Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Consider this a “bookend” post, following up on some of the sentiments from my series on Jews and Liberalism — particularly the “Jewish Freedom and the Free Market” post of the other day. It comes primarily from the final ‘Parting Thoughts’ chapter of economist John R. Lott, Jr.’s book Freedomnomics: Why the Free Market Works and Other Half-Baked Theories Don’t, with a few comments of my own thrown in, of course….

“Altruism is a noble quality — but in a large economy, it only goes so far. Adam Smith had it right: individuals, by pursuing their own self-interest, enrich society. Smith understood the fundamental principle of economics: when you make something more costly, people will do less of it. In other words, incentives matter. Studying the incentives that underlie our everyday decisions shows us that economic, criminal, and political policies work best when they direct individuals’ natural motivations toward a common good. These are policies that allow people the freedom to profit from their own work, that create meaningful and fair disincentives to committing crimes, and that carefully consider what factors encourage people to participate in our democracy by voting.

In a free market, those who only see the incentives of professionals and corporations to rip off their consumers are only considering one type of incentive. They miss the complex and fascinating process of how markets tend to evolve to solve cheating problems without government intervention. They fail to see not only that reputations matter, but that there are great incentives for the continual evolution of new mechanisms to guarantee the quality of products and services. As technology improves, these mechanisms become ever more efficient and creative.”

Economic Freedom and Corruption (2003), chart 3

“It is easy to point to some area of economic dissatisfaction, claim that the market is failing, and demand that the government step in. Whether forcing insurers to give discounts fof LoJacks, lobbying for government subsidies for honey producers, or mandating professional licenses to ensure the quality of professionals, advocates of government intervention fail to understand that consumers and producers tend to find solutions themselves when their own money is at stake. Solutions to free-riding problems that seem so simple and obvious today, such as advertising on radio, almost didn’t come along in time before the government stepped in. Because a modern economy is so complex, the wise men tasked with devising regulations frequently create more problems than they solve.”

I have to go on a mini-tangent, here. While I am not averse to a certain amount of government regulation (in some areas) for public safety, and I’m pretty certain Dr. Lott would agree, there are costs to such regulation, as well. Besides the obvious, like administration of regulatory agencies, there are less obvious costs, like higher prices, fewer choices, and less innovation. In fact, the latest & best estimate of the total cost for regulation by the U.S. government is $1.75 trillion per year, as reported recently by the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy. That’s roughly equal to the GDP of Italy! At about $15,000 per household, that’s more than Americans pay in income taxes, which was about $900 billion for 2009, if I remember right! The upturn from the last SBA report (2005: $1.1 trillion/yr) accounts not only for regulatory costs that were previously overlooked but also includes a $445 billion increase in the cost of economic regulation. Sheesh!

Back to our regularly scheduled program…

“There will always be some duplicity in the free market. But there is also an ever-present incentive ingrained in the system for individuals and companies to behave honestly. If someone can make a buck by treating his customers better than someone else, eventually someone will try it. Political markets also have their own mechanisms to limit cheating, resulting in the election of politicians who, by and large, accurately represent their constituents.

The free market isn’t perfect, but that isn’t the right standard by which to judge it. The government is hardly perfect either.

Markets not only increase our wealth, they also increase our freedom. And so long as people have the freedom to act on their own incentives, the U.S. economy will continue to embody the best, most creative, and — I would dare say — the most honest aspects of our society.”

Epilogue to the Epilogue

While looking for a good image to accompany this article, I came across a Heritage Foundation study called “Ethics, Corruption, and Economic Freedom” (2003) that included the above graph. In her conclusion, Senior Policy Analyst Ana Isabel Eiras states the following:

“To fight corruption and informality, it is essential to understand that corruption is a symptom — of overregulation, lack of rule of law, a large public sector — not the root of the problem. The perceived problem is unethical/corrupt behavior of the private sector, which leads the government to press more on private-sector activities. The real problem is the government action/regulations causing undesired behavior of the private sector. The optimal solution would be to eliminate burdensome regulations so that unethical behavior does not occur.”

Very interesting…

“Enlightened self-interest” + “the invisible hand” + limited government intervention + (enforced) rule of law = a free-market, capitalist system that promotes & produces more freedom and more wealth for everyone who participates, while inherently reducing corruption. Sounds good to me!

Over the past several weeks, I have intermittently been posting and commenting on excerpts from a book I happened upon at the library — Why Jews Should NOT Be Liberals (2001, rev. 2006) by Larry F. Sternberg. Sternberg examines the “doctrines”, programs, & policies of modern liberalism (in American politics) and compares them with the teachings & traditions of Torah-based, orthodox Judaism. As you may have guessed from the book’s title, the author finds the two mostly incompatible. He attempts to explain why today’s Jews predominantly vote for liberal candidates/legislation and why they need to rethink their reasoning and shift more to the political Right.

If you haven’t checked them out already, my previous posts in this series can be found at:

Liberals, Government Programs, and Unintended Consequences (Part 1 of 2)
Liberals, Government Programs, and Unintended Consequences (Part 2 of 2)
Liberals, Jews, and Class Warfare (Part 1 of 2)
Liberals, Jews, and Class Warfare (Part 2 of 2)
Why Are American Jews Liberal?
Socialism, Liberalism, and American Jews
Jews and the Problem with Always Backing the Majority
Jewish Freedom and the Free Market

In this final installment, Sternberg revisits a few of the topics mentioned in earlier posts and warns of the danger of creeping socialism and the associated loss of freedoms.

The fear of anti-Semitism and its alleged connection to the political right is what keeps many Jews in the liberal camp. They continue to overlook the fact that real anti-Semitism can take root only when the powers of government are concentrated in the hands of the few. He who ignores history remains ignorant. Today’s liberal doctrine seeks to add more and more powers to government. No matter what the problem is, real or concocted, liberals want to solve it by granting some new or expanded power to government. Are oil prices too high? Do drugs cost too much? Are the schools not teaching their students to read and write? The answer per the liberals is to take some type of government action as the cure. To turn for answers to the marketplace, or to the privatization of previously controlled activities, or in some cases to merely let nature take its course, simply escapes the liberal mind. Government, with all of its “wise men,” has to be the answer. This approach again is completely contrary to Jewish law and tradition.

painting of Alexis de Tocqueville

Alexis de Tocqueville

It is the coercive force of governments of all shapes and varieties that has driven the Jewish people to wander the globe in search of freedom. Finally, they found that freedom here in the United States of America, and Jews should make as their first priority the preservation of that individual freedom. Remember the old story of how to boil a frog. You don’t throw it into boiling water, because the frog would immediately jump out. Instead, you put it in tepid water, and gradually turn up the heat until the frog is unaware that it is now a boiled frog. The story is the same regarding the loss of our individual freedom here. It is not lost all at once, but slowly, given the liberal programs to expand the powers of government, we may one day wake up and find out that we have become completely dependent for our daily existence on the good graces of government and the “benevolent” people running it.

The words of Alexis de Tocqueville from his writing Democracy in America are to the point.

‘The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrranize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.’

This was written in the 1840s, and one can almost sense De Tocqueville looking down on us today and saying, ‘See, I told you so.'”

Wise words of caution from De Tocqueville — and Larry Sternberg. I hope you’ve enjoyed and/or learned, even been challenged, by this series of posts excerpting Sternberg’s book. Please let me know what you thought of the series.

In today’s excerpt from Why Jews Should NOT Be Liberals (2001, rev. 2006), Larry Sternberg returns to the issue of free market capitalism, its benefits, and what part a good Jew should play in the system….

Most observers of American politics would agree that between the two competing political doctrines of liberalism and conservatism, when it comes to promoting, encouraging, stimulating, praising, expanding, and identifying themselves with the free market, capitalistic system, it is conservatism that captures the prize. Of course, liberals welcome the fruits and benefits of the free market, but it is mostly to their liking because it creates sufficient wealth for their redistribution schemes and not because it is the most natural and productive system yet devised by man. Still liberals continue to want to tinker with it, to control it, and when necessary, to intervene with their own pet programs and ideas….

Green Bay Tea Party with signs

Green Bay Tea Party practicing free speech and the right to peaceably assemble in protest

Conservatives, on the other hand, seem to be generally more in favor of permitting people to spend their money as the individual sees fit. They are content to permit the free market to do its wondrous work, and with the “invisible hand” doing its thing, they sit back and enjoy the fruits of their endeavors….”

Yeah, I’d say that about sums it up. No profound insights, but a pretty fair assessment, I think.

So, what does this have to do with American Jews being liberal? If we agree that it is the conservatives who do the best job of growing the free market; and if we agree that the free market is the best system yet devised by man to spread the wealth created among all the participants; and if one of the cherished goals of Judaism is to help solve the problem of poverty, then doesn’t it follow that American Jews should be the foremost champions of growing the free market, and to do this they should be conservatives?

[…] The link between Judaism and capitalism is well described by Ellis Rivkin in his book, The Shaping of Jewish History. Rivkin wrote that it was the onset of capitalism beginning in the late seventeenth century that began to bring freedom to European Jews…. Where Jews participated in the creation of a capitalistic society as in America, they enjoyed a high degree of equality from the outset. Where capitalism failed to gain a secure foothold,… Jews were either expelled or persecuted….

The history of Jews in the modern world makes explicit the connection between individual freedom and developing capitalism. And yet, there seems to persist the notion that somehow capitalism breeds too much greed and selfishness, and we Jews must be the guardians against such evil spirits. It is okay for us Jews to become wealthy and to accrue power and influence through the workings of our marvelous free market, but we’ve got to protect society and the poor and the children from the evil inclinations that must reside in those “other rich and powerful” folk. Apparently, only wealthy Jews (and liberal Democrats) possess that kindness of spirit that entitles them to possess the wealth they accumulate. So we Jews must continue to support the liberal cause because that is the only doctrine that seems to be consistent with our Jewish calling of Tsedekah, and which can control the evil impulses of those other rich guys….

lots of large denomination bills

A Whole Lotta Gelt! Moolah!

Where Jews should be making their contribution to our market economy is by exhibiting the highest morality in their dealings with others in the business world. Our capitalistic system depends on honesty, integrity, and the carrying out of one’s promises. It is when fraud and deceit enter the picture that the worst excesses occur, and when people begin to doubt the value of our system. If Jews who are already so prominent in the business world would stress the positive aspects of the free market and set great examples of honesty in their business dealings, they could do more to help the economy grow and provide jobs than any government program existing. In the process, they would also demonstrate some of the basic morality of our Jewish religion.”

We have seen several examples of “fraud and deceit” in our capitalist society over the past several years — e.g., the Enron debacle, WorldCom, Bernie Madoff, recent scandals involving banks & securities firms, etc. They are actually quite few, when you think of how many businesses, business executives, and big-time investors there are out there. But, they are an embarrassment of sorts and serve as poster-children for corporate greed & corruption, which the socialists and free market skeptics point to as justification for their suspicions & accusations. Let’s not forget, though, that greed and corruption are rampant in socialist/communist nations, too. They just don’t have as much money to steal.

I think it behooves all free-marketers to accept Sternberg’s exhortation, though, especially those of us with a religious worldview that encourages moral, ethical behavior in all aspects of our lives. We must do our level best to act honorably and with moral integrity in all business dealings.

We knew it was inevitable, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has dusted off the DISCLOSE Act for a vote. But first, let me review for a moment….

Unless you’re a new reader/visitor, you probably remember that I wrote about this Act back in June/July. (Here, here, here.) DISCLOSE is a terrible piece of legislation that would reverse, or neuter, January’s SCOTUS ruling (Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission) that took the teeth out of McCain-Feingold’s “Finance Reform” Act. It includes ridiculous disclosure demands that would eat into the time & effectiveness of political ads. It would even, as the Public Advocate‘s Eugene Delgaudio stated,

…require any activist organization to disclose information about you if you made a contribution to them. Then of course they would share that information with those you stand against so that they could target YOU. Other measures in the Disclose Act include prohibitions on political spending by companies that have significant holdings overseas.”

"Just Say No!" buttonYou might not even think it sounds all THAT bad, but it really is. Various left-wing groups, the labor unions, even the NRA, all have exemptions carved out for them. But, the rest of us and the smaller activist groups do not. Whatever groups you support for your most-favored issues — 2nd Amendment, 10th Amendment, pro-life/pro-family, anti-Big Labor, etc. –, they will all be affected. Bottom line: DISCLOSE puts undue restrictions on free speech during election time. (If you haven’t read my earlier posts on the DISCLOSE Act, please follow the links above for more information.)

Here’s a little more from Delgaudio:

Without this critical legislation, conservative organizations can publicize legislator’s liberal votes and explain the legislation that was passed.

Do not be fooled! The far-reaching disclosure requirements of the Disclose Act are designed [to] help to hide liberal senators’ and congressmen’s voting records rather than to bring transparency to elections. Their fancy rhetoric about ‘strengthening democracy’ is designed to cover up the real reason that they pushed this bill: TO KEEP INCUMBENTS IN OFFICE.”

Grassroots objections helped to keep the DISCLOSE Act from passing in the Senate last time. Now, Sen. Reid plans to sneak it in again — TOMORROW (9/23/2010)! Please make sure your Senators know that this bill must NOT pass, and you & your friends will hold them accountable if they vote for it (S.3628).

Go here for the contact info.

Bernard Goldberg

Bernard Goldberg

In the preceding post, some of the final comments by Larry Sternberg were about the potential loss of certain civil liberties under the Patriot Act. In that vein, I just had to post this additional bit I also read recently. It’s by another Jew, writer/journalist/commentator Bernard Goldberg, who was remarking on this point in regards to the ACLU in his 2005/6 book, 110 People Who Are Screwing Up America (and Al Franken Is #37).

He said,

Sure, at some point, the FBI may ask a librarian for information on what some suspected terrorist was reading. Maybe the suspect will be an Arab and maybe some Arab organizations will cry “discrimination.” Sorry. It’s a small price to pay for living in a free country that happens to be at war. And it would also be nice if we got a little less whining from the ACLU about profiling at the airport and a little more visceral outrage at the Islamic fascists who would like nothing better than to kill every last one of us infidels.

I’m not a lawyer, but I get it. We all get it: If the government is allowed to “trample” on the rights of any one of us, then none of us is safe from government tyranny. To which I say, bull$#!t. We live in a different world than we did on September 10, 2001. It would help if everyone, starting with Anthony Romero and the ACLU [of which Romero has been executive director since a week before the 9/11/01 attacks], would be a little more understanding, a little more flexible, a little absolutist. Right now the number one civil right most Americans care about is the one about our ass not getting blown up by some lunatic who thinks he’s doing it for Allah. We’ll worry about who’s looking over our shoulder at the library when things calm down.”

While I don’t take the possibility of the erosion of civil rights lightly, I think Mr. Goldberg makes a great point. Under circumstances such as this, I am all for the relaxing of certain rights, within reason (according to whom?), as long as it is clearly temporary and not easily expanded either in degree or length of time. As with anything, this requires a watchful eye on our representatives both in Washington and closer to home.

What do you all think?

Continuing our (intermittent) series of posts discussing Larry Sternberg’s insightful book (Why Jews Should NOT Be Liberals (2001, rev. 2006)), consider the danger of supporting the actions/programs espoused by the current majority, without (or despite?) considering whether they actually make sense or if similar programs have a history of success. It’s something worth considering, no matter who we are.

Do I, as a registered Republican, support every program put forth by Republican leaders, especially when they are “in power”? I don’t think so, but I admit to being less critical or suspicious of a program if it is sponsored by big players on the political Right. In recent years, though, I’ve tried to pay more attention, be better informed, consider the consistency with conservative principles, etc., so I don’t fall for the bad ideas from either side.

Here is Sternberg’s take on why many of his fellow Jews (i.e., the liberals/progressives) have fallen for this — namely, a reluctance to stand out from the crowd….

The notion that we Jews will somehow curry favor from a country’s majority by blindly backing programs momentarily favored by that majority conflicts with our tradition of independent thought. When the evidence is clear that these programs do more harm than good, why can we not use our own common sense and change our thinking. It is a fact that we gain the respect and admiration of others, mostly by standing up for our true principles no matter how unpopular they may be at the moment.

The problem here is that, too often, we do not recognize what our true Jewish principles are, and our Jewish leaders are not very good in explaining them. So it is left to our religious leaders to show us the way, but alas, it appears there are few of them who seem to see the light. But we Jews have survived through the centuries by never losing our optimism that better days are ahead. We must continue to hope that Jews in America will soon see what their best interests are and vote accordingly.

Jewish children (ca. WWII)

Jewish children (ca. WWII)

The terrible calamities that have fallen upon the Jewish people in our own “enlightened” 20th century did not come about because Jews stood out from the crowd by backing unpopular programs or issues. It would not have made any difference to a Hitler or a Stalin whether or not Jews favored or opposed a higher minimum wage, or granted monopoly powers to a union, or were for or against abortion. No, we were singled out only because we were Jews, and we were considered to be a threat to those dictators, largely because of our tradition for independent thinking. If we are to prevent any repeats of this type of persecution, then we must be ever on the alert to resist any government from obtaining excessive power and control over the individual, no matter how attractive those programs of the moment may appear to be.

Today’s liberal philosophy, when stripped of all its camouflage, is one that grants greater and greater powers to a central government. Many of the current liberal programs are ostensibly designed to correct some evil or solve some pressing social problem. From the “war on tobacco” to the “war on guns” to the coming “war on fat in our diet” [Note: Sternberg called that one, eh?!] to whatever the facile minds of the liberals can conjure, all of these schemes result in limitations on the freedom of the individual to live his or her own life. This has never been in the interests of Jews throughout their history and it is time that American Jews recognized that truism. If for no other reason than enlightened self-interest, American Jews should reject today’s liberal doctrine.”

Indeed. Jew or Gentile, religious or non-religious, we must always be wary of “cure-all” programs that may sound good and beneficial on the surface (e.g., universal health plans, gun control, cap-n-trade) but, upon further examination, prove to be a means of government control and, ergo, restriction of individual (and corporate) freedoms. (And they’re usually REALLY expensive, too!)

It is somewhat ironic that liberals are now very concerned about the possible loss of individual freedoms under the Patriot Act enacted after 9/11/01. [Remember, Sternberg wrote this in 2004/5, when it was a hot(ter) topic.] It is true that this act gives government new powers to intrude into the lives of our citizens, along with the ability of our intelligence agencies to share information. There was a general consensus that intelligence failures may have contributed to our inability to prevent the attack, and this is why the Patriot Act came into being. To date, there have been few, if any, instances of abuse of these powers. American Jews should be ever watchful for such abuses. Liberals, however, always seem to be able to choose which freedoms they support, so long as their own oxen are not being gored.”

In his book Why Jews Should NOT Be Liberals (2001, rev. 2006), Larry F. Sternberg gives a bit of history, explaining how Jews in the late-18th & early-19th centuries came to think so highly of “socialism”. Unfortunately, they did not understand the true, basic tenets of the system, and it cost them and their descendants greatly.

Russia's Czar Alexander III

Russia's Czar Alexander III, who began the pogroms against the Jews after inheriting the throne in 1881

The link between Jews and socialism in modern times can be traced to the mass exodus that took place from Eastern Europe to the United States, beginning in 1881. Jews fleeing the tyranny of the czar followed the liberal cause, which was to liberate them from the ghettos. Liberal was a heroic term in Europe, and to break the czar’s rule, socialism was the doctrine most often preached as the way to a better life. Probably most Jews accepting socialism really were not aware of the dictionary definition: “Control by the state of all means of production and economic activity.” They knew only that anything was better than living under the czar, and socialism, with its veneer of brotherhood and charity and sharing, was appealing….

Socialism seemed to progress by pretending to be a liberal, revolutionary movement, freeing up the lives of its supporters, when in reality its basic doctrine is more state control over peoples’ lives. The Nazi Party was known as the National Socialist Party. Communism in Russia was identified as the International Socialist Movement. It was no coincidence that the word “socialist” appears prominently in both of these totalitarian regimes, which together practically decimated European Jewry. Still, there is little doubt that socialism continues to cast its enticing spell over many of our intellectuals today, some of whom have influential teaching positions in our leading universities.

The irony of it all is as [Elie] Koudurie writes [in his book The Jewish World], American Jews have long believed anti-Semitism was encouraged by the political right in America, with the right’s alleged ignoring of the social problems of poverty, prejudice, and its alleged practice of discrimination against Jews in business. Only recently are American Jews discovering that many of our problems emanate from the left with its affluence, permissiveness, wishful thinking, and its substitute of secular liberalism for their own Jewish religion.

What American Jews must always remember is that totalitarian regimes come to power by promising everything to everybody, and then remain in power through force and intimidation. And when things eventually go bad for them, there is always the need for a scapegoat, and who else fits that role but the Jew. Sidney Hook, a liberal for much of his life, is quoted as saying,

‘I was guilty of judging capitalism by its operations and socialism by its hopes and aspirations; capitalism by its works and socialism by its literature.’

Winston Churchill wrote,

‘The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of the blessings. The inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of misery.’

…I tend to believe that the socialist theory of life is not making that much headway among the baby boomers in America. Certainly, if one leans toward Judaism in practically any way, and if one does any studying of the history of socialism and its links to present day liberalism, one would have to reject following socialism in any of its forms.

Beyond all of this, there must be the realization that socialism, and its twin liberalism, by granting more and more power to the state, by looking to the state to solve all of our social, economic, and even personal problems, in effect makes the state the “God” whom all should worship. By elevating the state to this supreme position, socialism or liberalism by definition does thereby demote the eternal and One God to an inferior position. In so doing, these philosophies defy the Second Commandment, when God thundered to Moses and the Israelites on Mt. Sinai,

‘Thou shalt have no other gods before me.'”

So, it seems that the first point here is the danger in latching onto a particular movement without fully understanding the doctrines/ideology behind it. The Jews have certainly paid the price, as they may again, but the lesson serves for all of us who value our freedom. I think the American “Progressives” and their agenda — particularly the secularist flavor — serve as the current example to beware of.

[On a lighter note, I keep thinking of the immortal words of Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride, who said to his companion, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”]

The second point is a warning against the subtle replacement of God with the State in people’s minds. Not that it is worshiped in quite the same way, of course. But, not all idolatry is directed at a divine being or a statue or icon of one.

<em><a href=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1589803833?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=sirrahc-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=1589803833″>Why Jews Should NOT Be Liberals</a></em><img style=”border: none!important; margin: 0!important;” src=”http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=sirrahc-20&amp;l=as2&amp;o=1&amp;a=1589803833&#8243; border=”0″ alt=”” width=”1″ height=”1″ /> (2001, rev. 2006)

Today, I would like to return to Larry F. Sternberg’s wonderful book Why Jews Should NOT Be Liberals (2001, rev. 2006). In fact, perhaps I should have made this the first post re the book, since it is where Sternberg lays out a framework of sorts for the rest of the book. I’ll let him explain:

If one were to list the principle reasons for this liberal political attitude of American Jews, it might include the following (I am indebted to Nathaniel Wyl’s The Jew in American Politics for several of these points).

1. Jews in America, having attained a superior financial status on the average, feel some guilt for their prosperous state. To assuage that guilty feeling, it becomes natural for them to support any policy that “helps the poor and less fortunate.”

2. Jews in America are still fearful of latent anti-Semitism, as represented in their minds by the Religious Right. Since this group appears to be predominantly conservative politically, they must be opposed.

3. Jews in America, becoming more secular and distant from their Orthodox origins, have substituted government assistance for their Jewish charitable institutions.

4. Jews in America desire to be thought of as not that different from their Christian fellow Americans, and thus are easy prey for all of those “feel good” programs which promise to solve the nation’s problems.

5. Jews in America are concerned that if they express too independent a thought, such as school choice or welfare elimination, they will be categorized with those who are “hard hearted,” a category Jews abhor.

Milton Friedman in contemplative pose

Milton Friedman, the great (Jewish, conservative) economist

6. Jews in America, in spite of their extensive scholarship and academic achievements, still do not really understand the workings of the free market or the miraculous results this free market has accomplished in the country.

7. Jews in America still believe that government contains certain miraculous powers, which if used correctly can bring about the nirvana right here at home. As Rabbi Daniel Lapin wrote recently in his book, America’s Real War, there is something within the Jewish make-up that demands action to bring about desired results. Since the liberals believe that only by using the force of government can these results be swiftly achieved, Jews flock to this philosophy, while ignoring the results that invariably are the opposite of those that were intended.

8. Jews in America, although somewhat of an elite group, are still fearful of standing out too much from the crowd. Thus they ignore their Jewish belief of individual freedom, and what their thousands of years of struggle has been about. This was not always the case. Prior to the FDR regime, American Jews were fairly evenly divided between the Republican and Democratic parties. It has only been since FDR that Jews have gravitated en masse to the Democratic Party.

9. Jews in America have continued to select leaders of the major Jewish organizations who are confirmed liberals. These leaders present this liberal image to the country at large as the natural Jewish position with the corresponding following by the rank and file, with no real Jewish opposition other than a few Jewish public figures. The fact that today’s liberals resemble the socialists of past days somehow escapes their thinking. Unfortunately the majority of the rabbis, Reform and Conservative, tend to support those leaders. Only the Orthodox rabbis, a much smaller number, hold out for traditional Jewish values.

10. Jews in America simply don’t recognize who their true friends are, continue to be emotional about their politics to the detriment of not using their intellectual analysis, and thus remain political sheep to their liberal sheepdogs.

Jewish family (c. WWII)

Jewish family (ca. WWII)

11. Finally, Jews in America conveniently ignore the history of their people, which has been an everlasting search and struggle for individual freedom. Throughout their history, Jews have sought only to be left alone to live their lives as they chose and to worship as they believed. For thousands of years, they were denied this freedom, wandering from land to land until by the grace of God they landed in this free land of America. Jews must always guard this freedom from the oppression of government with all the strength they possess. As secular liberalism, with its corresponding growth of government, has attained more power in America, for no other reason Jews should reject today’s liberal philosophy and gravitate to the conservative or libertarian principles.

This last point, perhaps more important than any other, is the one that appears to be most overlooked…. Only in America, for over three hundred years, have Jews been accepted as full citizens with all the rights and freedoms as possessed by other citizens. Only in America have Jews been able to make their way without any government sponsored controls or discrimination. Therefore, Jews must be almost paranoid in their opposition to any meaningful increase in government powers. It has been largely the Democratic Party that has expanded the powers of the federal government, beginning mainly with the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1933.

…The point is seldom if ever made by our Jewish leaders that every new law passed with its accompanying bureaucratic regulations, results in a diminution of our individual freedom to act as we choose. The taxes we pay, the multitude of rules and regulations that govern our everyday lives, all of this impinges upon our freedom to act, and this freedom is perhaps the most precious value that we must preserve for ourselves and our future generations.”

Well said, Mr. Sternberg.

If you’ve read the earlier posts (here, here, here, here), you probably recognize at least a couple of the above themes. My goal isn’t necessarily to hit every one, but I do have a few more I hope to touch upon briefly this month (e.g., socialism vs. capitalism, fear of standing out, anti-Semitism, etc.) In the end, I hope you are intrigued enough to pick up the book for yourself, regardless of your religious or political leanings.

Wind energy.

Electricity generated by the power of the wind.

It’s a cool idea. (Or, should I say “hot”?) Clean (i.e., no carbon emissions or other harmful waste products), natural and “renewable”. Presumably cheap, too. Yay! Every politician’s dream, especially those who are funded and/or pressured by the environmentalist lobbyists and other “green” groups. Of course, when you read or listen to those activists via the MSM, you don’t usually hear the other side of the equation, as it were.

Wind Farm -- The Braes O'Doune near Stirling Castle in Scotland

The Braes O'Doune Wind Farm near Stirling Castle, Scotland

Unreliability is a BIG concern. You just can’t rely on the wind to always be blowing, even when you build a wind farm in a normally windy place. Take Scotland, for instance, which has several wind farms responsible for producing 1588 megawatts (MW) of power. A recent study on the data from those farms from February through June of this year revealed some eye-opening facts.

  • While the wind turbines are supposed to operate at an average output of about 30% of their maximum installed capacity, they under-produced 80% of the time.
  • They were at less than 5% maximum output nearly a third of the time, sometimes for several days.
  • Only 9 times did they actually reach 30% efficiency for a full day.
  • In fact, average output for the 5-month period was only 17% of maximum — i.e., just over half of what is expected.

It’s not a serious issue, yet, but Helen McDade of the John Muir Trust expressed her worries about depending too much on the wind farms:

This raises serious concerns about security of supply…. What will the consequences be when we become more reliant on wind power, and switch off the other resources, such as the coal-fired power stations? I think vested interests and blind hope are the reasons we are careening down this route.”

To be fair, though, this study looked at just 5 months out of an admittedly unusually calm year. Plus, as Rosie Vetter of Scottish Renewables points out,

No single energy technology can meet all of our needs, which is why we need a mix of renewables and thermal generation in different locations linked by a strong grid, with enhanced capacity to store electricity so it can be released when it is needed.”

Nevertheless, I think this case study is sufficiently illustrative of the undependable nature of this particular energy source.

5 megawatt wind turbine under construction

5 megawatt wind turbine under construction

Let’s look at it from another perspective.

The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) in the Pacific Northwest currently has 2780 MW generated from wind farms and is expected to more than double that amount by 2013. It has already integrated over 1000 turbines, 5 new substations, and 6 tap-lines to connect the new power sources into the electricity grid. The BPA has one of the highest ratios of wind power to overall load of any federal power marketing authority in the United States — closing in on 30%. As Todd Wynn and Eric Lowe of the Cascade Policy Institute recently reported, however, there are several issues related to integrating wind-generated energy into a region’s power grid.

Obviously, wind is unpredictable and inconsistent, creating a significant problem for BPA and electric utilities. The electricity grid must remain in perfect supply-and-demand equilibrium in order to guarantee that when a ratepayer flips a switch, a light turns on. To prevent brownouts or overloads on the grid, BPA must schedule energy production in advance. However, the ability to predict when and how hard the wind will blow is extremely limited (usually a two- or three-day window) and often inaccurate. These problems are exacerbated by the fact that BPA has to have a backup system, known as a balancing reserve capacity, equal to or greater than the wind power capacity utilized at any given time. Because wind power is so unpredictable, every MW of wind power must be backed up by an equal amount of reliable energy in reserve to replace the energy lost when the wind dies down. Otherwise, the grid becomes unreliable and service is interrupted. In Oregon and the rest of the Pacific Northwest, hydroelectric dams currently serve as the balancing reserve. This means hydroelectric dams are turned on and off in order to respond to fluctuations in wind generation. [Not very efficient. More on this in a minute.]

…The argument that wind power can help to meet future energy demand is erroneous, since wind energy does not add capacity to the grid. Wind power merely trades off with existing sources of production, which functionally means shutting down hydroelectric dams and building additional back-up generation facilities (essentially building two power plants for the energy of one)…. [While research & analysis is underway to address these problems, solutions] are generally far off, or would fail to address the problem completely. Therefore, BPA eventually will be forced either to buy additional dispatchable generation capacity from third-party suppliers or to build additional back-up capacity. This leads to additional costs for BPA, the utilities which purchase power from BPA, and ultimately Oregon ratepayers.”

That bit I italicized is well worth remembering. Speaking of additional costs, here is some more info:

In 2009, BPA requested that the Oregon Public Utility Commission (OPUC) allow an electricity rate increase to reflect the costs of integrating wind. BPA proposed an increase of $2.79 per kilowatt-month, and the OPUC set the final rate increase at $1.29…. The new rate represents a doubling of wind integration costs, and this rate will continue to increase as more wind energy is added to the grid. These additional costs are eventually passed on to Oregon ratepayers.

Biglow Canyon Wind Farm, Oregon

Biglow Canyon Wind Farm, Oregon

In addition, President and CEO of Portland General Electric (PGE) Jim Piro sent an e-mail to ratepayers on February 16, 2010 explaining the utility’s plans to request a rate increase which would have to be approved by the Oregon Public Utilities Commission. The rate increase proposed for 2011-2013 will raise the average household electricity bill $6.70 per month. According to Piro, these costs can be associated largely with state renewable energy mandates, such as finishing phase III of the Biglow Canyon Wind Farm.”

So much for energy savings from “renewable” power sources. But, we’re not done, yet. About those mandates Piro mentioned…

[O]ne of the main reasons why wind energy has expanded so quickly in Oregon is because the Oregon Legislature passed renewable energy mandates in 2007. These mandates force utilities, and ultimately ratepayers, to purchase a certain percentage of renewable power by a certain year. The main goal is to have 25% new renewable energy on the grid by 2025. This effectively creates artificial demand, and wind power developers must build wind farms to meet this demand. Additionally, subsidies for production, as well as lucrative state tax-incentives, create multiple levels of artificial support for wind power.”

Is it any wonder that oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens, global warming activist Al Gore, speculator/investor & liberal activist George Soros, and others see a great opportunity to make new fortunes in the wind energy business? Of course, I’m not against making an honest buck when such an opportunity arises. My concern is with the reliability of the source and the viability of the technology to make it worthwhile to the end users — i.e., you and me. I also hate to see people tricked into thinking something is a “solution” or, at least, of much greater benefit than it really is. (Note: It seems Pickens has had some setbacks on this front and is shifting his focus to natural gas.)

Wynn and Lowe conclude that:

Forcing Oregonians to purchase an energy source with so many associated costs is unwise. At best, wind power simply replaces a clean, reliable and affordable source of energy: hydroelectricity. At worst, it invites increased price volatility, increased rates and the prospect of more greenhouse gas-emitting facilities. Ultimately, mandating increased wind generation leads to financial burdens on businesses and individuals across the state that ought to be considered carefully.”

If you don’t live in Oregon, you may be thinking this isn’t much of an issue for you. But, many (30?) states have issued or are considering similar mandates for their utilities. California, for example, will require that renewable energy sources produce 33% of its electrical power by 2020. Unfortunately, there is yet another wrinkle to impede this noble cause.

Remember how the predicted major reductions in carbon emissions was such a huge selling point for wind power? Well, several new studies have concluded that the actual reductions from wind-generated electricity will be rather negligible. As reported in the Wall Street Journal by the Manhattan Institute’s Robert Bryce and written about in his new book, Power Hungry: The Myths of “Green” Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future, the cycling up and down of conventional coal- or gas-fired generators to compensate for erratic winds is rather inefficient. These generators are designed for continuous operation, so intermittently powering them on & off increases both fuel consumption and carbon emissions. According to Bryce, the aforementioned, recent research strongly indicates that this effectively cancels out any projected reductions.

[The summary I read didn’t mention anything about hydroelectric dams, as in the Oregon example above, but I can’t imagine ramping them up and down any more than absolutely necessary is a good idea, either.]

Wind Farm in Palm Springs, California

Wind Farm in Palm Springs, California

The Independent Petroleum Association of the Mountain States commissioned Bentek Energy to analyze Colorado and Texas power plant records. Despite sizable investments, Bentek concluded, wind power “has had minimal, if any, impact on carbon dioxide” emissions. Thanks to the cycling of Colorado’s coal-fired plants in 2009, at least 94,000 more pounds of CO2 were generated because of the repeated cycling. In Texas, there was an estimated, relatively small reduction (~600 tons) of CO2 in 2008 and a slight increase (~1000 tons) of CO2 in 2009.

Some of you may remember that the Waxman-Markey energy bill, which narrowly passed the House last year, included the goal of eventually having 25% of the nation’s electricity produced by renewable energy sources. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the best-case scenario is about 306 million tons less CO2 by 2030. With the estimated annual U.S. carbon emissions being roughly 6.2 billion tons that year, the expected reduction will only be around 4.9% of emissions nationwide. That’s only a fifth what the Waxman-Markey bill put forth. And it’s certainly not much when you consider that the Obama administration wants to cut CO2 emissions 80% by 2050.

Frankly, I think the powers-that-be need to be much more realistic in their expectations, in terms of what can be done, by when, and how. (It would help if they weren’t being influenced/pressured by the climate change alarmists.) Granted, my knowledge on the subject is fairly limited. But, I still think it is safe to say that the more reliable, proven energy alternatives that should be focused on are natural gas, hydroelectric, clean coal, and definitely nuclear fission. If some billionaire gave me some money to invest in energy production, I would put it in one or more of those areas (after due diligence research, of course). No question.

Wind power? It might suffice for small, agrarian communities. But, for our modern, energy-ravenous society, it just doesn’t cut it. In fact, it “sucks”.

“[Maxine Waters] is one of the most self-serving, hate-filled, race-obsessed politicians in America. [And] the Democratic Party doesn’t just embrace her. It kneels at her feet.” — Michelle Malkin

Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) has been in the news of late, due to accusations of ethics violations being leveled against her and investigated by the House Ethics Committee. While formal charges have yet to be announced, she is accused of inappropriately using her influence to get favorable treatment (i.e., a $12 million bailout in TARP funds) for minority-owned OneUnited Bank, where she and her husband just happened to have substantial investments. (It seems that the bank had been heavily invested in Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac, so it was hit REAL hard when the government “intervened” in those corporations in 2008.) What’s more, her husband was once on the bank’s board of directors.

This isn’t the first time Waters has aided businesses with links to her family, either, to their mutual benefit. A 2004 L.A. Times article claimed that her relatives — e.g., son Edward and daughter Karen — profited to the tune of over $1 million (over 8 years) from Maxine’s connections. She indignantly denies any wrongdoing in all cases, of course. (She even manages, in this latest case, to turn it around and imply racism by President Bush’s administration.) But, that’s not the focus of this post.

Maxine Waters speaking from a podiumI don’t know about you, but I didn’t really know much about Congresswoman Waters. Sure, I knew she is Black, quite liberal, outspoken, and influential. But, beyond that, she’s never really been on my radar before. Now she is, and I’ve found out a few things that give me a much better idea of who & what she is.

Before being elected to Congress in 1991, Ms. Waters served for 15 years in the California State Assembly. While there, she campaigned for divestment of state pension funds from the then-apartheid nation of South Africa. A noble cause. Since being elected to the House of Representatives for California’s 35th District, Waters has… well… not done much of benefit. Sure, as a good liberal, she fights for “social justice” and housing and education issues, etc. But many of the bills she tends to sponsor or vote for (e.g., Obamacare; the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009) and other things she gets in the news for (e.g. the debate over King Drew Medical Center; the current ethics hearings) do more damage, in my opinion, than good. (She was one of thirteen (i.e., one-third) Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) members to vote against the DISCLOSE Act, but only because she/they couldn’t stomach the NRA exemption.)

Five years ago, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Los Angeles honored Maxine Waters with the Martin Luther King Legacy Award. Are you kidding me?! Based on what I’ve read/seen of how Waters and her fellow race-baiters in “black leadership” (e.g., Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson) have co-opted MLK’s name and twisted his dream, I daresay Rev. King shook his head in dismay & exasperation when he looked “down from above” on that award banquet.

In order to get a better feel for Representative Waters’ attitudes and positions, let me bring a few issues and events to your attention.

During the 1992 riots that devastated so much of the 35th District in South Central Los Angeles, the livelihoods of thousands of Waters’ constituents were ruined by looting and arson. Did Waters publicly condemn the violence or take the rioters to task? On the contrary, she tried to defend the criminals by renaming & reframing what happened.

If you call it a riot it sounds like it was just a bunch of crazy people who went out and did bad things for no reason. I maintain it was somewhat understandable, if not acceptable.” So, what did she call it? A “rebellion… a spontaneous reaction to a lot of injustice and a lot of alienation and frustration.”

In case that wasn’t enough justification, Waters added some pathos with statements such as:

There were mothers who took this as an opportunity to take some milk, to take some bread, to take some shoes. Maybe they shouldn’t have done it, but the atmosphere was such that they did it. They are not crooks.”

Look, I understand there’s something about getting caught up in a “mob mentality”, but people still have free will whether or not to participate. Does Ms. Waters believe that two wrongs can make a right? If so, then how does stealing TVs (or shoes), raiding liquor stores & local markets, setting fire to stores & cars, and other riot-related crimes help one “deal with”, let alone correct, injustice? Did any of it benefit Rodney King? Does the insertion of a “race factor” make it excusable? Why didn’t she stick up for the many Koreans whose shops were ransacked and/or destroyed by rioters? (Perhaps she did so later, but it obviously wasn’t her first instinct.) I don’t get it, but maybe it’s just that “progressive logic” I don’t understand….

Waters is also of the ilk that believe nefarious conspiracies have been perpetrated by certain governmental parties upon her “people”. For example, she believes that the drug epidemic in urban America can be blamed on the CIA who (apparently) created the problem by encouraging drug use in the inner cities. No matter that Blacks are not the only ones affected by the drug epidemic. (And make no mistake — being Black trumps all in Waters’ mind.) No matter that there is no rational explanation for why the CIA would do such a thing. No matter that this theory was exposed as a hoax by the Washington Post, L.A. Times, and New York Times, among many others. Waters still clings to this ridiculous theory because it fits with her philosophy of minorities (particularly Blacks) being forever victimized by the powerful and more privileged.

If I never do anything else in this career as a member of Congress,” she vowed, “I’m going to make somebody pay for what they’ve done to my community and to my people.”

Then, there is Waters’ support for escaped cop-killer Joanne Chesimard (aka Assata Olugbala Shakur), a former leader of the Black Panthers and the Black Liberation Army. Chesimard didn’t just shoot NJ State Trooper Werner Foerster once; she shot him again at point-blank range to finish the job. That was in 1973, and Chesimard was sentenced to life in prison for Foerster’s death, plus armed robbery and other felonies. She escaped in 1979 and eventually fled to Cuba, where Fidel Castro gave her political asylum. Congress passed a resolution urging her extradition to America. But, Rep. Waters took it upon herself to personally write Castro to plead for extended asylum for Chesimard. She even had the gall to compare Chesimard to Martin Luther King, claiming “She was persecuted as a result of her political beliefs and affiliations.”

No, Maxine! Chesimard is a dangerous militant who shot a man in cold blood (among other crimes). She deserves to be thrown back in an American high-security prison. Better yet, give her the death penalty. But, Castro took pity on poor, persecuted Ms. Chesimard, and she still lives in Cuba to this day. Meanwhile, there have been several extradition pleas, and in 2005 the FBI classified her a “domestic terrorist” and began offering $1 million for assistance in her capture. Sadly, she has become somewhat of a folk hero to the hip-hop community — partly because of her “cause,” partly because of her being the step-aunt of the late Tupac Shakur. But, I digress…

Maxine Waters speaks out

Maxine Waters speaks out (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Oh, yeah. Is it any surprise that Rep. Waters thinks Castro is the bees knees, too?

Here is what Michelle Malkin wrote about Waters 10 years ago:

This is a woman who danced the electric slide with Crips and Bloods gang members, and then noted in her official biography that ‘Many young people, including those in the hip-hop music community, praise her for her fearless support and understanding of young people and their efforts at self-expression.’

This is a woman who visited the home of Damian Williams, the infamous thug who ‘expressed himself’ by hurling a chunk of concrete at white truck driver Reginald Denny and performing a victory dance over the innocent bystander.

This is a woman who rose to power by badmouthing the white ‘Establishment,’ and then shamelessly abused it to secure an ambassadorship to the Bahamas for her husband -– a former pro football player and car salesman whose main qualification was having traveled to the island for a vacation.

This is a woman who repeatedly excoriates ‘the white press’ whenever negative stories about black politicians appear.”

Not much has changed, apparently.

Of course, Waters includes many liberal/progressive causes in her repertoire, as well. She consistently votes for human embryonic stem-cell research and against anything that would ban or otherwise restrict any form of abortion. She is for anything that furthers the gay agenda. She never met a bailout or stimulus package she didn’t like. She supports any legislation backed by the climate change alarmists. She has an aversion to free-trade agreements. She loves gun control and the idea of suing makers & sellers of guns. Open borders and looser immigration policies are just fine by Ms. Waters. The AFL-CIO gives her a 100% pro-union voting record. Like many of her fellow “progressives”, Waters appears to have an affinity for socialistic policies, having expressed, for example, her desire to nationalize all U.S. oil companies. You get the picture, right?

Not surprisingly, Waters is also an outspoken anti-war critic. As chair of the Out of Iraq Caucus, she has been on the frontlines not only pushing for immediate troop withdrawal from Iraq but making accusations against President Bush and trying to get V.P. Cheney impeached for supposed “false statements” about the war.

The president is a liar. Dick Cheney, the chief architect of the Big Lie, is not only a liar, he is a thief.”

What do the Beltway watchdogs think of Representative Waters? The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) listed her among the corrupt members of Congress in its 2005, 2006, & 2009 reports. She has an affinity for earmarks, too. The Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) named her the June 2009 Porker of the Month. Why, specifically? Waters tried to get federal funds earmarked for the “Maxine Waters Employment Preparation Center.”

Maxine Waters glares at someone

Glaring Maxine Waters (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Maxine Waters is a powerful player in Washington, with extremely few in her own party willing to take her on, particularly when there’s an opportunity for her to play the race card. Joe Lieberman tried it. He once expressed some “reservations about affirmative action” and gave “tentative support to school vouchers” (which would benefit minority children, by the way). Fairly moderate positions, all in all. When Lieberman got put on the 2000 Democratic ticket for V.P., Ms. Waters demanded to know why she hadn’t first been consulted on the matter and insisted that Lieberman “explain” himself before the black caucus of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). As a result, Lieberman effectively backed off from his earlier statements in order to get the support of Waters and her compatriots. That is, he was bullied into submission.

Whether Congresswoman Waters is found guilty of the current ethics charges or not, let’s be clear. This woman is the epitome of black racism & elitist progressivism in American politics. She has been peddling her race-baiting garbage and double standards in & from the House for nearly 20 years, and she needs to go.