Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Observations From the Back Row

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“De Omnibus Dubitandum”
Everything we are told should bear some resemblance to what we see going on in reality!


ABORTION

Analyst Infanticide argument shouldn't surprise
Common idea in philosophy seeking to maximize pleasure and minimize pain - A recent report in a medical ethics journal arguing the benefits of infanticide is simply a rehash of what members of the Obama administration have advocated regarding how Obamacare should be implemented, according to the head of a group that defends the unborn.

The recent paper in the Journal of Medical Ethics, titled “After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?” argued that infanticide “should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled” because the authors do not believe a newborn is a person.

BIG GOVERNMENT

TSA thugs threaten media outlets
"Jonathan Corbett is suing the TSA for its unconstitutional body scanners and pat-down methods. He's also demonstrating that the TSA simply doesn't work. ... the pornoscanners actually put passengers at GREATER RISK -- and the TSA knows it! Even worse, the TSA issued threats against mainstream media outlets that wanted to interview Corbett!

How We Can Keep From Going Broke
Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other social insurance programs are bankrupting America. They will produce ever-escalating deficits for as far as the eye can see. So what can we do about it? All we hear out of Washington are "eat-your-spinach" solutions — both from Democrats and Republicans. These involve cutting benefits, forcing doctors to ration health care, etc. Naturally, the beneficiaries resist such change. My colleagues and I at the National Center for Policy Analysis have been thinking about a different approach. Reform of entitlement programs should be a win-win proposition. That is, it should be good for the individual who agrees to accept fewer government benefits as well as for the taxpayers. Here is part of the idea....

What does the money-printing binge of the Obama administration portend for the future?
The monetary base had changed slowly and steadily before the current crisis, and the Fed’s actions that caused its explosion during the past three years have no precedents in nature or magnitude. Indeed, if a monetary economist had been given (by divine miracle) a preview of the chart above in, say, 2007, he would probably have concluded that the Fed’s managers were destined to go mad in the near future. I daresay no economist expected such an action (or set of actions). Now that it has occurred, however, it places the Fed in an unprecedented—and extremely dangerous—situation.

Obama Discovers a Problem With Marxism
In an interview with WFTV, President Obama suddenly discovered what it is that has troubled Americans about Marxism for well over a century. The crucial exchange occurred when Obama was asked about gas prices. “Well, as long as gas prices are going up, people are going to feel like I’m not doing enough, and I understand that,” Obama observed. “Ultimately, though, there’s no silver bullet.”

Crony capitalism comes with big government
"Economic policy issues often divide on 'pro-business' and 'pro-government' arguments, with the pro-government side arguing that we need big government to correct the failures of the market, regulate business activity, and stand up to crony capitalism. The problem with this pro-government view is that crony capitalism inevitably comes with big government."… When government is limited, both in its budget and its regulatory powers, businesses seek profits through innovation and productive activity. Big government inevitably influences business profitability because taxes lower profitability, subsidies can raise it, government expenditures can aid business projects, and regulations can provide both benefits to firms and erect barriers for their competitors. So, with big government, businesses have to turn their attention toward those activities of government that influence their profits.

CHINA

China: New Red Dawn thwarted
"The charismatic Communist Party chief who had led a Maoist revival in the central Chinese city of Chongqing, complete with red flag-waving song contests, was removed from his post Thursday in what is being applauded as a victory for the political reform faction. Bo Xilai’s ouster comes in the midst of a scandal that has riveted Chinese who are unaccustomed to seeing political intrigues played out in a public [sic]." My Take - Nothing is as it appears in China. RK

CIVIL RIGHTS

Property rights are human rights
"One of the left's most effective canards has been its alleged distinction between property rights and human rights. The fact is that property rights are human rights. My right to my computer -- my property -- is not my computer's right to itself. It's my right, and I'm human. So when I see someone who is on record as being a defender of human rights and that someone defends, however haltingly, her property right as a human right, that's progress."

Imaginary due process
"According to the Attorney General of the United States, the United States Constitution Bill of Rights, specifically the due process requirements, no longer applies to some American citizens if the president arbitrarily chooses to suspend them. In short, the president can have you assassinated if he thinks it’s a good idea." …. How in the name of reason and justice does Attorney General Holder’s “criteria” apply to them? Where is the “collateral damage” criterion? If it can happen to them, it can happen to you, and the Constitution of the United States of America is no longer a barrier. It’s new; it’s scary; it’s imaginary due process.

Americans have just suffered a dangerous loss of liberties
The Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011 (PDF) may sound like a landscaping measure, but it is also being called the Trespass Bill, the Anti-Occupy Bill, and the First Amendment Rights Eradication Act. Under this bill, it is a felony to protest at or in the vicinity of a venue or event that is attended by anyone who has Secret Service protection. H.R. 347 passed the House on February 27th by a vote of 388–3. The Senate version (S. 1794) passed unanimously. With President Obama's signature, the Act became law on March 8…..The left-leaning Daily Kos states, “Protesting will be a felony — where is the outrage?” Meanwhile, the bill is being ignored by the mainstream media as uncontroversial. Supporters of the act dismiss its critics as hysterical or ill-informed. Michael Mahassey, the communications director for Rep. Thomas J. Rooney, who sponsored H.R. 347, called the backlash, "a whole lot of kerfuffle over nothing. This doesn’t affect anyone’s right to protest anywhere at any time. Ever.” Who is correct? And why is there such a deep schism on H.R. 347?

Compliant Americans
Last month, at a Raeford, N.C., elementary school, a teacher confiscated the lunch of a 5-year-old girl because it didn't meet U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines and therefore was deemed nonnutritious. She replaced it with school cafeteria chicken nuggets. The girl's home-prepared lunch was nutritious; it consisted of a turkey and cheese sandwich, potato chips, a banana and apple juice. But whether her lunch was nutritious or not is not the issue. The issue is governmental usurpation of parental authority…..Because Americans are so compliant and willing to suffer silently at the gasoline pump, the Obama administration is willing to press on as handmaidens of environmental extremists who want to halt the exploration of our country's vast oil supplies, which are estimated to be triple those of Saudi Arabia. The Obama administration would rather pour more taxpayer dollars into risky alternative crony energy suppliers and electric cars. The OPEC nations have to be laughing at us, and I wouldn't be surprised if it were revealed that they are making under-the-table payments to environmental wackos.

COMMON SENSE - WHERE IS IT?

MS: Remaining five inmates in pardons controversy freed
"All five remaining inmates held in the Mississippi pardons controversy have now been released from prison. Mississippi's Supreme Court last week upheld the controversial pardons of more than 200 convicts that former Gov. Haley Barbour granted on his way out of office, rejecting a challenge by the state's attorney general."

EU

France: Sarkozy defies Europe with protectionist push
"President Nicolas Sarkozy, recasting himself as France's saviour from low-cost competition and high immigration, threatened to disregard European limitations on protectionism as he sought to give his re-election campaign a second wind on Sunday. Going out on a limb that risks angering France's European partners, Sarkozy said it was time to support local companies and stop the uncontrolled influx of immigrants and cheap imports that demonstrate Europe's lack of protectionist controls."

ISLAM

Israel, Islamic Jihad agree to Gaza truce
"Israel and militants in Gaza agreed to cease hostilities Tuesday after Egypt brokered a 'mutual truce' following four days of bloodletting which left 25 Gazans dead. Under the agreement, which came into force at 1:00am (2300 GMT on Monday), both Israel and militants from Islamic Jihad -- responsible for the lion's share of rockets targeting southern Israel -- agreed to hold their fire, an Egyptian intelligence official told AFP. Israeli officials and Islamic Jihad both confirmed that a deal was in place."

JOBS

Gallup Calls BS on BLS Unemployment Data
The latest BLS jobs report and the latest Gallup survey on jobs and unemployment are so out of line, that Gallup has commented on it in followup article Unemployment Numbers Suggest U.S. Economic Boom, or Not A careful look at the government's unadjusted household unemployment data shows a stunning 740,000 jobs added to the economy in February -- three times the 227,000 reported based on the establishment payroll survey. If this is economic reality, then the underlying economy must be growing much faster than most Americans currently believe. If the U.S. economy is surging, and jobs increased at the rate of three-quarters of a million last month, why haven't we heard a lot more about it? And, given a rapidly expanding economy, how can Gallup's nearly 30,000 random interviews with Americans across the nation show a significant increase in the unemployment rate?

JUST A THOUGHT

Is There a Conservative Majority?
As we get closer to the upcoming elections, the question of how to best advance the conservative cause presents itself. Some would argue that elections present an opportunity to reach out to more people with the conservative message, while others insist that ideological considerations take a back seat to actually getting sympathetic politicians elected. Sometimes we come across indications that these two objectives are not mutually exclusive pursuits. In a recent American Thinker article by Bruce Walker, such a case is presented. Walker makes the argument that there is a self identified conservative majority out there ready to be mobilized. He draws that conclusion by looking at a series of five Gallup Polls taken over three years, which broke down ideological self-identification by state. According to Walker:

MEDIA

The Media Endorse Barack Obama
Writing in this space two months ago, I laid out the media advantage that President Obama has in his quest for reelection. According to a study done by the Pew Research Center, 32 percent of journalists say they are liberal, 53 percent moderate and just 8 percent conservative. Ask John McCain how the press treated him in 2008 if you want specifics on the tilt toward Obama. A great illustration of media bias is the recent dustup over Sandra Fluke. She is the liberal activist trotted out by the Democratic Party to deflect the contraception issue away from the "church-state" controversy the White House was losing and into the more emotional "women's health" arena.

More propaganda masquerading as entertainment
One of the last things America needs is a rehash of the 2008 campaign, but the truth demands constant vigilance. The lies of today easily evolve into the common misperceptions of tomorrow…Recently, this space discussed the marketing of Game Change, HBO’s account of Campaign 2008… The producers are selling it as a serious examination of our political selection process. But this writer missed the trees for the forest. The devil is in the details. It is not the smug, self-satisfied tone of the filmmakers and stars that justify the disgust of every American who esteems truth as the gold standard of political discourse. Simply, the film is a blatant piece of anti-conservative propaganda… Some Hollywood producers are more insidious than politicians — the cover of “art” offers a much broader framework for spreading liberal propaganda than a mere stump speech or daily news sound bite. …. McCain laments the media’s negative treatment of him. “I thought they liked me.” No, Senator, they like you only as long as you are an impediment to the conservative movement. Any threat to liberal preponderance will be savaged by the media, including the entertainment media. Ultimately, the outrage of Game Change is not just that it demeans Sarah Palin but that it insults conservatives and the intelligence of its viewers. Not everyone is gullible enough to believe such over-the-top fiction, but its makers are sure banking for success on the ones who are

The Afghanistan Murders and the follies of Altruism
Two articles were published almost immediately after news of the crime broke, Ralph Peters’s angry article on Family Security Matters (FSM, March 13), Soldiers Murders Afghans – Generals Murder Solders: It was Only a Matter of Time Before One of Our Men Broke Down,” and Daniel Greenfield’s bitter and sardonic Sultan Knish article of March 12, “The Blood Price of Afghanistan.” By contrast, the MSM reported the killings with an almost palpable tone of glee… CNN decided to quote the dismay of one of the head savages in Afghanistan….But no condolences offered for the numerous Americans, Canadians, British, and Australians killed in cold blood by Afghans?...."The Afghan people can withstand a lot of pain," Prince Ali Seraj, the head of the National Coalition for Dialogue with the Tribes of Afghanistan - "They can withstand collateral damage. They can withstand night raids. But murder is something that they totally abhor, and when that happens, they really want justice." Really? The Taliban and other Afghans “abhor” murder? But not honor killings, rape, torture, beheadings, ritual disfigurements, beatings, and whippings, all prescribed or sanctioned by the Koran? ….everyday practice in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, Syria, Libya…. No, no POTUS, no MSM anchor or pundit, no Charlie Rose or “Washington Week” host will raise those issues. After all, self-sacrifice demands that our soldiers expose themselves to the whim and malice of their enemies. Isn’t that what soldiering is all about? So, please, don’t bore our liberal/left elite with such stories….

What’s the Matter with Soledad O’Brian?
CNN's Soledad O'Brien isn't used to criticism. In the world of media elites, she's a beloved figure and an award-winning news anchor. But last week, she revealed her true, decidedly non-neutral colors. And she's not happy about the hoi polloi questioning her hallowed journalistic objectivity. On Thursday, O'Brien interviewed Joel Pollak, editor-in-chief of the late Andrew Breitbart's online empire. Breitbart's BigGovernment.com released a 1991 video of Barack Obama (then a 30-year-old law student) at a Harvard rally embracing radical racialist Derrick Bell and his push for more aggressive race-based hiring at Harvard. Bell is a proponent of critical race theory (CRT), which posits that America remains a hopelessly racist country dominated by Jews and white supremacists.

Just another media liar
Some weeks ago, Chris Matthews mentioned me in passing as one of those who wants to attack Iran militarily. So I wrote to his producer, pointed out that I had long opposed military attacks on Iran, had written three books and scads of articles and blogs saying that, and would therefore be grateful if Mr Matthews would take a few seconds to correct the record on air. After all, that’s where he uttered the false statement to begin with…[after some unsatisfactory communications he writes] That’s about it. I don’t suppose it’s surprising. I just want to state the facts: I am opposed to military attacks against Iran, I think we should be supporting the opposition there, and I think I’ve shown that Chris Matthews isn’t much interested in getting it right. He got it wrong, and stayed with it. Par for the course, n’est-ce pas? Another reason not to watch television. Stick with PJ Media. We try harder to get it right, and if we get it wrong, we try to correct it pronto.

MEDICINE

CBO report says healthcare law could cause as many as 20M to lose coverage
"As many as 20 million Americans could lose their employer-provided coverage because of President Obama's healthcare reform law, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said in a new report Thursday. The figure represents the worst-case scenario, CBO says, and the law could just as well increase the number of people with employer-based coverage by 3 million in 2019. The best estimate, subject to a "tremendous amount of uncertainty," is that about 3 million to 5 million fewer people will obtain coverage through their employer each year from 2019 through 2022.

Another foundation of Obamacare crumbles
Electronic health records have long been touted by Democrats and Republicans alike as a sure-fire way to lower health spending. When doctors have easy electronic access to a patient's records, advocates argue, they are less likely to order the duplicative and unnecessary tests that drive up the cost of health care in America. But that assertion is not necessarily proving to be true. Doctors who use EHRs may actually order more diagnostic testing, and therefore make health care even more expensive, according to a study published in the the journal Health Affairs.

Obamacare Costs More Than Twice As Much As Obama Claimed; Stimulus Creates Debt, Not Jobs
Today, the CBO released new projections from 2013 extending through 2022, and the results are as critics expected: the ten-year cost of the law’s core provisions to expand health insurance coverage has now ballooned to $1.76 trillion. That’s because we now have estimates for Obamacare’s first nine years of full implementation, rather than the mere six when it was signed into law. Only next year will we get a true ten-year cost estimate, if the law isn’t overturned by the Supreme Court or repealed by then. Given that in 2022, the last year available, the gross cost of the coverage expansions are $265 billion, we’re likely looking at about $2 trillion over the first decade, or more than double what Obama advertised.” Obamacare will harm the health care system and reduce employment….Bloomberg News features an interesting column by Ramesh Ponnuru, “Obama’s Stimulus Helped Grow Debt, Not Economy,”

RACISM

Voter ID Laws: Racist or Reasonable?
There’s been much said lately about election integrity and voter identification laws. Both sides of the American political spectrum have raised concerns over polls and potential abuses in the American voting process. In fact, due to the serious voter registration irregularities identified by groups like True the Vote in Texas, along with the numerous voter fraud convictions across the nation involving workers from politically motivated groups like the failed organization ACORN, many states are pursuing photo identification as a means of addressing such assaults on election integrity. Texas, South Carolina and Florida have all taken steps to mandate photo identification as a requirement for voting. ...The group found the seven congressional districts had four that were predominantly Republican and three that were predominantly Democratic. The four predominantly Republican districts had a range from 1,973 to 3,300 addresses with six or more people registered to them. The three predominantly Democratic districts had much higher numbers. …. The group visited addresses and scoured property tax records. The group found many of the addresses were vacant lots or business addresses. Thirty-nine were registered at businesses and 97 of the addresses were nonexistent. One hundred six of the registrations revealed the same registrant registered more than once, and 207 of the addresses turned out to be vacant lots. Meanwhile, 595 registrations had registrants with driver’s license addresses not matching the registration, and many were voting in a district they did not live in.,…Engelbrecht believes could result in an erosion of election integrity.

Our New Vichy-Like Intellectuals
Bruce Bawer, the American cultural critic who lives in Norway, just came out with a new book titled “The New Quislings”. It’s a devastating blow against the witch hunt and hysteria which poisoned Europe after the Oslo youth camp carnage last year. Norway is the nation that gave the world the word “Quisling” - after the politician who encouraged a Nazi invasion of his country. Despite it’s mainly dealing with Norway, Bawer’s splendid book sheds new light into a much deeper phenomenon: the night of Europe and its Vichy-like intellectuals. Throughout Europe, there’s a river of oily, bloody money that feeds those who incite for anti-Jewish boycotts, all the while spreading anti-Israel lies under guise of “objective journalism” and “academic research”. There are careers to be made through the betrayal of intellectual standards by making the Jewish State the object of an unremitting demonology. There are almost no Jews today in Oslo, however the Norwegian capital is one of the global centers of new anti-Semitism.

(The French government that "collaborated" with the Nazis during WWII was headquartered at Vichy, a French spa town)

Racial Quota Fallout
Many years ago, I learned of an episode in the life of a promising young black man that is relevant to things happening now. He had been educated at a good school, and went on to receive degrees at good colleges and universities. Then he went for a Ph.D. in mathematics at one of the leading departments in that field. When he encountered difficulties, his professors essentially wrote his doctoral thesis for him. No doubt they felt good about doing something to help a promising young black man, and perhaps took pride in doing so. But what about his pride? .....Derrick Bell's options were to be a nobody, living in the shadow of more accomplished legal scholars -- or to go off on some wild tangent of his own, and appeal to a radical racial constituency on campus and beyond.

His writings showed clearly that the latter was the path he chose… Bell even said that he took it as his mission to say things to annoy white people. Perhaps he thought that was better than being insignificant in his academic setting. But it was in fact far worse, because the real damage was to impressionable young blacks who took him seriously, including one who went on to become President of the United States.

REGULATIONS

Red Ink on the Rise
When it comes to regulations, President Obama’s message to his conservative critics seems to be: Message received. Early last year, he vowed to crack down on over-zealous rule-making, noting that the “rules have gotten out of balance” and “have had a chilling effect on growth and jobs.” He’s right -- they have. But actions speak louder than words, don’t they? For regardless of how tough the president may talk on regulation, his administration has enacted far more major regulations -- and significantly more expensive ones -- over the first three years of his presidency than the Bush administration enacted during its first three years. This runs counter to what we’ve heard from the president’s apologists. Over the last several months, they’ve been bragging about his rule-making record. As the president himself said during his most recent State of the Union address: “I’ve approved fewer regulations in the first three years of my presidency than my Republican predecessor did in his.” But a new report from The Heritage Foundation, “Red Tape Rising,” shows just the opposite is true. This administration has been on a rule-making tear.

Complex societies need simple laws
"If you have 10,000 regulations,' Winston Churchill said, 'you destroy all respect for law.' He was right. But Churchill never imagined a government that would add 10,000 year after year. That's what we have in America. We have 160,000 pages of rules from the feds alone. States and localities have probably doubled that. ... So what do the politicians and bureaucrats of the permanent government do? They pass more rules."

RELIGION IN GOVERNMENT

Not the messiah
"I caught about 30 seconds of some Republican forum last night and heard someone ask Newt Gingrich about what he was going to do to lead the nation back to God. I am a religious person. I think Godliness is a good thing. But the right answer to that question should be to say that it is not the job of the President of the United States or in in the skill set of the President of the United States to lead the nation back to or toward God."

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