Leftists just KNOW what is good for us. Conservatives need evidence..

Why are Leftists always talking about hate? Because it fills their own hearts

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29 April, 2016

When it comes to the women’s card, Donald holds all the Trumps. He knows What Women Want, and it isn’t Hillary


‘They say every powerful man is good in bed,’ I once asked Donald Trump. ‘That true?’

He smirked. ‘I think there is a certain truth to that, yes. Put it this way, I’ve never had any complaints. A lot of it is down to The Look. It doesn’t mean you have to look like Cary Grant, it means you have to have a certain way about you, a stature. I see successful guys who just don’t have The Look and they are never going to go out with great women.

‘The Look is very important. I don’t really like to talk about it because it sounds very conceited… but it matters.’

I thought of this exchange when Trump launched into Hillary Clinton today about her lack of appeal to women.

‘I think the only card she has is the women’s card,’ he scoffed. ‘She has got nothing else going. Frankly, if Hillary Clinton were a man, I don’t think she’d get 5% of the vote. And the beautiful thing is, women don’t like her…’

He was instantly and roundly ridiculed for being a revolting pig, of course.  Such is the habitual reaction from the sneering swathes of America’s political and media elite to everything Trump says or does.

They’re the same experts who predicted Trump ‘won’t last three weeks’ when he entered the race last summer, and who more recently predicted with equal confidence that he’d ‘never win the nomination.’  Now they assure us just as vehemently that Trump can’t beat Hillary because women hate him.

That’s what I keep reading and hearing as the cocky billionaire tycoon continues to steamroller his way to what now looks like an inevitable confirmation as Republican nominee.

(Seriously, Senator Cruz and Governor Kasich, it was over from the second you two clowns decided last week to tag-team against The Donald, thus making yourselves look utterly incapable of beating him on your own. I’d quit the race now before you both lose the last remaining vestige of dignity..)

The Women-Hate-Trump theory dictates that if he IS the nominee and comes up against Hillary Clinton, then he’ll be crushed not just because women loathe him but also because they all love Hillary.

Really? As Goldfinger used to say to 007: ‘Not so fast, Mr Bond….’

I suspect Trump’s a lot more popular with women than people think, and Hillary a lot less so.

I spent well over 100 hours observing Trump in his former Celebrity Apprentice boardroom lair. First as a (winning) contestant in 2008, then as one of his advisors in every subsequent season.

He was whip-smart, very funny and brilliantly provocative at creating compelling television drama.  He was also extremely charming when he wanted to be, especially with the female contestants. Many of them, including sports stars, actresses, supermodels and rock stars, ended up melting like fawning putty in Mr Trump’s famously delicate hands.

Even the legendarily ferocious comedienne Joan Rivers used to blush from his effusive compliments. I know, because I was there and saw it happen.

Part of this was because they wanted to win, obviously, so sought his approval. But part of it was undeniably also because Trump is genuinely at ease with women and seems to love their company – unless it’s Rosie O’Donnell - as much as they enjoy his.

I always think you can judge a man pretty well by his relationship with his former partners. Trump’s remained good friends with both his ex wives, Ivana and Marla. He even let Ivana get re-married at his Florida home.

His current wife Melania has proven to be a very effective electoral asset, combining brains with beauty and a feisty side which shows she’s no pushover.

And his daughter Ivanka is by common consent, a beautiful, vote-winning working mother superstar whose respect for her Donald is touchingly unequivocal.

Even fearsome Fox News star Megyn Kelly has made up with the man who attacked her mercilessly in public after they locked horns in a poisonously personal way after a heated presidential debate.

If Trump can get Ms Kelly back onside, after mocking her menstrual cycle, then surely he’s got a good chance of persuading millions of other women in America that he’s not such a bad guy after all?

I watch how the women behave at his gigantic rallies in all parts of America and I don’t see much hatred in those ecstatic eyes; I see fevered adoration.

Recent primary results, especially in his thumping 5-state clean sweep last night, suggest that adoration is beginning to translate into votes with more and more woman coming out for Trump.

Why?  He’s charismatic, that’s why.  They like his swaggering self-confidence, his non-PC and non-politician style, his fierce ‘I’ll make America great again’ patriotism, and his often outrageous, off-the-cuff sense of humour.

I spent some time in Texas and Florida recently and most of the women I met there were positively cooing over the prospect of a President Trump, and snarlingly scathing about the very notion of President Clinton.

Hillary likes to boast that she’s the only possible candidate for women, but I know a lot of women who can’t stand her.  They think she’s hard, elitist, they don’t really trust her after Benghazi and the email scandal, and they find it hard to forgive her own repeated forgiveness of her husband’s brazen infidelity.

They also feel she has a sense of entitlement to become the first female president, and has sold her soul to Wall Street through chums like Goldman Sachs.

This explains some of the catastrophically bad results she had early on in this campaign. In the Iowa Caucus, for example, she got just 14% of the under-30 female vote, while 74-year-old Bernie Sanders romped away with 84%.

The irony of Hillary’s position is that there’s only one man in America who can possibly compete with Trump for populist appeal right now, and indeed his ability to seduce women, and that’s her husband Bill. Unfortunately, he’s not running, she is.

If it comes down to Trump vs Clinton in November, as now seems likely, I think a lot more women are going to vote for him than she assumes.

And that could be enough for the man with The Look to win the White House.



Why the Left Loathes Western Civilization

Dennis Prager

This month, Stanford University students voted on a campus resolution that would have their college require a course on Western civilization, as it did until the 1980s.

Stanford students rejected the proposal 1,992 to 347. A columnist at the Stanford Daily explained why: Teaching Western civilization means “upholding white supremacy, capitalism and colonialism, and all other oppressive systems that flow from Western civilizations.”

The vote — and the column — encapsulated the left’s view: In Europe, Latin America and America, it loathes Western civilization.

Wherever there is conflict between the West — identified as white, capitalist or of European roots — and the non-West, the left portrays the West as the villain.

I am referring to the left, not to liberals. The latter generally venerates Western civilization. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, for example, frequently spoke of defending “Christian civilization.” Today, the left would likely revile any Westerner who used such language as xenophobic, racist, and fascist.

The left similarly describes any suggestion that anything Western is superior to anything non-Western. Likewise, it dismisses virtually all Western achievements, but regards criticism of anything non-Western as racist, chauvinistic, imperialist, colonialist, xenophobic, etc.

That is why the left is so protective of Islam. America’s left-wing president, Barack Obama, will not use, and does not seem to allow the government to use, the words “Islamic terrorism.” And, criticism of Islam is labeled “Islamophobic,” thereby morally equating any such criticism with racism. It is not that the left is sympathetic to Islam, for it has contempt for all religions. It is that many Muslims loathe the West, and the enemies of my enemy (the West) must be protected.

That is why the left loathes Israel. If the left actually cared about human rights, women’s rights, gay rights, or freedom of speech, religion and press, it would be wildly pro-Israel. But Israel, in the left’s view, is white, European and colonialist, or in other words, Western. And the Palestinians are non-Western.

So, the Big Question is, why? Why is the left hostile toward Western civilization?

After decades of considering this question, I have concluded the answer is this: standards.

The left hates standards — moral standards, artistic standards, cultural standards. The West is built on all three, and it has excelled in all three.

Why does the left hate standards? It hates standards because when there are standards, there is judgment. And leftists don’t want to be judged.

Thus, Michelangelo is no better than any contemporary artist, and Rembrandt is no greater than any non-Western artist. So, too, street graffiti — which is essentially the defacing of public and private property, and thus serves to undermine civilization — is “art.”

Melody-free, harmony-free, atonal sounds are just as good as Beethoven’s music. And Western classical music is no better than the music of any non-Western civilization. Guatemalan poets are every bit as worthy of study as Shakespeare.

When the Nobel Prize-winning American novelist Saul Bellow asked an interviewer, “Who is the Tolstoy of the Zulus? The Proust of the Papuans?” all hell broke loose on the cultural left. Bellow had implied that the greatest writers of fiction were Western.

Why such antagonism? Because if some art is really better than other art, your art may be judged inferior. The narcissism of left-wing thought does not allow for anyone to be better than you artistically or in any other way. Therefore, all art and artists must be equal.

In the moral realm, the same rejection of standards exists. Thus, the left loathed President Ronald Reagan for labeling the Soviet Union an “evil empire,” because that would mean America was morally superior to the Soviet Union. And such a judgment was unacceptable. The whole left-wing moral vocabulary is a rejection of Western moral standards: “tolerance,” “inclusion,” “anti-discrimination” (by definition, standards discriminate), “non-judgmental,” and even “income inequality,” which deems some peoples' work more valuable than others.

Every civilization had slavery. But only thanks to Judeo-Christian civilization was slavery abolished there, and eventually elsewhere. Nevertheless, to speak about any moral superiority of Western or Judeo-Christian civilization is completely unacceptable, thanks to the left’s stranglehold on education and most media.

In this regard, the protection of Islam by the left is so thorough that one cannot even say such obvious truths such as that the status of women has been far superior in the Judeo-Christian West than in the Islamic world. The veil women wear, for example, is dehumanizing. Yet, in a speech at the annual convention of the Islamic Society of North America, a rabbi who, at the time, was the president of the Union for Reform Judaism, said that a woman’s voluntary choice to wear a head scarf “deserves our respect.”

And finally, we come to the left’s loathing of the religions of Western civilization — the Judeo-Christian religions, which have clear standards of right and wrong.

Bible-based religions affirm a morally judging God. For the left, that is anathema. For the left, the only judging allowed is leftists' judging of others. No one judges the left — neither man nor God.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


28 April, 2016

Trump’s crushing wins put him in a commanding role

Donald Trump swept all five Northeastern primaries Tuesday, cementing his position as the most likely Republican presidential nominee and giving him a big surge of delegates and energy heading into what could be a final showdown next week with Ted Cruz in Indiana.

Trump won by comfortable margins in each of the five East Coast states — Rhode Island, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland — and is now in a commanding role with just 10 states left to vote.

“I consider myself the presumptive nominee, absolutely,” Trump said from Trump Tower in Manhattan. “When the boxer knocks out the other boxer, you don’t have to wait around for a decision. That’s what’s happening.”

Trump has won 12 out of the last 15 primary contests, capped by his recent six-state run that started last week with New York. His sweep Tuesday was so dominant that all the races were called within 40 minutes after polls had closed. His margins were on track to be higher than they have been in previous contests, with about 60 percent of the vote in early results.

Trump — who earlier in the evening attended a gala in New York sponsored by Time magazine that honored the world’s most influential people (Trump made the list) — essentially declared himself as the winner of the race.

“As far as I’m concerned, it’s over,” he said, calling for the Republican Party to unify around him. “Senator Cruz and Governor Kasich should really get out of the race. They have no pathway.”

More HERE 


Kansas Required Work for Food Stamps. Here’s What Happened

Abraham Lincoln once said, “No country can sustain, in idleness, more than a small percentage of its numbers. The great majority must labor at something productive.”

Over the past several years, the number of Americans on food stamps has soared. In particular, since 2009, the number of “able-bodied-adults” without dependents receiving food stamps more than doubled nationally. Part of this increase is due to a federal rule that allowed states to waive food stamps’ modest work requirement. However, states such as Kansas and Maine chose to reinstate work requirements. Comparing and contrasting the two approaches provides powerful new evidence about the effectiveness of work.

According to a report from the Foundation for Government Accountability, before Kansas instituted a work requirement, 93 percent of food stamp recipients were in poverty, with 84 percent in severe poverty. Few of the food stamp recipients claimed any income. Only 21 percent were working at all, and two-fifths of those working were working fewer than 20 hours per week.

Once work requirements were established, thousands of food stamp recipients moved into the workforce, promoting income gains and a decrease in poverty. Forty percent of the individuals who left the food stamp ranks found employment within three months, and about 60 percent found employment within a year. They saw an average income increase of 127 percent. Half of those who left the rolls and are working have earnings above the poverty level. Even many of those who stayed on food stamps saw their income increase significantly.

Work programs provide opportunities such as job training and employment search services. For example, in Kansas, workfare helped one man, who was unemployed for four years and on food stamps, find employment in the publishing industry where he now earns $45,000 annually. Another Kansan who was also previously unemployed and dependent on food stamps for over three years, now has an annual income of $34,000.

Furthermore, with the implementation of the work requirement in Kansas, the caseload dropped by 75 percent. Previously, Kansas was spending $5.5 million per month on food stamp benefits for able-bodied adults; it now spends $1.2 million.

Maine is another powerful example in favor of work over dependency. Similarly to Kansas, Maine saw a major decline in its caseload after instituting a work requirement. Within the first three months after Maine’s work policy went into effect, its caseload of able-bodied adults receiving food stamps plunged by 80 percent, falling from 13,332 recipients in December 2014 to 2,678 in March 2015.

Providing assistance to help those in need does not have to be a one-way handout. According to a Heritage Foundation survey, Americans overwhelmingly agree that able-bodied adults receiving welfare should work. However, very few of the federal government’s 80 means-tested welfare programs require recipients to work for benefits.

One of the best ways to ensure that welfare does not become a trap is to initiate reform based on the principles of work and personal responsibility. As the examples of Kansas and Maine show, good public policy can help encourage individuals towards self-sufficiency and better lives.



International Chutzpah: Russia, US to trade away Israel’s Golan Heights

As part of a possible settlement of the Syrian civil war, the United States and Russia are planning to offer a return of the Golan Heights to Syria.

Wow — talk about chutzpah!  Of course neither Russia nor the US “owns” the Golan Heights. Israel does.

And that land, captured from Syria in the 1967 war, is indeed an imposing “heights” from which Israel’s enemies have attacked Israel’s people with artillery. See the map below.* In Carol’s book, you can read the history of the Golan Heights and how Israel’s enemies have used it militarily.

Small wonder Israel intends to maintain its hard-won sovereignty over this strategic piece of land.

Yet Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin have instructed John Kerry and Sergei Lavrov to offer it up, as if it were theirs to give, as part of some hoped-for settlement.

Why doesn’t Obama throw in the Brooklyn Bridge while he’s at it?



No 9/11 for China

TWO men who allegedly tried to hijack a plane in China were beaten to death by passengers and crew. The Global Times newspaper reported that two of the suspects died in hospital from injuries they suffered during the ensuing fight with passengers and crew on board.

The men were part of a six-strong gang involved in the foiled hijack of a Tianjin Airlines flight bound for the regional capital of Urumqi last Friday.

Just minutes after the flight took off from Hetian, southwest Xinjiang, the men, all aged between 20 and 36, stood up and announced their plans to terrified passengers. The gang reportedly broke a pair of aluminium crutches and used them to attack passengers while attempting to break into the cockpit, Hou Hanmin, a regional government spokeswoman said.

They were tackled by police and passengers who tied them up with belts before the plane, carrying 101 people, returned to the airport safely just 22 minutes later.

Hanmin added that police were still testing materials they had been carrying, thought to be explosives.

The men were reported to be Uighurs, the local Muslim ethnic minority. There have been clashes between authorities and Uighurs resentful of government controls over their religion and culture.



Nearly half of Britons pay no income tax as burden on rich increases

Proportion now similar to the USA.  "Fair"?

Almost half of Britons pay no income tax while the richest are now shouldering the biggest burden on record, a new analysis has found.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies said that the proportion of working-age adults who do not pay income tax has risen from 34.3 per cent to 43.8 per cent, equivalent to 30million people.

Over the same period the amount of income tax paid by the richest 1 per cent has risen from 24.4 per cent to 27.5 per cent, meaning that 300,000 people pay more than a quarter of the nation's income tax.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies said that the change has been driven by George Osborne's policies of tax cuts for low earners and hikes for those who earn the most.

Mr Osborne has repeatedly highlighted the fact that the richest pay more while those on lower incomes pay less as part of his bid to rebrand the Conservatives as the "worker's party".

Under Mr Osborne the personal allowance has risen from £6,475 to £10,600, lifting millions of people out of the basic rate of income tax entirely.

Over the same period 1.6million people have been dragged into paying the higher rate of income tax after the Chancellor repeatedly froze the threshold for the 40p rate.

Labour introduced the 50p rate of income tax for higher earners, which Mr Osborne cut to 45p, while pensions tax relief has also been cut significantly.

The IFS said: "The recent increase in the share of tax coming from the top 1% of taxpayers was driven by a series of policy changes.

"Some, notably the large increase in the personal tax allowance, took many low earners out of tax while also reducing payments for lower to middle taxpayers.

"While the personal allowance was increased, the higher-rate threshold was cut.

"Meanwhile, those on the highest incomes did not gain at all from the increase in the personal allowance, since a new policy introduced in 2010 means that it is gradually withdrawn once incomes rise above £100,000.

"In addition, big cuts in pension tax relief and the increase in the tax rate for those earning over £150,000 will have raised more revenue from the highest earners."

The IFS said that the increased burden on the rich is unlikely to "unwind" in future as the Conservatives have pledged to increase the personal allowance to £12,500.

It said that Mr Osborne's pledge to raise the threshold for the higher rate of tax to £50,000 will only "hold constant" the number of people paying the 40p rate.



Judge Okays North Carolina Voter ID

If Democrats can gain an advantage at the ballot box by supporting a certain voting policy, they will, whether it be illegal, unconstitutional or ethically shady. On Monday, a federal judge on Monday dealt a blow to proponents of voter fraud by declaring the changes to the voting law that North Carolina enacted in 2013 did not violate the civil rights of minority citizens in the state.

The Left had argued that minority voters would be disproportionately disadvantaged by a law requiring voters to show one of eight acceptable kinds of ID before filling out a ballot, eliminating same-day voter registration and reducing early voting periods. But these are simply common-sense verifications that preserve the integrity of elections. North Carolina is a contested state, with the state leaning Democrat by the thinnest of margins, so they need all the help from illegitimate voters they can get. But Judge Thomas Schroeder wrote that North Carolina’s law was not unusual compared to other states' voting laws and “North Carolina has provided legitimate state interests for its voter ID requirement and electoral system.”

Because it’s a presidential election year and because of North Carolina’s contested nature, this case is almost certain to head to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which is based in Richmond, Virginia. Speaking of Virginia, the commonwealth’s Democrat governor unilaterally granted voting rights to 200,000 former felons through an executive order. Again, whatever it takes for votes, Democrats will do it.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


27 April, 2016

A thought

A lot of conservatives did not like Romney because he was too much of a compromiser.  Now some do not like Trump because he doesn't compromise enough!


Are conservatives healthier?

I am indebted to Deniz Selcuk, my indefatigable Turkish correspondent, for drawing my attention to the 2007 article below.  The article argues that emotions of disgust have evolved to drive us towards being more hygienic and hence healthier. 

As is, I think, well-known by now, Jonathan Haidt has found that conservatives are much more easily disgusted than Leftists.  Since even mass-murder does not seem to disgust Leftists, that stands to reason.  So are conservatives healthier and therefore more long-lived?  It is the obvious inference to be drawn from combining Haidt's work and the paper below.

I consulted Professor Google on the matter and the most useful article seemed to be This one.  It basically pointed out that most indicators did seem to confirm better health among conservatives but also pointed to a much-quoted study by Pabayo which found liberals to be more long-lived.

The Pabayo study, however, seems to have been withdrawn so there were obviously problems with it.  None of the studies, however suggest a big difference in lifespans according to your politics.  There are of course many factors influencing lifespan so that is not inherently surprising.  But, in any event, conservative are probably more hygienic.

A natural history of hygiene

Valerie A Curtis, PhD


In unpacking the Pandora's box of hygiene, the author looks into its ancient evolutionary history and its more recent human history. Within the box, she finds animal behaviour, dirt, disgust and many diseases, as well as illumination concerning how hygiene can be improved. It is suggested that hygiene is the set of behaviours that animals, including humans, use to avoid harmful agents. The author argues that hygiene has an ancient evolutionary history, and that most animals exhibit such behaviours because they are adaptive. In humans, responses to most infectious threats are accompanied by sensations of disgust. In historical times, religions, social codes and the sciences have all provided rationales for hygiene behaviour. However, the author argues that disgust and hygiene behaviour came first, and that the rationales came later. The implications for the modern-day practice of hygiene are profound. The natural history of hygiene needs to be better understood if we are to promote safe hygiene and, hence, win our evolutionary war against the agents of infectious disease.



What if the Left Doesn't Really Want to Achieve Its Policy Goals?

John C. Goodman

Here is something I bet you haven’t thought about. We naturally assume that that public policy advocates actually want to achieve the things they advocate. But there are a lot of people both on the right and the left — but especially on the left — for whom that probably isn’t true.

Suppose you could wave a magic wand and eliminate global warming forever. You might think that all the environmental organizations and all the environmental scientists would get out the champagne and cerebrate. More likely their offices would look like a wake.

Causes are vehicles to money and power. They generate millions of dollars in donations. They create high paying jobs. They motivate millions in research grants and millions in campaign contributions. If the cause goes away, money and power go away with it.

Without global warming, the donations would dry up. The jobs would go away. The research grants would vanish. The end of global warming would be an economic disaster for tens of thousands of people. Especially for someone like Al Gore — who has made a fortune on the issue.

Ditto for race relations. What would Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton do if there were no more racial discrimination? They couldn’t Mau Mau any more corporations. They couldn’t shake down any more rich white guys. They would have to …. well …. they would have to go find an honest job.

What brings this to mind is four recent items in the news.

First, labor unions in Los Angeles — the very unions that were in the forefront in pushing for California’s recently passed $15-an-hour minimum wage legislation — are petitioning to be exempted from the new law. After telling us for years how good high minimum wages are for everyone else, they are now claiming that the regulation is not good for their own members.

Second, as the New York Democratic primary election was well under way, the rhetoric became increasing shrill. Wall Street is responsible for inequality we were told by both Bernie and Hillary.

Yet as Dan Henninger reminds us in a Wall Street Journal editorial, it’s the rich Wall Street types who are putting up the money to fund charter schools and other alternatives to the public schools that are failing so miserably. No one who is poor is likely to climb the income ladder without a decent education. Yet New York City liberals, including the new liberal mayor, aren’t lifting a finger to help. In fact, New York’s liberals seem quite content to let the teachers unions run the schools as they wish and leave things pretty much as they are.

Third, an editorial in the Wall Street Journal by Holman Jenkins makes a damning case against environmental advocates in Congress, who have been unwilling “to propose policies costly enough that they would actually influence the rate of increase of atmospheric greenhouse gases.” Exhibit A was Al Gore’s about face right after the 2008 election. Jenkins writes:

    [T]he closest the U.S. Congress came to passing a serious (if still ineffectual) cap-and-trade program was during the George W. Bush administration in early 2007. Then, within days of Barack Obama’s election in 2008, Al Gore announced a revelation: the “climate crisis” no longer required such unpleasant, de facto energy taxes. The problem could be solved with painless handouts to green entrepreneurs.

Then there is the issue of gun control, which Hillary Clinton has been increasingly using to attack Bernie Sanders. If you think that anything about guns proposed by those on the left is a serious proposal (gun show loopholes? The right to sue gun manufacturers?) consider the following.

Although no one knows for sure, there are apparently 310 million guns in private hands in the United States — about one for every person in the country. Further, by one estimate, private gun ownership increased by about 100 million since Barack Obama became president.

Here is the irony. It appears that every time the president talks about the need for gun control, people go out and buy more guns. Of course, the kind of measures he and Hillary are talking about are trivial. But in the attempt to fire up the Democratic base and convince them they intend to do something serious about guns, the president’s rhetoric apparently succeeds in convincing the opposition instead.

The best thing Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton could do to stop the proliferation of guns is to shut up and quit talking about firearms.

What would a serious gun control measure look like? In 1996, the government of Australia imposed a virtual ban on automatic and semiautomatic assault rifles and instituted a temporary gun buyback program that took some 650,000 weapons out of public circulation. The effort seems to have had no effect on suicides or homicides, but at least one would have to agree that the effort was serious.

Is that the type of proposal we might see from those on the left in the near future? Don’t hold your breath.



Let the patient pay the piper, and the price of health care will fall

By Jeff Jacoby

SHE WENT TO the doctor, the one at the downtown hospital she’s been going to for years, for her annual physical in January. She showed her insurance card when she checked in and confirmed that the details hadn’t changed. The doctor gave her a clean bill of health, renewed her prescriptions, and updated her medical record. It was a routine visit, and she gave it little further thought.

Until a bill arrived this week.

She was puzzled. The amount due wasn’t exorbitant, but she shouldn’t have been billed at all: Under her family’s health insurance policy, a yearly physical is deemed preventive care and not subject to a copay. She examined the statement more closely and saw that it was treating her January check-up as two events. One was identified as “Preventive Care” and carried a charge of $465, which was covered by the insurance payment of $319.31 and the hospital “adjustment” of $145.69. A second item, vaguely labeled “Office Visit,” was listed as a $397 charge. Of that amount, the insurer paid $113.55, and the hospital adjustment knocked off a further $248.45. That left a $35 balance for her to pay.

She called the doctor’s medical practice. “You probably discussed something with your physician that was outside the scope of an ordinary physical,” the billing clerk surmised. “So when your visit was entered into the system, it was coded for an office consultation as well as a checkup.”

She thought that was ridiculous — what was the point of an annual exam, if not to speak freely with the doctor about anything? At all events, she had no recollection of discussing an “outside-the-scope” topic and said so to the clerk. So her account has been sent back for a “coding review.” She’ll have to wait 45 days for an answer.

Against the backdrop of $3 trillion in annual health care spending in the United States, one woman’s frustration with a medical bill may seem insignificant. But who doesn’t encounter such frustrations? On any given day, millions of Americans are tearing their hair to make sense of billing snafus and insurance deductibles, prescription co-pays and out-of-network surcharges, baffling reimbursement rules and aggravating Medicare procedures, coding mysteries and paperwork blizzards. They face a myriad of complexities and convolutions that have nothing to do with buying health care . . . but everything to do with expecting someone else to pay for it.

Americans are forever being told that health care costs are out of control and that only sweeping government intervention can bring them back to earth. Obamacare was supposed to make medical plans more affordable, but premiums are higher than ever . Bernie Sanders campaigns on a platform of “Medicare for all” — single-payer socialized health care — yet any such system would inevitably lower the quality of care while raising prices still higher.

Any health care “reform” that intensifies government regulation or enlarges the role of insurance companies only makes a bad system worse. Like the woman described above, for most Americans, even their most routine and predictable medical costs must be routed through the maddening labyrinth of insurance procedures.

But nothing could be more counterproductive.

When Americans rely on a third party — private insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid — to pay most of their medical bills, they forfeit their power as consumers. Our ill-conceived system of subsidized health plans provided by employers and taxpayer-funded “free” treatment through the government ends up stripping patients of their economic clout. Doctors and hospitals have little incentive to compete by lowering prices, because patients rarely bother to ask about prices. By and large, health care providers in the United States do most of their negotiating with insurers or the government. After all, they’re the ones paying the piper.

It’s only when medical services aren’t reimbursed by a third party — think of Lasik eye surgery or veterinary care or the growing number of direct-pay “concierge” practices that don’t accept health insurance — that the consumer is king. When providers are paid directly by customers, transactions are transparent, prices fall, choices proliferate, and consumer convenience becomes a priority. Bills reflect actual prices, not inscrutable codes and deductibles and “adjustments” negotiated way over patients’ heads.

The purpose of insurance is to protect policyholders from unforeseen or catastrophic expenses. Nobody taps auto insurance to pay for tuneups or new tires; we use it when the car is rear-ended or stolen. We shouldn’t be using health insurance to pay for routine checkups, either. If it seems odd to say so, that’s only because we’ve convinced ourselves that normal medical expenses shouldn’t be treated normally. If we want health care to cost less, we should pay for it ourselves.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


26 April, 2016

Mao’s vision of Utopia - torture the middle classes and bury them alive

BOOK REVIEW OF The cultural revolution: A people’s history 1962-1976  by Frank Dikotter

The problem with revolutions is that you have to keep them going, otherwise, as Chairman Mao’s ‘faithful dog’ Zhou Enlai pointed out, ‘every time the situation improves a little, the people move back towards capitalism’. How very dare they!

They go in for private property. They hold local markets. They enjoy raising their own chickens and pigs. They start acknowledging the profit motive.

As in France and Russia before, to put a stop to enterprise the Chinese authorities felt they had to unleash fresh waves of terror, cowing the populace with killing sprees, purges, arbitrary arrest and torture.

As Dikotter explains in this definitive and harrowing study: ‘The flames of revolution had to be constantly rekindled.’

Mao had already subjected his vast country to the Great Leap Forward, when tens of millions lost their lives in a mad agricultural experiment. Mass starvation and disease ensued when the peasants were compelled to hand over their harvests to the state.

Desperate men and women were executed for digging up a potato or stealing a handful of rice. Yet such exterminations, said Mao, were merely ‘an unavoidable phenomenon of our forward march’.

By the early Sixties, however, China was in danger of recovering its equilibrium, so Mao, desiring frenzy, decreed that ‘we must punish this party of ours’.

Villagers who had tilled their own patch of ground or woven baskets for sale were accused of ‘undermining the collective economy’. Gathering firewood was considered capitalist.

Soon, everyone was suspecting everyone else of ‘speculation’ and ‘moral decadence’. Officials who had run the communes were charged with being at the centre of ‘a nest of counter-revolutionaries’.

The police, the army, the teaching profession: suddenly ‘class enemies’ were all over the shop.

Mao, who modelled himself on Stalin, delighted in the paranoia, and people proved their loyalty to the Chairman by joining in what quickly became a seemingly endless cycle of violence.

What may have begun — when Mao became the founding father of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 — as a Communist Utopia to redistribute wealth, degenerated, as these projects always do, into widespread suffering as the messianic dictatorship increased its savage grip.

By 1966, 60 million copies of Mao’s Little Red Book had been distributed, and because ‘the thoughts of Chairman Mao are always correct’, his totalitarian slogans were endorsements for the anarchy: ‘Carry the revolution through to the end’; ‘To rebel is justified’; ‘When bad people get beaten by good people, they deserve it.’

Mao could see the young were impressionable, easy to manipulate and eager to fight. The so-called Red Guards were formed, a ‘screaming, self-righteous band’ numbering many millions, who went on the rampage.

Higher education was a particular target. Professors were spat upon and made to wear placards around their necks identifying them as ‘imperial spies’. Lecturers were beaten with nail-spiked clubs, made to crawl over broken glass and had boiling water poured over them.

‘There were even cases of people being buried alive,’ writes Dikotter.

Pensioners and those on sick leave were flung out of the cities, along with China’s ‘most eminent scientists, physicians, engineers and philosophers, who were made to clean toilets.

‘What stinks is not so much the excrement as your own ideology,’ intellectuals were told. A ‘counter-revolutionary’ came to mean anyone who ‘likes freedom’ — freedom of speech, movement, expression. It was a death sentence to be found listening to a foreign radio station. Tough if you followed The Archers.

Military drills were held in the middle of the night. ‘Class enemies’ had their tongues ripped out or eyes gouged from their sockets. The offspring of former landlords or vaguely bourgeois sorts were electrocuted. Children were hung from their feet and whipped.

In the district of Wuxuan, 60 people had their heads bashed in with hammers.

Evidence of cannibalism emerged: ‘Students cooked the meat in casseroles.’ People must have felt fortunate if they were simply deported to labour camps in Manchuria.

The Red Guard, or ‘Mao’s little generals’, were ‘enjoined to smash the old world’ and did so with alacrity. Prehistoric bronzes were melted down in foundries, exquisite porcelain and jade stamped upon.

Private printing presses were closed down, religion abolished and literature and art had to be ‘geared towards definite political lines’. The Red Guard attacked 36 flower shops in Shanghai as bouquets were ‘wasteful and bourgeois’.

They flogged malefactors with the buckle-end of their belts, slashed jeans with knives and chopped off high heels. Restaurants served only plain meals. Soon there was no music, cinema, theatre or any museum open.

Florists, cobblers, greengrocers, coppersmiths and even embroiderers were suddenly out of a job.  Toys, make-up and the keeping of domestic pets were banned. (Cats were massacred.)

School teachers, scientists and writers — ‘intellectuals’ — were ‘battered into submission’, made to pay lip service to the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’.

By June 1967, China was in chaos, says Dikotter. Approximately two million people had been killed and many more lives were wrecked by false confessions and denunciations.

Five million party members were punished in public trials, and 77,000 such citizens were then hounded to their deaths. Everything had to become ‘thoroughly proletarian’, yet what Mao and his henchmen really hated and feared, like all tyrants, was that their subjects, despite the pressure, may here and there still have harboured private thoughts, shown initiative, been capable of ingenuity and individuality.

On the other hand, don’t think we have been spared the Red Guards.  Those egregious and intolerant Oxford and Cambridge students who want to tear down historical statues of Cecil Rhodes or Queen Victoria, and ban this and censure that, and silence this person and vilify another, are behaving in a way that Chairman Mao would at once recognise and condone.



Liberty at Risk

The American Left’s desire to crush Liberty and dissent in order to “fundamentally transform the United States of America” has reached metastatic levels. In the last three weeks alone, the following stories have surfaced. All of which indicate we are well on our way toward relinquishing our birthright. Even worse, millions of Americans are apparently more than willing to do so.

First, this week the Supreme Court heard arguments in the United States v. Texas case that will determine whether a president can unilaterally rewrite immigration law. If SCOTUS rules in Barack Obama’s favor, the separation of powers outlined in the first three articles of the Constitution will be rendered moot and, as political analyst Charles Krauthammer wryly observed, “you can send Congress home.” And the Left is not content to stop there. A coalition of 118 cities and counties have filed a legal brief asserting they will lose up to $800 million in economic benefits if large numbers of illegal aliens remain subject to deportation.

Second, the IRS has admitted it abides the use of fraudulent Social Security numbers used by illegal aliens to process tax payments — and refunds.

Third, in New York and California, Democratic attorneys general Eric Schneiderman and Kamala Harris are pursuing fraud investigations against Exxon, based on the premise they can “prosecute persons and institutions with nonconforming views on global warming,” writes National Review’s Kevin Williams. “Prosecuting political institutions and businesses for political activism is brown-shirt business.”

Fourth, the Obama administration, already under fire for its determination to flood America with Syrian “refugees,” announced it will reduce its vetting process to three months, instead of 18-24 months. They claim the reduced time is necessary to handle a sped-up “surge operation” whose population is 99% Sunni Muslim. Even more insulting, Gina Kassem, the regional refugee coordinator at the U.S. Embassy in Amman, noted the administration’s target of 10,000 refugees “is a floor and not a ceiling, and it is possible to increase the number.”

Fifth, using the Fair Housing Act as a club, the Obama administration is forcing cities to embrace “diversity” that consists of building low-income housing in affluent neighborhoods nationwide. This forced integration scheme is political gerrymandering in disguise, and it is aimed at taking peoples' basic property rights and the constitutionally protected right of free association and tossing them on the ash heap of history.

Sixth, in North Carolina, the federal government threatens to withhold billions of dollars in federal aid for schools, highways and housing unless the state repeals a law restricting local authorities from over-riding state law that restricts the use of bathrooms transgender people can use. The Rainbow Mafia’s corporate hitmen are boycotting the state, aligning themselves with the idea that self-identification, and not genital makeup, is the only criterion that can be used to determine access. Not only to bathrooms, but locker rooms, and membership on sports teams as well. Tennessee will be the next state targeted by federal government’s wrath.

Seventh, when French President Francois Hollande referred to “Islamist terrorism” at a meeting with Obama in early April, the White House initially deleted the phrase from its audio translation, only to restore it when questioned about the deletion. “The Obama administration must be aware that in the 1930s, the Soviet Union wiped clean all photos, recordings and films of Leon Trotsky on orders from Josef Stalin,” writes historian Victor Davis Hanson. “Trotsky was deemed politically incorrect, and therefore his thoughts and photos simply vanished.”

Eighth, an astounding video taken at the University of Washington shows students struggling to disagree with a 5'-9" Caucasian male’s assertion that he is a 6'-5" Chinese female first-grader. “These are actual college students,” writes columnist Rod Dreher. “Adults who have the right to vote. And their reason is so compromised that they are unsure what the man in front of them is, so terrified are they of saying the wrong thing. … These people are ripe for dictatorship. They will not let themselves see reality if it offends against the party line.”

Ninth, in a vote at Stanford University, efforts by a group of students to restore a class requirement in Western Civilization was rejected by 85% the student body, and a student suspected of writing an article in support of the measure was suspended from a low-income advocacy group known as the Stanford First-Generation Low Income Partnership. A column in campus newspaper, The Stanford Daily, warned that passing such a proposal “would necessitate that our education be centered on upholding white supremacy, capitalism and colonialism, and all other oppressive systems that flow from Western civilizations.”

And tenth, in a speech at the Vatican, Democrat presidential candidate Bernie Sanders insisted that Americans “must reject the foundations of this contemporary [capitalist] economy as immoral and unsustainable,” further insisting that we must “redirect our efforts and vision to the common good.” Perhaps Sanders could explain why forcibly taking the fruits of one American’s labor and giving it to another is moral, and which group of leftist elites who believe they own the franchise on “enlightened thinking” gets to define “common good” — using coercive government as their vehicle for doing so.

Make no mistake: The same American Left that purportedly champions dissent, diversity, tolerance and inclusion utterly rejects anyone or anything that deviates from their definition of the terms. Moreover, they are at best intent on intimidating those opposing views — or, at worst, criminalizing those views at worst.

“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty,” Thomas Jefferson reminds us. Ronald Reagan put it this way: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

Those sunset years are upon us. It’s time to fight back.



Enough said


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


25 April, 2016

GOP elite warms to once-unthinkable Trump nomination

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — The country’s top Republicans gathered last week at a posh resort overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, dining at restaurants where porterhouse steaks go for $105 and sipping martinis in a hotel atrium filled with palm trees and gurgling fountains.

Outwardly, then, it seemed like business as usual for the power brokers and influentials of the Republican National Committee attending their spring meeting. It was anything but.

Hurricane season is upon the GOP, with the old order at risk of being swept away as the concluding round of state primaries looms. There were clear signs here that elements of the party elite are starting to buckle under the pressure.

Many are beginning to adapt to the notion — preposterous not so long ago — that Donald Trump will probably be their presidential nominee, the face of the party in 2016, and that continued efforts by the party establishment to sabotage his campaign or block him at the convention may not only be futile but also counterproductive and ultimately bad for the party.

Party committee members, in nearly two dozen interviews, said they still have serious doubts about the professionalism and tone of Trump’s campaign and fretted about his ability to beat the likely Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton. But almost none of the GOP leaders from around the country said they were still trying to block Trump from rising to the top at the Cleveland convention in July.

“There are some people who probably didn’t give him a lot of chance at the beginning,” said George Leing, a committeeman from Colorado. “But he’s certainly proven to have resiliency. He’s obviously the leader right now.”

“He is going to be the nominee,” said one longtime establishment Republican who previously worked for a rival campaign but wasn’t ready to put his name to that statement.

Senator Ted Cruz and Governor John Kasich made personal appeals to the committee members over the course of the three-day conference, and the nominating contest is far from over. Trump could still fall short of the 1,237 delegates he needs, triggering a contested convention.

But at the same time an alliance of grudging realists appears to be forming. Republican insiders are settling on something approaching acquiescence to the billionaire’s insurgency.

Even while Trump notably did not join his rivals in making an appearance at the event, he dispatched advisers to court the party officials he has lampooned during his front-running rocket ride, the same GOP grandees that he accuses of overseeing a “rigged’’ nominating system.

“People are warming to the idea,” said Don McGahn, a party insider and top Washington election lawyer who is advising Trump, as he roamed the hallways of the Diplomat Resort & Spa. Ada Fisher, a committeewoman from North Carolina who went public with her support for the New York businessman after her state’s primary, wears a Trump pin on her shirt.

“I like Donald Trump,” she said. “Donald Trump defies traditional Republican stereotypes. . . . He will win. He will bring change to America.”

Others gave Trump some credit for identifying and appealing to populist undercurrents in the angry conservative base that candidates like establishment favorite Jeb Bush missed.

“Here’s a guy who had no political background. And he’s about to become perhaps the nominee of the party,” said Ron Kaufman, the Massachusetts committeeman. “He’s a very savvy guy. Here’s the thing about Trump: He understands what a lot of people don’t understand, about where the country is and why they’re angry and why they’re upset.”

Trump has moved into a new phase of his campaign in which he is trying to navigate that dichotomy and make the transition from outsider to party leader, showing the GOP leaders that he is capable of playing a grown-up role.

On Thursday at the Republican National Committee meetings, members packed into a third-floor corner room with views of the Atlantic Ocean. An open bar was set up. A tray of refreshments — overflowing with shrimp, oysters, and crab legs — was so heavy it required two waiters to lug it into the room.

Team Trump had arrived.

Trump’s new senior adviser, veteran political consultant Paul Manafort, had spent the day roaming around the hotel toting a briefcase bearing his initials as he held one-on-one meetings. He, along with former RNC political director Rick Wiley, have been acting as emissaries sent by Trump to try to persuade establishment Republicans to get aboard with the insurgent candidate.

For about an hour, Manafort and Wiley — who were also joined by former candidate and Trump backer Ben Carson — explained in the closed-door meeting how Trump is evolving as a candidate, according to interviews with members who attended the session.

They started by reassuring members that they wanted to work with the RNC, not against it. As part of a PowerPoint presentation, they displayed a map of bellwether states that they believe Trump can carry in the fall election. Rather than just six or so swing states, they said, Trump would turn more than a dozen states into competitive races in the general election against the Democratic nominee.

His advisers believe that Rust Belt states, along with much of New England, would be receptive to the blue-collar message Trump has carried.

More HERE 


Rights Versus Wishes

Here is what presidential aspirant Sen. Bernie Sanders said: “I believe that health care is a right of all people.” President Barack Obama declared that health care “should be a right for every American.” The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops: “Every person has a right to adequate health care.” President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in his January 1944 message to Congress, called for “the right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health.” And it is not just a health care right that people claim. There are rights to decent housing, good food and a decent job, and for senior citizens, there’s a right to prescription drugs. In a free and moral society, do people have these rights? Let’s look at it.

In the standard historical usage of the term, a “right” is something that exists simultaneously among people. As such, a right imposes no obligation on another. For example, the right to free speech is something we all possess. My right to free speech imposes no obligation upon another except that of noninterference. Similarly, I have a right to travel freely. Again, that right imposes no obligation upon another except that of noninterference.

Contrast those rights to free speech and travel with the supposed rights to medical care and decent housing. Those supposed rights do impose obligations upon others. We see that by recognizing that there is no Santa Claus or tooth fairy. If one does not have money to pay for a medical service or decent housing and the government provides it, where do you think the government gets the money?

If you agree that there is no Santa Claus or tooth fairy and that Congress does not have any resources of its very own, the only way for Congress to give one American something is to first take it from some other American. In other words, if one person has a right to something he did not earn, it requires another person’s not having a right to something he did earn.

Let’s apply this bogus concept of rights to my right to speak and travel freely. Doing so, in the case of my right to free speech, it might impose obligations on others to supply me with an auditorium, microphone and audience. My right to travel freely might require that others provide me with resources to purchase airplane tickets and hotel accommodations. If I were to demand that others make sacrifices so that I can exercise my free speech and travel rights, I suspect that most Americans would say, “Williams, yes, you have rights to free speech and traveling freely, but I’m not obligated to pay for them!”

As human beings, we all have certain natural rights. Of the rights we possess, we have a right to delegate them to government. For example, we all have a natural right to defend ourselves against predators. Because we possess that right, we can delegate it to government. By contrast, I do not have a right to take one person’s earnings to give to another. Because I have no such right, I cannot delegate it to government. If I did take your earnings to provide medical services for another, it would rightfully be described and condemned as an act of theft. When government does the same, it’s still theft, albeit legalized theft.

If you’re a Christian or a Jew, you should be against these so-called rights. When God gave Moses the eighth commandment — “Thou shalt not steal” — I am sure that he did not mean “thou shalt not steal unless there is a majority vote in Congress.” The bottom line is medical care, housing and decent jobs are not rights at all, at least not in a free society; they are wishes. As such, I would agree with most Americans — because I, too, wish that everyone had good medical care, decent housing and a good job.



HBO:  Democrat propaganda machine

HBO should stand for History Bungling Office. Over and over again, they have abused their disclaimer that certain films are "fact-based dramatizations."

They re-litigated Al Gore's 2000 "victory" in "Recount." They viciously cartooned Sarah Palin's vice-presidential candidacy in "Game Change" without putting up any such disclaimer. Now, they're smearing Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as a pervert and painting Anita Hill as a saint of sexual harassment in "Confirmation."

The makers of this "fact-based" movie claim it's balanced. Baloney. The advertisements alone give away the game. Over the face of actress (and executive producer) Kerry Washington, who played St. Anita, are the words, "It only takes one voice to change history."

This ignores the obvious: Liberals lost the Thomas fight more dramatically than they lost the 2000 election. It wasn't just that he won his confirmation. The American people didn't believe Hill's lurid and unsubstantiated tales of "Long Dong Silver" chatter. Even the CBS-New York Times poll found 58 percent believed Thomas, to only 24 percent for Hill. Only 26 percent of women believed Hill.

But HBO is rewriting history to make Hill's unpersuasive smear a dramatic turning point of women's rights. Cue the violins!

Early on in the movie, Hill is reluctant to testify, saying, "When someone comes forward, the victim tends to become the villain." That's exactly what HBO is doing to Justice Thomas with this movie: villainizing the victim.

Appearing on Fox's "The Kelly File," the film's executive producer and writer Susannah Grant claimed she was never certain about who was telling the truth during the Hill-Thomas hearings. She insisted that the truth wasn't really that interesting. "What I think is interesting about these hearings that they were a watershed event in our collective cultural history. They completely changed how we perceive and talk about women's rights in the workplace."

Grant and HBO predictably ignore everything that's happened in America since the Hill fiasco that ruins their leftist narrative. The film ends with the happy note that sexual-harassment complaints quickly doubled at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the agency Thomas led during the Reagan years. The film doesn't breathe a word about all the sexual harassment and rape charges against, yup, Bill Clinton, and how Anita Hill came to Slick Willie's defense in op-eds and TV interviews and shredded the consistency of feminism in the process.

HBO would never do a film about Paula Jones or Kathleen Willey or Juanita Broaddrick with the words, "It only takes one voice to change history" over their face. Bill Clinton's alleged harassment of them in the workplace and hotel rooms could never make them feminist icons like Hill. Feminists put female accusers down when they question the behavior of "feminist" male politicians.

Why at this late date would HBO dredge this garbage up again? This is obviously an election-year ploy in a year with a female Democratic Party nominee. Liberals can easily compare Hill and Hillary Clinton as misunderstood feminist heroines facing down abusive Republicans. Kerry Washington is a huge Clinton backer, posting gushy notes on her Instagram account when Clinton appeared with her in Hollywood in February: "A good friend came by set today. Proud to say... #imwithher".

When NBC's Matt Lauer surprisingly asked Washington if the film was propaganda, Washington shot back, saying: "For me, I've always felt it's important for me to not hold back on my political beliefs because of what I do for a living. I don't think that I should have to be any less of an American because I'm an actor." But "Confirmation" insists that what Americans thought of the real Hill-Thomas hearings in 1991 is less worthy of consideration than Washington's fictionalized history.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


24 April, 2016

A touching moment:  The people of Paris applauding their police

The police have never been popular in France but, four days after the Charlie Hebdo massacre - 11 January, 2015 -- something extraordinary happened.  There was national unity rally. The police escorted  families and relatives of the victims through the streets of Paris. And people filled the streets to show their sympathy for the the victims and demonstrate their support for the police.

The crowd parts. There are women running - some of them laughing.  And then, police - in vans and on foot. Their black rubber shoulder protection giving them the kind of silhouettes usually associated with science fiction heroes. And the crowd starts to chant, "Merci, merci" - Thank you, thank you.

"I couldn't believe it," says Jean-Marc Berliere who was there. "Here was a young, urban, intellectual crowd applauding the police! I saw women giving them flowers. I saw people shaking their hands. I saw women kissing them. And you could see how moved the police were. It was so unexpected."

Three of the victims in the Charlie Hebdo and kosher supermarket attacks were police officers, and the live TV coverage of their colleagues storming the shop to save hostages led many to see them as heroes.

SOURCE (Edited)


It is the Trumpkins they fear

Don Surber

Donald Trump was a bundler who raised lots of money for McCain and Romney, men who seem honorable. Yet they turned their back on Trump and actually worked to block his nomination. Theories abound as to why that may be. I will offer this one: It is not that Trump is about to be elected president -- it is about the people who will elect him. McCain outright called them "crazies."

The hoi polloi scare the foie gras out of the hoity-toity who run this nation.

This is an idea I have toyed with off and on as I write my book on this nomination. I began by thinking Trump's critics in the media live in a bubble -- you know the usual stereotype of Pauline Kael covering politics. But as Trump rose and nears the nomination, that mask fell. Never Trump is not about him. It is about us, his supporters. Kevin Williamson of the National Review pleasured his bosses at the National Review by writing, in his "Father Fuhrer" piece last month, that rural towns that white people live in deserve to die. He is from Amarillo, so he can get away with this, right?

Just as Obamacare's destruction of the nation's health system was by design, not accident, so we see the results of free trade and illegal immigration are not unintended consequences, but rather by design. Their message to America is:
Wages are lower as is the standard of living in America, but hey, you can get an iPhone for $399, so what are you complaining about? You're an ingrate who hates capitalism and the free market, you damned Marxist.

Die, rural white America, die.  More to the point: Die, Poca, die. [Poca is a small town in West Virginia]

What bothers Washington is Trump is the worst presidential candidate in American history and yet he is winning and will win the White House because the people have had enough of the race-baiting politics of division in America and appeasement overseas. That shows the power of a people who are the last group you can mock in a politically correct nation. They are rising. His message resonates because it comes not from him but from the people. He heard you. We hear you. Soon the whole world will hear from us.

That is what soils the underwear in Washington.

Vanity Fair had a piece on the fallout from New York:
Rich Americans still have it pretty good. I don’t mean everything’s perfect: business regulations can be burdensome; Manhattan zoning can prevent the addition of a town-house floor; estate taxes kick in at over $5 million. But life is acceptable. Barack Obama has not imposed much hardship, and neither will Hillary Clinton.

And what about Donald Trump? Will rich people suffer if he is elected president? Well, yes. Yes, they will. Because we all will. But that’s a pat answer, because Trump and Trumpism are different things. Trump is an erratic candidate who brings chaos to everything. Trumpism, on the other hand, is the doctrine of a different Republican Party, one that would cater not to the donor class, but rather to the white working class. Rich people do not like that idea.

Yesterday’s primary handed victories to Trump and Clinton, and, if Michael Lind is right, Trumpism and Clintonism are America’s future. Lind’s point, which he made last Sunday in The New York Times, is that Trumpism — friendly to entitlements, unfriendly to expanded trade and high immigration — will be the platform of the Republican Party in the years going forward. Clintonism — friendly both to business and to social and racial liberalism — will cobble together numerous interest groups and ditch the white working class. Which might be fair enough, but Lind didn't mention rich people. Where will they go?

The Democratic Party has not been a total slouch, offering policies friendly to health-care executives, entertainment moguls, and tech titans. In fact, financial support for Democrats among the 1 percent of the 1 percent has risen dramatically, more than trebling since 1980. Traditionally, though, the Republican Party has been seen as the better friend to the wealthy, offering lower taxes, fewer business regulations, generous defense contracts, increased global trade, high immigration, and resistance to organized labor. It’s been the buddy of homebuilders, oil barons, defense contractors, and other influential business leaders.

The article went on to say: "In a world of Trumpism and Clintonism, Democrats would become the party of globalist-minded elites, both economic and cultural, while Republicans would become the party of the working class. Democrats would win backing from those who support expanded trade and immigration, while Republicans would win the support of those who prefer less of both. Erstwhile neocons would go over to Democrats (as they are already promising to do), while doves and isolationists would stick with Republicans. Democrats would remain culturally liberal, while Republicans would remain culturally conservative."

I doubt there is one conservative in Washington who is happy with that arrangement. Trump is bringing people to the party, but not the right kind of people. The party of the working class? Ew. And so the Conservative Commentariat fights on.

They call Trump vulgar. No profane or obscene, but vulgar. The reason is that vulgar means of the common people, which is the last thing they want for their little party.

Which is why they hope to hell Hillary Clinton wins and saves their insider jobs.



Trump Vs. The Banana Republicans


There’s a difference between (small r) republican principles and the Republican Party’s rules of procedure. But National Review neoconservative Jonah Goldberg doesn’t see it.

Or, maybe Goldberg is using America’s founding, governing principles to piggyback the Republican Party’s oft revised and rigged rules to respectability.

Conservatives who harbor the quaint expectation that voters, not party operatives, would choose the nominee stand accused by Goldberg of fetishizing unfiltered democracy.

“America is a republic not a simple democracy,” says Goldberg, in motivating for Grand Old Party chicanery.

Goldberg’s argument is a cunning but poor one. It confuses bureaucratic rules with higher principles: the republicanism of America’s Constitution makers.

Through a Bill of Rights and a scheme that divides authority between autonomous states and a national government, American federalism aimed to secure the rights of the individual by imposing strict limits on the power of thumping majorities and a central government.

The Goldberg variations on republicanism won’t wash. The Republican Party’s arbitrary rules relate to the Founding Founders’ republicanism as the Romney Rule relates to veracity.

The Romney initiated Rule 40(b) is a recent addition to the Republican Party rule book. It stipulates that in order to win the nomination, a candidate must demonstrate he has earned a majority of delegates from at least eight different states. Rule 40 (b) was passed post-haste to thwart libertarian candidate Ron Paul.

Party crooks and their lawyers now find themselves in a pickle, because Governor John Kasich, candidate for the establishment (including the New York Times and the Huffington Post), has yet to meet the Republican rule du jour.

So, what do The Rulers do? They plan to change the rules. Again.

Pledged delegates are not supposed to act as autonomous agents. Their voting has to be tethered to the candidate whom voters have overwhelmingly chosen. But not when The Party parts company with The Voters. Then, delegates might find themselves unmoored from representing the voters.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus has hinted at allowing pledged delegates the freedom to betray their pledge.

No doubt, the villainous Ben Ginsberg, the Romney campaign’s chief counsel, will be called on to facilitate the Faustian bargain. Ginsberg lewdly revealed to a repulsed crew at MSNBC how he could make mischief with Trump’s delegates, during the “pre-convention” wheeling-and-dealing stage, much as he did with Ron Paul’s delegates. Host Rachel Maddow—she’s vehemently opposed—appeared both fascinated and appalled, as were her co-hosts.

Republican Party apparatchiks have always put The Party over The People and The People are on to them.

Still, most media—with the laudable exceptions of Sean Hannity and the MSNBC election-coverage team—have united to portray the Republican Party apparatus as an honest broker on behalf of the Republican voter. (Indeed, the “dreaded” Donald has forced some unlikely partners to slip between the sheets together.)

In truth, the GOP is a tool of scheming operatives, intent on running a candidate of their own choosing.

The sheer force of Trump, however, is deforming this political organ out of shape. The Trump Force is exposing for all to see the ugly underbelly of the party delegate system. As party rules go, an American may cast his vote for a candidate, only to have a clever party functionary finagle the voter out of his vote.

Too chicken to admit this to Sean Hannity’s face, Reince Priebus has said as much to friendlies like Wisconsin radio host Charlie Sykes (who’s having a moment).

Priebus has finally seconded what his lieutenants have been telling media all along: “This is a nomination for the Republican Party. If you don’t like the party,” then tough luck. “The party is choosing a nominee.”

Before Priebus came out as a crook, there was popular Nebraska Republican Senator Ben Sasse. As a “real” conservative, Sasse would like nothing more than to dissolve the Republican voter base and elect another, more compliant segment of supporters, to better reflect his ideas (a sentiment floated, in 1953, by Stalinist playwright Bertolt Brecht, when East Berliners revolted against their Communist Party bosses).

Sasse phrased his goals more diplomatically:

“The American people deserve better than two fundamentally dishonest New York liberals” (Mr. Trump and Hillary Clinton).

It fell to MSNBC’s Chuck Todd to put Sasse on the spot:

Let me ask you this. If you have—what is a political party? And I ask it this way. Is it a, is it a party who [sic] gets its principles and its ideals from its leaders, or is it ground up? What if this is the people speaking and the people are basically handing the nomination to Trump? You may not like it, but is it then fundamentally that the Republican party is changing because the people that are members of it have changed?

Sasse, who speaks the deceptive language of fork-tongued conservatives so much better than Trump, conceded that “a political party is a tool, not a religion,” but went on, nevertheless, to dictate his terms to the base:

“Find the right guy.” Trump’s not it.

Exposed by the force of the Trump uprising, this is the ugly, Republican, elections-deciding system. The Constitution has nothing to do with it. Decency and fairness are missing from it. And crooks abound in it. (Prattle about who is and who’s not an authentic conservative is redundant if you’re a crook fixing to steal the nomination.)

Contra Goldberg, this enervating Party Machine—operating on state, national and conventional levels—relates to small r republicanism as the Republican Party rulebook relates to the U.S. Constitution: not at all.

Party Rules have no constitutional imprimatur.

In a banana republic, despots deploy crude tactics to retain power. Banana Republicans are similar, except they hide behind a complex electoral process, maneuvered by high-IQ crooks.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


22 April, 2016

A Leftist view of patriotism

The Left can't help it.  They just cannot see straight.  The academic article below by Israeli academic Gal Ariely starts out by standing reality on its head.  He is perfectly right in saying that in recent years in America there has been a "more pronounced tendency towards suppressing civil liberties and critical voices".  But who is responsible for that? 

America has been undergoing quite spectacular attempts by Leftists endeavouring to squash Christianity in general and rejection of homosexuality in particular so is  Dr. Ariely blaming the Left for speech suppression?  Far from it.  He says the guilty ones are patriots!  Patriots these days are usually conservatives so Dr Arielya has got the boot on precisely the wrong foot!  For a HUGE chronology of Leftist censorship activities, see here

The whole aim of his article is to discredit patriotism. But there is nothing wrong with patriotism.  It is the Leftist distortion of patriotism -- nationalism -- that is the problem. Orwell understood the distinction between the two:

"There is a habit of mind which is now so widespread that it affects our thinking on nearly every subject, but which has not yet been given a name. As the nearest existing equivalent I have chosen the word ‘nationalism’, but it will be seen in a moment that I am not using it in quite the ordinary sense, if only because the emotion I am speaking about does not always attach itself to what is called a nation — that is, a single race or a geographical area. It can attach itself to a church or a class, or it may work in a merely negative sense, against something or other and without the need for any positive object of loyalty.

By ‘nationalism’ I mean first of all the habit of assuming that human beings can be classified like insects and that whole blocks of millions or tens of millions of people can be confidently labelled ‘good’ or ‘bad’(1). But secondly — and this is much more important — I mean the habit of identifying oneself with a single nation or other unit, placing it beyond good and evil and recognising no other duty than that of advancing its interests.

Nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism. Both words are normally used in so vague a way that any definition is liable to be challenged, but one must draw a distinction between them, since two different and even opposing ideas are involved. By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality"

So how does Dr Ariely demonize patriotism?   He shows that in economically advanced societies, patriotism tends to be low but in impoverished and strife-ridden societies it tends to be high.  In a cautious academic way, he draws from that the entirely perverse conclusion that patriotism is in general a bad thing EVEN IN COUNTRIES WHERE IT IS LOW.  He does not consider that patriotism in affluent countries might be the unproblematic residuum of an often mixed phenomenon.

So the final sentence of his article makes no distinctions about patriotism:  "This study suggests that national pride is related to a less attractive environment than its advocates tend to assume".  He clearly thinks patriotism is all the same, wherever it is found.  No nuance there.  I suppose all men are equal as well.

The Israeli Left are certainly a poisonous lot.  Excerpt only below

Why does patriotism prevail? Contextual explanations of patriotism across countries


Addressing the normative and empirical debate regarding the nature of patriotism, this paper examines the social contexts in which patriotism – defined here as an expression of national pride – thrives. Combining diverse theoretical explanations, it investigates whether expressions of patriotism are related to globalization, state function, social fractionalization and conflict. A multilevel regression analysis of data from 93 countries led to three principal findings. First, citizens of more developed and globalized countries are less likely to be proud of their country. Second, citizens are more likely to be patriotic in countries characterized by higher levels of income inequality and religiously homogeneity. Third, citizens of countries exposed to direct conflict – that is, suffering terror and causalities from external conflict – tend to exhibit higher levels of national pride. Patriotism frequently being identified as a mandatory political commodity, these results suggest that, overall, patriotism forms part of a less attractive matrix than its advocates tend to assume.


The rise in patriotism in the United States following 9/11 has led to two trends – a stronger sense of solidarity and civic engagement, the ‘we’ becoming more important than the ‘me’ (Skocpol 2002; Sander and Putnam 2010), on the one hand, and a more pronounced tendency towards suppressing civil liberties and critical voices on the other. These different outcomes reflect the long-standing debate concerning the nature of patriotism, conventionally defined as love for and attachment to one’s nation (Bar Tal and Staub 1997; Kosterman and Feshbach 1989).


An overall pattern nonetheless emerges. By and large, higher levels of patriotism occur in countries whose citizens are worse off. In societies that form part of the globalized community, enjoy more income equality and are not subject to the threat of terror or external conflict, patriotism levels appear to be lower. Taking into account the fact that politicians, pundits and philosophers frequently describe patriotism as a mandatory political commodity, this study suggests that national pride is related to a less attractive environment than its advocates tend to assume.



Sanders Is Just Another Tax-Evading Liberal Hypocrite

Bernie Sanders has won the hearts of basement-dwelling socialists everywhere with his angry, septuagenarian rants against the evils of capitalism and the greedy One-Percent, his denunciation and vilification of America’s top earners and producers, and a market system he deems “unfair” to the poor and the middle class (he actually once argued that there are poor kids in America because consumers have too many choices of deodorant).

Sanders has also repeatedly criticized anyone who takes advantage of standard tax deductions in order to lower their taxable income, and therefore their effective tax rate. His campaign website states, “We need a progressive tax system in this country which is based on the ability to pay. It is not acceptable that corporate CEOs in this country often enjoy an effective tax rate which is lower than their secretaries.”

Sadly, socialist hero Sanders turns out to be just another garden-variety, hypocritical, tax-evading liberal/progressive. He has perfected the art of the very tax avoidance he claims is immoral. Having spent much of his adult life on unemployment, and occasionally “working” by writing “rape fantasy” for leftist birdcage liners for $50 a pop, plus a brief but failed stint as a carpenter, Sanders avoided paying income taxes for decades by not holding a steady job until he was 40. And when he finally did get a job, it was a government job — he was elected mayor of Burlington, Vermont. He then went on to win election as the only openly socialist member of Congress, where he has been ever since.

Yet even as he rages against the capitalist machine, he indulges in the very acts he condemns. Last week, Sanders released his 2014 income tax return, and it was quite revealing. It shows that Sanders and his wife, with a combined income of $205,271, paid just $27,653 in federal income taxes after taking more than $60,000 in deductions for things like home mortgage interest, real estate taxes, state and local taxes and job-related expenses. This gave him an effective tax rate of just 13.5%, lower than the 15.2% he would have paid had he not taken the deductions, and far lower than the 27.4% rate paid by the “millionaires and billionaires” in this country (according to the IRS, the exorbitant tax rate for “millionaires and billionaires” kicks in for people making as little as $200,000/year).

With an annual income over $200,000, lavish congressional benefits, and two homes (one in Vermont, one in DC), Sanders is far wealthier than the average American struggling just to make ends meet. So, one might ask, with such a level of comfortable wealth, and no children depending on him, why is he trying to weasel out of paying his “fair share”?

Of course, we already know the answer: abject hypocrisy. To quote George Orwell’s socialist utopian novel Animal Farm, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” For hard-core leftists like Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and their greedy followers, being a good socialist means never having to say you’re sorry for using government force to take from your neighbor, while simultaneously hiding as much of your own wealth from taxation as possible.

That’s how Joe Biden could keep a straight face while saying we should be happy about paying higher taxes because, “It’s time to be patriotic,” even though he took every deduction available to him while giving a total of just $369 to charity over an entire decade. It’s why Rep. Charlie Rangel, who once chaired the tax-policy writing House Ways and Means Committee, can demand higher taxes and more government spending while hiding income from luxury rental property in the Dominican Republic. It’s how former Treasury Secretary Tim “Turbo Tax” Geithner can demand more taxes while being an admitted tax cheat. It’s how Secretary of State John Kerry (who lives in Massachusetts) can lecture us, the unwashed masses, on the need to sacrifice more of our money at the altar of confiscatory taxation while registering his luxury yacht in neighboring Rhode Island, helping him avoid a one-time sales tax of $437,500 on his $7 million yacht, plus the $70,000 annual excise taxes he’d have had to pay (then again, why should he care? He got his money by marrying the widow of Republican Senator H. John Heinz III of the Heinz food fortune; it wasn’t even his money).

Former Senator Tom Daschle (D-SD), former Governor Bill Richardson (D-NM), Nancy Killefer (Obama nominee for Deputy Director of OMB), Hilda Solis (former Obama Labor Secretary), Ron Kirk (Obama appointee as White House chief trade representative), and literally dozens of Obama administration appointees and aides owed massive amounts of back taxes, and many still do.

Even wealthy liberal businessmen like Warren Buffett, Mark Zuckerberg, George Lucas, Jim Sinegal, and Sergey Brin, who routinely lecture us on the virtues of higher taxation, use every trick at their disposal to lower their effective tax rates or hide taxable income, or just refuse to pay all their taxes.

Liberal Democrats absolutely love to rage against conservatives for greedily wanting to keep more of the money they earn, and making slanderous accusations of corruption, as when former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid accused 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney of not paying taxes. Of course, Romney did release his tax returns, which revealed that he had paid every single penny of taxes owed, plus an incredibly generous amount given to a number of charities. Reid still refused to apologize for his blatant lies.

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill one said, “Socialism is the philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.” Liberal Democrats daily prove that he was spot on.



Police Shooting Fatalities: Behind the Numbers

Nearly 1,000 people were fatally shot by law enforcement last year. Of them, 948 were male, 783 brandished a deadly weapon, the victims were predominately white (494) compared to black (258), and most (353) were between the ages of 30 and 44. These are just a few of the details chronicled in a highly detailed Washington Post database that was launched when several years ago “Wesley Lowery was surprised to discover that there were no official statistics about such fatalities,” the Post says. That effort paid off. Yesterday the Post was awarded a Pulitzer Prize “[f]or its revelatory initiative in creating and using a national database to illustrate how often and why the police shoot to kill and who the victims are most likely to be.”

The Post further explains that the database “soon yielded new insights into the use of deadly force by the nation’s police officers.” It continues: “The data showed, for example, that about one-quarter of those fatally shot had a history of mental illness; that most of those killed were white men (although unarmed African Americans were at vastly higher risk of being shot after routine traffic stops than any other group); and that 55 officers involved in fatal shootings in 2015 had previously been involved in a deadly incident while on duty. Another important finding: The vast majority (74 percent) of people shot and killed by police were armed, and killed after attacking police officers or civilians. This finding countered the impression left by several high-profile fatalities that police routinely use excessive force [emphasis added].”

As Reason notes, the database is already leading to reforms, which is a good thing because some police departments desperately need it. But on the flip side, crime is increasing countrywide because of the Ferguson Effect. It’s not often we get to say this, but this award seems appropriate, and the Post’s project will hopefully help strike a balance. Probably 99% of these police shootings were justified, but police aren’t above accountability either. The biggest question remains though: Even though we now have hard evidence, will the grievance industry actually weigh the facts in lieu of their prejudices?



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


21 April, 2016

Vote the Platform, Not the Man(ner)

Recently, I’ve been corresponding with a friend on the ever-contentious subject of Donald Trump, a man whom my interlocutor finds objectionable on both political and personal grounds. Political positions can be discussed and debated even if they do not produce agreement or compromise, but a personal animadversion cannot be met with argument. My correspondent considers Trump an unreconstructed vulgarian, loud, ill-mannered and abrasive, all of which apparently render him unfit for office. He simply cannot vote for a man he dislikes.

Personal liking is one of the least reliable criteria for voting. The election of Barack Obama to the presidency is surely proof positive that affection for a political figure—the love affair with Obama was a national phenomenon—can result in unmitigated disaster. The same is true of personal dislike, which may often lead to the rejection of the best, or least worst, candidates for political office.

In Canada’s recent federal election, former PM Stephen Harper was vilified in the press and held in contempt by the majority of the electorate as a dangerous and unsavory character. He was rumoured to harbor a “secret agenda,” though nobody could say what it was. He was denounced as a brooding egotist and a control freak. He was viewed as unsympathetic to the marginalized and disadvantaged, stingy with entitlements, unimpressed by the claims of the arts community for ever greater government largesse, and generally hostile to Canada’s growing and increasingly clamorous Islamic community.

The fact that he steered the country safely through the market crash of 2008, signed lucrative international trade deals, kept taxes down, reduced the GST (Goods and Services Tax) and provided the country with a balanced budget plainly counted for nothing. His emendation of citizenship protocols in an effort to check the spread of culturally barbaric practices, chiefly associated with Islam, counted against him. At the end of the day, he was simply unlikeable, he was “Harperman,” and he had to go.

Instead, Canadians fell in love with Justin Trudeau, easily the most unqualified prime ministerial candidate since Confederation (there have been many duds, eccentrics and charlatans, but Trudeau is in a category of his own). He was young, personable, wavy-haired, utterly innocuous and adroit at spouting platitudes. Women found him attractive, millennials recognized one of their own, and he embraced all the feel-good big-spending fads and sophistries of welfare socialism. In short, people found him immensely likeable, the polar opposite of the straitlaced, parsimonious Harper.

The consequences were not long in coming. Trudeau has been in office for half a year, more than enough time to engineer the rapid deterioration of a once-prosperous and relatively secure nation. He has brought in 25,000 “Syrians” and is aiming for many thousands more, all living off the public dole and no doubted salted with aspiring jihadists. He intends to build mosques (which he calls “religious centers”) on military bases and is re-accrediting Muslim terror-affiliated organizations that Harper defunded. He inherited Harper’s balanced budget and in just a few short months was busy at work racking up a $29.4 billion deficit. Not to worry, since Trudeau is on record saying that budgets balance themselves. Magic is afoot. All one need do is continue believing in the Ministry of Silly Walks and the nation will stride ever forward.

According to a March 18, 2016 Ipsos poll, 66 per cent of Canadians approve of his performance. A boilerplate article by Jake Horowitz for Policy.Mic represents the general attitude of appreciation. In his meeting with Barack Obama, Horowitz writes, “it was Trudeau's tone of optimism, and his embrace of a style of politics marked by positivity, inclusion and equality, that truly shined [sic] through. Practically everything about his values comes in stark contrast to what we've heard from Republican front-runner Donald Trump, who has dominated the 2016 election cycle with divisiveness, anger and fear-mongering.”

Often commentators will seek to buttress their personal liking or disliking on the basis of presumed intellectual substance. Despite his success in business, his knowledge of practical economics and international finance, and his instinctive recognition of what is needed in a country beset by astronomical deficits, trade imbalances and catastrophic immigration problems, Trump is frequently dismissed as an ignoramus. “Trump doesn't read,” says David Goldman. “He brags about his own ignorance. Journalist Michael d'Antonio interviewed Trump at his New York home and told a German newspaper: ‘What I noticed immediately in my first visit was that there were no books… huge palace and not a single book.’”

On the other hand, we are told that Justin Trudeau reads. According to Jonathan Kay, formerly letters editor at The National Post and currently editor of The Walrus, who assisted Trudeau in writing the Canadian Prime Minister’s memoir Common Ground, “I can report that Trudeau is very much an un-boob. Several of our interviews took place in his home study, which is lined with thousands of books…We spoke at length about the Greek classics his father had foisted upon him as a child…and the policy-oriented fare he now reads as part of his life in politics…Trudeau probably reads more than any other politician I know.”

Kay never mentions that this intellectual giant failed to complete the two university degrees for which he had enrolled, earned his chops as a substitute instructor at the high school level, and inherited a formidable financial estate from his famous father, former Canadian PM Pierre Trudeau. He has done nothing with his life except preen and posture for the public—a “shiny pony,” as journalist Ezra Levant has dubbed him. Trump on the other hand received an inheritance and turned it into one of the world’s major fortunes. As New English Review editor Rebecca Bynum points out, “the businessman from Queens understands the American working people better than the Harvard man from Texas or the mailman’s son from Ohio. He speaks in plain English to describe the incompetence, and yes, the stupidity of those currently in power, who could not have harmed our country any more if they had had outright malicious intent.”

The Harper case was anomalous. He was an evidently accomplished man, trained in economics (unlike Trudeau, he completed his university program), a stalwart Canadian who wrote a book on our national sport, A Great Game: The Forgotten Leafs & the Rise of Professional Hockey, (unlike Trudeau’s memoir, there was no Kay-like ectoplasm to assist in its composition) and was deeply interested in the Franklin Expedition and the lore of the Canadian North. And he was a reader. Nevertheless, Canadian novelist Yann Martel mocked Harper in a series of letters collected into a book, 101 Letters to a Prime Minister, condescendingly lecturing Harper on what he should read, with the implication (sometimes explicit) that Harper saw nothing but the financial bottom line and was a man without imagination, heart or a vision for the country larger than trade deals and tax policy. (Martel is evidently a prehensile reader, having discovered an obscure novella by the Argentine writer Moacyr Scliar, Max and the Cats, which arguably formed the plagiarized occasion for his own Life of Pi. Not the man to instruct the PM.) In any event, under a relentless media barrage the public came to see Harper as a rigid martinet. In the 2015 election, he never had a chance.

Harper was regarded by the press and a plurality of Canadians pretty much as Trump is currently viewed by establishment Republicans, sanctimonious conservatives and a partisan media, for whom The Donald has become politically non grata, a “reptile” in Andrew Klavan’s distemperate rhetoric. Trump’s dilemma is that he has refused to be housebroken. He is certainly a flawed human being, but I have never known one who wasn’t.

So let us now compare. Trump has pledged to set the U.S. on a sound economic footing, prevent the flow of illegal migrants across the southwestern border, limit Islamic immigration into the country, and restore America’s diminished prestige and might on the international stage. But he is, we are told, a boor, a plebeian, a crass opportunist, a know-nothing who doesn’t read. “Donald Trump may not be perfect,”  Bynum agrees, “but at least he will clean house.” All the more reason, it appears, for the virulence and disparagement with which he has been met. The bien pensants dislike him with a vehemence that does them little honor.

On the other hand, Trudeau, as we’ve seen, has plunged his country into deficit, has imported thousands of Muslims who will swell the welfare rolls and generate social unrest, as is inevitable wherever Muslims begin to multiply, withdrawn Canadian forces from the campaign against ISIS, and filled his cabinet with highly questionable personnel—women simply because they are women, such as the lamentably dense Chrystia Freeland, Minister of International Trade (who disgraced herself on the Bill Maher show), and doddering retreads like Immigration Minister John McCallum. But Trudeau is suave, telegenic, blandly inoffensive—and he reads. People like him with a passion that also does them little honor.

Would any sane person choose a Trudeau-type figure over a Harper or a Trump to lead their country into a problematic future? The larger issue is whether any reasonable person should predicate his voting preference on personal liking or disliking. Trudeau is intellectually vapid, has the wrong instincts, and is unlearnable. But he is liked. As for Trump, I am not suggesting that he would be a better choice than Cruz may be or Rubio may have been, though I suspect he might. He still has much to learn about the intricacies and priorities of governing and about looking “presidential.” What matters is that a candidate for political office is smart, has the right instincts, and is willing to learn. I believe Trump qualifies in these respects. Disliking him is beside the point.

Writing for The Federalist, Timm Amundson acknowledges that Trump can be rude, arrogant and reckless, and asks: “How can a principled, pragmatic, deliberate conservative be drawn to such a candidate?” And answers: “It is because I believe conservatism doesn’t stand a chance in this country without first delivering a very heavy dose of populism,” that is, “a platform built largely on the principle of economic nationalism...focus[ing] on three primary policy areas: trade, defense, and immigration.” This is Trump’s bailiwick.

To approve or disapprove of a candidate on the basis of his or her social and economic platform is wholly legitimate, is at least theoretically open to debate and constitutes a sensible basis for choice. If you believe, as Amundson does, that the core populist platform is the surest way “for America to begin rebuilding her neglected middle class and restoring her sovereignty,” then cast your ballot appropriately. The Overton Window is closing fast.



Trump: Rethink Outdated Alliances

Love him or hate him, Donald Trump has proven himself to be the most unorthodox presidential contender at this stage of the election cycle in recent memory. The term “unorthodox” is value-neutral, of course, a designation neither good nor bad, but rather simply indicating a great divergence from the norm. On one policy issue, however, Trump’s unusual stance is a strong positive, according to Independent Institute Senior Fellow Ivan Eland: The call for rethinking U.S. participation in NATO and the American security commitment to Japan and South Korea is long overdue.

Two facts make an American military pullback especially worthy of serious consideration: The end of the Cold War removed the original rationale for NATO, and the $19 billion U.S. national debt justifies slashing all non-essential federal expenditures. If the next president instead chooses to “stay the course” by maintaining our military alliances with wealthy partners in Northern Europe and East Asia, he or she will be keeping Americans at grave risk while providing them with little if any reward.

“Thus, upon deeper analysis, even Trump’s seemingly extreme notion of allowing prosperous allies to take over more of their own defense by getting nuclear weapons doesn’t seem so irrational,” Eland writes. “The United States simply can no longer afford to provide security for countries that don’t even fully open their markets to U.S. exports.”



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


20 April, 2016

Another endorsement of Trump from the Left

James Petras is a retired NY Professor of Sociology and as far-Left as you would expect from that.  In his angry tirade below, he says The Donald is just loud and that Hillary is the real criminal.  He has a point. I don't of course remotely agree with him on illegal immigration but he is correct that Trump's foreign policy is isolationist and, as such, well within the American conservative tradition. It's mostly Democrats who have sent America's young men abroad to die.  And I agree with his diagnosis of Hillary as a psychopath, though not, perhaps, for all the same reasons

Introduction: From left to right a raucous chorus has emerged to denounce Republican Presidential primary frontrunner Donald Trump as a ‘fascist’. They cite his campaign promises to build an Israeli-style wall along the US border; his threats to expel eleven million undocumented immigrants; and to restrict foreign Muslims from entering the US, as well as the way his pugnacious face and arm resemble those of Benito Mussolini (’he juts out his chin, he raises his arm’).

They decry his extreme nationalism as ‘resembling Hitler’s policy’, by which they mean his opposition to detrimental free trade agreements and his slogan to “Make America Great.. Again.”

In this article I will critically address the current cartoonish image of fascism with fascism’s historical reality, and then proceed to analyze the so-called “lesser evil” politics behind the re-invention of an American fascist in the guise of billionaire Donald Trump.

Fascism: Fact and Fiction

Historically, fascist politics involved organized mass movements, armed militia and paramilitary groups who assaulted political opponents and violently censored critical speech and suppressed the right to assemble. Fascists scapegoated minorities, especially gypsies and Jews, and burned trade unions and leftist headquarters, assassinating their leaders and beating their members. Programmatically, they attacked pacifists and defended overseas wars and empires in the name of ‘living space’. Evoking a past imperial glory, they were not ‘isolationists’.

Candidate Trump has not organized anything resembling a mass movement, let alone an armed militia. There are no ‘Trumpeting Brown Shirts’. At most, the police and a handful of his (often elderly) white supporters have punched a few KKK-dressed provocateurs who have physically disrupted and threatened Trump’s public meetings and his exercise of free speech. In fact, the ‘fascist’ disruption of democratic freedoms seems to be mostly organized and practiced by his political rivals.

Trump, far from scapegoating the powerful Jewish minority in this country, gave a shamelessly Israel-centric speech and received a standing ovation from nearly 18,000 mostly prominent Jews at the March 2016 meeting of the major pro-Israel lobby (AIPAC).

His rhetoric, concerning the expulsion of 11 million undocumented workers from Mexico and Central America and the building of a border wall, is a far cry from the practice of imprisoning and violently expelling over two million undocumented Latinos under the Clinton-Bush-Obama/Clinton regimes. At its worst, Trump promises to continue the existing federal policy on immigration and not create a ‘fascist’ rupture with past administrations. Is a ‘rhetorical cement wall’ worse than the real wall of armed border police, helicopters and armed carriers that have operated under the Presidencies of Clinton – Bush – Obama/Clinton with its hundreds of migrant deaths in the desert? Are declarations of a repressive immigration policy more ‘fascist’ coming from Trump’s loud mouth than the actual official practice of violently seizing undocumented workers from their homes and workplaces with long-term imprisonment and expulsion? Expelling youth, raised and educated in this country, or violently splitting up productive, well-integrated families and imprisoning their main breadwinners for lack of documents…that’s the official policy of the current and past three administrations.

There is far less of the truly fascist embrace of pre-emptive war and invasion in Trump’s speeches than in the actual policies pursued by the Clinton-Bush-Obama/Clinton regimes. In fact, among Trump’s numerous critics, especially his Republican rivals and the Hillary Clinton camp, we hear the loudest denunciations of his non-interventionist foreign policy (isolationism), which is “out of line” with the interventionist, overseas wars of current and past Republican and Democratic administrations. Trump’s critics and media pundits are ‘horror-struck’ at his apparent willingness to co-operate with Russian President Putin against common enemies, such as ISIS. Is his pragmatic regard of Russia more or less fascist than his rivals’ support for the Ukrainian putsch, orchestrated by the Obama regime in alliance with bona fide armed anti-Semitic Ukrainian fascists? His calls to dump NATO as an expensive drain on US treasure and manpower have the elite howling in outrage!

The propagandists, who paint Trump as a modern American fascist, cite his crude sexist remarks as ‘examples of a misogynist totalitarian’ while pointing favorably to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton as potentially the ‘first feminist President’. In regard to his alleged misogyny, ‘the Donald’ pointed to Madame First Lady, Senator and Secretary Clinton’s promotion and critical role in US wars against Libya, Iraq and Syria where well over one million women have been rendered refugees, raped, injured or killed. Which is worse, one may ask: Crude locker room jokes or millions of orphaned boys and girls denied parents, homes, education and any future in the Middle East and North Africa? That is the world Midwife Hillary Clinton had helped to deliver.

Misogyny is the in the eye of the deceiver.

Are Trump’s verbal attacks on the practice of US multi-nationals relocating abroad to avoid US taxes and Wall Street financial houses hiding billions of the US elites’ obscene wealth in offshore tax shelters, more detrimental to ‘American values’ (as charged) than Hillary Clinton’s pandering to Wall Street while pocketing over $300,000 for each 45 minute sycophantic performance (marketed as her ‘policy lectures’), or her decades of actively promoting globalization – including the US job-destroying NAFTA?

Clearly Trump currently lacks program, organization and practice that define a fascist politician. At the very worst, he parrots the general line of attack against immigrants and Muslims. So far he would just bar them from the US but not bomb them ‘to the stone-age’. This should be contrasted with the actual policies carried out by the war-criminals Clinton/Bush/Obama-Clinton. It would be hard for Donald to ‘trump’ Hillary when she threatened to ‘obliterate Iran’ and its scores of millions of citizens because of Iran’s fictitious ‘nuclear program’.

On the other hand, Trump’s own meetings and rallies have been the victim of repeated disruption by organized groups acting like fascist thugs. Role reversal in real life: Trump, the target of rabid sustained mass media attacks, is pronounced the fascist …

Bashing Trump: Backdoor Backing of Hillary the Militarist Psychopath

If the objective case for labeling Trump ‘a fascist’ is weak or non-existent, why do so many prestigious academics and journalists play this stupid game of name-calling?

The commonsense explanation of their ruffled bluster is because they are setting up ‘Trump-the- Straw-Dragon’ in order to promote the poisonous Madame Secretary Hillary Clinton as the ‘lesser evil candidate’ for President of the United States.

No serious observer minimally aware of Clinton’s carnal embrace of multiple simultaneous disastrous and destructive wars in Ukraine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria and Libya, could possibly support her – unless if they are convinced that a greater danger looms on the horizon and “we have to defeat fascist Trump at all cost”? No serious democrat or wage and salaried employee can ignore Madame Clinton’s role as Wall Street’s most shameless pimp unless they ‘believe’ that a loud-mouth New York ‘fascist is worse than Wall Street’.

The phony scaremongering about Trump’s “fascism” just serves to cover up Clinton’s most servile promotion of traitorous wars for the benefit of Israel. One should envision the thousands of desperate Syrian refugees clinging to decrepit boats in the Mediterranean when reading excerpts of Clinton’s private e-mails: According to WikiLeaks, Hillary declared that “the best way to help Israel deal with Iran’s growing nuclear capability (sic) is to help (sic) the people of Syria overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad. … The fall of the House of Assad could well ignite a sectarian war between the Shiites and the majority Sunnis of the region drawing in Iran, which, in the view of Israeli commanders would not be a bad thing for Israel and its Western allies”. Not a bad thing for Israel – but a cruel and criminal policy against a sovereign nation and multi-ethnic society. Madame Clinton followed through with these demented pronouncements, which can only be viewed as genocidal! Clinton promoted the most violent proxy war, uprooting over half of the civilian population of Syria and killing hundreds of thousands, while shredding a sovereign nation. She thus pandered to her Israeli mentors and Pluto-Zionist funders.

To justify backing a serial war monger, a US Secretary of State who has served Israel’s interests, and a politician who has carnalized her ‘feminist principles’ with Wall Street billionaires, Hillary Clinton’s smarmy supporters have had to invent an opponent who is even worse: Creating and then denouncing “Trump the Fascist” serves as a backdoor justification for supporting a proven political psychopath!



Want to win in November? Save voters from Obamazoning

Whether you are a presidential candidate or someone seeking an office at the local level, there is an issue that resonates with people across the nation, a Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) regulatory overreach destroys local control of zoning laws.

President Obama’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing regulation conditions more than $3 billion of community development block grants on redrawing maps to override local zoning laws using the warped logic that lack of racial and income diversity is proof in itself of racial discrimination.

This is the great sleeper issue of 2016.

Suburban voters work very hard to maintain their standard of living, and choose to avoid the societal dysfunction that is pervasive in liberal-ran urban centers. To arbitrarily export inner city residents to newly constructed government housing built against those communities’ wills violates a sense of fair play, as residents worked hard to form communities without the crime and decay found in the city.

Once informed that these policies will devalue their property and make their community less safe, the issue becomes an existential threat to a suburban community’s way of life, and residents there will support policies and policymakers who will defend their interests.

Westchester County, where none other than Hillary Clinton resides, was the guinea pig for this federal zoning takeover and Republican County Executive Rob Astorino has been attacking it statewide in New York for more than half a decade.  Astorino has won twice in this heavily Democrat county due to his strong opposition to the HUD low-income housing zoning imposition.

Talk Radio hosts Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin have publically inveighed against the HUD rule since 2014, attacking the Obama Administration’s radical restructuring of local zoning laws to move heavily Democrat urban dwellers into suburban communities. Levin has done so as recently as last month, so the issue is ripe particularly for conservative voters who have already been familiarized via media gatekeepers they trust.

What’s more the issue is now percolating strongly in Baltimore County, Maryland where the county is being forced by HUD to build 1,000 low income units under HUD’s twisted legal theory.

But this issue constitutes a real threat to suburban voters beyond just New York and Maryland. About 1,200 counties and cities accept federal community development block grants every single year, all who will suddenly be forced by the feds who tell them where and who to house those who have been failed by liberal urban policies.

This issue is great for contrast, illustrates federal overreach and literally hits voters where they live. It is a motivating issue, and is an opportunity for the candidate or campaign that acts upon it.

The short term solution would be to reject the community block grants that impose this onerous requirement. This will cost lager communities far more than it will cost smaller ones, as the grants range from the thousands of dollars to millions. In the long term, local, state and federal candidates should cultivate voters and put this issue to constituents to achieve a mandate against Washington, D.C. bureaucrats micromanaging their neighborhoods.

No issue is more powerful at the local level than zoning.  All roads, schools and shopping centers are built around planning concepts that are the subject of intense local political debate.  Obama’s HUD rule overrides all those decisions because arrogant officials in Washington are looking at a census map and decide that non-racially and income diverse areas must be racist.

Right thinking candidates across the nation would be insane not to take up this issue. Suburban residents, some of who voted for the very administration that threatens their communities, will be forced to come to terms with the reality of their vote.

In an act of contrition for some and an act of preservation by all, voters should support candidates that will stand against this vile abuse of power by HUD. Candidates on the ballot this November for federal office have never had a better opportunity to stand up for their constituents and stick it to D.C. central planners.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


19 April, 2016

Trump’s refreshing foreign policy heresy

By Left-leaning journalist Stephen Kinzer, writing in the Boston Globe

THANK YOU, TRUMP! That does not roll trippingly off the tongue. There is ample reason to be terrified of Donald Trump’s possible ascension to the presidency. Yet because he has dared to question ossified principles of our foreign policy, he deserves our gratitude.

Trump steadfastly refuses to accept the world affairs catechism that President Obama recently called "the Washington playbook." This has spread panic through the inbred American foreign policy establishment. It is a delight to watch.

The "Washington playbook" posits a series of delusional principles that are not only outdated, but undermine America’s national security. Our leaders reflexively genuflect before these false idols: The world is in endless conflict between good and evil; people everywhere look to the United States to fight for the good; and this fight must be waged with force or the threat of force, since only force can crush evil.

Trump is the first serious presidential candidate in this century who appears not to have read the playbook, or not to care what it says. Many of his foreign policy pronouncements sound somewhere between ignorant and scary. Others, however, are astonishingly realistic. Regardless of how this campaign ends, it will be remembered at least in part for Trump’s willingness to reject stale foreign policy dogma.

Instead of denouncing President Vladimir Putin of Russia, Trump proposes to treat him as a reasonable negotiating partner. He has dared to suggest that the United States should be neutral between Israel and the Palestinians. Asked about our commitment to defend Japan and South Korea against all threats forever, he replied, "There is going to be a point at which we just can’t do this anymore." For good measure he added, "We spend billions of dollars on Saudi Arabia, and they have nothing but money. And I say, why?"

Trump also sees the foolishness of maintaining commercial sanctions on Iran while other countries lift them, which prevents American companies from competing for giant contracts like the ones Iran will soon sign to buy hundreds of new civilian airliners. "We give them the money, and we now say, ‘Go buy Airbus instead of Boeing,’?" he reasons. "So how stupid is that?"

Trump’s view of the horrific war in Syria is equally logical. He describes our policy of fighting Bashar Assad’s government as "madness and idiocy." Pointing out what should now be obvious, he adds, "Our far greater problem is not Assad. It’s ISIS." This raises the prospect that under President Trump, the United States would abandon its efforts to depose Assad and focus on the real enemy in Syria.

Nor would Trump send American troops to confront Russia over Ukraine, where the United States has no vital interest. "Ukraine is a country that affects us far less than it affects other countries," he reasons. "Why are we always the one that’s leading potentially the third world war, OK, with Russia?"

Trump has even had the temerity to describe NATO, the first peacetime military alliance the United States ever joined, as obsolete. "It was really designed for the Soviet Union, which doesn’t exist anymore," he said last month. "It wasn’t designed for terrorism. . . . A new institution, maybe, would be better for that than using NATO, which was not meant for that."

These statements send a startling message to the rest of the world. Under President Trump, the gravy train would stop, or at least slow down, and Uncle Sucker would no longer subsidize other countries’ armies and send troops to defend every corrupt regime that asks. Trump has summarized American security policy in these trenchant few words: "We defend everybody. When in doubt, come to the United States. We’ll defend you — in some cases, free of charge."

Trump’s alternative is to declare, "We can’t be the policemen to the world." Rather than list all the places in the world where he wants to intervene, he asks, "Why is it always the United States that gets right in the middle of things?"

This apostasy is direct rebellion against the Republican/Democrat, liberal/conservative consensus on foreign policy. That consensus is based on the principle that policing the world is the essence of America’s providential mission, and that chaos will ensue if we stop. Left unspoken is the fear that defense contractors would lose huge amounts of money if the United States stopped waging endless wars and arming countries that do not have our interests at heart. Trump challenges not only Washington politicians and think tanks, but also the plutocrats who bankroll them and foreign regimes that see the United States as an inexhaustible source of cash.

Trump’s heresy is wonderfully refreshing. Unfortunately, it must be taken along with the rest of his proposed foreign policy. Some of his positions, like his promise to renounce last year’s nuclear deal with Iran, are straight from the "Washington playbook." By demonizing Muslims and Hispanics, he alienates much of the world. His enthusiasm for torture is chilling. When he says he will "listen to the generals," he implicitly rejects diplomacy and suggests he will consult mainly with Pentagon lifers who are obsessed with finding and fighting supposed enemies.

On some days, Trump seems to reject the "regime change" paradigm and favor a foreign policy based on prudent restraint. Too often, however, he rails ignorantly against imagined enemies. He deserves thanks for sending chills down many spines in Washington.



Washington’s Bureaucracy Strikes Again

If you want to understand the corruption, deceit, and might-makes-right culture at the core of the federal government’s dysfunction and disgrace today, look no farther than the two big stories out of Washington last week.

On Monday, President Barack Obama’s Treasury Department released sweeping new regulations effectively rewriting the tax code to make it even more difficult for U.S. companies to escape the double taxation on overseas earnings currently extracted by the IRS. Rather than trying to lower the U.S. corporate income tax rate—which is the highest in the industrialized world—the Obama administration wants to make it even more costly to do business in America.

The Obama administration wants to make it even more costly to do business in America.

Not to be outdone by the economic folly of their colleagues at the Treasury Department, bureaucrats at the Department of Labor have published 1,000 pages of new regulations—collectively called "the fiduciary rule"—targeting the investment industry that will make it more expensive and less likely for low and middle-income Americans to save for their future. Working Americans already face a host of obstacles that prevent them from saving for retirement or unexpected financial hardships, and observers from across the political spectrum agree that these new regulations will only further discourage private savings.

But as harmful as these policies will be for American families and businesses trying to get ahead in a still stagnant economy, the real scandal of these new sets of rules are the flagrant abuses of power that created them.

In 2014, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said, "We do not believe we have the authority to address this inversion question through administrative action. […] That’s why legislation is needed." This was not a groundbreaking statement: Everyone in Washington knows that the Secretary of the Treasury does not have the power to unilaterally change the tax laws just because he doesn’t like them. And yet that’s exactly what he did this week, with the blessing of Obama—abandoning his constitutional scruples and betraying his respect for Congress’ rightful role in writing tax policy in order to score cheap political points.

Likewise, the secretary of labor has no legitimate authority to regulate the transactions between brokers and their retail clients as it does in its new fiduciary rule. The Dodd-Frank so-called financial reform law of 2010 explicitly authorized the Securities and Exchange Commission to perform this function. And yet, because the SEC had not yet fulfilled this mandate under Dodd-Frank, the Department of Labor stepped in to fill the regulatory void.

This is not how the American people expect their government to work, because it’s not how the federal government is supposed to work. The rules and regulations governing American society—especially those that have a major impact on our economy—must be debated and passed by elected members of Congress, not negotiated by industry insiders and unelected regulators behind closed doors in the shadowy federal bureaucracy.



Liberal Equivalent of: "Nice little family you got here. Would be a shame if something happened to them."

Moral/cultural engineering, to the liberal mind, is a piece of cake. It consists of one-way streets only: well-marked; patrolled by well-armed officers of the media, the entertainment industry and other closely linked institutions; stiff fines for violators. My way is the highway!

At present, liberal squad cars are pulling over and detaining state officials who have the temerity to advocate or enact public protections for citizens doubtful of the new orthodoxy in sexual matters — to wit, my sexuality is my affair and what’s it to you, bub?

The latest recruits to the cause are business leaders trying to burnish their social credentials by visiting, or threatening to visit, commercial retribution on states that bar use of women’s restrooms by anyone who conceives of himself/herself as a woman, despite birth as a male.

Gender "reassignment" is the nation’s trendiest cause, bolstered by the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges decision last summer, which struck down state prohibitions against same-sex marriage. So-called "bathroom laws" in various states are part of the pushback that should have been foreseen from the start. These laws ratify once-ordinary understandings of who visits which comfort facilities, never mind which sex they claim, irregularly, as their own. Similarly, the laws allow churches and private businesses to maintain long-normative understandings of who may marry. Florists and bakers, for instance, to whom the idea of a same-sex union is unwelcome, could escape legal liability for turning away the business of a same-sex couple.

The idea of "choice for everybody" lies at the heart of the "bathroom laws." However, "choice for everybody" isn’t what our liberal engineers have in mind. Their notion is choose their way: the street that goes in just one direction.

A great uproar ensued when Georgia’s legislature passed a bathroom law. See here, guys, said the National Football League, which was considering putting the 2019 Super Bowl in Atlanta. Know what we can do? We can put our bowl anywhere but Atlanta.

It was the sports equivalent of: "Nice little family you got here. Would be a shame if something happened to them."

The moral mobsters, abetted by Georgia businessmen distraught over possible loss of business, got their way. Gov. Nathan Deal slew the dreaded bill with a veto.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory received equivalent warnings concerning his state’s Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act. Why, how could he sign such a thing?

PayPal, for one, said it would pull out of a multimillion-dollar expansion in North Carolina due to the presumptive denial of "equal rights" to employees: those rights trumping North Carolinians’ right to trepidation at the overthrow of existing moral arrangements. Other companies weighed in: irate, indignant. McCrory signed the law anyway. And Bruce Springsteen canceled a concert! The horror, the horror!

A similar wrangle in Mississippi ended with similar results. The people’s will prevailed. The moral/cultural engineers of the left (again with business support) shielded their eyes from the dismaying sight. Where might it all end, this resistance to the one-way moral street, this humiliating concern for liberties enshrined in the First Amendment?

Perhaps we are overdue for some examination of those liberties? It cannot have been the Founders’ intention that mobs of the morally earnest could overwhelm and muzzle opponents with alternative views of religious liberty. The moral totalitarianism of the left, as displayed in places supposedly solicitous of free thought and expression and applauded in the media of the East Coast and the Internet, is a phenomenon hardly remarked upon in the presidential campaign.

No wonder: In politics, especially of the presidential variety, the left assumes a moral superiority not dependent on facts and context. The moral engineers see themselves as bearers of unassailable truth. They want the old norms — the leftovers from Western civilization in its triumphant time — swept out of sight. To believe in the old norms is possibly permissible for now. But to attempt their enforcement? The left is having none of it; and neither is that growing corner of the business community that views commercial success — the amassment of multimillions instead of mere millions – as trumping arguments for mutual respect. As for serious discussion of differences — what a backward idea. This is America, 2016, and don’t you forget it.


There is a  new  lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- with news about Muslim immigration and such things


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


18 April, 2016

Are high IQ people socially inept?

Bruce Charlton has a long article (excerpted below) which says that they are.  It is of course a common stereotype but Charlton gives reasoning and references to back up his claim.  Going right back to the studies of Terman in the 1920's, however, research has tended to show that high IQ people are in fact socially more successful, so there is a conflict there.  I am not familiar with all the references Charlton uses but on the issues I am familiar with, I think every claim Charlton makes has been reasonably disputed -- his claim that religious people and conservatives are dumb, for instance, so I doubt that further reading would take me far.

So I think it might be useful for me to offer some thoughts that could explain what underlies Charlton's impressions.

I think that he is basically confusing high IQ people and academics -- or maybe also people with high academic qualifications.  But academics are only one subset of high IQ people -- and probably the least generally competent subset.  There's not much money in academe so really bright people tend to look more to the world of business -- with Bill Gates being the icon of that.  And there are some high IQ people who are not ambitious at all -- becoming butchers, mechanics etc.

One thing we can learn from academics, however, is the nature of eccentricity. Academics are of course notoriously eccentric.  So why is that?  It is mainly that their high IQ causes them to see the world differently from others.  What seems strange and inexplicable behavior to mainstream man actually seems perfectly logical and reasonable to someone whose vision encompasses far more of what is going on in the world.  The high IQ person sees many more influences bearing on a given decision so must sometimes come to decisions that perplex those who have not taken so much into account.

High IQ is however a solver of almost all human problems so the non-academic high IQ person will see why people are coming to what he sees as wrong or sub-optimal decisions and will deal with that in some way  -- taking time to explain himself, pretending to go along with the herd or some other strategy.  So the non-academic high IQ person will be much less likely to be seen as strange.

But let me reiterate that High IQ helps solve of ALL problems so it can even generate social skills or at least an approximation to social skills.  The high IQ person should in fact be socially insightful rather than socially inept.

Anecdotes prove nothing but they can be enlightening nonetheless -- so let me describe briefly a high IQ lady I know.  She is one of the most popular people I have ever met.  Faces light up all around the room when she walks in.  How come?  Because she uses her brain to take an interest in other people. Because she understands them, she talks to them in terms of what interests them.  So people find her a very sympathetic person and like her for it.  She uses her IQ to smooth social interactions and does very well at it.  Almost anyone she meets wants her for a friend. She did at one time gain considerable academic distinction but did not persevere with it.  She fell in love with an English poetry academic instead.  What a fine woman!

There are many uses for a good brain and acquiring and using social skills is one of them

Another woman I have known since she was a child has made an unending string of good decisions in her life that resulted in her being very highly paid at one stage.  But far from wanting a career, she just wanted a calm and peaceful life so retired very early to a green and pleasant place in the country and now has a big garden that feeds her and her family plus a sheep paddock that yields sheepmeat from time to time.  She lives the sort of life that greenies (and urbanites generally) tend to idealize.  But she would never show up on any list of anything much, let alone a list of high IQ people -- and that is exactly how she likes it. So there are many ways of using a good brain.

And the way academics use their brain is to focus on highly abstract things.  And academe is highly competitive.  So that focus has to be severe.  Taking an interest in people is just not a priority.  So people see them doing things that they don't understand and dismiss them as eccentric.  But the academic doesn't care.  He uses his brain in a way that pleases him and notices people only minimally.

A rather striking example of academic specialization is that it seems very rare for someone to be successful in both academe and in business.  Aside from myself, I know of only one other -- and he ended up in jail.  Because of the general usefulness of high IQ one might have expected that academics would be good in business too.  So it could well be that the high IQ people who are attracted to a life in academe are precisely those high IQ people who have inadequate personalities or who possess some other social limitation or emotional handicap.

So why do high IQ people tend to reproduce less? A glib answer would be that reproduction uses other organs than the brain but there does seem to be a rather deplorable effect there.  A lot of the problem lies with the educational system.  Because they are good at it, high IQ people mostly stay longer in education than others.  And a modern education has even managed to convince some of its victims that having children is bad for the environment etc. And there is no doubt that the emphases on feminism and homosexuality in a modern college education also militate against reproduction.  So it seems unlikely that reduced reproduction is an effect of high IQ per se.

It could also be argued that although they have fewer children, high IQ people invest more in them -- so gaining quality at the expense of quantity.  And those who know the story of Gideon (See Judges chapters 6 to 8) will know that it is not always quantity that wins the day.  Would you rather have your descendant  being the army officer directing operations from the rear or would you rather him being cannon fodder in the front lines?  Genetic survival can be more than numbers

On the whole, and all else being equal, in modern societies the higher a person’s general intelligence (as measured by the intelligence quotient or IQ), the better will be life for that person; since higher intelligence leads (among other benefits) to higher social status and salary, longer life expectancy and better health. However, at the same time, it has been recognized for more than a century that increasing IQ is biologically-maladaptive because there is an inverse relationship between IQ and fertility. Under modern conditions, therefore, high intelligence is fitness-reducing.

In the course of exploring this modern divergence between social-adaptation and biological-adaptation, Satoshi Kanazawa has made the insightful observation that a high level of general intelligence is mainly useful in dealing with life problems which are an evolutionary novelty. By contrast, performance in solving problems which were a normal part of human life in the ancestral hunter–gatherer era may not be helped (or may indeed be hindered) by higher IQ.

As examples of how IQ may help with evolutionary novelties, it has been abundantly-demonstrated that increasing measures of IQ are strongly and positively correlated with a wide range of abilities which require abstract reasoning and rapid learning of new knowledge and skills; such as educational outcomes, and abilities at most complex modern jobs. Science and mathematics are classic examples of problem-solving activities that arose only recently in human evolutionary history and in which differential ability is very strongly predicted by relative general intelligence.

However, there are also many human tasks which our human ancestors did encounter repeatedly and over manifold generations, and natural selection has often produced ‘instinctive’, spontaneous ways of dealing with these. Since humans are social primates, one major such category is social problems, which have to do with understanding, predicting and manipulating the behaviours of other human beings. Being able to behave adaptively in dealing with these basic human situations is what I will term having ‘common sense’.

Kanazawa’s idea is that there is therefore a contrast between recurring, mainly social problems which affected fitness for our ancestors and for which all normal humans have evolved behavioural responses; and problems which are an evolutionary novelty but which have a major impact on individual functioning in the context of modern societies. When a problem is an evolutionary novelty, individual differences in general intelligence make a big difference to each individual’s abilities to analyze the problem, and learn to how solve it. So, the idea is that having a high IQ would predict a better ability in understanding and dealing with new problems; but higher IQ would not increase the level of a person’s common sense ability to deal with social situations.

IQ not just an ability, but also a disposition

Although general intelligence is usually conceptualized as differences in cognitive ability, IQ is not just about ability but also has personality implications.

For example, in some populations there is a positive correlation between IQ and the personality trait of Openness to experience (‘Openness’); a positive correlation with ‘enlightened’ or progressive values of a broadly socialist and libertarian type; and a negative correlation with religiousness.

So, the greater cognitive ability of higher IQ is also accompanied by a somewhat distinctive high IQ personality type. My suggested explanation for this association is that an increasing level of IQ brings with it an increased tendency to use general intelligence in problem-solving; i.e. to over-ride those instinctive and spontaneous forms of evolved behaviour which could be termed common sense.

The over-use of abstract reasoning may be most obvious in the social domain, where normal humans are richly equipped with evolved psychological mechanisms both for here-and-now interactions (e.g. rapidly reading emotions from facial expression, gesture and posture, and speech intonation) and for ‘strategic’ modelling of social interactions to understand predict and manipulate the behaviour of others. Social strategies deploy inferred knowledge about the dispositions, motivations and intentions of others. When the most intelligent people over-ride the social intelligence systems and apply generic, abstract and systematic reasoning of the kind which is enhanced among higher IQ people, they are ignoring an ‘expert system’ in favour of a non-expert system.

In suggesting that the most intelligent people tend to use IQ to over-ride common sense I am unsure of the extent to which this is due to a deficit in the social reasoning ability, perhaps due to a trade-off between cognitive abilities – as suggested by Baron-Cohen’s conceptualization of Asperger’s syndrome, including the male- versus female-type of systematizing/empathizing brain. Or alternatively it could be more of an habitual tendency to over-use abstract analysis, that might (in principle) be overcome by effort or with training. Observing the apparent universality of ‘Silly Clevers’ in modernizing societies, I suspect that a higher IQ bias towards over-utilizing abstract reasoning would probably turn-out to be innate and relatively stable.

Indeed, I suggest that higher levels of the personality trait of Openness in higher IQ people may the flip-side of this over-use of abstraction. I regard Openness as the result of deploying abstract analysis for social problems to yield unstable and unpredictable results, when innate social intelligence would tend to yield predictable and stable results. This might plausibly underlie the tendency of the most intelligent people in modernizing societies to hold ‘left-wing’ political views.

I would argue that neophilia (or novelty-seeking) is a driving attribute of the personality trait of Openness; and a disposition common in adolescents and immature adults who display what I have termed ‘psychological neoteny’. When problems are analyzed using common sense ‘instincts’ the evaluative process would be expected to lead to the same answers in all normal humans, and these answers are likely to be stable over time. But when higher IQ people ignore or over-ride common sense, they generate a variety of uncommon ideas. Since these ideas are only feebly-, or wholly un-, supported by emotions; they are held more weakly than common sense ideas, and so are more likely to change over time.

For instance, a group of less intelligent people using instinctive social intelligence to analyze a social situation will presumably reach the same traditional conclusion as everyone else and this conclusion will not change with time; while a more intelligent group might by contrast use abstract analysis and generate a wider range of novel and less-compelling solutions. This behaviour appears as if motivated by novelty-seeking.



Bernie doesn't share food


"Virtue signalling"

James Bartholomew, a British journalist on primarily economic matters, claims (below) to have invented the useful term "Virtue signalling" and he may well be right.  It is however not a new idea.  It is a subset of status seeking and Australian conservative Michael Warby has been using a similar term since the 1990s.  Warby speaks of "moral display". An excerpt from 1999:

"Hence also the success of moral display: displaying your high moral status by ostentatiously espousing approved opinions which mark you off as a member of the ‘moral vanguard’"

See also here

Either way, Leftists are much preoccupied with moral display and virtue signalling.  Displaying righteousness is a major motive for them. They need it to justify their claim to control  others

To my astonishment and delight, the phrase ‘virtue signalling’ has become part of the English language. I coined the phrase in an article here in The Spectator (18 April) in which I described the way in which many people say or write things to indicate that they are virtuous. Sometimes it is quite subtle. By saying that they hate the Daily Mail or Ukip, they are really telling you that they are admirably non-racist, left-wing or open-minded. One of the crucial aspects of virtue signalling is that it does not require actually doing anything virtuous. It does not involve delivering lunches to elderly neighbours or staying together with a spouse for the sake of the children. It takes no effort or sacrifice at all.

Since April, I have watched with pleasure and then incredulity how the phrase has leapt from appearing in a single article into the everyday language of political discourse. One of the first journalists to pick up on the phrase was Liz Jones in the Mail on Sunday on 3 May. Not long after, Libby Purves used it in the Times (11 May). Janan Ganesh in the Financial Times (20 July) wrote about Labour party leaders for whom ‘Europeanism is just a virtue-signalling gesture like wearing a charity ribbon’. Two days later, Helen Lewis used it in the New Statesman, saying ‘a lot of what happens on Facebook, as with Twitter, is "virtue signalling" — showing off how right on you are’.

More HERE 


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


17 April, 2016

Some of my best friends are Trump supporters

Oleg Atbashian

TRUMP supporters are, perhaps, the only group of voters in America’s history who have been so viciously and consistently maligned, and in such a co-ordinated manner, by both political parties.

At the same time, not much is known about them, despite the recent spate of articles attempting to explain the phenomenon. The problem with that is that the authors admittedly don’t know any of the Trump supporters themselves. Well, I happen to know quite a few of them personally.

Full disclosure: first, I can’t vote because I’m not a US citizen yet, despite my best and decades-long efforts — but let’s leave the immigration system’s misplaced priorities for another day.

Second, I like to form my opinions about the candidates and their supporters independently, without taking advice from media pundits or Facebook messages from pro-Cruz acquaintances.

Third, I like both Cruz and Trump. I’m not as passionate about them as some; I’m merely pragmatic: I like anyone who can stop America’s descent into socialism or, better yet, reverse the course entirely. I also realise that America has come to a point when having big ideas is no longer enough; in order to shake up the system and get the economy moving the next president must also be a bigger-than-life mover and shaker.

Since I’m not allowed to vote, I remain simply an objective observer of American politics, judging the process from the perspective of a former Soviet citizen, who during the times of the glorious Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was forced to cast single-name ballots for candidates I didn’t know nor cared about. A total 100 per cent voter turnout in practice meant total apathy: most people dropped paper ballots into the boxes without reading them.

The occasional rare signs of passion were the ballots with crossed-out names and large capital letters saying, BLOODSUCKERS ALL; those were extracted by the KGB for handwriting analysis. Voting had become a periodic ritual of obedience and surrender before the powerful state and a reminder that we were all equal slaves in the eyes of our masters.

That memory makes American elections even more interesting. First it’s the primaries, where candidates from each political party position themselves in a circular firing squad, trying to assassinate each other’s character and reputation.

Once only a few of them remain standing, their supporters start fighting and demonising each other on social media to the point where to an objective observer every candidate looks like the most corrupt and immoral scoundrel and the worst human being who ever lived.

Finally, the two surviving candidates from each party, badly wounded and bloodied, begin to punch each other in the wounds during the general election, as their supporters continue to fight and demonise each other on social media. The one who still stands by November is then declared Leader of the Free World.

At least that’s how most foreigners see it, especially if they are unfamiliar with the differences between the two parties and get their facts from the mainstream media which always promotes one party and pretends to be fair to the other.

Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others, said Winston S. Churchill, and he had his own political wounds to prove it.

This year’s election especially fits the above caricature. The strongest fire from all media portholes and loopholes is directed at the Republican frontrunner, Donald Trump, and his supporters. They are being described as uneducated, angry, vengeful, racist, xenophobic, and plain stupid. Authors of these assumptions, mostly writing from within the Boston-New York-Washington corridor, admit that they don’t even know anyone who likes Trump.

But how can they write about what they don’t know? When the electoral map is fluid, when things are happening rapidly in real time, and when no reliable historical data exists, we rely on personal experiences and anecdotal evidence.

In the absence of such, the writers simply fill the gaps in their knowledge with their own prejudices, similar to how medieval mapmakers marked unexplored areas with "here be dragons."

There’s a big probability that Trump supporters are, in fact, all around them, even in their own families — and the reason why these writers don’t know it, is their own snobbery.

No one likes to be called stupid, his IQ questioned, or presumed to be an unthinking herd animal, and many simply don’t have the time to stop and explain their reasons whenever a #NeverTrump activist feels like trashing Trump voters. Many simply choose to remain silent.

This study explains why many polls underestimated Trump’s support: Trump has consistently polled better on anonymous online polls than on phone surveys because some of his supporters were unwilling to identify themselves publicly. In other words, public shaming didn’t unwean Trump from his supporters but caused them to go underground.

Doesn’t this also describe how the majority of Americans have felt in recent decades, being constantly shamed into silence by the "progressive" media, education, and the cultural establishment?

I know this too well, having worked in New York’s "progressive" corporate environment. My co-workers would ask me about life in the USSR and I would tell them exactly what I thought about socialism and political correctness until I realised that most of them didn’t like my answers and I was only hurting myself by speaking my mind.

Some gave me frightened looks, others stopped talking with me. I might as well have told them that life in the USSR was similar to life in New York, where people had to learn to keep their mouths shut and to look over their shoulders before saying anything remotely political. So much for emigrating into a free country. It felt like history was about to repeat itself. Until now.

Consider this story: there lived an apathetic silent majority, maligned and shamed by its leaders and the official media, and they thought it would never end.

But one day a miracle happened: they suddenly heard a voice that articulated their own forbidden thoughts — something they had been afraid to articulate in public, even though it was common sense — words not dressed in flowery rhetoric and rounded sentences, but delivered roughly, in a regional accent of the common man — plain and truthful words coming from the highest pulpit in the nation.

Millions of people recognised their own voices in his, lending him their support — silently at first, but more and more vocal as time went by — to a point that they went out into the streets to defend him in the face of violent and dangerous opposition from the far Left.

I am talking, of course, about Mikhail Gorbachev and the reaction he first received from the Soviets when he started his Perestroika and Glasnost in the USSR. I remember it clearly because I was one of them.

Gorbachev wasn’t perfect by any measure, and yet he started a process that shook up the corrupt establishment, ended the rule of the powerful Communist Party, liberalised the economy, and opened the country to an honest debate about its problems.

The parallels with Donald Trump, his message, and his appeal with America’s silent majority are unmistakeable.

That the Soviet Union’s problems turned out to be irreconcilable wasn’t Gorby’s fault; the country had already been damaged beyond repair by seven decades of ruthless socialist experimentation.

America hasn’t yet gone that far, but the wild popularity of socialist Bernie Sanders with the "screaming minority" of young voters may be an indication that this election may be America’s last exit before the road ends off a cliff.

Giving voice to the silent majority is one of the factors why Trump leads in the race. Some other factors will become clear if we look at some of his individual supporters. I know who they are because they aren’t afraid to open up to me.

They know that unlike the above established essayists, I won’t be calling them names or trying to shame the silent majority back into silence. For the same reason I’m not using their real names.


Jack is an accomplished classical musician, a fine wordsmith, a long-time conservative, and a devout Christian. When a broken shoulder made him unable to hold the instrument, he used his sharp, perceptive mind and his degree in economy to make himself a fortune in the financial markets. Now he can afford to relax and write novels.

Jack gave me his take on the demonisation of Trump and the stereotyping of his supporters as poorly educated, low-information rubes.

According to Jack, both the Republican and the Democrat establishments are corrupt and dysfunctional, but the one thing they can do well is manufacture media narratives that infect people’s minds with notions that are beneficial to the respective branch of political aristocracy, while causing aversion to anything that endangers it.

Trump is a clear and present danger to this corrupt and elitist system. He is willing and fully able to blow to smithereens all their carefully established social hierarchies and to change the entire political culture, which will make the elites unnecessary and expose the uselessness of their cherished and very expensive apparatus.

The GOP establishment’s fear and loathing of Trump is so intense that even losing the election to Hillary seems to many of them a lesser evil.

The same establishment remained ineffective throughout the Obama presidency. Obama didn’t threaten their careers and each one of his disastrous policies was to them a lucrative fundraising opportunity.

In contrast, Trump threatens their very survival — and suddenly the establishment’s speed and effectiveness is phenomenal. Their quickly constructed #NeverTrump narrative is targeting conservative "purists" and diehard Ted Cruz supporters, infecting them with hostility that reaches and surpasses the ill-famed Bush Derangement Syndrome.

The sad irony of the #NeverTrump movement is that these self-proclaimed "true conservatives" and "anti-establishment rebels" have swallowed the establishment’s narrative hook, line, and sinker.

Worse yet, they now indiscriminately share social media links from previously despised leftist sources, as long as they attack Trump. So much for their stereotyping of Trump supporters as gullible, angry jerks.

Jack isn’t a Cruz-hater. In fact, he would just as much like to see Ted Cruz become president, if he can win in the general election — which is unlikely. Like most Trump supporters I know, Jack doesn’t treat other candidates with the same hostility.

There’s no organised #NeverCruz movement to speak of, and no one except Cruz supporters are creating blacklists targeting the other side. Jack is sad to see that so many good, previously sane people have succumbed to the #NeverTrump lunacy.


My other friend, Mike, who is a conservative writer, approaches this from a different angle. He likes Ted Cruz because Cruz has all the right answers, but that’s not enough. Mike compares Cruz to a professor who can recite the chemistry textbook by heart.

Trump, on the other hand, is a wild man who wants to use the formulas in that same textbook to blow away our enemies. At this point in history we don’t need a professor, we need the wild man.


Brendan is an immigrant from Ireland, who says that when he came to the U.S., he expected to see an American leader to be more like John Wayne — a decisive and confident guy with swagger — and not like Pee Wee Herman or a European-style spineless socialist.

Brendan has spent years working on New York construction projects, including some that involved Donald Trump. He witnessed Trump getting personally involved with contractors and workers without any mediators, not afraid to get dirty and drive a hard bargain.

Trump has never lost his lower-class accent he picked up growing up in Queens, and he was never accepted by the snooty New York elites as their own. But he has always been liked and accepted by the working classes as a "people’s billionaire."

He doesn’t see anger among Trump’s supporters, but rather optimism and love for the country. He also scoffs at those who compare Trump to Mussolini or Hitler. Trump has been in the public eye for almost 70 years, running a large business, producing a TV show, and nobody ever complained about him acting like a despot.

Don’t you think that if Trump had the slightest trace of a dictator in him, someone would have brought it up and the media would have trumpeted it all over the world?

Brendan also likes Ted Cruz and shares many of his ideas. But even if Cruz is president, says Brendan, he’ll be lucky if he’s able to implement at least 10 per cent of those ideas in practice.

Trump, with his ability to overcome obstacles, will probably get at least 70 per cent done. Brendan may not share 100 per cent of Trump’s ideas, but he would rather see 50 per cent of them implemented by Trump than 10 per cent by Cruz, or 0 per cent by Bernie or Hillary.


Ann has recently parted with feminism and quit the National Organization for Women (NOW) over what she describes as the betrayal of women’s rights by feminist leadership.

The politically correct, leftist feminist establishment has done nothing to oppose the oppression of women in Sharia-dominated societies, and continues to oppose any attempt to prevent the spreading of the patriarchal and misogynistic Sharia values through Muslim immigration in America. In Ann’s words, by supporting pro-Sharia multiculturalism, NOW effectively sided with male chauvinists over women’s rights.

Ann isn’t buying the divisive argument that Trump is anti-women, saying that giving women special allowances because of their gender is condescending.

You can’t eat cake and have it, too. If you demand equal treatment, be ready for equal treatment. One can’t beat Hillary if one is too concerned with sparing her feelings. We are all adult individuals.

While fighting patriarchy in our society, she says, the radical leftist feminists went too far and destroyed manhood itself, along with fatherhood. It’s bad for the families, for the children, and especially for women.

Ann sees Trump as a successful male role model and a father figure. If he weren’t one in real life, his own children wouldn’t have turned out so well.

The Left has emasculated our men, she says. Fathers in popular culture changed from "Father Knows Best" to Homer Simpson: the butt of all jokes and the last to get the joke.

Fatherless children who grew up watching The Simpsons are father-hungry. Trump, she says, will be like the dad who comes home to an out-of-control house party, makes the kids clean up, kicks out the troublemakers, and sues their parents for damages.

Ann sees today’s emasculated warrior class, with new recruits using time-out cards if under too much stress, and she is worried about their ability to defend us.

She sees the European "men" who do nothing to protect their women or their nations from organised, systemic rape by Sharia-fuelled "guests," and predicts that will happen to us, too, if we don’t change course.

She sees the spineless millennials wishing for Bernie Sanders to ensure their perpetual childhood, and she blames the leftist education for crippling their minds and souls. The worst part is that these young doormats hate, not those who disabled them, but those who keep spines intact.

Ann believes we have entered the age of fear and denouncements, where anyone with a spine is automatically perceived as a fascist, racist, homophobe, Islamophobe, and so on.

Trump is giving American men permission to be men again, to say what they think, and to stand tall without guilt or fear, says Ann. She quotes Billy Graham: "Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened."

No wonder Graham’s son endorsed Donald Trump. With Trump as president, a new generation of Americans will have a chance to grow up having a spine, with a positive male role model to compensate for their fathers who are either missing or have been neutered. His campaign slogan may as well be, "Men! Take back thy manhood!"

After seven painful years of watching our Commander-in-Chief bunny-hopping down plane and helicopter steps, struggling to lift one-pound barbells, girl-throwing first baseballs in mom jeans, and dressing up in little cowboy outfits, the country needs a masculine reset.

The return of a strong, manly man to our culture will be great news for women, who have grown tired of being single-income mothers, leaders, fighters, and protesters, Ann says. And America will have a chance to get back its emotional and psychological health, confidence, optimism, and positive disposition that’s been missing for too long.


Colin had a successful international career as a dancer and choreographer, ranging from performing and teaching classical ballet to modern dance, from acting on Broadway to choreographing dances for some of the most famous pop stars, whose names I’m withholding for obvious reasons.

In case anyone is wondering, Colin is not gay and lives with a long-time girlfriend. He also has a sizeable collection of guns, likes hunting and fishing, and drives an SUV. Having been to every corner of the earth, he retired and became my neighbour here in Florida, where we became good friends and have spent many evenings playing music and sharing stories.

Colin never spoke about politics and whenever I or anyone else touched on that subject, he would start singing some silly tune in a loud, raspy voice, ending any possible debate.

That was until this summer, when he decided to support Donald Trump. Not only did he tell this to all his friends and neighbours, some of whom were diehard liberal leftists; he also called everyone in his phone book, encouraging them to vote for Trump as well, thus becoming an unaffiliated Trump campaign volunteer.

His reason for the sudden change of heart was that for the first time in his life he heard a presidential candidate whose words made perfect sense. All the others, according to Colin, were trained weasels giving rehearsed performances, which he could instantly spot with his professional background.

Unlike the rest, Trump spoke off the cuff, didn’t mince words, called things by their real names, and used strong language when necessary, unconcerned about what society and the media would say about that behind his back. I couldn’t help noticing that, in a way, Colin was describing himself. If he were ever to go into politics, he would’ve done it pretty much the same way, except for the hairstyle.


Christina has a PhD in literature, but her academic career ended when she evolved from a liberal into an outspoken conservative. All her previous activism in helping the inner city families, being involved in refugee resettlement programs, working with the ACLU, and other liberal credentials didn’t matter anymore.

She became an untouchable and soon lost her job. Since then she has been active in local Republican politics and Tea Party circles, exposing the rot in America’s education system, fighting Common Core, and organising book tours for conservative authors.

She sees Trump as the only candidate who is not buying into the neurotic identity politics that’s currently driving both political parties.

In her experience, identity politics and political correctness are the drivers of fascism in America today. In that sense, Trump is the most anti-fascist candidate in the race — and the most optimistic one, too.

The first Trump rally she attended was different from all other political events she has seen, which usually attract party regulars and the party elite. The people in this crowd weren’t very political; many of them first-timers — those who don’t live and die over the latest little fluff-up in DNC or the GOP or even the Tea Party. Christina thought that was very significant.

There were old people, young families, teenagers, blacks, whites, and a good number of Southeast Asians. This was in Norcross, Georgia, which has one of the most ethnically varied populations in the South and maybe even the U.S.

It’s a major refugee placement site and also attracts immigrants from India, Asia, and Africa. So there are a lot of immigrant entrepreneurs and small business owners in Norcross, and she saw a lot of that actual diversity — including economic diversity — in the crowd, says Christina.

She doesn’t understand how anyone in the GOP could be so recalcitrant as to not see this as an extraordinary opportunity to grow the GOP brand. Trump alone has the ability to move people towards conservatism: doesn’t the GOP get that? Christina sees Trump as an object lesson in moving towards conservative values in his own life, and he can move other people in the same direction.

She objects to the description of Trump supporters as angry. There was no love lost for either political party or for the media in that crowd, she says, but the people weren’t angry at all: they were optimistic. It was the sort of optimism people felt when Reagan was elected.

Trump’s message was patriotic and positive, praising America’s virtues and the value of hard work and self-sufficiency. It’s sad that the Republican Party couldn’t see the extraordinarily positive message Trump was delivering, and the positive spirit with which it was received.

At that moment, the election could have been in the GOP’s hands, had they not launched a co-ordinated assault on Trump and his followers.

The editors at National Review and others of their ilk ought to be on their knees celebrating their good luck that someone like Trump has come along at this particular moment in American history. But instead, they’re so angry they’re overturning their sandboxes and pitching tantrums, she says.

Imagine how different this race would be if the GOP hadn’t tried to salt the earth around Trump and his supporters, says Christina. She believes that if they had only remained neutral, the party would currently be growing by leaps and bounds.

The very landscape of the electorate would be shifting towards conservatism and away from liberalism. But it was more important for the party elites to control people than to listen to them.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


15 April, 2016

The Closing of the Liberal Mind: How Groupthink and Intolerance Define the Left

The heading above expresses a truth that just about all conservatives have seen for themselves by now.  We don't need a book to tell us any of that.  It is however the title of a new book by Kim R. Holmes, A former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State and currently a Distinguished Fellow at the Heritage Foundation.

So who needs this book?  It could possibly be useful to lend to a wavering neighbor, if anyone talks to their neighbors these days.  It does seem to aim at that sort of underinformed reader. Perhaps for that reason, it goes along with conventional beliefs that it might be too much of a wrench to disturb.  It accepts the ingrained myths about history that Leftists so desperately need:  Such as both Hitler and the KKK being "Rightist".

More information here


Peace talks?

According to several sources, Megyn Kelly arrived at Trump Tower for a secret meeting with Donald Trump. As Mediaite reports:

According to reporting from MSNBC’s Ayman Mohyeldin and CNN, Fox News host Megyn Kelly went to Trump Tower Wednesday morning and met with Donald Trump.

Later, CNN’s Brian Stelter confirmed the report. "Donald Trump and the Fox News host Megyn Kelly met at Trump Tower on Wednesday morning, a person with knowledge of the matter told CNNMoney," he reported Wednesday. "The meeting was brokered by Fox News chairman Roger Ailes."



Leftist double standards never cease

Outrage is good for business, at least when it comes to North Carolina and Mississippi passing culturally conservative laws — a bathroom bill and religious liberty law, respectively. How else to explain the hypocritical boycotts singers Jimmy Buffett and Bryan Adams mustered in response to the recent laws?

Big businesses already have been bullying these and other states. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed his state’s religious liberty bill because of pressure from big businesses like Disney, Apple and the NFL. North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory issued an executive order Tuesday he hoped would appease the corporate critics of his state’s newly minted bathroom law — critics like PayPal — by bolstering the protections of homosexual and transgendered state employees against termination. (Even the Navy moved a ceremony out of Mississippi over the law.)

But singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett announced that performing any shows in North Carolina "would definitely depend on whether that stupid law is repealed." Meanwhile, fellow entertainer Bryan Adams said he was going to stay out of Mississippi. Canceling a show scheduled for this Thursday in the state, Adams wrote on his website: "I cannot in good conscience perform in a state where certain people are being denied their civil rights due to their sexual orientation."

Naturally, hypocrisy abounds. Buffett’s restaurant chain, Margaritaville, has the same bathroom policies as North Carolina. When a half-dozen of the franchise’s locations were asked if they allow men to use women’s restrooms, they all said no.

Before canceling his Mississippi performance, Adams had just wrapped up a tour through Egypt, which, along with the rest of the Muslim world, is notorious for punishment of (even alleged) homosexuals. But Margaritaville restaurants and Egyptian tours make money. So does canceling shows in Mississippi and North Carolina.



All immigrants are not equal.  Some undermine American exceptionalism

Does any mainstream American really want their country to be  transformed into the sort of mess that regularly emerges South of the Rio Grande? Illegals from there bring with them the thinking behind such messes

A free country must welcome as many immigrants as want to enter it, no matter the effect they have on its culture or its political institutions. This is the liberal immigration premise. It is sincerely held by Americans all across the political spectrum. And, as I argued in my last piece, it is false.

Another premise underlying the current push toward open borders in the U.S., this one held mostly by the Left, is the idea that a multicultural society is superior to a culturally homogeneous one. It implies that America would be a better country if its once-unified, English-speaking culture were transformed into a polyglot mosaic by the mass infusion of immigrants. This premise is false for the same reason that the liberal immigration premise is false.

In the history of the world, very few cultures have proven capable of sustaining the kind of freedom we enjoy in the United States. We cannot possibly strengthen, or even hope to maintain, the support that our free political institutions enjoy by continually adding to the voting population large numbers of persons from cultures that afford them little or no knowledge of the ideas necessary to sustain those institutions. This is especially true when multiculturalists urge immigrants not to assimilate, which means that they should not shed their old ideas, ideas which, in many cases, issued in poverty, corruption, and tyranny in their countries of origin.

America is the land of individual rights. Immigrants from tribal cultures, from cultures that place the welfare of the family or the clan above that of the individual, cultures that are socially or economically static, that value the pronouncements of religious leaders over those of secular leaders, or that view women as inferior to men-all must learn new values upon arriving in the U.S. Otherwise, if the immigrants come in sufficient numbers, we must resign themselves to seeing our rights eroded and our free political institutions degraded.

No society ever failed because it was too culturally unified. But a great many have dissolved into violence because they were not. Today Basques want to secede from Spain, Kurds from Turkey, Syria, and Iraq. Serbs, Armenians, Albanians, and many other cultural minorities seek to establish their own, monocultural countries because the multicultural societies of which they are a part do not work. To transform a culturally unified society into a multicultural one is to introduce a potential for conflict that did not exist before. Imagine a completely Catholic Northern Ireland deciding to improve their country by importing Protestants.

So, if bringing in large numbers of immigrants and then discouraging them from assimilating is likely to derange the culture and diminish Americans' freedom, and if it is likely to increase civil strife, why do multiculturalists advocate it?

Because multiculturalism has proven itself an effective weapon against American culture. Since culture is the soil out of which our free political institutions grow, those who would undermine the Constitution and the system of individual rights it protects have set about disintegrating the culture. Thus the unending assaults on the family, on marriage, on manhood, and all the rest.

Multiculturalists would weaken the culture by fragmenting it. Divide and conquer. They say to Hispanics, for example, "We like you just the way you are. Unlike the English-speaking mainstream, we value your culture. Ally yourselves with us and we'll see that you never have to assimilate." So multiculturalism becomes a tool to recruit clients to the Left's coalition of the aggrieved. The more immigrants they can flood the country with, the more politically powerful does that coalition become.

As for the political Right, as they manage to do on issue after issue, they have ceded the moral high ground to the Left on the question of multiculturalism. The Left cast their immigrant clients as victims of the oppressive, English-speaking majority.

They savage the defenders of American culture and individual rights as insensitive racists and bigots. And the Right respond by politely prefacing any criticism of the multiculturalists with an acknowledgement of their good intentions.

But multiculturalism is immoral. It rests on the false premise that all cultures are created equal. In truth, a culture that keeps the vast majority of a people poor, that dooms them to ill-nourishment, ill-health, and an early death, that tolerates censorship of unpopular ideas and substitutes superstition for science and reason, is vastly inferior to a culture that can give rise to supermarkets, penicillin, space travel, and the U.S. Constitution. To say to new immigrants, as the multiculturalists do, that they should persist in their state of cultural backwardness is morally despicable.

Western culture is composed of the common elements of the cultures of many countries, all of which trace their cultural origins back to ancient Greece. It has extended as far east at times as Russia, and west to North America, and it includes the entire English-speaking world. It is a liberal culture, in the best sense of the term, and it is characterized by the free movement of ideas and, to a lesser extent, of goods and of persons.

The spontaneous cultural interaction that has characterized the West since the Renaissance has enabled the best minds from a vast geographic area to converse indirectly with each other over space and over time. Thus did the Italian Galileo make possible the English Newton, who made possible the German Jew Einstein. The result of this spontaneous, indirect collaboration is the advanced superculture known as Western culture, which today is reaching into every corner of the globe.

Through this process of spontaneous cultural interaction, the best cultural practices tend to spread. The American Revolution became "The shot heard round the world." And the worst cultural practices fall into disuse. Advanced culture spreads, and primitive cultures recede and disappear. This is a spontaneous and salutary process.

In a similar manner, persons from less advanced cultures who immigrate to advanced countries like the U.S. tend eventually to discard most elements of their native cultures and adopt the more advanced culture of their new home. Again, this is a normal, salutary, and necessary process, necessary both for the sake of the newcomers and for their hosts. But multiculturalism would subvert this process.

In the liberal West, for an individual to become "cultured" is an achievement. It requires effort. One must learn history, literature, manners, morals, how to speak and write one's language, and much else. This is the idea behind a schooling in the liberal arts. Culture like this, which requires conscious, rational effort, is literally artificial.

Against this idea of culture as the product of artifice, multiculturalism poses cultural "authenticity."  Authentic culture is primal, an expression of the soul of a people. One grows into an authentic culture, absorbing it unconsciously, as by osmosis. Jazz and the "soul" music of the 1960s are authentic, Tchaikovsky is not.

Classical liberalism was able to break the historical tie between culture and ethnicity, and to unite different ethnic groups under a common culture. If anything would benefit a multi-ethnic society, it would be a single, unifying culture. But authenticity seeks to re-establish the tie between culture and ethnicity, and thereby to revive the cultural and ethnic Balkanization of an earlier era. The liberal melting pot becomes the multicultural mosaic.

Authenticity would extinguish the cultural cross-fertilization that has characterized Western culture. It would replace the great collaboration that gave the world Galileo and Newton and Einstein with a return to primitive tribalism. If you doubt this, consider the latest insanity on college campuses, the decrying of "cultural appropriation." In a recent video, a black student at San Francisco State criticizes a one white one with dreadlocks for appropriating a hair style to which he is not culturally entitled.

So, in the name of cultural authenticity, blacks accuse black children who work hard in school of "acting white." They disown Clarence Thomas, a giant of American jurisprudence, as a traitor to his culture and his race. The idea of authenticity and the related ideology of multiculturalism shut off members of ethnic minorities from the best of Western culture, and they doom immigrant children to cultural backwaters. This is not moral, it is monstrous.

There was a time when Americans' common sense protected them from this kind of snake oil. But no longer. More and more Americans have been going to college, where they learn not to think but to believe. To believe, among other things, that a man is defined by his ethnicity or by the culture into which he was born, rather than by the content with which he has chosen to fill his own mind. This is a profoundly un-American idea, and it will indeed transform our country if we do not defeat it.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


14 April, 2016

The Myth of Public Concern

Oftentimes the government and its supporters will throw around the term ‘public concern’ or ‘public risk’ to distinguish between those matters which are private and those matters which are the business of society. The problem with this idea is the assumption that such a thing as a ‘public concern’ exists to begin with. In order for the public to express concern, the thing that we call the public would have to possess a mind of its own. The truth of the matter is that the public has no mind, only individuals have a mind and therefore only individuals may express concern.

It is important to remember that the only unit of significance in matters of human action is the individual. The individual is the only unit which takes action and makes choices. The public is nothing but a collection of individuals. Single members of the public may express concern, but these concerns cannot be deemed anything more than private concerns. Just because a group of individuals decide to collect into a ‘public’, that does not mean that the nature of their concerns change.

Now, in some cases the government will try to argue that a public concern is a concern which impacts society as a whole. Once again, society is comprised of individuals and it is the individuals that are impacted. With any risk or threat, the only concrete unit of impact is the individual. Once one understands that society is nothing but a collection of individual human beings, then one may understand the arbitrary nature of the concept of public concern.

At what level does a concern become public exactly? Let’s say that two individuals are heavily concerned with an invasion of underground rock people. Is this now a public concern? Most would say no, but now let’s suppose that half the population of the United States is concerned with an invasion of underground rock people. Now that a majority of the public has accepted the impending threat of the rock people, must we designate this concern as a public matter? Some of us would still disagree that an invasion of underground rock people is a significant threat to the United States, however if a majority of individuals within this nation have made up their mind on the issue of underground rock people, then it is likely that the problem will be deemed a public concern.

In the case presented, the true purpose of the concept of public concern is revealed. The public concern is nothing but an imposition of private concerns on other individuals. When the government passes a law to address a public concern, they are effectively stating that the private concerns of those who agree with the law are superior to the private concerns of those who disagree with the law. Under the new law, every member of society is now forced to adopt the same private concerns under threat of punishment. In the case of the underground rock people, the government may pass a law which makes it a crime to step on pebbles. After all, stepping on pebbles may anger the rock people and therefore such an action would be a crime against the public.

Those who understand the nature of society realize that there is no such things as a crime against the public, only crimes against individuals. The government however has now created an imaginary person which represents the collective will of those who control political power in a given area. This imaginary person is a supposed representative of the individuals which make up the public, and in order to address the concerns of this imaginary person, the government violates the rights of real individuals. Essentially, the government creates a scenario where all individuals in society are forced to live their life in a way that does not upset this imaginary person.

One way that the government forces individual’s to accept the concept of a public concern is by forcefully pooling money into a program. Socialized medicine is a perfect example of this. When individuals in society are forced to pay for the healthcare of other people, it pushes them to be concerned with the private lifestyle choices of others. A man who pays no mind to the drinking habits of others for example may suddenly find himself concerned with the large quantities of alcohol consumed by his neighbor. After all, he may end up having to pay for his neighbor’s health bills as a result of the damage done to the man’s liver form years of heavy drinking.

Suddenly, the tax payers are now pushing for the prohibition of alcohol in order to prevent rising healthcare costs. This is the kind of scenario that can only exist when the government gets involved in private affairs. Individuals must realize that their concerns are their own. They may share identical concerns with others, but nonetheless at an essential level those concerns remain private.

A public concern is nothing but a private concern that has been granted the arbitrary status of superiority by a collective. There is no such things as public concerns, just as there is no such thing as public will, or public happiness. When the government gets its hands on a public concern, it can do serious harm to the rights of individuals. Therefore, minding one’s own business is one of the most effective ways to keep the government from growing into an even bigger monster.



Calls for American Unity Are Either Dishonest or Naive

Dennis Prager

Just about all candidates for president regularly announce their intent to unite Americans, to "bring us together."

It’s a gimmick.  If they are sincere, they are profoundly naive; if they are just muttering sweet nothings in order to seduce Americans to vote for them, they are manipulative.

In his acceptance speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, John Kerry, one of the most polarizing figures in modern American political history, said, "Maybe some just see us divided into those red states and blue states, but I see us as one America: red, white and blue."

And President Barack Obama, who has disunited Americans by race, class and gender perhaps more than any president since the beginning of the 20th century, regularly campaigned on the theme of uniting Americans.

In his 2008 victory speech, President-elect Barack Obama said: "We have never been just a collection of … red states and blue states. We are, and always will be, the United States of America."

In their current campaigns for president, Republican Gov. John Kasich and Democrat Hillary Clinton regularly proclaim their intention to bring Americans together. He, one suspects, because he is naive, and she, because she will say pretzels come from Neptune if it will garner votes.

Bringing people together is actually the theme of John Kasich’s entire campaign.

Senator Rob Portman said of Kasich on Feb. 1, 2016, "I am endorsing John Kasich because I believe he is the person our country needs to bring Americans together."

And Clinton, who, according to CNN, is tied with Trump for the most negatives in presidential polling for either Republicans or Democrats since 1984, also speaks repeatedly about her ability and desire to bring Americans together.  The "Hillary Clinton for President Supporters" Facebook page has even said, "We’re in the business of bringing people together."

What’s more, on April 6, 2016, CNN posted a YouTube video titled: "Hillary Clinton — We need a president who can bring people together." Lanny Davis, who served as special counsel to former President Bill Clinton, wrote on The Hill website that "Clinton wants to bring us together."

Beyond Kasich and Clinton, Sen. Bernie Sanders made this a major theme in one of his ads called "Together," which begins with Sanders saying, "Our job is to bring people together."

Even Trump, who divides Republicans — not to mention other Americans — like no Republican ever has, uses this mantra. A January article on The Hill site quoted Trump saying, "I can really bring people together."  Gov. Chris Christie introduced Trump on Super Tuesday, and a NJ.com column released that night was titled, "Christie on Super Tuesday: Trump is ‘bringing the country together.’"

For the record, Sen. Ted Cruz speaks about uniting Republicans, but not often about uniting all Americans.

All calls for unity by Democrats are particularly fraudulent. Dividing Americans by race, gender and class is how the left views America and how Democratic candidates seek to win elections.

But calls for unity are meaningless no matter who makes them, because no one who calls for unity tells you what they really mean. What they really mean is that they want to unite Americans around their values — and around their values only.

Would Clinton be willing to unite all Americans around recognizing the human rights of the unborn? Would she be willing to unite all Americans around support for widespread gun ownership?

Of course not. She is willing to unite Americans provided they adopt her views.

Would Sanders like to "bring people together" in support of reducing corporate and individual income taxes in order to spur the economy?

Would Kasich be in favor of "bringing Americans together" by having them all support increasing the size of government and the national debt? One hopes not.

I first realized the dishonesty of just about all calls for unity during a 10-year period in which I engaged in weekly dialogues with clergy of all faiths. Protestant and Catholic clergymen and women would routinely call for Christian unity. When I asked Protestants if they would support such unity if it entailed them adopting the sacraments of the Catholic Church and recognizing the pope as the Vicar of Christ on Earth, the discussion ended. Similarly, when I asked Catholic priests if they would give up the sacraments and the papacy in order to achieve unity with Protestant Christians, all talk of unity stopped. And, of course, the same would hold true for both Orthodox and non-Orthodox Jews who routinely call for Jewish unity.

Even more absurd are the calls of naive Christians and Jews to have all the "children of Abraham" — Jewish, Christian and Muslim — unite.

The calls themselves can even be dangerous. One would be hard-pressed to name a single free society that was ever united outside of wartime. The only truly united countries are totalitarian states.

So, why do presidential candidates repeat this nonsense every four years? Because Americans fall for it every four years.

But it’s time to grow up. The gap between the left and right is unbridgeable. Their worldviews are mutually exclusive.



Bernie Smears Israel

Another self-hating Jew

Can he take a Mulligan? Bernie Sanders’ interview with the editorial board of the New York Daily News revealed a candidate more interested in platitudes and dreams than in specifics and realities. He couldn’t even explain how his signature policy—breaking up the big banks—would work. His campaign might as well have sent Larry David in his place. The comic is better informed.

The entire transcript is embarrassing. But when the subject turned to the Middle East, Sanders crossed the line that separates the daft from the dangerous. He not only smeared the Jewish State, he betrayed an ignorance of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that would, if he were president, lead to the loss of Jewish and Arab lives. Naiveté is fine for Vox.com. But it is absolutely unacceptable for the Oval Office.

The subject was Israel’s 2014 war with Gaza. Sanders said Israel’s retaliation for Hamas’ shelling of civilian population centers was disproportionate. "Anybody help me out here," he said, "because I don’t remember the figures, but my recollection is over 10,000 innocent people were killed in Gaza. Does that sound right?"



Border Patrol's Shocking New Claim On Illegal Immigrants

Art Del Cueto, a Border Patrol agent and Vice President of the National Border Patrol Council, which has endorsed Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, and National Border Patrol Council Spokesman and Border Patrol agent Shawn Moran stated that illegal immigrants who are not given notices to appear "walk out the front door" and "We don’t know who we’re releasing" in a report broadcast on Thursday’s "O’Reilly Factor" on the Fox News Channel.

During the report, Fox News Channel Senior Correspondent Eric Shawn stated that "agents are under orders from the agency headquarters in Washington to release illegals by not giving them what’s called NTAs, notice to appear summonses, that should send them straight to a deportation judge."

In response to a question on what happens to those who don’t receive NTAs, Del Cueto said, "They get released back into the United States. They walk out the front door."



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


13 April, 2016


Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump erupted on "Fox & Friends" Monday morning after a weekend that saw Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas sweep all of Colorado’s 34 delegates without any votes being cast by citizens in a traditional primary process.

"I’ve gotten millions … of more votes than [Sen. Ted] Cruz, and I’ve gotten hundreds of delegates more, and we keep fighting, fighting, fighting, and then you have a Colorado where they just get all of these delegates, and it’s not [even] a system," Trump said, during the Fox News broadcast. "There was no voting. I didn’t go out there to make a speech or anything. There’s no voting."

His comments came after Cruz won the remaining 13 delegates at the weekend’s convention, bringing his total for the state to 34, an outcome he described as unfair and just shy of illegal.

"They offer them trips — they offer them all sorts of things, and you’re allowed to do that," Trump said, of the method by which some woo delegates. "I mean, you’re allowed to offer trips, and you can buy all these votes. What kind of a system is this? Now, I’m an outsider, and I came into the system and I’m winning the votes by millions of votes. But the system is rigged. It’s crooked."

The televised remarks followed  a weekend of tweets expressing similarly critical views.  "How is it possible that the people of the great State of Colorado never got to vote in the Republican Primary? Great anger – totally unfair!" wrote Trump, in one Twitter post.

He followed it up with a second tweet: "The people of Colorado had their vote taken away from them by the phony politicians. Biggest story in politics. This will not be allowed!"

It was last August when officials with the Republican Party in Colorado decided they would not let voters take part in the early nomination process.

The Denver Post reported Aug. 25: "The GOP executive committee has voted to cancel the traditional presidential preference poll after the national party changed its rules to require a state’s delegates to support the candidate that wins the caucus vote."

"It takes Colorado completely off the map" in the primary season, Ryan Call, a former state GOP chairman, told the paper.

In late February, just before Super Tuesday, the Post published a scathing editorial, saying the party blundered on the 2016 presidential caucus:

"GOP leaders have never provided a satisfactory reason for forgoing a presidential preference poll, although party chairman Steve House suggested on radio at one point that too many Republicans would otherwise flock to their local caucus.

"Imagine that: party officials fearing that an interesting race might propel thousands of additional citizens to participate. But of course that might dilute the influence of elites and insiders. You can see why that could upset the faint-hearted."

One self-avowed Trump supporter took to YouTube on Sunday to express his displeasure with the process and burned his Republican registration on camera.

"Republican Party, take note. I think you’re gonna see a whole lot more of these," he said as he ignited his registration. "I’ve been a Republican all my life, but I will never be a Republican again."

And to the GOP, the man said, "You’ve had it. You’re done. You’re toast. Because I quit the party. I’m voting for Trump, and to hell with the Republican Party."

The popular Drudge Report news site splashed a headline in red Sunday evening that stated, "Cruz celebrates voterless victory."



In Pa., Reagan Democrats turn to Donald Trump

ALIQUIPPA, Pa. — This downtown 25 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, marked by chains of shuttered and abandoned storefronts, bears all the exit wounds of the manufacturing era.

"When the mill shut down . . . people left here in the middle of the night, walked away from mortgages," said city administrator Samuel L. Gill. "It was a traumatic time. We saw our population drop overnight by 35 to 40 percent."

Similarly struggling towns across Pennsylvania are proving to be fertile ground for Republican Donald Trump, who leads in state polling for the April 26 presidential primary.

For many, Trump’s promises of restored American greatness echo President Ronald Reagan’s "city on a hill" theme from the 1980s — before the towns’ economic drivers went overseas. In his historic victories, Reagan appealed to what would be known as "Reagan Democrats," mostly blue-collar whites uneasy with national trends.

Now, those voters’ continued disaffection, and signs that Republicans are making gains here, have some Democrats nervous. According to state registration data, Republicans have greatly outpaced Democrats among party-jumpers. In Aliquippa’s Beaver County, nearly seven times as many Democrats have changed their party affiliation to Republican as the other way around.

"That’s an interesting county that’s in transition, [they] were diehard Democrats for decades," said Jack Hanna, former southwestern caucus chairman for the state Democratic Party. "The typical western Pennsylvania Democrat from years past is what I would call culturally conservative, and it’s finally starting to catch up with us."

Gill agreed that Trump had found some backing even in traditionally Democratic areas, saying, "He appeals to the working class with the possibility of bringing back manufacturing jobs. That’s the key thing they want to hear."

With Trump holding the lead in the Republican primary, but doubts still lurking about his ability to close the deal in November, places like Aliquippa are acquiring a growing importance in the campaign. Over the next several weeks, states with heavy rural and manufacturing roots — including New York, Indiana, Nebraska, West Virginia, and Kentucky — will vote in the Republican presidential primary.

Trump’s scalding critique of US trade policies over the last several decades resonates in these former manufacturing hubs. The concept of American decline echoes their own experience, particularly in bustling mill towns that have gone fallow as urban centers thrive. While cities like Pittsburgh, just up the Ohio River, are embracing a new economy with inventively refashioned neighborhoods and a wealth of cultural offerings, smaller towns barely hang on to the vestiges of the good times.

"I will vote for Trump," said Bill Rowan, a 66-year-old Vietnam veteran living in Beaver, just north of the Ohio River from Aliquippa, who said he voted twice for President Obama. "As crazy as it is, as difficult as he is as a politician, he says a lot of things that people want to hear."

In Aliquippa, the Jones & Laughlin steel complex, which once employed 17,000 workers and served as the town’s economic engine, began closing in stages in the 1980s, taking much of the town’s energy with it. The population here has sagged to about a third of what it was just at its peak.

On Wednesday, US Steel, grappling with imports and competition from China, announced layoffs for 25 percent its North American nonunion workforce. The company did not say how many of those jobs would come from Pittsburgh, where it has 4,200 employees.

In Trump’s rally speeches and in television appearances, he chastises American leaders for how they have handled trade. He vows to impose steep tariffs on China and Mexico, despite warnings that they would ignite damaging trade wars. And he’s not alone: Both Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Governor John Kasich of Ohio have stoked populist concerns mounting in former manufacturing towns.



If California's $15 Minimum Wage Isn't Going To Reduce Poverty Then Why Bother To Do It?

Or perhaps if we were to be ever so slightly more accurate, if California’s $15 minimum wage isn’t going to reduce poverty very much and might possibly increase it then why are we doing this? I think the problem is that most people don’t quite understand the distributional issues of that minimum wage. After all, it seems pretty obvious. The minimum wage is low, poor people are the people who have low wages, so obviously a rise in the minimum wage will help poor people, right?

But this isn’t actually quite so. The trick is that poverty is defined as living in a poor household and it’s nowhere near true at all that all people getting minimum wage live in poor households. Thus the benefits of a minimum wage rise don’t necessarily go to people in poverty. In fact, a minority of such benefits do.

And it’s worse than that. For we know that there are going to be price rises as a result of this hike. But it’s generally true that those price rises will be on the things which are bought by poorer people, not richer. The net effect of those two could actually be that poverty increases as a result.

Ron Bailey over in Reason is having a look at a number of papers on the minimum wage and this is, for my argument, the important part:

"In an even more recent analysis for the Federal Reserve, Neumark asked how effective raising the minimum wage is at reducing poverty among those low-wage workers who remain employed. He found that if wages were simply raised to $10.10 per hour, as favored by President Barack Obama, with no changes to the number of jobs or hours, only 18 percent of the total increase in incomes would go to workers in families living in poverty. Thirty-two percent of the benefits would flow to families living in the top half of the income distribution.

How can that be? Neumark points out that the relationship between being a low-wage worker and being in a low-income family is fairly weak. First, in 57 percent of poor families, no one has a job, so no one gets any wages at all. Second, other workers have low incomes because they work low hours, not because they have low wages. Neumark notes that 46 percent of poor part-time workers have hourly wages above $10.10 and 36 percent above $12 per hour. Finally, many low-wage workers are secondary workers who live in well-off families—teens, for example"

The distributional effect of a minimum wage rise does not, even mainly, go to the poor. So it’s a horrible public policy to use in an attempt to reduce poverty. The full version of that paper is here.

"Moreover, if we consider raising the minimum wage higher, for example to $12, only 15% of the benefits go to poor families, because other higher-wage workers who would benefit are less likely to be poor. Likewise, 35% would go to families with incomes at least three times the poverty line. With a $15 minimum wage the corresponding figures would be 12% and 38%.

This evidence—coupled with the fact that employers who would pay the higher minimum wage are not necessarily those with the highest incomes, but instead may be owners of small businesses with low profit margins—indicates that minimum wages are a very
imprecise way to raise the relative incomes of the lowest-income families"

Only 12% of California’s $15 an hour minimum wage rise will actually go in higher incomes to people living in poor households. That’s just not an effective policy at all.

And we do have to consider something else. Which is that other studies have shown us something about price rises. We do indeed know that there are going to be price rises as a result of this. But the distribution of them will not be equal at all. For low wage workers are the largest consumers of goods and services produced by low wage workers. Think it through: Walmart’s target demographic isn’t Wall Street financiers after all.

Any price rise Walmart has to impose to pay for higher wages will impact upon Walmart’s customers: who do indeed tend to be poorer than the national average. And as I say, studies have shown that while the income effect of a minimum wage rise is as Neumark states above, skewed towards richer families, the distribution of the price rises runs the other way. It’s skewed toward larger price rises in the goods and services that poor people buy.

It is therefore possible that this minimum wage rise will increase poverty overall: increase the prices paid by those poor by more than their share of the income increase. I think it’s unlikely that matters will be that extreme but it is at least possible. But the larger point still stands. As a tool to beat poverty a minimum wage rises stinks. So, let’s not do it, let’s go and do the other two things that we know do raise poor peoples’ incomes. Adopt a policy of full employment, that being something that drives up wages, and increase the EITC which we know very well is the most efficient method of reducing working poverty.

You know, let’s adopt policies that work, not ones that don’t?



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


12 April, 2016

Leftist Pollyanna-ism:  "The Boston Globe" as "Pravda"

Leftists always claim to do good.  So they have a strong motivation to assert that they actually achieve that.  And they most certainly wish to avoid acknowledging that there is anything wrong with what they do. That is why they try their damnedest to shut conservatives up -- because conservatives have this pesky attachment to reality.

So when Leftists gain control of a place, they tend to become Pollyannas, though not in the same sense as the original Pollyanna, who was a marvellous triumph of the human spirit. They become Pollyannas in the sense of refusing to see anything bad or faulty in their domain, their Reich.  For instance, Soviet newspapers such as  "Pravda" reported mostly good news, even if it was only a tractor factory fulfilling its quotas. 

Most notable in the Communist countries of the last century was a failure to report airliner crashes if such reports could be avoided.  Though pesky American satellites often revealed the truth.  And it was the same in China.  And in both countries the result was the same.  In the absence of any public uproar about the negligence or inefficiency that had led to the crashes, nothing was fixed and there were a lot of crashes, far more than happened in the West.  It ended up with crashed Ilyushins scattered throughout Eurasia. The Ilyushin design bureau turned out very robust aircraft but Soviet maintenance was abysmal. If Soviet tank armies had ever surged Westward, most of them would probably have broken down.

So it's amusing that The Boston Globe reads rather like Pravda.  With Massachusetts having been under solid Democrat control for almost forever, anything that happens in Massachusetts is on the Democrat tab.  They are responsible for it so they have to wear it.  You could blame a lot on George Bush for a while but the age of Obama has pretty well nixed that.

But America is alive with all sorts of news media so you can't really hush much up for long.  So how does the Globe handle news about bad things happening in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts?  They mention it but downplay it and never mention it again if they can help it. They are Pollyannas.  Political problems are treated as minor or under control.  There is no raging at them or swingeing denunciations of them.  It is all "nice".  Rage is reserved for what happens in other parts of the USA, with Donald Trump being a Godsend for that at the moment -- as their recent much-noted front-page shows.

The Globe became one of my regular reads last year so it took me a while to "get" why the paper seemed so different.  But I can now encapsulate the difference.  It has a very "sunny" outlook.  All Massachusetts problems are small or under control. And when they can't avoid mentioning Pachyderms in rooms -- such as the abject failure of Romneycare -- they cover it in such a long-winded way  that it's hard to see the wood for the trees.  And all the detail tends to create the impression that the problem is being worked on.

There are many ways of lying and the Left have mastered them all.


Trump: Primary process 'corrupt' on both sides

He's got a point

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump on Sunday said the primary process on both the Republican and Democratic sides is corrupt.

Trump referenced Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who has won eight of the past nine Democratic contests, noting that people still say he doesn't have a path to the nomination.

"I watch Bernie. He wins, he wins, he keeps winning, winning and winning and then I see he's got no chance. They always say he's got no chance. Why doesn't he have a chance?" Trump asked during a rally in Rochester, N.Y.  "Because the system is corrupt. And it's worse on the Republican side."

"I'm not a fan of Bernie, I couldn't care less as far as I'm concerned. I couldn't care less about Bernie, but he wins and he wins, like me."

Trump went on to tout his own successes, saying he's won far more than rival Ted Cruz and has received millions and millions of votes, including from people who have never voted before and people who identify as Democrats.

Trump said he's up millions of votes on Cruz and has hundreds more delegates than the Texas senator.

He referenced Louisiana, which Trump won by a small margin. But he could end up with fewer delegates than Cruz, because the senator is likely to receive five delegates left behind when Marco Rubio dropped out, as well as the state's five unbound delegates - who can back a candidate of their choosing. Trump has in the past promised a lawsuit over the delegate allocation.

Trump said during the rally Sunday that there's some "nonsense" going on.  "And I say this to the RNC and I say this to the Republican Party: You're going to have a big problem folks, because there are people who don't like what's going on."

"We've got a corrupt system, its not right. We're supposed to be a democracy. We're supposed to be you vote and the vote means something ... and we've got to do something about it."

Trump said his campaign is "doing fine" and should have won it a long time ago. "But we keep losing where we're winning," he said. "Today winning votes doesn't mean anything."

"It's not right folks ... whether it's me or Bernie Sanders. When I look at it and I see all these victories that I have, all these victories that he's got. And then you look at the establishment and I want to tell you it's a corrupt deal going on in this country and it's not good and it's not fair."

Trump said that the system is disenfranchising people who "want to see America be great again."

"I think we're going to be fine. We're doing really well," Trump said, "but we've got to have a system where voting means something."



Trump's YOOJ Advantage in NY

Donald Trump has a "yooj" advantage in his home state. Polls suggest that before he's even started campaigning, he's at over 50 percent:

Donald Trump is leading his rivals among with over 50 percent support among New York voters heading into the Empire State’s primary, according to a new poll out Wednesday.

Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University polling institute, said in a press release, "if this result holds in every single congressional district, Trump will walk away with nearly all of New York State’s delegates." New York has 95 delegates up for grabs.

In the poll Trump leads with 52 percent, in second is Ohio Gov. John Kasich with 25 percent, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is last with 17 percent support.

The media would have you believe that most of Trump's supporters are economically displaced, uneducated white men. That's obviously not most of New York State, a wealthy state where Rockefeller Republican moderates and Democrats have ruled the roost for better part of a century.

But New York City's suburbs and outer boroughs are politically displaced. The state's Republican party treated taxpayers like a piggy bank for their massive patronage mill and handpicks every candidate down to the local level.

The Democratic party's priorities are dictated by the priorities of hyper liberal New York City, and have little to do with those of moderate, overtaxed, overregulated suburbanites. Desperate upstate New Yorkers from communities that make the Rust Belt look like solid gold have absolutely no one to turn to.

Basically, moderate New Yorkers have been between an electoral rock and a hard place.  In Trump, these people may have found someone who's intimately aware of the mountains of red tape, taxes, and malfunctioning governance that has many of their neighbors fleeing for places like Florida, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina, a man that speaks their language. 

The alternatives? John Kasich, who has no chance of winning, and Ted Cruz, a man who thinks New York values(patriotism, entrepreneurship, and brutal honesty) are evil.

Anyone but Trump winning New York? Fuhgeddaboutit.



New Guidance Warns Landlords They Could Face Discrimination Charges For Turning Down Tenants With Criminal Records

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is warning landlords they could face discrimination charges for turning down prospective tenants with criminal records – if the decision has an "unjustified discriminatory effect."

A Republican senator described new HUD guidance issued this week as yet another move by the Obama administration to support convicted criminals.

The 10-page document states that "where a policy or practice that restricts access to housing on the basis of criminal history has a disparate impact on individuals of a particular race, national origin, or other protected class, such policy or practice is unlawful under the Fair Housing Act."

The Fair Housing Act applies to federally-funded and private sector housing.

Landlords will have to show, if challenged, that they are not turning away tenants "based on generalizations or stereotypes," the guidance says.

Although the guidance notes the importance of landlords protecting their safety and property, landlords are expected to provide evidence that a policy of basing decisions on criminal history "actually assists in protecting resident safety and/or property."

"Bald assertions based on generalizations or stereotypes that any individual with an arrest or conviction record poses a greater risk than any individual without such a record are not sufficient to satisfy this burden."

The new guidance states that the U.S. prison population is "by far the largest in the world," that a disproportionate number of African Americans and Hispanics are incarcerated, and therefore have a criminal record that could limit access to housing.

"Because of widespread racial and ethnic disparities in the U.S. criminal justice system, criminal history-based restrictions on access to housing are likely disproportionately to burden African Americans and Hispanics."

In one example, the guidance says a landlord who rejects a Hispanic tenant on the basis of criminal history but admits "a non-Hispanic White applicant with a comparable criminal record," could be violating the act.

The only crime specified in the guidance as a justified reason to deny housing is conviction for drug manufacturing or distribution. An HUD official told CNSNews.com that is an exemption that is in the act itself.

Apart from that, the department won’t say which past criminal activities are considered acceptable, and which are not, in turning away a prospective tenant.

"We’re not specifying the types of criminal records that would or would not justify the denying of housing," the official told CNSNews.com.

Responding to the HUD guidance, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said in a statement, "There are no lengths to which this administration won’t go to support convicted criminals."

"While those who have served their debt to society and completed the rehabilitation process deserve a second chance, it should not be at the expense of law-abiding citizens," he said.

"Whether releasing violent felons early from prison, preventing employers from asking about an applicant’s criminal record, or now blocking landlords from deciding whether to rent to someone who may pose a threat to their property and the surrounding community, these policies are part of a disturbing pattern," Cotton said.

"The United States is a nation of laws," he said, "and we should be looking for ways to better protect those who abide by those laws, not reward those who break them."

A New Orleans-based organization, the Fair Housing Action Center, welcomed the new guidance.

"Overwhelmingly high incarceration rates in Louisiana and the New Orleans area create tremendous barriers for families seeking stable housing," said the group’s executive director, Cashauna Hill, in a statement.

"Further, our investigations have found that criminal background screening policies are often applied unequally to keep people of color out."


There is a  new  lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- with news about Muslim immigration and such things


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


11 April, 2016

Daniel Pipes loses the plot

I was alerted to the Pipes rave by an orthodox Jewish reader.  He wrote:  "I could hardly believe who is joining the anti-Trump bandwagon.  It's Daniel Pipes!  While I've disagreed with some of his opinions, I've nothing but respect for his integrity ...until now.  That article of his is nothing but hearsay and the basest of ad-hominem attacks.  I would never have believed he would stoop to such sordid and fact-free slander.  I may not agree with Trump, but none of what Pipes wrote is consistent, either with what I know about Trump or what I've come to expect from Pipes"
Pipes (below) is accusing Trump of being a neo-Fascist, thus revealing how little he knows about both Fascism and neo-Fascism. Fascism had two mainstays:  Socialism and nationalism.  So Trump is a socialist?  Spare us!  If Trump is not a capitalist, no-one is. And has Pipes forgotten the difference between  patriotism and nationalism?  Most people are patriotic but Nationalism is an evil perversion of that.  The Nationalist wants to conquer and subdue other countries.  Trump, by contrast, is a traditional American isolationist.  He wants to WITHDRAW American forces from abroad.  So Pipes is dead wrong on both counts.

So what the heck has got into Pipes?  Style.  He thinks Trump is too aggressive. And he takes literally many of the Trump promises.  But Trump is a politician.  And what price for politicians' promises?  Political promises are aspirations and in practice only a small fraction of them are ever delivered. 

In Australia we have a word for what Trump does.  He makes "ambit" claims.  It's just a negotiating tactic. For example, if a union wants a pay rise for its workers it may initially ask the boss for a 10% raise.  It then haggles and eventually accepts 3%.  But if it had started out with a 3% claim it might have ended up with only 2%.  And if Australian unions know that tactic, we can be sure that arch-deal-maker Trump does too.

I could fisk the whole article below but I will mention just two further points:

1). Pipes mentions that Trump owns a book of Hitler's speeches.  But he forgets to mention that Trump has it only because his dynamic friend Marty Davis from Paramount gave it to him. And he also fails to mention that Trump got the name of the book completely wrong so had almost certainly not read it.

2). Pipes links to a video of a speech by Mussolini, which he claims resembles Trump.  There is some resemblance but Pipes forgets to check what Musso was talking about.  He was just outlining how important the navy was to Italy.  Such a speech would be delivered without drama by any Anglo speaker.  But Musso was an Italian and Italians are great dramatists.  They shout and gesture at the drop of a hat.  So Pipes is making Italian dramatics into a core aspect of Fascism.

If you want to see a REAL Fascist rally in action, turn to someone from a nation with manners similar to our own -- to Hitler.  His rallies were nothing like Trump's, as anyone who has seen Riefenstahl's "Triumph of the will"  will know. See for yourself.

Of his many outrageous campaign statements, perhaps Donald J. Trump's most important ones concern his would-be role as president of the United States.

When told that uniformed personnel would disobey his unlawful order as president to torture prisoners and kill civilians, Trump menacingly replied "They won't refuse. They're not going to refuse, believe me." Responding to criticism by the speaker of the House, Trump spoke like a Mafia don: "Paul Ryan, I don't know him well, but I'm sure I'm going to get along great with him. And if I don't? He's gonna have to pay a big price." Complaining that the United States' international standing has declined, Trump promised to make foreigners "respect our country" and "respect our leader" by creating an "aura of personality." Concerning the media, which he despises, Trump said, "I'm going to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money."

He encourages participants at his rallies physically to assault critics and has offered to cover their legal fees. He has twice re-tweeted an American Nazi figure. Only under pressure did he reluctantly disavow support from David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan. [He kept a copy of Hitler's collected early speeches, My New Order, by his bed. He called on followers to swear allegiance to him, evoking Hitlergruß-like salutes.]

In these and other ways, the Republican presidential candidate breaches the normal boundaries of American politics. He wants the military, the congress, foreign governments, the press, and ordinary citizens to submit to his will. His demands, and not some musty 18th-century documents, are what count. Trump presents himself as billionaire, master dealmaker, and nationalist who can get things done, never mind the losers and the fine print.

Conservatives have picked up on these tendencies. Rich Lowry of the National Review notes, "Donald Trump exists in a plane where there isn't a Congress or a Constitution. There are no trade-offs or limits. There is only his will and his team of experts." Michael Gerson of the Washington Post concurs: "His answer to nearly every problem is himself — his negotiating skill, his strength of purpose, his unique grasp of the national will." Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe fears his becoming "a ruthless strongman in the White House, unencumbered by constitutional norms and democratic civilities."

The former ADL head called the hand-raising for Trump "a fascist gesture." Liberals agree. Carl Bernstein of Watergate fame called Trump "a new kind of fascist in our culture" and someone with an "authoritarian demagogic point of view." Hillary Clinton portrays Trump pursuing "a demagogic path" that relies on xenophobia, paranoia, prejudice, and nationalism "to really stir people up."

If this kind of politics has no precedent at the highest precincts of American politics, it does elsewhere and it has a name: neo-fascism.

The term fascism dates to 1915 when it was adopted by Benito Mussolini to describe a novel movement that combined elements of the right (nationalism) and of the left (an economically all-powerful state). The fascist outlook, according to Merriam-Webster, "exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition."

Neo-fascism is the term for post-1945 figures who appropriate elements of the fascist agenda; it is a political movement "characterized by policies designed to incorporate the basic principles of fascism ... into existing political systems." That nicely describes Trump.

Videos of Mussolini demonstrate how the Italian dictator's style anticipated that of the Republican frontrunner; even without knowing Italian, one sees their similarity in character and tone, even in their facial expressions. The distinguished historian Andrew Roberts finds in Mussolini "Trump's secret template."

The United States, the world's oldest democratic republic, faces an internal danger unlike any in the past 1½ centuries, one with the potential to degrade domestic life and reduce the country's standing in the world. Nothing is as important as resisting and defeating Donald J. Trump and the neo-fascist virus he wishes to bring to the White House.

Republicans of Pennsylvania have an important job ahead of us in the primary election on April 26: to do our part in denying Trump the delegates he needs to become our nominee for president.



A description of a Trump rally from the Left

Michael A. Cohen's report below is mostly about his own feelings -- things FELT "venomous, violent, terrifying" etc. And we also get theories about what motivates Trump supporters. We read about "feeling of fear, anxiety and paranoia that are so evident at his rallies".  But how does he know what people are feeling?  It's just his opinion.  One could equally say that the feelings were of excitement and happiness.  It is an amusing example of the constant Leftist refrain that conservatives are not right in the head -- even though, from the French revolution on,  it is Leftists who have been the psychopathic  mass murderers. But the report does include some genuine reporting. You do get a picture of a very enthusiastic crowd.

As I walked into a soundstage Wednesday night at Grumman Studios, which was filled with thousands upon thousands of Donald Trump supporters penned into metal barricades and donning all manner of Trump paraphernalia, I immediately thought of the words Richard Strout of The New Republic used more than four decades ago to describe the scene at a George Wallace rally during the 1968 presidential campaign.

"There is menace in the blood shout of the crowd," wrote Strout. "You feel you have known this all somewhere. Never again will you read about Berlin in the ’30s without remembering this wild confrontation here of two irrational forces. The American sickness has finally localized; Wallace is the ablest demagogue of our time."

The analogy to Germany in the 1930s is, to be sure, inexact. But the atmosphere in Bethpage was unlike anything I’ve seen at a political rally. There was an electricity and energy in the room that felt venomous, violent, terrifying — like the political equivalent of parched kindling before a conflagration. If Trump had told the throngs there to go rampage in the streets, I half think most of them would have complied.

The crowd was almost all white, overwhelmingly male, and disproportionately young. There were constant chants of "USA! USA! USA!," "Hillary for prison!," and "Build the wall!" When protesters raised their voices they were drowned out by a particular chant, more regularly heard at football games, that resounded across the hall. "I’d like to tell them they’re going to be on the southern side of the wall," said one woman about the protesters. Trump’s omnipresent security guards, many of whom looked like they’d overdosed on muscle mass supplements, soon escorted them out. Thankfully, most of the hecklers who are usually a mainstay at Trump events stayed home or perhaps thought better of riling up the crowd.

A smiling old man proudly displayed to me a T-shirt that read "Trump: Get On Board or Get Run Over." Another read: "Up Yours Hillary." When I asked the man to pose for a picture, his wife pulled me over and told me "everything in America is terrible" — the economy, health care, the military. "Don’t you worry about your kids future?" she asked me as she demanded to know if I was voting for Trump.

At other Trump events, there is occasionally concern expressed over some of his more inflammatory statements. Not here. "Trump speaks the truth," ‘Trump is going to fix things," they told me. "He’s the only person who can beat Hillary," said another. One man I talked to so frequently parroted Trump’s catchphrases about getting rid of all the "bad deals" signed by stupid politicians and the foreign countries "ripping us off" that he joked"maybe I should be working for the campaign." If there was doubt about Trump or fear that perhaps he’s pushing the envelope too far it wasn’t evident in Long Island.

Indeed, the more aggressive that Trump was in his comments, the more the crowd responded. When he said "We’re gonna kick the hell out of ISIS," the ovation was deafening. When he made his obligatory attack on the media for being "terrible people" the crowd reacted on cue, turning toward the press risers and screaming at us or pointing fingers. And when he asked who is going to pay for the wall he wants to build, the crowd yelled back, "Mexico" and then soon began another chant of "Build the wall!"

Trump’s stump speech was the same he’s now delivered countless times — a litany of complaints about stupid politicians who "don’t know what the hell they’re doing," journalists who don’t tell the truth about the size of Trump’s rallies, heartless corporations who ship jobs overseas (which won’t happen anymore when Trump takes office), and America’s inability to win anymore. "We don’t fight like people from Long Island," he said when talking about the war against ISIS.

There were the obligatory attacks on Obama, Clinton, and Lyin’ Ted Cruz. And of course, there was the usual Trump bombast about how he’s "gonna turn this country around so fast" and how voters love him. "The Christians like Trump," he said bragging about his support with evangelicals.

There was even Trump’s now regular reading of "The Snake," an Oscar Brown song (Trump still incorrectly says it was written by Al Green) that tells the story of a "tender-hearted woman" who saves a snake’s life only to have it bite and kill her. This is Trump’s explanation for why the United States can’t allow Muslim refugees into America.

It’s a fitting ditty for Trump to read because it sums up well the feeling of fear, anxiety and paranoia that are so evident at his rallies. Even when he tries to say something aspirational and talks about how those in attendance will look back in a few years on this "great evening" with fondness, he falls back into his usual rhetoric. "For the first time we heard someone say that we’re not going to be a scapegoat and stupid people anymore," said Trump. "We’re not going to allow the world to rip us off anymore. . . . America first! America first!"

There’s no poetry at Trump’s events, no higher calling, no challenge other than to vote for Trump, no invocation of the "better angels of our nature" — it’s just raw aggression, an animal, nationalistic spirit, us vs. them, zero sum game resentment politics. But then again, there isn’t much indication Trump’s supporters are looking to be uplifted. "Everything is terrible," the country is "falling apart," and someone needs to come in a fix it. For them, that man is Donald Trump . . . the ablest demagogue of our time.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


10 April, 2016

Trump / Cruz Rapprochement – Why and How It May Happen

As veteran Newt Gingrich points out:

"Trump and Cruz together have amassed a crushing 80% vote against the GOP Establishment elites.  There has never been such a strong message sent to those elites, who are still reeling from the shock.

Trump and Cruz cannot, and will not, get together on anything until one of them wins. So expect even more rancor and political theater.  When the winner is determined, it will be time to join forces, bind up the wounds, and move forward to crush Clinton or Sanders"

Newt says there are many ways the post-convention rapprochement could be handled, although he offers none in this short interview. Assuming Donald Trump wins the nomination, I for one am counting on him, the great negotiator and deal maker, to make the most consequential "deal" he ever made — by far.

Of course, conservative voters are themselves engaged in rancorous Trump vs Cruz debates, and some hard feelings have developed. But once the winner is declared, it will be time for all conservatives to do as the candidates must do — unite to defeat whatever dour old neo-Marxist candidate the Democrats manage to come up with.

We are likely witnessing an entire political party, the GOP, in an historic transition the likes of which have happened only a few times in all of US history.



Walmart Stores to Close— Blame the Minimum Wage

At the end of 2015, retail giant Walmart announced it would close 269 stores across the globe, some 115 in the United States. This might seem puzzling. The company is the largest retailer in the country, and some 80 percent of U.S. shoppers visit the chain at least once a year. But thousands of locations and a huge customer base cannot save Walmart from the consequences of backward economic policy—like the minimum wage.

Among the stores closed were those in Oakland and Chinatown in Los Angeles. While the company’s decisions "took into account a number of factors," Oakland and Los Angeles have something important in common: Both recently raised their minimum wage considerably higher than the national average.

Many have criticized Walmart for its wages, claiming that a firm bringing in some $482 billion in sales can afford to pay its workers more than the current prevailing wage. But while Walmart is large and profitable, it’s still subject to the laws of economics. Oakland, L.A. and other places are about to learn that increasing the minimum wage not only fails to increase wages for the poorest workers, but is also likely to backfire.

First, while the company’s revenues seem high, Walmart’s profit margin is far from fat: a mere 3 percent. The company has billions in expenses every year—so significant that in a 31-day month, all its sales in the first 30 days go toward paying expenses. Only on the 31st day does the company actually turn a profit, assuming nothing goes wrong during that month—like an unexpected jump in wages.

Just like any other firm, Walmart employs individuals who will earn the company revenue. After pay increases early this year, the average full-time Walmart employee will earn $13.38 per hour, well above the industry average of $10.29. With other benefits, including short-term disability and paid time off, the company’s actual cost per employee is significantly higher.

That Walmart pays an average of $13.38 an hour plus benefits means it expects the average employee to earn the company more than that amount. While a jump in pay of just a few dollars may seem trivial, for a company that employs 1.4 million domestic employees, it is positively massive. This is not to mention the additional costs associated with taxes paid for each employee. With such thin profit margins, Walmart cannot afford to ignore these costs.

As the cost of employing workers increases, Walmart has to decide whether its current workforce is worth the price. For example, if a worker’s hourly wage plus benefits is $30 per hour, but he or she generates only $25 in revenue, the company loses money for every hour the employee works. Under those circumstances, it would benefit the company and its shareholders to lay off workers. It has nothing to do with "corporate greed." It’s business. Firms can’t operate at a loss.

Arbitrary wage increases, such as those dictated through minimum-wage laws, do nothing to make workers more productive. They just add costs. While proponents of the minimum wage intend for the burden to fall on "greedy" companies like Walmart, employees and consumers will feel the pain.

This is exactly what we’re observing in California. Instead of offering more people higher paying jobs, companies like Walmart will lay off hundreds of people who rely on the company for work.

Customers and communities lose out too. While Walmart caters to a variety of clientele, the company has been particularly helpful to some groups. More than 20 percent of Walmart customers live in rural areas. One in five customers receives food stamps or other assistance. Closing the stores means these consumers are out of luck. They have to find other—likely higher priced—alternatives, assuming such options are available at all.

Communities also lose out on the thousands of tax dollars Walmart pays to local and state governments every year, funding projects we all benefit from.

The closing of these stores should ring alarm bells for everyone concerned about economic well-being. When it comes to the minimum wage, everyone loses and it’s not Walmart’s fault. The responsibility lies with those who advocate and implement irresponsible economic policy.



This is How You Get Fired in the Obama Administration

When Barack Obama isn't censoring mention of Islamic terrorism, he's firing those who tell him just how bad it is:
Two top intelligence analysts at U.S. Central Command say they were kicked out for producing negative reports on Syrian rebel groups backed by the Obama administration.

Sources close to these analysts told The Daily Beast that they were actively targeted by military leadership for not delivering a glowing report on U.S. progress in the war against the Islamic State, The Daily Beast reports.

It appears the military has had enough of analysts complaining to the media about their bosses manipulating intelligence reports. More than 50 anonymous CENTCOM analysts have previously voiced concerns about reports being fiddled with to show absurdly successful outcomes against ISIS. Now, military officials are ready to seek out these analysts and remove them from their positions.

Apparently, the great sin of the two senior analysts is that they neither trusted rebel commitment to U.S. strategic objectives, nor trusted their abilities to carry out the objectives.

Democratic societies flourish on the basis of information. Repressive societies silence those whose version of events doesn't comply with the dictator's preferred narrative. The purpose of national security advisors is not to flatter the president, but to provide him with detail oriented explanations that help him make the best decisions as commander in chief. One would think that  community organizer with no foreign policy experience whatsoever would understand his own limitations and trust these advisors.

One would be wrong



Supreme Court Hands Down Big Sixth Amendment Win

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court delivered a win for the Sixth Amendment right to counsel in Luis v. United States. Five justices—Justice Stephen Breyer, who wrote a plurality opinion joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, and Justice Clarence Thomas, who wrote a separate concurring opinion—sided with challenger Luis, concluding that the government cannot freeze her untainted assets and thereby deny her the opportunity to be represented by an attorney of her choosing in the criminal case against her.

In 2012, a grand jury indicted Sila Luis on federal charges stemming from an alleged Medicare fraud scheme. According to the indictment, Luis paid kickbacks and conspired to perpetrate a fraud that resulted in her obtaining nearly $45 million.

By the time Luis was charged, she had already spent most of the money, so prosecutors sought to freeze all of her assets up to $45 million, regardless of whether the money in question was derived from the alleged illegal conduct or "untainted" funds that were legitimately earned or otherwise lawfully obtained. The goal was to ensure that, should she be convicted, those funds would be available for forfeiture in order to pay restitution to victims and other statutory penalties.

Luis sought to unfreeze her untainted assets so that she could use some of the money to hire an attorney of her choosing to represent her in the ongoing criminal case, but the trial judge ruled against her, and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed that decision.

But the Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the pretrial restraint of Luis’ untainted assets violated her right under the Sixth Amendment, which the Supreme Court has previously held, given that the close working relationship between a client and his or her lawyer and the need for trust encompass the right to hire the counsel of one’s choice (subject to certain reasonable limitations, such as when a lawyer has a conflict of interest).

The crux of the case lies in the distinction between tainted and untainted assets—that is, assets that are traceable to a criminal act as opposed to those that are not. The Supreme Court has long held that tainted assets may be seized before a criminal trial, even if doing so results in a defendant’s inability to afford counsel of his or her choice.

This makes sense. After all, it would be bizarre to hold that a thief who steals a purse with $100 in it has a right to then spend the illicitly obtained money on a lawyer to defend him in the purse-snatching case. Rather, the cash belongs to the owner of the purse, and the thief never had any legitimate claim to it.

Writing for the plurality, Breyer noted that "[t]he property at issue here, however, is not loot, contraband, or otherwise ‘tainted.’" It is, as the government conceded, entirely legitimate and unconnected to the fraud scheme Luis is accused of having perpetrated. Nevertheless, prosecutors wanted to "preserve Luis’ untainted assets so that they will be available to cover the costs of forfeiture and restitution if she is convicted, and if the court later determines that her tainted assets are insufficient or otherwise unavailable."

While the plurality recognized the legitimacy of the government’s interests and even conceded that it had some statutory support, Breyer concluded that "compared to the right to counsel of choice, these interests would seem to lie somewhat further from the heart of a fair, effective criminal justice system." And, Breyer noted, the law has tracing rules that permit prosecutors to freeze so-called substitute assets when they can establish that tainted funds have been used to purchase other goods.

The plurality was clearly concerned that if Congress were permitted to freeze untainted assets for this crime, there would be nothing to prevent Congress from doing the same for other crimes; to quote Breyer, there would be "no obvious stopping place." If this were to happen, then "defendants, rendered indigent, would fall back upon publicly paid counsel, including overworked and underpaid public servants."

Thomas reached the same conclusion but not for the same reasons. As Thomas noted, "constitutional rights necessarily protect the prerequisites for their exercise." In his view, the 6th Amendment right "to have the Assistance of Counsel" necessarily "implies the right to use lawfully owned property to pay for an attorney. Otherwise the right to counsel—originally understood to protect only the right to hire counsel of choice—would be meaningless."

In his dissenting opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy, joined by Justice Samuel Alito, asserted that the government should be able to restrain any potentially forfeitable property regardless of whether it can be tied to a criminal offense. To do otherwise, he argued, would incentivize criminals to dispose of illicit assets while preserving legitimate funds, safe in the knowledge that these untainted assets could then pay for their legal defense.

This would short-circuit the government’s legitimate goal of safeguarding forfeitable property from dissipation. Moreover, as Justice Elena Kagan noted in her separate dissenting opinion, the plurality has drawn a line in the sand of Sixth Amendment jurisprudence that may be difficult to retrace in future cases.

Ultimately, the government may be able to prove that Luis committed the crime with which she has been charged. But then again, she may be innocent, which is exactly why the Sixth Amendment right to counsel is so important.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


8 April, 2016

Trump and Cruz may both sound equally crazy but the scary thing about Ted is that he actually means it

Piers Morgan below is attacking Ted Cruz but to my mind it makes Ted sound good.  And I think Morgan gets The Donald right

‘Ted Cruz was one of the sharpest, brightest students I’ve ever taught at Harvard.’

I’ve never forgotten that glowing tribute to the Republican presidential candidate – who won a big victory in the Wisconsin Primary last night - from one of America’s most famous and eminent lawyers, Alan Dershowitz.

Mainly because Dershowitz is a diehard liberal, so would instinctively disagree with almost every word that comes out of Cruz’s mouth.

But also because he taught over 10,000 students at Harvard Law, most of them exceptionally clever minds or they wouldn’t be at Harvard to start with.

So Cruz must be a highly intelligent human being.

Dershowitz, speaking to me on my old CNN show, added: ‘Ted Cruz deeply believes in what he’s doing, he’s deeply principled, he thinks he’s doing the right thing. That doesn’t mean it is the right thing, and he’s very hard to get off that principled argument. He was not a compromiser, not somebody who tried to make friends by accepting what was then the political correctness of the day.’

So far, so good you might think?

Nothing wrong with a very smart man who has firm principles and believes in what he’s doing.

Particularly when Donald Trump, his main opponent for the Republican nomination, is seen by many critics to be a deeply UN-principled, shameless opportunist.

The only problem is that Ted Cruz’s principles, as Bette Midler tweeted today, are ‘somewhat right of Attila the Hun.’

Attila, a fearsome power-crazed barbarian ruler of the Hunnic Empire in the 5th Century, had pretty strong principles too. Notably: ‘Trample the weak, hurdle the dead.’

A perfect metaphor, perhaps, for a ruthless career politician like Cruz who is equally loathed by colleagues on both sides of the Senate for his abrasive ‘outsider’ onslaughts against pretty much everything federal government stands for.

Most of the attention in this GOP nominee race has centered on TV and media superstar Trump.

But flying methodically under the radar has been a candidate who is inherently far more right wing than Trump.

Ted Cruz shares many of Trump’s character traits – including a massive narcissistic ego, a penchant for crowd-pleasing populist rhetoric and an aggressive, attack-dog style against opponents.

Where they differ, crucially, is that Cruz is deadly serious and very deliberate about every word he says, and has spent years plotting and scheming to radically change America forever.

His astonishing, and scary, ambition manifested itself publicly in 2013 when he threw one of the great tantrums in U.S. political history over Obamacare and successfully managed to shut down the government for 16 days. A self-aggrandising stunt which temporarily put 800,000 Americans out of work and cost the U.S. economy $22 billion.

Further, he actually stated that elected officials who didn’t vote to defund the Affordable Care Act were akin to Nazi appeasers.

Really? Anyone who supported a health care proposal which gave 30 million impoverished and uninsured Americans health cover was as morally culpable as people who tacitly enabled the mass murder of 11 million people including millions of Jews exterminated in gas chambers?

Cruz is not, as many believe Trump to be, just pandering to the hard-line Conservative right in America, he IS the hard-line Conservative right in America; a brutally ideological zealot who wants to drag his country kicking and screaming back to the very dark days of bigoted fear and hatred of government.

Consider some of his basic, very entrenched beliefs:

He’s opposed to any kind of same-sex marriage or civil union, believing marriage should be between ‘one man and one woman’. Such is his utter intolerance of all things homosexual, he even attacked the mayor of Dallas for marching in a gay pride parade.

He resolutely supports the death penalty.

He voted against the Violence Against Women Act.

He’s anti all abortion, including for pregnancies caused by rape and incest.

He wants to slash funding to Planned Parenthood.

He repeatedly claims that more guns mean less crime, despite all statistical evidence to the contrary. In fact, he's so gun-mad, even by Republican standards, that he makes breakfast for his family by wrapping pieces of bacon around a machine gun.

He denies the very existence of man-made climate change.

He’s so driven by his Christian religious beliefs that he opposes any notion of separating Church and State. ‘Any president,’ he said, ‘who doesn’t begin every day on his knees isn’t fit to be Commander-in-Chief.’

He claims Christians can’t be terrorists and have committed no such acts of terror for hundreds of years.

He wants police to ‘patrol and secure Muslim neighbourhoods inside America’ – an act described as ‘terrifying’ by U.S. Muslims.

Trump has been regularly described as the most dangerous man in America.

But Trump, at his heart, is a businessman.

He’s spent his life doing deals, often taking extreme starting positions – whether he’s buying buildings or golf courses, or haggling over a TV show salary - to secure leverage and then negotiating back to a more reasonable place.

He’s been adopting the exact same strategy in this presidential race – to great effect.

The presidency is just another deal to Trump, albeit the biggest of his life.

To win the White House, he has to first win the Republican nomination, and he’s calculated that the best way to do that is to hammer away with tough-sounding messages on hot button Conservative issues like Islamic terrorism, immigration and abortion.

It’s undeniably made him sound at times both racist and sexist, neither of which I have ever heard him be in the ten years we’ve been friends.

But I suspect everything he’s been saying is negotiable, from his Mexican wall to short term Muslim ban.

Whether you love or loathe Trump, ask yourself which is the more dangerous potential leader for America right now: a ‘deeply principled’ right wing evangelist lunatic who means exactly what he says, or a pragmatic extrovert businessman with a big mouth whose whole career has been built on compromise?

Of course, there may be other candidates who throw their hats in the ring if the Republican nominee battle is still undecided by the time of the party’s Convention.

For now though, it’s likely to be Cruz or Trump.

I personally wouldn’t vote for either of them, even if I were able to, because of their refusal to even countenance new gun control laws.

But I can say this with some certainty:

Trump wouldn’t be nearly as dangerous as people fear.

Cruz would be considerably more dangerous than people realise.



Leftist refusal to learn on display

The housing disaster is going to come back in a big way if Barack Obama has anything to do with it. According to the Washington Post:

The Obama administration is engaged in a broad push to make more home loans available to people with weaker credit, an effort that officials say will help power the economic recovery but that skeptics say could open the door to the risky lending that caused the housing crash in the first place.

President Obama’s economic advisers and outside experts say the nation’s much-celebrated housing rebound is leaving too many people behind, including young people looking to buy their first homes and individuals with credit records weakened by the recession.

In response, administration officials say they are working to get banks to lend to a wider range of borrowers by taking advantage of taxpayer-backed programs — including those offered by the Federal Housing Administration — that insure home loans against default.

Housing officials are urging the Justice Department to provide assurances to banks, which have become increasingly cautious, that they will not face legal or financial recriminations if they make loans to riskier borrowers who meet government standards but later default.

We've seen this all before. During Bill Clinton's presidency, HUD secretary Andrew Cuomo pushed similar policies. As Reason notes:

The meltdown was the consequence of a combination of the easy money and low interest rates engineered by the Federal Reserve and the easy housing engineered by a variety of government agencies and policies. Those agencies include the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and two nominally private "government-sponsored enterprises" (GSEs), Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The agencies — along with laws such as the Community Reinvestment Act (passed in the 1970s, then fortified in the Clinton years), which required banks to make loans to people with poor and nonexistent credit histories — made widespread homeownership a national goal.

This all led to a home-buying frenzy and an explosion of subprime and other non-prime mortgages, which banks and GSEs bundled into dubious securities and peddled to investors worldwide. Hovering in the background was the knowledge that the federal government would bail out troubled "too-big-to-fail" financial corporations, including Fannie and Freddie.

We've seen this cycle before: a government pursues a political goal with no regard for the predictable economic consequences, creating a free for all. Otherwise prudent institutions, aware of the consequences, nonetheless go along, lest they miss out on the record profits; the worst case scenario plays out. The government spends billions of dollars bailing out the well connected, and hardworking, middle class Americans suffer the consequences.



Beware Survivorship Bias

Suppose you wanted to know how many of the soldiers, sailors, and airmen who served during World War II were killed in that war. So you sent inquiries to a random sample of persons whose names were drawn from a list of all those who served in the military during the war, asking: Were you killed in the war? I presume that all of those who responded to the survey would reply, no. Having conducted your scientific poll, you could then conclude that none of the soldiers who served in the military services during World War II were killed.

The mistake you would have made in this case springs from what is known as survivorship bias. It affects many sorts of studies, including many where the study design is not so obviously stupid as in my foregoing example. Surveys have sought, for example, to determine how an increase in the legal minimum wage affected employers’ total hours of labor services hired. Such a forced wage-rate increase, however, especially if it were a large one, might well cause some marginal firms to go out of business. They would then be unavailable to respond to a poll or to show up in another type of survey to indicate that the increased minimum wage had caused them to reduce their hours of employment to zero, wiping out however many jobs they had previously supported.

You might think that any well-trained economist would be aware of survivorship bias and would not draw unwarranted conclusions by failing to take it into account in designing, conducting, and interpreting a study. But if you thought so, you’d be wrong. Mainstream economists, including super-duper econometricians, not uncommonly make this freshman mistake.

Long ago, Frederic Bastiat famously warned against ignoring the unseen effects and focusing exclusively on the visible effects of government’s or others’ actions in markets. His warning is often ignored, however, even by professional economists, many of whom pride themselves on their exclusive focus on quantitative data—for them, if it can’t be (and hasn’t been) counted, it does not exist. Such an approach to evidence and economic reasoning is indefensible.

Much of what we economists know can be known directly from praxeology, the pure logic of choice most notably developed by Ludwig von Mises and his followers. Thus, if someone fails to see and measure, for example, employment losses in the wake of a substantial increase in the legal minimum wage, the sound economist’s reaction to this (non)observational report is not to suppose bizarrely that the law of demand does not apply to labor services, but to challenge the obsession with observed and counted employment reductions. Many of the effects of increasing the legal minimum wage, for example, take the form of actions that never occurred and hence cannot be observed, for example, jobs that were never created because at the higher minimum wage entrepreneurs did not consider the formation of certain types of new firms or the creation of certain types of new jobs to be worthwhile.

In short, in gaining a solid understanding of economic events, we must beware of survivorship bias and never fail to consider the unseen as well as the seen consequences of government interventions in the market. A corollary is that we must not fool ourselves into the naïve positivist belief that only countable data deserve consideration in scientific work. The seen and the unseen, the counted and the uncounted—all are proper raw materials for the serious and properly trained student of economic and social life.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


7 April, 2016

Donald Trump is no media monster, the people created him

Comment from Australia

Last week, amid laughs and applause from an elite media audience, US President Barack Obama blamed the media for the rise of Donald Trump. In that moment, Obama summed up why the brash, sometimes bizarre contender for the Republican presidential nomination has risen higher than anyone ever thought possible. If you want to understand Trump’s rise, start with Obama’s cluelessness.

Obama said: "A job well done is about more than just handing someone a microphone. It is to probe and to question, and to dig deeper, and to demand more."

Without mentioning the Republican contender by name, Obama bemoaned the fact, in his view, the media had handed Trump "billions of dollars in free media" minus serious accountability. Exasperated by Trump’s popularity, Obama said that "real people depend on you to uncover the truth".

Saying that politicians don’t like the media when the media doesn’t serve their purpose is like pointing out that the sun rises in the east. Two weeks before he left office, that great media spin-meister Tony Blair complained about coping with the scale and weight of the media. He failed to admit that the sheer weight and scale of his own media operations had fed the beast. Our own Julia Gillard disliked media criticism so much she tried to regulate the media in 2013. Former Greens leader Bob Brown labelled criticism from the fourth estate as "hate media". Former prime minister Tony Abbott felt betrayed by criticism from conservative media ranks.

Now it’s Obama turn to shoot the messenger rather than admit that the media responds to its audience, an audience that has lost faith in him and politicians like him.

The media is far from perfect. Compare the inherent bias among members of our own fourth estate who filleted John Howard in 2007 for criticising Obama’s plan to decamp from Iraq. Yet last weekend, when Malcolm Turnbull criticised Trump for his comments on nuclear weapons, there was only deafening silence.

The logical method to the madness of Trump’s rise has nothing to do with the media. Trump is a populist. Disaffected voters create populists. And a failed, insular political class creates that deep disaffection among voters.

As National Review’s Jonah Goldberg said on CNN last week, Trump is an immigrant from celebrity culture. His entry visa into politics was granted by millions of Americans who stopped trusting the institutions of power and instead looked to a populist with whom they could connect.

Be it a man in his 40s or a woman in her 20s, be it a blue-collar worker or a stay-at-home mum, be it a moderate Republican from Massachusetts or a conservative one from Alabama, Trump is their man. As one pundit pointed out: "Going back to 1960 … no Republican nominee has won the states of Alabama, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, New Hampshire, Nevada, Virginia and South Carolina." Trump supporters across this geographical sweep echo Trump’s campaign mantra. They want to make America great again, the old-fashioned way.

That’s why Trump has been able to break all the rules. He has made offensive comments against women, Muslims, Hispanics, the disabled. Trump ridiculed Marco Rubio as "little Marco" and attacked Ted Cruz’s wife. He said John McCain was "not a war hero" and described his new political friend Ben Carson as a "child molester". He told the audience during one debate "there’s no problem at all" with the size of his penis. He’s made a mess of explaining his position on abortion and suggested that Japan and South Korea ought to have nuclear weapons. He has denounced NATO as useless and tells the world to start protecting itself rather than look to America. And that’s just the shortlist.

The bigger point is that Trump is unafraid. He may be clumsy, misguided and even gross. He may sound dumb and even dangerous, but he is willing to weigh into debates that much of the political class tiptoes around. Banning Muslim immigration is nonsense but who else among the candidates, Democrat or Republican, has ventured into the difficult debate over clashing cultures? Media deities at The New York Times may shake their head at Trump for pointing out that Brussels today is a world away from Brussels 20 years ago. Meanwhile millions of Americans nod their heads in agreement with Trump.

Obama wasn’t talking about how mind-numbing and stifling political correctness in the media and beyond has given Trump a fillip among ordinary Americans. Obama’s claim that Trump has somehow avoided accountability, enjoying billions of dollars of free advertising, is as dumb as some of Trump’s statements.

From Left to Right, Trump is being eviscerated every minute of every day. Fox News is not cheering Trump on. Remember the early and ongoing stoush with Fox News’s Megyn Kelly? No less than National Review published an "Against Trump" edition, lining up America’s most influential and thoughtful conservative voices against Trump.

Glenn Beck pointed to Trump’s propensity for big government. William Kristol pilloried Trumpism as a "two-bit Caesarism of a kind that American conservatives have always deplored" and implored conservatives "to stand athwart Trumpism, yelling stop". Michael Medved critiqued "Trump’s brawling, blustery, mean-spirited public persona" as playing directly into the negative stereotypes that left-liberals had long attached to their political opponents. All correct.

And mostly irrelevant to Trump supporters who certainly won’t agree with everything he says. How could they? They may well detest some of the things he says. How couldn’t they? But so far, it’s enough that he says he understands they have been forgotten by the political elites and that he wants to make America great again, the old-fashioned way. Trump’s campaign rallies make news because they are news: they point to a growing phenomenon of political dissatisfaction.

That doesn’t meant Trump will win the Republican nomination or, if that happens, become president. Last week, The Wall Street Journal’s Peggy Noonan, who has seen her fair share of presidents and presidential wannabes, explained the political theory of The Mess. "The Mess is something a candidate occasionally brings with him that voters can tell is going to cause trouble down the road. The Mess is a warning sign; it tells potential supporters to slow down, think twice."

It‘s a pattern of behaviour, maybe scrapes with the law, love affairs or other scandals, she says, pointing out that voters accept that human beings are flawed but they don’t like patterns of bad behaviour that will bring trouble to high office. "Donald Trump’s Mess is his mouth, his indiscipline, his refusal to be … serious."

Add this to Trump’s Mess. In February at the first contest in the race to the White House, when Iowa voters were asked if their candidate reflected their values, Trump scored the lowest. A measly 6 per cent. Beyond Iowa, polls show that people want a candidate who shares their values. And Trump doesn’t. Maybe red-hot anger among Americans has been masking that so far. Time will tell. But just as Obama is wrong to blame to media for Trump’s rise, Trump can’t blame his mounting Mess on the media either.

That said, whether Trump becomes the Republican presidential nominee or not, understanding the lessons of his success is preferable to the learned ignorance from Obama and the political elites.



Why Do Liberals Hate America?

The idea of American exceptionalism has been embedded in our collective DNA for generations. It is the faith-based belief that, as Ronald Reagan put it, America is a "shining city on a hill."  Do modern liberals believe that?

I almost never try to get into the other side’s head or ascribe ill motives to those on the left. They are, I’ve always believed, misguided, not malign.

But I’m having second thoughts after listening to Barack Obama’s defense of communism/socialism when he was in Argentina. He advised young people to get behind "what works" economically — as if there is some deep mystery here.

Obama didn’t misspeak. The modern left in America really has come to believe that communism, socialism, Marxism and totalitarianism — or other terms for the monopolization of power into the hands of a ruling elite — are superior to free-market capitalism.

The president of the United States is supposed to be the global spokesman for free enterprise. But, instead of traveling to Cuba to point out to the world the decades of stagnation, deprivation and dehumanization at the hands of the Castros, and instead of using this moment in history to showcase the triumph of capitalism 90 miles away, Obama praises Cuba’s health care and education systems.

He might as well have been praising Mussolini for making the trains run on time. Even more unbelievable: The media applauded.

How far the Democratic Party has fallen. Can anyone imagine Obama, Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders having the gumption or wisdom to tell Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down this wall"?

It wasn’t so long ago that leading Democrats — JFK, Harry Truman and even the AFL CIO — were staunch enemies of communism. Today, there is no place for such beliefs within the progressive Democratic Party. If it involves ceding power to the state, the left is all for it — as evidenced by the rise of Bernie Sanders.

But for every action, there is a reaction, and the left’s lunacy has given momentum to the tumultuous uprising on the right this year. Millions of voters who support Donald Trump want our government to put America first and focus on our own mounting problems at home, then worry about Europe, Israel, the melting ice caps, AIDS in Africa and so on. If your house is burning down, you put out that fire and save your own children trapped on the second floor, before you go down the street and put the fire out at your neighbors' house.

Here’s just one observational data point that, admittedly, is anecdotal but speaks volumes about the left-right divide in America. At a typical Donald Trump or Ted Cruz rally, you will see American flags waving everywhere. These are patriotic gatherings. At Sanders events, you will see some flags, but not many — because if you are a leftist, it’s not cool to love America. What is much cooler is wearing a Che Guevera T-shirt.

At a Republican rally, you typically meet many veterans who served our country with honor and valor. Some who protest at Trump rallies detest those who are wearing military uniforms and call them fascists and give the Nazi salute. I’ve seen it happen. I want to grab these brats and shout at them like Jack Nicholson did in "A Few Good Men": "I would rather you just said ‘thank you’ and went on your way."

Trump voters see America losing both the economic and cultural wars vital to national survival. We have a $19 trillion national debt that has doubled in the past decade. We have wages flat or falling for most Americans. We have a political class that is actively trying to destroy whole industries — coal production, oil and gas, community banks and so many others.

We have a president (along with the intellectual class) pushing a radical climate change agenda that will cost the middle class millions of jobs, but won’t change the global temperature by a hundredth of a degree. Trade deals seem to be drafted to benefit foreign workers and businesses over our own. America pays far more than its share for programs like the United Nations and NATO. Our public schools put teachers first, not kids, and they often don’t adequately educate.

We have courts overturning the will of the people in state after state on issues such as gay marriage. We have speech police. We have illegal immigrants who work here and live here and then wave the Mexican flag at rallies, as if to be intentionally offensive. (And I’m in favor of immigration.) Then they wonder why Americans want a wall.

We have the TSA searching the underwear of infants but letting certain adults pass through without inspection because we wouldn’t want to be accused of profiling. We have a Justice Department thinking about prosecuting people for questioning the climate change "consensus."

This is the same crowd that seems to prefer the economic systems in Sweden and Greece and Cuba over America’s. They preach human rights, but they don’t seem to understand that economic freedom is a core human right.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


6 April, 2016

Thinking about retirement?  Economic historian, Martin Hutchinson, has some news for you!

Central banks have kept their policy interest rates close to zero for nearly eight years and with the partial exception of the Fed are now intensifying this policy by pushing rates negative. Combined with large budget deficits and ultra-aggressive regulation in the service of several dubious causes, these policies have provided a destruction test of Keynesian economic theories, which those theories have by and large miserably failed. They have also formed a major offensive against savers, i.e. against nearly all of us during a substantial portion of our human life-cycles. Ethically as well as economically, this needs to stop now.

In the days of final salary pension schemes, those with such pensions (which included the salaried and most unionized blue-collar workers) did not need to save. The company deducted money from their paycheck automatically, it took all the reinvestment risk, and the individual could retire with his company pension, Social Security and nothing else (maybe a house with the mortgage paid off) and live a very comfortable retirement. He never had to care what the Fed did, because the company took all the investment risks of his retirement assets.

By and large at that time corporations were thus a useful lobby making sure interest rates did not go too low, otherwise their required pension contributions soared. Truly, whether or not the generation that served in World War II were the Greatest Generation, those that kept their jobs through their careers unquestionably had the Greatest Retirement.

This has now completely changed. The Baby Boomers now retiring are a transitional generation, but the Gen-X’ers and Millennials will both have to save hard. Very few of them will have guaranteed final-salary pension schemes from their jobs, so unless they build up a very substantial savings pot, they will have to rely on the modest payments available from the Social Security system. What’s more, since the Social Security system is scheduled to run out of money in 2033 or so, those payments are likely to become even more modest around that time. (Current projections are that Social Security will be able from its running cash flow to pay about 72% of the nominal benefits due, but whether the Trustees will do that, or bias the system towards politically favored beneficiaries and pay less to the disfavored must be an open question.)

Interest rates thus play a huge part in the lives of those without defined benefit pensions, whether we want them to or not. While we are young, low interest rates are a benefit; Millennials may have been ripped off by their colleges, but they are at least paying nice low subsidized rates on the huge loans they incurred to obtain their mostly useless degrees.

Low interest rates are also attractive to those taking out a mortgage to buy a house, although in this case higher rates would be compensated by lower house prices. When I first came to the United States in 1980, I looked at buying a house, the prices of which were eminently affordable. The problem was mortgage interest rates of around 12%. I was prepared to afford that, expecting inflation and salary raises to take care of the problem over a few years. However, the amount I could borrow was pathetically low, because banks based their calculations on the mortgage payment (bloated by the 12% rate) compared to my after-tax income, and not on the principal amount, as they did in Britain.

Still, mortgage rates somewhere between 1980’s 12% and today’s 4% would lower house prices sufficiently for Millennials with a steady job to afford them. While they might not like the higher interest payments in the early years, they would be very happy with the easier payoff of the smaller principal owed.

Thus today’s low rates are beneficial to heavily indebted ex-students in their 20s, but more equivocal for financially stretched home buyers in their 30s. After 40 they become hugely damaging, because of the need to save for retirement, and absorb longevity risk in old age.

If a person with an income of $60,000 wishes to retire at 67 with pension equal to two thirds of his salary, or $40,000, he needs to save enough to fund payments of $25,000 per annum, increasing with inflation, assuming his social security payment is around $15,000. At today’s annuity rates, he will need to save $370,000 to buy an annuity that will give him the income he needs, although without inflation protection and with a complete wipeout of principal at his death, thus impoverishing any surviving spouse. At today’s 10-year Treasury bond rate of around 2%, he will need to save $905 per month to get that, which is about 25% of his after-tax income – in addition to his payment on a $150,000 mortgage, which might be another $500 per month. The kids will certainly have to take out loans to pay for college.

The economics really don’t work, or at least they are colossally painful. In practice, the current generation of 60-year-olds has used three methods of getting round this problem. First, if they bought a house before 1990 or so, they have seen the value of that house increase even in real terms and the mortgage payments correspondingly diminish. If they have been sensible enough to avoid cash-out re-financings – and most haven’t – they now have an asset they can sell to finance part of their retirement. With house prices much higher and inflation lower, the next generation – today’s 40- and 50- year olds – won’t be able to do this.

Second, 60-year-olds have put all their money in stocks, hoping that the fantastic bull market of the last 34 years will carry on giving them returns of 8-10% per year for the rest of their days. Since the stock market is now above twice its 1995 level, adjusted for the rise in nominal GDP, that won’t happen. Already today’s 60-year-olds are conscious of being well short of the money needed to fund their retirement; the next big downturn will open a gap between retirement aspirations and available resources that is impossible to fill.

Retirees are therefore doing the only thing they can do; spending their capital. That works fine for the first few years of retirement, but gets very nasty indeed once the capital runs out and you are too old to work. However, given today’s low current interest rates they have no alternative; when as today the risk-free rate of return on long-term (25 year) inflation protected TIPS is only 0.84%, for each $1,000 per month you require in secure inflation-proof income, you need capital of $1,428,571. Needless to say, anyone with $1.4 million in capital is spending much more than $1,000 per month, so is either running down his capital inexorably or, more likely, investing in stocks that will someday blow out and leave him destitute.

Maynard Keynes notoriously called for the “euthanasia of the rentier” but there is nothing whatever merciful about this war on those trying unsuccessfully to save for retirement. Indeed, for many of them a literal euthanasia will be their only solution once the money runs out. The problem is not yet acute, because many of the “young old” are living on what remains of the savings they have. However, you can bet that the “rentiers” themselves are only too aware of the problem. Donald Trump consistently polls better among the over-60s than among younger voters, and this is almost certainly why. These are not people whose biggest problem is student loans or even, mostly, the job market. They are finding it impossible to support themselves in old age, and hence they are angry enough, without necessarily understanding the precise interest rate effect that impoverishes them, to support Trump.

In a sensible political system, the Republicans would be properly aware of this problem among the older saving voters that form their core constituency, and would have been raising hell about it, in Congress and on the stump. There was a little discussion of interest rates in the 2012 campaign, mostly from Ron Paul, but since Mitt Romney’s defeat, not a squeak. This is almost as severe a betrayal of their voters by Republicans as their 2013 attempt to open the floodgates to more immigration. It should thus have surprised nobody that the core of the Republican voter base was angered at the party hierarchy, and ready to vote for any candidate, however implausible, who reflected their anger, even though he offered no solution to their most pressing economic problem.

Far from reforming their damaging and one-sided interest rate policies, the world’s central banks appear determined to double down on them, venturing into the even more dangerous territory of negative interest rates. Truly in this case the Keynesian clerisy is betraying the populace as a whole, condemning them to an impoverished old age they have not deserved. Voters’ anger is entirely justified; what is needed now is some politicians who will act to rectify the problem.



More Great Moments in Federal Government Incompetence

I used to think the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was the worst federal bureaucracy. After all, these are the pinheads who are infamous for bone-headed initiatives, such as:

    The EEOC making it hard for trucking companies to weed out drunk drivers.

    The EEOC telling a coffee shop it had too many attractive waitresses.

    The EEOC forcing companies to make special accommodations for “pee-shy” employees.

    The EEOC trying to give special employment rights to crooks.

    The EEOC sued a trucking company that dismissed Muslim drivers who refused to deliver alcohol.

    The EEOC was slapped down by the courts after trying to block employers from doing criminal background checks, even though the EEOC also conducts such checks.

But I’m beginning to think that the Veterans Administration should win the prize. The EEOC crowd is simply a bunch of nutty leftists, but VA bureaucrats are downright evil. They create secret waiting lists that result in dying veterans and thenpay themselves big bonuses.

And we now have evidence that they deliberately lie to internal investigators and deliberately scheme to deny care to former military personnel. The Daily Caller has someof the gruesome details. First, here’s information on the attempted coverup.

    Management at Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers in California selected and coached employees on exactly what to tell investigators about wait time manipulation, according to new inspector general reports. According to two whistleblowers, management handpicked medical support assistants and told them what to tell the Veterans Health Administration Inspection Team, which visited the San Diego medical center in May, 2014, following the wait time manipulation scandal which rocked the Phoenix VA.

And here’s evidence on the effort to delay care while simultaneously hiding evidence of waiting lists.

    Investigators interviewed 16 more medical support assistants, and most of them said they were told to “zero out” appointment times by changing veterans’ desired appointment dates to the first actual appointment date available. This practice gives off the appearance the veteran is getting the appointment at the desired time with no wait. …A veteran actually tried to commit suicide out of desperation and frustration as a result of four canceled appointments in a row.

You won’t be surprised to learn, by the way, that the crowd in Washington claims the actual problem is that the VA’s budget is too small.

Now let’s shift from malice to incompetence.

The Washington Post reports that officials from the Central Intelligence Agency left a rather unwelcome present for schoolkids recently.

    The CIA left “explosive training material” under the hood of a Loudoun County school bus after a training exercise last week, a bus that was used to ferry elementary and high school students to and from school on Monday and Tuesday with the material still sitting in the engine compartment, according to the CIA and Loudoun County officials. …Loudoun schools spokesman Wayde Byard said the CIA indicated the nature of the material but asked the school system not to disclose it. Byard described it as a “putty-type” material designed for use on the battlefield.

By the way, the explosives weren’t discovered because the CIA has strong inventory controls.

    The bus was taken to a school system facility on Wednesday for routine maintenance. Byard said the county’s buses are regularly taken off-line to check their spark plugs, hoses and to rotate tires. It was during a routine inspection that a technician discovered the explosive material.

Gee, how comforting.

Speaking of inventory procedures, the Daily Caller reports on an internal investigation that found grotesque and dangerous sloppiness in the handling of weapons at federal prisons.

    Firearms, ammunition and dangerous chemical agents could be missing from federal prison armories without government officials having a clue they are gone…said a Department of Justice Inspector General report made public Thursday. …The IG reported missing ammunition in one armory but redacted multiple examples of equipment that was removed or added without a system update. Inventory tracking inadequacies make it all but impossible to know if equipment is missing. The IG investigation was prompted in 2011 after a BOP employee pleaded guilty to stealing munitions from a federal prison facility, but changes made since 2011 by BOP have not remedied the problem. …Three of the seven federal prisons reviewed also stockpiled “unauthorized chemical agents and ammunition,” but the IG redacted details about those stockpiles.

The good news (fingers crossed) is that there’s no concrete evidence that weapons actually wound up in the hands of thugs or terrorists.

And I guess this isn’t as bad as the Obama Administration’s so-called “fast and furious” scandal, which was based on deliberately letting criminals obtains guns (though it did lead to a good Jay Leno joke).

P.S. Since I don’t want to be accused of discrimination, the episodes discussed above from the VA, CIA and BOP should not be interpreted as a slight to all the other federal departments and agencies that also work hard to waste money and make our lives less pleasant. Rest assured that the bureaucrats at the TSA, IRS, State Department, DHS, and elsewhere are also capable of waste, inefficiency, fraud, and abuse.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


5 April, 2016

An Authoritarian-in-chief?

Jeff Jacoby below is one of many who say that Trump is not fit for the Presidency.  He makes a more thorough than usual case for that so I thought I might offer a few comments on the matter. 

For a start, his referral to Trump as a potential authoritarian is amusing.  What could be more authoritarian than a man who wants to "fundamentally transform" America?  And the Leftist hegemony in America today goes right down to the children. Offering schoolchildren food they like in school meals is forbidden. And there are regulations for almost everything.  You cannot have an efficient dishwasher or an efficient toilet flush.  Americans already live under a pervasive authoritarianism.

Does Trump propose anything of that magnitude?  Not that I have heard.  He might be abusive to political opponents but he would be hard put to be as abusive as Leftists are to Christians and conservatives.

Jeff also fails to see two big things that stick out like dog's balls (if I may use an army expression):  That Trump is a showman and that Trump is an astute businessman.  And you do not get to be astute in business without being astute elsewhere. 

So most of what Jeff objects to below is in fact just showmanship. Trump has been on TV almost forever, after all, so he knows plenty about showmanship. What he offers is entertaining bluster. He is a cartoon bully.  Trump has invented a very successful shtick and stays with it. But the chances of him actually doing anything foolish are very low.  And he does after all have perfectly sensible conservative policies beneath his defiant performances -- opposition to illegal immigration and free trade agreements, as well as his frequently non-interventionist views on foreign policy.

And could Trump be any worse that having a traitor in the White House, which America has at the moment? At least Trump is patriotic

THERE IS a riveting scene in Steven Spielberg's 2012 film "Lincoln" in which the 16th president hotly demands that his aides do whatever it takes — deploy every ounce of leverage available — to obtain the last few votes needed to pass the Thirteenth Amendment.

"I am the President of the United States of America, clothed in immense power!" roars Abraham Lincoln, played by Daniel Day-Lewis. "You will procure me these votes."

The historicity of the quote is doubtful, but Lincoln's determination was not. The presidency does convey immense power, and Lincoln was relentless about deploying that power to achieve his great aim: the abolition of slavery in America.

What would Donald Trump do with such immense power?

Voters should think hard, of course, about the consequences of investing any candidate with the vast influence and clout of the presidency — an office much more formidable today than it was in 1865. Power tends to corrupt. That will be true whether the next president is liberal or conservative, male or female, Republican or Democrat.

But the authoritarian abuse of power in a Trump administration isn't just a theoretical possibility. Should the New York businessman win the presidency, it's a certainty. Trump's campaign, with its torrent of insults, threats of revenge, and undercurrent of political violence, is the first in American history to raise the prospect of a ruthless strongman in the White House, unencumbered by constitutional norms and democratic civilities.

When Trump's campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, was arrested last week on misdemeanor charges of battery against reporter Michelle Fields, the candidate's reaction was typical. Though Fields's account was never in doubt — it was corroborated at once by an eyewitness (Washington Post reporter Ben Terris), by an audio recording, and then by security-camera video footage — Trump offered no apology and didn't rebuke his staffer. Instead he went on the attack: He claimed that Fields had "made the story up," he went out of his way to praise Lewandowski, and he gleefully trashed the journalists covering him as "disgusting" and "horrible people." Trump even hinted that he might sue Fields.

If this is how the Republican front-runner conducts himself when he is merely a candidate, what would he be like with the whole executive branch of the federal government at his command?

It is normal for passions to run high in election season. We're used to seeing candidates play to their base with animated rhetoric. What isn't normal is for a serious presidential contender, after being heckled by a protester, to tell a campaign rally: "I'd like to punch him in the face." What we're not used to seeing is a candidate who warns that if he fails to win the nomination at a contested convention, blood will flow: "I think you'd have riots," Trump said on CNN. "I think bad things would happen."

Barely-veiled blackmail is a Trump mainstay. The family of Chicago Cubs owner J. Joe Ricketts contributed to an anti-Trump PAC? "They better be careful, they have a lot to hide!" the candidate tweets. An independent group backing Cruz runs an ad featuring Melania Trump in an erotic pose? "Be careful, Lyin' Ted, or I will spill the beans on your wife!" another tweet warns.

Though Trump hasn't been nominated, let alone elected, he already signals that if he becomes president, anyone who opposes him will regret it. That includes House Speaker Paul Ryan, who had the temerity to criticize Trump's evasions about the Ku Klux Klan.

"Paul Ryan? I don't know him well," Trump remarked with a whiff of menace on Super Tuesday, "but I'm sure I'm going to get along great with him. And if I don't, he's going to have to pay a big price."

"You've got to give him credit. . . . He goes in, he takes over, he's the boss. It's incredible. He wiped out the uncle, he wiped out this one, that one. This guy doesn't play games" — Donald Trump's praise for North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un

Trump's low-road brawling, thuggish tone, and gutter sexism are something new in American presidential politics. Dangerous demagogues are a species we have tended to associate with banana republics and military dictatorships. The fervent zealotry Trump's backers, the blind cult of personality that surrounds him, is shocking to many of us who always imagined that America was immune to the politics of caudillos and Dear Leaders. Now we know better. For a significant minority of American voters, an authoritarian brute who flirts with violence and has no scruples is just what they've been waiting for.

Imagine the presidency in the hands of such a man.

Trump has heaped praise on Vladimir Putin for being "a strong leader," looked back nostalgically at the bloody reign of Saddam Hussein, and insisted that it "would be so much better" if Moammar Gadhafi still ruled Libya. He has even applauded North Korea's sociopathic Kim Jong-Un for the "incredible" way he murdered his political rivals when he came to power.

Every president wants to get his way, and more than a few have bent some rules to the breaking point in the pursuit of their goals. But Trump holds out the prospect of a president for whom ends will always justify means, however dishonorable or scandalous or undemocratic. For many of his loyalists, nothing he does is beyond the pale; they are as blind to the grossness of his character as they are to the incoherence of his positions.

The rest of us should be thinking hard about what would happen if a man so unfit for leadership were to be clothed in the immense power of the presidency. And thinking even harder about how to prevent it.



Why Are Millennial Men Such Wimps?

No great mystery.  They have been taught to be wimps by the Left.  Grade schools are heavily feminized and little boys are penalized for behaving like boys.  They are taught to behave like  little girls instead. Little boys are little cavemen.  They like to run and jump and climb all the time -- which female teachers perceive as disorderly.  And in later years, particularly in universities, they are taught that they are helpless little flowers in need of protection in the form of "safe spaces", "trigger warnings" and the like.  Masculine virtues of bravery etc. may even be mocked instead of being praised.  Victimhood is the new heroism

Ladies -- sick of posturing hipsters still living in mom's basement while they role-play their lives away, in between trying to pick up chicks with somebody else's money? You're not alone:

Last week, Tomi Lahren, a 23-year-old political commentator for The Blaze, ended her show by raising the following question: “Is it just me, or have men gotten really soft these days?”

She goes on:

“This has nothing to do with sexuality. It has to do with the helplessness of today’s young men. It seems few can change a light bulb let alone fix a flat tire or change oil, and that makes for pretty slim pickings for the females out there looking for a match.

Chivalry is all but dead, and so is manliness. And by the way, wearing a flannel shirt and having a beard doesn’t make you a man if you still can’t change a tire and are scared of the dark. It seems like millennial men either don’t have jobs or are still using their parents’ credit cards to buy us drinks at the bar…

So whose fault is it? Is it our fault, ladies? Are we getting too strong? Nah, I don’t buy that. See, a real man knows how to handle a strong woman, so this isn’t our problem. Maybe it’s the way boys are raised these days: fatherless homes and no male role models. It’s hard to learn how to be a man with no man around.”

“Please teach your sons to be men, because the women of the world are tired of the boys.”



Donald Trump supporters torment university students in #TheChalkening

UNIVERSITY students in the US are living in a state of fear as pro-Donald Trump messages written in chalk begin popping up on pavements everywhere.

Dubbed ‘#TheChalkening’, the guerilla campaign by Trump supporters comes in response to students at Emory University in Atlanta, who last month said they felt “unsafe” after chalk scrawls supporting the Republican presidential candidate appeared on campus.

Among the slogans were “Trump 2016” and “Build a wall”. “That is a direct reference to brown people on campus,” 19-year-old Jonathan Peraza told AP, adding that “we feel unsafe on our campus”.

“It was an intentional way to rile students up and intimidate those of us who feel we are in danger with this presidential candidate,” he said. “We do feel that our lives are in danger with his campaign and the violence that he’s been inciting.”

The response drew widespread scorn, with even left-wing talk show host Bill Maher slamming the situation. “I so badly want to dropkick these kids into a place where there is actual pain and suffering,” he said. “What happened in this country?”

Maher criticised the parents of the current generation, saying “everything seems to take a back seat to their feelings”. “Democracy they don’t give a s*** about, free speech doesn’t matter,” he said.


There is a  new  lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- with news about immigration, race and such things


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


4 April, 2016

Playing the Trump card

Comment from Israel

No US presidential candidate in recent history – not even George W. Bush, the favorite target of liberals everywhere – has received as much condemnation and criticism as Donald Trump. And that includes numerous articles in this newspaper. But while I agree that the Donald has an aggressive, abrasive style that is woefully short on substance, I can well understand his growing popularity.

Trump is bold, brash and breaks the mold; he is a kind of anti-Obama enfant terrible, and that plays well in a country that is sick and tired of the “Yes, I can, but no, I don’t” president, whose every ill-conceived endeavor into foreign policy has reduced America to an also-ran, if not a laughing stock.

For while Barack Obama continues to mislead the people about the clear and present danger of Islam, or praises the virtues of reducing America’s influence in the world, Trump dares to tell it like it is and say what everyone is thinking, but misplaced political correctness won’t allow them to say. While Obama basks in “reaching out” to violently anti-West (and certainly anti-Israel) countries like Iran and Cuba; while world leaders pontificate in Pollyanna fashion about the moral imperatives of unchecked immigration by Middle East “asylum-seekers,” Trump clearly warns about strengthening enemies and carelessly opening the front doors of our countries to anyone and everyone who wants in, including terrorist sleeper cells.

Trump is striking a chord with millions of people who just want to be told the truth, straight up, with no sugar- coating or political obfuscation.

The Donald may not end up in the White House, but his numbers clearly add up to a warning – from one of the world’s most successful businessmen – to whoever does end up winning the election: It’s time to stop business as usual.



Cronyism and Corruption in Brazil revealed -- bringing popular uproar

If the late Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises were alive today, he would have used one of South America’s largest countries, Brazil, as an example of his teachings. Not only because the effects of heavy-handed interventionism have finally propelled the anti Workers Party movement that is now taking over the country, but also because of what happened prior to the current turmoil.

As Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff (Workers Party or “PT”) struggles to conquer hearts and minds amidst the legal difficulties her administration has been facing due to the crony capitalist nature of Brazilian politics, millions of Brazilians wearing traditional green and yellow soccer jerseys flood the streets—and social media—with signs reading “Dilma out!”

The anger is understandable. In a country where Brazilians from all income brackets are forced to pay about 36 percent in sales taxes on most goods and services—a regressive tax that ends up hurting the poor—and give up about 28 percent of their income yearly, things haven’t been easy for quite some time.

Trouble began to brew for Dilma’s administration in 2009, when authorities launched an investigation into a network of currency exchanging businesses connected to Alberto Youssef. He was accused of forging contracts and moving billions of Brazilian Reais domestically and abroad using front companies and foreign bank accounts.

As the investigation broadened, authorities learned that Youssef had business relationships with Paulo Roberto Costa, the former director of the state-controlled oil giant Petrobras, major contractors and their lobbyists, and other Petrobras servicers. On March 2014, both Costa and Youssef were arrested.

As Costa agreed to cooperate with the authorities in August of 2014, Brazilians learned that he and several other directors of Petrobras received bribes and passed them along to politicians for their campaigns. In a matter of weeks, authorities got Youssef to join Costa, and revelations about one of the largest embezzlement schemes in the history of the country started flooding the news.

As both men started feeding authorities with the names of contractors involved in the scheme, Odebrecht and Andrade Gutierrez, the country’s two largest construction companies, were dragged into the investigation. Banker André Estevez, owner of Latin America's largest investment bank, BTG, was also involved.

In March 2015, a series of politicians were also accused of participating in the scheme.

By August, José Dirceu, the former prime minister under president Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva, was accused of receiving payments from Odebrecht and Andrade Gutierrez. Brazil Senator Delcídio Amaral (PT) and Lula’s close friend, the farmer José Carlos Bumlai, were arrested. The President of the Chamber of Deputies Eduardo Cunha (PMDB) and several PMDB party leaders were also targeted.

In no time, state prosecutors learned that the embezzlement scheme benefitted political parties in charge of Petrobras’s leadership appointments. At least 53 politicians are under investigation. As federal judge Sérgio Moro showed signs he believed former president Lula had profited from the scheme, prosecutors from the state of São Paulo added insult to injury by accusing Lula of “hiding his ownership of a beach-front condominium.

According to documents obtained by the Brazilian magazine “Época,” Jornal Opção reports, former president Lula was heavily involved in the embezzlement/crony capitalist scheme.

In what local media outlets call an “explosive” piece, Época writers claim Lula was the “lobbyist in chief” of Brazil during his administration and the period he has spent as a private citizen thereafter.

The magazine alleges that most of the former president’s time was spent traveling on behalf of Odebrecht contractors. Writers Thiago Bronzatto and Filipe Coutinho accuse Lula of aiding “Odebrecht billionaires” in deals with other countries using Brazilian taxpayer money.

As the country cries for impeachment, a smaller faction of the population stands with Rousseff and Lula, despite her lack of support among the general population. But as her approval ratings hover in the single digits, it is the country’s working class, not the country’s “wealthy factions” leading the way. As demonstrated by nanny Maria Angélica Lima, the woman turned famous for appearing in a photograph of a family taking part in one of the anti-Rousseff protests.

She told the newspaper: “Lula wasn’t the president everybody expected. Neither was Dilma. We need to take our chances with something new. I was tired of hearing the same lies, seeing the same corruption.”

As Brazilians struggle with increasing unemployment rates and rampant inflation, they also learn Lula—whose past popularity got the world jealous—was the leader of one of the largest crony capitalist schemes in the country’s history, working on behalf of major corporations, securing them deals with the state-owned firm, and doing all of that while on the taxpayer dime. It’s no wonder everyone is so angry.

As Mises once wrote in Human Action, “corruption is a regular effect of interventionism.” What Brazil—and America—now needs is a culture of liberty. More now than never.



Leftist ignorance on display in Britain

Jeremy Corbyn’s defence spokesman sparked a row last night over claims that she did not know the meaning of ‘Defcon One’ – the term for imminent nuclear war.

Gaffe-prone Emily Thornberry shocked aides by asking: ‘Can someone explain Defcon One and Two to me? I’ve only ever seen it in films.’

She made the remark at a meeting of a group set up to review the Labour leader’s pledge to scrap the UK’s Trident nuclear submarines.

A nuclear weapons expert present pointed out that Defcon stands for ‘defence readiness condition’.

The term was coined by US defence chiefs to signal degrees of military threat, ranging from Defcon Five to Defcon One, which means nuclear attack is imminent. The highest alert the US has used was Defcon Two, which it reached in the 1962 Cuban missile crisis.

The levels date back to 1959, the height of the Cold War, and were little-known outside military circles until the 1983 movie WarGames, about a computer hacker who almost sparked World War Three by accessing US military computers.

A witness who heard Ms Thornberry’s comment said: ‘The room went quiet. Everyone was silently asking themselves, “Has our candidate to be the next Labour Defence Secretary just said she doesn’t know the code for a nuclear war?” ’

Ms Thornberry provoked more controversy later that day when she was accused of snubbing former Admiral of the Fleet Lord Boyce.

After Labour foreign affairs spokesman Hilary Benn suggested asking Lord Boyce for advice on nuclear policy, witnesses say Ms Thornberry replied: ‘He has been out of it for too long. We need someone who can talk about the future. How about getting a physicist?’

It led to a clash with Blairite MP John Woodcock, head of Labour’s defence committee, who was at the meeting of Labour’s international policy commission.

Mr Woodcock, who supports keeping nuclear weapons, told Ms Thornberry: ‘If you won’t listen to someone who was a submarine commander, head of the Royal Navy and Chief of the Defence Staff, our defence policy will have no credibility.’

Lord Boyce, 73, was First Sea Lord from 1998 to 2001 under Tony Blair’s government and Chief of the Defence Staff from 2001 to 2003.

Ms Thornberry, a leading supporter of Mr Corbyn, had previously suggested Britain’s nuclear submarines could become as outdated as Spitfires. She was also branded a snob for tweeting a photograph of a home draped with England flags and a white van on the driveway during the Rochester by-election in 2014. Such was the outcry that she was forced to resign from her front-bench post. This latest dispute is part of a wider Labour Party battle over Mr Corbyn’s attempts to adopt more Left-wing policies.

Defcon stands for ‘defence readiness condition’. The term was coined by US defence chiefs in 1959 to signal degrees of military threat, ranging from Defcon Five to Defcon One
Defcon stands for ‘defence readiness condition’. The term was coined by US defence chiefs in 1959 to signal degrees of military threat, ranging from Defcon Five to Defcon One

A source close to Ms Thornberry confirmed she had referred to Defcon and films, but denied that she did not know what it meant. The source said that, in relation to Lord Boyce, Ms Thornberry had been stressing the need to look forward to nuclear capability in 20 or 30 years’ time – not back to the point when Lord Boyce was in command.

However, in an apparent U-turn, he said that the ex-defence chief would be invited to give evidence to Labour’s review.



Southern resolve

A brief review of Dafoe, A. & Caughey, D., “Honor and War: Southern US Presidents and the Effects of Concern for Reputation,” World Politics (April 2016).

DON’T PICK A fight with a Southerner. That’s the lesson — internationally — of recent research by political scientists at MIT and Yale. They found that American presidents from the South — where there is more of a culture of honor and resolve — were less likely to back down in international disputes. Specifically, disputes “that have occurred under Southern presidents have been twice as likely to involve the use of force, have lasted on average twice as long, and have been three times as likely to be won by the United States.” This pattern was not explained by other characteristics of the president or the domestic or international situation at the time.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


3 April, 2016

I have just discovered that I am a member of something

Below is the first part of a big backgrounder on the various streams of the "Alt-Right".  It seems that I fit most of the description concerned -- at least insofar as the publications that I read are concerned.  I am also a member of the Alt-Right in that I am seen as very marginal politically.  My occasional mentions of race and IQ are perfectly factual but are unforgiveable to most political participants and can easily be misrepresented

A specter is haunting the dinner parties, fundraisers and think-tanks of the Establishment: the specter of the “alternative right.” Young, creative and eager to commit secular heresies, they have become public enemy number one to beltway conservatives — more hated, even, than Democrats or loopy progressives.

The alternative right, more commonly known as the alt-right, is an amorphous movement. Some — mostly Establishment types — insist it’s little more than a vehicle for the worst dregs of human society: anti-Semites, white supremacists, and other members of the Stormfront set. They’re wrong.

Previously an obscure subculture, the alt-right burst onto the national political scene in 2015. Although initially small in number, the alt-right has a youthful energy and jarring, taboo-defying rhetoric that have boosted its membership and made it impossible to ignore.

It has already triggered a string of fearful op-eds and hit pieces from both Left and Right: Lefties dismiss it as racist, while the conservative press, always desperate to avoid charges of bigotry from the Left, has thrown these young readers and voters to the wolves as well.

National Review attacked them as bitter members of the white working-class who worship “father-Führer” Donald Trump. Betsy Woodruff of The Daily Beast attacked Rush Limbaugh for sympathising with the “white supremacist alt-right.” BuzzFeed begrudgingly acknowledged that the movement has a “great feel for how the internet works,” while simultaneously accusing them of targeting “blacks, Jews, women, Latinos and Muslims.”

The amount of column inches generated by the alt-right is a testament to their cultural punch. But so far, no one has really been able to explain the movement’s appeal and reach without desperate caveats and virtue-signalling to readers.

Part of this is down to the alt-right’s addiction to provocation. The alt-right is a movement born out of the youthful, subversive, underground edges of the internet. 4chan and 8chan are hubs of alt-right activity. For years, members of these forums – political and non-political – have delighted in attention-grabbing, juvenile pranks. Long before the alt-right, 4channers turned trolling the national media into an in-house sport.

Having once defended gamers, another group accused of harbouring the worst dregs of human society, we feel compelled to take a closer look at the force that’s alarming so many. Are they really just the second coming of 1980s skinheads, or something more subtle?

We’ve spent the past month tracking down the elusive, often anonymous members of the alt-right, and working out exactly what they stand for.


There are many things that separate the alternative right from old-school racist skinheads (to whom they are often idiotically compared), but one thing stands out above all else: intelligence. Skinheads, by and large, are low-information, low-IQ thugs driven by the thrill of violence and tribal hatred. The alternative right are a much smarter group of people — which perhaps suggests why the Left hates them so much. They’re dangerously bright.

The origins of the alternative right can be found in thinkers as diverse as Oswald Spengler, H.L Mencken, Julius Evola, Sam Francis, and the paleoconservative movement that rallied around the presidential campaigns of Pat Buchanan. The French New Right also serve as a source of inspiration for many leaders of the alt-right.

The media empire of the modern-day alternative right coalesced around Richard Spencer during his editorship of Taki’s Magazine. In 2010, Spencer founded AlternativeRight.com, which would become a center of alt-right thought.

Alongside other nodes like Steve Sailer’s blog, VDARE and American Renaissance, AlternativeRight.com became a gathering point for an eclectic mix of renegades who objected to the established political consensus in some form or another. All of these websites have been accused of racism.

The so-called online “manosphere,” the nemeses of left-wing feminism, quickly became one of the alt-right’s most distinctive constituencies. Gay masculinist author Jack Donovan, who edited AlternativeRight’s gender articles, was an early advocate for incorporating masculinist principles in the alt-right. His book, The Way Of Men, contains many a wistful quote about the loss of manliness that accompanies modern, globalized societies.

It’s tragic to think that heroic man’s great destiny is to become economic man, that men will be reduced to craven creatures who crawl across the globe competing for money, who spend their nights dreaming up new ways to swindle each other. That’s the path we’re on now.

Steve Sailer, meanwhile, helped spark the “human biodiversity” movement, a group of bloggers and researchers who strode eagerly into the minefield of scientific race differences — in a much less measured tone than former New York Times science editor Nicholas Wade.

Isolationists, pro-Russians and ex-Ron Paul supporters frustrated with continued neoconservative domination of the Republican party were also drawn to the alt-right, who are almost as likely as the anti-war left to object to overseas entanglements.



The Davoisie: Our “Slave Power”

The Davoisie are those who gather at Davos in Switzerland for the annual international conference of bigwigs -- and those like them.  The idea is that a very small elite holds a decisive sway over us

Harry Jaffa liked to tell the story of how, while reading Plato’s Republic with Leo Strauss at the New School in 1946, he encountered a copy of the Lincoln-Douglas debates in a used book store near his father’s Greenwich Village restaurant.  Unable to afford the book, he read it piecemeal on several furtive visits and realized that the issue between Lincoln and Douglas—no slavery in the territories v. “popular sovereignty”—was identical to that between Socrates and Thrasymachus: natural right v. might makes right.

We see a similar similarity between Lincoln’s times and ours.

In the decade or so before the Civil War, a phrase in common use was “the Slave Power,” which described a trans-partisan (and even to a small extent trans-regional) alignment of interests to protect, promote and extend slavery in the United States and even in the Western Hemisphere.  The Slave Power was led by the big slave-owners themselves, of course, but was hardly limited to them.  Through various proxies and fellow-travelers, they absolutely controlled Southern state governments.  They could also count on some federal officials, including—importantly—judges.  They even had support in the North: the notorious “doughfaces.”  The growing influence of the Slave Power contributed mightily to the Civil War.  The passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act alone destroyed the Whig Party and created the Republican.

But this is not meant to be a history lesson.  The point is that a numerically and proportionally small but economically and politically powerful oligarchy managed—for a time, anyway—to steer the nation in the direction of its own interests at the expense of everyone else’s and of the popular will.  Sound familiar?

Nor do the similarities end there.  Is not the similarity between slavery and mass immigration obvious?  (Note to the hysterical that I said “similarity” and not “identicality.”)  They both serve the same fundamental purpose: sources of cheap labor to squeeze out the working class and enrich a few.

The fact that slaves are not free and immigrants are is, to be sure, a non-trivial difference—for immigrant and slave.  But what about the third man, William Graham Sumner’s “forgotten man”?  In their effects on him, the two don’t seem so very different after all.  Nor are they supposed to.

A major source of opposition to the Slave Power arose from the Free Soil Movement: free men—American citizens—who wanted to earn decent livings without having to compete against slave labor that would undercut them at every turn.  Does that sound familiar? Nor is at any accident that the Old South was staunchly free trade while the free North was protectionist.  Is the theme becoming clearer?

Now it is probably too harsh to refer to our modern oligarchs as a new “slave power.”  Peter Brimelow’s “treason lobby” is not bad.  We’re partial to Walter Russell Mead’s contribution: Davoisie.

The fundamental similarity is however undeniable.  A trans-partisan and trans-regional, numerically small but economically and politically powerful elite—in our case, financial, technological and corporate—essentially control political debate and get their way on everything important, in defiance of popular will, in order to enrich themselves at the expense of everyone else.

We know how it ended the last time.  How will it end this time?

What makes our current overlords slightly more insidious (if only in one way) than their slave-master predecessors is their risible moral preening.  19th century slaveholders really did have a difficult time affirming the justice of their “peculiar institution.” In addition to the obvious injustice of owning other human beings like animals, they knew from experience what Xenophon teaches in the Anabasis and Shakespeare in the Tempest: “when difficult things are commanded, harshness, and not sweetness, is needed in order to bring about obedience.”  Concerned to shield its reputation from intrusive, revealing sunlight, the Slave Power was not eager to advertise this necessity and the harsh treatment it necessitated.

By contrast, our overlords never tire of lecturing us about how virtuous they are.  I know of no record of a plantation owner claiming that his recent purchases at a slave auction show his goodness.  But every new immigrant—legal or otherwise—who takes an American job at a fraction of the recent wage, our masters trumpet as a sign of their superior morality.  Every American laid off and every job outsourced gets the same self-congratulation.  Recall the words of that hedge-fund high priest: “if the transformation of the world economy lifts four people in China and India out of poverty and into the middle class, and meanwhile means one American drops out of the middle class, that’s not such a bad trade.”

That sickly sanctimonious phrase — “lifts people out of poverty” — heard in every hotel conference room and lecture hall where the Davoisie meet to rub holy oil on each other’s backs, is the modern rhetorical equivalent of John C. Calhoun’s “positive good” and serves the same purpose.  Only it’s been much more effective.  The real aim of the Davoisie’s showy, skin-deep leftism is to confer upon itself the veneer of legitimacy necessary to preserving its status.  Well, that and divide-and-conquer.

Has there ever been a plutocratic class more adept at claiming the moral high ground for wealth and privilege achieved in large measure by the impoverishment of its fellow citizens and decimation of domestic industries?  If so, we can’t think of it.

The eternal struggle between these two principles—right and wrong—throughout the world. They are the two principles that have stood face to face from the beginning of time, and will ever continue to struggle. The one is the common right of humanity and the other the divine right of kings. It is the same principle in whatever shape it develops itself. It is the same spirit that says, “You work and toil and earn bread, and I'll eat it.” No matter in what shape it comes, whether from the mouth of a king who seeks to bestride the people of his own nation and live by the fruit of their labor, or from one race of men as an apology for enslaving another race, it is the same tyrannical principle.

Thrasymachus to Stephen Douglas to George Soros and Paul Singer.  Plus ?a change.

Since the Davoisie seized the commanding heights of the West (about 30 years ago), Trump is the only presidential candidate to oppose our equivalent of the slave power.  Granted, he’s not exactly a Lincoln in stature, temperament, virtue, intellect or ability.  We’d certainly prefer another Abe!  If you know where to find one, please send him our way.  In the meantime, we have no choice but to make do with Trump.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


1 April, 2016

Border Patrol Agents Endorse Trump; Defy Obama’s Bureaucrats

No matter how the race for the GOP presidential nomination concludes after the remaining primaries and caucuses and the Cleveland convention, there is no denying that immigration will be a priority issue in the general election. There also is no denying that Donald Trump has made immigration a key issue in the Republican primary season since he announced his candidacy last June.

Now the men and women who protect the nation’s borders on a daily basis have stepped forward to endorse Trump. The endorsement came from the National Border Patrol Council (NBPC), the union that represents 16,500 Border Patrol agents.

Breaking with its tradition of withholding endorsements in presidential primaries, the NBPC said Trump will stand up for Border Patrol agents and resist pressure from special interests and government bureaucrats.

“Mr. Trump will take on special interests and embrace the ideas of rank-and-file Border Patrol agents rather than listening to the management yes-men who say whatever they are programmed to say. This is a refreshing change that we have not seen before – and may never see again.”

The NBPS endorsement came in a statement signed by Brandon Judd, President of the Council. Judd praised Trump for speaking for those without political power.

“You can judge a man by his opponents: all the people responsible for the problems plaguing America today are opposing Mr. Trump. It is those without political power – the workers, the law enforcement officers, the everyday families and community members – who are supporting Mr. Trump.”



When it comes to Trump-hating, it is worse than conspiracy, it is consensus

No candidate in modern times has been on the receiving end of more demonizing than Donald J. Trump.  It spews from leftist publications and blogs, publications and blogs on the right and from the so-called main stream media.  Second only to the hate directed at Mr. Trump is the demonizing directed to his supporters.

The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, National Review, Weekly Standard, The New Republic, The Nation, The Dailey Kos, The Huffington Post, and Red State all have joined in a huge spitting squad and the spit is all directed at Mr. Trump.  As some of us used to say about during the Cold War about the U.S. Government aiding the Soviet Union, “it is worse than conspiracy, it is consensus.”

If you think this is an exaggeration just Google “Trump Stalin.”  You will get 772,000 hits comparing Mr. Trump to one of worlds all time mass murders and leader of The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.  Then try, “Trump Hitler.”  That will get you 2,710,000 hits comparing Mr. Trump unfavorably with the leader of the National Socialist Workers Party.

What has Mr. Trump done to engender this raw hatred from all points of the establishment’s political spectrum?  Makes one wonder is there any real difference between alleged conservative Bill Kristol and Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders.  It is like listening to a chorus of the ruling class.  The sopranos sound different than the baritones but in reality they are all singing the same song.

Demonization is the name of the game.  When Mr. Trump suggests enforcing existing law at the border we are told he hates Mexicans.  When he suggests we have a moratorium on Muslim immigration we are told he hates a billion people.  Conclusion: He is a hater just like Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin.

When he calls for a restoration of libel laws destroyed by the New York Times v. Sullivan Supreme Court decision he is calling for the repeal of the First Amendment.  When he criticizes Obama he is a racist.  If he takes issue with Mrs. Clinton he is a sexist.  If he does not agree with Bernie Sanders he is an anti-Semite.

When provocateurs invade his venues with the goal of causing violence and they are successful it is his fault and he is roundly condemned.  When these same provocateurs illegally block a public highway to attempt to prevent Mr. Trump from speaking they are exercising their First Amendment rights and he is trying to rob them of such rights.

In the world of the Trump haters black is white, wrong is right and up is down.  George Orwell, call your office.

As Scott Adams of Dilbert fame and the Breitbart web site have observed, what the media, right, legacy and left is doing consciously or unconsciously is setting Mr. Trump up for assassination, there has already been one attempted assault on Mr. Trump in Chicago.  It will be his fault.  “He brought it on himself!”  This will be loudly and incessantly repeated.  The assassination will be a ratings bonanza for the media which will give them the opportunity to make a lot of money while pushing this message and excusing themselves.

What the threats towards Mr. Trump’s children and his sister show is that this scenario not as far-fetched as it may appear at first glance.  Can it be stopped?  One can only hope.



Some interesting apples-to-apples comparisons

Nordics, Chinese, education and guns

While there are many things I admire about Scandinavian nations, I’ve never understood why leftists such as Bernie Sanders think they are great role models.

Not only are income levels and living standards higher in the United States, but the data show that Americans of Swedish origin in America have much higher incomes than the Swedes who still live in Sweden. And the same is true for other Nordic nations.

The Nordics-to-Nordics comparisons seem especially persuasive because they’re based on apples-to-apples data. What other explanation can there be, after all, if the same people earn more and produce more when government is smaller?

The same point seems appropriate when examining how people of Chinese origin earn very high incomes in Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, and the United States (all places with reasonably high levels of economic liberty), but are relatively poor in China (where there is still far too much government control over economic affairs).

Again, what possible explanation is there other than the degree of economic freedom?

Let’s now look at two other examples of how leftist arguments fall apart when using apples-to-apples comparisons.

A few years ago, there was a major political fight in Wisconsin over the power of unionized government bureaucracies. State policy makers eventually succeeded in curtailing union privileges.

Some commentators groused that this would make Wisconsin more like non-union Texas. And the Lone Star States was not a good role model for educating children, according to Paul Krugman.

This led David Burge (a.k.a., Iowahawk) to take a close look at the numbers to see which state actually did a better job of educating students. And when you compare apples to apples, it turns out that Longhorns rule and Badgers drool.

".…white students in Texas perform better than white students in Wisconsin, black students in Texas perform better than black students in Wisconsin, Hispanic students in Texas perform better than Hispanic students in Wisconsin. In 18 separate ethnicity-controlled comparisons, the only one where Wisconsin students performed better than their peers in Texas was 4th grade science for Hispanic students (statistically insignificant), and this was reversed by 8th grade. Further, Texas students exceeded the national average for their ethnic cohort in all 18 comparisons; Wisconsinites were below the national average in 8… Not only did white Texas students outperform white Wisconsin students, the gap between white students and minority students in Texas was much less than the gap between white and minority students in Wisconsin"

In other words, students are better off in Texas schools than in Wisconsin schools – especially minority students.  This is what I call a devastating debunking.

Our second example showing the value of apples-to-apples comparisons deals with gun control.

Writing for PJ Media, Clayton Cramer compares murder rates in adjoining American states and Canadian provinces. He starts by acknowledging that a generic US-v.-Canada comparison might lead people to think gun rights are somehow a factor in more deaths.

"…for Canada as a whole, murder rates are still considerably lower than for the United States as a whole. For 2011, Canada had 1.73 homicides per 100,000 people; the United States had 4.8 murders and non-negligent homicides per 100,000 people.

But he then makes comparisons that suggest guns are not a relevant factor.

"…look at murder rates for Canadian provinces and compare them to their immediate American state neighbors. When you do that, you discover some very curious differences that show gun availability must be either a very minor factor in determining murder rates, or if it is a major factor, it is overwhelmed by factors that are vastly more important.

Gun ownership is easy and widespread in Idaho, for instance, but murder rates are lower than in many otherwise similar Canadian provinces.

I live in Idaho.  In 2011, our murder rate was 2.3 per 100,000 people.  We have almost no gun-control laws here. You need a permit to carry concealed in cities, but nearly anyone who may legally own a firearm and is over 21 can get that permit.  We are subject to the federal background check on firearms, but otherwise there are no restrictions. Do you want a machine gun? And yes, I mean a real machine gun, not a semiautomatic AR-15. There is the federal paperwork required, but the state imposes no licensing of its own.  I have friends with completely legal full-automatic Thompson submachine guns.

Surely with such lax gun-control laws, our murder rate must be much higher than our Canadian counterparts’ rate. But this is not the case: I was surprised to find that not only Nunavut (21.01) and the Northwest Territories (6.87) in Canada had much higher murder rates than Idaho, but even Nova Scotia (2.33), Manitoba (4.24), Saskatchewan (3.59), and Alberta (2.88) had higher murder rates.

The same is true for other states (all with laws that favor gun ownership) that border Canada.

What about Minnesota? It had 1.4 murders per 100,000 in 2011, lower than not only all those prairie provinces, but even lower than Canada as a whole.  Montana had 2.8 murders per 100,000, still better than four Canadian provinces and one Canadian territory.  When you get to North Dakota, another one of these American states with far less gun control than Canada, the murder rate is 3.5 per 100,000, still lower than Manitoba, Saskatchewan, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut.  And let me emphasize that Minnesota, Montana, and North Dakota, like Idaho, are all shall-issue concealed-weapon permit states: nearly any adult without a felony conviction or a domestic violence misdemeanor conviction can obtain a concealed weapon permit with little or no effort.

The takeaway from this evidence (as well as other evidence I have shared) is that availability of guns doesn’t cause murders. Other factors dominate.

P.S. Regarding the gun control data shared above, some leftists might be tempted to somehow argue that American states with cold weather somehow are less prone to violence. That doesn’t make sense since the Canadian provinces presumably are even colder. Moreover, that argument conflicts with comparing murder rates in chilly Chicago and steamy Houston.



Donors choose

A brief review of Barber, M., “Representing the Preferences of Donors, Partisans, and Voters in the US Senate,” Public Opinion Quarterly (forthcoming).

SOME HAVE ATTRIBUTED the surprising popularity of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump to a divergence between ordinary voters and the “donor class,” who typically bankroll candidates. But are politicians actually aligned with their donors? A survey of donors from the 2012 election revealed that senators and their donors are in “nearly perfect” ideological alignment, whereas senators are less aligned with average voters of the same party or those who actually voted for the senator, not to mention voters overall. Some of this may simply be explained by donors contributing only to candidates already in close alignment, but given that donors tend to be ideologically motivated, it’s not like candidates can just as easily raise money by moderating themselves ideologically.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)



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Postings from Brisbane, Australia by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.) -- former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party.

As a good academic, I first define my terms: A Leftist is a person who is so dissatisfied with the way things naturally are that he/she is prepared to use force to make people behave in ways that they otherwise would not.

The Left have a lot in common with tortoises. They have a thick mental shell that protects them from the reality of the world about them

Let's start with some thought-provoking graphics

Israel: A great powerhouse of the human spirit

The difference in practice

The United Nations: A great ideal but a sordid reality

Alfred Dreyfus, a reminder of French antisemitism still relevant today

Eugenio Pacelli, a righteous Gentile, a true man of God and a brilliant Pope

Leftism in one picture:

The "steamroller" above who got steamrollered by his own hubris. Spitzer is a warning of how self-destructive a vast ego can be -- and also of how destructive of others it can be.

R.I.P. Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet deposed a law-defying Marxist President at the express and desperate invitation of the Chilean parliament. Allende had just burnt the electoral rolls so it wasn't hard to see what was coming. Pinochet pioneered the free-market reforms which Reagan and Thatcher later unleashed to world-changing effect. That he used far-Leftist methods to suppress far-Leftist violence is reasonable if not ideal. The Leftist view that they should have a monopoly of violence and that others should follow the law is a total absurdity which shows only that their hate overcomes their reason

Leftist writers usually seem quite reasonable and persuasive at first glance. The problem is not what they say but what they don't say. Leftist beliefs are so counterfactual ("all men are equal", "all men are brothers" etc.) that to be a Leftist you have to have a talent for blotting out from your mind facts that don't suit you. And that is what you see in Leftist writing: A very selective view of reality. Facts that disrupt a Leftist story are simply ignored. Leftist writing is cherrypicking on a grand scale

So if ever you read something written by a Leftist that sounds totally reasonable, you have an urgent need to find out what other people say on that topic. The Leftist will almost certainly have told only half the story

A conservative does not hanker after the new; He hankers after the good. Leftists hanker after the untested

Just one thing is sufficient to tell all and sundry what an unamerican lamebrain Obama is. He pronounced an army corps as an army "corpse" Link here. Can you imagine any previous American president doing that? Many were men with significant personal experience in the armed forces in their youth.

A favorite Leftist saying sums up the whole of Leftism: "To make an omelette, you've got to break eggs". They want to change some state of affairs and don't care who or what they destroy or damage in the process. They think their alleged good intentions are sufficient to absolve them from all blame for even the most evil deeds

In practical politics, the art of Leftism is to sound good while proposing something destructive

Leftists are the "we know best" people, meaning that they are intrinsically arrogant. Matthew chapter 6 would not be for them. And arrogance leads directly into authoritarianism

Leftism is fundamentally authoritarian. Whether by revolution or by legislation, Leftists aim to change what people can and must do. When in 2008 Obama said that he wanted to "fundamentally transform" America, he was not talking about America's geography or topography but rather about American people. He wanted them to stop doing things that they wanted to do and make them do things that they did not want to do. Can you get a better definition of authoritarianism than that?

And note that an American President is elected to administer the law, not make it. That seems to have escaped Mr Obama

That Leftism is intrinsically authoritarian is not a new insight. It was well understood by none other than Friedrich Engels (Yes. THAT Engels). His clever short essay On authority was written as a reproof to the dreamy Anarchist Left of his day. It concludes: "A revolution is certainly the most authoritarian thing there is; it is the act whereby one part of the population imposes its will upon the other part by means of rifles, bayonets and cannon — authoritarian means"

Leftists think of themselves as the new nobility

Many people in literary and academic circles today who once supported Stalin and his heirs are generally held blameless and may even still be admired whereas anybody who gave the slightest hint of support for the similarly brutal Hitler regime is an utter polecat and pariah. Why? Because Hitler's enemies were "only" the Jews whereas Stalin's enemies were those the modern day Left still hates -- people who are doing well for themselves materially. Modern day Leftists understand and excuse Stalin and his supporters because Stalin's hates are their hates.

If you understand that Leftism is hate, everything falls into place.

The strongest way of influencing people is to convince them that you will do them some good. Leftists and con-men misuse that

Leftists believe only what they want to believe. So presenting evidence contradicting their beliefs simply enrages them. They do not learn from it

Psychological defence mechanisms such as projection play a large part in Leftist thinking and discourse. So their frantic search for evil in the words and deeds of others is easily understandable. The evil is in themselves.

Leftists who think that they can conjure up paradise out of their own limited brains are simply fools -- arrogant and dangerous fools. They essentially know nothing. Conservatives learn from the thousands of years of human brains that have preceded us -- including the Bible, the ancient Greeks and much else. The death of Socrates is, for instance, an amazing prefiguration of the intolerant 21st century. Ask any conservative stranded in academe about his freedom of speech

Most Leftist claims are simply propaganda. Those who utter such claims must know that they are not telling the whole story. Hitler described his Marxist adversaries as "lying with a virtuosity that would bend iron beams". At the risk of ad hominem shrieks, I think that image is too good to remain disused.

Conservatives adapt to the world they live in. Leftists want to change the world to suit themselves

Given their dislike of the world they live in, it would be a surprise if Leftists were patriotic and loved their own people. Prominent English Leftist politician Jack Straw probably said it best: "The English as a race are not worth saving"

In his 1888 book, The Anti-Christ Friedrich Nietzsche argues that we should treat the common man well and kindly because he is the backdrop against which the exceptional man can be seen. So Nietzsche deplores those who agitate the common man: "Whom do I hate most among the rabble of today? The socialist rabble, the chandala [outcast] apostles, who undermine the instinct, the pleasure, the worker's sense of satisfaction with his small existence—who make him envious, who teach him revenge. The source of wrong is never unequal rights but the claim of “equal” rights"

Why do conservatives respect tradition and rely on the past in many ways? Because they want to know what works and the past is the chief source of evidence on that. Leftists are more faith-based. They cling to their theories (e.g. global warming) with religious fervour, even though theories are often wrong

"The best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley"[go oft astray] is a well known line from a famous poem by the great Scottish poet, Robert Burns. But the next line is even wiser: "And leave us nought but grief and pain for promised joy". Burns was a Leftist of sorts so he knew how often theories fail badly.

Thinking that you "know best" is an intrinsically precarious and foolish stance -- because nobody does. Reality is so complex and unpredictable that it can rarely be predicted far ahead. Conservatives can see that and that is why conservatives always want change to be done gradually, in a step by step way. So the Leftist often finds the things he "knows" to be out of step with reality, which challenges him and his ego. Sadly, rather than abandoning the things he "knows", he usually resorts to psychological defence mechanisms such as denial and projection. He is largely impervious to argument because he has to be. He can't afford to let reality in.

A prize example of the Leftist tendency to projection (seeing your own faults in others) is the absurd Robert "Bob" Altemeyer, an acclaimed psychologist and father of a Canadian Leftist politician. Altemeyer claims that there is no such thing as Leftist authoritarianism and that it is conservatives who are "Enemies of Freedom". That Leftists (e.g. Mrs Obama) are such enemies of freedom that they even want to dictate what people eat has apparently passed Altemeyer by. Even Stalin did not go that far. And there is the little fact that all the great authoritarian regimes of the 20th century (Stalin, Hitler and Mao) were socialist. Freud saw reliance on defence mechanisms such as projection as being maladjusted. It is difficult to dispute that. Altemeyer is too illiterate to realize it but he is actually a good Hegelian. Hegel thought that "true" freedom was marching in step with a Left-led herd.

What libertarian said this? “The bureaucracy is a parasite on the body of society, a parasite which ‘chokes’ all its vital pores…The state is a parasitic organism”. It was VI Lenin, in August 1917, before he set up his own vastly bureaucratic state. He could see the problem but had no clue about how to solve it.

It was Democrat John F Kennedy who cut taxes and declared that “a rising tide lifts all boats"

Leftist stupidity is a special class of stupidity. The people concerned are mostly not stupid in general but they have a character defect (mostly arrogance) that makes them impatient with complexity and unwilling to study it. So in their policies they repeatedly shoot themselves in the foot; They fail to attain their objectives. The world IS complex so a simplistic approach to it CANNOT work.

"A man who is not a socialist at age 20 has no heart; A man who is still a socialist at age 30 has no head". Who said that? Most people attribute it to Winston but as far as I can tell it was first said by Georges Clemenceau, French Premier in WWI -- whose own career approximated the transition concerned. And he in turn was probably updating an earlier saying about monarchy versus Republicanism by Guizot. Other attributions here. There is in fact a normal drift from Left to Right as people get older. Both Reagan and Churchill started out as liberals

MESSAGE to Leftists: Even if you killed all conservatives tomorrow, you would just end up in another Soviet Union. Conservatives are all that stand between you and that dismal fate. And you may not even survive at all. Stalin killed off all the old Bolsheviks.


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)

Just the name of Hitler's political party should be sufficient to reject the claim that Hitler was "Right wing" but Leftists sometimes retort that the name "Democratic People's Republic of Korea" is not informative, in that it is the name of a dismal Stalinist tyranny. But "People's Republic" is a normal name for a Communist country whereas I know of no conservative political party that calls itself a "Socialist Worker's Party". Such parties are in fact usually of the extreme Left (Trotskyite etc.)

Most people find the viciousness of the Nazis to be incomprehensible -- for instance what they did in their concentration camps. But you just have to read a little of the vileness that pours out from modern-day "liberals" in their Twitter and blog comments to understand it all very well. Leftists haven't changed. They are still boiling with hate

Hatred as a motivating force for political strategy leads to misguided ­decisions. “Hatred is blind,” as Alexandre Dumas warned, “rage carries you away; and he who pours out vengeance runs the risk of tasting a bitter draught.”

Who said this in 1968? "I am not, and never have been, a man of the right. My position was on the Left and is now in the centre of politics". It was Sir Oswald Mosley, founder and leader of the British Union of Fascists

The term "Fascism" is mostly used by the Left as a brainless term of abuse. But when they do make a serious attempt to define it, they produce very complex and elaborate definitions -- e.g. here and here. In fact, Fascism is simply extreme socialism plus nationalism. But great gyrations are needed to avoid mentioning the first part of that recipe, of course.

Three examples of Leftist racism below (much more here and here):

Jesse Owens, the African-American hero of the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, said "Hitler didn't snub me – it was our president who snubbed me. The president didn't even send me a telegram." Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt never even invited the quadruple gold medal-winner to the White House

Beatrice Webb, a founder of the London School of Economics and the Fabian Society, and married to a Labour MP, mused in 1922 on whether when English children were "dying from lack of milk", one should extend "the charitable impulse" to Russian and Chinese children who, if saved this year, might anyway die next. Besides, she continued, there was "the larger question of whether those races are desirable inhabitants" and "obviously" one wouldn't "spend one's available income" on "a Central African negro".

Hugh Dalton, offered the Colonial Office during Attlee's 1945-51 Labour government, turned it down because "I had a horrid vision of pullulating, poverty stricken, diseased nigger communities, for whom one can do nothing in the short run and who, the more one tries to help them, are querulous and ungrateful."

The Zimmerman case is an excellent proof that the Left is deep-down racist

Defensible and indefensible usages of the term "racism"

The book, The authoritarian personality, authored by T.W. Adorno et al. in 1950, has been massively popular among psychologists. It claims that a set of ideas that were popular in the "Progressive"-dominated America of the prewar era were "authoritarian". Leftist regimes always are authoritarian so that claim was not a big problem. What was quite amazing however is that Adorno et al. identified such ideas as "conservative". They were in fact simply popular ideas of the day but ones that had been most heavily promoted by the Left right up until the then-recent WWII. See here for details of prewar "Progressive" thinking.

Leftist psychologists have an amusingly simplistic conception of military organizations and military men. They seem to base it on occasions they have seen troops marching together on parade rather than any real knowledge of military men and the military life. They think that military men are "rigid" -- automatons who are unable to adjust to new challenges or think for themselves. What is incomprehensible to them is that being kadaver gehorsam (to use the extreme Prussian term for following orders) actually requires great flexibility -- enough flexibility to put your own ideas and wishes aside and do something very difficult. Ask any soldier if all commands are easy to obey.

It would be very easy for me to say that I am too much of an individual for the army but I did in fact join the army and enjoy it greatly, as most men do. In my observation, ALL army men are individuals. It is just that they accept discipline in order to be militarily efficient -- which is the whole point of the exercise. But that's too complex for simplistic Leftist thinking, of course

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a war criminal. Both British and American codebreakers had cracked the Japanese naval code so FDR knew what was coming at Pearl Harbor. But for his own political reasons he warned no-one there. So responsibility for the civilian and military deaths at Pearl Harbor lies with FDR as well as with the Japanese. The huge firepower available at Pearl Harbor, both aboard ship and on land, could have largely neutered the attack. Can you imagine 8 battleships and various lesser craft firing all their AA batteries as the Japanese came in? The Japanese naval airforce would have been annihilated and the war would have been over before it began.

FDR prolonged the Depression. He certainly didn't cure it.

WWII did NOT end the Great Depression. It just concealed it. It in fact made living standards worse

FDR appointed a known KKK member, Hugo Black, to the Supreme Court

Joe McCarthy was eventually proved right after the fall of the Soviet Union. To accuse anyone of McCarthyism is to accuse them of accuracy!

The KKK was intimately associated with the Democratic party. They ATTACKED Republicans!

High Level of Welfare Use by Legal and Illegal Immigrants in the USA. Low skill immigrants receive 4 to 5 dollars of benefits for every dollar in taxes paid

People who mention differences in black vs. white IQ are these days almost universally howled down and subjected to the most extreme abuse. I am a psychometrician, however, so I feel obliged to defend the scientific truth of the matter: The average African adult has about the same IQ as an average white 11-year-old and African Americans (who are partly white in ancestry) average out at a mental age of 14. The American Psychological Association is generally Left-leaning but it is the world's most prestigious body of academic psychologists. And even they have had to concede that sort of gap (one SD) in black vs. white average IQ. 11-year olds can do a lot of things but they also have their limits and there are times when such limits need to be allowed for.

The association between high IQ and long life is overwhelmingly genetic: "In the combined sample the genetic contribution to the covariance was 95%"

The Dark Ages were not dark

Judged by his deeds, Abraham Lincoln was one of the bloodiest villains ever to walk the Earth. See here. And: America's uncivil war was caused by trade protectionism. The slavery issue was just camouflage, as Abraham Lincoln himself admitted. See also here

Was slavery already washed up by the tides of history before Lincoln took it on? Eric Williams in his book "Capitalism and Slavery" tells us: “The commercial capitalism of the eighteenth century developed the wealth of Europe by means of slavery and monopoly. But in so doing it helped to create the industrial capitalism of the nineteenth century, which turned round and destroyed the power of commercial capitalism, slavery, and all its works. Without a grasp of these economic changes the history of the period is meaningless.”

Did William Zantzinger kill poor Hattie Carroll?

Did Bismarck predict where WWI would start or was it just a "free" translation by Churchill?

Conrad Black on the Declaration of Independence

Malcolm Gladwell: "There is more of reality and wisdom in a Chinese fortune cookie than can be found anywhere in Gladwell’s pages"

Some people are born bad -- confirmed by genetics research

The dark side of American exceptionalism: America could well be seen as the land of folly. It fought two unnecessary civil wars, would have done well to keep out of two world wars, endured the extraordinary folly of Prohibition and twice elected a traitor President -- Barack Obama. That America remains a good place to be is a tribute to the energy and hard work of individual Americans.


The 10 "cannots" (By William J. H. Boetcker) that Leftist politicians ignore:
*You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
* You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
* You cannot help little men by tearing down big men.
* You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
* You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
* You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money.
* You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
* You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.
* You cannot build character and courage by destroying men's initiative and independence.
* And you cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves.

A good short definition of conservative: "One who wants you to keep your hand out of his pocket."

Beware of good intentions. They mostly lead to coercion

A gargantuan case of hubris, coupled with stunning level of ignorance about how the real world works, is the essence of progressivism.

The U.S. Constitution is neither "living" nor dead. It is fixed until it is amended. But amending it is the privilege of the people, not of politicians or judges

It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong - Thomas Sowell

Leftists think that utopia can be coerced into existence -- so no dishonesty or brutality is beyond them in pursuit of that "noble" goal

"England is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality. In left-wing circles it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman and that it is a duty to snigger at every English institution" -- George Orwell

Was 16th century science pioneer Paracelsus a libertarian? His motto was "Alterius non sit qui suus esse potest" which means "Let no man belong to another who can belong to himself."

"When using today's model of society as a rule, most of history will be found to be full of oppression, bias, and bigotry." What today's arrogant judges of history fail to realize is that they, too, will be judged. What will Americans of 100 years from now make of, say, speech codes, political correctness, and zero tolerance - to name only three? Assuming, of course, there will still be an America that we, today, would recognize. Given the rogue Federal government spy apparatus, I am not at all sure of that. -- Paul Havemann

Economist Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973): "The champions of socialism call themselves progressives, but they recommend a system which is characterized by rigid observance of routine and by a resistance to every kind of improvement. They call themselves liberals, but they are intent upon abolishing liberty. They call themselves democrats, but they yearn for dictatorship. They call themselves revolutionaries, but they want to make the government omnipotent. They promise the blessings of the Garden of Eden, but they plan to transform the world into a gigantic post office."

It's the shared hatred of the rest of us that unites Islamists and the Left.

American liberals don't love America. They despise it. All they love is their own fantasy of what America could become. They are false patriots.

The Democratic Party: Con-men elected by the ignorant and the arrogant

The Democratic Party is a strange amalgam of elites, would-be elites and minorities. No wonder their policies are so confused and irrational

Why are conservatives more at ease with religion? Because it is basic to conservatism that some things are unknowable, and religious people have to accept that too. Leftists think that they know it all and feel threatened by any exceptions to that. Thinking that you know it all is however the pride that comes before a fall.

The characteristic emotion of the Leftist is not envy. It's rage

Leftists are committed to grievance, not truth

The British Left poured out a torrent of hate for Margaret Thatcher on the occasion of her death. She rescued Britain from chaos and restored Britain's prosperity. What's not to hate about that?

Something you didn't know about Margaret Thatcher

The world's dumbest investor? Without doubt it is Uncle Sam. Nobody anywhere could rival the scale of the losses on "investments" made under the Obama administration

"Behind the honeyed but patently absurd pleas for equality is a ruthless drive for placing themselves (the elites) at the top of a new hierarchy of power" -- Murray Rothbard - Egalitarianism and the Elites (1995)

A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money. -- G. Gordon Liddy

"World socialism as a whole, and all the figures associated with it, are shrouded in legend; its contradictions are forgotten or concealed; it does not respond to arguments but continually ignores them--all this stems from the mist of irrationality that surrounds socialism and from its instinctive aversion to scientific analysis... The doctrines of socialism seethe with contradictions, its theories are at constant odds with its practice, yet due to a powerful instinct these contradictions do not in the least hinder the unending propaganda of socialism. Indeed, no precise, distinct socialism even exists; instead there is only a vague, rosy notion of something noble and good, of equality, communal ownership, and justice: the advent of these things will bring instant euphoria and a social order beyond reproach." -- Solzhenitsyn

"The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left." -- Ecclesiastes 10:2 (NIV)

My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government. -- Thomas Jefferson

"Much that passes as idealism is disguised hatred or disguised love of power" -- Bertrand Russell

Evan Sayet: The Left sides "...invariably with evil over good, wrong over right, and the behaviors that lead to failure over those that lead to success." (t=5:35+ on video)

The Republicans are the gracious side of American politics. It is the Democrats who are the nasty party, the haters

Wanting to stay out of the quarrels of other nations is conservative -- but conservatives will fight if attacked or seriously endangered. Anglo/Irish statesman Lord Castlereagh (1769-1822), who led the political coalition that defeated Napoleon, was an isolationist, as were traditional American conservatives.

Some wisdom from the past: "The bosom of America is open to receive not only the opulent and respectable stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all nations and religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges, if by decency and propriety of conduct they appear to merit the enjoyment." —George Washington, 1783

Some useful definitions:

If a conservative doesn't like guns, he doesn't buy one. If a liberal doesn't like guns, he wants all guns outlawed.
If a conservative is a vegetarian, he doesn't eat meat. If a liberal is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for everyone.
If a conservative is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation. A liberal wonders who is going to take care of him.
If a conservative doesn't like a talk show host, he switches channels. Liberals demand that those they don't like be shut down.
If a conservative is a non-believer, he doesn't go to church. A liberal non-believer wants any mention of God and religion silenced. (Unless it's a foreign religion, of course!)
If a conservative decides he needs health care, he goes about shopping for it, or may choose a job that provides it. A liberal demands that the rest of us pay for his.

There is better evidence for creation than there is for the Leftist claim that “gender” is a “social construct”. Most Leftist claims seem to be faith-based rather than founded on the facts

Leftists are classic weak characters. They dish out abuse by the bucketload but cannot take it when they get it back. Witness the Loughner hysteria.

Death taxes: You would expect a conscientious person, of whatever degree of intelligence, to reflect on the strange contradiction involved in denying people the right to unearned wealth, while supporting programs that give people unearned wealth.

America is no longer the land of the free. It is now the land of the regulated -- though it is not alone in that, of course

The Leftist motto: "I love humanity. It's just people I can't stand"

Why are Leftists always talking about hate? Because it fills their own hearts

Envy is a strong and widespread human emotion so there has alway been widespread support for policies of economic "levelling". Both the USA and the modern-day State of Israel were founded by communists but reality taught both societies that respect for the individual gave much better outcomes than levelling ideas. Sadly, there are many people in both societies in whom hatred for others is so strong that they are incapable of respect for the individual. The destructiveness of what they support causes them to call themselves many names in different times and places but they are the backbone of the political Left

Gore Vidal: "Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little". Vidal was of course a Leftist

The large number of rich Leftists suggests that, for them, envy is secondary. They are directly driven by hatred and scorn for many of the other people that they see about them. Hatred of others can be rooted in many things, not only in envy. But the haters come together as the Left. Some evidence here showing that envy is not what defines the Left

Leftists hate the world around them and want to change it: the people in it most particularly. Conservatives just want to be left alone to make their own decisions and follow their own values.

The failure of the Soviet experiment has definitely made the American Left more vicious and hate-filled than they were. The plain failure of what passed for ideas among them has enraged rather than humbled them.

Ronald Reagan famously observed that the status quo is Latin for “the mess we’re in.” So much for the vacant Leftist claim that conservatives are simply defenders of the status quo. They think that conservatives are as lacking in principles as they are.

Was Confucius a conservative? The following saying would seem to reflect good conservative caution: "The superior man, when resting in safety, does not forget that danger may come. When in a state of security he does not forget the possibility of ruin. When all is orderly, he does not forget that disorder may come. Thus his person is not endangered, and his States and all their clans are preserved."

The shallow thinkers of the Left sometimes claim that conservatives want to impose their own will on others in the matter of abortion. To make that claim is however to confuse religion with politics. Conservatives are in fact divided about their response to abortion. The REAL opposition to abortion is religious rather than political. And the church which has historically tended to support the LEFT -- the Roman Catholic church -- is the most fervent in the anti-abortion cause. Conservatives are indeed the one side of politics to have moral qualms on the issue but they tend to seek a middle road in dealing with it. Taking the issue to the point of legal prohibitions is a religious doctrine rather than a conservative one -- and the religion concerned may or may not be characteristically conservative. More on that here

Some Leftist hatred arises from the fact that they blame "society" for their own personal problems and inadequacies

The Leftist hunger for change to the society that they hate leads to a hunger for control over other people. And they will do and say anything to get that control: "Power at any price". Leftist politicians are mostly self-aggrandizing crooks who gain power by deceiving the uninformed with snake-oil promises -- power which they invariably use to destroy. Destruction is all that they are good at. Destruction is what haters do.

Leftists are consistent only in their hate. They don't have principles. How can they when "there is no such thing as right and wrong"? All they have is postures, pretend-principles that can be changed as easily as one changes one's shirt

A Leftist assumption: Making money doesn't entitle you to it, but wanting money does.

"Politicians never accuse you of 'greed' for wanting other people's money -- only for wanting to keep your own money." --columnist Joe Sobran (1946-2010)

Leftist policies are candy-coated rat poison that may appear appealing at first, but inevitably do a lot of damage to everyone impacted by them.

A tribute and thanks to Mary Jo Kopechne. Her death was reprehensible but she probably did more by her death that she ever would have in life: She spared the world a President Ted Kennedy. That the heap of corruption that was Ted Kennedy died peacefully in his bed is one of the clearest demonstrations that we do not live in a just world. Even Joe Stalin seems to have been smothered to death by Nikita Khrushchev

I often wonder why Leftists refer to conservatives as "wingnuts". A wingnut is a very useful device that adds versatility wherever it is used. Clearly, Leftists are not even good at abuse. Once they have accused their opponents of racism and Nazism, their cupboard is bare. Similarly, Leftists seem to think it is a devastating critique to refer to "Worldnet Daily" as "Worldnut Daily". The poverty of their argumentation is truly pitiful

The Leftist assertion that there is no such thing as right and wrong has a distinguished history. It was Pontius Pilate who said "What is truth?" (John 18:38). From a Christian viewpoint, the assertion is undoubtedly the Devil's gospel

Even in the Old Testament they knew about "Postmodernism": "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" - Isaiah 5:20 (KJV)

Was Solomon the first conservative? "The hearts of men are full of evil and madness is in their hearts" -- Ecclesiastes: 9:3 (RSV). He could almost have been talking about Global Warming.

Leftist hatred of Christianity goes back as far as the massacre of the Carmelite nuns during the French revolution. Yancey has written a whole book tabulating modern Leftist hatred of Christians. It is a rival religion to Leftism.

"If one rejects laissez faire on account of man's fallibility and moral weakness, one must for the same reason also reject every kind of government action." - Ludwig von Mises

The naive scholar who searches for a consistent Leftist program will not find it. What there is consists only in the negation of the present.

Because of their need to be different from the mainstream, Leftists are very good at pretending that sow's ears are silk purses

Among intelligent people, Leftism is a character defect. Leftists HATE success in others -- which is why notably successful societies such as the USA and Israel are hated and failures such as the Palestinians can do no wrong.

A Leftist's beliefs are all designed to pander to his ego. So when you have an argument with a Leftist, you are not really discussing the facts. You are threatening his self esteem. Which is why the normal Leftist response to challenge is mere abuse.

Because of the fragility of a Leftist's ego, anything that threatens it is intolerable and provokes rage. So most Leftist blogs can be summarized in one sentence: "How DARE anybody question what I believe!". Rage and abuse substitute for an appeal to facts and reason.

Because their beliefs serve their ego rather than reality, Leftists just KNOW what is good for us. Conservatives need evidence.

Absolute certainty is the privilege of uneducated men and fanatics. -- C.J. Keyser

Hell is paved with good intentions" -- Boswell's Life of Johnson of 1775

"Almost all professors of the arts and sciences are egregiously conceited, and derive their happiness from their conceit" -- Erasmus


"Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him" (Proverbs 26: 12). I think that sums up Leftists pretty well.

Eminent British astrophysicist Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington is often quoted as saying: "Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine." It was probably in fact said by his contemporary, J.B.S. Haldane. But regardless of authorship, it could well be a conservative credo not only about the cosmos but also about human beings and human society. Mankind is too complex to be summed up by simple rules and even complex rules are only approximations with many exceptions.

Politics is the only thing Leftists know about. They know nothing of economics, history or business. Their only expertise is in promoting feelings of grievance

Socialism makes the individual the slave of the state -- capitalism frees them.

Many readers here will have noticed that what I say about Leftists sometimes sounds reminiscent of what Leftists say about conservatives. There is an excellent reason for that. Leftists are great "projectors" (people who see their own faults in others). So a good first step in finding out what is true of Leftists is to look at what they say about conservatives! They even accuse conservatives of projection (of course).

The research shows clearly that one's Left/Right stance is strongly genetically inherited but nobody knows just what specifically is inherited. What is inherited that makes people Leftist or Rightist? There is any amount of evidence that personality traits are strongly genetically inherited so my proposal is that hard-core Leftists are people who tend to let their emotions (including hatred and envy) run away with them and who are much more in need of seeing themselves as better than others -- two attributes that are probably related to one another. Such Leftists may be an evolutionary leftover from a more primitive past.

Leftists seem to believe that if someone like Al Gore says it, it must be right. They obviously have a strong need for an authority figure. The fact that the two most authoritarian regimes of the 20th century (Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia) were socialist is thus no surprise. Leftists often accuse conservatives of being "authoritarian" but that is just part of their usual "projective" strategy -- seeing in others what is really true of themselves.

"With their infernal racial set-asides, racial quotas, and race norming, liberals share many of the Klan's premises. The Klan sees the world in terms of race and ethnicity. So do liberals! Indeed, liberals and white supremacists are the only people left in America who are neurotically obsessed with race. Conservatives champion a color-blind society" -- Ann Coulter

Politicians are in general only a little above average in intelligence so the idea that they can make better decisions for us that we can make ourselves is laughable

A quote from the late Dr. Adrian Rogers: "You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."

The Supreme Court of the United States is now and always has been a judicial abomination. Its guiding principles have always been political rather than judicial. It is not as political as Stalin's courts but its respect for the constitution is little better. Some recent abuses: The "equal treatment" provision of the 14th amendment was specifically written to outlaw racial discrimination yet the court has allowed various forms of "affirmative action" for decades -- when all such policies should have been completely stuck down immediately. The 2nd. amendment says that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed yet gun control laws infringe it in every State in the union. The 1st amendment provides that speech shall be freely exercised yet the court has upheld various restrictions on the financing and display of political advertising. The court has found a right to abortion in the constitution when the word abortion is not even mentioned there. The court invents rights that do not exist and denies rights that do.

"Some action that is unconstitutional has much to recommend it" -- Elena Kagan, nominated to SCOTUS by Obama

Frank Sulloway, the anti-scientist

The basic aim of all bureaucrats is to maximize their funding and minimize their workload

A lesson in Australian: When an Australian calls someone a "big-noter", he is saying that the person is a chronic and rather pathetic seeker of admiration -- as in someone who often pulls out "big notes" (e.g. $100.00 bills) to pay for things, thus endeavouring to create the impression that he is rich. The term describes the mentality rather than the actual behavior with money and it aptly describes many Leftists. When they purport to show "compassion" by advocating things that cost themselves nothing (e.g. advocating more taxes on "the rich" to help "the poor"), an Australian might say that the Leftist is "big-noting himself". There is an example of the usage here. The term conveys contempt. There is a wise description of Australians generally here

Some ancient wisdom for Leftists: "Be not righteous overmuch; neither make thyself over wise: Why shouldest thou die before thy time?" -- Ecclesiastes 7:16

Jesse Jackson: "There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery -- then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved." There ARE important racial differences.

Some Jimmy Carter wisdom: "I think it's inevitable that there will be a lower standard of living than what everybody had always anticipated," he told advisers in 1979. "there's going to be a downward turning."

Heritage is what survives death: Very rare and hence very valuable

Big business is not your friend. As Adam Smith said: "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty or justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary

How can I accept the Communist doctrine, which sets up as its bible, above and beyond criticism, an obsolete textbook which I know not only to be scientifically erroneous but without interest or application to the modern world? How can I adopt a creed which, preferring the mud to the fish, exalts the boorish proletariat above the bourgeoisie and the intelligentsia, who with all their faults, are the quality of life and surely carry the seeds of all human achievement? Even if we need a religion, how can we find it in the turbid rubbish of the red bookshop? It is hard for an educated, decent, intelligent son of Western Europe to find his ideals here, unless he has first suffered some strange and horrid process of conversion which has changed all his values. -- John Maynard Keynes

Some wisdom from "Bron" Waugh: "The purpose of politics is to help them [politicians] overcome these feelings of inferiority and compensate for their personal inadequacies in the pursuit of power"

"There are countless horrible things happening all over the country, and horrible people prospering, but we must never allow them to disturb our equanimity or deflect us from our sacred duty to sabotage and annoy them whenever possible"

The urge to pass new laws must be seen as an illness, not much different from the urge to bite old women. Anyone suspected of suffering from it should either be treated with the appropriate pills or, if it is too late for that, elected to Parliament [or Congress, as the case may be] and paid a huge salary with endless holidays, to do nothing whatever"

"It is my settled opinion, after some years as a political correspondent, that no one is attracted to a political career in the first place unless he is socially or emotionally crippled"

Two lines below of a famous hymn that would be incomprehensible to Leftists today ("honor"? "right"? "freedom?" Freedom to agree with them is the only freedom they believe in)

First to fight for right and freedom,
And to keep our honor clean

It is of course the hymn of the USMC -- still today the relentless warriors that they always were. Freedom needs a soldier

If any of the short observations above about Leftism seem wrong, note that they do not stand alone. The evidence for them is set out at great length in my MONOGRAPH on Leftism.

3 memoirs of "Supermac", a 20th century Disraeli (Aristocratic British Conservative Prime Minister -- 1957 to 1963 -- Harold Macmillan):

"It breaks my heart to see (I can't interfere or do anything at my age) what is happening in our country today - this terrible strike of the best men in the world, who beat the Kaiser's army and beat Hitler's army, and never gave in. Pointless, endless. We can't afford that kind of thing. And then this growing division which the noble Lord who has just spoken mentioned, of a comparatively prosperous south, and an ailing north and midlands. That can't go on." -- Mac on the British working class: "the best men in the world" (From his Maiden speech in the House of Lords, 13 November 1984)

"As a Conservative, I am naturally in favour of returning into private ownership and private management all those means of production and distribution which are now controlled by state capitalism"

During Macmillan's time as prime minister, average living standards steadily rose while numerous social reforms were carried out


The Bible is an Israeli book

To me, hostility to the Jews is a terrible tragedy. I weep for them at times. And I do literally put my money where my mouth is. I do at times send money to Israeli charities

My (Gentile) opinion of antisemitism: The Jews are the best we've got so killing them is killing us.

"And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" -- Genesis 12:3

"O pray for the peace of Jerusalem: They shall prosper that love thee" Psalm 122:6.

If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy -- Psalm 137 (NIV)

Israel, like the Jews throughout history, is hated not for her vices but her virtues. Israel is hated, as the United States is hated, because Israel is successful, because Israel is free, and because Israel is good. As Maxim Gorky put it: “Whatever nonsense the anti-Semites may talk, they dislike the Jew only because he is obviously better, more adroit, and more willing and capable of work than they are.” Whether driven by culture or genes—or like most behavior, an inextricable mix—the fact of Jewish genius is demonstrable." -- George Gilder

To Leftist haters, all the basic rules of liberal society — rejection of hate speech, commitment to academic freedom, rooting out racism, the absolute commitment to human dignity — go out the window when the subject is Israel.

I have always liked the story of Gideon (See Judges chapters 6 to 8) and it is surely no surprise that in the present age Israel is the Gideon of nations: Few in numbers but big in power and impact.

Is the Israel Defence Force the most effective military force per capita since Genghis Khan? They probably are but they are also the most ethically advanced military force that the world has ever seen

If I were not an atheist, I would believe that God had a sense of humour. He gave his chosen people (the Jews) enormous advantages -- high intelligence and high drive -- but to keep it fair he deprived them of something hugely important too: Political sense. So Jews to this day tend very strongly to be Leftist -- even though the chief source of antisemitism for roughly the last 200 years has been the political Left!

And the other side of the coin is that Jews tend to despise conservatives and Christians. Yet American fundamentalist Christians are the bedrock of the vital American support for Israel, the ultimate bolthole for all Jews. So Jewish political irrationality seems to be a rather good example of the saying that "The LORD giveth and the LORD taketh away". There are many other examples of such perversity (or "balance"). The sometimes severe side-effects of most pharmaceutical drugs is an obvious one but there is another ethnic example too, a rather amusing one. Chinese people are in general smart and patient people but their rate of traffic accidents in China is about 10 times higher than what prevails in Western societies. They are brilliant mathematicians and fearless business entrepreneurs but at the same time bad drivers!

Conservatives, on the other hand, could be antisemitic on entirely rational grounds: Namely, the overwhelming Leftism of the Diaspora Jewish population as a whole. Because they judge the individual, however, only a tiny minority of conservative-oriented people make such general judgments. The longer Jews continue on their "stiff-necked" course, however, the more that is in danger of changing. The children of Israel have been a stiff necked people since the days of Moses, however, so they will no doubt continue to vote with their emotions rather than their reason.

I despair of the ADL. Jews have enough problems already and yet in the ADL one has a prominent Jewish organization that does its best to make itself offensive to Christians. Their Leftism is more important to them than the welfare of Jewry -- which is the exact opposite of what they ostensibly stand for! Jewish cleverness seems to vanish when politics are involved. Fortunately, Christians are true to their saviour and have loving hearts. Jewish dissatisfaction with the myopia of the ADL is outlined here. Note that Foxy was too grand to reply to it.

Fortunately for America, though, liberal Jews there are rapidly dying out through intermarriage and failure to reproduce. And the quite poisonous liberal Jews of Israel are not much better off. Judaism is slowly returning to Orthodoxy and the Orthodox tend to be conservative.

The above is good testimony to the accuracy of the basic conservative insight that almost anything in human life is too complex to be reduced to any simple rule and too complex to be reduced to any rule at all without allowance for important exceptions to the rule concerned

Amid their many virtues, one virtue is often lacking among Jews in general and Israelis in particular: Humility. And that's an antisemitic comment only if Hashem is antisemitic. From Moses on, the Hebrew prophets repeatedy accused the Israelites of being "stiff-necked" and urged them to repent. So it's no wonder that the greatest Jewish prophet of all -- Jesus -- not only urged humility but exemplified it in his life and death

"Why should the German be interested in the liberation of the Jew, if the Jew is not interested in the liberation of the German?... We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time... In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.... Indeed, in North America, the practical domination of Judaism over the Christian world has achieved as its unambiguous and normal expression that the preaching of the Gospel itself and the Christian ministry have become articles of trade... Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist". Who said that? Hitler? No. It was Karl Marx. See also here and here and here. For roughly two centuries now, antisemitism has, throughout the Western world, been principally associated with Leftism (including the socialist Hitler) -- as it is to this day. See here.

Karl Marx hated just about everyone. Even his father, the kindly Heinrich Marx, thought Karl was not much of a human being

Leftists call their hatred of Israel "Anti-Zionism" but Zionists are only a small minority in Israel

Some of the Leftist hatred of Israel is motivated by old-fashioned antisemitism (beliefs in Jewish "control" etc.) but most of it is just the regular Leftist hatred of success in others. And because the societies they inhabit do not give them the vast amount of recognition that their large but weak egos need, some of the most virulent haters of Israel and America live in those countries. So the hatred is the product of pathologically high self-esteem.

Their threatened egos sometimes drive Leftists into quite desperate flights from reality. For instance, they often call Israel an "Apartheid state" -- when it is in fact the Arab states that practice Apartheid -- witness the severe restrictions on Christians in Saudi Arabia. There are no such restrictions in Israel.

If the Palestinians put down their weapons, there'd be peace. If the Israelis put down their weapons, there'd be genocide.


Many people hunger and thirst after righteousness. Some find it in the hatreds of the Left. Others find it in the love of Christ. I don't hunger and thirst after righteousness at all. I hunger and thirst after truth. How old-fashioned can you get?

The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody. And I have NO investments in oil companies, mining companies or "Big Pharma"

UPDATE: Despite my (statistical) aversion to mining stocks, I have recently bought a few shares in BHP -- the world's biggest miner, I gather. I run the grave risk of becoming a speaker of famous last words for saying this but I suspect that BHP is now so big as to be largely immune from the risks that plague most mining companies. I also know of no issue affecting BHP where my writings would have any relevance. The Left seem to have a visceral hatred of miners. I have never quite figured out why.

I imagine that few of my readers will understand it, but I am an unabashed monarchist. And, as someone who was born and bred in a monarchy and who still lives there (i.e. Australia), that gives me no conflicts at all. In theory, one's respect for the monarchy does not depend on who wears the crown but the impeccable behaviour of the present Queen does of course help perpetuate that respect. Aside from my huge respect for the Queen, however, my favourite member of the Royal family is the redheaded Prince Harry. The Royal family is of course a military family and Prince Harry is a great example of that. As one of the world's most privileged people, he could well be an idle layabout but instead he loves his life in the army. When his girlfriend Chelsy ditched him because he was so often away, Prince Harry said: "I love Chelsy but the army comes first". A perfect military man! I doubt that many women would understand or approve of his attitude but perhaps my own small army background powers my approval of that attitude.

I imagine that most Americans might find this rather mad -- but I believe that a constitutional Monarchy is the best form of government presently available. Can a libertarian be a Monarchist? I think so -- and prominent British libertarian Sean Gabb seems to think so too! Long live the Queen! (And note that Australia ranks well above the USA on the Index of Economic freedom. Heh!)

The Australian flag with the Union Jack quartered in it

Throughout Europe there is an association between monarchism and conservatism. It is a little sad that American conservatives do not have access to that satisfaction. So even though Australia is much more distant from Europe (geographically) than the USA is, Australia is in some ways more of an outpost of Europe than America is! Mind you: Australia is not very atypical of its region. Australia lies just South of Asia -- and both Japan and Thailand have greatly respected monarchies. And the demise of the Cambodian monarchy was disastrous for Cambodia

Throughout the world today, possession of a U.S. or U.K. passport is greatly valued. I once shared that view. Developments in recent years have however made me profoundly grateful that I am a 5th generation Australian. My Australian passport is a door into a much less oppressive and much less messed-up place than either the USA or Britain

Following the Sotomayor precedent, I would hope that a wise older white man such as myself with the richness of that experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than someone who hasn’t lived that life.

IQ and ideology: Most academics are Left-leaning. Why? Because very bright people who have balls go into business, while very bright people with no balls go into academe. I did both with considerable success, which makes me a considerable rarity. Although I am a born academic, I have always been good with money too. My share portfolio even survived the GFC in good shape. The academics hate it that bright people with balls make more money than them.

I have no hesitation in saying that the single book which has influenced me most is the New Testament. And my Scripture blog will show that I know whereof I speak. Some might conclude that I must therefore be a very confused sort of atheist but I can assure everyone that I do not feel the least bit confused. The New Testament is a lighthouse that has illumined the thinking of all sorts of men and women and I am deeply grateful that it has shone on me.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age. Conservatism is in touch with reality. Leftism is not.

I imagine that the RD are still sending mailouts to my 1950s address

Most teenagers have sporting and movie posters on their bedroom walls. At age 14 I had a map of Taiwan on my wall.

"Remind me never to get this guy mad at me" -- Instapundit

It seems to be a common view that you cannot talk informatively about a country unless you have been there. I completely reject that view but it is nonetheless likely that some Leftist dimbulb will at some stage aver that any comments I make about politics and events in the USA should not be heeded because I am an Australian who has lived almost all his life in Australia. I am reluctant to pander to such ignorance in the era of the "global village" but for the sake of the argument I might mention that I have visited the USA 3 times -- spending enough time in Los Angeles and NYC to get to know a fair bit about those places at least. I did however get outside those places enough to realize that they are NOT America.

"Intellectual" = Leftist dreamer. I have more publications in the academic journals than almost all "public intellectuals" but I am never called an intellectual and nor would I want to be. Call me a scholar or an academic, however, and I will accept either as a just and earned appellation

A small personal note: I have always been very self-confident. I inherited it from my mother, along with my skeptical nature. So I don't need to feed my self-esteem by claiming that I am wiser than others -- which is what Leftists do.

As with conservatives generally, it bothers me not a bit to admit to large gaps in my knowledge and understanding. For instance, I don't know if the slight global warming of the 20th century will resume in the 21st, though I suspect not. And I don't know what a "healthy" diet is, if there is one. Constantly-changing official advice on the matter suggests that nobody knows

Leftists are usually just anxious little people trying to pretend that they are significant. No doubt there are some Leftists who are genuinely concerned about inequities in our society but their arrogance lies in thinking that they understand it without close enquiry

My academic background

My full name is Dr. John Joseph RAY. I am a former university teacher aged 65 at the time of writing in 2009. I was born of Australian pioneer stock in 1943 at Innisfail in the State of Queensland in Australia. I trace my ancestry wholly to the British Isles. After an early education at Innisfail State Rural School and Cairns State High School, I taught myself for matriculation. I took my B.A. in Psychology from the University of Queensland in Brisbane. I then moved to Sydney (in New South Wales, Australia) and took my M.A. in psychology from the University of Sydney in 1969 and my Ph.D. from the School of Behavioural Sciences at Macquarie University in 1974. I first tutored in psychology at Macquarie University and then taught sociology at the University of NSW. My doctorate is in psychology but I taught mainly sociology in my 14 years as a university teacher. In High Schools I taught economics. I have taught in both traditional and "progressive" (low discipline) High Schools. Fuller biographical notes here

I completed the work for my Ph.D. at the end of 1970 but the degree was not awarded until 1974 -- due to some academic nastiness from Seymour Martin Lipset and Fred Emery. A conservative or libertarian who makes it through the academic maze has to be at least twice as good as the average conformist Leftist. Fortunately, I am a born academic.

Despite my great sympathy and respect for Christianity, I am the most complete atheist you could find. I don't even believe that the word "God" is meaningful. I am not at all original in that view, of course. Such views are particularly associated with the noted German philosopher Rudolf Carnap. Unlike Carnap, however, none of my wives have committed suicide

Very occasionally in my writings I make reference to the greats of analytical philosophy such as Carnap and Wittgenstein. As philosophy is a heavily Leftist discipline however, I have long awaited an attack from some philosopher accusing me of making coat-trailing references not backed by any real philosophical erudition. I suppose it is encouraging that no such attacks have eventuated but I thought that I should perhaps forestall them anyway -- by pointing out that in my younger days I did complete three full-year courses in analytical philosophy (at 3 different universities!) and that I have had papers on mainstream analytical philosophy topics published in academic journals

As well as being an academic, I am an army man and I am pleased and proud to say that I have worn my country's uniform. Although my service in the Australian army was chiefly noted for its un-notability, I DID join voluntarily in the Vietnam era, I DID reach the rank of Sergeant, and I DID volunteer for a posting in Vietnam. So I think I may be forgiven for saying something that most army men think but which most don't say because they think it is too obvious: The profession of arms is the noblest profession of all because it is the only profession where you offer to lay down your life in performing your duties. Our men fought so that people could say and think what they like but I myself always treat military men with great respect -- respect which in my view is simply their due.

A real army story here

Even a stopped clock is right twice a day and there is JUST ONE saying of Hitler's that I rather like. It may not even be original to him but it is found in chapter 2 of Mein Kampf (published in 1925): "Widerstaende sind nicht da, dass man vor ihnen kapituliert, sondern dass man sie bricht". The equivalent English saying is "Difficulties exist to be overcome" and that traces back at least to the 1920s -- with attributions to Montessori and others. Hitler's metaphor is however one of smashing barriers rather than of politely hopping over them and I am myself certainly more outspoken than polite. Hitler's colloquial Southern German is notoriously difficult to translate but I think I can manage a reasonable translation of that saying: "Resistance is there not for us to capitulate to but for us to break". I am quite sure that I don't have anything like that degree of determination in my own life but it seems to me to be a good attitude in general anyway

I have used many sites to post my writings over the years and many have gone bad on me for various reasons. So if you click on a link here to my other writings you may get a "page not found" response if the link was put up some time before the present. All is not lost, however. All my writings have been reposted elsewhere. If you do strike a failed link, just take the filename (the last part of the link) and add it to the address of any of my current home pages and -- Voila! -- you should find the article concerned.

COMMENTS: I have gradually added comments facilities to all my blogs. The comments I get are interesting. They are mostly from Leftists and most consist either of abuse or mere assertions. Reasoned arguments backed up by references to supporting evidence are almost unheard of from Leftists. Needless to say, I just delete such useless comments.

You can email me here (Hotmail address). In emailing me, you can address me as "John", "Jon", "Dr. Ray" or "JR" and that will be fine -- but my preference is for "JR" -- and that preference has NOTHING to do with an American soap opera that featured a character who was referred to in that way


"Tongue Tied"
"Dissecting Leftism" (Backup here)
"Australian Politics"
"Education Watch International"
"Political Correctness Watch"
"Greenie Watch"
Western Heart


"Marx & Engels in their own words"
"A scripture blog"
"Some memoirs"
To be continued ....
Coral reef compendium.
Queensland Police
Australian Police News
Paralipomena (3)
Of Interest
Dagmar Schellenberger
My alternative Wikipedia


"Food & Health Skeptic"
"Eye on Britain"
"Immigration Watch International".
"Leftists as Elitists"
Socialized Medicine
QANTAS -- A dying octopus
BRIAN LEITER (Ladderman)
Obama Watch
Obama Watch (2)
Dissecting Leftism -- Large font site
Michael Darby
Paralipomena (2)
AGL -- A bumbling monster
Telstra/Bigpond follies
Optus bungling
Vodafrauds (vodafone)
Bank of Queensland blues

There are also two blogspot blogs which record what I think are my main recent articles here and here. Similar content can be more conveniently accessed via my subject-indexed list of short articles here or here (I rarely write long articles these days)

Mirror for "Dissecting Leftism"
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Dagmar Schellenberger
General Backup
My alternative Wikipedia
General Backup 2

Selected reading



Rightism defined
Leftist Churches
Leftist Racism
Fascism is Leftist
Hitler a socialist
Leftism is authoritarian
James on Leftism
Irbe on Leftism
Beltt on Leftism
Van Hiel
Pyszczynski et al.

Main academic menu
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basic home page
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Note: If the link to one of my articles is not working, the article concerned can generally be viewed by prefixing to the filename the following: