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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August, 30, 2013

The root of all evil? Money fosters a spirit of COOPERATION by encouraging strangers to trust each other, claim experts

Academic economists discover what market advocates have long said

Money may be considered the root of all evil, but it fosters a spirit of cooperation in modern society, according to new research.

Scientists conducted experiments which showed how spontaneous cooperation ebbs away as societies get larger.  Money overcomes this tendency by encouraging anonymous strangers to trust each other.

Without it, large industrialised societies may never have evolved, the research suggests.

The team, led by Professor Gabriele Camera, from the Economic Science Institute at Chapman University in Orange, California, wrote: ‘This study has identified a behavioural reason for the existence of money.

‘Our research suggests that norms of voluntary co-operation are difficult to use in a society of strangers, unless they are mediated by some institution.'

Historically, humans have only survived by binding together in close-knit groups - yet modern society depends on the cooperation of complete strangers.

The U.S. study involved 448 volunteers playing a ‘helping game’ designed to examine the impact of money.

In one of a series of experiments, participants could choose whether or not to offer ‘help’ to fellow players in the form of gifts of ‘consumption units’ (CUs).  Later the CUs were swapped for real money, providing an incentive to acquire more of them.

Being generous increased the chances of receiving reciprocal help and units in the future.

But this voluntary ‘give and take’ system only worked when groups were small and individuals dealt personally with each other.

Co-operation fell from almost 80 per cent in groups of two to 49.1 per cent in groups of four, 34.2 per cent in groups of eight and 28.5 per cent in groups of 32.

The introduction of worthless tokens brought about a dramatic change.  Volunteers instinctively started using the tokens as ‘money’ - rewarding help with a token or demanding one in exchange for help.

With tokens included in the game, the average rate of co-operation remained a constant 52.1 per cent even when groups increased in size, the scientists reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Professor Camera said: 'In the experiment, monetary exchange, one of the most basic economic institutions, emerged endogenously and supported a stable level of co-operation in small as well as large groups.

‘Inherently worthless tokens acted as a catalyst for co-operation, acquiring value because of a self-sustaining belief that they could be exchanged for future co-operation.’

But the study also exposed the dark side of money, showing how it led to a social cost. Voluntary helpfulness was replaced by mercenary values.

‘Once the convention of money took hold, participants replaced norms of voluntary co-operation with a norm of exchange, i.e. trading co-operation for a token, quid pro quo,’ said the researchers.  ‘This damaged co-operation whenever monetary trade was unavailable.’



When 'never again' turns into 'yet again'

DURING A VISIT last week to Dachau, the former concentration camp near Munich, German Chancellor Angela Merkel laid a wreath in memory of the tens of thousands the Nazis murdered there. The memory of their fate, she said, "fills me with deep sadness and shame."

Dachau — the original concentration camp, established in March 1933 — radiates a constant reminder about the bottomless human capacity to commit evil, or to look away when evil is committed. "How could Germans go so far as to deny people human dignity and the right to live?" Merkel asked. "Places such as this warn each one of us to help ensure that such things never happen again."


As Merkel spoke, Copts and other Christians in Egypt were reeling from a wave of attacks more savage than any in modern Egyptian history. Islamist mobs across the country torched scores of churches — some more than 1,000 years old — along with convents, monasteries, and Christian-owned homes and businesses. A Franciscan school near Cairo was looted and burned, said Sister Manal, the principal; then she and other nuns were paraded through the streets "like prisoners of war" to the jeers and abuse of the mob.

Shades of Kristallnacht.

Merkel's speech also coincided with the latest evidence of a chemical-weapons attack by the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. Graphic video clips posted online by anti-Assad rebels east of Damascus showed rows of corpses, including those of women, children, and babies. Hospitals in the area described a sudden influx of patients gasping for breath and suffering from convulsions, nausea, and vomiting — symptoms consistent with chemical-weapons poisoning. The humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders put the death toll at 355; other estimates ranged far higher. The massacre took place one year to the week after President Obama's warning that any use of chemical weapons by Assad would be a red line. In fact, as even the Obama administration has conceded, Assad crossed that line months ago. Last week's attack was not the first, only the most brazen.

Shades of Halabja.

While Merkel was recalling the lessons of history in Dachau, a United Nations commission of inquiry was holding hearings on human rights abuses in North Korea. Survivors of Pyongyang's ghastly network of slave-labor camps recounted the horrors that take place there: starvation, torture, rape, public executions. There is nothing secret about the camps' existence or location; detailed satellite images have long been available in the West. So have accounts of unspeakable atrocities the North Korean regime inflicts on its victims. Among those testifying before the UN panel was Shin Dong-hyuk, who spent the first 22 years of his life in the North Korea's notorious Camp 14 before a miraculous escape in 2005. Shin told the harrowing story of a six-year-old girl, a classmate, who was publicly beaten to death by her teacher for stealing five kernels of corn. Other witnesses testified to other savageries, from forced abortions to medical experiments performed on dwarfs.

Shades of Auschwitz. Of the Gulag. Of the Cambodian killing fields.

"Can this really be happening? In the 21st century?" exclaimed the Israeli columnist Ari Shavit as news broke last week of the latest chemical-weapons attack in Syria. "No decent person can ignore what's happening."

That's what we always tell ourselves when "never again" turns into "yet again." But man's inhumanity to man is no more unthinkable in the 21st century than it was in the 20th. Decent people can and usually will ignore what's happening, and the indecent count on their apathy.

"Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?" Adolf Hitler is said to have remarked in 1939.

There are always reasons not to act in the face of a growing evil. There are always reasons to believe that atrocities are being overstated, or that tyrants can be persuaded to reform, or that common sense will prevail, or that meddling in the "internal affairs" of others will only make things worse. Then we are shocked to find we have enabled monsters.

The burning of houses of worship didn't end with Kristallnacht, nor the gassing of civilians with Halabja, nor concentration-camp butchery with Dachau. And we aren't finished building memorials to the dead, and solemnly declaring, as we lay our wreaths, that next time we won't forget the lessons of history.



Judge Strikes Down Obama’s ‘Improper’ NLRB Recess Appointment

A federal judge struck down one of President Obama’s highly controversial recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle ruled in a case involving a Washington State firm charged with unfair labor practices that that “the Board is without power to act because it lacks a properly appointed quorum.”

On August 12, four new NRLB members appointed by President Obama and confirmed by the Senate were sworn-in, but Settles' August 13th decision invalidates all previous actions taken by Obama’s recess appointees.

In July, Obama was forced to withdrew his 2012 “recess” appointees, Sharon Block and Richard Griffin, because they were named to the NLRB while the Senate was still in session and their appointments were subsequently ruled unconstitutional in federal court.

Obama named Lafe Solomon acting general counsel in 2010, then re-nominated him as the agency’s top lawyer in 2011 and 2013, although he was never confirmed by the Senate. (See NLRB press release.pdf)

But Settle ruled that Solomon’s appointment was invalid because the Federal Vacancies Reform Act requires that the appointee serve “as a personal assistant to the departing officer” within the year prior to the appointment, which  Solomon did not do.

The ruling “recognizes what the NLRB has failed to acknowledge: that former acting general counsel Lafe Solomon’s authority was questionable and came at an extreme cost to America’s job creators, like Boeing and Wal-Mart,” Dan Epstein, executive director of government accountability organization Cause of Action, commented.

Solomon came under fire by business groups after filing a 2011 complaint against Boeing, claiming that the aviation giant’s opening of a production plant in right-to-work South Carolina was an improper response to threats of a strike by its unionized employees in Washington State.

Judicial Watch released documents revealing emails about a deal the NLRB offered Boeing, in which it would drop the complaint if Boeing agreed not to lay off unionized workers. The union employees were later granted a contract extension and the complaint was formally withdrawn.

Last year, the NLRB’s Office of the Inspector General reported on a conflict of interest case involving Solomon, who held a substantial amount of Wal-Mart stock but participated in a decision on whether to file a complaint against Wal-Mart’s social media policy.

NLRB personnel polices prohibit individuals “from participating personally and substantially” in matters in which they have a financial interest.

Noting that “The DOJ can bring criminal or civil actions against Solomon,” Cause of Action condemned the OIG’s decision not to hold Solomon accountable because of “defects in the ethics process at the NLRB."




Are you a “potential terrorist?”:  "Are you a conservative, a libertarian, a Christian or a gun owner? Are you opposed to abortion, globalism, Communism, illegal immigration, the United Nations or the New World Order? Do you believe in conspiracy theories, do you believe that we are living in the 'end times' or do you ever visit alternative news websites (such as this one)? If you answered yes to any of those questions, you are a 'potential terrorist' according to official U.S. government documents."

The French model:  "Sometimes the impact of a set of policies is not obvious immediately. When Japan was riding high in the late 1980′s, a lot of people suggested that their model was one to emulate. Their public/private partnership with lifetime employment seemed to be working well. Japan had high growth rates and their future seemed limitless. It was only a matter of time before their economy surpassed America’s. It didn’t turn out that way. France is another example."

FL: Zimmerman will seek to recover legal fees from state:  "George Zimmerman's attorney said Tuesday that he is going to ask the state of Florida to pay for some of his client's non-lawyer legal bills, including for experts, printing and court reporters, and that the price tag could reach $300,000. Zimmerman was acquitted last month of all charges in the 2012 fatal shooting of Miami teenager Trayvon Martin. The decision in the nationally televised trial touched off protests across the country. Since he was found not guilty, Zimmerman is entitled under a Florida law to recoup the defense costs, minus private attorney fees, said his lawyer Mark O'Mara. It also says that any costs already paid can be refunded with the approval of a judge, he said."


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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)


August, 29, 2013

A Truly Great Phony

Thomas Sowell

Many years ago, I was a member of a committee that was recommending to whom grant money should be awarded. Since I knew one of the applicants, I asked if this meant that I should recuse myself from voting on his application.  "No," the chairman said. "I know him too -- and he is one of the truly great phonies of our time."

The man was indeed a very talented phony. He could convince almost anybody of almost anything -- provided that they were not already knowledgeable about the subject.

He had once spoken to me very authoritatively about Marxian economics, apparently unaware that I was one of the few people who had read all three volumes of Marx's "Capital," and had published articles on Marxian economics in scholarly journals.

What our glib talker was saying might have seemed impressive to someone who had never read "Capital," as most people have not. But it was complete nonsense to me.

Incidentally, he did not get the grant he applied for.

This episode came back to me recently, as I read an incisive column by Charles Krauthammer, citing some of the many gaffes in public statements by the President of the United States.

One presidential gaffe in particular gives the flavor, and suggests the reason, for many others. It involved the Falkland Islands.

Argentina has recently been demanding that Britain return the Falkland Islands, which have been occupied by Britons for nearly two centuries. In 1982, Argentina seized these islands by force, only to have British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher take the islands back by force.

With Argentina today beset by domestic problems, demanding the return of the Falklands is once again a way for Argentina's government to distract the Argentine public's attention from the country's economic and other woes.

Because the Argentines call these islands "the Malvinas," rather than "the Falklands," Barack Obama decided to use the Argentine term. But he referred to them as "the Maldives."

It so happens that the Maldives are thousands of miles away from the Malvinas. The former are in the Indian Ocean, while the latter are in the South Atlantic.

Nor is this the only gross misstatement that President Obama has gotten away with, thanks to the mainstream media, which sees no evil, hears no evil and speaks no evil when it comes to Obama.

The presidential gaffe that struck me when I heard it was Barack Obama's reference to a military corps as a military "corpse." He is obviously a man who is used to sounding off about things he has paid little or no attention to in the past. His mispronunciation of a common military term was especially revealing to someone who was once in the Marine Corps, not Marine "corpse."

Like other truly talented phonies, Barack Obama concentrates his skills on the effect of his words on other people -- most of whom do not have the time to become knowledgeable about the things he is talking about. Whether what he says bears any relationship to the facts is politically irrelevant.

A talented con man, or a slick politician, does not waste his time trying to convince knowledgeable skeptics. His job is to keep the true believers believing. He is not going to convince the others anyway.

Back during Barack Obama's first year in office, he kept repeating, with great apparent earnestness, that there were "shovel-ready" projects that would quickly provide many much-needed jobs, if only his spending plans were approved by Congress.

He seemed very convincing -- if you didn't know how long it can take for any construction project to get started, after going through a bureaucratic maze of environmental impact studies, zoning commission rulings and other procedures that can delay even the smallest and simplest project for years.

Only about a year or so after his big spending programs were approved by Congress, Barack Obama himself laughed at how slowly everything was going on his supposedly "shovel-ready" projects.

One wonders how he will laugh when all his golden promises about ObamaCare turn out to be false and a medical disaster. Or when his foreign policy fiascoes in the Middle East are climaxed by a nuclear Iran.



15 Moronic Things Liberals Call Racism Since Obama Was Elected

Bizarrely, racism in America is no longer mainly about race. Sure, race is involved in a peripheral manner, but racism has mainly become an excuse, a dodge, a way to escape responsibility.

When a black liberal is criticized, he cries racism. When liberalism fails, liberals cry racism. When the Democrat Party gets in trouble, liberals cry racism. It has become the ever present background noise of politics, like birds chirping in the forest.

Racism does still exist and always will, but once the Democrat Party joined the GOP in being opposed to racist policies, appealing to racism became a dead dog political loser in this country. The very fact that we've become so hypersensitive about it as a country is evidence of how far it has been pushed to the fringes.

Keep in mind that we live in a nation with a black President and a black Attorney General. Furthermore, the government is legally allowed to discriminate against white Americans based on the color of their skin and it happily does so; yet you can't go a day in this country without hearing liberals howling about what a racist country they live in. It has almost become a circular, faith-based argument. America is racist because so many liberals say it's racist because they've heard other liberals say the country is racist.

Well, if our country is so racist, why is it that the Left has to reach so far to find examples of racism? People didn’t have to do any reaching to find examples of racism in the fifties and sixties, did they? So, if racism is such an all powerful force in America today, how is it that liberals have gotten so desperate to see race in every issue that they've had to latch on to pitiful issues like these to support their claims?

    1) Criticizing the IRS: "Republicans are using [the IRS scandal] as their latest weapon in the war against the black man. ‘IRS’ is the new 'N****r.'" -- Martin Bashir

    2) Having a Republican National Convention during a hurricane: "They are happy to have a party with black people drowning." -- Yahoo News Washington bureau chief David Chalian on the Republican National Convention, which was going on at the same time as Hurricane Isaac.

    3) Wanting to own a gun to prevent break-ins: "I am loathe to bring up what is in our head because we don’t like to talk about it so much. But on this particular day, on Martin Luther King Day, I think this needs to be said. That imaginary person that’s going to break into your home and kill you, who does that person look like? You know, it’s not freckle-faced Jimmy down the street, is it really? I mean, that’s not what really, that’s not what really people, we never really want to talk about the racial or the class part of this, in terms of how it’s the poor or it’s people of color that we imagine that we’re afraid of. Why are we afraid? What is that, and it’s been a fear that has existed for a very, very long time." -- Michael Moore

    4) Mentioning the "Constitution" or "respect for the Founding Fathers:" "The language of GOP racial politics is heavy on euphemisms that allow the speaker to deny any responsibility for the racial content of his message,” Williams wrote. “References to a lack of respect for the ‘Founding Fathers’ and the ‘Constitution’ also make certain ears perk up by demonizing anyone supposedly threatening core ‘old-fashioned American values.’" -- Juan Williams

    5) Calling Obama "angry:" "That really bothered me. You notice (Romney) said anger twice. He’s really trying to use racial coding and access some really deep stereotypes about the angry black man. This is part of the playbook against Obama, the ‘otherization,’ he’s not like us. I know it’s a heavy thing, I don’t say it lightly, but this is ‘n*ggerization.’" -- Touré

    6) Saying that Barack Obama lies: "Surrounded by middle-aged white guys — a sepia snapshot of the days when such pols ran Washington like their own men’s club — Joe Wilson yelled “You lie!” at a president who didn’t. But, fair or not, what I heard was an unspoken word in the air: You lie, boy!" -- Maureen Dowd

    7) Noting that Obama is privileged: "Spotlighting his elite education is tantamount to racial bigotry because it insinuates that 'he took the place of someone else through affirmative action, that someone else being someone white.'" -- Jonathan Capehart

    8) Saying that unions boss Obama around: "The Republican Party is saying that the President of the United States has bosses, that the union bosses this President around, the unions boss him around. Does that sound to you like they are trying to consciously or subconsciously deliver the racist message that, of course, of course a black man can’t be the real boss?" -- Lawrence O’Donnell

    9) Supporting voter ID: “If you go back to the year 2000, when we had an obvious disaster and – and saw that our voting process needed refinement, and we did that in the America Votes Act and made sure that we could iron out those kinks, now you have the Republicans, who want to literally drag us all the way back to Jim Crow laws and literally – and very transparently – block access to the polls to voters who are more likely to vote Democratic candidates than Republican candidates. And it’s nothing short of that blatant.” -- Debbie Wasserman Schultz

    10) Saying "I want my country back:" "Do you remember tea baggers? It was just so much easier when we could just call them racists. I just don’t know why we can’t call them racists, or functionally retarded adults. The functionally retarded adults, the racists – with their cries of, ‘I want my country back. You know what they’re really saying is, ‘I want my white guy back.’ They apparently had no problem at all for the last eight years of habeas corpus being suspended, the Constitution being [expletive] on, illegal surveillance, lied to on a war or two, two stolen elections – yes, the John Kerry one was stolen too. That’s not tin-foil hat time. ” -- Janeane Garofalo

    11) Being fans of Herman Cain: "One of the things about Herman Cain is, I think that he makes that white Republican base of the party feel okay, feel like they are not racist because they can like this guy. I think he(he’s) giving that base a free pass. And I think they like him because they think he’s a black man who knows his place. I know that’s harsh, but that’s how it sure seems to me." -- Karen Finney

    12) Fighting for the 2nd Amendment: "I believe the NRA is the new KKK. And that the arming of so many black youths, uh, and loading up our community with drugs, and then just having an open shooting gallery, is the work of people who obviously don’t have our best interests [at heart]." -- Jason Whitlock

    13) Republicans trying to keep Obama from being reelected: "Look at, look, the Tea Partiers, who are controlling the Republican Party….Their stated policy, publicly stated, is to do whatever it takes to see to it that Obama only serves one term. What’s, what does that, what underlines that? ‘Screw the country. We’re going to (do) whatever we (can) do to get this black man, we can, we’re going to do whatever we can to get this black man outta here.’… It is a racist thing." -- Morgan Freeman

    14) Disliking the fact that Obama is President: "They can’t stand the idea that he’s president, and a piece of it is racism. Not that somebody in one racial group doesn’t like somebody in another racial group, so what? It’s the sense that the white race must rule, that’s what racism is, and they can’t stand the idea that a man who’s not white is president. That is real, that sense of racial superiority and rule is in the hearts of some people in this country." -- Chris Matthews

    15) Disliking Barack Obama: "I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he’s African-American." -- Jimmy Carter



North Korea Shows The Pervasive Evil of Communism…and the Moral Bankruptcy of Communist Apologists

I spoke earlier today at the 2013 Liberty Conference in Lausanne, Switzerland. But I don’t think anybody is going to remember my speech about the collapse of the welfare state, even though I presented lots of powerful data from the BIS, OECD, and IMF, and also shared a very funny cartoon showing what happens when there’s nothing left for interest groups to steal.

At a normal conference, my remarks may have resonated, but I freely admit that I was completely overshadowed by the presentation of Shin Dong-Hyuk, who is the only person to have successfully escaped from the North Korean gulag.

In the future, if I ever get discouraged and think the fight for freedom is too difficult, I will watch this video and realize that nothing in my life will ever compare to the horror of living under communism. It’s not nearly as powerful as today’s first-person presentation, but the video will give you some sense of the utter barbarity of the North Korean government.

Keep in mind, by the way, that North Korea is an awful and repressive country even for the people who aren’t in the gulags. Malnutrition is such a problem, for instance, that children are stunted and the North Korean army had to lower its requirements to allow soldiers as short as 4’8?.

So perhaps now you understand why I get so upset when people in the west glorify communist thugs such as Che Guevara, or use the Soviet hammer and sickle as a cutesy marketing gimmick.

I hope nobody would ever think to wear a Hermann Göring t-shirt or use the swastika in a value-neutral fashion, so why should it be okay to whitewash and/or rehabilitate communists?



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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)


August, 28, 2013

MLK's 'Dream' at 50

Is THIS the dream?

Tens of thousands of people descended on the National Mall Saturday for the coming 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech. In King's 1963 speech, he eloquently declared, "I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." Unfortunately, that day has not yet come.

The biggest reason for that is the professional race baiters like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton who arose from MLK's socialist ranks to keep the embers of racial animosity burning. Martin Luther King III, MLK's grandson, shamefully pointed to Trayvon Martin's death as evidence that "the task is not done." King also decried the Supreme Court's June ruling striking down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA), which the Court did because the law's formula for federal intervention in state election law hasn't been revised in 40 years. In many ways, that's the essence of the movement today -- it's still living in 1963.

Further evidence of that arrested development comes from Attorney General Eric Holder, whose Justice Department filed suit against Texas last week for allegedly violating the Constitution and the VRA through recently passed voter ID and redistricting laws. Holder justifies the suit under Section 2 of the VRA, which prohibits any voting qualification that "results in a denial or abridgement of the right of any citizens of the United States to vote on account of race or color." Pursuant to Holder's hostility toward voter ID laws, the Justice Department claims Section 5 authority to reimpose preclearance on Texas for the next decade.

Fortunately for Texas, the Supreme Court in 2008 upheld Indiana's similar voter ID law, and a lower court likewise upheld Georgia's. Neither law suppressed minority turnout, which certainly makes Holder's discrimination claim on that count difficult to prove. Voter fraud favors Democrats, which is why they oppose voter ID. It's also clear that Holder and the miscreants marching on the mall have turned King's dream on its head.



Why Your Boss is Dumping Your Wife

The United Parcel Service UPS +0.24%  will no longer cover employees' spouses on the company health plan. And while it's not the only company to have adopted the policy, it's among the largest. Some 15,000 UPS spouses who can obtain health coverage through their own jobs will be dropped from the plan. In a memo to employees, the company explained that the change was intended to offset the effects of the Affordable Care Act, which were expected to increase its health care costs by 4%. See: New Obamacare effect: working spouses taken off UPS health plans

By denying coverage to spouses, employers not only save the annual premiums, but also the new fees that went into effect as part of the Affordable Care Act. This year, companies have to pay $1 or $2 "per life" covered on their plans, a sum that jumps to $65 in 2014. And health law guidelines proposed recently mandate coverage of employees' dependent children (up to age 26), but husbands and wives are optional. "The question about whether it's obligatory to cover the family of the employee is being thought through more than ever before," says Helen Darling, president of the National Business Group on Health. See: When your boss doesn't trust your doctor

While surcharges for spousal coverage are more common, next year, 12% of employers plan to exclude spouses, up from 4% this year, according to a recent Towers Watson survey. These "spousal carve-outs," or "working spouse provisions," generally prohibit only people who could get coverage through their own job from enrolling in their spouse's plan.

Such exclusions barely existed three years ago, but experts expect an increasing number of employers to adopt them: "That's the next step," Darling says. HMS, a company that audits plans for employers, estimates that nearly a third of companies might have such policies now. Holdouts say they feel under pressure to follow suit. "We're the last domino," says Duke Bennett, mayor of Terre Haute, Ind., which is instituting a spousal carve-out for the city's health plan, effective July 2013, after nearly all major employers in the area dropped spouses.

But when employers drop spouses, they often lose more than just the one individual, when couples choose instead to seek coverage together under the other partner's employer. Terre Haute, which pays $6 million annually to insure nearly 1,200 people including employees and their family members, received more than 20 new plan members when a local university, bank and county government stopped insuring spouses, according to Bennett. "We have a great plan, so they want to be on ours. All we're trying to do is level the playing field here," he says.



Abbott & Costello updated

COSTELLO: I want to talk about  the unemployment rate in America .

ABBOTT: Good Subject.  Terrible Times. It's 7.8%.

COSTELLO: That many people  are out of work?

ABBOTT: No, that's 14.7%.

COSTELLO: You just said 7.8%.

ABBOTT: 7.8%  Unemployed.

COSTELLO: Right 7.8% out of work.

ABBOTT: No, that's 14.7%.

COSTELLO: Okay,  so it's 14.7% unemployed.

ABBOTT: No, that's 7.8%.

COSTELLO: WAIT A MINUTE. Is it 7.8% or 14.7%?

ABBOTT: 7.8% are unemployed. 14.7% are out of work.

COSTELLO: If you are out of work you are unemployed.

ABBOTT: No, Congress said you can't count the "Out of  Work" as the unemployed.  You have to look for work to be  unemployed.


ABBOTT: No, you miss his point.

COSTELLO:  What point?

ABBOTT: Someone who doesn't look for work  can't be counted with those who look for work. It wouldn't be fair.

COSTELLO: To whom?

ABBOTT: The unemployed.

COSTELLO: But ALL of them are out of work.

ABBOTT: No, the unemployed are actively looking for  work. Those who are out of work gave up looking and if you give up,  you are no longer in the ranks of the unemployed.

COSTELLO: So if you're off the unemployment roles that  would count as less unemployment?

ABBOTT: Unemployment  would go down. Absolutely!

COSTELLO: The unemployment  just goes down because you don't look for work?

ABBOTT:  Absolutely it goes down. That's how it gets to 7.8%. Otherwise it  would be 14.7%.

COSTELLO: Wait, I got a question for you. That  means there are two ways to bring down the unemployment number?

ABBOTT: Two ways is correct.

COSTELLO:  Unemployment can go down if someone gets a job?

ABBOTT:  Correct.

COSTELLO: And unemployment can also go down if  you stop looking for a job?

ABBOTT: Bingo.

COSTELLO: So there are two ways to bring unemployment  down, and the easier of the two is to have people stop looking for  work.

ABBOTT: Now you're thinking like an Economist.

COSTELLO: I don't even know what I just said!

ABBOTT: Now you're thinking like  Congress.


When Jews And Arabs Sunbathe Together

Just as there are observant and unobservant Jews in Israel, there are all sorts of Arabs. Just as some Jewish women wouldn’t ever be seen in a bikini on the beach, there are plenty of Israeli Arab women who take advantage of Israel’s liberal nature and sunbathe on Israel’s many fine beaches.

So while the picture of the woman walking on the beach in a burka that did the rounds on social media a few weeks ago is accurate, it’s quite possible the girl in the bikini is an Arab too.

It’s normal. Here’s a typical story from one of my Facebook acquaintances, Bat Zion:

Shabbat in Eretz Yisrael and as is my custom on this Shabbat and every Shabbat, I go to the beach to enjoy the cooling water and the refreshing sea breeze.

Next to me in bright colourful skimpy bikinis, there situated themselves two beautiful young Israeli Arab women.

We exchanged common greetings (I talk to anyone:-)) and set to deepen the already evenly golden brown tan all three of us seem to have acquired.

One of the city inspectors, patrolling the beaches, approached us and reminded us to drink water so that we do not get dehydrated.

I told him I had forgotten mine. My beautiful beach neighbours seem to have also forgotten theirs.

“I will get a popsicle as soon as the vendor gets here,” I answered.

“So will we,” answered one of the young ladies next to me.

“Ok, ” said the inspector, “I will send him your way.” And left.

A few minutes later, all three of us were left with out mouths open.

There, in front of us was the city inspector negotiating his way barefoot on the hot sand, coming towards us.

In his hands were three popsicles!

Welcome to an “Apartheid” state called Israel!

The truth is, when girls are wearing bikinis, it’s hard to tell if they’re Jew or Arab and few people really care. You’d only notice if you spoke or listened for an accent and then again, most of them speak perfect Hebrew and with far less accent than my crappy Hebrew.

Another fine tale of normal, intermingled life in Israel. It’s not quite what you may have been mislead to believe.



The Price of a Preposterous Presidency

Just how much are we paying for the gooey warm glow of sanctimony liberals derive from Barack Obama’s “historic” presidency? The total cost is incalculable, but The Economic Collapse lists 33 documented facts that give a general idea in monetary terms, including:

    * When the Obama era began, the average duration of unemployment in this country was 19.8 weeks. Today, it is 36.6 weeks.

    * During the first four years of Obama, the number of Americans “not in the labor force” soared by an astounding 8,332,000. That far exceeds any previous four year total.

    * Median household income in America has fallen for four consecutive years. Overall, it has declined by over $4000 during that time span.

    * The poverty rate has shot up to 16.1 percent. That is actually higher than when the War on Poverty began in 1965.

    * When Barack Obama entered the White House, there were about 32 million Americans on food stamps. Today, there are more than 47 million Americans on food stamps.

    * When Barack Obama took office, the average price of a gallon of regular gasoline was $1.85. Today, it is $3.53.

    * Electricity bills in the United States have risen faster than the overall rate of inflation for five years in a row.

    * Health insurance costs have risen by 29 percent since Barack Obama became president, and Obamacare is going to make things far worse.

    * During Obama’s first term, the federal government accumulated more new debt than it did under the first 42 U.S presidents combined.

    * When you break it down, the amount of new debt accumulated by the U.S. government during Obama’s first term comes to approximately $50,521 for every single household in the United States.

Meanwhile, the media that put Obama in power and keeps him there despite his growing list of impeachable offenses tells us that we are in a recovery.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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)


August, 27, 2013

Does a police officer's race matter?

by Jeff Jacoby

CAN YOU judge a police officer's abilities by the color of his skin?

When Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis earlier this month promoted five officers to sergeant, the commotion it generated had everything to do with the officers' race. All five happened to be white, even though the pool of 21 officers eligible for promotion on the basis of their Civil Service test scores had included nine nonwhite candidates. The commissioner was blasted by a minority officers' advocacy group, which accused him of making a "conscious effort" to keep minorities from moving up.

Boston's mayoral hopefuls jumped on the issue. "How can we have a city of Boston that's 53 percent people of color," demanded City Councilor Charles Yancey, "and not have one person of color heading up any of the 11 police districts in the city of Boston?"

Davis pleaded in vain that there is more to police leadership than color. "I'm not going to promote every single time based on race, which is what they want me to do," he said. "I'm going to pick the best people for the positions." Nevertheless, he quickly added two black officers to the promotion list, and vigorously affirmed his commitment to a "diverse" police force. If his hands weren't tied by state law, which restricts most promotions to candidates who score well on the Civil Service exam, "our police force would look much more like the city in terms of diversity," the commissioner insisted.

The racial makeup of Boston's police force has long been a source of stress and frustration. For years critics have argued that the Civil Service exams —multiple-choice tests that reward memorized book knowledge — can't measure many of the qualities that effective police supervisors need, such as a knack for leadership, good communication skills, integrity, and sound judgment. Davis isn't the first commissioner to complain about the tests' inadequacy; his predecessors were vexed by them too. Last year Davis proposed spending $2 million on a project to overhaul the BPD's promotion system to advance more minority officers. Meanwhile, when it comes to his command staff — where he is free to disregard Civil Service scores — Davis has named the most diverse group in the department's history: White men account for fewer than half of the chiefs, superintendents, and deputy superintendents on his team.

The arguments for a more holistic means of screening officers for promotion sound plausible. Yet I never see the subject raised other than in the context of "diversity." The deficiencies of the existing test become an issue only when there are complaints about too few racial minorities being promoted. Does that mean that there is something wrong with the test? Maybe.

Or maybe what it means is that Boston's police department cannot readily escape the persistent racial gap in learning and test scores that has been so extensively documented in American life. The average black high school graduate reads and writes at the level of the average white 8th-grader; black students taking the SAT college entrance exam score (on average) 200 points below white students taking the same exam. It's easy to blame a test for the achievement gap it reveals. It's a lot harder to implant the educational values, habits, and skills necessary to actually close that gap.

It has become an unchallenged truism that police departments must "look like" the communities they serve, especially in cities with large minority populations. Plainly there is great value in having police officers who can move easily in minority neighborhoods or interview crime victims in a language they're most comfortable with. When there are minority cops patrolling the beat in minority neighborhoods, residents are less likely to resent the police as alien occupiers — and perhaps more likely to come forward with information that can prevent or solve a crime.

Yet it's one thing to say that a racially mixed police force can reduce public suspicion of law enforcement, or help in practical ways to make a city safer. It's something very different to suggest that racial diversity should be pursued for its own sake, and that there is something inherently foul about a promotion list that doesn't include a certain number of blacks or Hispanics. If the Civil Service test needs improving, improve it. But let's not be seduced by the false assumption that, ideally, the demographics of a police department should match those of the population.

On the contrary: Ideally, the demographics of a police department shouldn't matter. No one imagines that Boston's cops should mirror Boston's population in terms of religion or party registration. Boston needs to recruit and promote skilled, honest, and committed police officers; most residents would agree that it's irrelevant whether they happen to be Methodists or Mormons, Republicans or Democrats. Maybe it's still not possible to be quite so nonchalant when it comes to race. But shouldn't that be the goal? Fifty years after the March on Washington, shouldn't public officials be able to acknowledge that there is always a serious moral objection to treating skin color as a job qualification? Even if, for the moment, there is no easy way around it?



Yes, Black Is the New ‘Transparency’

Cass Sunstein is on the NSA "review board" so Federal spying on Americans will only be done judiciously  -- or will it?

The recently released secret FISA [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] court opinion is supposed to promote the idea that the administration elected on a promise of "transparency" is now making good on that pledge. There’s just one problem: a good 20 percent of the 83-page document is redacted, including some key paragraphs. It is to a large extent unreadable. But what else are we to expect from this Bizarro World administration – the most secretive in our history – where black is the new "transparency"?

Yet that’s just the beginning of the White House’s weirdly inverted response to the public outcry against its massive domestic surveillance program. At his press conference promising to "reform" the spying machinery, President Obama announced a "review board" to be appointed that would supposedly reassure his critics there really is no domestic spying program: the goal, as he put it, would be to strike a "balance" between civil liberties and the safety of all Americans. A week or so later he made some appointments to this panel: former Counter-Terrorism Czar Richard Clarke, former special assistant for economic policy Peter Swire, former CIA Deputy Director Mike Morrell – and Cass Sunstein, a very close friend and confidant of the President.

Sunstein formerly headed up the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs: now a Harvard law professor, he has made something of a name for himself as an outspoken advocate of government spying. Being one of those really highbrow types, he calls it "cognitive infiltration." Sunstein wants paid government agents to penetrate ostensibly subversive “conspiracy minded” social networks: in other words, he wants to set up a police state system of government spies and provocateurs.

Sunstein is a singular figure: no one else in government (or academia, as far as I know) has pushed for measures so openly totalitarian in their implications. Here is part of the summary of an academic paper Sunstein published in 2008:

"Many millions of people hold conspiracy theories; they believe that powerful people have worked together in order to withhold the truth about some important practice or some terrible event."

What person in their right mind could possibly believe that powerful people are working together to withhold the truth about some important practice? Oh, wait! Isn’t that what the Snowden revelations have proved beyond what any "conspiracy theorist" I know of ever asserted? Thanks to the Snowden "leaks" we now know that is precisely what’s been happening.

According to Professor Sunstein, if you believe that, you’re creating "serious risks" for society at large, "including risks of violence." The mere existence of such people "raises significant challenges for policy and law."

James Clapper didn’t lie to Congress and the American people – you’re just imagining that, you conspiracy theorist wacko! Moreover, you’re a danger to society, and have to be combated by law enforcement agencies operating online and undercover. Sunstein proposes sending government spies into "chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups" to provide a bit of Attitude Correction.

These agents would be paid to infiltrate and counteract any "conspiracy theories" the Harvard Professor and his co-thinkers deem "dangerous." Sunstein stresses the importance of the covert aspect of this program: these Attitude Correctors must at least appear to be independent, all the while taking their marching orders (and their checks) from Washington. Think of it as a "stimulus" job-creating program. Their targets: anyone who "attempts[s] to explain an event or practice by reference to the machinations of powerful people, who have also managed to conceal their role." In short, the enemy is anyone who believes the government has covered up illegality and egregious violations of the Fourth Amendment for years – and anyone who suspects what Sunstein and his online KGB are up to.

As an exercise in ideological ambidexterity, Sunstein’s proposal is Olympic quality stuff: he is, after all, the author of an entire book about the necessity for dissent in a free society. Well, then how can he possibly advocate the creation of a covert government program to infiltrate, combat, and discredit these very same dissenters? Well, you see, there are good dissenters and bad dissenters, and as long as the Good Guys are in charge of the government, it’s cool to deploy government resources against those who believe in the wrong "conspiracy theories." As he puts it in his paper, imaginatively titled "Conspiracy Theories":

Rulers throughout history, including especially the worst tyrants, have touted their virtuous motives, and proclaimed themselves the guardians of "social welfare" – an oleaginous phrase that’s a code word for those ideologues (left and right) who long for a system of effective social control. Yes, there must be dissent – there’s the "liberal" gloss on a very illiberal idea – but it must be the right kind, our kind. Those crazy Ay-rabs, Sunstein avers, are rife with conspiracism, it oozes from their very pores, and here in America we have the homegrown "antigovernment" types, the very kind who hate Harvard professors and are potentially just as violent as Al Qaeda: indeed, perhaps more dangerous in the long run.

Well, then, "What can government do about conspiracy theories?" he asks:

"Among the things it can do, what should it do? We can readily imagine a series of possible responses. (1) Government might ban conspiracy theorizing. (2) Government might impose some kind of tax, financial or otherwise, on those who disseminate such theories. (3) Government might itself engage in counterspeech, marshaling arguments to discredit conspiracy theories. (4) Government might formally hire credible private parties to engage in counterspeech. (5) Government might engage in informal communication with such parties, encouraging them to help. Each instrument has a distinctive set of potential effects, or costs and benefits, and each will have a place under imaginable conditions. However, our main policy idea is that government should engage in cognitive infiltration of the groups that produce conspiracy theories, which involves a mix of (3), (4) and (5)."

In Sunstein’s world, censorship is just another option, but "cognitive infiltration" of targeted groups – and the public square at large – by paid "credible" government covert agents on the Internet is definitely on the table. This is the person the President is appointing to his NSA review board, a body set up to reassure us that there’s no reason to fear for our privacy and that Big Brother isn’t watching us.  Really?

And it isn’t just the Fourth Amendment the new authoritarians are after: Sunstein opposes the First Amendment as presently constituted. Instead, he says, we need a "New Deal for speech," one that would recognize that technological changes have made the old marketplace-of-ideas conception of free speech outdated. What we need, says Sunstein, is a reformulated First Amendment because the current version isn’t "adequately serving democratic goals." And, no, he didn’t capitalize the "d" in democratic, but you get the idea.

Sunstein, in short, is the single most consistent academic representative of barefaced authoritarianism one could possibly find, short of unearthing some aging New Left Stalinist. Certainly he is the most highly placed, shuttling from Harvard to government and back again. His appointment to the NSA review board is an unabashed middle finger aimed directly at the Obama administration’s civil libertarian critics.

Sunstein’s extremism is on full display in an article published by Bloomberg News just the other day, which the editors gave the rather skeptical-sounding title of "Could Bowling Leagues and the PTA Breed Nazis?" In it, Sunstein tells us "social capital" – the links that bind us together socially – is not necessarily a good thing. There is a "dark side" to it. Citing a recent study by one of his fellow nutty professors, he avers that a "high level of social capital" led directly to the rise of …. wait for it! … Hitler and Nazism!

Citing this crackpot study, Sunstein points to a correlation between membership in the Nazi Party and membership in private social organizations – those German drinking societies! – to "prove" a definitive link between bowling leagues and the Holocaust. And, no, you can’t make this stuff up. Utilizing the methods of "sociological" pseudo-science and progressive anxieties about the rise of right-wing fascism, Sunstein posits that "dense social networks" in the US are a problem for our democracy:

Sunstein’s argument of last resort, you’ll note, is always the alleged threat of "terrorism": this is the Get-Out-of-Jail free card for our post-9/11 authoritarians, whether they be outright neocons or else "progressives" of Sunstein’s ilk: the deus ex machina of all their ideological morality plays is always the same. That theme is wearing a little thin, however, as the upsurge against the Surveillance State takes on momentum and the revelations continue – thank you, Edward Snowden! – in spite of recently stepped up strong-arm tactics to stanch the leaks.

In a halfway healthy society, Sunstein would be laughed out of polite society, and consigned to the margins, where fruit-juice drinking sandal-wearers and founders of utopian communes plot revolution in cheap cafeterias. In Barack Obama’s America, Sunstein divides his time between the halls of government and the lushest groves of academe, whispering in the ear of the President that the number of bowling leagues has grown quite alarmingly.


There is a  new  lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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)


August, 26, 2013

Dead Souls of a Cultural Revolution

By Patrick J. Buchanan

Last Friday, Christopher Lane, a 22-year-old Australian here on a baseball scholarship, was shot and killed while jogging in Duncan, Okla., population 23,000. He died where he fell.

Police have three suspects, two black and one white. The latter said they were bored and decided to shoot Lane for "the fun of it."

As Lane was white and the shooter black, racism has surfaced as a motive. Thursday came reports that killing a white man may have been an initiation rite for the black teens in joining some offshoot of the Crips or Bloods.

What happened in Oklahoma and the reaction, or lack of reaction to it, tells us much about America in 2013, not much of it good.

Teenagers who can shoot and kill a man out of summertime boredom are moral barbarians, dead souls.

But who created these monsters? Where did they come from? Surely one explanation lies in the fact that the old conscience-forming and character-forming institutions — home, church, school, and a moral and healthy culture fortifying basic truths — have collapsed. And the community hardest hit is Black America.

If we go back to the end of World War II, 90 percent of black families consisted of a mother and father and children raised and disciplined by their parents. The churches to which these families went on Sundays were stronger. Black schools may have been largely segregated, but they were also the transmission belts of patriotism and traditional values rooted in biblical truths and a Christian faith.

Though such schools graduated hardworking, law-abiding and productive citizens, today they would be closed as unconstitutional.

Indeed, all of those character- and conscience-forming institutions of yesterday are in an advanced state of decline today.

Seventy-three percent of black kids are born to single moms. Black kids who make it to 12th grade may often be found reading at seventh-, eighth- or ninth-grade levels. In some cities the black dropout rate can hit as high as 50 percent.

Drugs are readily available. And among black males ages 18 to 29, in urban areas, often a third are in prison or jail, or on probation or parole, or walking around with a criminal record.

Where do the kids get their ideas of right and wrong, good and evil? In homes where the father is absent and the TV is always on. From radios tuned in to rap and hip-hop. From films where Hollywood values prevail and the shooting never stops. From street gangs that sometimes form the only families these kids have ever known.

Still, crime has fallen since 1990, we are told. And so it has. But that is only because the baby boomers, the largest population cohort in our history, passed out of the high-crime age group a quarter of a century ago, and because the jail and prison population in America has tripled.

What kind of leadership do we see today in Black America?

What can be said for an NAACP that was lately demanding a Justice Department investigation of a rodeo clown running around a bull ring in rural Missouri in an Obama mask, but cannot find its voice to address a black-on-white atrocity in Middle America?

When Trayvon Martin was shot to death in a murky incident in Sanford, Fla., Jesse Jackson rushed there to declare: "Blacks are under attack. ... Killing us is big business." Trayvon was "shot down in cold blood by a vigilante ... murdered and martyred."

After Chris Lane's cold-blooded murder, Jesse tweeted: This sort of thing is to be "frowned upon."

If I had a son, said President Obama, he would have looked like Trayvon; 35 years ago, I could have been Trayvon. Can the president not find his voice to speak to the parents of Chris Lane?

Since Lyndon Johnson took office, 50 years ago, we have spent trillions on his programs for health care, housing, education, food stamps, welfare and civil rights. Are we living in that Great Society we were promised?

In that same decade, we were told that the social, cultural and moral revolution bursting forth on the campuses would rid us of the repressive old-time morality and Old Time Religion, and lead to a more equal, just, humane and better America, a beacon to mankind.

Yet, are not the killers of Chris Lane who shot him for the fun of it the "do-your-own-thing!" children of that cultural revolution?

The death of Trayvon was said to be reflective of the real America, a country where black folks live in constant fear of white vigilantes and white racist cops. What nonsense.

In the real America, interracial violence is overwhelming black-on-white. Even if the media will not report it, everybody knows it.

And journalists will not dig into the numbers that prove it, for the truth would undermine their ideology and contradict the narrative that governs and gives meaning to their lives.

For liberals, America is always "Mississippi Burning." It just has to be that way.



It's Left-wing prats who are defending Britain's  freedoms

The visit by national security agents to smash up computers at the Guardian newspaper is shocking, like something out of East Germany in the 1970s

A few weeks ago, a British national newspaper was visited by a detachment of national security agents who demanded that its computers and hard drives be destroyed. The security men then stood over its staff while they smashed their equipment to pieces.

In the peace-time history of a free country, this incident is about as shocking as it gets. And yet, a remarkable consensus has grown up, including – I’m sorry to say – many on my side of the political fence, to the effect that this is no big deal.

The reasons that this scene – which looks, on the face of it, like something out of East Germany in the 1970s – is apparently perfectly acceptable seem to be: a) the data in the computers was a threat to the national security of this country and to that of our American allies; b) this information was stolen from the US government and published illegally by people who are narcissistic/eccentric/of dubious political judgment, and c) the newspaper in question was the Guardian, which is full of annoying Left-wing prats. Let’s consider these points in order of importance.

Taking a hammer to the hardware in the Guardian’s basement will make scarcely any difference to the dissemination of this data since duplicates reside in other locations around the globe. So presiding over the physical destruction of the newspaper’s property could only constitute a form of rather theatrical intimidation.

The official excuse for getting rid of the equipment – even though the data was known to exist elsewhere – was that the paper’s system might be insecure, so obliterating it meant that at least one source of potential leaks was eliminated. This would be far more credible if the National Security Agency (whose mass surveillance programme had been exposed) was as diligent in carrying out its prescribed function as it is in vindictively pursuing anyone who reports its unconstitutional activities to the world.

It is now an established fact that the US security agencies – while they were presumably busy trawling through the email traffic and telephone records of the general population – ignored explicit warnings that the Tsarnaev brothers were potential terrorists. In spite of the Chechen pair being specifically identified by Russian security experts, these dangerous young men – living in plain sight – were allowed to prepare unmolested for the Boston marathon bombings.

And in addition to such serious lapses of concentration, the NSA has had moments of comic ineptitude: at one point, it seems it confused the international dialling code for Egypt (20) with the area code for Washington DC (202) and ended up hauling in the records of every phone call that went through the nation’s capital. Indeed, the fact that Edward Snowden, who was an employee of an outside contractor, had access to its top-secret data, suggests that the standards of security at the agency were pretty lax.

Which brings us to: b) the individuals who transmitted and received this information. The personalities of these people, however self-righteous or psychologically flawed they may be, are of no relevance.

What Snowden exposed was a gross abuse of power by a secret policing agency. What the NSA was (is) doing is strictly prohibited by the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, which states that the citizen shall be free from “unreasonable searches and seizures” without probable cause. That is why the 2008 anti-terrorism law, which allows warrantless surveillance on domestic networks, specifies that this must be targeted at non-citizens abroad. (Reader, this means you if you have any digital or telephone contact with the US.)

In reality, this programme now involves the indiscriminate mass monitoring of innocent communications on a scale that is unprecedented in history. What we should be concerned about are not the personal quirks of Mr Snowden or his opportunistic embrace by Vladimir Putin, but the significance of what he revealed with the help of some journalists.

So here we are at c) and the particular problem that some commentators have with the Guardian newspaper. As regular readers will know, I do not balk at any opportunity to ridicule the self-regarding Left-liberalism of the Guardian. Nor do I support its attempt to place legal limits on the activities of the press – the irony of which is not lost on those who are now unconcerned about its fate.

But that is neither here nor there. When James Rosen, the White House correspondent of Fox News, was being threatened by the Obama administration’s Department of Justice, he was defended in the most robust and uncompromising terms by none other than the New York Times (which has now entered an agreement with the Guardian to share the Snowden data).

So a newspaper that was the quasi-official Obama fanzine, and which detests Fox News with every fibre of its being, stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Fox’s persecuted reporter against illegitimate bullying by the federal government. Neither his views, nor the political orientation of his employers, were of any consequence in the matter. That is how it has to be if freedom of expression is to survive these dangerous times.

And this is the justification of it all: that the dangerousness of the times means that we must temporarily suspend our basic freedoms and even our concept of private life. So let me make this clear. I recognise the unfathomable danger of a deranged, nihilistic enemy. If anything, the threat to civilian life seems greater now than during the Cold War, when both sides were quietly dealing all the time.

But where are we going with this? How much are we prepared to compromise with our idea of a life worth living in order to pursue the chimera of perfect safety?

An awful lot of people are saying that they don’t mind if their emails, Skype calls and mobile phone records are being collected. If that helps the state to protect them and their families, it’s OK.

Well, suppose we park a security officer at the door of every household to monitor who enters and leaves, who visits whom and how many hours they stay? The security men won’t actually enter the house, of course, unless they have reason to believe that there might be some activity taking place inside that could facilitate or incite terrorism – but they will keep records of all the comings and goings from every address. Will that be OK too?

The British degree of trust in their security agencies startles many other countries (like Germany and the US) where liberty is taken less for granted. An editor of the US National Review wrote last week of those “who steadfastly refuse to express anxiety unless they can actually hear jackboots”. Note: once you hear the jackboots, it’s too late.



Economic Ignorance OR Marxist Bona Fides?

Friday, President Obama said Republicans are spending too much time trying to repeal Obamacare. That won’t create jobs, that won’t help the middle class, and that won’t build ladders to the middle class.

Pure socialist rhetoric when we know businesses by the thousands have laid off full time employees, cut full to part time, and most announced new hires will be part time only ALL due to Obamacare mandates.

We also know about the jobs created since Obamacare passed in 2010, 7 of 8 jobs have been part time. Incomes are down 4.4% since the end of the recession.

This has resulted in the worst economic recovery in history. We are in the midst of the longest stretch of sub 3% GDP growth since 1929.

Health insurance costs have increased 29% since Obama became president, food costs are up 30%, gas has doubled, and electricity rates have risen faster than inflation every year since 2009.

Fewer jobs, fewer hours, lower wages, and skyrocketing costs of living. 76% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck and a record 16.1% are living in poverty.

Although the BLS says the unemployment rate for August was 7.4%/14.7% underemployed, Gallup polling indicates it is much higher at 8.9%/17.9% underemployed with an astounding 8,332,000 workers no longer counted.

Any reasonable person would understand this economy is an abject disaster for the working family, middle class, and the nation.

The reason we have this disaster is due precisely to the Marxist Obamacare law. For the president to say the Republicans are wasting time and it won’t create jobs or opportunity to repeal Obamacare is an insult to any thinking American.

President Obama is either economically ignorant or a dedicated Marxist intent on a government takeover of health care to fully implement the fundamental transformation of America into a socialist welfare state.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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)


August, 25, 2013

Avoiding prewar Germany’s Fate

Egypt’s military did not repeat the ghastly mistakes of its German counterparts in the 1930s.

I don’t often agree with a top Egyptian diplomat, but I thought Egypt’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, Ashraf el-Kholy, was right on target when he compared Egypt’s Moslem Brotherhood to the Nazis. As he told the Telegraph on August 19:

“Morsi was elected president and held office for one year, but in that time he tried to make everything Moslem Brotherhood-controlled…The Moslem Brotherhood are like a Nazi group that demand[s] that everything changes and people [do] everything their way.”

Fortunately the Egyptian army did not emulate the pre-World War II German army, which failed to overthrow Hitler after he came to power through democratic elections in 1933. Although the army was led by traditional conservatives who regarded Hitler and his Nazi thugs as little more than proletarian riff-raff, they continued to support him, even as it became increasingly clear that he was bent on dragging Germany into a potentially ruinous war.

Why did Germany’s generals fail to mount an anti-Hitler coup? After the war, German officers cited their oath of loyalty to Hitler, but that, I think, was a relatively minor reason. A more compelling consideration was that Hitler was immensely popular with the German people — a political rock-star of sorts — and that overthrowing him would lead to massive protests and considerable bloodshed. The German generals didn’t want to have rivers of German blood on their hands.

Another reason the generals didn’t act is that they couldn’t take the loyalty of the German army for granted. Germany’s senior officers might have despised Hitler, but junior officers idolized him. Would they obey orders to overthrow him, and turn their guns against his enraged civilian supporters? The generals weren’t sure.

For all these reasons the generals, despite their reservations, went along with Hitler, and the fact that — initially, at least — he went from one successful gamble to another appeared to justify their judgment. In the long run, however, the army’s failure to act brought about the most terrible war the world has ever seen.

But as I said, the Egyptian army didn’t follow Germany’s example. It overthrew Morsi knowing full well that far from meekly vanishing from the stage, the Moslem Brotherhood would never accept such a “humiliation,” and that the army would have to act forcefully and violently against Brotherhood supporters. I assume Egypt’s generals also recognized that the Muslim Brotherhood enjoys significant support among the army’s junior officers. After all, it was an Islamist army cell, led by Lt. Khalid Istambouli, that assassinated Egyptian President el-Anwar Sadat in 1981.

Nonetheless, the army decided that preventing Morsi from completing his Islamicization of Egyptian society justified their coup. It was a brave decision, and it has already transformed the politics of the region. Before the coup, it seemed that the spread of Islamist radicalism was irreversible. Today, that’s no longer the case. As the Chinese might say, the Islamists no longer enjoy “the mandate of heaven.”

It’s probably too much to expected to expect the Obama administration — and the American political class in general — to understand the stakes in the Middle East, to recognize that Egyptian politics (like Arab politics in general) is a zero-sum game in which compromise is despised, and to give Egypt’s generals the support they need and deserve.

But of all people, the Germans should know better. That’s why I was surprised by Germany’s decision to suspend arms exports to Egypt. Germany’s Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle justified the suspension by saying that there must be “consequences” to the bloody military crackdown. But in this wicked world of ours, there are also consequences to the military’s not cracking down bloodily, and it is a foolish person indeed who assumes that inaction is invariably the wisest course.



Putting Bicycles Ahead of People

This is a story of raw power, collusion and government corruption. A story that is taking place in countless towns all over America. A story of “reinvented” government, where self-proclaimed private “stakeholders” and pressure groups set the rules, local elected officials rubber stamp them, and non-elected regional governments enforce them, sometimes with an iron fist – all with no input from citizens, and apparently no rights for private citizens and property owners to stop them or even have a say.

It’s the story of the destruction of private property rights in America. Of injustice and tyranny. Of unaccountable government run amok. We need to take action! (See below, in blue, for what you can do.)

Jennie Granato is a tax-paying citizen of Montgomery County, Ohio. She and her family own a 165-year-old historic house and farm just outside of Dayton. They’ve lived there forty years. On July 31, Jennie’s front yard was demolished – thanks to local, county and planning commission bureaucrats!

The Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission (MVRPC) has begun seizing people’s private property for its latest “essential” project – a $5-million bike path extension! It has seized almost all of Jennie’s front lawn. The bike path will come within just a few feet of her front door!

Jennie and her family tried for over a year to negotiate and reason with this unelected planning commission. Unfortunately, their neighbors were advised by lawyers not to say anything publicly about the pending land grab, so the media viewed it as a non-story. The county and its appraisers kept stalling, saying they wanted a meeting with Jennie, even as they ignored her pleas and offered a pittance for taking her front yard, and likely driving the value of her home down by tens of thousands of dollars.

The meeting never came – and officials didn’t even allow Jennie’s uncle to speak at a hearing. But the bulldozers certainly came! Last week, with no warning, they just started demolishing trees. Jennie and her family still own the property – BUT the county has barged in, torn out their trees and destroyed their front yard! They will never be able to walk out their front door again, without worrying that they will be run over by bicyclists roaring by at 10 or 20 miles per hour, just inches from their bottom step.

The government trucks and bulldozers also precipitated an even worse tragedy. Jennie’s 85 year old mother became so upset over seeing the government’s heavy machinery destroying her yard and favorite trees that she suffered a heart attack and died.

Of course the government refuses to accept any responsibility for this tragedy. It was just promoting the “public welfare” of the private “stakeholders” and pressure groups it works with.

That too has become far too common. The government and these groups want more and more control over our lives, more power to tell us what we can and cannot do with our property and lives. But they accept no transparency and no accountability, responsibility or liability when their actions hurt … or even kill … someone – or when they destroy the property values, peace and integrity of a home.

The MVRPC is an unelected regional government force driven by federal Sustainable Development grant money. It never faces voters over its actions or positions of seemingly unbridled power. It simply deals with other government agencies – local, state and federal – and with private groups like the American Planning Association, ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability, and a hoard of other organizations that represent faux “conservation and environmental” interests whose real motivation is money, and the power to control our lives.

They are “stakeholders” only in the sense that they want something – and are holding the stakes that their government friends are driving through the heart of our constitutional rights.

With the assistance of Federal and State grant programs and willing politicians, who see another way to build their own power and get elected over and over, they rule over us like unaccountable dictators. It’s the same story in nearly every community in our nation.

Neither Jennie nor any of her neighbors voted to institute the agency or its policies.

* There was no vote for this bike path.

* There was no referendum on the ballot to approve this project or the spending of their tax dollars.

Yet the MVRPC imposed itself on privately owned property, giving the owner no say in the matter and giving her a pittance in exchange for the land it is taking away. Soon, strangers on bikes will be crossing her land, passing within seven feet of her front door. And she fears there is nothing she can do about it.

How does she secure her home? How can she ever hope to sell it? Who will compensate her for the loss of value, now that her once lovely and private front lawn is gone? Certainly not the MVRPC.

My American Policy Center has warned Americans over and over about the dangers of this fraud called “Sustainable Development” – and the enforcement of top-down control through non-elected boards and regional governments. Here is that reality, in all of its outrageous raw power.

Jennie’s neighbors, property rights activists and Tea Party leaders are joining forces to support her fight to stop this outrage. They have gathered at the property, to protest and take the issue to the news media – and will do so again. To its credit, the media are finally starting to notice what is happening. But if that is the extent of it, you know full well that these government officials will simply laugh, ignore the protests and news stories, wait for the attention to go away, and then grab someone else’s property.

That’s why concerned citizens across the nation need to join this fight and put power behind this effort to stop these bureaucrats from taking Jennie’s property. Freedom fighters need to build a huge protest fire and turn this into a national property rights issue.

Corrupt government officials use taxpayers as doormats, pawns, bank accounts and land holders for their agendas and power plays. If we continue doing nothing to stem the rising tide of government tyranny and corruption, we will watch our rights and property disappear, one by one.

Here’s what you can do to help

As the local Dayton area residents do all they can with sign waving, demonstrations and protests to call attention to this blatant property theft, outraged Americans from across the country can bring an avalanche of phone calls and emails on the perpetrators – the scoundrels who think they can prey on any citizen without consequences. Make them feel heat for their actions!!

Click here for the names, phone numbers and emails of the Montgomery County, Ohio Commissioners, the Washington Township Board, and the members of the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission. Then call them and let them know what you think!

Americans concerned for their own liberties need to bury these officials in calls and emails of protest. We need to make these dictators and thieves aware that what they are doing is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. We need to inform them that We the People have rights, and will fight for them.



Feds Threaten To Arrest Email Provider for Closing Rather Than Snoop on Customers

Big Brother doesn't like being thwarted

Recently, encrypted email provider Lavabit closed its doors rather than spy on its customers at the command of the United States government. Lavabit's action was almost immediately echoed by Silent Circle, which preemptively shuttered its encrypted email service and purged users' stored data without warning so that it couldn't be subject to a similar order.

Unfortunately, the government's position seems to be the same as that of the Mafia: If you're told to do business with the mob, you don't get to decide otherwise. Lavabit owner Ladar Levison reportedly faces arrest for his decision to shut down rather than cooperate.

From NBC News:

    "The owner of an encrypted email service used by ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden said he has been threatened with criminal charges for refusing to comply with a secret surveillance order to turn over information about his customers.

    "I could be arrested for this action," Ladar Levison told NBC News about his decision to shut down his company, Lavabit LLC, in protest over a secret court order he had received from a federal court that is overseeing the investigation into Snowden.

    Lavabit said he was barred by federal law from elaborating on the order or any of his communications with federal prosecutors. But a source familiar with the matter told NBC News that James Trump, a senior litigation counsel in the U.S. attorney’s office in Alexandria, Va., sent an email to Levison's lawyer last Thursday – the day Lavabit was shuttered -- stating that Levison may have "violated the court order," a statement that was interpreted as a possible threat to charge Levison with contempt of court."

Among the people supporting Lavabit and its owner is Ron Paul. The former congressman and presidential candidate is championing Levison in statements to the press and on his new online news service. According to NBC News:

    "Among those now backing him is former Texas congressman and Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, who told NBC News on Tuesday that Levison's legal battle "should be in the interests of everybody who cares about liberty."

Levison may need that support. He says he has been "threatened with arrest multiple times over the past six weeks."



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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August, 23, 2013

A germane comment on the British Labour party

Inside Ed Miliband’s Labour Party it’s perfectly acceptable to express dissent. So long as it’s the correct form of dissent. Debate is tolerated, so long as the debate is scripted. Disloyalty is fine, so long as it’s the right sort of people who are being disloyal.

The “correct form” of dissent is basically any dissent that originates from the Left. So Tom Watson gets a pass, because he’s something of a darling of the Left, and anyway, he’s sticking up for the unions. Len McCluskey is someone else who gets a pass. He can attack any member of the shadow cabinet he sees fit, but that’s not disloyal. It’s a constructive contribution.

In fact, just about anyone can attack Ed Miliband, so long as they stick to the party line. That’s the line that basically states Ed Miliband’s main problem is he isn’t quite Left-wing enough. He was OK in the beginning (mustn’t embarrass those trade union leaders and Left-wing commentators who told everyone he was one of their own), but since then he’s lost his way a bit. Miliband’s head’s been turned by those nasty New Labourites. So, he can be criticised for not standing up to the Tories strongly on welfare, for the odd ill-timed immigration intervention, for not pledging to renationalise enough things (doesn’t really matter what), for not supporting the unions when they call a strike (doesn’t really matter what the strike’s about), and for not sacking Liam Byrne. All of these attacks are permissible.

What is not permissible is any sort of attack from the Right. You say Labour’s not tough enough on welfare? Traitor. Not tough enough on immigration? Racist traitor. Not tough enough on fiscal responsibility? Progress member.

Interventions from the Right, cannot, by definition, be the intervention of a loyal comrade. At best they represent the brain-dead wail of the Blairite zombie; at worst, the malign whisper of the Tory fifth columnist.

Is it any wonder Labour is in such a mess? Ed Miliband’s party isn’t embarked on a program of renewal, it’s staging a revival of “Animal Farm”. The Blairites strangled debate and neutered dissent, the Left argues. So to ensure that doesn’t happen again, we must strangle debate and neuter dissent ourselves. Only until everyone who disagrees with us is dealt with, you understand. Than we can all go back to disagreeing again.

When the Labour Left calls for “loyalty”, what it’s really calling for is silence. When it demands Ed Miliband “listens”, what its really demanding is his and his party’s acquiescence.

Orwell was right. All Labour loyalists are equal. But some are more equal than others.



Rule of Lawlessness

For four and a half abominably long years, we have recounted Barack Obama's lawlessness. He makes his own laws and ignores others, consistently showing an intractable contempt for Rule of Law. In a rebuke to the president, however, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals last week issued a writ of mandamus, an unusual direct judicial order for the government to satisfy its legal obligation.

The matter at hand is Nevada's Yucca Mountain nuclear waste storage facility. Long story short, candidate Obama promised to close the facility, and after he was elected his Energy Department attempted to revoke the Yucca Mountain license application. A U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) safety board ruled unanimously that he couldn't do that -- so Obama stacked the NRC with appointees who shared his opposition to Yucca. The NRC then refused to conduct a review of the facility for licensing, despite a 1983 law requiring the review and Congress appropriating money for said review.

Writing for the DC Court, Judge Brett Kavanaugh said that "the Commission is simply flouting the law." Hence the writ of mandamus. Not only that, wrote Kavanaugh, but the case "raises significant questions about the scope of the Executive's authority to disregard federal statutes." While a president may choose not to enforce laws on constitutional grounds, Kavanaugh added that "the president and federal agencies may not ignore statutory mandates or prohibitions merely because of policy disagreement with Congress."

Obama enacted DREAM immigration policy without Congress, he delayed major aspects of his own health care law without Congress, he declared Congress in recess so as to appoint people to the National Labor Relations Board -- and that's not to mention his other "phony scandals." We're glad to see that, at least in this case, the Founders' system of constitutional checks and balances is still active.



Absurd Government Law Enforcement: The Great Organic Blackberry Raid

Government officials do some really crazy things in the name of law enforcement. I recently wrote about an armed raid on an animal shelter in order to execute a baby deer.

That was paramilitary overkill (pun intended), though it probably didn’t waste as many tax dollars as the regulatory overkill of the year-long sting operation by the Food and Drug Administration against an Amish farm for the horrible crime of selling unpasteurized milk to consenting adults who prefer unpasteurized milk.

And let’s not forget Robert Norlander, the thuggish, dumpster-diving IRS agent, who sought to ruin the life of an innocent man because…well, for no reason.

Well, we now have something that may be even more absurd.

Radley Balko reports in the Huffington Post about “a massive police action last week that included aerial surveillance, a SWAT raid and a 10-hour search.”

Sounds like the cops must have been up against the mafia. Or a bunch of bank robbers, right? Not exactly. They raided an organic farm.

"…the real reason for the law enforcement exercise appears to have been code enforcement. The police seized “17 blackberry bushes, 15 okra plants, 14 tomatillo plants … native grasses and sunflowers,” after holding residents inside at gunpoint for at least a half-hour, property owner Shellie Smith said in a statement."

The cops claimed that they were looking for marijuana. Even if that was the actual goal, why not just send a couple of cops to the door? We’re talking about an organic farm, after all, not a crack house run by the Hell’s Angels.

But let’s at least be thankful the cops seized okra plants. The people of Arlington, Texas, can now walk the streets safely, freed from the danger of vegetables running amok.

So what triggered this raid?

"…authorities had cited the Garden of Eden in recent weeks for code violations, including “grass that was too tall, bushes growing too close to the street, a couch and piano in the yard, chopped wood that was not properly stacked, a piece of siding that was missing from the side of the house, and generally unclean premises,” Smith’s statement said. She said the police didn’t produce a warrant until two hours after the raid began, and officers shielded their name tags so they couldn’t be identified."

Oh. My. God. These criminals had improperly stacked wood? And insufficiently mowed grass? No wonder they needed a SWAT team!

If you read Radley’s entire story, it seems clear that the real issue is that neighbors didn’t like the messy conditions of the farm and they pressured the local government to do something about it.

I probably wouldn’t like living next door to somebody who kept a piano in their yard, so I’m sympathetic to their concerns.

And even though I’m libertarian and much prefer that neighborhood standards be determined by private agreements, even I’m not going to get overly agitated by zoning rules about couches in the front yard.

But why deal with this trivial conflict by ordering “aerial surveillance, a SWAT raid and a 10-hour search”?

Sounds like the local police force has a bloated budget and tries to justify its wasteful practices by concocting needlessly risky operations.



Study: Obamacare ‘Death Spiral’ Inevitable as Young People Forgo Insurance To Save Money

A new study predicts that implementation of Obamacare’s individual mandate will result in a “death spiral” for the program because it incentivizes young people to skip purchasing health insurance in favor of paying a penalty that leaves them better off financially.

The 18-34 age group “must purchase health insurance on the exchanges in order to ‘cross-subsidize’ people who are older and sicker,” according to David Hogberg, health care policy analyst for the National Center for Public Policy Research. “Without the young and healthy, the exchanges will enter a ‘death spiral’ where only the older and sicker participate and [the] price of insurance premiums will increase precipitously.”

The study, released this month entitled, “Why the ‘Young Invincibles’ Won’t Participate In The ObamaCare Exchanges and Why It Matters,” finds that next year, single young people without children who “tend to be healthier and use less medical care," will have a financial incentive to opt out of buying health insurance on the exchanges.

They will save money by paying the resulting penalty, “$95 or one percent of income in 2014, $325 or two percent of income in 2015, and $695 or 2.5 percent of income in 2016 and thereafter,” whichever is greater.

“Over 3.7 million individuals will pay at least $595 out-of-pocket for a Bronze plan, meaning that they will save at least $500 if they decline insurance and pay the fine. About 3 million individuals will save at least $1,000 if they go the same route,” the study says.

The “death spiral” is the result of young people leaving the Obamacare insurance pool, which would lead to “‘adverse selection’ in which insurance is only attractive to those who are generally older and sicker.”

“Insurance prices will rise to cover their costs,” insurers will close down their business due to lack of profit, and the decrease in competition will lead to “even higher insurance premiums,” the study predicts.

The catalysts, according to Hogberg, include Obamacare's community rating, in which “young people have a reduced incentive to buy insurance since they will pay a premium that is above the market rate,” and its guaranteed issue, in which “an insurer must sell a policy to a consumer anytime.”

As a result, “those most likely to have small claims amounts – men – comprise a much larger percentage of those with substantial financial incentive to avoid the exchanges,” Hogberg reports, adding that young people’s savings from opting out of healthcare could then be used to pay for rent, groceries and transportation.

The study cites Kaiser Family Foundation data that shows “16 states and Washington, D.C. are setting up their own exchanges, 27 states have decided to let the federal government run their exchange, and seven states are setting up a ‘hybrid’ exchange in which the state and federal government share authority.”

“The irony is that one of the purported goals of Obamacare was to reduce the amount of people who are uninsured. The exchanges, though, may only increase their number,” Hogberg concludes.



Four Months After Their Abduction, Fate of Syrian Bishops Unknown

Orthodox Christians in Syria’s second city on Thursday will mark four months since their bishops went missing, their fate no clearer now than at any time since they were abducted by armed men and their driver shot dead near the Syria-Turkey border on April 22.

Greek Orthodox Bishop Boulos Yazigi and Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim, both based in Aleppo, are among at least five Christian leaders kidnapped this year in the Syrian civil war, in which minority Christians have been targeted by anti-Assad Sunni rebels who consider them to be supporters of the regime.

An Armenian Catholic priest, Michael Kayyal, and a Greek Orthodox priest, and Maher Mahfouz, were abducted when gunmen stopped the public bus they were traveling on near Aleppo on February 9; and an Italian Jesuit priest, Paolo Dall’Oglio, went missing on July 29 in a rebel-held city about 100 miles east of Aleppo.

Greek and Syriac Orthodox officials have expressed frustration at the failure of attempts to find out where the bishops are, who is holding them, and for what purpose – or even if they are still alive.

Christians make up about 10 percent of Syria’s population. Main denominations include Greek and Syriac Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Greek Catholic and Maronite.

Religious freedom advocates say hundreds of thousands of Christians have fled their homes to escape the fighting and harassment and worse by jihadist rebels. From Aleppo and Homs in particular, Christians have moved in large number to Damascus or across the border into Lebanon.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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)


August, 22, 2013

Intelligent people just as likely to be racists, the only difference being they are less likely to act on their beliefs

The report below is rooted in Leftist thinking so is a bit hard to follow. So let me put it in plain words: The research showed that, as always, more intelligent people were more likely to say the "right" thing about racial equality etc. But even intelligent people jibbed when asked if they agreed with "affirmative action". And on busing, it was very clear. Intelligent people were MORE likely to oppose busing than were less intelligent people.

For comment on the guff about "the need of dominant groups to ‘legitimise and protect’ their privileged social position over other social groupings", see some good comments by Para Pundit

Being more intelligent does not stop people being racist – it simply makes them better at covering it up. A study found that they were just as likely to be prejudiced as their less educated peers but did not act on their feelings.

Researcher Geoffrey Wodtke examined the attitudes of more than 20,000 white respondents from a society-wide survey. He then looked at how their cognitive ability, or how they processed information, was shown in their attitudes to black people.

They were also asked about policies designed to counter racial bias.

Mr Wodtke, of the University of Michigan, said: ‘High-ability whites are less likely to report prejudiced attitudes and more likely to say they support racial integration in principle. ‘There’s a disconnect between the attitudes intelligent whites support in principle and their attitudes toward policies designed to realise racial equality in practice.’

He said that in housing, nearly all whites with advanced cognitive abilities agreed that ‘whites have no right to segregate their neighbourhoods’. But, added Mr Wodtke, nearly half were content to allow prejudicial practices to continue rather than support laws to open up housing to ethnic minorities.

He said the study showed racism and prejudice were not simply a result of low mental ability. Instead, they result from the need of dominant groups to ‘legitimise and protect’ their privileged social position over other social groupings.

More intelligent citizens ‘are just better’ at this, added Mr Wodtke at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association.

In modern America, ‘this means that intelligent whites say all the right things about racial equality in principle but they just don’t actually do anything that would eliminate their privileges’.
Mr Wodtke warned: ‘Any effort to point out or eliminate these privileges strikes them as a grave injustice.’



A rocker gets it

Glenn Danzig: Democrats are fascists disguised as liberals. Interview with him below

The name Glenn Danzig has lived in metal and punk fans' vocabularies since 1977, when he started the legendary horror-punk group Misfits. But to music fans who didn't dwell in the underground, Danzig became Danzig in 1988, with the release of his eponymous band's self-titled debut. That album was a direct punch in the face to all hair metal bands, and a departure from the reverb-heavy goth punk of Samhain, Glenn's band between the Misfits and Danzig

It featured the irrepressible "Mother," which didn't become a hit until MTV put the 1993 live version of the song in its Buzz Bin. Thanks to heavy touring and Metallica talking about the band, having just covered Misfits' "Last Caress," Danzig became an unstoppable force that year.

"Mother" was a song I wrote about the PMRC [the Parents Music Resource Center, spearheaded by Tipper Gore]. But I think we'd already been working with Rick when I wrote it. So it was much different. We tore it apart and put it back together.

You mentioned that "Mother" was about the PMRC. Were they a problem for you specifically?

Yeah, you know, Al Gore wanted to tell people what they could listen to and what they couldn't, what they could record. It was basically coming down to the idea that he wouldn't let anybody record any music that he didn't think you should be doing. There was going to be an organization that would tell you what you could and couldn't record. And certainly if you couldn't record it, you couldn't put it out. It was really fascist.

My view on Democrats is that they're fascists disguised as liberals, or liberal moderates. You're not allowed to say anything that they don't agree with. You're not allowed to do anything. Also, the whole Obama, "I can kill anybody with a drone with no trial," is kind of disturbing. I'm surprised that more people who are supposedly liberal aren't more disturbed by it. I think whatever Obama does is OK with them, because he's Obama. It's bullshit.

It's the same thing with the PMRC telling you, "Bands can go on trial for their music." What's next, Wagner is going to get arrested? What? He's dead. [Laughs]



Sticking your appendage up some other guy's rear-end is not as popular as they say

When asking about same-sex marriage, polling methods matter. And question-wording matters most of all. It is precisely because apparently similar questions can elicit very different responses that psychometricians normally ask a whole set of questions rather than one question. Why is that not done on this issue? Why is at least a "split-plots" design not used? Obvious answer: The pollsters DELIBERATELY bias their results and don't want to remove that bias

Reports of recent nationwide polls about same-sex marriage would seem to put those who oppose the idea squarely in the minority, with many who formerly opposed it apparently fearing that they would find themselves socially on the “wrong side of history,” akin to Bull Connor and his Birmingham police force or the spectators who jeered at James Meredith as he walked to class at Ole Miss in 1962.

Emotional slogans are no doubt effective, but they muddy social-scientific attempts to figure out just how popular the idea of same-sex marriage (SSM) really is in the American mind. Polling data certainly suggest that public support for SSM is increasing, and I affirm that that perception is accurate. But discerning exactly what people think about SSM — and how many of them think that way — is not as simple as a sound bite.

A recently released Rice University study on attitudes about same-sex marriage — and the absence of media attention accorded it — made me wonder about the science, and possible politics, behind the most commonly cited polls.

Rice sociologists Michael Emerson and Laura Essenburg analyzed data from a poll that asked a random sample of nearly 1,300 American adults — on two different occasions, in 2006 and 2012 — whether they agreed or disagreed with this statement: “The only legal marriage should be between one man and one woman.” What’s the advantage to querying the same people six years later? Rather than simply mapping trends in the overall population — which is what most polls on the subject do — you can discern internal movement within people. That is, they change their minds, and the results show that they don’t always move in the direction of greater openness to same-sex marriage.

Here is what the Rice study’s authors say they discovered: First, they found less support for same-sex marriage than polls like Gallup and CNN tend to find. In fact, in 2012, 53 percent of those surveyed agreed that the only legal marriage should be between a man and a woman, while 13 percent sat on the fence, and 33 percent disagreed with the statement. Second, they detected no statistically significant change in overall sentiment on same-sex marriage over those six years. Third, some things did change — minds — and not all of them toward favoring same-sex marriage. The authors write:

". . . when we look behind the overall numbers, we find that many people did indeed change their minds over the 6-year period. The most stable category was among Americans who agreed in 2006 that the only legal marriage should be between one man and one woman. About three-quarters (74%) who agreed with the statement in 2006 also agreed with it in 2012. Among those who disagreed with the statement in 2006, 61% also disagreed in 2012. What is surprising in light of other polls and the dominant media reports that Americans are moving in droves from defining marriage as one man and one woman to an expanded definition is the movement of people in the other direction as well, a fact missed by surveys that do not follow the same people over time."

The uncommon results of this study, when contrasted with most media reports on the matter, may be to blame for the silence observed about this release. It simply didn’t jibe with the dominant narrative of majority — and growing — support for same-sex marriage. It’s possible that the Rice study’s sample is more religious than average, given that religion was one of several topics the investigators were most interested in. (Topical interest, however, need not bias a sample if the survey contacts are conducted smartly.) Moreover, its youngest respondents were 18 in 2006 and 24 in 2012, so this survey misses out — just a bit — on the youngest adults in 2012, more of whom are no doubt on board with the shift in marital meaning. Yet what about the psychology of giving positive versus negative responses to surveys? The Rice survey is unique in that the positive response is one of support for traditional marriage rather than for same-sex marriage.

What do other surveys show, and how do they ask their questions? Gallup, the granddaddy of such organizations, regularly asks Americans, “Do you think marriages between same-sex couples should or should not be recognized by the law as valid, with the same rights as traditional marriages?” When Gallup did so just last month, 54 percent of those polled said “should” and 43 percent said “should not,” while 3 percent remained unsure. The results may be skewed by the fact that the negative response is the one favoring traditional marriage. Nevertheless, it would seem that SSM has solid support.

But Gallup continues to ask a question about the legality of “homosexual relations” before it asks about same-sex marriage, a technique known as “priming,” or preparing survey-takers for subsequent questions. In their book News That Matters, political psychologists Donald Kinder and Shanto Iyengar document how priming shapes respondents’ answers to subsequent questions, particularly where sentiments about a previous question spill over. Gallup asks whether respondents “think gay or lesbian relations between consenting adults should or should not be legal,” a question that most observers would assume is not even asked any more.

It turns out that Gallup did not always prime with a question on the legality of homosexual relations before asking about same-sex marriage. Back when it varied its practice — priming on some surveys and not others — support for same-sex marriage varied. When Gallup did not prime, support for SSM totaled, on average, 6 to 7 percentage points less than when it did. A few percentage points may not seem like much, until we recall last month’s Gallup survey: Swing 6 or 7 points in the other direction and you would bring the poll to near-equilibrium between supporters and opposers. Thus a majority of Americans might not — or at least not yet — actually support same-sex marriage. The Rice study did not prime its respondents, and it asked the question differently; the results show notably greater opposition than support.

It’s impossible to know if such priming continues to affect Gallup’s numbers today, because it no longer varies its practice of priming — it now always primes — even though the wisdom of asking about the legality of “homosexual relations” makes little sense in our post–Lawrence v. Texas era. So why does Gallup still prime its survey respondents in this way? Consistency? Perhaps, but varying the practice is a methodological safety mechanism.

The lack of clarity about polling extends to actual voting behavior as well. In 2010 Patrick Egan, assistant professor of politics and public policy at New York University, compiled ten years of polling data about same-sex marriage in states that had voted on same-sex-marriage ballot initiatives. He found that public-opinion polls consistently underestimated ballot-box opposition to SSM. Egan noted that “the share of voters in pre-election surveys saying they will vote to ban same-sex marriage is typically seven percentage points lower than the actual vote on election day.” Why? Egan doesn’t know.

One might suspect something akin to the Bradley Effect at work in polling on this issue. Los Angeles mayor Tom Bradley, an African American, lost the 1982 California governor’s race despite being consistently ahead in the polls going into the election. Scholarly assessments of why Bradley lost focused on social-desirability bias on the sensitive issue of race. In particular, a minority of white voters was thought to have offered inaccurate polling responses for fear that, if they stated their true preference — which emerged at the ballot box — pollsters would perceive them as racially motivated.

In other words, when sensitive issues are at stake, people may feel pressure to give pollsters answers that sound enlightened, politically correct, or free of any trace of “bigotry” — a term that has reemerged as a club in the debate over same-sex marriage. Egan, however, claims that social-desirability bias is not responsible for the gap between polling and ballot-box results in this case, a gap that remained squarely in place in the May 2012 marriage and civil-union referendum in North Carolina. However, the phenomenon was mostly absent in the four ballot initiatives last November, when the pro-SSM side was likely aided by the ballot initiatives’ being attached to a presidential election.

Other suspects are the words with which survey questions are constructed. When polling organizations include the term “rights” in their question — as do Gallup, USA Today, and CNN/ORC — support for same-sex marriage is elevated: Each found 54 to 55 percent in favor. Survey respondents appear to react positively to words like “rights,” “freedom,” and “benefits,” and negatively to words like “ban.”

Recognizing this, Quinnipiac University’s pollsters stick to a very generic and brief question: “In general, do you support or oppose same-sex marriage?” The last time they asked it, in late April 2013 — about 30 days after the High Court’s twin deliberations — 45 percent of respondents reported support and 47 percent said they opposed. Eight percent were unsure.

And yet there are polls — such as the ABC News/Washington Post one last conducted in early March — in which, for no obvious reason, support for SSM runs 8 to 10 percentage points above where other polls seem to. Sampling, in the end, is a science, but a very human one.

What to conclude? First, American public opinion seems split nearly down the middle on same-sex marriage, once we account for priming, question-wording “bonuses,” and Egan’s observations of systematic underreporting of opposition. Second, the bad news for those who oppose legal recognition of same-sex marriage is that the overall, decades-long trend lines do not favor them, individual surveys aside. Battering one’s opposition with catchy memes and claims about right and wrong sides of history may be annoying, but it has been effective. Finally, many minds have not been made up. In the 2011 population-based New Family Structures Study survey, respondents were offered an “unsure” option when asked whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement “It should be legal for gays and lesbians to marry in America.” Almost one in four 18-to-39-year-olds took it. If nothing else, the Rice study reveals that such fence-sitters can move in either direction.


There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc


For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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)


August, 21, 2013

The Myth of Liberal Compassion

What will it take for the country to wake up to the destructive ravages of liberalism -- and finally do something about them?

Liberals continue to masquerade as exclusive proprietors of compassion, but their policies stubbornly undermine their possessory claim. Indeed, Obama's "fundamental transformation" of America is nothing less than America's decline and destruction in the name of compassion and fairness.

You can't scan a day's news without seeing proof of this. Let's look at just two items in today's news digest.

The Cato Institute has released a report documenting that in Obama's America, "welfare pays better than work." Cato's Michael Tanner concludes that the federal government funds 126 programs targeted at low-income Americans, a shocking 72 of which involve the transfer of cash or in-kind benefits to individuals. This does not include the many assistance programs provided by state and local governments.

The Cato study examines the state-by-state value of welfare for a mother of two children. In the state of New York, for example, "a family receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Medicaid, food stamps, WIC, public housing, utility assistance and free commodities (like milk and cheese) would have a package of benefits worth $38,004, the seventh-highest in the nation."

Because welfare benefits aren't taxable, a New York wage earner would have to earn in excess of $21 per hour to do better than his welfare recipient counterpart, which is more than a beginning teacher makes. Though benefits vary among the states, for many recipients, especially long-term dependents, welfare pays substantially more than an entry-level job.

Ponder the powerful disincentive this constitutes to work -- just like the endless extension of unemployment benefits over which Obama is always willing to shut down the government.

How can a society that embraces the work ethic not shudder in horror at this development? Yet a great portion of our society and political class doesn't.

Obviously, this state of affairs threatens America's fiscal integrity and is punitive to those in the workforce. Perhaps what's not so obvious, at least to bleary-eyed utopians, is that such excessive transfer payments ultimately harm the recipients in the long term. So do punitive taxes on the "rich." A powerful piece in The Wall Street Journal on Monday demonstrates that "targeting the wealthy kills jobs." In other words, folks, liberal compassion is not compassionate.

Cato posits that the best cure for poverty is still a job. And contrary to what the compassion snobs doubtlessly believe, even minimum-wage jobs can launch people out of poverty.

A specific remedy is to strengthen work requirements in welfare programs. In fact, we've done it, and it worked. But Obama didn't like it and reversed it because he is trapped in his radicalized worldview, a narrow-minded ideology that misinforms him that we have a closed economy with a fixed amount of income -- a finite, zero-sum pie that offers the opportunity for individual growth only through redistribution. Is it any wonder he has given us perpetual economic malaise?

In our next news item of the day, we read about the enormous expansion of the regulatory state under Obama and how it will outlast his term in office.

In my most recent two books, in which I chronicled President Obama's ongoing assault on America, I substantiated the frightening growth of the regulatory state under Obama, which has since become even worse -- by Obama's design. Just as he lied about increasing domestic oil production, he falsely claimed he has streamlined our regulatory climate.

He's frequently huffed that he will use all tools at his disposal -- many of them regulatory -- to advance his agenda when Congress won't bend to his will. He has acted unilaterally on immigration, labor, energy, gun control, cybersecurity, sentencing guidelines for drug offenses and the environment, to name a few.

The Hill reports that in Obama's first three years in office, the Code of Federal Regulations increased by 7.4 percent, almost twice the rate of President George W. Bush's first term. Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, asserts, "It would be difficult for anyone to pretend that this isn't a high water mark in terms of regulation."

These rules and regulations are not only smothering our economy but also destroying our individual liberties and threatening our constitutional framework because they are promulgated and enforced by unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats.

You don't need to be an economist to understand that Obama's massive taxing, spending and regulations are causing America's economic decline. You don't need to be a sociologist to grasp that his runaway welfare schemes are robbing people of their dignity while doing little to alleviate poverty.

At some point, Obama and his fellow liberals need to be judged for the effects of their policies, not the grandiosity of their self-congratulatory rhetoric.

It's often said that there is nothing compassionate about being charitable with other people's money. It's not said often enough that arrogant liberal experiments in forced "fairness" are affirmatively cruel because they comprehensively destroy wealth and prosperity and greatly harm the people they promise to benefit.



Leftist hatred of the world about them on vivid display in Scotland

Modern Scotland is deep-dyed in socialism. The Scottish parliament, revived in 1998 in the hope that a measure of self-rule would vitiate the independence movement, is dominated by parties of the left. The Scottish National Party, which favors (in addition to separation from England) "free" education through university, unilateral nuclear disarmament, steeply progressive taxation and the "eradication" of poverty, holds 65 of 129 seats. Labour, the Liberal Democrats and a couple of green parties hold 47 seats, while the conservatives claim just 15. Of the 51 members of the House of Commons representing Scottish constituencies, exactly one is a conservative.

Now, about the "Fringe." It's a festival of performances, concerts, dance, circuses and street theater that dominates the city every August. My family was open to sampling (the younger members more experimental than the older). But just based on the descriptions available in the local paper, The Scotsman, many of the offerings were repellent.

We could have seen a play titled, "The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning," which the Scotsman described as a "shocking indictment of the brutal and relentless homophobia of U.S. military life" and also a "more subtle critique ... of western culture ... that reacts to any breach of discipline or convention with a fierce, repressive violence, and a demand that we all conform, or be silent."

Alternatively, we could have dropped in on "Bin Laden: The One Man Show" that featured a "well-spoken Englishman politely offering tea and biscuits to his audience." The play presents a "different truth, a version we never get to see, free from projection, indoctrination and cartoon villainy." Cartoon villainy? Has anti-Americanism so distorted the moral reasoning of the playwright and the critic?

"Bonk!" provided audiences with "serious and rather stomach-churning anatomical detail," as well as a faked female orgasm to "knock Meg Ryan into a cocked hat." "Nick Helm: One Man Mega Myth" boasts an "amazing set involving 13 London buses (to scale)" and "giant penises (not his own)." Well, that's presumably because they couldn't book Anthony Weiner.

Why don't you guess what the play "The Extremists" is about? The Taliban? The Shining Path? Al-Qaida? No, the audience meets "Norman Kreeger, author of Extremism in the 20th Century and Beyond." He's a guest on a TV chat show, where he expounds his "philosophy of free-market democracy and the necessity of the war on terror." He "almost persuades you that there is an enemy out there ... the only thing is, the more he and the TV anchor explain their beliefs, the more they become indistinguishable from the enemy they claim to share so little with."

"Eastend Caberet: Dirty Talk" is described as "delightfully dirty as ever." The female star kicks off her stiletto heels and crawls through the audience, dragging men on stage to "share their dance moves and sex noises."

We've come a long way from the "bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond."

American writer David Sedaris is on hand to share his fiction. One story, "I Brake for Traditional Marriage," features a character so outraged by a gay marriage bill that he "shoots his wife and daughter before stabbing his mother-in-law with an ice pick and driving into a pedestrian." What was that about cartoon villainy?

This is not to single out the Scots. The leftist tripe and cultural waste they're enjoying is available in every western capital, including our own. The difference, while there still is one, is that the relentless leftism goes almost entirely unrebutted there.



The Left Hijacks Language to Promote the Unspeakable

By Rich Kozlovich

Over the years I have marveled at the ability of the left to hijack language in order to promote the most contemptible things, such as abortion, always disquised as rights supporting individual liberty. As you watch or hear the news, read articles in the newspapers, magazines or on-line, the terms used to describe the abortionists and anti-abortionists are pro-choice and pro-life. Both misnomers! Those terms do not represent what they really stand for.

The left is so hot to promote ‘choice’ but what choices are acceptable to the left. My friend Dave Dietz sent a Peanuts cartoon to me today showing Lucy and Linus having a conversation with Lucy self-righteously stating she is “pro-choice”. Linus asks as series of questions.

Can I choose to smoke?
Lucy says no because it’s bad for your health.

Can I choose a large soda?
No, that’s bad for your health!

Can I choose to own a gun?
No, that’s not safe for children!

Can I choose incandescent bulbs?
No, that’s not good for the planet!

Can I choose Low-cost coal?
No, that’s not good for the planet!

Can I choose to honor God?
No, that’s offensive!

Finally Linus asks - So what can I choose?
Lucy answers - An abortion!

Pro-choice isn’t about choice, it’s about deception. Those who support the phrase are deliberately misleading the public into believing they are for individual rights when in reality they support the murder of innocent unborn children; they are not pro-choice they are “pro-abortion”. But “pro-choice” sounds so much better than “pro-abortion”, or “embryocide”, “infanticide” or just plain “murder”. How can this be construed in the minds of any moral rational people as anything less than a crime against humanity?

As for the term pro-life, that is also a misnomer, and it is used by the left to vilify the morality of those who hold that position. The left is constantly throwing up the idea that “pro-life” people are hypocrites because they also typically support the death penalty.

First of all the so-called pro-life people are not pro-life, they are anti-abortion. They have no problem with the execution of those who have committed unspeakable crimes; criminals who have been given a chance to prove their innocence over and over again. Executing those guilty of terrible crimes is not murder….it’s justice; and it’s justice because they are not innocent. What they support is execution of the guilty, not the murder of the innocent. Innocent ones who have no say, no trial, no appeal, nor have committed any crime for which they should suffer the death penalty.

I don’t know where this picture came from but it is truly disturbing. This is what we all looked like at 12 weeks in the womb. The wanton destruction of this child’s life is legal in all fifty states. Tell me why you don’t think this is a person deserving the love, care and protection of a moral society!

There is only one reason to support aborting innocent life. You don’t believe its murder! There is only one reason to be against aborting innocent life. You believe its murder! If killing the innocent unborn is murder then it’s murder…… always. It isn’t murder on Monday and an option on Tuesday because of unpleasant circumstances.

I have said this in the past and I will repeat it here. In ancient times pagans murdered their newborn children for economic and political reasons by throwing them alive into burning pits as sacrifices to appease their gods.

Today we are murdering our unborn children for economic and political reasons to prove we have no God. Our minds are so clouded with secular liberalism that we can’t see reality clearly. Society has accepted an unstable philosophy for which we have abandoned traditional values. A concept where nothing is right and nothing is wrong. A value system that isn’t much more that the latest philosophical flavor of the day, which may change tomorrow, leaving untold damage to humanity in its wake. Then we wonder why society is getting so out of control, especially among the young.

Once again, we need to properly define the problem. Traditional wisdom is based on values that have stood the test of time, and are foundational to a stable society. Conventional wisdom is merely what people have chosen to believe right now based on immediate expediency. There is no historical or moral foundation to conventional wisdom, and generally is based on warping traditional values. Once that happens how long can a society stand?



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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)


August, 20, 2013

How Not to Argue Against Libertarianism

Over at Psychology Today, Peter Corning has penned an attack on libertarianism. This is nothing remarkable, as attacks on libertarians, especially attacks aimed at showing how psychologically damaged we must be, are a dime a dozen. But Corning’s diatribe so neatly fits the archetype of an academic pointing out that “Libertarians Just Don’t Get It” while evincing a profound misunderstanding of libertarianism, that it’s worth taking a moment to look at. Specifically, like far too many who dismiss libertarians, Corning fails to recognize how we distinguish society from state.

“All philosophies must ultimately confront reality,” Corning writes, “and the more radical versions of libertarianism … rely on terminally deficient models of human nature and society.” What’s this libertarian model? Homo economicus, which holds that “[o]ur motivations can be reduced to the single-minded pursuit of our (mostly material) self-interests.”

“One problem with this (utopian) model is we now have overwhelming evidence that the individualistic, acquisitive, selfish-gene model of human nature is seriously deficient,” Corning says.

We evolved as intensely interdependent social animals, and our sense of empathy toward others, our sensitivity to reciprocity, our desire for inclusion and our loyalty to the groups we bond with, the intrinsic satisfaction we derive from cooperative activities, and our concern for having the respect and approval of others all evolved in humankind to temper and constrain our individualistic, selfish impulses…

Libertarians reject this, we’re told, and instead believe that every man should look out only for himself, reject notions of reciprocity, eschew social ties, feel no empathy, and do nothing to help others until we stand to directly profit from it (and then only do it because we directly profit from it).

His evidence for this remarkable claim comes from citing (and misrepresenting) libertarian thinkers such as Robert Nozick, F. A. Hayek, and Ayn Rand. Regarding Nozick, Corning has this to say:

A line from libertarian philosopher Robert Nozick’s path-breaking book, Anarchy, State and Utopia, says it all: “Individuals have rights, and there are things no person or group [or state] may do to them without violating their rights.” (When asked to specify what those rights are, libertarians often cite philosopher John Locke’s mantra “life, liberty, and property.”) Not to worry, though. Through the “magic” of Adam Smith’s “invisible hand,” the efficient pursuit of our self interests in “free markets” will ensure the greatest good for the greatest number.

From this Corning concludes that Nozick is in favor of a dog-eat-dog, every-man-for-himself world. Which would no doubt come as a surprise to Nozick himself, as it’s completely at odds with his own writing, including the entire final section of Anarchy, State and Utopia.

Corning attacks Hayek for rejecting socialism, believing that this amounts to a rejection of society. And, unsurprisingly, he misunderstands Rand in precisely the way a great many intellectuals misunderstand Rand: Corning believes her claim that we should never use each other (and particularly never employ violence in order to use each other) is instead a claim that we should always see each other as morally insignificant at best—and more often as outright enemies.

The common thread linking these misinterpretations is Corning’s inability (or unwillingness) to distinguish society from state. Because Nozick says the state ought to be limited, Corning believes he must have an impoverished view of society. Because Hayek thinks state economic planning violates our freedoms and makes us worse off, Corning believes he must also think robust social ties violate our freedoms and make us worse off. Because Rand adopts an Aristole-influenced conception of man’s purpose (i.e., his own eudiamonia), Corning believes she thinks we should never form meaningful relationships and never help those worse off than us.

Stripped to its essentials, Corning’s argument (which I stress is quite common among intellectuals who reject libertarianism) looks like this:

1. Humans are social animals, require deep social connections in order to thrive, and develop much of their sense of self through the social environment they’re raised in. Humans cannot live well in isolation, and live best when working together within a framework of mutual respect and reciprocity.

2. Big government is the only political system compatible with (1).
3. Libertarians oppose big government.

4. Therefore libertarians reject (1).

Set out like this, the absurdity of these anti-libertarian arguments becomes clear. Libertarians don’t dispute (1). In fact, many of us are libertarians because we believe libertarianism (broadly defined as strong respect for liberty, private property, and free markets) will best facilitate the sort of human flourishing (1) describes. Further, we believe the evidence supports this claim.

So instead of rejecting (1), libertarians in fact reject (2). Not only do we reject (2) by claiming that there are other political systems compatible with (1), but we take it a step further by saying that big government isn’t just unnecessary for a rich, social environment, but in fact undermines the very sort of flourishing (1) describes.

Whether we’re right about that is an argument worth having. But it’s not the argument Corning seems interested in. Instead, like so many others, he believes big government’s link to human flourishing is so obvious that the only way one could reject big government is to quite literally reject human flourishing.

This is, put simply, a failure of the imagination, coupled with profound status quo bias. Corning just can’t envision how a society where the state isn’t free to use violence to compel nonviolence citizens to do its bidding can function. And maybe that is difficult to imagine. But so was democracy, as economist Bryan Caplan notes:

"Imagine advocating democracy a thousand years ago. You sketch your basic idea: “Every few years we’ll have a free election. Anyone who wants power can run for office, every adult gets a vote, and whoever gets the most votes runs the government until the next election.” How would your contemporaries react?

They would probably call you “crazy.” Why? Before you could even get to the second paragraph in your sales pitch, they’d interrupt: “Do you seriously mean to tell us that if the ruling government loses the election, they’ll peacefully hand the reins of power over to their rivals?! Yeah, right!”

Corning, and so many like him, could learn a little humility from history. Just because violent nation states engaging in social engineering and forced redistribution are the flavor of the day doesn’t mean they’re the best system for enabling people to lead rich and rewarding lives.

But having that discussion demands much more than painting your opponents as moral monsters who reject the very foundations of what it means to be human. In other words, it demands more careful study than Peter Corning appears ready to muster.



An invitation from the Sunshine State

by Jeff Jacoby

DAYS AFTER Massachusetts residents began feeling the sting of new tax increases, Florida's Republican governor, Rick Scott, cheerfully reminded them that they have other options.

On Aug. 6, Scott sent letters to 100 Massachusetts business owners, inviting them to relocate to the Sunshine State "because we have the perfect climate for your business." He trumpeted his state's "incredible economic turnaround," and drew a few pointed contrasts: "While Florida's unemployment rate has seen the second-largest drop in the country, Massachusetts' June unemployment rate increased to the highest since November 2011," Scott wrote. "While Florida ranks fifth in the nation for our business tax climate, Massachusetts is stuck at No. 22, according to the Tax Foundation." And now that taxes are up again — Beacon Hill raised taxes on gasoline and cigarettes, and enacted a 6.25 percent sales tax on software and computer services that has the tech sector in an uproar — "it's bound to get worse in Massachusetts."

From Scott's Democratic counterpart in Boston came a huffy response. "I am not surprised that other states wish they had the successful and growing innovation businesses that we have here in Massachusetts," said Governor Deval Patrick's economic development chief, Greg Bialecki. Low taxes may be venerated in red states like Florida, but the governor of bluest Massachusetts worships at a different altar. "We have committed to long-term investments in education, innovation, and infrastructure, all good news for companies doing business here," Bialecki said. "Massachusetts is creating a special environment for a 21st-century innovation economy, one that thriving businesses happily call home."

But if "long-term investments" — i.e., permanent tax and spending hikes— are such good news for Massachusetts entrepreneurs, it's hard to understand why the Massachusetts High Technology Council and the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, two of the commonwealth's leading business advocates, have launched a campaign to repeal the new software tax. Or why it isn't only analysts at the nonpartisan Tax Foundation who judge the business tax environment in Florida to be far more appealing than the one that prevails in Massachusetts. In May, the tech-focused business magazine Fast Company ranked Florida the best state in the nation for business innovation and startup culture. Massachusetts came in at No. 42.

If tax-more-spend-more really were the formula for spurring growth and encouraging entrepreneurs, why isn't Patrick the one sending out invitations? Unlike Scott, who points out that Florida has no income tax, Patrick could try enticing business owners with the advantages of moving to a state where the combined state and local tax burden (as a percentage of income) is the nation's 8th heaviest. He could make the same pitch to business leaders in Florida and other low-tax states that he has repeatedly made at home: The way to "significantly improve our economic tomorrows," is with big tax and spending increases today.

He could cite Forbes magazine, which gives Massachusetts top marks for quality of life — reflected in strong schools, a healthy population, arts and recreation opportunities, and stellar universities — while simultaneously observing that business costs and regulations in this state are among the most onerous in America. A worthwhile tradeoff? Forbes seems to think so: It ranks Massachusetts higher than all but 16 other states, including Florida.

If a two-day break from sales taxes can affect people's economic behavior, imagine the impact of a state's year-round tax climate.

The argument can be made, but will it convince taxpayers, entrepreneurs, and business innovators to move to Massachusetts? Jim Stergios of the Pioneer Institute, a market-oriented think tank in Boston, notes that between 1990 and 2007, the number of companies headquartered in Massachusetts fell from 16,000 to 11,000 —accounting for the loss of about 250,000 jobs. Over the past two decades, he says, Massachusetts has experienced no net employment growth. Massachusetts today "is still 100,000 jobs short of even our 2001 employment levels."

And all the while, taxpayers keep moving away from states like Massachusetts, where taxes are high, and migrating to states like Florida, where the tax burden is low.

Is it all about taxes? Clearly not; decisions about where to live and work are affected by all kinds of considerations, from weather to family to education. But it is preposterous to imagine that nobody changes their economic behavior in order to minimize their tax bill. If individual shoppers will defer a purchase until the annual sales-tax holiday, entrepreneurs and investors deciding where to establish a company are certainly apt to take taxes into account.

Massachusetts may be a perfect fit for your business. But if it's not, Florida's governor would like to remind you: You've got other options.



Surprise! NSA Broke the Rules

The National Security Agency is under fire once again after an internal audit revealed that it broke privacy rules or exceeded its legal authority thousands of times each year since 2008. According to The Washington Post, "Most of the infractions involve unauthorized surveillance of Americans or foreign intelligence targets in the United States, both of which are restricted by statute and executive order." There were 2,776 such incidents at the NSA's Fort Meade headquarters alone in the 12 months preceding the May 2012 audit, which, among other things, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked to the media.

In one instance, the NSA mistakenly intercepted a "large number" of phone calls originating in Washington because a "programming error" substituted U.S. area code 202 for 20, Egypt's international dialing code. The NSA opted not to report this allegedly unintended surveillance of Americans and generally considers "incidental" surveillance not noteworthy. Likewise, the NSA instructs personnel to be as vague and generic as possible when describing any incident it does bother reporting.

Just last week, Barack Obama insisted, "[W]hat you're not reading about is the government actually abusing these programs." Obviously, his press conference feigning the desire for NSA "reform" was pre-emptive because he knew the Post was about to publish another inconvenient report.

We also recall Obama's other tone-deaf remarks: "[I]f you are the ordinary person and you start seeing a bunch of headlines saying, 'U.S.-Big Brother looking down on you, collecting telephone records, et cetera,' well, understandably, people would be concerned. I would be, too, if I wasn't inside the government." Effective anti-terror measures are clearly needed to maintain national security -- after all, al-Qaida is alive and well -- but the people should be concerned that our government prove trustworthy.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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)


August, 19, 2013

The Far-Left Destroys A Rodeo Clown

"Bush=Hitler" is forgotten

Much of the liberal mainstream media is now in a complete meltdown because a rodeo clown wore a mask of President Obama and “disrespected” him during a show at the Missouri State Fair. Try as I might, there is no way to exaggerate how unhinged much of the media – and all the Democrat politicians in the area – have become over this one incident.

Was it childish and in bad taste? Sure. Are there one million things much more pressing and threatening for the media and the Democrats to be concerned about? Commonsense and the American people would say “yes.” Craven partisan politics says “let’s pile on to accumulate brownie-points with the far-left Intelligentsia.”

The poor – in every sense of the word – rodeo clown has been banned for life by the Missouri State Fair. Banned for life with the real possibility of having his only livelihood taken from him forever.

Beyond that, the president of the Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association resigned under massive pressure because he served as the announcer during the rodeo clown’s “inappropriate, disrespectful, and embarrassing” performance.

You would think the rodeo clown potentially losing his career and the president of the association resigning would satisfy the bloodlust of the far-left. Not even close. Many also want to strip the State Fair of its tax money, while demanding full-scale investigations.

Are you kidding me?

So much for the First Amendment. As one state-fair attendee said, “Since when has making fun of the president been off-limits?”



The United States of Racism

To anyone who has been following the really big stories in the news – and by big, I don’t mean the silliness surrounding IRS, EPA, NSA, ObamaCare or Benghazi – it has become obvious. This is a racist country. Indeed, it is a horribly racist place.

It’s not like it used to be, with Klan rallies, Jim Crow and governors standing in schoolhouse doors. It’s much more subtle and insidious now, and it permeates every aspect of American life.

I’ve avoided saying it for a while now, but I can’t be silent anymore.

I’m talking, of course, about the really big story of the last week – the scourge of racism exposed by a simple rodeo clown at the Missouri State Fair. The aftermath of what happened there should disturb every American interested in equality.

The racist act was not some unnamed guy wearing a Barack Obama mask and lampooning the president. Nor was it Tuffy Gessling, the now “banned for life” rodeo performer who was on the microphone. No, the racist act isn’t a single act; it’s a constant series of acts committed by progressives, Democrats and their allies. It’s the insistence President Obama not be held to the same standards, not be treated the same way as other presidents and other politicians simply because of race.

It’s not breaking news the president is black. Most people, especially those of us born after the babyboomers, couldn’t care less. It was indeed a much bigger deal 40 years ago, but we are not our grandparents’ generation. The world has changed. Peoples have stopped caring about race. We’ve stopped caring about a lot of things the people in charge still obsess over, but none more than race.

This burgeoning revolution has left some people adrift in a world that soon no longer will exist. Their mind still resides in a place with separate water fountains, George Wallace ruling Alabama and the KKK marching in the streets. These people can’t let go. It is the basis of their power, their politics, their wallets. It’s sickening, and it’s un-American.

Merriam-Webster defines racism as “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.” That can be boiled down to treating people differently, having different expectations, different standards for someone because of race. And this is how progressives treat President Obama.

There was a time when criticism, satire, downright mockery and any number of things considered “attacks” were not only accepted but cheered. From the moment of our founding, the freedom to criticize political leaders was one of the things that set us apart from the rest of the world. Now, thanks to the progressive movement, criticism, even mockery, of the president of the United States is called racism. Essentially, progressives demand a whole new standard for criticizing this president – all because of his race.

Disagreeing with Barack Obama on policy is racist. Disapproval of his handling of the economy is a Klan rally. Speaking against his feckless foreign policy is the back of the bus. To withhold consent to his every whim is to burn a cross. The substance of the critiques doesn’t matter and rarely, if ever, is even addressed.

Instead, we get analysis about the deeply racist motives that drive the opposition to the president. Why? Because the majority of these race-relics are in the media.

But these self-appointed gatekeepers, these racists holding a black man to a different standard than any of the white men who’ve held the office, are not alone. They have a powerful ally. The chief enabler of this double standard is the Enabler-In-Chief, the beneficiary of it all – President Obama.

That President Obama is held to a lower standard for honesty, effectiveness, expectation and accomplishment benefits him immeasurably. He knows this and embraces it. Were he not interested in this perversion of what is right, he could have had his official spokesman release a statement this week telling his minions, those who created this lower standard, to lighten up, that he can take a joke, and to leave the clown alone. But he didn’t.

An American man has been under a sustained attack for a week now for simply treating this president like any other president. And the only words we’ve heard from the president’s spokesman is that this was not one of Missouri’s “finer moments.” Gessling has lost his job, been accused of committing a “hate crime,” seen his life basically ruined because the president of the United States couldn’t be bothered to tell a staffer to pass along that he said “knock it off.”

That’s because he doesn’t want it “knocked off.” Maintaining the “Obama standard” for critique of a president is far more useful to him than a clown in Missouri, a cop in Cambridge, Mass., an Hispanic neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida or anyone else who may stand in his way.

Progressives in the media, in non-profits and elected office are happy to help because they benefit too. They get another day off the hook for their sins and those of their progressive forefathers who donned Klan hoods, mandated “whites only” signs and blocked school doorways. Another day of people not realizing those overt racist impediments to liberty have been replaced by the covert racism of the “helping” bureaucracy.

The methods have changed, but not the goal. That the president is black doesn’t matter; the agenda matters – and the power that goes with it.

The progressive agenda is advanced, its power obtained, by dividing people. That’s why so many have embraced the lower standard for this current president.

Luckily, fewer and fewer people are falling for this “equal-but-separate” deception. With each new day, there is more indifference to the politics of race. The president is sinking in the polls not because he’s black but because America does not accept his radical progressive agenda. Calling opponents racist will fall on deaf ears increasingly as time goes by because those ears aren’t deaf, they just know they’re being lied to.

Ruining the life of a rodeo clown won’t be the Berlin Wall moment for the politics of division. But that moment is coming. We see it in the polls, in the continued ratings drops for MSNBC. Before long, we will see it at the voting polls.

And it can’t come a day too soon.



Bismarck and Healthcare Insurance: DeLong and DeShort of It

DeLong's account of Bismarck's motives is certainly hilarious -- JR

By John C. Goodman

Brad DeLong at The Health Care blog makes these assertions:

* Bismarck created the world’s first national health insurance system 130 years ago because he wanted to make the German people healthier.

* The rationale for national health insurance in the U.S. today is the same as it was for Bismarck.

* People can’t pay for expensive care without health insurance and without health insurance they can’t get health care.

* “So, unless we adopt the view that those without ample savings who fall seriously ill should quickly die (and so decrease the surplus population), a country with national health insurance will be a wealthier and more successful country.”

Hmm. It’s hard to know where to start.

* It’s doubtful that anything Bismarck did 130 years ago made anyone healthier. In those days doctors probably did as much harm as good.

* But that wasn’t his purpose anyway: Bismarck created social insurance in order to tie the self-interest of the individual to the state. He wasn’t trying to strengthen individuals. He was trying to strengthen government.

* There is precious little evidence that insuring people increases their life expectancy. Amy Finkelstein, for example found that the establishment of Medicare did not improve the health of the elderly.

* You cannot give people as a whole more medical care unless you have a plan to use idle health care resources or unless you have a plan to create more providers. ObamaCare doesn’t do either of these things.



The End Of Free Checking? Thank Dick Durbin

This morning on my drive in to work I was listening to WTOP, 103.5 FM, when a story about the possible end of debit cards came up. The hosts interviewed a reporter from the Wall Street Journal who said that while eliminating debit cards would be a drastic move by the banks, you would more likely see the end of things like “free” checking.

The reason for this is “interchange fees”. Or, more precisely, price controls on interchange fees. Interchange fees are the fees banks charge retailers for processing the use of debit cards. The interchange fee used to be about 1.35% of the amount purchased at the retailer. This enabled banks to cover the costs of debit cards and offer other perks such as “free” checking.

Because the price of the interchange fee may soon be set at .03-.06 cents per transaction, banks have to figure out another way to cover their costs. Say welcome back to fees for checking. (For more, see this excellent article by Richard Epstein. Also see John Berlau’s article, The Free Checking Restoration Act).

Unfortunately, the news report on WTOP only once mentioned the Dodd-Frank financial “reform” law that contains the price control on debit cards. And no where did it mention the senator responsible for the amendment to Dodd-Frank that imposed the price control, Illinois’ Dick Durbin.

Durbin still claims that the price control is a winfor consumers, although there is, as of yet, no evidence that consumers are seeing lower prices at retailers because of the reduction in interchange fees.

Forty centuries worth of experience should be enough evidence that price controls don’t work. Alas, people like Sen. Durbin never learn.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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)


August, 18, 2013

Should Voting Be Made Harder?

The large rusted-on vote that Democrats get from most of America's large minority population certainly undercuts the vote as a considered evaluation of parties and policies -- and the result is an America that is steadily losing liberties and prosperity in ceaseless small bites. So some reform should be thought about. A once-common idea was for the vote to be limited to property owners but a more plausible idea these days would be to limit the vote to those who pay Federal income tax. That only those who put in should have a say in what is paid out seems only fair -- JR

By David Bozeman

In what could be a harbinger of the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton recently slammed North Carolina’s new voter ID law, saying that it reads like a “greatest hits of voter suppression.” Aside from requiring a government-issued photo ID to vote, the law’s other provisions cut early voting to — gasp! — ten days and end same-day registration during the early-voting period.

One can certainly debate the necessity of crafting new legislation, but the ensuing hysteria, including lawsuits by the Southern Coalition for Social Justice and the ACLU, misses the larger point. Conservatives and Republicans believe that the endless attempts to make voting easier (motor voter registration, for instance) are, in the words of National Review‘s Jonah Goldberg, synonymous with making it cheaper.

Simply, if voting requires a degree of effort or even inconvenience and a moment of deliberation, then maybe we are a better people because of it. Here in North Carolina (and a handful of other states), those only slightly interested in public affairs can be roused out of their apathy by a polished but ineffectual orator, register to vote and then cast their votes all in the same day. American Idol winners are chosen with more contemplation.

Early voting, likewise, once reserved for the military and hardship cases, has degenerated, if not into a circus, then into a cushy vehicle of convenience to those for whom standing in line is a bother. Whatever the advantages of early voting, surely our founders envisioned all citizens voting pretty much together, sorting out the same facts. With voting becoming not a day but a season, how many news cycles and debates affect one vote but not another?

When the media (barely) revealed candidate Barack Obama’s expressed goal of targeting big energy (particularly the coal industry) literally days before the election in 2008, how many already-cast votes did not reflect knowledge of Obama’s radical agenda? Furthermore, how much greater leeway is granted for corruption as more days and weeks are added to election season?

Whether or not corruption exists, however, is not really the point. Not that Democrats care — as long as they keep winning national races, they don’t give a whit about any preventive measures aimed at ensuring fair elections. Let them lose a nail-biter or two (like in 2000) and election reform will be all the rage. Till then, they take refuge in the claim that Republicans just want to keep black people away from the polls.

Bottom line — and most of us know this, but few will dare say it — maybe not everyone should vote. If you have to be induced by convenience to vote, then maybe you shouldn’t. If your preference is based on your narrow self interest and not the overall good of your country, then maybe you shouldn’t vote. If you have no idea who your senators are or who the vice president is, then maybe you shouldn’t vote.

The idea that voting should be rational and contemplative, as much a rite as a right, is no doubt the impetus behind North Carolina’s harmless little measures. Only modern liberals believe that large masses of poor and black Americans are somehow incapable of procuring photo IDs! But the only way for Hillary Clinton to gain power is to convince you that you are powerless. Voting, while a precious right born of toil, revolution and blood, is hardly, unto itself, a shield against tyranny. Merely the right to vote will not protect one citizen from the passions of the mob. That requires a culture that embraces individual spirit, purpose and rationality. The fact that demagogues derive their power from the vote is the strongest argument that voting should enjoy a very limited, deliberative time period.



Big Brother has arrived

“Clearly, any family may be visited by federally paid agents for almost any reason.”

According to an Obamacare provision millions of Americans will be targeted.

The Health and Human Services’ website states that your family will be targeted if you fall under the “high-risk” categories below:

* Families where mom is not yet 21.

* Families where someone is a tobacco user.

* Families where children have low student achievement, developmental delays, or disabilities.

* Families with individuals who are serving or formerly served in the armed forces, including such families that have members of the armed forces who have had multiple deployments outside the United States.

There is no reference to Medicaid being the determinant for a family to be “eligible.”

In 2011, the HHS announced $224 million will be given to support evidence-based home visiting programs to “help parents and children.” Individuals from the state will implement these leveraging strategies to “enhance program sustainability.”

Constitutional attorney and author Kent Masterson Brown states:

“This is not a “voluntary” program. The eligible entity receiving the grant for performing the home visits is to identify the individuals to be visited and intervene so as to meet the improvement benchmarks. A homeschooling family, for instance, may be subject to “intervention” in “school readiness” and “social-emotional developmental indicators.” A farm family may be subject to “intervention” in order to “prevent child injuries.” The sky is the limit.

Although the Obama administration would claim the provision applies only to Medicaid families, the new statute, by its own definition, has no such limitation. Intervention may be with any family for any reason. It may also result in the child or children being required to go to certain schools or taking certain medications and vaccines and even having more limited – or no – interaction with parents. The federal government will now set the standards for raising children and will enforce them by home visits.”

Part of the program will require massive data collecting of private information including all sources of income and the amount gathered from each source.

A manual called Child Neglect: A Guide for Prevention, Assessment, and Intervention includes firearms as potential safety hazard and will require inspectors to verify safety compliance and record each inspection into a database.




Ann Coulter

Do liberals have any arguments for their idiotic ideas besides calling their opponents "racist"?

The two big public policies under attack by the left this week are "stop-and-frisk" policing and voter ID laws. Democrats denounce both policies as racist. I'm beginning to suspect they're getting lazy in their arguments.

Stop-and-frisk was a crucial part of the package of law enforcement measures implemented by New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani that saved the city. Under David Dinkins, who preceded Giuliani, murders averaged about 2,000 a year. There were 714 murders in New York the year Giuliani left office. Continuing Giuliani's policing techniques, Mayor Michael Bloomberg's New York had only 419 murders last year.

Just during his first year in office, Giuliani's policies cut the murder rate an astonishing 20 percent. That first year of his administration was responsible for 35 percent of the crime drop nationwide from 1993 to 1995. The New York Times hailed this remarkable achievement with an article headlined, "New York City Crime Falls but Just Why Is a Mystery."

It was mostly black lives that were saved by Giuliani's crime policies. By the end of his administration, the Rev. Calvin Butts, liberal pastor of Harlem's Abyssinian Baptist Church, was comparing Giuliani to King Josiah of the Bible, who "brought order, peace, the law back to the land." The black minister told The New York Times, "I really think that without Giuliani, we would have been overrun."

About the same time as the Rev. Butts was comparing Giuliani to King Josiah, Richard Goldstein of The Village Voice claimed he felt less safe in New York under Giuliani. It was the ravings of a madman, like saying winter is warmer than summer. But now, Goldstein's ideas are being delivered from the federal bench by Judge Shira Scheindlin, who recently held New York City's stop-and-frisk policies unconstitutional.

Yes, Democrat Bob Filner can pat down his female employees, but cops can't pat down suspected criminals.

Liberals wail about guns, but how do they imagine police get guns off the street without going to high-crime neighborhoods and stopping young men acting suspiciously? Giuliani's policing policies, including stop-and-frisk, reduced gun homicides in New York by 75 percent within five years.

It is precisely the fear of being caught with a gun that induces young hoodlums not to carry them. The word gets out: Don't carry a gun! It's not worth the risk.

Of course cops don't find many guns anymore! That's because they're doing stop-and-frisk.

By liberals' logic, the government should stop doing meat inspections because it turns up so few cases of contamination these days, anyway. We can also drop the metal detectors at airports. How many people does the TSA actually catch trying to sneak guns onto airplanes?

Have liberals polled the elderly black residents of high-crime neighborhoods on stop-and-frisk? As soon as the word gets out that it's now safe to carry weapons, spray paint, drugs and stolen goods again, criminals will rule the streets and the elderly will, once more, be confined to their homes. As Martin Luther King said, crime is "the nightmare of the slum family."

But liberals don't care about the innocent black victims of crime. They don't care about citizens being prisoners in their own homes -- as long as it's not in their neighborhoods. The important thing is to self-righteously preen about racism.

When a policy that has saved thousands of black lives is attacked as "racist," the word has no meaning. At this rate, liberals will be claiming that peanut butter sandwiches are racist -- except that wouldn't be as crazy.

Voter ID laws don't actually save black lives the way stop-and-frisk policies do, but it's not clear how such laws hurt them. I suppose the argument is that by allowing Democrats to steal elections, they can pass all those laws that improve black lives immeasurably, like promoting trial lawyers, gay marriage, abortion and amnesty for illegals. You know, the Democratic policies that really enhance black lives.

The claim that modern voter ID laws are a racist Republican plot to prevent minorities from voting is complicated by the fact that, in 2011, such a law was enacted by the overwhelmingly Democratic Rhode Island legislature and, in fact, was pushed through by black Democrats.

Despite the pleas of national Democrats who realized their cover was being blown, the state senate's only black member, Democrat Harold Metts, sponsored a voted ID bill. He said he'd heard complaints about voter fraud for years, telling the story of one poll worker who encountered a voter who couldn't spell his own last name.

A black legislator in the House, Anastasia Williams, complained that when she showed up to vote in 2006, she was told she had already voted. Another time, she saw a Hispanic man vote, go to the parking lot and change his clothes, then go back in and vote again.

If white liberals are so concerned about black votes counting, why don't they ever vote for black representatives in their own congressional districts? Black Republicans are always elected from majority white districts: Gary Franks, J.C. Watts, Tim Scott and Allen West.

But black Democrats apparently can get elected to Congress only from specially designated minority districts. How come white liberals won't vote for a black representative? Can't a black person represent Nita Lowey's district?

Democrats do nothing for black Americans except mine them for votes, which they do by telling tall tales about racist Republicans.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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)


August, 16, 2013

Left loses the plot on real life - and the meaning of borders

The following article is by Mark Latham, a former federal leader of the Australian Labor Party, Australia's major Leftist party. He is critical of the direction of his party in recent years. He uses the issue of illegal immigrants (mostly boat-borne in the Australian case and usually referred to as "asylum seekers" or "boat people") to make a wider critique of current Leftism. His claim that Leftism is ideology-driven rather than reality-driven is well-made

About a decade go, I noticed something distinctive about the Australian Left. It was wrong on every major issue for which the Australian parliament had legislative responsibility.

On economic policy, its belief in protectionism and industry welfare had been made to look ridiculous by the Keating revolution. Families which had been trapped for generations in blue-collar factory work were enjoying the benefits of economic liberalisation, business start-ups and booming prosperity. In social policy the Left's obsession with command-and-control public service provision was out of step with new attitudes in the outer suburbs. With extra money in their kick, people wanted to buy in the services which best suited their needs. It didn't matter whether these were publicly or privately run, as long as they got the job done. Customisation was king.

The other big issue was border protection. I was battling the Labor For Refugees group and its determination to abolish offshore processing and mandatory detention. When John Howard introduced his Tampa legislation prior to the 2001 election, I was one of a handful of Labor MPs who would have been comfortable voting for it On a question of competing interests (the needs of UN refugee camp asylum seekers versus unauthorised boat arrivals), the only way of avoiding a humanitarian disaster was to enforce the rule of law and an orderly, fair system of processing. I was perplexed as to how the Left could advocate open-door policies: an invitation for anarchy.

In each area, the so-called progressive wing of politics had failed. Why couldn't these people understand the basis of sound policymaking and social justice?

To answer this dilemma, I set about analysing the lifestyle and life values of the mistaken Left activists like the millionaire journalist Phillip Adams and my parliamentary colleagues representing gentrified inner-city boroughs. My conclusion was they had abstracted themselves from the empirical, commonsense views of suburban Australia. They saw issues as an exercise in ideological dogma, instead of problem-solving. Learning and adapting were foreign concepts.

The lessons of Whitlamism in the 1960s and Keatingism in the 1980s - that Labor is strongest when it relies on practical ideas drawn from suburban electorates had been forgotten. Ten years later, nothing has changed. Senators Kim Carr and Doug Cameron still regard government economic intervention as more important than market competition. The Left still talks about community services, such as school education, through the eyes of providers (teachers, union organisers and public servants) rather than recipients (students and parents).

For asylum seekers, the tragedy is doubly unfathomable. Not only has the Left's open-door policy, as implemented by the Rudd government in 2008, led to 2000 people drowning, the fanatics who urged on this atrocity have shown no signs of contrition.

Unmoved by rows of body bags and tiny coffins loaded onto planes, the Greens still see that boat journeys between Indonesia and Australia are an act of compassion. The blood on their hands has had no impact on their sense of right and wrong.

Privately, Labor's hard-Left faction despises the government's new Papua New Guinea solution but, out of self interest, it sees no point in opposing a vote-winning policy this close to an election.

Elsewhere in the media, apologists for the open-door/drownings policy have re-emerged, no less brazen than a decade ago. Three types of rationalisation are being used. The first is a straight denial of reality, the argument that deterrence strategies have never worked. Among others, the clownish Charlie Pickering has repeatedly made this claim on Channel 10's The Project, ignoring the obvious success of the Howard government in stopping the boats, This is a strange reaction to truth. It is almost as if, psychologically, Howard's record in saving lives - something which runs against the grain of everything Pickering believes in - cannot be accepted as reality.

The second rationalisation is to downplay the significance of death. Last week, in an editor's note to subscribers of The Monthly, John van Tiggelen complained that Australia's "humanitarian obligations [have come] down to a single KPI: preventing the deaths of one in 25 boat people."

He lamented how "the complementary statistic, that of the crushed hopes and condemned lives of the other 96 per cent, will remain invisible, untold and unrecorded".

How can anyone look at the horror of boatloads of people drowning and try to establish some form of moral relativity against the circumstances of those still alive? The highest calling of one's conscience - in many ways, the emotion which sets our civilisation apart from the animal world - is for the preservation of human life.

If 4 per cent are dying, the only compassionate response is to address the problem directly, regardless of the economic interests of the remaining 96 per cent

The third stance is a surreal "business as usual" argument.

Last week, Adams returned to the opinion pages of The Australian on the boat people issue, rolling out words identical to those he used 10 years ago. He made no mention of the drownings, ignoring his long-running error in advocating policies that have made them more likely. Everyone else was at fault, all bar Adams.

Perhaps this tells us more about the Left than any other perspective.

When the world fails to comply with its ideological template, it uses ignorance as a way of keeping its beliefs alive. But then, when ignorance can no longer hold out the facts, when the evidence becomes overwhelming, it turns to Adams-style arrogance, lecturing others on where they went wrong.

The asylum-seeker crisis has changed Australian politics forever. The mistaken Left has forfeited its claim to moral superiority and a valid understanding of compassion. It now faces an uncomfortable truth. If left-wing politics means thousands of people drowning, we would be better off with no left-wing politics at all.


You're right-wing? You must be stupid

Frank Furedi on how conservatism came to be treated as a mental deficiency. Frank points out that the whole argumnent is "ad hominem" and hence of no intellectual worth. He does not however allude to direct evidence on the question. For that evidence, see here

Mocking conservative and right-wing political figures for their stupidity is all the rage in certain media circles. Yesterday it was the turn of Tony Abbott, leader of the opposition in Australia, after he mixed up the words `suppository' and `repository' in a live TV debate. Last week, Australian election candidate Stephanie Banister was branded ignorant after she made a series of gaffes about Islam during a TV interview. A video of the interview went viral, and as a result of the humiliation Banister has now withdrawn her candidacy.

Not surprisingly, commentators compared Banister to Sarah Palin, the former US Republican vice-presidential candidate who was, and continues to be, regularly targeted for her `stupidity'. One blogger recently referred to Palin as the `Queen of Stupidity', the `very embodiment of all things stupid'.

The idea that conservatives are thick and simple is increasingly being backed up by a new brand of advocacy research. In recent years there have been numerous so-called studies purporting to prove the intellectual inferiority of conservative people. Two Canadian academics gave us a good example of this tendentious research last year. Their `study', titled Bright Minds and Dark Attitudes: Lower Cognitive Ability Predicts Greater Prejudice Through Right-Wing Ideology and Low Intergroup Contact, claimed there is evidence that simpletons go on to become prejudiced right-wingers in later life.

It is worth noting that, historically, the manipulation of science to discredit political opponents - from nineteenth-century craniology to twentieth-century Stalinist and Nazi theories - was strongly criticised by the intellectual community. Today, by contrast, it is self-styled intellectuals, especially the ones who refer to themselves as `liberal', who use such pseudo-scientific tactics to pathologise their opponents as a mentally and intellectually inferior political species. And there is barely any dissent from this view.

The intellectual devaluation of conservatism originates in the nineteenth century, when the British Tories were described as the `stupid party'. That phrase was probably coined by John Stuart Mill, who wrote in 1861 that although both the Whigs and the Tories were lacking in principle, it was the Tories who were `by the law of their existence the stupidest party' (1). Back then, associating conservatism with stupidity was justified on the grounds that upholding tradition and the status quo - as conservatives do - does not require much mental agility or imagination. In contrast, it was claimed that taking a more questioning and critical approach to politics required an ability to think abstractly and in a sophisticated way.

But it wasn't until the post-Second World War era that the pathologisation of conservatism gained real intellectual credibility. Instead of seeing right-wing prejudice as the outcome of various cultural and social influences, left-leaning observers treated it more like a psychological problem. Theodor Adorno's classic text, The Authoritarian Personality, helped to give credence to the new dogma that the disposition for a certain kind of intolerance was a psychological issue. From this standpoint, right-wing people not only suffer from an intellectual deficit, but also from a psychological one.

Since the end of the Second World War, right-wing and conservative ideas have come to be marginalised within the key cultural and intellectual institutions of Western society. In a frequently cited statement, the American literary critic Lionel Trilling declared in his 1949 preface to a collection of essays that right-wing ideas no longer possessed cultural significance:

"In the United States at this time, liberalism is not only the dominant but even the sole intellectual tradition. For it is the plain fact that nowadays there are no conservative or reactionary ideas in general circulation. This does not mean, of course, that there is no impulse to conservatism or to reaction. Such impulses are certainly very strong, perhaps even stronger than most of us know. But the conservative impulse and the reactionary impulse do not, with some isolated and some ecclesiastical exceptions, express themselves in ideas but only in action or in irritable mental gestures which seek to resemble ideas."

While Trilling's statement contained an element of exaggeration, there is little doubt that it also captured something important about political developments in the 1940s. The experience of the inter-war years and of Second World War itself helped to discredit the influence of the right-wing and conservative intellectual traditions in Western culture. The 1930s Depression, followed by the rise of fascism, significantly diminished the appeal of right-wing ideas. These events also solidified the association of being an intellectual with adhering to left-wing philosophies, to the extent that universities almost became no-go zones for the right.

Things have now moved so far in this direction that today, in the twenty-first century, it is sometimes hard to appreciate the fact that until the second half of the last century, right-wing thinkers constituted a significant section of the Western intelligentsia.

Since the 1940s, intelligence has been turned into a cultural weapon that is used by individuals and groups to validate their status and authority. Inevitably, this weapon is most effectively used by those claiming the status of an intellectual. As Mark F Proudman has written: `The imputation of intelligence and of its associated characteristics of enlightenment, broad-mindedness, knowledge and sophistication to some ideologies and not to others is itself therefore a powerful tool of ideological advocacy.'

Making fun of the parochial and folksy ways of right-wing politicians and exposing their grammatical errors to ridicule is one way that intellectuals assume moral superiority these days. Those who have something of a monopoly over modern-day intellectual capital can thus present themselves as the possessors of moral authority, too.

Not surprisingly, many conservatives become defensive when confronted with the put-downs of their intellectual superiors. Consequently, in many societies, particularly the US, they have become self-consciously anti-intellectual and hostile to the ethos of university life. Anti-intellectualism works as the kind of counterpart to the pathologisation of conservatism. And of course, the bitter anti-intellectual reaction of the right, which sometimes seems to affirm ignorance, only reinforces the smug prejudices of the intellectuals who see themselves as being morally superior.

The use of the term stupid as a political label speaks to the infantilisation of public life. Name-calling is an activity normally associated with childish behavior. Making fun of someone's speech, mannerisms, vocabulary or historical knowledge is the politics of insult. And an insult does not constitute an argument, or even an idea. In fact, often the political insult serves as a substitute for argument and debate. The use of invective and the suggestion of mental deficiency closes down debate. After all, what's the point of using a rational argument against people who are incapable of reasoning? To use a popular American expression of the modern era: `They just don't get it.' When someone says this, particularly in relation to political and moral debates, what they're really saying is not only that the other person `doesn't get it' but that he is incapable of getting it. Therefore, further debate is pointless.

It is of course quite legitimate to argue that the ideas held by conservatives are stupid. But the tactic of devaluing the mental capacity of conservatives calls into question the validity of open debate and free speech. Why take seriously or discuss the views of those who are intellectually inferior? In the past, such arguments were used by anti-democratic theorists to put the case against popular sovereignty, against mass engagement, against allowing the allegedly ignorant public to get involved in politics. Today, such arguments are used by those who pose as knowledge-rich experts as a way of suggesting that the rest of us - the ignorant - should defer to them.

Genuine intellectuals who are devoted to the pursuit of ideas and who understand the transformative potential of debate should reject the politics of insult. Instead of sneeringly declaring `they don't get it', a real intellectual should develop ideas in a way that would allow `them' to get it. Indeed, it is the conviction that most human beings have the potential to grasp the issues facing their communities that underpins the ideals of democratic politics and popular sovereignty. The real problem today is not stupid conservatives, but people with multiple university degrees who `don't get' what it truly means to be an intellectual.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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)


August, 15, 2013

Naïve no more

By Rick Manning

At what point did you stop ascribing good intentions to the left?

Perhaps it was when you learned that the Sierra Club’s “Beyond Coal” campaign was financed by a $26 million gift from Chesapeake Energy, a natural gas company that benefitted from regulations shifting utilities from burning coal to natural gas.

Or perhaps it is when you learned that the same Sierra Club that was strangely silent on hydraulic fracturing while going “Beyond Coal” suddenly became inflamed against “fracking” when the Chesapeake Energy “gift” was reported?

It might have been when you discovered that the big scene in the anti-fracking documentary Gasland, where the storyteller lights water directly from the tap on fire was nothing unusual as the water in the area has a high methane content and has been ignitable well before fracking ever came to town.

Or did you lose your innocence when it was revealed that the big Matt Damon anti-fracking movie bomb, “Promised Land”, was financed by oil exporter United Arab Emirates?

You might have been shocked when the liberal alternative energy advocates in Hyannisport, Massachusetts became the ultimate NIMBYs in opposing an off-shore wind energy farm of their coastline. Leading the hypocritical parade was RFK, Jr., a man who flies around the globe in his private jet attacking projects for their negative carbon footprint. In a Wall Street Journal opinion piece, Junior opposed the wind farm off the shores of his family compound arguing that the energy could be replaced by a Canadian hydroelectric plant that he publicly opposed.

Some lost their faith when an Obama-assembled group of millionaires came to D.C. to urge passage of a so-called “millionaires tax,” but when asked if they would voluntarily give more money to the government on camera, not one stepped forward and was willing to write a check.

Others were stunned to learn that investment icon, Warren Buffett, who led the charge for higher taxes has been battling the IRS for years over whether his investment company should pay more than a million dollars more in taxes that the government claims they owe. It would seem if the second wealthiest man in the world really thought he should pay more in taxes, he could have written the check himself shielding his shareholders from the liability.

It could have been when you learned that Mr. Inconvenient Truth Al Gore sold his CurrentTV for a cool $70 million profit to middle eastern oil interests who have turned it into Al Jazeera America.

Obama supporters may have given up when they learned that after criticizing the concept of intercepting calls between suspected terrorists and their overseas operatives when Bush was president, Nancy Pelosi voted to allow Obama to effectively record every electronic communication from everyone without regard to that pesky little Fourth Amendment probable cause requirement.

If these crazy contradictions didn’t get you, you just may hit the tipping point in your trust when you learn that President Obama reacted to a request from Democrat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (not Congress, but the leading Democrat in the Senate) and found a way to exempt Congress and its employees from the devastating impacts of the massive increase in costs associated with Obamacare’s implementation.

As hard as they try, the left can’t blame John Boehner for this one. The very people who both voted for and have voted to keep Obamacare the law of the land, have now at the last minute found a way not only to give their labor buddies waivers from the system, but have given themselves a waiver as well.

The left’s assumed moral high ground has been so eroded that it now has the appearance of Death Valley when viewed from the 14,496 heights of Mt. Whitney.

The only problem is that when you stop giving the left the benefit of the doubt that they are misguided or perhaps just plain dumb, you come to the inevitable conclusion that their corruption is something much, much worse.

Are they nothing more than greedy opportunists who have discovered that government is the way to riches, or is it something even more insidious? That is for the newly disillusioned to determine, but next time you hear a liberal declare the equivalent of I’m from the government and I’m here to help, run for the hills, you have just met Colonel Sanders heading into the coop, and you are the chicken.



For Obama, Words Conceal the Indefensible

How the president uses language as a cover for the abuse of power

"The 'let me be clear' preface" is a recurring rhetorical tic for Obama, the Washington Post pointed out in 2010, and it's "become a signal that what follows will be anything but."

On Aug. 9, with his approval rating at a near all-time low of 41 percent, facing sharp scrutiny over the National Security Agency's dragnet data-collection plan, Obama held a press conference where he insisted: "I want to make clear once again that America is not interested in spying on ordinary people."

At the same time, Obama's Justice Department released a white paper defending the proposition that the PATRIOT Act allowed the covert collection of all Americans' phone records for a period of seven years because, under the language of Section 215, they're "relevant to an authorized investigation" of international terrorism.

Has there ever been a president whose career has depended so heavily on the power of language? Obama leapt onto the political scene with a stirring keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, and, on the campaign trail in 2008, when Hillary Clinton suggested her opponent was too fond of speechifying, he responded with yet another passionate speech, declaiming: "Don't tell me words don't matter."

He was right, words do matter. Which is why it's ironic that the public case for so many of Obama's policies depends on doing violence to plain language. To our various "wars" on drugs, crime, and terror — add Obama's "War on Words."

The day before Obama's defensive presser, the Post's Charles Krauthammer accused the president of launching "the world's first lexicological war," marked by "linguistic tricks," "deliberate misnomers" and "transparent euphemisms."

Indeed, the euphemisms may be the most transparent thing about the self-styled "most transparent administration in history." Krauthammer, an inveterate hawk, focused on phrases suggesting that the president lacks the stomach for the War on Terror, or "overseas contingency operations," in Obama's preferred coinage.

But Krauthammer missed some of Obama's most glaring euphemisms, deployed to "disguise the unpleasantness" of war.

Last year, the administration added a new phrase to the doublespeak lexicon. Americans slated for death by drone go on something called "the disposition matrix," which lacks the harsh clarity of "kill list."

Harry Truman famously redefined war in Korea as a "police action." For its 2011 Libyan adventure, the Obama Team did HST one better: Raining cruise missiles on Tripoli isn't "war," deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes insisted; it's "kinetic military action."

That's the kind of construction that makes your head hurt: "Kinetic," "resulting from motion" is the only kind of "action" you can have. What's the alternative? "Static" military action?

At times, it seems that Team Obama claims full-spectrum dominance over the English language itself. That's apparent in their legal position papers rationalizing undeclared wars, assassination of American citizens, and mass surveillance.

To get around the War Powers Resolution's limits on presidential war-making, State Department legal adviser Harold Koh argued that bombing Libya was "distinct from the kind of 'hostilities' contemplated" by the WPR.

In a DOJ memo that was leaked earlier this year, the administration claimed the right to kill U.S. Citizens who present an "imminent threat of violent attack." Despite what your dictionary may tell you, "imminent" doesn't mean "in the immediate future."

Nor, in the case of Friday's memo defending the legality of dragnet surveillance, does "relevant" mean "having significant and demonstrable bearing on the matter at hand."

Words matter because they mean things. But, as George Orwell wrote in 1946, when politics becomes "the defense of the indefensible ... language must suffer." This administration has made that all too clear



Welfare Can Make More Sense than Work

Most decisions in life are the result of a cost-benefit analysis. When residents in Connecticut consider getting a job, they assume they would be better off having a job than not. They’d be wrong. Because in Connecticut, it pays not to work.

Next Monday, the Cato Institute will release a new study looking at the state-by-state value of welfare. Nationwide, our study found that the value of benefits for a typical recipient family ranged from a high of $49,175 in Hawaii to a low of $16,984 in Mississippi.

In Connecticut, a mother with two children participating in seven major welfare programs (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Medicaid, food stamps, WIC, housing assistance, utility assistance and free commodities) could receive a package of benefits worth $38,761, the fourth highest in the nation. Only Hawaii, Massachusetts and the District of Columbia provided more generous benefits.

When it comes to gauging the value of welfare benefits, it is important to remember that they are not taxed, while wages are. In fact, in some ways, the highest marginal tax rates anywhere are not for millionaires, but for someone leaving welfare and taking a job.

Therefore, a mother with two children in Connecticut would have to earn $21.33 per hour for her family to be better off than they would be on welfare. That’s more than the average entry-level salary for a teacher or secretary. In fact, it is more than 107 percent of Connecticut’s median salary.

Let’s not forget the additional costs that come with going to work, such as child care, transportation and clothing. Even if the final income level remains unchanged, an individual moving from welfare to work will perceive some form of loss: a reduction in leisure as opposed to work.

That’s not to say welfare recipients in Connecticut are lazy — they aren’t. But they’re not stupid, either. Surveys of welfare recipients consistently show their desire for a job. There is also evidence, however, that many are reluctant to accept available employment opportunities. Despite the work requirements included in the 1996 welfare reform, only 24 percent of adult welfare recipients in Connecticut are working in unsubsidized jobs, while roughly 41 percent are involved in the broader definition of work participation, which includes activities such as job search and training.

We shouldn’t blame welfare recipients. By not working, they are simply responding rationally to the incentive systems our public policy-makers have established.

Of course, not every welfare recipient meets the study’s profile, and many who do don’t receive all the benefits listed. (On the other hand, some receive even more.) Still, what is undeniable is that for many recipients — particularly “long-term” dependents — welfare pays substantially more than an entry-level job.

In a Connecticut recipient’s short-term cost-benefit analysis, choosing welfare over work makes perfect sense. But it may hurt them over the long term because one of the most important steps toward avoiding or getting out of poverty is a job. In fact, just 2.6 percent of full-time workers are poor, compared with 23.9 percent of adults who do not work.

Even though many anti-poverty activists decry low-wage jobs, starting at a minimum wage job can be a springboard out of poverty. And while it would be nice to raise the wages of entry-level service workers, government has no ability to do so. (Study after study shows that mandated wage increases result in increased unemployment for the lowest skilled workers).

If reducing welfare dependence and rewarding work is the goal, Connecticut legislators should consider ways to shrink the gap between the value of welfare and work by reducing current benefit levels and tightening eligibility requirements. For its part, Congress should consider strengthening welfare work requirements, removing exemptions and narrowing the definition of work.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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)


August, 14, 2013

The Barren Wombs of Smart Women

That dummies tend to have more babies than smarties has been recognized as a problem for decades now so the update to the discussion below is useful. It might however be noted that it is a mistake to see high IQs as a direct CAUSE of fewer children. There may be other factors involved. For instance, high IQ women will undoubtedly spend more time in the educational system, where they are heavily exposed to the "anti-men" diatribes of feminists. Being anti-men is not a good start to family formation -- JR

A statistical analysis from England suggests that a woman’s IQ is inversely proportional to her desire to breed. This, in turn, suggests that the world will grow dumber with every new day.

In his book The Intelligence Paradox, London School of Economics researcher Satoshi Kanazawa surveyed data from the United Kingdom’s National Child Development Study. Controlling for variables such as education and income, he reached the following conclusions:

* With each increase of 15 IQ points, a woman’s urge to reproduce is diminished by 25%.

* The average IQ of women who want children is 5.6 points lower than those who don’t want them.

* Among all 45-year-old women in England, 20% are childless, but this figure rises to 43% among those with college degrees.

The paradox is that women who are measurably more intelligent based on IQ tests are dumber in terms of evolutionary survival instincts. Kanazawa writes:

"If any value is deeply evolutionarily familiar, it is reproductive success. If any value is truly unnatural, if there is one thing that humans (and all other species in nature) are decisively not designed for, it is voluntary childlessness. All living organisms in nature, including humans, are evolutionarily designed to reproduce. Reproductive success is the ultimate end of all biological existence."

Kanazawa’s findings correlate with a 2010 Pew survey that found women ages 40-44 with a master’s degree or higher are 60% more likely to be childless than women who never graduated high school.

Kanazawa is widely known as a “controversial” researcher, which is coded speech meaning that his results cause significant discomfort among those who swallow the reigning cultural dogma. In the past he has faced disapprobation, ridicule, and even job dismissal for publishing studies that claim black women are less attractive than women of other races due to their higher testosterone levels, sub-Saharan Africa’s poverty is caused by low IQ, intelligent men are less likely to cheat on their partners, and attractive people are more likely to produce female offspring. He also wrote that if Ann Coulter had been president in 2001, she would have dropped nuclear bombs on the Middle East and won the War on Terror “without a single American life lost.”

But it is specifically his research on race and intelligence that causes his critics to dismissively snort that he is a zero-credibility genocidal wackjob who peddles junk science riddled with huge methodological flaws that raise the terrifying notion of eugenics that has long been debunked and discredited because of, well, Hitler and everything.

Paul Gilroy, a colleague of Kanazawa’s at the London School of Economics, says: Kanazawa’s persistent provocations raise the issue of whether he can do his job effectively in a multi-ethnic, diverse and international institution.

In other words: His statistical findings do not jibe with our cultural dogma.

Despite all the jeers and catcalls, Kanazawa defends his research:

"The only responsibility scientists have is to the truth. Scientists are not responsible for the potential or actual consequences of the knowledge they create."

The most egregious blasphemy one can utter in today’s insanely stifling and repressive climate of intolerant egalitotalitarianism is to gently suggest that genetics play any role in determining intelligence differences and relative prosperity between individuals and social groups.

Yet (grab a hankie) that’s what the evidence suggests.

Despite the propaganda the media uses to try and blow out your eardrums, the scientific consensus suggests that adult IQ is roughly 75-85% inherited. But due to the currently taboo nature of this fact, Western researchers are unlikely to even suggest such things publicly without sacrificing their careers. The Chinese suffer no such ultimately dysgenic superstitions and are forging ahead in their attempts to crack the code. This might be one of the main reasons why the coming century could belong to them.

Further buttressing Kanazawa’s findings, global evidence suggests that high IQ tends to be negatively correlated with total fertility rate. J. Philippe Rushton’s r/K selection theory noted that parents who actually invested time and thought in nurturing their children tended to have fewer of them…and vice-versa.

Intelligent people have the reflective capacity to consider things such as whether they’d have the economic wherewithal to raise successful offspring, whereas dumber people tend to invest as much thought into reproduction as they do to defecation. The end result is an increasingly dysgenic world—Idiocracy made flesh.

Western sophisticates claim that the world already has enough people, and many tend to see it as a matter of conscience to not breed. The problem is that hordes of Third Worlders suffer no such ethical qualms. Paradoxically, the pampered First World utopian ideal that the world should be intelligent, sustainable, and filled only with children who are wanted could backfire and create a planet crammed almost exclusively with emotionally, financially, and intellectually deprived Third World bastards.

This wasn’t the case before feminism came along to empower women and free them from childbearing’s oppressive shackles. It wasn’t the case until Big Brother morphed into Big Daddy and financially penalized the intelligent for reproducing as it gave handouts that encouraged cretins to spawn. It wasn’t the case during the Victorian Era, when it wasn’t considered so déclassé for wealthy and intelligent women to have children and when it’s estimated that the mean Western IQ was nearly 14 points higher than it is now.

The grand irony is that by failing to breed, this new breed of woman will breed itself out of existence.



Obama general destroys career of Army officer to appease Muslims

During a press briefing, Army General Martin Dempsey, President Barack Obama's Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, publicly lambasted Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Matthew Dooley, a 1994 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and a highly decorated combat veteran. His reason: The course on Islamic Radicalism which LTC Dooley was teaching at the Joint Forces Staff College (JFSC) of the National Defense University was offensive to Muslims, according to a statement released on Monday by officials from a public-interest law firm in Michigan.

As a result, the Thomas More Law Center on Monday announced it is taking on LTC Dooley's case against the Defense Department and the Obama administration.

"General Dempsey characterized LTC Dooley’s course as "totally objectionable," and ordered all material offensive to Islam scrubbed from military professional education within the JFSC and elsewhere. In addition, LTC Dooley was fired from his instructor position and given an ordered negative Officer Evaluation Report (OER) -- the death-knell for a military career," according to Thomas More officials.

The actions against LTC Dooley follow a letter to the Department of Defense dated October 19, 2011 signed by 57 Muslim organizations demanding that all training materials offensive to Islam and Muslims be purged and the trainers disciplined.

According to a source, Joint Forces Staff College course included a slide-show that told students -- mostly battle-hardened officers -- that the U.S. is fighting a life and death battle with Islamists and that "we need to recognize that the U.S. and its allies are at war with Islam."

According to the American Forces Press Service's Jim Garamone, General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had ordered a thorough review of the course on Islam and military education in general after a Muslim soldier complained about the content of the course entitled "Perspectives on Islam and Islamic Radicalism" at the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia.

JFSC educates military officers and other national security leaders in joint, multinational, and interagency operational-level planning and warfare, counterterrorism and other subjects.

"The study also recommends that the Staff College modify its processes for reviewing and approving course curricula while improving oversight of course electives," Garamone wrote.

The elective course relied on outside instructors who emphasized negative aspects of Islam. The review found that a lack of leadership on the course contributed to the problem, leading to an unbalanced approach to teaching the subject matter. "The course is suspended and will not be offered again until changes are in place, officials said and the military instructor has been relieved of instructor duties," the AFPS noted.

According to a Law Enforcement Examiner source, it's believed the complaining soldier, whose identity is being protected, may be a pawn of some of the Muslim groups such as the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) or Muslim Advocates, who are currently suing the New York City Police Department.

A Pentagon spokesman stated earlier this year that Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta was deeply upset with a course that promulgates the notion the United States is at war with Islam.

"This politically correct nonsense would be laughed at if we had a reality check now and then. On the one hand, the majority of terrorist attacks worldwide are perpetrated by radical Muslims who actually apply the teachings of the Koran. Anyone who studies the history of Islam, especially within the last two hundred years will discover what America faces is not new," said the counterterrorism source.

"The CAIR group is considered by some to be a front-group for radical Islamists -- several of whom are currently in prison or deported -- and frequently supports certain Democratic politicians who do their bidding. Rep. John Conyers of Michigan is a perfect example," the counterterrorism source alleges.

Counterterrorism experts condemned by CAIR include Walid Phares, Robert Spencer, Bill Gertz, Pam Geller and others who "refuse to sugarcoat the Islamic terrorism threat," said Mike Snopes, a former detective who served in the Special Investigations Unit in New York City.



"Nudges" and Abortion

Bryan Caplan

The main pro-life argument, of course, is that abortion is murder, and murder is harmful to the victim. But on reflection, there is also a simple libertarian paternalist case against abortion.

Key starting point: Parents very rarely regret having children - even initially "unwanted" children. This is not mere status quo bias: Most childless adults eventually regret not having children. As I've said about parenthood before, "Buyer's remorse is rare; non-buyer's remorse is common." Implication: Most women who want to terminate their pregnancies would probably change their minds after their babies are born. Most won't go through the next eighteen years thinking, "I wish I'd gotten that abortion."

Armed with these facts, an old-fashioned hard paternalist would simply ban most abortions: "You'll thank us later." What about the libertarian paternalist? He'd want to achieve the same result - discouraging abortion - with subtler means. Instead of prohibiting abortion he'd want to nudge pregnant women into carrying their fetuses to term. Some candidate nudges:

1. Waiting periods: Abortions must be scheduled at least a week in advance. This gives women time to reconsider their decision, so they don't abort rashly.

2. An opt-out rule for counseling. The libertarian paternalist could schedule all women who want an abortion for a pre-procedure session with a psychologist - or maybe just volunteer mothers who previously considered abortion. Women who don't want counseling would have to explicitly refuse to participate.

3. Inconvenient locations: Abortions have to be performed in remote rural hospitals. Women who definitely want abortions will make the extra effort, but more ambivalent women will decide to keep their babies.

4. Deny government funding for abortion. If the government thinks that a procedure is generally ill-advised, the first step is to refrain from encouraging it. If people want to pay for it out of their own pocket, they're still free to do so.

As an actual libertarian, rather than a libertarian paternalist, I support only nudge #4. But it's hard to see why a staunch libertarian paternalist would object to any of them. (Before you appeal to the slippery slope, remember that Thaler has repeatedly minimized this danger). Despite all the nudges, a woman who really wants an abortion would remain free to get one. The upside, though, is that well-crafted nudges would sharply reduce the number of women who abort children they would have eventually come to love. It's seems like libertarian paternalists should jump right on board.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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)


August, 13, 2013

Government is dangerous. Handle with care

by Jeff Jacoby

THERE IS NO connection, of course, between the prosecution of notorious gangster James "Whitey" Bulger and the recent spate of scandals and revelations roiling the Obama administration. Or is there?

Law enforcement and criminal justice are essential functions of government. No civilized society could survive for long if it lacked tools to combat lawlessness or make dangerous villains answer for their crimes. And Bulger was certainly dangerous — "one of the most vicious, violent criminals ever to walk the streets of Boston," as Assistant US Attorney Fred Wyshak called him in summing up for the prosecution last week.

But Bulger wasn't the only one on trial in Boston's federal courthouse. So was the government trying him. Bulger and his henchmen may have been the degenerates who physically committed the gruesome murders and other crimes that jurors learned about during 35 days of sometimes stomach-churning testimony. But it was other degenerates, in the FBI and the Justice Department, who for so long enabled Bulger's bloody mayhem. They enlisted Bulger as an informant, protected him from police investigations, and warned him to flee when an indictment was imminent. "If the FBI had not made Whitey its favorite mobster, broken the rules, and rigged the game to his benefit," reporter David Boeri has concluded, "Bulger would never have reached as high as he did."

The corruption of the federal government was a key element in Bulger's trial, as it was in so much of his sadistic career. Officials charged with defending the public from gangsters like Bulger used their considerable influence to defend the gangster instead.

It would be comforting to believe that this was a one-off, that law enforcement agencies never abuse their authority, that the immense powers of the federal government are always deployed with scrupulous integrity. But no one believes that.

As Bulger's racketeering prosecution was playing out in Boston, other stories of federal overreach, secrecy, and obstruction were making headlines: The scandal at the Internal Revenue Service, which for more than two years had targeted conservative grassroots groups for intimidation and harassment. The Justice Department's unprecedented designation of national-security reporter James Rosen as a "co-conspirator" in order to trawl through his personal email, and its surreptitious seizure of telephone records from up to 20 Associated Press reporters and editors. The disclosure that the National Security Agency's collection of domestic communications data is far more intrusive than was previously known, with the NSA reportedly collecting billions of pieces of intelligence from US internet giants such as Google, Facebook, and Skype.

President Obama insists that none of this should undermine confidence in the federal government. "You've grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity," he told Ohio State's graduating class in May. "You should reject these voices."

At a press conference in June, he likewise assured Americans that they needn't worry about the NSA's vast data-mining operation being abused. "We've got congressional oversight and judicial oversight," he said. "And if people can't trust not only the executive branch, but also don't trust Congress and don't trust federal judges to make sure that we're abiding by the Constitution and due process and the rule of law, then we're going to have some problems here."

According to Gallup, nearly half of Americans believe that the federal government "poses an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens." A Rasmussen Poll asks whether the NSA's metadata is likely to be used by the government to persecute political opponents; 57 percent say yes. Maybe we do have some problems here.

Or maybe Americans are remembering that government is always dangerous, regardless of the party in power. "If men were angels, no government would be necessary," James Madison famously wrote. Alas, men are never angels, not even those entrusted with political authority. "In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself."

The Bulger trial, the IRS scandal, our gigantic surveillance state – they are only the latest reminders that even the best government in the world depends on human beings, with all their human vices and appetites. Politicians, regulators, and law enforcement agents are as capable of villainy as anyone else. Government is dangerous, and should always be handled with care.



More Americans Going Galt

President Obama promised he would unite the world…and he’s right.

Representatives from dozens of nations have bitterly complained about an awful piece of legislation, called the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), that was enacted back in 2010.

They despise this unjust law because it extends the power of the IRS into the domestic affairs of other nations. That’s an understandable source of conflict, which should be easy to understand. Wouldn’t all of us get upset, after all, if the French government or Russian government wanted to impose their laws on things that take place within our borders?

But it’s not just foreign governments that are irked. The law is so bad that it is causing a big uptick in the number of Americans who are giving up their citizenship.

Here are some details from a Bloomberg report.

Americans renouncing U.S. citizenship surged sixfold in the second quarter from a year earlier… Expatriates giving up their nationality at U.S. embassies climbed to 1,131 in the three months through June from 189 in the year-earlier period, according to Federal Register figures published today. That brought the first-half total to 1,810 compared with 235 for the whole of 2008. The U.S., the only nation in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development that taxes citizens wherever they reside.

I’m glad that the article mentions that American law is so out of whack with the rest of the world.

We should be embarrassed that our tax system – at least with regard to the treatment of citizens living abroad and the treatment of tax exiles – is worse than what they have in nations such as France.

And while there was an increase in the number of Americans going Galt after Obama took office, the recent increase seems to be the result of the FATCA legislation.

Shunned by Swiss and German banks and facing tougher asset-disclosure rules under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, more of the estimated 6 million Americans living overseas are weighing the cost of holding a U.S. passport. …Fatca…was estimated to generate $8.7 billion over 10 years, according to the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation.

I very much doubt, by the way, that the law will collect $8.7 billion over 10 years.

And it’s worth noting that President Obama initially claimed that his assault on “tax havens” would generate $100 billion every year. If you don’t believe me, click here and listen to his words at the 2:30 mark.

So we started with politicians asserting they could get $100 billion every year. Then they said only $8.7 billion over ten years, or less than $1 billion per year.

And now it’s likely that revenues will fall because so many taxpayers are leaving the country. This is yet another example of how the Laffer Curve foils the plans of greedy politicians.

You may be tempted to criticize these overseas Americans, but I’ve talked to several hundred of them in the past few years and you can’t begin to imagine how their lives are made more difficult by the illegitimate extraterritorial laws concocted by Washington. Bloomberg has a few more details.

For individuals, the costs are also rising. Getting a mortgage or acquiring life insurance is becoming almost impossible for American citizens living overseas, Ledvina said. “With increased U.S. tax reporting, U.S. accounting costs alone are around $2,000 per year for a U.S. citizen residing abroad,” the tax lawyer said. “Adding factors, such as difficulty in finding a bank to accept a U.S. citizen as a client, it is difficult to justify keeping the U.S. citizenship for those who reside permanently abroad.”

Imagine what your life would be like if you had trouble opening a bank account of conducting all sorts of other financial activities. Things that are supposed to be routine, but are now nightmares.

I collected some of the statements from these overseas Americans. i encourage you to visit this link and get a sense of what they have to endure.

And then keep in mind that all of these problems would disappear if we had the right kind of tax system, such as the flat tax, and didn’t let the tentacles of the IRS extend beyond America’s borders.

P.S. Based on people I’ve met in my international travels, I’d guess that, for every American that officially gives up their citizenship, there are probably a dozen more living overseas who simply drop off the radar screen. Many of these people can’t afford – or can’t stand – to deal with the onerous requirements imposed by hacks, bullies, and lightweights in Washington such as Barbara Boxer.

P.S. Remember the Facebook billionaire who moved to Singapore to escape being an American taxpayer? Many of us – including me – instinctively find this unsettling. But if we believe that folks should have the freedom to move from California to Texas to benefit from better tax policy, shouldn’t they also have the freedom to move to another nation?

The same is true for companies. If our tax law is bad, we should lower tax rates and adopt real reform.

Unless, of course, you think it’s okay to blame the victim.



Unions, Gov. Cuomo Protect State Workers Found Guilty of Abusing Disabled Patients

On Friday, The New York Times released a follow-up report, revealing that only 25% of NY state home-workers found guilty of abusing disabled and mentally ill patients are terminated from their positions.

The majority of workers found guilty of physical, sexual or psychological abuse receive written warnings, deduction of vacation days, or suspension; 25% of those found guilty are sent to other state-run homes.

The Time’s original investigation began over two and a half years ago, when they started exposing the quality of state-run care in over 2,000 New York homes for the disabled and mentally ill.

When Governor Cuomo (D-NY) was re-elected in 2010, he vowed to address this problem and make state workers more accountable. However, the review found “no discernible progress” made over the past two and a half years.

The cases uncovered by The Times are disturbing and truly harrowing. A few examples from the most recent report:

“One state worker bit a patient’s ear.

Another sent threatening text messages to a female co-worker, according to state records, including one that said: “I’m gonna gut you like a fish blondie. Don’t even try to call the police.”

A third, a nurse, left a patient naked and bleeding from a head injury on a bathroom floor, soaking in his own feces.

And a fourth knocked a group home resident out of a chair, hit the resident on the back of the head and squirted water from a bottle in the resident’s face.”

All of these employees were found guilty in internal disciplinary hearings; none of the employees were fired.

Why do 75% of state-workers found guilty of abuse retain their jobs? Why hasn’t Governor Cuomo come to the defense of the disabled and mentally ill?

The answer is (tragically) not surprising—the toxic relationship between left-leaning government officials and the public employee unions has protected abusive state-workers from getting fired or facing prosecution.

According to The Times, state employees working is disabled homes are rarely fired due to:

“Weaknesses in the arbitration process, the permissive attitude of state officials and the aggressive stance of public sector labor unions — particularly the Civil Service Employees Association.”

They also noted that, “one reason for the low dismissal rate is the wide latitude given to arbitrators who decide many cases, and who have a history of siding with the union.”

That’s right, The Civil Service Employees Association, one of the most powerful public employee unions in Albany, “(contests) just about every charge leveled at a worker… (creating) a system in which firings of even the most abusive employees are rare.” The union’s cozy relationship with government officials and arbitrators prevent state reform that would benefit the vulnerable and victimized, and ensure that public employees found guilty of violent crimes are never fully reprimanded for their actions.

By the way--Governor Cuomo struck a deal with the CSEA six months after he was re-elected on the platform that he would address the issue of abuse. The deal included “CSEA protection from broad layoffs,” as well as the implementation of a new “Select Panel on Patient Abuse” to specifically protect the disabled and mentally ill. Two years later, CSEA employees have avoided layoffs, and the man appointed by Cuomo to lead the Justice Center for the Protection of People With Special Needs has a record of lobbying against employee accountability, and actually “lobbied against Jonathan’s Law, the legislation that forced the state to start disclosing abuse reports to parents, named after a teenager with autism who died after being asphyxiated by a state worker.” Meanwhile, the record for firing employees guilty of abuse remains at an abysmal 25%.

I wonder who got the better end of that ‘deal?’


There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc


For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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)


August, 12, 2013

Giving new meaning to ‘let’s roll’

Rather than run toward danger, Obama’s America curls up

We all run across the pill bug in our gardens. At the first sign of danger, the tiny, paranoid crustacean suddenly turns into a ball — in hopes danger will have passed when he unrolls.

That roly-poly bug can serve as a fair symbol of present-day U.S. foreign policy, especially in our understandable weariness over Iraq, Afghanistan and the current scandals that are overwhelming the Obama administration.

On Aug. 4, U.S. embassies across the Middle East simply closed based on intelligence reports of planned al Qaeda violence. The shutdown of 21 diplomatic facilities was the most extensive in recent American history.

Yet we still have more than a month to go before the 12th anniversary of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, an iconic date for radical Islamists.

Such pre-emptive measures are no doubt sober and judicious. Yet if we shut down our entire Middle East public profile on the threat of terrorism, what will we do when more anti-American violence arises? Should we close more embassies for more days, or return home altogether?

Apparently al Qaeda did not get the message that the administration’s euphemisms of “workplace violence,” “overseas contingency operations,” “man-caused disasters” and jihad as “a holy struggle” were intended as outreach to the global Muslim community.

Instead, the terrorists are getting their second wind, as they interpret our loud magnanimity as weakness — or, more likely, simple confusion. They increasingly do not seem to fear U.S. retaliation for any planned assaults. Instead, al Qaeda franchises expect Americans to adopt their new pill-bug mode of shutting down and curling up until danger passes.

Our enemies have grounds for such cockiness. President Obama promised swift punishment for those who attacked U.S. installations in Benghazi, Libya, and killed four Americans. So far, the killers roam free. Evidence abounds that they have been seen publicly in Libya.

Instead of blaming radical Islamist killers for that attack, the Obama re-election campaign team fobbed the assault on a supposedly right-wing, Islamophobic video-maker. That yarn was untrue and was greeted as politically correct appeasement in the Middle East.

All these Libyan developments take place against a backdrop of “lead from behind.” Was it wise for American officials to brag that the world’s largest military had taken a subordinate role in removing Moammar Gadhafi — with a military operation contingent on approval from the United Nations and the Arab League, but not the U.S. Congress?

No one knows what to do about the mess in Syria. When you do not know what to do, it is imprudent to periodically put down “red lines.” Yet the administration did just that to the Bashar Assad regime over the past two years.

In a similar vein, the administration has so far issued serial “deadlines” to the Iranians to cease the production of weapons-grade uranium. The mullahs don’t seem much worried about yet another deadline.

In Egypt, the United States went from abandoning ally and crook Hosni Mubarak to welcoming the freely elected and anti-American Muslim Brotherhood. Now, we are both praising and damning the military junta that overthrew President Mohammed Morsi. Do we still call that “the Arab Spring”? Is a junta still a junta, a coup still a coup?

Our entire antiterrorism agenda is a paradox. Mr. Obama ran for office on the promise of shutting down Guantanamo Bay, curbing the Patriot Act, ending renditions and preventative detention, and mumbling about drones. Then, in office, he went both hot and cold on all of them.

U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. hinted at trying accused terrorist killers such as Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in civilian courts and holding CIA interrogators responsible for enhanced interrogations. Then the administration abruptly dropped those bad ideas and embraced or expanded many of the Bush-Cheney antiterrorism protocols — and in many cases, went far beyond anything envisioned by the prior administration.

These paradoxes were not lost on our terrorist enemies. The successors to Osama bin Laden apparently guessed that the Obama administration might not like America’s antiterrorism policies any more than the terrorists themselves did.

News that the FBI scrutinized and then apparently forgot about unhinged Islamists such as Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan sent the wrong message to terrorists. Was the Obama administration more worried about hurting feelings than preventing further attacks?

Other rivals and enemies are now fully aware of our new pill-bug mode in the Middle East — and are willing to bet that it might apply everywhere. Without worry over the U.S. reaction, Russia has given tentative asylum as a reward to Edward Snowden, who single-handedly exposed — and sabotaged — a vast National Security Agency spying network. Increasingly, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan seem to be on their own with a bullying China, unsure whether to bend or resist.

Meanwhile, the new American pill bug curls up in hopes that the mounting dangers will just go away.



War by wordplay

By Charles Krauthammer

Jen Psaki, blameless State Department spokeswoman, explained that the hasty evacuation of our embassy in Yemen was not an evacuation but “a reduction in staff.” This proved a problem because the Yemeni government had already announced (and denounced) the “evacuation” — the word normal folks use for the panicky ordering of people onto planes headed out of the country.

Thus continues the administration’s penchant for wordplay, the bending of language to fit a political need. In Janet Napolitano’s famous formulation, terror attacks are now “man-caused disasters.” And the “global war on terror” is no more. It’s now an “overseas contingency operation.”

Nidal Hasan proudly tells a military court that he, a soldier of Allah, killed 13 American soldiers in the name of jihad. But the massacre remains officially classified as an act not of terrorism but of “workplace violence.”

The U.S. ambassador to Libya and three others are killed in an al-Qaeda-affiliated terror attack — and for days it is waved off as nothing more than a spontaneous demonstration gone bad. After all, famously declared Hillary Clinton, what difference does it make?

Well, it makes a difference, first, because truth is a virtue. Second, because if you keep lying to the American people, they may seriously question whether anything you say — for example, about the benign nature of NSA surveillance — is not another self-serving lie.

And third, because leading a country through yet another long twilight struggle requires not just honesty but clarity. This is a president who to this day cannot bring himself to identify the enemy as radical Islam. Just Tuesday night, explaining the U.S. embassy closures across the Muslim world, he cited the threat from “violent extremism.”

The word “extremism” is meaningless. People don’t devote themselves to being extreme. Extremism has no content. The extreme of what? In this war, an extreme devotion to the supremacy of a radically fundamentalist vision of Islam and to its murderous quest for dominion over all others.

But for President Obama, the word “Islamist” may not be uttered. Language must be devised to disguise the unpleasantness.

Result? The world’s first lexicological war. Parry and thrust with linguistic tricks, deliberate misnomers and ever more transparent euphemisms. Next: armor-piercing onomatopoeias and amphibious synecdoches.

This would all be comical and merely peculiar if it didn’t reflect a larger, more troubling reality: The confusion of language is a direct result of a confusion of policy — which is served by constant obfuscation.

Obama doesn’t like this terror war. He particularly dislikes its unfortunate religious coloration, which is why “Islamist” is banished from his lexicon. But soothing words, soothing speeches in various Muslim capitals, soothing policies — “open hand,” “mutual respect” — have yielded nothing. The war remains. Indeed, under his watch, it has spread. And as commander in chief he must defend the nation.

He must. But he desperately wants to end the whole struggle. This is no secret wish. In a major address to the National Defense University just three months ago he declared “this war, like all wars, must end.” The plaintive cry of a man hoping that saying so makes it so.

The result is visible ambivalence that leads to vacillating policy reeking of incoherence. Obama defends the vast NSA data dragnet because of the terrible continuing threat of terrorism. Yet at the same time, he calls for not just amending but actually repealing the legal basis for the entire war on terror, the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force.

Well, which is it? If the tide of war is receding, why the giant NSA snooping programs? If al-Qaeda is on the run, as he incessantly assured the nation throughout 2012, why is America cowering in 19 closed-down embassies and consulates? Why was Boston put on an unprecedented full lockdown after the marathon bombings? And from Somalia to Afghanistan, why are we raining death by drone on “violent extremists” — every target, amazingly, a jihadist? What a coincidence.

This incoherence of policy and purpose is why an evacuation from Yemen must be passed off as “a reduction in staff.” Why the Benghazi terror attack must be blamed on some hapless Egyptian-American videographer. Why the Fort Hood shooting is nothing but some loony Army doctor gone postal.

In the end, this isn’t about language. It’s about leadership. The wordplay is merely cover for uncertain policy embedded in confusion and ambivalence about the whole enterprise.

This is not leading from behind. This is not leading at all.



Norway ponders conservatism and the future of the welfare state

Parts of Northern Europe have had a bit better luck than some other sectors across the pond during the economic troubles of the past decade, but they still have had to deal with the legacy of welfare states and costly entitlement programs. Earlier this year, Mary Katharine looked at Sweden’s attempts to deal with rising debt and costly entitlements, while Erika covered some steps being taken in Denmark to deal with their long term financial issues arising from the same core issues. This sense of realism and worry about the future seems to be spreading across the region, and John Fund has a great analysis of current events in Norway, where conservatives seem poised to take control of the government there for the first time in ages.

If polls taken over the last year are accurate, the eight-year-old Labor-party government of Jens Stoltenberg is headed for a landslide defeat.

Normally, you would think it would be a shoo-in for reelection. Labor’s social democrats have long thought of themselves as the natural party of government — Labor has been the leading party in Norway for all but 16 of the last 78 years. While much of Europe is wracked by recession, Norway’s economy grew by 3 percent last year, and the unemployment rate is only 3.5 percent. Norway’s GDP per capita is now over $60,000 a year.

But Norwegians appear likely to elect a conservative coalition government for the first time in over a decade. Polls show the Conservative party leading with 32 percent of the vote, which should give it 58 seats in the 169-seat parliament, a dramatic increase from 2005, when it won only 23 seats. The Labor party has about 30 percent of the vote, and its left-wing allied parties are floundering. The Progress party — a populist party that supports low taxes and stricter limits on immigration, and that worries about Muslim extremism – has about 16 percent of the vote, and it and the Conservatives, together with their smaller allies, look to have a clear majority in the new Parliament. Both the Conservative party and the Progress party are headed by women — former local-government minister Erna Solberg and economist Siv Jensen, respectively — making it very likely that Norway will soon have its second woman prime minister.

We don’t tend to hear much about Norway over here, aside from one tragic shooting by a madman, but that’s likely because things have been going fairly smoothly for them. As Fund notes, the discovery of massive oil deposits off their coast in the sixties led to the formation of a state operated oil company which generates more than a third of the country’s entire revenue. The lion’s share of those profits go straight into Norway’s Government Pension Fund, doled out from there to an extremely generous welfare program. This report provides details of just some of the benefits being funded by the government, including free healthcare, dental care until 19 years of age, and cut rate prescriptions. They also offer essentially unlimited disability payments, pensions for retirees, survivor benefits and more. So in such an apparently successful socialist paradise, why would the voters suddenly turn to the conservatives?

As Fund notes, there is a growing realization and public discussion of the fact that, “the oil won’t last forever.” And with an ever increasing – and aging – army of pensioners to fully support, if either the supply or the profitable demand for oil were to begin to plunge, the system would collapse under its own weight. Rather than waiting for the wolves to actually arrive at the door, it appears that the citizens are actually thinking of planning for the future. Not in any “radical” and massive ways, mind you, but even baby steps can get you started on the road to redemption. If nothing else, this might make the Norwegian elections worth watching this year. Stay tuned.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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)


August, 11, 2013

People Everywhere Are Getting Smarter?

The article below by Ronald Bailey is fairer than most but overlooks some important facts. His reliance on the Eppig study, for a start, is incautious. I pointed out the large flaws in that study long ago.

But the most important point he omits is that the 20th century rise in IQ seems to reflect measured IQ rather than underlying IQ. The rise is smallest on the tests that correlate most highly with 'g' (underlying IQ). The rise is probably due to increased test sophistication, which in turn is driven by the large increase in the number of years most people now spend in the educational system.

There is evidence that micronutrient deprivation can reduce IQ but a U.N. study assigned only 5 points to that effect. In summary, most of the apparent rise in IQ is likely to be illusory

In 1980, the New Zealand political scientist James Flynn discovered that average IQs in many countries have been drifting upward at about 3 points per decade over the past couple of generations. In fact, the average has risen by an astonishing 15 points in the last 50 years in the United States. In other words, a person with an average IQ of 100 today would score 115 on a 1950s IQ test, and a person of average IQ today would have been in approximately the top 15 percent of same-age scorers 50 years ago. If the average American kid were to take the first Stanford-Binet IQ test from 1932, she would score about 124 points today.

“This means that on an IQ test made in 1930 the average score of the entire population would give an IQ between 120 and 130 according to the original standardization,” the Hungarian technologist Kristóf Kovács explains. So “instead of 2 percent, 35–50 percent of the population would have an IQ above 130. And vice versa; if the current standard was applied to people living in 1930, average IQ would be between 70 and 80, and instead of 2 percent, 35–50 percent would be diagnosed with mental retardation.”

What accounts for this massive increase in IQ scores? Researchers have suggested a panoply of causes, including better nutrition, exposure to more mentally challenging media, and more formal schooling, but my favorite is the reduced load of infectious childhood diseases.

A fascinating study published in the June 2010 Proceedings of the Royal Society by the University of New Mexico biologist Christopher Eppig and his colleagues finds an intriguing correlation between the average IQ of a country’s citizens and the intensity with which they suffer from parasites and infectious diseases. The authors note that the brains of newborns burn up 87 percent of infants’ metabolic energy; 5-year-old brains use 44 percent; and adult brains consume 25 percent of the body’s energy. Mobilizing the immune system to fight off diseases and parasites is very metabolically expensive, diverting nutrients and energy that would otherwise be used to fuel the building and maintenance of the human brain. If this analysis is substantially correct, then promoting public health also promotes higher IQs.

The new study reports, “Infectious disease remains the most powerful predictor of average national IQ when temperature, distance from Africa, gross domestic product per capita and several measures of education are controlled for. These findings suggest that the Flynn effect may be caused in part by the decrease in the intensity of infectious diseases as nations develop.”

The converse of this research should find a correlation between higher average IQs and increasing allergy and asthma rates. Allergy and asthma rates are hypothesized to be on the rise because children’s immune systems, no longer challenged by infections, have become oversensitive, attacking the bodies they are supposed to protect. Myopia also correlates with higher IQ scores; U.S. myopia rates in people ages 12 to 54 increased from 25 percent in 1971–72 to 41.6 percent in 1999–2004. But higher IQ correlates with better health and longer lives, less propensity to commit crimes, and higher income (although not greater than average personal wealth).



Don’t Hate on Welfare Recipients — The Real Parasites are Elsewhere

Everywhere you look in the right-wing commentariat, you see the recurring theme of the “underclass” as parasites. Its most recent appearance was the meme of the productive, tax-paying 53% vs. the tax-consuming 47%. And of course there’s the perennial favorite mythical quote attributed to Alexander Tytler, trotted out by many who should know better, about the majority discovering they can vote themselves largess from the public treasury. (If you really believe the majority control the government, or that the government serves the interests of the majority, you should avoid using sharp tools without supervision.)

But mainly there’s an endless supply of resentment against “welfare queens,” and friend-of-a-friend stories about the luxurious tastes of those using food stamps at the checkout line, whose cumulative effect is to reassure the middle class that their real enemies are to be found by looking down, and not up.

If your resentment is directed downward against the “underclass” and recipients of welfare-for-the-poor, it’s most definitely misdirected.

First, let’s look at the little picture, and consider the net effects of state policy on the actual recipients of welfare. Consider how state policies on behalf of land owners and real estate investors, like the enforcement of absentee title to vacant and unimproved land, drives up rents and closes off access to cheap living space. Consider how licensing schemes and “anti-jitney” laws, zoning laws against operating businesses out of one’s home or out of pushcarts, and regulations that impose needless capital outlays and entry barriers or overhead costs, close off opportunities for self-employment. And consider how zoning restrictions on mixed-use development and other government promotions of sprawl and the car culture increase the basic cost of subsistence. You think the money spent on welfare for the poor equals that drain on the resources of the underclass?

Next, look at the big picture. Consider the total rents extracted from society as a whole by the dominant economic classes: The inflation of land rent and mortgages by the above-mentioned absentee titles to unimproved land; the usurious interest rates resulting from legal tender laws and restraints on competition in the supply of credit; the enormous markups over actual production cost that result from copyrights, patents and trademarks; the oligopoly markup (once estimated by the Nader Group at around 20% of retail price in industries dominated by a handful of firms) in industries cartelized by government regulations and entry barriers …

Now consider, out of this vast ocean of rents extracted by state-connected parasites, the miniscule fraction that trickles back to the most destitute of the destitute, in the form of welfare and food stamps, in just barely large enough quantities to prevent homelessness and starvation from reaching high enough levels to destabilize the political system and threaten the ruling classes’ ability to extract rents from all of us. The state-allied landlords, capitalists and rentiers rob us all with a front-end loader, and then the state — THEIR state — uses a teaspoon to relieve those hardest hit.

Every time in history the state has provided a dole to the poorest of the poor — the distribution of free grain and oil to the proletariat of Rome, the Poor Laws in England, AFDC and TANF since the 1960s — it has occurred against a background of large-scale robbery of the poor by the rich. The Roman proletariat received a dole to prevent bloody revolt after the common lands of the Republic had been engrossed by the nobility and turned into slave-farms. The Poor Laws of England were passed after the landed classes enclosed much of the Open Fields for sheep pasture. The urban American blacks who received AFDC in the 1960s were southern sharecroppers, or their children, who had been tractored off their land (or land that should have been theirs, if they had received the land that was rightfully theirs after Emancipation) after WWII.

As Frances Fox Piven and Andrew Cloward argued in “Regulating the Poor,” the state — which is largely controlled by and mainly serves the interest of the propertied classes — only steps in to provide welfare to the poor when it’s necessary to prevent social destabilization. When it does so, it usually provides the bare minimum necessary. And in the process, it uses the power conferred by distributing the public assistance to enforce a maximum in social discipline on the recipients (as anyone who’s dealt with the humiliation of a human services office, or a visit from a case-worker, can testify).

So don’t resent the folks who get welfare and food stamps. Your real enemies — the ones the state really serves — are above, not below.



Markets Make People Nicer

In The Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx thundered that the bourgeoisie and the markets that allow them to prosper “left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous ‘cash payment.’ ” In other words, markets destroy fellow-feeling, turning human beings into cold, cruel calculators. But recent research on how 15 small-scale societies play certain canonical economic games suggests that simply isn’t so.

The societies investigated by the economists and anthropologists organized as the MacArthur Foundation’s Norms and Preferences Network ranged from hunter-gatherers to slash-and-burn horticulturalists on five continents. To probe these societies’ attitudes toward sharing and fairness, the researchers had their members play several games. One of these is called the Ultimatum Game. In it, researchers provisionally allot a divisible pie ($10, say) to one player. This player, the “proposer,” offers a portion of the pie to the second subject, the “responder.” The responder, who knows both the offer and the total amount of the pie, chooses to either accept or reject the offer. If the responder accepts, he or she gets the amount offered and the proposer gets the remainder. If the responder rejects the offer, neither player receives anything.

Rationally speaking, one might expect that the proposer would offer as little as possible ($1, say) and that the responder would never reject an offer because, after all, one dollar is better than nothing. Yet in hundreds of experiments in nearly two dozen countries, subjects rarely act in that purely self-interested way. In modern societies, the most frequent amount offered by proposers is 50 percent, and responders commonly reject offers under a third. After examining a number of different explanations, most researchers have concluded that those choices are based on the players’ sense of what is fair. Since these experiments are usually conducted using western undergraduates, the Preference Network researchers wondered if the results would hold true across societies.

The experimenters offered participants the equivalent of a day or two’s wages in their societies. The researchers found that the average offers from proposers ranged from a low of 26 percent to a high of 58 percent and that the most frequent offers ranged from 15 percent to 50 percent. Some groups, such as the Machiguenga and Quichua in South America and the Hadza in Africa, offered around 25 percent of the pie. The most frequent offer from the Machiguenga proposers was 15 percent. Only one Machiguenga responder rejected such a low offer.

Societies like the Machiguenga and Hadza, which deal with few outsiders and are not economically dependent on people other than close kin, turn out to be the stingiest players. The Orma in Africa and the Achuar in South America, who are more integrated into markets, tend to play more like the western undergraduates. “The higher the degree of market integration and the higher the payoffs of cooperation, the greater the level of prosociality found in experimental games,” the researchers found.

Herbert Gintis, co-director of the Preference Network team, speculates that markets bring strangers into contact on a regular basis, encouraging people to develop more concern for others beyond their family and immediate neighbors. Instead of parochialism, being integrated into markets encourages a spirit of ecumenism. “Extensive market interactions may accustom individuals to the idea that interactions with strangers may be mutually beneficial,” the researchers theorize. “By contrast, those who do not customarily deal with strangers in mutually advantageous ways may be more likely to treat anonymous interactions as hostile, threatening, or occasions for opportunistic pursuit of self-interest.”

Markets teach participants the habits of cooperation, trust, and fairness. Based on his research, Gintis argues that history traces humanity’s ascent from tribal selfishness to more cosmopolitan liberality. “Market societies give rise to more egalitarianism and movements toward democracy, civil liberties, and civil rights,” Gintis argues. “Market societies and democratic societies are practically co-extensive.” And they are more generous too.



Candidate Obama vs. President Obama

Flying across the internet waves recently was a young ex-Illinois Senator’s speech from 2007 which seemed to be addressing the actions of President Obama. Yet, it was presidential candidate Obama who said, “This administration (George W. Bush) also puts forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we demand.” Candidate Obama also added, “Ignoring the law when it is inconvenient.” You might even say that candidate Obama echoed the words of Ben Franklin who once stated, “Those who give up freedom for security neither deserve freedom or security.”

In addition, by recently declaring, “Our Constitution works,” it’s quite obvious that President Obama didn’t anticipate all the negative repercussions from Operation Fast and Furious, the IRS “targeting” scandal, the AP phone hacking dilemma, and the NSA surveillance program. Candidate Obama also proclaimed, “The law is not subject to the whims of stubborn rulers, and justice is not arbitrary.” Indeed, these types of messages were very self-serving for candidate Obama, but as President Obama, the familiar song is, “To keep the American people safe and concerns about privacy…there are some tradeoffs involved.” Not long ago, President Obama also said, “You can complain about big brother…I think we’ve struck the right balance,” and added, “Personal intrusion is only moderate.”



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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)


August, 9, 2013

The conservative dilemma


Towards a radical new theory of Anglo-American slavery, and vindication of free markets

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

New evidence coming to light in the National Archives and the Bodleian Library may soon change our entire view of the British slave trade, and the roots of institutional plantation slavery in the Americas.

With luck it will help to vindicate the fathers of liberal government and the free market in the 17th and 18th Centuries, falsely accused until now of abetting - or promoting - the great crime of race-based African slavery.

For academic orthodoxy holds that John Locke and the great Whig thinkers of the Glorious Revolution (1688) helped to design and foster the economic system of hereditary slavery that shaped Atlantic capitalism for a century and a half.

From that it is but a step to dismiss the moral claims of liberalism as so much humbug, to write off all the talk of justice, natural rights, inviolable contracts and government by consent as the self-interested catechism of oppressors. As Samuel Johnson said acidly: "How is it we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?"

Except that this established version of events is not true. It is a near complete inversion of what happened, and this matters in all kinds of ways since the debate over slavery refuses to subside, even though the trade was abolished in 1808 and Empire slaves were freed in 1833.

Indeed, it is coming to the boil again. The Caribbean states, CARICOM, are filing a lawsuit against Britain, Spain, France, Holland and Portugal for slavery reparations. Apologies are not enough, says Ralph Gonsalves, premier of Saint Vincent. "We have to have appropriate recompense."

It matters too because liberal democracy has been on the back foot in large parts of the world for a decade. China is bidding for global leadership with radically different claims - with allies in Moscow, and followers from Bangkok to Caracas. It seizes eagerly on anything that punctures the moral claims of the West.

Joshua Kurlantzick says in Democracy in Retreat that the "Washington Consensus" we have known for so long is losing ground to an ascendant "Beijing Consensus", the greatest challenge to Western Liberal values since fascism and communism in the 1920s and 1930s.

The banking crash of 2008-2009 has tempted some in China's Politburo to conclude that Leninist planning is superior to Anglo-Saxon markets, and prompted many in Europe to ask whether Capitalisme Sauvage is worth saving at all. They misread events of course. It was governments that caused the crisis: the West by fixing the price of credit too low, the East by amassing reserves and flooding the world with excess capital. But that is not the narrative of the web, or political discourse.

So let us start to set the record straight on one point at least. The archives demonstrate that the Stuart monarchs Charles II and James II systematically drew up laws to enforce and spread hereditary slavery, mimicking the Spanish practice of the day and the "divine right" absolutism of the Habsburg empire.

They did so with relentless focus, stacking the courts to ensure favourable rulings, and carrying out police state sedition trials against opponents, not least because revenues from tobacco and sugar plantations became the chief source of wealth for the crown.

Professor Holly Brewer from the University of Maryland says Charles II was so enamoured with the Royal African Company that he engraved its symbols of elephant and castle on one side of his golden Guinea. "The Stuarts envisaged monarchy and slavery as, literally, two sides of the same coin," she said.

Slavery had not been hereditary in British possessions before. There were African slaves, just as there were indentured white workers, but it was fluid, in a legal grey zone, and judges could not be counted on to enforce the recapture of runaways.

Prof Brewer said the findings she has uncovered in the archives show that Locke fought tooth and nail to reverse this new hereditary structure while on the Board of Trade in the 1690s under William of Orange.

Locke sought the stop linking land grants to the number of imported slaves - 50 acres per head - a "strangely perverted "practice, in his words, intended to ensure a plantation aristocracy built on slaves. He urged that the children of blacks should be "baptized, catechized and bred Christians" so that they could not be denied their civil liberties so lightly.

Locke had been compromised earlier in the 1660s as a young man working for the Stuarts but later became an exile and rebel in Holland. "When he had a position of real power, he tried to undercut the development of slavery in comprehensive ways," she said.

His was the outlook of most liberal thinkers who shaped the American Revolution. It was the view too of Adam Smith, the free market theorist writing later in the 18th Century, also accused of promoting slavery. Smith, in fact, argued that slaverly stifled economic growth and innovation. “It appears from the experience of all ages and nations, I believe, that the work done by freemen comes cheaper in the end than that performed by slaves," he wrote in Wealth of Nations. William Wilberforce cited Smith approvingly to buttress the abolition case.

Locke's efforts to undo Stuart damage came too late. Vested interests were too powerful. Hereditary slavery had become embedded in the economic system of the American and Caribbean colonies. Britain would acquire the notorious "Asiento" at the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, giving the South Sea Company the contract to supply the Spanish Empire with slaves. The cancer then metastasized.

In my view, the British are a little too cavalier about this saga, thinking the nation absolved because the practice was far away and not on island soil.

We tend not to be aware that King George III actively perpetuated the slave trade in the late 18th Century, vetoing laws by Virginia and other states trying to deter the inflow by raising import taxes on slaves. It is why Thomas Jefferson's original draft of the US Declaration of Independence contained a clause saying the king "has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. Determined to keep open a market where men should be bought and sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or restrain this execrable commerce. And that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us."

And no, Jefferson was not a hyprocrite because he owned slaves. They were mortgaged, due to his family's crushing debts left from monetary deflation after the Seven Years War. They could not legally be freed.

America puts its own gloss on events. Simon Scharma argues in Rough Crossing that "theirs was a revolution, first and foremost, mobilized to protect slavery". His point is that the "Somerset" ruling of 1772 in England - "the state of slavery is so odious, that nothing can be suffered to support it: the black must be discharged" - set off ferment in the colonies, and the Dunsmore Proclamation in 1775 offering freedom to slaves who fought on the British side rallied planters to the revolution. Yet this can be pushed too far. The intellectual leaders of the American Revolution were Lockeans through and through, almost all tormented by slavery.

As Britain prepares to defend itself against the Caricom suit - so soon after settling torture claims from Mao Mao victims in Kenya - it is scarcely helps perhaps to argue that the slave system was built by monarchical tyranny, rather than by private citizens beyond control, as we like to think. It is worse, in some ways, if it was a state endeavour.

Yet it should be some comfort that Parliament and liberal government may be absolved, at least in part. Slavery was excresence of absolutism, not free commerce. We cannot hold our own in the world's bare-knuckled battle of ideas if we concede this cardinal point of history.



Modern distortions of the Christian Gospel

First the bad news: Human beings are sinners. Our sin separates us from a holy and righteous God, provokes his wrath, and causes us to ultimately suffer death and eternal separation from Him. (Rom. 3:23, Rom.1:18, Col.3:6). More bad news: We are without excuse. As a result of our wickedness, we have suppressed the truth about God made known to us and are deserving of his righteous wrath. (Rom. 1:16-32)

That's a bitter pill to swallow, but it's not the end of the story. There is good news.

The good news: We don't have to pay the high price of our sin ourselves. Jesus paid it for us. Although he lived a sinless life, because of God's great love for us (John 3:16), he sacrificed his Son to atone for our sins. We can be redeemed from our sin by accepting the free gift of eternal life that comes through faith in Jesus Christ. And if that weren't enough, God even supplies the faith for us. "For by grace have you been saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves—it is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one can boast." (Eph. 2:8-9)

None of us like bad news, and it's natural to avoid it. However, it's surprising to see a church edit the news as reported in the Bible and rewrite it so that it will be more palatable to its congregants. Case in point: The Committee on Congregational Song of The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) recently voted to exclude the popular modern hymn "In Christ Alone" from their hymnal because it included the line "Till on that cross as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied." Apparently recognizing the popularity of the song, the Committee asked the hymn's authors for permission to change the end of that line to "the love of God was magnified" in order to be included in their hymnal. The authors refused to make the change. The Committee, it appears, couldn't abide the idea of God's wrath, so the song was left out of the hymnal.

It's disconcerting to see Christians devalue the great love of God in the name of a "loving god." There is no question that the good news of the Gospel centers on the love of God; but, to deny God's wrath eliminates the need for the good news. It also minimizes the culpability of sinners, denies the justice of God's punishment, and trivializes God's love for us. ("But God demonstrates his love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." -Rom. 5:8) In the process, Jesus becomes just a nice man who suffered an unjust punishment… bummer. Of course, this dumbed-down take on Jesus comports nicely with the "helpful wingman" view of God.

Sadly, the basic concepts of sin and atonement are foreign in our time, even within certain strains of liberal Christianity. But they are Biblical. The Bible is unequivocal about the nature of man and the consequences of our sin. God's wrath, however, is not the end of the story.

"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus." (Eph. 2: 4-7) (See also John 3:16, 1 John 1:9, Rom 5:8)

It's that simple. But, it's offensive to a lot of folks—even within the church.

Sin is not a popular notion in a therapeutic society. People don't like the idea that they are sinners. And the idea that we would suffer eternal damnation because we deserve it is even more offensive. We want to embrace God's love without taking into account his wrath and justice. We want the benefit of the good news without acknowledging the bad news.

We are naturally inclined to reject the God of the Bible, but this shouldn't come as a surprise—we're told as much in the Bible! We prefer to cherry pick the Bible and fashion a god that seems more palatable than the one the Bible presents. But a god of our creation is no god at all. He is simply a customized construct designed to make us feel better about ourselves.

Such a creature is not worthy of our worship. The God of the Bible is.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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)


August, 8, 2013

BBC tries to pin Boston bombings on conservatives!

What reading matter you have proves nothing. I have a copy of the Communist manifesto. Does that make me a Communist? And the 9/11 "truthers" are mostly Democrats who believe that George Bush did it! Hardly Right-wing! And concern about drones and Guantanamo are also common Leftist themes. And an article saying that Hitler had a point is these days much more likely to be Muslim than anything else

One of the brothers suspected of carrying out the Boston bombings was in possession of right-wing American literature in the run-up to the attack, BBC Panorama has learnt.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev subscribed to publications espousing white supremacy and government conspiracy theories. He also had reading material on mass killings.

Until now the Tsarnaev brothers were widely perceived as just self-styled radical jihadists.

Panorama has spent months speaking exclusively with friends of the bombers to try to understand the roots of their radicalisation.

The programme discovered that Tamerlan Tsarnaev possessed articles which argued that both 9/11 and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing were government conspiracies.

Another in his possession was about "the rape of our gun rights".

Reading material he had about white supremacy commented that "Hitler had a point".

Tamerlan Tsarnaev also had literature which explored what motivated mass killings and noted how the perpetrators murdered and maimed calmly.

There was also material about US drones killing civilians, and about the plight of those still imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay.



A Leftist chicken


1%: Average Annual Economic Growth Under Obama

In the 21st century, during the presidencies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama, the U.S. economy has not shown the ability to grow that it did in the last two decades of the 20th century, according to data released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

In fact, real average annual economic growth has been nearly cut in half so far this century compared to the last two decades of the last century; and specifically during President Obama’s time in office it has dropped to an average of just over 1 percent.

In the decade from 1981 to 1990, according to the BEA, average annual growth in real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was 3.36 percent. In the decade from 1991 to 2000, average annual growth in real GDP was 3.45 percent. In the twenty years from 1981 to 2000, average annual growth in real GDP was 3.405 percent.

By contrast, in the decade from 2001 to 2010, average annual growth in real GDP was only 1.67 percent, and, so far, in the 21st century (from 2001 through 2012), average annual growth in real GDP has been only 1.775 percent.

During just the years that President Barack Obama has been in office (2009 through 2012), average annual growth in real GDP has been only 1.075 percent.

The 1.075 percent average annual growth in real GDP under Obama equals less than a third (31.57 percent) of the 3.405 percent average annual growth in real GDP the United States saw in the last two decades of the last century.



Why Obamacare Is Bad Medicine

My good friend Mark Kot is the real Hamptons Doctor. He doesn’t make house calls because his Southampton Urgent Medical Care facility is where everyone goes for the best medical care in the Hamptons.

I asked him for his take on Obamacare. Yesterday he sent me the little ditty below, and I need to share it with you today.

He got it off the Internet. Which means it’s true. No, I’m not kidding. Well, at least this time I’m not kidding. This Internet ditty is true.

Before I share it with you, let me tell you why it is so true and so frightening…

Dr. Kot used to be an emergency room doctor at the local hospital, but he saw too many things there that weren’t in patients’ best interest. He saw long waits for people who needed immediate attention. He saw people getting billed huge amounts just because they had good insurance that would pay the tabs. He saw inefficiencies in the layers of bureaucracy that envelop hospitals. He saw a lot of things that needed changing, but he couldn’t change what he wasn’t able to control.

So in 2003, he went into private practice. He’s the only doctor in his stylish and beautifully appointed facility. His welcoming room – you just can’t call it a “waiting room” – is like a Hamptons house living room. He employs (as in created jobs, very good-paying jobs) 18 people at the year-round office.

No one waits more than a handful of minutes to get in. Everyone gets the best care for what they need and no “add-ons” or bill-padding, ever. Not that hospitals would ever do that (except for the ones that have been caught doing that).

They take some insurance, they have to. But most folks pay “out-of-pocket,” whether it’s the TV anchor paying by check, an area waitress paying with cash, or a poor-wee-bugger scraping along in life that Mark doesn’t charge.

What that does, Mark tells me, is make his office more efficient. He doesn’t have to wait long periods for reimbursements. He can manage his extensive payroll and other expenses more efficiently, which means he charges his patients less and he can pay his people more and run a better medical care facility.

That’s why his reputation and the facility’s reputation are renowned in the Hamptons.

Only there’s a problem. Obamacare may put him out of business.

Why? He’s lectured me on what Obamacare will eventually create, and frankly I don’t understand all the nuances he’s explained, but he’s board certified and been a practicing doctor for 26 years. He knows his business.

So, rather than explain it all to me again, he sent me this little ditty.

Obamacare is going to screw up the already screwed-up American medical care industry because:

"We’re being “gifted” with a health care plan we are forced to purchase and fined if we don’t, which purportedly covers at least ten million more people, without adding a single new doctor, but provides for 16,000 new IRS agents, who have recently demonstrated their objective and professional integrity, written by a committee whose chairman says he doesn’t understand it, passed by a Congress that didn’t read it but exempted themselves from it, and signed by a President who smokes, with funding administered by a treasury chief who didn’t pay his taxes, for which we’ll be taxed for four years before any benefits take effect, by a government which has already bankrupted Social Security and Medicare, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the Post Office all to be overseen by a surgeon general who is obese, and financed by a country that’s broke!!!!! What the hell could possibly go wrong?"

It’s not that the local hospital isn’t a good facility; it’s just that no one goes there anymore, it’s too crowded. And the insurance companies want it that way. Eventually they will raise premiums to pay for all the care that people are going to get, because everyone has to pay for the whole scheme.

And as far as creating good full-time jobs goes, you can count that out. Part-time help will be cheaper for employers who can’t afford the added costs they’ll have to pay. I’ve already heard anecdotes of workers who are getting their hours slashed in anticipation of the new laws taking effect.

There’s a lot wrong with Obamacare. There’s a lot wrong with the way it was shoved down our throats.

We’re being told it might taste bad going down, but it’s going to help us.

That’s not true. It’s just bad medicine.



Fish Don’t Know They’re Wet

By Mark Krikorian

The Post story on its sale to Jeff Bezos notes toward the end that the owner of Amazon “has given little indication of his ideological leanings over the years.” It then goes on to say that “he and his wife have regularly donated to the campaign of Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash)” and that he is in “the top ranks of financial backers of gay rights in the country.” I think that gives a pretty clear indication of his ideological leanings. His leftism is no surprise, given the political inclinations of our elites, but it’s hilarious that the reporter, Paul Farhi, and his editors could list those data points and then not draw the obvious conclusion. I don’t think it was disingenuous — they just see liberalism as the natural state of thinking people, and not as any kind of ideological leaning. And that’s why, despite Bezos’s business acumen, the Post will likely continue down the path of clueless, parochial liberalism, and keep hemorrhaging readers.



Obama's False History of Public Investment

Entrepreneurs built our roads, rails and canals far better than government did

For almost five years now, President Obama has been making the argument that government "investments" in infrastructure are crucial to economic recovery. "Now we used to have the best infrastructure in the world here in America," the president lamented in 2011. "So how can we now sit back and let China build the best railroads? And let Europe build the best highways? And have Singapore build a nicer airport?"

In his recent economic speeches in Illinois, Missouri, Florida and Tennessee, the president again made a pitch for government spending for transportation and "putting people back to work rebuilding America's infrastructure." Create the infrastructure, in other words, and the jobs will come.

History says it doesn't work like that. Henry Ford and dozens of other auto makers put a car in almost every garage decades before the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act in 1956. The success of the car created a demand for roads. The government didn't build highways, and then Ford decided to create the Model T. Instead, the highways came as a byproduct of the entrepreneurial genius of Ford and others.

Moreover, the makers of autos, tires and headlights began building roads privately long before any state or the federal government got involved. The Lincoln Highway, the first transcontinental highway for cars, pieced together from new and existing roads in 1913, was conceived and partly built by entrepreneurs—Henry Joy of Packard Motor Car Co., Frank Seiberling of Goodyear and Carl Fisher, a maker of headlights and founder of the Indy 500.

Railroads are another example of the infrastructure-follows-entrepreneurship rule. Before the 1860s, almost all railroads were privately financed and built. One exception was in Michigan, where the state tried to build two railroads but lost money doing so, and thus happily sold both to private owners in 1846. When the federal government decided to do infrastructure in the 1860s, and build the transcontinental railroads (or "intercontinental railroad," as Mr. Obama called it in 2011), the laying of track followed the huge and successful private investments in railroads.

In fact, when the government built the transcontinentals, they were politically corrupt and often—especially in the case of the Union Pacific and the Northern Pacific—went broke. One cause of the failure: Track was laid ahead of settlements. Mr. Obama wants to do something similar with high-speed rail. The Great Northern Railroad, privately built by Canadian immigrant James J. Hill, was the only transcontinental to be consistently profitable. It was also the only transcontinental to receive no federal aid. In railroads, then, infrastructure not only followed the major capital investment, it was done better privately than by government.

Airplanes became a major industry and started carrying passengers by the early 1920s. Juan Trippe, the head of Pan American World Airways, began flying passengers overseas by the mid-1930s. During that period, nearly all airports were privately funded, beginning with the Huffman Prairie Flying Field, created by the Wright Brothers in Dayton, Ohio, in 1910. St. Louis and Tucson had privately built airports by 1919. Public airports did not appear in large numbers until military airfields were converted after World War II.

No matter where you look, similar stories come up. America's 19th-century canal-building mania is now largely forgotten, but it is the granddaddy of misguided infrastructure-spending tales. Steamboats, first perfected by Robert Fulton in 1807, chugged along on all major rivers before states began using funds to build canals and harbors. Congress tried to get the federal government involved by passing a massive canal and road-building bill in 1817, but President James Madison vetoed it. New York responded by building the Erie Canal—a relatively rare success story. Most state-supported canals lost money, and Pennsylvania in 1857 and Ohio in 1861 finally sold their canal systems to private owners.

In Ohio, when the canals were privatized, one newspaper editor wrote: "Everyone who observes must have learned that private enterprise will execute a work with profit, when a government would sink dollars by the thousand."

In all of these examples, building infrastructure was never the engine of growth, but rather a lagging indicator of growth that had already occurred in the private sector. And when the infrastructure was built, it was often best done privately, at least until the market grew so large as to demand a wider public role, as with the need for an interstate-highway system in the mid 1950s.

There is a lesson here for President Obama: Government "investment" in infrastructure is often wasteful and tends to support decaying or stagnant technologies. Let the entrepreneurs decide what infrastructure the country needs, and most of the time they will build it themselves.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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)


August, 7, 2013

Official Washington vs. The People

You knew it would happen. President Obama and Harry Reid have worked out a deal to exempt Congressional employees including members of Congress from being treated like everyone else, and having to help pay the cost of premiums under Obamacare.

Magically, Obama’s Office of Personnel Management is coming out with a determination that you, the taxpayers, can help pay the cost of your congressional employees’ health insurance premiums. Of course, this includes the premiums that would be paid by members of Congress.

But don’t worry, you will also get to pay the increased costs of your health insurance, and private employers will have to pay massively increased premiums. In Ohio, insurance regulators have stated that insurance premiums will rise as much as 41 percent from 2013 levels in the new state exchange.

In the criminal enterprise that is Big Government, the people are nothing more than a deep pocket to be picked by their D.C. masters. Not exactly how the textbooks teach it is supposed to work, but it is certainly what our nation’s constitutional framers feared.

The sad part is that it is not surprising that the federal government has made it a top priority to protect itself from the ravages of Obamacare, while insisting on funding the implementation of the law on the rest of us. After all, we are the fools who voted them into office in the first place.

This is just one small example of how our federal government has devolved into a battle which pits official D.C. against the people.

Congress and Obama agreed on a bi-partisan basis that there was nothing wrong with the government snooping on emails, Facebook posts and phone calls of private U.S. citizens in spite of Fourth Amendment Constitutional protections designed to prevent search and seizure of information without probable cause.

The public wants Obamacare gone, yet attempts to take the modest step of defunding it for one year are being met with intense behind the scenes opposition from congressional leadership from both political parties. Legislation by Rep. Tom Graves pushing defunding the soon to be imposed health law has more than 100 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives in just a few weeks, and in spite of Administration admissions that the law is not ready for implementation in just five months, official bipartisan Washington is determined to sit by and do nothing.

The people overwhelmingly support cutting foreign aid, yet no one in the House of Representatives have introduced legislation to strip the International Monetary Fund of the open ended $165 billion line of credit that they enjoy from the U.S. Treasury. The IMF has already tapped $35 billion of the funds, but it is not too late to close the barn door and protect the remaining $130 billion of U.S. taxpayer money from being wasted through bailing out failed European states and the banks that enabled them.

After all, why shouldn’t the U.S. taxpayer borrow money from China and the Federal Reserve so the IMF can give it to failing countries that can use it to pay off their creditor banks and foreign governments like China who hold their debts?

Official Washington knows that it would be disastrous to their ability to work in harmony if Republicans drew a line in the sand against radical nominees like the EPA’s Gina McCarthy, who in one of her first public appearances after achieving confirmation vowed to continue the Agency’s onslaught against those who make the lights come on in our homes, and produce the gasoline that drives our vehicles.

Keeping the peace in Official Washington supersedes obstructing a job killing EPA from engaging in their holy war against energy producers. The very energy producers who are at the heart of the hope of a low cost energy American economic revival that promises to revive our nation’s manufacturing sector and the good jobs it creates.

Four Americans died in Benghazi, Libya in a terrorist attack on our consulate on September 11, 2012, and almost a year later, the leadership of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives continues to resist the creation of a special committee with full subpoena powers to get to the bottom of what happened. This reticence exists in spite of an avalanche of evidence that the Administration has been deliberately intimidating potential witnesses and covering up what happened that fateful night and the days that immediately followed it.

Perhaps what is needed is a modern day Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young to do a reprise of their iconic song renaming it Four Dead in Benghazi, to get Official Washington off the dime. This continuing failure to identify what went wrong will ensure that if our embassies and consulates come under attack in five weeks on the thirteenth anniversary of 9/11, that everyone in Official Washington will share the blame.

Four dead in Benghazi doesn’t seem to matter, but just mess with Official Washington’s ability to have taxpayers fund their health care costs, and you have the whole town up in arms. Is there any doubt why Congress is held in such low regard by the people.

We now live in a brave, new world in America. Reality shows reign supreme over the airwaves, but the one that plays out in Washington, D.C. reveals a new cynicism where the elites don’t even bother to hide their contempt for those they pretend to represent.

This reality show should be titled Official Washington versus the People, and it is proof of just how far we have fallen from our nation’s initial vision of government of the people, by the people and for the people.



Manning is Guilty of Aiding the American People

Exposing War Crimes Is Not a Crime

A military judge has announced a verdict in Bradley Manning’s court martial: not guilty of “aiding the enemy,” but guilty of 20 other counts, including five offenses against the Espionage Act. The sentencing hearing begins on Wednesday.

The “aiding the enemy” accusation presumed that Manning’s distribution of classified material assisted al Qaeda. Actually, the information helps Americans by exposing U.S. war criminality.

In early 2010, WikiLeaks published a video, Collateral Murder, featuring July 2007 footage procured from Manning, showing American troops firing upon a journalist and two Reuters employees in Baghdad and revealing their nonchalance about children in the crossfire. WikiLeaks later published hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables it obtained from Manning. We learned that in 2006, U.S. troops executed ten Iraqi civilians in Ishaqi, including a five-month-old, and called an airstrike to obliterate the evidence. Other material exposes al-Maliki’s corruption in Iraq, hundreds of previously unreported civilian deaths at the hands of U.S. allied forces in Afghanistan, friendly fire incidents, violent covert operations, and detainee mistreatment at Guantánamo.

War criminality ranks among the most important types of government wrongdoing warranting transparency. We cannot debate foreign policy without knowing about its indecencies. What U.S. forces do abroad can endanger Americans at home. Some see the leaks, not the crimes, as the true scandal, but the Muslim and Arab world already know of these atrocities. The American people need to understand what U.S. occupations are like.

Running for president in 2008, Barack Obama promised unprecedented transparency and protection for government whistleblowers “willing to speak out,” hailing their “courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives.” Recently, this language was removed from his website.

Indeed, in response to the leaks, the Obama administration has detained Manning since May 2010—for almost three years before the private pled guilty to 10 charges this February. For eleven months, Manning endured a particularly cruel form of solitary confinement in a windowless 6’x12’ cell for 23 hours a day under constant surveillance, where an official asked the question “Are you OK?” every five minutes. Over 250 legal scholars protested this treatment in an open letter.

Nearly a year of draconian solitary confinement followed by two years of pre-trial detention does not satisfy due process, constitutional speedy trial guarantees, and prohibitions against cruel treatment. Some attorneys have cited the exclusion of exculpatory evidence and denial of relevant defense witnesses as indications of the “railroading” of Manning. At the last minute, the judge even assisted the prosecutor in modifying the charges. The aggressiveness has suggested a political motive to silence those who expose government wrongdoing.

As for the Espionage Act, it passed months after U.S. entry into World War I, America’s low point for civil liberties. The law could ensnare anyone who has spread along information tenuously related to national defense. Along with its sister legislation the Sedition Act, which doomed people to prison merely for criticizing the war, the Espionage Act is an embarrassing relic from a dark time.

Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers, exposing numerous administrations of lying about their Vietnam War intentions and revealing the secret bombing of Laos and Cambodia, faced non-espionage charges under the Espionage Act. A judge dismissed the charges. Ellsberg has identified Manning as his modern counterpart. He has said he’s “sure that President Obama would have sought a life sentence in” his own case, and called the president an “elected monarch.” In an interview with Scott Horton, Ellsberg reacted to the “aiding the enemy” acquittal positively, warning that if leaking information to the Internet is a capital crime, it would spell the “death knell” for investigative journalism.

Aside from Ellsberg, two other men faced Espionage Act charges before Obama—one under Reagan and another under George W. Bush.

The current administration is in its own class. In charging Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who, inspired by Manning, revealed the near unlimited nature of warrantless spying on Americans and foreigners, the Obama executive branch has now charged eight people of leaking information under the Espionage Act—more than twice the number of people so charged in earlier presidencies combined.

Obama’s crusade against leakers, as well as against, in at least one case, a journalist for normal journalistic behavior, creates an ominous chilling effect. James Goodale, the counsel for the New York Times in its Supreme Court struggle over the Pentagon Papers, predicts that “President Obama will surely pass President Richard Nixon as the worst president ever on issues of national security and press freedom.”

This is the administration: Nearly unparalleled secrecy, daily scandals, a surveillance state unbound by law, unilateral presidential wars, indefinite detention, the power to kill any terrorist suspect anywhere without a hint of due process, a politicized regulatory state collecting limitless data and harassing political opponents at home, and the persecution of whistleblowers using an anachronistic law from the darkest days of American civil liberty.

The national security state and its leader demand scrutiny. In the long term, Americans should fear their own government more than foreign terrorists. The federal government is a menace not just to life but to liberty. None too soon, a poll shows more Americans worried about civil liberties violations than terrorism.



Iran’s feast of hate

Hopes that the Islamic Republic in Iran may moderate its foreign policy were dashed last week with nationwide demonstrations Friday calling for the destruction of America and the elimination of Israel.

The tone was set by Hassan Rouhani, just days before his inauguratation as president. “Israel has been a wound in the body of Islam for years,” he told reporters as he joined an anti-Israel, anti-US march in Tehran. “That wound must be eliminated.”

“The Zionist regime that occupies Jerusalem is continuing its aggressive nature,” Rouhani said. “In calling for the liberation of Jerusalem, we highlight the unity of Islam.” (Iranian state media later claimed it had misrepresented Rouhani’s remarks.)

Outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad echoed the themes set by Rouhani in a speech at the Friday prayer congregation in Tehran University. Recalling his speech at the United Nations denying the Holocaust, Ahmadinejad repeated his claim that the Holocaust was nothing but “a fable and an historic lie.”

As a result of a merger between Zionism and capitalism, he claimed, some “2,000 Zionists” control the United States and European countries. Even the president of the United States, a country that “thinks it is the most powerful in the world,” must kowtow to Zionists.

“Don’t think that when I say Zionist I just mean some Jews who happen to be extremists,” Ahmadinejad added. “What I am talking about is the dirty capitalists who control all major economic centers, banks and media groups in the world.”

“Zionism is the animal dimension of satanic rule,” he added. “It knows nothing but plundering the world. They have seized control of the world’s pharmaceutical centers to produce microbes to kill their opponents.”

Designated “The Day of Quds” (Jerusalem), the demonstrations attracted virtually all regime officials in addition to the usual “Death to America!” rent-a-mob.

With banners bearing the late Ayatollah Khomeini’s saying “Israel Must Be Effaced from the World,” militants burned US and Israeli flags in more than 800 demonstrations, according to the official news agency IRNA.

The anti-American theme was spelled out in sermons by mullahs across the nation.

One sermon given top billing by the official media was delivered by Ayatollah Abbasqoli Akhtari, who heads the Ahl-e-Beit (People of the House) organization. Controlled by the ”Supreme Guide” Ali Khamenei, Ahl-e-Beit operates as a parallel government structure. It also has a network of representation in more than 50 countries, including the United States (where, claiming a religious status, it benefits from First Amendment protections).

“America is the arch-enemy of Islam,” Akhtari said. “It will not settle for anything less than the destruction of Islam. The only way to fight back is through resistance until it is brought to its knees.”

Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi, a Revolutionary Guard general, focused on praising the Lebanese Hezbollah as “the vanguard of Islamic resistance.” He claimed that Hezbollah, backed by Iran, represents “the best hope for liberating Jerusalem.”



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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)


August, 6, 2013

The U.S. unemployment rate

Table 15 BLS Alternate Measures of Unemployment

Table A-15 is where one can find a better approximation of what the unemployment rate really is. Notice I said "better" approximation not to be confused with "good" approximation.

The official unemployment rate is 7.4%. However, if you start counting all the people who want a job but gave up, all the people with part-time jobs that want a full-time job, all the people who dropped off the unemployment rolls because their unemployment benefits ran out, etc., you get a closer picture of what the unemployment rate is. That number is in the last row labeled U-6.

U-6 is much higher at 14.0%. Both numbers would be way higher still, were it not for millions dropping out of the labor force over the past few years.

Were it not for people dropping out of the labor force, the unemployment rate would be over 9%. In addition, there are 8,245,000 people who are working part-time but want full-time work.

Digging under the surface, much of the drop in the unemployment rate over the past two years is nothing but a statistical mirage coupled with a massive increase in part-time jobs starting in October 2012 as a result of Obamacare legislation.



Is Liberalism Keeping The Poor, Poor?

There is a new study out with the finding that urban sprawl contributes to inequality, making it more difficult for the poor to climb the income ladder.

Okay, let's accept that idea for a moment. Why is there urban sprawl? Isn't it directly tied to liberal policies that have prevailed over the past 40 years? Federal judges and the teachers unions combined to destroy the inner city schools. So middle class families who wanted a decent education for their children had no choice but to turn to private schools or retreat to the suburbs. Then, minimum wage laws, labor monopolies and the lure of welfare made the inner city increasingly unattractive to employers seeking a productive workforce.

As the tax base shrinks and taxpaying voters disappear, city government becomes completely captured by the public sector unions. They use their power to pad their own compensation at the expense of deteriorating city services and to wrest promises of post-retirement benefits that can only be paid by an (unlikely) influx of new taxpayers. Thus starts a downward political death spiral that can only end in bankruptcy.

So what's the obvious public policy conclusion? Don't adopt policies that chase the middle class and the job creator community away. Or at least that would be obvious unless you write for The New York Times. Here is Paul Krugman, who does a decent job of describing the study's conclusions:

"Atlanta looks just like Detroit gone bust: both are places where the American dream seems to be dying, where the children of the poor have great difficulty climbing the economic ladder. In fact, upward social mobility — the extent to which children manage to achieve a higher socioeconomic status than their parents — is even lower in Atlanta than it is in Detroit…

And in Atlanta poor and rich neighborhoods are far apart because, basically, everything is far apart; Atlanta is the Sultan of Sprawl, even more spread out than other major Sun Belt cities…As a result, disadvantaged workers often find themselves stranded; there may be jobs available somewhere, but they literally can't get there."

As it turns out, the sprawl theory of perpetual poverty may be completely wrong. Randal O'Toole says it won't hold water and notes that only a few years ago Krugman blamed the housing bubble on anti-sprawl policies.

Even so, what are the solutions? All Krugman has to offer is:

"[T]his observation clearly reinforces the case for policies that help families function without multiple cars."

Cars? What about the teachers unions? Not a word. What about the lack of school choice? Nada. Minimum wage laws, labor union monopoles, and other restrictions on the right to work? Not a peep. A culture of welfare dependency that erodes the willingness to work? Zero. City governments doing what private companies are no longer allowed to do: promising post-retirement benefits without funding them? Zilch.

What about the fact that the policies routinely advocated on the editorial pages of the Times are far more harmful to social mobility than the automobile could ever be? Not a word about that either.

What's true of cities is also true of states. People and capital move where they are welcome. As Travis Brown and I wrote the other day in the Dallas Morning News:

"Texas is the nation's No. 1 job creator. Since the official end of the recession in 2009, Texas has been responsible for almost one out of every two jobs created in the entire country."

This is not a new phenomenon. For decades, Texas has been creating jobs faster than other states. Between 2001 and 2011, while many other states were hemorrhaging jobs, Texas increased private-sector employment by 732,800…

Why has Texas been so successful at job creation? We're a very labor-friendly state — meaning that government doesn't very often get between job creators and job seekers. The Mercatus Center at George Mason University ranks Texas No. 1 in labor market freedom.

I don't know what it is about the left, but they can't see the connection between the policies they advocate and the harmful results they decry.

Take President Obama. He is now talking about the economy. But the way he talks about it is as though (after 4 ½ year in office) he bears no personal responsibility for anything that's happened. As Charles Krauthammer pointed out the other night, Obama talks about the economy "as if he has been a bystander," as someone who "just arrived on a boat." "It's his economy and he's pretending he just stumbled on it."

Hmmm. Maybe we should send them all back to school for a course in mainstream economics.



Is Populism Dead?

There is a strange lack of effective agitation about some big issues

Victor Davis Hanson

Occupy Wall Streeters claimed that they were populists. Their ideological opposites, the Tea Partiers, said they were, too. Both became polarizing. And so far populism, whether on the right or left, does not seem to have made inroads with the traditional Republican and Democrat establishments.

Gas has gone up about $2 a gallon since Barack Obama took office. Given average yearly rates of national consumption, that increase alone translates into an extra $1 trillion that American drivers havencollectively paid in higher fuel costs over the last 54 months.

Such a crushing burden on the cash-strapped commuter class is rarely cited in the liberal fixation on cap-and-trade, wind and solar subsidies, and the supposed dangers of fracking.

When the president scaled back the number of new gas and oil leases on federal lands over time, he was appealing to his boutique base -- not to those who can scarcely meet their monthly heating and cooling bills.

Should there not be an opening for a conservative populist response?

Unfortunately, pro-drilling conservatives sound more like spokesmen for oil companies than grassroots champions for strapped motorists.

Total student debt is approaching $1 trillion. That is an unsustainable burden for recent graduates under 25 facing an adjusted youth unemployment rate of over 20 percent.

Yet the well-off are more interested in ensuring that their children get into tony, name-brand colleges than in fretting about how to pay for it -- a fact well known to our price-gauging universities.

On the other end, need- and ethnic-based scholarships and waivers have made college more affordable for the poor than it is for the middle classes. The parents of the latter make enough to be disqualified from most government help, but not enough to afford soaring tuition.

Banks find student loans backed by government guarantees profitable.

Top-heavy universities assume that there will always be more income from the subsidized poor and the rich. Again, middle-class students are caught up a creek without the paddles of wealthy parents or a generous government.

There is also a populist argument to be made against the farm bill.

There are more than 48 million Americans on food stamps, an increase of about 12 million since the beginning of the Obama presidency. At a time of record-high crop prices, the U.S. government still helps well-off farmers with some $20 billion in annual crop payouts and indirect subsidies.

The left mythicizes food-stamp recipients almost as if they all must be the Cratchits of Dickensian England.The right romanticizes corporate agriculture as if the growers all were hardscrabble family farmers in need of a little boost to get through another tough harvest. Those in between, who pay federal income taxes and are not on food stamps, lack the empathy of the poor and the clout of the rich. Can't a politician say that?

Illegal immigration is likewise not a left vs. right or Republican vs. Democrat issue, but instead mostly one of class.

The influx of millions of illegal immigrants has ensured corporate America access to cheap labor while offering a growing constituency for political and academic elites. Yet the earning power of poorer American workers -- especially African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans -- has stagnated.

The common bond between the agendas of La Raza activists and the corporate world is apparently a relative lack of concern for the welfare of entry-level laborers, many of them in America’s inner cities, who are competing against millions of illegal workers.

Given the slow-growth, high-unemployment economy, and the policies of the Federal Reserve, interest on simple passbook accounts has all but vanished.

The poor are not so affected. They are more often borrowers than lenders, and they are sometime beneficiaries of federally subsidized debt relief. The rich have the capital and connections to find more profitable investments in real estate or the stock market that make them immune from pedestrian, underperforming savings accounts.

In other words, this administration's loose money policy has been good for the indebted and even better for the stock-invested rich. But it is absolutely lousy for the middle class and for strapped retirees with a few dollars in conservative passbook accounts.

The aftermath of the 2008 financial meltdown followed the same script. The crisis arose from a strange connivance between loans to the unqualified and huge profits for Wall Street. Its remedy was to have the lowly taxpayer pick up the walk-away debt of the former while offering bailouts for the latter.

Polls show the president's approval numbers are tanking. Congress can hardly become any more unpopular. Maybe one reason is that neither seems to care much about those who are not rich and not poor.

America has plenty of community organizers and agitators, and even more smooth corporate lobbyists, but populist politicians disappeared long ago.



Al Qaeda is Back

By all accounts, the attack was planned with care and executed with precision. At two notorious Iraqi prisons, Abu Ghraib and Taji, al-Qaeda combatants last week used mortars, small arms, suicide bombers, and assault forces to free 400 prisoners, including several who had been on death row. AQ spokesmen hailed those released as “mujahedeen,” holy warriors, who will rejoin the jihad on battlefields throughout the Middle East and beyond.

Soon after, we were seeing headlines such as this: “Al Qaeda Is Back.”

Where had al-Qaeda gone? Dig deep in the memory hole — all the way to last summer. At the prestigious Aspen Security Forum, Peter Bergen, CNN’s national-security analyst and a director at the New America Foundation, gave a talk titled, “Time to Declare Victory: Al Qaeda Is Defeated.”

Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Lynch III (retired), a distinguished research fellow at the National Defense University, was writing and speaking widely on the same theme. And President Obama’s reelection campaign was making similar claims, e.g. “The tide of war is receding,” “Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive.” Mitt Romney hardly attempted to rebut the thesis.

I don’t like to say “I told you so” — oh, who am I kidding? Of course I do. But in this instance there is more than ample justification. Scholars at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, in particular Thomas Joscelyn and Bill Roggio, have argued consistently and forcefully, based on solid evidence, that the May 2011 killing of Osama bin Laden, followed by the elimination of other al-Qaeda leaders, did not, by any stretch of the imagination, mean the demise of al-Qaeda.

Instead, it led AQ to adapt, evolve, and morph. It is essential to study these changes and probe their strategic significance — an assignment unlikely to be seriously undertaken by those convinced al-Qaeda swims with the fishes.


There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc


For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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)


August, 5, 2013

Understanding the Left

From an Australian Jewish viewpoint

I might have finally understood the Left. The stance of the Left is best explained by one of my favourite jokes – the social worker joke:

"Two social workers are walking down the street late at night. As they turn a corner, they see a man lying in the gutter. He is bruised and bleeding, his clothes torn, and he is moaning with pain; clearly he has been attacked. He sees the two people and calls to them “Please, someone help me!”

And one of the social workers turns to the other and says: “Whoever did this to him needs help!”"

This joke epitomizes the seemingly inverted attitude of the Left towards so many things today.

The Left love the victim or underdog in any conflict. In particular, they love someone they think they can help (whether they can is another question). In the joke, the man lying in the gutter is clearly a victim but can he be helped by a social worker? What he needs is urgent medical assistance. Instead the social worker wants to seek out the ‘root cause of the conflict’ and fix that. Why did the perpetrator of the attack do such a thing?

In the world of the Left there is no absolute good or bad. There’s actually not much free choice either. People are a product of their upbringing and the circumstances they find themselves in. These circumstances are what forces people to do what they do. So the perpetrator is the one truly deserving of help – that person is the true victim of their circumstance who was forced into crime. If only we can fix that person and people like them, crime would disappear!

For the Left, there is no such thing as a terrorist. They are ‘militants’ or ‘freedom fighters’ – heroes fighting for the most noble cause of freedom. Can there be a greater calling? Being ‘freedom fighters’ means their enemy are those who are depriving them of freedom, which in turn causes their ‘despair’, which forces them to do terrible things, like murder innocent civilians by blowing themselves up.

If Islamist leaders hate Jews and Israel and openly declare their intent to destroy them, the view of the Left is that it could not be because they have some twisted ideology, or are just plain bad folks. Rather, it must be because of something Israel did which causes them to be radicalized. Therefore, the onus is entirely on Israel to change, and/or to appease them. Whether it’s truly in Israel’s power to do anything about this is irrelevant. Nothing is ever asked of a victim. Israel is expected to free convicted murderers in order for the Palestinians will agree to come to the negotiating table!

In 1948 and 1967, Israel was the victim. That ‘plucky little country’ was surrounded by enemies seeking her destruction. The Left rallied behind Israel back then, but not any more. Why? Israel made the terrible mistake of defeating her enemies at war, then building a successful country instead of wallowing in self-pity and victim-hood. Jewish refugees expelled from Arab countries made new lives for themselves. They can no longer be helped – they fixed themselves! What’s the Left to do except turn the tables and turn David into the new Goliath?

Asylum seekers try to reach Australia by the boat-load. They take huge risks to escape their home countries and seek out a safer, better life in a first world country like Australia, which is signatory to conventions governing the way we must deal with refugees. So if only they can get here, all will be well. We have a view of the tail end of their journey – the final boat leg across treacherous waters from Indonesia and thereabouts. But in fact, their journey starts well before that. We have no idea how much they have paid, how many have died along the way and what they have been told by people smugglers. Yet the view of the Left is that we are entirely responsible for providing first world refugee settlement services wherever they need them. Their view is that they are forced by their circumstance to take a dangerous boat ride and we must do whatever we can to help them.

Is taking out full page ads in newspapers declaring that they will not be settled in Australia the answer? I doubt it. For all we know, they may choose to believe the people smugglers instead. Will establishing refugee assessment centres in Asia fix the problem? It will fix it for some, but is unlikely to make a serious dent nor to stop the people who don’t want to be processed in Indonesia from taking a boat. Because as many refugees as we help, there will always be many more we cannot. But the Left will not stop campaigning until they help everyone in the world.

This bizarre inversion comes from from a fundamental view on the nature of people. If you believe that all people are essentially good, then you are stuck with a question: why do good people do really bad/dangerous/risky things? The only possible answer is that it’s because they have been provoked; because some ‘root cause’ has led them down this path.

By maintaining this view of people the Left believe they can fix the whole world. But in a world where there is no shortage of bad, what if the Left’s view of the world is flawed? What if there are people who are genuinely evil? People who view appeasement as weakness and either pounce on it, or shift the goalposts so that consensus is never reached, or until their true motives are revealed? What if wars must be fought and won to defeat those who wish our destruction? Unfortunately, we cannot count on the Left to fight these wars.



Bureaucratic overkill again

13 Wisconsin officials raid animal shelter to kill baby deer. No goodwill at all

Two weeks ago, Ray Schulze was working in a barn at the Society of St. Francis no-kill animal shelter in Kenosha, Wis., when officials swarmed the shelter with a search warrant.

“[There were] nine [Department of Natural Resources] agents and four deputy sheriffs, and they were all armed to the teeth,” Mr. Schulze told WISN 12. “It was like a SWAT team.”

The agents were there to retrieve a baby deer named Giggles that was dropped off by a family worried she had been abandoned by her mother, the station reported. Wisconsin law forbids the possession of wildlife.

“I said the deer is scheduled to go to the wildlife reserve the next day,” Mr. Schulze told the station. “I was thinking in my mind they were going to take the deer and take it to a wildlife shelter, and here they come carrying the baby deer over their shoulder. She was in a body bag. I said, ‘Why did you do that?’ He said, ‘That’s our policy,’ and I said, ‘That’s one hell of a policy.’”

Department of Natural Resources Supervisor Jennifer Niemeyer told WISN 12 that the law requires DNR agents to euthanize wild animals because of their potential danger.

The station asked if the raid could have been done in a less costly manner by making a phone call first.

“If a sheriff’s department is going in to do a search warrant on a drug bust, they don’t call them and ask them to voluntarily surrender their marijuana or whatever drug that they have before they show up,” the supervisor responded.

Shelter president Cindy Schultz said she plans to sue the agency. “They went way over the top for a little, tiny, baby deer,” Miss Schultz said.



Living the dream? Record Number 21 Million Young Adults Living With Parents

A record number of young adults are living with their parents. A new study from Pew Research finds that 36 percent of Millennials – young adults ages 18 to 31 – are living at their parents’ homes, the highest number in four decades. A record 21.6 million young adults were still living at home last year.

“Most of my friends that have graduated end up living back home because even if they have a job they can’t afford to pay rent and pay back their loans at the same time,” Stephanie Levonne, a 20-year-old college student living at home, told CBS News. “I know a lot of people that took out almost half or more of their tuition in loans which is $50,000 so it’s impossible to pay rent and live in New York City while paying off your loan.”

The number rose from 32 percent at the beginning of the Great Recession in 2007 and 34 percent in 2009.

Declining employment led more young adults to stay with their parents. Sixty-three percent of Millennials had jobs in 2012, down from 70 percent in 2007.



Obama's Creeping Authoritarianism

Imposed law replaces checks and balances

If we learned anything about Barack Obama in his first term it is that when he starts repeating the same idea over and over, what's on his mind is something else.

The first term's over-and-over subject was "the wealthiest 1%." Past some point, people wondered why he kept beating these half-dead horses. After the election, we knew. It was to propagandize the targeted voting base that would provide his 4% popular-vote margin of victory—very young voters and minorities. They believed. He won.

The second-term over-and-over, elevated in his summer speech tour, is the shafting of the middle class. But the real purpose here isn't the speeches' parboiled proposals. It is what he says the shafting of the middle class is forcing him to do. It is forcing him to "act"—to undertake an unprecedented exercise of presidential power in domestic policy-making. ObamaCare was legislated. In the second term, new law will come from him.

Please don't complain later that you didn't see it coming. As always, Mr. Obama states publicly what his intentions are. He is doing that now. Toward the end of his speech last week in Jacksonville, Fla., he said: "So where I can act on my own, I'm going to act on my own. I won't wait for Congress." (Applause.)

The July 24 speech at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., has at least four references to his intent to act on his own authority, as he interprets it: "That means whatever executive authority I have to help the middle class, I'll use it." (Applause.) And: "We're going to do everything we can, wherever we can, with or without Congress."

Every president since George Washington has felt frustration with the American system's impediments to change. This president is done with Congress.

The political left, historically inclined by ideological belief to public policy that is imposed rather than legislated, will support Mr. Obama's expansion of authority. The rest of us should not.

The U.S. has a system of checks and balances. Mr. Obama is rebalancing the system toward a national-leader model that is alien to the American tradition.

To create public support for so much unilateral authority, Mr. Obama needs to lessen support for the other two branches of government—Congress and the judiciary. He is doing that.

Mr. Obama and his supporters in the punditocracy are defending this escalation by arguing that Congress is "gridlocked." But don't overstate that low congressional approval rating. This is the one branch that represents the views of all Americans. It's gridlocked because voters are.

Take a closer look at the Galesburg and Jacksonville speeches. Mr. Obama doesn't merely criticize Congress. He mocks it repeatedly. Washington "ignored" problems. It "made things worse." It "manufactures" crises and "phony scandals." He is persuading his audiences to set Congress aside and let him act.

So too the judiciary. During his 2010 State of the Union speech, Mr. Obama denounced the Supreme Court Justices in front of him. The National Labor Relations Board has continued to issue orders despite two federal court rulings forbidding it to do so. Attorney General Eric Holder says he will use a different section of the Voting Rights Act to impose requirements on Southern states that the Supreme Court ruled illegal. Mr. Obama's repeated flouting of the judiciary and its decisions are undermining its institutional authority, as intended.

The three administration nominees enabled by the Senate's filibuster deal—Richard Cordray at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Thomas Perez at the Labor Department and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy—open a vast swath of American life to executive authority on steroids. There won't be enough hours in the day for Mr. Obama to "act on my own."

In a recent Journal op-ed, "Obama Suspends the Law," former federal judge Michael McConnell noted there are few means to stop a president who decides he is not obligated to execute laws as passed by Congress. So there's little reason to doubt we'll see more Obamaesque dismissals of established law, as with ObamaCare's employer mandate. Mr. Obama is pushing in a direction that has the potential for a political crisis.

A principled opposition would speak out. Barack Obama is right that he isn't running again. But the Democratic Party is. Their Republican opponents should force the party's incumbents to defend the president's creeping authoritarianism.

If Democratic Senate incumbents or candidates from Louisiana, Alaska, Missouri, Arkansas, North Carolina, Montana and Iowa think voters should accede to a new American system in which a president forces laws into place as his prerogative rather than first passing them through Congress, they should be made to say so.

And to be sure, the other purpose of the shafted middle-class tour is to demolish the GOP's standing with independent voters and take back the House in 2014. If that happens—and absent a more public, aggressive Republican voice it may—an unchecked, unbalanced presidential system will finally arrive.

A final quotation on America's system of government: "To ensure that no person or group would amass too much power, the founders established a government in which the powers to create, implement, and adjudicate laws were separated. Each branch of government is balanced by powers in the other two coequal branches." Source: The White House website of President Barack Obama.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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)


August, 4, 2013

Philosophical reductionism

It's probably time I left problems in analytical philosophy alone. Such problems are a real brain-strain and my last academic publications on such topics were in my '20s. I am now 70. Yet what time has eroded perhaps time has also replaced. Maybe more knowledge has replaced less-keen reasoning. So I am going to say a few words about an old philosophical problem in the manifestly absurd belief that I have a solution to it.

There is a good and up to date account of the problem here. As science has progressed, it has become clear that a lot of what we do can be explained in terms of atoms and molecules in our brains interacting. We seem to be just protein machines entirely at the mercy of influences within ourselves and influences acting on us from outside. We have no freewill. All our decisions are mechanistically foreordained.

But that seems wrong. We certainly feel that we have choices and make decisions. And that is the problem of philosophical reductionism.

In both philosophy and psychology (I have an academic background in both) reductionism has long been debated, with passionate committment common on either side. A complication is that theism/atheism seems to get dragged into it. Christians triumphantly declare that their beliefs correspond to reality whereas what the mechanists say is clearly absurd. And that does burn up the mechanists, who are generally atheists. Do we need a "soul" to make the explanation of human behaviour complete?

The reference given above stresses that point. The mechanists feel that if they let go of their reductionistic explanations, they will be in danger from religion -- a most feared and abhorred fate.

I am actually, I think, going to make it easier for them. I am the most utter atheist you have ever met (like Carnap, I don't even believe that the word "God" is meaningful) but I am also profoundly grateful for the lessons I learned from Christianity in my youth. I was a very fundamentalist Christian in my teens but my readings in philosophy converted me to atheism when I was about 19. Unlike most who have undergone such a conversion, however, I still have the warmest memories of my time as a Christian and have a very high regard for Christianity.

So there is a sense in which I straddle both camps and I can therefore think about the issues without fear of what I might conclude.

And I can give my conclusion in a single sentence: Mechanists mistake how we work for what we are.

To illustrate: I may be looking close-up at a bit of canvas and see with utter clarity that it is made up of a series of coloured dots with no rhyme or reason evident in their placement. That is the sort of thing that the mechanists quite accurately see. But I cam also take a few steps back and look at the canvas as a whole. And what I see then is a French pointillist painting worth millions of dollars. Both views are of course accurate within their own context. The painting is BOTH of the things seen about it.

So what comes of all those atoms and molecules swimming about in our brains is both a literal reality and an EMERGENT reality. Our brain activity CONSTRUCTS something real and important. That, by and large, is what brains do. And that construction is both wonderful and of supreme importance. God doesn't come into it. We just need to accept that the whole can be more than the sum of its parts. And it is the existence and interactions of those higher order constructs that injects the indeterminacy into our behaviour. What is contructed will vary slightly between people and that generates debate and uncertainty. It is the EXPLANATION of our world that is important, not the atoms and molecules that enable patterns in our world to be seen and used. We really are more than what makes us work. Concentration on our internal machinery is useful for some things but for most everyday purposes it is silly and fruitless.

The concept of emergent properties is a hoary one in philosophy so one could ask why it is not widely seen as an answer to the problems of reductionism. For many (but not all) the answer to that question would seem to be a matter of ideology. Leftists in particular (and most philosophers are Leftist) find reductionism an important prop for their rejection of everything in the world about them. And declaring that we are just a collection of molecules does seem a good rationale for their gospel that "There is no such thing as right and wrong". How can there be if we are simply the product of chemical reactions?

The hilarious thing about that nihilistic account of morality, however, is that nobody believes it. Just listen to Leftists talk about apartheid, George Bush, Israel or racism and you will hear the moral language coming thick and fast. Racism is wrong even though there is no such thing as right and wrong! I pointed out long ago how attached to moral judgments Leftists are, despite their philosophy. Reason is wasted on such people.

I hasten to reiterate that reductionism is not of itself a folly. I have after all done a bit of it myself. It has its place in understanding how we work but how we work gives rise to a much bigger story.


Fox Versus the Islam-Boosting 'Mainstream'

They may find it scandalous for someone to say so, but our secular liberal media are playing favorites with religion. They have a spoiled child, Islam. Journalists see Islam as a bullied, minority faith for brown people. Draw a cartoon of Mohammed with dynamite on his head, and you are the worst kind of trouble-making hater.

But write a book declaring that Jesus isn't God? That's not picking a fight or making trouble. That actually delights media elitists. They see America as too identified with Christian-nation "intolerance," a bond that needs to be broken.

Look no further than Lauren Green's Foxnews.com interview with Muslim author Reza Aslan, who wrote a book titled "Zealot," which wildly claims that Jesus wasn't God, and (scriptural evidence be damned) Jesus never said or thought that he was.

Green's first question? "This is an interesting book. Now, I want to clarify: You are a Muslim, so why did you write a book about the founder of Christianity?"

That's hardly a ridiculous question. It is actually the necessary first question. I have written a book charging that the liberal press stole the 2012 election. Were I to appear on CNN, would it not be correct to establish from the start that I am a conservative?

But liberals sniffed "bigotry" in Green's open-ended question (which she asked several times and couldn't get a straight answer). They sensed she was saying Aslan and Muslims should somehow be banned from writing about Christianity.

In responding to Green's question, Aslan arrogantly lectured Green like she was a little girl, dismissing her question as impudent. He claimed, "I am an expert with a Ph.D. in the history of religions. ... To be clear, I want to emphasize one more time, I am a historian. I am a Ph.D. in the history of religions."

That is emphatically false. The Ph.D. was in sociology, something entirely different. He also has a master of arts in fiction. That qualification seems more appropriate here. In an interview on NPR's "Weekend Edition," Aslan had another "cringe worthy" moment that even NPR felt pressed to correct on its website: "Our guest incorrectly says the first Gospel, the Gospel of Mark, contains no statement of messianic identity from Jesus. In fact, in Mark 14:62, Jesus responds affirmatively when asked if he is the Son of God."

NPR didn't say "inadvertently." Not "mistakenly." The word they chose — "incorrectly" — speaks volumes. Aslan was pushing a falsehood.

Reverse this media phenomenon: What if it were a Muslim who converted to Christianity claiming Mohammed wasn't a prophet? For starters, no one in today's press would ever give him the time of day; or if they did, the first question would certainly be Lauren Green's question: Aren't you biased?

The adjectives piled up to describe this interview filled a thesaurus of trash talk. MSNBC midday host Alex Wagner made a list of liberal blog babble: "It's been called absolutely demented, cringe worthy, excruciating, breathtakingly incurious, a complete car crash, the most embarrassing interview Fox News has ever done."

As she interviewed Aslan, Wagner boasted "Fox has revealed two biases; anti-Muslim and also anti-fact." Fact-challenged Aslan announced his interview was a "jump the shark" moment marking the decline and fall of Fox News. Soon, MSNBC will be number one?

A professor named Jeffrey Scholes exemplified perfectly the liberal superiority dance against "Christian privilege" on the blog Religion Dispatches

"Many of us want to see the scholar vs. the dilettante; the open-minded vs. the close-minded; the objective vs. the subjective; the facts vs. values." These people actually believe liberalism is objective, and liberals deal in facts, unlike conservatives. He continued: "More to the point, the interview presents us with a real shot at projection: We finally get the chance to stick it to Fox News, especially as it shows itself to be less than 'Fair and Balanced.'"

No one mocking Fox and Green gave them any credit for extending an interview to Aslan in the first place. And no one acknowledged the sad fact that Green is the only religion correspondent at a national TV news network. The boob-tube "news" crews don't darken church doors and feel no need to have any expertise in any religion's sacred texts or theology.

But Aslan can be hailed on every liberal outlet, with hosts shamelessly aiming to "juice" his book sales, as MSNBC's Wagner put it. "Please do read the book," she pleaded. In an interview on "The Daily Show," substitute host John Oliver was over the top: "I loved this book," he said in the first minute. At interview's end, he repeated: "I absolutely love this book! You gotta get it. ... The fantastic Reza Aslan!"

This might be obvious, since mocking the divinity of Jesus Christ from Jon Stewart to "South Park" is the daily bread of Comedy Central. And mocking Mohammed is banned.



The Great Defunding Obamacare Debate


Congress is going on vacation in August and the President will be taking another one in Martha's Vineyard where the very rich and the extremely rich pass a summer's day. When both return they will have until September 30 to pass a continuing resolution; the way the government has been funded for many years.

On the table will be the need to raise the debt ceiling to allow the U.S. to borrow enough money to pay off the largest debt in U.S. history. In his first term, Obama borrowed more than all preceding Presidents combined. His "stimulus" package didn't work and neither has anything else that might pass for an economic policy. The nation has been stuck in a rut of very low, inadequate growth for five years during which Obama spent the first four blaming George W. Bush and the last year blaming the Republicans.

Looming ahead to further exacerbate the nation's economic decline is the implementation of Obamacare. Nobody seems to like it much. Major unions have written Obama, telling him to "fix" it and hardly a day goes by that we don't learn some new horrid thing about it. Nearly half the states refused to set up the insurance exchanges it requires. By nearly everyone's assessment, it is unworkable.

How bad is Obamacare? As far back as 2009 the Democrats in Congress tried to get themselves and their staffs exempted from it.

There is a debate raging among Republicans over whether to defund Obamacare as a way of avoiding its full implementation and driving a stake through its heart until it can be repealed. The White House is, as usual, lying to the public, saying this would "shut down" the government. It would not. The only services that would be affected would be those deemed "non-essential."

Rep. John Boehner, the Speaker of the House, has maintained that repeal of Obamacare is the only solution. It is not the only answer. Defunding its implementation has been an option since it was signed into law. Boehner (R-OH) has been sharply criticized for not putting this option before the House. Now there's a momentum growing in both the House and Senate to defund Obamacare.

"Republicans in the Senate and Republicans in the House need to stand on this issue, need to refuse to budge," says Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), "because we will be complicit in Obamacare...if we provide funding for the administration to do that." Defunding would be a victory for the Tea Party movement that was instrumental in electing Senators Ted Cruz (R-Cruz), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and others.

Leading the effort to defund Obamacare, the Heritage Foundation reports that it is closing in on securing enough co-sponsors of the Defunding Obamacare Act of 2013 to achieve "critical mass in the House", but notes that "the Washington Establishment is more interested in striking a deal with President Obama on immigration, taxes, and spending than fighting to defund Obamacare."

The House, which has passed any number of bills to repeal Obamacare at this point, controls the "purse strings" because all laws involving spending can only be initiated there. The bills, however, never go farther than the House.

Obama knows that the last thing Republicans on Capitol Hill want is to be blamed for causing the government to "shut down." Political pundits recall that when it happened in 1995 everyone blamed then-Speaker Newt Gingrich and the GOP, but what they don't remember is that, in 1996, the party picked up seats in the Senate and continued its control of the House. That could be a 2014 scenario, but these are different times with different players involved.

The problem the Republican Party has, in addition to a whole bunch of very squishy members in Congress, is a media that will defend Obama and Obamacare by framing the situation as one of intransigence and a blind desire to punish the President who bested them in 2012 by getting reelected.

The bigger problem, however, is Obamacare.

In my opinion, the Republicans in the House will likely not vote to defund it because they are looking ahead to the 2014 midterm elections. It is easier to fuss about the debt ceiling, get a few spending cuts, and use Obamacare as an issue to secure political control of Congress next year. Only then would the GOP be in a position to repeal Obamacare. To politicians on Capitol Hill, it is a less scary scenario. I would never bet on the courage of politicians.

One possible outcome for Obamacare would be something comparable to the fate of Prohibition, the national ban on the sale, production, and transportation of alcohol that was the law of the land from 1920 to 1933. It was enacted by the 18th Amendment and repealed by the 21st due to its unpopularity. It too was unworkable.

The only thing we know for sure about Obamacare is that it will ruin the best healthcare system in the world and it will end up killing people.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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)


August, 2, 2013

Why Won't the Media Cover Huma Abedin's Ties to Global Jihad Movement?

Nationalized health care was one of the first programs enacted by the Bolsheviks after they seized power in 1917. Nearly a century later, the U.S. enacted "Obamacare."

Who won the Cold War again? This is one of the questions I work over in my new book, "American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character" (St. Martin's Press). Can we realistically claim liberty and free markets triumphed over collectivism when today there is only a thin Senate line trying to fend off Obamacare's totalitarian intrusions into citizens' lives? We see perhaps a dozen or so patriots led by conservative ace Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, gallantly mustering forces to defund further enforcement of this government behemoth aborning. (Call your senators and ask them to join - or tell you why they didn't at the next town hall.) How can we maintain that the republic endured when a centralized super-state has taken its place?

So, once more, who really won the Cold War? The question is better framed when we realize that the battleground where the Free World met Marx was also psychological. Consciously or not, we struggled against an insidious Marxist ideology that was always, at root, an assault on our nation's character.

The most recent manifestation of victory over the American character shows through the Anthony Weiner-Huma Abedin scandal. This scandal is a paradoxical double whammy of both exposure and cover-up.

Everyone knows (too much) about the exposure part: Anthony Weiner, candidate for mayor of New York City, turns out to be a recidivist pervert. The fatuous conversation that has followed this "news" has turned on the decision of Weiner's wife, Huma Abedin, to step forward to try to salvage her husband's bid for public office. The Wall Street Journal's response to Abedin's decision was typical: "Watching the elegant Huma Abedin stand next to her man Tuesday as he explained his latest sexually charged online exchanges was painful for a normal human being to watch."

The media want to know why the "elegant Huma" - Hillary Clinton's longtime aide and former deputy chief of staff - would do such an inelegant thing. Was this couple's therapy writ large? Was it for their child? Was it ... love?

True, the barbs of Huma's ambition - as naked as her husband's dirty pics - have broken through the gauzy chatter. But cut off from context, they, too, end up perpetuating what is, in fact, the great Huma Abedin cover-up.

It is not enough to analyze Huma Abedin as a "political wife." Abedin is also a veritable Muslim Brotherhood princess. As such, the ideological implications of her actions - plus her long and privileged access to U.S. policy-making through Hillary Clinton - must be considered, particularly in the context of national security.

But talk about paradoxes. In an era when the most minute and lurid descriptions of her husband's anatomical and sexual details are common talk, Huma Abedin's familial and professional connections to the world of jihad are unspeakable.

In a nutshell - quoting former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy writing at National Review this week - Huma Abedin "worked for many years at a journal that promotes Islamic supremacist ideology that was founded by a top al-Qaida financier, Abdullah Omar Naseef." That would be for at least seven years (1996-2003), by the way, during which Abedin also worked for Hillary Clinton.

Let this sink in for just a moment. The journal Huma worked for - which promotes Islamic supremacism and was founded by al-Qaida financer Naseef, who also headed the Muslim World League, a leading Muslim Brotherhood organization - is called the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs. It was edited first by Huma's father, Syed Abedin, and now by her mother, Saleha Abedin. Saleha is a member of the Muslim Sisterhood. Mother Abedin also directs an organization (the International Islamic Committee for Woman and Child) that comes under the umbrella of the Union for Good, another U.S.-designated terrorist organization. As McCarthy reminds us, "the Union for Good is led by Sheikh Yusef al-Qaradawi, the notorious Muslim Brotherhood jurist who has issued fatwas calling for the killing of American military and support personnel in Iraq as well as suicide bombings in Israel."

Given these alarming professional and family associations, it is hard to imagine how Huma Abedin ever received the security clearance necessary to work closely with the secretary of state. But she did, and from her powerful post, she undoubtedly exerted influence over U.S. policy-making. (In his National Review piece, McCarthy lists specific actions that bespeak a shift in U.S. foreign policy to favor the Muslim Brotherhood.)

Isn't the Abedin-Clinton national security story at least as newsworthy as Weiner's private parts?

At this point, only McCarthy's National Review piece reprises these well-documented facts. In other words, it is not only CNN and the New York Times that draw blanks for their readers. Most "conservative" outlets, including Fox News, the New York Post, The Blaze, Breitbart.com and Rush Limbaugh, are ignoring this story, too.

If the Abedin-Muslim Brotherhood story rings any bells, it is probably because of Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn. Last summer, Bachmann, along with four other House Republicans, raised the issue of Huma Abedin among other examples of possible Muslim Brotherhood penetration of the federal policy-making chain. They asked inspectors general at five departments, including the State Department, to investigate their concerns, but nothing happened - nothing, that is, except that Bachmann was crucified, by Democrats and Republicans alike for asking urgently important questions about national security.

This made the entire subject, already taboo, positively radioactive - with Huma Abedin becoming the poster victim of this supposed "McCarthyism" redux. End of story. Never mind facts. Never mind also that in his day, Sen. Joseph McCarthy was asking urgently important questions about national security, too.

But don't worry. We "won" the Cold War. Obamacare, here we come. At this rate, we'll declare "victory" in the so-called war on terror and, before you know it, become a leading outpost of the caliphate.



Take your jobs plan and shove it, Mr. President: Your policies have harmed Chattanooga enough

I always thought that Chattanooga was mainly famous for its choo choo but it seems that they have an excellent newspaper editorialist too. On Tuesday, Obama pitched a new 'grand bargain' on jobs in Chattanooga

President Obama,

Welcome to Chattanooga, one of hundreds of cities throughout this great nation struggling to succeed in spite of your foolish policies that limit job creation, stifle economic growth and suffocate the entrepreneurial spirit.

Forgive us if you are not greeted with the same level of Southern hospitality that our area usually bestows on its distinguished guests. You see, we understand you are in town to share your umpteenth different job creation plan during your time in office. If it works as well as your other job creation programs, then thanks, but no thanks. We’d prefer you keep it to yourself.

That’s because your jobs creation plans so far have included a ridiculous government spending spree and punitive tax increase on job creators that were passed, as well as a minimum wage increase that, thankfully, was not. Economists — and regular folks with a basic understanding of math — understand that these are three of the most damaging policies imaginable when a country is mired in unemployment and starving for job growth.

Even though 64 percent of Chattanooga respondents said they would rather you hadn’t chosen to visit our fair city, according to a survey on the Times Free Press website, it’s probably good that you’re here. It will give you an opportunity to see the failure of your most comprehensive jobs plan to date, the disastrous stimulus scheme, up close and personal.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 helped fund the Gig to Nowhere project, a $552 million socialist-style experiment in government-owned Internet, cable and phone services orchestrated by EPB — Chattanooga’s government-owned electric monopoly.

• • •

The Gig to Nowhere is a Smart Grid, a high tech local electricity infrastructure intended to improve energy efficiency and reduce power outages. After lobbying for, and receiving, $111.6 million in stimulus money from your administration, EPB decided to build a souped-up version of the Smart Grid with fiber optics rather than more cost-effective wireless technology. This decision was supposed to allow EPB to provide the fastest Internet service in the Western Hemisphere, a gigabit-per-second Internet speed that would send tech companies and web entrepreneurs stampeding to Chattanooga in droves.

In reality, though, the gig, like most of the projects funded by your stimulus plan, has been an absolute bust.

While the Smart Grid will cost taxpayers and local electric customers well over a half-billion dollars when all is said and done, there has been little improvement in the quality of EPB’s electric service. Worse, despite being heavily subsidized, EPB’s government-owned Internet, cable and telephone outfit that competes head-to-head against private companies like AT&T and Comcast is barely staying afloat, often relying on loans from electric service reserve funds to afford its business expenses.

Further, there has been no credible evidence to suggest that EPB can even provide a gig of service consistently and reliably. Any companies hoping to utilize the Gig to Nowhere are quoted monthly billing costs that make the service unfeasible. As a result, Chattanooga has remained a relative ghost town for technological innovation. Almost no economic development whatsoever has resulted from the gig.

• • •

What the gig has brought, however, is that shocking price tag. Because of your unwillingness to balance the budget, Mr. President, the $111.6 million federal handout to subsidize the Gig to Nowhere will actually cost federal taxpayers $158.2 million, due to interest. Once EPB received the stimulus infusion to fund the pork project, the electric monopoly took out a $219.8 bond that will balloon to $391.3 million by the time Chattanoogans are done paying it off.

The bond’s first payment comes due this fall and there remain significant questions about how EPB can manage to pay the debt without hiking electric rates on EPB customers.

Building a Smart Grid to get into a telecom sector already well-served by private companies was a bad idea from the start. But getting government involved in places it doesn’t belong is a hallmark of your administration. As a result, you and your policymakers were happy to fund the Gig to Nowhere.

You claimed that the Smart Grid would create jobs for Chattanooga. But in reality, all it did was push America deeper in debt and lure a local government agency into making a terrible financial decision that will weigh on Chattanoogans like a millstone for decades to come.

So excuse us, Mr. President, for our lack of enthusiasm for your new jobs program. Here in Chattanooga we’re still reeling from your old one.



CT Newspaper Compares the KKK to Ted Nugent, Fox News and All Republicans

But the KKK were Democrats!

The New Haven Register’s recent editorial piece, ““The KKK, Ted Nugent, and ‘mainstream’ racism,” is a must-read.

No, not for the interesting facts or intellectual stimulation; you won’t find any of that. It is a very important read though, as it illustrates the new era of liberal media; a time when unfounded, libel accusations are made against conservatives, with little to no worry of the consequences.

On Monday, The Register’s editorial article accused The Republican Party, Fox News and individuals such as Ann Coulter of holding and promoting the same beliefs as the KKK.

Three weeks ago, members of an Alabama-based group, called the United Klans of America, distributed flyers throughout Milford Connecticut which read: “You can sleep well tonight knowing the UKA is awake!” The UKA claims to be a new version of the Ku Klux Klan and their stunt is being investigated by Connecticut police and may lead to criminal charges.

The actions of a few, ideologically deranged people were dealt with appropriately by the state’s officials, elected representatives, city police and Milford citizens. They saw the stunt as a travesty; the editors over at the New Haven Register; however, saw it as an opportunity.

Three weeks after the event took place, The Register used the stunt in Milford as a faulty spring board to directly compare individual conservative voices, Fox News, and the National Republican Party to the KKK.

“The same basic message that the KKK has promoted for 148 years is embraced by the likes of…Fox News, Ann Coulter, a burgeoning array of fringe “conservative” media and members of our own community commenting on stories on the New Haven Register’s website." ...

It’s not an anomaly when a member of the liberal media or press says something unkind about the conservative base. It is rare; however, when a reputable news source like the New Haven Register publishes blatant libelous accusations against individuals, fellow news corporations and national parties without any evidence to back them up.

To compare any person or any entity to an organization like the KKK, or the UKA, one should have hard facts connecting them racist rhetoric—spouting ideas that inherent differences between races make one race superior to another- or promoting/actively engaging in the sought-out violence against African Americans.

The Register’s article was clearly a cheap attempt to deflect the tough conversations the country is starting to have about race relations. If liberals acknowledged the high crime rates and low graduation rates that exist in minority communities, they would be forced to realize that most of their social programs and highly-funded public schools are failing the African American community. So, instead, they create a false narrative of ‘conservative racism,’ and put off finding real solutions for those who are struggling.

If the Register has any evidence of The National Republican party promoting or advocating racism, by all means, bring it to light and let there be justice. But accusations of racism for the sake of deflecting tough issues is libel, irresponsible, and nothing short of morally wrong.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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)


August, 1, 2013

A failed Presidency already visible

Will history recall ANY positive accomplishments of the Obama regime?

Re-elected presidents always find it difficult to sustain first-term momentum for their agenda into a second four years. First terms are often capped by bruising re-election campaigns, making it tough to sustain political backing and public interest. Plus, significant turnover in the president's cabinet and among his senior advisors in the first year of a second term can create debilitating continuity of management challenges.

So the tendency is to stick with "what works," which is to say to keep talking about the same issues, programs and policies that prevailed in the first term. Put another way, presidents become prisoners of their own narratives. Thus, Obama's Galesburg address offered no genuinely new ideas, as indeed his advisers warned would be the case beforehand

One phrase captures the essence of Obama's second term domestic vision, "more of the same:" More stimulus spending, more green energy development boondoggles, more "investments" - i.e. federal spending and regulation - on student loans, mortgage refinance programs and Obamacare, and more tax "reforms" to make the top 1 percent of income earners pay "their fair share." Obama cannot deviate from this programmatic menu because doing so would be an admission of failure, one that is pointedly reflected in the declining number of Americans with jobs or still looking for jobs, the growing Food Stamp recipient rolls and a steady accumulation of evidence that the Obamacare train wreck is gathering speed.

Then there are the scandals. Obama suffered little damage in his first term when the headlines were about Solyndra, Fast and Furious and related matters. But it's different now because of Benghazi, NSA surveillance, and IRS harassment of the president's Tea Party critics. Virtually every president stumbles as a result of scandals, but they often become far more serious matters early in a second term (think Nixon's Watergate, Reagan's Iran-Contra and Clinton's Monica Lewinsky trials, all of which became major disruptions following their re-elections).

Second term scandals may intensify in part because presidents invariably dismiss them as unimportant, just as Obama yesterday referred to his troubles as "phony." But he likely won't be any more convincing with that line than Nixon was in calling Watergate "a second-rate burglary." Similarly, Obama's exasperated "I am here to say this needs to stop" recalled Clinton's finger-wagging order, "I want you to listen to me ... I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky ..."

But a presidential dalliance with an intern is a far cry from using the IRS to silence political opponents or covering up incompetence that killed four brave Americans in Libya, nor is there anything phony about the potential consequences for Obama.



How U.S. Steel Helped Break Down Racism

My economic historian friend, Jeff Hummel, has recommended for years that I read David M. Kennedy's Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945. Kennedy is a first-rate historian at Stanford. I'm enjoying the book as I'm working my way slowly through it. Jeff warned me that Kennedy is not an economist, but he is so careful with his facts that an economist can read it and sometimes substitute his own judgment, based on economics, for Kennedy's. Here's the first place in the book where I noticed that possible absence of economic knowledge. Although possibly not; maybe it's a tone thing. Judge for yourself.

Kennedy writes:

"Fancying themselves as labor's aristocracy, craft unionists ignored the problems of their unskilled co-workers. Ethnic rivalries exacerbated the troubles in the house of labor. Skilled workers tended to be old-stock, native-born white Americans, while the unskilled were mostly recent urban immigrants from the hinterlands of Europe and rural America. The AFL [American Federation of Labor], in thus insulating itself from the men and women who were fast becoming the majority of industrial workers, handed management a potent antilabor weapon. Management knew how to use it. U.S. Steel cynically exploited the ethnic divisions that were the bane of American unionism when the AFL in 1919 hesitantly abandoned its traditionally elitist attitudes and led a strike to organize an industrial union in steel. The corporation sent agents into the steel districts around Chicago and Pittsburgh to spawn animosity between native and immigrant workers. They excited the strikers' darkest anxieties by recruiting some thirty thousand southern blacks, hungry to possess previously forbidden jobs, to cross the picket lines. On these rocks of racial and ethnic distrust, the great steel strike of 1919 foundered miserably."

From everything I know about that era, Kennedy gets it exactly right. U.S. unions were highly racist in those days, a fact that former President Jimmy Carter's Secretary of Labor, economist F. Ray Marshall, spent much of his academic career documenting. And certainly it would make sense for U.S. Steel to cynically exploit this racism by the white unions. Finally, it's true that those jobs were traditionally off-limits to black people, largely because of the white unions' actions, sometimes including murdering their black competitors. That's why two early 20th-century black leaders, Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois, although strongly at odds with each other about strategy, agreed that unions were anti-black. As DuBois put it, unions are "the greatest enemy of the black working man."

So why am I highlighting this?

Over the years, I've taught myself to have two personae when reading: that of an economist and that of a normal, non-economically-literate person. The second of my personae reacted highly negatively to U.S. Steel. After all, U.S. Steel acted "cynically" and "exploited" ethnic divisions. Also, U.S. Steel was "antilabor." That's pretty damning, especially to one who picks up on emotive words.

But the economist in me thinks much differently. I'm perfectly willing to believe that U.S. Steel acted cynically and exploited ethnic divisions. But that doesn't mean U.S. Steel was anti-labor. It means that U.S. Steel was anti-union. U.S. Steel was profoundly pro a particular group of laborers, namely 30,000 black laborers who were "hungry to possess previously forbidden jobs."

It's possible that Kennedy knows all this. It's possible that he doesn't. I simply want to point out the bottom line that David Kennedy has shown: U.S. Steel helped break down racism.



Another lying Muslim

There is a bit of a hubbub in the interwebs about an interview conducted by Lauren Green, religion correspondent for Fox News Channel, with Reza Aslan, author of a new book on Jesus titled Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. Our friend Joe Carter, over at GetReligion, has the basic story. Green launched the interview (available here in full) with a question about why a Muslim should want to write a book about Jesus. A reasonable question, and not a hostile one on its face–but by the end of the interview Green has returned to it in a somewhat more accusatory fashion. As Joe says, the interview is a mess. But as he also points out, Green’s critics are passing right by something far more interesting: that Aslan has misrepresented his scholarly credentials.

In fact, it is Aslan who immediately turns the interview into a cage match by reacting very defensively to Green’s first question. And here is where the misrepresentations begin. For roughly the first half of the interview Aslan dominates the exchange with assertions about himself that seem intended to delay the substance of the discussion:

I am a scholar of religions with four degrees including one in the New Testament . . . I am an expert with a Ph.D. in the history of religions . . . I am a professor of religions, including the New Testament–that’s what I do for a living, actually . . . To be clear, I want to emphasize one more time, I am a historian, I am a Ph.D. in the history of religions.

Later he complains that they are “debating the right of the scholar to write” the book rather than discussing the book. But the conversation took that turn thanks to Aslan, not Green! By the final minute he is saying of himself (and who really talks this way!?) that “I’m actually quite a prominent Muslim thinker in the United States.”

Aslan does have four degrees, as Joe Carter has noted: a 1995 B.A. in religion from Santa Clara University, where he was Phi Beta Kappa and wrote his senior thesis on “The Messianic Secret in the Gospel of Mark”; a 1999 Master of Theological Studies from Harvard; a 2002 Master of Fine Arts in Fiction from the University of Iowa; and a 2009 Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

None of these degrees is in history, so Aslan’s repeated claims that he has “a Ph.D. in the history of religions” and that he is “a historian” are false. Nor is “professor of religions” what he does “for a living.” He is an associate professor in the Creative Writing program at the University of California, Riverside, where his terminal MFA in fiction from Iowa is his relevant academic credential. It appears he has taught some courses on Islam in the past, and he may do so now, moonlighting from his creative writing duties at Riverside. Aslan has been a busy popular writer, and he is certainly a tireless self-promoter, but he is nowhere known in the academic world as a scholar of the history of religion. And a scholarly historian of early Christianity? Nope.

What about that Ph.D.? As already noted, it was in sociology. I have his dissertation in front of me. It is a 140-page work titled “Global Jihadism as a Transnational Social Movement: A Theoretical Framework.” If Aslan’s Ph.D. is the basis of a claim to scholarly credentials, he could plausibly claim to be an expert on social movements in twentieth-century Islam. He cannot plausibly claim, as he did to Lauren Green, that he is a “historian,” or is a “professor of religions” “for a living.”

It may be that Aslan sensed a tougher interview from Lauren Green than he is accustomed to. Hence he immediately went into high-dudgeon mode, and made the ten minutes all about her alleged disrespect of him and his alleged scholarly credentials. But in order to change the subject he told a string of gratuitous falsehoods about himself. Perhaps that master’s in fiction writing came in handy.

Is Aslan’s book worth reading? I have no idea. But he has earned enough distrust from me that I haven’t any interest in finding out.



From ‘Anti-Communist’ to ‘Counterjihadist’

Remember when “anti-Communist” was a preferred leftist term of abuse? “Oh, you’re an anti-Communist” — translation: you’re not one of the trendy people and, moreover, you probably harbor “McCarthyite” tendencies and think Ronald Reagan (the American cowboy) is more of a hero than Mikhail Gorbachev, the glamorous prophet of perestroika.

Think back to the 1980s. Was there any cool person you knew who didn’t glamorize Gorbachev? Every academic (near enough) did, and of course the media slobbered all over the guy. Was he a Communist to the very end? Yes, but for Dan-Diane Sawyer-Rather, for the battalions of scribes who scribbled about such things in the pages of the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Washington Post and other approved outlets, Gorbachev was the hero, Reagan the crazy, trigger-happy anti-Communist.

“Star Wars”: Oh, with what contempt they uttered that dismissive phrase. “Evil Empire,” forsooth. What a dangerous clown he was. Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative, his plan to deploy a missile defense system (which, incidentally, he offered to share with the Soviet Union): what a joke, what a stupidity! It was ruinously expensive and [deep breath] would never work and destabilizing and why-would-we-need-to-protect-ourselves-from-a-cuddly-sophisticate-like-Mikhail-Gorbachev-with-his-chic-wife?

Then, quite suddenly, the Soviet Union was no more. It just, you know, vanished. “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall.” Reagan said that one day in Berlin and, presto-change-o, down came the wall. Star Wars, SDI, had helped expose the empty, burnt-out shell that was the fag-end of the lumbering, senile Communist redoubt. And then at last all the beautiful, right-thinking (i.e., left-leaning) folk who had ridiculed Reagan and Star Wars and his repulsive talk of the Soviet Union being an “Evil Empire” — suddenly, they woke up and realized what fools they had been and thanked Reagan and those who had supported him for helping to end one of the most monstrous tyrannies in history …

Except, of course, they did no such thing. Reagan was still, must always be to blame, though enough water has passed under the bridge by now that he is no longer scary because he has receded into the impotence of history.

No one talks about anti-Communists now because that threat — under that name, anyway — has more or less passed. Today’s anti-Communists are the Islamophobes, those folks (like me) who think that the Islamic effort to spread Sharia (i.e., Islamic law) is fundamentally incompatible with liberal democracy with its principles of free speech, freedom of religion, and political equality of men and women.

“Islamophobia”: what sort of beast is that? A phobia, as I have been at pains to point out in this space and elsewhere, is an irrational fear or hatred. Is it irrational to fear and hate an ideology that denies the equality of the sexes, murders apostates and homosexuals, wishes to subjugate the non-Islamic world, and has consigned Jews and Christians to the perilous second-class citizenship of dhimmitude? (“First the Saturday People,” runs an Islamic slogan, “then the Sunday People”: first we’ll deal with the Jews, then move on to the Christians.)

Who rules the language, rules the world. Orwell knew that. And so does the Left. “Islamophobia” is a mendacious neologism designed to obscure the reality of Islamic ideology. Major Nidal Hasan shouts “Allahu Akbar” and murders 13 people at Fort Hood. What do you call that? I call it “Islamic terrorism.” The Obama administration insists it’s “workplace violence.” In 2007, some young Muslim packs a Jeep Cherokee full of propane canisters and detonates it at the Glasgow airport. What do you call that? I call it “Islamic terrorism.” Jacqui Smith, then the British home secretary, insists that we call it “anti-Islamic activity.” (How’s that for an example of the “no-true-Scotsman” fallacy?)

In a brilliant, no-to-be-missed column for Frontpage.com, the Scandinavian-based Bruce Bawer reports on the Left’s latest piece of linguistic mendacity: “counterjihad.” Yesterday it was the anti-Communists who were the bad guys. Today, it’s the counterjihadists:

"The “counterjihadists” are the villains — the hysterics, the fools, who see a Muslim under every bed, with a bomb in his turban. Meanwhile the good guys are the counter-counterjihadists — the journalists, activists, and others who make a career of slamming Islam’s critics, whom they frequently represent (especially over here in Scandinavia) as “conspiracy theorists.” For just as the anti-Communists of yesteryear were viewed not as sober, well-informed students of life behind the Iron Curtain but as obsessive, ignorant haters, we counterjihadists are viewed not as people who’ve read the Koran and studied Islamic societies and subcultures but as semi-literate morons and bigots."



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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.

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)

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.

Two examples of Leftist racism below (much more here and here):

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."

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.

R.I.P. Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet deposed a law-defying Marxist President at the express and desperate invitation of the Chilean parliament. He 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

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!

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.

America's uncivil war was caused by trade protectionism. The slavery issue was just camouflage, as Abraham Lincoln himself admitted. See also here

Did William Zantzinger kill poor Hattie Carroll?

Did Bismarck predict where WWI would start or was it just a "free" translation by Churchill?

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.


Beware of good intentions. They mostly lead to coercion

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

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 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.

"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."

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.

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


"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

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)

My (Gentile) opinion of antisemitism: The Jews are the best we've got so killing them is killing us.

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.

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

"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.

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.

Eugenio Pacelli, a righteous Gentile, a true man of God and a brilliant Pope


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!)

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

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"

Index page for this site


"Tongue Tied"
"Dissecting Leftism" (Backup here)
"Australian Politics"
"Education Watch International"
"Political Correctness Watch"
"Greenie Watch"
"Food & Health Skeptic"
"Eye on Britain"
"Immigration Watch International" blog.


"Marx & Engels in their own words"
"A scripture blog"
"Some memoirs"
To be continued ....
Queensland Police -- A barrel with lots of bad apples
Australian Police News
Of Interest


"Leftists as Elitists"
Socialized Medicine
Western Heart
QANTAS -- A dying octopus
BRIAN LEITER (Ladderman)
Obama Watch
Obama Watch (2)
Dissecting Leftism -- Large font site
Michael Darby
The Kogarah Madhouse (St George Bank)
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)

Main academic menu
Menu of recent writings
basic home page
Pictorial Home Page (Backup here).
Selected pictures from blogs (Backup here)
Another picture page (Best with broadband. Rarely updated)

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: