Fund Your Utopia Without Me.™

02 February 2013

The Price of Moral Grandstanding on Guns





Politics becomes amusing when liberalism becomes theatrical with high-minded gestures. Chicago’s government, which is not normally known for elevated thinking, is feeling so morally upright and financially flush that it proposes to rise above the banal business of maximizing the value of its employees’ and retirees’ pension fund assets. Although seven funds have cumulative unfunded liabilities of $25 billion, Chicago will sacrifice the growth of those assets to the striking of a political pose so pure it is untainted by practicality.

Emulating New York and California, two deep-blue states with mammoth unfunded pension liabilities, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) has hectored a $5 billion pension fund into divesting its holdings in companies that manufacture firearms. Now he is urging two large banks to deny financing to such companies “that profit from gun violence.” TD Bank provides a $60 million credit line to Smith & Wesson, and Bank of America provides a $25 million line to Sturm, Ruger & Co.

Chicago’s current and retired public employees might wish the city had invested more in both companies. Barack Obama, for whom Emanuel was chief of staff, has become a potent gun salesman because of suspicions that he wants to make gun ownership more difficult. Since he was inaugurated four years ago, there have been 65 million requests for background checks of gun purchasers. Four years ago, the price of Smith & Wesson stock was $2.45. Last week it was $8.76, up 258 percent. Four years ago, the price of Sturm Ruger stock was $6.46. Last week it was $51.09, up 691 percent. The Wall Street Journal reports that even before “a $1.2 billion balloon payment for pensions comes due” in 2015, “Chicago’s pension funds, which are projected to run dry by the end of the decade, are scraping the bottoms of their barrels.” 

Nevertheless, liberals are feeling good about themselves — the usual point of liberalism — because New York state’s public pension fund and California’s fund for teachers have, the New York Times says, “frozen or divested” gun holdings, and Calpers, the fund for other California public employees, may join this gesture jamboree this month. All this is being compared to the use of divestment to pressure South Africa to dismantle apartheid in the 1980s. Well.

Apartheid was a wicked practice. Guns are legal products in America, legally sold under federal, state and local regulations. Most of the guns sold to Americans are made by Americans. Americans have a right — a constitutional right — to own guns, and 47 percent of U.S. households exercise that portion of the Bill of Rights by possessing at least one firearm.

For Emanuel to say that gun makers “profit from gun violence” is as sensible as saying automobile manufacturers “profit from highway carnage” — which, by the way, kills more Americans than guns do. Emanuel, who is more intelligent than he sounds (just as many think Wagner’s music is better than it sounds), must know that not one fewer gun will be made, sold or misused because Chicago is wagging its finger at banks.

Moral grandstanding, however, offers steady work, and the Chronicle of Higher Education reports a new front in “the battle against climate change”: “Student groups at almost 200 colleges and universities are calling on boards of trustees to divest their colleges’ holdings in large fossil-fuel companies.” Of course, not one share of those companies’ stock will go unsold because academia is so righteous. Others will profit handsomely from such holdings and from being complicit in supplying what the world needs. Fossil fuels, the basis of modern life, supply 82 percent of U.S. energy, and it is projected that they will supply 78 percent of the global increase in energy demand between 2009 and 2035, by which time the number of cars and trucks on the planet will have doubled to 1.7 billion.

Institutions of higher education will, presumably, warn donors that their endowments will be wielded in support of the political agenda du jour, which might include divesting from any company having anything to do with corn, source of the sweetener in many of the sodas that make some people fat and New York’s mayor cranky. Or anything to do with red meat, sugar, salt, trans fats, chickens not lovingly raised . . . . 

Liberal ethicists may decide that the only virtuous investments are in electric cars. The Obama administration says that 1 million will be sold by 2015. Maybe 70,000 have been so far. Just imagine how pension funds will prosper by betting on the next 930,000. 


WAR ON DOMESTIC CATS!: Progressive Study Says “Policy Intervention” Needed To Protect Mice From Cats (This Is Not Satire)



cat mouse


It’s an Obama world.


(h/t Jim Hoft)


Now the Progressive loons, but I repeat myself, want “policy intervention” to protect mice from cats.

A recent study found that cats are killing mice at an astonishing rate.
Anthropogenic threats, such as collisions with man-made structures, vehicles, poisoning and predation by domestic pets, combine to kill billions of wildlife annually. Free-ranging domestic cats have been introduced globally and have contributed to multiple wildlife extinctions on islands. The magnitude of mortality they cause in mainland areas remains speculative, with large-scale estimates based on non-systematic analyses and little consideration of scientific data. Here we conduct a systematic review and quantitatively estimate mortality caused by cats in the United States. We estimate that free-ranging domestic cats kill 1.4–3.7 billion birds and 6.9–20.7 billion mammals annually. Un-owned cats, as opposed to owned pets, cause the majority of this mortality. Our findings suggest that free-ranging cats cause substantially greater wildlife mortality than previously thought and are likely the single greatest source of anthropogenic mortality for US birds and mammals. Scientifically sound conservation and policy intervention is needed to reduce this impact.
And, to think, “mousers” were once valued for their hunting skills.

More here.


Unless you like mice, ladies, never ask a Progressive "man" "Is that a mouse in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?"  You might not like what happens next.


 


Pic of the Day: Barry & Joe Go French & Shoot Their Wads



Embedded image permalink



Immigration & The Town That Stopped Mincing Words





By Robert Hardman

They’ve stopped mincing their words in these parts. Even the social workers and the worthiest public sector grandees have given up dancing around one of the great taboos of our age and realise that it needs to be addressed head-on.

Hence there is little talk of ‘multi-culturalism’ here in Boston, the Lincolnshire cabbage capital.Instead, everyone in this handsome old market town simply talks about ‘immigration’ — none more so, it seems, than the immigrants themselves.

For as Britain prepares to open up the workplace and the welfare state to the people of Bulgaria and Romania at the start of next year, none will feel the impact more than all the recent arrivals from Poland, Latvia and Lithuania, who have made Boston the most Eastern European town in Britain.


The population of Boston in Lincolnshire has grown by more than 15 per cent to 65,000 in a decade, most of that increase being from Eastern European countries like Poland

The population of Boston in Lincolnshire has grown by more than 15 per cent to 65,000 in a decade, most of that increase being from Eastern European countries like Poland


Evidence of the influx of east European immigrants can be seen all around the town. In this picture The Baltic Food Store can be seen next to the Romanian shop and the car parked outside has a Latvian number plate

Evidence of the influx of east European immigrants can be seen all around the town. In this picture The Baltic Food Store can be seen next to the Romanian shop and the car parked outside has a Latvian number plate


Ziedonis Barbaks, leader of Boston’s substantial Latvian community, points out: 


‘The Romanians and Bulgarians will just repeat what happened before. The [employment] agencies and gang-masters will start hiring them, at a lower cost, instead of the Polish and Latvians and Lithuanians. Then what?’ 


If that happens, Britain could find itself with a new welfare bombshell — supporting all those migrants displaced from the workplace as well as all the indigenous British, who are out of it already. 

Some EU newcomers — no one seems to know how many — have already plugged in to the benefits system (as they can after just three months). 

Take, for example, the Latvian woman in Boston who has made national news for having ten children and annual welfare receipts of £34,000. 


Voice of the people: Rachel Bull spoke out on the BBC's Question Time

Voice of the people: Rachel Bull spoke out on the BBC's Question Time about her home town of Boston, saying it was at 'breaking point' due to the level of immigration


Immigration: Transitional arrangements in place since 2005, which restrict the rights of 29million Bulgarian and Romanian citizens to live and work in other EU states, will expire on January 1

Immigration: Transitional arrangements in place since 2005, which restrict the rights of 29million Bulgarian and Romanian citizens to live and work in other EU states, will expire soon

She is a rarity, of course, at the extreme end of the spectrum. But many others, for example, claim child benefit for children who do not even live in Britain.


Britain is obliged to pay out under European Union law, and the latest figures (only extracted via a parliamentary question) show that the UK already pays child benefit for more than 40,000 children who aren’t actually here. What might that bill be in a year or two?


‘This country is too soft,’ says Ziedonis, 36, a married father-of-two who works alternate shifts with his wife, Vita, in a Boston flower factory.

‘It’s simply crazy that people can come to this country and start claiming benefits. You should have to work for at least five years before you start taking anything.’

No wonder officialdom is refusing to predict how many people are going to pile onto coaches in Bucharest and Sofia with one-way tickets to Britain.

The solution?

‘A padlock,’ says Mandy Exley firmly. ‘I’m not kidding. We haven’t got any more jobs.’

Blimey. Mandy is not a finger-wagging emissary from UKIP or a sepia-tinted reactionary. She is the much-respected ‘community cohesion officer’ for the Lincolnshire Community And Voluntary Service.


Some estimates put the number of immigrants in Boston as high as 10,000 - and that is not including any illegal immigrants who are under the official radar

An Eastern European delicatessen in Boston: Some estimates put the number of immigrants in Boston as high as 10,000 - and that is not including any illegal immigrants who are under the official radar


When community cohesion officers start calling for border controls, it is probably time for government ministers to acknowledge there is a big problem. In recent days, Boston has found itself in the national headlines for two reasons.

First, the latest census figures showed its population has grown by more than 15 per cent to 65,000 in a decade, most of that increase being from Eastern Europe.

That, of course, does not include the legion of migrant workers living five-to-a-room who prefer not to fill in the census forms.

According to a leading (Left-leaning) academic, there are an additional 4,000-6,000 migrants in town.

The council reckons the figure is more like an additional 10,000.

Indeed, the census is so unreliable that the Home Office has just despatched a special population research team.


Shopping local: Latvian Sanda Klavcane, 26, is cheerful as she tends to customers in her food store selling products from her home country

Shopping local: Latvian Sanda Klavcane, 26, is cheerful as she tends to customers in her food store selling products from her home country


Put another way, if Boston were London, it would be like absorbing (at the very least) an extra 1.3 million people — the entire populations of Glasgow and Edinburgh — in under ten years. 

But Boston has also become a national talking point thanks to Bostonian Rachel Bull, who was in the audience at a recent recording of BBC1’s Question Time in Lincolnshire.


She claimed that the town was a ‘foreign country’ at ‘breaking point.’


She was roundly rebuffed by Professor Mary Beard of Cambridge University, who was on the panel.

She cited a new council report as proof that immigration was not harming local services (and consequently received some disgusting online abuse for her troubles).

But as far as most Bostonians are concerned, Rachel Bull was spot on. She has subsequently become a (very reluctant) local heroine. So I have come to Boston to see what the situation is really like.

And I am instantly struck by the Baltic influence — from the Polish supermarkets and Latvian delis to the number of women in those thick padded plastic coats beloved of the old Iron Curtain, to the voices on the street. 


Professor Mary Beard of Cambridge University, rebuffed Boston resident Rachel Bull's comment that the town had become a 'foreign country' on BBC's Question Time

Professor Mary Beard of Cambridge University, rebuffed Boston resident Rachel Bull's comment that the town had become a 'foreign country' on BBC's Question Time


But I am also surprised by the lack of animosity. 


True, there is palpable anger among native Bostonians that their town has become a Baltic satellite in next to no time.But it’s not an anger directed at the Eastern Europeans. It’s aimed squarely at the Government and the EU.


Lincolnshire’s vast flatlands have always needed people to pick and pack the vegetables and flowers, which are the bedrock of the local economy.

Traditionally, the work was done by students and by part-time workers brought in from urban areas such as Doncaster and Nottingham.


But in 2004, Britain opened its doors to the new round of EU member nations, while, crucially, not implementing the labour restrictions imposed by other countries such as France and Germany. The result was an influx of large numbers from Poland, Latvia and Lithuania, happy to be paid wages and accept living conditions well below the local norm.


Tough stance: Mark Harper, Conservative MP for Forest of Dean, has said limiting access to free healthcare is key to preventing the NHS becoming an 'international health service'

Mark Harper, Conservative MP for Forest of Dean, has said limiting access to free healthcare is key to preventing the NHS becoming an 'international health service' as immigration rates look set to rise


For their part, many locals found they could not compete with newcomers prepared to work longer hours while living in accommodation that verged on squalor.  As wage levels came down and local workers either moved elsewhere or fell back on the benefits system, so more and more migrants came in to fill the gaps.

Some have made Britain their home, starting families and bringing over relatives to join them.  Others continue to work all the hours they can, living as cheaply as possible and sending money to families back home. And as long as they have paid National Insurance, they can claim the full range of UK benefits, whether they then continue to work or lose their jobs.

After the initial shock to Boston’s education and health sectors from increased numbers, local services have managed to adjust.

For example, the local Park Academy primary school, where two-thirds of children do not have English as a first language, is among the best in the county and says it is ‘100 per cent happy’ with the migration situation.

But, needless to say, there is resentment, particularly as everyone knows that much of officialdom still errs on the side of political correctness. The local police, for example, insist that migration has had no impact on the crime rate.  However, a quick scan of the local paper, the Boston Standard, lists 21 criminals convicted at the magistrates’ court, of which two thirds have names such as Zumbrickij and Kazombiase.  Most offences are for drink-driving and other motoring offences.  British names, it should be noted, still lead the section for assaults.

‘It can’t go on like this — but we need those the migrant workers,’ says local councillor Elliott Fountain. ‘If they went, this town would just tip over. It would be a ghost town.’

He’s an interesting mix. A member of the arch-Eurosceptic English Democrats (a sort of UKIP for the English) and a local businessman, he has set up several business ventures with the newcomers and also owned Boston’s first Polish food shop.  He has been a gangmaster —recruiting local labour for seasonal agricultural work — and also owns various properties in the area which he rents out. But he believes Boston is full to bursting. ‘My son’s school hasn’t got lockers,’ he says. ‘They’ve built up to the rafters and there is no room.’

Last year, there were fears that local tensions might spill over into violence when a protest march through the town was planned.


Many locals found they could not compete with newcomers prepared to work longer hours while living in accommodation that verged on squalor, and so feel they are missing out on jobs

Many locals found they could not compete with newcomers prepared to work longer hours while living in accommodation that verged on squalor, and so feel they are missing out on jobs


In the end, there was a compromise of sorts. Boston Borough Council promised a thorough inquiry into the social impact of immigration while the protesters scaled back their march to a ‘static demonstration’ which passed off without incident.

The recently published report —the one cited by Professor Beard on Question Time — has been hailed by officialdom as a landmark document. Its tone is upbeat.  Its conclusion is that Boston has faced a monumental demographic challenge, that it is coping and that a lot of local complaints are unfounded. It points out that Boston has 10,000 migrant workers and 1,200 jobless.  Remove the former, and the latter are hardly going to fill the gap.

But it also raises many serious questions far beyond the remit of a borough council. I head for the council offices on West Street — or ‘East Street’ as the locals now call it. The Bombay Brasserie looks like Ye Olde Worlde tearoom in this company.  A Romanian shop stands next to a ‘Baltic foodstore’, which is next to an Eastern European beauty parlour, standing next to another ‘Baltic foodstore’. Across the road, is the NV Baltic nightclub. The Latvian bakery does superb pastries.


'At breaking point': Mrs Bull said facilities in her Lincolnshire hometown are overstretched because of the influx of workers from overseas

Mrs Bull spoke for many in her Lincolnshire hometown when she saying on Question Time that facilities are overstretched because of the influx of workers from overseas


Down at the Latvian grocery, Sanda Klavcane, 26, could win a competition for Britain’s smiliest shop assistant.  She’s been here for eight years and loves the place, although she admits (in excellent English): ‘It’s very flat — cabbages, cabbages.’

Peter Bedford, leader of the Tory-controlled council, is proud that the town has the lowest number of empty shops in the East Midlands, while other high streets are the usual blend of blanked-out windows and ubiquitous national brands.  There was a recent retail vacancy just opposite the town hall when the local Blockbusters went under.  It’s now a shiny new Polish supermarket.

Boston has even managed to hang on to its branch of Marks & Spencer, unlike other Lincolnshire towns, including near-neighbour Grantham.  I am astonished to learn that Margaret Thatcher’s home town has lost its Marks and Sparks.  It’s like the cheese industry leaving Cheddar.  But Boston’s branch still stands on the pretty marketplace opposite St Botolph’s Church, the cathedral-sized masterpiece known universally as the Boston Stump.


Tony Blair

Tony Blair recently received an award for allowing so many Poles to come and work in Britain. In his prerecorded video message for the audience at Warsaw's National Opera house, in which he said 'As you know, Poland is a country I admire greatly'


Mr Bedford says that the council has worked hard on its social impact report. The leader of the opposition Labour group was appointed to chair the immigration inquiry in order to give it cross-party credibility.  However, Mr Bedford is adamant that there must be restrictions on any future arrivals, and acknowledges that the locals have had enough.

‘One of the biggest issues is one of noise,’ he tells me.  ‘Boston was always a quiet town and a lot of Eastern Europeans are not, shall we say, used to talking quietly. You walk round town and you hear these loud foreign voices everywhere.  You go into the local doctor’s surgery and you have a lot of locals sitting quietly as a loud foreign voice tries to deal with the receptionist. So people think: 'They’re taking over.'"


This week we learned that Polish is now Britain’s second language.


I stand outside the primary school at home time and canvass a cross-section of parents. Most have a smattering of English, smile politely and just say ‘good school’.

As a locally-born father, tyre fitter David Scott, 32, is in a minority.  He says he is very happy with the school and that his five-year-old daughter has many Eastern European friends. What concerns him, though, is the next wave of migration. ‘I just feel that things are coming to a head,’ he says.

Come nightfall, I walk around town with Mike Gilbert, the Tory councillor in charge of communities. All the voices we hear, in the space of an hour, are speaking another language.

Mike has spent his life in social services and regards the immigration issue as a symptom of other difficulties, not a problem in itself.  For example, he is particularly worried how Britain’s schools fail to prepare youngsters for the world of work and points out how this is different to the upbringing of children in other societies: 


"We mollycoddle school-leavers like an endangered species and give them fistfuls of certificates and then wonder why they won’t take factory jobs.  Why does this country put its own people on the subs’ bench, let others do the work and create an underclass which corrodes the rest of society?"


The immigration inquiry has done little to diminish local anger.

The Boston Protest Group, which organised last autumn’s demonstration, is planning similar events in neighbouring towns this year.

‘It’s easy to say that immigrants are just doing jobs which the locals are too lazy to do, but that’s not fair,’ says protest leader, Bob McAuley, 65, a retired businessman and recent UKIP recruit. ‘You try raising a family on £6.20 an hour, paying a mortgage and living next door to a house with ten young guys coming and going day and night.’  He says that nearly all the contributors to the council’s immigration report were on the state payroll and thus had a vested interest in not rocking the boat.


‘This situation is not sustainable. And it’s about to get a lot worse.’


As we stand on the street, Bob bumps into two friends who work for the council. They share his views, but say that if I were to use their names for this article, they would be fired.

Bob believes that the best way forward is forthright discussion.  While organising protests against immigration, he also sits on the Boston Good Relations Group, along with representatives of the migrant community, such as Ziedonis, whom he likes and respects.


‘We don’t mind the migrants. I blame the damned politicians who have created this problem,’ he says.


It seems, for now, that Boston is coming to terms with its recent social upheavals, even if many locals remain unhappy about the way it has happened.

The problem is what happens if — or when — this generation of migrants find themselves edged out of work, either by newcomers or as the result of an economic downturn.

Will taxpayers be happy to provide a large migrant community with the full range of state benefits — just like the locals they have displaced?

One thing which surprises me is the absence of official information.

The council accepts it does not know the nationalities of those to whom it gives benefits such as housing and council tax support.  The Department for Work and Pensions says that, under the previous government, there was no attempt to record the nationality of people receiving benefits, and that it is only starting to catch up.

If the so-called ‘myths’ in this volatile debate are to be addressed, then we will need as much hard data as possible — even it means asking hard questions.

As councillor Mike Gilbert observes, things can move fast round here.

A few years ago, the council elections delivered a shock landslide majority to a group that wanted a bypass for Boston. 


‘If it can happen for a bypass, then who says it won’t happen for an issue that inspires much more extreme opinions?’ 


Rachel Bull challenges Mary Beard on Question Time
 
 
 

Why Do We Let Immoral Politicians Dictate Morality?




Changing the culture: War Minister John Profumo



By Simon Heffer

A glance at today’s political class makes us see all too clearly that the concept of shame has almost disappeared from public life.

Men who have lied to the House of Commons still sit there, some in very senior positions. Peers imprisoned for fraud blithely return to the House of Lords after being released from jail.

Some MPs still draw parliamentary salaries despite having deceitfully fiddled their expenses. One such miscreant, Lib Dem David Laws, even attends Cabinet meetings.

If I was to identify the moment the rot set in, I would go back to an event that ‘celebrates’ — if that’s the word — its 50th anniversary this year.

I am referring to the Profumo scandal of 1963, which changed the nature of British public life for ever.

Rumours had circulated around Westminster about an affair between War Minister John Profumo and Christine Keeler, a call-girl, who had also slept with a Soviet naval attaché.

The gossip was fed by a group of Labour MPs who had spotted a golden opportunity, at the height of the Cold War, to embarrass and weaken an already troubled government.

This rabble, though, showed the symptoms of decline, too. For example, Labour MP George Wigg, who helped bring down Profumo, was caught kerb-crawling.

By March 1963, the rumours about Profumo had become so destabilising that he was forced to make a Commons statement.

During his liaison with Keeler, he did not pass any to secrets to her that she might have shared with her Soviet lover. Yet, in the moral climate of the time — the Lady Chatterley ban had only just been lifted and divorcees were still not welcome at royal events — he was vulnerable. Senior politicians were supposed to set an example to the country.


Scandal: Profumo with his wife, actress Valerie Hobson. His affair is seen as one of the defining events of the so-called Swinging Sixties

Scandal: Profumo with his wife, actress Valerie Hobson. His affair is seen as one of the defining events of the so-called Swinging Sixties


Profumo's affair with Christine Keeler (pictured), the reputed mistress of an alleged Soviet spy, was at odds with the climate of the time when politicians were expected to set an example

Profumo's affair with Christine Keeler (pictured), the reputed mistress of an alleged Soviet spy, was at odds with the climate of the time when politicians were expected to set an example


Profumo lied to protect his family, denying any impropriety with Keeler. This misjudgment, I believe, changed the whole political culture.

Eventually, a shamed Profumo resigned from the government and as an MP.  His departure precipitated  a profound change in the  old order.

The so-called satire boom was in full swing, with the emergence of Private Eye and the TV show, That Was The Week That Was. Their main targets were the ageing grandees, who ran Britain, and the attacks were corrosive.

The Commons debate over Profumo was Tory Prime Minister Harold Macmillan’s chance to restore his authority but he blew it. Within four months, Macmillan was gone.

As for Labour, following the death of the urbane, gentlemanly Hugh Gaitskell earlier in the year, the party had elected Harold Wilson as its leader. 


Profumo lied to protect his family, and was forced to resign for it. Subsequently, far graver lies would be told to the Commons - and those responsible would see no need to resign

Profumo lied to protect his family, and was forced to resign for it. Subsequently, far graver lies would be told to the Commons - and those responsible would see no need to resign


Wilson was clever, cynical, manipulative and unscrupulous. He’d also realised that Britain wanted a leader, who embraced an exciting vision of the future, not a class-ridden, fusty idea of the past. Significantly, in 1967, Britain started to withdraw from its bases east of Suez, and devalued the currency — which caused Wilson to make his cynical and dishonest remark about the value of ‘the pound in your pocket’ being unchanged as a result of the pound’s value being cut from $2.80 to $2.40.

Standards of probity were already tumbling. Social standards were revolutionised, too.  Divorce was made easier; abortion was legalised; homosexual acts between men over 21 were legalised; capital and corporal punishment were abolished in the penal system; the first race-relations legislation came in; and the voting age was cut to 18.

The whole public framework of moral values was being forcibly changed by the political class.

The Profumo affair is seen as one of the defining events of the so-called Swinging Sixties, and marked the advent of the permissive society. In fact, it is better seen as the last roar of the old order. Within a few years, the concept of a politician nobly resigning in the way that Profumo did would become alien.

The process of lowering standards began in the early Seventies, but has picked up momentum in recent years.

First, Tory Reginald Maudling left the Government (but didn’t resign as an MP) because of unwise connections with the corrupt architect John Poulson, who had been at the heart of a local-government scandal in the North-East.

Then, a Labour minister, John Stonehouse, faked his own death on a beach in Australia and ran off with his mistress, leaving a trail of debts.

By the Eighties, politics had become more about self-service than about public service.

Subsequently, far graver lies would be told to the Commons and be found to damage not just the reputation of Parliament, but of the country — and those responsible would see no need to resign.  It was as if the political class decided that Profumo’s sense of shame was excessive.

The Profumo scandal also marks a milestone — when amateur politicians started to make way for a professional breed.

After Macmillan’s fall, we witnessed — first in the Labour party, then in the Tory party — the creation of a political class that was full-time, well-paid, and increasingly divorced from Victorian ideals of honour and public service. 

The irony is that Jack Profumo, with his discretion and charity work, set an example in adversity that today’s politicians lack the moral fibre to follow.



Modern Democratic ‘Fire-Eaters’


M2RB:  Blue Öyster Cult







Experiment's that failed too many times
Transformations that were too hard to find
Poison's in my bloodstream, poison's in my pride
I'm after rebellion, I'll settle for lies

Is it any wonder that my mind's on fire
Imprisoned by the thoughts of what you do
Is it any wonder that the joke's an iron
And the jokes on you




The outrageous rhetoric and threats coming from some Democrats demonstrates the necessity of the Second Amendment.



By Clayton E. Cramer


In the period immediately before the Civil War, the most ferocious rhetoric came out of the mouths of Southern Democrats who were soon known as “fire-eaters.” They got that nickname because of the strength of their rhetoric in support of slavery and their willingness to talk about secession as a response to the possibility of abolitionists gaining influence in Congress, and even winning the White House.  The louder and more ferocious speeches they gave, the stronger the abolitionist position seemed to become.

Today, we again have Democratic fire-eaters whose violent rhetoric is strengthening the support enjoyed by their opponents.  First it was a statement by Professor Erik Loomis at the University of Rhode Island, saying that he wanted “Wayne LaPierre’s head on a stick.”  Okay, maybe that was just hyperbolic rhetoric, intended as a figure of speech. Now, we have a far less figurative statement by Donald Kaul in the Des Moines Register:


Declare the NRA a terrorist organization and make membership illegal. Hey! We did it to the Communist Party, and the NRA has led to the deaths of more of us than American Commies ever did. (I would also raze the organization’s headquarters, clear the rubble and salt the earth, but that’s optional.) Make ownership of unlicensed assault rifles a felony. If some people refused to give up their guns, that “prying the guns from their cold, dead hands” thing works for me.

Is that clear enough for you? He is declaring his desire to see millions of Americans killed to support his goals, while at the same time making membership in a peaceful organization a criminal matter.

It gets worse: “Then I would tie Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, our esteemed Republican leaders, to the back of a Chevy pickup truck and drag them around a parking lot until they saw the light on gun control.” I remember a few years ago an incident where several criminals in Texas did something like that to a black man; it is obvious who Kaul sees as his role models. Donald Kaul thinks that disagreeing with him about a political matter justifies torturing someone to death.

Now, if this was simply one raving kook, or two raving kooks bloviating on obscure websites, I suppose we could ignore it.  But Kaul’s demand for criminalizing membership in an advocacy group and proposal to torture people to death for disagreeing with him was published not in an obscure lunatic fringe location, but in a serious daily newspaper: the Des Moines Register.  We can reasonably infer that the editorial staff of that newspaper considered this a perfectly respectable idea as part of the national conversation about gun control. (Imagine what the reaction would be if a conservative newspaper had published an opinion piece calling for abortion-rights advocates to be dragged behind a pickup truck, and for membership in NARAL to be made a criminal matter, in response to a similarly horrifying public tragedy.)

I have a few friends who have of late developed some fairly paranoid ideas that our government is run by to totalitarian thugs intent on suppressing all dissent and creating a police state. Reading something as repugnant as Donald Kaul’s column in a respectable daily newspaper makes me start to wonder if they are paranoid or simply better in touch with the ferocious hatemongering of today’s Democratic fire-eaters. Kaul’s willingness to advocate a totalitarian society and his obvious enthusiasm for mass murder and torture, and the Des Moines Register‘s willingness to print it, make me even more appreciative of the wisdom behind the Second Amendment: there needs to be some popular restraint on this sort of bloodthirsty progressivism.

At this point, you might compare Kaul’s call for confiscation and killing to the insurrectionist argument for the Second Amendment. There is one great difference: the insurrectionist argument is always presented as a horrible last resort in response to tyranny. You will not see any responsible newspaper publish the insurrectionist argument for the Second Amendment with the clear bloodlust of Prof. Loomis or Donald Kaul.  Loomis and Kaul are clearly looking forward to a bloodbath. The louder they demand torture and murder to satisfy their emotional needs, the more Americans will be arming in self-defense.



Flaming Telepaths - Blue Öyster Cult

Well I've opened up my veins too many times
And the poison's in my heart and in my mind
Poison's in my bloodstream, poison's in my pride
I'm after rebellion, I'll settle for lies
Is it any wonder that my mind's on fire
Imprisoned by the thoughts of what you do
Is it any wonder that the joke's an iron
And the jokes on you

Experiment's that failed too many times
Transformations that were too hard to find
Poison's in my bloodstream, poison's in my pride
I'm after rebellion, I'll settle for lies

Yes I know the secrets of the iron and mind
They're trinity acts a mineral fire
Yes I know the secrets of the circuitry mind
It's a flaming wonder telepath

Well I've opened up my veins too many times
And the poison's in my heart and in my mind
Poison's in my bloodstream, poison's in my pride
I'm after rebellion, I'll settle for lies

Is it any wonder that my mind's on fire
Imprisoned by the thoughts of what you do
Is it any wonder that the joke's an iron
And the jokes on you
And the joke's on you [repeat ad infinitum]


Nite 'Toon: Obama's Useful Idiot



Political Cartoons by Bob Gorrell


"I can see the Jewish Lobby, unilateral disarmament, and Iranian containment from my house!"



Related Reading:

 

Hagel Brings The Stupid

The Hagel Nomination: Will It Survive?

 




Austerity? Federal Spending Set To Climb 2% This Year



Political Cartoons by Nate Beeler




By John Merline

In the wake of Wednesday's news that the economy contracted slightly in the last three months of 2012, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid laid the blame on budget cuts.

"The economy was rejecting the austerity and brinksmanship," he said.

That theme — that spending cuts are putting economic growth at risk — has been gaining traction these days, particularly among those on the left.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., said the GDP drop showed that pushing "big austerity measures now will hurt the recovery."

Former Obama economic adviser Jared Bernstein asserted U.S. policy has been based on "austerity at (a) time when we need a fiscal push."

And the liberal Center for American Progress complained that "fiscal austerity threatens the U.S. economy."

On the surface, it might look that way.

In its GDP report, for example, the Bureau of Economic Analysis said government spending dropped 6.6% in Q4. And unless Congress acts, more than $1 trillion in automatic spending cuts will start to kick in as part of the so-called sequester.

But dig a little deeper, and there's little to back up all this austerity talk.


Spending: Up

According to monthly spending data from the Treasury Dept., total federal spending — which includes transfer payments and other federal outlays not counted by the BEA — increased by $98 billion in Q4 compared with Q3. And spending was up $31 billion when compared with Q4 2011.

For the entire year, spending in 2012 was virtually unchanged from 2011, and was up $86 billion over 2010, a year when the government was still spending stimulus money in earnest.

Plus, the "fiscal cliff" deal worked out between President Obama and the Republicans actually added almost $50 billion to planned spending in 2013, and a total of $332 billion over the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Almost half of the 2013 increase will go to pay extended unemployment benefits, which Democrats have long argued are highly stimulative.

Reid himself has said that unemployment benefits "help our economy because recipients spend the cash they receive on the things they need right away."

In addition, even if the "sequester" should go through, federal spending will continue to climb.


No Real 'Cuts'

In fact, if nothing else changes, spending in 2013 will be $3.6 trillion, an increase of nearly 2% over 2012, according to data from the CBO. That's because the sequester's "cuts" are actually just reductions in planned spending hikes.

Nor is the federal government operating anything close to an austere budget when looked at as a share of the economy. According to the CBO, spending this year will account for 22.4% of GDP, a level reached only eight times since 1946 — four of which occurred under Obama.

Plus, the government keeps running massive deficits, which are also supposed to be stimulative. Deficits topped $1 trillion in 2012 — for the fourth year in a row — and are on track to reach that level again this year.

And the government has already racked up $292.4 billion of deficits in just the first three months of the 2013 fiscal year, which began last October, according to a Treasury report.

Another way to look at it is: Federal spending in 2012 was $121 billion higher than it would have been had the government just been left on autopilot during Obama's entire first term.

And it will be $23 billion higher this year.

Nor has austerity gripped state budgets, despite often repeated claims of "draconian" state spending cuts. In fact, state "general fund" spending climbed 3.4% last year and 3.5% the year before that, and is expected to increase 2.2% this year, according to the National Association of State Budget Officers.

Total state spending in 2012 was 12.5% higher than it was in 2008, NASBO data show.