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Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
Topic: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces (Read 302867 times)
Prager: Conservative Parents, Left-Wing Children
Reply #1250 on:
November 05, 2013, 11:04:21 AM »
Conservative Parents, Left-Wing Children
Tuesday, Nov 5, 2013
There is a phenomenon that is rarely commented on but which is as common as it is significant.
For at least two generations, countless conservative parents have seen their adult children reject their core values.
I have met these parents throughout America. I have spoken with them in person and on my radio show. Many have confided to me — usually with a resigned sadness — that one or more of their children has adopted left-wing social, moral and political beliefs.
A particularly dramatic recent example was a pastor who told me that he has three sons, all of whom have earned doctorates — from Stanford, Oxford and Fordham. What parent wouldn’t be proud of such achievements by his or her children?
But the tone of his voice suggested more irony than pride. They are all leftists, he added wistfully.
“How do you get along?” I asked.
“We still talk,” he responded.
Needless to say, I was glad to hear that. But as the father of two sons, I readily admit that if they became leftists, while I would, of course, always love them, I would be deeply saddened. Parents, on the left or the right, religious or secular, want to pass on their core values to their children.
As a father, my purpose is not to pass on my seed, but to pass on my values. Just about anyone can biologically produce a child. That ability we share with the animals. What renders us distinct from animals is that we can pass on values. As the Latin puts it, animals only have “genitors;” humans have “paters.” Or as the Hebrew has it, parent (horeh) comes from the same root as teacher (moreh). That is why Judaism puts teachers (of religious/moral values) on the same plane as parents.
So it is sad when a parent who believes, for example, in the American trinity of liberty, “In God We Trust” and “E Pluribus Unum” has a child who believes that equality trumps liberty, that a secular America is preferable to a God-centered one, and that multiculturalism should replace the unifying American identity.
It is sad when a pastor, or any other parent, who believes that the only gender-based definition of marriage that has ever existed — husband and wife — has a child who regards the parent as a bigot for holding on to that definition.
It is sad when a parent who believes that America has always been, in Lincoln’s famous words, “the last best hope of earth,” has a child who believes that America has always been little more than an imperialist, racist and xenophobic nation.
That this happens so often raises the obvious question: Why?
There are two reasons.
One is that most parents with traditional American and Judeo-Christian values have not thought it necessary to articulate these values to their children on a regular basis. They assumed that there was no need to because that was true for much of American history, when the society at large held those values. Villages do indeed raise children. And when the village shares parents’ values, the parents don’t have to do the difficult work of inculcating these values.
But the village — i.e., American society — has radically changed.
Which brings us to the second reason.
Virtually every institution outside the home has been captured by people with left-wing values: specifically the media (television and movies) and the schools (first the universities and now high schools).
In the 1960s and 1970s, American parents were blindsided. Their children came home from college with values that thoroughly opposed those of their parents.
And the parents had no idea how to counteract this. Moreover, even if they did, after just one year at the left-wing seminaries we still call universities, it was often too late. As one of the founders of progressivism in America, Woodrow Wilson, president of Princeton University before becoming president of the United States, said in a speech in 1914, “I have often said that the use of a university is to make young gentlemen as unlike their fathers as possible.” Eighty-eight years later, the president of Dartmouth College, James O. Freedman, echoed Wilson: “The purpose of a college education is to question your father’s values,” he told the graduating seniors of Dartmouth College.
Even now, too few conservative parents realize how radical — and effective — the university agenda is. They are proud that their child has been accepted to whatever college he or she attends, not realizing that, values-wise, they are actually playing Russian roulette — except that only one chamber in the gun is (SET ITAL) not (END ITAL) loaded with a bullet.
And then they come home, often after only year at college, a different person, values-wise, from the one the naive parent so proudly said goodbye.
What to do? I will answer that in a future column. But the first thing to do is to realize what is happening.
There are too many sad conservative parents.
Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
Reply #1251 on:
November 05, 2013, 07:44:18 PM »
"Conservative Parents, Left-Wing Children"
Doesn't that describe Hillary' parents and her?
What Obama learned at Columbia
Reply #1252 on:
November 12, 2013, 11:53:08 AM »
Prager: The Midas Touch and the Leftist Touch
Reply #1253 on:
November 19, 2013, 10:50:22 AM »
The Midas Touch and the Leftist Touch
Tuesday, Nov 19, 2013
The Midas touch is named for the mythological Greek King Midas who is said to have been able to turn everything he touched into gold.
The left has the opposite ability: to turn virtually everything it touches into rubble. Sometimes it happens quickly; sometimes it takes generations. But it is inevitable.
Almost the only time this is not true is when the left takes a position that is shared by non-leftists. But whatever the left transforms in its direction is damaged, and often destroyed.
Name the institution or the value transformed by the left and that institution or value is ruined.
Here is a partial list:
Since the left came to dominate universities, schools of education and, increasingly, high schools, each has becomes inferior to what it was prior to left-wing influence.
Universities have become to the left what seminaries are to religions — a place to indoctrinate students. Truth is derided as a false construct and is no longer the goal of most university professors (outside of math and the natural sciences). Schools of education teach left-wing doctrines and brand-new notions of teaching that are almost always inferior to what existed earlier.
–Art and Music
The left-wing influence on art and music has been almost entirely destructive. Notions of greatness in art have been deconstructed, if not ridiculed. There is no pursuit of excellence or of spiritual or moral elevation, and no aim to inspire. Indeed, the opposite is more often the rule. The ugly, the deliberately offensive, the moronic and the scatological are celebrated: The 24-foot sculpture of a dog lifting its leg and peeing in front of the Orange County Museum of Art; Piss Christ, the crucifix in the artist’s urine shown at galleries around America; and exhibits composed of menstrual blood are but a few examples.
While all rational people want to protect the environment, environmentalism has become a destructive leftist religion. Millions of Africans have died of malaria because of the environmentalist-induced bans on DDT. Environmentalist opposition to modifying rice to include Vitamin A led to the deaths of about 8 million Third World children. In 2012 alone, wind turbines have created killing fields for birds and bats. The American prairies are being destroyed by the environmentalists’ push for ethanol.
The cultural left has created and celebrated an unbelievable coarsening of the culture, especially injurious to the young. Examples of Hollywood’s degradation of culture in film and on television are too numerous to mention. We will suffice with mentioning only MTV, one of the most damaging cultural forces in the lives of American young people; and the sex-drenched universities from an f-saw exhibition to the ubiquitous “sex week.”
For decades, the left has sought to weaken the American military, the most potent force for peace and liberty on planet earth — by, among other things, obtaining huge cuts in military spending (not only through sequestration) and social engineering experiments such as placing women in combat units.
Thanks to the left’s total dominance of California political life, the left, in the words of the most respected observer of California life, Chapman University’s Joel Kotkin, “has turned the California Dream into a nightmare.”
Left-wing policies have done incalculable damage to black America. Left-wing mayors of nearly every major American city have supervised the economic ruin of many of those cities. Decades of rhetoric reinforcing black victimhood have served only to stymie black progress and increase anger. And left-wing welfare policies have been the primary contributor to the 70 percent rate for children born out-of-wedlock and the concomitant decline of black fatherhood.
The left-engineered welfare state with its monumental national debts is crushing the economies of virtually every European country that has adopted them, and it will do the same to the American economy. Even the proudest achievements of the left — Medicare and Medicaid — will soon be unsustainable, as will Social security if the retirement age is not raised by at least a few years.
–Men and Women
Thanks to left-wing attitudes inculcated in women from high school on, more and more women consider marriage and family second in importance to career success. This will lead, as it already has, to unhappiness among vast numbers of women who eventually realize that career isn’t nearly as meaningful to them as it is to most men. Meanwhile, the anti-boy policies in elementary schools and high schools — books assigned that appeal far more to girls, the end of games at recess that boys enjoy and need — have directly led to boys falling more and more behind girls in academic and professional achievement.
Meanwhile, left-wing denigration of marriage (except same-sex marriage) has led to the lowest rates of marriage in Western history, and the left-wing-induced secularization of society has massively contributed to historically low birth rates in America and Europe.
–God and Religion
For over half a century, the left has made war on Judeo-Christian religions in the popular culture and through legislation, beginning with the Supreme Court’s 1962 decision banning this voluntary and non-denominational prayer in New York State schools: “Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our country.” The consequences of this enforced secularization of American life in terms of human happiness and ethical behavior are — and will increasingly be — disastrous.
It turns out that there is little difference between the Midas touch and the leftist touch. Both end up destroying everything.
VDH: The War on Human Nature
Reply #1254 on:
December 01, 2013, 02:33:06 PM »
Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
Reply #1255 on:
December 08, 2013, 08:46:58 PM »
I am posting this not because of Netanyahu but this that Mandela wrote in an autobiography:
"In my experience I have found Jews to be more broadminded than most whites on issues of race and politics, perhaps because they themselves have historically been victims of prejudice," Mandela wrote in his 1994 autobiography.
He is thus the first and only prominent Black to acknowledge any appreciation for Jewish support of Black civil rights.
*****Netanyahu missing Mandela memorial for cost reasons
Jerusalem (AFP) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided not to attend a memorial service for Nelson Mandela this week because it is too expensive to travel to South Africa, Israeli media reported Sunday.
Netanyahu had notified the South African authorities that he would fly in but cancelled his plans at the last minute due to the costs involved -- around 7.0 million shekels ($2 million) for his transport and security alone, pubic radio and the Haaretz daily reported.
"The decision was made in light of the high transportation costs resulting from the short notice of the trip and the security required for the prime minister in Johannesburg," Haaretz reported.
The Israeli leader has been in the spotlight recently with revelations that taxpayers dished out almost $1 million last year to maintain his three residences.
The media highlighted a bill of 17,000 euros ($23,000) for water to fill a swimming pool at his villa in Caesarea in the country's north.
More than 50 heads of state and government have confirmed their intentions to travel to South Africa to pay their respects to the anti-apartheid hero who died last Thursday, South Africa's foreign ministry has said.
US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle will be among 80,000 people attending a vast memorial service Tuesday in the Soweto sports stadium that hosted the 2010 World Cup final.
The commemorations will culminate with Mandela's burial on December 15 in Qunu -- the rural village where he spent his early childhood.
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has announced that he will attend Tuesday's memorial service.
Israeli leaders have paid warm homage to the former South African president who died after a long illness at the aged of 95.
Netanyahu paid tribute to Mandela as "a man of vision and a freedom fighter who disavowed violence".
But some commentators have noted that Israel maintained close relations with the apartheid-era regime until the United States said the ties could threaten Washington's generous annual military aid to the Jewish state.
After his release from 27 years incarceration in 1990, Mandela, who first visited Israel and the Palestinian territories in 1999, was an ardent supporter of the Palestinian cause but also a firm believer that Israelis would ultimately take the path of peace.
"In my experience I have found Jews to be more broadminded than most whites on issues of race and politics, perhaps because they themselves have historically been victims of prejudice," Mandela wrote in his 1994 autobiography.
South African Jews played a prominent role in the struggle against apartheid, among them late communist leader Joe Slovo, who headed the ANC's military wing.*****
VDH: The Art of Presidential Lying
Reply #1256 on:
December 11, 2013, 10:44:31 AM »
Gilder: Knowledge and Power
Reply #1257 on:
December 23, 2013, 12:50:53 PM »
Hoover fellow Robinson, left, and George Gilder, right
This week on Uncommon Knowledge, author George Gilder discusses his conception of knowledge, power, and the economy, as described in his latest book, Knowledge and Power: The Information Theory of Capitalism and How it is Revolutionizing our World. He argues that a low entropy, or predictable and stable, carrier is required for the emergence of knowledge – whether it be a fiber optic cable and communication, or a social system governed by the rule of law and economic innovation. Such a social system is not spontaneous, but rather developed through sacrifice and a religious order. (41:32)
Goldberg: Duck Dynasty, Paine vs. Burke
Reply #1258 on:
December 26, 2013, 10:01:29 AM »
Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
Reply #1259 on:
December 29, 2013, 10:17:41 AM »
I don't agree with all of this but she makes some good points. Since no political party adequately addresses this (or in the case of Republicans even admit to the existence of thi) I personally feel that NO party in this country represents me.
****INCOME INEQUALITY CREATES HUGE GAPS IN OPPORTUNITY
By Cynthia Tucker December 28, 2013 12:00 AM
By now, you've surely heard of the Texas drunken driving case that has sparked national outrage -- angering victims, upsetting psychologists and sending Twitter into overdrive. A 16-year-old who killed four people while legally intoxicated was sentenced to 10 years' probation and treatment in a tony rehab facility.
As unusual as that example of mercy may be, it was the rationale offered by a defense expert that drove observers into a frenzy. A psychologist hired by defense attorneys told the court that the young man's tragically irresponsible actions were the fault of his rich parents, who didn't rear him with sufficient discipline. As a consequence, G. Dick Miller said, the teenager suffered from "affluenza" and didn't know right from wrong. (Many other psychologists have disagreed vociferously, saying there is no such diagnosis.)
It's hard to stomach that notion, especially since Judge Jean Boyd of the Fort Worth Juvenile Court seems to have swallowed it whole. I can't imagine how bitter and resentful -- not to mention mystified -- the victims' families must be.
But Boyd might have unintentionally done us a favor by opening the door to a dank, dark room that we have worked too hard to keep closed. She has let out the putrid aromas of economic inequality, which we have long ignored. Wealthy people, the judge's sentence reminds us, have huge advantages over ordinary folk, despite an American mythology about equal opportunity. And the opportunity gap is growing as inequality cleaves the country into haves and have-nots.
The very terms "wage gap" and "disappearing middle class" have become cliches in Washington, often muttered by pandering politicians and comfortable journalists who have little real understanding of the effect that income inequality has had on the lives of ordinary Americans. But the fallout is real enough.
Since the 1970s, the wages of working-class Americans -- those without college degrees -- have stagnated and fallen further and further behind. Meanwhile, the wealthy have only become more prosperous.
Despite what you may believe to be true, the individual's work ethic has little to do with those results. No matter how hardworking you are, a job at Wal-Mart won't give you much in the way of financial security. And if you are born to parents who can give you a trust fund, it doesn't matter how little you work; you'll still have plenty of security.
The trends that have eaten away at the great American middle -- including globalization and technological gains -- have been evident for decades, but the Great Recession accelerated the consequences. Even as economic data show huge gains in productivity, the jobless rate remains high, stuck at around 7 percent. (Translation: Companies have found ways to get more and more work done with technology, whether it's through eliminating bank tellers and installing more ATMs, or using more robots in factories.)
This is a complex problem with no easy answers, but we could make a start toward solutions by looking squarely at the issue and refusing to call it by other names. Here are a few things it's not: indolence, racism, the failure of the welfare state.
Mitt Romney became appropriately infamous for his condescending dismissal of the "47 percent" who he claimed doesn't want to work, but that wrong-headed idea doesn't stop with Romney. U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., running for the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate, has proposed that poor children sweep school cafeteria floors in exchange for free or reduced lunches, a deal that would get the "myth out of their head that there is such a thing as a free lunch," he said.
But liberals often get it wrong, too -- confusing rampant income inequality with racism. The legacy of racism has certainly contributed to the wealth gap between black and white Americans, but class is now a bigger factor in a child's future than race. President Obama's children are virtually assured a bright future, while millions of their cohort among the working classes are not.
The class divide is one of the biggest problems now facing the country, and it's time we started to confront it. Judge Boyd's unjust sentence is just the provocation to force us to take it on.
(Cynthia Tucker, winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, is a visiting professor at the University of Georgia. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)****
Camille Paglia: A Feminist Defense of Masculine Virtues
Reply #1260 on:
December 30, 2013, 03:59:25 PM »
Camille Paglia: A Feminist Defense of Masculine Virtues
The cultural critic on why ignoring the biological differences between men and women risks undermining Western civilization.
By Bari Weiss
Updated Dec. 28, 2013 10:46 p.m. ET
Philadelphia 'What you're seeing is how a civilization commits suicide," says Camille Paglia. This self-described "notorious Amazon feminist" isn't telling anyone to Lean In or asking Why Women Still Can't Have It All. No, her indictment may be as surprising as it is wide-ranging: The military is out of fashion, Americans undervalue manual labor, schools neuter male students, opinion makers deny the biological differences between men and women, and sexiness is dead. And that's just 20 minutes of our three-hour conversation.
When Ms. Paglia, now 66, burst onto the national stage in 1990 with the publishing of "Sexual Personae," she immediately established herself as a feminist who was the scourge of the movement's establishment, a heretic to its orthodoxy. Pick up the 700-page tome, subtitled "Art and Decadence From Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson, " and it's easy to see why. "If civilization had been left in female hands," she wrote, "we would still be living in grass huts."
The fact that the acclaimed book—the first of six; her latest, "Glittering Images," is a survey of Western art—was rejected by seven publishers and five agents before being printed by Yale University Press only added to Ms. Paglia's sense of herself as a provocateur in a class with Rush Limbaugh and Howard Stern. But unlike those radio jocks, Ms. Paglia has scholarly chops: Her dissertation adviser at Yale was Harold Bloom, and she is as likely to discuss Freud, Oscar Wilde or early Native American art as to talk about Miley Cyrus.
Ms. Paglia relishes her outsider persona, having previously described herself as an egomaniac and "abrasive, strident and obnoxious." Talking to her is like a mental CrossFit workout. One moment she's praising pop star Rihanna ("a true artist"), then blasting ObamaCare ("a monstrosity," though she voted for the president), global warming ("a religious dogma"), and the idea that all gay people are born gay ("the biggest canard," yet she herself is a lesbian).
But no subject gets her going more than when I ask if she really sees a connection between society's attempts to paper over the biological distinction between men and women and the collapse of Western civilization.
She starts by pointing to the diminished status of military service. "The entire elite class now, in finance, in politics and so on, none of them have military service—hardly anyone, there are a few. But there is no prestige attached to it anymore. That is a recipe for disaster," she says. "These people don't think in military ways, so there's this illusion out there that people are basically nice, people are basically kind, if we're just nice and benevolent to everyone they'll be nice too. They literally don't have any sense of evil or criminality."
The results, she says, can be seen in everything from the dysfunction in Washington (where politicians "lack practical skills of analysis and construction") to what women wear. "So many women don't realize how vulnerable they are by what they're doing on the street," she says, referring to women who wear sexy clothes.
When she has made this point in the past, Ms. Paglia—who dresses in androgynous jackets and slacks—has been told that she believes "women are at fault for their own victimization." Nonsense, she says. "I believe that every person, male and female, needs to be in a protective mode at all times of alertness to potential danger. The world is full of potential attacks, potential disasters." She calls it "street-smart feminism."
Ms. Paglia argues that the softening of modern American society begins as early as kindergarten. "Primary-school education is a crock, basically. It's oppressive to anyone with physical energy, especially guys," she says, pointing to the most obvious example: the way many schools have cut recess. "They're making a toxic environment for boys. Primary education does everything in its power to turn boys into neuters."
She is not the first to make this argument, as Ms. Paglia readily notes. Fellow feminist Christina Hoff Sommers has written about the "war against boys" for more than a decade. The notion was once met with derision, but now data back it up: Almost one in five high-school-age boys has been diagnosed with ADHD, boys get worse grades than girls and are less likely to go to college.
Ms. Paglia observes this phenomenon up close with her 11-year-old son, Lucien, whom she is raising with her ex-partner, Alison Maddex, an artist and public-school teacher who lives 2 miles away. She sees the tacit elevation of "female values"—such as sensitivity, socialization and cooperation—as the main aim of teachers, rather than fostering creative energy and teaching hard geographical and historical facts.
By her lights, things only get worse in higher education. "This PC gender politics thing—the way gender is being taught in the universities—in a very anti-male way, it's all about neutralization of maleness." The result: Upper-middle-class men who are "intimidated" and "can't say anything. . . . They understand the agenda." In other words: They avoid goring certain sacred cows by "never telling the truth to women" about sex, and by keeping "raunchy" thoughts and sexual fantasies to themselves and their laptops.
Politically correct, inadequate education, along with the decline of America's brawny industrial base, leaves many men with "no models of manhood," she says. "Masculinity is just becoming something that is imitated from the movies. There's nothing left. There's no room for anything manly right now." The only place you can hear what men really feel these days, she claims, is on sports radio. No surprise, she is an avid listener. The energy and enthusiasm "inspires me as a writer," she says, adding: "If we had to go to war," the callers "are the men that would save the nation."
And men aren't the only ones suffering from the decline of men. Women, particularly elite upper-middle-class women, have become "clones" condemned to "Pilates for the next 30 years," Ms. Paglia says. "Our culture doesn't allow women to know how to be womanly," adding that online pornography is increasingly the only place where men and women in our sexless culture tap into "primal energy" in a way they can't in real life.
A key part of the remedy, she believes, is a "revalorization" of traditional male trades—the ones that allow women's studies professors to drive to work (roads), take the elevator to their office (construction), read in the library (electricity), and go to gender-neutral restrooms (plumbing).
" Michelle Obama's going on: 'Everybody must have college.' Why? Why? What is the reason why everyone has to go to college? Especially when college is so utterly meaningless right now, it has no core curriculum" and "people end up saddled with huge debts," says Ms. Paglia. What's driving the push toward universal college is "social snobbery on the part of a lot of upper-middle-class families who want the sticker in the window."
Ms. Paglia, who has been a professor of humanities and media studies at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia since 1984, sees her own students as examples. "I have woodworking students who, even while they're in class, are already earning money making furniture and so on," she says. "My career has been in art schools cause I don't get along with normal academics."
To hear her tell it, getting along has never been Ms. Paglia's strong suit. As a child, she felt stifled by the expectations of girlhood in the 1950s. She fantasized about being a knight, not a princess. Discovering pioneering female figures as a teenager, most notably Amelia Earhart, transformed Ms. Paglia's understanding of what her future might hold.
These iconoclastic women of the 1930s, like Earhart and Katharine Hepburn, remain her ideal feminist role models: independent, brave, enterprising, capable of competing with men without bashing them. But since at least the late 1960s, she says, fellow feminists in the academy stopped sharing her vision of "equal-opportunity feminism" that demands a level playing field without demanding special quotas or protections for women.
She proudly recounts her battle, while a graduate student at Yale in the late 1960s and early '70s, with the New Haven Women's Liberation Rock Band over the Rolling Stones: Ms. Paglia loved "Under My Thumb," a song the others regarded as chauvinist. Then there was the time she "barely got through the dinner" with a group of women's studies professors at Bennington College, where she had her first teaching job, who insisted that there is no hormonal difference between men and women. "I left before dessert."
In her view, these ideological excesses bear much of the blame for the current cultural decline. She calls out activists like Gloria Steinem, Naomi Wolf and Susan Faludi for pushing a version of feminism that says gender is nothing more than a social construct, and groups like the National Organization for Women for making abortion the singular women's issue.
By denying the role of nature in women's lives, she argues, leading feminists created a "denatured, antiseptic" movement that "protected their bourgeois lifestyle" and falsely promised that women could "have it all." And by impugning women who chose to forgo careers to stay at home with children, feminists turned off many who might have happily joined their ranks.
But Ms. Paglia's criticism shouldn't be mistaken for nostalgia for the socially prescribed roles for men and women before the 1960s. Quite the contrary. "I personally have disobeyed every single item of the gender code," says Ms. Paglia. But men, and especially women, need to be honest about the role biology plays and clear-eyed about the choices they are making.
Sex education, she says, simply focuses on mechanics without conveying the real "facts of life," especially for girls: "I want every 14-year-old girl . . . to be told: You better start thinking what do you want in life. If you just want a career and no children you don't have much to worry about. If, however, you are thinking you'd like to have children some day you should start thinking about when do you want to have them. Early or late? To have them early means you are going to make a career sacrifice, but you're going to have more energy and less risks. Both the pros and the cons should be presented."
For all of Ms. Paglia's barbs about the women's movement, it seems clear that feminism—at least of the equal-opportunity variety—has triumphed in its basic goals. There is surely a lack of women in the C-Suite and Congress, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a man who would admit that he believes women are less capable. To save feminism as a political movement from irrelevance, Ms. Paglia says, the women's movement should return to its roots. That means abandoning the "nanny state" mentality that led to politically correct speech codes and college disciplinary committees that have come to replace courts. The movement can win converts, she says, but it needs to become a big tent, one "open to stay-at-home moms" and "not just the career woman."
More important, Ms. Paglia says, if the women's movement wants to be taken seriously again, it should tackle serious matters, like rape in India and honor killings in the Muslim world, that are "more of an outrage than some woman going on a date on the Brown University campus."
Ms. Weiss is an associate editorial features editor at the Journal.
Poth/Nocera: Will Digital Networks ruin us?
Reply #1261 on:
January 07, 2014, 10:37:38 AM »
Will Digital Networks Ruin Us?
By JOE NOCERA
Published: January 6, 2014 189 Comments
The most important book I read in 2013 was Jaron Lanier’s “Who Owns the Future?” Though it was published in May, I came to it late in the year. But this turned out to be fortuitous timing. With unemployment seemingly stalled out at around 7 percent in the aftermath of the Great Recession, with the leak of thousands of National Security Agency documents making news almost daily, with the continuing stories about the erosion of privacy in the digital economy, “Who Owns the Future?” puts forth a kind of universal theory that ties all these things together. It also puts forth some provocative, unconventional ideas for ensuring that the inevitable dominance of software in every corner of society will be healthy instead of harmful.
"How much is Google's use of my personal information in ad targeting worth to me? It can't be worth more than advertisers pay to use it, which is a few pennies."
Lanier has an unusual authority to criticize the digital economy: He was there, more or less, at the creation. Among (many) other things, he founded the first company to sell virtual reality products. Another of his start-ups was sold to Google. As a consultant, he has had assignments with “Wal-Mart, Fannie Mae, major banks and hedge funds,” as he notes in “Who Owns the Future?” But unlike most of his fellow technologists, he eventually came to feel that the rise of digital networks was no panacea.
On the contrary: “What I came away with from having access to these varied worlds was a realization that they were all remarkably similar,” he writes. “The big players often gained benefits from digital networks to an amazing degree, but they were also constrained, even imprisoned, by the same dynamics.”
Over time, the same network efficiencies that had given them their great advantages would become the instrument of their failures. In the financial services industry, it led to the financial crisis. In the case of Wal-Mart, its adoption of technology to manage its supply chain at first reaped great benefits, but over time it cost competitors and suppliers hundreds of thousands of jobs, thus “gradually impoverishing its own customer base,” as Lanier put it to me.
The N.S.A.? It developed computer technology that could monitor the entire world — and, in the process, lost control of the contractors it employed. As for Facebook, Google, Twitter, Amazon et al., well, in Lanier’s view, it’s only a matter of time before their advantages, too, disintegrate.
There are two additional components to Lanier’s thesis. The first is that the digital economy has done as much as any single thing to hollow out the middle class. (When I asked him about the effect of globalization, he said that globalization was “just one form of network efficiency.” See what I mean about a universal theory?) His great example here is Kodak and Instagram. At its height, writes Lanier “Kodak employed more than 140,000 people.” Yes, Kodak made plenty of mistakes, but look at what is replacing it: “When Instagram was sold to Facebook for a billion dollars in 2012, it employed only 13 people.”
Which leads nicely to Lanier’s final big point: that the value of these new companies comes from us. “Instagram isn’t worth a billion dollars just because those 13 employees are extraordinary,” he writes. “Instead, its value comes from the millions of users who contribute to the network without being paid for it.” He adds, “Networks need a great number of people to participate in them to generate significant value. But when they have them, only a small number of people get paid. This has the net effect of centralizing wealth and limiting overall economic growth.” Thus, in Lanier’s view, is income inequality also partly a consequence of the digital economy.
It is Lanier’s radical idea that people should get paid whenever their information is used. He envisions a different kind of digital economy, in which creators of content — whether a blog post or a Facebook photograph — would receive micropayments whenever that content was used. A digital economy that appears to give things away for free — in return for being able to invade the privacy of its customers for commercial gain — isn’t free at all, he argues.
Lanier’s ideas raise as many questions as they answer, and he makes no pretense to having it all figured out. “I know some of this will turn out to be wrong,” he told me. “But I just don’t know which part.”
Still his ideas about reformulating the economy — creating what he calls a “humanistic economy” — offer much food for thought. Lanier wants to create a dynamic where digital networks expand the pie rather than shrink it, and rebuild the middle class instead of destroying it.
“If Google and Facebook were smart,” he said, “they would want to enrich their own customers.” So far, he adds, Silicon Valley has made “the stupid choice” — to grow their businesses at the expense of their own customers.
Lanier’s message is that it can’t last. And it won’t.
A version of this op-ed appears in print on January 7, 2014, on page A23 of the New York edition with the headline: Will Digital Networks Ruin Us?.
Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
Reply #1262 on:
January 07, 2014, 09:36:08 PM »
excellent and refreshing take on digital networks.
Ad for Superbowl banned
Reply #1263 on:
January 12, 2014, 12:33:41 PM »
Reply #1264 on:
January 14, 2014, 10:38:59 AM »
Re: VDH: (In)Equality
Reply #1265 on:
January 14, 2014, 11:18:58 AM »
Quote from: Crafty_Dog on January 14, 2014, 10:38:59 AM
Hanson: "The problem with destroying liberty in service to mandated sameness is obvious, driven by Hesiod’s second, destructive envy: It has never worked, because it is contrary to human nature — both man’s acquisitive habits and the fact that we are not all born into the world equal in every respect. Instead, forced equality erodes personal initiative, undermines the rule of law, ruins the honesty of language, and requires a degree of coercion antithetical to a free society."
If people don't choked up on emotion when they hear about liberty and freedom, then look at the efficiency side of it, getting everyone to do and be their best. Inequality is the step-ladder. If all incomes are the same, then they are low and there is no step up. Wouldn't everyone like to think that a year from now they will be more skilled, more experienced and more valuable as a worker, wage earner or business owner than they are right now - and get paid more for it. You in your prime and at your peak is the upside of you at the beginning with no experience or skills. Do we really want no upside or to keep placing more limits on it? The question should be how to get all people to realize their potential, not how to diminish those who did.
Hanson: "The irony is that free people usually create far more wealth than the coerced, which makes the lower echelons better off, a fact that reminds “equality” is usually about empowering progressive elites rather than materially helping the poor."
Wasn't that exact point made recently here by our own G M ?! )
WSJ: Where left and right agree on inequality
Reply #1266 on:
January 15, 2014, 02:27:04 AM »
Where Right and Left Agree on Inequality
Both say that 'a fair chance in the race of life' does not come through the market alone.
William A. Galston
Jan. 14, 2014 7:16 p.m. ET
Mitt Romney's contemptuous dismissal of the "47%" has turned out to be the most consequential utterance of the 2012 presidential campaign. The line about those who are dependent on government and unlikely to vote for him was recognized by thoughtful conservatives for what it was: an economic and moral mistake as well as a political blunder. Even before President Obama's speech last month on inequality, conservative leaders had begun to speak out, and the pace has intensified in recent weeks.
Speaking at the Brookings Institution on Monday, Rep. Paul Ryan laid out his understanding of the America idea: a society in which "the condition of your birth does not determine the outcome of your life." He was echoing the founder of the Republican Party, who declared in 1861 that the principal objective of American government was "to afford to all an unfettered start and a fair chance in the race of life."
As always, President Lincoln chose his words with precision. An unfettered start—without legal impediments—is necessary but not sufficient. A fair chance takes more, which is why the man who freed the slaves also established our system of land-grant colleges.
Today, we know that a fair chance means reaching kindergarten ready to read, graduating from high school and pursuing post-secondary education or training while developing the traits of character that enable young people to persevere in the face of inevitable difficulties. A fair chance also means a job market where people are hired and rewarded on the basis of talent and drive, not race, gender or family connections.
Many conservatives understand that what Lincoln termed a fair chance—what we now call equality of opportunity—does not come about through the market and civil society alone. Writing in the most recent issue of National Affairs, Michael Gerson and Peter Wehner declare that conservatives believe in equality of opportunity, not equality of results, but also that "government holds some responsibility for creating the ground for that equality of opportunity, which is not a natural condition."
Leading conservatives acknowledge, moreover, that the United States is not yet an equal-opportunity society. In a speech in November, Sen. Mike Lee said: "Today, a boy born in the bottom 20% of our income scale has a 42% chance of staying there as an adult." According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, he added, "the United States is third from the bottom of advanced countries in terms of upward economic mobility." Speaking last month, Sen. Marco Rubio said that "70% of children born into poverty will never make it to the middle class," noting that there is more social mobility in Canada than in the U.S. The senators are both right. We are still far from Paul Ryan's ideal.
This is what makes the present moment so unusual. Most liberals agree with most conservatives that the objective is equal opportunity. Liberals agree that equal opportunity is a social creation, not a natural condition. And they cite the same facts to argue that the U.S. has not yet succeeded in creating an equal-opportunity society.
The question is what to do about it.
We know, for example, that many children reach kindergarten far behind their more fortunate peers and that they never catch up. Poverty is part of the explanation, as liberals insist. But so are parenting and family structure, as conservatives believe.
We have a choice. We can continue a useless debate between two half-truths, or we can agree that we should work together on both parts of a complex and stubborn problem. We can do more to ensure that children do not grow up in poverty and that they receive effective preparation for formal schooling. And we can do more to encourage a culture of work and marriage while acknowledging that for the foreseeable future, a large percentage of children will grow up in single-parent households whose mothers and fathers will need help to become more effective parents.
Here's another useless debate. Every serious analysis concludes that poverty in the U.S. would be far worse without the programs launched during the Great Society. So conservatives should stop repeating Ronald Reagan's canard that we fought a war on poverty and poverty won. It is more accurate to say that we fought poverty to a draw in circumstances that became increasingly unfavorable for lower-wage workers and their families.
But Lyndon Johnson launched the war on poverty to "open the gates" of opportunity and create a society in which everyone has a chance "to advance his welfare to the limit of his capacities." Cash transfers and in-kind supports may help the poor. But unless that assistance builds opportunity, it will never be enough.
Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
Reply #1267 on:
January 15, 2014, 08:08:28 AM »
About the author who hails from the political left; Mondale, Gore, Clinton.
The left loves to opine, "what about the poor". I also ask what about the middle class? 70% live from paycheck to paycheck. That is more than just the poor.
And what about the remarkable advantages the wealthy have that are not available to others?
Some on the right speak we should not even focus on class. America is not about classes. We are not to be divided into such groups.
I like Galston's attempt at trying to find some common ground. But he still seems bent on what can the State do about it? For example. Today we know that a fair chance to succeed includes reaching Kindergarten with the ability to read. Is this true? I don' t remember anyone reading before school. I learned to read in school. Also I read that the pre Kindergarten programs as advocated by the One and his crew simply don't work. Obviously it does come from the home. So how are more social programs going to help those noncompetitive parents?
Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
Reply #1268 on:
January 15, 2014, 10:29:39 AM »
Quote from: ccp on January 15, 2014, 08:08:28 AM
About the author who hails from the political left; Mondale, Gore, Clinton.
The left loves to opine, "what about the poor". I also ask what about the middle class? 70% live from paycheck to paycheck. That is more than just the poor.
And what about the remarkable advantages the wealthy have that are not available to others?
Some on the right speak we should not even focus on class. America is not about classes. We are not to be divided into such groups.
I like Galston's attempt at trying to find some common ground. But he still seems bent on what can the State do about it? For example. Today we know that a fair chance to succeed includes reaching Kindergarten with the ability to read. Is this true? ...
Galston: Where Right and Left Agree on Inequality
I should be happy with half agreement but what he says about poverty is bunk. We don't have widespread real poverty in America. We don't have real have-nots. What we have are earn-nots. Generations of people in many areas grow up in an environment where no one had to go out and earn everything that they have, no matter how much, no matter how little. The nature of the dependency society is that we cannot end it. I know we need a true safety net for people in real need. But we can't even talk about the damage these programs do to millions and millions of recipients. Look at debate over the extension of unemployment benefits to eternity in the new-normal, non-emergency economy. An entrepreneur response is what a trained, skilled, resilient worker who has a family to feed does when he or she can't find someone else to hire them for a conventional job. When we pay you not to do that, you will not do that, for the most part. But politically, today, we can't even discuss it much less fix it.
Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
Reply #1269 on:
January 15, 2014, 10:44:57 AM »
I agree strong questions can be put to this piece, as the two of you have. I also like that you get there is something of merit to the piece as well.
Apocraphyl (sp?) Story
Reply #1270 on:
January 16, 2014, 10:05:01 AM »
Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
Reply #1271 on:
January 16, 2014, 09:20:24 PM »
That is the best lesson on socialism I have ever heard.
Barnett: NSA bulk data is like gun registration
Reply #1272 on:
January 21, 2014, 10:11:45 PM »
Knowledge is Power: How the NSA bulk data seizure program is like gun registration
By Randy Barnett
January 21 at 5:07 pm
We are repeatedly told by defenders of the NSA bulk data seizure program that there has not been a single example of any abuse by the NSA of this database. Set aside the information that the NSA regularly violated its own rules. Set aside the fact that the so-called FISA “court” lacks the independent information needed to oversee such abuses. Set aside the information we have that some NSA employees used their access to this data to cyberstalk their love interests, giving rise to the internal nickname “LoveINT.” Set aside the fact that Edward Snowden managed to get his hands on “literally everything” without authorization. Set aside that this was likely made possible due to the absence of internal monitoring of data collection at the NSA, so it cannot be effectively audited and held accountable. And, above all, set aside the fact that this is a top secret program, the operational details of which we have no direct knowledge. Query whether government officials such as the Attorney General, or even the President himself, are privy to how the program actually works. After all, the concept of “deniability” was invented to shield them from such information so they can deny any such knowledge.
Set all this aside and assume instead that the claim of “not a single abuse” is true. Does that justify the existence of such a program of data collection on every person in the United States? I do not think so. Knowledge is power, and the power to access this information in secret is a very dangerous one. Consider why gun rights advocates, like myself, oppose firearm registration. We are told by proponents of such registration that it is “reasonable” because it does not deprive anyone of his or her right to keep or bear arms. Yet the very existence of the data trove makes present and future violations more feasible and, therefore, more likely. For example, the New York Police Department reportedly sent notices to registered gun owners to surrender their guns having a capacity of more than 5 rounds, as such weapons now violate state law. Formerly perfectly legal and entirely conventional guns are now susceptible to confiscation due to registration.
The brute fact that the government does not know where the guns are makes it much more difficult to confiscate them in the future. Not only does this illustrate the practical danger to constitutional liberties posed by the government simply possessing vast information about our activities and associations for later search. The trove of phone and email metadata to which the NSA now has access would make gun registration unnecessary as the government would already possess enough information to identify most gun owners.
In the “good old days” of Smith v. Maryland, the principal authority cited on behalf of the constitutionality of this bulk data seizure program, there needed to be a pen register installed on any particular person’s phone whose activities were being tracked. Not only did law enforcement have good reason to be suspicious of Michael Lee Smith, authorities had to present its track and trace order to a third-party – the phone company – which provided an external constraint on such tracking. Now we have a policy of “pen registers for everyone,” the information from which is automatically seized and kept entirely in house, subject only to internal “controls.”
This vast searchable database creates three grave threats to the personal liberties of the citizenry.
First, is the use of such information – like the use of the IRS to suppress political opposition – illicitly and improperly to target people for political purposes.
Second, and equally dangerous, is a future legally authorized “mission creep,” as this data is used for more and more purposes. We are already hearing, for example, that NSA is sharing data with other agencies, such as the Drug Enforcement Administration, who then obscure the source of their tips with other evidence. After all, “if it would have saved just one life….”
Third, if this use of so-called “metadata” in the hands of third-parties is allowed, then bulk seizure and storage of other third-party records, such as our credit card statements, is equally permissible. Once this bulk collection of “metadata” is permitted, there is no judicially-administrable limiting principle confining it to our phone records, or email “headers.”
The power to search all our communications – or all our third-party records – is a power too great to repose in the government’s hands. Unlike private business like Verizon or Google, those in government have a strong incentive and desire to suppress dissent – along with their political rivals – and need only the means to do so. Unlike private companies, they have the power to incarcerate anyone on their enemies targeting list should their searches turn up anything incriminating. Yahoo and Sprint have neither the motive nor the means to restrict our liberties.
Cato’s Jim Harper and I have contended that all these bulk data seizure programs are both illegal under Section 215 of the Patriot Act and unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment. But set aside such arguments. Whether legal or illegal, constitutional or unconstitutional, knowledge is power. And this is too much power to give any agency of government.
Randy Barnett is the Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Legal Theory, Georgetown University Law Center, and Director of the Georgetown Center for the Constitution. His books include: Restoring the Lost Constitution: The Presumption of Liberty (Princeton, rev. ed. 2014); and The Structure of Liberty: Justice and the Rule of Law (Oxford, rev. ed. forthcoming 2014). A former criminal prosecutor in Chicago, in 2004, he argued medical marijuana case of Gonzales v. Raich in the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2009, he was named a Guggenheim Fellow in Constitutional Studies. Follow him on Twitter @RandyEBarnett
How would we know?
Reply #1273 on:
January 22, 2014, 09:51:13 AM »
"We are repeatedly told by defenders of the NSA bulk data seizure program that there has not been a single example of any abuse by the NSA of this database. Set aside the information that the NSA regularly violated its own rules. Set aside the fact that the so-called FISA “court” lacks the independent information needed to oversee such abuses. Set aside the information we have that some NSA employees used their access to this data to cyberstalk their love interests, giving rise to the internal nickname “LoveINT.” Set aside the fact that Edward Snowden managed to get his hands on “literally everything” without authorization. Set aside that this was likely made possible due to the absence of internal monitoring of data collection at the NSA, so it cannot be effectively audited and held accountable. And, above all, set aside the fact that this is a top secret program, the operational details of which we have no direct knowledge. Query whether government officials such as the Attorney General, or even the President himself, are privy to how the program actually works. After all, the concept of “deniability” was invented to shield them from such information so they can deny any such knowledge."
That was exactly my point when I heard Congressman King on Geraldo ranting about "show us one shred of evidence of abuse".
Sorry folks. I will never ever support this guy for anything. Anyone who talks like that is either naïve, stupid, or a liar.
How the heck are we the people supposed to come up with evidence against the NSA? You tell us KIng you stupid bastard. HOw can we even know?
Last Edit: January 22, 2014, 12:17:37 PM by Crafty_Dog
Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
Reply #1274 on:
January 22, 2014, 11:11:25 AM »
Why in the world would they accept gifts like this? The gifts were to family members which under Virginia is legal though they maybe avoided reporting them which is not.
The investigation seems to have sprung unexpectedly from some items stolen from a kitchen by a chef who was obviously given some plea deal in exchange for dirt on the bigger fish.
Yet I wonder why Federal investigations seem to be successful against Republicans but seem to go no where with Democrats. And to think McDonnell's gifts of 160K were such a big deal when Virginia just elected a far bigger crook McAullife as governor? That guy has become a multimillionaire with his insider deals. Some people are just wiser at skirting the laws when they take bribes I guess.
****Ex-Governor of Virginia Is Indicted on Charges Over Loans and Gifts
By TRIP GABRIELJAN. 21, 2014
Former Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, could face decades in prison if convicted. Steve Helber/Associated Press
Former Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia and his wife, Maureen, were indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury on charges of accepting more than $140,000 in loans and gifts in exchange for promoting the business of a political patron who was seeking special favors from the state government.
The 14-count indictment filed by the United States attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia included charges of fraud and soliciting loans and gifts from Jonnie R. Williams Sr., the chief executive of Star Scientific, a maker of dietary supplements, who hoped to use the governor to promote his products.
The indictment accuses the McDonnells of accepting some $135,000 in cash from Mr. Williams, thousands of dollars in golf outings, designer clothing and a Rolex watch engraved “71st Governor of Virginia” on the back. It accuses the former first couple of lying about the gifts on loan statements and to government investigators.
Once a rising Republican star, mentioned as a possible running mate for Mitt Romney in 2012 and as an aspirant for his party’s 2016 presidential nomination, Mr. McDonnell has taken a spectacular fall since details of his relationship with Mr. Williams surfaced last spring. Under Virginia law, he was limited to one four-year term, but details of his relationship with Mr. Williams and the threat of his indictment colored the race to succeed him.
“Today’s charges represent the Justice Department’s continued commitment to rooting out public corruption at all levels of government,” the acting assistant attorney general, Mythili Raman, said in a statement. “Ensuring that elected officials uphold the public’s trust is one of our most critical responsibilities.”
At a news conference in Richmond on Tuesday night, Mr. McDonnell said he had been “falsely and wrongly accused” and that prosecutors had “stretched the law to its breaking point” to bring charges. He said he did no special favors for Mr. Williams. He appeared with his wife and took no questions.
Earlier, a lawyer for Ms. McDonnell, William Burck, said she was innocent.
Mr. McDonnell, who last summer announced that he was returning the gifts and loans, has long maintained that he never did anything for Mr. Williams or his company that he would not have done for any other Virginia business.
He apologized in his last address to the General Assembly on Jan. 8 for the scandal, which cast a shadow over the campaign of the Republican candidate who sought to succeed him, Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II. Mr. Cuccinelli lost in November to the current governor, Terry McAuliffe.
A lawyer for Mr. Williams, Jerry W. Kilgore, declined to comment. Mr. Williams stepped down as chief executive of Star Scientific last month and the company changed its name.
If convicted, the McDonnells could face decades in prison.
As detailed in the 43-page indictment, Mr. Williams ingratiated himself with the McDonells by giving them lavish gifts and loans, many of which it said Ms. McDonnell solicited with the promise that she and the governor could help his company.
Mr. Williams, an entrepreneur whose publicly traded company developed dietary supplements and cosmetics derived from a tobacco extract, sought to use the McDonnells to impress investors, as well as to enlist the governor’s support in winning state-funded research on his product.
In April 2011, the government charges, Ms. McDonnell asked Mr. Williams to buy her an Oscar de la Renta gown in New York for a political event at the Union League Club. She promised to seat him next to the governor.
Later that year, the indictment charges, Ms. McDonnell told Mr. Williams that she and her husband were having severe financial difficulties because of real estate investments in Virginia Beach. She asked for a $50,000 loan. Mr. Williams agreed to lend the money, telling the governor that “loan paperwork was not necessary,” according to the charges.
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Shortly after, Mr. Williams paid $15,000 to cater the wedding of the McDonnells’ middle daughter, and Ms. McDonnell agreed to fly to Florida on Mr. Williams’s private jet to promote a dietary supplement called Anatabloc, made by Star Scientific.
“Thanks so much for all your help with my family,” the governor wrote to Mr. Williams, in an email included in the indictment. “Your very generous gift to [CM] was most appreciated as well as the golf round tomorrow for the boys,” he added, with “CM” apparently a reference to the governor’s middle daughter.
“Maureen is excited about the trip to fla to learn more about the products,” he added.
At the governor’s request, according to the indictment, the Virginia secretary of health asked policy advisers to meet with Mr. Williams, who was interested in having Virginia’s public universities conduct scientific studies of the health benefits of the active ingredient in Anatabloc, which he would be able to point to for investors.
In a meeting with the health policy adviser, Mr. Williams said he had discussed with the governor having the studies paid for by the State Tobacco Commission.
Later, when the governor met with a top state official about ways to reduce health care costs, Mr. McDonnell pulled out some Anatabloc from his pocket, said he took it personally and asked the official to “reach out to the ‘Anatabloc people’ and meet with them,” according to the indictment.
In the summer of 2011, when Mr. Williams offered a mountain lake home he owned to the McDonnells for a getaway, Ms. McDonnell asked if Mr. Williams’s Ferrari would be available for their use. Mr. Williams had an employee drive the car to the lake house for the McDonnells’ enjoyment, according to the indictment.
The government charges that after Ms. McDonnell met with investigators in February 2013, she wrote a note to Mr. Williams trying to cover her tracks by making it appear that she had agreed to return the designer luxury goods to him rather than keep them.
The governor was charged with routing Mr. Williams’s loans and other largess through family members and “corporate entities” to avoid revealing them on annual gift disclosure filings. When details of some of the gifts emerged publicly last year, Mr. McDonnell said they had been made to family members, not himself, and therefore he was not required to disclose them.
Speaking to radio listeners last spring, Mr. McDonnell said, “I think it’s important that the people of Virginia know that nothing has been done with regard to my relationship with Mr. Williams or his company Star Scientific to give any kind of special benefits to him or his company.”
Although Mr. McDonnell said he had returned all the gifts, the indictment includes a list of property that he and his wife would be required to forfeit if they are convicted. The list includes Mr. McDonnell’s silver Rolex, two gold Oscar de la Renta dresses, an Armani jacket and matching dresses, two pairs of Foot Joy golf shoes, a baby blue striped Peter Millar golf shirt, a Ping Kinloch golf bag, two sets of golf clubs, two iPhones and 30 boxes of Anatabloc.****
Malken: Chamber of Comm. = cronyism
Reply #1275 on:
January 25, 2014, 09:20:39 PM »
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce vs. America
By Michelle Malkin • January 24, 2014 09:03 AM
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce vs. America
by Michelle Malkin
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is a politically entrenched synod of special interests. These fat cats do not represent the best interests of American entrepreneurs, American workers, American parents and students, or Americans of any race, class or age who believe in low taxes and limited government. The chamber’s business is the big business of the Beltway, not the business of mainstream America.
If you are a business owner who believes your country should strictly and consistently enforce its borders and deport illegal immigrants who violate the terms of their visas, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce doesn’t represent you.
If you are a worker who believes the feds should punish illegal aliens who use fake documents to obtain jobs instead of rewarding them with “legal status,” the U.S. Chamber of Commerce doesn’t champion you.
If you are a parent or educator who opposes top-down federal education schemes such as Common Core that undermine local control, dumb down rigorous curricula and threaten family privacy while enriching big business and lobbying groups, the U.S. Chamber od Commerce doesn’t speak for you.
If you are a taxpayer who has had enough of crony capitalism and publicly funded bailouts of failing corporations, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce doesn’t work for you.
Last year, the chamber poured more than $52 million into K Street lobbying efforts on behalf of illegal alien amnesty, Fed Ed Common Core programs and increased federal spending. This year, chamber bigwigs are paving the perilous pathway to GOP capitulation. The left hardly needs to lift a finger against tea party candidates and activists who are bravely challenging the big government status quo. The chamber has already volunteered to spend $50 million subsidizing the Republican incumbency protection racket and attacking anti-establishment conservatives.
Allow me to say, “I told you so.” In 2010, when President Barack Obama hypocritically attacked the chamber for accepting “foreign donations” just before the midterm elections, many on the right rushed to the group’s side. But as I warned then, the purported enemy of my enemy is … sometimes my worst enemy. Barely three months after their Kabuki campaign fight, Obama and the chamber had already kissed and made up.
The chamber joined hands with the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations on a joint campaign to support Obama’s increased government infrastructure and spending proposals, stuffed with Big Labor payoffs.
The chamber is one of the staunchest promoters of mass illegal immigration, and joined with the AFL-CIO and American Civil Liberties Union to oppose immigration enforcement measures.
The chamber opposed E-verify and sued Arizona over its employer sanctions law.
The chamber supported a pro-Obamacare, pro-TARP, pro-stimulus, pro-amnesty Democrat in Arizona over his free-market GOP challenger.
The chamber supported the George W. Bush/Obama TARP, the Bush/Obama auto bailout and the billion-dollar, pork-stuffed stimulus.
This isn’t about letting the best ideas and businesses thrive. It’s about picking winners and losers. It’s about “managing” competition and engineering political outcomes under the guise of stimulating the economy and supporting “commerce.” What’s in it for the statist businesses that go along for the ride with Obama and his team of corruptocrats? Like they say in the Windy City: It’s all about the boodle — publicly subsidized payoffs meted out to the corruptocrats’ friends and special interests.
In the case of Common Core, the chamber has made common cause with the left-wing, corporate-bashing Center for American Progress in a new Baptists and Bootleggers coalition. They are seemingly strange bedfellows who both profit from increased federal government intervention. For giant corporate publishers, such as Pearson and other big-business ventures backed by the chamber, it’s all about cashing in on the public schools’ Common Core captive guinea pigs in testing, teaching, data collection and data analysis.
For big government advocacy groups, such as CAP, it’s all about diminishing state, local and parental control over local education and curricular decisions; expanding Washington’s regulatory reach into the classroom; and ensuring the perpetuation of the Fed Ed bureaucracy.
When businesses get in the government handout line, it’s not a “public-private partnership.” It’s corporate welfare. Venture socialism. Whatever you call it, it stinks as much under Democrat administrations as it does under Republican ones.
Always beware of Washington business-boosters wearing false free-market facades.
What drives success?
Reply #1276 on:
January 26, 2014, 10:53:59 AM »
Eric Prince goes to work for China
Reply #1277 on:
January 26, 2014, 11:04:03 AM »
I found this interesting on several levels:
Second post of morning
Erik Prince: Out of Blackwater and Into China
The former CIA asset on his latest venture: After being 'blowtorched' by U.S. politics, he says, this time he's working for Beijing.
by David Feith
Jan. 24, 2014 6:28 p.m. ET
Erik Prince —ex-Navy SEAL, ex-CIA spy, ex-CEO of private-security firm Blackwater —calls himself an "accidental tourist" whose modest business boomed after 9/11, expanded into Iraq and Afghanistan, and then was "blowtorched by politics." To critics and conspiracy theorists, he is a mercenary war-profiteer. To admirers, he's a patriot who has repeatedly answered America's call with bravery and creativity.
Now, sitting in a boardroom above Hong Kong's Victoria Harbour, he explains his newest title, acquired this month: chairman of Frontier Services Group, an Africa-focused security and logistics company with intimate ties to China's largest state-owned conglomerate, Citic Group. Beijing has titanic ambitions to tap Africa's resources—including $1 trillion in planned spending on roads, railways and airports by 2025—and Mr. Prince wants in.
With a public listing in Hong Kong, and with Citic as its second-largest shareholder (a 15% stake) and Citic executives sitting on its board, Frontier Services Group is a long way from Blackwater's CIA ties and $2 billion in U.S. government contracts. For that, Mr. Prince is relieved.
"I would rather deal with the vagaries of investing in Africa than in figuring out what the hell else Washington is going to do to the entrepreneur next," says the crew-cut 44-year-old.
Having launched Blackwater in 1997 as a rural North Carolina training facility for U.S. soldiers and police, Mr. Prince says he "kept saying 'yes' as the demand curve called—Columbine, the USS Cole and then 9/11." In 100,000 missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, he says, Blackwater contractors never lost a U.S. official under their protection. But the company gained a trigger-happy reputation, especially after a September 2007 shootout that left 17 civilians dead in Baghdad's Nisour Square.
At that point, charges Mr. Prince, Blackwater was "completely thrown under the bus by a fickle customer"—the U.S. government, and especially the State Department. He says Washington opted to "churn up the entire federal bureaucracy" and sic it on Blackwater "like a bunch of rabid dogs." According to Mr. Prince, IRS auditors told his colleagues that they had "never been under so much pressure to get someone as to get Erik Prince," and congressional staffers promised, "We're going to ride you till you're out of business."
Amid several federal prosecutions involving Blackwater employees, most of which fizzled, Mr. Prince resigned as CEO in 2009 and now feels "absolutely total regret in every way, shape and form for ever saying 'yes' " to a State Department contract.
Which brings him to Hong Kong and his new firm. "This is not a patriotic endeavor of ours—we're here to build a great business and make some money doing it," he says. Asia, and especially China, "has the appetite to take frontier risk, that expeditionary risk of going to those less-certain, less-normal markets and figuring out how to make it happen." Mr. Prince says "critics can throw stones all they want" but he is quick to point out that he has "a lot of experience in dealing in uncertainties in difficult places," and says "this is a very rational decision—made, I guess, emotionless."
Mr. Prince aims to provide "end-to-end" services to companies in the "big extractive, big infrastructure and big energy" industries. Initially focused on building a Pan-African fleet of aircraft, his firm will expand into barging, trucking and shipping, along with "remote-area construction" as needed for reliable transport. A company—Chinese, Russian, American or otherwise—may have "an extremely rich hydrocarbon or mining asset," he explains, "but it's worth nothing unless you can get it to where someone will pay you for it." His investor prospectus notes that with today's transportation infrastructure, "it costs more to ship a ton of wheat from Mombasa, Kenya to Kampala, Uganda than from Chicago to Mombasa."
Such high costs also reflect the dangers of piracy and civil conflict, but Mr. Prince plays down his firm's plans in the security realm. "We are not there to provide military training. We are not there to provide security per se. Most of that security"—say, if an oil pipeline or mining camp needs protection—"would be done by whatever local services are there," including police and private firms. "We don't envision setting up a whole bunch of local guard services around the continent."
So the former Blackwater chief won't employ guys with guns? Well, he says, "that would be the exception, certainly not the rule."
He says his attention is on "expeditionary logistics" and "asset management." If a company needs to build a dam, he muses by way of example, "how do you deliver an extremely high-dollar turbine into a very remote part of the world? . . . Do you sling it with a helicopter? There's all sorts of interesting challenges like that that we'll be endeavoring to face."
Mr. Prince won't share any revenue projections, but his prospectus notes that "China is Africa's largest trading partner," with annual flows of $125 billion. Most estimates put that figure closer to $200 billion, a meteoric increase from $10 billion in 2000 and $1 billion in 1980. The U.S., which was Africa's top trade partner until 2009, registered $100 billion in annual African exchange at last count. China-Africa trade could reach $385 billion by 2015, according to Standard Chartered Bank.
"The U.S. has been fixated on terrorism the last 10 or 15 years," says Mr. Prince, "and American companies by and large haven't had the appetite for Africa." In 2010 the African Development Bank found that Chinese firms signed 20 contracts in Africa for every one signed by an American firm. But does post-9/11 distraction really explain this discrepancy?
A better explanation would begin with China's state-directed investment strategy, which funds opaque state-owned firms to operate across Africa with little regard for trifles such as financial transparency, environmental degradation or human rights. When a tyrant like Sudan's Omar al- Bashir can't get Western financing for a mega-dam across the Nile River, China arrives with an easy loan, some state-owned firms to build the dam and some others to claim oil or mineral concessions elsewhere in the country. Beijing's approach has helped boost African economic growth—projected at 6% this year by the International Monetary Fund—but it has also helped entrench some of the world's most oppressive governments.
Mr. Prince prefers to look on the bright side. "Developing good investments in Africa is by and large the best for the people of Africa that have a job, that have electricity, that might have clean water, that might have those things that we in the West take horribly for granted."
It's Capitalism 101, he argues. "When someone needs copper, or wood or an ag product, and they invest capital somewhere to make that happen, and people get jobs from that, and that good gets introduced to the world stage and it gets traded and moved, the whole world benefits."
As for Chinese patronage of presidents-for-life like Sudan's Bashir, Mr. Prince's CEO, Gregg Smith —a former U.S. Marine and Deloitte executive—offers this observation: "There's thousands of tribal conflicts in Africa every decade that have nothing to do with anyone from the outside. It has everything to do with tribal conflicts that have been going on for centuries, and the fact that the economies cause folks not to have jobs," says Mr. Smith. "It's not about who backs Omar al-Bashir."
Nor, adds Mr. Prince, does China's expanding commercial empire come at the expense of American interests. "The United States and China are among each other's largest trading partners," he notes, "and I think countries that trade goods together tend not to trade lead," meaning to shoot at each other.
This historically questionable reassurance notwithstanding, Mr. Prince certainly isn't complacent about America's global standing. U.S. policy in Africa, he says, "is just nonexistent. It's about as coherent as U.S. Middle East policy—incoherent."
Americans, he says, "are at a competitive disadvantage because of their government. . . . It's amazing how many countries run their embassies as commercial outposts to promote businessmen from their country. I think the U.S. has forgotten about that one."
At this point in the interview, Mr. Prince begins speaking more sharply, even bitterly, not simply as a critic of Washington policy but as a man betrayed. Which he was, in 2009, when he was outed publicly as a CIA asset.
For years while running Blackwater, it turns out, Mr. Prince was also using his personal wealth and expertise to recruit and deploy a world-wide network of spies tracking al Qaeda operatives in "hard target" locations where even the CIA couldn't reliably operate. This work remained secret until June 2009, when then-CIA Director Leon Panetta mentioned it in classified testimony to Congress. Within weeks, leaks hit the front pages.
"The one job I loved more than any other was ripped away from me thanks to gross acts of professional negligence at the CIA," Mr. Prince wrote in his memoir, "Civilian Warriors," published in November.
This background comes to mind as Mr. Prince makes the surprising claim that "there's very little advantage to being an American citizen anymore. They tax you anywhere in the world you are, they regulate you, and they certainly don't help you, at all."
His advice for Washington: "Stop committing suicide." Lawmakers should "get out of their heads this idea that they can recklessly spend money that they don't have," he says. "The United States government is too big in all areas. . . . It's time to make the entire thing a lot smaller." That would include doing everything from allowing Americans to buy incandescent light bulbs to reining in domestic surveillance by the National Security Agency.
At no point does Mr. Prince address the irony of making these arguments days after going into business with a state-owned firm founded as part of Communist China's Ministry of State Security.
"Look," he says, grasping to end our talk on an optimistic note, "America can pull its head out at any time. That happens at the ballot box. Ballot boxes have consequences still in America." He continues: "But the American electorate has to actually pay attention, has to turn off the Xbox long enough to pay attention. Otherwise they're going to continue to elect the government they deserve."
Mr. Feith is an editorial-page writer at The Wall Street Journal Asia.
VDH: Eating our Young
Reply #1278 on:
January 27, 2014, 12:12:26 PM »
When only 1% are Employed
Reply #1279 on:
February 06, 2014, 12:08:11 AM »
When only 1% are Employed
When I wrote Brave New War back in 2006, I made this aggressive projection on how rapid technological change would change warfare:
The threshold necessary for small groups to conduct global warfare has finally been breached, and we are only starting to feel its effects. Over time, in as little as perhaps twenty years and as the leverage of technology increases, this threshold will finally reach its culmination — with the ability of one man to declare war on the world and win.
It seems that we are on track with my projection. Recently, we saw individuals leveraging the power of computers and networks launch (open source) protests that toppled governments. It didn’t end there. Edward Snowden (love him or hate him) proved it is possible to wage a one-man information war against the biggest, most powerful national security establishment in the world. The US government. A country that spends more than all other countries in the world combined on national defense.
He was able to:
steal the crown jewels of the US security system by himself,
initiate an information war against the entire US national security bureaucracy while eluding capture, and
initiate economic disruptions that have done billions of dollars in damage to US corporations (from Boeing to RSA).
However, his successes don’t end there, he’s winning the war.
This support from the editors of the New York Times indicates that he’s already achieved most of what it takes to achieve a “moral victory” against the US government.
Of course, this type of revolutionary change due to technology isn’t isolated to the world of conflict, terrorism, and war. It’s also going on in our economy.
Technological change is rapidly killing entire industries and job categories without replacing them. Across the board, incremental productivity improvements are making it possible for employers to get by without hiring new people (even the head of the biggest employer in the World has plans to replace most of his workers with robots). However, that won’t be where we see the greatest losses. Those losses will occur in the industries that are completely gutted from the arrival of products and services that make them obsolete.
As this trend strengthens, we may see results similar to what we saw with the agrarian economy. If that occurs, the extreme endpoint of this decline may be a world where most of the commercial activity in goods and services we see today — from education to health care to manufacturing to transportation to retail to legal services — is accomplished by less than 1% of the people it used to require.
That means only 1 of the hundred jobs being done currently will be left. More strikingly, it’s very likely this won’t take the 200 years it took agriculture to go from 95% of the population to less than 1%. It’s going to be much, much faster this time due to the speed at which improvements can be distributed (software/data). Given this catalyst, we may find ourselves more than half of the way there within twenty years.
Another catalyst will be economic crisis. With each successive crisis, there will an increased competition for the remaining economic scraps. This competition will force companies to use technology more aggressively as a replacement for workers. Economic crisis will also force bankrupt governments to radically reduce their expenditures. This shortfall will drive a willingness to bend regulations to adopt alternatives that provide significant benefit for a fraction of the cost, despite vocal opposition from existing interests.
This process is both inevitable and irreversible. Our world is being upended. Get ready.
The Left's Unending Anger...
Reply #1280 on:
February 06, 2014, 10:26:51 AM »
The Angry Left
Posted By Daniel Greenfield On February 6, 2014 @ frontpagemag.com
The American left has never had it this good with two terms of an uncompromising leftist in the White House dedicated to its agenda, making and unmaking laws at a whim, siccing the IRS and federal prosecutors on his political enemies and transforming the country at a breathtaking pace.
Obama is what generations of the left have worked toward. This is the flicker of hope they kept alive throughout the Nixon years, Carter’s collapse and the long stretch of Reaganomics. This is what Bill Clinton robbed them of by gauging his actions against the polls instead of blasting full steam ahead regardless of what the public wanted.
So why is the left so angry?
Watch MSNBC or browse any left-wing site and you see a level of anger that would make you think that Al Gore had just conceded or Nixon had just won reelection. There’s more anger in the privileged circles of the left than in the political rearguard of the Tea Party.
That anger trickles from the top down. Obama’s interview with Bill O’Reilly was yet another opportunity for the most powerful man in the country to blame a vast right-wing conspiracy. A day doesn’t pass without another email from Obama, his wife, Sandra Fluke or Joe Biden warning that without another five or ten dollar contribution, the “right” will take over America.
The left has unchallenged control over the government, academia and the entertainment industry and yet it talks as if the country is 5 seconds away from Sarah Palin marching into Washington, D.C. at the head of an army of Duck Dynasty fans to outlaw abortion.
The apocalyptic political paranoia and the uncontrolled outbursts of rage haven’t changed much since 2003. Ten years later, the ideologues in power still act as if George W. Bush is serving out his fourth term. Every day on MSNBC, a stew of conspiracy theories about oil companies, Israel, the Koch Brothers, Wal-Mart and Karl Rove leaves a slimy trail across the television screen.
On the Internet, manufactured outrage has become the only progressive stock in trade. Did Jerry Seinfeld say that he values humor over racial quotas? He’s a racist. Did an ESPN magazine out a compulsive liar who also happened to be pretending to be a woman? Lock him up. Did Mike Huckabee say something that could be misinterpreted with enough ellipses and out of context “Twitterized” quotes? Before you know it, he’s a sexist pig.
It says something deeply disturbing about a progressive readership that eats up hate and doesn’t react to anything positive. The rash of fake hate crimes feeds into that same perverse need for an enemy to hate and fight. The left used to pretend that it wanted to do something positive, but now that it has the power, it can’t stop searching for someone to hate instead.
The left is more comfortable being angry than being anything else; it finds it easier to rally the troops against something than for something so that even its triumphs only lead to more anger. The MSNBC tweet about an interracial Cheerios commercial was revealing of a deeper problem within the left. It was assumed that the MSNBC audience wouldn’t care about an interracial ad unless it could somehow pretend to “spite” the right by watching it.
Obama’s awkward stumble from cause to cause, letting the old Bush policies run on Autoplay unless a crusade kicks in, as it eventually did on gay marriage and illegal immigration, is indicative of the problem with the left’s governing style. It cares less about gay marriage or legalizing illegal aliens than it does about stirring up conflict.
That is another reason why the left began neglecting some of its bread and butter issues after Obama won. Aside from the need to protect its own man, it wasn’t really all that interested in closing Gitmo, gay marriage or opposing the War in Iraq. The things it wants to do are never as important to it as its obsessive need to feel that it is fighting against the right.
For all the Obama Worship, the left is more united by hatred for Sarah Palin or Ted Cruz than by its support for its own leaders. It derives its identity more from the things that it is against — the middle class, the country, the businessman, the white male — than from the things that it is for.
The left’s sense of self is strongest when it is attacking, not when it is inspiring, when it is destroying, not when it is building.
Deprived of an external enemy, its ideologues carve out narrow orthodoxies and denounce each other for violating them. When the right and the center have been purged, the purges of the left begin and don’t end until there is nothing left except one tyrant-guru and his terrified minions.
The small scale bloodsport documented in the outward reaches of feminism by The Nation in its article “Feminism’s Toxic Twitter Wars” as transgender rights activists denounce Eve Ensler for excluding them by using the word “Vagina” and black feminists denounce white feminists for ignoring their concerns is typical.
When all enemies to the right have been eliminated, the left doesn’t find peace. Its ideology is a weapon, its gurus are egomaniacs and its followers joined to fight. When it wins in an arena, whether it’s academia or entertainment, the winners begins warring against each other proving that even in an ideological vacuum its ideology remains a destructive force whose followers would rather denounce and destroy, than educate and enlighten.
As a victorious parasite writes its own obituary, a successful left is a threat to its own existence and the only thing saving the left from a violent disintegration is the right.
Hating the right is the only thing that keeps the left together. When it doesn’t have Nixon to kick around anymore, it dissolves into a wet puddle of goo. If it didn’t have Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz, Mitt Romney and every other figure who took his turn starring in their grim theater of the Two Minutes Hate, it would revert back to the petty infighting of a thousand minor eccentric causes.
The left needs to believe in a vast right-wing conspiracy. It needs the Koch Brothers, Karl Rove, Evangelical Christians, AIPAC, oil companies, defense contractors and every other element of its conspiracy theories to keep its followers focused on the “real” threat instead of purging each other for tone policing, insufficient privilege checking and any other outrage of the week.
Like the Salafists shooting and shelling each other in Syria, the ranks of the left are filled with dogmatic and intolerant fanatics whose only goal in life is the absolute victory of their point of view. Their mutual fanaticism and aggrieved sense of victimhood gives them more in common with each other and that very commonality is the source of their mutual hatred. Only they can understand each other well enough to truly want to kill each other.
It isn’t hope that animates the left’s leaders and thinkers, but the darker side of human nature. That dark side is why the left’s victories end in tragedies, why the red flags are painted with blood and why when its followers have run out of enemies to kill, they turn on each other and destroy their own movements with firing squads, gulags and guillotines.
Hate is the force that gives the left meaning.
"You have enemies? Good. That means that you have stood up for something, sometime in your life." - Winston Churchill.
Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
Reply #1281 on:
February 06, 2014, 11:38:11 AM »
"When I wrote Brave New War back in 2006, I made this aggressive projection on how rapid technological change would change warfare:
The threshold necessary for small groups to conduct global warfare has finally been breached, and we are only starting to feel its effects. Over time, in as little as perhaps twenty years and as the leverage of technology increases, this threshold will finally reach its culmination — with the ability of one man to declare war on the world and win."
This is only true because the US military and/or the politicians have decided that conducting war in the modern era is a police action. We could easily wipe out Irans nuclear facilities. We choose not to. We could easily put away that guy in N Korea - we choose not to.
As for Iraq and Syria etc. They are not really enemies of the US but if they were we make them into parking lots.
We are too kind.
Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
Reply #1282 on:
February 06, 2014, 11:46:36 AM »
As for the angry left article the author seems to miss the point. We have to look at the ultimate left's end game. That is the only way to understand them.
They are not finished till there is ONE world government controlled by policy wonks who can control and dictate every aspect of the lives of every human being.
Concepts of country and religions are "mideavil".
THAT is the end game. THAT is why they are never satisfied. And we know the policy wonks all want perfect equality of opportunity and outcomes.
The fact that they too are power and money hungry like almost all of humanity is not important.
And now they can vocalize in public their dissatisfaction more now that Brock is safely elected for the second term. No problem voicing any dissatisfaction with him now while cloaking as "the right" is simply in "his" way. Their next champion is on deck.
Last Edit: February 06, 2014, 11:55:54 AM by ccp
VDH: An Orwellian Nation of Obamathink
Reply #1283 on:
February 13, 2014, 09:14:19 PM »
An Orwellian Nation of Obamathink
By Victor Davis Hanson · Feb. 13, 2014
Print Email Bigger Smaller
The nightmare societies portrayed in the George Orwell novels “1984” and “Animal Farm” gave us the word “Orwellian.” That adjective reflects a vast government's efforts not just to deceive and control the people, but also to do so by reinventing the meaning of ordinary words while rewriting the past itself.
America, of all places, is becoming Orwellian. The president repeatedly reminds the American people that under his leadership, the U.S. has produced a record level of new oil and natural gas. But didn't Obama radically curtail leases for just such new energy production on federal lands? Have the edicts on the barn wall of “Animal Farm” been changed again, with the production of new oil and gas going from bad to suddenly good?
Does anyone remember that the Affordable Care Act was sold on the premise that it would guarantee retention of existing health plans and doctors, create 4 million new jobs and save families $2,500 a year in premiums, all while extending expanded coverage to more people at a lower cost?
Only in Orwell's world of doublespeak could raising taxes, while the costs of millions of health plans soars, be called “affordable.” Is losing your existing plan and doctor a way of retaining them?
The Congressional Budget Office recently warned that Obamacare would “keep hours worked and potential output during the next 10 years lower than they would be otherwise.” That nonpartisan verdict should be bad news for workers.
Not in our brave new world. The Obama administration says it is pleased that workers will now be freed from “job lock.” What is job lock – a made-up Newspeak word right out “1984”? Work fewer hours, make less money and create fewer outputs – and be happy.
About every January since 2009, the president has promised to close Guantanamo Bay. Is the detention facility now sort of virtually closed – in the manner that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his chemical weapons are now virtually gone, as Obama decreed years ago, and in the manner that we are still hunting down the murderers in Benghazi who were supposedly outraged over a video? Is there an Orwellian “memory hole” where these embarrassing proclamations are disposed?
In 2004, many in the media reported that George W. Bush, the demonized Emmanuel Goldstein of our era, had overseen a “jobless recovery.” Unemployment at election time in 2004 was 5.4 percent.
Yet since January 2009, only two months have seen joblessness dip slightly below 7 percent. A record 90 million able-bodied Americans are not participating in the workforce. Yet the president, in Orwellian doublespeak fashion, recently claimed that the job picture is good. If 5.4 percent unemployment was once called a jobless recovery, are we now in a jobless recovery from a jobless recovery?
In 2013, the IRS confessed that it had targeted particular political groups based on their names or political themes – a Big Brother intrusion into private lives that was revealed at about the same time the Associated Press and National Security Agency eavesdropping scandals came to light. During the initial media frenzy, President Obama blasted the politicization of the IRS as “outrageous.”
After the IRS was confirmed to be delaying the tax-exempt requests of conservative groups at a far greater rate than their liberal counterparts, the agency's director, Douglas Shulman, stepped down at the end of his term. His replacement, acting commissioner Steven Miller, subsequently resigned from the agency. And the IRS official in charge of tax-exempt decisions, Lois Lerner, invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination before Congress. She and Joseph H. Grant, commissioner of the Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division, both abruptly retired from the IRS.
Congressional committees and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration found that groups loosely associated with the Tea Party were more likely to have their tax-exempt requests put on hold than other nonprofits. Yet recently, President Obama concluded of this entire mess that it did not entail “even a smidgen of corruption.”
It takes Orwell's doublethink to explain how a scandal might have rated an “outrageous” before the people in charge quit, retired or invoked the Fifth Amendment, and then, after their embarrassing departures, was reinvented as an episode without a smidgen of corruption.
In politics, of course, left and right, conservative and liberal, make up stuff. But Orwell, who also blasted the rise of European fascism, focused more on the mind games of the statist Left.
Why? He apparently feared that the Left suffered an additional wage of hypocrisy in more openly proclaiming the noble interests of “the people.” Because of those supposedly exalted ends of equality and fairness, statists were more likely to get a pass from the media and public for the scary means they employed to achieve them.
Right now in America, the words and deeds of both past and present become reality only when the leaders put them in the correct service of the people.
© 2014 TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.
Man bites dog: Harvard prof gets in right in POTH
Reply #1284 on:
February 16, 2014, 04:35:41 PM »
VDH: The Value of Putin
Reply #1285 on:
February 16, 2014, 11:04:24 PM »
Sayett: Hating What's Right
Reply #1286 on:
February 17, 2014, 09:13:51 AM »
Hat tip to our Objectivist.
Reply #1287 on:
February 22, 2014, 08:57:55 AM »
Is it economic policy, foreign policy or website design?
Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
Reply #1288 on:
February 22, 2014, 09:19:23 AM »
Obfuscation and misdirection.
VDH: Outrage quiver is empty
Reply #1289 on:
February 27, 2014, 06:15:11 AM »
Reply #1290 on:
February 27, 2014, 06:29:05 AM »
Reply #1291 on:
February 27, 2014, 06:33:46 AM »
Quote from: Crafty_Dog on February 27, 2014, 06:29:05 AM
Brilliant piece by Jonah Goldberg
Reply #1292 on:
February 28, 2014, 06:00:05 PM »
A Return to Hidden Law
Longtime readers of the G-File might think about taking a speed-reading course. They
also may remember that, about 14 years ago, I used to write about “hidden law” a
lot. I returned to it in today’s column on the Arizona brouhaha.
Hidden law was a term coined by Jonathan Rauch, who basically updated a lot of ideas
familiar to readers of Burke, Hayek, Oakeshott, and Albert Jay Nock. Calling himself
a “soft communitarian,” Rauch put it very well so it’s worth quoting him at length:
A soft communitarian is a person who maintains a deep respect for what I call
"hidden law": the norms, conventions, implicit bargains, and folk wisdoms that
organize social expectations, regulate everyday behavior, and manage interpersonal
conflicts. Until recently, for example, hidden law regulated assisted suicide, and
it did so with an almost miraculous finesse. Doctors helped people to die, and they
often did so without the express consent of anybody. The decision
was made by patients and doctors and families in an irregular fashion, and,
crucially, everyone pretended that no decision had ever been made. No one had been
murdered; no one had committed suicide; and so no one faced prosecution or
Hidden law is exceptionally resilient, until it is dragged into politics and
pummeled by legalistic reformers, at which point it can give way all at once. The
showboating narcissist Jack Kevorkian dragged assisted suicide into the open and
insisted that it be legalized (and televised). At that point, the deal was off. No
one could pretend assisted suicide wasn’t happening. Activists framed state
right-to-die initiatives, senators sponsored bills banning assisted
suicide, and courts began issuing an unending series of deeply confused rulings.
Soon decisions about assisted suicide will be made by buzzing mobs of lawyers and
courts and ethics committees, with prosecutors helpfully hovering nearby, rather
than by patients and doctors and families. And the final indignity will be that the
lawyers and courts and committee people will congratulate themselves on having at
last created a rational process where before there were no rules at all, only chaos
darkness and barbarism. And then, having replaced an effective and intuitive and
flexible social mechanism with a maladroit and mystifying and brittle one, they will
march on like Sherman’s army to demolish such other institutions of hidden law as
The enemy of hidden law is not government, as such. It is lawyers. Three years in
law school teach, if they teach nothing else, that as a practical matter hidden law
does not exist, or that if it does exist it is contemptibly inadequate to cope with
modern conflicts. The American law school is probably the most ruthlessly
anti-communitarian institution that any liberal society has ever produced.
I’ve long believed there’s a strongly held view in Hollywood and D.C. that says that
without the government in Washington American society would descend into anarchy
almost instantaneously. People are walking around downtown Peoria. They are
perfectly calm and rational. Mr. Jones says “good morning” to Mrs. Smith. “Nice
Then, as if Landru had replaced the noontime chime with the code phrase “the federal
government is gone,” someone shouts, “The federal government is gone!” and anarchy
immediately ensues, with rape and rapine fast on its heels. Upon hearing the news
that Washington stands idle, Mr. Jones attempts to ravish Mrs. Smith. His dastardly
plan is only foiled because Slim Pickens ordered the ol’ number six.
And I’m not talking about panic over a nuclear strike or the news that Cthulhu has
started his horrible feast on Capital Hill. I mean that I think there’s a notion —
more like an unarticulated assumption — that it’s the government in Washington that
holds society together. This is somewhat implied in the way Obama talks about
government as the word for the things we all do together and his efforts to sow
bowel-stewing panic over the government shutdown. It’s
implicit in all the talk — from Republicans and Democrats alike — that the president
needs a “vision” for the whole country and that he “creates” jobs.
The simple fact is that if the federal government disappeared tomorrow — and the
media didn’t report it — it would take days or even weeks for many people to even
learn about it. And the news would not come from marauding barbarians on motorcycles
laying waste to communities. It would mostly spread with the news that there’s
something wrong with the Post Office. And if somehow you could keep the Post Office
going — and with it the checks from the treasury —
people could go months without murdering, raping, or even running with scissors.
A liberal might respond, “Aha! You concede the point that people need those checks
from government!” Well, yes. But the government also needs those people to need
those checks. My point isn’t about wealth-transfers, it’s that normal people don’t
look to the federal government for much direction or meaning in their lives.
90 Percent of Life
Assuming you’re not a congressman, a mattress-tag cop, or a mutant telepath held
captive in an underground research facility in New Mexico, your interactions with
government are extremely limited. This is so despite the ever-metastasizing role of
government — all government — in our lives. Indeed, the main role the state has in
our lives doesn’t involve interventions we can see, but restrictions we can’t. The
state limits the range of choices available to us
until, very quickly, we forget we ever had the choice in the first place.
Still, most of your daily actions are governed by hidden law, not statutory law. How
often do your arguments — with the dry cleaner or chiropodist — lead to a cop
showing up? If you go to a fancy restaurant and ask for toasted cheese sandwiches
but the waiter talks you into a plate full of snails, you work it out on your own;
you don’t call a lawyer.
And if you’ve ever talked to beat cops you’d know a vast amount of their time is
spent avoiding enforcing the law. They tell street-cart vendors and angry customers
to “work it out.” They come up with solutions based on hidden law, not statutory
law, in order to avoid the paperwork (this is one of the few instances I can think
of where government red tape is a good thing).
And that’s arguments. The truth is most of our life isn’t spent having arguments,
it’s spent having conversations. Indeed all of human civilization is a kind of
conversation. Michael Oakeshott:
As civilized human beings, we are the inheritors, neither of an inquiry about
ourselves and the world, nor of an accumulating body of information, but of a
conversation, begun in the primeval forests and extended and made more articulate in
the course of centuries. It is a conversation which goes on both in public and
within each of ourselves.
If you’ve ever been to a good party, what makes it great is enough shrimp cocktail
and single-malt scotch. But also lots of different conversations, each with its own
flavor. One of the most deadly things you can do at a party is ask everyone to quiet
down and have one big conversation. Suddenly, what was a fun party feels like a
therapy session or an intervention, sort of like when Janice ruined her mom’s
funeral in The Sopranos.
The reason I am always harping on the glories of federalism is that America is like
a giant party with a million quirky, fun, intense, rewarding conversations going on
all at once. When you leave people to talk things out, they tend to do it without
the help of the government. And the last thing we need is the state coming in,
trying to pick winners and losers in those conversations — or simply telling people
to shut up.
In a sense, Left and Right are on the wrong side of this stuff. At least by
stereotype, conservatives prefer order and conformity while liberals like
rebelliousness. And yet conservatives — those evil voluptuaries of states’ rights
and localism — are the ones making the case for diversity. For instance, I have
nothing but sympathy for the folks who want to, say, “Keep Austin Weird.” But I have
nothing but contempt for the people who have that bumpersticker on
their Prius but say the exact opposite with their voting. Maybe they support
policies close to home that they think will help keep Austin weird, but when they
vote for Democratic governors and senators and congressmen, never mind presidents,
they vote for the crowd that wants to unleash evermore armies of humorless reformers
on the land. Worse, while they’re for keeping Austin weird, they support policies
that would deny, say, Arizona from being its own kind of weird.
But let’s be fair. Conservatives are often doing the same thing now. I have more
sympathy for them because A) I’m conservative and I share many of their goals and B)
the Left started it and conservatives are simply fighting back. Once it was
established that we are to be ruled by legalistic reformers, it was inevitable that
the Right would find its own to fight fire with fire.
And that’s what’s so terribly depressing about all of this. We live in a country
where more and more people are terrified to work things out themselves in a
conversation with someone they disagree with. That’s why I didn’t like S.B. 1062 —
because people on the right found it necessary and because people on the left made
It’s a simple point, but the difference between conversations and arguments is this:
Both sides win in a conversation. Arguments are zero sum.
The War on Winners
Reply #1293 on:
March 11, 2014, 07:27:07 PM »
I like the pithy insight at the heart of this piece and will be looking to use it in my own efforts at communicating.
"If today’s progressives really care so much about the poor, why not cease and desist in their enthusiastic efforts to obstruct such manifestly good works?
"The answer is simple: Today’s progressivism is a wholly owned subsidiary of the ideological desire to put sexual expression first, and to further that expression via every means available, including state power.
"Progressives believe that today’s sexual suffragettes are the civil-rights pioneers of our time; and in a conflict between expressionism and anything else, expressionism will trump. If that means that girls in public schools will feel uncomfortable because they have to share their lockers and bathrooms with biological boys, so be it. If it means that the Little Sisters of the Poor and a hundred other charitable organizations might be fined out of existence, so be that, too. It’s the sexual revolution, not the poor, to whom progressivism will give the thumbs-up."
Last Edit: March 11, 2014, 07:35:50 PM by Crafty_Dog
Spengler: The Rise of Secular Religion
Reply #1294 on:
March 19, 2014, 10:52:05 AM »
WSJ: The Case for Nationalism
Reply #1295 on:
March 22, 2014, 07:41:33 AM »
The Case for Nationalism
By JOHN O'SULLIVAN
March 21, 2014 6:59 p.m. ET
Trying to abolish or replace the nation-state is almost certain to produce more evils than it deters. Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
Incessant "antifascist" propaganda from Moscow, baseless claims of attacks against Russians in Ukraine, incitement of Russian-speakers in eastern Ukraine, Russian troops without insignia seizing official buildings in Crimea, a stage-managed illegal plebiscite there and then its annexation by Russia, assurances from President Vladimir Putin that he has no further territorial designs in Europe (though, alas, he may be forced to intervene elsewhere to protect ethnic Russians)—yes, it all has the disturbing ring of the 1930s.
Isn't this where nationalism leads—to fascism and war?
That is a common interpretation of Europe's recent crises. It is also, coincidentally, Mr. Putin's interpretation of events in Ukraine, which he blames on neo-fascist followers of the nationalist leader Stepan Bandera, who was murdered by the KGB in 1959. But this view is really too simple by half.
Nationalists are certainly implicated in the Ukraine crisis, but more as victims than perpetrators. The crisis began as an attempt by Moscow to rescue its stillborn concept of a Eurasian Economic Union by forcing Ukraine to join it and to reject associate membership in the European Union.
Mr. Putin, who isn't a nationalist (see below) but the ruler of a shaky multinational empire hostile to nationalism, sparked off the crisis by closing Russia's borders to Ukraine's agricultural exports. He did so to compel a reluctant President Viktor Yanukovych to abandon the more popular EU option.
The Ukrainian government, encouraged by Mr. Putin, unified the assorted democrats, nationalists and activists of the left and the right who protested this move by firing indiscriminately on them. Mr. Yanukovych's power crumbled almost visibly; he fled; and a new Ukrainian government that includes nationalists took over.
Nationalism was thus one impulse in this general movement. Others were love of freedom, desire for a more democratic system, economic hopes for greater prosperity through ties to Western Europe and simple human decency. The Ukrainians inspired by these aims have just sustained an (inevitable) defeat in Crimea, but they still govern most of Ukraine, which is now escaping from Moscow's post-Soviet institutions. While that remains the case, Mr. Putin has suffered a reverse overall.
If Ukrainian nationalists have been reactive, even victimized, in this crisis, what about Mr. Putin himself? His actions have certainly been objectionable—ruthless, aggressive, deceitful, illegal, repressive, subversive. But to describe them as "nationalist" is to reduce the concept of nationalism to a politics of aggressive self-assertion. There is no reason to suppose that nations and nation-states are more prone to indulge in such folly than are federations, empires or states founded on nonnational principles.
Mr. Putin has indeed acted ruthlessly of late, but he has done so in the service of what he sees as clear state or even personal interests, not from a commitment to Russian peoplehood.
The history of the 1930s is instructive for making the necessary distinctions here. World War II began as the result of a conspiracy by Hitler and Stalin—the Nazi-Soviet Pact—to invade Poland and divide Eastern Europe and the Baltic states between them. Nazi Germany was a state built upon the ideology of racial nationalism (which places race above nationhood), the Soviet Union upon the ideology of proletarian internationalism (which rejects nationalism entirely). Both acted far more brutally and unrestrainedly than any conventional nation-state of the period.
Besides, today's Russian Federation is itself not a nation-state but an empire. Mr. Putin's conduct of the crisis, in addition to being aggressive, might best be described as imperialist or neo-imperialist, not nationalist. We should not illegitimately associate the nation-state with crimes that aren't uniquely nationalist and may even be less likely to be committed by stable nation-states.
This matters because nationalism is an increasingly necessary word that is too often misused as a term of abuse. Nationalisms and nationalist movements are popping up all over Europe. These can take very different forms: left, right and ambivalent. Some are straightforward secessionist movements, like the nationalist parties in Scotland and Catalonia, striving to establish new states rooted in historic nations. Others are movements resisting further integration of their existing nation-states into the European Community, such as the True Finns party in Finland and the U.K. Independence Party in Britain.
Still others want to protect the nation and its distinctive political spirit (the National Front in France), or the welfare state (the Danish People's Party in Denmark) or "liberal values" (the Party of Freedom led by Geert Wilders in Holland) that each feels is threatened by mass immigration. Even the mercifully cautious Germans have the Alternative for Germany party, which, though not avowedly nationalist, emits a distinctively postwar German anti-Euro economic nationalism—and should probably be renamed the Alliance of Patriotic Bankers.
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Most of these parties, which didn't exist 20 years ago, are now represented in Europe's parliaments. They are expected to do well in May's elections. They probably won't win power or enter government, but they force mainstream parties to deal with such issues as the loss of national sovereignty.
In the eyes of Europe's various political and cultural establishments—what the British call the Great and the Good—none of this should be happening. It is akin to water running uphill. For several decades now, we have heard from these precincts that the nation-state is on its way out, losing power upward to supranational institutions and downward to organized minority groups. Behind their hands, the critics of resurgent nationalism murmur that it is nothing but xenophobia, authoritarianism or even fascism, in folkloric drag. They see Europe's rising nationalist parties as the preserve of bitter losers or those in the grip of nostalgia.
Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the European Council, expressed this view perfectly in 2010 when he announced for the umpteenth time that the nation-state was dead, adding: "The biggest enemy of Europe today is fear; fear leads to egoism, egoism leads to nationalism, and nationalism leads to war."
This pronouncement didn't foresee Mr. Putin's recent actions. But it illustrates nicely how Europe's political elites see events like the Ukraine crisis in the distorting mirror of anti-nationalism. This view persuades them to consider nationalism a threat, but a dying one. And it is, quite simply, wrong on both counts.
A practical refutation of this view lies in the fact that there are more nation-states in the world today than ever before. They have multiplied since 1945 in two great leaps forward: the decolonization period of the 1950s and 1960s, and the years following the dissolution of communism in 1989 and 1991. Some of these nations gained their independence, alas, by war and revolution—Zimbabwe, Croatia, Bosnia, Kosovo. Others did so by peaceful negotiation. Most former British colonies and Soviet republics took this route, but the most significant example of it is the "velvet divorce" that produced successful Czech and Slovak states.
This upsurge of nationhood might be dismissed as a detour on the high road to global governance if the establishment view of nationalism weren't so absurdly crude. It elides vital distinctions and treats all forms of national loyalty as if they were the most aggressive and exclusivist type. In reality, the full spectrum of nationalist loyalties runs roughly as follows: from Nazism, which is totalitarian racial nationalism; to fascism, which is authoritarian and aggressive nationalism; to ethnic nationalism, which is exclusivist, treating ethnic minorities as second-class citizens (if that); to civic nationalism, which opens full citizenship to all born in the national territory in return for their loyalty to the nation and its institutions; and finally, to patriotism, which is that same national loyalty plus simple love of country—its scenery, its sights and sounds, its characteristic architecture, its songs and poems, its people, its wonderful familiarity.
Here, for instance, is George Orwell, perhaps the most famous critic of nationalism, upon returning to southern England from Spain: "Down here it was still the England I had known in my childhood: the railway-cuttings smothered in wildflowers, the deep meadows where the great shining horses browse and meditate, the slow-moving streams bordered by willows, the green bosoms of the elms, the larkspurs in the cottage gardens; and then the huge peaceful wilderness of outer London, the barges on the miry river, the familiar streets, the posters telling of cricket matches and Royal weddings, the men in bowler hats, the pigeons in Trafalgar Square, the red buses, the blue policemen—all sleeping the deep, deep sleep of England."
England has changed since then, of course; men no longer wear bowler hats. But it would be as absurd to condemn such a tender patriotism as likely to lead to fascism as it would be to abstain from all interest in sex on the grounds that it might lead to promiscuity. Ordinary people, attached to reality as they must be to survive, feel exactly that sense of absurdity when they hear statements like Mr. Van Rompuy's.
But that hasn't hitherto affected their political behavior. Why have they suddenly begun thinking and voting in line with such sentiments?
One obvious reason is that all the ideological rivals to patriotism have been largely discredited. Orwell pointed out that those who abandoned patriotism generally adopted a more virulent ideological substitute. In our day, the most obvious rival ideologies are Europeanism in Europe and multiculturalism in the U.S., both of which seek to weaken national patriotism to change the political character of their societies.
Scots who hope to break away from the U.K. rally in Edinburgh in September 2013, a year before a scheduled referendum on independence for Scotland. Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
But neither of these creeds has yet become more than a niche loyalty, even though they enjoy lavish official support and the sympathy of those government officials, international bureaucrats, NGO executives, "denationalized" corporate managers and academics ambitious to be the vanguard of the new or transformed nation. Old-fashioned patriotism survives, perhaps weakened by such defections, but not seriously challenged. It remains in the shadows until tempted into the open by a 9/11, or an anniversary of D-Day or the funeral of a Margaret Thatcher. It is then suddenly recognized as the sentiment of most of the nation.
Until recently, those voters for whom patriotism and the national interest were determining issues found comfortable homes in parties of both the left and the right. But that has gradually ceased to be true.
As parties of the left swapped their working-class identity for that of middle-class liberalism, they began to think patriotism vulgar, cheap and xenophobic. At the same time, mainstream parties of the right drifted unthinkingly into a posture that treated nationalist and socially conservative voters as somewhat embarrassing elderly relatives whose views could be safely ignored. Party leaders reasoned that their atavistic voters had nowhere else to go.
The result can be seen most dramatically in Britain, where the U.K. Independence Party, having secured its base among traditional middle-class Tories, is now harvesting new votes from patriotic blue-collar Laborites. But one can see similar outcomes throughout Europe.
Another factor in this resurgence is a change of intellectual fashion toward bigness. Fewer people in all classes are still confident that the future belongs to the big battalions. They have noticed that smaller states are likely to be richer, easier to manage and closer to the people than larger states. As the Economist magazine pointed out a few years ago: "Of the 10 countries with populations of over 100 [million], only the U.S. and Japan are prosperous."
These economic facts remove an important obstacle to secession. And if there ever was a link between prosperity and bigness, it has been dissolved by free trade and globalization, which ensure that the size of a nation need no longer coincide with the size of the market open to it. At the same time, a government can shrink to the size that its citizens find most convenient to control.
The U.S. is the exception to these rules—it is both large and prosperous—because its federalism distributes power to states and localities, where it can be better controlled. Switzerland is another example. Europe might imitate America's success if it were to model itself on Switzerland and distribute power downward. But the opposite is happening—in both Europe and America.
A final brief argument is perhaps the strongest: Nation-states are an almost necessary basis for democracy. A common language and culture, a common allegiance to national institutions, a common sense of destiny, all within a defined territory, with equal rights for all citizens—these seem to be the conditions that enable people with different opinions and interests to accept political defeat and the passage of laws to which they strongly object. There are a few exceptions to this rule—India, Switzerland—but many more confirmations of it.
None of these many considerations justify supporting nationalism as a universal principle of statehood. There is no such principle. States rooted in ideas as different as popular consent and the dynastic principle have been handed down to us by history. Wholesale reconstruction of them is utopian and nearly always fails. The best we can hope for is to improve them by piecemeal reform along the grain of their history.
But trying to abolish or replace the nation-state is almost certain to produce more evils than it deters. The lesson of recent history is that nationalism is here to stay—and that secure, stable and satisfied nation-states are likely to want friendship with neighboring countries rather than their conquest. Wise political leaders anxious for peace will concentrate on shaping their people's nationalism into an amiable patriotism rather than on submerging it in a new sovereignty and driving it toward its darker manifestations.
Mr. O'Sullivan is director of the Danube Institute in Budapest and a senior fellow of the National Review Institute in New York.
Combating bad science
Reply #1296 on:
March 26, 2014, 07:41:34 AM »
THis maybe deserves new thread. Remember I noted that most medical research publications are not much more than worthless. So is research in many fields. This address that. Yet research is taking off. Everything is data. Everything is being measured for tiny small percentage of percentage gains. There is no end to this. Problem is "science" is used by whomever for whatever. Sorting out the invalid from the truly informative or new discovery is not always easy:
Combating bad science
Sloppy researchers beware. A new institute has you in its sights
Mar 15th 2014 | From the print edition
“WHY most published research findings are false” is not, as the title of an academic paper, likely to win friends in the ivory tower. But it has certainly influenced people (including journalists at The Economist). The paper it introduced was published in 2005 by John Ioannidis, an epidemiologist who was then at the University of Ioannina, in Greece, and is now at Stanford. It exposed the ways, most notably the overinterpreting of statistical significance in studies with small sample sizes, that scientific findings can end up being irreproducible—or, as a layman might put it, wrong.
Dr Ioannidis has been waging war on sloppy science ever since, helping to develop a discipline called meta-research (ie, research about research). Later this month that battle will be institutionalised, with the launch of the Meta-Research Innovation Centre at Stanford.
METRICS, as the new laboratory is to be known for short, will connect enthusiasts of the nascent field in such corners of academia as medicine, statistics and epidemiology, with the aim of solidifying the young discipline. Dr Ioannidis and the lab’s co-founder, Steven Goodman, will (for this is, after all, science) organise conferences at which acolytes can meet in the world of atoms, rather than just online. They will create a “journal watch” to monitor scientific publishers’ work and to shame laggards into better behaviour. And they will spread the message to policymakers, governments and other interested parties, in an effort to stop them making decisions on the basis of flaky studies. All this in the name of the centre’s nerdishly valiant mission statement: “Identifying and minimising persistent threats to medical-research quality.”
The METRICS system
Irreproducibility is one such threat—so much so that there is an (admittedly tongue-in-cheek) publication called the Journal of Irreproducible Results. Some fields are making progress, though. In psychology, the Many Labs Replication Project, supported by the Centre for Open Science, an institute of the University of Virginia, has re-run 13 experiments about widely accepted theories. Only ten were validated. The centre has also launched what it calls the Cancer Biology Reproducibility Project, to look at 50 recent oncology studies.
Until now, however, according to Dr Ioannidis, no one has tried to find out whether such attempts at revalidation have actually had any impact on the credibility of research. METRICS will try to do this, and will make recommendations about how future work might be improved and better co-ordinated—for the study of reproducibility should, like any branch of science, be based on evidence of what works and what does not.
Wasted effort is another scourge of science that the lab will look into. A recent series of articles in the Lancet noted that, in 2010, about $200 billion (an astonishing 85% of the world’s spending on medical research) was squandered on studies that were flawed in their design, redundant, never published or poorly reported. METRICS will support efforts to tackle this extraordinary inefficiency, and will itself update research about the extent to which randomised-controlled trials acknowledge the existence of previous investigations of the same subject. If the situation has not improved, METRICS and its collaborators will try to design new publishing practices that discourage bad behaviour among scientists.
There is also Dr Ioannidis’s pet offender: publication bias. Not all studies that are conducted get published, and the ones which do tend to be those that have significant results. That leaves a skewed impression of the evidence.
Researchers have been studying publication bias for years, using various statistical tests. Again, though, there has been little reflection on these methods and their comparative effectiveness. They may, according to Dr Ioannidis, be giving both false negatives and false positives about whether or not publication bias exists in a particular body of studies.
Dr Ioannidis plans to run tests on the methods of meta-research itself, to make sure he and his colleagues do not fall foul of the very criticisms they make of others. “I don’t want”, he says, “to take for granted any type of meta-research is ideal and efficient and nice. I don’t want to promise that we can change the world, although this is probably what everybody has to promise to get funded nowadays.”
From the print edition: Science and technology
Last Edit: March 26, 2014, 10:18:15 AM by Crafty_Dog
WSJ: Koch bro speaks
Reply #1297 on:
April 03, 2014, 05:49:28 PM »
Charles Koch: I'm Fighting to Restore a Free Society
Instead of welcoming free debate, collectivists engage in character assassination.
by Charles G. Koch
Updated April 2, 2014 7:47 p.m. ET
I have devoted most of my life to understanding the principles that enable people to improve their lives. It is those principles—the principles of a free society—that have shaped my life, my family, our company and America itself.
Unfortunately, the fundamental concepts of dignity, respect, equality before the law and personal freedom are under attack by the nation's own government. That's why, if we want to restore a free society and create greater well-being and opportunity for all Americans, we have no choice but to fight for those principles. I have been doing so for more than 50 years, primarily through educational efforts. It was only in the past decade that I realized the need to also engage in the political process.
A truly free society is based on a vision of respect for people and what they value. In a truly free society, any business that disrespects its customers will fail, and deserves to do so. The same should be true of any government that disrespects its citizens. The central belief and fatal conceit of the current administration is that you are incapable of running your own life, but those in power are capable of running it for you. This is the essence of big government and collectivism.
More than 200 years ago, Thomas Jefferson warned that this could happen. "The natural progress of things," Jefferson wrote, "is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground." He knew that no government could possibly run citizens' lives for the better. The more government tries to control, the greater the disaster, as shown by the current health-care debacle. Collectivists (those who stand for government control of the means of production and how people live their lives) promise heaven but deliver hell. For them, the promised end justifies the means.
Instead of encouraging free and open debate, collectivists strive to discredit and intimidate opponents. They engage in character assassination. (I should know, as the almost daily target of their attacks.) This is the approach that Arthur Schopenhauer described in the 19th century, that Saul Alinsky famously advocated in the 20th, and that so many despots have infamously practiced. Such tactics are the antithesis of what is required for a free society—and a telltale sign that the collectivists do not have good answers.
Rather than try to understand my vision for a free society or accurately report the facts about Koch Industries, our critics would have you believe we're "un-American" and trying to "rig the system," that we're against "environmental protection" or eager to "end workplace safety standards." These falsehoods remind me of the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan's observation, "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts." Here are some facts about my philosophy and our company:
Koch companies employ 60,000 Americans, who make many thousands of products that Americans want and need. According to government figures, our employees and the 143,000 additional American jobs they support generate nearly $11.7 billion in compensation and benefits. About one-third of our U.S.-based employees are union members.
Koch employees have earned well over 700 awards for environmental, health and safety excellence since 2009, many of them from the Environmental Protection Agency and Occupational Safety and Health Administration. EPA officials have commended us for our "commitment to a cleaner environment" and called us "a model for other companies."
Our refineries have consistently ranked among the best in the nation for low per-barrel emissions. In 2012, our Total Case Incident Rate (an important safety measure) was 67% better than a Bureau of Labor Statistics average for peer industries. Even so, we have never rested on our laurels. We believe there is always room for innovation and improvement.
Far from trying to rig the system, I have spent decades opposing cronyism and all political favors, including mandates, subsidies and protective tariffs—even when we benefit from them. I believe that cronyism is nothing more than welfare for the rich and powerful, and should be abolished.
Koch Industries was the only major producer in the ethanol industry to argue for the demise of the ethanol tax credit in 2011. That government handout (which cost taxpayers billions) needlessly drove up food and fuel prices as well as other costs for consumers—many of whom were poor or otherwise disadvantaged. Now the mandate needs to go, so that consumers and the marketplace are the ones who decide the future of ethanol.
Instead of fostering a system that enables people to help themselves, America is now saddled with a system that destroys value, raises costs, hinders innovation and relegates millions of citizens to a life of poverty, dependency and hopelessness. This is what happens when elected officials believe that people's lives are better run by politicians and regulators than by the people themselves. Those in power fail to see that more government means less liberty, and liberty is the essence of what it means to be American. Love of liberty is the American ideal.
If more businesses (and elected officials) were to embrace a vision of creating real value for people in a principled way, our nation would be far better off—not just today, but for generations to come. I'm dedicated to fighting for that vision. I'm convinced most Americans believe it's worth fighting for, too.
Mr. Koch is chairman and CEO of Koch Industries.
Last Edit: April 10, 2014, 10:20:52 AM by Crafty_Dog
Reply #1298 on:
April 10, 2014, 04:40:38 AM »
The 20th century turned out to be mankind's most barbaric. Roughly 50 million to 60 million people died in international and civil wars. As tragic as that number is, it pales in comparison with the number of people who were killed at the hands of their own government. Recently deceased Rudolph J. Rummel, professor of political science at the University of Hawaii and author of "Death by Government," estimated that since the beginning of the 20th century, governments have killed 170 million of their own citizens. Top government killers were the Soviet Union, which, between 1917 and 1987, killed 62 million of its own citizens, and the People's Republic of China, which, between 1949 and 1987, was responsible for the deaths of 35 million to 40 million of its citizens. In a distant third place were the Nazis, who murdered about 16 million Jews, Slavs, Serbs, Czechs, Poles, Ukrainians and others deemed misfits, such as homosexuals and the mentally ill
A good reply on History of Democrats, Republicans, and Racism off of Yahoo board
Reply #1299 on:
April 15, 2014, 03:02:12 AM »
David H 44 minutes ago
A Short History of Democrats, Republicans, and Racism
The following are a few basic historical facts that every American should know.
Fact: The Republican Party was founded primarily to oppose slavery, and Republicans eventually abolished slavery. The Democratic Party fought them and tried to maintain and expand slavery.
Why is this indisputable fact so rarely mentioned? PBS documentaries about slavery and the Civil War barely mention it, for example. One can certainly argue that the parties have changed dramatically in 150 years, but that does not change the historical fact that it was the Democrats who supported slavery and the Republicans who opposed it. And that indisputable fact should not be airbrushed out for fear that it will tarnish the modern Democratic Party.
Had the positions of the parties been the opposite, and the Democrats had fought the Republicans to end slavery, the historical party roles would no doubt be repeated incessantly in these documentaries. Funny how that works.
Fact: During the Civil War era, the "Radical Republicans" were given that name because they wanted to not only end slavery but also to endow the freed slaves with full citizenship, equality, and rights.
Yes, that was indeed a radical idea at the time!
Fact: Lincoln's Vice President, Andrew Johnson, was a strongly pro-Union (but also pro-slavery) Democrat who had been chosen as a compromise running mate to attract Democrats. After Lincoln was assassinated, Johnson thwarted Republican efforts in Congress to recognize the civil rights of the freed slaves, and Southern Democrats continued to thwart any such efforts for nearly a century.
Fact: The Ku Klux Klan was originally and primarily an arm of the Southern Democratic Party, and its mission was to terrorize freed slaves and Republicans who sympathized with them.
Why is this fact conveniently omitted in so many popular histories and depictions of the KKK, including PBS documentaries? Had the KKK been founded by Republicans, that fact would no doubt be repeated constantly on those shows.
Fact: In the 1950s, President Eisenhower, a Republican, integrated the US military and promoted civil rights for minorities. Eisenhower pushed through the Civil Rights Act of 1957. One of Eisenhower's primary political opponents on civil rights prior to 1957 was none other than Lyndon Johnson, then the Democratic Senate Majority Leader. LBJ had voted the straight segregationist line until he changed his position and supported the 1957 Act.
Fact: The historic Civil Rights Act of 1964 was supported by a higher percentage of Republicans than Democrats in both houses of Congress. In the House, 80 percent of the Republicans and 63 percent of the Democrats voted in favor. In the Senate, 82 percent of the Republicans and 69 percent of the Democrats voted for it.
Fact: Contrary to popular misconception, the parties never "switched" on racism.
Following the epic civil rights struggles of the 1960s, the South began a major demographic shift from Democratic to Republican dominance. Many believe that this shift was motivated mainly by racism. While it is certainly true that many Southern racists abandoned the Democratic Party over its new support for racial equality and integration, the notion that they would flock to the Republican Party -- which was a century ahead of the Democrats on those issues -- makes no sense whatsoever.
Yet virtually every liberal, when pressed on the matter, will inevitably claim that the parties "switched," and most racist Democrats became Republicans! In their minds, this historical ju jitsu maneuver apparently transfers all the past sins of the Democrats (slavery, the KKK, Jim Crow laws, etc.) onto the Republicans and all the past virtues of the Republicans (e.g., ending slavery) onto the Democrats! That's quite a feat!
It is true that Barry Goldwater's opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 probably attracted some racist Democrats to the Republican Party. However, Goldwater was not a racist -- at least not an overt racist like so many Southern Democrats of the time, such as George Wallace and Bull Connor. He publicly professed racial equality, and his opposition to the 1964 Act was based on principled grounds of states rights. In any case, his libertarian views were out of step with the mainstream of the Republican Party, and he lost the 1964 Presidential election to LBJ in a landslide.
But Goldwater's opposition to the 1964 Civil Rights Act provided liberals an opening to tar the Republican Party as racist, and they have tenaciously repeated that label so often over the years that it is now the conventional wisdom among liberals. But it is really nothing more than an unsubstantiated myth -- a convenient political lie. If the Republican Party was any more racist than the Democratic Party even in 1964, why did a higher percentage of Republicans than Democrats in both houses of Congress vote for the 1964 Civil Rights Act? The idea that Goldwater's vote on the 1964 Civil Rights Act trumps a century of history of the Republican Party is ridiculous, to say the least.
Every political party has its racists, but the notion that Republicans are more racist than Democrats or any other party is based on nothing more than a constant drumbeat of unsubstantiated innuendo and assertions by Leftists, constantly echoed by the liberal media. It is a classic example of a Big Lie that becomes "true" simply by virtue of being repeated so many times.
A more likely explanation for the long-term shift from Democratic to Republican dominance in the South was the perception, fair or not, that the Democratic Party had rejected traditional Christian religious values and embraced radical secularism. That includes its hardline support for abortion, its rejection of prayer in public schools, its promotion of the gay agenda, and many other issues.
In the 1960s the Democratic Party essentially changed its strategy for dealing with African Americans. Thanks largely to earlier Republican initiatives on civil rights, blatant racial oppression was no longer a viable political option. Whereas before that time Southern Democrats had overtly and proudly segregated and terrorized blacks, the national Democratic Party decided instead to be more subtle and get them as dependent on government as possible. As LBJ so elegantly put it (in a famous moment of candor that was recorded for posterity), "I'll have those niggers voting Democratic for the next 200 years." At the same time, the Democrats started a persistent campaign of lies and innuendo, falsely equating any opposition to their welfare state with racism.
From a purely cynical political perspective, the Democratic strategy of black dependence has been extremely effective. LBJ knew exactly what he was doing. African Americans routinely vote well over 90 percent Democratic for fear that Republicans will cut their government benefits and welfare programs. And what is the result? Before LBJ's Great Society welfare programs, the black illegitimacy rate was as low as 23 percent, but now it has more than tripled to 72 percent.
Most major American city governments have been run by liberal Democrats for decades, and most of those cities have large black sections that are essentially dysfunctional anarchies. Cities like Detroit are overrun by gangs and drug dealers, with burned out homes on every block in some areas. The land values are so low due to crime, blight, and lack of economic opportunity that condemned homes are not even worth rebuilding. Who wants to build a home in an urban war zone? Yet they keep electing liberal Democrats -- and blaming "racist" Republicans for their problems!
Washington DC is another city that has been dominated by liberal Democrats for decades. It spends more per capita on students than almost any other city in the world, yet it has some of the worst academic achievement anywhere and is a drug-infested hellhole. Barack Obama would not dream of sending his own precious daughters to the DC public schools, of course -- but he assures us that those schools are good enough for everyone else. In fact, Obama was instrumental in killing a popular and effective school voucher program in DC, effectively killing hopes for many poor black families trapped in those dysfunctional public schools. His allegiance to the teachers unions apparently trumps his concern for poor black families.
A strong argument could also be made that Democratic support for perpetual affirmative action is racist. It is, after all, the antithesis of Martin Luther King's vision of a color-blind society. Not only is it "reverse racism," but it is based on the premise that African Americans are incapable of competing in the free market on a level playing field. In other words, it is based on the notion of white supremacy, albeit "benevolent" white supremacy rather than the openly hostile white supremacy of the pre-1960s Democratic Party.
The next time someone claims that Republicans are racist and Democrats are not, don't fall for it.
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