August 21, 2014
The Rise of the Administrative State: Unelected, Undemocratic and Unaccountable
Comic book references are lost on me; nonetheless, The Sinestro Theory of the Administrative State by Ben Domenech is well worth reading .
First, the stunning graph from Pew showing the rising levels of distrust in government
On the whole, it presents a picture of how far the Administrative State is willing to blatantly ignore any checks on their ability to enact their whims.
The Founders believed that you can check that power with the mob, either democratic or anarchic, for only so long before government would turn to despotism. So their solution was to deliberately balance the forces of power against each other, to tie the governors’ hands via limited, enumerated powers of national government. The Constitution made the action of government – in nearly all areas outside of waging war – deliberately difficult, and that was on purpose. It was supposed to be hard to pass new laws, not because the Founders were opposed to new laws, but because they wanted to make it impossible for those laws to oppress the people.
What the Founders did not anticipate was the degree to which those invested by the Constitution with the power to make law would find it politically advantageous over the course of a century to steadily cede their power to unelected governmental bodies of vast size and with an ever-enlarged mission. Representative government, it turns out, is very difficult. Better and wiser to shift the responsibility for such decisions to someone else – to tell the frustrated citizen that it is beyond your control to address their concern, and isn’t there an agency for that? This new unchecked branch of government has seized the power it wants along the way: the power to reward friends and grant waivers and special privileges to people and firms who they like or who play by their rules, to abuse their power in the course of punishing those who they don’t, the power to live large and cover up mistakes without that difficult legislative process.
When bad things happen in the real world, heads roll. But in the world of the Administrative State, resignation is the worst possible thing you can demand of someone. So political appointees are given taxpayer funded vacations, cops who break the law are put on leave, and district attorneys who drive out-of-their-minds drunk demand they keep their job. Life in the bureaucracy is too sweet to lose, no matter what – and those who hold those positions know how good a deal they have and won’t give it up under any conditions.
Mark Steyn has the latest ludicrous example of the punitive bureaucracy
Demanding a CITES certificate for bagpipes is a burden upon free-born citizens. Restricting the paperwork's validity to only 28 ports of entry is an unduly onerous burden. Requiring the bagpipers to come back on the Wednesday to those 28 ports of entry because the inspector's washing her hair on the Tuesday is an even more onerous and insulting burden. And charging an American $476 to play his bagpipe in Montreal is a shakedown racket unacceptable in a free society. Tyranny starts at the edges and nibbles its way in. This bagpipe regime is tyrannous, but it will not stop there.
As I said before, where is "the party of small government" on this? When will they pipe up?
Or do bagpipers have to loot and riot to get any attention from anyone who matters?
"Sex change is biologically impossible"
Dr. Paul McHugh, the former psychiatrist-in-chief for Johns Hopkins Hospital and its current Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry, writes in the Wall Street Journal, Transgender Surgery Isn't the Solution
Policy makers and the media are doing no favors either to the public or the transgendered by treating their confusions as a right in need of defending rather than as a mental disorder that deserves understanding, treatment and prevention. This intensely felt sense of being transgendered constitutes a mental disorder in two respects. The first is that the idea of sex misalignment is simply mistaken—it does not correspond with physical reality. The second is that it can lead to grim psychological outcomes.
With the transgendered, the disordered assumption is that the individual differs from what seems given in nature—namely one's maleness or femaleness. Other kinds of disordered assumptions are held by those who suffer from anorexia and bulimia nervosa, where the assumption that departs from physical reality is the belief by the dangerously thin that they are overweight.
You won't hear it from those championing transgender equality, but controlled and follow-up studies reveal fundamental problems with this movement. When children who reported transgender feelings were tracked without medical or surgical treatment at both Vanderbilt University and London's Portman Clinic, 70%-80% of them spontaneously lost those feelings. Some 25% did have persisting feelings; what differentiates those individuals remains to be discerned.
We at Johns Hopkins University—which in the 1960s was the first American medical center to venture into "sex-reassignment surgery"….stopped doing sex-reassignment surgery, since producing a "satisfied" but still troubled patient seemed an inadequate reason for surgically amputating normal organs.
A 2011 study at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden produced the most illuminating results yet regarding the transgendered, evidence that should give advocates pause. The long-term study—up to 30 years—followed 324 people who had sex-reassignment surgery. The study revealed that beginning about 10 years after having the surgery, the transgendered began to experience increasing mental difficulties. Most shockingly, their suicide mortality rose almost 20-fold above the comparable nontransgender population. This disturbing result has as yet no explanation but probably reflects the growing sense of isolation reported by the aging transgendered after surgery. The high suicide rate certainly challenges the surgery prescription.
At the heart of the problem is confusion over the nature of the transgendered. "Sex change" is biologically impossible. People who undergo sex-reassignment surgery do not change from men to women or vice versa. Rather, they become feminized men or masculinized women. Claiming that this is civil-rights matter and encouraging surgical intervention is in reality to collaborate with and promote a mental disorder.
"Your liberal and democratic principles are worth nothing here"
Our sufferings today are the prelude of those you, Europeans and Western Christians, will also suffer in the near future. I lost my diocese. The physical setting of my apostolate has been occupied by Islamic radicals who want us converted or dead. But my community is still alive.
Please, try to understand us. Your liberal and democratic principles are worth nothing here. You must consider again our reality in the Middle East, because you are welcoming in your countries an ever growing number of Muslims. Also you are in danger. You must take strong and courageous decisions, even at the cost of contradicting your principles. You think all men are equal, but that is not true: Islam does not say that all men are equal. Your values are not their values. If you do not understand this soon enough, you will become the victims of the enemy you have welcomed in your home.
Archbishop Amel Nona, Chaldean Catholic Archeparch of Mosul, now exiled in Erbil source
In the NYT, Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress writes Who Will Stand Up for the Christians?
WHY is the world silent while Christians are being slaughtered in the Middle East and Africa? In Europe and in the United States, we have witnessed demonstrations over the tragic deaths of Palestinians who have been used as human shields by Hamas, the terrorist organization that controls Gaza. The United Nations has held inquiries and focuses its anger on Israel for defending itself against that same terrorist organization. But the barbarous slaughter of thousands upon thousands of Christians is met with relative indifference.
The Middle East and parts of central Africa are losing entire Christian communities that have lived in peace for centuries. The terrorist group Boko Haram has kidnapped and killed hundreds of Christians this year — ravaging the predominantly Christian town of Gwoza, in Borno State in northeastern Nigeria, two weeks ago. Half a million Christian Arabs have been driven out of Syria during the three-plus years of civil war there. Christians have been persecuted and killed in countries from Lebanon to Sudan.
Historians may look back at this period and wonder if people had lost their bearings. Few reporters have traveled to Iraq to bear witness to the Nazi-like wave of terror that is rolling across that country. The United Nations has been mostly mum. World leaders seem to be consumed with other matters in this strange summer of 2014. There are no flotillas traveling to Syria or Iraq. And the beautiful celebrities and aging rock stars — why doesn’t the slaughter of Christians seem to activate their social antennas?
The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is not a loose coalition of jihadist groups, but a real military force that has managed to take over much of Iraq with a successful business model that rivals its coldblooded spearhead of death. It uses money from banks and gold shops it has captured, along with control of oil resources and old-fashioned extortion, to finance its killing machine, making it perhaps the wealthiest Islamist terrorist group in the world. But where it truly excels is in its carnage, rivaling the death orgies of the Middle Ages. It has ruthlessly targeted Shiites, Kurds and Christians.
“They actually beheaded children and put their heads on a stick” a Chaldean-American businessman named Mark Arabo told CNN, describing a scene in a Mosul park. “More children are getting beheaded, mothers are getting raped and killed, and fathers are being hung.”
This week, 200,000 Aramaeans fled their ancestral homeland around Nineveh, having already escaped Mosul.
The general indifference to ISIS, with its mass executions of Christians and its deadly preoccupation with Israel, isn’t just wrong; it’s obscene…..
The Jewish people understand all too well what can happen when the world is silent. This campaign of death must be stopped.
Thinking past ourselves, 'more than me, more than now'
Ryan Dobson Get Over Your Selfie Gazing in the digital mirror, we lose the habit of seeing ourselves as part of a bigger story.
A Facebook timeline goes back to 2007. The timeline for my father, James Dobson, goes back four generations to his great-grandfather. My great-great-grandfather was on his way to kill a man when he was diverted to a tent revival in a small Texas town. Instead of taking a life that night, M.V. Billingham gave his life to God. He left his gun on the altar.
M.V. was unarmed, but after that he habitually deployed a secret weapon. For most of his adult life, he routinely prayed for his son, for his son's children, and for their children to the fourth generation . . . all the way to my dad. Whatever a "selfie" says about a person, this man was the opposite. With a strong sense of "more than me, more than now," more than a century ago, he prayed for people he'd never meet.
Did it make a difference? My family says yes. Among other things, my dad grew up aware of his place in a bigger story. He knew the next leg of the race was his to run; the baton was his to hand off. Who's going to drop out of a relay like that? Not me. ….
We're losing the habit of thinking past ourselves. As we do, we lose our best selves and our best chances to help shape what comes next. We drop the baton.
The Shame of PWC
The shame of an American company. Price Waterhouse Coopers fined $25 million for role in terrorist-state money-laundering
Auditing giant PriceWaterhouseCoopers is getting slapped with a $25 million fine for helping a Japanese bank launder money for terrorist states like Iran, Sudan and Myanmar.
New York’s top financial services regulator is putting the screws to PwC after it aided the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi hide the true nature of the illegal transactions on a 2008 financial statement, according to a settlement between the auditor and state officials announced Monday.
That director was Richard Inserro, who is now a PwC partner dealing in banking and capital markets, a source familiar with the investigation told The Post.
PwC is also suspended for two years from consulting.
The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi settled last year with Lawsky’s office for $250 million. In May 2008, the Japanese bank told PwC that it had a written policy to strip wire messages of any information that related to countries blacklisted by the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control, according to the settlement.
PricewaterhouseCoopers (trading as PwC) is a multinational professional services network. It is the world's largest professional services network, as measured by 2014 revenues, and is one of the Big Four auditors, along with Deloitte, Ernst & Young (EY) and KPMG.
PwC is a network of firms in 157 countries with more than 184,000 people. It had total revenues of $32.1 billion in FY 2013, of which $14.8 billion was generated by its Assurance practice, $8.2 billion by its Tax practice and $9.2 billion by its Advisory practice.
The firm was formed in 1998 by a merger between Coopers & Lybrand and Price Waterhouse. The trading name was shortened to PwC in September 2010 as part of a rebranding.
As of 2012 PwC United States is the fifth-largest privately owned organization in the United States.
August 19, 2014
The best government in the world
By almost all measures, Switzerland has the best government in the world
By almost any measure of human accomplishment, and particularly in creating a most successful country governance model, the Swiss are clearly No. 1 in the world. Switzerland is a small, landlocked nation without much in the way of natural resources. It has managed to stay out of wars for two centuries and developed a long-term multilingual and multireligious democracy without strife. There is a rule of law with competent and unbiased judges and strong protections for private property.
Among the countries of the world, Switzerland ranks:
No. 1 in "life satisfaction" (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development's Better Life Index);
No. 1 in "global competitiveness" (World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Index);
No. 2 in "labor -force participation rate" (OECD Labor Force Statistics);
No. 3 in "happiness" (United Nations World Happiness Report);
No. 4 in "economic freedom" (Fraser Institute and Cato Institute Economic Freedom of the World Report);
No. 7 in "per-capita income" on a purchasing-power parity basis (International Monetary Fund World Economic Outlook);
No. 2 in "overall prosperity" (Legatum Institute's Prosperity Index); and
No. 1 in "life expectancy at birth" (OECD Better Life Index).
Switzerland also ranks higher than average among the OECD countries (the 35 most-developed economies in the world) in levels of education and student test scores, and has lower levels of air and water pollution.
Civil liberties are strongly protected, including freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly and even the right to own guns. It does not get much better than this.
The Swiss have also avoided creating the "cult of personality" around their elected leadership. The elected rulers of Switzerland are not well known by their own countrymen and are almost invisible to the rest of the world. The odds are very high you have never heard of Didier Burkhalter. He's the current Swiss President.
Here at home Dana Milbank writes in the Washington Post that Americans’ optimism is dying
It is the very essence of the American Dream: an irrepressible confidence that our children will live better than we do. And now it is gone. It has been slipping for some time, really, but a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll this month put an exclamation point on Americans’ lost optimism.
When asked if “life for our children’s generation will be better than it has been for us,” fully 76 percent said they do not have such confidence. Only 21 percent did. That was the worst ever recorded in the poll; in 2001, 49 percent were confident and 43 percent not.
the gloom goes beyond wealth, gender, race, region, age and ideology. This fractious nation is united by one thing: lost faith in the United States.
Yang’s suspicion, which I share, is that something deeper is also at work: Americans are reacting, in part, to the breakdown of the political system, which leaves people quite rationally worried about American decline and the nation’s diminishing ability to weather crises. “One of the hallmarks of being an American is the optimism that your children will be better off,” Yang told me. The lost optimism, he said, “says a lot about how shaken we are by the inability of our political system to address seemingly easy issues, and it leaves us worried about the future.”
Talk about easy issues, Congress can't even come together to protect the electrical grid from total collapse due to an EMP or a solar flare- something that could be done quickly and at little cost. No wonder people are discouraged about the future.
An electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, is "the most significant threat" to the U.S. and our allies in the world.
In the Wall Street Journal, James Woolsey former director of the CIA warns us of The Growing Threat From an EMP Attack A nuclear device detonated above the U.S. could kill millions, and we've done almost nothing to prepare.
In a recent letter to investors, billionaire hedge-fund manager Paul Singer warned that an electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, is "the most significant threat" to the U.S. and our allies in the world. He's right. Our food and water supplies, communications, banking, hospitals, law enforcement, etc., all depend on the electric grid. Yet until recently little attention has been paid to the ease of generating EMPs by detonating a nuclear weapon in orbit above the U.S., and thus bringing our civilization to a cold, dark halt……
What would a successful EMP attack look like? The EMP Commission, in 2008, estimated that within 12 months of a nationwide blackout, up to 90% of the U.S. population could possibly perish from starvation, disease and societal breakdown.
What to do?
Surge arrestors, faraday cages and other devices that prevent EMP from damaging electronics, as well micro-grids that are inherently less susceptible to EMP, have been used by the Defense Department for more than 50 years to protect crucial military installations and strategic forces. These can be adapted to protect civilian infrastructure as well. The cost of protecting the national electric grid, according to a 2008 EMP Commission estimate, would be about $2 billion—roughly what the U.S. gives each year in foreign aid to Pakistan.
It is ironic that, in just a handful of generations, America’s dependence on electricity and computer technology is absolute. Its disappearance would lead to the collapse of civilization, a prospect which must look quite enticing to those actors who wish to do America harm.
Can this dark future be prevented? Of course, but the will to address this threat in Washington apparently does not exist.
Concern over the destruction inflicted by an EMP attack from North Korea has heightened since Congress created the first Congressional EMP Commission in 2001, but the electric grid’s vulnerability to disruptions associated with solar flares has been known for more than 150 years.
Industry watchers attribute the grid’s poor security to turf wars involving the federal government’s Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the international nonprofit North American Electric Reliability Corporation, as well as a lack of urgency by both organizations
The Foundation for Resilient Societies, in a July op-ed in the Capitol Hill publication The Hill, for example, blasted NERC and FERC for a May 2013 vote against improving the physical security standards for the grid after six men with AK-47 machine guns shot up a substation in California.
Only after FERC report about leaked almost a year later did the agency pressure NERC to improve physical security
Wall Street’s biggest trade group has proposed a government-industry cyber war council to stave off terrorist attacks that could trigger financial panic by temporarily wiping out account balances, according to an internal document.
The proposal by the Securities Industry and Financial Market Association calls for a committee of executives and deputy-level representatives from at least eight U.S. agencies including the Treasury Department, the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security….
“The systemic consequences could well be devastating for the economy as the resulting loss of confidence in the security of individual and corporate savings and assets could trigger widespread runs on financial institutions that likely would extend well beyond the directly impacted banks, securities firms and asset managers,” Sifma wrote in the document, dated June 27.
The cost of protecting our electrical infrastructure is so small - $2 billion - and the devastating impacts of an EMP attack so horrendous and immediate, there should be not a single Congressman who is opposed to it, no matter what their political persuasion. I urge you to demand that your Congressman or candidate for Congress go on record as to the urgent need for legislation and immediate action to protect this country's electrical grid.
August 18, 2014
Ebola: "Everybody left with their own thing. What are they carrying to their homes? They are carrying their deaths.”
International doctors have admitted they don't know the true scale of deaths from the deadly Ebola virus warning the disease is spreading faster than the response.
The group Doctors Without Borders (Medecin Sans Frontieres) have likened the outbreak in west Africa to a state of war and said that the epidemic could last another six months.
Meanwhile, a medical worker on the frontline of tackling the disease in Liberia says response teams are unable to document all the cases erupting as many of the sick are being hidden at home rather than taken to Ebola treatment centres.
Tarnue Karbbar, who works for the aid group Plan International in northern Liberia says in the last several days, up to 75 new cases a day are emerging in single districts.
He also added that those who have succumbed to the deadly virus are buried before teams can get to the area. He said: 'Our challenge now is to quarantine the area to successfully break the transmission.' It comes as Joanne Liu, international president of Doctors Without Borders told reporters in Geneva on Friday that there is no sign of stopping the disease. She said: 'We're running behind a train that is going forward. 'And it literally is faster than what we're bringing in terms of a response.'
The doctors' warnings come as a World Health Organisation official claimed that Ebola treatment centres are filling up faster than they can be provided in west Africa.
WHO spokesman in Geneva Gregory Hartl said: 'The flood of patients into every newly opened treatment center is evidence that the numbers aren't keeping up.'…..
Earlier the UN organisation had said the epidemic had been 'vastly' underestimated and that extraordinary measures are needed to contain the disease.
The Geneva-based organisation said in a statement that it was co-ordinating a 'massive scale-up of the international response' in a bid to tackle the spread of the Ebola.
So far, 2,127 cases of the disease and 1,145 deaths have been reported in four nations — Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone — the W.H.O announced Friday
The departure of many Western development workers from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the West African countries hit hardest by Ebola, has further weakened the region’s understaffed health systems at the very moment they are facing one of the most volatile public health crises ever. Liberia, population four million, has fewer than 250 doctors left in the entire country, according to the Liberia Medical and Dental Council. Seven doctors there have contracted Ebola, and two of them have died.
“The locals’ seeing this mass exodus of expatriates has contributed to the sense that there’s an apocalypse happening and they’re in it on their own,”
On Saturday afternoon, several hundred people in an area of Monrovia known as the West Point slum broke through the gates of a former school that had been converted days earlier into a holding center for people with suspected Ebola.
Samuel Tarplah, 48, a nurse running the center, said Saturday evening that the protesters wanted to shut it down. “They told us that we don’t want an Ebola holding center in our community.” He said the intruders stole mattresses, personal protective equipment, even buckets of chlorine that had just been delivered. “They took everything.”
Fear is complicating the huge increase in aid that is needed: food for people in areas that have been cordoned off; laboratory supplies to test for the disease; gloves, face masks and gowns to protect health workers; body bags for the dead; bedsheets to replace those that must be burned. Airlines have canceled flights that could have carried in such supplies, despite assurances from the W.H.O. that properly screened passengers pose little risk. Positions on aid teams remain unfilled.
Mob Destroys Ebola Center In Liberia Two Days After It Opens Fear and denial of the deadly virus are pervasive in Liberia. The mob exponentially increased the risk in one of the country’s biggest Ebola hot spots.
A mob descended on the center at around 5:30 p.m., chanting, “No Ebola in West Point! No Ebola in West Point!” They stormed the front gate and pushed into the holding center. They stole the few gloves someone had donated this morning, and the chlorine sprayers used to disinfect the bodies of those who die here, all the while hollering that Ebola is a hoax.
They ransacked the protective suits, the goggles, the masks. They destroyed part of Tarplah’s car as he was fleeing the crowd. Jemimah Kargbo, a health care worker at a clinic next door, said they took mattresses and bedding, utensils and plastic chairs. “Everybody left with their own thing,” she said. “What are they carrying to their homes? They are carrying their deaths.”
She said the police showed up but the crowd intimidated them. “The police were there but they couldn’t contain them. They started threatening the police, so the police just looked at them,” she said.
And then mob left with all of the patients.
"Politics is becoming about identity all the time"
Richard Fernandez in Man Without a Country poses questions we all can ponder. Where do our loyalties lie? To God and country or to our primary affinity group?
The Left for its part, has done its level best to multiply the hyphens while simultaneously trying to increase the size and power of the central state. They little realized or perhaps they realized all too well, that a program of cultural fragmentation combined with growing central power is the high road to dictatorship. You can have cultural diversity and a strong central government but not both — not unless it’s headed by a Sultan or an Emperor….
Tribalism is trending. The End of History world is over. All of a sudden it matters again whether you’re Yazidi, Kurdish, Sunni, Shi’ite, Druze or Christian. It apparently matters whether you’re Russian or non-Russian, at least in Eastern Europe. And as Tolu Ongulesi in Nigeria notes, tribalism is alive and well in Africa, especially now that Ebola is running rampant…..
History may be evolving away from the Westphalian State, with its unitary national culture, flags and traditions and moving towards affinity groups whose allegiance is primarily to themselves; which only form temporary alliances based on expedience in competition with other affinity groups.
The evidence is suggestive. Nobody is just an “American” any more. Anyone who insists on the plain identifier must be a secret bigot. You are a [modifier][-][American]. In fact, Forbes noted that “the number of Americans renouncing United States citizenship or terminating long-term residency is on a record pace.” And why not? The unadorned term “American” is being drained of meaning; what value there is lies in the prefix, not in the suffix…..
Politics is becoming about identity all the time….
There are affinity groups which cut across ethnicity based on sexual orientation, religion, level of disability, age and degree of dependence on one industry or the other, including government. This creates a bewildering landscape of interests and competing loyalties. The Democrats believe that the key to understanding the wilderness they’ve created is Big Data and its interface, social media. But if hyphenation — indeed multiple hyphenation — is the future, then Washington may be in the past.
What if nations’, as traditionally defined, are now passe? Suppose we are moving to a future where Westphalian nationality is nominal and operational identity is associated with a primary affinity group (PAG)? The most obvious candidate PAG is money. The tribe of the executive airport lounge, first class seating and the non-motel hotel. Some believe it is now possible to speak of a transnational elite whose real citizenship is money.
Or perhaps the PAG will be defined by values, religion, or membership in a mutual protection association into which you pay dues, like the military, police or ISIS. If this is the future then the dominant attractor of 21st century will be self-identification. Then we are not watching the last religious or ideological wars, merely the first.