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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #450 on: November 09, 2008, 10:15:05 AM »

This guy is very smart and very funny.  I hope he goes bigtime:

http://hotair.com/archives/2008/11/06/video-zo-on-the-aftermath/
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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #451 on: November 12, 2008, 07:39:16 AM »

As Reason blogger Jesse Walker notes:

Convergence in Action
A socialist columnist writes a libertarian article for a conservative magazine.

I don't agree with all the points, but do enjoy a good screed when I encounter one.

November 17, 2008 Issue   

A Long Train of Abuses


By Alexander Cockburn

If there’s one thing defenders of civil liberties know, it’s that assaults on constitutional freedoms are bipartisan. Just as constitutional darkness didn’t first fall with the arrival in the Oval Office of George W. Bush, the shroud will not lift with his departure and the entry of President Barack Obama.

As atrocious as the Bush record on civil liberties has been, there’s no more eager and self-righteous hand reaching out to the Bill of Rights to drop it into the shredder than that of a liberal intent on legislating freedom. Witness the great liberal drive to criminalize expressions of hate and impose fierce punitive enhancements if the criminal has been imprudent enough to perpetrate verbal breaches of sexual or ethnic etiquette while bludgeoning his victim to death.

No doubt the conservatives who cheered Bush on as he abrogated ancient rights and stretched the powers of his office to unseen limits would have shrieked if a Democrat had taken such liberties. But now Obama will be entitled to the lordly prerogatives Bush established.

Growing up in Ireland and the United Kingdom, I gazed with envy at the United States, with its constitutional protections and its Bill of Rights contrasting with the vast ad hoc tapestry of Britain’s repressive laws and “emergency” statutes piled up through the centuries. Successive regimes from the Plantagenet and Tudor periods forward went about the state’s business of enforcing the enclosures, hanging or transporting strikers, criminalizing disrespectful speech, and, of course, abolishing the right to carry even something so innocuous as a penknife. Instructed by centuries of British occupation, my native Ireland, I have to say, took a slightly more relaxed attitude. My father once asked an Irish minister of justice back in the 1960s about the prodigious size and detail of the Irish statute book. “Ah, Claud,” said the minister equably, “our laws are mainly for guidance.”

President Bush was also a man unbound by law, launching appalling assaults on freedom, building on the sound foundation of kindred assaults in Clinton’s time, perhaps most memorably expressed in the screams of parents and children fried by U.S. government forces in the Branch Davidian compound in Waco. Clinton, too, flouted all constitutional war powers inhibitions, with his executive decision to rain bombs on the civilian population of the former Yugoslavia.

Bush has forged resolutely along the path blazed by Clinton in asserting uninhibited executive power to wage war, seize, confine, and torture at will, breaching constitutional laws and international treaties and covenants concerning the treatment of combatants. The Patriot Act took up items on the Justice Department’s wish list left over from Clinton’s dreadful Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, which trashed habeas corpus protections.

The most spectacular abuses of civil liberties under Bush, such as the prison camp at Guantanamo, are acute symptoms of a chronic disease. The larger story of the past eight years has been the great continuity between this administration and those that have come before. The outrages perpetrated against habeas corpus under Republicans and Democrats alike, for example, have been innumerable, many of them little publicized. Take the case of people convicted of sexual felonies, who reach the end of their stipulated terms only to find that they face continued imprisonment without any specified terminus, under the rubric of “civil confinement,” a power as fierce as any lettre de cachet in France’s ancien régime.

Free speech is no longer a right. Stand alongside the route of a presidential cavalcade with a humble protest sign, and the Secret Service or local law enforcement will haul you off to some remote cage labeled “Designated Protest Area.” Seek to exercise your right to dispense money for a campaign advertisement or to support a candidate, and you will fall under the sanction of McCain-Feingold, otherwise known as the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002.

In the case of public expressions of protest, we may expect particular diligence by the Secret Service and other agencies in the Obama years, though his reneging on a campaign promise to accept only public financing has stopped campaign-finance reform in its tracks. Liberals joyously eying Obama’s amazing $150 million haul in his final weeks have preserved a tactful silence on this topic, after years of squawking about the power of the corporate dollar to pollute democracy’s proceedings.

Worse than in the darkest days of the ’50s, when Americans could have their passports revoked by fiat of the State Department, citizens and legal residents no longer have the right to travel freely even inside the nation’s borders. Appearance on any of the innumerable watch lists maintained by government agencies means inability to get on a plane. And today you need your papers for more than just travel. The Indiana statute recently approved by the Supreme Court demands that persons lacking “proper” ID only cast provisional ballots, with a bureaucratic apparatus for subsequent verification. Thus, Americans no longer have an unimpaired right to vote, even if of appropriate age.

The late Murray Kempton used to tell me he remembered that Alf Landon, campaigning against FDR and specifically Social Security back in 1936, used to shout to the crowds words to the effect of “Mark my words, those Social Security numbers will follow you from cradle to grave.” Landon was right. Today you might as well have the SS number tattooed on your forehead, along with all other significant “private” data, preferably in some bright hue so the monitoring cameras along highways and intersections can get a clean hit. “Drill baby drill” has been the war cry of the government’s data-mining programs throughout the Bush years, and we can expect no improvement ahead.

Fourth Amendment protections have likewise gone steadily downhill. Warrantless wiretappers had a field day under Bush, and Congress reaffirmed their activities in the FISA bill, for which Obama voted in a turnaround from previous pledges. Incoming vice president Joe Biden can claim a significant role here since he has been an ardent prosecutor of the war on drugs, used since the Harrison Act of 1914—and even before then with the different penalties attaching to opium as used by middle class whites or Chinese—to enhance the right of police to enter, terrorize, and prosecute at will. Indeed, the war on drugs, revived by President Nixon and pursued vigorously by all subsequent administrations, has been as powerful a rationale for tearing up the Constitution as the subsequent war on terror. It’s like that with all wars. Not far from where I live in northern California, combating narcotics was the excuse for serious inroads in the early 1990s into the Posse Comitatus statutory inhibition on use of the U.S. military in domestic law enforcement, another constitutional abuse whose roots have continued to sink deeper during the Bush years.

In the past eight years, Bush has ravaged the Fourth Amendment with steadfast diligence, starting with his insistence that he could issue arrest warrants if there was reason to believe a noncitizen was implicated in terrorist activity. Seized under this pretext and held within America’s borders or in some secret prison overseas, the captive had no recourse to a court of law. Simultaneously, the “probable cause” standard, theoretically disciplining the state’s innate propensity to search and to seize, has been systematically abused, as have the FBI’s powers under the “material witness” statute to arrest and hold their suspects. Goodbye habeas corpus.

Not only individual liberties but federalism and the rights of states have been relentlessly eroded in the Bush years, often amidst liberal cheers at such excrescences as the No Child Left Behind law. Property rights, too, have suffered great setbacks. Government’s power to seize land under the canons of “eminent domain” received sinister buttress by the Supreme Court in the 2005 Kelo decision.

Have there been any bright patches in the gloom? I salute one: the vindication of the Second Amendment in the Supreme Court’s recent Heller decision, written by Justice Scalia. Liberals would do well to acknowledge the wisdom of that ruling, just as conservatives should recognize the continuity between the outrages they decried under Clinton and the strip-mining of American liberties that has taken place under Bush.

Alexander Cockburn is coeditor of the newsletter and website CounterPunch (counterpunch.org) and has written a biweekly column for The Nation for many years. Next spring CounterPunch Books will publish his A Short History of Fear: The Rise and Fall of Global Warming.

http://www.amconmag.com/article/2008/nov/17/00010/
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G M
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« Reply #452 on: November 12, 2008, 09:16:33 AM »

Very emotional and very unrooted in reality.
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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #453 on: November 13, 2008, 09:34:11 AM »

If you can overlook the leftward bias, this rant makes its points.

America the Illiterate

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20081110_america_the_illiterate/

Posted on Nov 10, 2008

By Chris Hedges

We live in two Americas. One America, now the minority, functions in a print-based, literate world. It can cope with complexity and has the intellectual tools to separate illusion from truth. The other America, which constitutes the majority, exists in a non-reality-based belief system. This America, dependent on skillfully manipulated images for information, has severed itself from the literate, print-based culture. It cannot differentiate between lies and truth. It is informed by simplistic, childish narratives and clichés. It is thrown into confusion by ambiguity, nuance and self-reflection. This divide, more than race, class or gender, more than rural or urban, believer or nonbeliever, red state or blue state, has split the country into radically distinct, unbridgeable and antagonistic entities.

There are over 42 million American adults, 20 percent of whom hold high school diplomas, who cannot read, as well as the 50 million who read at a fourth- or fifth-grade level. Nearly a third of the nation’s population is illiterate or barely literate. And their numbers are growing by an estimated 2 million a year. But even those who are supposedly literate retreat in huge numbers into this image-based existence. A third of high school graduates, along with 42 percent of college graduates, never read a book after they finish school. Eighty percent of the families in the United States last year did not buy a book.

The illiterate rarely vote, and when they do vote they do so without the ability to make decisions based on textual information. American political campaigns, which have learned to speak in the comforting epistemology of images, eschew real ideas and policy for cheap slogans and reassuring personal narratives. Political propaganda now masquerades as ideology. Political campaigns have become an experience. They do not require cognitive or self-critical skills. They are designed to ignite pseudo-religious feelings of euphoria, empowerment and collective salvation. Campaigns that succeed are carefully constructed psychological instruments that manipulate fickle public moods, emotions and impulses, many of which are subliminal. They create a public ecstasy that annuls individuality and fosters a state of mindlessness. They thrust us into an eternal present. They cater to a nation that now lives in a state of permanent amnesia. It is style and story, not content or history or reality, which inform our politics and our lives. We prefer happy illusions. And it works because so much of the American electorate, including those who should know better, blindly cast ballots for slogans, smiles, the cheerful family tableaux, narratives and the perceived sincerity and the attractiveness of candidates. We confuse how we feel with knowledge.

The illiterate and semi-literate, once the campaigns are over, remain powerless.  They still cannot protect their children from dysfunctional public schools. They still cannot understand predatory loan deals, the intricacies of mortgage papers, credit card agreements and equity lines of credit that drive them into foreclosures and bankruptcies. They still struggle with the most basic chores of daily life from reading instructions on medicine bottles to filling out bank forms, car loan documents and unemployment benefit and insurance papers. They watch helplessly and without comprehension as hundreds of thousands of jobs are shed. They are hostages to brands. Brands come with images and slogans. Images and slogans are all they understand. Many eat at fast food restaurants not only because it is cheap but because they can order from pictures rather than menus. And those who serve them, also semi-literate or illiterate, punch in orders on cash registers whose keys are marked with symbols and pictures. This is our brave new world.

Political leaders in our post-literate society no longer need to be competent, sincere or honest. They only need to appear to have these qualities. Most of all they need a story, a narrative. The reality of the narrative is irrelevant. It can be completely at odds with the facts. The consistency and emotional appeal of the story are paramount. The most essential skill in political theater and the consumer culture is artifice. Those who are best at artifice succeed. Those who have not mastered the art of artifice fail. In an age of images and entertainment, in an age of instant emotional gratification, we do not seek or want honesty. We ask to be indulged and entertained by clichés, stereotypes and mythic narratives that tell us we can be whomever we want to be, that we live in the greatest country on Earth, that we are endowed with superior moral and physical qualities and that our glorious future is preordained, either because of our attributes as Americans or because we are blessed by God or both.

The ability to magnify these simple and childish lies, to repeat them and have surrogates repeat them in endless loops of news cycles, gives these lies the aura of an uncontested truth. We are repeatedly fed words or phrases like yes we can, maverick, change, pro-life, hope or war on terror. It feels good not to think. All we have to do is visualize what we want, believe in ourselves and summon those hidden inner resources, whether divine or national, that make the world conform to our desires. Reality is never an impediment to our advancement.
The Princeton Review analyzed the transcripts of the Gore-Bush debates, the Clinton-Bush-Perot debates of 1992, the Kennedy-Nixon debates of 1960 and the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858. It reviewed these transcripts using a standard vocabulary test that indicates the minimum educational standard needed for a reader to grasp the text. During the 2000 debates, George W. Bush spoke at a sixth-grade level (6.7) and Al Gore at a seventh-grade level (7.6). In the 1992 debates, Bill Clinton spoke at a seventh-grade level (7.6), while George H.W. Bush spoke at a sixth-grade level (6.Cool, as did H. Ross Perot (6.3). In the debates between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon, the candidates spoke in language used by 10th-graders. In the debates of Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas the scores were respectively 11.2 and 12.0. In short, today’s political rhetoric is designed to be comprehensible to a 10-year-old child or an adult with a sixth-grade reading level. It is fitted to this level of comprehension because most Americans speak, think and are entertained at this level. This is why serious film and theater and other serious artistic expression, as well as newspapers and books, are being pushed to the margins of American society. Voltaire was the most famous man of the 18th century. Today the most famous “person” is Mickey Mouse.

In our post-literate world, because ideas are inaccessible, there is a need for constant stimulus. News, political debate, theater, art and books are judged not on the power of their ideas but on their ability to entertain. Cultural products that force us to examine ourselves and our society are condemned as elitist and impenetrable. Hannah Arendt warned that the marketization of culture leads to its degradation, that this marketization creates a new celebrity class of intellectuals who, although well read and informed themselves, see their role in society as persuading the masses that “Hamlet” can be as entertaining as “The Lion King” and perhaps as educational. “Culture,” she wrote, “is being destroyed in order to yield entertainment.”

“There are many great authors of the past who have survived centuries of oblivion and neglect,” Arendt wrote, “but it is still an open question whether they will be able to survive an entertaining version of what they have to say.”

The change from a print-based to an image-based society has transformed our nation. Huge segments of our population, especially those who live in the embrace of the Christian right and the consumer culture, are completely unmoored from reality. They lack the capacity to search for truth and cope rationally with our mounting social and economic ills. They seek clarity, entertainment and order. They are willing to use force to impose this clarity on others, especially those who do not speak as they speak and think as they think. All the traditional tools of democracies, including dispassionate scientific and historical truth, facts, news and rational debate, are useless instruments in a world that lacks the capacity to use them.

As we descend into a devastating economic crisis, one that Barack Obama cannot halt, there will be tens of millions of Americans who will be ruthlessly thrust aside. As their houses are foreclosed, as their jobs are lost, as they are forced to declare bankruptcy and watch their communities collapse, they will retreat even further into irrational fantasy. They will be led toward glittering and self-destructive illusions by our modern Pied Pipers—our corporate advertisers, our charlatan preachers, our television news celebrities, our self-help gurus, our entertainment industry and our political demagogues—who will offer increasingly absurd forms of escapism.

The core values of our open society, the ability to think for oneself, to draw independent conclusions, to express dissent when judgment and common sense indicate something is wrong, to be self-critical, to challenge authority, to understand historical facts, to separate truth from lies, to advocate for change and to acknowledge that there are other views, different ways of being, that are morally and socially acceptable, are dying. Obama used hundreds of millions of dollars in campaign funds to appeal to and manipulate this illiteracy and irrationalism to his advantage, but these forces will prove to be his most deadly nemesis once they collide with the awful reality that awaits us.
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ccp
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« Reply #454 on: November 13, 2008, 10:12:59 AM »

Talk of "bipartisanship" is as always just that - talk.
OK here is another sign the Dems are all talk.   Lets bring Bush in to "investigate him" and his administration.   Does anyone think this is not just a ploy to deflect criticism of the incoming BO/Clinton administration from the mess we are facing?  Here we go again.  And BO who spoke of change during his campaign is bringing back all the "I want a job" Clinton hangers on from the 90s.   And we all know how partisan they all are.

If he does pick any "can" for a cabinet post it will only to take them out of the opposition and make him into a crat.  Anyone remember Cohen who basically became a hack for Clinton.
Is he still in politics?

By CHARLIE SAVAGE
Published: November 12, 2008
WASHINGTON — When a Congressional committee subpoenaed Harry S. Truman in 1953, nearly a year after he left office, he made a startling claim: Even though he was no longer president, the Constitution still empowered him to block subpoenas.

“If the doctrine of separation of powers and the independence of the presidency is to have any validity at all, it must be equally applicable to a president after his term of office has expired,” Truman wrote to the committee.

Congress backed down, establishing a precedent suggesting that former presidents wield lingering powers to keep matters from their administration secret. Now, as Congressional Democrats prepare to move forward with investigations of the Bush administration, they wonder whether that claim may be invoked again.

“The Bush administration overstepped in its exertion of executive privilege, and may very well try to continue to shield information from the American people after it leaves office,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat of Rhode Island, who sits on two committees, Judiciary and Intelligence, that are examining aspects of Mr. Bush’s policies.

Topics of open investigations include the harsh interrogation of detainees, the prosecution of former Gov. Don Siegelman of Alabama, secret legal memorandums from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel and the role of the former White House aides Karl Rove and Harriet E. Miers in the firing of federal prosecutors.

Mr. Bush has used his executive powers to block Congressional requests for executive branch documents and testimony from former aides. But investigators hope that the Obama administration will open the filing cabinets and withdraw assertions of executive privilege that Bush officials have invoked to keep from testifying.

“I intend to ensure that our outstanding subpoenas and document requests relating to the U.S. attorneys matter are enforced,” said Representative John Conyers Jr., Democrat of Michigan and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. “I am hopeful that progress can be made with the coming of the new administration.”

Also, two advocacy groups, the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights First, have prepared detailed reports for the new administration calling for criminal investigations into accusations of abuse of detainees.

It is not clear, though, how a President Barack Obama will handle such requests. Legal specialists said the pressure to investigate the Bush years would raise tough political and legal questions.

Because every president eventually leaves office, incoming chief executives have an incentive to quash investigations into their predecessor’s tenure. Mr. Bush used executive privilege for the first time in 2001, to block a subpoena by Congressional Republicans investigating the Clinton administration.

In addition, Mr. Obama has expressed worries about too many investigations. In April, he told The Philadelphia Daily News that people needed to distinguish “between really dumb policies and policies that rise to the level of criminal activity.”

“If crimes have been committed, they should be investigated,” Mr. Obama said, but added, “I would not want my first term consumed by what was perceived on the part of Republicans as a partisan witch hunt, because I think we’ve got too many problems we’ve got to solve.”

But even if his administration rejects the calls for investigations, Mr. Obama cannot control what the courts or Congress do. Several lawsuits are seeking information about Bush policies, including an Islamic charity’s claim that it was illegally spied on by Mr. Bush’s program on wiretapping without warrants.

And Congressional Democrats say that they are determined to pursue their investigations — and that they expect career officials to disclose other issues after the Bush administration leaves. “We could spend the entire next four years investigating the Bush years,” Mr. Whitehouse said.

But if Mr. Obama decides to release information about his predecessor’s tenure, Mr. Bush could try to invoke executive privilege by filing a lawsuit, said Peter Shane, a law professor at Ohio State University.

In that case, an injunction would most likely be sought ordering the Obama administration not to release the Bush administration’s papers or enjoining Mr. Bush’s former aides from testifying. The dispute would probably go to the Supreme Court, Mr. Shane said.

The idea that ex-presidents may possess residual constitutional powers to keep information secret traces back to Truman.

In November 1953, after Dwight D. Eisenhower became president, the House Un-American Activities Committee subpoenaed Truman to testify about why he had appointed a suspected Communist to the International Monetary Fund.

Truman decided not to comply and asked his lawyer, Samuel I. Rosenman, for help. But there was little time for research.

Edward M. Cramer, a young associate at Mr. Rosenman’s law firm, recalled being summoned with two colleagues to their boss’s office at 6 p.m. and told to come up with something. The next morning, they helped dictate Truman’s letter telling the panel he did not have to testify — or even appear at the hearing.

“I think, legally, we were wrong” about whether Truman had to show up, Mr. Cramer, now 83, said in a phone interview from his home in New York.

But the committee did not call the former president’s bluff. It dropped the matter, and Truman’s hastily devised legal claim became a historical precedent.

In 1973, President Nixon cited Truman’s letter when he refused to testify or give documents to the committee investigating the Watergate scandal.

Mr. Cramer recalled, “Nixon used it, and we said ‘Oh, Jesus, what have we done?’ ”

The first judicial backing for the idea that former presidents wield executive privilege powers came in 1977, as part of a Supreme Court ruling in a case over who controlled Nixon’s White House files. The decision suggested that Nixon might be able to block the release of papers in the future. But it offered few details, and Nixon never sought to do so.

In 1989 and 1990, judges presiding over criminal trials related to the Iran-contra affair blocked requests by defendants to make former President Ronald Reagan testify and release his diaries.

But the Supreme Court has never made clear how far a former president may go in trying to block Congressional demands for documents and testimony — or what happens if a president disagrees with a predecessor about making information public.

“There is no relevant precedent on the books,” Mr. Shane said.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #455 on: November 13, 2008, 10:45:38 AM »

BBG's post of Hedges reminds of us the wisdom of the Founding Fathers that not everyone should be voting , , , evil
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ccp
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« Reply #456 on: November 13, 2008, 05:30:56 PM »

***The core values of our open society, the ability to think for oneself, to draw independent conclusions, to express dissent when judgment and common sense indicate something is wrong, to be self-critical, to challenge authority, to understand historical facts, to separate truth from lies, to advocate for change and to acknowledge that there are other views, different ways of being, that are morally and socially acceptable, are dying.***

I don't know about all this.  To some extent some of this gibberish.  So the proliferation of information has made us dumber?

How can anyone compare a Lincoln Douglas debate to present Presidential debates?  Why in those days few people other than educated white man voted!

And they didn't have ear catching slogans in the 1800s?  Whatever happened to "remember the Alamo"?

While times have certainly changed the more I read about the past the more I think humanity is the same now as thousands of years ago.  We don't change though we do change the world around us.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #457 on: November 20, 2008, 02:43:57 AM »

BUSH’S LEGACY: EUROPEAN SOCIALISM
By Dick Morris
11.19.2008
Published on TheHill.com on November 18, 2008.

The results of the G-20 economic summit amount to nothing less than the seamless integration of the United States into the European economy. In one month of legislation and one diplomatic meeting, the United States has unilaterally abdicated all the gains for the concept of free markets won by the Reagan administration and surrendered, in toto, to the Western European model of socialism, stagnation and excessive government regulation. Sovereignty is out the window. Without a vote, we are suddenly members of the European Union. Given the dismal record of those nations at creating jobs and sustaining growth, merger with the Europeans is like a partnership with death.


At the G-20 meeting, Bush agreed to subject the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and our other regulatory agencies to the supervision of a global entity that would critique its regulatory standards and demand changes if it felt they were necessary. Bush agreed to create a College of Supervisors.

According to The Washington Post, it would “examine the books of major financial institutions that operate across national borders so regulators could begin to have a more complete picture of banks’ operations.”

Their scrutiny would extend to hedge funds and to various “exotic” financial instruments. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), a European-dominated operation, would conduct “regular vigorous reviews” of American financial institutions and practices. The European-dominated College of Supervisors would also weigh in on issues like executive compensation and investment practices.

There is nothing wrong with the substance of this regulation. Experience is showing it is needed. But it is very wrong to delegate these powers to unelected, international institutions with no political accountability.

We have a Securities and Exchange Commission appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate, both of whom are elected by the American people. It is with the SEC, the Treasury and the Federal Reserve that financial accountability must take place.

The European Union achieved this massive subrogation of American sovereignty the way it usually does, by negotiation, gradual bureaucratic encroachment, and without asking the voters if they approve. What’s more, Bush appears to have gone down without a fight, saving his debating time for arguing against the protectionism that France’s Nicolas Sarkozy was pushing. By giving Bush a seeming victory on a moratorium against protectionism for one year, Sarkozy was able to slip over his massive scheme for taking over the supervision of the U.S. economy.

All kinds of political agendas are advancing under the cover of response to the global financial crisis. Where Franklin Roosevelt saved capitalism by regulating it, Bush, to say nothing of Obama, has given the government control over our major financial and insurance institutions. And it isn’t even our government! The power has now been transferred to the international community, led by the socialists in the European Union.

Will Obama govern from the left? He doesn’t have to. George W. Bush has done all the heavy lifting for him. It was under Bush that the government basically took over as the chief stockholder of our financial institutions and under Bush that we ceded our financial controls to the European Union. In doing so, he has done nothing to preserve what differentiates the vibrant American economy from those dying economies in Europe. Why have 80 percent of the jobs that have been created since 1980 in the industrialized world been created in the United States? How has America managed to retain its leading 24 percent share of global manufacturing even in the face of the Chinese surge? How has the U.S. GDP risen so high that it essentially equals that of the European Union, which has 50 percent more population? It has done so by an absence of stifling regulation, a liberation of capital to flow to innovative businesses, low taxes, and by a low level of unionization that has given business the flexibility to grow and prosper. Europe, stagnated by taxation and regulation, has grown by a pittance while we have roared ahead. But now Bush — not Obama — Bush has given that all up and caved in to European socialists.

The Bush legacy? European socialism. Who needs enemies with friends like Bush?
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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #458 on: November 22, 2008, 08:44:20 AM »

Progressives and Obama's Acceptable Blackness
American Thinker ^ | November 22, 2008 | Miguel A. Guanipa
Posted on November 22, 2008

On the eve of Clarence Thomas' Supreme Court nomination, a cry went out throughout the land. It was that of fire breathing liberals who could not believe that a conservative president would dare appoint a conservative judge to the highest court in the nation. Although the president had picked someone of African-American descent, who was also more than qualified to fulfill the role of Supreme Court Justice, such considerations were swiftly trumped by the fact that Mr.Thomas was not pledged to walk in lockstep with the abiding progressive weltanschauung; in other words, he was not viewed by liberals as the "right" kind of black man.   

Likewise, many from the left frowned disappointingly at President George W. Bush's choice of General Colin Powell for the office of Secretary of State.  Some even referred to Mr. Powell as a modern day Uncle Tom, congenially submissive and overly accommodating to the erratic whims of his war hungry superiors. The same Colin Powell was not long ago lauded by the main stream media for his ringing endorsement of now president elect Barack Obama.

Another promising black American named Condoleezza Rice, who later assumed the role vacated by General Powell, also had to endure condemnation from the acerbic tongues of the liberal elite, who simply could not countenance another breach of their presumed monopoly on diversity by an impudent Republican president. Moreover, like her predecessor, the newly appointed Secretary of State also appeared equally comfortable with the preemptory offense rationale upheld by the same hubristic regime

And so progressives -- who periodically like to commend themselves for the sincerity of their empathy with the plight of all minorities -- have been mostly engaged in unsuccessful attempts to frustrate and overturn what otherwise, could have been hailed as truly historic appointments. Ironically, their most notable accomplishment is that in the process, they have robed the black community of rare opportunities to celebrate some rather significant milestones in this country's heartbreaking journey of race relations.

Now that a black man, with decidedly leftist fringe credentials, has been chosen as future president of the United States, liberals fancy themselves playing a part in the shaping of history.  In concert with their anointed figure head, they successfully orchestrated what they deemed to be the proper conditions under which African-Americans are granted the opportunity -- permission? -- to rejoice in the advancement of one of their own.  More importantly, the diligent -- and at times inglorious -- efforts of that self-congratulatory aristocracy of closet anarchists known as  progressives, have also yielded what the media gleefully proclaims is a widespread assent to their utopian social compact. 

But as with every grandiose vision, there is never a want of colossal ironies.

Consider the Freedom of Choice Act, which Barack Obama has promised to sign into law as soon as he takes office. Its innocuous name belies the fact that F.O.C.A. will aggressively seek to standardize unrestricted national access to abortion on demand.  Planned and unplanned babies safely residing in the womb, and at any stage of development, will be legally stripped of their status as persons. As such, they will not enjoy the constitutional benefit of protection from the state. 

Our founders naively allowed a derivative ontological exception in order to justify the enslavement of another group of voiceless citizens. And this irony is compounded by the  cruelly indifferent statistics which report that the vast majority of unborn children, aborted daily in this country in the name of choice, are disproportionably representative of the same demographic group from which Obama enjoyed the most enthusiastic support during this past election season.

Secondly, Obama will be taken to task by his equally extremist peers in congress, for a swift passage of the so called Fairness Doctrine. As with most pieces of legislation Democrats seem to have a penchant for crafting, this one is ostensibly worded to deliver exactly the opposite effect of what its title purports to champion.

In short, public air radio broadcasters will be required, at their own expense, to grant equal time to those in the opposition for retaliatory expositions of their views, despite the fact that historically, such views have failed to guarantee sustained interest from a sponsorship willing audience. As it is a well known fact that conservatives dominate in the medium, what is billed as an equal opportunity for all voices to be heard, is simply a targeted attempt by progressives to gradually silence the kind of free speech they find personally objectionable. 

The irony here is that this foreboding development constitutes a betrayal of one of the most foundational freedoms guaranteed by the constitution, which again, the  once disenfranchised ancestral kin of Obama's most loyal contingency plainly understood, having endured personal battles for the right to speak in a free society without fear of retribution.

And finally, the crown jewel of Obama's looming progressive initiatives:  compulsory redistribution of wealth from the few "haves" to the many "have-nots", succinctly outlined for one "Joe the Plumber" in a rare pre-coronation unscripted moment.

Intended to assuage economic disparities, such schemes only tend to inflame social tensions, especially amongst those who rightly perceive their roles as equal participants in what is admittedly a less than perfect system. With any luck, the measure will not be a catalyst to something Obama -- I think -- wants to avoid: the furious resurgence of racially motivated class warfare. 

But Obama's ideological entrenchment in what is nothing more than a socialist template, may have blinded him to the fact that he has been presented with a unique leadership opportunity -- as the first African-American elected to office -- to promote the time tested principle that equal participation generally means an equal stake in prosperity and advancement. Ironically (again) this is a principle for which Obama's own personal journey, and that of those who came before him - under the auspices of a Republican administration no less -- present a rather compelling case.

It was, after all, Obama himself who once declared that he did not wish for people to elect him simply because of the color of his skin. He may rest assured that that is the least of the reasons why progressives -- who will soon be requiring that their agendas be expeditiously implemented - have seen to it that he become their leader.

http://www.americanthinker.com/2008/11/progressives_and_obamas_accept.html
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #459 on: December 02, 2008, 12:29:46 PM »

Great scathingly funny rant from Fred Thompson in the clip at http://www.fredpac.com/ on the Meltdown and how to fix it.
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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #460 on: December 03, 2008, 10:55:33 AM »

Enough of Radical Islam
Ben Shapiro

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Enough with the pseudonyms. Western civilization isnt at war with terrorism any more than it is at war with grenades. Western civilization is at war with militant Islam, which dominates Muslim communities all over the world. Militant Islam isnt a tiny minority of otherwise goodhearted Muslims. Its a dominant strain of evil that runs rampant in a population of well over 1 billion.

Enough with the psychoanalysis. They dont hate us because of Israel. They dont hate us because of Kashmir. They dont hate us because we have troops in Saudi Arabia or because we deposed Saddam Hussein. They dont hate us because of Britney Spears. They hate us because we are infidels, and because we dont plan on surrendering or providing them material aid in their war of aggressive expansion.

Enough with the niceties. We dont lose our souls when we treat our enemies as enemies. We dont undermine our principles when we post more police officers in vulnerable areas, or when we send Marines to kill bad guys, or when we torture terrorists for information. And we dont redeem ourselves when we close Guantanamo Bay or try terrorists in civilian courts or censor anti-Islam comics. When it comes to war, extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice, and moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.

Enough with the words. Talking with Iran without wielding the threat of force, either economic or military, wont help. Appealing to the United Nations, run by thugs and dictators ranging from Putin to Chavez to Ahmadinejad, is an exercise in pathetic futility. Evil countries dont suddenly decide to abandon their evil goals -- they are forced to do so by pressure and circumstance.

Enough with the faux allies. We dont gain anything by pretending that Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are true allies. They arent. At best, they are playing both sides of the table. We ought to be drilling now in order to break OPEC. Building windmills isnt going to cut it. We should also be backing India to the hilt in its current conflict with Pakistan -- unless Pakistan can destroy its terrorist element, India should be given full leeway to do what it needs to do. Russia and China, meanwhile, are facilitating anti-Western terrorism. Treating them as friends in this global war is simply begging for a backstabbing.

Enough with the myths. Not everyone on earth is crying out for freedom. There are plenty of people who are happy in their misery, believing that their suffering is part and parcel of a correct religious system. Those people direct their anger outward, targeting unbelievers. We cannot simply knock off dictators and expect indoctrinated populations to rise to the liberal democratic challenge. The election of Hamas in the Gaza Strip is more a rule than an exception in the Islamic world.

Enough with the lies. Stop telling us that Islam is a religion of peace. If it is, prove it through action. Stop telling us that President-elect Barack Obama will fix our broken relationship with the Muslim world. They hate Obama just as much as they hated President George W. Bush, although they think Obama is more of a patsy than Bush was. Stop telling us that we shouldnt worry about the Islamic infiltration of our economy. If the Saudis own a large chunk of our banking institutions and control the oil market, they can certainly leverage their influence in dangerous ways.

Enough. After the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, the plane downed in Pennsylvania, the endless suicide bombings, shootings and rocket attacks in Israel, the Bali bombings, the synagogue bombing in Tunisia, the LAX shootings, the Kenyan hotel bombing, the Casablanca attacks, the Turkey synagogue attacks, the Madrid bombings, the London bombings, and the repeated attacks in India culminating in the Mumbai massacres -- among literally thousands of others -- its about time that the West got the point: were in a war. Our enemies are determined. They will not quit just because we offer them Big Macs, Christina Aguilera CDs, or even the freedom to vote. They will not quit just because we ensure that they have Korans in their Guantanamo cells, or because we offer to ban The Satanic Verses (as India did). They will only quit when they are dead. It is our job to make them so, and to eliminate every obstacle to their destruction.

So enough. No more empty talk. No more idle promises. No more happy ignorance, half measures, or appeasement-minded platitudes. The time for hard-nosed, uncompromising action hasnt merely come -- its been overdue by seven years. The voice of our brothers blood cries out from the ground.

http://townhall.com/columnists/BenShapiro/2008/12/03/enough_of_radical_islam
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SB_Mig
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« Reply #461 on: December 03, 2008, 11:20:29 AM »

Enough with editorial writers who rant about how we've had enough of (fill in the blank) but offer no suggestions or solutions.  wink

That said, I do agree with the 99.9% of the article
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #462 on: December 03, 2008, 12:11:32 PM »

My read of the piece is that it is quite clear in its suggestion-- that we get our minds right.  Unlike the general tenor of this forum  wink cheesy  our leadership fears to name the enemy.  The enemy is not an immoral technique.  The enemy is the fascistic streak of Islam-- its remaining Satanic Verses if you will  wink  In short, it is a simple and profoundly important "suggestion" the piece makes.  Know that there is a mass world-wide movement that wars on us.  The strategy?  "We win.  They lose" (President Reagan)
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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #463 on: December 05, 2008, 06:05:47 PM »

An amusing screed from Macho Sauce productions:



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DougMacG
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« Reply #464 on: December 05, 2008, 08:37:02 PM »

BBG - That was an excellent video.  I looked at his website and saw that he has a martial arts background.  Here is another video of his, Alfonso Rachel vs. a pretend Obama,  political debate mixed with fight scenes:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbW64215HA8
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #465 on: December 09, 2008, 08:53:41 AM »

The Meaning of Mumbai
By Thomas Sowell

Will the horrors unleashed by Islamic terrorists in Mumbai cause any second thoughts by those who are so anxious to start weakening the American security systems currently in place, including government interceptions of international phone calls and the holding of terrorists at Guantanamo?

Maybe. But never underestimate partisan blindness in Washington or in the mainstream media where, if the Bush administration did it, then it must be wrong.

 Contrary to some of the more mawkish notions of what a government is supposed to be, its top job is the protection of the people. Nobody on 9/11 would have thought that we would see nothing comparable again in this country for seven long years.

Many people seem to have forgotten how, in the wake of 9/11, every great national event-- the World Series, Christmas, New Year's, the Super Bowl-- was under the shadow of a fear that this was when the terrorists would strike again.

They didn't strike again here, even though they have struck in Spain, Indonesia, England and India, among other places. Does anyone imagine that this was because they didn't want to hit America again?

Could this have had anything to do with all the security precautions that liberals have been complaining about so bitterly, from the interception of international phone calls to forcing information out of captured terrorists?

Too many people refuse to acknowledge that benefits have costs, even if that cost means only having no more secrecy when making international phone calls than you have when sending e-mails, in a world where computer hackers abound. There are people who refuse to give up anything, even to save their own lives.

A very shrewd observer of the deterioration of Western societies, British writer Theodore Dalrymple, said: "This mental flabbiness is decadence, and at the same time a manifestation of the arrogant assumption that nothing can destroy us."

There are growing numbers of things that can destroy us. The Roman Empire lasted a lot longer than the United States has lasted, and yet it too was destroyed.

Millions of lives were blighted for centuries thereafter, because the barbarians who destroyed Rome were incapable of replacing it with anything at all comparable. Neither are those who threaten to destroy the United States today.

The destruction of the United States will not require enough nuclear bombs to annihilate cities and towns across America. After all, the nuclear destruction of just two cities was enough to force Japan to surrender-- and the Japanese had far more willingness to fight and die than most Americans have today.

How many Americans are willing to see New York, Chicago and Los Angeles all disappear in nuclear mushroom clouds, rather than surrender to whatever outrageous demands the terrorists make?

Neither Barack Obama nor those with whom he will be surrounded in Washington show any signs of being serious about forestalling such a terrible choice by taking any action with any realistic chance of preventing a nuclear Iran.

Once suicidal fanatics have nuclear bombs, that is the point of no return. We, our children and our grandchildren will live at the mercy of the merciless, who have a track record of sadism.

There are no concessions we can make that will buy off hate-filled terrorists. What they want-- what they must have for their own self-respect, in a world where they suffer the humiliation of being visibly centuries behind the West in so many ways-- is our being brought down in humiliation, including self-humiliation.

Even killing us will not be enough, just as killing Jews was not enough for the Nazis, who first had to subject them to soul-scarring humiliations and dehumanization in their death camps.

This kind of hatred may not be familiar to most Americans but what happened on 9/11 should give us a clue-- and a warning.

The people who flew those planes into the World Trade Center buildings could not have been bought off by any concessions, not even the hundreds of billions of dollars we are spending in bailout money today.

They want our soul-- and if they are willing to die and we are not, they will get it.

(I'd rather we kill them than we die,  smiley but Sowell has the gist of the right idea )
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« Reply #466 on: December 09, 2008, 04:20:37 PM »

Gosh, reminds me of something somebody has been arguing for years....  evil
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« Reply #467 on: December 10, 2008, 08:20:17 PM »



Che Guevara on the Silver Screen

 By Humberto Fontova  Wednesday, December 10, 2008

“SENTENCE first – VERDICT afterwards,” said the Queen.
“Nonsense!” said Alice loudly.
“Off with her head!” the Queen shouted at the top of her voice.
– Alice In Wonderland

They say Lewis Carroll was a serious dope fiend, his mind totally scrambled on opium, when he concocted “Alice in Wonderland.” A place where the sentence comes first and the verdict afterward? Where people who protest the madness are sentenced to death themselves ?

Such a place rolled out the red carpet for Benicio del Toro this past weekend. I refer to Havana Cuba which put on the Havana Film Festival where the 4 ½ hour movie “Che,” was the main feature. In May del Toro won the Cannes Film Festiva’l’s “best actor” award for his role as Che Guevara in the movie he co-produced and Steven Soderbergh directed.

While accepting the “best actor” award at Cannes Benicio del Toro gushed: “I’d like to dedicate this to the man himself, Che Guevara!” as the crowd erupted in a thunderous ovation."I wouldn’t be here without Che Guevara, and through all the awards the movie gets you’ll have to pay your respects to the man!”

In a flurry of subsequent interviews in Europe del Toro equated Che Guevara with Jesus Christ and told a Spanish interviewer, “Ideologically I feel very close to Che.”

Alas, (outside Havana and Cannes) the movie has met with mostly scathing reviews. Variety’s Todd McCarthy branded the movie “defiantly nondramatic” and “a commercial impossibility.” New York Magazine calls it, “something of a fiasco.”

Soderbergh and Benicio Del Toro, actually had an intriguing and immensely amusing theme if only they’d known how to plumb it. Soderbergh hails Guevara as “one of the most fascinating lives in the last century.”

Almost all who actually interacted with Ernesto Guevara (and are now free to express their views without fear of firing squads or torture chambers) know that the The Big Question regarding Ernesto, the most genuinely fascinating aspect of his life, is: how did such a dreadful bore, incurable doofus, sadist and and epic idiot attain such iconic status?

The answer is that this psychotic and thoroughly unimposing vagrant named Ernesto Guevara had the magnificent fortune of linking up with modern history’s top press agent, Fidel Castro, who for going on half a century now, has had the mainstream media anxiously scurrying to his every beck and call and eating out of his hand like trained pigeons.

Had Ernesto Guevara De La Serna y Lynch not linked up with Raul and Fidel Castro in Mexico city that fateful summer of 1955--had he not linked up with a Cuban exile named Nico Lopez in Guatemala the year before who later introduced him to Raul and Fidel Castro in Mexico city — everything points to Ernesto continuing his life of a traveling hobo, panhandling, mooching off women, staying in flophouses and scribbling unreadable poetry.

Not to be outdone in the trained pigeon department, while making their film, Soderbergh and Del Toro repeatedly visited Havana to coo and peck away as anxiously as Herbert Matthews, Dan Rather or Barbara Walters while the regime tossed out its propaganda crumbs. Del Toro and Soderbergh , on top of relying on Che’s diaries (published in Havana by Cuba’s propaganda Ministry and edited by Fidel Castro who wrote the introduction) for the script, also obtained recollections from Che’s widow and many of his former underling executioners. These all currently serve as ministers in a totalitarian regime. “We wanted to show the real character” boasts Soderbergh. Absolutely no chance of any hanky panky with the historical record from these sources!

“I met him [Fidel Castro] for about five minutes,” Del Toro said. “He knew about the project and he said to me that he was very happy (I’ll bet!) that we had spent so much time researching the subject. And why shouldn’t Castro be ecstatic wth the film? Most of del Toro and Soderbergh’s “research” time was spent with Cuba’s propaganda Ministry.

“I’m here in Cuba’s hills thirsting for blood,” Che wrote his abandoned wife in 1957. “Dear Papa, today I discovered I really like killing,” he wrote shortly afterwards. Alas, this killing very rarely involved combat, it come from the close-range murder of bound and blindfolded men and boys.

“When you saw the beaming look on Che’s face as the victims were tied to the stake and blasted apart,” said a former political prisoner to this writer, “you knew there was something seriously, seriously wrong with Che Guevara.”

In fact the one genuine accomplishment in Che Guevara’s life was the mass-murder of defenseless men and boys. Under his own gun dozens died. Under his orders thousands crumpled. At everything else Che Guevara failed abysmally, even comically. Yet Soderbergh and Del Toro skip over these fascinating quotes and Che’s one genuine accomplishment as a revolutionary.

Alas, taking on Fidel Castro as agent has it’s drawbacks, as former colleagues all attest: “Fidel only praises the dead.” So prior to whooping up his revolutionary sidekick, Fidel Castro sent him “to sleep with the fishes.”

“Most of the people I met that knew him,” says Del Toro, “when they spoke about him, there was a sense that they were talking about a family member that they cared about with infinite love.”

Indeed, Fidel Castro’s expressions of love for his former sidekick must have misted Del Toro’s eyes.

Too bad Soderbergh and Del Toro didn’t interview the former CIA officers who revealed to this writer how Fidel Castro himself, via the Bolivian Communist party, constantly fed the CIA info on Che’s whereabouts in Bolivia. Including Fidel Castro’s directive to the Bolivian Communists regarding Che and his merry band might have also added drama. “Not even an aspirin,” instructed Cuba’s Maximum Leader to his Bolivian comrades, meaning that Bolivia’s Communists were not to assist Che in any way “not even with an aspirin,” if Che complained of a headache.

But utterly starstruck by their subject and slavishly compliant to Fidel Castro’s script and casting calls, all these fascinating plots and subplots flew right over Soderbergh and Del Toro’s heads.

Fidel Castro’s influence over the Western “intelligentsia” can only be described as magical, and renders any public evaluation of his regime among the smart set completely devoid of logic. To wit:

He jailed and tortured at a rate higher than Stalin and refuses (unlike Apartheid South Africa, Pinochet’s Chile and Somoza’s Nicaragua) to allow Amnesty International or the Red Cross to inspect his prisons. Yet Cuba sat on the U.N.’s Human Rights Committee and upon visiting New York as the U.N.’s keynote speaker in 1995, Newsweek magazine hailed Castro as “The Hottest Ticket in Manhattan!” and Time as “The Toast of Manhattan!” referring to the social swirl that engulfed him and the autograph hounds who mobbed him from among New York’s smart set.

His legal code mandates 2 years in prison for anyone overheard cracking a joke about him. Yet Jack Nicholson and Chevy Chase sing his praises.

He abolished Habeas corpus while his chief hangman (Che Guevara himself) declared that “judicial evidence is an archaic bourgeois detail.” Yet Harvard Law School invited him as their guest of honor, then erupted in cheers and tumultuous ovations after his every third sentence.

He drove out a higher percentage of Jews from Cuba than Czar Nicholas drove from Russia. Yet Shoah Foundation Founder Stephen Spielberg, considered his dinner with Fidel Castro, “the eight most important hours of my life.”

He’s a lily-white European soldier’s son who forcibly overthrew a Cuban government where Blacks served as President of the Senate, Minister of Agriculture, Chief of Army, and Head of State (Fulgencio Batista, the grandson of slaves, and born in a palm-roofed shack). Then jailed the longest suffering black political prisoner of modern history (Eusebio Penalver who suffered longer in Castro’s dungeon’s than Nelson Mandela suffered in South Africa’s). Today the prison population in Stalinist/Apartheid Cuba is 90 percent black while only 9 percent of the ruling Stalinist party is black. He sentenced other blacks (Dr. Elias Biscet, Jorge Antunez) to 20-year sentences essentially for quoting Martin Luther King in a public square. Yet he’s a hero to the Congressional Black Caucus and receives frequent accolades and even passionate bear hugs from Charles Rangel and Jesse Jackson.

He converted a nation with a higher per capita income than half of Europe, the lowest inflation rate in the Western hemisphere, a larger middle class than Switzerland and a huge influx of immigrants into one that repels Haitians. Yet, Colin Powell and the London Times, (owned by Rupert Murdoch) have recognized “the Castro Revolution’s achievements.”

In brief, except among “right-wing crackpots,” Cuba is ritually discussed, not with facts or reasoned observations, but with handy (and bogus) clichés.

Che Guevara’s delight in slaughtering Cubans was made possible only because these Cubans were completely defenseless at the time. Bound and blindfolded was his preference. And in that very manner they were lined up in front of his firing squads. In other settings featuring firearms (held by others) the troubled Argentine quivered with fear.

On Oct. 8 1967, for instance, upon finally encountering armed and determined enemies, Che quickly dropped his fully-loaded weapons. “Don’t shoot!” he whimpered. “I’m Che! I’m worth more to you alive than dead!”

For some reason del Toro and Soderbergh’s movie omits this scene.

http://www.canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/6867
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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #468 on: December 11, 2008, 05:48:21 PM »

Interesting little documentary about "Che chic."

http://reason.tv/video/show/622.html
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SB_Mig
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« Reply #469 on: December 12, 2008, 12:27:33 PM »

IMHO the best political editorial of the year.

*Caution* some bad language...

"You know, this used to be a helluva good country"
Reflections on a post-NPSM America

Nick Gillespie | December 11, 2008

Author's note: This column is about politics and hence is filled with profanity and heaping helpings of excretory imagery. The faint of heart should evacuate this page immediately, like patrons at a Golden Corral buffet once the cheese sauce runs out.

There's a scene in Easy Rider, a movie that is all about America's manifest inability to redeem itself at the last minute, in which George Hanson, the small-town lawyer played by Jack Nicholson, sighs, "You know, this used to be a helluva good country. I can't understand what's gone wrong with it."

The good news for George Hanson is that shortly after making this observation, he gets beaten to death by a bunch of rednecks wielding baseball bats.

The bad news for those of us who are alive in the post-American Century century is that we're witnessing a seemingly endless series of what I've come to call "national pants-shitting moments." By this term of art, I mean situations that are simply too terrifying and unbelievable to take at face value. To do so is to admit that things are just so existentially fucked that you almost literally lose control of your most basic bodily functions. Which is, I'm told by people who are supposed to know, what happens to you when you know you are going to die. I don't include horror shows like the Oklahoma City bombing or the 9/11 attacks in this category because they are plain evil, pure and simple. What's integral to a national pants-shitting moment (NPSM) is that as it unfolds, you're being told that what is plainly true is not in fact what's happening. And you really don't want to believe what you know to be true.

The first NPSM I recall fully came on August 20, 1998, the day that Bill Clinton ordered bombing runs on terrorist sites in Sudan and Afghanistan. It was also, as you may recall, the same 24-hour-period during which Monica Lewinsky delivered grand jury testimony on the then-pressing matter of whether the president had lied under oath (he had).

Unless you were retarded, or Hillary Clinton, you could only draw one honest conclusion (a conclusion shared by nearly 50 percent of the country at the time): The bombings proceeded not from even a semblance of sober, rational calculation of the national interest or an attempt to protect American lives and property, but from a desperate desire of a sitting chief executive to cover his ass. I'm not pretending to have been naive back then, to have thought that foreign policy—or domestic policy, for that matter—was some noble, idealistic undertaking.

But Clinton's actions were breathtaking, even—or especially—among those of us who are totally cynical about the intentions and outcomes of state power. There was simply no way to account for his actions, except in a way that no one really wanted to believe. And he took our breath away again in December 1998 by bombing Iraq on the evening before the House of Representatives was voting on articles of impeachment, thereby delaying the proceedings. If Clinton was doing what he plainly was doing, he revealed a secret skeleton key to history that unlocked a treasure-trove of despair. What else in American history has happened because of such base, stupid, and vulgar motivations? How incompetent could government actors be that they would think they could get away with such shit? (Which, of course, he did.)

It seems to me that ever since those bombings we've been moving faster than Capt. James T. Kirk on a green-skinned alien toward a complete breakdown of legitimacy in politics. The 2000 election ended in a dead heat and each party in Bush v. Gore employed precisely the opposite arguments they claimed as first principles (the Dems went for a state's rights case while the Republicans pushed a federal case; the same ideological gender-bending was evident in the grotesque Terri Schiavo case a few years later). You can't fault Bush, Gore, and their minions for slugging it out to the bitter end, but you don't have to believe them when they try to pretend that they actually have principles.

The Bush administration's case for invading Iraq was a house built on sand and the only question remains whether anyone in the Bush administration other than the good soldier Colin Powell believed what he was saying at the time. But even beyond all those infinitely disturbing questions about whether people in a position to know really believed in weapons of mass destruction, there was something more screwy going on. Those of us who are not party hacks were forced to witness Democrats, who had been so bellicose during the Clinton years, suddenly become peaceniks. And Republicans, who were against sending even our bombs, much less our boys, overseas to the former (and god forbid, the future) Yugoslavia or anywhere else when a Democrat ran the military, suddenly come out in favor of not just nation-building but region-sculpting. And now we've got a president-elect who somehow ran as the peace candidate who has talked about increasing the size of the military, invading Pakistan or Iran, and finally getting American forces into Darfur.

Fast-forward to the past eight weeks or so and feelings of dizziness and epistemological irritable bowel syndrome have reached uncontainable levels. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson appears virtually out of nowhere to inform us that the U.S. economy will collapse if Congress doesn't pass the economic equivalent of the Patriot Act. In eight days, no less. Congress passed it and the markets still tanked. So Paulson changes his mind about what the bailout is for. And then again. Or maybe he simply loses his mind (watch him on the TV sometime with the sound turned off). The important thing is that the former head of Goldman Sachs has given his company $25 billion in tax dollars (at a minimum) and the government is on the hook for oh about $8.5 trillion in direct subsidies and guarantees related to various bailouts. Which Republicans are already blaming on Obama, who has yet to take office. And Democrats keep talking about how Bush and the Republicans deregulated everything, when the exact opposite is true.

Carmakers beg for more money from Congress (they got some earlier this fall) and will almost certainly get something either now or in a couple of months. Whatever partial nationalization that follows will be touted as necessary to rescue...free enterprise, just like with the financial sector. We're in the middle of a meltdown caused by easy money. The government-approved solution? Even easier money, especially for homeowners. Or at least the ones who have demonstrated an inability to pay (if you're up to date on your mortgage or rent, go fuck yourself). We've got to jump-start the economy, prime the pump, put confidence back into the markets by spending today and saving tomorrow. Go figure. Trust them, they know what they're doing. President-elect Barack Obama is promising a stimulus package for an economy that has received more stimulation than John Holmes in Saturday Night Beaver. No third term for Bush. But maybe one for Bill Clinton. Hope. Change. Tom Daschle. Boolah-boolah.

And then, as a semi-comical cherry on the very top of this shit sundae is the bizarre arrest of Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D-Ill.) for, among other things, allegedly trying to sell the Senate seat being vacated by Obama for as much as...$1 million (cue the Dr. Evil impersonation). According to ABC News, the Justice Department claims it has tapes of Blago saying things such as, "I've got this thing, it's fucking golden, and, uh, uh, I'm just not giving it up for fuckin' nothing." That's only the tip of the iceberg, when it comes to Blagojevich and whatever pols he takes down with him.

In a fundamental way, we know that all the charges are true, against Blago and every other politician, now and forever, amen. At least since some time in the 1960s, when Lyndon Johnson's credibility gap grew bigger than his gall bladder scar and his dog's ears combined, or, at the very latest, in the early '70s, when Richard Nixon mumbled that he wasn't a crook (thereby acknowledging that he was in fact one), we've known that the worst thing we can imagine about our politicians is true. My father, born during the Harding administration for god's sake, averred that everyone always knew this was the case. But it's almost as if we are now conjuring up our own national nightmares, like some weird character from a Harry Potter novel. There are some good politicians, of course, but even when they are trying to do the right thing, they screw everything up, it seems. And of course much of the time, they are not even particularly concerned with doing the right thing.

Which explains historically low presidential approval ratings and congressional ratings that barely make it out of the high teens.

And in this sense, the George Hanson character from Easy Rider had it all wrong. This never was a "helluva good country," at least when it came to politicians. We just pretended it was. Certainly, after a decade or more of NPSMs up the ying-yang (apologies, but we are talking about politics, which driveth all decent men and women mad), it's impossible to have any illusions. We are a nation of Depends wearers, even those of us who are half the age of John McCain.

And here's one final turn of the screw, the worm, whatever. According to the authors of the depressing yet persuasive (and unpublished!) paper "Regulation and Distrust," the less we believe in government, the more of it we will demand.

Writing in July, Philippe Aghion, Yann Algan, Pierre Cahuc, and Andrei Shleifer argue that "distrust influences not just regulation itself, but the demand for regulation. Using the World Values Survey, we show both in a cross-section of countries, and in a sample of individuals from around the world, that distrust fuels support for government control over the economy. What is perhaps most interesting about this finding...is that distrust generates demand for regulation even when people realize that the government is corrupt and ineffective."

That's just one more horrible, deep-rumbling-in-the-very-depth-of-our-bodies-and-souls truth that stands revealed before us, at the end of the Clinton-Bush years. And, sadly because history is a dream from which we cannot awake, the Bush-Obama years, which have already started.

Nick Gillespie is the editor-in-chief of Reason.tv and Reason.com.
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« Reply #470 on: December 22, 2008, 10:44:05 AM »

Primary and Secondary Racism
Mike S. Adams
Monday, December 22, 2008

Ann Coulter was right when she said the essence of being a liberal is having one set of rules for oneself and an entirely different set of rules for other people. Similarly, it could be asserted that the essence of liberal arts education is developing one set of theories that apply only to other people. Few better examples can be found than in the case of labeling theory, which derives from the pseudo-science of sociology.

Frank Tannenbaum had a number of valid points when, in the 1930s, he established some basic premises of labeling theory. He argued that, as a juvenile, everyone engages in some form of delinquent behavior. And he correctly pointed out that not everyone who engages in delinquency is caught and, therefore, labeled “delinquent.”

Tannenbaum was also correct in saying that parents, teachers, and peers sometimes over-react to juveniles caught in an act of delinquency. He was again on firm ground in asserting that these occasional over-reactions could actually produce more delinquency.

Surely, those who are labeled delinquent are less likely to be invited to associate with those who haven’t. And ostracism from conformists can lead to delinquent associations where the strengthening of deviant tendencies can occur.

Writing just a few years after Tannenbaum, Edwin Lemert did a lot to shape labeling theory into its present form. It is a form popular with progressives everywhere.

Lemert argued that people can engage in delinquency for any number of biological, sociological, or psychological reasons. Delinquency produced by any of these broad (categories of) factors is called “primary deviance.” But Lemert’s real contribution to various progressive causes (and socialist policies) flows from his explanation of a form of delinquency known as “secondary deviance.”

Lemert believed that if an individual was caught in an act of primary deviance, he was likely to be placed under greater subsequent scrutiny by parents, teachers, and various agents of social control. This, of course, meant the child was more likely to be caught engaging in delinquency again. Adopting Lemert’s premises, it is easy to understand how a vicious cycle could develop.

At some point, of course, the child might internalize the notion that he is a “deviant,” a “delinquent,” or just generally “bad.” This could lead to higher rates of delinquency. When it does, according to Lemert, “secondary deviance” has occurred. Many of us have come to dub this process, perhaps somewhat simplistically, as the “self-fulfilling prophecy.”

Notions such as “secondary deviance” and “self-fulfilling prophecy” have done much to undermine the integrity of public education in this country. If you learned to read in first grade in the 1970s, you remember the “yellowbirds,” “redbirds,” and “bluebirds” reading groups. Labeling theorists thought it would be better to call a child a “yellowbird” than to call him “slow.”

(Author’s Note: I was a “yellowbird” in first grade and we all knew we were slow. We just contented ourselves with beating up the “bluebirds” during recess. Fortunately, due to the kindness of my favorite teacher Elsie Stephenson, I eventually became a “redbird.”).

Regrettably, all of this emphasis on self-esteem and negative labeling has resulted in many schools doing away with letter grades altogether. And when the kids play games at recess they are often forbidden from keeping score. They don’t want anyone to suffer the emotional trauma that results from being labeled a “loser” – even if for a day.

Liberal progressives have spent years taking a theory from sociology and applying it increasingly to the field of education. These progressives have shown a clear interest in the question of whether negative labels (e.g., “criminal,” “dumb”) are more frequently applied to blacks and other historically victimized groups.

But, curiously, one area of research remains unexplored: What impact does labeling someone a “racist” have on his self-image – and his propensity for future acts of racism?

Frank Tannenbaum, if he were alive today, might argue that everyone engages in some form of racist behavior. And he might point out that not everyone who engages in racism is caught and labeled “racist.”

Tannenbaum might also say that parents, teachers, and peers sometimes over-react to juveniles caught in an act of racial insensitivity. He would be on firm ground in asserting that these occasional over-reactions could actually produce more racial insensitivity.

Surely, those who are labeled “racist” are less likely to be invited to associate with those who haven’t. And ostracism from non-racists can lead to racist associations where the strengthening of racist tendencies can occur.

Lemert might agree that people can engage in racism for any number of biological, sociological, or psychological reasons. Racism produced by any of these broad (categories of) factors could be called “primary racism.”

Lemert might also agree that if an individual is caught in an act of primary racism, he is likely to be placed under greater subsequent scrutiny by parents, teachers, and various agents of social control. This, of course, means the child is more likely to be caught engaging in racial insensitivity again. Adopting Lemert’s premises, it is easy to understand how a vicious cycle could develop.

At some point, of course, the child might internalize the notion that he is a “racist” or just generally “bigoted.” This could lead to higher rates of bigotry. When it does, one might say that “secondary racism” has occurred. Many of us might call this a “self-fulfilling prophecy.”

We all know that liberals often manufacture cases of racism in order to keep liberalism alive. But we need more research in the pseudo-science of sociology in order to determine how reckless accusations of racism are actually creating more real racism in America. The research can be used to test whether liberals really believe in labeling theory and whether they are willing to apply it to their own conduct.

If liberals really do believe in labeling theory, they should reconsider their own careless accusations of racism. If not, they should fess up, assign grades, and let children keep score during recess.

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« Reply #471 on: January 07, 2009, 11:14:28 AM »

Gresham's Law


eidelberg@foundation1.org



Gresham’s Law Updated
By Paul Eidelberg

Some four centuries ago, English financier Sir Thomas Gresham formulated what has come to be known as “Gresham’s Law,” according to which coins having the least intrinsic value supplant coins having a higher intrinsic value.

Gresham’s Law is the dominant law in the domain of politics, where falsehoods and half-truths or “spin” drive out plain-spoken truths. The ideal of democratic politics is compromise and expedience as opposed to principles, and this seems to exclude truth.

Stated another way: politics is a struggle for power, and to gain power in a democratic society one must go with the mainstream, the center of the political spectrum, where vagueness trumps moral clarity.

Democracy’s political elites insist on your being a “moderate,” a “centrist,” a “pragmatist,” a “pluralist.” Why? Well, to put it plainly, there is no truth. In this democratic age, everything is “relative.”

To refute an opponent nowadays you don’t have to examine his opinions on logical and empirical grounds; it’s enough to call him a “right-winger” or a “hawk.” I say “right-winger” and “hawk” rather than “left-winger” and “dove” because left-wingers and doves dominate the media, including the media of education. Thus, if you are a critic of indiscriminate freedom or of a leveling egalitarianism, the democracy’s ruling elites label you a “reactionary” or a “fascist.” And if you are a critic of the Middle East “peace process,” they label you a “war-monger.”

This dishonest way of dealing with matters of life and death is typical of academics tainted by moral relativism. I have especially in mind morally neutral or “value-free” political scientists. Thus, in an op-ed piece appearing in The Jerusalem Post, one Hebrew University political scientist said that to require more than 51% in a referendum on whether Israel should withdraw from the Golan Heights is to succumb to “Kahanism.” The “reason”? It would render nugatory the votes of Israel’s Arab citizens! No direct comment on this example of intellectual dishonesty or of Gresham’s Law is necessary.

That falsehoods and half-truths are a commonplace in political science is indicated by the fact that political scientists never refer to any politician as “mendacious.” To do so is to make a “value-judgment” which “value-free” (or “worth-less”) political scientists must avoid if they are to be “objective” or “scientific.” A “value-free” political science must therefore be a “truth-free” political science, hence unscientific.

But since “value-free” or morally neutral political science will be found only in democracies, it follows that democratic political scientists are lackeys of democracy—understandably, for democracy endows them with academic freedom. You will never hear them criticizing democracy. This suggests that morally neutral political scientists identify with the Power Elite or Establishment. Indeed, they are part of the Establishment. There is dilemma here.
Morally neutral political scientists are by definition opposed to tradition, especially a religious-based tradition, which proclaims eternal truths and condemns falsehoods and half-truths.

Religion is therefore the main competitor of “value-free” or “truth-free” political science. This is why the political scientist alluded to above opposes an extraordinary majority on the Golan referendum issue—opposes it because it would be a manifestation of what he calls “Jewish exclusivity.” Which means he opposes Jewish peoplehood or nationhood. That’s the objective of those (including nominal or assimilated Jews) who advocate the establishment of an Arab state in Judea and Samaria, the heartland of the Jewish people.

Evident here is the operation of Gresham’s Law: the bad driving out the good. Notice, however, that insofar as political science is “value-free” or “truth-less,” it cheapens and undermines the values and truths of the society in which this political science holds sway. It renders all values equal, and it reduces truths to myths or are merely personal narratives. This is postmodern political science, and it is subversive.

But inasmuch as this political science will be found only in democracies, it follows that “value-free” or morally neutral political science is subversive of democracy. The same may be said of the news media insofar as their mandarins are the products of morally neutral political science. But wait!

Since the media are dominated by the Left; they are not at all morally neutral. Consider the current conflict between Israel and Hamas. A perusal of CNN or BBC reveals they are biased against Israel, which is to say they favor Hamas, a terrorist organization that uses women and children as human shields, an organization, moreover, whose Covenant calls for Israel’s eradication. Dominating these media, therefore, is not moral neutrality but moral reversal. Or to put it terms of Greshem’s Law, those who support Hamas would have the bad supplant the good.
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« Reply #472 on: January 07, 2009, 01:31:11 PM »

This piece had me busting a gut, particularly this line regarding the senior senator from MA:  "Really, is there no one else available in the state of Massachusetts who can drop his Rs and vote dependably Maoist?"

Get out of the way, you old fogies
By David Harsanyi
Posted: 01/07/2009 12:30:00 AM MST

Warning: This column is replete with ageism — a hazardous prejudice to have in a nation growing progressively older.

The average American's life expectancy (or, as it's referred to in Washington, the "junior senator") is now a crusty 77 years.

The hippies told us not to trust anyone over 30. What about 70? There are 22 senators who have reached this seasoned plateau; another four are 69. So, despite the promise of impending "change," Washington, in reality, still resembles a (painfully slow-moving) gerontocracy.

When I drop dead — excuse me, "pass away" — I expect to have a remote control and an alcoholic beverage in hand, a white Cadillac out front and a rigid belief that government owes me stuff. Politicians, it seems, only stop working to move into a correctional facility or a pine box. Really, are they so exceptional that we can't let them go?

Some of you will argue that as Washington begins negotiating a "New New Deal" massive stimulus plan, it is advantageous to have on hand more than a third of sitting Senate members with first- hand experience of the Great Depression.

According to USA Today, the average age of a House member this term will be 57 — which is a day nursery compared to the Senate, where the average age now stands at 63. Both are records.

Thirty years after Ted Kennedy griped about Ronald Reagan's advanced age, the man serves as a 76-year-old, nine-term senator recovering from brain-tumor surgery. Really, is there no one else available in the state of Massachusetts who can drop his Rs and vote dependably Maoist?

An average adult would not trust Sen. Robert Byrd (who is 91) to pet-sit their mutt for fear that the unfortunate creature might accidentally turn up in chili con carne. Yet, Byrd sits on the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, where he doles out massive amounts of taxpayer funds for West Virginia landmarks with "Byrd" in the title. Fortunately, this session Byrd has lost his chairmanship to make way for a young whippersnapper in Hawaii's Daniel Inouye, who is 84.

And, sure, there has been some progress in the Senate with the ousting of Alaskan criminal Ted Stevens (85). The youth movement continued in the House with the ejection of 82-year-old John Dingell from his chairmanship of the House Energy and Commerce Committee to make way for Henry Waxman, who comes in at a stylish 69.

Then there are Supreme Court justices, who in many ways hold power beyond that of legislators. Certainly the position entails a far higher level of intellectual rigor. The average age in that institution is 69. Five justices are over 70 and another two are over 60. Justice John Paul Stevens is 88.

In 2004, six in 10 Americans believed that there should be a mandatory retirement age for Supreme Court justices — probably because, like myself, they often can't get their childrens' names straight, much less remember what the Third Amendment says. (Though, in the end, we all stand united against the quartering of soldiers.)

Many older Americans will claim to be sharper and more physically active in their 80s than I am in my 30s. That's not saying much. Our creaky leaders should understand that it is in our best interest for them to step aside and use their latter-life precocious enthusiasm and energy in the private sector.

Sadly, it seems these elderly public "servants" have an inability to allow national treasures — themselves — to stop giving.

Theoretically, it would be nice to allow citizens to vote for anyone they please, young or old. But since we already have a minimum, constitutionally mandated age limit to serve in place, why not a maximum age? How about at least placing it wherever the average life expectancy falls?

Because, right now, Washington looks more like Del Boca Vista than America.

Reach columnist David Harsanyi at 303-954-1255 or dharsanyi@ denverpost.com.

http://www.denverpost.com/harsanyi/ci_11388160
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« Reply #473 on: January 08, 2009, 12:41:04 PM »

Corruption and cronyism in Chicago probably deserves its own topic but I'll just throw this in rants.

http://www.suntimes.com/news/education/1365268,CST-NWS-inspect07.article

 Chicago Public Schools' cappuccino bill: $67,000
'A WASTE OF MONEY' | Report says staffers skirted rules to buy 30 coffeemakers, changed athletes' grades, falsified addresses

January 7, 2009

BY ART GOLAB Staff Reporter agolab@suntimes.com

Chicago public school bureaucrats skirted competitive bidding rules to buy 30 cappuccino/espresso machines for $67,000, with most of the machines going unused because the schools they were ordered for had not asked for them, according to a report by the CPS Office of Inspector General.

That was just one example of questionable CPS actions detailed in the inspector general's 2008 annual report. Others included high school staffers changing grades to pump up transcripts of student athletes and workers at a restricted-enrollment grade school falsifying addresses to get relatives admitted.

In the case of the cappuccino machines, central office administrators split the order among 21 vocational schools to avoid competitive bidding required for purchases over $10,000. As a result CPS paid about $12,000 too much, according to Inspector General James Sullivan. "We were able to find the same machines cheaper online," he said.

"We also look at it as a waste of money because the schools didn't even know they were getting the equipment, schools didn't know how to use the machines and weren't prepared to implement them into the curriculum," Sullivan said.

CPS spokesman Michael Vaughn said CPS plans to change its purchasing policy so that competitive bidding kicks in when a vendor accumulates $10,000 worth of orders, no matter how many schools are involved. One person was fired and disciplinary action is pending against three others, he said.

The grade-changing took place at an unidentified high school, where student athletes grades were boosted, then, after transcripts were issued for college admission offices, the grades were changed back. The culprits could not be identified because passwords allowing entry to the grading system were shared by a number of people, Sullivan said. A new record system has tighter security, he said.

At Carson Elementary, an overcrowded school in Gage Park where even neighborhood kids were restricted from enrolling, five lower- level employees got six relatives into the school by falsifying addresses. Sixty-nine students from outside the attendance area got in, but they didn't even bother to lie about their addresses. CPS had to spend as much as $252,000 to bus kids who live in the neighborhood to other schools, Sullivan said.

Vaughn said the employees involved have resigned, been fired or will be fired.
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« Reply #474 on: January 10, 2009, 08:37:51 PM »

In the face of this madness, some facts (Must Read on Gaza)
The London Spectator ^ | January 10, 2009 | Melanie Phillips

Here are some facts that the western media might just possibly by some strange and uncharacteristic oversight fail to report.

The Israel Defence Force blog shows what it says is a captured Hamas map showing how Hamas are using the inhabitants of an entire neighbourhood as human shields by lacing it with a web of explosive devices. The Israel Foreign ministry says:

The map shows that snipers are positioned at the entrance of the A-Tawil mosque and in the mosques next to it and describes the directions the snipers are aiming. It indicates that explosives are planted in the entrances of civilian homes.

Israel also says this shows Hamas preparing to fire a rocket from a rocket launcher in a Gaza school yard; it also says another sequence in the video shows Hamas rockets being fired during the ‘humanitarian pause’.

Here an embedded Israeli journalist describes what he found when he was allowed into Gaza a few days ago:

We come across a local family in one of the buildings. Grandparents, a few young parents, some children and a few toddlers. Sitting on a rug, their legs are covered in blankets and two soldiers are standing guard nearby. ‘What about them?’ I ask. ‘They're free to go if they want to, but they don't want to,’ said Eilon Perry, Givati's operations officer. ‘They informed us they would be staying in the house and we have no choice but to accept that.’

The family suddenly notices the cameras, and immediately, the expression on their faces changes. ‘We have no food,’ they say in Arabic, as one of the youngsters suggests we interview him in English about their plight. Givati troops are extremely concerned about being portrayed as abusing innocent civilians. Perry points to a stack of canned goods, water bottles and other provisions. ‘We provided some of that and they cook and eat quite well,’ he said. The Palestinians seem to understand him and one of them smiles. It's a war – they had to try.

Here is another insight into the manipulation of media images in Gaza:

A Palestinian journalist in Gaza said members of the Palestinian media are ‘directing’ civilians to cry and telling them what to say in interviews: ‘A mother of one of the martyrs stood by the door of the intensive care unit while crying... relatives and those around her were telling her what she should say to the television cameras: “Say your son [before he died] prayed and went out.” Another tells her: “Curse the Arab leaders”.. The journalists [in the hospitals] are going overboard in their insensitivity and taking advantage of the [difficult] moments, with the explanation that they are showing this to the world. One cameraman told a mourning mother: “Hit your face, cry, do some action.”’

And here is a Gazan voice that is almost never heard:

A Palestinian girl in Gaza whose family members died in Gaza Dec. 28 in an Israeli air attack held Hamas responsible. ‘I say Hamas is the cause, in the first place, of all wars,’ the girl told Palestinian TV.

Other Arabs agree. The Jerusalem Post reports:

The Egyptian movie star Adel Imam expressed understanding for Israel’s military operation in the Gaza Strip and blamed Hamas for the violence. He is quoted in The Jerusalem Post saying: ‘Hamas ignored our warnings and chose to lead an asymmetrical war. It's preferable for Hamas to stop [the rocket attacks]. They should have known that Israel wasn't going to receive the attacks with roses.'

Meanwhile, in the midst of the vicious western jihad against Israel one British Muslim voice has been heard most bravely speaking the truth. Shiraz Maher writes in the Telegraph that Muslims should condemn not Israel but Hamas:

Israel is responding to a barrage of Hamas rockets which threaten its citizens who live in the south. Indeed, around 10 per cent of the Israeli population now lives within striking distance of katyusha rockets. All this follows the unilateral withdrawal of Israeli settlements in Gaza in 2005, after which Hamas swept to power and turned ‘the Strip’ into its own paramilitary playground, using it as a springboard to launch a campaign of sustained and indiscriminate attacks into southern Israel.

...Since the start of the conflict Hamas has carried out extra-judicial killings of – or, put bluntly, murdered – more than 30 of its citizens who it suspects of ‘colluding’ with Israel. And how has it responded to the death of Palestinian children? In a televised broadcast the Hamas leader, Mahmoud Zahar, declared that Israel has ‘legitimised the murder of their own children by killing the children of Palestine. They have legitimised the killing of their people all over the world by killing our people.’

British Islamists have proved themselves only too willing to oblige. Reports this week suggest that some participants on Islamist chat forums have been drawing up "hit lists" of prominent British Jews. One contributor writing on the discussion board of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee (MPAC) said, ‘lets hope that an unfortunate event happens and they end up being killed someway [sic]’. The group later removed those comments, but such views are indicative of the hatred that is out there.

As Shiraz says, British Muslims have to make a choice – between supporting Hamas terrorism and supporting Israeli democracy. Unfortunately, such moral integrity and scruple for the truth is currently being swamped by the frenzied hatred and demonisation of Israel, not just amongst British Muslims but the media and intelligentsia.

Finally Colonel Richard Kemp, former Commander of British forces in Afghanistan and Northern Ireland and a former intelligence adviser to the Cabinet Office, has commented thus on the war in Gaza:

...only international pressure on Hamas can see an end to this conflict, together with a long-term commitment for an international force to control Gaza. The only real reason for hope in the whole desperate situation is that Israel now enjoys the warmest relations with most of its neighbouring Arab states. And fearful of encouraging Islamist extremists in their own countries, the last thing these governments can afford is any kind of success for Hamas... Despite Israel's extraordinary measures a tragically high number of innocent civilians have been killed and wounded. That is the inevitability of Hamas's way of fighting. Avoiding civilian casualties when fighting among the people is always difficult. When combating an enemy that uses human shields it is impossible.

In tomorrow’s Sunday Times, Dominic Lawson quotes Col Kemp further:

Kemp told me that ‘Hamas deploys suicide attackers including women and children, and rigs up schools and houses with booby-trap explosives. Its leaders knew as a matter of certainty this would lead to civilian casualties if there was a ground battle. Virtually every aspect of its operations is illegal under international humanitarian law – ‘war crimes’ in the emotive language usually reserved for the Israelis’.

Colonel Kemp points out that if the IDF had no regard for civilian lives it would never have leafleted and telephoned residents in Gaza, warning them when it was about to attack their area: after all, that also gives Hamas notice – hardly the act of an army devoted to military victory at all costs. Similarly, the IDF’s unilateral commitment to a daily three-hour ceasefire to permit the evacuation (to Israel) of casualties, and for the passage of ‘humanitarian aid’, also allows Hamas time to regroup and redeploy for future attacks.

Indeed. So much is blindingly obvious. The fact that such demonstrable truths are not being acknowledged but wickedly ignored and Israel accused instead of behaving like Nazis demonstrates that a large section of Britain’s ruling class has simply repudiated reason itself.

http://www.spectator.co.uk/melaniephillips/3223606/in-the-face-of-this-madness-some-facts.thtml
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« Reply #475 on: January 11, 2009, 09:06:32 AM »

Israel is far, far more restrained in it's dealing with it's enemies than i'd ever be. Israel could turn Gaza into a parking lot in an afternoon without losing a single soldier, yet they pay in blood to save the lives of those that teach their children hate and terror.
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« Reply #476 on: January 14, 2009, 08:18:29 PM »

Murder Spree by People Who Refuse to Ask For Directions
by  Ann Coulter

01/14/2009
 
 
In a front-page article on Jan. 2 of this year, The New York Times took a brief respite from its ongoing canonization of Barack Obama and returned to its series on violent crimes committed by returning GIs, or as I call it: "U.S. Military, Psycho Killers."

The Treason Times' banner series about Iraq and Afghanistan veterans accused of murder began in January last year but was quickly discontinued as readers noticed that the Times doggedly refused to provide any statistics comparing veteran murders with murders in any other group.

So they waited a year, hoping readers wouldn't notice they were still including no relevant comparisons.


What, for example, is the percentage of murderers among veterans compared to the percentage of murderers in the population at large -- or, more germane, in the general population of young males, inasmuch as violent crime is committed almost exclusively by young men?

Any group composed primarily of young men will contain a seemingly mammoth number of murderers.

Consider the harmless fantasy game, Dungeons and Dragons -- which happens to be played almost exclusively by young males. When murders were committed in the '80s by (1) young men, who were (2) Dungeons and Dragons enthusiasts, some people concluded that factor (2), rather than factor (1), led to murderous tendencies.

Similarly, for its series about how America's bravest and finest young men are really a gang of psychopathic cutthroats, the Times triumphantly produced 121 homicides committed by veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars in order to pin the blame for the murders on the U.S. military.

Perhaps the Times' next major expose could be on how a huge percentage of murderers are people who won't ask for directions or share the TV remote.

Let's compare murders by veterans to murders by other 18- to 35-year-olds in the U.S. population at large. From 1976 to 2005, 18- to 24-year-olds -- both male and more gentle females -- committed homicide at a rate of 29.9 per 100,000. Twenty-five- to 35-year-olds committed homicides at a rate of 15.8 per 100,000.

Since 9/11, about 1.6 million troops have served in either Iraq or Afghanistan. That makes the homicide rate among veterans of these wars 7.6 per 100,000 -- or about one-third the homicide rate for their age group (18 to 35) in the general population of both sexes.

But fewer than 200,000 of the 1.6 million troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan have been women, and the murder rate for the general population includes both males and females. Inasmuch as males commit nearly 90 percent of all murders, the rate for males in those age groups is probably nearly double the male/female combined rates, which translates to about 30 to 55 murderers per 100,000 males aged 18 to 35.

So comparing the veterans' rate of murder to only their male counterparts in the general population, we see that Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are about 10 times less likely to commit a murder than non-veterans of those wars.

But as long as the Times has such a burning interest in the root causes of murder, how about considering the one factor more likely to create a murderer than any other? That is the topic we're not allowed to discuss: single motherhood.

As I describe in my new book, "Guilty: Liberal 'Victims' and Their Assault on America," controlling for socioeconomic status, race and place of residence, the strongest predictor of whether a person will end up in prison is that he was raised by a single parent. (The second strongest factor is owning a Dennis Kucinich bumper sticker.)

By 1996, 70 percent of inmates in state juvenile detention centers serving long-term sentences were raised by single mothers. Seventy percent of teenage births, dropouts, suicides, runaways, juvenile delinquents and child murderers involve children raised by single mothers. Girls raised without fathers are more sexually promiscuous and more likely to end up divorced.

A 1990 study by the left-wing Progressive Policy Institute showed that, after controlling for single motherhood, the difference in black and white crime disappeared.

Various studies come up with slightly different numbers, but all the figures are grim. A study cited in the far left-wing Village Voice found that children brought up in single-mother homes "are five times more likely to commit suicide, nine times more likely to drop out of high school, 10 times more likely to abuse chemical substances, 14 times more likely to commit rape (for the boys), 20 times more likely to end up in prison, and 32 times more likely to run away from home."

With new children being born, running away, dropping out of high school and committing murder every year, it's not a static problem to analyze. But however the numbers are run, single motherhood is a societal nuclear bomb.

Many of these studies, for example, are from the '90s, when the percentage of teenagers raised by single parents was lower than it is today. In 1990, 28 percent of children under 18 were being raised in one-parent homes -- mother or father, divorced or never-married. By 2005, more than one-third of all babies born in the U.S. were illegitimate.

That's a lot of social problems in the pipeline.

Think I'm being cruel? Imagine an America with 60 to 70 percent fewer juvenile delinquents, teenage births, teenage suicides and runaways, and you will appreciate what the sainted "single mothers" have accomplished.

Even in liberals' fevered nightmares, predatory mortgage dealers, oil speculators and Ken Lay could never do as much harm to their fellow human beings as single mothers do to their own children, to say nothing of society at large.

But the Times won't run that series because liberals adore single motherhood and the dissolution of traditional marriage in America. They detest the military, so they cite a few anecdotal examples of veterans who have committed murder and hope that no one asks for details.
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« Reply #477 on: January 16, 2009, 08:30:33 AM »

THE DEMONS OF GAZA
By RALPH PETERS

January 10, 2009 --
Israel hasn't killed a single civilian in the Gaza Strip. Over a hundred civilians have died, and Israeli bombs or shells may have ended their lives. But Israel didn't kill them.

Hamas did.

It's time to smash the lies. The lies of Hamas. The UN lies. And the save-the-terrorists lies of the global media.  There is no moral equivalence between Hamas terrorists and Israeli soldiers. There is no gray area. There is no point in negotiations.  Hamas is a Jew-killing machine. It exists to destroy Israel. What is there to negotiate? 

When Hamas can't kill Jews, it's perfectly willing to drive Palestinian civilians into the line of fire - old men, women and children. Hamas herds the innocent into "shelters," then draws Israeli fire on them. And the headline-greedy media cheer them on.

Hamas isn't fighting for political goals. "Brokered agreements" are purely means to an end. And the envisioned end is the complete destruction of Israel in the name of a terrorist god. Safe in hidden bunkers or in Damascus, the Hamas leadership is willing to watch an unlimited number of civilians and even street-level terrorists die.

Lives, too, are nothing but means to an end. And dead kids are the coins that keep the propaganda meter ticking.

All Hamas had to do to prevent Israel's act of self-defense was to leave Israel unmolested by terror rockets. All Hamas needs to do now to stop this conflict and spare the Palestinian people it pretends to champion is to stop trying to kill Israelis and agree to let Israel exist in peace.

Hamas didn't, and Hamas won't.

Now Israel has to continue its attack, to wreak all the havoc it can on Hamas before a new American president starts meddling. If Israel stops now, Hamas can declare victory just for surviving - despite its crippling losses. While it's impossible to fully eliminate extremism, killing every terrorist leader hiding in a Gaza bunker is the only hope of achieving even a temporary, imperfect peace. The chance may not come again.

And don't worry about "creating a power vacuum." Let the Palestinians pick up their own pieces. Even anarchy in Gaza is better for Israel than Hamas.

Israelis, Americans and Westerners overall share a tragic intellectual blind spot: We're caught in yesterday's model of terrorism, that of Arafat's PLO, of the IRA, the Red Brigades or the Weather Underground. But, as brutal as those organizations could be, they never believed they were on a mission from God.

Yesteryear's terrorists wanted to change the world. They were willing to shed blood and, in extreme cases, to give their own blood to their causes. But they didn't seek death. They preferred to live to see their "better world."  Now our civilization faces terrorists who regard death as a promotion. They believe that any action can be excused because they're serving their god. And their core belief is that you and I, as stubborn unbelievers, deserve death.

Their grisly god knows no compromise. To give an inch is to betray their god's trust entirely. Yet we - and even some Israelis - believe it's possible to cut deals with them.

In search of peace, Israel handed Gaza to the Palestinians, a people who had never had a state of their own. As thanks, Israel received terror rockets. And the Palestinian people got a gang war.

Peace is the last thing Hamas terrorists and gangsters want. Peace means the game is up. Peace means they've disappointed their god. Peace means no more excuses. They couldn't bear peace for six months.

This is a war to the bitter end. And we're afraid to admit what it's about.

It's not about American sins or Israeli intransigence. It's about a sickness in the soul of a civilization - of Middle-Eastern Islam - that can only be cured from within. Until Arabs or Iranians decide to cure themselves, we'll have to fight.

Instead, we want to talk. We convince ourselves, against all evidence, that our enemies really want to talk, too, that they just need "incentives" (the diplomat's term for bribes). The apparent belief of our president-elect that it's possible to negotiate with faith-fueled fanatics is so naive it's terrifying.

Yet, it's understandable. Barack Obama's entire career has been built on words, not deeds, on his power to persuade, not his power to deliver. But all the caucuses, debates, neighborhood meetings and backroom deal-making sessions in his past haven't prepared him to "negotiate" with men whose single-minded goal is Israel's destruction - and ours.

If Obama repeats the same "peace-process" folly as his predecessors, from Jimmy have-you-hugged-your-terrorist-today? Carter through Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, he'll be devoured before he knows he's been bitten.

How many administrations have to repeat the identical error of believing that, deep down inside, terrorists, gunmen and warlords really want peace every bit as much as we do? Israel's enemies aren't just looking to cut a sharp deal. They want to destroy Israel.

Which part of what they shout in our faces is so hard to understand? Israel's foes have been preaching Jew-hatred for so long that even the "moderates" can't turn back now.

And why does the global left hate Israel so? Why would they pull out the stops to rescue Hamas?

Because Israel exposed the lie that a suffering people can't lift itself up through hard work, education and discipline. Israel didn't need the help of a hundred condescending NGOs and their misery junkies.

Because the Holocaust is a permanent embarrassment to Europeans. They need to believe that Israelis are kosher Nazis.

Because, from the safety of cafes and campuses, it's cool to call terrorists "freedom fighters." It makes you feel less guilty when you hit up daddy (or the state) for money. I mean, dude, it's not like you have to, like, live with them or anything, you know?



Because, above all, the most-destructive racists in the world today are mainstream leftists. Want the truth? The Left codes Israel as white and, therefore, inherently an oppressor. Israel is held to the highest standard of our civilization and our legal codes - and denied the right to self-defense.

But the Left tacitly believes that people with darker skins are inferior and can't be expected to behave at a civilized level. Leftists expect terrorist movements or African dictators to behave horribly. It's the post-modern, latte-sucking version of the "little brown brother" mentality.

The worst enemies of developing societies have been leftists who refuse to hold them to fundamental standards of governance and decency. But, then, the Left needs developing societies to fail to prove that the system's hopelessly stacked against them.

A battered, impoverished, butchered people built a thriving Western democracy in an Eastern wasteland. Israel can never be forgiven for its success.

In this six-decade-old conflict that Israel's intractable neighbors continue to force upon it, there not only are no good solutions, but, thanks to the zero-sum mentality of Islamist terrorists, there aren't even any bad solutions - short of nuclear genocide - that would bring an enduring peace to the Middle East.

And even the elimination of Israel wouldn't be enough. The terrorists would fight among themselves, while warring upon less-devout fellow Muslims.

All Israel can do is to fight for time and buy intervals of relative calm with the blood of its sons and daughters. By demanding premature cease-fires and insisting that we can find a diplomatic solution, we strengthen monsters and undercut our defenders.

And don't believe the propaganda about this conflict rallying Gaza's Palestinians behind Hamas. That's more little-brown-brother condescension, assuming all Arabs are so stupid they don't know who started this and who's dragging it out at their expense.

Gaza's people may not care much for Israelis, but they rue the day they cast their votes for Hamas. Hamas is killing them.

Ralph Peters is a retired U.S. Army officer and the author of "Looking For Trouble."
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« Reply #478 on: January 22, 2009, 12:48:23 PM »

This screed has its over the top and disjointed elements, but does a pretty good job of indicting far left nitwits and their ilk.

Editorial Article

Dr. Dalit Baum and the Academic Lesbians for Jihad

By Lee Kaplan www.isracampus.org.il

If you were to seek an example of an Israeli "academic" serving as a full-time instrument of campus anti-Israel indoctrination, you would be hard pressed to find a better one than Mathematics Professor turned Women's Studies "scholar," Dalit Baum.

She keeps getting herself hired as a professor in the field of Women's Studies or "Peace Studies" (she once taught Women's Studies at the University of Haifa). Baum is actually nothing more than an itinerant pseudo-scholar in anti-Israel incitement. In certain circles she is renowned for her anarchist anti-Israel pontifications, which have made her a guest lecturer against Israel on the university circuit, especially on the American Left Coast. She has been invited to teach and lecture at University of California - San Diego, California State University at Monterey Bay, twice at University of California - Santa Cruz, even at the prestigious University of California- Berkeley.

Baum has a PhD degree in math, earned from Hebrew University in 1995. But no one invites her to lecture about that. Her campus hosts want her because of her malicious Jew-hating political opinions and also thanks to her opinions about female homosexuality. She proclaims that Israel is the root of all evil in the world. She is an active member in the pro-terror anti-Semitic International Solidarity Movement (ISM). Baum herself invented the anarchist group "Black (or sometimes Dirty) Laundry," which calls for Israeli "apartheid," I guess meaning existence, to be destroyed. Its slogan is "Transgendered, Not (population) Transfer!" Interestingly, even CLAF, a Lesbian Feminist organization in Israel, refuses to have anything to do with Black Laundry. Its web site solicits contributions to be sent to it via the Communist Party front group "Coalition of Women for a Just Peace." She has preferred to demonstrate in Israel against allowing freedom of speech to those with whom she disagrees.

Back in Israel these days, Baum is teaching (if that is the right word) at the "Community School for Women," a lesbian feminist "school" she helped found. Baum, a loudly self-proclaimed lesbian, has managed to connect her anti-Israel animus to support for the greatest homophobes and persecutors of homosexuals in the world, the Arab Islamofascists and the Muslim states. There homosexuality is often a capital offense. She is a leading member of a group calling itself "QUIT," which stands for "Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism," a homosexual anti-Israel anarchist/Marxist group set up to demonize Jews and Israelis while excusing Arab homophobia and persecution of homosexuals. Dalit Baum embraces and supports the very same people who would kill her for being gay!! Perhaps that explains why she has never ventured into any Muslim country to preach her ideas.

Dalit Baum scored a major personal victory in the American university system in 2003 when she managed to get appointed as a "Woman of Peace" lecturer for 8 weeks at the University of California - San Diego's Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice. It should be noted that programs in "peace studies" in the American university system (sometimes copied in Israel) are really just fronts for Marxist indoctrination programs against capitalism, against Western and Israeli self-defense against terrorism, and in favor of terrorist groups. The Kroc for whom the Kroc Institute is named is a pro-jihad Marxist "philanthropist," best known for her attempts to recruit an Islamist with close ties to al-Qaeda and Hamas to come to the United States as a "visiting scholar," an idea blocked by the American government. Kroc is the widow of McDonald's hamburger franchise king Ray Kroc. She was the driving force behind that plan to import Tariq Ramadan, a scion of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hassan al-Banna.

Baum's bio on the UC San Diego program's website reads: "Dalit Baum is a young Israeli peace activist and teacher who has worked for eight years to expose injustice and promote equality in communities long caught in deadly and devastating conflict. The grassroots organizer and lesbian feminist has led, inspired, or confronted those who could not or would not see the connection between denial of human rights and the on-going and escalating violence of the Palestinian-Israeli confrontations. She renewed an older program when she started a new Women in Black vigil in Tel Aviv; she expanded existing peace efforts by working from its inception with The Coalition of Women for a Just Peace, which brought many peace efforts together for concerted action; and, she created Black Laundry, a community of lesbians, gay men and transgenders (sic) against the occupation (sic) and for social justice. Additionally, she worked as a teacher and group facilitator at the Community School for Women , a school (sic) she helped found in 1999, whose mission calls on it (sic) to look at issues of poverty, marginalized ethnicity and national oppression at the same time."

The bio then goes on to celebrate the fact that she has participated in three demonstrations per week in Israel against the Israeli government and in favor of the demands of the Palestinians. As for her academic achievements, Baum has not produced a single book or article in an academic math journal. Her actual career is as a "peace activist" and rabble rouser accusing Israel of violating "peace" through its actions of self-defense.

When she is not leading "Dyke Marches (evidently her term)," Dalit Baum is a pseudo-scholar who has been able to open doors internationally to lecture to college students against the state of Israel and its right to defend itself thanks to her lesbianism and associations with some radical feminists. She obsessively denounces Israeli self-defense as contrary to "peace," lacing her proclamations about herself being a victim of societal oppression against homosexuals and women.

An example of her "scholarly work" can be seen in the course syllabus for a summer session course she taught at University of California - Santa Cruz, where she was dignified with the title of Visiting Professor of Women's Studies. The course was entitled "Violence and Non-violence in Social Change." Holding a Math PhD is the only qualification needed to be called a professor at that state-funded institution, where many a department head is more interested in political indoctrination than education.

The use of the term "non-violence" by Baum is the standard doubletalk among the "anarchist" crowd; when "direct action activists" like Baum and her friends serve as human shields for terrorists, violently assault IDF soldiers, and vandalize Israel's security fence, they claim they are using nonviolent tactics. But when Israel builds a Security Fence to keep out suicide bombers and other Arab serial killers, then the Jewish state is engaging in violence and state terror. The reading material in Baum's course syllabus contains only articles published by activists in the ISM and others who are virulently opposed to Israel's existence. There is nothing there for students to learn about terrorist attacks that maim and kill Israelis. Israel in the Baum course is nothing more than an abuser of human rights, guilty of oppression.

Interestingly, a newspaper reporter who attended one of Baum's lectures on that campus reported about how Baum deliberately distorted information or used contortions repeatedly in her presentation to give false impressions against and demonize the Jewish state, all the while passing such a presentation off as scholarship. Nevertheless she was invited back a second time to "teach" at UC Santa Cruz in a discipline unrelated to her PhD, this time as a Lecturer.

At another University of California web site, Baum's area of expertise was titled "Queering the Peace Movement in Israel/Palestine." Apparently she is very popular with women in the annihilate-the-Jews protest movement.

Baum "reinvents" her academic background when she stages demonstrations against the Israeli government in support of Israel's enemies. While she taught math at UCSD back in 1996, ever since she has been teaching jihad. The "Women in Black" chapter Baum takes credit for resurrecting in Tel Aviv routinely insists they are for a "two-state solution;" but then insist the Arabs have an unconditional "Right of Return" to areas inside pre-1967 Israel so that they can dismantle the Jewish state. Although "Women in Black" claim to be for "peace," their own statements, actions, and associations tell another story. They call areas even within the "Green Line" (the 1949 armistice line with Jordan) "Zionist occupied territory." Speakers at their events routinely endorse violence. The "Women in Black" have led public screaming sessions of "Palestine Will Be Free/From The River to the Sea." Their literature always presents Israel as an unprovoked aggressor, and never even mentions (let alone condemns) the 60 years of terrorism and aggression against the Jewish State. Their members routinely demonstrate together with the most venomous anti-Semites on the planet.

On the website of the Coalition of Women for Peace is a rant by Baum entitled, "Who Profits?" in which she implies that because corporations build Jewish homes in the West Bank and Gaza, and because Palestinians are employed there, therefore the "occupation" is just a moneymaking scheme. She calls for "direct action" (terrorism and sabotage) against such corporations. What wonderful scholarly reasoning. The real moneymaker is Dalit Baum milking campus anti-Semitism to get paid a buck and promote her agenda.

Baum created an organization of anti-Semitic Lesbians calling itself Black Laundry (it includes some gay Arabs), who meet in gay bars in Israel. Baum accuses the Jewish state of oppressing homosexuals, even while the Hamas murders and kneecaps them. Black Laundry members of course never convene in the areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority to protest "oppression" of homosexuals. We wonder why.

Dalit Baum is in the business of "making anarchy." She has come out in support of Hamas. She has consistently signed petitions endorsing a boycott of Israel and Israeli goods. She openly supports Palestinian "resistance," and we all know what that word means when people like Baum use it. That educational institutions in America and Israel allow people like her access to students is abominable.

http://www.isracampus.org.il/third%20level%20pages/Editorial%20-%20Lee%20Kaplan%20-%20Dalit%20Baum.htm
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« Reply #479 on: January 25, 2009, 01:07:07 PM »

Since weather is now political, I offer my comments on Minnesota winters as a political rant.  Like a hurricane victim in a hurricane zone, I know the reaction is - why do you live there, you fools.  I'll leave the positive aspects of changing seasons to another post with hopefully deeper thoughts.  Before food stamps on a credit card and free health care, we used to say that MN winters keep the riff-raff out.  It's pretty hard to live under a bridge with the weather we've been having.

One of Paul Wellstone's failings was to continue the lobby for 'cold weather assistance' to cold places.  And that was before the global warming scare.  How can we hope to pay less for others, the risks they take and the mistakes they make - to re-build in flood zones, storm zones, wild fire zones etc. - if we keep telling people in Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas that one of the nation's most prosperous states needs national help with our utility bills...

Last week was cold by our standards.  The week before was below zero from Monday through Friday, and yes, that includes the highs!  Last night I overheard a weather head speaking of a gradual warm up starting with a wake up temp of 9 below tomorrow.  We had a cold December also.  One point is that any Minnesotan who anecdotally says it isn't as cold these days as it used to be is probably wintering in Arizona.

Yesterday (Saturday) at 8am my daughter and I drove across the Twin Cities to her ski race along the Wisconsin border which was again plagued with weather advisories.  As we drove along the cities' southern freeway, both of us suddenly became aware of an amazingly brilliant rainbow we were driving toward.  I took off my sunglasses to see if that was part of the illusion but it was only more beautiful and brilliant without them.  The strangest part was that the sky was 100% blue - no clouds, no rain (hopefully that is obvious) and no snow.  All I can gather was that the moisture content of the air was so cold that it was no longer gaseous but containing microscopic crystals of ice instead, playing reflective games with the flow of sunshine to the earth.  I don't recall that happening so dramatically before.

Twice during the coldest week I lost control of my car momentarily on scraped roads with no recent precipitation of any kind, at 30 mph in a 40 zone  one evening and going 20 mph in a 30 zone the following morning.  Mind you, I am an experienced and expert winter driver, just ask me, lol.  The causes I think were: a) car exhaust contains moisture which instantly freezes to the road at these temps, b) road salt doesn't melt ice below -20 F and sand doesn't stick, and c) letting off the gas  with a front wheel drive car is a form of braking with the front tires, like downshifting.  The only way to re-gain control was to lightly re-touch the accelerator to again pull forward before it went into a spin.  In my case both times I was lucky there was no one in front of me!  I was amazed during the coldest week how many cars I saw off the road that appeared to be 'victims' of one car accidents, also with how many cars looked like they pulled over without a mishap along the sides of the freeways, either spooked by the conditions or maybe with a mechanical problem on cars that looked very new.  Belts, hoses and lubricants don't like the extremes any more than mammals do.

One major school district shut down because their politically correct biodiesel buses had their fuel supplies turn to jello which doesn't flow through the fuel lines and into injectors at these temps.  Live and learn.

On the coldest of all the cold mornings, I went out to start a car.  Like predicting who will win a fight by just looking at them, it is not always obvious which car will start at the coldest temp.  In my case it was a tiny Honda that out matched the stronger minivan and even the car that had been resting in the cold garage.  For the first few miles I noticed a new problem - the turn signals didn't work.  Later they did, so I realized it had something to do with extreme cold on the electrical contacts. Presumably moisture from ambient air was on the contacts, was unmelted by the low amperage attempting to flow across and failing to make a connection.  I wonder if Pelosi and the gang figured that in as they social engineer us our next millivolt powered transportation system with hampster-wheel generators. Can you imagine what size battery a Chevy volt will need to heat the passenger compartment of a comfortable sized car at 30 below zero and defrost the windshield if we remove the gas power from the heat system?

My political point is that will you of all please make sure that politicians from San Francisco or Hawaii or anywhere else do not decide which ride is right for you, for your family, for your climate, for your profession, for your activities, ski races, hockey games, camping trips etc. etc. etc.  There are considerations and decisions that people make in their lives about what is best for them regarding where they live, what they drive and everything else, that are not best handled at your state capital, in Washington DC or at some global conference of corrupt kleptocrats.  Even if you forget some of the reasons why these people don't know what is best for you, please cling to what individual liberties and choices you have left with every vote you make.   - Doug
« Last Edit: January 25, 2009, 01:25:55 PM by DougMacG » Logged
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« Reply #480 on: January 26, 2009, 10:27:37 PM »

Saturday, January 3, 2009
Pilar Rahola

Pilar Rahola

Pilar Rahola is a Spanish politician, journalist and activist. She is a passionate defender of the United States and Israel and an indefatigable fighter against anti-Semitism. All these despite being ideologically from the left. Her articles are published in Spain and throughout some of the most important newspapers in Latin America. She is the recipient of major awards by Jewish organizations.

I came across this speech and felt that it was worthwhile placing it in my blog. I translated it and assume full responsibility for any errors. If you want to visit her blog, you can do so by clicking here: Pilar Rahola. Some of her articles translated into English.

Why don’t we see demonstrations against Islamic dictatorships in London, Paris, Barcelona? Or demonstrations against the Burmese dictatorship? Why aren’t there demonstrations against the enslavement of millions of women who live without any legal protection? Why aren’t there demonstrations against the use of children as human bombs where there is conflict with Islam? Why has there been no leadership in support of the victims of Islamic dictatorship in Sudan? Why is there never any outrage against the acts of terrorism committed against Israel? Why is there no outcry by the European left against Islamic fanaticism? Why don’t they defend Israel’s right to exist? Why confuse support of the Palestinian cause with the defense of Palestinian terrorism? An finally, the million dollar question:Why is the left in Europe and around the world obsessed with the two most solid democracies, the United States and Israel, and not with the worst dictatorships on the planet? The two most solid democracies, who have suffered the bloodiest attacks of terrorism, and the left doesn’t care.

And then, to the concept of freedom. In every pro Palestinian European forum I hear the left yelling with fervor: “We want freedom for the people!” Not true. They are never concerned with freedom for the people of Syria or Yemen or Iran or Sudan, or other such nations. And they are never preoccupied when Hammas destroys freedom for the Palestinians. They are only concerned with using the concept of Palestinian freedom as a weapon against Israeli freedom. The resulting consequence of these ideological pathologies is the manipulation of the press.

The international press does major damage when reporting on the question of the Israeli-Palestinian issue. On this topic they don’t inform, they propagandize. When reporting about Israel the majority of journalists forget the reporter code of ethics. And so, any Israeli act of self-defense becomes a massacre, and any confrontation, genocide. So many stupid things have been written about Israel, that there aren’t any accusations left to level against her. At the same time, this press never discusses Syrian and Iranian interference in propagating violence against Israel; the indoctrination of children and the corruption of the Palestinians. And when reporting about victims, every Palestinian casualty is reported as tragedy and every Israeli victim is camouflaged, hidden or reported about with disdain.

And let me add on the topic of the Spanish left. Many are the examples that illustrate the anti-Americanism and anti-Israeli sentiments that define the Spanish left. For example, one of the leftist parties in Spain has just expelled one of its members for creating a pro-Israel website. I quote from the expulsion document: “Our friends are the people of Iran, Libya and Venezuela, oppressed by imperialism, and not a Nazi state like Israel.”

In another example, the socialist mayor of Campozuelos changed Shoah Day, commemorating the victims of the Holocaust, with Palestinian Nabka Day, which mourns the establishment of the State of Israel, thus showing contempt for the six million European Jews murdered in the Holocaust. Or in my native city of Barcelona, the city council decided to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the creation of the State of Israel, by having a week of solidarity with the Palestinian people. Thus, they invited Leila Khaled, a noted terrorist from the 70’s and current leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a terrorist organization so described by the European Union, which promotes the use of bombs against Israel. And so on and so on.

This politically correct way of thinking has even polluted the speeches of president Zapatero. His foreign policy falls within the lunatic left, and on issues of the Middle East he is unequivocally pro Arab. I can assure you that in private, Zapatero places on Israel the blame for the conflict in the Middle East, and the policies of foreign minister Moratinos reflect this. The fact that Zapatero chose to wear a kafiah in the midst of the Lebanon conflict is no coincidence; it’s a symbol.

Spain has suffered the worst terrorist attack in Europe and it is in the crosshairs of every Islamic terrorist organization. As I wrote before, they kill us will cell phones hooked to satellites connected to the Middle Ages. An yet the Spanish left is the most anti Israeli in the world.

And then it says it is anti Israeli because of solidarity. This is the madness I want to denounce in this conference.

Conclusion:

I am not Jewish. Ideologically I am left and by profession a journalist. Why am I not as anti Israeli as my colleagues? Because as a non-Jew I have the historical responsibility to fight against Jewish hatred and currently against the hatred for their historic homeland, Israel. To fight against anti-Semitism is not the duty of the Jews, it is the duty of the non-Jews.

As a journalist it is my duty to search for the truth beyond prejudice, lies and manipulations. The truth about Israel is not told. As a person from the left who loves progress, I am obligated to defend liberty, culture, civic education for children, coexistence and the laws that the Tablets of the Covenant made into universal principles. Principles that Islamic fundamentalism systematically destroys. That is to say that as a non-Jew, journalist and lefty I have a triple moral duty with Israel, because if Israel is destroyed, liberty, modernity and culture will be destroyed too.

The struggle of Israel, even if the world doesn’t want to accept it, is the struggle of the world.

http://portalofideas.blogspot.com/2009/01/pilar-rahola.html
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #481 on: January 27, 2009, 12:00:47 AM »

Good one.  I will look into that site:

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

By JOSEF JOFFE | From today's Wall Street Journal Europe
What if there is no solution? With the war in Gaza slipping into an uneasy truce, peacemakers will now descend on the Middle East. That includes George Mitchell, President Obama's special envoy to the region.

But is peace possible? The real message of Gaza may be a bloody and cruel testimony to intractability. How shall we count the ways? Annapolis, Wye, Taba, Camp David, Oslo . . . all the way back to 1947 when the Arabs refused the original two-state solution. Looking at this tale of doom, the proverbial visitor from Mars would ask in all innocence: "Could it be that the Palestinians actually don't want two states?"

No, not if we listen to what Palestinian leaders say and write, especially in Arabic and with no CNN team around. It's one state from the "river to the sea," and the blood-curdling oratory is not just anti-Israel, it is eliminationist anti-Semitic echoing Hitler and Himmler. This is not hyperbole. Just read the daily compilation in English on www.memri.org and recoil in horror. But let's be statesmanlike about this ("you know, the flowery language of the Arabs") and look at the strategic games both sides play. Double-statehood is not the first prize in this game, alas.


In 2005, Israel withdrew from Gaza. Our man from Mars would have thought: Now is the time for the Palestinians to really build a state, as they couldn't previously when Yasser Arafat was in charge and the Israeli army in place. Instead, the Palestinians elected Hamas, which thrust the three no's at Israel: no recognition, no negotiation, no acceptance (of the Oslo Accords).

The "conversation" was not about statehood but about will. It was Kassam time, with Hamas firing the missiles and Israel tightening the blockade. This is known, in the media vernacular, as a "spiral of violence." But if the missiles were the answer to the blockade, why did Hamas target the border passages and the power plant next door that supplied Gaza with electricity?

So much irrationality makes perfect sense if we posit a different strategic game. Hamas's object is provoking Israel to prove that it doesn't care about the consequences. Indeed, it wants bad things to happen to its own people. This will mobilize the "Arab street" and the world's media against Israel while demonstrating its absolute imperviousness to pain and threats of more. "Bring it on," is great for Hamas's credibility, pride and honor, but for the purpose of statehood, it would behave very differently. It would wheel and deal, cajole and dissimulate. It would play quid pro quo, not Kassams against F-16s.

Naturally, Israel couldn't allow Hamas to dictate the rules, and so it began to ready a massive counterstrike by last summer. Hamas miscalculated in 2008 as Hezbollah did in 2006. Each thought it could humiliate and cow Mr. Big without triggering retaliation. Recall Hezbollah chief Nasrallah, who admitted that he never would have authorized forays into Israel if he had foreseen the reaction. Hamas was unluckier still, for Israel was a lot more successful in Gaza than in southern Lebanon in 2006.

For Israel, the object was "never again." Never again would it allow deterrence to lapse, or its reputation for swift and efficient military force to suffer. With the country's credibility restored, you might ask: Isn't this precisely the moment for another Annapolis or Taba, where Arafat extracted even better terms than at Camp David in 2000? Alas, the Abba Ebban cliché about the Palestinians never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity is true.

The reason is that double-statehood is not their No. 1 priority. They want it all, and if they can't get it, they would rather nurse their honor, pride and sense of righteous victimhood than engage in the sordid business of compromise. At any rate, the simple two-state solution is now off the table. Most Israelis (minus the settlers and their supporters) have come around to two states. But never again will Israel vacate territory (as in Gaza) without making sure that it won't turn into a strategic springboard against the heartland. Never again will Israel relinquish control over a border like the Philadelphi Corridor that served as entry point for Iranian missiles into Gaza. It will insist on a strategic presence in the Jordan Valley.

Nor can Israel yield military control over the West Bank. What a twist of fate. Today, it is the Israeli Defense Force that guarantees the survival of Fatah and President Mahmoud Abbas against Hamas, Jihad and their Iranian sponsors. Here is the bitter irony. Fatah might want to make peace, but doesn't have the power to deliver; Hamas has the power, but it doesn't want peace, dreaming about a "final solution" that wipes Israel off this part of the map.

This is why the Obama administration is looking at yet another disappointment. The upside is that today Palestine is less than ever the "core" of the Middle East conflict. The real issue is Iran and its reach for regional hegemony. The conventional wisdom has it that peace for Palestine would weaken Tehran's mischief potential, robbing it of a rallying point for the Arab masses. Actually, it is the other way round. Iran will use its power, through its proxies, to demolish whatever deal might be hashed out by Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

For Iran's game is not a two-state solution, let alone peace. Rather, its object is to intimidate America's Arab supporters and to eliminate Israel as America's strongest regional ally. So for the Obama administration, Israel/Palestine has become an intractable sideshow on a vastly enlarged stage that extends from Haifa to Herat.

American (and European) good offices should be designed to manage rather than to solve a conflict that still defies solution. The object of intercession ought to be a stable truce. Preventing another eruption means closing off all conduits for offensive weaponry. The U.S. and the European Union can offer Hamas a benign tit for tat: Stop the terror and gain wondrous economic benefits like copious investments and easier movement of goods and people -- provided the money doesn't again disappear in the pockets of the Palestinian leadership, as it did in Arafat's days.

It took Israel 40 years to push Fatah from terrorism to teeth-gnashing acceptance. The Levant will be a lot happier place if Hamas turns out to be a faster learner.

Mr. Joffe is publisher-editor of Die Zeit, and a fellow at the Institute for International Studies and the Hoover Institution, both at Stanford University.
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« Reply #482 on: January 27, 2009, 08:38:42 AM »

Crafty,
Did you see this "breaking news" on CNN yesterday?  I couldn't help but feel BO was insulting his own country.  HE speaks as though the problems in the Middle East are all the result of the past several years ie George Bush and not problems that have been cycling for thousands of years.  He spoke that Americans that we need to learn all Muslims are not terrosists (how dare him speak for us in that way).  As an American, as a Jew, as a citizen of the US who appreciates Ws efforts to protect us I felt angry and disgusted by his downing us and the previous president.  BO has already lost me.  He sounds like a naive fool to boot.  He thinks his (non)genius argument is going to solve everything.  My wife said he looks like he will be the deer who eventually gets caught in the headlights.

And I agree with your articles conclusion that Palestinians do not want a two state solution.  They have had 62 years to agree to this if they did and still - no peace.

****Obama tells Arabic network US is 'not your enemy'
         Buzz Up Send
Writer Paul Schemm, Associated Press Writer – 16 mins ago AP – In an image made from a video provided by Al-Arabiya, President Barack Obama is interviewed in Washington …
President Barack Obama on Tuesday chose an Arabic-language satellite TV network for his first formal television interview as president, delivering a message to the Muslim world that "Americans are not your enemy."

The interview underscored Obama's commitment to repair relations with the Muslim world that have suffered under the previous administration.

The president expressed an intention to engage the Middle East immediately and his new envoy to the region, former Sen. George J. Mitchell, was expected to arrived in Egypt on Tuesday for a visit that will also take him to Israel, the West Bank, Jordan, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

"My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy," Obama told the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya news channel, which is privately owned by a Saudi businessman.

Obama said the U.S. had made mistakes in the past but "that the same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago, there's no reason why we can't restore that."

During his presidency, former President George W. Bush gave several interviews to Al-Arabiya but the wars he launched in Iraq and Afghanistan prompted a massive backlash against the U.S. in the Muslim world.

Al-Arabiya has scored interviews with top U.S. officials in the past, including Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

The channel is seen by some in Washington as more balanced in its coverage than its Qatar-funded rival Al-Jazeera, which the previous White House administration complained had an anti-American bias.

Obama called for a new partnership with the Muslim world "based on mutual respect and mutual interest." He talked about growing up in Indonesia, the Muslim world's most populous nation, and noted that he has Muslim relatives.

The new president said he felt it was important to "get engaged right away" in the Middle East and had directed Mitchell to talk to "all the major parties involved." His administration would craft an approach after that, he said in the interview.

"What I told him is start by listening, because all too often the United States starts by dictating," Obama told the interviewer.

The president reiterated the U.S. commitment to Israel as an ally and to its right to defend itself. But he suggested that both Israel and the Palestinians have hard choices to make.

"I do believe that the moment is ripe for both sides to realize that the path that they are on is one that is not going to result in prosperity and security for their people," he said, calling for a Palestinian state that is contiguous with internal freedom of movement and can trade with neighboring countries.

On Tuesday, Gaza's fragile truce was threatened when a bomb detonated by Palestinian militants exploded next to an Israeli army patrol along the border with Gaza, killing one soldier and wounding three.

Obama also said that recent statements and messages issued by the al-Qaida terror network suggest they do not know how to deal with his new approach.

"They seem nervous," he told the interviewer. "What that tells me is that their ideas are bankrupt."

In his latest message on Jan. 14, al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden said Obama had been left with a "heavy inheritance" of Bush's wars.

Shortly after the election, the network's number two, Ayman al-Zawahri used a demeaning racial term for a black American who does the bidding of whites to describe Obama.

The message suggested the terror network was worried Obama could undermine its rallying cry that the U.S. is an enemy oppressor.****

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« Reply #483 on: January 29, 2009, 08:28:54 PM »

Peter Foster: More Davos ‘globaloney’
Posted: January 29, 2009, 7:03 PM by NP Editor
Peter Foster, DavosNow that the WEF’s self-styled global governors are faced with a major crisis, they are clueless
By Peter Foster

The typically pretentious theme of this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos is “Shaping the Post-Crisis World.” But didn’t Davos shape the pre-crisis world, and thus the crisis itself? The annual Alpine gabfest has long been the epicentre of ‘globaloney,’ a mixture of serious discussion, subversive ideas and outright flakery. It has certainly never — as some critics believe — been about promoting capitalism. Rather it has always been a mercantilist stew in which big businessmen, big government and big international bureaucracy get together to suck both the collective thumb and the collective teat. Its ideological heart is the impossible UN dream of “global governance,” and of a corporate sector moving “beyond” mere profits to take on the heavy mantles of social responsibility, sustainable development, Global Compacts and Millennium Development Goals.

However, now that the WEF’s self-styled global governors are faced with the major crisis that they have long predicted, but probably never really expected, they are clueless. WEF founder Klaus Schwab, a Rolodex socialist in the mould of former UN poobah Maurice Strong, can, like a villain from Atlas Shrugged, only berate greed and call for “better” regulation and “improved” institutions and more pulling together. The global governors never really expected, or wanted, to actually govern, but rather to sit like limpet jockeys on the back of the corporate sector, making infinite demands in order to salve their own sanctimoniousness, and using the poor and the ”climate crisis” as their whips.

In fact, Davos Man has his fingerprints all over the present crisis. Subprime loans were the very model of corporate social responsibility, of putting communities and people before profits. Meanwhile a perfect Davos-type deal is taking shape to address the crisis: big government is bailing out big business — in particular, big banking — with trillions of taxpayers’ dollars. Davos-ees, present in either body or spirit, are shuffling around the funds of those not present, or represented. The archetypal Davos Man, guilty speculator George Soros, is rejoicing in the profit potential. All that’s required is for the major banks to hold onto the “good” assets and let the rest wind up in too-truly named “bad banks,” as stranded crap wholly owned by taxpayers. Mr. Soros admitted this week that he would be interested in investing in the “good” banks “since the margins are very high.”

Given this shameful model, and their own culpability, it is perhaps not surprising that not too many bankers have actually turned up at Davos this year. However, lots of big politicians are there to provide posturing and light relief. The biggest disappointment is that President Obama could not be present so that attendees might touch the hem of his garment. Still, the first day of the conference saw speeches from both Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Wen Jiabao, who were given a prominent platform to bash the U.S. and capitalism (which should never, ever, be regarded as synonymous). Even the terminally leftish British Guardian remarked “How dismal that the Davos ideal of the post-crisis age is being championed by men so fond of armies, executions and the secret police.” Dismal? Or entirely appropriate?

Mr. Putin demonstrated that although Kremlin oligarch-style cronyism may be the Davos model, he hasn’t quite grasped the elements of global back scratching. He was asked by computer whiz Michael Dell how companies such as Dell might help Russia develop its IT sector and the economy more broadly. “We don’t need any help,” snapped the increasingly unpopular czar. “We are not invalids.”

Mr. Putin might also have taken umbrage at Sir Laurence Olivier’s son, Richard, a corporate trainer, putting on a seminar on “Leadership Lessons from Macbeth” rather than those of the Russian Prime Minister. According to Mr. Olivier, “The dark black magic of Macbeth has a particular resonance this year at Davos. It’s about how people who have bloody, murderous or greedy thoughts attract bloody, murderous or greedy spirits.”

Apparently Mr. Olivier was thinking of Lehman Brothers rather than those rumoured to have been offed by the Putin regime. Still, Mr. Olivier’s flakiness at least had some substance, unlike the cryptic meanderings of WEF leader Mr. Schwab.

Mr. Schwab wrote a piece for the International Herald Tribune on Wednesday to coincide with the opening of the conference. He has wittered on for decades about how “we” — that is, the people at Davos — are going to “govern globalization.” But it seems that dozens of conferences haven’t come up with much beyond boilerplate. Mr. Schwab declared without fear of cliché that the current crisis was a “wake-up call.” Everything apparently needs overhauling, especially thinking. We must move from “ego” capitalism to “eco” capitalism. “We will not be able to hide from our responsibility to work together to rebuild shattered economies and institutions.”

Who is this “we,” and who elected Klaus Schwab to organize it?

Far from presenting coherent solutions to the current crisis, Davos this week is a cacophony of contradictory policies coming, at one end, from those who are calling for “mixed economies” and “European” models, and at the other from those who are warning about the dangers of protectionism and lousy regulation, and pointing out that there are no alternatives to open markets and capitalism as a generator of wealth and welfare. (Thank you, Rupert Murdoch.)

Meanwhile, at the World Social Forum, the “alternative” Davos in Belem, Brazil, this week, there was reported to be “little outright gloating” at the state of the world economy. After all, what ultimately pays for radical NGO protests — or WEF posturing — but capitalism?

http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/fpcomment/archive/2009/01/29/peter-foster-more-davos-globaloney.aspx
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« Reply #484 on: January 30, 2009, 06:15:59 PM »

The Suicide Of Marlboro Man

The Price Of Freedom Is Slavery. Sort Of. A Little Anyway

 








The other days I was reading G. Gordon Liddy's book of conservative nostalgia, When I Was a Kid, This Was a Free Country. He paints a sunset picture of former times when America was free, farmers could fill in swamps without violating wetland laws, and guns were just guns. People were independent and had character, and made their own economic decisions. The market ruled as it ought, and governmental intrusion was minimal.

The picture is accurate. I lived it. I wish it would come back, which it won't. It was a world certain to kill itself.

What happens is that, in an independent-minded rural county full of hardy yeomen, the density of population grows, either nearby or at distant points on each side. A highway comes through because the truckers lobby in Washington wants it. Building a highway is A Good Thing, because it represents Progress, and provides jobs for a year.

It also makes the country accessible to the big city fifty miles away. A real-estate developer buys 500 acres along the river from the self-reliant character-filled owner. He does this by offering sums of money that water the farmer's eyes.

First, 500 houses go up in a bedroom suburb called Brook Dale Manor. A year later, 500 more go up at Dale View Estates. This is A Good Thing, because the character-filled independent now-former farmer is exercising his property rights, and because building the suburb creates jobs. The river now looks ugly as the devil, but this is a wacko issue.

At Safeway corporate headquarters, way off God knows where, the new population shows up as a denser shade of green on a computer screen. A new Safeway goes in along the highway. This is A Good Thing, exemplifying free enterprise in action and creating jobs in construction. Further, Safeway sells cheaper, more varied and, truth be known, better food than the half-dozen mom-and-pop stores in the county, which go out of business.

Soon the mall men in the big city hear of the county. A billion-dollar company has no difficulty in buying out a character-filled, self-reliant farmer who makes less than forty thousand dollars a year. A shopping center arrives with a Wal-Mart. This is A Good Thing, etc. Wal-Mart sells almost everything cheaply.

It also puts most of the stores in the country seat out of business. With them go the restaurants, which no longer have the walk-by traffic previously generated by the stores. With the restaurants goes the sense of community that flourishes in a town with eateries and stores and a town square. But this is granola philosophy, appealing only to meddlesome lefties.

K-Mart arrives, along with, beside the highway, McDonald's, Arby's, Roy Rogers, and the other way stations on route to coronary occlusion. Strip development is A Good Thing because it represents the exercise of economic freedom. The county's commerce is now controlled by distant behemoths to whom the place is the equivalent of a pin on a map.

This is A Good Thing. The jobs in these outlets are secure and comfortable. The independent, character-filled frontiersmen are now low-level chain employees, no longer independent because they can be fired.

A third suburb, Brook Manor View Downs, appears. The displaced urbanites in these eyesores now outnumber the character-filled etcs. They are also smarter, have lawyers among their ranks, and co-operate. They quickly come to control the government of the county.

They want city sewerage, more roads, schools, and zoning. The latter isn't unreasonable. In a sparsely settled county, a few hogs penned out back and a crumbling Merc on blocks don't matter. In a quarter-acre yuppie ghetto, they do. Next come leash laws and dog licenses. The boisterous clouds of floppy-eared hounds turn illegal.

Prices go up, as do taxes. The profits of farming and commercial crabbing in the river do not go up. The farmers and fishermen are gradually forced to sell their land to developers, and to go into eight-to-fiving. Unfortunately you cannot simultaneously be character-filled and independent and be afraid of your boss. A hardy self-reliant farmer, when he becomes a security guard at the Gap, is a rented peon. The difference between an independent yeoman and a second-rate handyman is independence.

People make more money, and buy houses in Manor Dale Mews, but have less control over their time, and so no longer build their own barns, wire their houses, and change their own clutch-plates. Prosperity is A Good Thing. Its effect is that the children of the hardy yeoman become dependent on others to change their oil, fix their furnaces, and repair their boats.

The new urban majority are frightened by guns. They don't hunt, knowing that food comes from Safeway and its newly-arrived competitor, Giant. They do not like independent countrymen, whom they refer to as rednecks, grits, and hillbillies. Hunting makes no sense to them anyway, since the migratory flocks are vanishing with the wetlands.

Truth be told, it isn't safe to have people firing rifles and shotguns in what is increasingly an appendage of the city. The clout of the newcomers makes it harder for the independent whatevers to let their weapons even be seen in public. The dump is closed to rat-shooting.

The children of the hardy rustics do not do as well in school as the offspring of the commuting infestation, and are slowly marginalized. Crime goes up as social bonds break down. Before, everyone pretty much knew everyone and what his car looked like. Strangers stood out. Teenagers raised hell, but there were limits. Now the anonymity of numbers sets in and, anyway, there's no community any longer.

And so the rural character-filled county becomes another squishy suburb of pallid yups who can't put air in their own tires. The rugged rural individualists become cogs in somebody else's wheel. Their children grow up as libidinous mall monkeys drugging themselves to escape boredom. The county itself is a hideous expanse of garish low-end development . People's lives are run from afar.

What it comes to is that the self-reliant yeoman's inalienable right to dispose of his property as he sees fit (which I do not dispute) will generally lead to a developer's possession of it. The inalienable right to reproduce will result in crowding, which leads to dependency, intrusive government, and loss of local control.

I'd like to live again in Mr. Liddy's world. Unfortunately it is self-eliminating. Freedom is in the long run inconsistent with freedom, because it is inevitable exercised in ways that engender control. As a species, we just can't keep our pants up. But it was nice for a while.
http://www.fredoneverything.net/Liddy.shtml
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« Reply #485 on: January 31, 2009, 08:37:22 AM »

Well there are many predictions of the present problems much of it caused by ever increasing populations and competition.
I remember a poster from the Gilder and later DMG board, Mark Gerber who around 2000 posted his model predicted it would be time to get out of the stock market in 2008.  He concluded this based on demographics of aging US population, increased entitlement demands, and perhaps increased international competition for finite world resources.

I wonder if he acted on his model.  His prediction was uncannily correct in retrospect.
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« Reply #486 on: January 31, 2009, 11:47:28 AM »

Good memory on your part!

I remember Mark from the Gilder and then the David Gordon days, but not this.
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« Reply #487 on: February 02, 2009, 06:25:03 AM »

Fighting For And Freeing Muslims Is Nothing To Be Apologizing For
By CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER | Posted Friday, January 30, 2009 4:20 PM PT

Every new president flatters himself that he, kinder and gentler, is beginning the world anew. Yet, when Barack Obama in his inaugural address reached out to Muslims with "to the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect," his formulation was needlessly defensive and apologetic.

Is it "new" to acknowledge Muslim interests and show respect to the Muslim world? Obama doesn't just think so, he said so again to millions in his al-Arabiya interview, insisting on the need to "restore" the "same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago."

Astonishing. In these most recent 20 years — the alleged winter of our disrespect of the Islamic world — America did not just respect Muslims, it bled for them. It engaged in five military campaigns, every one of which involved — and resulted in — the liberation of a Muslim people: Bosnia, Kosovo, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq.

The two Balkan interventions — as well as the failed 1992-93 Somali intervention to feed starving African Muslims (43 Americans were killed) — were humanitarian exercises of the highest order, there being no significant U.S. strategic interest at stake.

In these 20 years, this nation has done more for suffering and oppressed Muslims than any nation, Muslim or non-Muslim, anywhere on earth. Why are we apologizing?

And what of that happy U.S.-Muslim relationship that Obama imagines existed "as recently as 20 or 30 years ago" that he has now come to restore? Thirty years ago, 1979, saw the greatest U.S.-Muslim rupture in our 233-year history: Iran's radical Islamic revolution, the seizure of the U.S. embassy, the 14 months of America held hostage.

Which came just a few years after the Arab oil embargo that sent the United States into a long and punishing recession. Which, in turn, was preceded by the kidnapping and cold-blooded execution by Arab terrorists of the U.S. ambassador in Sudan and his charge d'affaires.

This is to say nothing of the Marine barracks massacre of 1983, and the innumerable attacks on U.S. embassies and installations around the world during what Obama now characterizes as the halcyon days of U.S.-Islamic relations.

Look. If Barack Obama wants to say, as he said to al-Arabiya, I have Muslim roots, Muslim family members, have lived in a Muslim country — implying a special affinity that uniquely positions him to establish good relations — that's fine.

But it is both false and deeply injurious to this country to draw a historical line dividing America under Obama from a benighted past when Islam was supposedly disrespected and demonized.

As in Obama's grand admonition: "We cannot paint with a broad brush a faith as a consequence of the violence that is done in that faith's name." Have "we" been doing that, smearing Islam due to a small minority?

George Bush went to the Islamic Center in Washington six days after 9/11, when the fires of Ground Zero were still smoldering, to declare "Islam is peace," to extend fellowship and friendship to Muslims, to insist that Americans treat them with respect and generosity of spirit.

And America listened. In these seven years since 9/11 — seven years during which thousands of Muslims rioted all over the world (resulting in the death of more than 100) to avenge a bunch of cartoons — there's not been a single anti-Muslim riot in the United States to avenge the greatest massacre in U.S. history.

On the contrary. In its aftermath, we elected our first Muslim member of Congress and our first president of Muslim parentage.

"My job," says Obama, "is to communicate to the American people that the Muslim world is filled with extraordinary people who simply want to live their lives and see their children live better lives."

That's his job?

Do Americans think otherwise? Does he think he is bravely breaking new ground? George Bush, Condoleezza Rice and countless other leaders offered myriad expressions of that same universalist sentiment.

Every president has the right to portray himself as ushering in a new era of this or that. Obama wants to pursue new ties with Muslim nations, drawing on his own identity and associations. Good.

But when his self-inflation as redeemer of U.S.-Muslim relations leads him to suggest that pre-Obama America was disrespectful or insensitive or uncaring of Muslims, he is engaging not just in fiction but in gratuitous disparagement of the country he is now privileged to lead.

© 2008 Washington Post Writers Group
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« Reply #488 on: February 02, 2009, 09:35:45 AM »

Well I am glad Charles is saying it like it is despite being at George Will's dinner with BO the Great.
I was also highly offended by BO's interview with the Arab news program, as should all of those US men and women who died and fought in the noted engagements.

Naturally not one peep from the MSM.  I coudn't imagine any other President going abroad and insulting his own country like this and *getting away with it*.

Not even Jimmy Carter.
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« Reply #489 on: February 02, 2009, 12:04:54 PM »

Tell me this is not the exact frown Clinton used to express his "heartfelt" remorse and sorrow:

http://www.welt.de/english-news/article3133031/Tom-Daschle-apologizes-for-tax-issue.html
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« Reply #490 on: February 02, 2009, 01:14:25 PM »

That's funny.

So is this:

"The more interviews Speaker Pelosi gives explaining how vital the STD industry is to restarting the U.S. economy, the more I find myself hearing 'syphilis' every time she says 'stimulus.' In late September, America was showing the first signs of 'primary stimulus' â?? a few billion lesions popping up on the rarely glimpsed naughty bits of the economy: the subprime mortgage racket, the leverage kings. Now, the condition has metastasized in a mere four months into the advanced stages of 'tertiary stimulus,' with trillions of hideous, ever more inflamed pustules sprouting in every nook and cranny as the central nervous system of the body politic crumbles into total insanity -- until it seems entirely normal for the second in line of presidential succession to be on TV gibbering away about how vital the federalization of condom distribution is to economic recovery. The rules in this new 'post-partisan' era are pretty simple: If the Democratic Party wants it, it's 'stimulus.' If the Republican Party opposes it, it's 'politics.'" --columnist Mark Steyn
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« Reply #491 on: February 03, 2009, 12:04:46 PM »

By JUDEA PEARL
This week marks the seventh anniversary of the murder of our son, former Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. My wife Ruth and I wonder: Would Danny have believed that today's world emerged after his tragedy?

 
Reuters/Corbis
Jimmy Carter.
The answer does not come easily. Danny was an optimist, a true believer in the goodness of mankind. Yet he was also a realist, and would not let idealism bend the harshness of facts.

Neither he, nor the millions who were shocked by his murder, could have possibly predicted that seven years later his abductor, Omar Saeed Sheikh, according to several South Asian reports, would be planning terror acts from the safety of a Pakistani jail. Or that his murderer, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, now in Guantanamo, would proudly boast of his murder in a military tribunal in March 2007 to the cheers of sympathetic jihadi supporters. Or that this ideology of barbarism would be celebrated in European and American universities, fueling rally after rally for Hamas, Hezbollah and other heroes of "the resistance." Or that another kidnapped young man, Israeli Gilad Shalit, would spend his 950th day of captivity with no Red Cross visitation while world leaders seriously debate whether his kidnappers deserve international recognition.

No. Those around the world who mourned for Danny in 2002 genuinely hoped that Danny's murder would be a turning point in the history of man's inhumanity to man, and that the targeting of innocents to transmit political messages would quickly become, like slavery and human sacrifice, an embarrassing relic of a bygone era.

But somehow, barbarism, often cloaked in the language of "resistance," has gained acceptance in the most elite circles of our society. The words "war on terror" cannot be uttered today without fear of offense. Civilized society, so it seems, is so numbed by violence that it has lost its gift to be disgusted by evil.

I believe it all started with well-meaning analysts, who in their zeal to find creative solutions to terror decided that terror is not a real enemy, but a tactic. Thus the basic engine that propels acts of terrorism -- the ideological license to elevate one's grievances above the norms of civilized society -- was wished away in favor of seemingly more manageable "tactical" considerations.

This mentality of surrender then worked its way through politicians like the former mayor of London, Ken Livingstone. In July 2005 he told Sky News that suicide bombing is almost man's second nature. "In an unfair balance, that's what people use," explained Mr. Livingstone.

But the clearest endorsement of terror as a legitimate instrument of political bargaining came from former President Jimmy Carter. In his book "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid," Mr. Carter appeals to the sponsors of suicide bombing. "It is imperative that the general Arab community and all significant Palestinian groups make it clear that they will end the suicide bombings and other acts of terrorism when international laws and the ultimate goals of the Road-map for Peace are accepted by Israel." Acts of terror, according to Mr. Carter, are no longer taboo, but effective tools for terrorists to address perceived injustices.

Mr. Carter's logic has become the dominant paradigm in rationalizing terror. When asked what Israel should do to stop Hamas's rockets aimed at innocent civilians, the Syrian first lady, Asma Al-Assad, did not hesitate for a moment in her response: "They should end the occupation." In other words, terror must earn a dividend before it is stopped.

The media have played a major role in handing terrorism this victory of acceptability. Qatari-based Al Jazeera television, for example, is still providing Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi hours of free air time each week to spew his hateful interpretation of the Koran, authorize suicide bombing, and call for jihad against Jews and Americans.

Then came the August 2008 birthday of Samir Kuntar, the unrepentant killer who, in 1979, smashed the head of a four-year-old Israeli girl with his rifle after killing her father before her eyes. Al Jazeera elevated Kuntar to heroic heights with orchestras, fireworks and sword dances, presenting him to 50 million viewers as Arab society's role model. No mainstream Western media outlet dared to expose Al Jazeera efforts to warp its young viewers into the likes of Kuntar. Al Jazeera's management continues to receive royal treatment in all major press clubs.

Some American pundits and TV anchors didn't seem much different from Al Jazeera in their analysis of the recent war in Gaza. Bill Moyers was quick to lend Hamas legitimacy as a "resistance" movement, together with honorary membership in PBS's imaginary "cycle of violence." In his Jan. 9 TV show, Mr. Moyers explained to his viewers that "each [side] greases the cycle of violence, as one man's terrorism becomes another's resistance to oppression." He then stated -- without blushing -- that for readers of the Hebrew Bible "God-soaked violence became genetically coded." The "cycle of violence" platitude allows analysts to empower terror with the guise of reciprocity, and, amazingly, indict terror's victims for violence as immutable as DNA.

When we ask ourselves what it is about the American psyche that enables genocidal organizations like Hamas -- the charter of which would offend every neuron in our brains -- to become tolerated in public discourse, we should take a hard look at our universities and the way they are currently being manipulated by terrorist sympathizers.

At my own university, UCLA, a symposium last week on human rights turned into a Hamas recruitment rally by a clever academic gimmick. The director of the Center for Near East Studies carefully selected only Israel bashers for the panel, each of whom concluded that the Jewish state is the greatest criminal in human history.

The primary purpose of the event was evident the morning after, when unsuspecting, uninvolved students read an article in the campus newspaper titled, "Scholars say: Israel is in violation of human rights in Gaza," to which the good name of the University of California was attached. This is where Hamas scored its main triumph -- another inch of academic respectability, another inroad into Western minds.

Danny's picture is hanging just in front of me, his warm smile as reassuring as ever. But I find it hard to look him straight in the eyes and say: You did not die in vain.

Mr. Pearl, a professor of computer science at UCLA, is president of the Daniel Pearl Foundation, founded in memory of his son to promote cross-cultural understanding
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« Reply #492 on: February 04, 2009, 07:21:14 AM »

All the President’s Men, Too
In Washington, the same old same old.

By David Kahane

The paranoid thriller is a Hollywood staple, especially during Republican administrations. You know, the one where an innocent man who looks remarkably like Pinch Sulzberger is being hounded by sinister forces, all of whom look remarkably like Richard Nixon. Cars mysteriously blow up, friends vanish, telephones are tapped until our beleaguered hero finally realizes it’s all a sinister government plot that only the New York Times can expose. I’m thinking of such films as Three Days of the Condor, The Parallax View, Winter Kills, and, of course, All the President’s Men.

Those days are gone, especially now that we on the left have realized that the CIA has been on our side all along. For years, we assumed Langley was the heart of darkness, until along came Joe Wilson and his super-top-secret wife-cum-Vanity Fair model, Valerie Plame. Then the scales fell from our eyes: They hate Bush too! If and when Jason Bourne comes back, it will be as a heroic Agency black op, a liberal Jack Bauer who singlehandedly closes Gitmo while personally delivering Khalid Sheik Mohammed to some very special friends in a particularly dark corner of Egypt and then showing up in black tie to dine on wagyu steak at the White House. The film would end as Matt Damon leans over and whispers something in Obama’s ear; the president nods and they both share a good chuckle as the credits roll and a Kanye West rap song bursts from the soundtrack.

But today, in the bright, blinding sunshine of the reflected glory of the wondrous transparency of The One, we have, um, a different kind of problem: Try as he might, Obama just can’t seem to find an honest man or woman to serve either in his Caesar’s Wife cabinet or in his congressional delegation.

Call it All the President’s Men II: Tom Daschle! Timothy Geithner! Charles Rangel! If they were Republicans, imagine the hiding the Contessa Brewers of the world would be giving this trio of refugees from the IRS, how high the dudgeon, how spluttering the outrage over the free car and driver, the IMF monies, the undocumented nannies, the apartments in Harlem, and the unreported vacation-home rental income. Taxes? We don’t pay no stinkin’ taxes! Somewhere, the ghost of Leona Helmsley is smiling and stroking her pet Maltese, “Trouble.”

Luckily, there’s the tried-and-true Sandy Berger DefenseTM: It was an honest mistake! Good ol’ Sandypants, the pride of Millerton, N.Y., skating out of the National Archives with classified material and then, you know, destroying it. Why, no less an authority on felonious behavior than Billy Jeff Blythe III excused Berger by chalking it up to simple sloppiness. Yes, that’s just the quality we need in a national security adviser—sloppiness!

In the same way, the Tax Trio has basically said: oops! Daschle, in fact, has pronounced himself “disappointed” by his erroneous tax returns. “I am deeply embarrassed and disappointed by the errors that required me to amend my tax returns,” said Tom Thumb in a contrite, heartfelt note of apology to his former Senate BFFs. “I apologize for the errors and profoundly regret that you have had to devote time to them.” There—all better now? Good thing he’s not a lobbyist or, you know, married to one, or his nomination would really be in trouble.

And then there’s the ineffable Chris Dodd, for some unfathomable reason Connecticut’s longest-serving senator, who by dint of parentage and physiognomy was born to play the role of a Tammany Hall thug, shaking down local businessmen while professing his solicitude for widows and orphans. Instead, he’s the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee and, entirely coincidentally, the top recipient of “campaign contributions” from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which just so happened to go belly up on his watch. (Yes, this is the same Chris Dodd whose father—coincidentally a senator from Connecticut—was censured by his colleagues for the coincidental misuse of campaign funds.) Now comes the news that Chris is refinancing his hinky Countrywide mortgages, which just proves he was no Friend of Angelo after all. Apology accepted!

You see, this is the genius of progresso-world, the new alternative universe that began on January 20, in which you’ll be living for at least the next four years. We liberals have long believed that up is really down, black is really white, in is really out, men are really women, good is really evil, and vice versa. Not that we can prove it, mind you, but in our hearts we believe it, which is even better. Progresso-world allows us to live out our fantasies with—and here’s the best part—absolutely no adverse consequences, to us at least.

Didn’t pay your taxes? In wingnut-world, you pay fines and interest, you go to jail, and your wife and kids get sold into slavery. In progresso-world, you say: “I forgot!” and everything is hunky-dory. Why, you may become the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, get nominated for the Orwellianly named Department of Health and Human Services, or, if you play your cards right, even get to be secretary of the Treasury and command the IRS yourself!

Stole classified information and trashed it? In wingnut-world, you get arrested, put on trial, sent to Guantánamo, and executed. In progresso-world, you cop a plea, pay a fine, get probation, lose your law license, and get stripped of your security clearance for a couple of years, or until a new Democratic administration comes to power. Plus, of course, you apologize: “I deeply regret the actions that I took at the National Archives two years ago, and I accept the judgment of the court,” said Sloppy Sandy at his sentencing in 2005. Problem solved!

So maybe it’s a dumb idea for me to try to make a movie out of this one. Rangel, Geithner, Daschle, Dodd—all these President’s Men are good, honorable, decent Democrats, who only want to do what is right for our country. They’re self-sacrificing public servants, willing to forego the blandishments of private enterprise to selflessly serve the American people at this crucial time. Why, any day now, Chris Dodd will live up to his promise to release the paperwork on his two Countrywide mortgages and everything will be A-OK.

What the hell was I thinking?
 
— David Kahane has never had a mortgage from Countrywide, always paid his taxes, and never stole anything from the National Archives, which is why he is working as a hack screenwriter in Hollywood, instead of living it up in Washington. You can feel sorry for him at kahanenro@gmail.com.

— David Kahane is a nom de cyber for a writer in Hollywood. “David Kahane” is borrowed from a screenwriter character in The Player.
National Review Online - http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=OGU1NjJiYWM3ZDAyN2I1ODczZjFhYWExNDUyYzg5YTY=
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ccp
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« Reply #493 on: February 04, 2009, 10:13:43 AM »

The next time posters here get annoyed when I mention the system is rigged in favor of those with money and there does need to be better oversight and a leveler playing field you may want to read this.  The music/entertainment industry is all the same.
This is only the tip of the iceberg.  "Free markets" only rants for Hannity, Limbaugh et al is nice and ok up to an extant, but does not address this crap.  And most people know this and that is why there is an audience for the politicians who play to the "little guy" and because conservatives refuse to address this they will have a hard time growing their base.  Colin Powell is right!  Limbaugh helped me survive the slime of the Clinton years, but he is actually more idealistic than the left but in a different way.     

****AP  – Executive: SEC ignored warnings about Madoff
 Reuters – Accused swindler Bernard Madoff enters a car at the rear service entrance to his home at a luxury apartment … WASHINGTON – The man who waged a decade-long campaign to alert regulators to problems in the operations of fallen money manager Bernard Madoff told Congress Wednesday that he had feared for his physical safety.

Harry Markopolos also assailed the Securities and Exchange Commission in his first appearance before lawmakers. The SEC failed to act despite receiving credible allegations of fraud from Markopolos about Madoff's operations over a decade.

Because of the agency's inaction, "I became fearful for the safety of my family," Markopolos said.

He told a House subcommittee hearing that "the SEC is ... captive to the industry it regulates and is afraid" to bring big cases against prominent individuals. The agency "roars like a lion and bites like a flea," Markopolos said.

Madoff, a prominent Wall Street figure, was arrested in December after allegedly confessing to bilking investors of more than $50 billion in what the authorities say was a giant Ponzi scheme, possibly the largest ever. His repeated warnings to SEC staff that Madoff was running a massive pyramid scheme have cast Markopolos as an unheeded prophet in the scandal.

"The SEC was never capable of catching Mr. Madoff. He could have gone to $100 billion" without being discovered, Markopolos testified at the hearing. "It took me about five minutes to figure out he was a fraud."

Markopolos, a securities industry executive and fraud investigator, brought his allegations to the SEC about improprieties in Madoff's business starting in 2000. He fruitlessly pursued the quest through this decade with agency staff from Boston to New York to Washington, but the regulators never acted.

Now thousands of victims who lost money investing in Madoff's fund, which was separate from his securities brokerage business, have been identified. Among them are ordinary people and Hollywood celebrities — as well as big hedge funds, international banks and charities in the U.S., Europe and Asia. Life savings have evaporated, foundations have been wiped out and at least one investor apparently was pushed to commit suicide.

And the SEC has been sustaining volleys of criticism from lawmakers and investor advocates over its failure to discover Madoff's alleged fraud, which could be the biggest Ponzi scheme ever, despite the credible allegations brought to it over years.

Markopolos said he determined there was no way Madoff could have been making the consistent returns he claimed using the trading strategy he touted to prospective investors.

Madoff, who was at one point chairman of the Nasdaq Stock Market and sat on SEC advisory committees, was "one of the most powerful men on Wall Street and in a position to easily end our careers or worse," Markopolos said.

Calling the SEC "nonfunctional" and harmful to the reputation of the U.S. as a global financial leader, Markopolos recommended ways to revamp the agency, including replacing its senior staff and establishing a central office to receive complaints from whistleblowers.

Also due to testify before the House Financial Services subcommittee were five top SEC officials, including the agency's enforcement director Linda Thomsen, and the head of its inspections division Lori Richards.

In December, Christopher Cox, then the SEC chairman, pinned the blame on the agency's career staff for the failure over a decade to detect what Madoff was doing. He ordered the SEC's inspector general, H. David Kotz, to determine what went wrong. Kotz has expanded his inquiry to examine the operations of the divisions led by Thomsen, who has been the enforcement chief since mid-2005, and Richards, who has held that position since mid-1995.

Thomsen and Richards defended their actions at a Senate hearing last week over the SEC's failure to uncover Madoff's alleged fraud scheme. Members of the Senate Banking Committee were scarcely satisfied with explanations given by the two officials and by Stephen Luparello, the interim chief executive of the brokerage industry's self-policing organization.

That organization, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, was headed until December by Mary Schapiro, President Barack Obama's new SEC chief. Schapiro has said that because Madoff carried out the scheme through his investment business and FINRA was empowered to inspect only the brokerage operation, it wasn't possible for the organization to discover it.****

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G M
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« Reply #494 on: February 04, 2009, 10:28:08 AM »

http://hotair.com/archives/2009/02/04/pelosi-500-million-jobs-lost-every-month/comment-page-1/#comments

Wow, the economy is worse than I thought!
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DougMacG
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« Reply #495 on: February 04, 2009, 03:19:11 PM »

"The next time posters here get annoyed when I mention the system is rigged in favor of those with money and there does need to be better oversight and a leveler playing field you may want to read this."

 - FWIW, I don't know any conservative who opposes having the federal government govern.  We pay for an SEC, anti-trust enforcement, an FCC, an FTC, an EPA, an ATF, an FBI, an IRS and the worthless agencies that 'watched over' the corrupt, government-sponsored, mortgage giants.  We deserved oversight, bought and paid for.  Instead we passed laws telling them to make MORE bad loans and to package, hide and disguise them. 

90% of the budget is transfer payments.  Opposing some of that does not mean  looking away from anti-competitive or fraudulent practices in the marketplace.

I would add that we lack a watchdog media for oversight in business (Enron? Music Industry?) and to expose failure in government programs.  Why didn't one investigative reporter at any mainstream outlet smell a rat with Madoff or Enron or Freddie Mac and sink their teeth in?  As long as we care more about Michael Phelps than our economic system, I guess we get what we deserve.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2009, 03:25:22 PM by DougMacG » Logged
SB_Mig
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« Reply #496 on: February 04, 2009, 04:39:46 PM »

Quote
As long as we care more about Michael Phelps than our economic system, I guess we get what we deserve.

Bingo!
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ccp
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« Reply #497 on: February 05, 2009, 11:18:35 AM »

Doug,
I agree with you.
If only the government would oversee what they are supposed to.  But the media is less about news now than entertainment. The SEC reminds me of the copyright office. The system is broken.  Even those with integrity are not inclined to risk jobs, speak out, "get involved", or are hamstrung by lack of authority, lack systems in place to deal with the problems, etc.
We don't need bigger government just better and more transparent.  But this is all a dream.  BO certainly is not going to do anything when he brings in many of the same unethical characters as before.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #498 on: February 05, 2009, 01:19:58 PM »

"The one good thing about taxes is that we don't get all the government we pay for."  Will Rogers
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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #499 on: February 13, 2009, 07:40:53 AM »

February 13, 2009, 0:00 a.m.

Into the Belly of the Beast
If you’re a socialist on the way down, you were never really a capitalist on the way up.

By Jonah Goldberg

OK, things aren’t going well. Good people are losing their jobs. Every day the deficit is looking more and more like the Great Pit of Carkoon, which, as we all remember, was that giant hole with a ravenous monster inside it that ate Boba Fett in Return of the Jedi. “In its belly,” quoth C-3PO, “you will find a new definition of pain and suffering as you are slowly digested over a thousand years.” In this case, pain and suffering will inevitably take the form of inflation of Zimbabwean proportions and proctologically intrusive taxes that will make every April 15th seem like a thousand years.

Our elected representatives in Washington sold the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009” as a stimulant for the economy, but it is, in fact, Viagra for the leviathan state. The legislation effectively repeals welfare reform, the single most successful domestic policy of the 1990s. I must have been in the bathroom during that debate.

It’s no wonder lovers of limited government and fetishists for free markets are moping like dogs whose food bowls have been moved. Alan Greenspan has repudiated capitalism. George Bush paid for Barack Obama’s expansion of government with the proceeds from a fire sale on his last remaining free-market principles. Not only are we nationalizing the banks, but the legislators overseeing the banking industry regulate about as well as I play the left-handed harpsichord. Christopher Dodd, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, who got a sweetheart mortgage from Countrywide and carried water for Fannie Mae like Gunga Din, should be testifying before his own committee in an orange jumpsuit in exchange for early release. Instead, he’s spewing righteous indignation about the malfeasance of the people who used to buy him lunch.

Meanwhile, a bunch of banking CEOs appeared before the House Financial Services Committee this week. Don’t get me wrong: These executives should be holding cardboard signs on the side of the road these days (“Will Float Derivatives for Food”), but they at least know what they’re talking about. One congressman after another berated the CEOs for making bad loans and having shaky balance sheets. Fair enough. But they also berated them for not using bailout money to make more bad loans, which would keep their balance sheets shaking like Keith Richards at a detox spa.

Rep. Maxine Waters (D., Calif.), who last May vowed to nationalize the oil industry if it didn’t cut gas prices, spent her interrogation time sounding like the sort of person who waits in line at the DMV while having a conversation with her handbag, only to finally ask the clerk why he’s wasting her time. The Atlantic’s Megan McArdle writes that watching Waters interrogate the CEOs was “like watching your crazy aunt challenge your boyfriend to prove that fairies aren’t real.”

One of the great things about capitalism is that, unlike socialism or, say, Bobby Knight, it can deal with failure. In fact, capitalism needs failure. Joseph Schumpeter called this “creative destruction.” Your grandmother called it “making lemonade out of lemons.” The beauty of free markets is that firms learn from their mistakes or they lose money, shrink, and then go out of business. Governments, meanwhile, grow from their mistakes and learn to make money from them.

Under normal circumstances, the financial inferno would cause a lot of pain, but it would also burn away a lot of deadwood. The strongest firms would survive, and newer, healthier businesses would sprout from the ashes. Plummeting housing prices would make homes affordable for first-time buyers again, particularly those with good credit who live within their means.

Sure, we would still have a stimulus bill, with tax cuts and infrastructure spending and, yes, silly pork projects. And that would be fine. We would even have some kind of bailout of the banking industry, which became a mess in part because people like Christopher Dodd and Maxine Waters tried to play the banker in their own personal game of Monopoly.

But that’s not what we got. Instead, the old adage “Everyone’s a capitalist on the way up and a socialist on the way down” is kicking in. The thing is, if you’re a socialist on the way down, you were never really a capitalist on the way up. Capitalism requires putting your own capital at risk.

What we do have is a grand adhocracy where “government,” a.k.a. Barack Obama, Timothy Geithner, Nancy Pelosi, and a dozen others, will figure everything out as they go. Businesses will rise or fall based on their skill at kissing up to the government.

And as sure as shinola, when government fails again, we’ll be told that only government can save us.


— Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online and the author of Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning.

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