Sunday, September 30, 2012

Real Unemployment Reaches 20% In 7 Colorado Counties | The Colorado Observer

Real Unemployment Reaches 20% In 7 Colorado Counties | The Colorado Observer

Real Unemployment Reaches 20% In 7 Colorado Counties

September 28, 2012
DENVER — The slowest economic recovery since World War II is going especially slow for sections of Colorado, according to a letter from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) obtained by The Colorado Observer.
In seven counties in Colorado unemployed individuals are close to or exceeding 20% of the population, a letter from the Chief Economist of CDLE to the U.S. Department of Agriculture says.
The letter, obtained through the Colorado Open Records Act, was sent August 29 as required by federal law. According to the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act, the Colorado Labor Department is required to certify counties where the “Not Employed Rate” surpasses 19.5%.

The “Not Employed Rate” is defined as “the percentage of individuals over the age of 18 who reside within the community and who are ready, willing and able to be employed but are unable to find employment as determined by the State Department of Labor.”
Ranking highest was Costilla County at 23.56 percent. The list runs from larger counties like Pueblo (20.09%), Montrose (20.62%) and Fremont (19.66%) to smaller populations like Huerfano (21.78%), Archuleta (19.97%) and Dolores (19.85%).
Whereas the unemployment rate doesn’t include people who are out of work, but have given up looking for a job, the “Not Employed Rate” gives a fuller picture of the dire economic situation many Coloradans are currently facing.
Colorado has faced one of the slowest economic recoveries in the nation coming out of the recession.
Last month, Colorado’s official unemployment rate — 8.2% — surpassed the national unemployment rate for first time in nearly 7 years. While unemployment fell from 8.3% the previous month, Colorado’s unemployment rate rose for four consecutive months prior to that.

This scandal could dwarf ‘Fast and Furious’

This scandal could dwarf ‘Fast and Furious’

This scandal could dwarf 'Fast and Furious'

Did White House arm al-Qaida operatives who killed U.S. ambassador?

JERUSALEM – While echoes of the “Fast and Furious” scandal still resound in the White House, another administration decision at the heart of Obama’s Mideast policy may prove even more explosive.
Almost entirely missing from the debate surrounding the anti-U.S. attacks in Libya is the administration’s policy of arming jihadists to overthrow Mideast governments. But in the case of Libya, the arming of jihadists may have directly resulted in the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks against the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and the subsequent murder of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith, private security employees and former U.S. Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods.
After changing its story multiple times, the White House finally conceded the deadly assault on the U.S. consulate was a planned attack linked to al-Qaida, as per information released by national intelligence agencies.
The admission prompted Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., to call for the resignation of U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice for pushing the narrative that the attacks were part of a spontaneous uprising.
King may instead want to focus his investigative energies on the larger story: How the Obama administration armed Libyan rebels who were known to include al-Qaida and other anti-Western jihadists, and how the White House is currently continuing that same policy in Syria.
During the revolution against Muammar Gadhafi’s regime, the U.S. admitted to directly arming the rebel groups.
At the time, rebel leader Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi boasted in an interview that a significant number of the Libyan rebels were al-Qaida gunmen, many of whom had fought U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Hasidi insisted his fighters “are patriots and good Muslims, not terrorists,” but he added that the “members of al-Qaida are also good Muslims and are fighting against the invader.”
Even Adm. James Stavridis, NATO supreme commander for Europe, admitted during the Libyan revolution that Libya’s rebel force may include al-Qaida: “We have seen flickers in the intelligence of potential al-Qaida, Hezbollah.”
At the time, former CIA officer Bruce Riedel went even further, telling the Hindustan Times: “There is no question that al-Qaida’s Libyan franchise, Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, is a part of the opposition. It has always been Gadhafi’s biggest enemy and its stronghold is Benghazi. What is unclear is how much of the opposition is al-Qaida/Libyan Islamic Fighting Group – 2 percent or 80 percent.”
The arming of the Libyan rebels may have aided in the attacks on our consulate in Libya. One witness to those attacks said some of the gunmen attacking the U.S. installation had identified themselves as members of Ansar al-Shariah, which represents al-Qaida in Yemen and Libya.
The al-Qaida offshoot released a statement denying its members were behind the deadly attack, but a man identified as a leader of the Ansar brigade told Al Jazeera the group indeed took part in the Benghazi attack.
Ambassador Stevens was directly involved in arming the rebels, reported Egyptian security officials speaking to WND. Those officials claimed Stevens played a central role in recruiting jihadists to fight Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria.
The officials further claimed Stevens served as a key contact with the Saudis to coordinate the recruitment by Saudi Arabia of Islamic fighters from North Africa and Libya. The jihadists were sent to Syria via Turkey to attack Assad’s forces, said the security officials.
The Egyptian security officials said Stevens also worked with the Saudis to send names of potential jihadi recruits to U.S. security organizations for review. Names found to be directly involved in previous attacks against the U.S., including in Iraq and Afghanistan, were ultimately not recruited by the Saudis to fight in Syria, said the officials.
Regardless of Stevens’ alleged role, the Obama administration now continues to support the Syrian rebels, including the Free Syrian Army, despite widespread reports that al-Qaida is prominent among their ranks.
In addition to a reported $450 million in emergency cash for the Muslim Brotherhood-led Egyptian government, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday announced $45 million in additional aid for Syrian the opposition after nearly $100 million was provided to the Syrian rebels this year.
The problem? Last month, WND quoted a senior Syrian source claiming at lease 500 hardcore mujahedeen from Afghanistan, many of whom were spearheading efforts to fight the U.S. there, were killed in clashes with Syrian forces last month.
Also last month, WND reported Jihadiya Salafia in the Gaza Strip, a group that represents al-Qaida in the coastal territory, had declared three days of mourning for its own jihadists who died in Syria in recent weeks.
WND reported in May there was growing collaboration between the Syrian opposition and al-Qaida, as well as evidence the opposition is sending weapons to jihadists in Iraq, according to an Egyptian security official.
The military official said that Egypt has reports of collaboration between the Syrian opposition and three al-Qaida arms, including one the operates in Libya:
Jund al-Sham, which is made up of al-Qaida militants who are Syrian, Palestinian and Lebanese;
Jund al-Islam, which in recent years merged with Ansar al-Islam, an extremist group of Sunni Iraqis operating under the al-Qaida banner and operating in Yemen and Libya;
Jund Ansar al-Allah, an al-Qaida group based in Gaza linked to Palestinian camps in Lebanon and Syria.
U.S. officials have stated the White House is providing nonlethal aid to the Syrian rebels, while widespread reports have claimed the U.S. has been working with Arab countries to ensure the opposition in Syria is well armed.

What is the problem then?

Our problem IS NOT low tax revenue
Our problem IS NOT that the rich don't pay enough
Our problem IS NOT that the 1% need to pay "their fair share"

We could tax every single wage earner in the USA 100% of their income and it would not be enough to balance THIS YEAR'S BUDGET alone. Taxing 100% of the wealthiest 1% would fund our federal gov't for about 8 days.

We do not have an income problem at the federal level, we have a SPENDING problem. The federal gov't takes in plenty of revenue.

Our government just plain spends too much money! Period.

Obama's Biblical Rewrite

Obama's Biblical Rewrite

Obama's Biblical Rewrite

By Robert Parker

In an act of "the evil most pure," as Inspector Poirot might put it, Obama slipped poisonous "change" into the wording of the Biblical passage he abuses to add Godly gravitas to the black racial rant he published as Dreams from My Father.  By his textual sleight-of-hand, he converted an expression of Biblical love and equality into race-baiting hate speech. Yes, the ambitious Obama changed an Old Testament verse from one recognizing the unity of all humanity before God into a Biblical endorsement of perpetual black racist separatism in the "alien" land of America.  None of the talking heads who dominate the media noticed, of course, and now he is president.
In Obama's deceptive hand, the pitch-perfect new quotation sets the tone for his bitter, grudge-holding account of eternal racial alienation and of his visceral, burning rage at a white America he views as enemy number one in the world.  Confidently, recklessly abusing the trust of his readers, Obama "informs" that 1 Chronicles 29:15 says, "For we are strangers before them [emphasis added -- the original is "thee" or "you," referring to God], and sojourners, as were all our fathers."  "Sojourners," of course, means aliens in a foreign land, visitors who don't really belong.
Should any naïve soul actually doubt for a moment just whom Obama perceives as the "we," or who Obama thinks is the "them" in the verse,  the answer is made perfectly clear by Obama on page four of his book.  There, in the first of many remarkably revealing racial passages, he recalls how he and his roommate "enjoyed" verbally humiliating and "laughing at" white pedestrians who came alone down the sidewalk in front of their edge-of-Harlem apartment in Manhattan.  His roommate would, with "rage," shout the "bastards," the "white people," into cleaning up after their dogs, and "watch them stoop to do the deed."
Over more than 400 pages of Dreams we learn how implacably alienated Obama and his various roommates, his beer and dope buddies, and his fellow super-cool black party animals are, and they all believe they have every right to be.  Obama's alienation holds as constant as the Northern star, from Hawaii to New York and on to his life "organizing" blacks in Chicago.  The alienation is endless, everlasting, and indelible.  Not only is this the consequence of this star-kissed Punahou Academy/Occidental/Columbia/Harvard grad's perception of rampant white racism in numerous remarks made to him by white people with the best of intentions, but it is rooted more ominously in Obama's abiding anger at simply being a member of a racial minority in a white country. 
Obama's racial anger, which he brags he can, by smiling, easily conceal, even from his own mother, disappears only when Obama goes to Africa.  He describes how much more comfortable he felt when he went "home" to Africa, where he enjoys "the freedom of not being watched" and the similar "freedom" of "believing" that your "rump sways the way it is supposed to sway."  This apparently relieves him of the stress of being watched from behind as he walks around in white America.
Obama's lifelong racial rage, documented so well in his own hand, combined with the reckless pleasure in he takes in deceiving "white people" (and blacks, too, as exemplified in his joining a Christian church specifically to deceive local black political prospects that he was one of them), poses a clear and present danger to our nation.  America's most fateful election looms ahead.  If, as the Greek Heraclitus warned,  "character is destiny," lets us pray that the American people awake and thereby insure that Obama's destiny is to fail to grasp that second term, in which, as he promised the premier of Russia, he can be "more flexible" in his actions.
Barely constrained now by a Constitution he openly despises, an Obama re-elected will be capable of trying anything in his effort to finish off the old America and replace it with one more suited to his purposes.  Is he, like the god Shiva, the "destroyer of worlds"?  If Americans re-elect him, we shall soon find out, as we all set out on a darkling sea, on a voyage unimaginable to a once-shining nation all too confident that our beloved America will always be here for us.

Can the Polls Be Believed?

Can the Polls Be Believed?

Can the Polls Be Believed?

Jim O’Sullivan

A raging war has been underway between Republicans/Romney and the mainstream media (MSM)/polling organizations on the accuracy of many recently reported polls.  Both sides have stridently argued their cases in a vicious skirmish that has been decidedly unequal.  The Republicans, the Romney campaign, conservative talk radio, conservative new media and Fox News have valiantly fought the Democrats, the MSM, some polling organizations and the Obama campaign organization.  Yet given just the megaphones owned by the MSM and Obama's bully pulpit, the battle has been the equivalent of brandishing a popgun at a howitzer...the voting public seemingly is not hearing the battle's thunder or is still not deeply engaged in the election. 
So what are the there a battle plan, an alliance between Obama, the MSM, and polling organizations designed to destroy Romney's candidacy?  Are the polls presenting biased and inaccurate findings?  Are polling organizations deliberately producing misleading results?  In essence are they in cahoots with Obama, the MSM, and liberal/progressive democrats?  Is there any compelling evidence that the MSM is using polling selectively to promote Barack Obama and other democrat office seekers?  And will the constant and continuous bludgeoning of Romney using biased or inaccurate polls damage his presidential chances?
The basic argument that the polls are biased begins with the 2008 presidential election outcome.  Obama won by capturing an electorate composed of 39% Dems, 32% Reps and 29% Independents; this differential is known as a D+7 spread/party affiliation or D+7 electorate.  Barack Obama also defeated John McCain by 7 points in the popular vote.  In contrast, G.W. Bush defeated J. Kerry in 2004 with an electorate containing 37% Dems, 37% Reps and 26% Inds.  The 2008 election was unique in many respects.  Barack Obama was African American, youthful, a skilled speaker, untested, mysterious, cool and the MSM's chosen one.  Anecdotal evidence of the excitement Obama generated was everywhere; on bumpers, on yard signs, on BHO paraphernalia in convenience stores, in conversations at water cooler and the growing hagiographic comments in the press.  A spread of +7 was a rare event in presidential elections and the largest in decades; it followed eight difficult years, two wars, a financial and economic crisis.
The same conditions simply do not exist today.  Yet numerous polls are not only using the party affiliations of 2008 as a basis for 2012 polling but building on that outcome.  Specifically, the national partisan breakdown has shifted from D=41.4%, R=33.8% and I=24.7% in 2008 to D=34.7%, R=36% and I=29.3% in 2010, and is currently measured at D=33.3%, R=37.6% and I=29.2%.  Clearly this is a growing trend toward self-identification as an independent or republican and a material decline in democrat identification.  Nevertheless, Rasmussen  uses a national model which favors Republicans, but to a lesser degree than the measured actual; i.e. Reps=35.97%, Dems=33.77% and Inds=30.27%.  Rasmussen polling, the most accurate pollster in both the 2004 and 2008, results are often compared to polls critics believe to be biased.  Usually the statistical models of the polls that are built on the democrat experience of 2008 vary greatly from Rasmussen's outcomes and demonstrate high partisan weightings. 
The CBS/New York Times battleground polls of last week for FL, OH and PA had some curious weighting in its internal statistics.  In Florida where history recorded a 2004 R+4 affiliation and a 2008 result of D+3 was predicated on a D+9 weight; Ohio used an astonishing D+9 against previous outcomes of R+5 in 2004 and D+8 in 2008 and Pennsylvania was founded on a D+9 advantage verses a past of D+3 in 2010 and a D+7 in 2008.  Reasonable and objective poll evaluators would be intellectually dishonest if a little sunshine wasn't focused on this poll's result.  Many polls have surfaced recently which have party weighting that are also premised on equally questionable internals (and turnout models) and invariably the MSM pounces on their results to bludgeon Romney and his adherents.
So is there any rationale that might acquit polling organizations of deliberate distortion?  Two very shaky reasons are often posited.  The first centers on the idea that party affiliation is not part of their polling models.  Instead gender, race, age, income and education are used as their sample's underpinning.  Yet a careful evaluation of polls founded on this basis does not comport with known realities i.e. declining democrat approval with the young, women, seniors and even blacks.  The second is really dubious.  Since the election is 6 weeks away and many more polls will be conducted in the interim, the client needs a poll to facilitate news...accuracy only counts just before the election to maintain a reputation.  
The evidence is overwhelming that the MSM has practiced selective use of polls and polling results.  Using the CBS/NYT polls as an example, find even a few MSM news narratives that discuss any of the above or the details supporting that poll's result.  In contrast, a plethora of stories can be found accusing Republicans of whining, denying reality, conducting an inferior campaign and using out dated tactics and strategy when polling concerns are voiced.  The MSM conveniently chooses to ignore other important polling outcomes favorable to Romney and his party, e.g. a strong movement of independents to them which is occurring according to numerous polls in both Ohio and Florida.  Another example is the MSM's virtual silence on democrat voter registration or absentee ballot requests; both are down appreciably.  However in the new media, on Fox and in many serious blogs, criticism of the MSM and polling is receiving heighten attention.
Can the MSM meme insisting the polls spell Romney's doom significantly damage the Romney campaign?  Can his chances for election be scuttled?  Will the relentless MSM hammering reduce campaign contributions, confidence and enthusiasm?..based on the historical record probably not.  This election is not a rerun of 2008...the president's record is rickety...unemployment is egregious...the economy is in the dumpster and the Middle East is aflame.  Further, the voter understands the media is biased and even rooting for Obama.  And finally the anecdotal evidence is convincing...very few Obama bumper stickers, lawn signs, no water cooler talk and no paraphernalia.
So in sum, (1) Are the polls producing biased and inaccurate findings? Yes, in far too many cases; (2) Are polling organizations deliberately producing misleading results? With reservation, Probably no; (3) Are polling firms in cahoots with Obama, the MSM, and liberal/progressive democrats? Probably no; (4) Does the MSM use polling selectively to promote Barack Obama and other Democrat office seekers? Categorically yes; and (5) Will the MSM's bashing of Romney using polls damage his presidential chances? a No, but with reservation.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Euclidean Theory of constitutional interpretation | PLF Liberty Blog | PLF Liberty Blog

The Euclidean Theory of constitutional interpretation | PLF Liberty Blog | PLF Liberty Blog

The Euclidean Theory of constitutional interpretation

Some important insights are so clear and free of qualification that after their discovery they seem too obvious to have been disputed.  Think of “the earth is round” or “objects in motion tend to stay in motion unless a force acts upon them.”  One such insight commonly learned in law school is that a written text cannot be interpreted by simply appealing to some broad purpose or effect.  On this point, Chief Judge Easterbrook wrote that “Finding the meaning of a statute is more like calculating a vector (with direction and length) than it is like identifying which way the underlying “values” or “purposes” point (which has direction alone).”
The same is true with the text of the Constitution.  Yet, over at the ACSBlog, Prof. Adam Winkler makes this type of argument in favor of a broad reading of the commerce clause power.  He writes:
Take, for instance, the argument that the Constitution favors small government. It is undoubtedly true that the framers wanted to circumscribe the power of government; that’s why we have the separation of powers, federalism, and a Bill of Rights. Yet often ignored is that the Framers crafted the Constitution to expand the powers of government so that Congress could effectively solve national problems. The document the Constitution replaced – the Articles of Confederation – hobbled government too much and the men who met in Philadelphia sought to rectify that error.
Does citing the experience under the Articles of Confederation serve as evidence for interpreting the Constitution’s text?  Of course not.  Although, for what its worth, this argument was also raised to criticize the supporters of the Obamacare challenge. 
The factual claim is undeniable, one of the numerous defects in the Articles of Confederation was that it granted no power to the federal government to regulate commerce.  Therefore, this argument ably defeats the claim that the U.S. Constitution, like the Articles of Confederation, does not grant Congress any power to regulate commerce.
But this is all it tells us.  The Founders who fiercely debated ratification of the U.S. Constitution did not face the false choice between denying Congress any power to regulate commerce and giving Congress plenary power to regulate all activity which, when aggregated, could conceivably have an effect on commerce.  The Founders were dually concerned with making the government sufficiently powerful to work, while not so powerful to suppress liberty.  To interpret the meaning of our Constitution’s text, we have to consider both of these concerns.  Perhaps James Madison made this point best in Federalist 51:
In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.
For more on this issue, check out Justice Thomas’s talk with Akhil Amar on Constitution day.
Related posts:
  1. Even in the Mirror Universe, Obamacare isn’t constitutional
  2. New York Times on Wickard
  3. Is federally mandated burial insurance constitutional?
  4. The Medicaid holding—also a victory for constitutional principle
  5. A Commerce Clause victory, but …

PolitiFact | Blog post says GOP has sponsored "zero" job creation bills

PolitiFact | Blog post says GOP has sponsored "zero" job creation bills

Congressional Republicans have introduced dozens of bills on social issues and other topics, but "zero on job creation."

Facebook posts on Sunday, October 23rd, 2011 in an Internet post

Blog post says GOP has sponsored "zero" job creation bills

A reader recently sent us a post circulating on Facebook and on blogs that blames the House Republican majority for focusing their legislation on lots of topics -- except for job creation. Here’s the text of the chart:

"The numbers: Republicans have introduced 44 bills on abortion, 99 on religion, 71 on family relationships, 36 on marriage, 67 on firearms/gun control, 522 on taxation, 445 on ‘government investigations,’ and zero on job creation."

It cites as its source a post on the liberal website Daily Kos written on Oct. 21, 2011, by Minnesota-based blogger and self-described "unrepentant liberal" Myles Spicer,

"Given that these Representatives were elected to pass job creation bills so needed by our country, what has the House been doing this past year?" Spicer asked in his post. "Well, mostly they have occupied themselves with a variety of social, moral and value issues. ... The Congressional Research Service (CRS, a non-partisan arm of Congress that tracks such things) offers an appalling look at our current Congress’ activities.

"They have introduced 44 bills on abortion (one just the other day reaffirming existing legislation on this subject). 99 on religion. 71 on family relationships. 36 on marriage. 67 on firearms and gun control. 552 on taxation—and though most were to reduce taxes, there have been no significant changes on tax law with all time invested and bills introduced. And finally a massive 445 bills on ‘government investigations.’ There is a category labeled ‘job creation legislation’ originated by Congress, and tracked by the CRS. In that category the CRS reported: ‘No bills at this time. The Congressional Research Service has not tagged any bills in the current session of Congress with this issue area.’  If ever the analogy of ‘rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic’ was apt, this is it!"

We wondered about the accuracy of the post based on Spicer’s argument, so we took a look.

We didn’t find anything about legislative subject headings at CRS’ own website, but we did find a list of subjects for current legislation at THOMAS, the legislative-tracking website run by the Library of Congress.

Using THOMAS, you can search bills that have been offered during the current Congress -- the 112th -- by their CRS subject matter. The list of subject areas begins in alphabetical order here.

When comparing the numbers, we allowed for some variation due to the list being continuously updated as new bills are introduced. That said, we found that the numbers in the Internet post were quite close to what was listed in THOMAS for abortion, religion, family relationships, marriage, firearms, taxation and government investigations.

What about "job creation"? As it turned out, we couldn’t find a topic area by that name at all.

We located Spicer and asked him for his sourcing. He told us he had used the website, a non-profit, non-partisan database of legislative and other congressional data. He pointed us to this page, where a category of bills categorized under "job creation" is listed. "Job creation" had zero entries.

We quickly noticed two things about the database. First, the numbers cited on for the social issues and other topics in the chart were close to what THOMAS had -- in other words, they closely followed the CRS subject headings. And second, "job creation" was only one of many, many topics that had zero bills associated with it in the database.

We reached David Moore, executive director of the Participatory Politics Foundation, which runs He said that his website displays not only CRS issue labels used for bills pending in the current Congress but also labels that have been used at least once in the past three Congresses, even if none have been applied yet to bills in the 112th Congress.

By Moore’s count, includes 4,795 issue areas in all. But only a fraction of these subject headings have any bills listed under them, because CRS has not tagged any bills with those headings during the current Congress.

We did not hear back from CRS or THOMAS, so we don’t know why CRS has used the "job creation" label in the past but not this year.

However, our research suggests that the lack of bills labeled "job creation" this year doesn't mean there have been no bills aimed at promoting employment introduced in the current Congress.

Why? The House version of President Barack Obama’s American Jobs Act -- which we’re sure the president and his supporters would characterize as a "job creation" bill -- doesn’t even get slapped with that subject heading.

The bill -- officially H.R. 12, introduced on Sept. 21, 2011, by Rep. John Larson, D-Conn. -- is listed under no fewer than 68 separate subject headings, including "aviation and airports," "Buy American requirements," "electric power generation and transmission," "Internet and video services," "metals," "solid waste and recycling" and "water use and supply."

But it doesn’t carry the label "job creation."

Instead, several closely related subjects have been applied to H.R. 12, including "economic development," "economic performance and conditions," "employee hiring," "employment and training programs," "labor and employment," "unemployment" and "wages and earnings."

And how many bills have been introduced under these other headings? Here’s the list. (Some bills may be included in more than one category.)

Economic development: 64 bills
Economic performance and conditions: 55 bills
Employee hiring: 24 bills
Employment and training programs: 172 bills
Labor and employment: 151 bills
Unemployment: 107 bills
Wages and earnings: 143 bills

In reality, then, six of these seven jobs-related categories included more bills than either abortion or marriage, and four of the seven included more bills than religion, family relationships or firearms.

We see a few additional problems with the post.

It’s wrong to say that only Republicans sponsored bills on social issues, taxation and government investigations.

For every legislative subject cited in the ad, the THOMAS list includes bills introduced both by Republicans and Democrats. We checked each topic area to make sure that Democrats had offered bills on those topics, and in each case, they did. So it’s wrong for the post to say that "Republicans have introduced" that many bills. Both parties have. (Spicer, to his credit, did not make this mistake; the creator of the subsequent post did. "When I state that these folks were elected to get us more jobs, I did not exclude the Democrats," Spicer told PolitiFact.)

It’s wrong to point to this data as evidence that Republicans are going hog wild on "government investigations."

To be sure, Republicans are using their control of House committees to probe government operations, including potential corruption and scandals. (The Democrats did the same after 2006 when they controlled Congress and George W. Bush was in the White House.) But it’s wrong to suggest that the 445 "government investigation" bills amount to evidence in support of this tendency.

Most of the bills tagged with this category are there because they contain some sort of oversight mechanism, such as defining who will oversee a newly created federal program and how. So most of these bills involve run-of-the-mill government oversight mechanisms, not an effort to gin up high-profile administration scandals.

Keep in mind that these categories are very broad.

Labeling a bill with a subject category doesn’t mean the bill is primarily about that issue. For instance, a very, very large number of congressional bills have some impact on the tax code, even if it’s tangential. That’s why so many bills get categorized as being tax-related.

To one degree or another for the other, this pattern holds for subject headings, too. The "religion" category doesn’t just include bills of interest to conservative Christians, as someone reading the post might assume. It also includes the "Noose Hate Crime Act of 2011," sponsored by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas and the "Veterans, Women, Families with Children, and Persons With Disabilities Housing Fairness Act of 2011," sponsored by Rep. Al Green, D-Texas.

"Job creation" means different things to different parties.

Most conservatives today are dead-set against traditional forms of government-based economic stimulus known as Keynesian economics, primarily spending initiatives. So if "job creation" is defined to primarily include Keynesian initiatives, then Republicans aren’t going to be sponsoring any "job creation" bills. Instead, Republicans argue that tax cuts and budget cutting will help the economy prosper.

Our ruling

While congressional Republicans have certainly introduced dozens of bills on social issues and other topics, the  claim that the GOP has focused on issues other than job creation just isn't supported. The numbers cited in the post include Democratic bills, and the definition of what constitutes a "job creation" bill is open to significant debate.

But the post’s most important flaw is the contention that Republicans have offered "zero" bills on job creation. This number stems from a methodology that also excludes Obama’s American Jobs Act from the category of "job creation" bills. If  you look at alternative job-related subject headings, the number of bills offered by lawmakers from both parties actually exceeds most of the social-issues listed in the blog post.  We rate this claim Pants on Fire.

U.S. Oil Production Is At Highest Level Since 1997; Yet Gas Prices Remain 'Stubbornly High' | ThinkProgress

U.S. Oil Production Is At Highest Level Since 1997; Yet Gas Prices Remain 'Stubbornly High' | ThinkProgress

U.S. Oil Production Is At Highest Level Since 1997; Yet Gas Prices Remain ‘Stubbornly High’

American crude oil production is at its highest level since 1997, according to government figures reported today. The increase is being driven by innovations in hydraulic fracturing, which have allowed producers to access previously inaccessible oil deposits in shale formations.
This development is likely to be trumpeted by fossil fuel proponents as: a) the key to cheap gasoline prices; and b) a shining example of the free market working when government gets out of the way.
Don’t believe the hype.
Firstly, gas prices are still high, even with all this new crude output. Secondly, these hydraulic fracturing techniques driving the production boom didn’t just magically appear out of the free market — they were pioneered through many decades of government tax credits, loans, R&D programs, and mapping tools.
In other words, the two major talking points pushed by the fossil fuel industry (“cheap energy forever! Just let the free market decide!”) are proving to be vastly overblown.
Here’s the news on domestic production increases from Bloomberg:
Crude output rose by 3.7 percent to 6.509 million barrels a day in the week ended Sept. 21, the Energy Department reported today. America met 83 percent of its energy needs in the first six months of the year, department data show. If the trend continues through 2012, it will be the highest level of self- sufficiency since 1991. Imports have declined 3.2 percent from the same period a year earlier.
A combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has helped reduce America’s reliance on foreign oil. The same technology unleashed a boom in natural gas output from shale that pushed inventories to a record last year.
So domestic oil production is higher than when George W. Bush was ever in office. What has that done to gasoline prices? They’re still hovering at historic highs:

As a recent analysis from the Associated Press showed, there’s simply no correlation between increasing domestic oil production and falling gasoline prices. In March, AP took 36 years of Energy Information Administration production data and matched it with gas prices in the U.S. Here’s what they found:

Why do gas prices continue to rise even while domestic drilling increases? Because oil is a global market. Seth Borenstein and Jack Gillum of the Associated Press explain:
That’s because oil is a global commodity and U.S. production has only a tiny influence on supply. Factors far beyond the control of a nation or a president dictate the price of gasoline.
When you put the inflation-adjusted price of gas on the same chart as U.S. oil production since 1976, the numbers sometimes go in the same direction, sometimes in opposite directions. If drilling for more oil meant lower prices, the lines on the chart would consistently go in opposite directions. A basic statistical measure of correlation found no link between the two, and outside statistical experts confirmed those calculations.
So therefore, you get what we see today: national average gas prices at $3.81 per gallon, even with stunning increases in domestic crude production.
“Prices are stubbornly high,” explained Tom Kloza of the Oil Price Information Service, speaking to Fuel Fix yesterday. “People are flummoxed.”
Gas prices are expected to drop a gradually this fall. But that decrease will be due mostly to extra refinery capacity coming online and a switch-over to cheaper winter-blend fuels.
That’s the statistically-proven reality. What does the Romney campaign think of it? Well, it has largely avoided the issue. Romney simply continues to claim that more domestic drilling will be the answer to higher energy prices.
“The best thing we can do to get the price of gas to be more moderate and not have to be dependent upon the cartel is: drill in the gulf, drill in the outer continent shelf, drill in ANWR, drill in North Dakota, South Dakota, drill in Oklahoma and Texas,” Romney continues repeating.
But we see right now that the “drill more, drill everywhere” plan isn’t working. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the only way to protect consumers from higher energy prices is to use less oil through efficiency measures, conservation, and non-petroleum fuels:
Even if the United States increased production and became a net exporter of oil, U.S. consumers would still be exposed to gasoline prices that rose and fell in response to disruptions around the world.
In contrast, policies that reduced the use of oil and its products would create an incentive for consumers to use less oil or make decisions that reduced their exposure to higher oil prices in the future, such as purchasing more fuel-efficient vehicles or living closer to work.
Well, rats. Romney opposes those solutions.
One thing we know Romney loves is the “free” market. And throughout his campaign he’s tried to draw distinctions between the different energy sectors, claiming that that the boom in fossil fuel drilling is purely a product of free enterprise and the failure of a few government-backed clean energy companies is purely a product of “government picking winners and losers.”
“That’s what happens when government puts in hundreds of millions of dollars into an enterprise. They don’t understand how the free economy works,” Romney said in May, decrying a $535 million loan guarantee for the solar manufacturer Solydnra.
Of course, the story isn’t that simple. The fracking technologies enabling such a massive boom in domestic oil production were commercialized through tens of billions of dollars in government support over many decades. Following up on a recent Breakthrough Institute investigation, the Associated Press wrote a piece this week on the impact of federal investments:
“There’s no point in mincing words. Some people thought it was stupid,” said Dan Steward, a geologist who began working with the Texas natural gas firm Mitchell Energy in 1981. Steward estimated that in the early years, “probably 90 percent of the people” in the firm didn’t believe shale gas would be profitable.
“Did I know it was going to work? Hell no,” Steward added.
In 1975, the Department of Energy began funding research into fracking and horizontal drilling, where wells go down and then sideways for thousands of feet. But it took more than 20 years to perfect the process.
Alex Crawley, a former Department of Energy employee, recalled that some early tests were spectacular — in a bad way.
A test of fracking explosives in Morgantown, W.Va., “blew the pipe out of the well about 600 feet high” in the 1970s, Crawley said. Luckily, no one was killed. He added that a 1975 test well in Wyoming “produced a lot of water.”
Steward recalled that Mitchell Energy didn’t even cover the cost of fracking on shale tests until the 36th well was drilled.
“There’s not a lot of companies that would stay with something this long. Most companies would have given up,” he said, crediting founder George Mitchell as a visionary who also got support from the government at key points.
“The government has to be involved, to some degree, with new technologies,” Steward said.
Without consistent government support early on for a once “stupid” technology, the domestic oil boom we’re seeing today might not exist.
Fossil fuel interests have spent more than $150 million this year on the presidential campaign trying to convince Americans that we need to “let the oil companies do their thing” and we’ll all have endless, cheap energy. Those are nice, easy talking points. But they’re simply not based in reality.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Commentarama: Democrats Convicted of Voter Fraud

Commentarama: Democrats Convicted of Voter Fraud

Democrats Convicted of Voter Fraud

Democrats have never shied away from voter fraud. It’s in their blood. Their communist intellectual ancestors routinely faked election results, first to grab power and then to hold it. In the US, Kennedy beat Nixon because of fraud in Texas and Chicago. In Chicago, the dead vote. ACORN registered Mickey Mouse and the Dallas Cowboys. And prior to the Hatch Act of 1939, the Democrats rewarded their voters with government contracts and jobs. Now we have more proof of the Democrats’ love of voter fraud.

In 2004, evidence was presented that military absentee ballots were fraudulently voted by people other than the voter, often against the wishes of the soldiers involved. No action was taken. Evidence was presented of people voting in New York and Florida on the same day. No action was taken. Evidence was presented of liberals filling out ballots at old folks homes without the knowledge (and even against the wishes in several cases) of the voters. No action was taken.

Then in 2008, ACORN was caught in multiple states filing fake voter registrations which would let them vote fake people. This was finally the bridge too far and action had to be taken. Fifty-four ACORN workers have since been convicted of voter fraud.

Now we have more evidence.

Last month, Lessadolla Sower, the head of the NAACP’s Tunica County, Mississippi Executive Committee was convicted of 10 counts of election fraud. This stems from Sower casting false absentee ballots in 2008. She was convicted of voting in the names of six live voters and four dead people. She was sentenced to 5 years on each count, but the sentences are running concurrently, so her actual sentence is 5 years.

Sowers, by the way, tried to play the race card during a prior run-in with the law, blaming her crime (forgery) on “an attempt by powerful whites to silence” her.

Of course, the NAACP is trying to counter attack. NAACP President Benjamin Jealous (a perfect name if ever there was one for an organization which thrives on jealousy and spite) is attacking a new Mississippi state law that requires voters to show a valid ID before voting, claiming this is an attempt to “disenfranchise minorities through some of the last existing legal pillars of Jim Crow.” He also claims that these laws are the result of “the worst and most racist elements in conservative Tea Party groups.”

Even if that were true Ben (and it's not and you know it), you’ve brought this on yourself because leftists have shown they can't be trusted. Indeed, this isn't even the NAACP's first problem with election fraud. The NAACP National Voter Fund registered a dead man to vote in Lake County, Ohio, in 2004. That same year, out of 325 voter registration cards filed by the NAACP in Cleveland, 48 were flagged as fraudulent. And you can be sure there are many more. This is simply part of the leftist game plan.

And there's more. From last week: three North Carolina Democrats (Kierra Fontae, Shelia Romona Hodges and Brandon Earl Mclean) admitted to voting twice in 2008, each time for Obama. Again, this was made possible by the Democrats setting out in the 1960s to make it impossible keep genuine track of who had and who had not voted. Specifically, they eliminated the requirement that voters show identification. This opened the door to all kinds of leftist chicanery.

No word yet on the sentence the three will receive.

In response to people like these three and other evidence, the legislature of North Carolina like Mississippi passed a law requiring voters to present an ID before voting. However, Democratic Governor Beverly Perdue vetoed it, claiming it presented an “obstacle to constitutional principle.” This is, of course, an idiotic lie as the Supreme Court has already said that such laws are perfectly legal.

Said North Carolina GOP chair Robin Hayes of this veto:

“The reason why Republicans have fought to promote proper voter-identification laws is to prevent fraud like this from happening. While Republicans are fighting to protect the integrity of our democracy, Governor Perdue’s veto fights to protect criminality in our election process. I know she embraces her ‘fighter’ image, but it’s clear that the only thing she fights for is fraud.”
Well said. Let’s hope the tide is finally turning against Democratic voter fraud. At least people are staring to change the laws and starting to prosecute the Democrats who partake.

New Obama ad: More promises, more Bolshevik

New Obama ad: More promises, more Bolshevik

Published by: Herman Cain on Thursday September 27th, 2012

Herman Cain
By HERMAN CAIN - This ad is such a load of crap, there is no English word that will do it justice.
It must be nice to be a candidate for office who can say absolutely anything, and can promise absolutely anything, without fear of serious media scrutiny. In other words, with an unlimited license to B.S., you might as well take advantage. And boy, does Barack Obama ever do that in his latest ad.
This two-minute barnburner is so shameless, you almost have to tip your hat to Obama and his campaign for having the temerity to put the damn thing on the air. Then again, why not? They're not going to get any scrutiny from the media "fact checkers," and they know it.
It's going to take some time and space to dissect this thing, so let's get into it. First, here's the ad:

Where to start? How about here:
1. Yes, we were in a full-blown recession when Obama took office, as he constantly reminds us. Sharp recessions are historically followed by sharp recoveries. Because so many jobs were lost, there is lots of room to regain them, and smart economic policies should give you robust economic growth and job creation. But we are not having that now, precisely because of Obama's policies. Three years after the recession officially ended, unemployment is still above 8 percent, and the real U6 unemployment rate that includes those underemployed or who have left the workforce is closer to 15 percent. We found out this morning that economic growth in the second quarter of this year was only 1.3 percent.
That is terrible!
This is not because of the recession of 2008 and 2009. That recession should have set the stage for a robust, full-blown recovery. We are not having that recovery, and Obama's policies are the reason.
2. We were not "mired in Iraq" in January 2009. As a result of the troop surge of 2007, we were wrapping up a victory in Iraq by 2009. By the time we ended combat operations shortly after Obama took office, we had won.
3. Tax cuts and reductions in regulation, which Obama calls "trickle down economics," are not what "got us in this mess in the first place." I detailed the real causes of the economic meltdown in this piece a few weeks back. But I also told you Obama would keep saying this, and he is.
4. Here's where it really gets rich, because at this point Obama simply starts making random promises he can't possibly back up. The first is that he is going to "create 1 million manufacturing jobs." Oh? How? Right now the entire economy is failing to produce 100,000 new jobs per month of any kind, let alone in manufacturing. Why should anyone think Obama knows how to create 1 million new manufacturing jobs? Just because he says so? I could announce that I have a "plan," and that part of my plan is to triple the salary your employer is paying you. Sounds great, doesn't it? How exactly would I do that? I have no idea. But all I have to do is promise it and get you to believe it.
Obama is not going to create 1 million manufacturing jobs. That is utter nonsense.
5. Help businesses double their export. Really? How is he going to do that? Are customers overseas going to suddenly start buying twice as much American stuff because Obama asks them very nicely? Obama could put more business-friendly policies in place, although that would be a pretty dramatic change from what he's done to date. But even if he did (and I haven't seen a single proposal yet from him that would qualify as business-friendly), there is no way he can say how much U.S. exports would increase, or if they would at all. This is a promise on which he knows he can't deliver. He just says it because it sounds good.
6. Cut oil exports in half? Is that right? By allowing drilling in the ANWR? By relaxing restrictions on drilling on other federal lands? By opening up the exploration of shale oil in the west? By ending restrictions on off-shore drilling? No, no, no, no. By ending his war on coal? By getting rid of restrictions on nuclear power? No. No. By dumping a bunch of taxpayer money into solar energy companies like Solyndra? Oh, wait, that didn't work. The fact is, we have enough oil, coal, natural gas and alternative energy resources right now to become completely energy-independent, and the reason we're not tapping these resources is the morass of federal restrictions that Obama refuses to lift. Cut oil exports on half. Right. Tell me another one.
7. Double the fuel efficiency of cars and trucks? Here's something fans of government should understand. There is a big difference between passing a law that says something must happen, and actually making it happen. Federal CAFE standards are mandating that cars and trucks achieve close to 50 miles per gallon in the near future. That doesn't mean the technology exists to make that happen, and the only way to develop and apply such technology will be a massive capital expenditure by the auto companies, which would drive prices sky high, or a massive federal subsidy. With the Chevy Volt, you have both. Sure, it runs on electricity, but it costs $40,000 to buy one and sales continually fall below projections. Even if you could get every other car to 50 MPG, what good would that do when it would cost so much to make the cars that no one can buy them? That's how empty this promise is.
8. We're going to have 100,000 new math and science teachers, are we? Is the federal government going to subsidize this? Because 100,000 teachers at a cost of $50,000 each per year costs $50 billion. Who's going to pay for that? Will local school districts just find money under rocks? Or does a federal government that's already running $1 trillion-plus deficits just figure, "Hey, we're going bankrupt anyway. Might as well!"
9. We're going to train 2 million Americans for new jobs? See the same questions I posed under Item 8.
10. “On top of the $1 trillion we’ve already cut, I’d ask the wealthy to pay a little more.”
Wait . . . what? The $1 trillion you’ve already cut? What $1 trillion would that be? Obama hasn’t cut any $1 trillion in spending! He’s done exactly the opposite of that!
My friends, let’s review.
When Obama took office in 2009, he immediately pushed an $862 billion so-called stimulus package through Congress. This pushed federal spending to more than $3.6 trillion, and to more than 25 percent of our gross domestic product for the first time since World War II. It was a huge spending increase!
But that was just the start. Having boosted 2009 spending with what he claimed was a one-time emergency measure, Obama and congressional Democrats simply kept spending at the same level in 2010, 2011 and 2012, but most people don’t know about it because they stopped passing budgets.
Cut a trillion dollars? Bolshevik! Obama hasn’t cut anything!
What he must be claiming is that his 10-year deficit reduction plan cuts $1 trillion in the so-called out years. That’s a promise he can’t keep because he will not be president in 10 years, and long-term budget cuts in the out years never happen!
11. This may be the best one. He said that after we end the war in Afghanistan, we're going to take the money we save, use half of it to pay down the debt and use the other half to "do some nation building here at home" (because of course we're spending so little now). OK. Let's run the numbers. The web site says the Afghanistan War has cost us $569 billion since it started. Let's be really generous to Obama and call it an even $1 trillion. Divide that by the 11 years the war has gone on, and the cost would average out to $90 billion a year.
The annual deficit is about $1.6 trillion. If you applied $45 billion to that, the deficit would be $1.55 trillion. You're not "paying down the debt" even a little. You're reducing your borrowing in such minuscule fashion you'd need a magnifying glass to see it on a pie chart. As for the half he wants to use for "nation building here at home," $45 billion won't even pay for all those teachers he promised.
This ad is such a load of crap, I can hardly come up with an English word to do it justice. In fact, I can't. I have to use a Russian one.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

UnSkewed Polls -- erasing the bias to show an accurate picture of politics

UnSkewed Polls -- erasing the bias to show an accurate picture of politics

QStarNews Quick Poll

Romney/Ryan 55%
Obama/Biden 44%

The QStarNews Quick Poll is the first trial run preceding the upcoming QStarNews poll on the presidential race and current events. This election season has seen so many polls heavily skewed and poorly weighted, that show skewed and inaccurate results. The purpose of this poll is to present the most accurate results possible based on the latest of what is known about the electorate and voter behavior and other statistical information available.

The QStarNews poll works with the premise that the partisan makeup of the electorate 37.6 percent Republicans, 33.3 percent Democrats and 29.1 percent independent voters. Additionally, our model is based on the electoral including approximately 41.6 percent self-described conservatives, 32.6 percent self-described moderates and 25.8 percent self-described liberals.

Republicans are 68 percent conservative, 27 percent moderate and 5 percent liberal. Among Democrats, 14 percent are conservative, 36 percent are moderate and 50 percent are liberal. Independents include 39 percent conservatives, 36 percent moderates and 25 percent liberals.

Our polls about doubly-weighted, to doubly insure the results are most accurate and not skewed, by both party identification and self-identified ideology. For instance, no matter how many Republicans answer our survey, they are weighted at 37.6 percent. If conservatives are over-represented among Republicans in the raw sample, they are still weighted at 68 percent of Republicans regardless. This system of double weighting should insure our survey produces very accurate results, not skewed either way for the Democrats or for the Republicans.

Results: The QStarNews Quick Poll

We asked eight questions in this survey. The link here shows our questions. The important questions were about preference for Romney or Obama in the presidential race, approval or disapproval of President Obama's performance in office, and the generic ballot question for Congress. The web-based survey included 2075 responses surveyed between September 10-15. The poll has a margin of error of three percent.

If the election were held today, would you vote for the ticket of Democratic candidates, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Bicden, or the ticket of Republican candidates, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Congressman Paul Ryan?

Romney/Ryan 55%
Obama/Biden 44%

Among Republicans, Democrats and Independents

ticket Republicans Democrats Independents

Do you approve or disapprove of Obama's performance as president?

Disapproval 55%
Approval 45%

Strongly Disapprove 48.78%
Somewhat Disapprove 6.29%
Somewhat Approve 19.67%
Strongly Approve 25.64%

Difference between Strongly Disapprove and Strongly Approve:

Among Republicans, Democrats and Independents

App/Dis Republicans Democrats Independents
Strongly Disapprove
Somewhat Disapprove
Somewhat Approve
Strongly Approve

Do you plan for vote for Democrats for Republicans for Congress?

Republicans 54%
Democrats 43%
Other 3%

Among Republicans, Democrats and Independents

Congress Republicans Democrats Independents

Crosstabls for Presidential vote, Presiential Approval and Congress with income and gender coming soon. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Five Answers for the Washington Times | Václav Klaus

Five Answers for the Washington Times | Václav Klaus

Five Answers for the Washington Times

English Pages, 26. 9. 2012
You are renowned as a “Eurosceptic.” What is it about the European political union that concerns you? Is political and economic union really possible among such a diverse collection of nations?
I don’t like the term “Eurosceptic”, there are only Euro-realists and Euro-naivists in Europe these days and I am certainly not a Euro-naivist.
I live in Europe and care about democracy and sovereignty of nation states there. That is why I wrote the book “Europe: The Shattering of Illusions” to be published by Bloomsbury on September 27. We witness a growing tendency of the EU institutions, especially of the unelected Commission, to make decisions about most of the issues of our lives. I resolutely oppose this development as undemocratic.
The solution to the current problems in Europe does not lie in creating a political union. What we need is a systemic change: of the European integration model on the one hand and of European overregulated and paternalistic social and economic model on the other. I see the solution in the return to intergovernmental cooperation, and in the nation states becoming, again, the basic building block of Europe. They should retain control over all kinds of their policies, including monetary and fiscal ones, because their governments are democratically accountable to their citizens. Europe does not have any demos, there are only citizens of individual EU member states there and that is why any attempts to build a political union in Europe from above have nothing in common with democracy.
Europe seems on the verge of collapse, weighed down by massive debt and crippled by profligate spending policies that only make the crisis worse. What does the EU need to survive, and do the character and will exist to get the job done?
Europe is a continent and this continent is not on the verge of collapse. What failed is supranational integration model, which has become dominant in Europe in the past twenty years. Together with it, also the European economic and social model failed. The solution lies in the recognition of this fact. The member states must regain full control of their own public finance and focus on spending cuts rather than on increasing their indebtedness further or on putting further burden on the taxpayers.
Europe’s common currency is in tatters. What is wrong with the monetary union, and should the euro be scrapped?
It is obvious that the monetary union among seventeen very different European countries does not work. As an economist, I know that the eurozone is not an optimum currency area, as defined in economic theory. Some countries in the eurozone would be helped by their organized departure from the eurozone, which means by restoring their own currency and control over their monetary policies. My country has experienced the dissolution of the monetary union called Czechoslovakia. This experience shows that it can be done and no catastrophic scenarios would happen in the case either – on condition that it is not a chaotic but organized development.
Rare among world leaders, you have challenged the radical green agenda on global warming. What about the climate-change ideology is so dangerous?
You rightly call it ideology, because the global warming alarmism is not about science. This is a collectivistic ideology with a very particular political agenda which restricts our freedom and prosperity. The attempts to command the climate and decide about the temperature on our planet are wrong and arrogant. I wrote a book about it which was published in English under the title “Blue Planet in Green Shackles”.
There is now an ascendent leftist policy known as “leading from behind” that seeks to diminish Washington’s position of global leadership. What do you see as America’s special role in the world, and are you worried the United States will tire of its global responsibilities and pull back into a posture marked by less active engagement in international affairs?
I am not that much afraid of the diminishing U.S. position in the world. I am worried about the Western world. Those of us who lived under communism for most of our lives were looking towards the Western world because of its values, emphasis on democracy, individual liberties and freedom, economic prosperity. When communism collapsed in my country in 1989, I did not think that one day I will have to call for defense of these values in the Western world itself.
Washington Times, September 26, 2012

The Intellectuals and Socialism (learn what motivates Obama and his socialist administration)

The Intellectuals and Socialism (learn what motivates Obama and his socialist administration)

The Intellectuals and Socialism: As Seen from a Post-Communist Country Situated in Predominantly Post-Democratic Europe
English Pages, 22. 8. 2005
1. I take it for granted that this audience knows the slightly provocative (because mercilessly generalizing) but very powerful and important, now already 56 years old article “The Intellectuals and Socialism”. This audience certainly knows as well that it was written by F. von Hayek and that it was published in the very confused and very pro-socialist post-second world war era, when the overall belief in the benefits of social engineering and of economic planning and, at the same time, the disbelief in free markets were at their heights.
I suppose that many of us still remember Hayek’s definition of intellectuals (we would probably say public intellectuals nowadays) as “the professional second-hand dealers in ideas”, who are proud of not “possessing special knowledge of anything in particular”, who do not take “direct responsibility for practical affairs” and who need not “even be particularly intelligent” to perform their “mission”. Hayek argued that they are satisfied with being “intermediary in the spreading of ideas” of original thinkers to the common people, whom they consider not being their equals.
Hayek was – more than half a century ago, which means before the current prevalence of electronic media – aware of the enormous power of intellectuals to shape public opinion and warned us that “it is merely a question of time until the views held by the intellectuals become the governing force of politics”. This is as valid today as it was when he wrote it.
The question is what kind of ideas is favoured by the intellectuals. The question is whether the intellectuals are neutral in their choice of ideas with which they are ready to deal with. Hayek argued that they are not. They do not hold or try to spread all kinds of ideas. They have very clear and, in some respect, very understandable preferences for some of them. They prefer ideas, which give them jobs and income and which enhance their power and prestige.
They, therefore, look for ideas with specific characteristics. They look for ideas, which enhance the role of the state because the state is usually their main employer, sponsor or donator. That is not all. According to Hayek “the power of ideas grows in proportion to their generality, abstractness, and even vagueness”. Hence it is not surprising that the intellectuals are mostly interested in abstract, not directly implementable ideas. This is also the way of thinking, in which they have comparative advantage. They are not good at details. They do not have ambitions to solve a problem. They are not interested in dealing with the everyday’s affairs of common citizens. Hayek put it clearly: “the intellectual, by his whole disposition, is uninterested in technical details or practical difficulties.” He is interested in visions and utopias and because “socialist thought owes its appeal largely to its visionary character” (and I would add lack of realism and utopian nature), the intellectual tends to become a socialist.
In a similar way, Raymond Aron, in his famous essay “The Opium of Intellectuals”, analyzed not only the well-known difference between the revolutionary and reformist way of thinking but also – and this is more relevant in this context – the difference between “prosaic” and “poetry”. Whereas “the prosaic model of thinking lacks the grandeur of utopia” (Roger Kimball), the socialist approach is – in the words of Aron – based “on the poetry of the unknown, of the future, of the absolute”. As I understand it, this is exactly the realm of intellectuals. Some of us want to immediately add that “the poetry of the absolute is an inhuman poetry”.
2. As I said, the intellectuals want to increase their own prestige and power. When we, in the communist countries, came across the ideas of Hayek and Aron, we had no problems to understand their importance. They gave us the much needed explanation of the somewhat peculiar prominence of intellectuals in our own society of that time. Our intellectuals, of course, did not like to hear it and did not want to recognize it because their peculiar prominence coexisted with the very debilitating absence of intellectual freedom, which the intellectuals value very highly. That was, however, not the only argument. The communist politicians needed their intellectual fellow-travelers. They needed their “dealings in ideas”, their “shaping of public opinion”, their apology of the inhuman, irrational and inefficient regime. They needed their ability to supply them with general, abstract and utopian ideas. They especially needed their willingness to deal with the hypothetical future instead of criticising the very much less rosy reality.
The intellectuals at that time, and I do not have in mind the life in the years of Stalin’s terror, were not happy. They were deeply disappointed with their own economic well-being. They were frustrated by many constraints they had to face and follow. Their position in the communist society was, nevertheless, relatively high and, paradoxically, very prestigious (I have, of course, in mind their relative position). The communist rulers, in their arbitrary and voluntaristic way of dealing with people, used and misused the intellectuals and were able to make them up for it. This brought the intellectuals in a very tricky position. They were not “valued” (or evaluated) by the invisible hand of the market but by the very visible hand of the rulers of that society. To my great regret many intellectuals were not able (or did not want) to understand the dangerous implications of such an arrangement.
As a result of this, and, again, it was no great surprise to me, after the fall of communism, in our suddenly free society, where many (if not all) previous constraints were removed practically over night, the first frustrated and openly protesting group were the intellectuals – “journalists, teachers, publicists, radio commentators, writers of fiction, and artists” (to quote Hayek). They were protesting against the unpleasant constraints created by the market. They found out very rapidly that the free society (and free markets) may not need so much of their service as they were used to in the past. They especially understood that their valuation by the impersonal forces of supply and demand may be not only less favorable than their own self-valuation (and Robert Nozick is right when he says that “intellectuals feel they are the most valuable people”) but even less favorable than that of politicians and bureaucrats of the old regime. They became, therefore, the first visible and noisy critics of our new free society we had been dreaming of having for decades.
In their elitist criticism of the market, of the insufficiently “human” laws of supply and demand and of the prices, which were the outcome of nobody’s explicit decision and deliberation, they were – I have to admit – relatively successful. It should be made known that – especially at the beginning, but I am afraid it has not changed much – they have been more critical of the market economy (and of the lack of redistribution in their favour) than the rest of our society because – to their great surprise – the standard of life of ordinary people has been raised, at least relatively, more than theirs. Schumpeter was right when he, in 1942, in his “Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy”, made his well-known point that “the capitalist achievement does not typically consist in providing more silk stockings for queens, but in bringing them within the reach of factory girls in return for steadily decreasing amounts of effort.” That simple truth is something many intellectuals have not been ready or willing to accept.
We, who are here today, know that the free market system does not reward most neither “the best nor the brightest” (John K. Williams), but those who – in whatever way and form – satisfy the tastes and preferences of others. We agree with Hayek that “nobody can ascertain, save through the market, the size of an individual’s contribution to the overall product”. And we know that the free market system does not typically reward those who are – in their own eyes – the most meritorious. Because the intellectuals value themselves very highly, they disdain the marketplace. Markets value them differently than their own eyes and, in addition to it, markets function nicely without their supervision. As a result, the intellectuals are suspicious of free markets and prefer being publicly funded. That is another reason, why they are in favour of socialism.
These arguments are not new but our experience in the first days after our – so called – Velvet Revolution was in this respect more than instructive. What actually happened was more textbook-like than anyone of us would had expected.
3. In the first decade of the 21th century we should not concentrate exclusively on socialism. There is a well-known saying that we should not fight the old, already non-existent battles. I find this point worth stressing even if I do not want to say that socialism is definitely over. There are, I believe, at least two arguments, which justify looking at other ideologies as well. The first is the difference between the hard and soft version of socialism and the second is the emergence of new “isms” based on similar illiberal or antiliberal views.
As regards the first problem we can probably confidently say that its “hard version” – communism – is over. It is a great victory for us, but this victory should not demotivate us because the fall of communism does not automatically lead to a system we would like to have and live in. It is not a victory of ideas of classical (or European) liberalism. Fifteen years after the collapse of communism I am afraid, more than at the beginning of its softer (or weaker) version, of social-democratism, which has become – under different names, e.g. the welfare state or the soziale Marktwirtschaft – the dominant model of the economic and social system of current Western civilization. It is based on big and patronizing government, on extensive regulating of human behavior, and on large-scale income redistribution.
As we see both in Europe and in America, the intellectuals love such a system. It gives them money and an easy life. It gives them an opportunity to be influential and to be heard. The Western world is still affluent enough to be able to support and finance many of their unpractical and directly unpurposeful activities. It can afford the luxury of employing herds of intellectuals to use “poetry” for praising the existing system, for selling the concept of positive rights, for advocating constructivist human designs (instead of spontaneous human action), for promoting other values than freedom and liberty.
We need to understand this contemporary version of world-wide socialism, because our old concepts may omit some of the crucial features of what is around us just now. We may even find out that the continuous use of the term socialism can be misleading.
4. This brings me to another problem. After the complete discrediting of communism and in the moment of the undeniable crisis of the European social-democratism the explicit socialism has become insufficiently attractive for most intellectuals. Nowadays, it is difficult to find – in the West – an intellectual, who wants to be “in” and to have an influence, who would call himself a socialist. The explicit socialism has lost its appeal and we should not have it as the main rival to our ideas today.
Illiberal ideas are becoming to be formulated, spread and preached under the name of ideologies or “isms”, which have – at least formally and nominally – nothing in common with the old-styled, explicit socialism. These ideas are, however, in many respects similar to it. There is always a limiting (or constraining) of human freedom, there is always ambitious social engineering, there is always an immodest “enforcement of a good” by those who are anointed (T. Sowell) on others against their will, there is always the crowding out of standard democratic methods by alternative political procedures, and there is always the feeling of superiority of intellectuals and of their ambitions.
I have in mind environmentalism (with its Earth First, not Freedom First principle), radical humanrightism (based – as de Jasay precisely argues – on not distinguishing rights and rightism), ideology of “civic society” (or communitarism), which is nothing less than one version of post-Marxist collectivism which wants privileges for organized groups, and in consequence, a refeudalization of society. I also have in mind multiculturalism, feminism, apolitical technocratism (based on the resentment against politics and politicians), internationalism (and especially its European variant called Europeanism) and a rapidly growing phenomenon I call NGOism.
All of them represent substitute ideologies for socialism. All of them give intellectuals new possibilities, new space for their activities, new niches in the market of ideas. To face these new isms, to reveal their true nature, and to be able to get rid of them, may be more difficult than in the past. It may be more complicated than fighting the old, explicit socialism. Everyone wants to have healthy environment; everyone wants to overcome loneliness of the fragmented post-modern society and to participate in positive activities of various clubs, associations, foundations and charity organizations; almost everyone is against discrimination based on race, religion or gender; many of us are against the extensive power of the state, etc. To demonstrate the dangers of these approaches, therefore, very often means blowing against the wind.
5. These alternative ideologies, in their unclear, unstable and yet undescribed potential synergy, are successful especially where there is no sufficient resistance to them, where they find a fertile soil for their flourishing, where they find a country (or the whole continent) where freedom (and free markets) have been heavily undermined by long lasting collectivistic dreams and experiences and where intellectuals have succeeded in getting and maintaining a very strong voice and social status. I have in mind, of course, rather Europe, than America. It is Europe, where we witness the crowding out of democracy by post democracy, where the EU dominance replaces democratic arrangements in the EU member countries, where the Hayek’s “paragovernment”, connected with organized (because organizable) interests is successful in guiding policy, and where even some of the liberals – in their justified criticism of the state – do not see the dangers of empty Europeanism and of a deep (and ever deeper) but only bureaucratic unification of the whole European continent. They applaud the growing formal opening of the continent, but do not see that the elimination of some of the borders without actual liberalization of human activities “only” shifts governments upwards, which means to the level where there is no democratic accountability and where the decisions are made by politicians appointed by politicians, not elected by citizens in free elections.
The European constitution was an attempt to set up and consolidate such a system in a legal form. It was an attempt to constitute it. It is, hence, more than important that the French and Dutch referenda made an end to it, that they interrupted the seemingly irreversible process toward “ever-closer Europe” and that they set into motion a hopefully serious discussion – in Eurospeak it is called “a reflection period”. I do not assume that this permitted reflection organized from above will go far enough to reveal deeply rooted causes of the current European problems. It, nevertheless, opened the door. We should use this opportunity for reminding our fellow citizens what makes our society free, democratic and prosperous.
It is a political system, which must not be destroyed by a postmodern interpretation of human rights (with its stress on positive rights, with its dominance of group rights and entitlements over individual rights and responsibilities and with its denationalization of citizenship), by weakening of democratic institutions, which have irreplaceable roots exclusively on the territory of the states, by the “multiculturally” caused loss of a needed coherence of various social entities, and by continental-wide rent-seeking (made possible when decision-making is done at a level which is very far from the individual citizens and where the dispersed voters are even more dispersed than in sovereign countries).
It is an economic system, which must not be damaged by excessive government regulation, by fiscal deficits, by heavy bureaucratic control, by attempts to perfect markets by means of constructing the “optimal” market structures, by huge subsidies to privileged or protected industries and firms, by labor market rigidities, etc.
It is a social system, which must not be wrecked by all imaginable kinds of disincentives, by more than generous welfare payments, by large scale redistribution, by many forms of government paternalism.
It is a system of ideas, which will be based on freedom, personal responsibility, individualism, natural caring for others and genuine moral conduct of life.
It is a system of relations and relationships of individual countries, which must not be based on false internationalism, on supranational organizations and on misunderstanding of globalization and of externalities but which will be based on good neighborliness of free, sovereign countries and on international pacts and agreements.
The founding fathers of the Mont Pelerin Society, Hayek and Friedman, together with others, always insisted on fighting for what seemed politically impossible. We should keep doing the same.
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Václav Klaus, Remarks prepared for the Mont Pelerin Society Regional Meeting, Reykjavik, Iceland, August 22, 2005