It’s no coincidence that George Orwell was satirizing the left with Animal Farm. That progressives can squelch speech while thinking themselves open-minded testifies to their obliviousness.
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…In an email forwarded to Berkeley’s faculty, staff, and students early in September of this year, school chancellor Nicholas Dirks acknowledged the Free Speech Movement’s Golden Anniversary, but with reservations:
…the commitment to free speech and expression can lead to division and divisiveness that undermine a community’s foundation. … Our capacity to maintain that delicate balance between communal interests and free expression…will be tested anew. Specifically, we can only exercise our right to free speech insofar as we feel safe and respected in doing so, and this in turn requires that people treat each other with civility.
Cutting through that verbal wall of bullshit, Dirks appears to be saying that free speech ends where the “community” begins. He also seems to imply that one person’s right to feel “safe and respected” may trump another’s right to say what’s on their mind.
It is no coincidence that one of the prime movers and shakers of the original Free Speech Movement was Bettina Aptheker, the daughter of dedicated Stalinists and a woman who, despite all the lip service she paid to “free speech,” openly supported thought-squashing socialist regimes throughout the 1960s, the sort of tyrannical state entities that would rip your tongue out of your throat for making the merest bird squeak of dissent. Aptheker is now a professor of feminist studies at UC Santa Cruz and recently wrote this in a Berkeley alumni magazine:
On the occasion of this 50th anniversary of the FSM…it is worth pausing for a moment to consider the ways in which gender, race, class, and sexuality may effect [sic] one’s access to freedom of speech. Although the First Amendment embraces a universal ideal in its wording, it was written by white, propertied men in the 18th century….
Lady, if I was against free speech, I’d tell you to shut the hell up right now. But I’ll let you prattle onward and downward, because you’re only proving my point.
What a despicable group of tyrants the freewheeling leftists of the early 1960s have become. Those who rose up against the “machine” back then are still working from the old operator’s manual. Miraculously, they still manage to convince themselves that they have not become the machine against which they once railed. And somewhere along the line they concocted the screwball idea of “hate speech”—I doubt such a concept so much as existed in 1964—and began fallaciously arguing that it was a fundamentally different thing from free speech. They spun a magical illusory world where “civil rights” and “civil liberties” are somehow at odds with one another. They even convinced untold numbers of otherwise intelligent people that if you stopped calling blacks dirty names, those benighted and oppressed descendants of slaves would perform better academically.
How it is that so many cuckoos escaped from their clocks and have wound up in positions of authority, I will never know. But there’s no getting around the fact that the American symbol is no longer a bald eagle or even Ben Franklin’s preferred turkey, but has been replaced by the Swiss-made cuckoo bird.
For instance, the University of California, San Francisco, has just launched an online abortion course that will delve into “clinical aspects of medication abortion, aspiration abortion, post-abortion contraception, and pain management for abortion.” According to Prof. Jody Steinauer: “I think if we can inspire even a small portion of the people who take the course to take steps in their communities to increase access to safe abortion and decrease stigma about abortion, then we will have been totally successful.”
So far, 3,000 people have signed up for the course. I’m sure that ghouls everywhere are taking heart from the fact that abortion continues to be a growth industry. As for me, I think America is suffering from a dangerous lack of stigma.
As you may have heard, Nidal Hasan, who killed or maimed over 40 innocent people at Fort Hood, has written a letter to Pope Francis, complaining that Barack Obama keeps claiming that his butchery was workplace violence. Apparently he wants Francis to intercede on his behalf and point out to Obama that he is one of Allah’s proud soldiers and not just another creep who went postal because he got fired or didn’t get a raise. I can see his point. I mean, imagine how Hitler would have felt if his invasion of Poland had been dismissed as trespassing.
I do get a chuckle when young poorly educated malcontents who are often subsidized by wealthy old hypocritical reprobates like George Soros periodically take to the streets and demonstrate against Wall Street or the International Monetary Fund, blindly obeying the marching orders of wealthy old hypocritical reprobates like George Soros.
In addition to hosting an Obama fund-raiser at her home, Gwyneth Paltrow also introduced the guest of honor by batting her eyes and gushing: “You’re so handsome, I can’t speak properly.” If she considers Mr. Bat Ears so good-looking it makes her tongue-tied, one has to wonder how she ever managed to deliver a single line of dialogue when she worked with Hollywood heartthrobs Daniel Craig, Viggo Mortensen, Michael Douglas, Jude Law and Robert Downey, Jr. Perhaps the 42-year-old Valley Girl had all her dialogue dubbed by a grown-up.
Obama, who also tends to swoon in his own presence, managed to say, “I’m taking her to my next event.”
I’d love to have been a fly on the wall when Obama got home. Recalling how angry Michelle got when Obama took a selfie of himself with the leggy blonde Prime Minister of Denmark, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, at Nelson Mandela’s memorial, I couldn’t help picturing Barack trying to sneak into the White House only to find Michelle in the hallway holding a rolling pin and giving him the fish eye, just the way Maggie used to greet Jiggs in the Sunday funny papers.
The Army, which has become just as corrupt as the IRS, the Secret Service and the FBI, under the current administration has announced that it won’t go public about its investigation into Bowe Bergdahl’s desertion. At this point, don’t be too surprised if Bergdahl winds up receiving the Medal of Honor for merely pretending to be a traitor so he could go undercover and spy on the Taliban.
When the late Thomas Duncan first visited the Dallas hospital, he had a 103 degree fever and he admitted he’d just been to Liberia, but he was sent home with nothing more than a few pain killers. Once he died of Ebola, it figures there would be those who claimed that racism was the reason he was treated in such cavalier fashion. Nonsense! So far as I can tell, it was simply ObamaCare in action.
Although I dislike being at odds with my readers, I must confess I was shocked by the results of my latest poll. When I asked if people thought the Republicans would take control of the Senate and, if they did, if it would make a difference, I was obviously asking people to make an educated guess or, rather, two educated guesses. That meant that “maybe” or “perhaps” was a given, but it wasn’t a suitable response to either question. Fortunately, I managed to get 212 people to play by the rules.
It seems that 160 people thought the GOP would gain control, while 52 thought Harry Reid would manage to retain his stranglehold. However, only 62 people thought it would make a difference, 150 were just as sure it wouldn’t.
Frankly, I don’t know how those 150 could be so misguided. It’s true that a Republican Senate and Republican House wouldn’t be able to stop Obama entirely in his tracks. He’d still have his phone and his pen, but at least House bills would finally be voted on in the Senate, and Obama would be forced to veto them, showing everyone once and for all who the real obstructionist is. In addition, it is no small thing that Obama wouldn’t be able to appoint judges to the federal bench or place any more Kagans and Sotomayors on the Supreme Court, which is the legacy whereby ex-presidents are able to continue poisoning the atmosphere for decades long after they’ve left the scene of the crime.
Finally, by now I suspect everyone knows that 10 Secret Service agents lost their jobs for consorting, as they say, with Colombian prostitutes while a White House insider who happened to be the son of a major Obama donor wound up with a promotion to the State Department after he consorted with his own Colombian prostitute that very same evening.
In other news, Bill Clinton has announced that he’s heading down to Colombia on a fact-finding mission.
Be sure to catch Burt’s weekly hour-long webcast on Wednesdays, at noon, Pacific Coast Time. The show is accessed at K4HD.com. The call-in number is (818) 570-5443.
A student who was born female felt perfectly comfortable identifying as a man at Wellesley College — until people said he shouldn’t be class diversity officer because he is now a white male.
Timothy Boatwright was born a girl, and checked off the “female” box when applying to the Massachusetts all-women’s school, according to an article in the New York Times. But when he got there, he introduced himself as a “masculine-of-center genderqueer” person named “Timothy” (the name he picked for himself) and asked them to use male pronouns when referring to him.
And, by all accounts, Boatwright felt welcome on campus — until the day he announced that he wanted to run for the school’s office of multicultural affairs coordinator, whose job is to promote a “culture of diversity” on campus.
But some students thought that allowing Boatwright to have the position would just perpetuate patriarchy. They were so opposed, in fact, that when the other three candidates (all women of color) dropped out, they started an anonymous Facebook campaign encouraging people not to vote at all to keep him from winning the position.
Hours after learning that the United States ambassador to Libya and three others had been killed in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012, senior American officials held a secure videoconference call to discuss how to proceed in investigating the attack.
The prosecutor on the call for the Justice Department was Zainab N. Ahmad, one of the department’s most respected national security lawyers. In less than a decade in the United States attorney’s office in Brooklyn, Ms. Ahmad had successfully overseen several high-profile prosecutions, working alongside the New York-based F.B.I. agents who were going to take the lead in investigating Benghazi.
But then others started to lobby Eric Holder to give them the case. And guess what?
Less than 24 hours after the attack in Libya — and 21 months before the apprehension of a suspect, Ahmed Abu Khattala — Mr. Holder assigned the case to Mr. Machen’s office. The move was a surprise because nearly all major national security cases since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks had been steered to the United States attorneys’ offices in New York and Brooklyn, which have the most seasoned prosecutors in the country, and Northern Virginia, which is known for its government-leaning judges and jury pools.
In one sense, the jockeying was a reflection of the intense competition among prosecutors for any high-profile case that could help make a career, a competition that is fostered by Mr. Holder and his deputies in Washington who believe it sharpens even the most seasoned lawyers.
Mr. MacBride, who was the United States attorney in Northern Virginia at the time of the 9/11 attacks, said “hard-fought turf battles” for terrorism cases were not unusual.
“We all lost some cases to each other,” he said. “At the end of the day, we all liked and respected each other.”
But in this case, the decision to give the case to Mr. Machen’s office has left lingering concerns among some senior F.B.I. and Justice Department officials who worry that it was a mistake to entrust such a politically charged prosecution to an office with less experience than others in trying terrorists.
On Monday, Mr. Khattala, who will most likely go on trial this year or in early 2015, will make his first court appearance since his arraignment in June, and those doubts have not dissipated.
“This is not how it should have been done,” said one law enforcement official, who like others critical of the decision spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Another senior law enforcement official had a more specific concern.
“It took them nine months to charge this guy — far longer than it should have,” he said. “Initially, they just didn’t know what they were doing.”
Read it all.
Obama’s cheerleaders boast about the success of ObamaCare, but tell that to Americans who are discovering the fine print.
Patricia Wanderlich got insurance through the Affordable Care Act this year, and with good reason: She suffered a brain hemorrhage in 2011, spending weeks in a hospital intensive care unit, and has a second, smaller aneurysm that needs monitoring.
But her new plan has a $6,000 annual deductible, meaning that Ms. Wanderlich, who works part time at a landscaping company outside Chicago, has to pay for most of her medical services up to that amount. She is skipping this year’s brain scan and hoping for the best.
“To spend thousands of dollars just making sure it hasn’t grown?” said Ms. Wanderlich, 61. “I don’t have that money.”
About 7.3 million Americans are enrolled in private coverage through the Affordable Care Act marketplaces, and more than 80 percent qualified for federal subsidies to help with the cost of their monthly premiums. But many are still on the hook for deductibles that can top $5,000 for individuals and $10,000 for families — the trade-off, insurers say, for keeping premiums for the marketplace plans relatively low. The result is that some people — no firm data exists on how many — say they hesitate to use their new insurance because of the high out-of-pocket costs.
Insurers must cover certain preventive services, like immunizations, cholesterol checks and screening for breast and colon cancer, at no cost to the consumer if the provider is in their network. But for other services and items, like prescription drugs, marketplace customers often have to meet their deductible before insurance starts to help.
While high-deductible plans cover most of the costs of severe illnesses and lengthy hospital stays, protecting against catastrophic debt, those plans may compel people to forgo routine care that could prevent bigger, longer-term health issues, according to experts and research.
“They will cause some people to not get care they should get,” Katherine Hempstead, who directs research on health insurance coverage at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, said of high-deductible marketplace plans. “Unfortunately, the people who are attracted to the lower premiums tend to be the ones who are going to have the most trouble coming up with all the cost-sharing if in fact they want to use their health insurance.”
Deductibles for the most popular health plans sold through the new marketplaces are higher than those commonly found in employer-sponsored health plans, according to Margaret A. Nowak, the research director of Breakaway Policy Strategies, a health care consulting company. A survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that the average deductible for individual coverage in employer-sponsored plans was $1,217 this year.
In comparison, the average deductible for a bronze plan on the exchange — the least expensive coverage — was $5,081 for an individual and $10,386 for a family, according to HealthPocket, a consulting firm. Silver plans, which were the most popular option this year, had average deductibles of $2,907 for an individual and $6,078 for a family.
Jon R. Gabel, a health economist at NORC, a research organization affiliated with the University of Chicago, said that employer-sponsored plans had lower deductibles, in part, because they provided more generous coverage than the most popular exchange plans. The typical employer-sponsored health plan would qualify as a gold-level policy under the standards of the Affordable Care Act, Mr. Gabel said.
Upside down: the people who work for the government seem to work mostly for themselves. We the taxpayers seem to work for the government workers.
Top-level Department of Veterans Affairs employees whom the agency moves to fire can take advantage of a procedural delay to retire instead, despite a law passed this summer to hasten the termination process.
A senior employee who VA investigators allege violated contract processes for her own gain and whose case VA inspectors forwarded to the Justice Department for possible criminal prosecution said Tuesday in an email to employees, reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, that she would be retiring. Her announcement comes just over a week after the VA said it would be forcing her out.
The VA has seen one other recent retirement of a senior executive whose firing was imminent, a VA official said.
The VA secretary was given new powers to fire underperforming executives under a bill signed into law in August that included more than $16 billion in funding for the underperforming department. The law gave Mr. McDonald power to fire senior employees immediately.
But the VA has said it is concerned that an immediate firing could violate the employee’s Constitutional rights, and that a quick termination might not hold up in an appeals court, according to an agency official.
The VA implemented a five-day wait period after an employee is notified of a “decision to remove” them, allowing time to respond to the decision and to ensure any firing would stand up in court, a VA official said. But that period also gives eligible employees the opportunity to retire instead of contesting their firing.
A VA official said the agency has no legal authority to stop an employee from retiring or to prevent a retirement from taking effect in the five-day window.
The most recently announced retiree, Susan Taylor, was the VA’s deputy chief procurement officer in Washington. She was the subject of a VA inspector-general investigation that found her to have allegedly engaged in misconduct as a federal employee for years, using her position for personal gain and making false statements to investigators.
The inspector general referred her case to the Justice Department for possible criminal prosecution. The DOJ declined to prosecute in favor of “appropriate administrative actions,” according to the IG report.
Ms. Taylor declined to comment. In her email to employees, she didn’t mention the findings of the inspector general or the conditions under which she is leaving the job.
I recently heard from a woman whose late son had been gay, but had nevertheless been a conservative and had tried to persuade his gay friends not to vote for Obama.
I commended her for raising a son who obviously thought for himself. I also let her know that I realized that not every homosexual feels compelled to cast his lot with the Left simply because liberals have adopted same-sex marriage as a major plank in their goofy platform.
Still, knowing something about her from earlier exchanges, I asked how it was that she could continue being a Presbyterian when the church hierarchy is not only to the left of the DNC, but virulently anti-Israel, forever denouncing the Jewish state and leading the anti-Semitic chorus of those urging individuals and colleges to divest themselves of their investments in Israeli companies.
I understand that it is no easy thing for people to reject the religion they were born into, be it Islam or a Protestant faith. I also admit I have no idea what difference there is between Presbyterians and, say, Methodists. But I do know that the Presbyterian clergy has long taken the side of Israel’s existential foes, and if I had been born a Presbyterian, I know that I would be looking around for an escape hatch, just as I would, if I’d been unfortunate enough to have been born and raised a Muslim.
As some of you are aware, I do a webcast every Wednesday, noon Pacific Time, at K4HD.com. I have two sponsors, and whenever I’m doing a commercial for them, I make it a point to mention that Mike Carmolinga, who co-owns Lulu’s restaurant here in the San Fernando Valley, and Tom Tinney, who owns Goodoletom’s Precious Metals, are true conservatives. I do that because I think it behooves conservatives to support their own.
Frankly, I don’t understand why conservatives persist in ignoring the politics and values of those to whom they give their hard-earned money. For instance, with all the insurance companies in America, why do business with Progressive, which lives up to its name by funneling tens of millions of dollars every election year to liberal politicians, and why pay dues to AARP, which did so much to shove ObamaCare down our throats?
Recently I devoted a sizable portion of an article to an email debate I had with a reader who took me to task for celebrating Harry Truman’s decision to drop a couple of A-bombs on Japan in 1945, bringing World War II to a rapid conclusion. The good news is that although it brought me a huge response from readers, certainly the largest in the past five years, not a single respondent agreed with the other guy.
I did receive one email the other day that made me realize that not every one of my readers is brighter than a sack of potatoes. It was his contention that the only reason that the GOP House passes bills is in order to appease Republican voters. I can see where it might seem that way when you realize that Harry Reid sends all such legislation straight to the paper shredder, but the members of the House are merely doing what they’re paid to do. Of course if Reid allowed the Senate to do what they’re paid to do –namely vote — Obama and his puppet over at Fox, Juan Williams, wouldn’t be able to accuse the House Republicans of being obstructionists.
But with Obama quarterbacking from the White House and Harry Reid acting as his offensive left tackle, being an obstructionist is as honorable as being a member of the French, Dutch or Danish, resistance during World War II.
Another of my readers felt like taking me on because I had suggested that I would be okay with Ted Cruz or Bobby Jindal running for the presidency in 2016. He pointed out the part of the Constitution limiting the office to people over the age of 35 who were natural-born citizens. I wrote back: “I’m afraid that in an age when babies born to illegal aliens are regarded as American citizens, ‘natural-born’ has become a vague term, at best. In fact, Article 2, section 1, of the Constitution leaves a lot to be desired. It reads ‘No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen years a Resident within the United States.’
“If taken literally, doesn’t that deny the office to anyone who wasn’t alive when the Constitution was adopted some 227 years ago? Besides, I always regarded that as the one questionable portion of the document. Why deny ourselves a president who has come here legally and chosen to be an American as opposed to someone who was simply lucky enough to have been born here? It just strikes me as silly to deprive people who can be elected governor or senator of the right to be president.
“Moreover, a lot of people have disagreed with the framers of the Constitution. What’s more, those divinely-inspired men expected it and provided for it. That’s why we’re allowed to amend it, as we’ve now done on 27 occasions. In fact, if I had even more time on my hands than I do, I would start a movement to do away with dual-citizenship. It not only flies in the face of the Constitution that anyone can simultaneously pledge allegiance to two different countries, it contradicts commonsense and common decency in the same way that bigamy does.”
When he wrote back to say, “So you have decided, like Obama, to disagree with the framers,” I decided he had mistaken my courtesy for weakness, and replied, “Not even James Madison expected everyone to agree with each and every word he wrote. Unlike Obama, I haven’t ignored the Constitution or subverted it, so I would appreciate it if you choose your words a bit more carefully in the future.”
Finally, when yet another reader commended me for something amusing I had written, I wrote back to acknowledge that laughter is indeed the best medicine…unless you have the clap, in which case penicillin is the best medicine.
Be sure to catch Burt’s weekly hour-long webcast on Wednesdays, at noon, Pacific Coast Time. The show is accessed at K4HD.com. The call-in number is (818) 570-5443.
…create a workaround to the media pool using Google Groups.
White House journalists are creating an alternative system for distributing their media “pool” reports in response to the Obama administration’s involvement in approving and disapproving certain content in official reports.
A small group of reporters initiated an online forum this month in which they shared “pool” information among themselves, without White House involvement. The forum was set up by the White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA), which negotiates with the White House’s press staff over access for journalists.
Pool reports — those summaries of the president’s public appearances that go to the news media at large and are used in countless news stories — are filed by a rotating group of journalists whose work is intended to be free of content changes by the White House.
The pool journalists, however, must submit their reports to the White House press office, which distributes them via e-mail to hundreds of news organizations and others. The White House maintains the list of recipients.
Reporters have complained that the Obama White House exploits its role as distributor to demand changes in pool reports and that the press office has delayed or refused to distribute some reports until they are amended to officials’ satisfaction.
But now, some journalists are sharing their White House reporting usingGoogle Groups — the digital service that allows registered users to receive and send information within a closed circle. In an early test of the supplemental system, journalists shared pool information about President Obama’s trip to Chicago this month. The system has been used for “advisories,” such as where the pool is assembling, when another pool report will be issued or whether a correction is in the works.
Nearly 90 journalists, all working for print media, are part of the Google Groups distribution — a small fraction of the estimated 8,000 people, agencies and organizations that receive the “official” pool reports sent out by the White House.
Daniel Henninger on the failed economic policies post-2007
…No one should underestimate the political dangers of persisting with a Keynesian economic model that looks depleted.
Several months ago this newspaper described how younger Europeans who are unemployed or underemployed have become bitter at their parents’ generation for wallowing in a system whose labor protections suppress the creation of new jobs. Economic anxiety in turn has fueled the rise of extremist political movements in France, Germany, England, Hungary and elsewhere.
Sustained, seemingly irreversible, weak economic growth in Europe or the U.S. is a political risk to national stability.
There is an alternative economic policy set to this failure. It would be based on the best policies that produced strong growth and jobs in major, formerly moribund Western economics.
Those successes include the German labor-market reforms initiated by Chancellor Gerhard Schröder in 2003; the structural public-spending reductions begun in Canada in 1995 by Liberal Finance Minister Paul Martin and sustained by current Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Harvard economist Alberto Alesina has documented the pro-growth payoff from permanent spending reductions); Poland’s remarkable post-Soviet revival from the 1989-91 pro-market reforms of Leszek Balcerowicz ; and of course the primary model—the U.S.’s tax-rate reductions and regulatory reforms in Ronald Reagan ’s presidency.
The key element in reviving the West isn’t economics, though that matters. It is political courage. Each example of high-growth success required a political leader willing to stand against finance ministries and a financial media that will ride demonstrably failed models off another cliff.
Given the admission of generalized policy collapse at the IMF meetings, what we are talking about is the courage of one leader: the next American president.
Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto on how terrorism can be defeated by economic and legal reform in poor countries.
As the U.S. moves into a new theater of the war on terror, it will miss its best chance to beat back Islamic State and other radical groups in the Middle East if it doesn’t deploy a crucial but little-used weapon: an aggressive agenda for economic empowerment. Right now, all we hear about are airstrikes and military maneuvers—which is to be expected when facing down thugs bent on mayhem and destruction.
But if the goal is not only to degrade what President Barack Obama rightly calls Islamic State’s “network of death” but to make it impossible for radical leaders to recruit terrorists in the first place, the West must learn a simple lesson: Economic hope is the only way to win the battle for the constituencies on which terrorist groups feed.
I know something about this. A generation ago, much of Latin America was in turmoil. By 1990, a Marxist-Leninist terrorist organization called Sendero Luminoso, or Shining Path, had seized control of most of my home country, Peru, where I served as the president’s principal adviser. Fashionable opinion held that the people rebelling were the impoverished or underemployed wage slaves of Latin America, that capitalism couldn’t work outside the West and that Latin cultures didn’t really understand market economics.
The conventional wisdom proved to be wrong, however. Reforms in Peru gave indigenous entrepreneurs and farmers control over their assets and a new, more accessible legal framework in which to run businesses, make contracts and borrow—spurring an unprecedented rise in living standards.
Between 1980 and 1993, Peru won the only victory against a terrorist movement since the fall of communism without the intervention of foreign troops or significant outside financial support for its military. Over the next two decades, Peru’s gross national product per capita grew twice as fast as the average in the rest of Latin America, with its middle class growing four times faster.
Today we hear the same economic and cultural pessimism about the Arab world that we did about Peru in the 1980s. But we know better. Just as Shining Path was beaten in Peru, so can terrorists be defeated by reforms that create an unstoppable constituency for rising living standards in the Middle East and North Africa.
To make this agenda a reality, the only requirements are a little imagination, a hefty dose of capital (injected from the bottom up) and government leadership to build, streamline and fortify the laws and structures that let capitalism flourish. As anyone who’s walked the streets of Lima, Tunis and Cairo knows, capital isn’t the problem—it is the solution.
Here’s the Peru story in brief: Shining Path, led by a former professor named Abimael Guzmán, attempted to overthrow the Peruvian government in the 1980s. The group initially appealed to some desperately poor farmers in the countryside, who shared their profound distrust of Peru’s elites. Mr. Guzmán cast himself as the savior of proletarians who had languished for too long under Peru’s abusive capitalists.
What changed the debate, and ultimately the government’s response, was proof that the poor in Peru weren’t unemployed or underemployed laborers or farmers, as the conventional wisdom held at the time. Instead, most of them were small entrepreneurs, operating off the books
As you may have heard, when Obama finally got around to announcing that he thought the Islamic State was almost as dangerous as John Kerry, Joe Biden, Chuck Hagel and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, had been insisting it was for several weeks, the first thing he did was tell us that the enemy was neither Islamic nor a state.
One could argue whether the area the terrorist group controls, an area the size of Belgium, is really a state. But, then, one could argue whether Belgium, a place the rest of us have only heard of because it was the birthplace of Agatha Christie’s fictional detective, Hercule Poirot, is a state.
What is not open to debate is whether an outfit that calls itself the Islamic State is or isn’t Islamic. The argument Obama made was that “ISIS is not Islamic because no religion condones killing innocents.” The problem is that Islam doesn’t consider Christians or Jews as innocents; it regards them as infidels whose very existence is an affront to Allah, and killing them is therefore nothing less than a religious obligation.
Making matters worse, Obama seriously went on to describe Yemen and Somalia as proof that his foreign policy has been a rousing success. That would be like Ben Affleck bragging about “Gigli” or the French pointing to the Maginot Line as proof of their military prowess.
The question that occurs to me, as it has ever since 9/11, when George W. Bush decided his mission in life was to take the heat off Muslims by constantly insisting that “Islam is a religion of peace,” is why our leaders feel compelled to lie about our enemies.
Even when Major Hasan murdered and maimed more than 30 people at Fort Hood, the current administration insisted that in spite of his being a self-proclaimed jihadist who screamed “Allah Akbar” as he slaughtered his victims, it was just another unfortunate example of workplace violence and had nothing to do with Islamic terrorism.
What is it about Islam, which can best be described as a wolf in wolf’s clothing, that has our commanders-in-chief mincing words and pussyfooting around the truth? Just for the record, Voodoo is practiced by about 60 million people worldwide. If it was practiced by a billion, would our presidents feel obliged to speak respectfully of a belief system that involves the sacrificing of goats, sheep and dogs, and the drinking of animal blood?
When you get right down to it, Voodoo has far more to recommend it than Islam. For one thing, they go in for a lot of dancing. For another, although I definitely disapprove of slitting the throats of dogs, it beats slitting the throats of women, children and American journalists, and personally, I’ll take a good old-fashioned zombie over a jihadist any day of the week. For one thing, unlike the Islamic propagandists in CAIR, they don’t get dressed up in Armani suits and go on TV, trying to fool people into thinking they’re civilized human beings. For another thing, zombies always shuffle, making it easy to out-run them.
If there’s one thing to be grateful for when it comes to the Islamic State, it’s that it’s run by dummies. I mean, they had a safe haven in Syria and they were marching through Iraq the way that Sherman zipped through Georgia, and not only was nobody in Europe or the Middle East raising a finger to stop them, but Obama was dismissing them as the junior varsity. It was nothing but clear sailing until the arrogant bastards decided to start videotaping their beheadings. Obviously, their intention was to terrify the world into a paralytic state, but, as they should have known, that is always the state of the world when it comes to confronting evil.
However, rather than leave bad enough alone, they did something so barbaric, so in keeping with the demented cult dreamed up by Muhammad 14 centuries ago, that once people quit vomiting, even Obama, who speaks softly and carries a limp wrist, figured he better do something.
But as usual, Obama, to whom a declaration of war in the Middle East would be absolute proof that his foreign policies have all been a pile of mush, had no real idea what to do. After all, it doesn’t look good when, on August 8th, you’re telling everyone that arming the Free Syrian Army is a nutty notion because they’re all just a bunch of “doctors, farmers and pharmacists,” and, on September 10th, your big plan calls on them to do our fighting in Syria.
So far as I’m concerned, it is always a rotten idea to trust Muslims to fight on your side. We saw how well that worked in Afghanistan, where Afghan soldiers killed nearly as many American soldiers as the Taliban did; and again in Libya, where we trusted our so-called allies to provide security for our consulate in Benghazi.
Still, when one hears Obama pooh-pooh citizen soldiers, one has to wonder if he and his speechwriters are totally unaware of American history or if he’s merely expressing his contempt for the rag tag group of doctors, farmers and pharmacists, who somehow managed to send the Redcoats back to England with their tails between their legs?
Be sure to catch Burt’s weekly hour-long webcast on Wednesdays, at noon, Pacific Coast Time. The show is accessed at K4HD.com. The call-in number is (818) 570-5443.
Cheap oil. The lower the price, the tighter they’re squeezed. And it’s courtesy of American private sector ingenuity.
A drop in global oil prices, driven in part by a boom in U.S. shale oil production, is threatening to hit the economies of energy-exporting Russia and Iran harder than Western economic sanctions have done.
Prices have fallen about 20% on world markets since June because of an increase in oil production and an economic slowdown in Asia and Europe. If that continues, as many analysts expect, gasoline may sell below $3 a gallon at the pump in much of the United States.
The decline is bringing growing political and economic pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin. Moscow has been socked this year by U.S. and European Union sanctions over Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region and its operations in eastern Ukraine.
It is also a harsh blow to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who campaigned on a promise to improve his nation’s stagnating economy despite Western sanctions. The latest pressure is also weakening Iran’s hand in international negotiations over Tehran’s disputed nuclear program.
The oil glut “is very bad news for them,” said Djavad Salehi-Isfahani, an economist and Iran specialist at Virginia Tech University.
Some analysts believe the price slide could be a long-term trend as more of the world adopts technologies that use less petroleum, such as electric cars and more efficient heating systems. Another factor is the growing reliance on hydraulic fracturing of shale, known as fracking, which has sharply boosted energy production in the United States, Canada and other countries.
Maybe Vladimir will join the green idiots in singing “Don’t frack my mother (Russia).”
Global wealth grew by 8.3pc – its fastest rate ever – over the last year, reaching a worldwide total of $263 trillion, according to Credit Suisse’s Global Wealth Report for 2014. From average worth to millionaire growth, here are the other numbers you need to know.
Wealth didn’t grow by itself, like say, a forest. Human beings created it. Once upon a time, the “third world: was the whole world.
• Over the past 12 months, the world got $20.1 trillion richer, growing at record pace to $263 trillion. That’s the first time household wealth has surpassed the $250 trillion mark.
• In 2013, global wealth increased by $21.9 trillion – the largest annual growth since 2000. That’s more than the total loss from the financial crisis in 2007 to 2008, which knocked $21.5 trillion off global wealth.
• The average person is worth $56,000.
• If you have $3,650, including the value of your home, you’re among the wealthiest half of people in the world. (This is net wealth – so, once debts have been subtracted.) The other half own less than 1pc of global wealth, while 77pc of adults – that’s 3.3bn people – have less than $10,000.
• The top 10pc of people – membership requirement is $77,000 – hold 87pc of the world’s wealth.
• You need $798,000 to make it into the top percentile of the world’s wealthiest. This select group accounts for almost half – 48.2pc – of global assets.
By global and historical standards, there are no poor people in the USA.
If we think globally about inequality, are we going to use the brute force of government to compel Americans to fork over some of their wealth?
While authorities are still trying to determine whether to bring charges in the August police shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, a new wave of self-promoting loudmouths has arrived to capitalize.
That includes Cornell West, he of the famous Obama Beer Summit, who came to get himself arrested. BFD.
…Demonstrators have protested outside St. Louis Cardinals games, sometimes prompting ugly responses from fans; they have also unfurled a banner in a concert hall during a St. Louis Symphony Orchestra performance. Some protesters have angrily cursed officers to their faces, others have prayed before lines of club-bearing police.
“The movement has matured. We are different protesters than in August,” said DeRay McKesson, 29, an activist from Minneapolis who travels to Ferguson for demonstrations.
Maturity would require not turning everything into a racial issue.
The protest movement that has emerged since Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson has become more organized and diversified in its tactics and targets.
In August, he said, the protests had emerged organically, fed by anger and a sense of injustice. “Now, it’s all of those, plus strategy,” McKesson said.
A generational fissure between young demonstrators and the older protest establishment broke open Sunday night, when a crowd of hundreds interrupted a rally of older speakers and heckled the president of the NAACP. Young speakers then came to the stage and spoke of a need for people in the streets, rather than platitudes.
Here’s a new one:
“We’re standing against the criminalization of young black men … and we believe as people of faith that our faith is supposed to look like something in public,” said the Rev. Ben McBride, 37, of Oakland after lining up with other clergy to force their own arrests.
Huh? Does mean he’s against black men becoming criminals? Good.
Or does he mean that society should ignore the outsized “contribution” young black males make to crime rates?
Whether or not the police shooting was justified, Michael Brown had just committed a strong arm robbery moments before the incident.
Few traits better characterize contemporary liberals than their false sense of intellectual superiority.
We’re all familiar with the clichés. Conservatives and libertarians who deviate from liberal articles of faith, from global warming alarmism to Keynesian economics to bureaucratized social engineering, are “deniers,” unmoored from rationality and “settled science.” Leftist author Thomas Frank captured that mindset with the title of his book “What’s the Matter with Kansas?,” asserting that Republican voters aren’t even capable of aligning their votes with their supposedly self-evident best interests.
There’s only one problem.
The actual, objective sociological evidence continues to demonstrate that the opposite is true. Republicans routinely prove themselves more knowledgeable than Democrats.
The left-leaning Pew Research Center provides the latest example.
Each year, Pew conducts its “What Do Americans Know” survey, which tests respondents on a series of questions. This year, the topics included the federal minimum wage, the territory occupied by ISIS, the Ukraine, Common Core educational proposals, fracking, where the Ebola virus is centered, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, the U.S. poverty rate, where Shiite Muslims outnumber Sunnis, who chairs the Federal Reserve, where the federal government spends most and the U.S. unemployment rate. Unsurprisingly, older adults demonstrated greater knowledge than their younger counterparts, as did better-educated respondents.
But buried at the bottom of the survey report lies the subject heading “Partisan Differences in Knowledge,” which itemizes each question and the percentage of Republicans, Democrats and Independents who answered each one correctly.
So how stark were the partisan knowledge differentials?
Out of 12 questions asked, Republicans outperformed both Democrats and Independents on 10. The differences were most pronounced on the questions regarding Common Core, fracking and where Shiites outnumber Sunnis, where the percentage of Republicans answering correctly outpaced Democrats by double digits. But Republicans also outperformed Democrats on questions centering on the federal minimum wage and the Fed Chairwoman, even though she’s a Democrat appointed by Obama, while the minimum wage is Democrats’ favorite wedge issue this election year to try to keep Harry Reid (D – Nevada) as the Senate Majority Leader.
The second Obamacare open enrollment is scheduled to begin on November 15th and end on February 15th. Instead of learning critical lessons from the mistakes of the first open enrollment fiasco, the Obama administration appears to be trying to silence potential critics.
Last week, The Wall Street Journal reported that the administration sent an email to the insurance companies participating in Obamacare telling them to keep their mouths shut about the testing of the new health law’s enrollment system saying, that unlike last year, they would require “all testers (the insurance companies) to acknowledge the confidentiality of this process” before they would be allowed to participate. The administration reminded insurers that their confidentiality agreement with the Obama administration means that insurance executives “will not use, disclose, post to a public forum, or in any way share Test Data with any person or entity, included but not limited to media…” This includes any “results of this testing exercise and any information describing or otherwise relating to the performance or functionality” of the Obamacare enrollment and eligibility system.
A year ago when the Obamacare enrollment system crashed and shut out millions of people trying to sign up for health insurance the only credible information we had came from the insurers who were participating in the program.
During Obamacare’s first few weeks the administration refused to admit anything was wrong. In fact, just as consumers were vainly trying to sign up for insurance then Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius encouraged people to keep trying saying, “We’re working to ensure it’s easy to use,” arguing that more than 13 million people had visited the site, proof of “extraordinary” interest. She told all of us that HealthCare.gov was “open for business.”
But as we now know, the truth was a lot different.
That’s not the only way the administration continues to use dubious methods to manage public opinion.
Last month the administration announced that 7.3 million people were insured under Obamacare as of mid-August. That was the first announcement of enrollment made by the administration since April. They provided just one number and no backup and admitted that they had been collecting enrollment data from insurers all along. They conveniently reported this figure just before enrollment is expected to take a big fall when thousands of people hit the deadline to clear up discrepancies in their income and legal resident status or risk losing subsidies or coverage altogether. We still don’t know how many lost coverage or are still in limbo.
…which of these is the Department of Defense most concerned about? None. They’re developing war plans over climate change.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel addressed the Conference of Defense Ministers of the Americas on Monday, unveiling a comprehensive plan on how the U.S. military will address the effects of climate change.
Rising global temperatures, increasing sea levels and intensifying weather events will challenge global instability, he said, and could lead to food and water shortages, pandemic disease and disputes over refugees and resources.
The Pentagon’s “2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap” describes how global warming will bring new demands on the military.
Among the report’s conclusions: coastal military installations that are vulnerable to flooding will need to be altered; humanitarian assistance missions will be more frequent in the face of more intense natural disasters; weapons and other critical military equipment will need to work under more severe weather conditions.
So for the past 16 years: no significant increase in global temperatures, no increase in extreme weather events. But, gosh, you never know so we better ready!
“This roadmap shows how we are identifying — with tangible and specific metrics, and using the best available science — the effects of climate change on the department’s missions and responsibilities,” Hagel said. “Drawing on these assessments, we will integrate climate change considerations into our planning, operations, and training.”
So are they developing hybrid tanks?
It’s necessary to work with regional partners to address the risks posed by climate change, he said. The U.S. military has completed a joint assessment with officials from Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, and Trinidad and Tobago on the implications.
“If we don’t do anything to address the effects of climate change, there will be nothing left,” Peruvian President Ollanta Humala said in the opening remarks of the defense summit.
…writing how to tame powerful companies. Hmm…France–the nation that is currently seeing its competent citizens fleeing to freer countries.
announcing the $1.1-million prize to Jean Tirole, 61, a professor at Toulouse 1 University Capitole in southwestern France, the Nobel committee said his theoretical work had made major contributions especially in the understanding of “taming powerful firms.”
Members of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said at a news conference that they were not making a political statement with this year’s economics prize.
Yet many experts believe the seeds of the global financial crisis and Great Recession were sown with deregulation policies that allowed big companies in banking, finance and other industries to expand their market reach and take excessive risks to boost profits. Governments on both sides of the Atlantic have sought to tighten regulation on large banks and other firms, some of which required bailouts during the crisis to avert more damage to the broader economy. What’s more, European officials have put increasing pressure on dominant technology firms such as Google, wary of their great market power.
In the US, the seeds of the global crisis were planted by government policy that not just encouraged, but in some cases mandated, mortgages be issued to unqualified buyers.
Perhaps the most hard-fought Senate race this year will be Colorado’s showdown between Democratic senator Mark Udall and Republican congressman Cory Gardner. The RealClearPolitics average of polls in the race shows Gardner holding a lead of 1.3 percentage points. The outcome may determine control of the U.S. Senate, and the margin of victory could be less than the 11,000-vote margin by which Democratic senator Michael Bennet was reelected in Colorado in 2010.
But there is a significant difference in this year’s Senate race. In 2013, a new Democratic state legislature rammed through a sweeping and highly controversial election law and convinced Democratic governor John Hickenlooper to sign it.
The law, known as House Bill 1303, makes Colorado the only state in the country to combine two radical changes in election law: 1) abolishing the traditional polling place and having every voter mailed a ballot and 2) establishing same-day registration, which allows someone to appear at a government office and register and vote on the same day without showing photo ID or any other verifiable evidence that establishes identity. If they register online a few days before, no human being ever has to show up to register or vote. A few keystrokes can create a voter and a “valid” ballot. Once a ballot cast under same-day registration is mixed in with others, there is no way to separate it out if the person who voted is later found ineligible. Other jurisdictions that have same-day registration, such as Washington, D.C., treat the vote as a provisional ballot pending verification. Colorado immediately counts the vote.
“We have uniquely combined two bad ideas, both of which open the door to fraud and error along with creating huge administrative headaches,” warns Republican Scott Gessler, Colorado’s secretary of state. Along with the liberal Denver Post (the state’s leading newspaper) and a few Republican clerks from the state’s largest counties, Gessler fought passage of the law.