Wednesday, November 30, 2011

When Propaganda Burns More Than Pepper-Spray

When Propaganda Burns More Than Pepper-Spray

via Big Journalism by Liberty Chick on 11/30/11

Today, students, faculty and supporters at the University of California, Davis, have called for a general strike to protest tuition hikes and to demand the resignation of Chancellor Linda Katehi after police pepper-sprayed eleven protesters who blocked a public access way at an #OccupyUCDavis event on November 18th. Students maintain it was Chancellor Katehi who requested the police remove the Occupy encampment and clear access to the facility.  The incident sparked a firestorm of media all across the world and has become a viral phenomenon, and now even an Internet meme.

We stand behind those calling for Chancellor Katehi's resignation.  But not for the reasons they might think.
The events of UC Davis and the way in which the pepper-spray was handled has set a number of dangerous precedents.  In the setting of academia, the rights of the majority of students are being trampled on to appease the tyranny of a minority.  Further, the very system of law and order and its public servants instituted to protect the rights of the public at large have been undermined by incompetent leaders, unable to withstand the growing pressure of a noisy minority and the corrupt media that supports it.  Most importantly, propaganda has established a foothold that is now stronger than ever, and far more dangerous than the short-term effects of pepper spray.
Over the last week, we have seen the media pick up the UC Davis story and run with it, always highlighting the same twenty seconds of one Officer Pike, methodically pepper-spraying eleven "peaceful protesters," while onlookers gasp and scream in horror and dismay.  The public was almost undivided in its immediate condemnation of the act.
But just as Winston Churchill once said, "A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on."  Perhaps in this case, it's not so much a lie, but a lot of omissions.
We know now that the Davis 11 locked arms to block the public access way, creating both a safety hazard and barring other students and the public from gaining access to facilities beyond that point.  What the media has never explained is that the protesters were repeatedly warned to clear the path.  Video shows officer Pike, the one with the pepper spray, informing each protester one last time that they would be "subject to the use of force" if they did not voluntarily move.  The protesters acknowledge the warning and hunker down for the consequences.
The media also never provides an accurate portrayal of why the students were protesting in the first place, and what prompted them to block the access way.  In an interview with Democracy Now, UC Davis Sustainable Agriculture student Elli Pearson, one of the protesters in the blockade who was pepper sprayed, reveals the truth.
She describes that the students were there to stand in solidarity with UC Berkeley students and the Occupy Wall Street movement, and to "protest tuition hikes that are happening at public universities all across the nation." Pearson goes on to explain:
"We linked arms and we sat down peacefully to protest their [riot police] presence on our campus, and then at one point we had encircled them [police] and they were trying to leave and trying to clear a path, and so we sat down and linked arms, and said that if they were trying to clear a path they would have to go through us."
When asked if the student protesters were given any sort of warning by police, Pearson responds:
"I believe they told maybe one student or maybe had some dialogue, but certainly not everyone could hear, it wasn't like an announcement that was made."
They intentionally encircled the police and blocked them in.  In doing so, the Davis 11 created a very serious public safety hazard.  But you'd never see that from the same twenty seconds of video splashed across every media outlet.  Not until other bloggers began to delve into the story did the more complete versions of the incident begin to crop up on video.
But by then, the damage was done.
Police Chief Annette Spicuzza and two officers, including Lt. John Pike, have already been placed on administrative leave, and petitions calling for their resignation have been collected.  Videos and internet memes of the "Casually Pepper Spray Everything Cop" have gone viral.  The hacktivist collective Anonymous posted Pike's information online and encouraged people to call and harass the officer.  YouTube has since removed the video for violating its policies, so the transcript of the video is as follows:
Greetings police forces of the world. We are Anonymous.
Since the beginning of the Occupy movement we have watched as police violence toward the otherwise peaceful protestors has steadily increased. Your brutalization of our citizens is both unjust and uncalled for. Your raids on our encampments and the illegal actions of corrupt officers within your ranks will no longer go unpunished.
Any officer found to be guilty of these crimes against peaceful protestors will be doxed and have their personal information released to the public. It is time you take a dose of your own medicine and stop hiding behind your badge.
U. C. Davis Campus Police, Lieutenant John Pike, Records Unit Manager.
You pepper sprayed a crowd of peaceful students sitting on the ground. You are a coward, and a bully.
A tool of the corrupt. A puppet for your masters.
Citizens of the world, flood his home phone at [REDACTED].
Flood his cell phone at [REDACTED].
Flood his email at, [REDACTED].
Flood his home with pizza deliveries and junk mail at [HOME ADDRESS REDACTED].
Flood his skype at [REDACTED].
Flood his phones, email and mailbox to voice your anger.
Flood the campus of U.C. Davis.
Flood the streets of the world and stand up for your rights, and against injustice.
We are Anonymous. We Are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us!
All of this before anyone could hear or see the other side of the story.
Other law enforcement personnel have explained that pepper spray is often used as a compliance tool when necessary.  "People don't consider what it takes to break up an unlawful assembly if the protestors refuse to disperse. It always takes some kind of force," said one law enforcement worker we spoke with.  The officers needed to remove the protesters, who'd linked arms to form a blockade.  Reaching in to manually break them apart would have required the use of physical force, while leaving the officers' weapons vulnerable to seizure.  In that case, most procedures indicate that pepper-spray is justified and the most humane of all options.  While it creates temporary discomfort for the protestors, it enables the officers to safely contain, and in this case, arrest the protesters in order to remove them from blocking the public's access.  Protesters have since admitted, they intentionally surrounded the police and blocked them in.  While the video footage shown on mainstream media may not appear this way, the complete footage that has since surfaced clearly backs up the officers' claims.
Police officers are public servants, they are people too.  Where are they supposed to turn when a situation has become so politicized that they aren't supported by their own chain of command?  Did these officers not have a right for the full video to be reviewed and an investigation conducted before being judged?
In March, some of the very same protesters encountered similar events during the March 4th Day of Action to Defend Public Education (video & photos), when protesters blocked a major California highway in a standoff with police, then went on to "Occupy" buildings and classrooms at UC Davis.  One of those participants listed was Kase Wheatley, the same protester featured in the high-end raincoat and overalls at the November 18th event as one of the Davis 11 in the video that's appeared all over the media.  Clearly, Kase is no stranger to such conflict, and apparently came prepared.
You see, Kase and other students like him have been at this for some time, supporting union causes like unionized teaching assistants at UC Davis and protesting union busting on behalf of AFSCME.
"The UC system has actually hired one of the premiere union busting firms in the country to basically break up the unions on campus," Wheatley said.  "They're all connected, it's happening all over the world. It's happening with riots and protests in Tunisia and Egypt, and all the way to the United States."
Instead of pointing out Kase's activism experience to provide balance, media outlets like MSNBC have exalted Kase to martyr status, where he was most recently heralded by Michael Moore, who calls the incident an iconic moment in the Occupy movement akin to "Tiananmen Square."
The ramifications of the pepper spray incident reach further than the topic of the use of force.  Too many fail to realize that 200 protesters in a school of over 30,000 tuition paying students is a tiny minority, less than 1 percent.  What about the 99 percent in this case?  The 99 percent who want to go about their daily routines, be safe on their college campus, not be afraid to voice their own opinions, and want to attend the classes they're paying for?
There is no better example of this majority than a young woman and a young man who spoke up at a Town Hall meeting that was held with Chancellor Katehi and other administrators from UC Davis.  As the woman so eloquently stated:
"My concern is what the events of the last week have been doing to the quality of our education. I know that myself personally I've already had two days worth of classes canceled by the professors, I expect to have more classes canceled on Monday with the general strike and I don't think I'm alone in this.  As was just stated, we have midterms coming up, we have finals coming up, and it's both ironic and sad that one of the initial starting points of this movement was to defend the right to education by not making it a classist place, and I do feel as though within the last week we have had some of those rights taken away from us.  Not only are we not able to attend class because of noise, but classes are actually being canceled, we don't have the option to go."

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Back to the 1930s

via The American Spectator and The Spectacle Blog by Green Lantern on 11/29/11

There's an old saying popular among liberals and leftists: "Anti-Semitism is the socialism of the stupid." The aphorism attempts to account for the troubling resemblance of the main propaganda line for socialism -- there is a small, infinitely powerful, infinitely wealthy cabal at the center of society that controls the entire economy -- with the other propaganda line that there is a small, infinitely powerful, infinitely wealthy, Jewish cabal at the center of society controlling everything. According to this flippant dismissal, only a stupid person would distort the shining truths of socialism by muddying them with theories about race or religion.
Somehow it never occurs to liberals that the equation also runs the other way. Socialism is the anti-Semitism of the intelligentsia.
The political dialogue of the "1 percent versus the 99 percent" that currently consumes the liberal press is beginning to take the aura of the 1930s. That was the era, of course, when the world was divided into the "plutocrats" and "the masses," when the Monopoly board's depiction of "the rich" as a portly, tuxedo-and-top-hat-wearing breed apart was perceived as social reality. It was the 1930s, after all, that gave us Daddy Warbucks, that billionaire-who-could-do-anything, who was, let us not forget, a friend of President Franklin Roosevelt.
So why anyone would want to revive the politics of a "low, dishonest decade," as W.H. Auden described it, that led directly to the outbreak of World War II? It seems beyond comprehension. Nevertheless, thanks to the distorted scholarship of liberal scholars and the New--Dealification of the economy under President Barack Obama, here we are back in 1935.
The Occupy Wall Street crowd, as anyone who has studied 1930s history can see, is only one or two steps away from becoming the Brown Shirts of our era. The run-up to World War II was fought in the precincts of Berlin and other European capitals by political gangs that had abandoned electoral politics and decided to win their case "into the streets." By comparison, the Occupy-Whatever movement has so far been relatively benign. There is the usual agitprop of trying to provoke the police into overreaction so that the aggressors can celebrate themselves as "victims of the establishment who have unmasked the iron fist of the establishment," etc. etc. (Why is it that every movement that starts out denouncing billionaires ends up fighting $35,000-a-year cops from Queens?)
In any case, the Occupiers' form of extra-political violence isn't likely to reach true 1930s levels until it abandons the relative safety of urban parks and college campuses and goes out to Iowa, where they are promising to "Occupy the Iowa Republican Caucuses." At that point things are likely to get nasty. While the relatively tame urban police forces have learned their lessons from the 1960s on how to deal with protesters, inexperienced folks out in the Midwest are not likely to be as tolerant of political thuggery.
So how did we get to a point most sensible historians had assumed we left 80 years behind us? There are two answers: President Obama's politics and liberal scholarship.
The Occupiers have the germ of a case -- just as did the inhabitants of Hoovervilles and the Bonus Army that descended on Washington in 1932. (They had written promises of bonuses for their service during World War I that Congress had failed to honor.) The economy stinks. There are few jobs to be had. Yet except for James Taranto in the Wall Street Journal, no news commentators have yet used the term "Obamaville" to describe the tent cities that have popped up around the country. Our President has managed to fashion the worst economy since the 1930s -- one that may soon eclipse the 1930s if Europe follows the present trend and goes under. Yet his only response has been to cartelize the economy in the manner of Franklin Roosevelt and then follow by emulating the worst demagogues of that era. Try this for example:
According to the tables which we have assembled, it is our estimate that 4 percent of the American people own 85 percent of the wealth of America and that over 70 of the American people don't own enough to pay the debts they owe. How many men ever went to a barbecue and would let one man take off the table what's intended for 9/10ths of the people to eat. The only way you'll ever be able to feed the balance of the people is to make that man come back and bring back some of the grub he ain't got no business with.
Is this Obama addressing a group of dewy-eyed freshmen in Colorado? No, it is Senator Huey Long of Louisiana, "The Kingfish," delivering his "Share the Wealth" address to an assembly of Congressional staffers in the Capitol Building in 1935. The Hill staffers applauded rapturously as Long went on to propose stripping John D. Rockefeller, Bernard Baruch, J.P. Morgan, Andrew Mellon, and the rest of the millionaires of all their wealth and redistributing it to the American people:
We say to America 125 million, none shall be too big, none shall be too poor… but… that America will become a land, sharing the fruits of the land, not for the favored few, not to satisfy greed but that all may live in the land in which the Lord has provided an abundance sufficient for the luxury and convenience of the people in general.
All that's missing is Obama's customary invocation of "folks."
But it isn't just the President's channeling of the demagogues of the 1930s that has created the poisonous mood. Liberal scholars have labored long and hard to bring about this moment. Two of the most noteworthy are Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, a pair of French Marxists who parachuted into Berkeley in the 1990s and without ever bothering to check out the neighborhood started dissecting income tax records trying to prove that America has as much inequality as France in the days of Louis XVI. All this has since been fought out in the academic journals, with Alan Reynolds standing toe-to-toe with Piketty and Saez, critiquing their work every step of the way. Suffice to say that P&S are the main source of the "1 percent" argument that has become the touchstone of Democratic politics.
Here's how P&S arrived at their conclusions:
1. First, they looked at individual tax returns, rather than households or families. Individual returns reflect every teenager who earned $3,000 at a summer job. Not taking account that people share income and support each other naturally skews things toward the lower end.
2. P&S took no account of government transfers, which now make up a huge portion of the income of poorer households. Welfare payments, SSI, food stamps, housing vouchers and Medicaid -- all are non-taxable and constitute a major source of income to most poor families.
3. A vast number of "the rich" who show up at the top end of the income scale are Subchapter S corporations, not individuals. The 1986 tax reform raised corporate taxes to 36 percent while lowering personal rates to 28 to 35 percent. This set off a stampede out of Schedule C corporate filings and into Subchapter S, where a corporation's earning can be shared by up to 100 individuals. Almost half the corporations in America now file "personal" income taxes. Banks making $10 million in revenues now file under Subchapter S. This makes it appear as if there are fabulously rich individuals roaming the land when in fact they are small and mid-sized corporations. By failing to take this into account, P&S decided there has been a huge and growing "inequality gap" since 1986.
All this is lost in the shuffle, however, as the campaign to scapegoat the "1 percent" becomes an obsession of the liberal obsession. The New York Times now runs a front-page story almost every day highlighting the comparison between "the 1 percent and the other 99." The one before Thanksgiving featured a lament of how the 99 percent must camp out in front of Targets and Wal-Mart "racing for bargains at ever-earlier hours while the rich mostly will not be bothering to leave home." Three days before that it was how "the gap between first class and coach" on international flights "has never been so wide."
Carriers… are offering private suites for first-class passengers, three-star meals and personal service once found only on corporate jets. They provide massages before takeoff, whisk passengers through special customs lanes and drive them in a private limousine right to the plane. Some have bars. One airline has installed showers onboard.
The amenities in the back of the cabin? Sparse.
That these luxury passengers are paying $15,000 a seat and provide more than half the revenues from each flight did not seem to make much difference.
Finally last Sunday the Times found an éminence grise in former Republican mayoral candidate Ron Lauder, who spearheaded the campaign to impose term limits on New York City politicians. Pictured in front if a $135 million painting in light that made him look like a German baron who supported the Nazis in 1933, Lauder was stigmatized as a manipulator "now worth $3.1 billion" who is making "shrewd use of the tax code [to achieve] deductions worth tens of millions of dollars in federal income taxes." Lauder's sin is that he has donated paintings from his personal collection to establish the Neue Galerie of Austrian and German art in Manhattan. When the New York Times starts pillorying art galleries, you know you're in a new era.
Still, all this hasn't been enough for Paul Krugman, the only certifiable lunatic ever to win a Nobel Prize. Last Friday Krugman informed readers that aiming at the 1 percent is all wrong. They should be raising their sites:
If anything… the 99 percent slogan aims too low. A large fraction of the top 1 percent's gains have actually gone to an even smaller group, the top 0.1 percent -- the richest one-thousandth of the population.
Dismissing the objection that the .01 percent might include some "job creators" (Times style is now to put ironic quotation marks around "job creators"), Krugman goads his followers to action:
So should the 99.9 percent hate the 0.1 percent? No, not at all. But they should ignore all the propaganda about "job creators" and demand that the super-elite pay substantially more in taxes.
Seriously, what's the point of singling out the "0.1 percent" if not to hate them? But let's go Krugman one better. I'll bet it's not just the 0.1 percent or the 0.01 percent or the 0.0001 percent that's responsible for this country's ailing economy. I'll be there's one individual behind it all, one sinister billionaire who is manipulating the system, thwarting poor old President Obama efforts to bring prosperity to the people. I'll bet we even know his name. It's Goldstein, Emmanuel Goldstein.

Why Does The Media Hate The Police?

Why Does The Media Hate The Police?

via Big Journalism by Accuracy in Media on 11/28/11

From Accuracy in Media's Cliff Kincaid:

Brian Williams of NBC Nightly News attacked the police at UC Davis during a recent broadcast. He said the demonstrators were just "sitting on a sidewalk peacefully protesting" when they were pepper-sprayed. Inviting members of his viewing audience to take the side of the protesters, he said, "Imagine those are your kids sitting on the sidewalk." In fact, some of those "kids" were non-student agitators. They were locked arm-in-arm and had refused reasonable and repeated requests to move. They were threatening the educational atmosphere on campus by erecting a tent city that was luring increasing numbers of criminal outsiders. They wanted a confrontation and got it. What's more, they got it on film, making sure they could portray the police in the worst possible light, without context or background to the confrontation that should have been avoided.
Doesn't Brian Williams have the ability to get facts on the ground before going public with sensational and wild allegations against the police?

Sitting in the comfort of his New York studio, Williams ignored the statement issued by Linda P.B. Katehi, the Chancellor of UC Davis, when she noted that "…on Thursday a group of protesters including UC Davis students and other non-UC Davis affiliated individuals established an encampment of about 25 tents on the Quad." Notice the reference to "non-UC Davis affiliated individuals," including outside agitators.

Katehi said, "The group was reminded that while the university provides an environment for students to participate in rallies and express their concerns and frustrations through different forums, university policy does not allow such encampments on university grounds."
So the radicals were there in violation of university policy, interfering with the rights of others. The head of a college or university clearly had a responsibility to act under those circumstances.

The chancellor went on:

"On Thursday, the group stayed overnight despite repeated reminders by university staff that their encampment violated university policies and they were requested to disperse. On Friday morning, the protestors were provided with a letter explaining university policies and reminding them of the opportunities the university provides for expression. Driven by our concern for the safety and health of the students involved in the protest, as well as other students on our campus, I made the decision not to allow encampments on the Quad during the weekend, when the general campus facilities are locked and the university staff is not widely available to provide support."

So the chancellor wanted to keep the campus safe on the weekend, for the benefit of the real students who were there. Was she expected to let more and more outsiders assemble on campus, to the detriment of the students paying to get an education?

She continued:

"During the early afternoon hours and because of the request to take down the tents, many students decided to dismantle their tents, a decision for which we are very thankful. However, a group of students and non-campus affiliates decided to stay. The university police then came to dismantle the encampment. The events of this intervention have been videotaped and widely distributed. As indicated in various videos, the police used pepper spray against the students who were blocking the way."

Clearly, Brian Williams of NBC News misled his viewers about what these "kids" really did. They flouted the law, interfering with the rights of others.
Veteran FBI agent Rick Hahn said he had a response to Williams' request for parents to judge the "students." He said:

"I want my child to obey the law. Therefore, if my child is ordered by police to clear an area, I expect my child to respect that and obey the law. If my child does not obey the law, then, I expect my child to be arrested. Why?  Because my child did not obey the law. And if my child resists arrest, I expect the police to forcibly affect the arrest. Why? Because that is their duty."

In order to make the point that the police were somehow going beyond their lawful duty and authority, Brian Williams said they were "methodically spraying students with debilitating law enforcement-grade thick pepper spray that's meant to cover like spray paint." Notice the use of the inflammatory language designed to incite public sentiment against the police, who were being encircled by the demonstrators as they tried to move the offenders.
As Rick Hahn points out, the use of pepper spray was designed to reduce problems caused by the physical relocation of the protesters. He says:

"If the police choose to forcibly effect the arrest not by merely physically engaging my child, an action that could lead to serious injury to both my child and the police officers involved, but rather by taking another step to diminish the physical ability of my child to resist arrest, say by dispersing pepper spray or tear gas, I accept that. After all, my child has broken the law by refusing to comply with a police order and has escalated the situation by resisting arrest. Is it therefore reasonable to hope that rather than engaging my child in physical combat, wrestling, punching or worse using billy clubs or truncheons, that the police disperse a chemical to make my child less resistant and, hence, less likely to be injured? My answer is yes, by all means it is reasonable."

Hahn, a veteran of the FBI's battles against domestic terrorists and communists, added, "Perhaps Brian Williams and much of his audience are too young to remember the beatings by fisticuffs and billy clubs that marked the various confrontations between police and demonstrators in the 1960s, but I remember well. Heads were beaten, arms were broken, and people were kicked, bitten and bloodied in physical contests of arrest and resist between police and demonstrators. It was ugly, and I'm sure that many of the demonstrators and police still carry the damage from those wounds to this day."

Some of those confrontations were engineered by members of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), whose leaders had been to Cuba to learn tactics of confrontation and even guerrilla warfare. It is time to examine who and what is behind the "Occupy" movement and why billionaire George Soros is financing it.

By attacking the police for their rational and reasonable response to unlawful protests, media coverage of the kind demonstrated by Brian Williams makes it almost certain that there will be more escalation. Chancellor Katehi is already on the defensive, apparently thinking that pandering to the protesters will save her job.

The situation is dire: the campus police chief and two police officers were put on administrative leave, Chancellor Katehi was shouted down at a demonstration while trying to apologize, and the radicals have erected their tents again. The mobs are taking over UC Davis.
The losers will include real students there for a real education, unless they organize quickly to safeguard their rights. Katehi should take a strong stand in favor of law and order on campus, support the police and quickly reinstate the chief and the officers unfairly and hastily put on leave. That is the only way to restore public confidence in her running of the university.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Were Wall Street Banks Bailed Out?

Were Wall Street Banks Bailed Out?

via Power Line by John Hinderaker on 11/26/11

(John Hinderaker)
What kind of a question is that? Doesn't everyone know that the great bailout of the last decade was of "the big banks"? Isn't that why small groups of Occupiers are shivering in public parks and plazas across the country? Isn't the bailout of Wall Street the reason why millions of Americans have lost faith in both their government and private enterprise?
I used to think that revisionist history could be written only after lots of people who know better have died. Over the years, however, I have realized that this isn't true. It is common to see history rewritten before our eyes. Still, even in that context, the myth of the Wall Street bailout is remarkable. A very smart reader with decades of experience in finance writes:
The continuous noise from the left, the MSM and, of late, the Occupy Wall Street rabble and their enablers about "banks" being "bailed out" has now gone beyond normal bounds of exaggerated political rhetoric and verged into financial Luddism and demonization. In fact, the left and MSM have so successfully seized the dominant narrative that it is taken now as an immediately obvious fact that the "Wall Street banks" were "bailed out" by taxpayers.
But is it true? Were the banks really "bailed out"? The image suggested is that the U.S. government just "gave" money to large banks, no questions asked…and thereby rescued them, apparently by making them whole on losses incurred in a corrupt process.
But this picture of the TARP program in 2008-9 is completely false, especially compared to actual bailouts made to Democratic constituencies that DO conform to the "bank bailout" image: the auto industry quasi-nationalization and UAW payoff and the exercise of FNMA/FHLMC guarantees. The bank programs were nothing like the bailout of GM or Chrysler, which were actually given money both directly and indirectly, through special tax legislation creating a loophole worth about $45 billion in foregone taxes, most of which will never be recovered. And at the same time an irregular process robbed senior creditors–now THAT's a bailout!
But in what sense were "the banks" bailed out? They weren't in fact "given" any of our money. Indeed, most of the largest banks which were perfectly healthy were forced to take TARP funds so that there would be no stigma attached to the few large unhealthy banks…and the MANY unhealthy small community and regional banks.
Banks in a fractional reserve system are uniquely fragile. They don't actually "have" any of their "own" money, of course; they have mostly other people's money–deposits, CDs and wholesale funds (interbank loans and other debts) on a relatively small capital or equity base to fund their assets (loans). NO bank is or can be solvent if the public thinks it is not. That's why a run is a self fulfilling prophecy.
The Fed and Treasury were acting as lenders of last resort to the entire banking system which was experiencing a classic run. This is EXACTLY what they are supposed to do: offer short term liquidity facilities in an emergency–loans, not grants–collateralized by illiquid but valuable assets. Indeed, in a bit of irony–or double standards–agencies like the FDIC and the Federal Reserve System, collectively designed to prevent and ameliorate runs on the banking system, were formerly proclaimed as Progressive and New Deal triumphs precisely because they prevented harm not to "the banks" but to their creditors and borrowers and the economy as a whole.
Virtually all of loans made to the large "Wall Street banks" were repaid in short order–and profitably!–again, exactly what you would expect. In fact, the 30 largest institutions got about a quarter of the program amount and the balance went to hundreds of small, regional banks, notoriously unstable particularly from exposure to commercial real estate lending. They were the principal lenders to the real estate developers who were actually building all the bubble housing. In fact, it is exactly the SMALL banks, the homely, patriotic, local, "It's A Wonderful Life" community banks who are the scofflaws–the reckless lenders to real estate developers–who remain "bailed out", not "Wall Street."

From SIGTARP Report 10/31/2011:
A common misperception is that most of the 707 TARP banks have paid back TARP, when really only the largest banks have exited TARP. Smaller and medium size banks are not exiting TARP with the same speed as the larger banks, with approximately 400 still in TARP. Of these, nearly half are not paying their TARP dividend and in some cases, the banks are operating under an order by their regulator. Compared to larger banks, community banks may face an uphill battle to exit TARP. Community banks do not have the same access to capital as the larger banks. They are more ex­posed to distressed commercial real estate related assets and non-performing loans.
The "Wall Street banks" weren't "bailed out." Depositors, lenders and the entire financial system–one could say, the 99%–were bailed out. This includes, of course, those 99%-ers who successfully flipped houses with sub-prime financing (one third of sub-prime loans in California in '06 – '08) and those 99%-ers who sold at the top of the bubble at inflated prices and had enormous windfalls of capital gains.
So in what sense were "banks" "bailed out?" They weren't "given" anything–and certainly not by the 47% paying no income taxes! Large banks were forced to take liquidity loans by the lender of last resort to prevent a bank run, protecting the 99%…while their equity holders got mercilessly hammered in the market, essentially wiped out. Most "bankers" had huge amounts of their bonuses and net worth in options or in equity in the bank, respectively, which also became nearly worthless. Hundreds of thousands of "bankers" lost their jobs and will never work in finance again, most likely. This is a "bailout?"
Look closely at who REALLY got bailed out, defined as having government grants or equity infusions or long term unremitted TARP or government guarantees funded, together with anticipated permanent losses. The largest single holders of government funds remaining are:

It's all a convenient distraction from the government sponsored and engineered housing bubble, which was aided and abetted by a huge and pervasive real estate industrial complex in every Congressional district lavishly maintained by lobbying and funding from FNMA and FHLMC to keep the game going. After all, where did the loan proceeds GO? ANSWER: to developers, brokers, construction unions, contractors, landowners, lawyers, appraisers, servicers, local governments and boosters, real estate agents…AND homeowners. And house flippers, getting windfall gains.
That's where the wealth transfers from the bubble overwhelmingly ended up. The fees "Wall Street bankers" made (2% – 3%) and the net interest spread and returns expected by investors–but subject to losses–pale in comparison to the application of proceeds to the other beneficiaries. It is impossible for it to be otherwise. You might call them the 99%. Sure, the banks got fees but the 99% got the aggregate net principal from the loans. In the end there was, indeed, a wealth transfer, ultimately from taxpayers (and to a lesser extent from investor losses) paying for FNMA/FHLMC and other government agencies. But the wealth transfer was primarily TO the 99%, not to the "Wall Street banks".
The real story here, as the numbers show, is the disastrous role and huge bailout of FNMA/FHLMC–Friends of Bill (Clinton) and Friends of Barry O and Barney (Frank) and Chris (Dodd). FNMA/FHLMC is government directed industrial policy for the housing and real estate sectors. Banking and finance is always a derivative or "following" activity, led by the "real" economic sectors. Banks certainly accommodated the housing bubble and in the process kept it going, but they didn't create it. The government did, responding to and developing further long-standing New Deal/Great Society housing initiatives.
Of course, the banks large and small made as much money as they could from the process, as did everyone else, and did become reckless. They're hardly innocents in this sad tale, but they weren't "bailed out" in the commonly understood sense. And taxpayers will end up holding the bag for the government which directed allocation of capital to housing and to automobile worker unions, not to Wall Street.
But we shouldn't hold our collective breath for an Occupy FNMA/HUD, or Occupy GM, or Occupy Local Friendly Bank, or Occupy Barney any time soon. For the left and the MSM, the story line of the "Wall Street banks" is just too good to check.
The large banks ("Wall Street") are being demonized for accepting loans which some or most of them did not want, and which they repaid quickly with interest. I am not sure whether it has been publicly reported, but the CEO of one of the largest banks–one that recently was besieged by "Occupiers"–repeatedly refused to accept TARP money, and was finally told that he would not be permitted to leave the room until he signed a TARP agreement.

OWS arrest total nearing 5000

OWS arrest total nearing 5000

via American Thinker Blog on 11/27/11

A spreadsheet detailing arrests by date and location. Don't hold your breath waiting for the media to report the five thousandth arrest as a milestone.

Occupy Wall Street: The Implications on the Bill of Rights

Occupy Wall Street: The Implications on the Bill of Rights

via Big Government by Of Thee I Sing 1776 on 11/25/11

For very good and valid reasons, Americans understand the extraordinary importance of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the right peacefully to assemble for redress of grievances.  That, of course, is the rationale for the Occupy Wall Street ("OWS") movement by which thousands of protestors are encamping in various public places around the country.

Our courts recognize few exceptions for the placing of limits on this exercise of free speech and in fact have themselves studied the issue in cases unrelated to OWS.  Courts recently have been debating whether limits on speech enacted by legislative bodies are constitutional.  As an example, a law prohibiting candidates for public office from lying about their opponents' voting records during campaigns is drawing judicial scrutiny as an unconstitutional prohibition on protected free speech.  This matter is a serious one and whether we agree or not with OWS protestors (or tea party assemblies) we need to treat the subject based on constitutional principles rather than our own political predilections.  So why have the authorities suddenly stirred themselves to action to clean out OWS sites?

For one thing authorities have suddenly recognized some very important public principles:

First, public facilities are being taken over for the benefit of a few people as part of their attempt to advance solely their cause.  Parkland in central cities is very scarce and has been misused by groups who pitch tents from end to end in these parks and prevent (and in some instances intimidate) ordinary citizens from using public land.  Often these tent cities are abandoned during the day while the occupiers leave and go about their regular lives (going to work, going home, attending entertainment venues, etc.)

Recently, there has been a major spike in violence including shootings.  In Oakland protestors succeeded in shutting down the ports, which are a major, job producer in that city.  According to the San Francisco Chronicle "OWS protestors gathered up for their general assembly meeting and withdrew a resolution calling for future demonstrations to remain peaceful.  A faction of the protest group has advocated violence as a 'diversity in tactics' approach to demonstrating."  Deaths have occurred in other cities as well, including Burlington, Vermont.   Secondly, there is an important public health issue that has arisen.  Protestors have been overwhelming the sanitary facilities at nearby businesses, cleaning and relieving themselves at bathrooms not built for such volume.  Finally, city authorities who have appeared to be looking the other way see that they have to take action.

The Weekly Standard on November 5 noted, "[a real] occupation of Wall Street isn't going to happen.  Instead, it is something under which the left marches.  For the left, all politics is about occupation.  One country, one class or one group takes from another.  Politics is seen as national warfare or class struggle, or one group grasping for advantages over some other."

Moreover, Congressman Denny Rehberg summed it all up with an idea to respond to OWS with a call to liberate Wall Street.
We're over-taxed in small business, over-regulated, and over-litigated, and you can pick and choose which ones you want to address, but the government should be trying to lessen the tax burden, lessen the regulatory burden, and get the litigation out of the way," Rehberg said.  More broadly, Liberate Main Street provides a rubric for a conservative agenda that contrasts with Occupy Wall Street.  It would be an agenda that works to foster opportunity, not envy; that seeks change through democratic processes, not mob pressure; that encourages enterprise, not resentment; that enlarges the sphere of personal and civic freedom, not big government; that liberates Americans' energies, rather than pandering to their weaknesses; that acts to fix Wall Street's problems, not to demonize American business.

That violence has been on the agenda of elements within the OWS movement from the get-go is really no longer debatable.  Ironically, the right peaceably to assemble is being compromised by those who want to turn thoughtful assembly into aimless mockery and occasional violence not just because of Wall Street, but also in support of every demand on every radical wish list from abolishment of all debt to the end of capitalism, corporations and government itself. Throw in a cheering section here and there for Chavez, Castro, and a sprinkling of crude anti-Semitism, and you have a movement that isn't a movement at all, but rather a grand gripe conclave where those with real concerns and legitimate grievances are elbowed aside by those with agendas that serve no constructive purpose.

The time has come for law-abiding people of the left and the right to prevent peaceful assembly from being hijacked.  Police, as happened in New York, cannot standby and look the other way.  Finally, on November 15th, the Bloomberg administration stirred itself and closed Zuccotti Park (itself not a public park) because of the threat of violence and serious concern over public health.

We frequently write about American Exceptionalism by which we mean the unique opportunity our citizens have to legitimately pursue their dreams free from interference by government.  This kind of opportunity cannot exist without the rule of law, which in the case of America is grounded in our Constitution, the centerpiece of which is the Bill of Rights.  If we Americans want to maintain and protect our Bill of Rights  (from which our right to peacefully assemble derives), all citizens must respect and vigorously support law enforcement that protects both the rights of the assembled as well as the rights of the communities in which these assemblages take place.

By Hal Gershowitz and Stephen Porter

The European Media Sure Handles OWS Differently

The European Media Sure Handles OWS Differently

via Big Journalism by John Sexton on 11/28/11

Type "Occupy anti-capitalist" into Google News and you'll see a bunch of European news outlets returning results. You'll have to search harder for instances of US papers referring to US occupiers as anti-capitalist. It happens, but rarely.

Here's a sample of headlines and culled descriptions from papers in England, Scotland, France, Germany, Switzerland, Australia and Denmark. Notice that these are news stories not opinion pieces:
  • Daily MailAnti-capitalist demonstrators have constructed a 'slum city' made of wooden shacks on an historic civic green.
  • Daily Mail - Having resigned as Canon Chancellor of St Paul's over its handling of the anti-capitalist protesters camped outside the cathedral, trendy vicar the Rev Dr Giles Fraser is enjoying his moment in the spotlight.
  • Guardian – 'Occupy' anti-capitalism protests spread around the world
  • Scotsman – EDINBURGH city council has been criticised after it pledged its backing to the anti-capitalist movement that has occupied St Andrew Square.
  • Huff Post UK – Occupy London: An Accountant By Day, An Anti-Capitalist By Night, Who Are The Protesters?
  • London Evening Standard - More than half of all planned school trips to St Paul's Cathedral have been cancelled since anti-capitalist protesters set up camp last month.
  • AFPAnti-capitalist activists formally opened their third London site Saturday, in a ceremony marking the transformation of a building owned by Swiss financial giant UBS into a "bank of ideas".
  • TelegraphAnti-capitalist protesters are locked in a legal battle with Mayor Michael Bloomberg
  • Glasgow Evening TimesAnti-capitalist protest returns to city centre
  • Mirror – St Paul's Cathedral suspends legal action against anti-capitalist protesters
  • BBC – Anti capitalist protesters in Glasgow's George Square have reached an agreement with the council over plans to relocate
  • BBC – Anti-capitalist demonstrations, inspired by the protests outside St Paul's Cathedral, have taken root in a park in Brighton and in Bournemouth.
  • BBC – Anti-capitalist protesters camping outside St Paul's Cathedral in London have said they are considering an offer to allow them to stay until 2012.
  • Wales Online – Police use old bylaw to sweep away anti-capitalist protesters' camp in front of Cardiff Castle
  • Independent - The Lord Mayor's Show passed off peacefully in London yesterday, despite the fear of disruption from anti-capitalist protesters.
  • The Local Switzerland – Police made a number of arrests on Tuesday morning as anti-capitalist protesters were evicted from a park in central Zurich.
  • The Local GermanyAnti-capitalist protesters set up tent cities
  • Der Spiegel [Germany] – The "Occupy Germany" faction appears to be hoping for a kind of revitalization of the mass anti-capitalist movement seen in Germany that began around the turn of the century and culminated in the at times violent and often creative mass protests at the G-8 summit in Heiligendamm in 2006.
  • Herald Sun [Australia] – About 60 anti-capitalist demonstrators set up overnight, with the lawn littered with tarps that are being used as makeshift beds.
  • El Watan [France] – Ils dénoncent sans ambages le capitalisme, les inégalités et les disparités économiques. [They unequivocally denounce capitalism, inequality and economic disparity.]
  • Le Monde [France] – Un nouveau signe du mouvement de protestation anti-capitaliste qui déferle sur toute l'Amérique? [A new sign of the anticapitalist protest movement that is sweeping across America?]
  • Le Matin [France] – Le mouvement anti-capitaliste «Occupy Wall Street» veut se muer en marque. [The anti-capitalist movement "Occupy Wall Street" will be turned into brand.]
  • Arbejder [Denmark's communist news] – I New York havde myndighederne truet med at ville rydde Zuccotti-parken, som de anti-kapitalistiske aktivister har besat de sidste tre uger… [In New York authorities had threatened to would clear Zuccotti Park, as the anti-capitalist activists have occupied the last three weeks...]
By contrast, US papers have rarely applied the term anti-capitalist to the protests, even when the term has appeared in print it is often frowned upon by the author.

  • NY Times – Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, called the protesters "a growing mob," and Herman Cain, a Republican presidential candidate, said the protests are the work of "jealous" anti-capitalists.
  • NY Times – to the New York Police Department, the protesters represented something else: a visible example of lawlessness akin to that which had resulted in destruction and violence at other anticapitalist demonstrations
  • Washington Post – Republicans have largely dismissed Occupy Wall Street as a band of anti-capitalist ruffians…
I did find a few clear examples of major papers labeling the protests as anti-capitalist:
  • Washington Post – New York's budding anti-capitalism protest movement began last month with a vague sense of grievance over the widening gap between the rich and poor in America.
  • LA Times – in general, the Occupy Wall Street movement is anti-capitalist, blaming the financial institutions and corporate greed for the recent recession
Given that the founder of OWS, Kalle Lasn, runs an explicitly anti-capitalist magazine, should this really be such a controversial term? And what about the attempt to shut down shopping on Black Friday and the coming attempt to do the same at Christmas (Occupy Xmas). At some point, isn't it fair to note that Occupy is anti-capitalist? Reporters in Europe think so. Why not here?

For the Record… More Blacks Supported Tea Party Movement Than Support #Occup...

For the Record… More Blacks Supported Tea Party Movement Than Support #Occupy Movement

via The Gateway Pundit by Jim Hoft on 11/26/11

They must be racists.

Today the Washington Post reported that African Americans, who are 12.6 percent of the U.S. population, make up only 1.6 percent of Occupy Wall Street.
It's too bad the Occupy Movement couldn't be like the tea party.
An April 2010 Gallup poll found that 6% of tea party support came from non-hispanic blacks.

Up twinkles for the tea party.
Where's the NAACP?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Minority employees and “making it” in America

Minority employees and “making it” in America

via Bookworm Room by Bookworm on 11/24/11

Mr. Bookworm works for a very large corporation.  While we were in the car with the kids, the conversation turned to the exquisite sensitivity the corporation has to show when it's faced with firing a minority employee. The process is arduous, requiring huge HR involvement, dozens of staff interviews and a lengthy paper trail.

The reason for this labor intensive firing is the unfortunate fact that minorities tend to be less satisfactory employees. As Mr. Bookworm was at great pains to point out to the children (and correctly so), this is a group trend and has nothing to do with the merits of any individual minority employee. It's just that, if you look at a bell curve of minority employees versus a bell curve of white employees, you'll find more white employees than minority employees in the segment denoting "good worker." No modern corporation, however, wants a reputation as a "firer of minorities."

The above are facts. What fascinated me was the different spin Mr. Bookworm and I put on those facts. Mr. Bookworm sent twenty minutes explaining to the children that, to the extent blacks were poorer employees, it was because their culture made them incapable of working. (This was not meant as an insult. He was talking, of course, about the culture of poverty.).

Mr. Bookworm painted a picture of a black child living in a ghetto, with a single mother who gave birth to him when she was 14, with several siblings from different fathers, with a terrible school, surrounded by illiterates, hungry all the time, etc.  No wonder, he said, that this child doesn't bring to a corporation the same work ethic as a middle class white kid.

This creates big problems for corporations.  A modern corporation truly wants to hire minorities.  Once it's hired them, though, according to my liberal husband, it ends up with workers who are incapable of functioning in a white collar, corporate environment. The corporation therefore finds itself forced to fire it's minority hires more frequently than white or Asian employees, with the result that it's accused of racism. Its response to that accusation is to proceed with excessive caution and extreme due diligence whenever a black employee fails at the job.

I suggested to the children that something different than downtrodden black culture might be going on. Past generations of immigrants in America labored under the same handicap as the current generation of blacks (and, I guess, Hispanics).  Irish Catholics, Jews, Italians, Poles — no matter the label, you could spell out for them the same sorry tale Mr. Bookworm told about the hypothetical black kid, a story of poverty, parental illiteracy, poor schools, hunger, etc.

The difference, I told the kids, was that, back in the day, neither laws nor popular culture affirmatively protected these people. They were barred from the universities, banks, and law firms. Their response was to be better and work harder.  They carved out new industries (e.g., Hollywood.)  They made themselves more American than all the other Americans put together. They made their entrance into the mainstream a fait accompli.

At this point, I interrupted myself to ask the kids a question:  You're taking a class that you don't really like, but you want to get an "A".  Do you work as hard as you possibly can, or do you do the bare minimum to get by?  I got a resounding "Duh!" from both kids. "Of course you do the bare minimum."

"Okay, then. Why don't we give blacks credit for being smart, not helpless. Since they know that, once they're through the door, it's virtually impossible to fire them, why should they do more work than they have to?  Just as you wouldn't work any harder for an 'A' than you need to in a class you don't particularly like, why should they work any harder for job security in a job they don't particularly like?  That's not helpless thinking; that's smart-allocation-of-personal-resources thinking."

And no, that doesn't mean that all blacks are bad employees. There are a gazillion blacks out there who work hard because they want to, because they like to, or because it's the right thing to do — which is precisely why whites work hard.  But there are clearly also a lot of blacks out there who neither like nor want to work hard, and they've figured out that a toxic combination of white guilt and fear of liability for workplace discrimination creates an out for them.  This doesn't make blacks helpless and stupid. It makes them savvy marketplace consumers.

The above discussion revealed another interesting difference in the way Mr. Bookworm and I look at the world. When I gave my Catholics, Jews, Irish, Italian, etc., example, Mr. Bookworm said that I was describing incrementalism, which has no validity today.

What is "incrementalism"?  It's the notion that success in Americ may be the work of several generations. This was the old pattern:  You, the immigrant, arrive at Ellis Island, illiterate, unable to speak English,  and a foreigner to the culture.  Unsurprisingly, you end up in a ghetto. Your children go to school.  They do not become CEOs, but they move into the working class — something that could never have happened in your own class-stratified, antisemitic or anti-Catholic or anti-Irish or anti-whatever home country. Your grandchildren thrn move into the lower middle class, or even the middle- or upper-middle class. In two or three, or maybe four, generations, your family has made it in America.

Mr. Bookworm's view is that this slow, upward trajectory is wrong. In today's world, welfare, social policies and PC hiring practices should ensure that, not only is there a chicken in every pot, but every family should have a high level white collar worker just one generation out from poverty. I happen to believe that, while there will always be young people with drive and initiative who can make this leap, expecting it from the big part of the bell curve is ridiculous and impossible. Wrapping our educational, economic and social policies around this goal is a recipe for wasted money, ungainly government programs, personal failures, and class disappointment. In other words, it's how we ended up with OWS.

FDU Poll: Fox News Makes You Stupid (Ignore Our Margin Of Error)

via Big Journalism by Evan Pokroy on 11/24/11

It's Thursday. You know what that means don't you? Another university "study" that proves that viewers of Fox News are uninformed boobs. This time it's out of Farleigh-Dickinson University in New Jersey. Their shocking claim is "watching Fox News makes you less informed than watching nothing at all."

Their telephone poll of 612 New Jersey adults purportedly shows that the Fox News watching people don't know the right answer to a few questions the pollsters asked. That is to say, the right answers according to the pollsters.
The first question is about Egypt and whether or not the protests have been successful in bringing down the regime there. The expected answer is, of course, yes. Only 49% of FNC watchers responded "correctly" while 68% of NPR listeners did.
So, did the protesters in Tahrir Square bring down the regime? I guess that depends on how you define "the regime." Following three weeks of protests, President Hosni Mubarak was forced to step down and his National Democratic Party (NDP) was dissolved. It was at this point that the Armed Forces of Egypt officially took control. So, why is this ambiguous in any way? Well, Mubarak and the entire upper echelon of the NDP were military. As a matter of fact, the Egyptian military have been the de facto rulers of Egypt since the military coup of 1952 that ousted King Farouk and ushered in the Nassar regime. So, the only real change in Egypt was cosmetic.
In addition, it wouldn't be too far off to say that, of all the coverage of the "Arab Spring," one of the few news outlets that was not reflexively cheerleading it was Fox News. Outside of the first few days of heady enthusiasm, where it all appeared to be a spontaneous push for freedom and democracy, it has become clear that many of the Arab nations that have removed their previous autocratic leaders have not been moving in a positive direction. There is a troubling move from Communist/Socialist autocrats towards Islamist autocrats. Needless to say, there has been no real change in the leadership of Egypt with the exception of getting rid of Hosni Mubarak.
The second question was whether or not the opposition in Syria has been able to bring down the regime there.  Amongst those giving the wrong answer, there was no statistical difference. All people answering, grouped by primary news source, came within 4% of each other. When the reported margin of error is 3.5%, you have no real grounds making claims that one group is getting it wrong. That is, unless you're now looking not at who answered incorrectly, but at who answered that he didn't know. The coverage of what has been going on in Syria has been spotty at best. For someone to answer that they don't know is not an incorrect answer, it just means that they admit to not being having an informed opinion.

The final question on the poll was about the makeup of the Occupy X protestors. Respondents were asked if the "occupiers" were more likely to be Democrats or Republicans. MSNBC watchers were more likely to say that the protestors were Republicans and less likely to say they were Democrats. Fox News watchers and CNN watchers were pretty much even. Granted, most of the results of this question are also within the margin of error, with the exception of "Daily Show" and NPR viewers, who overwhelming see the Occupy folks as Democrats and not Republicans. This is probably due to the fact that Stewart and NPR have been cheerleading these people from day one.  It is surprising that MSNBC viewers did so poorly here, considering the activist roll some MSNBC hosts have been playing in the Obamaville protests.
Needless to say, while the poll is interesting, the analysis is completely specious. It tosses away the left's favorite word when dealing with foreign relations, nuance. The only question, of the three main topics, that it could be say that FNC viewers might be misinformed does not take the possibility that there may be more than one correct answer in to account. Nor does it take into account the facts on the ground.
The fine folks at Farleigh-Dickinson should work more on bettering the 1-9 record of their football team and less time trying to bash Fox News viewers. It would probably stand them in better stead.

Thanksgiving Proclamation

via Big Government by Publius on 11/24/11

By the President of the United States of America.
A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.
In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.
By the President: Abraham Lincoln
William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

No such thing as “good polygamy”

No such thing as “good polygamy”

British Columbia Supreme Court Chief Justice, Robert Bauman, has ruled that the government of Canada may continue to prohibit polygamy because, although the law does impinge on the right to freedom of religion, that harm is outweighed by the harms that polygamy inflicts on women and children, and to the institution of monogamous marriage. “There is no such thing as so-called ‘good polygamy’,” said Bauman.
The Alliance Defence Fund, an association of Christian lawyers represented by Gerald Chipeur in the court case, said that the court “recognized that marriage is about children and parents, and that Parliament has a very important role to play in protecting the family. The court also recognized that Parliament, not the courts, has the authority to define marriage.” The court had accepted their argument “that, under the Constitution of Canada, Parliament may define marriage as no more than two people,” said Chipeur.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Assault And Pepper | Wizbang

Assault And Pepper | Wizbang

Some key points here:

– The officers informed the protesters that they were about to start pepper spraying, and the protesters were cool with that.

– The officers detained several protesters at the outset.

– The crowd didn’t like that, started demanding the officers release them, and surrounded the officers.

No, the protesters weren’t being aggressive. But they weren’t exactly passive, either — they were pulling the classic passive-aggressive move. They were doing all they could to piss off the officers without provoking them.

I still stand by my earlier argument: of all their options, they took the least worst one.

Upon what basis can an Occupy protest ask someone to leave?

Upon what basis can an Occupy protest ask someone to leave?

via by (Natalie Solent (Essex)) on 11/23/11

... because "This is private property" or any other version of "You have no right to be here" are open to some fairly obvious ripostes.
"We were here first" - "Er, not quite first. The actual owners of the space were there before you."
"We are the 99%" - "We're poorer than you, you middle class ****-ers"
"We represent the 99%" - "Who voted for you, then?"
"We are the official accredited Occupiers" - "We refuse to be defined by your oppressive structures, and hereby declare ourselves to be Occupying this Occupation!"
I have been reading the minutes of the General Assembly of the Occupy protesters who have taken over the empty UBS bank building in Sun Street, Hackney. One area of concern does seem to be people "abusing the space".

If people want to stay over night (sleep-overs) they need (1) to be part of a working group (2) They need to have an on-going task that warrants their stay. There will be 'monitors' to make sure sleep-overs are not abusing the space. Individuals that stay over and are found to not be working will be given one warning before being asked to leave.
And if they say no, what then? When a warning is given, it must be a warning of something. Presumably it is a warning that the bigger group of Occupiers will eject the smaller group of Occupiers - because they can.
Unless, of course, they can't. If a fight develops, what then? Call the cops? Problem with that.

OWS Now Using Unborn Children as Human Shields

OWS Now Using Unborn Children as Human Shields

via Commentary Magazine by Bethany Mandel on 11/23/11

Several weeks ago, the protesters of Occupy Wall Street in Washington, D.C., used children as human shields during a confrontation with attendees of a conservative conference for Americans for Prosperity. Now, in Seattle, it appears one protester used her unborn child as a barrier between herself and police.
Occupy the Planet, a blog dedicated to the Occupy Wall Street movement, explains:

And now we have, in addition to the figurative miscarriages of justice connected to police violence against Occupy protesters, a literal miscarriage as well, as Jennifer Fox has just lost the fetus she was carrying, five days after being kicked and hit in the stomach by Seattle police.
Just to be clear, Fox entered the crowd knowing many such protests had been broken up by police, and that the Occupiers had routinely added a physical element to the confrontations by refusing to follow the law and police orders. Despite this, she took the risk to herself and her baby by joining in the crowd of protesters. After sustaining injuries at the demonstration, Fox was rushed to a hospital where doctors assured her her baby was fine. Her miscarriage occurred a full five days after the confrontation with police. The linkage between the miscarriage and the actions of the Seattle PD is tenuous at best. However, the Occupy movement has still laid the blame at the feet of the police.
The use of terminology in the account on the Occupy the Planet blog is interesting. It goes back and forth, several times going from calling the life inside of her a baby to a fetus as well. How much does this leftist group, who often have pro-choice signs at OWS rallies, care about the loss of Fox's pregnancy? Did she lose a baby or a fetus? Was this pregnant OWS protester sent to the front of the line to manufacture a story of heartbreak?
Excuse my cynicism, but if a group has used children previously, who, as you can see from Stephen Gutowski's videos, were visibly petrified, why would they not use a "ball of flesh" to create a narrative of police brutality?
UPDATE: Fox's refusal to release any medical records that could confirm her story has led many, including her former foster mother, to question whether Fox was ever actually pregnant. Seattle police have initiated an internal investigation into the incident.

A pepper spray series

A pepper spray series

via Bookworm Room by Bookworm on 11/22/11

From Zombie, who comments on the gaggle of giggling girls who gleefully relive their pepper spray experience,
From Castra Praetoria, who's been pepper sprayed a few times himself (but all in the line of duty),
and also
From James Taranto, who notes that a lack of actual aggression doesn't mean that the protesters weren't engaging in the type of activity that calls for police crowd control of the physical variety.

The Supercommittee’s Failure: What Really Happened

The Supercommittee’s Failure: What Really Happened

via Power Line by John Hinderaker on 11/23/11

(John Hinderaker)
Finger-pointing is in full swing, but the reality is that the Supercommittee's failure to come to an agreement on spending reductions is just one chapter in a very long story–the story of the Democratic Party's absolute refusal to come to grips with the country's fiscal crisis. Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee have produced this helpful time line, with links to supporting documentation. The story of the Democrats' ongoing malfeasance needs to be better understood:
January 25 – In his State of the Union address, President Obama proposes freezing "annual domestic spending for the next five years." This freeze would lock in elevated spending levels (24 percent non-defense discretionary, not including stimulus) and produce an estimated $3.8 trillion in deficits over the period in question. Subsequent analysis revealed that, because the White House shifted and hid new spending, non-defense discretionary spending would actually increase even further next year.
February 14 – President Obama proposes a budget with $8.7 trillion in new spending (CBO's re-estimate actually finds $9.6 trillion in new spending).
February 15 – The House of Representatives begins debate on a bill that would cut spending by $61 billion. President Obama promptly issues a veto threat.
April 11 – Press Secretary Jay Carney: "We should move quickly to raise the debt limit and we support a clean piece of legislation to do that."
April 13 – President Obama delivers a speech where he lays out a "framework" that he claims will lead to $4 trillion in deficit reduction over the next 10–12 years. In reality, using OMB's own numbers, deficits under the "framework" are $3.2 trillion higher than the president's own fiscal commission.
April 15 – The Republican-controlled House of Representatives passes its budget, which cuts $6 trillion in comparison to the President's budget.
April 19 – S&P assigns a negative outlook to the U.S. credit rating, signaling at least a one-in-three likelihood that the agency will lower the nation's long-term rating.
May 1 – Total federal spending since President Obama took office reaches approximately $8 trillion.
May 11 – Austan Goolsbee, chair of the president's Council of Economic Advisers, says it is "quite insane" to tie spending cuts to the debt limit increase.
May 17 – Chairman Conrad continues to delay the unveiling of his latest secret budget, announcing that "I'll say something later — not today, probably… There are a lot of conversations under way."
May 18 – Majority Leader Reid says it would be "foolish" for Senate Democrats to offer a budget.
May 19 – Chairman Conrad announces he will not reveal a budget to the public until after the Gang of Six produces a proposal.
May 25 – The Senate rejects President Obama's budget by a vote of 0-97.
May 23 – Senator Schumer, when asked why there is no alternative to the House-passed budget, answers, "To put other budgets out there is not the point."
May 26 – GOP Senators join Ranking Member Sessions in asking Reid not to break for the Memorial Day recess until Senate Democrats bring forward a budget so the Senate can fulfill its duty.
June 7 – Even some Senate Democrats become anxious about their party's lack of a budget.
June 29 – Chairman Conrad tells Politico, "Senate Democrats have reached an agreement on a plan — just now — and we'll be putting that out sometime soon." (Note: the plan was never made public, but a leaked outline revealed that it contained as many as $2 in tax hikes for $1 in spending cuts.)
June 29 – Sessions renews call for the Senate to remain in town to deal with its budget and debt ceiling work.
July 1 – Sessions and Finance Committee Ranking Member Orrin Hatch ask the president to reveal, in detail, what his deficit reduction plans actually are. No response is received, and the president's February budget remains the only plan he has ever put on paper (thus the only plan that can be estimated by CBO) and shared with Congress or the American people.
July 8 – On the 800th day since Senate Democrats passed a budget, the unemployment rate rises to 9.2 percent (the third straight month above 9 percent).
July 19 – Amid continuing calls for the president to reveal what spending cuts he actually supports, Carney says that "leadership is not proposing a plan for the sake of having it voted up or down…"
July 22 – At a press conference discussing his position on negotiating a debt limit increase, President Obama declares, "The only bottom line that I have is that we have to extend this debt ceiling through the next election, into 2013."
August 2 – Following passage of the debt limit increase package in the Senate, President Obama calls for America to "live within our means" immediately before advocating a further increase in government spending, framed, as usual, as "investments."
August 3 – Government borrowing tops 100 percent of GDP as the U.S. accumulates $4 trillion in gross debt under President Obama, well above the 90-percent threshold identified by economists Rogoff and Reinhart as when debt harms economic growth and brings down job creation.
August 5 – S&P downgrades the U.S.' credit rating from AAA, the first time the nation has had less than the top rating since receiving it in 1917.
September 8 – Shortly after the passage of the debt limit deal and the spending cuts that went with it, President Obama announces a second stimulus bill that would cost $447 billion. CBO later admits that stimulus spending depresses long-term economic growth.
September 18 – President Obama unveils a deficit reduction plan that he claims will reduce deficits by $3 trillion through a combination of tax increases, war savings, and other spending cuts. But a Budget Committee analysis reveals that, thanks to a number of budget gimmicks, the plan would reduce deficits by only $1.4 trillion and would rely entirely on tax increases.
October 14 – 900 days pass since Senate Democrats last offered a budget plan.
November 7 – The Congressional Budget Office reports that total federal spending increased in Fiscal Year 2011 by $145 billion over the previous year's level.
November 9 – House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi claims that Democrats didn't pass a budget when they controlled both chambers of Congress because "Republicans would have filibustered it," but as she should know, budget resolutions can't be filibustered.
November 11 – As the supercommittee continues its tense negotiations, President Obama departs for a nine-day trip to Bali, Indonesia, and Australia.
November 13 – Supercommittee member James Clyburn, the House Assistant Democratic Leader, says that a draft Democrat proposal has been outlined. A Budget Committee analysis estimates this outlined proposal to contain a dramatic tax increase-to-spending cut ratio of 4:1.
November 16 – On the 931st day since Senate Democrats offered a budget, the U.S. gross national debt tops $15 trillion.
November 18 – In search of common ground, Republican Sen. Pat Toomey puts forward a draft proposal with both spending cuts and tax revenue. Democrats summarily reject the offer.
November 21 – New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg chides President Obama, saying that "It's the Chief Executive's job to bring people together & provide leadership. I don't see that happening [with the] #SuperCommittee"
November 22 – President Obama places multiple calls, over the course of the month, to European leaders regarding their countries' debt problems. Meanwhile, Jay Carney says it was "absolutely not" a problem for "him not to have been as involved" with the supercommittee negotiations.
What a record! If the voters understood how the Democratic Party has blocked every effort to bring fiscal sanity to Washington, would a single Democrat be returned to Washington next November?