Saturday, December 31, 2011

Class warfare

You would think given the utter failure that Democratic presidential campaigns have had with class warfare rhetoric--John Edwards, John Kerry, Al Gore, and Walter Mondale come to mind--that their strategists would have realized long ago that the politics of envy just don't work.

Unfortunately, however, that hasn't been the case, as President Obama has embraced with abandon attacks on his fellow Americans (while at the same time keeping an open door for the very richest to give and receive favors). This time around, class warfare is not working too well, either, as political analyst Michael Barone writes:
"A 2008 election widely regarded as heralding a shift toward the more government-friendly public sentiment of the New Deal and Great Society eras seems to have yielded just the reverse."

So writes William Galston, Brookings Institution scholar and deputy domestic adviser in the Clinton White House, in the New Republic. Galston, one of the smartest political and policy analysts around, has strong evidence for this conclusion.

He cites a recent Gallup poll showing that while 82 percent of Americans think it's extremely or very important to "grow and expand the economy" and 70 percent say it's similarly important to "increase equality of opportunity for people to get ahead," only 46 percent say it's important to "reduce the income and wealth gap between the rich and the poor," and 54 percent say this is only somewhat or not important.

In addition, by a 52 to 45 percent margin, Americans see the gap between the rich and the poor as an acceptable part of the economic system rather than a problem that needs to be fixed. In 1998, during the high-tech economic boom, Americans took the opposite view by the same margin.

More here

Progressivism

After the experiences of the past 12 months, it is difficult to give meaning to the idea of a ‘progressive worldview’. Throughout history, progressives came in many shapes and sizes, but whatever their differences might have been, their convictions were similar - they were driven by a positive view of change, innovation and experimentation and by a belief that the world could be a better place tomorrow than today. Despite clashes of opinion over what progress would look like, they assumed that the future could be influenced by political action.

In 2011, the classical ideal of progressivism died, having been displaced by a zombie version that has little to do with the forward-looking, transformative outlook of progressives of the past. The only practical context in which the term progressive is used today is in relation to taxation. Progressive taxation makes sense, of course, because society is entitled to expect greater material contribution from those who earn more than others. But in recent times, progressive taxation has been transformed from a sensible fiscal policy into a naive instrument of social engineering. Historically, the aim of progressives was to realise a positive transformation, whereas today their objective is merely to rearrange the status quo through redistribution.

In recent years, the zombie version of progressivism has become closely linked with the idea of ‘social justice’. Social justice can be defined in many different ways, but in essence it expresses a worldview committed to avoiding uncertainty and risky change through demanding that the state provides us with economic and existential security. From this standpoint, progress is proportional to the expansion of legal and quasi-legal oversight into everyday life. From the perspective of those who demand social justice, the proliferation of ‘rights’ and redistribution of wealth are the main markers of a progressive society.

Paradoxically, the idea of social justice was historically associated with movements that were suspicious of and uncomfortable with progress. The term was coined by the Jesuit Luigi Taparelli in 1840. His aim was to reconstitute theological ideals on a social foundation. In the century that followed, ‘social justice’ was upheld by movements that were fearful of the future and which sought to contain the dynamic towards progress. Probably one of the best known advocates of social justice was Father Charles Edward Coughlin. This remarkable American demagogue and populist xenophobe set up the National Union of Social Justice in 1934. Through his popular radio broadcasts, which regularly attracted audiences of 30million, he became one of the most influential political figures in the United States. Coughlin praised Hitler and Mussolini’s crusade against communism and denounced President Roosevelt for being in the pocket of Jewish bankers. Here, ‘social justice’ was about condemning crooked financiers and putting forward a narrow, defensive appeal for the redistribution of resources.

More here

Medicare spending

Friday, December 30, 2011

Houston, we have a problem

At the peak of this year's record drought, the city of Houston lost more than 18 billion gallons of water through a system that was leaking like a sieve, amounting to tens of millions of dollars wasted in potential revenue.

The largest losses occurred in September and October, when more than 9 billion gallons — about one-fourth of all the water produced during those two months — leaked from a system riddled by countless pipe breaks, according to recently released city records.

"Water is a valuable resource, and we're blowing it right and left," said Katie Molina, general manager of the Citizens' Environmental Coalition in Houston. "We have to ask why we have so many leaks. Is it all drought-related, or did we let our infrastructure fall into such a state of disrepair that it is now coming back to haunt us?"

The value of Houston's lost water and the cost of making thousands of repairs is hard to measure, city officials say.

However, they acknowledge that during the last fiscal year (July 2010 to July 2011), the city earned an average $2.81 for every thousand gallons sold. At that rate, the water lost from June through October (18.1 billion gallons) could potentially have been sold to users for $50 million.

When projected over the last fiscal year, the city lost 30 billion gallons - 18 percent - of the water it produced, city records show. That means, using the average rate for every thousand gallons sold, Houston could have earned about $85 million from users - at a time when the city has been forced to make layoffs because of budget constraints.

More here

(What's not mentioned in the story is that infrastructure usually gets placed on the backburner because welfare costs keep escalating in large cities across the nation)

Anti-science

In September, a pundit fight broke out over whether Team Blue or Team Red is more "anti-science." Microbiologist Alex Berezow, editor of RealClearScience, struck the first blow in the pages of USA Today. "For every anti- science Republican that exists," he wrote, "there is at least one anti-science Democrat. Neither party has a monopoly on scientific illiteracy."

Then Chris Mooney, author of The Republican War on Science, denounced Berezow’s column as "classic false equivalence on political abuse of science" over at the Center for American Progress’s Climate Progress blog. Mooney accused Berezow of trying "to show that liberals do the same thing" by "finding a few relatively fringe things that some progressives cling to that might be labeled anti-scientific."

Berezow acknowledged that many prominent Republican politicians, including several presidential candidates, deny biological evolution, are skeptical of the scientific consensus on man-made global warming, and oppose research using human embryonic stem cells. Democrats, Berezow argued, tend to be more anti-vaccine, anti-nuclear power, anti-biotechnology, and anti-biomedical research involving tests on animals.

In support of these claims Berezow cited polling data from a 2008 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, which identified a number of partisan divides on scientific questions. On biological evolution, the survey reported that 97 percent of scientists agree that living things, including human beings, evolved over time, compared to 58 percent of Democrats and 49 percent of Republicans.

On climate change, the Pew survey reported that 84 percent of scientists believe that recent warming is the result of human activity, compared to 64 percent of Democrats and only 30 percent of Republicans. That’s a truly deep divide on a scientific issue.

More here

French election

Both women are eyeing the country’s top post. But French presidential candidates Marine Le Pen and Eva Joly have little in common. When they aired their differences this week, it was an acrimonious war of words.

Armed with an arsenal of barbs, low-blows and ripostes, the top two female candidates in the 2012 French presidential race have been waging a war of words in recent days, setting the stage for a perfect media storm.

Politically, Marine Le Pen, the 43-year-old leader of France’s far-right National Front, and Eva Joly, the 68-year-old Green Party candidate, stand on opposite sides of the ideological spectrum.

Personally, the two women have little in common. The youngest daughter of National Front founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, the younger Le Pen was born in the upscale Parisian suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine and grew up in the French rightwing political establishment.

Norwegian-born Joly came to France as a 20-year-old au pair in the early 1960s before rising to become one of France’s best-known investigative judges, famed for tackling corruption among the business and political elite.

With her trademark red glasses, Joly is a household name in France and French viewers have grown accustomed to her Norwegian accent. When she won her party’s primary race earlier this year, Joly, who holds joint Norwegian-French nationality, became the first dual national to run for the French presidency.

The latest hostilities have seen the two women airing political and personal differences in speeches and on the airwaves.

More here

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Throwing cash around

President Carter Obama was so impressed with the failed solar company, Solyndra, that he wanted to give them another $469 million on top of the $535 million (before it failed) to make it an even billion dollars in taxpayer cash. Nemesis is always on the trail of hubris.

It has been estimated that about one million North Koreans died of starvation during its famine during the late 1990's. About 37 percent of North Korean children are estimated to be chronically malnourished. About 400,000 citizens have died during the past two decades in a vast system of work camps and prisons where food is very scarce.

The number of jobless people in France hit a 12-year high in November in the latest sign the French job market is deteriorating ahead of the April-May presidential election. Labour ministry data issued on Monday showed that the number of registered jobseekers in mainland France rose by 29,900 in November to reach 2.85 million, up 1.1 per cent on the month and 5.2 per cent on the year. Story

Was Jesus black? It is the age old question that has generated years and years of debate. But according to most scholars, the answer is not a difficult one. "Jesus was definitely a person of color," said Rev. Dr. Mark A. Lomax, pastor of First Afrikan Presbyterian Church in Lithonia, GA. Story

Ron Paul, anti-semite...A former senior aide to GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul has decided to "set the record straight" in a 'tell all' post on the Right Wing News blog -- and in the process, has confirmed that Paul wishes "the Israeli state did not exist at all." Story

Newt Gingrich loved Romney's healthcare plan five years ago. In a 2006 newsletter Gingrich was quoted as saying, "The health bill that Governor Romney signed into law this month has tremendous potential to effect major change in the American health system....We agree entirely with Governor Romney and Massachusetts legislators that our goal should be 100 percent insurance coverage for all Americans."

Of the 620 measures that Ron Paul has sponsored since 1976, just four have made it to a vote on the House floor. One one has been signed into law.

Confusion in California...The governor's 2012-13 spending plan, to be released in January, assumes billions in additional revenue from his tax increase initiative. If the measure fails, Brown says, more drastic cuts would be needed. (note the word "assumes" in the initiative)

The 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says..."The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively or to the people." Take note, Democrats.

A commentary on the Congressman Wiener sex scandal...Bah, humbug. Political sex scandals are entertaining and edifying—they remind us not to cede power to the political class, whose members are often less responsible and more corrupt than those they seek to rule. Why not kick them when they're down? They kick us when they're up. Source

George Will once wrote..."Economics is a science of single instances, hence it is hardly a science. So how much the president's most recent tax cuts will stimulate the economy is conjectural, a conjecture being a guess by a Ph.D."

Cheetah has died. Good Lord, he was 80 years old. Who knew that chimps live that long?

Obama didn't make any kind of Christmas proclamation this year but did manage to give a shoutout to Kwanzaa on the White House website.

You've probably heard of the Christmas Day shooting in the Dallas area where a man went on a shooting spree, killing six people. What you probably didn't hear was that the shooter was a muslim who didn't like his ex-wife and daughter's westernized ways.

Who knew there is a professional football league in Israel? There are ten teams and the players are semi-professional. Last week the Judean Rebels beat the Jerusalem Kings 66-20 in the annual Hanukkah Bowl.

Obama is desperately seeking Green energy as he forces coal-powered generators to close and attempts to shut down the oil industry...China's Shenhua Group will build the largest coal-fired power station in Asia over the next five years, the official Xinhua news agency said on Tuesday, as the country struggles to meet its energy needs. Story

Michelle Malkin has a summary of this year's scandals brought to you by the Obama administration. Story

Obama wants Congress to give him $1.2 Trillion for next year. That will push the nation's debt to over $16 Trillion. Good luck paying it back, Barry.

Welfare recipients now outnumber taxpayers in Maine. Story

In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue, but when he returned from 'cross the seas, did he bring with him a new disease? New skeletal evidence suggests Columbus and his crew not only introduced the Old World to the New World, but brought back syphilis as well, researchers say. Syphilis is caused by Treponema pallidum bacteria, and is usually curable nowadays with antibiotics. Untreated, it can damage the heart, brain, eyes and bones; it can also be fatal. Story

New calendar

Using computer programs and mathematical formulas, Richard Conn Henry, an astrophysicist in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, and Steve H. Hanke, an applied economist in the Whiting School of Engineering, have created a new calendar in which each new 12-month period is identical to the one which came before, and remains that way from one year to the next in perpetuity.

Under the Hanke-Henry Permanent Calendar, for instance, if Christmas fell on a Sunday in 2012 (and it would), it would also fall on a Sunday in 2013, 2014 and beyond. In addition, under the new calendar, the rhyme "30 days hath September, April, June and November," would no longer apply, because September would have 31 days, as would March, June and December. All the rest would have 30. (Try creating a rhyme using that.)

"Our plan offers a stable calendar that is absolutely identical from year to year and which allows the permanent, rational planning of annual activities, from school to work holidays," says Henry, who is also director of the Maryland Space Grant Consortium. "Think about how much time and effort are expended each year in redesigning the calendar of every single organization in the world and it becomes obvious that our calendar would make life much simpler and would have noteworthy benefits."

Among the practical advantages would be the convenience afforded by birthdays and holidays (as well as work holidays) falling on the same day of the week every year. But the economic benefits are even more profound, according to Hanke, an expert in international economics, including monetary policy.

"Our calendar would simplify financial calculations and eliminate what we call the 'rip off' factor,'" explains Hanke. "Determining how much interest accrues on mortgages, bonds, forward rate agreements, swaps and others, day counts are required. Our current calendar is full of anomalies that have led to the establishment of a wide range of conventions that attempt to simplify interest calculations. Our proposed permanent calendar has a predictable 91-day quarterly pattern of two months of 30 days and a third month of 31 days, which does away with the need for artificial day count conventions."

Source

Low income

Recent reports suggest that almost 50% of Americans are in poverty or at a "low income" level. The claim is based on a new supplemental measure by the Census Bureau that includes health care, transportation, and other essential living expenses in the poverty calculation.

The concept of "low income" is controversial. It has been defined as earnings between 100 and 199 percent of the poverty level, a claim which, if true, would place every American family making $50,000 or less at a near-poverty level.

Conservative organizations believe the whole 'poverty' issue is overblown. The Cato Institute blames LBJ and Obama for reversing a declining poverty rate. Forbes blames the calculations. The Heritage Foundation argues, "The average poor person, as defined by the government, has a living standard far higher than the public imagines...In the kitchen, the household had a refrigerator, an oven and stove, and a microwave." The case for a growing "consumption equality" is alternately defended and denied.

With emotions running high on both sides, we need to take a balanced look at the available data to determine how well the highest-earning family of the poorest 50% -- a family with a $50,000 income -- can survive. (The maximum individual income for the poorest 50% is about $30,000.)

Start with taxes. It is frequently noted by conservatives that the richest 1% pay most of the federal income taxes, and indeed they paid about 37 percent in 2009, more than the poorest 90% of Americans. But only the richest 5% of Americans have experienced income growth since 1980. And during that time, their tax rate has dropped from 34% to 23%. As for the 3 percent rate paid by the poorest 50%, the Tax Policy Center sums it up nicely: "The basic structure of the income tax simply exempts subsistence levels of income from tax."

More relevant to the poverty issue is that federal income tax is only a small part of the tax expense for lower-income families. According to a study by The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, the poorest 50% paid about 10 percent of their incomes in state and local taxes (the richest 1% paid 5 percent). Congressional Budget Office (CBO) figures reveal that the bottom 50% pays about 9 percent of their incomes toward social security (the top 1% pays just under 2 percent). CBO also shows that the bottom 50% is paying about 2 percent of their incomes on excise taxes, a negligible expense for the people at the top. Another year of Bush tax cuts will chop another 1-2 percent off the taxes of the very rich.

So total taxes for the poorest 50% are 24 percent of their incomes (3% + 10% + 9% + 2%), as compared to 29 percent for the richest 1% (23% + 5% + 2% - 1%).

More here

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Deferred loan payments

Remember, back in the day, when a bankruptcy was simply called a bankruptcy? Naturally, this was well before ISDA came on the scene and footnoted the living feces out of everything by claiming that a bankruptcy is never a bankruptcy, as long as the creditors agree to 99.999% losses at gunpoint, with electrodes strapped to their testicles, submerged in a tank full of rabid piranhas, it they just sign a piece of paper (preferably in their own blood) saying the vaseline-free gang abuse was consensual. Well, now we learn that as the global insolvency wave finally moves to China, a bankruptcy is now called something even less scary: "deferred loan payments" (and also explains why suddenly Japan is going to have to bail China out and buy its bonds, because somehow when China fails, it is the turn of the country that started the whole deflationary collapse to step to the plate). After all, who in their right mind would want to scare the public that the entire world is now broke. Certainly not SWIFT. And certainly not that paragon of 8%+ annual growth, where no matter how many layers of lipstick are applied, the piggyness of it all is shining through ever more acutely. Because here are the facts, from China Daily, and they speaks for themselves: "China's biggest provincial borrowers are deferring payment on their loans just two months after the country's regulator said some local government companies would be allowed to do so....Hunan Provincial Expressway Construction Group is delaying payment on 3.11 billion yuan in interest, documents governing the securities show this month. Guangdong Provincial Communications Group Co, the second-largest debtor, is following suit. So are two others among the biggest 11 debtors, for a total of 30.16 billion yuan, according to bond prospectuses from 55 local authorities that have raised money in capital markets since the beginning of November." So not even two months in and companies are already becoming serial defaulters, pardon, "loan payment deferrers?" And China is supposed to bail out the world? Ironically, in a world in which can kicking is now an art form, China will show everyone just how it is done, by effectively upturning the capital structure and saying that paying interest is, well, optional. In the immortal words of the comrade from Georgia, "no coupon, no problem."

More here

Random thoughts

Anyone who studies the history of ideas should notice how much more often people on the political left, more so than others, denigrate and demonize those who disagree with them — instead of answering their arguments.

When an organization has more of its decisions made by committees, that gives more influence to those who have more time available to attend committee meetings and to drag out each meeting longer. In other words, it reduces the influence of those who have work to do, and are doing it, while making those who are less productive more influential.

Talk show host Dennis Miller said, "I don’t dig polo. It’s like miniature golf meets the Kentucky Derby."

Nothing illustrates the superficiality of our times better than the enthusiasm for electric cars, because they are supposed to greatly reduce air pollution. But the electricity that ultimately powers these cars has to be generated somewhere — and nearly half the electricity generated in this country is generated by burning coal.

More here

Arrogance

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Solar industry dimming

Long viewed as a remedy for the world's dependence on fossil fuels, the solar industry is dimming as makers of panels used to harness the sun continue to fall by the wayside.

Bankruptcies, plummeting stock prices and crushing debt loads are calling into question the viability of an industry that since the 1970s has been counted on to advance the U.S.—and the world—into a new energy age.

Global demand for solar power is still growing—about 8% more solar panels will be installed this year compared with 2010, according to Jefferies Group analysis—but it is expected to flat-line next year.

Source

Practicality

We pride ourselves on being practical people, do we not? Americans have a particular susceptibility to the practical and pragmatic. I don’t say that as a criticism, by the way, since I am one of those people whose first question about a proposal is usually how it will work. I am reminded of the story of the time the Little Sisters of the Poor were going door to door in a French city, soliciting alms for old people. There was a house on their route that belonged to a wealthy and very vocal opponent of the church. One of the sisters said it would not be practical to call upon him for a donation and to this they all agreed.

All except one sister who knocked on the rich man’s door, anyway. He answered, she explained her request for a donation, and the man replied, grinning, "I will give you one thousand francs if you will have a glass of champagne with me."

It was an embarrassing situation for the nun, and she hesitated. But 1,000 francs meant many loaves of bread or medicine for the poor. So she went inside. A servant brought the bottle and poured, and the brave nun emptied the glass. And then she said, "And now, sir, another glass, please – at the same price." She got it. Not so impractical to call upon that fellow after all.

More here

Mayans in Georgia?

Archaeologists have discovered the ruins of an ancient Mayan city in the mountains of North Georgia believed to be at least 1,100 years old. According to Richard Thornton at Examiner.com, the ruins are reportedly what remains of a city built by Mayans fleeing wars, volcanic eruptions, droughts and famine.

In 1999, University of Georgia archeologist Mark Williams led an expedition to investigate the Kenimer Mound, a large, five-sided pyramid built in approximately 900 A.D. in the foothills of Georgia’s tallest mountain, Brasstown Bald. Many local residents has assumed for years that the pyramid was just another wooded hill, but in fact it was a structure built on an existing hill in a method common to Mayans living in Central America as well as to Southeastern Native American tribes.

Speculation has abounded for years as to what could have happened to the people who lived in the great Meso-American societies of the first century. Some historians believed that they simply died out in plagues and food shortages, but others have long speculated about the possibility of mass migration to other regions.

When evidence began to turn up of Mayan connections to the Georgia site, South African archeologist Johannes Loubser brought teams to the site who took soil samples and analyzed pottery shards which dated the site and indicated that it had been inhabited for many decades approximately 1000 years ago. The people who settled there were known as Itza Maya, a word that carried over into the Cherokee language of the region.

The city that is being uncovered there is believed to have been called Yupaha, which Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto searched for unsuccessfully in 1540. So far, archeologists have unearthed "at least 154 stone masonry walls for agricultural terraces, plus evidence of a sophisticated irrigation system and ruins of several other stone structures." Much more may still be hidden underground.

The find is particularly relevant in that it establishes specific links between the culture of Southeastern Native Americans and ancient Mayans. According to Thornton, it may be the "most important archeological discovery in recent times."

UPDATE: Raw Story contacted another UGA Scientist, Dr. B. T. Thomas of the Department of Environmental Science, who indicated that, while it is unlikely that the Mayan people migrated en masse from Central America to settle in what is now the United States, he refused to characterize Thornton’s conclusions as "wrong," stating that it is entirely possible that some Mayans and their descendants migrated north, bringing Mayan building and agricultural techniques to the Southeastern U.S. as they integrated with the existing indigenous people there.

Source

Monday, December 26, 2011

Whistlebritches

Who could have seen this coming? As soon as the last American troops exit Iraq the bombings start again. I believe Iraq will eventually split up into three countries (Kurds, Sunnis, and Shiites) or they will end up with another Saddam-like dictator to keep the peace by force.

Science is wrong again...A common assumption is that rising global temperatures will increase the spread of malaria — the deadly mosquito-borne disease that affects millions of people worldwide. But a study out today in Biology Letters finds that warmer temperatures seem to slow transmission of malaria-causing parasites, by reducing their infectiousness. Story

Turkey's high-flying economy, which expanded at a 10 percent annual rate of gross domestic product growth during the first half of 2011, will crash-land in 2012. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's "economic miracle," to use the Daily Telegraph's admiring words, depended on a 40 percent annual rate of bank credit expansion, which in turn produced a balance of payments deficit as wide as that of southern Europe's crisis countries. Markets have already anticipated a sudden turnaround in the Turkish economy. The Turkish lira (TRY) fell by a quarter between November 2010 and September 2011, making it the world's worst performing emerging market currency. The stock market has fallen in dollar terms by 40 percent, making Turkey the worst performer after Egypt among all the markets in the MSCI Tradable Index during 2011. Story

An audit by the Pentagon’s inspector general has found that the Navy, in a hurry to spend funds appropriated by Congress in February 2009’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, commissioned a series of expensive and wasteful solar energy projects, including one at Camp Pendleton. "During project planning and selection, officials did not consider whether projects were cost-effective or analyze different types of energy projects to determine the best investments for meeting legislative energy goals," according to the September 22 report. "Instead, they relied upon project titles, location, cost, and amount of time to award contracts to select projects." Story

Ron Paul is - if not insane - rather stupid...A direct-mail solicitation for Ron Paul's political and investment newsletters two decades ago warned of a "coming race war in our big cities" and of a "federal-homosexual cover-up" to play down the impact of AIDS. The eight-page letter, which appears to carry Paul's signature at the end, also warns that the U.S. government's redesign of currency to include different colors - a move aimed at thwarting counterfeiters - actually was part of a plot to allow the government to track Americans using the "new money." Story

The Wall Street Journal reports that...Burger King, the perennial No. 2 in the burger wars, is about to be beaten out by a pigtailed girl. Wendy's Co. is poised to pass Burger King Holdings Inc. in U.S. sales, trailing only industry behemoth McDonald's Corp., in the first reordering of the industry-leading trio since Wendy's was founded in 1969.

Detroit fail...A state financial report released Wednesday moved Detroit closer to appointment of an emergency manager and painted a bleak picture of a city digging an ever-deeper hole by taking on long-term debt to pay its everyday bills. Story

Four Democratic officials and political operatives have pleaded guilty to voter fraud-related felony charges in an alleged scheme to steal an election in Troy, N.Y., FoxNews.com reports. The group forged signatures on applications for absentee ballots and on the ballots themselves in a 2009 primary of the Working Families Party, which was affiliated with now-defunct community group ACORN. Story

A Pennsylvania woman offered to trade sex for World Series tickets in a Craigslist ad. She was arrested and convicted of prostitution. The Pennsylvania Superior Court overturned her conviction on the basis that "it's not illegal to be a slut" and didn't rise to the level of prostitution.

The owner and the manager of a French restaurant in San Diego were sentenced in federal court Thursday to serve probation and pay fines after pleading guilty to knowingly hiring undocumented immigrants. Michel Malecot, 59, the owner of French Gourmet, was sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to pay $396,575 in fines, authorities said. Richard Kauffmann, 59, the manager, was sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to pay $2,500 for his role in hiring the undocumented immigrants to work in the restaurant's bakery and catering businesses. Story

Ever wish you could go back in time and ask someone a question? My dad, when finding himself unable to remember someone's name, would simply say "whistlebritches" and everyone immediately knew who he was referring to. Amazing. Those days are long gone, however. I'd like to go back in time and ask my dad how he did that.

I'm not a big fan of gay marriage but this story points out the hyprocrisy of some of those against it. Story

2011 is soon to be history. The Obamas have spent $14 million on vacations during this year. What's in store for 2012?

A high ranking Muslim leader is behind bars, arrested by Phoenix Police on suspicion of molesting a 10-year-old boy. This guy is an imam, the highest ranking leader at a central Phoenix mosque. Police say after his arrest he admitted to molesting a young boy. Still, members of the mosque are defending him. Story

Did you know?...The full name of Los Angeles, California is "El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de Los Angeles del Río de Porciúncula" - "The Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels of the Porciuncula River." Porciuncula" was the name Spaniards originally gave to the Los Angeles River.

The Wall Street Journal claims that...$41 Billion: The total amount of money on gift cards that went, or is likely to go, unspent from 2005 to 2011.

Merry Christmas, Nigeria...Explosions tore through the St. Theresa church near Nigeria's capital Abuja on Christmas morning, killing at least 27 people, with other blasts reported at churches in Jos and Gadaka. Boko Haram Islamists have claimed responsibility for the bombings. Story

After intervention by the Council on American Islamic Relations, the Defense Department reportedly decided it will now allow Muslim students participating in the Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps to wear headscarves and turbans while in uniform. The decision marks the latest influence by controversial Islamic groups on military affairs. Story

In Montana’s Finley Basin there are known tungsten deposits. An Australian company wanted to bring revenue and jobs to the state by developing the resource. While the property was successfully drilled and recognized by Union Carbide in the seventies, it is now about 200 yards inside a roadless study area. The Forest Service was willing to offer a conditional drilling permit. Among the conditions were these requirements: The drill sites must be cleared using hand tools, The drilling equipment and fuel must be transported to the site by a team of pack mules, The mules must be fed certified weed-free hay, and Drill site and trail reclamation must be done using hand tools. The company gave up. Story (stupid Luddites)

Texas nativity scene

Thousands of Texans, including the state attorney general and the governor, have sent a clear message to Wisconsin atheists who enjoy intimidating small towns into removing nativity scenes.

At least 5,000 showed up at a rally supporting Henderson County officials who have refused to comply with the group’s demand that they remove a nativity scene from the Athens, Texas, courthouse lawn.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said that if the Wisconsin atheists sue as threatened, his office would come to the county’s defense.

Texas’ governor, Rick Perry, also said he would fight to support the county.

The governor’s office "strongly supports the right of Henderson County to display a Christmas Nativity scene on public property," said Lucy Nashed, deputy press secretary for Perry’s office. "We have fought the Freedom from Religion Foundation before and won. Our founding principles give citizens freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. Faith and freedom helped build this nation, and faith cannot and should not be removed from public life."

Last summer, the Wisconsin atheists attempted to block Perry from organizing a prayer rally at Reliant Stadium in Houston. That complaint filed in July alleging that Perry’s "initiation, organization, promotion and participation as governor in a prayer rally" violated the First Amendment was dismissed by U.S. District Judge Gray Miller.

More here

Promises

Arab spring

...one of the great unreported stories throughout what we used to call Christendom is the persecution of Christians around the world. In Egypt, the "Arab Spring" is going so swimmingly that Copts are already fleeing Egypt and, for those Christians that remain, Midnight Mass has to be held in the daylight for security reasons. In Iraq, midnight services have been canceled entirely for fear of bloodshed, part of the remorseless de-Christianizing that has been going on, quite shamefully, under an American imperium.

Not merely the media but Christian leaders in the west seem to be embarrassed by behavior that doesn’t conform to their dimwitted sappiness about "Facebook Revolutions". It took a Jew to deliver this line:

When Lord Sacks, chief rabbi in England, rose in the House of Lords to speak about the persecution of Christians, he quoted Martin Luther King. "In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."

Source

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Yes, Virginia

"Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus...."

Background on the most famous editorial ever written.

Story

M e r r y   C h r i s t m a s !

Egypt burning

It was barely mentioned in the Israeli and global media, but the following event pertains to the whole of Western civilization: Last Saturday, violent groups of Islamic-Salafi radicals burned the famous scientific institute established by Napoleon in Egypt after its first encounter with the West. Some historians consider it the start of modern times in the Middle East.

The site, L’Institut d’Egypte, held some 200,000 original and rare books, exhibits, maps, archeological findings and studies from Egypt and the entire Middle East, based on the work of generations of western researchers. Most of the artifacts were lost forever, burned or looted. It’s difficult to understand the modern Middle East without these studies, which were overcome by an immense fire. The large building was situated in the center of Cairo and torching it was a symbolic, intentional act. Those who burned the building and its artifacts meant to burn the era of logic, enlightenment, research and individualism.

This was a grave provocation against the whole of Western civilization, a desire to disconnect from science, research and modernity, while cynically using a Western means – that is, democracy – in order to take power.

One need not go all the way to blowing up the pyramids, as some of Egypt’s Salafis wish to do after they seized some 35% of the new parliament seats (alongside 40% of the Islamic brotherhood,) and there is no reason to go as far as Afghanistan, where the Taliban blew up the huge Buddha statues. The elimination of Egypt’s non-Muslim past is already here.

More here

Domestic abuse

One of first-wave feminism’s great achievements in the 1970s was to end the denial surrounding wife abuse in even the "best" homes. Resources for abused women proliferated. Traditional social, judicial and political attitudes toward violence against women were cleansed and reconstructed along feminist-designed lines.

But then a funny thing happened. The closet from which abuse victims were emerging had, everyone assumed, been filled with women. But honest researchers were surprised by the results of their own objective inquiries. They were all finding, independently, that intimate partner violence (IPV) is mostly bidirectional.

But by then the IPV domain was awash in heavily politicized stakeholders. Even peer-reviewed community-based studies providing politically incorrect conclusions were cut off at the pass, their researchers’ names passed over for task force appointments and the writing of training manuals for the judiciary. Neither were internal whistle-blowers suffered gladly. Erin Pizzey, who opened the first refuge for battered women in England in 1971, was "disappeared" from the feminist movement when she revealed what she learned in her own shelter: She committed a heresy by asking women about their own violence, and they told her.

The most extreme IPV is certainly male-on-female, but hard-core batterers and outright killers are rare. In violence of the mild to moderately severe variety that constitutes most of IPV — shoving, slapping, hitting, punching, throwing objects, even stabbing and burning — both genders initiate and cause harm in equal measure.

Every major survey has borne out this truth. In fact, the most reliable, like Canada’s 1999 General Social Survey, found not only that most male and female violence is reciprocal, but also that the younger the sample, the more violent the women relative to men. A meta-analysis of more than 80 large-scale surveys notes a widening, and concerning, spread — less male and more female IPV — in the dating cohort.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has just published its National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey to great fanfare. The survey’s central finding is — yep — that men and women inflict and suffer equal rates of IPV, with 6.5% of men and 6.3% of women experiencing partner aggression in the past year. More men (18%) suffer psychological aggression (humiliation, threats of violence, controllingness) than women (14%). Feminists often define IPV as a "pattern of power and control," but the survey finds that men were 50% more likely to have experienced coercive control than women (15.2% vs 10.7%).

More here

Friday, December 23, 2011

King vs Christ

I've witnessed the success of the political war against Christmas in public school in my own generation. I remember well the excitement and joy of my fourth-grade public school Christmas party in 1970 (complete with nativity scenes of the infant Jesus), but in 2008 I experienced the virtual prohibition of even a secular Christmas party for my fourth-grade daughter in the neighborhood public school.

Contemplating the motivation of government school bureaucrats and politicians for the gradual repression of Christmas over the decades led me to examine the public schools' treatment of two well-known political and religious figures — one Jesus of Nazareth and one Martin Luther King Jr. I conclude that the motivation has to do with justifying and consolidating government power, which bureaucrats must consider easier to do with the life of King than with the life of Christ.

It's first necessary to demonstrate a war on Christmas exists, as a chorus of secular voices claim there is no such war.

More here

Debtor nations

Ireland...1382% of GDP owed

UK...413% of GDP owed

Switzerland...402% of GDP owed

Netherlands...376% of GDP owed

Belgium...336% of GDP owed

Denmark...310% of GDP owed

Sweden...282% of GDP owed

Finland...272% of GDP owed

Austria...261% of GDP owed

Norway...251% of GDP owed

US...101% of GDP owed


Source

Missing bombs

Things go missing. It's to be expected. Even at the Pentagon. Last October, the Pentagon's inspector general reported that the military's accountants had misplaced a destroyer, several tanks and armored personnel carriers, hundreds of machine guns, rounds of ammo, grenade launchers and some surface-to-air missiles. In all, nearly $8 billion in weapons were AWOL.

Those anomalies are bad enough. But what's truly chilling is the fact that the Pentagon has lost track of the mother of all weapons, a hydrogen bomb. The thermonuclear weapon, designed to incinerate Moscow, has been sitting somewhere off the coast of Savannah, Georgia for the past 40 years. The Air Force has gone to greater lengths to conceal the mishap than to locate the bomb and secure it.

On the night of February 5, 1958 a B-47 Stratojet bomber carrying a hydrogen bomb on a night training flight off the Georgia coast collided with an F-86 Saberjet fighter at 36,000 feet. The collision destroyed the fighter and severely damaged a wing of the bomber, leaving one of its engines partially dislodged. The bomber's pilot, Maj. Howard Richardson, was instructed to jettison the H-bomb before attempting a landing. Richardson dropped the bomb into the shallow waters of Warsaw Sound, near the mouth of the Savannah River, a few miles from the city of Tybee Island, where he believed the bomb would be swiftly recovered.

The Pentagon recorded the incident in a top secret memo to the chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission. The memo has been partially declassified: "A B-47 aircraft with a [word redacted] nuclear weapon aboard was damaged in a collision with an F-86 aircraft near Sylvania, Georgia, on February 5, 1958. The B-47 aircraft attempted three times unsuccessfully to land with the weapon. The weapon was then jettisoned visually over water off the mouth of the Savannah River. No detonation was observed."

Soon search and rescue teams were sent to the site. Warsaw Sound was mysteriously cordoned off by Air Force troops. For six weeks, the Air Force looked for the bomb without success. Underwater divers scoured the depths, troops tromped through nearby salt marshes, and a blimp hovered over the area attempting to spot a hole or crater in the beach or swamp. Then just a month later, the search was abruptly halted. The Air Force sent its forces to Florence, South Carolina, where another H-bomb had been accidentally dropped by a B-47. The bomb's 200 pounds of TNT exploded on impact, sending radioactive debris across the landscape. The explosion caused extensive property damage and several injuries on the ground. Fortunately, the nuke itself didn't detonate.

The search teams never returned to Tybee Island, and the affair of the missing H-bomb was discreetly covered up. The end of the search was noted in a partially declassified memo from the Pentagon to the AEC, in which the Air Force politely requested a new H-bomb to replace the one it had lost. "The search for this weapon was discontinued on 4-16-58 and the weapon is considered irretrievably lost. It is requested that one [phrase redacted] weapon be made available for release to the DOD as a replacement."

More here

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Black

Eric Holder is now saying that Republicans are attacking him and Obama simply because they're both black. Forget about the economy, Fast and Furious, etc., it's because they are black. Good Lord, what else could it be? We are so transparent, Eric. We will work to hide it better in the future, Eric.

Elsewhere, according to statistics released last week, death sentences in Texas are at an all-time low. As the American-Statesman's Mike Ward reported last week, Texas juries are increasingly choosing life without parole, an option that has been available to them since 2005.

Now that we've got a new Dear Leader in North Korea I've been trying to figure out his name. Some sources spell it Kim Jong Un and others say Kim Jong Eun. Someone needs to find one of his old paychecks and see how he spells his name.

Illinois school teachers are well paid. A Physical Education teacher was paid $203,154 for a 9 month work year. Story

The suicide rate in Greece has reached a pan-European record high, with experts attributing the rise to the country's economic crisis. Painful austerity measures and a seemingly endless economic drama is exacting a deadly toll on the nation. Statistics released by the Greek ministry of health show a 40% rise in those taking their own lives between January and May this year compared to the same period in 2010. Story

The New York Times published this editorial, "The Political Future of the South", in May of 1900..."It has of late become the custom of the men of the South to speak with entire candor of the settled and deliberate policy of suppressing the negro vote. They have been forced to choose between a policy of manifest injustice toward the blacks and the horrors of negro rule. They chose to disfranchise the negroes. That was manifestly the lesser of two evils.... The Republican Party committed a great public crime when it gave the right of suffrage to the blacks. ....So long as the Fifteenth Amendment stands, the menace of the rule of the blacks will impend, and the safeguards against it must be maintained."

Hillary Clinton once said that this time of the year is when Christians celebrate "the birth of a homeless child" – and Al Gore phrased it thusly, "a homeless woman gave birth to a homeless child."

Camille Paglia, writing in Salon Magazine..."Europe, which has settled into a comfortable secularism, is no model for the future. The great era of European achievement in arts and letters seems to be over. There are local luminaries but no towering figures any longer of the stature of James Joyce, Pablo Picasso, Marcel Proust, Thomas Mann or Ingmar Bergman. Europe is becoming a museum and tourist trap, as people from all over the world flock to see the remnants of Europe's royal and religious past -- the conservative prelude, in other words, to today's slack liberalism."

Cuba declares three days of mourning for Kim Jong Il. Source

Hugo Chavez blasted President Obama as a "clown" and an "embarrassment" who has turned the United States into a "disaster" after Obama criticized Venezuela’s ties with Iran and Cuba, according to a report Tuesday. Story

If you are inclined to atheism, here's your sign..."At this season of the Winter Solstice, let reason prevail...There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but a myth & superstition that hardens hearts & enslaves minds." (pretty gloomy outlook, isn't it?)

The U.N. General Assembly on Monday adopted a resolution condemning the stereotyping, negative profiling and stigmatization of people based on their religion, and urging countries to take effective steps "to address and combat such incidents." Story  (But Leftists will still be allowed to use words and phrases like cracker, racist, clingers, right wing extremist, Bible thumpers, etc.)

A Massachusetts school system is embroiled in a war on Christmas debate after Santa Claus was initially banned from visiting elementary school children over "religious" concerns. Since 1960 firefighters in the town of Saugus dressed up like Santa Claus and visited every elementary school handing out coloring books. But on Monday, the school superintendent told firefighters that they would not be welcomed into the classrooms. Story

Whoopi Goldberg on The View said Communism is "a great concept. On paper it makes perfect sense."

Sean Penn was called "a Communist asshole" by Maria Conchito Alonso the other day. Way to go, Maria.

A statistic from a 2002 UN report, that more books are translated into Spanish in a single year than have been translated into Arabic in the last thousand, should be getting a lot of press attention...but it doesn't.

If you still think Ron Paul is not insane, then how to account for him referring to Bradley Manning as a "hero" and "patriot" for leaking classified documents to Wikileaks. Libertarians are Liberals in Denial. Ron Paul is either insane or delusional. And those newsletters from years past are not going to win many fans. Here is a story about him back in 1988.

Five years late, Ilario Pantano has been fully vindicated. Now where does he go to get his reputation back? A dogged NCIS investigator has proven that Pantano, then a Marine lieutenant, should never have been put up on war-crimes charges back in 2004-5. But that doesn’t wipe away the endless smears thrown at him since. Story

US policy regarding the refugee resettlement program would shock most Americans if they only knew. The UN picks who becomes US refugees. Christians are being refused refugee status and face persecution and many times certain death for their religious beliefs under the sharia, while whole Muslim communities are entering the US by the tens of thousands per month despite the fact that they face no religious persecution. Story

Science scandals

Science is no stranger to controversy. This year, some high profile scientists have been accused of widespread misconduct, while other headline-grabbing research has been retracted after technical errors or sloppy techniques were pointed out by critics.The scientific field may deal with aftershocks of the misconduct or retraction for years.

Here are five of the biggest science scandals of the year, as well as updates on some of the juiciest scandals of years past....

Story

Big spenders

The hard choice Democrats have given Republicans has paid off for the big-spenders again.

Refusing to work together to cut spending, Democrats demanded that Republicans compromise with them to increase spending, or shut down the government.

As a result, Congress rammed through a 1,000-page, trillion-dollar omnibus spending bill that lumped 9 different appropriations bills in a single package at the very last minute rather than debating, amending, and voting on these bills in a transparent manner.

Spend more and pass this bill, the Democrats said, or force the government to close its doors. They said the same thing this past summer when President Obama insisted on a $2 trillion increase to the debt ceiling and during the budget fight in the spring.

Sadly, it's a tactic that keeps working. Witness the final votes members of Congress took this year.

Republicans have pledged to cut spending and quit passing legislation no one had read, but that’s exactly what members of Congress did before leaving for their Christmas vacations. The 2012 omnibus increased spending by more than $18 billion over 2011 levels. Once that bill is signed into law by the President, the total tab for all twelve 2012 appropriations bills will be more than $1.8 trillion, a nearly $21 billion increase over 2011 spending.

It’s become a cynical yearly tradition in Washington to delay the big-spending votes until just before Christmas. After all, it’s how Democrats in the Senate passed ObamaCare. Members of Congress are now hurrying home after the vote without much talk, but it should not be forgotten. It represents a shameful end to a year that began with many bold assurances.

After the 2010 midterm elections, Republican promised to cut $100 billion from the federal budget. House Republicans did pass several appropriations bills to cut spending, but they ultimately died in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

The cuts never came. In fact, spending went up! Under no circumstance can a spending increase above last year’s levels be considered a cut. That promise to cut spending has been broken.

More here

Corzine

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Shroud of Turin

Just days before Christmas, a new study has emerged that suggests that one of Christianity's most prized but mysterious relics – the Turin Shroud – is not a medieval forgery but could be the authentic burial robe of Christ.

Italian scientists have conducted a series of advanced experiments which, they claim, show that the marks on the shroud – purportedly left by the imprint of Christ's body – could not possibly have been faked with technology that was available in the medieval period.

The research will be an early Christmas present for shroud believers, but is likely to be greeted with scepticism by those who doubt that the sepia-coloured, 14ft-long cloth dates from Christ's crucifixion 2,000 years ago.

Sceptics have long claimed that the shroud is a medieval forgery, and radiocarbon testing conducted by laboratories in Oxford, Zurich and Arizona in 1988 appeared to back up the theory, suggesting that it dated from between 1260 and 1390.

But those tests were in turn disputed on the basis that they were skewed by contamination by fibres from cloth that was used to repair the relic when it was damaged by fire in the Middle Ages.

The new study is the latest intriguing piece of a puzzle which has baffled scientists for centuries and spawned an entire industry of research, books and documentaries.

More here

Pluralistic ignorance

In social psychology, pluralistic ignorance, a term coined by Daniel Katz and Floyd H. Allport in 1931, describes "a situation where a majority of group members privately reject a norm, but assume (incorrectly) that most others accept it...It is, in Krech and Crutchfield’s (1948, pp. 388–89) words, the situation where 'no one believes, but everyone thinks that everyone believes.'". This, in turn, provides support for a norm that may be, in fact, disliked by most people.

Pluralistic ignorance can be contrasted with the false consensus effect. In pluralistic ignorance, people privately disdain but publicly support a norm (or a belief), while the false consensus effect causes people to wrongly assume that most people think like them, while in reality most people do not think like them (and express the disagreement openly). For instance, pluralistic ignorance may lead a student to drink alcohol excessively because she believes that everyone else does that, while in reality everyone else also wish they could avoid binge drinking, but no one expresses that due to the fear of being ostracized. A false consensus for the same situation would mean that the student believes that most other people do not enjoy excessive drinking, while in fact most other people do enjoy that and openly express their opinion about it.

Pluralistic ignorance was blamed for a perception (among American whites) that grossly exaggerated the support of other American whites for segregation in the 1960s. It has also been named a reason for the illusionary popular support that kept the communist regime in the Soviet Union, as many opposed the regime but assumed that others were supporters of it. Thus, most people were afraid to voice their opposition. Witch hunts in the past and during the Cold War (as recently as the 1950s) and assaults on homosexuals could be other cases of pluralistic ignorance.

In a series of studies conducted to test the effect of pluralistic ignorance, Prentice and Miller studied the consequences of pluralistic ignorance at Princeton University. They found that, on average, private levels of comfort with drinking practices on campus were much lower than the perceived average. In the case of men, they found a shifting of private attitudes toward this perceived norm, a form of cognitive dissonance. Women, on the other hand, were found to have an increased sense of alienation on the campus but lacked the attitude change detected in men, presumably because norms related to alcohol consumption on campus are much more central for men than for women. Research has shown that pluralistic ignorance plagues not only those who indulge, but also those who abstain: from gambling, smoking, and drinking and among some who follow vegetarianism. The latter has found that Pluralistic Ignorance can be caused by the structure of the underlying social network, not cognitive dissonance.

Pluralistic ignorance may partially explain the bystander effect: the observation that people are more likely to intervene in an emergency situation when alone than when other persons are present. If people monitor the reactions of others in such a situation, they may conclude from the inaction of others that other people think that it is not necessary to intervene. Thus no one may take any action, even though some people privately think that they should do something. On the other hand, if one person intervenes, others are more likely to follow and give assistance.

Source

God particle

The God particle — really the Higgs boson — still resists confirmation, though scientists at the Large Hadron Collider recently reported "tantalizing hints" of its existence. They also reject the notion that their search has anything to do with God, which is only technically true.

Modern physics can explain just about everything, except why anything has mass. The Standard Model of physics, which emerged four decades ago, employs an elegant mathematical formula to account for most of the elemental forces in the universe. It correctly predicted the discovery of various leptons and quarks in the laboratory.

But the equation doesn’t explain gravity. So the Standard Model requires the existence of some other force that seized the massless particles produced by the Big Bang and sucked them into physicality. The detection of Higgs bosons would confirm this theory — which is why scientists are smashing protons into one another in a 17-mile round particle accelerator and picking through the subatomic wreckage.

It will take a few more years for definitive results. But most scientists don’t seem to appreciate the glorious improbability — and philosophic implications — of the entire enterprise.

...

Louis describes a cumulative case for wonder. Not only does the universe unexpectedly correspond to mathematical theories, it is self-organizing — from biology to astrophysics — in unlikely ways. The physical constants of the universe seem finely tuned for the emergence of complexity and life. Slightly modify the strength of gravity, or the chemistry of carbon, or the ratio of the mass of protons and electrons, and biological systems become impossible. The universe-ending Big Crunch comes too soon, or carbon isn’t produced, or suns explode.

More here

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Obama and Wright

In 2008 America elected a president whose pastor for 20 years preached anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, advocated bizarre pseudo-scientific racial ideas, opposed interracial marriage, praised communist dictatorships, denounced black "assimilation," and taught Afrocentric feel-good nonsense to schoolchildren. When Americans discovered the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's views during the 2008 campaign, they rightly wondered if Barack Obama, like his pastor, really believed that HIV/AIDS was created by the American government to kill black people. Even to this day, no one knows for sure whether Obama shares the views of Wright, whom theChicago Sun-Times once described as Obama's "close confidant."

Candidate Obama tried to dismiss his support for Wright, telling Charlie Gibson of ABC News, "It's as if we took the five dumbest things that I ever said or you ever said…in our lives and compressed them, and put them out there, you know, I think that people's reaction, would be understandably upset." And rightly so. In sermon after sermon, Wright's radical black nationalist ideas were clearly and emphatically stated. They were not an aberration, but the focal point of Pastor Wright's Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, where Obama was an active member for 20 years.

Nor has Wright renounced any of his anti-Americanism. In a sermon last September 16 marking the 10th anniversary of 9/11 entitled, "The Day of Jerusalem's Fall," Wright seemed to celebrate white America's comeuppance. "We bombed Hiroshima. We bombed Nagasaki. And we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon--and we never batted an eye!" Wright preached. "We supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black south Africans and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back into our own front yards." He closed, invoking Malcolm X's statement about the assassination of J.F.K, "America's chickens! Coming home! To roost!" White America, he was saying, had gotten its just deserts.

Candidate Obama tried to distance himself from Wright's more damning comments. But, crucially, he didn't disown the pastor himself. In fact, in his rise to political fame, he had made Wright's sermons his own, drawing on Wright's "Audacity to Hope" sermon and appropriating its theme for his political coming-out speech at the Democratic National Convention in Boston in 2004. He even borrowed the sermon's title for his second autobiography,The Audacity of Hope, in a bid to get Wright and other black churches to support his candidacy.

More here

Promise

I didn’t marry you because you were perfect.

I didn’t even marry you because I loved you.

I married you because you gave me a promise.

That promise made up for your faults.

And the promise I gave you made up for mine.

Two imperfect people got married and it was the promise that made the marriage.

And when our children were growing up, it wasn’t a house that
protected them;

and it wasn’t our love that protected them – it was that promise.

-- Thornton Wilder

Source

Christmas wish

Monday, December 19, 2011

Eric

85 members of Congress have now either signed a resolution or expressed their support for Attorney General Eric Holder to resign. Take the hint, Eric.

Meanwhile, on October 20, 2011, New Jersey attorney Leo Donofrio accused online legal research behemoth Justia.com of surgically redacting important information from their publication of 25 U.S. Supreme Court opinions which cite Minor v. Happersett, an 1874 decision which arguably contains language that appears to disqualify anyone from presidential eligibility who wasn't born in the country to parents who were citizens. Story

Mitt Romney said Saturday he’s "the ideal candidate" for the Tea Party movement because his stance on issues lines up "pretty darn well" with the movement he says will soon realize that GOP frontrunner Newt Gingrich isn’t their best option for president.

California Democratic Congressman Mike Honda, a member of the Budget and Appropriations Committees, told The Daily Caller that Democrats in Congress passed the $825 billion Recovery Act because they "didn’t know what the hell was going on" with the economy. He also said that Congress needs to "increase our deficit right now" by passing more stimulus spending. Story

One of the consistent symptoms of self-delusion in the postmodern global society is the denial that evil is not real. The very term evil offends sophisticates that revel in God is Dead mindset. Friedrich Nietzsche's proposition that the idea of God is dead now rules much of the planet. The end result is that eternal standards of ethics and morality are rejected and situational whims that foster unsavory appetites are adopted. Under the inevitable void in ethical principles, the discipline of epistemology and the search for truth becomes impossible. Knowledge is never relative; it is everlasting and founded upon permanent reality. Contrary to the Transhumanist vision for mankind, human nature is undeviating in its common and shared traits and foibles. The most pronounced shortcoming in all of us is the tendency to accept or even commit evil, in the normal course of our behavior. Source

Conservative wags are calling the EPA the "End Prosperity Agency".

Mark Steyn says Newt Gingrich is "in a benign sense...a totalitarian."

An op-ed in the liberal Austin newspaper says voted ID laws are "reasonable, constitutional, and necessary" to help end voter fraud.

Wife wants to take college courses. Man doesn't agree. Chops off her fingers. Story

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich showed no sign Sunday of letting up on his assault on "activist" federal judges. During an appearance on CBS’s "Face the Nation," Gingrich suggested the president could send federal law enforcement authorities to arrest judges who make controversial rulings in order to compel them to justify their decisions before congressional hearings. Story

From South Africa..."When the black Messiah (Nelson Mandela) dies, we'll teach the whites. We'll commit genocide against them: I hate whites." Story

From Indonesia...Police in Indonesia's most conservative province raided a punk-rock concert and detained 65 fans, buzzing off their spiky mohawks and stripping away body piercings because of the perceived threat to Islamic values. Dog-collar necklaces and chains also were taken from the youths before they were thrown in pools of water for "spiritual" cleansing.... Source

A city in western China is trying reduce religious fervor by prohibiting people from wearing veils, traditional Arab dress, or growing long beards.... Story

Leftists are in mourning worldwide. Korea's Dear Leader Kim Jong Il has died. His son is expected to keep the course.

Texas history

Edmund J. Davis and six other Radical Republicans began writing in strict secrecy the constitution for the "State of West Texas" on Dec. 16, 1868, but the overconfident Coyotes were getting ahead of themselves.

The second round of the Republican controlled constitutional convention had been gaveled to order eight days earlier in Austin. Although the official task of the rowdy assembly was to rewrite the Lone Star charter, at the top of the agenda was a Radical proposal to carve up Texas like a Christmas turkey.

As any Texan worth his or her salt knows, the state was admitted to the Union with the right to subdivide into as many as four new domains. Not as well known is how often the idea was entertained and how close the Lone Star State came to being dismembered during Reconstruction.

Division was first recommended in 1844 during the heated debate over annexation. Sen. Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri suggested bisecting the giant applicant, making one state free and the other slave in order to maintain the delicate balance between North and South.

Over the next decade, various schemes were put forth for cutting Texas down to size by spiteful spokesmen from envious locales. However, in 1852 a native politician unveiled his own controversial plan. Hoping to exploit the perennial rivalry of East and West Texas, James W. Flanagan, a Rusk County representative, called for partitioning along the Brazos River.

"Who will be willing to give up the name of Texas?" a leading newspaper asked. "Who will give up the bloodstained walls of the Alamo?" By a margin of 35-15, the state house of representatives put the unpopular plan out of its misery.

Delegates to the 1868 constitutional convention met on Jun. 1 to recast the Texas foundation in the Reconstruction mold. Only a handful of Democrats were present because the vast majority of their supporters were barred from the ballot box for having fought for the Confederacy. Hoping to halt the Radical crusade for a divided Texas, the pragmatic Democrats sided with the moderate wing of the GOP.

Kingpins of the Radical fraction were Edmund J. Davis, former judge and future governor, James P. Newcomb, a San Antonio newspaper editor and G.T. Ruby, leader of the black Union League. These ambitious firebrands envisioned a separate state encompassing all of South Texas and a sizable southern chunk of the West.

The trio’s strategy was to isolate die-hard Rebs in their traditional eastern stronghold, while consolidating Radical influence in a staunchly Republican state with San Antonio as the capital. The plan was favored by the Germans of Central Texas, most of whom remained pro-Union throughout the Civil War, and residents of the Alamo City hungry for the prestige and prosperity the change would bring.

More here

Illinois fail

"Why would anyone want to live in Illinois?" So muses Curt Wooters, who works for the state and helps his dad run the family's sporting-goods store in Findlay, 200 miles south of Chicago. Imagine California without the sunshine, New York without the cultural elan, New Jersey without Chris Christie. That's Illinois.

Mr. Wooters has another five years before he can retire, but he's advising his kids to leave the state after college. He's also talked with his dad about closing their shop because it costs too much to run a business in Illinois these days. Plus, "the customers are leaving town."

Now two downstate Republican lawmakers think that they've found a solution for Mr. Wooters and other disgruntled Illinoisans who want to escape but can't: Cut off the pesky tail that's wagging the dog—separate Chicago from the rest of the state.

That's the legislative initiative of State Reps. Adam Brown and Bill Mitchell, who think politicians from the Windy City have blown the state too far left. "At every town-hall meeting I hear, 'Can't we separate from Chicago?'" says Mr. Mitchell.

Chicago pols control almost all seats of power in Illinois. Gov. Pat Quinn, House Speaker Mike Madigan, Senate President John Cullerton, Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Secretary of State Jesse White are all Democrats from Chicago. So was former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who this month was sentenced to 14 years in prison for corruption, including trying to sell President Obama's vacated seat in the U.S. Senate. Consequently, as Mr. Wooters says, a lot "of the money that we have down here goes up there to bail out Chicago."

More here

Hypocrites

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Iran and 9/11

In an historic hearing in the federal courthouse in Manhattan on Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge George Daniels said he planned to issue a ruling in the coming days declaring that Iran shares in the responsibility for the 9/11 terror attacks.

"The extensive record submitted to this court, including fact witnesses and expert testimony, is satisfactory to this court," Judge Daniels said. The court "accepts as true" the various allegations of the plaintiffs and their experts, he declared, and "will issue an order" in the coming days that Iran bears legal responsibility for providing "material support" to the 9/11 plotters and hijackers.

Family members of 9/11 victims who attended the open-court hearing broke into tears. They had nervously sat through a four-hour presentation by attorneys Thomas E. Mellon, Jr., and Timothy B. Fleming, consisting of evidence backing up their claims that Iran had foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks and actively assisted the hijackers in planning, preparing, and executing their plan.

"My husband’s name is on that lawsuit," said Fiona Havlish, the lead plaintiff in the case against Iran. Her spouse, Donald G. Havlish, Jr, perished on the 101st floor of the World Trade Center’s South Tower. "This is about my husband, all our husbands, our loved ones, our sons, our daughters."

Ellen Saracini, whose husband, Victor Saracini, took off that morning at the controls of United Airlines Flight 175, called it "a historic day" because a U.S. court found that Iran was responsible for the attacks. "When I heard the verdict, I just smiled up to Victor and said, ‘we’re still thinking about you up there.’"

In presenting evidence gathered by the attorneys and their outside investigator, Timothy Fleming revealed tantalizing details of still-sealed videotaped depositions provided by three defectors from Iranian intelligence organizations.

One of those defectors was "physically present" when al-Qaida’s second in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, came to Iran in January 2001 for four days of intense closed-door meetings with the top leadership in Iran to discuss the impending attacks.

Source

Saturday wrapup

5,000 people dead, including 300 children. Hundreds, perhaps thousands missing. Ongoing violence. Gun battles in the streets, aerial bombardment of cities. Welcome to Syria, where the awesome moral force of the "duty to protect" can be seen in all its majesty and might. Story

Headline of the Week..."The Climate Circus is Dead But The Scam Continues"

Tuba players better hold tight to their instruments. There's been a rash of tuba thefts at schools in southern California. "Perhaps there's a black market for tubas," says music teacher Ruben Gonzalez Jr. the music teacher at South Gate High School, who's trying to make sense of why five of the school's tubas were stolen. Story

USA Today says...One in 45 children in the USA — 1.6 million children — were living on the street, in homeless shelters or motels, or doubled up with other families last year, according to the National Center on Family Homelessness. (Children living on the street? My bullshit detectors are hitting the stops on the high end.)

Tim Tebow of the Denver Broncos is getting under the skin of all the atheists and pagans for his displays of Christian gratitude. Good for you, Tim. Hope they are pissing their pants.

Here's a scary thought...The Republican Party doesn't want to win the 2012 presidential election because they don't want to be in power when the Big Crash happens. Makes sense, I guess.

Mark Steyn wasn't impressed with Obama's speech last week in Kansas...after hymning the virtues of "better services and better prices," the president went on to issue the latest brain-dead call for increased "investment" in education. America "invests" more per student than any other nation except Switzerland, and it has nothing to show for it other than a vast swamp of mediocrity presided over by a hideous educrat monopoly. Might this fetid maw not benefit from exposure to "better services and better prices"? Perish the thought! Instead, Obama is demanding increased "investment" in "education" in order to "give people the chance to get new skills and training at community colleges so they can learn how to make wind turbines and semiconductors."

How much do you pay for electricity? Here's a state by state comparison.

Obama says that he has accomplished more than any other president with the possible exception of LBJ, FDR, and Lincoln. We all agree he's fourth-rate.

Interesting little story about Sen. George McGovern... After he left office, he started a small bed-and-breakfast and hit the regulatory wall he helped create. Later, he wrote, "I wish during the years I was in public office I had this firsthand experience about the difficulties businesspeople face. ... We are choking off business opportunity."

A little over $800 Billion was spent during the past 9 years fighting the Iraq War. In contrast, Obama has increased the deficit by over $4 Trillion in just 3 years.

ABC dropped a far left liberal, Christiane Amanpour, and replaced her with another far left liberal, George Stephanopoulos, for their political show This Week. That should be a boon for their ratings, right?

There is an old Afghan saying..."Women are for babies and men are for pleasure." I'm with those who want out of that shithole of a country. Our guys are over there fighting and dying to enable this kind of behavior? Get.Out.Now. Let.Them.Eat.Shit.And.Die.

Rabbi Joshua Hammerman wrote an article for The Jewish Week criticizing Tim Tebow of the Denver Broncos. He predicted that if Tebow's team won the Super Bowl his Christian fans would be emboldened to burn mosques and bash gays. His words..."If Tebow wins the Super Bowl, against all odds, it will buoy his faithful, and emboldened faithful can do insane things, like burning mosques, bashing gays and indiscriminately banishing immigrants." (the good rabbi should switch to decaf)

I'm not a big fan of Newt Gingrich but he recently gave up a great quote..."Are we in a situation where every day rockets are fired into Israel, while in the U.S. the current administration tries to pressure the Israelis into a peace process? Hamas does not admit the right of Israel to exist, and says publicly not a single Jew will remain. The Palestinian Authority Ambassador to India said last month there is no difference between Fatah and Hamas: We both agree Israel has no right to exist. Somebody ought to have the courage to tell the truth: These people are terrorists, they teach terrorism in their schools. They have textbooks that say, 'If there are 13 Jews and 9 Jews are killed, how many Jews are left?' We pay for these textbooks through our aid money. It's fundamentally time for somebody to have the guts to say, 'Enough lying about the Middle East.'"

CNSNews.com reports that public school teachers receive greater average hourly compensation in wages and benefits than any other group of state and local government workers and receive more than twice as much in average hourly wages and benefits as workers in private industry, according to a new report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Rest in Peace, Christopher Hitchens. What a complex man. Great writer. Leftist. Atheist. Loathed the Clintons. Supported Bush and the Iraq War. Here's hoping St. Peter lets him in. One of his best quotes is..."My own opinion is enough for me and I claim to have the right to defend it against any consensus, any majority, anywhere, any place, any time. And anyone who disagrees with this can pick a number, get in line, and kiss my ass."

The Wall Street Journal reports...More than nine months after the outbreak of Japan's worst nuclear accident, the government declared Friday that the Fukushima Daiichi power plant has reached cold shutdown, a major milestone in bringing the catastrophe closer to resolution. The announcement means that the government and plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. have concluded that the plant's reactors can be safely kept cool, thereby stopping emissions of radioactive materials into the environment.

Taliban executes female British doctor.

The worst drought in Texas’ history has led to the largest-ever one-year decline in the leading cattle-state’s cow herd, raising the likelihood of increased beef prices as the number of animals decline and demand remains strong. Since Jan. 1, the number of cows in Texas has dropped by about 600,000, a 12 percent decline from the roughly 5 million cows the state had at the beginning of the year....

Plastic vs Paper

Plastic bags require 40 percent less energy to manufacture than paper bags

Plastic bags require less than 4 percent of the water needed to manufacture paper bags

Plastic bags weigh 7 times less and take up 7 times less space than paper bags (2,000 plastic bags weigh 30 pounds; 2,000 paper bags weigh 280 pounds)

Plastic bags are 100 percent recyclable and require barely more than half the energy to recycle than paper bag recycling does

Source

Fast and Furious

Friday, December 16, 2011

Walmart employee speaks

During the 2010 and 2011 summers, I was a cashier at Wal-Mart #1788 in Scarborough, Maine. I spent hours upon hours toiling away at a register, scanning, bagging, and dealing with questionable clientele. These were all expected parts of the job, and I was okay with it. What I didn’t expect to be part of my job at Wal-Mart was to witness massive amounts of welfare fraud and abuse.

I understand that sometimes, people are destitute. They need help, and they accept help from the state in order to feed their families. This is fine. It happens. I’m not against temporary aid helping those who truly need it. What I saw at Wal-Mart, however, was not temporary aid. I witnessed generations of families all relying on the state to buy food and other items. I literally witnessed small children asking their mothers if they could borrow their EBT cards. I once had a man show me his welfare card for an ID to buy alcohol. The man was from Massachusetts. Governor Michael Dukakis’ signature was on his welfare card. Dukakis’ last gubernatorial term ended in January of 1991. I was born in June of 1991. The man had been on welfare my entire life. That’s not how welfare was intended, but sadly, it is what it has become.

Other things witnessed while working as a cashier included....

Much more here

Signatures

They're kidding aren't they...?


Adolf Hitler and Mickey Mouse signatures will be counted in the effort to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, so long as they are properly dated and bear a Wisconsin address.

The Government Accountability Board reviewing the petitions unanimously approved a plan that would allow questionable names to be counted if they are signed within the circulation dates and have a proper address, WISN Milwaukee’s Channel 12 is reporting. According to the ABC affiliate, the suspicious names will be noted as such, but will not be eliminated without a challenge.

"All signatures are given the basic presumption of validity," said petition reviewer co-team leader Katie Mueller before the board. "So it may not be eliminated due to the fact that this is a valid signature on face value."

"We may certainly note fictitious names — if we note them on the petition we will flag them — but we will not strike them unless challenged," added David Buerger, another petition reviewer co-team leader. "In the last round of recalls, you may recall, there was a person who signed Adolf Hitler’s name to a petition. Fortunately, they gave a Berlin, Germany address and so we struck it on that basis rather than on the basis of it being Adolf Hitler."

In order to recall Walker, petitioners must collect more than 540,200 signatures by January 17. At the beginning of the month, Walker opponents had collected more than 300,000 signatures.

More here

Occupy China

For the first time on record, the Chinese Communist party has lost all control, with the population of 20,000 in this southern fishing village now in open revolt.

The last of Wukan’s dozen party officials fled on Monday after thousands of people blocked armed police from retaking the village, standing firm against tear gas and water cannons.

Since then, the police have retreated to a roadblock, some three miles away, in order to prevent food and water from entering, and villagers from leaving. Wukan’s fishing fleet, its main source of income, has also been stopped from leaving harbour.

The plan appears to be to lay siege to Wukan and choke a rebellion which began three months ago when an angry mob, incensed at having the village’s land sold off, rampaged through the streets and overturned cars.

Although China suffers an estimated 180,000 "mass incidents" a year, it is unheard of for the Party to sound a retreat.

More here