Archive for November, 2012

Dominique Strauss-Kahn nails himself as a scumbag

November 30, 2012

Le Monde today announces that Dominique Strauss-Kahn has agreed to settle the civil case brought by the New York chamber maid for rape and sexual assault by paying her $6 million in damages. Behind the settlement is alleged evidence accumulated by the plaintiff that DSK is a serial predator on hotel maid prey.

Sadly, the scumbag will not pay this sum, at least for now, out of his own  empty pockets. He is to borrow half from unnamed sources and the other half from his pathetic wife, Anne Sinclair, who is in the process, not before time,  of divorcing him.

It is a sad commentary on the world that we inhabit that such a predator is likely to recoup his outlays on the lecture circuit. Even in morally degraded  France, that is a sorry indicator of continuing decline and fall.

The fact that DSK was once trained as a professional economist would embarrass me were it not for the additional fact that he was  badly educated as a Keynesian economist. Socialists and progressives of the world, hang down your heads and cry. He is one of yours’!

Obama gets his wish: Egypt lurches to Islamic dictatorship

November 29, 2012

Egypt slipped yet further yesterday towards an Islamic dictatorship.  Supporters of President Morsi’s coup d’etat announced a plan to march on Saturday to Tahrir Square to remove protesting secular and Christian congregants who still naively  believe that the Arab Spring was designed to bring democracy to Egypt.  A stony silence still emanates from the White House, where President Obama and his cabinet continue to gloat over the promised imposition of Sharia rule over Egypt.

Those who now find themselves dispossessed mount a futile challenge to the new autocracy. Egypt’s appellate court judges joined the protest yesterday, announcing a strike against any further legal business until Mr. Morsi rescinds his dictatorial decree.  Egypt’s highest judicial panel, the Supreme Constitutional Court, threatened to dissolve the 100-member Islamic -controlled assembly that is writing the new constitution.

Mr. Morsi no doubt will respond in the dismissive and contemptuous vein of Napoleon Bonaparte’s retort to the challenge from the Vatican as his Imperial Army surged across continental Europe: ‘How many divisions has the Pope?’

Mr. Morsi knows full well that President Obama –  fueled by the pro-Islamic chants of his three witches, Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice and Samantha Powers –  is busy funding the Egyptian military in order to make sure that Islamic dictatorship will continue to rule across the Middle East’s most populous nation, at least for the next four years.

” ‘Egypt is lost for good, said Mona El-ashry, 39, a pharmacist. ‘Today, the Muslim Brotherhood decided to occupy Egypt. The Muslim Brothers do not treat Egyptians as one family.  They impose everything on the people and will never leave the throne.’ ” Charles McPhedran and Daria Solovieva, ‘Power struggle in Egypt raises the fear of civil war’, The Washington Times, November 29, 2012

Ongoing failure to address Medicare fraud

November 28, 2012

Some 48 million Americans rely on Medicare for health coverage. Yet, this program is subject to enormous fraud and abuse.  Barry Rand, the CEO of AARP, estimates that Medicare and Medicaid combined lose some $100 billion per annum to fraud.  Even the GAO has designated Medicare to be a high risk program in need of serious reform.

“For too long, anti-fraud efforts have been based on a ‘pay and chase’ system under which bills are paid and then law enforcement has to chase down the claimants of inaccurate – or dishonestly obtained – payments.  This is a recipe for disaster, since the federal government will never recapture even a fraction of the money unwittingly sent to crooks and fraudsters.  A much better approach is to stop inaccurate payments from being sent out.” George LeMieux,  ‘Lots of Talk,  Little Action on Medicare Fraud’, The Wall Street Journal, November 28, 2012

Actions recently taken by the Obama administration to counter-act Medicare fraud have turned out to be counter-productive.  Bureaucrats at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services awarded $77 million in 2011 to contractors Northrop Grumman and Verizon to implement a fraud-prevention system.  Unfortunately neither contractors area of expertise lies in this field.  In the first eight months, this outlay has netted $7,591 in suspended payments. Surely the time has come to suspend payments to such lousy contractors.

Time to roll; up those shirt- sleeves, President Obama, for more than squeezing flesh on the campaign trail. Time to stop squandering taxpayers money by throwing  it into the hands of Medicare crooks and fraudsters and into the deep pockets  of government contractors who have no idea whatsoever how to abort such waste.

 

Two political manipulators paved the way for the Thirteenth Amendment

November 27, 2012

The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution (outlawing slavery and involuntary servitude except as punishment for a crime) was adopted on December 18, 1865 when Georgia’s ratification brought the total of number of states so ratifying to 27 of the then 36 states, satisfying the three-quarter requirement of  the Constitution. Eventually, all 36 states would ratify the Amendment, with Mississippi eventually ratifying on March 16, 1995, having earlier rejected the Amendment on December 5, 1865.

In order for the Amendment proposal to be submitted to the states for ratification, the proposal first had to secure either  a two-third majority both in the Senate and in the House of Representatives or a two-third majority of all the states.  The Constitution provides no formal role for the President in the amendment process, whether the proposal process proceeds first through the Congress or through  the states.

With the Union in disarray during the Civil War, there could be no reliance on an initiative through the states. President Lincoln, in a cynical political maneuver designed to gain the moral high ground for the War  of Northern Aggression, had exercised presidential war powers to make the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation that declared the freedom of slaves in ten Confederate states then in rebellion. The Proclamation did not free slaves in states that remained within the Union;  nor did it make slavery itself illegal.

In any event, once the war ended, the Proclamation would have no standing in law. A presidential proclamation could have no impact on the Constitution of the United States. If the slaves were to be freed, it was crucial to move an amendment through Congress prior to the end of the war, when it would surely be blocked by politicians representing the defeated southern states.

The amendment process would be difficult, even with the southern states out of the picture.  For the northern border states had their own slave-owning interests embedded in the Congress.  Moreover, prior to the Thirteenth Amendment, no new amendment had been adopted in more than 60 years.

The process began in the Senate on January 11, 1864, when a War Democrat, Senator John B. Henderson first submitted an amendment proposal to abolish slavery.  An adjusted amendment proposal passed the Senate on April 8, 1864, by a vote of 38 to 6.  The House of Representatives, however, declined to pass the proposal at that time.

The proposal was resuscitated  by the Republican Representative James M. Ashley of Ohio, the House floor manager, who persuaded a number of  House Democrats to support it. The two-third majority, however, still looked to be well out of reach.

At this point two Republican politicians joined forces in a seriously disreputable process of  bribery,  corruption, and lies,  in order to achieve the two-third House vote in favor of the Amendment.   They proved to be equally important in achieving their joint objective.

President Abraham Lincoln, although formally excluded from the Amendment process, proved to be the arch-angel  of bribery and corruption, paying off reluctant politicians both with offers of  patronage and, more crudely, with envelopes stuffed with cash, in order to persuade them to sell their own constituents down the Potomac River. Thaddeus Stevens, a radical abolitionist who was secretly bedding a black woman, violated his own strong moral belief in the social equality between blacks and whites, speaking  out forcefully against any such presumed equality  on the floor of the House in order to persuade wavering colleagues to vote for the Amendment.

So working together, through heavy arm-twisting,  bribery, corruption and a tissue of lies, Abraham Lincoln and Thaddeus Stevens carried the day.  On January 31, 1865, by a vote of 119 to 56, the House squeaked its way to a two-third majority.

And that, folks, is politics. Never expect clean pairs of  hands from those who practice that dirty business. Even this most moral of outcomes was achieved immorally by two cynical  practitioners (and many willing accomplices)  of the black arts.

Hat Tip:  Steven Spielberg’s superb  Lincoln (in a movie theater near to you)

When market forces bring down the American eagle

November 26, 2012

U.S. politics has been pre-occupied since November 6 with short-term fiscal problems. Will the fiscal cliff be avoided and if so, by what measures?  This is the seventh order of economic smalls.

The crucial issue – all but ignored by a people who have lost all interest in the long-term future of their nation – is what will happen if the United States continues down its current path to an unsustainable rise in the national debt.

At best, current fiscal cliff discussions will leave in place annual federal deficits of the order of $1 trillion. By 2016, the nation’s national debt will approach $20 trillion. Global markets will not tolerate levels of debt that so outreach the nation’s gross domestic product.

Just when the adverse market reactions will occur cannot be predicted. But when they do so, the U.S. economy will be crushed by an avalanche of unstoppable magnitude.

Once creditors determine that U.S. Treasury’s are no longer the safest form of investment available, demand for those Treasury’s will decline, interest rates will rise, and the cost of servicing the debt will explode.  Even a modest 1 per cent interest rate increase, for example,  would wipe out all the deficit reduction included in last year’s Budget Control Act.  In other words, all the pain envisaged in the fiscal cliff would provide no deficit relief at all.

In reality, if market forces move against U.S. Treasury’s they would not impose a 1 per cent cost. Interest rates would increase more likely to 5 or 6 per cent per annum on the initial tranche. Such penalties would require massive and immediate cuts to Social Security Medicare and National defense and most likely would take Medicaid right off the federal accounts. Even the Congressional Budget Office projects that, under the most likely scenario, in 30 years from now,  net interest payments on the U.S. national debt will amount to $3.8 trillion per annum in real 2012 dollars. That is more than total government spending in 2011.

“As Harvard economist Kenneth Rogoff recently explained, ‘By the time (markets) lose confidence, it’s too late: The option to tighten from a position of strength has evaporated.’ Senator Mike Lee, ‘After fiscal cliff comes fiscal avalanche’, The Washington Times, November 26, 2012

No one expects a seeming economics’ ignoramous like Barack Obama to be able contemplate such reality. A majority of the electorate, in its collective stupidity, chose economic incompetence over experienced success.  Now every American will have to live with the sad consequence of the economic avalanche that is sure to come.

2012 Obama electoral majority leans to democratic socialism

November 25, 2012

Democratic socialism is a flexible concept, embracing a range of institutional alternatives. However the concept surely encompasses the right to free elections, a major  role for the state as producer and distributor of goods and services, and  a major role for the state in redistributing income and wealth through progressive taxation and extensive transfer programs.

Democratic socialism requires a larger role for the state in these areas than would be required for a social market economy. In other words, democratic socialism requires a more expansive role for the state than is currently provided by any member of the EU.

A recent New York Times column drawing on the exit data from the November 6, 2012 elections reports that Barack Obama achieved a mandate for democratic socialism in his re-election to the presidency.  Here is the basis for that assessment:

If the same electorate that turned out to vote in 2010 had turned out to vote in November 2012, President Romney would now be planning his Inauguration.  However, the 2012 turnout was markedly different.  It was much younger, much more diverse, and significantly less well educated.

Only 12 per cent of the participating electorate were aged 18-29 in 2010, but they made up 19 per cent of the electorate in 2012.  Whites made up 77 per cent of the electorate in 2010, but they only made up on 72 per cent in 2012.  The percentage of college-educated voters also fell, from 52 to 47 per cent.  If blacks and voters aged between 18 and 29 (admittedly an overlapping population) had stayed home in 2012 in the way they did in 2010, Obama would have lost the election.  Obama’s mandate in 2012 comes largely from those voters, together with liberal Democrats.

What did those voters want?

Exit poll data show that these voters support much more strongly than any others Obama’s call for higher taxes on the rich and for a government that should do more to solve problems.  Both groups, however, are much more supportive of democratic socialism than is the general population.

According to a December 2011 Pew Foundation study, while 60 per cent of Americans view socialism negatively, a plurality of Americans aged between 18 and 29 (49 per cent to 42 per cent) view socialism positively.  A majority of blacks  (55 per cent to 36 per cent) view socialism positively.

The groups that view socialism positively constitute Obama’s vote base – not surprisingly since Obama is a socialist himself.  Only one other demographic in America views socialism as positively as these sub-groups: liberal Democrats.  While 90 per cent of liberal Republicans and 51 per cent of moderate Democrats oppose socialism, 59  per cent of liberal Democrats view socialism positively.

So the pro-socialists constitute Obama’s base and provide him with a mandate to attempt to move the United States to the left of all of continental Europe.Fortunately for those of us who have experienced democratic socialism (the UK between 1945 and 1979 was more than I could stomach), James Madison arranged for a separation of powers that will hold Obama on something of a House of Representatives’  leash.

For the future who knows. My advice for anyone who loves free markets and individual liberty is to keep your passport up to date!

Hat Tip: Conn Carroll, ‘A mandate for socialism’, Sunday Examiner, November 25, 2012

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Egypt’s Islamist Coup

November 24, 2012

Egypt’s secular liberalists, and  the Western journalists who inhaled too many of the vapors floating around Tahrir Square during the misnamed Arab Spring, no doubt awakened to a nasty shock of reality over this weekend as President Mohamed Morsi gifted himself with dictatorial powers over Egypt’s legislature and Egypt’s courts. In due course, folks, it looks as though we shall see yet another  Egyptian Pyramid constructed by non-Islamist slaves in the Egyptian desert.

The Islamist coup, perpetrated on Egyptians by President Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood supporters, was a direct consequence of the Obama administration intervention in the conflict provoked by Hamas against Israel in the Gaza Strip. Furthermore, I suggest that it was an intended consequence of that intervention. President Obama and Secretary of  State Hillary Clinton are intent on opening up  avenues for complete Shi’ite and Sunni dominance over the entire Middle East.  White House ordnance staff  envision the word Palestine and not Israel as defining the once-hallowed Holy Land. When President Obama claims that he has Israel’s back, that is precisely what he means.

President Morsi acts as though the demonstrators who deposed Hosni Mubarak in 2011 simply wanted to put in place a new dictator – albeit one who wears a beard, is grossly obese, and facially grotesque, and who carries with him a well-worn prayer rug – for a relatively benign secular dictator.

President Morsi evidently believes that those Tahrir Square  demonstrators were asking for more dictatorship rather than less.  Surely, he now claims more power than Mr. Mubarak ever possessed or asked for.

“Mrs. Clinton and President Obama had said nothing as we went to press, though a State Department spokeswoman issued a tepid statement saying that the U.S. had ‘concerns’ and calling for ‘checks and balances’.  The Obama administration has invested its prestige in a moderate Muslim Brotherhood, and it may be loathe to admit that this hope might be going the way of its Russian ‘reset’, or its claim that the ‘tide of war is receding’. ‘Egypt’s Islamist Coup’, The Wall Street Journal, November 24, 2012

Do not forget to carry your prayer rugs with you wherever you go, Messrs Obama and Clinton. And when you kneel to pray, make sure that those rugs are always carefully aligned in the direction of Mecca.

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Obama and Clinton support Hamas, Islamic Brotherhood and Morsi Dictatorship

November 23, 2012

In a typically cynical, anti-Israel maneuver, President Obama and Secretary of  State Clinton have extended their pro-Islam foreign policy. Working hand-in-hand with Islamic Brotherhood President Morsi in Egypt, and with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, they have imposed a humiliating cease-fire on Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Israel.

This intervention threatens ugly consequences for the entire Middle East, raising expectations of Palestinians in their bid to eliminate the state of Israel, and encouraging the emergence of a new Islamic dictatoship across Egypt.  President Morsi, basking in the after-glow of  Clinton’s warm embrace,  has been quick to assume autocratic powers and to shut down the last vestiges of the so-called Arab Spring.

Secular Egyptians and Coptic Christians alike can respond only by throwing stones at members of the Islamic Brotherhood and burning such Islamic Brotherhood buildings as they can. With the Egyptian military in the pay of a pro-Islamic, U.S. administration, their hopes of freedom from any Arab spring are now long traduced, as was the clear Obama intent from the beginning of the intervention, initially bubbled in the White House cauldron by the three Obama witches – Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice and Samantha Powers.

You now stand alone, Israel. Learn well from this U.S. betrayal and fight for your continued existence as the only true democracy in the Middle East.

 

Once he was a Beatle, now he may be just a roach: Where is the Orkin Man?

November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving is a special day in the United States, when often far-flung families come together for good company and good food. Turkey is the dish that best symbolizes that this happy day has come again.  So beloved is that tasty dish, that one might be forgiven for thinking that Puritans first fled England, not to escape the fiery stake of  the Catholic Inquisition, but to set their teeth into the flesh of an otherwise ungainly bird.

It takes the wisdom of a Liverpudlian  pop-singer to shatter our faith in the Thanksgiving gift.  Bestriding the Atlantic Ocean like a great vegetarian Colossus, Paul McCartney beetles out the message like it truly is:

Any American who eats turkey on Turkey Day is a turkey.  President Obama, you are a turkey, for observing the tradition of issuing  presidential pardons for two such birds. Your false beneficence makes light of the  annual mass slaughter of some 46 million gentle, intelligent birds.

We all live in a meatless submarine. We should all eat meatless submarines. Stuff those submarines with yellow corn, and we are right back where we need to be: Oh! for Woodstock and the sheer joy of sex, drugs,  rock and roll, wine, women and song, and in bed before breakfast!

The drive for a meatless Thanksgiving is in full swing, and Paul McCartney is leading  PETA in its ruthless animal rights campaign. Paul McCartney, however, might care to contemplate the law of unintended consequences. For what he is rock and rolling across the Atlantic is a message of extinction for the American turkey.  Without the sacred place that they hold on all those  Thanksgiving tables,  turkeys would not be reared, lovingly as they are, would not be well- fed and cared for, would not receive the blessings of protective custody from the cradle to the dinner table.  Rather, they would be extinct.

Sad though it may be Sir Paul, the turkey is not beloved for its looks, nor for its desirability as a household pet. It is desired for its tasty flesh. As you well know, the lowly beetle was never beloved by the world’s population until it provided a product that delighted those who had no taste for classical music.

The selfish turkey gene does well to encourage those who feed on turkey at the Thanksgiving table. For all those hungry  bites sustain that selfish gene. Otherwise, turkeys might have to rely on your personal beneficence  for their survival. And the mists that roll in from the sea  may not be all that life-enhancing for  such ungainly birds, isolated on that windy Mull of Kintyre.

Happy Thanksgiving, all my readers! As you sink your teeth into delicious Thanksgiving turkey, always remember that you are helping to  save the species. Continue to do well, while doing good!

Hat Tip: ‘The war on Thanksgiving: Jibes fron the thankless shouldn’t spoil the feast’ The Washington Times, November 22, 2012

Americans should learn from the fall of the Mogul Empire

November 21, 2012

The Taj Mahal, in northern India, is widely ranked as the most beautiful building in the world. Yet, it was a prime cause of the collapse of the Mogul empire.

“Like most visitors to northern India, I visited the Taj Mahal.  Unlike most visitors, I asked economic questions.  Reports of his tax policies suggest that Shah Jahan may have  appropriated as much as 40 per cent of what we now call gross domestic product to support a lifestyle of exceptional ostentation and self-indulgence.  He was overthrown by his son, who was exasperated by his father’s penchant for monumental building, anxious to maximize his own share of the loot and concerned by the scale of the levies on the population.  But it was all too late.  The Mogul empire was in irretrievable decline.’ John Kay, ‘Learn from the Moguls: rent-seeking will destroy your empire’, Financial Times, November 21, 2012

As John Kay notes, the activities of Shah Jahan epitomize rent-seeking – the accumulation of a fortune not by creating wealth through serving customers better but by the appropriation of such wealth after it has already been created by other people. Unfortunately, such activities are not confined to India.  Indeed, they run rampant across 21st century America.

As John Kay also notes, the primary locus of rent-seeking in the United States is the over-blown financial sector, where burgeoning trade in existing assets has overwhelmed the creation of new wealth, attracting scarce talent from elsewhere and creating instability. Parallels between the  Wall Street of Lloyd Blankfein,  Jewish CEO of Goldman Sachs,  and the court of Shah Jahan are too close to be ignored.

“The success of market economies is not achieved by policies that encouragfe people to be greedy and imposing as few restrictions as possible on what the greediest of them do. That was the world of Shah Jahan and it produced very little in the way of economic advance…. The excesses of rent-seeking meant the Mogul empire was in effect ended within two generations. The ensuing sacking of Delhi left a political vacuum only filled by the British Raj.” John Kay, ibid.

Even Lloyd Blankfein might feel a little queasy at the prospect of a British re-colonization of America. So do try to keep your fat greasy fingers out of the money-pot,  Mr. Blankfein, and all you greedy Wall Street financiers who fill your pockets with other people’s hard-earned wealth. The Empire State Building is no Taj Mahal.  And even the Taj Mahal was not worth the immiseration of the Indian sub-continent and the collapse of the Mogul empire..


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