Tag: John Hinderaker

The Enduring Popularity Of Fraud (John Hinderaker)

The Enduring Popularity Of Fraud – John Hinderaker

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Steve’s post earlier today is a great reminder of how over the last 200 years, free enterprise has led to an unprecedented explosion of wealth, individual liberty and creativity. Nothing in human history – putting aside for the moment the claims of religion – has enriched the human race to anything like the same degree. If human history has conclusively established any fact, it is that free enterprise is fantastically successful, while socialism is a pitiful failure. Think of North Korea, the USSR, Maoist China, Albania, East Germany, Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Venezuela, Cuba, Argentina, India until it wised up. The list goes on and on.

And yet… the siren song of socialism still lures suckers. Currently, Venezuela is learning the age-old lesson the hard way. But we can’t laugh at Venezuelans, when Bernie Sanders is a serious contender for our presidency and is far and away the campus favorite. How is it that socialism (or the urge toward socialism, anyway) can survive? It is the cockroach of ideologies, seemingly impervious to all efforts to kill it.

It may be helpful to think of socialism as a species of fraud. There are many types of fraud, but nothing new under the Sun. The same frauds that Venetian merchants guarded against persist today. The same con games that flourished hundreds of years ago still work. Charles Ponzi’s financial empire collapsed in 1920, and he was arrested and sent to prison. Yet hardly a month goes by without another Ponzi scheme being revealed. There is only one way in which a Ponzi scheme can end: in disaster. This is a mathematical fact. Yet people fall for them, over and over.

People seem to be drawn to fraud like moths to a candle. When I was in law school, I learned about a relatively ingenious fraud. Someone placed an ad in all of the major newspapers on the East Coast. All it said was: “Friday, March 31, is the last day to send in your dollar. P.O. Box 1234, New York, NY.” Many thousands of people sent in their dollars: they didn’t want to miss the deadline. The perpetrators of the scheme were prosecuted, but it was a close-run thing: what was the fraud? The court accepted the idea that the ad made an implicit representation that there was a benefit to be gained or an evil to be avoided by sending in one’s dollar, but it was a pretty skinny case.

In the realm of fraud, the wisdom of the ages is reflected in the adage that a fool and his money are soon parted. The same, I think, is true of socialism. Socialism is fraud writ large. It is a fraud perpetrated by the cynical and greedy on the ignorant and credulous, just like a Ponzi scheme. Only we can add: a fool and his freedom are soon parted.

Only under socialism could Fidel Castro become the richest warlord, relative to his subjects’ wealth, in recorded history. (And that was the least of his sins.) Only under socialism could Maria Gabriela Chavez, daughter of socialist tribune of the people Hugo Chavez, beloved by the American left, waltz off with a $4 billion fortune. But then, she was a piker: Chavez’s Minister of the Treasury stashed $11 billion in Swiss bank accounts.

Charles Ponzi’s mistake was that he should have gone into politics. He could have gone far as a socialist politician, and could have avoided prison.

Socialism is, I think, a species of fraud, but socialism is also much worse than that. A fraudster like Bernie Madoff will only take your money. A socialist will take your money, but that is just the beginning. When you give power to the power-mad, your freedom and human dignity, and perhaps your life, are soon forfeit. So socialism is a uniquely evil variety of fraud.

The bottom line, though, is that, just as the familiar types of fraud have endured for centuries even though they have repeatedly been exposed and are known to the well-informed, so socialism persists, and will continue to endure, as long as men and women fall for the lies and blandishments of the cynical, the greedy and the power-mad.

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Almost All US Temperature Data Used In Global Warming Models Is Estimated Or Altered (John Hinderaker)

Almost All US Temperature Data Used In Global Warming Models Is Estimated Or Altered – John Hinderaker

We have written many times about the fact that the temperature data used in the alarmists’ global warming models are not original data as measured by thermometers. Rather, they are “adjusted” numbers, consistently changed to make the past look cooler and the present warmer, so that more billions of dollars will flow from the world’s governments to the climate alarmists who serve government’s cause. This is, in my opinion, the greatest scandal in the history of science.

This article at Watts Up With That? adds incrementally to that picture. John Goetz analyzes the U.S. temperature data that finds its way into “official” tabulations. This is particularly important because, while the U.S. represents only 6.6% of the total land area of Earth, we account for close to half of the data relied on by the Global Historical Climatology Network. This is a big topic, and you should study the Goetz article in its entirety if you have time. I am still digesting it.

But a few highlights are obvious. First, Goetz finds that approximately 92% (or even more, depending on how you calculate it) of US surface temperature data consists of estimated or altered values. Very little raw data finds its way into the warmists’ climate models – which, of course, is the way they want it. Second, the adjustments that are made to the U.S. data consistently skew the numbers as we have described many times before – they try to make the present look warmer, compared with the past.

This is the key chart. It shows “the average change to the raw value due to the homogenization model.” In other words, how the actual temperature as recorded by thermometers is being altered before it goes into the alarmists’ models:

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As you can see, the temperatures are generally lowered by around .5 degree C until around 1965, when the fake warming trend begins. From that time on, recorded temperatures are reduced less, and then, in recent years, bumped up.

Why do the alarmists, lavishly funded by the world’s governments, persistently alter the data before they feed it into their computer programs? Because the raw data won’t get them where they are trying to go, to keep the money flowing. This is what you see if you just plot the temperatures that were recorded on thermometers here in the U.S. No warming:

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No warming means no money. That is what fraud is always about in the end: money. Could someone please explain this to Pope Francis?

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Bullshit From Bernie (John Hinderaker)

Bullshit From Bernie – John Hinderaker

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Bernie Sanders, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, spoke at Liberty University today. You can read his speech here. It is useful, in that it exposes the extent of Sanders’s ignorance and radicalism. Any deconstruction of a speech this bad must be selective.

I am far, far from being a perfect human being, but I am motivated by a vision, which exists in all of the great religions, in Christianity, in Judaism, in Islam and Buddhism, and other religions.

And that vision is so beautifully and clearly stated in Matthew 7:12, and it states, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them to do to you, for this sums up the war and the prophets.”

Bullshit. Islam does not teach that Muslims should do unto infidels as they would have infidels do unto them. The idea that the Golden Rule sums up the universal wisdom of religious faith is very silly, but is commonly held by non-religious people.

It would be hard for anyone in this room today to make the case that the United States of America, our great country, a country which all of us love, it would be hard to make the case that we are a just society, or anything resembling a just society today.

In the United States of America today, there is massive injustice in terms of income and wealth inequality. Injustice is rampant.

Bullshit. Inequality does not equal injustice. In fact, a society without unequal incomes and wealth would scarcely be worth living in. One wonders: what society, contemporary or ancient, does Sanders consider more just than ours? Soviet Russia? Maoist China? Communist Cuba? He doesn’t say, of course.

In my view, there is no justice, when here, in Virginia and Vermont and all over this country, millions of people are working long hours for abysmally low wages of $7.25 an hour, of $8 an hour, of $9 an hour, working hard, but unable to bring in enough money to adequately feed their kids.

Bullshit. There is a market for labor, whether Sanders likes it or not. Someone who wants to earn more than $7.25 an hour should gain skills and experience that are worth more than $7.25 an hour. Actually, hardly anyone works for that low wage, and 64% of those who do are working part-time. Half are aged 16 to 24, doing precisely what I said – gaining skills and experience so that they can advance and make more. Sanders wants to make it illegal for teenagers and part-timers to work for the wages they can command, even though they want to do so. He thereby dooms them to unemployment. Thanks, Bernie!

In the last two years, 15 people saw $170 billion increase in their wealth, 45 million Americans live in poverty. That in my view is not justice. That is a rigged economy, designed by the wealthiest people in this country to benefit the wealthiest people in this country at the expense of everybody else.

Bullshit. What does Sanders want to do about the fact that the people who founded Facebook have made a lot of money? Prohibit innovation? Limit the number of people who can access popular web sites? Make it illegal to sell advertising if the owners of the web site are already rich? The only “remedy” he can come up with is higher taxes, but America already has the most progressive income tax regime of any developed country – more progressive than Sweden, Denmark, you name it. And yet Democrats like Sanders keep telling us how awful things are for most Americans. Maybe we should try lower taxes on the “rich,” since the world’s highest taxes evidently haven’t worked. By the way, when Democrats talk about rich people, they always use Mark Zuckerberg – a Democrat, no doubt – as an exemplar, but when I read the fine print, I always find that they mean me.

People should not be dying in the United States of America when they are sick.

What that is, is an indication that we are the only major country on earth that does not guarantee health care to all people as a right, and I think we should change that.

Bullshit. Sorry to break it to you, Bernie, but some sick people do die, even in socialist countries. Actually, for better or worse, the U.S. does guarantee health care to all people. Hospitals can’t turn anyone away, and poor people are on Medicaid. People who live in countries with socialized medicine come here for treatment if they are really sick, and if they can afford it. Let me know when residents of Rochester, Minnesota are booking flights to London so they can participate in Great Britain’s wonderful National Health Service.

In my view there is no justice in our country when youth unemployment exists at tragically high levels. I requested a study last month from a group of economists. And what they told me is that 51 percent of African American high school graduates between the ages of 17 and 20 are unemployed or underemployed – 51 percent.

Bullshit. This one is really galling. Why are black youths unemployed? Because the Obama economy is lousy. Because inner-city schools run by teachers’ unions suck. Because minimum wage laws, in some states, make it impossible for them to get jobs they realistically could perform. Because welfare, for many, is an attractive alternative. Because selling drugs is a good gig, now that police forces everywhere are on the defensive. In short, because of the policies that Bernie Sanders endorses.

Then we had the question and answer session, as reported here:

During the Q&A portion of the program, Sanders was asked how he would bring healing and resolution to the issue of racism as president.

“I would hope and I believe that every person in this room today understands that it is unacceptable to judge people, to discriminate against people based on the color of their skin,” Sanders began.

Bullshit. Liberals enthusiastically endorse discrimination based on the color of people’s skin. It is called affirmative action.

“And I would also say that as a nation – the truth is, that a nation which in many ways was created, and I’m sorry to have to say this, from way back on racist principles. That’s a fact. We have come a long way as a nation,” Sanders said.

Bullshit. The United States was founded on egalitarian principles which took a while to fully effectuate because the country was born in a world where slavery was common. (It still is, in many places where Anglo-American rule does not govern.) We fought a great civil war to validate the principles of our Constitution, whose promises of freedom had nothing to do with race, as Lincoln insisted. Granted, the Democratic Party fought a spirited rear-guard action on behalf of racism that lasted for more than a century. Bernie is an inheritor of that disgraceful history.

The biggest example of progress, Sanders said, was the election of President Obama. “But the point is that in 2008 this country took a huge step forward in voting for a candidate based on his ideas and not the color of his skin,” Sanders said.

Bullshit. No one would have imagined voting for Obama in 2008, but for the color of his skin. It was his only purported qualification for the office, and we have seen where that obsession with race has led us. Next year, let’s have a genuinely color-blind election. On a level playing field, Bernie Sanders wouldn’t be disqualified by the color of his skin, but rather by the fact that his socialist ideas are idiotic.

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Why Did Hillary Clinton Defend Boko Haram? (John Hinderaker)

Why Did Hillary Clinton Defend Boko Haram? – John Hinderaker

Boko Haram, the Islamic terrorist organization in Nigeria, is in the news because it kidnapped more than 200 teenage girls and now threatens to sell them into slavery. (That’s what a real war on women looks like.) This is just the latest of many outrages committed by Boko Haram, which is guilty of many acts of mass murder. But it has now come out that for two years, Hillary Clinton blocked efforts to add Boko Haram to the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations.

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This wasn’t just an episode of bureaucratic indifference. The Justice Department, the FBI, the CIA and many in Congress lobbied the State Department to list Boko Haram, but Clinton stood firm in defense of the Nigerian terrorists. Now, with the kidnapping outrage in the news, Hillary is tweeting away on behalf of the Nigerian girls. (THAT will do a lot of good!) But where was she in 2011 and 2012?

Risch and seven other GOP senators introduced legislation in early 2013 that would have forced Clinton to designate the group or explain why she thought it was a bad idea. The State Department lobbied against the legislation at the time, according to internal State Department emails obtained by The Daily Beast.

In the House, leading intelligence-minded lawmakers wrote letter after letter to Clinton urging her to designate Boko Haram as terrorists. The effort in the House was led by then-Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King and Patrick Meehan, chairman of the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence.

Meehan and his Democratic counterpart Jackie Speier put out a lengthy report in 2011 laying out the evidentiary basis for naming Boko Haram a terrorist organization, including the group’s ties to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and to Somalia’s al-Shabab terrorist organization.

But Hillary Clinton was unmoved.

Over the last day or two, debate has raged over whether adding Boko Haram to the State Department’s terror organization list would have made much difference. (It finally happened in 2013, after Hillary’s resignation.) But the more interesting question is why Hillary was so resistant to labeling Boko Haram a terrorist group, which they obviously were.

Her defenders have said that it was inappropriate to put Boko Haram on the list because they are a regional group that hasn’t acted against American interests. But that explanation holds no water. You can read the terrorist list here; there are a number of groups on it, like the Irish terrorists, who haven’t attacked American interests. Democrats have also suggested that Hillary didn’t want to name Boko Haram because doing so would add to the group’s prestige among fellow terrorists. But this is a ludicrous claim; if it made any sense, we should abolish the list entirely. (The point of the list, of course, is to authorize intelligence activities and efforts to choke off funding.)

In my view, Hillary’s actions are something of a mystery. Andy McCarthy argues that Hillary’s position was the logical corollary of her ideology:

Mrs. Clinton, like the Obama administration more broadly, believes that appeasing Islamists – avoiding actions that might give them offense, slamming Americans who provoke them – promotes peace and stability. (See Egypt for a good example of how well this approach is working.) Furthermore, if you are claiming to have “decimated” al-Qaeda, as the Obama administration was claiming to have done in the run-up to the 2012 election, the last thing you want to do is add jihadists to the terror list…

So that’s the plan: pretend terrorists and Islamists are unconnected, miniaturize terrorists, and appease Islamists with the Left’s policy preferences. It’s the plan that convinces you not to put Boko Haram on the terrorist list – that way, you can pretend that the jihadists are not really that important while telling the Islamists, “See? We’re going to treat them like a local criminal gang – the fact that they’re Muslims citing scripture in support of their murder, mayhem, kidnapping and misogyny is irrelevant. No ‘war on Islam’ on our watch.”

Andrew has much more, all of which I agree with. But I am not sure that it explains Hillary’s sticking up for Boko Haram. Bear in mind that there is a more notorious instance of the Clinton State Department’s myopia: it long refused to add the Taliban to its terrorist list, too:

A new State Department report designating terrorist organizations [in August 2010] notably excludes one group: the Taliban. The U.S. has been fighting a war in Afghanistan for almost a decade aimed at “defeating the Taliban,” Taliban members repeatedly have threatened and killed American citizens and lawmakers have increased pressure on State to add the Taliban to the list.

Earlier this summer, a group of congressional Democrats sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging her to begin the process of categorizing the Taliban as a terrorist group. In June, Sens. Charles Schumer and Kristen Gillibrand of New York and Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez of New Jersey proposed legislation that would immediately add the Taliban to the terrorist list.

Yet the State Department’s report (due on April 30 but released last week), did not include the Taliban with groups such as al-Qaida, Hamas and the Real Irish Republican Army (RIRA)…

The MEK continues to be included on the list, while the Taliban has not appeared once. And the seemingly arbitrary decision on the part of the State Department has confused even the most experienced foreign affairs experts.

It confuses me, too. I find it hard to avoid the conclusion that the Obama/Clinton foreign policy is shot through with pure perversity. The Taliban, not a terrorist group? Boko Haram, not a terrorist group? There is no coherent explanation for such decisions. They can only be the fruit of an emotional, anti-American, and frankly disturbed attitude toward the world.

Maybe when she runs for president, someone will ask Hillary to explain why she didn’t think that either the Taliban or Boko Haram was a terrorist organization. Her answer can only be interesting.

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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John Kerry, Slow Learner (John Hinderaker)

John Kerry, Slow Learner – John Hinderaker

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We are ganging up on John Kerry this morning. Here’s the thing–Kerry has a number of problems, but the most basic is that he isn’t very bright. He doesn’t have a high enough IQ for difficult work. As a senator, he hid his incapacity by ignoring virtually all of his job duties. As Secretary of State, his ineptitude – one might say shocking ineptitude, if this were not the Obama administration–is being exposed.

Earlier today in Jakarta, having finished bloviating about global warming, Kerry complained that Syria’s Bashar Assad has been “stonewalling” in the Geneva peace talks:

Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday accused Syrian President Bashar Assad of stonewalling in peace talks and called on Russia to push its ally to negotiate with opposition leaders.

“Right now, Bashar Assad has not engaged in the discussions along the promised and required standard that both Russia spoke up for and the regime spoke up for,” Kerry said during a press conference in Jakarta.

Of course he is stonewalling, you fool! He is winning.

He said the Syrian leader’s team “refused to open up one moment of discussion” of a transitional government to replace Assad’s regime. “It is very clear that Bashar Assad is trying to win this on the battlefield instead of coming to the negotiating table in good faith,” Kerry added.

Really? That’s very clear, is it? Good Lord, what a chump! Remember when Kerry promised that any military effort against Assad would be “incredibly small”? That struck fear into Assad’s heart, no doubt; and even that “incredibly small” possibility was taken off the board when Kerry started mumbling out loud about chemical weapons. Why would Assad do anything other than “try to win on the battlefield,” let alone agree to a “transitional government to replace [his] regime”? Earth to Kerry: that’s what you do when you’re losing on the battlefield.

Russia has told the U.S. it was committed to helping create a transitional government, Kerry said, but has not delivered “the kind of effort to create the kind of dynamic by which that could be achieved.”

Peace talks last week in Geneva ended with no progress toward breaking the impasse in the nearly 3-year-old conflict in Syria.

So Putin lied! Another shocker. Apparently he wasn’t impressed by that “reset” button. Paul told us everything we need to know about the failure of the Geneva talks yesterday:

The farcical Syrian peace talks have apparently come to an end. The talks were never going to produce peace unless Russia pressured Assad into giving up or sharing power. And Russia was never going to pressure Assad into giving up or sharing power because he is Russia’s ally and is winning the civil war. Indeed, Russia recently blocked a U.N. resolution to bring aid to desperate Syrian civilians.

The Obama administration is miffed, once again, at reality. A senior official whined that Russia “can’t have it both ways” – it can’t say it wants peace and a happy Olympics while it is “part and parcel of supporting this regime as it kills people in the most brutal way.”

Actually, though, Russia is having it both ways, and can have it as many ways as it wants as long as the hapless Obama administration is in the picture.

I am starting to understand why so many liberals are isolationists. If your foreign policy is going to be this bad, isolationism might well be a better alternative: a variant on the medical injunction, “First, do no harm.”

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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