March 2014 UPDATE: School Choice in the States

Alabama
The Alabama House passed HB 558 that would amend the Alabama Accountability Act. The bill heads to the Senate for consideration. The bill would make the following changes:

  • Define individual donors as shareholders or partners of S corporations or Subchapter K entities, and eliminate the $7,500 cap on all individual contributions.
  • Scholarship granting organizations (SGOs) would be able to distribute scholarships first to students in “failing” schools and then to lower-income public school students who are not in a failing school by May 15. Current law requires that the SGOs wait until September 15 to distribute scholarships to low-income public students not transferring from a failing school.
  • Change the definition of a failing school. The change would likely eliminate a few public schools from the failing school list, thus making students in those schools ineligible for future participation in the refundable-credit program.

Alaska
The current fate of SJR-9, which would place an amendment to the Blaine provision in the state’s constitution on the November ballot, is still up in the air. The resolution has been sent back to the Rules Committee where it waits until it is reintroduced on the Senate floor.

Arizona
The Arizona Supreme Court declined to review a Court of Appeals’ ruling upholding the state’s education savings accounts (ESA) program. The high court’s decision essentially deemed the ESAs constitutional. Several legislative proposals are moving in the state to expand the ESA program further.

Colorado
The Colorado Supreme Court announced it will review the constitutionality of the Douglas County Choice Scholarship Pilot Program. The Colorado Court of Appeals ruled in 2013 the program does not violate the state’s constitution, which led the ACLU, which is openly anti-school choice, to file an appeal to the state supreme court. There is no word on when a decision could be expected.

Florida
The House chamber passed an expansion to the Florida tax-credit scholarship that would expand the cap on contributions to scholarship granting organizations (SGOs) and allowed businesses to donate against their sales tax liability. The bill would also allow lower- to middle-income families to receive partial scholarships. Proponents of the bill projected the changes would have allowed thousands more students to participate in the program. Even though close to 60,000 students are receiving scholarships through Step Up For Students, Florida’s sole SGO, there is still a waiting list for families in need of options.

The bill’s chances were cut short when the Senate sponsor pulled the bill because Senate and House leadership vehemently disagreed over adding state testing requirements. The House wanted to keep the original accountability language in the bill—requiring students take a nationally norm-referenced test—but Senate leadership demanded that private schools participating in the program should be required to take state tests.

The legislation would have been dead this session but for Rep. Erik Fresen, who added the Florida tax-credit scholarship expansion language to an education savings account bill for students with special needs. The combined legislation passed the Florida House Education Appropriations Subcommittee and will likely be up for a House floor vote in early April.

Indiana
A new voucher program was created this legislative session allowing parents of up to 1,500 children to choose a publicly or privately run pre-kindergarten school. Also, lawmakers clarified language in a portion of the state’s existing voucher program to better serve K-12 students with special needs whose parents want to choose a private school.

Iowa
ESA legislation in Iowa did not make it through the “funnel” process there. This requires that all legislation be moving toward crossover to the other chamber by a certain date. The ESA bill made it out of the Appropriations Subcommittee but was not taken up by the full committee.

Kansas
Both the ESA and the tax-credit scholarship bills are stalled in the legislative process. There is a bill in the legislature to raise the Base State Aid[KB2] in conjunction with a recent Kansas Supreme Court ruling. That legislation does not contain any school choice-related language.<

Louisiana
Legislation that would give low-income students access to more school choice funding passed the state’s House Ways and Means Committee. The bill would allow students participating in the Louisiana Scholarship Program to be automatically eligible for the state’s tax-credit scholarship program, which could potentially give their parents greater purchasing power.

Mississippi
On March 12, the Senate passed HB 765, the Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Act. The conference report on the ESA bill was filed in late March and contains a three-year repealer clause, making this a pilot program. The House voted down the ESA bill April 2 by a vote of 57-63. To see the evolution of the bill to date, visit State Programs and Government Relations Director Stephanie Linn’s markup here.

New York
In 2012, the New York Senate passed tax-credit scholarship legislation, the Education Investment Tax Credit, by a vote of 55 to 4. The Assembly’s companion bill had more than 100 co-sponsors. Although the measure had prominent support, including from some unlikely sources, this year New York’s budget did not include funding for the program, eliminating the possibility that the tax-credit scholarship program will become law.

Rhode Island
A “sliding-scale” voucher bill available to families earning up to 300 percent of the income needed to qualify for free and reduced-price lunch is still pending in committee. The bill faces a deadline of June 23, when the state’s legislative session ends.

Tennessee
The House Finance Subcommittee passed a failing-school voucher bill for students attending schools with academic performance in the bottom 10 percent of the state. The bill does not include income restrictions for students, although most eligible students in this bill would be from lower-income households. The bill sponsor has been taken off notice in the House Finance Committee with the stated intention to take up the bill later this month.

The Tennessee Senate Education Committee followed suit by passing a companion bill. The bill’s prime sponsor, Sen. Mark Norris (R), offered an amendment that would allow the program to give first preference to students attending schools in the bottom 5 percent academically and then open up eligibility for low-income students not in failing schools but who are in public schools within counties that contain failing schools. That amendment passed. Notably, the bill passed the committee 8-1 with bipartisan support. The Senate Finance committee will consider the bill in early April.

Vermont
An effort is underway in Vermont to dramatically cut the number of school districts statewide. The move essentially would render the state’s town tuitioning voucher program meaningless (for it to take effect a district must not house any public schools). Also, lawmakers are attempting to put a moratorium on “flipping” schools—in recent years, two public schools used the state’s voucher program to convert to private status amid concerns over state and federal over regulation.

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Into the Benghazi Storm with “Special Operations Speaks”

“The political director of Special Operations Speaks, which represents over 1,000 Special Operations veterans, claimed House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is not creating a committee to investigate the September 11, 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi because he is protecting those who know what really happened and the details of what may have been a cover-up. Special Operations Speaks recently launched a social media campaign to memorialize the four Americans killed in last year’s Benghazi terrorist attacks and pressure Congress to create a Select Committee to investigate and uncover the truth of the administration’s handling of the attacks,” reported Breitbart’s Tony Lee in August 2013.

The officers of SOS will join with me on WBTM TV to battle corruption and incompetence in DC!

[youtube]http://youtu.be/q73QhxHBYro[/youtube]

Florida Bar Association Attacks Rabbi for supporting Dutch MP Geert Wilders

The Florida version of American Law for American Courts (ALAC) SB 386 passed the second hurdle  today, on a partisan vote of 6 Republicans  versus 3 Democrats.  The Democrat opponents included  Sen. Jeremy Ring, the Chairman of the State Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability (GO&A)Committee.

It was left to GO&A Deputy Chairman Sen. Alan Hays to advance the legislation to passage at today’s hearing.

We join with other Floridians in commending Sen. Hays for his valued support of SB 386: “acceptance  of foreign laws in certain cases”.  His tenacity, perseverance and collegiality in working with the proponents and his adroit understanding of the politicking involved has made a demonstrable difference endeavoring to pass the Florida version of ALAC s in its fourth try.

Having watched the video of today’s Florida Senate GO&A  hearing and partisan vote we have provided you with  the URL link to the Hearing video below. Please watch beginning at time mark 60 mins through  81 mins.

http://www.flsenate.gov/media/videoplayer?EventID=2443575804_2014041060

The bulk of the hearing discussion  was comprised of  the introduction by  Republican  Committee  member  Sen. David  Simmons of an amendment that seeks to codify, in his parlance, judge made law. He considers that  superior to SB 386 in that  the amendment seeks to perfect a compromise with critics of the bill.  After presentation  of  Simmons’ amendment, it was withdraw enabling a vote on SB 386 as proposed.

Sen. Hays endeavored to show our video interview with Rabbi Hausman to the Committee.  At the request of Committee Chair Ring,  Sen. Hays  presented  Rabbi Jonathan Hausman’s professional bona fides to comment on Israeli family law recognition of rabbinic decrees. Hays focused on the Rabbi’s  multifaceted qualifications as an ordained  pulpit rabbi,  Member of the Bars of  Pennsylvania and Connecticut and extensive  knowledge of both Jewish Halacha and Islamic Sharia.

Rabbi Jonathan H. Hausman small

Rabbi Jonathan H. Hausman

In the presentation by the Florida Bar International Law section we noted the ad hominem attack against Rabbi Hausman for being an ally of a Dutch Member of  Hague Parliament, Geert Wilders and leader of the Freedom Party. Further, this  line of attack  was taken up  by GO&A Chair Senator Jeremy Ring (D-FL District 29) about the lack of Family Law testimony from that section of the Florida bar association. It was also reflected in the comments of the Emerge USA Muslim group representative  complaining  about the bill not being heard by Senate Child and Family dominated by Senators concerned about alleged denial of Israeli divorces. That clearly is the misinformed argument promoted by the ADL in a mass email campaign to the Florida Jewish community just prior to today’s hearing.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce  Representative argued that SB 386  was complicated impacting on international transactions and small business owners. We suspect that the ADL, Florida Family and International Law sections of the state bar association, Emerge USA Muslim advocacy group and Sen. Simmons will put in their final strokes at the next stop, the Senate Rules Committee.

So far on the family law matters we have yet to see  introduced the video evidence by either or both Professor Margaret McClain and especially Floridian Yasmeen A. Davis. Ms. Davis  was rescued by her family  from an abduction and removal to Saudi Arabia by her father in violation  of state, federal and international law against parental abductions. This is graphic testimony of the war on women under Sharia.

Perhaps given today’s  successful vote on SB 386, there might be movement in the Florida House on the companion measure, HB903 that passed on the Subcommittee on Civil Justice on  March 18th. The subcommittee is  Chaired by District 32 Rep. Larry Metz who is one of ALAC’s  most knowledgeable proponents. He sponsored the legislation in the 2013 legislative session in Tallahassee.  One indication of that came in a meeting that occurred at a recent dinner of the Allen West Foundation in Palm Beach, Florida.

District 2  Florida House Representative, Warren Bryan “Mike” Hill and Rabbi Hausman were featured speakers at the event. Rep. Hill when he learned of Rabbi Hausman’s involvement in the pending Florida ALAC legislation  said he voted for the measure at the House Subcommittee hearing and would vote for it when it reached the Florida House floor. It appears likely that the House version may be heard shortly in the full Judiciary Committee where Rep. Metz may play a key role in arguing for passage.

As baseball great and master of malapropisms, Yogi Berra might opine, “It ain’t over till the fat lady sings”.  Nevertheless, today’s  Senate GO&A passage may indicate that the momentum could be building up a head of steam for ultimate passage in the 2014 Legislature Session in Tallahassee.

EDITORS NOTE:

The Florida Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee approved American Laws for American Courts legislation which would prohibit Sharia and other foreign laws during the committee’s April 3, 2014 meeting. The committee voted 6 to 3 in favor of SB 386 titled Application of Foreign Law in Certain Cases during their Wednesday, April 3, 2014 9:00 am – 10:30 am meeting:

Chair:
Senator Jeremy Ring (D)                    No
Vice Chair:
Senator Alan Hays (R)                         Yes

Senator Aaron Bean (R)                      Yes
Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto (R)    Yes
Senator Rob Bradley (R)                    Yes
Senator Dorothy L. Hukill (R)         Yes
Senator Bill Montford (D)                  No
Senator David Simmons (R)              Yes
Senator Christopher L. Smith (D)    No

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.

Eighty-one Years Ago: It began with a boycott of Jews in Berlin

April 1933: Nazi storm troopers outside a Berlin store posting signs reading, “Do not buy from Jews!”

220px-Al-Husayni1929head

Amin al-Husseini, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. In office from 1921–1948. Photo taken in 1929.

It always starts with a boycott. That is how tyrants begin the process of cleansing those deemed unfit or enemies of the state. Eighty one years ago we saw the same thing that is happening today, not in Nazi, Germany, but rather on the campuses of America’s elite universities and on the streets of New York City.

Rabbi Aryeh Spero in The Jewish Press reports, “It is incomprehensible. This year, the sponsors of New York’s annual Israel Day Parade are allowing organizations to march who actively promote a boycott of Israeli businesses and companies owned by Jews in Judea-Samaria.”

“The UJA-Federation, responsible for the annual parade, has given the Green Light to groups organizing boycotts against products of Jewish owners in Judea and Samaria. These groups work every day to isolate Israel and make her a global pariah, announcing to the world the names of specific Jewish-owned companies operating in Judea-Samaria they want punished. Yet, these ‘Jewish’ groups are being invited to infiltrate the Parade, either because of agreement with their tactics or as a way of affirming what the UJA-Federation calls an ‘open tent’,” notes Rabbil Spero.

The current Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement touts itself as promoting “freedom, justice, equality.” The global BDS campaign against Israel is coordinated by the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), established in 2007.

But the 1933 boycott of Jews in Berlin is inextricably linked to the current BDS movement against Israel. That link is Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and co-founder of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Back in the summer of 1940 and again in February 1941, al-Husseini submitted to the Nazi German Government a draft declaration of German-Arab cooperation, containing a clause:

Germany and Italy recognize the right of the Arab countries to solve the question of the Jewish elements, which exist in Palestine and in the other Arab countries, as required by the national and ethnic (völkisch) interests of the Arabs, and as the Jewish question was solved in Germany and Italy.

On 20 November, al-Husseini met the German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop[149] and was officially received by Adolf Hitler on 28 November.[150] He asked Adolf Hitler for a public declaration that ‘recognized and sympathized with the Arab struggles for independence and liberation, and that would support the elimination of a national Jewish homeland’.[151] Hitler refused to make such a public announcement, saying that it would strengthen the Gaullists against the Vichy France, but asked al-Husseini to ‘to lock …deep in his heart’ the following points, which Christopher Browning summarizes as follows, that:

‘Germany has resolved, step by step, to ask one European nation after the other to solve its Jewish problem, and at the proper time, direct a similar appeal to non-European nations as well’. When Germany had defeated Russia and broken through the Caucasus into the Middle East, it would have no further imperial goals of its own and would support Arab liberation… But Hitler did have one goal. “Germany’s objective would then be solely the destruction of the Jewish element residing in the Arab sphere under the protection of British power”. (Das deutsche Ziel würde dann lediglich die Vernichtung des im arabischen Raum unter der Protektion der britischen Macht lebenden Judentums sein). In short, Jews were not simply to be driven out of the German sphere but would be hunted down and destroyed even beyond it.’

Al-Husseini meeting with Muslim volunteers, including the Legion of Azerbaijan, at the opening of the Islamic Central Institute in Berlin on 18 December 1942, during the Muslim festival Eid al-Adha.

While in Germany, al-Husseini was taken on a tour of Auschwitz by Himmler and expressed support for the mass murder of European Jews. At Auschwitz, al-Husseini reportedly admonished the guards operating the gas chambers to work more diligently. In 1944, a German-Arab commando unit under al-Husseini’s command parachuted into Palestine and poisoned Tel Aviv’s wells.

Al-Husseini also helped to organize thousands of Muslims in the Balkans into military units known as Handselar divisions which carried out atrocities against Yugoslav Jews, Serbs and Gypsies.

A separate record of the meeting was made by Fritz Grobba, who until recently had been the German ambassador to Iraq. His version of the crucial words reads “when the hour of Arab liberation comes, Germany has no interest there other than the destruction of the power protecting the Jews”.

In the lead-up to the 1948 Palestine war, Husseini opposed both the 1947 UN Partition Plan and King Abdullah’s designs to annex the Arab part of British Mandatory Palestine to Jordan, and, failing to gain command of the ‘Arab rescue army’ (jaysh al-inqadh al-‘arabi) formed under the aegis of the Arab League, formed his own militia, al-jihad al-muqaddas. In September 1948, he participated in establishment of All-Palestine Government. Seated in Egyptian-ruled Gaza, this government won a limited recognition of Arab states, but was eventually dissolved by Gamal Nasser in 1959.

After the war and subsequent Palestinian exodus, his claims to leadership, wholly discredited, left him eventually sidelined by the Palestine Liberation Organization, and he lost most of his residual political influence. But his spirit lives on in the current BDS movement.

Hating Politics, Loving Government by SANDY IKEDA

Politics is inseparable from government. Indeed, it is government.

Iconoclast filmmaker and political activist Oliver Stone spoke at the international conference of Students for Liberty last February in Washington, D.C. The common ground between Stone and most libertarians is his outspoken criticism of American militarism abroad, not just by conservative Republicans but also by left-wing Democrats such as President Obama.

But where libertarians differ with Stone, and differ profoundly, is I think more interesting and instructive. Stone sounds like a man disenchanted with politics but still enamored of government. So he decries interventionism abroad but approves of the violent interventions of the Chavez (now Maduro) regime in its own country. He seems to believe politics, particularly dirty politics, can be separated from government.

But intervening is what big government does, domestically or abroad.

Admiration, Disenchantment, and Betrayal

Stone was, as I mentioned, harshly critical of President Obama and what Stone said he felt was the President’s backpedaling on his campaign promises. At the same time, Stone expressed strong support for the current regime in Venezuela and the United Socialist Party’s violent clampdown on antigovernment protesters, referring to the latter as “poor sports” for trying to overturn what he deems a democratically elected government. (But see this open letter to Oliver Stone that was delivered to him during the conference.)

To condemn violent intervention by the United States government in foreign affairs while supporting violent intervention by Venezuela’s government in its domestic affairs is an inconsistency obvious to most libertarians. The relative size of the U.S. government and its self-appointed role as world policeman compared to Venezuela’s much more modest size and limited role in Latin America might be part of the reason why Stone opposes one and approves of the other.

But underlying Stone’s disgust for President Obama, whom he supported over two elections, was a sense of betrayal, that Obama as President must live in a very different world from Obama as candidate.

Deceive for the Sake of the Task

Stone is not alone in his disenchantment with President Obama. The President’s approval rating has reached an all-time low and Democrats are worried about the potential drag on midterm elections. The once-shining candidate and bold politician has lost his luster, especially for those who believed his progressive rhetoric—not only on foreign policy but also on immigration, health care, and surveillance. To be fair, almost every incumbent President loses popularity in the second term. People eventually see that reality doesn’t match rhetoric. But that’s the point: It’s mere rhetoric. Or, to be precise, political rhetoric.

What is political rhetoric? It’s persuasive talk in the service of achieving dominance in the use of violent aggression. It was Carl von Clausewitz who said that “war is the continuation of politics by other means.” War and politics are then just different ways of attaining physical dominance. While politics doesn’t ordinarily involve open violence (at least not in wealthier countries in recent decades), rhetoric in the service of politics does include lying. If initiating physical violence is an acceptable means—actually it’s the means—of engaging in war, lying and distortion are its relatively peaceful partners. That’s why the State is often defined as the agency that has a legitimate monopoly over aggression and fraud. Like physical violence, some argue that lying and deception can serve the common good: for example, telling people, “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it” in order to get Obamacare passed. Plato claimed that a “Noble Lie,” about the origins of a nation, for example, may be necessary to maintain social harmony. But such lies, he says, are best left to the elite rather than commoners.

Keeping the truth from potential enemies is just as important as keeping weapons from them. Politics, according to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, involves “activities that relate to influencing the actions and policies of a government or getting and keeping power in a government.” Lying and deception are essential to politics and politics is inseparable from government. Or, as Jane Jacobs wrote in her brilliant book Systems of Survival, one of the basic rules of government is to “deceive for the sake of the task.”

House of Cads

When government is limited to a few tasks, the need for and scope of deception are also limited. The more the government does, however, the bigger the role deception plays in its daily activities. As the NSA scandal illustrates, government spies on citizens and then lies about it.

Although the American government has not yet reached the scope of collectivist central planning that F. A. Hayek targeted in The Road to Serfdom, much of what he writes there is applicable to it, mutatis mutandis. I specifically have in mind his famous chapter 10, “Why the Worst Get on Top,” the central point of which is that the more detailed the plan the State seeks to impose on its citizens, the more ruthless and expedient its executioners must be if it is to succeed. This is why the most ruthless and unprincipled have the advantage in the struggle for political power. What separates President Obama, or any other recent American president, from someone like President Vladimir Putin of Russia is a matter of degree, not of kind. To paraphrase Lord Acton, not only does power tend to corrupt, but absolute power tends to attract the absolutely corrupt. Frank Underwood, the protagonist of the television drama House of Cardsis an excellent, though of course fictional, illustration of exactly that tendency.

Politics is inseparable from government, indeed it is government, and the bigger the government, the bigger the role of politics. As they say, politics is a feature, not a bug.

ABOUT SANDY IKEDA

Sandy Ikeda is an associate professor of economics at Purchase College, SUNY, and the author of The Dynamics of the Mixed Economy: Toward a Theory of Interventionism. He will be speaking at the FEE summer seminars “People Aren’t Pawns” and “Are Markets Just?

The Joy of Thinking: Shmuel Trigano

Denmark has banned “ritual slaughter.” Why? Both Muslim and Jewish authorities had already accepted non-penetrating stunning prior to halal or kosher slaughter. There are no kosher slaughterhouses left in Denmark. But that’s not the issue. Agriculture Minister Dan Jørgensen justifies the ban, enacted on February 13th and effective on the 17th, on the grounds that “animal rights come before religious rights.” Similar bans have been imposed in Poland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and the Netherlands. What next?

What can explain this seemingly endless wave of hostility against Jews, Judaism, and Zionism either singled out or, as in this case, lumped together with Islam? Confused do-gooders, adding animals to their exquisite concern for the welfare of living creatures, are tearing at the body of Western civilization. The gullible multitude swallows the hype. What is the future of Jews in such a world?

Intense debate has been underway since the dawn of the 21st century, nowhere more fertile than in France, at the European epicenter of the international storm. Our survival depends on our capacity to think! To think clearly, precisely, profoundly, and coherently. High on the list of the Jewish thinkers who have risen to the challenge, Shmuel Trigano gives us keys to understanding our predicament and, hopefully, averting catastrophe. Sociologist, philosopher, academic, prolific writer, he sheds light on the perverse process that leads to the lumping together of Jews and Muslims (as foreign bodies), the damning of “ritual slaughter” (the term is a horror in itself), and the smug conclusion: “animal rights come before religious rights.”

The subject was at the heart of an international Colloquium “L’Union européenne et les nouvelles forms de la question juive” [New forms of the Jewish Question in the European Union], held in Paris on January 26th under the auspices of l’Université populaire du judaïsme and founding director Shmuel Trigano, who introduced the Colloquium with a few words about the newly created Université Populaire, “an alliance of heart and mind.” The aim of this open program of Jewish studies is to examine the Jewish message—eternal Israel—in conjunction with the contemporary situation of Jews, individually and collectively, and the dangers facing the Jewish state in a post-national Western world. In the 20th century, Jews that had been living as individual citizens of European nations were collectively rounded up and exterminated. Subsequently, Jews were chased out of the Arab-Muslim world. Jewish population today is concentrated in Israel, the United States, Western Europe, and Russia.

The first speaker at the Colloquium, Bruno Fiszon—chief rabbi of Metz and a member of the French Veterinary Academy—who defends shechita with scientific precision, gave an inside view of the ferment that led the European Commission to assimilate male circumcision with female genital mutilation, and “ritual slaughter” with savagery. Eurodeputy Marlène Rupprecht, reporter of the commission on circumcision, deplored practices that reveal “the dark side of your religion.” Her colleague Sylvie Goy-Chavent, who also sponsored the resolution discriminating against products from Israel’s “occupied territories,” claims the proceeds of kosher slaughter finance Israel’s army. Something other than animal welfare is at play.

Nine speakers, including Robert Wistrich—author of the recently cancelled UNESCO exhibit on the 3500 year connection between the Jewish people, the Book, and the land of Israel—addressed the “Jewish question” from every angle. Jean-Pierre Bensimon stepped out of the European framework to voice stinging criticism of Secretary of State John Kerry’s misguided peace initiative. Bat Ye’or traced current developments in the Eurabian project she has thoroughly documented: Palestinianism and its anti-Zionist corollary, the peace process as a jihadist plan for the destruction of Israel, replacement of French identity and population, the rejection of rational European civilization in favor of Koranic doctrine, the 2006 Berlin Conference decision to politicize European culture…

Shmuel Trigano outlined the new anti-Semitism that has developed within a new world order: To restore the belief in its own bounty after the Shoah, Europe invented a religion of compassion in a borderless EU consecrated to the defense of The Victim. The victims of the Shoah, bleached of their Jewish specificity and interchangeable with new models, are an object of worship. The nation-state is blamed for the evils of the 20th century and Israel is execrated for its retrograde nationalism, leaving the Jews exposed once more to the danger of extermination if robbed of the protection of the sovereign Jewish state. (A video of the Colloquium is available online. )1

At the end of this day-long studious exercise, participants discovered what had been going on in the streets of Paris: The Day of Rage, billed as a spontaneous coalition of gripes against the Hollande government, the EU, global finance, and a long list of etceteras, had brought forth a vociferous chorus of Jew hatred from one end to the other of the political spectrum. “Jews, Jews, France isn’t for you!”2

The juxtaposition of the insightful Colloquium and the real life manifestation of Jew hatred in distressed French society is a fitting example of the brainspan of Shmuel Trigano, stretching from an inspired interpretation of the founding texts of Judaism to a sharp intuition of the clear and present danger that threatens flesh and blood Jewish people.

Like many others, I discovered Trigano in 2001, with the publication of a quarterly bulletin, l’Observatoire du Monde Juif, that broke through a government and media blackout on attacks against Jews and Jewish property. Each issue of the Observatoire listed anti-Semitic acts (8 full pages in the first quarter of 2001) along with essays by Trigano and astute collaborators, focused on specific themes—media bias, Islamism and the Jews, the New Left and Israel, Israel the pariah state…  Trigano traced the sociological twists by which a long-standing well-integrated Jewish community respectful of the laws and the spirit of the French République was accused of “communautarisme” (clannishness) for coming together to defend itself from the violent anti-Semitism of a recent Muslim immigrant population, hostile to the host country and its values. Later, when the reality could no longer be denied, unprovoked attacks on Jews were travestied as inter-ethnic clashes.

Trigano gave a comprehensive analysis of repercussions of the “Al Aqsa Intifada” in France in La demission de la République/Juifs et musulmans en France [resignation of la République/Jews and Muslims in France], published in 2003.3 There is nothing ideological, emotional, essentialist, or ethnically competitive about his reflection on national identity under the pressure of an unprecedented influx of immigrants from North and sub-Saharan African nations that have been historically in conflict with the West. A population that rejected modernity—experienced “in reverse” as colonization—and practices an unreformed religion that remains inimical to European values will inevitably acquire political clout in a democratic nation that makes no demands on them and shirks its own identity.

Integration, says Trigano, is impossible in the absence of national identity. The current situation, which makes life impossible for French Jews, will create chaos in society at large. The short-lived “victory” of Muslim immigrants, allowed to assert their theoretical domination and claim their rightful place without accepting national values, will inevitably create a prejudicial backlash. He concludes with hopes for a positive outcome based on a pact similar to the agreement made between Napoleon and Jewish authorities that led to the granting of citizenship rights to French Jews. An Islam of France (as opposed to an Islam in France) would formally renounce precepts such as jihad, death to apostates, dominion over infidels, polygamy, oppression of women… No simple task! And Trigano does not toss out the idea like a politician on the campaign trail. Events since “La demission” was published have confirmed the diagnosis and potential solution. The alternative—multiculturalism—is producing exactly the backlash he predicted.

Impressed by Trigano’s lucidity, coherence, integrity, and foresight, I went out of my way to attend any colloquium he organized—including a notable one on the al Dura hoax—read his essays on current events, contributed to the review Controverses he edited from 2006 to 2011, thick handsome volumes that expand the depth and scope of the Observatoire. One issue, for example,4 explored the phenomenon of “alterjuifs,” a term coined to replace the misnomer “self-hating Jews.” In 2010 Trigano short- circuited an attempt to create a European version of J Street: the Raison Garder [be reasonable] petition garnered twice as many signatures as the heftily backed JCall.

This year I am following Trigano’s course at the Université populaire. Ah! If only we were taught Judaism that way when we were young. One evening, as the class ended, he tossed out this pithy idea, like someone offering you a second helping of cake:  “The soul, I think, carries the flesh.” Yes! And his soul carries a generous unpretentious presence with a warm smile on the face of a hidalgo who stepped out of a Spanish painting. “When I’m in the States, strangers address me directly in Spanish.” We sat down together recently for a friendly conversation about his life and work. From details about his youth in Blida (Algeria), where he was born in 1948, to an explanation of his quest for an authentic “Hebrew philosophy,” Shmuel always makes sense! If you had to sum up his thought and his being in one word, you would say: coherent. He has no nostalgia for the Maghreb where he lived as a French citizen in a modern French-speaking family. His parents were afraid to send him to Talmud Torah in those times of revolutionary violence that led to their inevitable flight in 1962. He remembers tenderly their tragi-comic departure: “My father didn’t want to leave. We went to Vichy for a 20-day ‘cure’ at the baths, and when the time was up, we wandered here, there…”  They ended up finally in Paris, like tens of thousands of Jews forced to leave Muslim lands in a context of betrayal, persecution, loss of status and material possessions. The reception was chilly to say the least. But the Sephardic population that would invigorate French Jewish life seized every opportunity to make a fresh start.

Shmuel Trigano is first and foremost a writer. Not a philosopher trained in the discipline, but a thinker who reaches the philosophical level through the dynamics of writing creatively, with utmost honesty and intuitive confidence. After a brief excursion, at the age of 15, in “a Camus style fiction, the beach, the cruel Mediterranean sun…” he embarked on his life’s work, a highly original inquiry that began with the brutal expulsion from the land of his birth. From the youthful question—why did this happen to me—he has traveled, by writing, from the personal to the general to the essential. What happened to Jews, what is happening to us, who are we, what do we bring to humanity, how do we survive?

Picking up at the lycée in Paris the studies he had left in Blida, Trigano passed his baccalauréat, learned Hebrew and set out for Israel, immersed in the kibbutz, the landscape, Zionism, and studies at Hebrew University, graduating with a BA in political science. But the coherence he hungered was not yet on the program. The dichotomy between “thought” and “Jewish thought” existed in Israel as in the Diaspora as in Western civilization. “Israelis,” says Trigano, “speak a European language with Hebrew words.”

He returned to France to pursue a quest that seemed to require linguistic duality, using French to cast light on the stunning dimension of Biblical Hebrew. With a Doctorate in Sociology, he began the university career that has allowed him to write while exercising his authentic talent as a teacher. He took a six- month leave of absence to compose Récit de la disparue, an essay on Jewish identity, sent the manuscript “over the transom” to numerous publishers… and had no response until, one year later, he learned that Pierre Nora, an editor at the prestigious house of Gallimard, had decided to publish the manuscript after getting the approval of Emmanuel Lévinas, Henri Meschonnic, and Maurice Blanchot. The book came out in 1977.5

Thirty-seven years later, Shmuel Trigano finds himself once more in a linguistic-cultural-geographic conundrum. The French language, which has lost nothing of its vibrant beauty and capacity for expression, is losing its territorial scope. And Jews in France are tottering on the edge of a familiar precipice. The same Muslim population that forced them to flee Arab lands has now created such a hostile environment in France that many envisage another exodus. The French language once practiced by fine minds all over the world is becoming a backwater, a trap for thinkers whose work is not easily translated and marketable. We who are enduring this difficult period in contemporary French history have the privilege of reading their works in the original; it isn’t a golden age, but there’s some silver in it.6

The outburst of violence against Jews triggered by the “Al Aqsa Intifada” awoke, in the depths of Shmuel Trigano’s soul, hidden memories of the exodus from Algeria. As if he could finally experience the pain and distress and know, once again, the sinking feeling that the state cannot protect you. After more than a decade of intense writing and activity centered on this new anti-Semitism often disguised by an anti-Zionist cloud, Shmuel Trigano discovered, as if it had written itself, his magnum opus, Judaïsme et l’esprit du monde.

Acclaimed by Roger Pol-Droit7—“an exceptional endeavor…. remarkable coherence imposed on a dizzying diversity of themes…”—this monumental work reveals the erudition that underlies Shmuel Trigano’s every intellectual gesture. Jacques Tarnero, reviewing Trigano’s most recent publication, Politique du people juif, praises his extraordinary intellectual creation, a tireless quest, the matrix of his thought: what is the question that Israel raises in a world relentlessly determined not to hear it? “Judaism,” says Trigano, “is a concept of the world, a vision of the universe and the cosmos, not a narrow province…”8

“The world, the void, nothingness, creation are not mysteries, they can be the subject of Man’s comprehension. No magic is possible in this perspective….  The intellectuality of Judaic spirituality is touched with grace, informed with a poetic sensitivity. The language …is not dry rhetoric; it is the contours of a natural landscape… The Land of Israel is that land and that language.” Judaïsme et l’esprit du monde [p. 196]

image001EDITORS NOTE: Nidra Poller’s book is Karimi Hotel is now available in English and Al Dura: long range ballistic myth is available on Kindle.

[1] Video of colloquium http://www.akadem.org/_articles/342/57342.php . An English version will eventually be available.

[2] http://www.d-intl.com/2014/02/10/frances-united-front-of-jew-hatred/?lang=en

[3] La Démission de la République/ Juifs et Musulmans en France. Presses Universitaires de France, Paris, 2003.

[4]  http://www.controverses.fr/ N° 4, Feb. 2007

[5] Le récit de la disparue/ essai sur l’identité juive. Paris, Gallimard, 1977, Folio-Gallimard, 2001

[6] English-speaking readers can discover  Shmuel Trigano in: Philosophy of Law Shalem Press, 2012

The Democratic Ideal, the unthought in Political Modernity SUNY Press, 2009.

Texts http://www.shmuel-trigano.fr/texts-english.html] and

Interviews  http://www.shmuel-trigano.fr/interviews.html in English on his site.

Shmuel Trigano’s “intellectual confession” will appear in Jewish Philosophy for the Twenty-First Century: Personal Reflections, edited by Aaron Hughes and Hava Tirosh-Samuelson, Brill Academic Publishers. http://www.brill.com/

[7] [Le Monde http://www.lemonde.fr/livres/article/2011/02/03/shmuel-trigano-voir-le-judaisme-du-dehors-et-du-dedans_1474367_3260.html]

[8] [http://www.huffingtonpost.fr/jacques-tarnero/politique-peuple-juif_b_2581932.html]

Libertarian Party of Texas Poised for Largest State Convention in its History

1535541_10152009311404079_391973742_nAUSTIN, Texas, April 2, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — With Generation Liberty! as its theme, the Libertarian Party of Texas will host its 2014 state convention April 11-13 at the Frank W. Mayborn Civic and Convention Center in Temple.

The party will nominate candidates for statewide office and elect new state party officers. The convention will feature an exciting lineup of speakers and events supporting Libertarian goals of peace, liberty and justice for all.

While national trends show declining party registration for Republicans and Democrats, since November 2012 the Libertarian Party has shown 11.4 percent growth (Ballot Access News).

The Libertarian Party of Texas has enjoyed growth as well. “Our growth has come from a wide variety of Texans, but we especially see interest among young people,” reports Patrick Dixon, Chair, Libertarian Party of Texas. “I am very encouraged to see future generations of Libertarians getting involved.”

The Libertarian State Convention will see over 200 delegates, with 25 candidates seeking nomination for 15 offices, and, what is tracking to be the largest number of non-delegates, in attendance.

Friday events are free and open to the public while Saturday and Sunday includes meal and speaker events that require registration.

With a 1 p.m. kick-off, Friday’s first session will provide important training for delegates to learn mechanics of the procedures observed during convention business sessions. A 3:30 p.m. “Come and Take It” rally in the Mayborn Center parking lot will feature speakers including C.J. Grisham discussing the importance of defending Second Amendment rights. Candidate debates for statewide offices are scheduled from 6 – 9 p.m.

Saturday business sessions will address state rules and nominations while break-out sessions will address topics like, “The Libertarian Message and Drugs, Data and the Dominatrix: Civil Liberties in Texas.”

Saturday’s lunch will feature Students for Liberty (SFL) founder Alexander McCobin discussing how the young generation can carry the Libertarian message.

The dinner banquet will include speakers Wes Benedict, Michael Cloud and Ben Swann. Benedict, executive director of the Libertarian National Committee, and Cloud, president and co-founder of the Center For Small Government, will talk on effectively spreading the party’s message. Swann, a broadcast news journalist known for creating “Reality Check” and his own media company, the Truth in Media Project, will deliver the keynote address.

On Sunday, 2013 SFL Student of the Year award winner, Noelle Mandell will discuss why young people matter and how Libertarians can work to attract/engage the next generation, and will also facilitate a hands-on exercise in activism.

A Sunday break-out session, “Free Beer: Liberating our favorite libations,” will highlight the challenges of small business owners in a highly regulated environment while lunch speakers will discuss “Bitcoin, Banks and Bailouts: How do Bitcoin, the Federal Reserve System, and crony capitalism affect the economy.”

Full convention schedule:
https://www.lptexas.org/2014-schedule

Registration information:
https://www.lptexas.org/convention-registration

Saving Civilization Means Killing Equality

If a famine befell us and you couldn’t save everyone, would you withhold the food you had and let every citizen starve rather than endure the inequality of just saving some? If recent history is any guide, certain leftists just might say yes.

A good example of this phenomenon involved a multiple sclerosis patient in Gothenburg, Sweden, who was denied a more effective and expensive medication — even though he was willing to pay for it — because, wrote columnist Walter Williams in 2009, “bureaucrats said it would set a bad precedent and lead to unequal access to medicine.” No wonder Winston Churchill said that socialism’s “inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.”

And another example just reared its ugly head in Plymouth, Michigan, where the locality’s high school is tearing down newly constructed bleachers in deference to the equality police. MyFoxDetroit.com reports on the issue, writing:

A new set of seating is being torn down outside the Plymouth Wildcats varsity boys’ baseball field, not long before the season begins, because the fields for boys’ and girls’ athletics must be equal.

A group of parents raised money for a raised seating deck by the field, as it was hard to see the games through a chain-link fence. The parents even did the installation themselves, and also paid for a new scoreboard.

So what happened? Some unnamed malcontent lodged a complaint with the feral government, at which point U.S Education Department Office for Civil Rights overlords decreed that the seating must go. Ain’t equality grand?

Except that equality is simply a ruse. And think about it with respect to this issue:  the principle is that facilities “for boys’ and girls’ athletics must be equal,” but are boys’ and girls’ athletics equal? The striking contradiction in these male/female sports equality controversies is that calls for “equality” are deferred to within the context of the acceptance and promotion of an inherently unequal system. That is to say, if equality is the guiding principle here, why have separate leagues, teams and tours — protected from the best competition — for girls and women?

The solution, whether it’s the Plymouth situation or calls for equal prize money in tennis, is simple. If a lightweight boxer wants the purses the heavyweights get, he needs to fight and succeed in the heavyweight class; likewise, if feminists want what the boys/men have, they should try to compete in their arena. And I do advocate this: eliminate separate categories for women, and let the sexes compete together on a level playing field. After all, to echo what Lincoln said about laws, the best way to eliminate bad social policy is to enforce it strictly. If you believe in equality, practice it.

Live it.

And live with it.

And since the boys’ American high-school mile record is considerably faster than the women’s world record — and since this gap appears, with some variation, across sports — my proposal would provide some necessary “policy clarification.”

The education department’s decree is also an attack on charity. The message is that pursuing good works just might be a waste of time because, inevitably, they’ll conflict with some government regulation or mandate. It’s in addition a quasi-Marxist assault on the market. After all, the Plymouth community’s interest in building new baseball bleachers was no doubt driven by there being greater fan turnout for the boys’ games. And the market renders such verdicts all the time. It’s said that female fashion models earn three times what their male counterparts do, bars may offer women free drinks or entry without a cover charge, and no one troubles over women-only health clubs. It’s only when market determinations seem to benefit boys or men that the equality ruse is trotted out.

The truth is that equality dogma is a fiction of modern times. As for the timeless, the word “equality” appears in only 21 biblical verses, mostly referring to matters such as weights and measures. There’s good reason for this, and don’t blame it on the supposed “backwardness” of religion because a devout evolutionist would have to be the staunchest believer in hierarchies born of natural inequality. As G.K. Chesterton pointed out, “[I]f they [people] were not created equal, they were certainly evolved unequal.” Look around you at the world of nature and man, which, if the evolutionists are correct, are certainly one and the same. How much equality do you see? Rams butt heads, and one ram wins and the other loses; wolves have alphas and one male lion dominates and leads a pride. Then, there are 3.1 billion possible combinations when a couple has a child. And, oh, what combinations they can be. How many of us can play golf like Tiger Woods, defy gravity and shoot baskets like Michael Jordan or compose music at four years of age as did Mozart? People have greatly varying IQs, physical capabilities, personalities, inclinations toward virtue and gifts. Equality is a pipe dream.

This variation exists among groups, too. Ashkenazi Jews have the world’s highest average IQ, while Asians enjoy that status insofar as major groups go. And disease and conditions have no regard for equality, either: the Pima Indians have the highest rate of diabetes on Earth, breast cancer afflicts mainly women, the incidence of Tay-Sachs disease is highest among Jews, black men suffer from prostate cancer at twice the rate whites do, while sickle-cell anemia is found almost exclusively among blacks. I guess reality is “racist.”

Reality is actually this: it’s completely illogical and contradictory for a person to claim on one hand that he believes in classical, cosmic-accident evolution, but on the other that all groups somehow, quite accidentally, wound up the same in capacity, inclination and worldly abilities. After all, since evolution holds that groups lived and developed separately for millions of years — subject to different environments, stresses, adaptive requirements and to the luck of the draw — their winding up “equal” was, for all intents and purposes, a mathematical impossibility.

Earlier evolutionists recognized and accepted this reality, mind you, and in fact became eugenicists. Note here that the term “eugenics” was coined by Charles Darwin’s cousin Sir Francis Galton. Also note that the concept greatly predates the term: Greek philosopher Plato advocated murdering weak children, and the Spartans had actually done it.

This doesn’t mean I embrace eugenics or classical evolution (my views on the latter are found here). The point is that whether you believe we’re accidentally different or that, as St. Therese learned, there are even divinely ordained hierarchies in Heaven, equality is certainly not a thing of this world.

This helps explain why entities prescribing “equality” — such as the early French republic and all the Marxist killing-field regimes — become the worst tyrannies. Since equality is wholly unnatural, its mullahs must violate man’s nature, must trump it and twist it, in an effort to pound their sinister square peg into the round hole of reality. And woe betide he who defies their self-deified will.

Cries for equality are today the second-to-last refuge of a scoundrel (shouts of “racism” are the absolute last). Contrary to what Churchill said, however, they don’t actually visit upon us an equal sharing of misery. Rather, the pigs more equal than others will dispense the ever-diminishing pork to the peons, as they feed at the trough of modern man’s sloth, envy and error.

Contact Selwyn Duke, follow him on Twitter or log on to SelwynDuke.com

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is by Josephou. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Selling Envy: How governments promote the worst in us to redistribute wealth by TERREE P. SUMMER

The current fuss over inequality has a classic feel to it. For one thing, it’s one of the oldest plays in the Progressive playbook. But it’s a well-established maneuver for governments everywhere. The idea is to appeal to the age-old feelings of envy and guilt that arise in virtually every person: Why should some have more than others? Is it fair that some people or whole countries have greater wealth and higher incomes while others struggle?

History is rife with examples of politician-induced envy in order to attempt to justify redistribution. Those who fomented the Russian revolution in the early twentieth century tempted the proletariat with the property of the affluent. Hitler enticed the populace toward envy of the Jews, many of whom were economically successful in Europe, to help construct his national socialist empire. Miquel Faria, in his book,Cuba in Revolution: Escape from a Lost Paradise, states, “As in all socialist systems, Castro uses envy, class hatred, and class warfare.” Much the same has been true of Peronist Argentina.

It pits us against each other, letting politicians leverage an instinctive reaction to gain power. It’s an effective tactic and the rhetoric of inequality remains an effective cover, which is why politicians still trot it out routinely. But the policies it perpetuates will end up impoverishing any country.

Wealth redistribution inevitably robs every person of their freedoms. Equality is never achieved; the wealth is mostly shifted to those currently in power, who administer and derive political support from redistributive programs. The masses remain impoverished, and those in power remain, for as long as they can, the supposed champions of those masses, struggling for a fair redistribution.

This process was diagnosed some time ago by Helmut Schoeck, in his 1966 book Envy: A Theory of Social Behavior. According to Schoeck, “The revolutionary movements in South American republics, Bolshevism in Russia, the resentful Populists in the United States (today the Progressives), all were supported by those circles who would clearly be the first to take a malicious delight in the levelling of society. But without exception, and sometimes in the course of a few decades, the new ruling caste has become a bourgeoisie or a plutocracy.” Inevitably, those promulgating envy as a means to levelling, in the end become the same class they earlier despised.

History has shown us that the result of trying to enact income equality is that you achieve a society where all the citizens are poor together. Ludwig von Mises, in Socialism, wrote,

Most people who demand the greatest possible equality of incomes do not realize that what they desire would only be achieved by sacrificing other aims. They imagine that the sum of incomes will remain unchanged and that all they need to do is to distribute it more equally than it is distributed in the social order based on private property…. It must be clearly understood, however, that this idea rests on a grave error. It has been shown that, in whatever way one envisages the equalization of incomes this must always and necessarily lead to a very considerable reduction of the total national income and, thus, also, of the average income. For we have then to decide whether we are in favor of an equal distribution of income at a lower average income, or inequality of incomes at a higher average income. [emphasis added]

European countries moved toward socialism and levelling in a big way during the twentieth century, partially in order to decrease income equality in monarchies in which only a few had wealth and the rest lived in poverty. But what has been the result?

According to Richard Florida, co-founder and editor at large at The Atlantic Cities, “The U.S. accounts for about a third of all high-net-worth people (60,657), and Europe is home to 54,170.” The actual numbers are not starkly different. In 2012, 24 percent, or 120 million people, of the 500 million people in the European Union were listed as at risk of poverty. In the same year, the U.S. poverty rate (out of 318 million people) was 15 percent, roughly 46.5 million people. Socialist policies that attempt to level the economic playing field are repeatedly unsuccessful. As Winston Churchill stated, “Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy,” and “The inherent virtue of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”

A society that encourages envy in order to “level the playing field” for its citizens is a society that will implode from within. Oppressive government spending programs requiring high taxation and controls on individuals can lead to economic stagnation or even collapse. There is something particularly sordid about politicians who play on our envy. It is a game of power and control and it can lead people to justify using violence to take the property of others. Citizens of every country should learn to recognize whether politicians are manipulating them by playing on their envy. Only when we learn to aspire and admire those that are economically successful, and not be envious of them, will we see our economies flourish.

ABOUT TERREE P. SUMMER

Terree P. Summer is an economist and author specializing in healthcare and the federal budget. She is the author of What Has Government Done to Our Health Care? published by the Cato Institute (1992).

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is courtesy of FEE and Shutterstock.

Scaring the World about its Climate

Ever since the creation in 1988 of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), it has engaged in the greatest hoax of modern times, releasing reports that predict climate-related catastrophes as if the climate has not been a completely natural and dynamic producer of events that affect our lives.

The IPCC was set up by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environmental Program. It has enlisted thousands of scientists to contribute to its scare campaign, but as Joseph Bast, the president of The Heartland Institute, noted in a recent Forbes article regarding the vast difference in the assertions of the IPCC scientists and those of its puckishly named Non Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (NPCC), “What is a non-scientist to make of these dueling reports? Indeed, what is a scientist to make of this?”

“Very few scientists are familiar with biology, geology, physics, oceanography, engineering, medicine, economics, and scores of other more specialized disciplines that were the basis of the claims…” The IPCC has depended on the ignorance of those scientists outside their particular disciplines and recruited them to be involved in the UN hoax. The rest of us look to them to provide guidance regarding issues involving the climate and, as a result, have been deliberately deceived.

Climate Change ReconsideredThe NIPCC, anticipating the latest IPCC addition to its climate scare campaign, has just issued a new addition to its “Climate Change Reconsidered” reports. The first volume was 850 pages long and the latest is more than 1,000 pages. It represents the findings of scores of scientists from around the world and thousands of peer-reviewed studies. At this point they represent some twenty nations.

I have been an advisor to The Heartland Institute for many years and have been exposing the climate change lies since the late 1980s. A science writer, I have benefited from the work of men like atmospheric physicist, S. Fred Singer, a founder of the NPCC who has overseen five reports debunking the IPCC since 2003.

The Heartland Institute has sponsored nine international conferences that have brought together many scientists and others in an effort to debunk the UN’s climate scare campaign.

I have always depended on the common sense of people to understand that humans have nothing to do with the climate except to endure and enjoy it. We don’t create it or influence it.

The global warming campaign is based on the Big Lie that carbon dioxide (CO2) traps the Sun’s heat and warms the Earth, but the fairly miniscule amount of CO2 in the atmosphere (0.038%) does not do that in a fashion that poses any threat. Indeed, it is the Sun that determines the Earth’s climate, depending where you happen to be on the Earth. Next to oxygen, CO2 is vital to all life on Earth as it is the “food” on which all vegetation depends. More CO2 is good. Less is not so good.

The IPCC has depended in part on the print and broadcast media to spread its Big Lie. It also depends on world leaders, few of whom have any background or serious knowledge of atmospheric science, to impose policies based on the Big Lie. These policies target the use of “fossil fuels”, oil, coal and natural gas, urging a reduction of their use. The world, however, utterly depends on them and, in addition to existing reserves, new reserves are found every year.

One reason the IPCC has been in a growing state of panic is a new, completely natural cooling cycle based on a reduction of solar radiation. As James M. Taylor, the managing editor of Heartland’s “Environment & Climate News”, pointed out recently, “Winter temperatures in the contiguous United States declined by more than a full degree Celsius (more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit) during the past twenty years.” He was citing National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data. “The data contradicts assertions that human induced global warming is causing a rise in winter temperatures.”

In addition to the recent extremely cold winter, there have been others in 2000-2001 and 2009-2010. There will be more.

The IPCC report is full of claims about global warming, now called “climate change” since the world is obviously not warming. In March, Taylor rebutted an IPCC claim that crop production is falling, noting that global corn, rice, and wheat production have more than tripled since 1970. In recent years, the U.S. has set records for alfalfa, cotton, beans, sugar beets, canola, corn, flaxseed, hops, rice, sorghum, soybeans, sugarcane, sunflowers, peanuts, and wheat, to name just a few.

The Earth would benefit from more, not less, CO2 emissions, but the Obama administration has been engaged in imposing hundreds of new regulations aimed at reductions. It targets the development and expansion of our energy sector. The President has repeated the lies in his State of the Union speeches and we have a Secretary of State, John Kerry, who insists that climate change is the greatest threat to mankind and not the increase of nuclear weapons.

Every one of the Earth’s seven billion population are being subjected to the UN’s campaign of lies and every one of us needs to do whatever we can to bring about an end to the United Nations and reject the IPCC’s claims.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

RELATED STORY: EPA Tested Deadly Pollutants on Humans to Push Obama Admin’s Agenda

Rothbard’s Remedy: Less government means faster healing, says new study by DOUGLAS FRENCH

Economic theories don’t lend themselves to laboratory testing, so the work of a national appraisal firm is especially enlightening. A new study lends support to the Austrian business cycle theory, which says that the less government is involved, the faster a market will recover.

Pro Teck Valuation Services has posted a report comparing housing-market rebounds in cities with “non-judicial” foreclosure processes with those with “judicial” ones. In other words, they compare states in which the government meddles less in foreclosure with states that meddle more.

Pro Teck found that of 30 metropolitan housing markets in non-judicial states, housing markets corrected sooner and prices have rebounded more quickly than in states with more government involvement. Could Murray Rothbard have been correct that markets clean up clusters of malinvestment?

Pro Teck chief executive Tom O’Grady told The Los Angeles Times, “When we looked closer” at rebound performances state by state, “we observed that nonjudicial states bottomed out sooner”—typically between 2009 and 2011—”versus 2011 to 2012 for judicial states, and have seen greater appreciation since the bottom,” typically 50 percent to 80 percent compared with just 10 percent to 45 percent for judicial states.

“Our hypothesis,” he added, “is that nonjudicial states have been able to work through the foreclosure [glut] faster, allowing them to get back into a non-distressed housing market sooner, and are therefore seeing greater appreciation.”

In October, the top 10 metro areas Pro Teck studies were in non-judicial California. At the bottom were cities in Illinois and Florida, both judicial states. “Unlike California, which tore off the foreclosure Band-Aid quickly, Florida and Illinois have been slowly peeling it away,” the Pro Teck authors explain. “In these states there are still high ratios of foreclosure sales and hefty foreclosure discounts, which in turn are limiting any real recovery. Because of this, all of our bottom ten metros are in Florida or Illinois.”

The top 10 metro areas had less than four months of inventory for sale and averaged more than 20 percent year-over-year appreciation. A key statistic in Pro Teck’s analysis is the ratio of foreclosure sales to total sales. In all of these markets it was under 10 percent. In the view of Pro Teck’s experts, “Supply-demand market fundamentals have returned, which should lead to a sustainable recovery.”

In slow-moving judicial states, foreclosures are still 25 to 50 percent of sales, and unsold inventory remains high, at a five- to 10-month supply.

In the same vein that judges believe they facilitate orderly housing markets in judicial states, Ph.D.s and bureaucrats believe problems with the economy (inadequate aggregate demand) can be fixed with the proper committee-determined interest rate and the use of government force to keep businesses alive or keep certain prices in place.

The Austrian school is unique in recognizing that the real problem is the unsustainable boom. The eventual bust is really the economy’s required healing. Central bank interest-rate manipulation directs capital into high-order capital goods. These low interest rates make these projects appear economically sound, when in fact these projects are malinvestments.

The “cluster of entrepreneurial errors,” as Rothbard termed these malinvestments, is the result of central bank credit expansion driving rates below the natural rate of interest that would be set by individual time preferences.

As bad as what central banks and government policies do to incite the boom that creates the malinvestments, they compound the problem by not allowing the market to heal after the bust.

The financial press appears confounded by the continued lackluster recovery. Five years have passed and trillions of government dollars have been spent since the financial crash. Unemployment is still high, as is the use of food stamps. However, keeping assets in the hands of failed managers with a boom-time cost basis is a sure way to prolong the stagnation.

In non-judicial states, home foreclosures proceed without the involvement of the court and the properties are transferred within months. In judicial foreclosure jurisdictions (22 states), post-default proceedings involve court intervention with specific courted-ordered steps that can take up to two and three years to complete.

In non-judicial states requirements to foreclose are established by state statute. When the borrower defaults, the lender sends a default letter and in many states a notice of default is recorded in public records at the same time. There is a prescribed period for the borrower to cure the default. If the default is not paid, a notice of sale is mailed to the borrower, posted in public places, and recorded at the county recorder’s office. After the notice period has expired, a public auction takes place and the property is sold to the highest bidder.

A judicial foreclosure starts with the lender filing a complaint with the court asking for approval to foreclose its lien and take possession of the property as a remedy for non-payment. The borrower is provided notice of the compliant and is permitted to dispute the facts by answering the complaint.

In most cases there is no dispute, but the court must still issue a judgment in favor of the lender or servicer. The court then authorizes a sheriff’s sale and property is sold to the highest bidder. Lenders’ credit bids (usually the amount owed) are typically the highest and the lenders become owners of the property.

timeline provided by the Mortgage Bankers Association indicates that the average judicial foreclosure process lasts 480 to 700 days, with the homeowner/borrower remaining in the home as many as 400 days.

New York, a judicial state, has the longest foreclosure timeline at 1,049 days. Texas, a non-judicial state, has the shortest timeline of 159 days.

Rothbard pointed out in Man, Economy and State that if the government interferes at all in the cleansing process of the depression, it will only prolong it. “The more these readjustments are delayed,” Rothbard explained, “the longer the depression will have to last, and the longer complete recovery is postponed.”

James Grant pointed out recently in The Wall Street Journal the result of government tinkering with the economy versus letting it be. “The laissez-faire depression of 1920–21 was over and done within 18 months. The federally doctored depression of 1929–33 spanned 43 months.” He went on to write, “America’s economy is too complex to predict, much less to direct from on high.”

On a micro level Pro Teck’s comparison lends support to Austrian theory. Increased government intervention simply prolongs the agony. Less government means a quicker recovery.

ABOUT DOUGLAS FRENCH

Douglas E. French is senior editor of the Laissez Faire Club and the author of Early Speculative Bubbles and Increases in the Supply of Money, written under the direction of Murray Rothbard at UNLV, and The Failure of Common Knowledge, which takes on many common economic fallacies.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is courtesy of FEE and Shutterstock.

Today’s Totalitarianism

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FREEMAN April 2014 Edition.

When people go around armed with mobile phones and makeshift shields, what are the powers that be to do? Recent events in Venezuela and Ukraine suggest no status quo is safe when popular movements are networked and determined.

The trouble is, the world has not yet learned to be networked and determined as a permanent alternative to State control. After any revolution, a networked and determined people could be self-governing, though this rarely happens; revolutions remain as likely to usher in something not much better—maybe even worse—than what preceded them. Egypt is currently living out a version of this.

Most people still default to the idea that a more benevolent leviathan is going to make everything okay. And there are always would-be leviathans waiting in the wings. The hope that they’ll be less brutal is just that—hope. After regimes are toppled or swept aside, strongmen, puppet governments, or hostile neighbors are almost always well positioned to take and keep power. Problems return.

Further, when you strip off a dictator like removing a scab, what’s left underneath is often a factionalized people.

In the case of the Ukraine, it appears there’s a Russian-speaking faction that is sympathetic to Putin. There is a Ukrainian nationalist faction that is decidedly not into wearing any more totalitarian yokes, but that flirts with notions of ethnic purity, blood, and soil. There is yet another faction that fancies itself European and thinks the European superstate is the right umbrella. And on and on. Foreign powers may also have helped set a match to the tender—the United States, the EU, and Russia are all prime suspects.

In the case of Venezuela, however, the protests seem to have originated primarily among the young who are tired of shortages and suppressed freedoms that come from the Bolivarian state. CNN reports:

The weeks of protests across Venezuela mark the biggest threat President Nicolas Maduro has faced since his election last year. Demonstrators say they have taken to the streets to protest shortages of goods, high inflation and high crime.

Opposition protesters and government officials have traded blame for the violence for weeks.

The current Venezuelan leader argues that brutal suppression is justified; his charismatic predecessor, Hugo Chavez, thought the same thing. And in the mind of the State, it almost always is:

Think about what the U.S. government would do if a political group laid out a road map for overthrowing President Barack Obama, Maduro said.

“What would happen in the United States if a group said they were going to start something in the United States so that President Obama leaves, resigns, to change the constitutional government of the United States?” Maduro said. “Surely, the state would react, would use all the force that the law gives it to re-establish order and to put those who are against the Constitution where they belong.”

Surely it is a bizarro-world justification in which such regimes appeal to any Constitution in the same breath as President Obama, who thinks of the U.S. Constitution as quaint, brittle toilet tissue. But then again, Maduro is right that the U.S. government has all the power it needs to suppress any serious popular uprising—and, one expects, wouldn’t hesitate to use it.

What about states with determined but unconnected people? North Korea is still squirming along under a totalitarian thumb, as the portly Kim Jong Un takes leads from his father and grandfather, whose advice can be summed up in the dictators’ dictum: “A weak fist wipes away tears.” The highest echelon in Pyongyang reserves its fists for striking down and holding down its people—a determined, but sadly unconnected people. Thus the Hermit Kingdom could stay in penury and subjugation for many more years.

Wherever one lands on the continuum between pacificism and hostile interventionism, it is difficult not to let one’s feelings for oppressed people guide his thoughts away from either pragmatism or principle. And yet we must take care: Meddling in foreign affairs rarely ends up in any sort of postwar stability, liberation, or liberalization. It’s frustrating to see Putin get away with it. And we certainly wouldn’t want to live next to such a regime. But the simple fact that the United States could bomb or sanction Russia into even more suffering by no means guarantees a positive outcome if the United States does. The last 40 years of American military misadventures demonstrate that.

A couple of our readers challenged our publishing sentiments with respect to Ukraine. For example, we lent our pages to an anonymous Ukrainian journalist early on, when few outlets were reporting much of anything at all. Indeed, we got this story out relatively early. While we stand by any peoples longing to be free, we remain uncertain about the extent to which foreign meddlers were involved in the uprising, much less whether such meddling was warranted.

In any case, if The Freeman takes any position on matters like these, we side with peoples against illiberal States, realizing all the while that self-determination can be an imperfect process carried out in a world of opportunistic state actors and Hobbesian calculi. And of course we hope that determined and connected people can learn to do more than throw off power. We hope that someday, they can keep it and lock it away from the totalitarians forever.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is courtesy of FFE and Shutterstock.

Florida: 5,000 Legal Students To Lose Their Dream

In a report released by Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) the impact of providing College Tuition Subsidy for Illegal Aliens (HB851/SB1400, a.k.a. in-state tuition) will be that approximately 5,000 legal students will be displaced in Florida higher level institutions by illegal alien students.  These legislators are unwilling to raise taxes for the additional illegal alien students by expanding capacity so legal students will consequently be displaced.

While Democrats have consistently supported college tuition subsidy for illegal aliens only recently has Republican Leadership supported the measure.  The impetus for Republicans to support the benefit seems to be a distorted belief that Governor Rick Scott’s sagging poll numbers will be bolstered.

While the number of displaced legal students and fiscal cost vary slightly between HB851 and SB1400 the estimates are similar:

  • HB851 will displace of 5,026 legal students
  • SB1400 will displace 5,175 legal students
  • The fiscal cost of HB851 is estimated at $21.7 million.
  •  The fiscal cost of SB1400 is estimated at $22.7 million.    

The full report is available at:

http://www.flimen.org/images/HB851-SB1400%20Cost%20Estimate.pdf

RELATED STORY: Florida House: Resident In-state Tuition for Illegal Aliens passes by vote of 81-33! Did they read the bill?

Obama’s War on America is His Top Priority

We all know that the “sanctions” Obama has placed on a few of Putin’s pals thus far and those Obama wants the European Union to impose will have no effect whatever on Putin’s decision to annex the Crimea from Ukraine.

One of Obama’s solutions to protect Ukraine’s sovereignty includes giving it a billion dollars because Russia has raised the price of the natural gas it sells to the Ukraine. This means Putin just made a billion while reacquiring Crimea.

One way to bring Russia to its knees would be for Obama–if he could–to impose the same things he is doing in America on the Russian Federation:

  • Require Russia to adopt Obamacare.
  • Ban the mining and use of coal in Russia.
  • Do not allow any drilling on Russian publicly-held land.
  • Redefine the Russian work week to 30 hours.
  • Raise the Russian minimum wage.
  • Mandate overtime pay for Russian government workers.
  • Demand that Russia pay welfare benefits to its illegal immigrants.
  • Require Russia to enact the same regulations as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Increase the Russian national debt by $6 trillion dollars.
  • Require Russia to reduce all elements of its military force and capabilities by reductions to its military budget.

These policies since 2009 have weakened the United States and, if applied to Russia, they would have the same effect. It’s bad enough what Obama has done and is doing to the U.S., but neither we nor the rest of the world would be better off with a weak Russia. Its economy is too tied into the world’s.

Putin insists that it was the West led by the U.S. that resulted in the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 after seventy years of communist rule, but it was Communism that brought it to its knees. The other element was a decline in the prices of oil and natural gas–still the primary source of income for the Russian Federation—that undermined its economy.

While a panoply of experts keeps talking about the prospect of Russia aggression toward its former satellite nations in Eastern Europe, the simple fact is that Putin’s reacquisition of the Crimea just added to Russia’s financial pressures. He can barely afford Crimea. All the hand-wringing about its annexation ignores the fact that it was part of Russia for hundreds of years.

Ruchir Sharma, the head of emerging markets at Morgan Stanley Investment Management, recently spelled out Russia’s economic woes in a Wall Street Journal commentary titled “Putin’s Potemkin Economy.”

“Mr. Putin’s real power base, the economy, is crumbling,” says Sharma. “Russia’s economic growth rate has plummeted from the 7% average annual pace of the last decade to 1.3% last year,” adding that “the Central Bank of the Russian Federation has been fighting to prevent a ruble collapse since the Crimean crisis began.”

Does that sound like a Russia that wants to invade its neighbors at this time?

“The result,” says Sharma, “is that the Russian state has few new sources of income outside of oil and gas, at a time when it is taking on more dependents” in Crimea. As for the rest of the Ukraine population, it’s only the younger generation that did not grow up under the oppression of the former Soviet Russia that thinks giving up its sovereignty is a good idea. Ukrainians with a memory of the pre-1991 days know better.

Europe, much of which depends on Russian gas, will be in no hurry to punish Russia beyond a few relatively meaningless sanctions. It’s all a charade.

It’s true that Europe went to war twice for far less reason than the Crimean annexation, but its present leaders have no wish to repeat that error for all the talk about international law.

What is being debated now is whether Putin will, for whatever reason, invade Ukraine. Only Putin knows that and the decision would be a bad one for him and everyone else.

As we strive to survive Obama’s war on the U.S. economy and the current havoc resulting from Obamacare, it is doubtful that even Obama has any inclination to see Russia collapse and could not reverse the Crimean situation even if he cared about it.

He doesn’t seem to care about what he’s doing to the rest of us so it’s the war at home which we have to survive.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

A Liberal Dose of Intolerance

Our nation is about to commemorate the 46th anniversary of the assassination of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (April 4, 1968). He gave his life so that we could fully participate in all that America has to offer.

Since his death, America has made major strides towards freedom and equality for all. Blacks no longer face the same degree of racial hostility and hatred from Whites like in the days of old. To that end, Dr. King’s death was not in vain.

But within the Black community, I can no longer say with confidence that Dr. King’s death was not in vain. Many believe that Dr. King’s strong opposition to the Vietnam War was the final straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back. We have gone from the Vietnam War to the war of words. The Vietnam War killed many thousands of Americans, but the war of words are destroying the very soul of a people.

Rappers are calling our women bitches and hos. Our athletes and entertainers rarely take a principled stand on any relevant issues affecting our community. Many of our own movies do nothing but show the worst in us.

We justify this behavior with the mantra of “I have a right to do whatever.” Well, along with your right comes a responsibility, a responsibility to show our community that through the sacrifice of Dr. King, we have become the embodiment of his dream.

But, it wasn’t his dream alone. The dream was fueled by the likes of Fannie Lou Hamer, Claudette Colvin, and Rosa Parks. The dream was bankrolled by the likes of Harry Belafonte, Bill Cosby, Dick Gregory, Jim Brown, and John Johnson.

Johnson died at the ripe old age of 87 in 2005. But his legacy lives on through his two flagship publications, Jet and Ebony magazines. From their beginnings, these magazines showcased the best in Black America.

That’s why it pains me that one of their current employees has brought so much shame and disgrace to the legacy of Johnson.

Jamilah Lemieux, Senior Editor for Ebony magazine brought so much shame to this prestigious publication that Johnson has to be turning over in his grave. Based on her behavior, it is quite obvious that Lemieux has absolutely no understanding or appreciation for the sacrifice that Johnson made to build his media empire, Johnson Publishing Company. The ironic thing is that she is from Chicago, which is where Johnson Publishing Company is headquartered; and she attended Howard University, which has a building and a program named after Johnson (The John H. Johnson School of Communications).

Obtaining a college degree does not mean you are educated, it simply means you passed certain courses. Being educated is indicated by an ability to engage in critical thinking and conversation; Lemieux has proven that she is quite incapable of engaging in either.

Last week she was engaged in a twitter conversation about a new conservative magazine, American CurrencySee, that is being headed up by neurosurgeon, Dr. Ben Carson and Armstrong Williams. I am also one of their columnists.

In her twitter feed she begins to cast aspersions at Dr. Carson. My friend and colleague in the battle for the heart and soul of the Black community, Raffi Williams, sent her a tweet suggesting that she get to know about Dr. Carson’s life, which she stated in no uncertain terms, “I 100% do not want to know more. I wish I knew less!” In referring to Raffi, she continues, “Oh great, here comes a White dude telling me how to do this Black thing. Pass.” I have known Raffi for many years and I know for a fact certain he has been Black most of his life.

Furthermore, his race should have had nothing to do with her response to his suggestion of valuing diversity of thought. Isn’t that central to the whole notion of being educated? Obviously, she failed that course.

You can google Lemieux to read the complete twitter exchange.

Isn’t it amazing that Dr. King died because of racism and now people like Lemieux have become the very thing that King fought against?

Blacks like Lemieux are totally incapable of displaying any intellectual scholarship and engaging in a vibrant give-and-take with Raffi, a rising star in the Republican Party.

Two weeks ago, liberals lost their minds over a statement Congressman Paul Ryan made about poverty. These same critics have yet to utter one word of support to Raffi and have not uttered one word of criticism to Lemieux.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Congressional Black Caucus, NAACP, Melissa Perry, Joy Reid, Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews, where are your denunciations of intolerance. The Human Rights Campaign, National Council of La Raza, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, could I just one time hear your voice filled with righteous indignation over the intolerance that Blacks in the Republican Party face every day from liberals?

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is of President Lyndon B. Johnson meeting with Martin Luther King, Jr. on August 6, 1965.