalist or popular leader. If the man works for evil, then the more successful he is the more he should be despised and condemned by all upright and far-seeing men. To judge a man merely by success is an abhorrent wrong; and if the people at large habitually so judge men, if they grow to condone wickedness because the wicked man triumphs, they show their inability to understand that in the last analysis free institutions rest upon the character of citizenship, and that by such admiration of evil they prove themselves unfit for liberty. The homely virtues of the household, the ordinary workaday virtues which make the woman a good housewife and housemother, which make the man a hard worker, a good husband and father, a good soldier at need, stand at the bottom of character. But of course many other must be added thereto if a state is to be not only free but great. Good citizenship is not good citizenship if only exhibited in the home. There remains the duties of the individual in relation to the State, and these duties are none too easy under the conditions which exist where the effort is made to carry on the free government in a complex industrial civilization. Perhaps the most important thing the ordinary citizen, and, above all, the leader of ordinary citizens, has to remember in political life is that he must not be a sheer doctrinaire. The closest philosopher, the refined and cultured individual who from his library tells how men ought to be governed under ideal conditions, is of no use in actual governmental work; and the one-sided fanatic, and still more the mob-leader, and the insincere man who to achieve power promises what by no possibility can be performed, are not merely useless but noxious.


The citizen must have high ideals, and yet he must be able to achieve them in practical fashion. No permanent good comes from aspirations so lofty that they have grown fantastic and have become impossible and indeed undesirable to realize. The impractical visionary is far less often the guide and precursor than he is the embittered foe of the real reformer, of the man who, with stumblings and shortcoming, yet does in some shape, in practical fashion, give effect to the hopes and desires of those who strive for better things. Woe to the empty phrase-maker, to the empty idealist, who, instead of making ready the ground for the man of action, turns against him when he appears and hampers him when he does work! Moreover, the preacher of ideals must remember how sorry and contemptible is the figure which he will cut, how great the damage that he will do, if he does not himself, in his own life, strive measurably to realize the ideals that he preaches for others. Let him remember also that the worth of the ideal must be largely determined by the success with which it can in practice be realized. We should abhor the so-called "practical" men whose practicality assumes the shape of that peculiar baseness which finds its expression in disbelief in morality and decency, in disregard of high standards of living and conduct. Such a creature is the worst enemy of the body of politic. But only less desirable as a citizen is his nominal opponent and real ally, the man of fantastic vision who makes the impossible better forever the enemy of the possible good.


We can just as little afford to follow the doctrinaires of an extreme individualism as the doctrinaires of an extreme socialism. Individual initiative, so far from being discouraged, should be stimulated; and yet we should remember that, as society develops and grows more complex, we continually find that things which once it was desirable to leave to individual initiative can, under changed conditions, be performed with better results by common effort. It is quite impossible, and equally undesirable, to draw in theory a hard-and-fast line which shall always divide the two sets of cases. This every one who is not cursed with the pride of the closest philosopher will see, if he will only take the trouble to think about some of our closet phenomena. For instance, when people live on isolated farms or in little hamlets, each house can be left to attend to its own drainage and water-supply; but the mere multiplication of families in a given area produces new problems which, because they differ in size, are found to differ not only in degree, but in kind from the old; and the questions of drainage and water-supply have to be considered from the common standpoint. It is not a matter for abstract dogmatizing to decide when this point is reached; it is a matter to be tested by practical experiment. Much of the discussion about socialism and individualism is entirely pointless, because of the failure to agree on terminology. It is not good to be a slave of names. I am a strong individualist by personal habit, inheritance, and conviction; but it is a mere matter of common sense to recognize that the State, the community, the citizens acting together, can do a number of things better than if they were left to individual action. The individualism which finds its expression in the abuse of physical force is checked very early in the growth of civilization, and we of to-day should in our turn strive to shackle or destroy that individualism which triumphs by greed and cunning, which exploits the weak by craft instead of ruling them by brutality. We ought to go with any man in the effort to bring about justice and the equality of opportunity, to turn the tool-user more and more into the tool-owner, to shift burdens so that they can be more equitably borne. The deadening effect on any race of the adoption of a logical and extreme socialistic system could not be overstated; it would spell sheer destruction; it would produce grosser wrong and outrage, fouler immortality, than any existing system. But this does not mean that we may not with great advantage adopt certain of the principles professed by some given set of men who happen to call themselves Socialists; to be afraid to do so would be to make a mark of weakness on our part.


But we should not take part in acting a lie any more than in telling a lie. We should not say that men are equal where they are not equal, nor proceed upon the assumption that there is an equality where it does not exist; but we should strive to bring about a measurable equality, at least to the extent of preventing the inequality which is due to force or fraud. Abraham Lincoln, a man of the plain people, blood of their blood, and bone of their bone, who all his life toiled and wrought and suffered for them, at the end died for them, who always strove to represent them, who would never tell an untruth to or for them, spoke of the doctrine of equality with his usual mixture of idealism and sound common sense. He said (I omit what was of merely local significance):


"I think the authors of the Declaration of Independence intended to include all men, but they did not mean to declare all men equal in all respects. They did not mean to say all men were equal in color, size, intellect, moral development or social capacity. They defined with tolerable distinctness in what they did consider all men created equal-equal in certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. This they said, and this they meant. They did not mean to assert the obvious untruth that all were actually enjoying that equality, or yet that they were about to confer it immediately upon them. They meant to set up a standard maxim for free society which should be familiar to all - constantly looked to, constantly labored for, and, even though never perfectly attained, constantly approximated, and thereby constantly spreading and deepening its influence, and augmenting the happiness and value of life to all people, everywhere."



We are bound in honor to refuse to listen to those men who would make us desist from the effort to do away with the inequality which means injustice; the inequality of right, opportunity, of privilege. We are bound in honor to strive to bring ever nearer the day when, as far is humanly possible, we shall be able to realize the ideal that each man shall have an equal opportunity to show the stuff that is in him by the way in which he renders service. There should, so far as possible, be equal of opportunity to render service; but just so long as there is inequality of service there should and must be inequality of reward. We may be sorry for the general, the painter, the artists, the worker in any profession or of any kind, whose misfortune rather than whose fault it is that he does his work ill. But the reward must go to the man who does his work well; for any other course is to create a new kind of privilege, the privilege of folly and weakness; and special privilege is injustice, whatever form it takes.


To say that the thriftless, the lazy, the vicious, the incapable, ought to have reward given to those who are far-sighted, capable, and upright, is to say what is not true and cannot be true. Let us try to level up, but let us beware of the evil of leveling down. If a man stumbles, it is a good thing to help him to his feet. Every one of us needs a helping hand now and then. But if a man lies down, it is a waste of time to try and carry him; and it is a very bad thing for every one if we make men feel that the same reward will come to those who shirk their work and those who do it. Let us, then, take into account the actual facts of life, and not be misled into following any proposal for achieving the millennium, for recreating the golden age, until we have subjected it to hardheaded examination. On the other hand, it is foolish to reject a proposal merely because it is advanced by visionaries. If a given scheme is proposed, look at it on its merits, and, in considering it, disregard formulas. It does not matter in the least who proposes it, or why. If it seems good, try it. If it proves good, accept it; otherwise reject it. There are plenty of good men calling themselves Socialists with whom, up to a certain point, it is quite possible to work. If the next step is one which both we and they wish to take, why of course take it, without any regard to the fact that our views as to the tenth step may differ. But, on the other hand, keep clearly in mind that, though it has been worth while to take one step, this does not in the least mean that it may not be highly disadvantageous to take the next. It is just as foolish to refuse all progress because people demanding it desire at some points to go to absurd extremes, as it would be to go to these absurd extremes simply because some of the measures advocated by the extremists were wise.


The good citizen will demand liberty for himself, and as a matter of pride he will see to it that others receive liberty which he thus claims as his own. Probably the best test of true love of liberty in any country in the way in which minorities are treated in that country. Not only should there be complete liberty in matters of religion and opinion, but complete liberty for each man to lead his life as he desires, provided only that in so he does not wrong his neighbor. Persecution is bad because it is persecution, and without reference to which side happens at the most to be the persecutor and which the persecuted. Class hatred is bad in just the same way, and without regard to the individual who, at a given time, substitutes loyalty to a class for loyalty to a nation, of substitutes hatred of men because they happen to come in a certain social category, for judgement awarded them according to their conduct. Remember always that the same measure of condemnation should be extended to the arrogance which would look down upon or crush any man because he is poor and to envy and hatred which would destroy a man because he is wealthy. The overbearing brutality of the man of wealth or power, and the envious and hateful malice directed against wealth or power, are really at root merely different manifestations of the same quality, merely two sides of the same shield. The man who, if born to wealth and power, exploits and ruins his less fortunate brethren is at heart the same as the greedy and violent demagogue who excites those who have not property to plunder those who have. The gravest wrong upon his country is inflicted by that man, whatever his station, who seeks to make his countrymen divide primarily in the line that separates class from class, occupation from occupation, men of more wealth from men of less wealth, instead of remembering that the only safe standard is that which judges each man on his worth as a man, whether he be rich or whether he be poor, without regard to his profession or to his station in life. Such is the only true democratic test, the only test that can with propriety be applied in a republic. There have been many republics in the past, both in what we call antiquity and in what we call the Middle Ages. They fell, and the prime factor in their fall was the fact that the parties tended to divide along the wealth that separates wealth from poverty. It made no difference which side was successful; it made no difference whether the republic fell under the rule of and oligarchy or the rule of a mob. In either case, when once loyalty to a class had been substituted for loyalty to the republic, the end of the republic was at hand. There is no greater need to-day than the need to keep ever in mind the fact that the cleavage between right and wrong, between good citizenship and bad citizenship, runs at right angles to, and not parallel with, the lines of cleavage between class and class, between occupation and occupation. Ruin looks us in the face if we judge a man by his position instead of judging him by his conduct in that position.


In a republic, to be successful we must learn to combine intensity of conviction with a broad tolerance of difference of conviction. Wide differences of opinion in matters of religious, political, and social belief must exist if conscience and intellect alike are not be stunted, if there is to be room for healthy growth. Bitter internecine hatreds, based on such differences, are signs, not of earnestness of belief, but of that fanaticism which, whether religious or antireligious, democratic or antidemocratic, it itself but a manifestation of the gloomy bigotry which has been the chief factor in the downfall of so many, many nations.


Of one man in especial, beyond any one else, the citizens of a republic should beware, and that is of the man who appeals to them to support him on the ground that he is hostile to other citizens of the republic, that he will secure for those who elect him, in one shape or another, profit at the expense of other citizens of the republic. It makes no difference whether he appeals to class hatred or class interest, to religious or antireligious prejudice. The man who makes such an appeal should always be presumed to make it for the sake of furthering his own interest. The very last thing an intelligent and self-respecting member of a democratic community should do is to reward any public man because that public man says that he will get the private citizen something to which this private citizen is not entitled, or will gratify some emotion or animosity which this private citizen ought not to possess. Let me illustrate this by one anecdote from my own experience. A number of years ago I was engaged in cattle-ranching on the great plains of the western Unite States. There were no fences. The cattle wandered free, the ownership of each one was determined by the brand; the calves were branded with the brand of the cows they followed. If on a round-up and animal was passed by, the following year it would appear as an unbranded yearling, and was then called a maverick. By the custom of the country these mavericks were branded with the brand of the man on whose range they were found. One day I was riding the range with a newly hired cowboy, and we came upon a maverick. We roped and threw it; then we built a fire, took out a cinch-ring, heated it in the fire; and then the cowboy started to put on the brand. I said to him, "It So-and-so's brand," naming the man on whose range we happened to be. He answered: "That's all right, boss; I know my business." In another moment I said to him: "Hold on, you are putting on my brand!" To which he answered: "That's all right; I always put on the boss's brand." I answered: "Oh, very well. Now you go straight back to the ranch and get whatever is owing to you; I don't need you any longer." He jumped up and said: "Why, what's the matter? I was putting on your brand." And I answered: "Yes, my friend, and if you will steal for me then you will steal from me."


Now, the same principle which applies in private life applies also in public life. If a public man tries to get your vote by saying that he will do something wrong in your interest, you can be absolutely certain that if ever it becomes worth his while he will do something wrong against your interest. So much for the citizenship to the individual in his relations to his family, to his neighbor, to the State. There remain duties of citizenship which the State, the aggregation of all the individuals, owes in connection with other States, with other nations. Let me say at once that I am no advocate of a foolish cosmopolitanism. I believe that a man must be a good patriot before he can be, and as the only possible way of being, a good citizen of the world. Experience teaches us that the average man who protests that his international feeling swamps his national feeling, that he does not care for his country because he cares so much for mankind, in actual practice proves himself the foe of mankind; that the man who says that he does not care to be a citizen of any one country, because he is the citizen of the world, is in fact usually and exceedingly undesirable citizen of whatever corner of the world he happens at the moment to be in. In the dim future all moral needs and moral standards may change; but at present, if a man can view his own country and all others countries from the same level with tepid indifference, it is wise to distrust him, just as it is wise to distrust the man who can take the same dispassionate view of his wife and mother. However broad and deep a man's sympathies, however intense his activities, he need have no fear that they will be cramped by love of his native land.


Now, this does not mean in the least that a man should not wish to good outside of his native land. On the contrary, just as I think that the man who loves his family is more apt to be a good neighbor than the man who does not, so I think that the most useful member of the family of nations is normally a strongly patriotic nation. So far from patriotism being inconsistent with a proper regard for the rights of other nations, I hold that the true patriot, who is as jealous of the national honor as a gentleman of his own honor, will be careful to see that the nations neither inflicts nor suffers wrong, just as a gentleman scorns equally to wrong others or to suffer others to wrong him. I do not for one moment admit that a man should act deceitfully as a public servant in his dealing with other nations, any more than he should act deceitfully in his dealings as a private citizen with other private citizens. I do not for one moment admit that a nation should treat other nations in a different spirit from that in which an honorable man would treat other men.


In practically applying this principle to the two sets of cases there is, of course, a great practical difference to be taken into account. We speak of international law; but international law is something wholly different from private of municipal law, and the capital difference is that there is a sanction for the one and no sanction for the other; that there is an outside force which compels individuals to obey the one, while there is no such outside force to compel obedience as regards to the other. International law will, I believe, as the generations pass, grow stronger and stronger until in some way or other there develops the power to make it respected. But as yet it is only in the first formative period. As yet, as a rule, each nation is of necessity to judge for itself in matters of vital importance between it and its neighbors, and actions must be of necessity, where this is the case, be different from what they are where, as among private citizens, there is an outside force whose action is all-powerful and must be invoked in any crisis of importance. It is the duty of wise statesman, gifted with the power of looking ahead, to try to encourage and build up every movement which will substitute or tend to substitute some other agency for force in the settlement of international disputes. It is the duty of every honest statesman to try to guide the nation so that it shall not wrong any other nation. But as yet the great civilized peoples, if they are to be true to themselves and to the cause of humanity and civilization, must keep in mind that in the last resort they must possess both the will and the power to resent wrong-doings from others. The men who sanely believe in a lofty morality preach righteousness; but they do not preach weakness, whether among private citizens or among nations. We believe that our ideals should be so high, but not so high as to make it impossible measurably to realize them. We sincerely and earnestly believe in peace; but if peace and justice conflict, we scorn the man who would not stand for justice though the whole world came in arms against him.


And now, my hosts, a word in parting. You and I belong to the only two republics among the great powers of the world. The ancient friendship between France and the United States has been, on the whole, a sincere and disinterested friendship. A calamity to you would be a sorrow to us. But it would be more than that. In the seething turmoil of the history of humanity certain nations stand out as possessing a peculiar power or charm, some special gift of beauty or wisdom of strength, which puts them among the immortals, which makes them rank forever with the leaders of mankind. France is one of these nations. For her to sink would be a loss to all the world. There are certain lessons of brilliance and of generous gallantry that she can teach better than any of her sister nations. When the French peasantry sang of Malbrook, it was to tell how the soul of this warrior-foe took flight upward through the laurels he had won. Nearly seven centuries ago, Froisart, writing of the time of dire disaster, said that the realm of France was never so stricken that there were not left men who would valiantly fight for it. You have had a great past. I believe you will have a great future. Long may you carry yourselves proudly as citizens of a nation which bears a leading part in the teaching and uplifting of mankind.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1397 on: January 02, 2015, 12:08:16 PM »

Mona Charen: "Recall that the 2005 best-seller 'Freakonomics' made a huge splash with the claim that Roe v. Wade was responsible for the drop in crime America experienced starting in the 1990s. The theory, simplified for space, was that fewer unwanted babies began to be born after 1973. These aborted babies did not turn 18 in 1991 and, accordingly, did not commit crimes, leading to the dramatic drop in crime. It turns out that the study on which the 'Freakonomics' authors based their chapter on abortion and crime was authored by none other than Jonathan Gruber (and others). ... Considering that 30 percent of abortions are obtained by African-American women, though they constitute just 13 percent of the female population, Gruber was in effect arguing that reducing the number of poor black children was, not to put too fine a point on it, a positive good. One cannot begin to imagine the outcry if a conservative academic (that rare specimen) had published similar conclusions with such sang-froid. ... [W]hat’s more revealing is the casual readiness to calculate lost lives as so many numbers on a balance sheet. If it makes you uncomfortable that such a person helped design Obamacare, you’re not alone."
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1398 on: January 05, 2015, 11:57:41 AM »

Civic Virtue in Decline
 

As we enter 2015, it's worth looking back on some key cultural indicators from 2014. Here is one bad omen: According to a 2014 Associated Press-GfK poll, Americans' sense of civic virtue is in serious decline. "I don't see any recovery," said Rutgers University Professor Cliff Zukin. "The people who were 40 two decades ago aren't as engaged as the people who were 60 two decades ago. This generational slippage tends to continue."

The poll was a reprise of questions asked in 1984, and it focused on six civic-oriented activities: voting, volunteering, jury service, reporting crimes, knowing English and keeping on top of news and public issues. Only voting and volunteering were embraced as enthusiastically as they were 30 years ago, yet even those numbers are not particularly encouraging. Only 28% of Americans consider volunteering a "very important obligation." And while 75% characterize voting a central obligation of citizenship, talk is cheap: Voter turnout in the last presidential election dipped to 57.5% of eligible citizens compared to 62.3% in 2008.

Voter turnout in 2014? The 36.4% of eligible citizens who bothered to vote represented the lowest turnout in any election cycle since World War II.

Most Americans do feel some sense of duty to the nation, with 90% characterizing the reporting of a crime one has witnessed, voting in elections, knowing English and serving on a jury when called as "somewhat important" obligations of citizenship. And a majority of Americans consider them "very important" obligations. Yet with an exception for voting, those majorities have declined by an average of approximately 13 percentage points over the last three decades.

Leading the pack are adults under 30 years of age. In every category except volunteering, they were less likely than elder generations to see any obligation, and also felt less obligated than young people of the past. Even more ominously, nearly one in four feel no obligation to keep informed, volunteer or speak English.

Scott Keeter, director of survey research at the Pew Research Center, suggests one possibility for the decline. "There are a lot of arguments about how our society has shifted toward a rights focus instead of an obligation focus," he explains -- even as he remains relatively unconcerned, adding, "It's a little early to pull the alarm bells about the demise of our civic culture."

No, it's not. And while a rights focus versus an obligation focus may account for some of the decline, the 800-pound gorilla is far more obvious: The American Left has virtually removed the concept of American exceptionalism from the classroom, and cheapened the concept of citizenship itself.

With regard to exceptionalism, the New York Post explains that the teaching of civics has been "largely abandoned" in today's public schools, and according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which bills itself as "the largest nationally representative and continuing assessment of what America's students know and can do in various subject areas," those students are less proficient in American history than in any other subject.

Furthermore, what little history they do learn has been twisted to conform to the leftist agenda. As we reported in July, the College Board, the company responsible for the SAT exams and a number of Advanced Placement (AP) exams, has radically redesigned American history curricula to dispense with such things as learning about our nation's Founders. Mark Alexander noted, "The College Board, which sets the curriculum-testing bar, makes only two references to George Washington, one to Thomas Jefferson, and nowhere to be found are Benjamin Franklin and James Madison, among others." In their place, students will learn about class, race and gender wrongs.
One such example is that set by the cities of Seattle and Minneapolis, where Columbus Day has been kicked to the curb in favor of "Indigenous People's Day" -- in all its grievance-mongering glory.

Thus the obvious question arises: Why would one be expected to feel a sense of civic virtue toward a nation one either knows little about, or has been taught to view with contempt?

As for cheapening citizenship, what could be more obvious than the Left's obsession with granting many of its privileges to illegal aliens? Once again California leads the way, as illegal aliens can now get driver's licenses in that state beginning this year. Not to be outdone, the New York City Council is considering a bill to allow non-citizens to vote in municipal elections. That follows Mayor Bill de Blasio's signing of a bill last July providing municipal ID cards to city "residents," regardless of immigration status, beginning this year. De Blasio also signed a bill in November barring the city from alerting federal authorities to illegals in city custody and subject to deportation proceedings, except in rare cases.

And last, but certainly not least, Barack Obama unilaterally decided he will not enforce immigration law against five million illegal aliens -- illegals who have and will compete with American citizens for jobs, and many of whom already receive government services, including welfare and Medicaid.

And legal immigrants who were once expected to assimilate into America's "melting pot" society have been told to "celebrate their differences," which goes a long way toward explaining the reluctance to learn English.

The concerted effort to tarnish the civic pride that American exceptionalism engenders, coupled with the effort to denigrate citizenship itself -- which is exactly what creating politically motivated exemptions for lawbreakers represents -- are all the explanation necessary as to why civic virtue is in decline.

In the same 1961 speech in which Democrat President (and leftist icon) John Kennedy uttered the words "ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what you can do for your country," he also told the nation that "[w]e dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first [American] revolution." Six years later, Ronald Reagan made it clearer in his inaugural address as California governor: "Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction." Civic virtue and the obligations of citizenship cannot be separated from the preservation of freedom. We allow their continued deterioration at our own peril.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #1399 on: January 05, 2015, 01:07:14 PM »

"Voter turnout in 2014? The 36.4% of eligible citizens who bothered to vote represented the lowest turnout in any election cycle since World War II."

   - Voters and voter demographic groups lost faith in leftism as represented by the President and supporting cast of Pelosi-Reid, etc., without being converted over to the other side (yet).  Meanwhile, conservatives have lost faith in their leadership and their party's ability or desire to truly turn things around.

President Kennedy: "ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what you can do for your country".

   - That feeling has been gone for quite a while.  Had Obama taken that approach, he could have inspired millions of people to do better for themselves!

Ronald Reagan: "Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction."

  - Unfortunately, proven true.

I would add two quotes.

Mark Steyn:  "You Can't Have a Conservative Government with a Liberal Culture"
http://www.steynonline.com/6598/conservative-government-in-a-liberal-culture

Soviet Premier Nikita Krushchev said to our grandparents:
"I can prophesize that your grandchildren in America will live under socialism,"
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/nikita-khrushchev-and-face-the-nations-biggest-scoop/
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We are one leader away from changing direction at this historic, political inflection point, before no one ever again remembers what made this country great.
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