Sunday, January 31, 2010
In Obama's mind the Constitution is only there to give government the power to grant things.to those he has chosen
THOMAS MITCHELL: A few reminders for the constitutionally challenged
"The right of freely examining public characters and measures, and of free communication among the people thereon ... has ever been justly deemed the only effectual guardian of every other right."
-- James Madison
As recent events have clearly amplified, the average American's grasp of the content and purpose of the U.S. Constitution is woefully inadequate and too often inaccurate.
Ask a friend, a family member or a co-worker about the Constitution and what it does. You are likely to be told it grants Americans their rights and assures democratic elections and fair trials, or something along those lines. You'll also learn these things belong only to individual Americans. Foreigners and corporations are not covered.
No Miranda rights for the knickerbomber. Corporations have no free speech rights. Not in the Constitution. Never mind what the Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission, saying laws limiting free speech by anyone are tantamount to censorship.
One persistent online commenter insisted recently, "Since you brought the issue up, again, Mr. Mitchell, please point out to me language in the Constitution that permits a corporation to petition the government for redress. And since there is no such language, how can such a right be claimed by corporations?"
The Constitution does not permit. It does not dispense rights. It grants limited powers to the various branches of government and then provides checks and balances. Such as Article 1, Section 8: "The Congress shall have power to ..."
The Bill of Rights does not grant rights, either. Those 10 amendments limit the power of government to encroach on the rights presumed to belong to all of us.
The Founders were students of the proponents of natural law, especially John Locke and his treatises on government.
For the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson drew from Locke's argument that government must protect the people's life, liberty and property or it may be legitimately overthrown.
James Madison embraced Locke's concepts of checks and balances in the Constitution. Madison even thought the Bill of Rights unnecessary because such rights are presumed.
"A man, as has been proved, cannot subject himself to the arbitrary power of another," Locke wrote in "The Second Treatise of Civil Government" in 1690, "and having in the state of nature no arbitrary power over the life, liberty, or possession of another, but only so much as the law of nature gave him for the preservation of himself, and the rest of mankind; this is all he doth, or can give up to the common-wealth, and by it to the legislative power, so that the legislative can have no more than this. Their power, in the utmost bounds of it, is limited to the public good of the society. It is a power, that hath no other end but preservation, and therefore can never have a right to destroy, enslave, or designedly to impoverish the subjects."
Rights come from nature, not government.
Look at how the Bill of Rights is phrased. None says the state hereby grants these rights to its citizens. It should more properly have been called the Bill of Prohibitions.
"Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech ..." The freedom is presumed and Congress shall not interfere.
Additionally, "... the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed ..." The right exists. Don't infringe.
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons ..."
"In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial ..."
As well as "... the right of trial by jury shall be preserved ..." Preserved, not granted.
"The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." They are enumerated, not granted. And those not enumerated are retained by the people.
Don't imagine what you want the Constitution to say or pretend it says something it does not.
If you, like the president, don't like what the Constitution says, amend it. An amendment banning corporate free speech probably would pass, because most people think the rest of us are too gullible to resist a message backed by money.
If that's the case, this experiment in democracy is over.
By RAY HENRY Associated Press Writer
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -- The scientist in Dr. David Dosa was skeptical when first told that Oscar, an aloof cat kept by a nursing home, regularly predicted patients' deaths by snuggling alongside them in their final hours.
Dosa's doubts eroded after he and his colleagues tallied about 50 correct calls made by Oscar over five years, a process he explains in a book released this week, "Making Rounds With Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat." (Hyperion, $23.99) The feline's bizarre talent astounds Dosa, but he finds Oscar's real worth in his fierce insistence on being present when others turn away from life's most uncomfortable topic: death.
"People actually were taking great comfort in this idea, that this animal was there and might be there when their loved ones eventually pass," Dosa said. "He was there when they couldn't be."
Dosa, 37, a geriatrician and professor at Brown University, works on the third floor of the Steere House, which treats patients with severe dementia. It's usually the last stop for people so ill they cannot speak, recognize their spouses and spend their days lost in fragments of memory.
He once feared that families would be horrified by the furry grim reaper, especially after Dosa made Oscar famous in a 2007 essay in the New England Journal of Medicine. Instead, he says many caregivers consider Oscar a comforting presence, and some have praised him in newspaper death notices and eulogies.
"Maybe they're seeing what they want to see," he said, "but what they're seeing is a comfort to them in a real difficult time in their lives."
The nursing home adopted Oscar, a medium-haired cat with a gray-and-brown back and white belly, in 2005 because its staff thinks pets make the Steere House a home. They play with visiting children and prove a welcome distraction for patients and doctors alike.
After a year, the staff noticed that Oscar would spend his days pacing from room to room. He sniffed and looked at the patients but rarely spent much time with anyone - except when they had just hours to live.
He's accurate enough that the staff - including Dosa - know it's time to call family members when Oscar stretches beside their patients, who are generally too ill to notice his presence. If kept outside the room of a dying patient, he'll scratch at doors and walls, trying to get in.
Nurses once placed Oscar in the bed of a patient they thought gravely ill. Oscar wouldn't stay put, and the staff thought his streak was broken. Turns out, the medical professionals were wrong, and the patient rallied for two days. But in the final hours, Oscar held his bedside vigil without prompting.
Dosa does not explain Oscar scientifically in his book, although he theorizes the cat imitates the nurses who raised him or smells odors given off by dying cells, perhaps like some dogs who scientists say can detect cancer using their sense of scent.
At its heart, Dosa's search is more about how people cope with death than Oscar's purported ability to predict it. Dosa suffers from inflammatory arthritis, which could render his joints useless. He worries about losing control of his life in old age, much as his patients have lost theirs.
Parts of his book are fictionalized. Dosa said several patients are composite characters, though the names and stories of the caregivers he interviews are real and many feel guilty. Donna Richards told Dosa that she felt guilty for putting her mother in a nursing home. She felt guilty for not visiting enough. When caring for her mother, Richards felt guilty about missing her teenage son's swimming meets.
Dosa learns to live for the moment, much like Oscar, who delights in naps and chin scratches or the patient who recovers enough to walk the hall holding the hand of the husband she'll eventually forget.
The doctor advises worried family members to simply be present for their loved ones.
Richards was at her mother's bedside nonstop as she died. After three days, a nurse persuaded her to go home for a brief rest. Despite her misgivings, Richards agreed. Her mother died a short while later.
But she didn't die alone. Oscar was there.
Film seized 'shows children being radicalised'
Counter-terrorism police say their discovery of a film of children being encouraged to hold guns is evidence of attempts to radicalise youngsters.
The Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU) in North West England revealed they found the film during a raid in Manchester.
Officers say it shows two children, aged about three and six, playing with a pistol and a Kalashnikov rifle.
Material seized separately included the advice: "No child is ever too young to be started off on Jihad training."
The footage, which police believe was filmed in Pakistan, was uncovered on the hard drive of a computer during a raid carried out under the Terrorism Act 2000. Police have not revealed when the material was seized.
'I want to kill'
Police believe the firearms are real.
The video shows a girl and young boy playing with guns and a man's voice says: "What do you do with the weapon?"
He answers his own question: "I want to kill the infidels [non-believers]."
A senior officer in the CTU, who cannot be identified for security reasons, said: "We believe this was filmed abroad.
"We have no idea who the children are. We were shocked to find it at the house. We have no reason to believe this is faked. The guns are real."
It just shows the mindset of some people and what we are up against
Senior CTU officer
Police say they have also found flash cards, used to teach young children the alphabet, in another house raid.
The officer said: "We found a series of flash cards and documents on how to raise Mujahid children [who will fight for Islam]. The cards were written in English - and instead of having M for Muhammad they had M for Mujahideen..."
"They have the potential to indoctrinate. It just shows the mindset of some people and what we are up against."
Police say they also found documents downloaded from an extremist website which instructs parents to raise Mujahid children.
The documents say: "The key is to start instilling these values in them while they are babies. Don't wait until they are seven. No child is ever too young to be started off on Jihad training."
'Awful to see'
David Thompson, Assistant Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, said the majority of the Muslim population supported the police's counter-terror operations in the region.
He said: "My view is [that] the majority of the community across the board see the threat that we're dealing with and are hugely supportive."
MP Kim Howells, chairman of the parliamentary intelligence and security committee, was shown the footage.
He said: "It's a dreadful thing to see and I hope I never have to see it again actually.
"That's as serious a piece of evidence of the kind of thing we are up against as I have ever set eyes on."
Anjum Anwar MBE, who works for the church as a community dialogue development officer, said the film must not be used to implicate the rest of the Muslim world.
Most of the Muslim community do not bring up their children in that way, she said.
The United Nations' expert panel on climate change based claims about ice disappearing from the world's mountain tops on a student's dissertation and an article in a mountaineering magazine.
Since the beginning of humans on earth we have been trying to control the weather. Shamans, witch doctors and all manner of religious or semi-religious leaders in past history have said give us your money or goods and we will control the weather. Now it is the turn of the scientists saying give us all of your money and we will control the weather. They are all con-men and shysters. We should tar and feather the whole lot of them.
on January 31, 2010
In another example a WWF paper on forest fires was used to illustrate the impact of reduced rainfall in the Amazon rainforest, but the data was from another Nature paper published in 1999. "When The Sunday Telegraph contacted the lead scientists behind the two papers in Nature, they expressed surprise that their research was not cited directly but said the IPCC had accurately represented their work...." Have you read the papers? They do not support the concept of AGW at all - they are about forest fires! Why are you implying that these papers are valid evidence?
on January 31, 2010
This whole climate change scare will turn out to be the con of the century. Naturally, the con is eagerly pounced upon by liberal politicians looking for excuses to excessively tax the population.
on January 31, 2010
Saturday, January 30, 2010
The Race to Failure
How company executives and union leaders brought the auto industry down.
By MICHAEL MURPHY
In the mid-1970s a small Japanese auto maker found growing success by exporting simple small cars to America. Its success did not escape the notice of Detroit: The Ford Motor Co. began negotiations to buy large quantities of Honda's four-cylinder engines to equip Ford's next generation of small cars. But the negotiations, although at first promising, were soon threatened by a hostile United Auto Workers Union—it balked at a possible loss of jobs—and finally killed off altogether by Henry Ford II, who declared that "no car with my name on the hood is going to have a Jap engine inside." Rebuffed, Honda took what it thought was a riskier path and decided to build factories to mass-produce Honda cars in the U.S. itself.
The long decline of Detroit's auto industry could be said to date from that moment. But of course a great deal else contributed to the ever deepening malaise, as Paul Ingrassia vividly shows in "Crash Course: The American Automobile Industry's Road from Glory to Disaster." The story that Mr. Ingrassia tells is concise, enthralling and ultimately heartbreaking.
It begins with the industry's early days, when old-school industrialists like Alfred P. Sloan, Henry Ford and Walter Chrysler built the companies that became the Big Three. With the rise of such empires came the rise of the UAW: Its negotiations brought hundreds of thousands of factory workers into the American middle class. Mr. Ingrassia, who won the Pulitzer Prize for his work covering the auto industry for this newspaper, recounts the postwar glory days with fondness and respect, reminding us of how Detroit created America's muscular auto culture, complete with tailfins and Olds Rocket engines.
By 1965, General Motors spanned the globe, the largest industrial enterprise in the world. A generation or so later it would collapse into the shelter of the bankruptcy courts and beg for billions of dollars in government aid.
What happened? The tipping point was indeed the 1970s, when the Big Three, lazy and arrogant in their assumption that their pre-eminence would go unchallenged, allowed their budgets to bloat and their designs to stagnate, even as the price of oil rose and consumers, for a while at least, worried about the cost of gasoline. Meanwhile, the storied "car men" from the design labs and factory floors began to fade from power, and a new breed of financial engineers began their ascent within the industry's bureaucracies. Washington stepped in as well, turning the auto business into an increasingly regulated arena, from safety standards to fuel-economy regulations.
The hungry Japanese companies, as they moved into American markets, did more than make smaller, well-made cars: They fostered a culture of worker and management cooperation that was alien to Detroit's auto makers and the UAW. A few people understood the challenge. The saddest part of "Crash Course" describes the doomed reformers— Donald Elphin at the UAW, for instance—who tried to learn from the Japanese and create a more effective partnership of employee and employer. Mr. Ingrassia rightly dwells on General Motors' ill-fated Saturn experiment in the 1980s, during which the company took a new customer-centric approach to selling cars and a less labor-costly approach to building them, winning over the union at the Saturn plant in Spring Hill, Tenn. Saturn enjoyed early success but ended in failure, mostly because a radicalized UAW leadership undercut the project from Detroit.
In the 1980s and 1990s, as Mr. Ingrassia relates, the auto companies ricocheted between huge SUV-driven profits and floods of red ink. The Daimler-Chrysler merger of 1998 was a disaster, thanks in part to the overreach of Daimler's empire-building CEO, Jürgen Schrempp. And the boardroom coup inside fortress GM, in 2000, forced out one company man only to replace him with another who could not change the culture. And little wonder. The Big Three and the UAW were locked a symbiotic race to failure. The companies could not fathom taking a strong stand against the union: The price of conflict was too high. And the union's leaders lacked the vision to understand that, if they failed to help the companies succeed, they were cheating their own membership.
As we know, the story ends in 2009 in Washington, where well-meaning people try to help Detroit but, as always, are pushed by the rules of politics against making tough choices. A few remaining pieces of Chrysler are turned over to Fiat, whose canny CEO pulls off a deal that combines billions from the U.S. Treasury with little risk for his company. GM is cut down to a theoretically profitable size—though steady profits are hard to see in the near future at least. The pension costs of retired auto workers, in the meantime, are twisted into something else with a neat bit of financial engineering: Owed pension money becomes stock in the shaky new enterprises. If this scheme fails, Detroit's pension liabilities will be the next enormous bailout-request stepping up to Treasury's pay window.
Mr. Ingrassia is hard on GM's management, and his case is solid. But one can also look to the past few years in foreign markets, such as China, where Detroit's often maligned executives run operations that do as well or better than those of their Japanese competitors. The difference is a level playing field on labor costs. In the long accounting of Detroit's fumbles, the leadership of the UAW has almost always made things worse. Alas, the triumphs abroad have been too little, too late.
There is a bright spot in the gloom, however. Mr. Ingrassia notes that, while Ford suffered the same problems as GM and Chrysler, it chose a different course. Cuts were made early on, before government billions were needed. And there was leadership. The hero of the story is Bill Ford, the great-grandson of the company's founder. He ousted an ineffective CEO, took the job himself for a time and then, in a move alien to Detroit's executive suites, fired himself and reached outside the industry to find a CEO (Alan Mulally) with the skills needed to lead a painful but vital turnaround. Yesterday Ford announced $2.7 billion in profits for 2009.
Mr. Murphy is a screenwriter and political consultant in Los Angeles.
We expect those in government to know how to get things done. They need to understand organizational and political behavior, effective administration, and how to comply with the law.
We do not expect or want elitists and moral supremacists who believe that they know so much more about justice, the market, and how we should live. In his recent book Intellectuals and Society, Thomas Sowell explains how the "anointed" believe that their advanced education and depth of knowledge in one field automatically makes them an authority on any field in which they wield an opinion. Thus Noam Chomsky, a noted scholar in linguistics, has written dozens of books condemning America's and Israel's foreign policy with only the illusion of authority.
Sowell further explains that the most educated among us know only the smallest fraction of what is to be known. That these highly educated people may know so much more than any one of us does not mean that they know a fraction as much as do all of us.
I know the price of a Visconti fountain pen, an Ibanez George Benson Model guitar, an Acer 9" laptop, a subscription to Netflix, a ton of carbon steel, a Ford Expedition, a flight to St. Kitts, a forklift, a Rocky Patel cigar, a bottle of Glenrothes scotch, and an hour of time for a decent electrician. My expertise on these items combined with the market experience and expertise of millions of others is what constitutes a free market. It is how the prices of millions of items are accurately determined and how assets are allocated to production.
When prices are determined by central planning or anointed experts, shortages and gluts appear. The failed economies of the old Soviet Union and other systems determined by elite central planning evidences the flaw of thinking that elites know more than the combined individuals that comprise a healthy market.
But this flaw of elitist thinking and planning is not limited to market pricing.
I have a good idea about what works and doesn't work in sales and management incentives, how to run a steel warehouse safely, how much workers are willing to pay for health insurance, the benefits of paying bills promptly, how to analyze my blog hits, the risks of debt, treatment options for breast cancer, the benefits of a Health Savings Account, how to lower my triglycerides, the risks of improper investment diversification, and how technology can be used to waste time as easily as to make us more efficient.
Yet I know very, very little. But my knowledge and my experience combined with the millions of others with different but equally specialized experience is unmatched by the most highly educated group of intellectual elites.
Yet we often see intellectuals commit major logical errors even in the fields where they do have expertise.
Wall Street was brought to its knees by sophisticated models with which they thought they could engineer away risks. With unmerited confidence they overleveraged investments with a 95% chance of certainty only to learn the devastation involved in the 5% chance of loss if you have illiquid and complicated investments.
Climategate has shown us that even Ph.D. scientists can be swayed with money, power, and political influence. I may not know which end of the test tube the cork goes into, but such delusional certainty ("the debate is over") about such a massively complicated issue can make a skeptic of anyone. Science and politics go together no better than religion and politics.
Even the brilliant Ben Bernanke, the most noted modern scholar on the Great Depression of 1929, stood before audiences only a few years ago and explained that the effect of subprime loans would be limited and that the financial system was sound. History does repeat itself, but never in the same way.
Even the brightest minds cannot escape emotional impediments to a rational conclusion. Combining such emotional rationalism with a focus on theories detached from the verification of practical experience can be downright dangerous. This is why it concerns so many that Obama's administration has the lowest number of appointees from the private sector in his cabinet of any president in history.
The average American knows that taking a dollar from one person and giving it to another does not create a stimulus. The average parent knows that protecting one from the consequences of bad decisions does not teach one to make good decisions. The individual citizen knows that the government will not make better health care decisions or better investment decisions because they will never know as much as all the citizens. The voter who knows the consequences of too much debt on his household does not find it more acceptable when a lot of zeros are added to the balance and the loan account is moved to Washington, D.C.
One message from the Massachusetts Senate contest was that we do not trust educated elitists with making detailed decisions about our health care and our lives. American citizens have become too smart for that.
Henry Oliner blogs at Rebelyid.com.
US 'protects' Moon landing site
California has named a new site a state historical resource - despite the fact that it is not on Earth, never mind in the US state.
The site where Apollo 11 landed on the Moon in 1969, the first US landing, is now included on the state's register.
The unusual move by the California State Historical Resources Commission aims to protect more than 100 items left by US astronauts on the Moon.
They include tools, a flag, footprints, food bags and bags of human waste.
The commission said California firms had worked on the Apollo project and their efforts had a historical value to the state.
"It has a significance that goes way further than whether it came from a quarter million miles away or not," state historic preservation officer Milford Wayne Donaldson was quoted as saying by the New York Times newspaper.
"They are all parts of the event," he said.
The designation applies to everything left on the Moon by astronauts Neil Armstrong - the first man to walk on the Moon - and Buzz Aldrin, with a total weight of 5,000 lbs (2,270 kg).
A number of items were jettisoned by the mission in order to make their module lighter for the take-off which began their journey back to Earth.
However, the moon's surface is not included in the designation, because under international law no country or state can make a claim to it.
The move aims to protect the site in the face of possible lunar missions in the future by other nations.
Several other US states which were involved in the Apollo project are also reportedly seeking to protect the landing site.
U.N.'s Global Warming Report Under Fresh Attack for Rainforest Claims
A United Nations report on climate change that has been lambasted for its faulty research is under new attack for yet another instance of what critics say is sloppy science -- guiding global warming policy based on a study of forest fires.
A United Nations report on climate change that has been lambasted for its faulty research is under new attack for yet another instance of what its critics say is sloppy science -- adding to a growing scandal that has undermined the credibility of scientists and policymakers who back the U.N.'s findings about global warming.
In the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), issued in 2007 by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), scientists wrote that 40 percent of the Amazon rainforest in South America was endangered by global warming.
But that assertion was discredited this week when it emerged that the findings were based on numbers from a study by the World Wildlife Federation that had nothing to do with the issue of global warming -- and that was written by a freelance journalist and green activist.
The IPCC report states that "up to 40 percent of the Amazonian forests could react drastically to even a slight reduction in precipitation" -- highlighting the threat climate change poses to the Earth. The report goes on to say that "it is more probable that forests will be replaced by ecosystems ... such as tropical savannas."
But it has now been revealed that the claim was based on a WWF study titled "Global Review of Forest Fires," a paper barely related to the Amazon rainforest that was written "to secure essential policy reform at national and international level to provide a legislative and economic base for controlling harmful anthropogenic forest fires."
EUReferendum, a blog skeptical of global warming, uncovered the WWF association. It noted that the original "40 percent" figure came from a letter published in the journal Nature that discussed harmful logging activities -- and again had nothing to do with global warming.
The reference to the Brazilian rainforest can be found in Chapter 13 of the IPCC Working Group II report, the same section of AR4 in which claims are made that the Himalayan glaciers are rapidly melting because of global warming. Last week, the data leading to this claim were disproved as well, a scandal being labeled "glacier-gate" or "Himalaya-gate."
The Himalaya controversy followed another tempest -- the disclosure of e-mails that suggested that leading global warming scientists in the U.K. and the U.S. had conspired to hide a decline in global temperatures.
"If it is true that IPCC has indeed faked numbers regarding the Amazon, or used unsubstantiated facts, then it is the third nail in the IPCC coffin in less than three months," Andrew Wheeler, former staff director for the U.S. Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee, told FoxNews.com. "For years, we have been told that the IPCC peer review process is the gold standard in scientific review. It now appears it is more of a fool's gold process."
Wheeler, who is now a senior vice president with B&D Consulting's Energy, Climate and Environment Practice in Washington, said the latest scandal calls into question the "entire underpinnings" of the IPCC's assessment and peer review process.
The U.N. did not return calls seeking comment on the scandal.
Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, vice chairman of the IPCC, was quoted in the European press as saying, "I would like to submit that this could increase the credibility of the IPCC, not decrease it. Aren't mistakes human? Even the IPCC is a human institution."
But not everyone agrees. Ross McKitrick, a professor of economics at the University of Guleph in Ontario, said the U.N. needs to start from scratch on global warming research and make a "full accounting" of how much of its research findings have been "likewise compromised."
McKitrick said this is needed because the U.N. acknowledged the inaccuracy of the data only now that its shortcomings have been exposed. "They are admitting what they did only because they were caught," he told FoxNews.com. "The fact that so many IPCC authors kept silent all this time shows how monumental has been the breach of trust."
Lubos Motl, a Czech physicist and former Harvard University faculty member, said the deforestation of the Amazon has occurred, but not because of global warming. He said it was due to social and economic reasons, including the clearing of cattle pastures, subsistence agriculture, the building of infrastructure and logging.
"Such economically driven changes are surely unattractive for those of us who prefer mysterious and natural forests," says Motl. "But they do help the people who live in Latin America."
The rapidly accumulating scandals surrounding climate change research appear to be driving the public away from its support for government measures to intervene. On Wednesday, Yale University and George Mason University released a survey showing that just 57 percent of respondents believe global warming "is happening." That was down 14 percentage points, from 71 percent, in October 2008. Fifty percent of people said they were "very" or "somewhat" worried about global warming, down 13 points from two years ago.
Another poll released Monday by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press asked respondents to rank 21 issues in terms of their priority. Global warming came in last.
"This fact has turned the labor movement into determined tax hikers. Union membership has grown in the government even as it has fallen in the private sector. Three times as many union members now work for the Post Office as in the Auto Industry. In 2009 the numbers crossed: a majority of union members now work for the government. Higher pay for government employees can only come through higher taxes on private sector workers.
Unions almost never go on strike anymore. Instead, they fight to get more for their members by lobbying for tax increases. Unions spent tens of millions of dollars last year campaigning for higher taxes across the country: Illinois. California. Minnesota. Washington State. Arizona. In many cases they have succeeded.
The latest example comes from Oregon, where public sector unions outspent businesses 3 to 2 to pass two ballot initiatives raising taxes by $700 million. The unions wanted higher taxes to prevent spending cuts. Had the taxes increases failed government employees in Oregon would have faced cost cutting measures such contributing toward the cost of their health benefits – something they currently do not do.
Government employees have done well in this recession. Few government jobs have disappeared – unlike in the private sector – and their pay rose at twice the rate of their private sector counterparts. No wonder that government employees are almost three times as likely as private sector workers to believe that the economy is in “good or excellent” shape. The question for policy makers is why should private sector workers have to pay for this?"
Posted By Kyle-Anne Shiver
James O’Keefe still gets my vote for investigative journalist of the year. Teaming with Hannah Giles to expose illegal and immoral tactics deep in the ACORN shakedown operation was brilliant. Now, O’Keefe has one-upped himself with his exposure of an MSM drowning in its own leftist ideology.
American journalists once cheered for those among their own who were brave enough to risk jail in the quest of exposing corruption and malfeasance. Yet when O’Keefe and his band of whippersnapper journalists went undercover, disguised as telephone repairmen in the hopes of exposing Senator Landrieu’s denying her own constituents phone access to her, the MSM fell all over themselves denouncing the young men.
Rush to judgment? No. It was a stampede.
From MSNBC, CBS, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Talking Points Memo and others came shrill, utterly false headlines about “attempted bugging” and the “new Watergate,” which are now being corrected or retracted with but a faint whisper. MSM “journalists” in high-and-mighty places haven’t had this much egg on their faces since their coffee-klatch therapy sessions over the misunderstood, “non-jihadist” Ft. Hood terror attack.
Bravo Mr. O’Keefe, honey!
Writing as a boomer conservative, who was in my youth a raging leftist, I know well the forces at work against you now, and can only salute your willingness to go to the mat to expose liberal corruption, wherever you find it. Although, as an old mom, I would discourage you from carrying through with, perhaps, not-thought-all-the-way-through plans in the future, I still must commend not only your intentions, but also your guts.
Though you may pay personal consequences for your actions in the Senator’s office, you have succeeded in bringing two important items to light.
One, you brought necessary scrutiny to the charge that Senator Landrieu may have been, on purpose, blocking phone calls from her own constituents. You learned firsthand, evidently, that her phone system was not unable to receive calls as she was apparently telling her constituents. In allegedly blocking thousands of irate voters’ calls, under the guise of a malfunctioning telephone system, Senator Landrieu may have been abusing her office in quite dishonest fashion. If true, then that would be a serious breech of public trust, as any fair journalist would be forced to admit. Of course, the Senator denies  this allegation and has insisted that too many calls “jammed” her phone lines. Nevertheless, now pressure will mount on the Senator to deal with disgruntled voters.
Second, you have demonstrated in full public view – once again – why the MSM is literally drowning itself in its own leftist ideology.
This isn’t your grandfather’s mainstream media.
During the 1960s a veritable revolution was brought to bear on American institutions by disenchanted young people, namely my own generation. The revolutionaries’ primary raison d’etre, in the beginning, was ending the Vietnam War. At the war’s conclusion, however, the American boomer left, some of whom had by now become communist revolutionaries, was far from satisfied. From their own privileged pedestals of affluence and prestige, they viewed America has inherently corrupt and in dire need of complete reorganizing.
As two former top-echelon radicals, David Horowitz and Peter Collier, documented in their book, The Destructive Generation , the radical communist revolutionaries of the 1960s never went away. They simply left the streets and poured into American institutions, working their ideology into every university. Their primary targets were the law and journalism schools, the colleges of education and the machinery of the Democratic Party. In all of these endeavors, they have been amazingly successful.
Horowitz and Collier summarized the ultimate aim, as elucidated by the movement’ chief philosopher, John Jacobs, thusly:
The idea was not to create a perfect state operating by the clockwork principles of Marxist law but to promote a chaos that would cripple America and ultimately cast it into receivership that would be administered by the morally superior third world.
The American mainstream media, after several decades of this leftist ideology permeating journalism schools, now works on a predictable paradigm.
The primary operating principle of the leftist journalist’s paradigm is the presumption that all former underdogs (“the morally superior third world”) are, in fact, always morally superior — in every instance. Our mainstream media is now under what they consider a power-reverse mandate. Every member of every group that were once underdogs in America – all non-whites, women, gays and now Muslims – are to be given the extreme benefit of the doubt in terms of means, motives, and ends.
In the 60s radical worldview, nothing can be right with the world until the former underdogs are running everything. And it is the job — in their minds — of every “journalist” to advance this aim. Even though members of these once-underdog groups now are in the pinnacles of power, including the presidency, ideological journalists cannot embrace the shift because, in their minds, it is far from a complete and irreversible takeover. Complete and irreversible it must be – in their brainwashed minds.
This is the very mindset at work against anyone who would question the motives, means or ends of the ACORN shakedown operation. This is the very mindset at work against anyone who dared to broach the radical nature of Barack Obama’s past associations . This is the mindset that causes propagandized “journalists” to shy from denouncing “third-world” Muslim terrorists. This is the same mindset that the president used to pre-judge police officers in Cambridge as “acting stupidly.” And it is the same ideological mindset, which caused leftist journalists to jubilantly flay James O’Keefe before having any of the facts.
Assuming untruths to be true, simply because they come from an erstwhile “underdog” group, is not journalism. Presuming innocence of all like-minded partisans to further a political ideology is as far from genuine reporting as one can get. It is blatant ideology masquerading as “fair” and “non-partisan.” And it is this blatant leftist ideology, which is drowning the MSM. Radical communism is no more palatable to knowledgeable Americans today than it was in the 1960s. It simply looks as though it is because the radicals espousing it now do so wearing suits in mainstream media outlets. The people, however, see through the tacky façade and, more and more, tune them out every day.
So, once again, I say bravo to Mr. O’Keefe and to every brave, young soul that dares to face off against the mainstream media today. You are the counter-revolutionaries we’ve been waiting for.
Friday, January 29, 2010
Some more Mark Steyn goodness:
Simply as a matter of internal logic, this is somewhat perplexing. After all, when he isn't blaming George W. Bush, Obama blames "Washington" – a Washington mired in "partisanship" and "pettiness" and "the same tired battles" and "Washington gimmicks" that do nothing but ensure that our "problems have grown worse." Washington, Obama tells us, is "unable or unwilling to solve any of our problems."
So let's have more Washington! In our schools, in our hospitals, in our cars, in everything!
Which raises the question: Does even Obama listen to Obama's speeches?
The public does – at least to this extent: They understand that, when he's attacking the tired old Washington games, he's just playing the tired old Washington games. But, when he's proposing the tired old Washington solutions, he means it; that's the real Obama, the only Obama on offer. And everything the president proposes means more debt, which at the level this guy's spending means, at some point down the road, either higher taxes or total societal collapse.
Functioning societies depend on agreed rules. If you want to open a business, you do it in Singapore or Ireland, because the rules are known to all parties. You don't go to Sudan or Zimbabwe, where the rules are whatever the state's whims happen to be that morning.
That's why Obama is such a job-killer. Why would a small business take on a new employee? The president's proposing a soak-the-banks tax that could impact your access to credit. The House has passed a cap-and-trade bill that could impose potentially unlimited regulatory costs. The Senate is in favor of "health" "care" "reform" that will allow the IRS to seize your assets if you and your employees' health arrangements do not meet the approval of the federal government. Some of these things will pass into law, some of them won't. But all of them send a consistent, cumulative message: that there are no rules, that they're being made up as they go along – and that some of them might even be retroactive, as happened this week with Oregon's new corporate tax.
In such an environment, would you hire anyone? Or would you hunker down and sit things out? Obama can bury it in half a ton of leaden telepromptered sludge but the world has got the message: More Washington, more microregulation of every aspect of your life, more multi-trillion-dollar spending, and no agreed rules in a game ever more rigged against you.
Obama and the Democrats have decided, in the current cliché, to "double down." That hardly does justice to what the president's doing. In effect, he's told embattled congressmen and senators to strap on the old suicide-bomber belt and self-detonate for the team this November.
That's a lot of virgins to pass out, but, with this administration, budget restraints aren't exactly a problem: Untold pleasures will await every sacrificial incumbent in paradise, or at any rate the coming liberal utopia.
What's the end game here? President Obama gave it away in his student-loan "reform" proposals: If you choose to go into "public service," any college-loan debts will be forgiven after 10 years.
Because "public service" is more noble than the selfish, money-grubbing private sector. C'mon, everybody knows that. So we need to encourage more people to go into "public service."
In the past 60 years, the size of America's state and local workforce has increased five times faster than the general population. But the president says it's still not enough: We have to incentivize even further the diversion of our human capital into the government machine.
Like most lifelong politicians, Barack Obama has never created, manufactured or marketed any product other than himself. So, quite reasonably, he sees government dependency as the natural order of things.
And in his college-loan plan he's explicitly telling you: If you start a business, invent something, provide a service, you're a schmuck and a loser. In the America he's building, you'll be working 24/7 till you drop dead to fund an ever-swollen bureaucracy that takes six weeks off a year and retires at 53 on a pension you could never dream of. Obama's proposals are bold only insofar as few men would offer such a transparent guarantee of disaster: It's the audacity of hopelessness.In Massachusetts, enough voters got the message. And the more speeches this one-note politician inflicts on the nation the louder they'll hear it.
Speaking to ABC News’ World News Tonight anchor Diane Sawyer in an exclusive interview on Monday, Obama denied being involved in what has come to be known as the “Cornhusker Kickback”
SAWYER: A lot of people think you must say at the end of the day, this is not who I was in 2008, these deals with Nebraska, with Florida…
OBAMA: Let’s hold on a second, Diane. I mean, I think that this gets into a big mush. So let’s just clarify. I didn’t make a bunch of deals. There is a legislative process that is taking place in Congress and I am happy to own up to the fact that I have not changed Congress and how it operates the way I would have liked. So that’s point number one.
In an interview with CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric on Wednesday, Emanuel flatly stated that he and the Obama administration were heavily involved in the Cornhusker Kickback as well as the other deals that provoked outrage from the public and helped Republican Scott Brown win the U.S. Senate seat formerly held by the late Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts.
Couric: As you know, people were pretty disgusted by deals that were made up on Capitol Hill like the one given to Ben Nelson to win his support. If the White House was so involved, was this done with your blessing? But…
Emanuel: Look, we were involved in the legislation all the way through.
Couric: Were you involved in that?
Emanuel: Yeah. I’m not gonna go through all of it…
Couric: But in the Ben Nelson deal?
Emanuel: We were helpful in getting the bill off the Senate floor. And in retrospect the things – as I said to you just earlier, things you woulda done different.
As the CEO of this organization, I have resigned myself to the fact that Barack Obama is our President and that our taxes and government fees will increase in a BIG way. To compensate for these increases, our prices would have to increase by about 10%. But since we cannot increase our prices right now due to the dismal state of the economy, we will have to lay off sixty of our employees instead. This has really been bothering me since I believe we are family here and I didn't know how to choose who would have to go.
So, this is what I did. I walked through our parking lots and found sixty 'Obama' bumper stickers on our employees' cars and have decided these folks will be the ones to let go.. I can't think of a more fair way to approach this problem. They voted for change...... I gave it to them.
I will see the rest of you at the annual company picnic.
George Handlery about the week that was. The Left is not against the unshared good life of some but against the good life as such. Frustrated elites and their disdain for the middle class. The masses refuse their redeemers. Who does not trust the common man? When words fail: the propaganda of deeds. If you are overheard in life, you can exit with a big bang.
1. Critics of the West and of the way of life that the industrial age has made possible abound. Outstanding examples are the Socialists and the Greens, the former’s hobby gardening and composting section. Such groupings are not against the good life attained by what they insist can be a minority only. Nor is their real priority to redistribute from the top to the “starving masses”. Neither is the core of the platform to accomplish the pursuit of their version of justice. That would be taking from the “rich” and giving to the “poor” -allocating a bit for themselves to finance the efforts of those that administer the scheme. What this element is really committed to combat is not supposed injustice, which is inherent in any inequality, but the “good life” as such. (Anyhow, life is a pollutant.)
2. Intellectuals tend to prefer to talk in terms of the extreme poverty of the “paupers” or the filthy richness of a few. Commiseration and damning outrage are attached concepts. The 19th century imagery inherited from Marx implies that, the life style, preferences, influence and problems of the disdained middle classes are overlooked. Now we need to consider that most of us are, in terms of expectations, income and world-view “middle class”. This is so even if our jobs might not fit all the traditional categories of membership, as these had been defined eons ago. Judged by his manual work, a carpenter is working class, or if you wish, lower class. However, if you consider his purchasing power, investments, the car he can drive, and perhaps even his formal education and that such a person might be an entrepreneur, the carpenter becomes “middle class”. Marx, the often unadmitted favorite of those who claim the right to lead us, predicted that the paupers, he called them “proletarians”, will become the dominant class of society. In fact, it was the middle class that has the largest share of society -regardless of how we segment it. The hostility felt by the intellectuals for this “new class” is caused by two factors. For one, the middle class has ceased to be revolutionary. Unless of course, when revolution is advocated out of boredom by over-indulged offsprings. Their religion-like driving conviction of these likes to subordinate the facts on the ground in favor of a preferred theory of heaven. Not accidentally, it is a heaven in which they are to be the archangels.
Furthermore, the middle class, which is becoming in advanced economic orders identical with society, does more than just invalidate a theory. The one is meant that assumes that an ever-growing number of people will be poor while poverty in the individual case will become greater. Getting richer, the new class refuses to make the revolution expected of it. Additionally, these new masses live without paying much attention to the views, values and recommendations of leftist ayatollahs. In reacting, it is typical that the latter declare components of mass culture to represent the symbols of decadence. Illustrative is the condemnation of “Coke” and “Macs” as expressions of the culture-deprived yahooness of rednecks. No wonder, since the crowd likes them more than quiche and Veuve Cliqot.
3. Observing the nexus of the people and its intellectuals, it would seem that the mass does not feel that the problems it perceives are those that the professional intellectual leaders care to articulate. Consequently, the majority is reluctant to ask for being rescued by anyone, and that means especially the folks that so humbly feel qualified to save the people from itself. This reluctance to feel in need of help and the refusal of the unsolicited succor by those who assume themselves to be ethically superior, expresses a fundamental conflict between the “common man” and his would-be redeemers. Its core is that, the heaven designed and hoped for by the left-leaning intellectuals is unattractive enough to leave the mass of the population cold.
4. Increasingly, the standard-setting class of earlier times feels not so much opposed -which would be a form of recognition- but simply ignored. General-welfare-fed mass culture, pertaining to life-style, politics or pure culture, bypasses the once norm-determining elites whose fractions are used to contest among themselves in the political arena power unchallenged by outsiders. The evolving situation creates concern and resentment against the majority. Long ago, the Enlightenment celebrated the common sense of the average person. Popular democracy, the assumption that the people is capable to govern itself, depended upon this assumption. Bill Buckley’s famous quip that he would prefer to be governed by hundred randomly selected persons from the Boston phone book rather than by Harvard’s faculty, harks back to the same premise.
There is a response discernible to being ignored and their recommendations defied by the elites whose followers are deserting them. Its core is that democracy is good as long as it results in decisions that have the approval of the chosen. Already in the Sixties the idea was propagated in the universities, that majority rule cannot only be dictatorial (with that possibility any common garden-variety democrat can agree) but that it is inherently oppressive. The warnings against the dangers of policies dictated by an unguided majority have already invaded editorials and the fatwas of learned pundits. The suggestions that direct democracy should be resorted to on seminal issues (EU membership and some aspects of immigration policy are examples) is dismissed by the devotees of guided democracy. By asking certain delicate questions, the wrong answer would be forthcoming.
Ergo, along with “populism” -populism is when the leaders cannot convince the led and these ask taboo questions and give inappropriate answers- the direct popular vote, too, needs to be fought. In the interest of real democracy, of course. A telling symptomatic illustration might be that majorities are held back from celebrating their Christmas in the commercial and folkloric way they are used to go about it. The analogy would be to suppress muezzins because Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Shintoists, animists and atheists might be offended by the chant.
5. A new component expressing the alienation of the elites emerges. That goes beyond the claimed right to supervise democracy through their shamans who determine what can be decided and by whom.. This further sphere of the mandate to lead involves the assumed right to engage in a “propaganda of deeds”. If the unripe, unwise and uncouth mob does not heed verbal admonitions, it is to be driven back on the right path by actions. The extreme case of this we find in Islamic terrorism -call it politely behavior altering violence. It is analogous to the shepherd using his whip when cries and the barking of dogs fail. You might feel that the wretched suicide bombers and the troglodytes who send them do not quite fit the thesis of elite frustration. It does because, out there is a little known fact regarding these people. Suicide bombers and those who pull their strings are not the underprivileged whose life has no meaning because they have no prospects. This crowd is recruited from the not-poor, not-uneducated and not-underprivileged. Who the members really are is described by their aspiration to be heard and by their actual inability to exert influence. Frustration fueled by arrogance makes them confident that they have a right to shape the world. This world is a “bad” one which is proven by its refusal to take them seriously. The resulting strategy is a response to being unable to convince the yawning contemporary to fall in line and to follow. If need be, to overcome inattention, murder appears to be a suitable means. In doing so the conceit of the otherwise misunderstood allows them to nominate the faceless crowd for martyrdom and to take candidates that failed to volunteer, right into the lap of Allah. Those who are unable to call the tune and whose words are lost without an echo in the desert while alive, then opt to exit with a last big bang.
From the desk of Filip van Laenen on Thu, 2010-01-14 23:21
The police in the Norwegian capital Oslo revealed that 2009 set yet another record: compared to 2008, there were twice as many cases of assault rapes. In each and every case, not only in 2008 and 2009 but also in 2007, the offender was a non-Western immigrant. At the same time, in 9 out of 10 cases, the victim was Norwegian, not just by nationality, but also by ethnicity.
— Two men followed me home. When I opened the door to my apartment, they assaulted me, and raped me one after the other, a young woman tells NRK, the Norwegian public broadcast service. She is one of the victims of an assault rape of 2009.
According to the police, not a single one of the offenders had a Western background. Four people have been arrested. In all other cases, the victims reported that the offenders either looked like non-Western immigrants, or they spoke a non-Western language. Not a single case has been connected to a Western man.
Twenty-one cases were reported in 2009, the highest number since police started recording them in 2006. Nine of out ten victims were Norwegian – ethnically Norwegian – both in 2009 (17 out of 21) and 2008 (9 out of 11). Hanne Kristine Rohde, the spokeswoman for the Oslo police, raises the question what sort of view these offenders have on women.
She knows that these statistics are very controversial. Asked whether it isn't stigmatizing for a whole community that the police releases figures like this, she replied that she wants to contribute to a better and safe world. That's why she wants the truth to be told, and hopes that the debate will focus on that, she told NRK.
By Marc A. ThiessenFriday, January 29, 2010; A21
In mid-2004, then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi learned something from a CIA briefing that made her blood boil. Pelosi reportedly "came unglued" at the revelation and had "strong words" with national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, demanding that the CIA abandon its plans. As a result, a top-secret finding that President George W. Bush signed to authorize the CIA's activities was revised. Pelosi succeeded in stopping the agency from moving forward with the controversial operation.
What drove Pelosi to action? Not the CIA's waterboarding of suspected al-Qaeda terrorists. In a 2009 interview, a former senior Bush administration official directed me to a little-noticed item from Time magazine. According to this 2004 report, Pelosi objected to a CIA plan to provide money to moderate political parties in Iraq ahead of scheduled elections, in an effort to counter Iran, which was funneling millions to extremist elements. "House minority leader Nancy Pelosi 'came unglued' when she learned about what a source described as a plan for 'the CIA to put an operation in place to affect the outcome of the elections,' " Time reported. "Pelosi had strong words with National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice in a phone call about the issue. . . . A senior U.S. official hinted that, under pressure from the Hill, the Administration scaled back its original plans." (Her role was also reported on this page by David Ignatius in 2007.)
Why is this important? Because on May 14, 2009, Pelosi, now speaker of the House, declared in a Capitol Hill news conference that she had opposed CIA waterboarding but was powerless to stop it. A former senior intelligence official told me in 2009 that he was shocked by Pelosi's claim because, he said, "Speaker Pelosi herself has stopped covert action programs that she has been briefed on by going to the White House. In that very same time frame [after she learned about waterboarding] Pelosi had gone back to the White House [over] a separate covert action program, expressed strong opposition to it. And the remarkable part to me, the White House backed off the program, changed one aspect of the program . . . she was particularly opposed to. And literally, the finding was pulled back and revised." If Pelosi had truly opposed waterboarding, he said, she had numerous ways to stop it -- but she didn't try.
At the time of her press briefing, Pelosi had been forced to acknowledge that she had learned in February 2003 that waterboarding was being used. Why, reporters asked, did she not object? Flustered, Pelosi claimed that it was not her place to complain because she was no longer the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee. "A letter raising concerns was sent to CIA general counsel Scott Muller by the new Democratic ranking member of [the] committee [Jane Harman], the appropriate person to register a protest." She made this claim five times during the briefing.
In fact, Harman's letter, since declassified, did not "register a protest"; it asked "what kind of policy review took place" and urged the agency not to destroy interrogation tapes. Moreover, when Pelosi made this claim, she knew that in 2004, when she was no longer the committee's ranking member, she had personally intervened with the White House to stop different covert action. She did not defer to Harman; she herself took action. Why was it "appropriate" for her to intervene then but not in the case of waterboarding?
Pelosi was asked by a reporter, "Do you wish now that you had done more? Do you wish it had been your own letter?" Pelosi replied, "No, no, no, no, no, no . . . No letter or anything else is going to stop them from doing what they're going to do." She made this claim three times during the briefing. All the while knowing that her phone call to Rice in 2004 had stopped the CIA from "doing what they were going to do" in a different covert operation.
As one of the top four leaders on Capitol Hill, Pelosi had numerous tools at her disposal if she had truly wanted to block waterboarding. She could have threatened to put a hold on funding for the CIA interrogation program, or held up funding for other administration priorities, or worked with her Senate counterparts to hold up nominees for senior CIA positions, or simply called the national security adviser -- as she reportedly did in the case of the Iraq program. Pelosi did none of those things when she learned about waterboarding. By her silence, Pelosi gave her consent -- and then misled the media by claiming she was powerless to act.
Journalists did not question Pelosi's claims -- and then they stopped questioning her. Pelosi announced that she would not take more questions on the topic, and the media complied. Reporters who relentlessly chased the Valerie Plame leak let the story drop. Pelosi's role in stopping another covert operation gives lie to her claims that she was powerless to stop waterboarding -- but the Washington press corps failed to "connect the dots." Now that the truth is out, will they continue to let her get away with not answering questions? We'll learn the answer at her next press briefing.
Strangers on my flight,
turbans they're packin'.
Wonderin' if they might,
plan a hijacking.
They could pull a stunt,
before this flight is through.
Something's on their minds.
I saw them mutter.
What that in their hands?
Looks like box cutters,
I'm gonna kick some ass,
if they make a move.
Strangers on my flight.
Two smelly people,
and they're not talking right;
and in a moment,
I will grab base ball bat;
and that will be that.
Swing like Joe DiMaggio,
and rip them both a new a-hole.
And if they pick a fight,
and try to screw us,
I'll punch out their lights,
just like Joe Louis.
It would feel so right,
for strangers on my flight.
Ratta Tat Tat Tat,
Budda Bing Bang Boom,
Zooma Zooma Zoom.
Send those bastards to the moon....
Published: 27 Jan 10 18:34
Threats and harassment are becoming increasingly commonplace for Jewish residents in Malmö in southern Sweden, leading many Jews to leave the city out of fear for their safety.
Sportsman in hate speech row over Tottenham anti-Jew 'joke' (26 Jan 10)
No suspects in attack against Malmö mosque (2 Jan 10)
Ex-moderate Muslim to form 'anti-Zionist' party in Sweden (3 Nov 09)
“Threats against Jews have increased steadily in Malmö in recent years and many young Jewish families are choosing to leave the city,” Fredrik Sieradzki of the Jewish Community of Malmö (Judiska Församlingen i Malmö) told The Local.“Many feel that the community and local politicians have shown a lack of understanding for how the city’s Jewish residents have been marginalized.”Last year there were 79 crimes against Jewish residents reported to the police in Malmö, roughly double the number reported in 2008, according to the Skånska Dagbladet newspaper.“That probably doesn’t tell the whole story because not everyone chose to make a report. Perhaps they fear they will add to an already infected situation,” Susanne Gosenius, a hate crimes coordinator with the Skåne police, told the newspaper, which has published series of articles about the growing anti-Semitism in Malmö.In addition, Jewish cemeteries and synagogues have repeatedly been defaced with anti-Semitic graffiti, and a chapel at another Jewish burial site in Malmö was firebombed in January of last year.There are currently an estimated 3,000 Jews living in the south of Sweden, with most residing in Malmö, Helsingborg, and Lund. About 700 currently belong to the Jewish Community of Malmö, but the group's membership rolls have been dropping steadily in recent years.“It’s sort of a downward spiral,” Sieradzki told The Local.“People want to maintain their Jewish traditions, but when they see others leave after being threatened, they begin to question whether or not they want to stay here.”Skånska Dagbladet highlighted the case of Marcus Eilenberg, a 32-year-old father of two who has decided to move to Israel.“My children aren’t safe here. It’s going to get worse,” he told the newspaperEilenberg’s family on his mother’s side has roots in Malmö that date back to the 1800s, while his father’s parents came to Sweden in 1945 after surviving Auschwitz.He describes for the newspaper how people call him “damn Jew” (‘jävla jude’) when he walks to synagogue and that his friends are frequently harassed and threatened.“Imagine that my family can’t feel safe in fantastic Sweden. It’s really terrible,” Eilenberg told Skånskan.He blamed part of the problem on passive local politicians who he believes have failed to openly distance themselves from anti-Semitism and refuse to act when members of the Jewish community find themselves under constant threat.Sieradzki agrees that the attitudes of Malmö politicians, especially Social Democrat city council chair Ilmar Reepalu, have allowed anti-Semitism to fester.“He’s demonstrated extreme ignorance when it comes to our problems,” Sieradzki explained.Speaking with Skånskan, Reepalu is quick to point out that “every type of threat and oppression directed at a particular ethnic group is totally unacceptable”.“Obviously children with a Jewish background shouldn’t be subject to harassment. Nor it is okay to shoot an imam at a mosque,” he told the newspaper.When asked to explain why Jewish religious services often require security guards and even police protection, Reepalu said much of the violence directed toward Malmö’s Jewish community come from members of extremist right-wing groups, a theory which baffles Sieradzki.“I’m not saying we don’t have problems with neo-Nazis, but the threats aren’t as concrete,” he explained.“More often it’s the far-left that commonly use Jews as a punching bag for their disdain toward the policies of Israel, even if Jews in Malmö have nothing to do with Israeli politics.“It’s shameful and regrettable that such a powerful politician could be so ignorant about the threats we face.”In addition to the far-left, Sieradzki said that a “very small segment” of the city’s growing population of Muslim immigrants from Arab countries in the Middle East are also responsible for growing anti-Semitism.“This is a small group of extremists who have decided to go after Jews wherever they are in the world and regardless of their relationship to Israel,” he said.One of the things that bothers Sieradzki most, however, are Reepalu’s statements about a pro-peace rally arranged by the Jewish Community in Malmö in response to the December 2008 Israeli incursions, which came under attack from members of a violent counter demonstration.According to Reepalu, the organization “sent the wrong signals” by holding the demonstration instead of distancing itself from Israel’s actions.“If you read between the lines, he seems to be suggesting that the violence directed toward us is our own fault simply because we didn’t speak out against Israel,” Sieradzki explained.“We’re a non-political, cultural and religious organization, and there are all kinds of Jews in Malmö.Sieradzki admitted he is currently “pessimistic” about the future of the Jewish community in Malmö, saying that there needs to be a “complete change in attitude” among the city’s politicians if the situation is going to improve.“These issues need to be taken seriously,” he said, arguing that there needs to be a dialogue involving politicians, Islamic groups, and the Jewish community.“But right now many Jews in Malmö are really concerned about the situation here and don’t believe they have a future here.”
“You go through the gate. If the gate’s closed, you go over the fence. If the fence is too high, we’ll pole-vault in. If that doesn’t work, we’ll parachute in. But we’re going to get health care reform passed for the American people.”
The scuffle started with Francis asking Gregg to name specific areas of the budget he would cut after he criticized the White House’s proposed freeze on nondefense discretionary spending, saying President Barack Obama has done little to reduce the size of government.
“That’s good in theory,” Francis started to say before Gregg cut her off.
“It’s not a theory,” Gregg said. “Don't tell me it's good in theory. What are you? How do you get off saying something like that?”
Francis then jumped in to offer Gregg a chance “to tell us how to practically put it to work.”
Gregg then launched into an attack of the administration for increasing spending and the federal debt, quickly getting interrupted by Brewer.
“My partner Melissa, Sen. Gregg, is really asking for specifics,” Brewer said. “If you don't believe we should have a $1.3 trillion budget, which programs are you willing to cut?”
“Are you willing to tell schools, no money for you?” Brewer asked.
“Nobody is saying ‘no money for schools,’” Gregg responded. “What an absurd statement to make, a dishonest statement to make.”
“Sen. Gregg, what we're both asking is which programs to cut?” Brewer said. “Senator, you're going to be asked to cut certain programs if you're on the senate Banking Committee — just tell us which one you'll cut?”
Gregg said he’d ‘eliminate’ the money for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, cut stimulus spending and reform entitlement programs. But after being given his chance to outline his proposals, Gregg still clearly had an ax to grind with the two hosts.
“I've made very specific proposals and I'm willing to stand by them. The problem is that this administration’s view of governance is economic prosperity created by growing the government dramatically,” he said. “Then it gets misrepresented by people like yourself that say if you do this you're going to end up not funding education. That's the most irresponsible question.”
“You can't be duplicitous about this,” he added. “You can't make a representation and then claim you didn't make it. You know, it just shouldn't work that way. You've got to have some integrity on your side of this camera, too.”
Mr. Mustafa estimates that about 80 percent of camp residents who work in construction are now unemployed, while those still working are taking jobs for 50 shekels a day ($13) rather than the 150 shekels ($40) they used to make.
“The settlement freeze has only brought more poverty,” complains Abdel Aziz Othman.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
I recall liking his few other books: Franny & Zooey, Raise High the Roofbeams, Nine Short Stories, although it's been about 30+ years since I read them and I'd be hard pressed to tell you what any of them were about now. Then again I only have fleeting recollections of Catcher in the Rye -- all are still on the bookshelf though, maybe time for a quick re-read.
SEC to require disclosure of climate change risks
By Zachary A. GoldfarbWashington Post Staff Writer
A politically divided Securities and Exchange Commission voted on Wednesday to make clear when companies must provide information to investors about the business risks associated with climate change.
The commission, in a 3 to 2 vote, decided to require that companies disclose in their public filings the impact of climate change on their businesses -- from new regulations or legislation they may face domestically or abroad to potential changes in economic trends or physical risks to a company.
Chairman Mary L. Schapiro and the two Democrats on the commission supported the new requirements, while the two Republicans vehemently opposed them.
"I can only conclude that the purpose of this release is to place the imprimatur of the commission on the agenda of the social and environmental policy lobby, an agenda that falls outside of our expertise and beyond our fundamental mission of investor protection," Republican commissioner Kathleen L. Casey said.
Democratic commissioner Elisse B. Walter said the new requirements are "designed to improve the quality of disclosures filed by U.S. public companies for the benefit of investors."
Schapiro said companies already must disclose anything that can have a significant effect on their bottom lines. But she said the SEC's action on Wednesday was intended to provide more guidance on what might be taken into account. "The commission is not making any kind of statement regarding the facts as they relate to the topic of climate change or global warming," Schapiro said.
A number of large institutional investors had been urging the SEC to put more pressure on companies to disclose more details about the effects of climate change on their businesses.
Also on Wednesday, the commission finalized new rules for money market funds. These funds, into which big and small investors often deposit cash with the hope of a bigger return than ordinary savings accounts, faced immense stresses at the height of the financial crisis, when it turned out that the funds had invested in far riskier assets than investors had been told.
The commission's new rules limit the types of assets that the funds can purchase and also require that they maintain larger rainy-day reserves.