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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27 February, 2015

"The pirates of Penzance" as satire

And some surprising political implications

If the above title sounds very much like the title for a Ph.D. dissertation I suppose my academic background is to blame for that. Unlike a Ph.D. dissertation, however, all I want to set down here are a few comments.

I first saw "Pirates" when I took my (then) teenage son to see a well-reviewed production of it here in Brisbane. I am not at all a Gilbert & Sullivan devotee -- the profundity of Bach is my musical home -- but I know the G&S works as classics of entertainment. So I felt that I should help along my son's musical education. I remember another occasion in that connection. In his early teens I recommended Stravinsky to him but he said that he didn't like Stravinsky. I said to him: "Don't worry. You will". He came to me some years later and said: "John, you were right. I do like Stravinsky".

Anyway, you see far more of any Singspiel on DVD than you do in a theatre audience so I recently acquired a DVD of "Pirates". And, watching it, I did see that it had elements of satire. "Pirates" is not of course satire an sich. It is simply the madcap humour of W.S. Gilbert ably abetted by the great musical abilities of Arthur Sullivan. I see it as a forerunner of other madcap British comedies such as those of Mr. Bean, the Goons and the Pythons.

What differentiates comedy and satire is of course that satire is humour targeted at someone as a form of criticism. It is deliberately didactic. But straight comedy can teach lessons too, if only in an incidental way. And I see some of that in "Pirates". Perhaps a surprising one that I see is in the song of the "modern major general", now a widely treasured bit of fun. What Gilbert was doing in that song was referring to something that no Leftist would believe: That British military officers were and are often quite scholarly in various ways. That's not at all universal but not infrequent either. Even an RSM will often be a man of unexpected depths. The Sergeant Major of my old army unit was/is in fact a fan of Bach and Palestrina (nothing to do with Palestine). And the only Wing Commander (airforce) I know is a voracious reader with a wide knowledge of history.

Captain Cook, the 18th century British discoverer of much in the Pacific is a very good example of a scholarly military man. His discovery of the cure for scurvy alone ranks him as a distinguished scientist and his practice of quarantine was exemplary for the times.

But a much less well known but quite commendable 18th century military man with scientific interests was Watkin Tench, an officer in His Majesty's Marine Forces. He was posted to the new British colony in Australia in its very earliest days, then a hardship posting. You could lose your life just getting there and back. So he was no elite soldier and was actually from a rather humble background. His interest was meteorology and he brought with him the latest Fahrenheit thermometer. He kept a meteorological diary that included observations from his thermometer taken four times daily in a sheltered spot -- exemplary practice even today.

And his record of the Sydney summer of 1790 is particularly interesting. It was very hot. There were even bats and birds falling out of the trees from the heat. And his thermometer readings tell us exactly how hot. So we have both readings from a scientific instrument and behavioural observations that validate the readings: Very hard to question. And the solidity of his data is very useful in exposing the liars of Australia's current Bureau of Meteorology. They have got the virus of Warmism in their heads and are always claiming that Australia in whole or in part is currently experiencing a "hottest" year. And they exploit the fact that Sydney does occasionally have some very hot summers. But Tench's data show that such summers go back a long way in Sydney and hence cannot be attrributed to nonsense about the current CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. The only additions to atmospheric CO2 from the Australia of Tench's days would have been the product of breathing by various living creatures. There was not even any reticulated electricity anywhere in Australia or anywhere else at that time.

So in the famous song of the modern Major General, Gilbert was simply doing an amusing exaggeration of a real phenomenon, a military man with scientific interests, probably one better known to the British public when Gilbert wrote around 100 years ago.

I actually find prophetic Gilbert's treatment of the police ("When the foeman bares his steel"). The police have always been greatly respected in Britain -- though that must have eroded in the last two decades -- but Gilbert defies that. He makes fun of the police and portrays them as cowards. As a portrayal of modern British police forces that would not be too far astray. Did Gilbert have some experience of police to lead him to the derogatory view he took of them? I suspect it. In Strange Justice and Political Correctness Watch you will certainly find a wealth of instances of reprehensible behavior by the British police of today.

And the other police song ("A Policeman's Lot Is not a Happy One") is also very modern, expressing sympathy for offenders and a reluctance to arrest them. Gilbert is actually a rather good prophet. Warmists eat your heart out!

And the pirate King's assertion that "compared with respectability, piracy is comparatively honest" is also refeshingly cynical. Commenters on modern-day "crony capitalism" in America will nod approval. And the decision of the daughters to "talk about the weather" rather than pry is quintessentially British. And the homage to Queen Victoria was also an appropriate contemporary reference but greatly exaggerated, of course. It too could be seen as mocking by a modern audience

And I must pay tribute to the performance (in the production I have) to the singing of Linda Ronstadt. Better known as a popular singer she is also a superb soprano and greatly ornaments the role of the Major General's daughter Mabel.

FOOTNOTE: I use the German word Singspiel above because there is no equivalent in English. It means a "sung play" and refers to any musical performance (from Mozart's Zauberfloete ("Magic Flute") to Benatzky's beloved Im Weissen Roessl ("White Horse Inn")) that includes both spoken and sung dialogue. A Hollywood musical such as "Showboat" is also a Singspiel. English has a horde of words borrowed from other languages so it seems regrettable that a useful word like Singspiel has not been borrowed too.


What Scott Walker Actually Said

Yes, believe it or not, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker actually spoke at some length at the dinner this past week where Rudy Giuliani charged that President Obama doesn’t love America. All the hullabaloo went to Giuliani, but in terms of the Republican presidential race, a number of Scott Walker’s pointed comments about policy and politicians are not to be missed.

First a word about the dinner itself, which was generously backed by John Catsimatidis. It was the second event sponsored by the Committee to Unleash American Prosperity, a new group founded by Arthur Laffer, Steve Moore, Steve Forbes and myself. Just as the Committee on the Present Danger – formed by Midge Decter, Norman Podhoretz, and Irving Kristol – worried about the decline in American foreign policy in the late 1970s, we are worried about the decline in American economic growth over the past 15 years.

Our view is simple: To maximize growth, jobs, opportunity and upward mobility, the U.S. must recapture the first principles of economic growth that were so successful in the 1960s, ‘80s and '90s. Namely, pro-growth policies should seek a low-rate, broad-based flat tax, limited government spending, the lightest possible economic regulations, sound money and free trade.

Since 2000, the U.S. economy has barely reached 2 percent growth per year. Over the prior 100 years, American growth averaged 3.4 percent annually. To get back to the long-run trend – which epitomizes the most powerful engine of free-market capitalist prosperity in the history of history – future growth over the next decade will have to average 4 percent annually.

To advance our policy goals, our committee (still in formation) will be interviewing all the Republican presidential candidates in the months ahead. A few weeks ago we had dinner with Texas governor Rick Perry. This week we welcomed Scott Walker.

In his opening, Governor Walker stressed growth, reform, and safety. During the question-and-answer period, he emphasized sweeping Reagan-like tax cuts. And he frequently referred to his successful efforts in Wisconsin to curb public-union power as a means of lowering tax burdens, increasing economic growth and reducing unemployment.

Noteworthy, Walker argued that when Reagan fired the PATCO air-traffic controllers over their illegal strike, he was sending a message of toughness to Democrats and unions at home as well as our Soviet enemies abroad. Similarly, Walker believes his stance against unions in Wisconsin would be a signal of toughness to Islamic jihadists and Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

Walker was also highly critical of President Obama’s conduct in the war against radical Islamism, and said the U.S. must wage a stronger battle in the air and on the ground against ISIS.

He stressed the need for a positive Republican message in 2016, and bluntly criticized Mitt Romney for spending too much time on the pessimistic economic negatives emanating from Obama’s policy failures.

And in an unmistakable rip at both Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton, he called for a new generation and fresh faces to turn America back in the right direction.

More specifics: When asked about a sound-money policy, Walker said he was willing to sit down and learn. And on free trade, he needs a much clearer message. But in response to a question about solving middle-class income declines, he insisted that sweeping economic-growth policies aimed at all groups and categories, not just the so-called middle class, is the answer. He also aggressively defended his controversial University of Wisconsin budget cuts, arguing that they would slow tuition hikes and force professors to teach more.

Why did he leave Marquette before graduation? He saw a more attractive position at the Red Cross and wanted to start a political career. Yes, he nearly flunked French. But many folks think that’s a political plus. And as National Review editor Rich Lowry has written, 68 percent of Americans do not have a college degree. And many of us believe the time has come for a president without Ivy League credentials.

Can Walker win? Arthur Laffer has known him for years and says he has matured enormously from his days as Milwaukee county executive. Others say he is the only Republican candidate with a record of winning many different elections, from local office, to state assemblyman, to three gubernatorial races in four years.

Walker is a superb retail politician, a trait that will serve him well in the early primaries. He has an uncanny knack of maintaining direct eye contact. At the dinner, rather than rushing out for an early-morning TV call, he insisted on talking to every person in the large crowd surrounding him.

The question now is whether he can develop from a tough state-union buster to a national politician who can modernize Reagan’s policies while maintaining the Gipper’s upbeat message of optimism and growth.



GAO: Medicare, Medicaid and Veterans Health Administration at High Risk for Fraud, Waste, Abuse

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has published its annual update of federal programs “that it identifies as high risk due to their greater vulnerabilities to fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement...”

Healthcare programs feature high on the list. Medicare, the entitlement program for seniors, and Medicaid, the joint state-federal welfare program for low-income households, are longstanding members of the list; and the GAO notes that legislation will be required to fix them:

"We designated Medicare as a high-risk program in 1990 due to its size, complexity, and susceptibility to mismanagement and improper payments.

We designated Medicaid as a high-risk program in 2003 due to its size, growth, diversity of programs, and concerns about the adequacy of fiscal oversight."

So, that would be 25 years for Medicare and 12 years for Medicaid. Seen any progress? Unfortunately, the GAO recommends more top-down centralized control to fix the problems, instead of giving beneficiaries a financial interest in fixing the problems, as I proposed in a recent Washington Post column.

Remarkably, this is the first year that the Veterans Health Administration has made the list of high-risk programs. Much of the criticism is of the VHA’s misuse of new technology:

For example, we have reported on VA’s failed attempts to modernize its outpatient appointment scheduling system, which is about 30 years old. Among the problems cited by VA staff responsible for scheduling appointments are that the system requires them to use commands requiring many keystrokes and does not allow them to view multiple screens at once. Schedulers must open and close multiple screens to check a provider’s or a clinic’s full availability when scheduling a medical appointment, which is time-consuming and can lead to errors.

VA undertook an initiative to replace its scheduling system in 2000 but terminated the project after spending $127 million over 9 years, due to weaknesses in project management and a lack of effective oversight. The department has since renewed its efforts to replace its appointment scheduling system, including launching a contest for commercial software developers to propose solutions, but VA has not yet purchased or implemented a new system.

I have previously discussed that the electronic health records (EHRs) at the VHA and the Department of Defense cannot speak to each other. The GAO report discusses this in depth:

Further, as we have reported for more than a decade, VA and the DOD lack electronic health records systems that permit the efficient electronic exchange of patient health information as military servicemembers transition from DOD to VA health care systems.

One location where the delays in integrating VA’s and DOD’s electronic health records systems have been particularly burdensome for clinicians is at the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center (FHCC) in North Chicago, the first planned fully integrated federal health care center for use by both VA and DOD beneficiaries. We found in June 2012 that due to interoperability issues, the FHCC was employing five dedicated, full-time pharmacists and one pharmacy technician to conduct manual checks of patients’ VA and DOD health records to reconcile allergy information and identify possible interactions between drugs prescribed in VA and DOD systems.

Please note that the same federal government which, after over more than a decade, cannot effect interoperable health records between two of its own departments believes that it can do so for the entire country’s private doctors and hospitals.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog

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


26 February, 2015

The perennial crisis in US/Israeli relations

We are, again, in the midst of that periodic occurrence: a crisis in Israel/US relations. This one revolves around White House pique over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s acceptance of an invitation by House Speaker John Boehner to address the US Congress on Iran’s nuclear weapons program, an issue on which the White House and Jerusalem have been divided for some time.

But any remotely careful analysis of the US/Israel relationship will show that Jerusalem and the White House (but rarely the Congress and, by extension, the US electorate) have often clashed on issues deemed vital to Israel’s security and existence.

In fact, Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, declared Israel’s very independence in the face of strong opposition from US Secretary of state George Marshall.

Though personally favorable to Israel and quick to extend recognition to the new Jewish state when it emerged in May 1948, president Harry Truman imposed an arms embargo during Israel’s 1948-49 war of survival against six Arab nations. The embargo hurt Israel, which had few sources of weaponry, rather than the Arabs, who enjoyed many.

In 1956, Israel conquered the Sinai from the Egyptians, following six years of constant attacks by terrorist bands (fedayeen) sponsored by Egypt. Nonetheless, the Eisenhower administration insisted on Israel withdrawing completely from Sinai without any peace treaty or recognition demanded from Egypt and threatened Israel with sanctions if it failed to comply.

In 1967, Egypt imposed a blockade on Israel’s southern port at Eilat. Israeli foreign minister Abba Eban asked president Lyndon Johnson to honor U. commitments made in 1957 to ensure free passage of Israeli shipping and break the blockade. Johnson refused.

When Israel was attacked by Egypt and Syria in 1973 the US pressured Israel into ending the war prematurely when Israeli forces were on the road to Damascus and Cairo. This prevented Israel from achieving a more decisive military victory.

During the Carter administration, the US voted for UN Security Council resolutions calling on Israel to withdraw from Lebanon following an Israeli incursion in 1978 – despite the fact that Lebanon had been the launching pad for major terrorist attacks on Israel – and condemning Israel’s annexation of the eastern half of Jerusalem; both vitally important issues to Israel.

In 1981, prime minister Menachem Begin ordered the destruction of Saddam Hussein’s Osirak nuclear reactor.

This was condemned by the Reagan administration, even though a nuclear-armed Saddam would have posed a mortal threat to Israel.

Successive US administrations have opposed Israeli settlement in the territories conquered in 1967, leading to recurrent tensions and crises in the relationship. In 1992, the first Bush administration even withheld loan guarantees to Israel in protest against Israeli settlement policies.

During the Oslo peace process (1993-2000), the Clinton administration often pressured Israel to make one-sided concessions of territory, arms, assets and even the releasing of imprisoned Palestinian terrorists, while ignoring Palestinian failure to comply with its obligations to stop terrorism and end the incitement to hatred and murder that feeds it. Securing new agreements was preferred to holding Palestinians to past ones, as US chief negotiator Dennis Ross subsequently admitted.

The US has criticized Israel’s security fence and both president George W. Bush and secretary of state Colin Powell pressured Israel to curtail military incursions against terrorist strongholds, most notably during Israel’s offensive in Jenin in 2002. Despite US understanding that the Palestinian Authority has been a haven and launching pad for terrorists, the Bush administration pressed Israel to resume negotiations and make concessions to the PA .

So why the panic about the latest crisis? When the US president and Israel do not agree on a policy bearing on the existence and security of Israel, there is bound to be a crisis. Yet none of these crises ruptured the US/Israeli relationship; indeed, they often served as the unlikely preludes to a stronger relationship.

The US /Israeli relationship became truly strategic in the 1970s, only years after the crisis that led to the Six Day War. The early ructions between the two countries in the first years of the Reagan administration settled into an expanded and harmonious strategic relationship for its remainder.

President Barack Obama has sought to cast Netanyahu’s acceptance of an invitation to address Congress as a slap in the face. But it isn’t.

The issue is entirely a product of Obama’s policy on Iran, which engenders bipartisan concern in Israel. Put simply, President Obama seems willing to tolerate an Iranian nuclear weapons threshold capacity – but Israel is not. Of course there’s a crisis.

Obama was glad to have British Prime Minister David Cameron urging members of Congress last month in support of his Iran policy, but is peeved to have Netanyahu there critiquing it. In the end, however, the two countries are bound in an alliance by a range of common interests which even a major policy difference can only temporarily sour, but not sunder.



Rereading "American Betrayal": Why Did Uncle Sam Keep Soviet Secret Agents in the U.S. government a Secret?

Could it be that many elite American Leftists volunteered their services to Russia because they liked the Soviets better than their own country?

Written by: Diana West

Attempts to explain the unhinged campaign (spearheaded, curiously, by ex-Communists) to save "court history" from the newly dusted-off, newly inter-connected evidence presented in "American Betrayal" have logically pointed to the arguments in the book that pull FDR from his pedestal and lift McCarthy from history's hell.

As I now record the audiobook, however, I am struck anew by other arguments mustered in the book that augur a change in the way we also regard Truman, Eisenhower and many more. Such arguments make the case for a seismic shift in our conception of the "American Century."

To be sure, that conception to date is based on drastically incomplete information. Chapter 6 of American Betrayal begins by showing that almost every US history book -- military, biography, diplomacy, etc. -- written post-Venona (1995) fails to incorporate the record of espionage relevant to the epic events and actors they purport to explicate. Among other things, this tells me it is incumbent on us to re-assess these events and actors by interweaving the mainly absent intelligence backstory into the familar tapestry of war and peace we all "know." This is the mechanism of American Betrayal.

Along the way, the behavior of the executive branch in particular in regard to the massive, secret Soviet-directed penetration of the halls of power that reached criticial mass under FDR demands new scrutiny. For example, take Truman's reaction to Whittaker Chambers 1948 testimony unmasking Alger HIss as a leading agent of the Soviet-directed, Communist conspiracy against the United States. Rather than crowning him with laurels, he sought to indict Chambers for perjury. Why?

Starting in 1945, Truman began receiving numerous and weighty reports from the FBI on the Soviet penetration of the Roosevelt administration that named Hiss and White and Currie, among many others, so he was cognizant of the crisis in considerable detail.

Chapter 6 focuses on an important FDR aide, Lauchln Currie, who was publicly i.d.'d as a Soviet agent in Venona in the 1990s. Why do I highlight "publicly"? It is worth noting that 40 years prior to the public release of 2,900 Venona documents by the US government (there may be more that are unreleased; we don't know), Currie was already being investigated by the FBI as a Soviet agent -- and, among others, so reported to Truman. Indeed, Currie comes up on the government radar before that.

Currie was first identified internally in 1939 by Whittaker Chambers as a fellow traveller who helped the Communist Underground inside the US government; i.d.'d for the FDR administration by the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1941 as one of the 1,100-plus federal employees (also including Hiss and White) belonging to Soviet front organizations (and investigated by the FBI but the reports have "disappeared"); highlighted in 1944 as part of a Communist "fifth column" "boring from within" the FDR administration by GOP VP presidential candidate John Bricker; i'd.'d as a Soviet agent to the FBI (which alerted the Truman White House) in 1945 by ex-Communist Elizabeth Bentley; i'd.'d in open hearings as a Soviet agent by Bentley in 1948. (Tantalizingly, thirteen years later, future Sen. Ted Kenney met and dined with Currie on a trip to Currie's post-America home of Colombia.)

Long before the public unveiling of Venona in 1995, however, codebreakers were also able to confirm Currie's activities on behalf on the Kremlin. At some point before 1995 -- as far back as 1950, as a matter of fact -- codebreakers confirmed that Soviet intelligence was working with Hiss and White and many other traitors to the United St. Why did We, the People, have to wait 45 more years to learn of this crucial confirmation? Why did Uncle Sam permit Americans to tear themselve apart for decades in a rancorous debate over people such as Hiss and White -- over whether Communist agents even existed in the first place -- when for so much of the time Uncle Sam knew the truth?

From American Betrayal, pp. 166-169:

"...It should be noted that a number of espionage prosecutions were secretly assisted by Venona, beginning with that of Soviet agent Judith Coplon, a young Justice Department analyst who in May 1949 became the first spy to be identified and arrested due to Venona revelations; Robert Soblen and Jack Soble followed. It was Venona clues that led to the linchpin conviction of British atomic spy Klaus Fuchs in 1950, and Venona decrypts “unmistakably identified Julius Rosenberg as the head of a Soviet spy ring and David Greenglass, his brother-in-law, as a Soviet source at the secret atomic bomb facility at Los Alamos, New Mexico,” Haynes and Klehr write.

“Unmistakably.” The word peals like a steel bell, cold, penetrating, and troubling. Venona decrypts unmistakably identified Julius Rosenberg . . . “Unmistakably”—and the U.S. government let that secret evidence sit in a vault as our citizens tore each other up over this case for decades? Exactly the same question goes for the Hiss case, the other split-view lodestar by which what became two distinct peoples took their bearings. The U.S. government knew the truth about Hiss and withheld it, too.


It’s worth noting that Hiss, unlike Coplon and the other atomic spies, was in no way prosecuted with the help of Venona. Indeed, Hiss was already in jail serving four years for perjury related to the lies he told Congress about Chambers before analysts deciphered his name in Venona. It was in the contentious aftermath of his imprisonment, however, during the battle over Hiss and White and Silvermaster and the rest on the one hand, and Bentley and Chambers on the other, that every scrap of information belonged in the center of the public square under bright lights, with Uncle Sam playing town crier:

Hear ye, Hear ye . . .

Instead Uncle Sam mumbled to himself and hid away the precious proof against the traitors, protecting the traitors against the soundings and probes of investigators hot on their trail. Let them grope and stagger blind, Uncle Sam said, let them sift through the good info and the bad, let them rely on their gut hunches to go on, let them fall back on their political courage until it gives out, let them get knocked down, smeared, destroyed. Let the country go to hell. Given what the executive branch knew and when it knew it, this was the greatest betrayal of all.

So, yes, M. Stanton Evans is right about the nation owing plaudits to Joe McCarthy, and more. We owe all of these intrepid public servants our undying gratitude. Sensing the massiveness of the assault on our republic—yes, a conspiracy so immense, to give McCarthy his due—they kept at it, seeking, hunting what their many detractors, many inside the government, never stopped screaming was a mythological beast, a figment, a “witch hunt.” It was just something “under the bed,” a silly “bugaboo,” which became the White House term of choice. ...

“The people are very much wrought up about the Communist bugaboo,” Harry S. Truman wrote in a letter to former Pennsylvania governor George H. Earle in 1947, in response to a very similar warning from Earle. Truman would switch to “red herring” when it came to the Hiss case in the 1948.

Bugaboo? Red herring? Alger Hiss was neither. He was a bona fide enemy of the American republic, but the U.S. government didn’t want anyone to know that, not even after Venona confirmed Hiss’s treason sometime in 1950, as the Schecters report. Why? Oliver Kirby recounted a revealing exchange with Defense Secretary James Forrestal two years earlier, in 1948, about disclosure in general. The way the Schecters tell it, “Kirby raised with Forrestal the idea of publicly releasing the news that American intelligence had broken the Soviet code.” The Soviets, aware American codebreakers were [beginning to] read them since 1945 (thanks to the treason of Drew Pearson’s meek little “Lock” Currie), would only be further inhibited by the announcement, Kirby argued. More important, “Kirby believed that revealing the full extent of Soviet penetration”— complete exposure—“would remove the issue from politics” and limit a “Red Panic” (Truman’s political concern) “because the cases would be acted upon and fully resolved.”

Call it the Sunshine Strategy. Forrestal nixed the notion in no uncertain terms. “Forget that. No. Hell, no”—that kind of thing. His reaction was not unlike what Kirby had already heard from the State Department when he attempted to bring Venona-fingered Communist infiltration to its attention. Or what he would later hear from Gen. Omar Bradley, who, Kirby said, would urge him not to brief other administration officials on Venona’s findings.

It begins to sound like a lot of other things. What George Racey Jordan heard in early 1944 when he went to the State Department wondering about whether he really should be “expediting” military secrets ASAP to Moscow. What U.S. Army Maj. John Van Vliet heard after expeditiously filing a report of his eyewitness assessment of Soviet responsibility for the Katyn Forest Massacre in May 1945. Or what German defense lawyer Alfred Seidl would hear at Nuremberg in 1946 when trying to introduce to the world evidence of the secret division of Europe that Stalin and Hitler had prearranged in the Nazi- Soviet Pact of 1939.

Sunshine was the last thing the powers that be—the powers that accommodated, the powers that served—wanted when it came to any aspect of Communist crime and deception. The Establishment wanted its shadows deep, dark and undisturbed. Maybe that was because too many of its members were in them. Maybe that was why they always argued against exposure because, the rationale went, it might upset the Soviets, might worsen relations, might play into the hands of the “hardliners.” These are variations on the same arguments, not at all incidentally, that we hear today to squelch the truth about Islam and its agents’ penetration of the U.S. government.

This Iron Curtain of secrecy left it to the Great Red Hunters to investigate the old-fashioned way, the hard way, the rough way, their suspicions more often than not, it now may be fearlessly declared, confirmed by evidence that just continues to mount to the skies. Evidence that condemns not just the agents of our destruction but our own government, too.

With Venona in a vault, the U.S. government became an agent of concealment, and thus, in effect, a part of the Communist conspiracy, despite itself (or perhaps not). The struggle that characterized what we know as the McCarthy Era, then, pit the forces of full disclosure and transparency—personified by Senator Joseph McCarthy—against the more powerful forces of deception and obfuscation, which included the Truman and Eisenhower White Houses. That’s not at all how we think about it, of course. We’re conditioned, Pavlov’s-dog-style, to invert the paradigm. ...



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog

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


25 February, 2015

The latest Leftist scare

An NBER paper “Robots are us – Some Economics of Human Replacement” paints a grim picture of our robotic future, in which the robots undermine their customer base, making the vast majority of humanity redundant. As good academic-institution social democrats, the paper’s authors Seth G. Benzell, Laurence J. Kotlikoff, Guillermo LaGarda, and Jeffrey D. Sachs then suggest the solution lies in ever greater redistribution schemes.

Since I find their solution ideologically repugnant (and would loathe living in a world in which it had been implemented), I thought it worth examining their thesis, to determine whether, even if it is correct, there is a better way out of this ultimate human quandary.

The authors draw four conclusions. First, they expect a long-run decline in labor’s share of income. Second, they expect a highly cyclical robotized economy, with Kondratieff-like long waves. Third, they expect current output to depend increasingly on pure software investment, so that Silicon Valley will rule us all. Finally, they recommend more vigorous redistribution, without suggesting how that will restore wage rates, but simply to equalize the misery.

The first conclusion we can draw from the study is a macroeconomic one. If higher savings rates would alleviate the problem of human immiseration through replacement by robots, then we must take steps to raise savings rates, a problem in the United States for the last two decades. As readers of this column will know, the best way to achieve this is to increase interest rates, pushing then substantially above inflation, ending the two decades (as of this month) during which rates have been kept artificially low by the Fed. The U.S. economy has already been substantially decapitalized through Fed policy, while outsourcing to cheaper wage areas has been encouraged by artificially low capital cost differentials between the U.S. and emerging markets. This alone is responsible for much of the decline in labor’s share of the U.S. economy that is noted and deplored by the authors.

The authors’ principal structural solution, more redistribution, would merely share the misery of lower living standards. It’s a wish shared generally on the left, where a “Minimum Living Wage” movement has gained considerable traction. This is especially foolish; if demand for labor has been reduced to unacceptable levels by robotization, then higher minimum wages, imposed on employers, will simply reduce the demand for labor further. If McDonalds workers must be paid $20 an hour, and robots are universally available and capable, then guess how long it will take to robotize McDonalds and put all those workers out of a job?

Both the authors and previous robo-pessimists back to Maynard Keynes in 1930 have suggested that the real problem caused by robotization would be one of insufficient work at any wage, requiring a mass extension of welfare provision, taxing the remaining few productive workers to provide subsistence for the unemployed masses, perhaps even a majority of the population – Silicon Valley calls this the “Universal Basic Income.” This is a true dystopia; with half or more of the population existing on welfare and having no purpose in life, the consumption of illegal substances would soar, as would radical movements and criminal activity.

The idea that the great mass of the population could be deployed in artistic activity is nonsense; the great majority of people have no significant talent for it, nor sufficient interest in it to make artistic activity the focus of their life. As my grandmother used to say, with absolute conviction, quoting Dr. Isaac Watts’ 1715 masterpiece “Divine Songs Attempted in Easy Language for the Use of Children:” Satan Finds Some Mischief Still For Idle Hands To Do.

The twin problems, of high minimum wages putting everybody out of work and high welfare benefits turning them into feckless criminals, can perhaps be mitigated in the U.S. by expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit, which rewards work without increasing the costs of employment. However, since of all tax programs this is said to be the most subject to fraud, even this solution seems unlikely to be effective.

The political system’s natural response to the threat of robotic redundancy will be to make “job-destroying” robotization illegal. We can already see this at work with the Obama administration’s rule for the use of drones, which requires them to be flown only in the line of sight of the flyer, an obviously unworkable rule if any of the benefits of private sector drone use are to be realized. Similarly, it’s likely there will be attempts to prevent the adoption of self-driving cars and trucks, a development which might put truck drivers out of business but would be hugely beneficial to the economy as a whole. With those approaches, the pre-1896 rule that automobiles required a man in front with a red flag would have been maintained, and horse-drawn transportation would have been mandated on the grounds that otherwise there would be no employment for the unfortunate horses.

There are two technological solutions that are likely to eliminate the problem of robot-driven redundancies, provided regulators do not get in the way. One is the new field of “brain-computer interfaces” by which computers and human brains are able to interact directly, with brains sending signals that can be interpreted by clever software, and vice versa. There are currently a number of small enterprises producing early versions of these, without a great deal of corporate structure or venture capital funding; it is a little like the genesis of the PC industry in the mid-1970s.

As yet, devices have not been produced that can be easily monetized, and the market is tiny, but it seems likely that as more useful and effective brain-computer interface mechanisms are developed, the devices will come into general use, revolutionizing human capabilities. Given the nature of the products concerned, it is even possible that they will emerge before robotization has gone much further – the development of useable robots has after all been remarkably slow, compared to other developments in the tech sector. In any case, human brains equipped with direct sophisticated links into computers will be much more capable than humans alone – and will correspondingly be able to undertake much higher-level jobs, many of which are doubtless as yet unimaginable.

The other potential advance, even more prone to subversion by regulators, is direct genetic manipulation to improve the intellectual capabilities of mankind. Even in our current state, intelligent people are more capable of amusing themselves non-destructively than stupid ones. Should human capabilities be genetically enhanced significantly, then it likely that some people would be able to find new unimaginable sources of employment producing new unimaginable products and services, while even the lesser intellects would be able to enjoy Keynes’ 1930 dream of a 15-hour workweek followed by ample leisure enjoying the artistic, musical and creative output of mankind. If each person had sufficient intellectual resources, Satan would be thwarted and mass leisure would be no bad thing.

As usual, the free market has potential solutions to the problem of robot redundancy, if it is allowed to reach them. By improving human capabilities through machines that help humans to function, and by improving humans themselves through genetic engineering, we can ensure that human development keeps up with robotics, so that the human race’s potential is maximized, and robots become invaluable helpers in achieving that potential. By this means a long-term utopia is attainable, in which a more limited population of humans can lead lives both productive and leisured at very high standards of living, with their Downton Abbeys staffed by impeccably behaved robot servants.

“Robots are us” is a useful dystopia, showing us the nightmare of a society in which dead computer programmers embodied in robot software combine to reduce the life potentials of the living. Given the misguided tendencies of the world’s policymakers, it is even a likely dystopia. But it is not an inevitable one.



How to prevent the deadly peanut allergy has finally made it into the mass media

I put this up on my health blog years ago. Official advice was 180 degrees wrong

Most children at risk of developing peanut allergy can avoid it by eating food with traces of the nuts, researchers said yesterday. Their study found that children who eat food containing peanuts three or more times a week from under the age of one rarely have reactions in later life.

Less than 1 per cent developed an allergy, compared with more than 17 per cent of youngsters whose diet was peanut-free.

It is the first major study to show that eating the nuts could reverse the huge rise in peanut allergy – the number of cases in children has doubled in 20 years.

The condition commonly causes breathing problems. Those affected most severely can have a life-threatening anaphylactic shock even when exposed only to a trace of peanuts in food. Until recently, parents were told to avoid exposing their children to peanuts until they were three – advice that has now been withdrawn.

Parents are also warned never to give young children whole peanuts because of the danger of choking.

Professor Gideon Lack, of King’s College London, who led the Learning Early About Peanut Allergy (LEAP) study, said it strongly backed up the importance of early exposure. ‘This is an important clinical development and contravenes previous guidelines,’ he added.

The early introduction of peanut-containing foods was found to be safe because infants were not fed whole nuts. Instead they ate at least 6g a week of a peanut snack called Bamba [from Israel], distributed in three or more meals.

Professor Lack, who leads the children’s allergy service at Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospital trust, presented the findings at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology meeting in Houston yesterday.



Fruit According to the Seeds

The Leftmedia have been asking a lot of questions of Republicans who have the audacity to confront the words and deeds of Barack Obama. Prompted by former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani's remarks about Obama's conspicuous lack of love for the country, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio and Bobby Jindal have all been pressed to answer the question of the week: "Does Barack Obama love America?"

First, let's state the obvious: The Leftmedia is an extension of the Democratic National Committee. Most mainstream journalists ascribe to the philosophy of the Left and serve to camouflage reality -- earning, for the purpose of this text, the distinction "presstitutes."

Once upon a time, professional journalists reported news and conveyed facts. Today's crop, however, is invested in protecting the incompetence and lies of Barack Obama. In part, that's due to their own failure to do the job exposing the anti-American and racially divisive orchard in which America's 44th president was grown.

Does Barack Obama love America?

If you love something, or even like something, you typically say nice things and demonstrate your affections toward that person or thing by your words and your actions. But Obama has never been one to convey a sense of patriotism.

If Obama loves or even likes our nation, why did he pronounce to a rabid crowd of supporters on Oct. 30, 2008, "We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America"?

If the Obamas love or even like America, why would Michelle Obama declare more than once as she traveled on the Obama campaign trail, "For the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country"?

Mrs. Obama likewise plainly demonstrated her husband's opinion of America on May 14, 2008: "We are going to have to change our conversation. We're going to have to change our traditions, our history. We're going to have to move into a different place as a nation."

All that change was based on the hope that American exceptionalism, individual success and equal opportunity would be destroyed and replaced by socialism in the form of wealth redistribution and a mammoth growth of the government.

As early as June 2009, Nile Gardiner of the Heritage Foundation complied a list of 10 apologies Obama made in his six-month tenure as "Leader of the Free World." These apologies covered American "arrogance," "dictates," our having gone "off course," and the "darker periods in our history."

The presstitutes vociferously denied that Obama had gone on an "Apology Tour." The evidence proves otherwise.

Back to the present, Giuliani said what many Americans were already thinking: "I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America." He has since clarified, elaborated on and defended those remarks.

The presstitutes of the Left soiled themselves in dismay, while the invertebrates on the Right echoed the Left's defense of Obama. But Giuliani's remarks follow six years of Obama's degradation of America. He has re-engineered vast swaths of our economy, nearly doubled the debt and undermined our national security in a vain attempt to appease and patronize our enemies. And no president has been more cravenly political.

Just five months ago, Obama stood at the United Nations and failed to praise America. Instead, he declared, "America has plenty of problems within its borders ... our own racial and ethnic tensions." It was an obvious attempt to morally equate the ginned up racial tension fueled by Al Sharpton and Eric Holder to the hotbed of terror driven by Islamic radicals. And for the elected leader of America to denigrate his own country before that disgraceful body of socialists, thugs and dictators is shameful.

At the National Prayer Breakfast, Obama attempted to justify his refusal to state the truth about radical Islamic ideology by equating 21st century beheadings and live burnings of Christians by Islamist radicals with the Crusades fought against warring Muslims in the 12th century.

In short, Obama proves he learned well during the 20 years he spent as a disciple of hate in the pews of Jeremiah "God d--- America" Wright's "church," where Black Liberation Theology is gospel and fiery hatred serves as the weekly sermon. (And Wright was only one of Obama's numerous anti-American friends and mentors.)

The apple, the tree and the orchard are all of the same blame-America-first species. And as Jesus once said, "You will recognize them by their fruits."



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog

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


24 February, 2015

Back to the 1930s

World War II was the most destructive war in history. What caused it?

The panic from the ongoing and worldwide Depression in the 1930s had empowered extremist movements the world over. Like-minded, violent dictators of otherwise quite different Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Imperial Japan and Communist Soviet Union all wanted to attack their neighbors.

Yet World War II could have been prevented had Western Europe united to deter Germany. Instead, France, Britain and the smaller European democracies appeased Hitler.

The United States turned isolationist. The Soviet Union collaborated with the Third Reich. And Italy and Japan eventually joined it.

The 1930s saw rampant anti-Semitism. Jews were blamed in fascist countries for the economic downturn. They were scapegoated in democracies for stirring up the fascists. The only safe havens for Jews from Europe were Jewish-settled Palestine and the United States.

Does all this sound depressingly familiar?

The aftershocks of the global financial meltdown of 2008 still paralyze the European Union while prompting all sorts of popular extremist movements and opportunistic terrorists.

After the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, America has turned inward. The Depression and the lingering unhappiness over World War I did the same to Americans in the 1930s.

Premodern monsters are on the move. The Islamic State is carving up Syria and Iraq to fashion a fascist caliphate.

Vladimir Putin gobbles up his neighbors in Ossetia, Crimea and eastern Ukraine, in crude imitation of the way Germany once swallowed Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland.

Theocratic Iran is turning Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon into a new Iranian version of Japan’s old Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.

The Western response to all this? Likewise, similar to the 1930s.

The NATO allies are terrified that Putin will next attack the NATO-member Baltic states – and that their own paralysis will mean the embarrassing end of the once-noble alliance.

The United States has now fled from four Middle Eastern countries. It forfeited its post-surge victory in Iraq. It was chased out of Libya after the killings of Americans in Benghazi. American red lines quickly turned pink in Syria. U.S. Marines just laid down their weapons and flew out of the closed American embassy in Yemen.

America has convinced its European partners to drop tough sanctions against Iran. In the manner of the Allies in 1938 at Munich, they prefer instead to charm Iran, in hopes it will stop making a nuclear bomb.

The Islamic State has used almost a year of unchallenged aggression to remake the map of the Middle East. President Obama had variously dismissed it as a jayvee team or merely akin to the problems that big-city mayors face.

Europeans pay out millions to ransom their citizens from radical Islamic hostage-beheaders. Americans handed over terrorist kingpins to get back a likely Army deserter.

Then we come to the return of the Jewish question. Seventy years after the end of the Holocaust, Jews are once again leaving France. They have learned that weak governments either will not or cannot protect them from Islamic terrorists.

In France, radical Islamists recently targeted a kosher market. In Denmark, they went after a synagogue. In South Africa, students demanded the expulsion of Jewish students from a university. A Jewish prosecutor who was investigating the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Argentina was found mysteriously murdered.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is being blamed for stoking Middle Eastern tensions. Who cares that he resides over the region’s only true democracy, one that is stable and protects human rights? Obama administration aides have called him a coward and worse. President Obama has dismissed the radical Islamists' targeting of Jews in France merely as “randomly shoot[ing] a bunch of folks in a deli.”

Putin, the Islamic State and Iran at first glance have as little in common as did Germany, Italy and Japan. But like the old Axis, they are all authoritarians that share a desire to attack their neighbors. And they all hate the West.

The grandchildren of those who appeased the dictators of the 1930s once again prefer in the short-term to turn a blind eye to the current fascists. And the grandchildren of the survivors of the Holocaust once again get blamed.

The 1930s should have taught us that aggressive autocrats do not have to like each other to share hatred of the West.

The 1930s should have demonstrated to us that old-time American isolationism and the same old European appeasement will not prevent but only guarantee a war.

And the 1930s should have reminded us that Jews are usually among the first – but not the last – to be targeted by terrorists, thugs and autocrats.



Anecdotes in New Reagan Book Showcase His Unique Character

Lee Edwards

As someone who has studied and written about Ronald Reagan for more than four decades, I thought I knew the 40th president pretty well.

But a new book, “Reagan Remembered”, edited by former Amb. Gilbert A. Robinson, offers the personal and in many cases never before revealed recollections of 80 individuals, high and low, who worked in the Reagan administration.

Starting with Edwin A. Meese III, counselor to the president in the first term and U.S. attorney general in the second. These alumni confirm what a remarkable leader Reagan was—always focused on the big picture.

Meese reminds us of Reagan’s primary achievements: revitalizing the economy, rebuilding the nation’s defenses so that the Free World could win the Cold War, and reviving the spirit of the American people.

Don’t have time to read the Washington Post or New York Times? Then get The Morning Bell, an early morning edition of the day’s most important political news, conservative commentary and original reporting from a team committed to following the truth no matter where it leads.

In answer to the question, “How was one man able to accomplish so much?” Meese points to Reagan’s clarity of vision and his ability to get the most out of his cabinet-style governing.

He recalls that a jar of jelly beans always sat in the middle of the Cabinet table. Whenever the discussions over a controversial issue became too intense, the president would reach over, select a jelly bean, and pass the jar around the table. This invariably cooled tempers and restored “calmer reflection.”

Often described as the most powerful man in the world, Reagan was amazingly modest. Vice President George H. W. Bush remembers his visit to the Washington hospital after the 1981 attempted assassination of the president.

Ushered into his room, Bush saw that Reagan wasn’t in his bed and looked around. A familiar voice said “Hello, George” and the vice president turned to find Reagan on his hands and knees in the bathroom. “Are you all right, Mr. President?” Bush asked. A smiling Reagan explained that he had spilled some water on the floor and was wiping it up. “I don’t want the nurses to have to mop it up,” he said. “I’m enough of a nuisance to them as it is. Be with you in a second.” Bush writes, “That’s the sort of man Ronald Reagan was.”

Reagan being a man of his word was established again when he agreed to meet with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl at the cemetery in Bitburg. It was then discovered that members of the Nazi SS were buried at Bitburg, causing Nobel Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, among others, to demand a change in venue.

Secretary of State George Shultz tried to shift the meeting, but Kohl insisted on Bitburg. Having made a commitment, Reagan went to Bitburg, despite withering criticism by the media and the political opposition. British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher subsequently told Shultz that “no other leader in the free world would have taken such a political beating at home in order to keep his word.”

For Reagan, politics was a means, not an end. In 1976 when he was locked in a tight battle with President Gerald Ford for the Republican presidential nomination, his Texas campaign manager arranged for Reagan to speak in the largest church in Houston. To his great surprise, Reagan turned down the opportunity.

The Texan argued that “thousands of conservative voters will see you and millions more will read about it. The venue couldn’t be more prestigious.” Reagan quietly replied, “I’m a very religious person, but I don’t wear it on my sleeve. And I never want to use religion for political purposes.” The event never took place.

Since his film acting days, when he helped stop the attempted communist takeover of the Hollywood trade unions, Reagan was an implacable anti-communist. In November 1978, he visited Berlin for the first time and stood before the infamous Berlin Wall.

His national security adviser Richard Allen recalls that suddenly Reagan’s hands clenched and his jaw set and he said in a low almost growling tone, “We’ve got to find a way to knock this thing down!” Less than a decade later, he again stood before the Berlin Wall and declared, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” Two years later, the Wall came tumbling down and communism collapsed in Eastern and Central Europe.

He believed in doing the right thing and not caring who knew that he did it. Campaigning in North Carolina in 1976, he agreed to meet with a small group of blind children but without any reporters or cameras present. He talked with the children for a moment and then asked if they would like “to touch my face to get an idea of what I look like?”

Campaign aide and future presidential speechwriter Dana Rohrabacher remembers “these eight kids putting their fingers on his face. When they were finished they all had big hugs—and then we were off to the next stop.” Rohrabacher says, “Any candidate running for president I’ve ever met would give a million dollars to have a picture like that.” Not Ronald Reagan.

He was as quick-witted as anyone who ever occupied the White House. In 1983, in the course of a deep White House discussion about proposals to “freeze” the building of nuclear weapons, someone brought up the suggestion made by several U.S. senators—a “build-down” rather than a freeze.

“How would that work?” the president asked. For every new modernized nuclear weapon the U.S. built, it was explained, we would retire two so that in time we would have many fewer weapons. “Well,” said the president without hesitation, “I have a proposal. For every senator they elect, let’s retire two.”

Secure in his own skin, he delighted in making fun of those who criticized him. His gubernatorial secretary Helene von Damm, who would later serve as U.S. ambassador to Switzerland, remembers that during the Vietnam protests, a bunch of hippies camped outside the state capitol in Sacramento. They carried a sign that said, “Make love, not war.” Gov. Reagan smiled and said, “I got a look at them and I am not sure they are capable of either.”

President Reagan knew his Constitution. Once, recalls special adviser Edward Rowny, when cabinet members were complaining that the president was spending too much on defense, he responded firmly: “As president of the United States my most important duty is to defend the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. If we lose our freedom, all is lost. Through a policy of peace through strength, everything is possible.”

Summing up the essential qualities of Reagan, Meese quotes British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery: “Leadership is the capacity and will to rally men and women to a common purpose and the character which inspires confidence.” The recollections of the 80 men and women in “Reagan Remembered” attest that Reagan was such a leader and possessed that kind of character.



British artists shun Israel’s ‘blood money’ but accept Britain’s

More Leftist hypocrisy. They have to be hypocritical because they in fact have no principles or beliefs. So they pretend they do. All they have is hate. And Jews are a classical outlet for that. Karl Marx was such a great hater that he too hated Jews -- even though he was one

Seven hundred British creatives have signed a pledge saying they will never work in Israel or take the Israeli government’s filthy lucre so long as it continues to wage war in Gaza and kill Palestinians. So why, then, are they happy to take money from the British government, when the British government has in recent years bombed Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya and left a trail of destruction and line-up of corpses that make last year’s Israeli clashes in Gaza look like a tea party in comparison? Come on. There must be an answer to this question. What is it? Why shun Israel’s ‘blood money’ but accept Britain’s?

A quick glance at the list of 700 Israel-boycotters reveals numerous people who have built their careers on cash from the coffers of the Iraqi-killing, Afghanistan-repressing British government. There’s Ken Loach, recipient of monies from the government-backed UK Film Council, here chiming in with all the others to say he will ‘accept neither professional invitations to Israel, nor funding from any institutions linked to its government’. So, Ken, why are you happy to accept money from institutions linked to a government that has killed way more people in the Middle East than Israel has?

There’s Mike Leigh, who’s also been funded by the UK Film Council, and who threw a massive hissy fit in 2010 when the Film Council was wound down in its current form and reorganised. Ladies and gentlemen, the principled film-directing doyen of decent Hampsteadites, who makes angry public statements over two things: his implacable, principled refusal to take blood money from the Israeli killing machine and his fury at having his bloody money from the British killing machine taken away from him! What a guy!

Film director Peter Kosminsky is here, too, blathering on about not doing any work with Israeli government-linked institutions, yet he’s happy to sit on the Board of Directors of the British Film Institute which has been subsidised by… you guessed it: the government that bombed the hell out of Iraq and Afghanistan. There are too many more to mention: poet Benjamin Zephaniah, who’s worked with the Arts Council, which is funded by you-know-who; writer Bonnie Greer, who’s been an Arts Council playwright-in-residence despite the fact that the Arts Council receives millions of pounds every year from the government that killed thousands of Iraqis and Afghans… And on it goes. It would not be surprising to discover that the vast majority of creatives on this Israel-shunning list had, at some point, received money from the public purse in Britain, because that’s what creatives do these days.

So, that question again: why is it bad to have anything to do with institutions linked to the Israeli government because of that whole Gaza thing but fine and dandy to take money from institutions linked to the British government despite the Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya thing? Are Israel’s wars somehow worse than Britain’s? Is being killed by a solider from the Jewish State somehow worse than being killed by a soldier of the British state? Is Israel more evil than Britain? Is Israel’s money bloodier than British money? Come on. Give us answers. You criticise those who say that any protest or boycott against Israel is anti-Semitic, and I agree with you that there’s sometimes a kneejerk tendency to interpret every political protest against Israel’s actions as anti-Jewish in sentiment. But that might be because there’s such a glaring double standard in how Israel is judged and treated by radical Westerners, including you, in comparison to how the British government is judged and treated, or the French government, or the American government, none of which you are actively boycotting. So, help to offset this search for the ‘real reason’ for boycotts of Israel by giving us a straight answer to one of the great moral conundrums of our time: why are artists so allergic to working with a government whose army killed 2,000 people in Gaza last year yet will demand the right to spend the cash of a government whose army killed 150,000 people in Iraq?


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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog

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)


23 February, 2015

An interesting email from Ezra Levant:

Last week, the Sun News Network went off the air -- and along with it, my TV show. I lost my job.

I'll be fine. But what about all the ideas we fought for? What about the important stories we reported, that the mainstream media deliberately ignores?

Over the years, Sun News covered stories that no other media would do. Three quick examples:

1. We showed you the real problems with the Attawapiskat Indian reserve. The politically correct media blamed Stephen Harper and called Chief Theresa Spence a saint. We showed you the truth about the band's corruption.

2. We went to "Occupy Toronto" -- both by day and by night. Again, the mainstream media pretended it was a legitimate, grassroots, spontaneous protest against capitalism. We showed you it was as fake as a puppet show.

3. And we did the same a dozen times with anti-oilsands and anti-pipeline protesters -- proving them to be know-nothings, foreign lobbyists or just plain hoodlums. Whether it was in Hamilton, Ontario or Vancouver, B.C.

That's what we did when the Sun shone. But what can we do now that we're off the air? How will we get the word out about important stories?

Well, I have an idea. With a handful of former staff from Sun News, I've started a new TV station -- called www.TheRebel.media. As you can see, it's direct to the Internet. But for so many of our viewers, that's how they watched Sun News anyways.

It's not on TV, that's true. But in some ways it's better. We have none of the limits of a regularly scheduled TV show. We can produce content anytime, from anywhere, of any length in any form. And you can watch it anywhere too -- your computer, even your cell phone.

We've only been doing it for a few days -- we literally taped the first show from my living room on Monday! But we're already doing important journalism, picking up the fight where Sun News left off. Check out our first week's efforts, by clicking around at www.TheRebel.media. We're signing up even more journalistic talent this week.

And unlike my TV show that was on at a particular time, and only in Canada, www.TheRebel.media is available on demand, anytime, to everyone in the world. Imagine what we can do in the weeks and months ahead. That's the power of the Internet -- it's unlimited.

Will you consider signing up for this new channel, at www.TheRebel.media? It's free to register and easy to use. If you can point and click, you can enjoy it.

I promise you I will continue to fight for the causes we believe in -- and to show the stories the other guys don't want you to see.

If you believe in that too, join me at www.TheRebel.media.


Democrats Are Wearing Blinders

Denying the radical Islamic nature of the terrorism perpetrated by al-Qaida and the Islamic State is at the heart of Barack Obama's foreign policy. But make no mistake: Obama's blinding Islamophilia is costing the U.S. big time.

Terrorism is "random," he says, and the Islamic State isn't Islamic. Twenty-one Christians beheaded by ISIL were merely "Egyptian citizens" -- as if religion had nothing to do with it -- but three Muslims killed by a leftist atheist in North Carolina were clearly targeted because of their faith. "No one in the United States of America should ever be targeted because of who they are, what they look like, or how they worship," Obama said, despite early evidence that such targeting wasn't the case anyway.

The White House began a three-day summit Tuesday focused on combating "violent extremism." One official explained the stance on ISIL: "We are not treating these people as part of a religion. We're treating them as terrorists." But addressing that summit, Joe Biden warned of right-wing extremists committing violence in the name of the Bible.

After all, Obama says not to get on your "high horse" because Christians are still guilty of the Crusades.

Meanwhile, Marie Harf, spokesperson for the Obama State Department, continued this pattern when she explained that ISIL's terrorism isn't so much religious as economic plight, and that all these angry [Muslim] men need is a little "middle-class economics." She pontificated, "We need in the medium to longer term to go after the root causes that lead people to join these groups, [including the] lack of opportunity for jobs. ... We can work with countries around the world to help improve their governance. We can help them build their economies so they can have job opportunities for these people."

We suppose if the jihadis were employed and still committed acts of terror, Harf would explain that away as "workplace violence."

In a better world, the U.S. would be unequivocally fighting evil instead of excusing it, and people like Marie Harf would be looking for "job opportunities" in the private sector.

Never mind that Obama abandoned Iraq, leaving a vacuum for ISIL to fill. And forget that his entire strategy for dealing with ISIL consists of a few airstrikes, or that his Authorization for Use of Military Force severely handicaps the fight. Faced with pushback over her foolish comments, Harf insisted, "No one should doubt our commitment" to defeating ISIL.

Well, let's ask Attorney General Eric Holder about that commitment. "We're not at a time of war," he informed us Tuesday. Tell that to the American military personnel flying sorties over ISIL territory and the soldiers still stationed in the region. And does Holder's pronouncement mean Congress can disregard Obama's AUMF request?

Not exactly, since Holder's Justice Department has previously justified airstrikes -- even if they kill American citizens -- because we're at war.

As far as calling Islamic extremism what it is, Holder dismissed the idea: "Radical Islam, Islamic extremism -- I'm not sure an awful lot is gained by that." Though he did say, "If Fox [News] didn't talk about this, they would have nothing else to talk about, it seems to me." Radical Islam is far more than a right-wing talking point. It's reality, and Holder should check in some time.

Our nation is being led by men and women who are so Orwellian they insist up is down, hot is cold, and Islam is innocent but Christians are guilty. Such morally bankrupt lies and distortions are plainly dangerous to our future.



Greek Leftists shafted by financial reality

Europe agrees to extend the bail-out—after Greece drops nearly all its demands. Now Syriza must answer to its voters.

BY EURO-ZONE standards it seemed a blessedly straightforward affair. At the relatively civilised hour of 8.30pm Friday night the Eurogroup of euro-zone finance ministers agreed to extend Greece’s second bail-out, which was due to expire on February 28th, by four months. A deal had hardly been assured. Two previous Eurogroups had ended rancorously, and a spat between the Greek and German governments on February 19th had soured the mood further. Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the group’s chairman, began yesterday by downplaying expectations.

But by the evening, after having successfully brokered discussions between the Greeks, the Germans and the European Commission, he was able to describe the outcome as “very positive”. (A recent acceleration in deposit outflows from Greek banks appears, in part, to have forced Athens’s hand.) The extension should unlock the funding Greece needs to stay afloat over the coming months and, at least for now, quiet talk of its departure from the euro.

That is the good news. But euro-pessimists never have to look hard to bolster their case. The doubts begin with the terms of last night’s deal. By Monday the Greek government must present a list of reforms it intends to carry out under the terms of the bail-out extension. The European Commission, European Central Bank and the IMF—once known as the “troika”, now renamed the “institutions” in a gesture to Greek semantic sensitivities—must give their assent. If they do not, said Yanis Varoufakis, Greece’s finance minister, “the deal is dead”. The arrangement does at least allow the Greeks to reclaim some authorship of their country’s policies, but in reality they are likely to have to make some painful concessions, over pension reform, for example. It will be a busy weekend in Athens.

But Mr Varoufakis’s government also has a rather different constituency to satisfy: opinion at home. Alexis Tsipras, the prime minister, was elected on a pledge to tear up Greece’s bail-outs and leave austerity behind. Mr Varoufakis has spent the last few weeks seeking a “bridging arrangement” as an explicit alternative to a bail-out extension.

It is difficult to square these promises with last night’s agreement. Greece has secured no change to the terms of its epic debt, which stands at over 175% of GDP. Its behaviour will continue to be supervised by the institutions formerly known as the troika. It is obliged to refrain from passing any measures that could undermine its fiscal targets; that appears to torpedo vast swathes of its election manifesto, which included all manner of spending pledges.

Hardline members of Mr Tsipras’s Syriza party will find all of this hard to swallow, as will Greeks who thought they had voted for rupture. “The Greeks certainly will have a difficult time explaining the deal to their voters,” was the ungracious verdict of Wolfgang Schäuble, Germany’s finance minister and Greece’s fiercest adversary in the talks of the last few weeks. Expect Mr Tsipras to make much of the few prizes Greece has been able to secure, including permission to run a slightly looser fiscal policy and, with luck, a decision from the European Central Bank to allow the use of Greek government debt as collateral.

Even assuming the wrinkles can be ironed out, Greece still faces an immediate funding squeeze. The bail-out funds can only be released after a “review” of the bail-out provisions; that, according to the agreement, will not happen before the end of April. And Greece was already under financial pressure. It must repay a maturing IMF bond worth €1.5 billion ($1.7 billion) in mid-March, and tax revenues have plummeted in recent weeks. The government has reached a €15 billion ceiling on T-bill issuance imposed by the troika, and there was no suggestion last night that it might be lifted. The next two months will be painful indeed.



The great statin hoax is slowly unwinding

The benefits of taking statins have been exaggerated, two leading experts claim. They say the cholesterol-lowering medicines – hailed as miracle drugs when they hit the market 20 years ago – are not as safe or effective at preventing heart attacks as patients have been led to believe.

Although they can dramatically cut cholesterol levels, they have ‘failed to substantially improve cardiovascular outcomes’, says an analysis of data in clinical trials.

It was carried out by Dr David Diamond, a professor of molecular pharmacology at the University of South Florida, and expert in cardiovascular disease Dr Uffe Ravnskov.

They say many studies touting statins’ efficacy have failed to note serious side effects. They also claim ‘statistical deception’ has been used to make inflated claims about their effectiveness, which has misled the public.

The two authors say in the analysis, published in the Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology: ‘The adverse effects suffered by people taking statins are more common than reported in the media and at medical conferences.

‘Increased rates of cancer, cataracts, diabetes, cognitive impairments and musculoskeletal disorders more than offset the modest cardiovascular benefits of statin treatment.’

They conclude: ‘There is a great appeal to the public to take a pill that offers the promise of a longer life and to live heart attack free.

‘The reality, however, is that statins actually produce only small beneficial effects on cardiovascular outcomes, and their adverse effects are far more substantial than is generally known.’

In July, NHS rationing body Nice said statins should be given to 17million patients, almost 40 per cent of the adult population.

The US experts say those who champion the medication have often presented data in a way that exaggerates the benefits.

‘Statin advocates have used statistical deception to create the illusion that statins are “wonder drugs,” when the reality is that their modest benefits are more than offset by their adverse effects’, they claim.

The analysis takes a critical look at the Jupiter Trial and the Anglo-Scandinavian Cardiac Outcomes Trial Lipid Lowering Arm (ASCOT-LLA).

It claims that in the Jupiter trial, the public and doctors were told of a 54 per cent reduction in heart attacks, when the actual reduction was less than 1 percentage point.

In the ASCOT-LLA study, the improvement in patient outcomes with Lipitor treatment was 1.1 percentage points, said the analysis.

But when this study was presented to the public, US advertisements transformed this into a 36 per cent cut in the risk of having a heart attack.

The inflated claims and playing down of the adverse effects have helped to boost enthusiasm for the cholesterol-lowering drugs among health care providers and the public, say the authors.



The Faure Sanctus

I have been enjoying the marvellous Sanctus by Faure a fair bit lately so I thought I might put up a video link to it -- below -- in the hope that there might be a few of my readers who enjoy it as much as I do.


For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog

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


22 February, 2015

Why is the Diet of Worms not a diet of worms?

Forgive the riddle

The Diet of Worms of 1521 was of course one of the major turning points in the development of Western civilization. It has nothing to do with either food or invertebrates. How come?

The Diet of Worms (Reichstag zu Worms in German) was set up to try Martin Luther (1483 - 1546) for heresy. He did appear there to defend his claims but when he saw the way the wind was blowing he escaped. He was however very popular in his native Saxony and among his fans was his King, Frederick "The Wise". So his King hid him in the old Wartburg castle until the heat had gone off the hunt for him. So Luther became the first Protestant reformer not to lose his head. Giordano Bruno (1548 – 1600), Savonarola (1452 - 1498) and Jan Hus (1369 - 1415) were not so lucky.

So why do we call the Reichstag zu Worms ("National assembly at Worms") the Diet of Worms? The last part is easy. Worms is a German city pronounced as "Vorms", where the "or" is pronounced as the "or" in "horse". The name is ancient and goes back to the Latin. It is just a coincidence that the name also means something in English.

"Diet" is more interesting. The German word "Tag" can mean either "day" or "assembly", perhaps because early assemblies tended to last only one day. But the language of scholarship at the time of the Reichstag zu Worms was Latin. So the Reichstag zu Worms had to be translated into Latin if it was to be discussed at all. And the Latin translators got it wrong. They translated the "Tag" in "Reichstag" as if it meant "day" rather than as if it meant "assembly". And the Latin for "day" is "Dies" (Pronunciation varies but "dee-ayz" is common). So the assembly came to be called a "diet" as a variant of "dies".

And the usage stuck. An important gathering can to this day be called a Diet. The Japanese Diet, for instance is not rice and fish but the Japanese Parliament.

Footnote: I imagine some readers may object to my calling Luther "The first Protestant reformer not to lose his head". What about Wycliffe (1320 - 1384)? It is true that he was a severe critic of the church but he did not create a schism and was saying mass in his church until the end. He died in his bed.

The church would certainly have liked to excommunicate him but, like Luther, he was popular, and people of all ranks, including the monarchy, protected him. Any move against him got howled down. He was a great man.

Another footnote: The mistranslation of "Tag" was not original to the Reichstag zu Worms. The names of much earlier assemblies had also been mistranslated into Latin that way.

And Latin in fact was affected by the mistranslation too. People realized that it was more than a day that was being referred to so a new Latin word -- dieta -- arose in medieval times to mean a public meeting.


New anti-Nazi bill attacks campaign to boycott Israel

Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) expresses its support for the new Congressional bill that will seek to battle efforts to boycott Israel by linking rejection of BDS to a trade agreement being negotiated with the European Union, the largest free trade deal in history.

The bill, "The United States-Israel Trade and Commercial Enhancement Act," enjoys bipartisan sponsorship, which backers hope will help it advance quickly through Congress.

Representatives Peter Roskam (R-IL) and Juan Vargas (D-CA), who co-sponsored the bipartisan legislation, believe it will “leverage ongoing trade negotiations to discourage prospective U.S. trade partners from engaging in economic discrimination against Israel.”

The bill’s sponsors drew parallels to laws passed by Congress in the 1970s regarding the Arab League boycott of Israel, and noted that more recent trade agreements with Bahrain and Oman included anti-boycott clauses.

Further, the bill will also establish the monitoring of BDS-related activities by requiring foreign companies traded on U.S. stock exchanges to disclose whether they have participated in, or have faced pressure to participate in, acts of economic discrimination against Israel. The legislation does not, however, establish any penalty for doing so.

The bill also contains statements reaffirming the economic relationship between the U.S. and Israel, including the “strategic importance of trade and commercial relations to the pursuit of sustainable peace and regional stability.”

The sentiments critical of boycotts by the bill’s sponsors are important, not just because they put Congress “on the record” against BDS as antithetical to the notion of free trade, but also because boycotts and divestment efforts undermine the possibilities for a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

Richard Cravatts, SPME’s president, said that “as academics interested in trying to rid campuses of the corrosive effects of the virulent BDS movement, we, of course, support any efforts by policy makers and others outside of academia to condemn boycotts divestment efforts and to take steps to neutralize some of their deleterious effects. If our policymakers take a reasoned and moral stand on the issue of boycotting and divesting from companies doing business with Israel, perhaps it will make it easier for those in higher education to follow that lead and start to neutralize the BDS campaign on campus.”



It’s Called Recovery, but Where’s the Beef?

Many economists and other analysts have recognized that the recovery from the U.S. economy’s most recent contraction has been unusually weak—weaker, for example, than any other since World War II. But analysts have disagreed in characterizing the current recovery, which according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the semi-official arbiter of business-cycle chronology, began in mid-2009 after a contraction that had continued for ten quarters. Some aspects of the economy, such as real GDP and consumer spending, have recovered their pre-recession highs and continued to increase. The rate of unemployment has fallen by several percentage points from its high of more than 10 percent. Net private business investment, which took an especially steep tumble during the contraction, has regained much of its loss.

Some of the most-cited indexes of recovery, however, are ambiguous, at best. The rate of unemployment, for example, has fallen in large part because millions of potential workers have left the labor force. The employment/population ratio, which fell by about 5 percentage points during the contraction, has barely budged from its new, much lower plateau. A growing GDP, despite its near-universal acceptance as the best measure of economic growth, actually tells us little about changes in the public’s well-being. Some components of GDP, especially some of the elements that pertain to government spending, actually should be deducted from, rather than added to, the domestic product, inasmuch as the related government activities—military aggression abroad, domestic spying on the entire population, enforcement of counter-productive and even destructive regulations, prosecution and incarceration of people whose “crimes” have no victims—harm the public, rather than improving their welfare.

Arguably the best single, currently available measure of the entire public’s payoff from economic activity is real disposable income per capita. This is the average amount per annum that Americans receive in exchange for the use of their labor and other input services, after taxes, corrected for changes in the purchasing power of the dollar. As the chart below shows, this measure of economic well-being has scarcely increased at all since 2007.

Real Disposable Personal Income per Capita (chained 2009 dollars)

To give greater precision to one’s visual impressions, I have computed the average compound rate of growth of the variable in the succeeding stages of faster or slower growth visible in the chart. The results are as follows:

Period Average annual percentage rate of growth

1949–1961 2.2%
1961–1973 3.7%
1973–1983 1.3%
1983–1996 2.1%
1996–2007 2.4%
2007–2014 0.6%

These figures demonstrate that even though the rate of increase has varied substantially in the past, it has never remained so low as it has been in recent years. Even during the decade of so-called stagflation from the early 1970s to the early 1980s, real disposable income per capita grew more than twice as fast as it has grown in the past seven years. In the past, recessions were always followed by relatively brisk growth during the first several years of the ensuing recovery. Such has not been the case this time. Nor do forecasters anticipate any such surge of growth in the future. Might it be that the state’s burdens loaded onto the private producers of wealth—taxes, regulations, uncertainties, intrusions of all sorts, including demands for elaborate reports, asset seizures, and threats of felony prosecution for completely innocent and harmless actions—have finally become the “last straw” for these long-suffering camels?

However that may be, the current situation is clear enough. The U.S. economy, though not yet completely stagnant, has made little headway for more than seven years, and there is little reason to foresee any great change in this regard. Although some indexes of economic performance have recovered substantially since mid-2009, others have done so much less or not at all. And, without a doubt, the alleged recovery process has failed to deliver the “beef” that means the most to the people: substantial growth of real disposable personal income per capita.



Some quick catch-ups

How to remove Superfish adware from your computer: "We recently learned that PC manufacturer Lenovo is selling computers preinstalled with a dangerous piece of software, called Superfish, that uses a man-in-the-middle attack to break Windows' encrypted Web connections for the sake of advertising. (Here's a list of affected products.) Research from EFF's Decentralized SSL Observatory has seen many thousands of Superfish certificates that have all been signed with the same root certificate, showing that HTTPS security for at least Internet Explorer, Chrome, and Safari for Windows, on all of these Lenovo laptops, is now broken. Firefox users also have the problem, because Superfish also inserts its certificate into the Firefox root store."

Nigeria: Massive Boko Haram casualties in counter offensive: "Hundreds of Boko Haram militants have been killed in a major offensive by Nigerian forces to recaptures key towns and cities from the control of Islamist fighters, officials said Wednesday. Defense spokesman Chris Olukolade said that many militants have been arrested and weapons and equipment seized in the operation that began at the start of this week."

Turkey, US sign deal to train, arm Syrian rebels: "The U.S. Embassy in Ankara says that Turkey and the United States have signed an agreement to train and arm Syrian rebels fighting the Islamic State group. The two countries have been in talks about such a pact for several months. The deal was signed Thursday evening by U.S Ambassador John Bass and a senior Turkish foreign ministry official, said Embassy spokesman Joe Wierichs."

Obama to permit sale of armed drones to other states: "The Obama administration will permit the export of armed military drones to friendly nations and allies. The new policy, announced after a long internal review, is a significant step for U.S. arms policy as allied nations from Italy to Turkey to the Persian Gulf region clamor for the aircraft. It would also give a boost to U.S. defense firms scrambling to secure a greater share of a growing global drone market."

CA: “Superbug” linked to two deaths at LA hospital: "Nearly 180 patients at UCLA's Ronald Reagan Medical Center may have been exposed to a drug-resistant bacteria that's already been linked to two deaths at the Los Angeles Hospital, health officials said. A spokeswoman for the UCLA Health Systems, Roxanne Yamaguchi, said Wednesday seven patients who were treated at the hospital were infected by carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae (CRE). She said the deadly superbug was a contributing factor in the death of two of those patients."

The most expensive ingredient in beer? Taxes: "Whether you like craft beer brewed in small batches or the mass-produced variety, the most costly ingredient that goes into every pint of beer in the United States is taxes. With federal, state and local levies, taxes make up, on average, more than 40 percent of the cost of beer purchased in the United States. In an effort to reduce the excessive tax bite, two competing bills have been proposed this month on Capitol Hill, along with legislation at the state level. One of the proposed bills, the Small BREW Act, would, if passed, provide targeted federal excise-tax cuts for beer made by domestic brewers, with tax relief based on volume. This bipartisan bill would change the definition of a small brewer."

Rent control hurts the poor: "If you thought rent control helped to provide affordable housing to the most needy and deserving among us you need a lesson in basic economics. That sounds a little harsh but one need look no further than New York City to see the damage rent control has done to low income real estate there. Since January 2014 zombie foreclosures jumped 54 percent -- to 16,777. Zombie foreclosures refers to homes abandoned by the owner or landlord and the banks and are now stuck in limbo. Some residents have decided to take matters into their own hands and take over the abandoned properties for themselves. But the question of whether or not they should be allowed to do so is, in my opinion, missing the point."

Wal-Mart plans to boost pay of U.S. workers: "Wal-Mart Stores Inc. on Thursday said it plans to boost the pay of its U.S. employees above the federal minimum wage in a push to help entry-level workers and amid a national debate about income inequality. The retailer said it plans to pay its workers at least $9 an hour by the first half of the year, or $1.75 above the federal minimum wage, and $10 an hour by Feb. 1. The raises affect the company's 500,000 full-time and part-time associates at U.S. Wal-Mart stores and Sam's Clubs, or about a third of the company's 1.4 million U.S. workers." [Approval-seeking behavior]


For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog

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


20 February, 2015

Could 'Grover the Good' win the White House today?

by Jeff Jacoby

WHEN GROVER CLEVELAND ran for president in 1884, he was endorsed by Joseph Pulitzer's New York World, which listed four reasons for encouraging its readers to send Cleveland to the White House:

"1. He is an honest man. 2. He is an honest man. 3. He is an honest man. 4. He is an honest man."

As a prominent Democratic newspaper, the World's support for Cleveland, the Democratic nominee, was to be expected. But such insistent praise for a candidate's truthfulness and honor was as remarkable then as it would be now — voters in the Gilded Age, like voters in the Digital Age, had ample grounds to regard "honest politician" as a contradiction in terms.

Applied to Cleveland, however, it was the unadorned truth. He was known above all for his integrity, and rarely has the power of such a reputation propelled a political figure so far, so fast. In 1882, he had taken office as the newly elected mayor of Buffalo, and promptly declared war on a ring of crooked city aldermen who were taking kickbacks on inflated public contracts. The new mayor, derailing one such contract, flayed the council members who had approved it for their "barefaced, impudent, and shameless scheme to betray the interests of the people." Cleveland's refusal to turn a blind eye to graft drew notice well beyond the city's limits. Less than a year into his term as mayor, he became the Democratic candidate for governor of New York, and went on to win the office in a landslide.

As governor, Cleveland battled constantly with Tammany Hall, the infamous New York City political machine, which controlled votes and manipulated elections through fraud, patronage, and intimidation. Unintimidated by Tammany's clout, Cleveland fired corrupt officials linked to the machine, vetoed pork-barrel bills, and publicly inveighed against the political spoils system. Once again his implacable honesty made him a hero to voters hungry for better government. Hardly had Cleveland gotten used to being governor when reform Democrats began talking about him as presidential material.

At the party's national convention in Chicago, Cleveland's name was formally placed in nomination by a delegate who praised the governor for "his honor, his integrity, his wisdom, and his Democracy." That was the last thing the Tammany forces wanted, and they maneuvered furiously to block Cleveland's ascent. In a fiery speech seconding Cleveland's nomination, Edward Stuyvesant Bragg — a Civil War general and former US Representative — turned Tammany's enmity into a formidable Cleveland asset. It was true that people admired Cleveland for his honesty, integrity, and strength, Bragg declared. "But they love him most of all for the enemies he has made."

That sent the convention into a paroxysm of adoration and cheers. Tammany's obstructionist efforts came to naught. Delegates voted overwhelmingly to make Cleveland their standard-bearer, setting up a contest between a rough-hewn Democrat who had never even seen the nation's capital and a dapper Republican — former House Speaker, Senator, and Secretary of State James G. Blaine of Maine — who was the very epitome of an entrenched Washington insider.

Not since George Washington had a candidate for president been so renowned for his rectitude. "Grover the Good," his supporters dubbed him. Not surprisingly, Republicans were elated when the Buffalo Evening Telegraph, an anti-Cleveland newspaper, printed a blockbuster story accusing the unmarried Cleveland of having seduced a young widow and fathered a child out of wedlock. It wasn't the first sex scandal in American political history; it certainly wouldn't be the last. But it may be the only one that ever enhanced a politician's reputation for candor. As the story exploded in headlines nationwide, Cleveland's frantic allies asked how Democrats should respond. The governor, who acknowledged the affair and had contributed to the child's support, responded in a telegram: "Whatever you do, tell the truth."

Voters were impressed. Cleveland won the election, the first Democrat to be chosen president since James Buchanan in 1856, and the last until Woodrow Wilson in 1912.

The remarkable Cleveland is generally remembered by Americans today, when they remember him at all, as the only president to serve nonconsecutive terms — he lost his bid for re-election in 1888 (despite winning a majority of the popular vote), but ran again successfully in 1892. What he should be remembered for is his monumental incorruptibility and commitment to ethical government. As he had in Buffalo and in Albany, Cleveland brought with him to Washington the ardent conviction that "a public office is a public trust," and that it was never appropriate for government to dole out favors at taxpayers' expense, no matter how politically expedient.

When his presidential campaign was jolted by reports that he had fathered a child out of wedlock many years earlier, Cleveland wired succinct instructions to his aides: 'Whatever you do, tell the truth.'

He was never paralyzed by the fear of saying "no." In his first term alone, Cleveland vetoed 414 bills, more than double the total of all the presidents who preceded him. Over his eight years in the White House, Cleveland rejected an astonishing 584 bills passed by Congress. That many of those measures were popular feel-good measures, such as authorizations for specious veterans' pensions, makes Cleveland's fortitude all the more impressive. Only 1 percent of his vetoes were overridden — a testament to the power of ethical principle to withstand the political appetite for spending other people's money.

Some presidents never met a principle they wouldn't abandon for electoral gain. Cleveland, principled to the bone, was of a different breed.

"He was not averse to popularity, but he put it far below the approval of conscience," H. L. Mencken wrote of Cleveland long after he left the White House. "It is not likely that we shall see his like again, at least in the present age. The presidency is now closed to the kind of character that he had so abundantly."

On this Presidents Day, could anything be more dispiriting?



Obama Admits Personally Changing the Immigration Law

If federal law enforcement officers apprehended a person who had been using a false Social Security Number, a federal prosecutor with a heavy caseload dominated by more serious crimes might decide not to indict the person. Whatever its merits, that would be an act of prosecutorial discretion.

But what if the prosecutor were to tell this user of a false Social Security Number: It is okay for you to continue using that false Social Security Number tomorrow. In fact, you may do so with impunity for the next three years.

Would that be an act of prosecutorial discretion? Or would it effectively make the prosecutor a co-conspirator with someone using a false Social Security Number?

In the case of Texas v. the United States, U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen issued an injunction on Monday temporarily stopping President Obama’s unilateral action to allow illegal aliens to stay in the United States, get work authorizations, and obtain Social Security Numbers.

In his decision, Judge Hanen clearly and forcefully explained how the administration’s new immigration policy is not an act of prosecutorial discretion.

In this case, twenty-six of the states joined together and sued the federal government to stop Obama’s unilateral amnesty of illegal aliens, which has been presented by Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson in the form of a program called “Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents” (DAPA).

“The crux of the states’ claim is that the defendants violated the Constitution by enacting their own law without going through the proper legislative or administrative channels,” said the judge.

The administration—in court at least--argued that DAPA is merely an act of prosecutorial discretion that prioritizes the use of limited DHS resources.

Judge Hanen unambiguously conceded that the executive branch does indeed have broad prosecutorial discretion that a court cannot rightfully challenge.

“Further, as a general principle, the decision to prosecute or not prosecute an individual is, with narrow exceptions, a decision that is left to the Executive Branch’s discretion,” he wrote.

“Consequently, this court finds that Secretary Johnson’s decisions as to how to marshal DHS resources, how to best utilize DHS manpower, and where to concentrate its activities are discretionary decisions solely within the purview of the Executive Branch, to the extent they do not violate any statute or the Constitution,” he said.

But then the judge declared that in its DAPA program, Obama’s Department of Homeland Security is doing far more than merely foregoing enforcement of the law against certain violators.

“Instead of merely refusing to enforce the [Immigration and Nationality Act]’s removal laws against an individual, the DHS has enacted a wide-reaching program that awards legal presence to individuals Congress has deemed deportable or removable, as well as the ability to obtain Social Security Numbers, work authorization permits and the ability to travel,” said the judge.

“Exercising prosecutorial discretion and/or refusing to enforce a statute does not also entail bestowing benefits,” he said. “Non-enforcement is just that—not enforcing the law. Non-enforcement does not entail refusing to remove these individuals as required by the law and then providing three years of immunity from that law, legal presence status, plus any benefits that may accompany legal presence under current regulations.”

“This court,” he said, “seriously doubts that the Supreme Court, in holding non-enforcement decisions to be presumptively unreviewable, anticipated that such ‘non-enforcement’ decisions would include the affirmative act of bestowing multiple otherwise unobtainable benefits upon the individual.”

The judge sealed his case that the administration’s immigration action is not merely an act of discretion, but a change in the law itself, by quoting Obama himself.

“What is perhaps most perplexing about the defendant’s claim that DAPA is merely ‘guidance’ is the president’s own labeling of the program,” said the judge. “In formally announcing DAPA to the nation for the first time, President Obama stated, ‘I just took an action to change the law.’”

The Constitution, of course, does not give Obama the power to change the law.

If Obama succeeds in usurping that authority, he and future presidents will use it for more than granting illegal aliens work permits and Social Security Numbers.



Shame and race in America

By Walter E. Williams

Today's liberals are not racists, but they often behave that way.

They would benefit immensely from considering some of the arguments in award-winning scholar Dr. Shelby Steele's forthcoming book, "Shame: How America's Past Sins Have Polarized Our Country."

Steele, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, explains that in matters of race, there is an ideological vision that completely ignores truth — a vision he calls "poetic truth." In literature, poetic license takes liberties with grammatical rules, as well as realities, in order to create a more beautiful or powerful effect than would be otherwise possible. Liberals have a poetic commitment to black victimization as the explanation for the many problems affecting a large segment of the black community. The truth that blacks have now achieved a level of freedom comparable to that of others has to be seen as a lie.

People who accept the truth about that freedom are seen as aligning themselves with America's terrible history of racism. Accepting that racism is still the greatest barrier to black achievement is the only way liberals can prove themselves innocent of racism. Thus, "modern liberalism is grounded in a paradox: it tries to be 'progressive' and forward looking by fixing its gaze backward. It insists that America's shameful past is the best explanation of its current social problems. It looks at the present, but it sees only the past."

Liberals believe that black people's fate is determined by the beneficence of white people and government programs. Steele points out that despite the handicaps of past racism and segregation, our fate was left in our own hands. In the face of more government opposition than assistance, black Americans created the most articulate and effective movement for human freedom that the world has ever seen — the civil rights movement. This was done without any government grants and in a society that ran the gamut from a cool indifference toward blacks to murderous terrorism.

Though not politically correct to acknowledge, there are cultural patterns within the black community that keep blacks from achieving true parity with whites. Sociologist Daniel Patrick Moynihan identified these patterns in his 1965 report, titled "The Negro Family: The Case for National Action." Moynihan, who later became a Democratic senator, was condemned as a racist by much of America's academic establishment for "blaming the victim." Worse than that, Moynihan's experience became an object lesson for other social scientists that any research that implies black responsibility for black problems is forbidden.

Moynihan's conclusions were no less than prophetic. Steele says that family breakdown is the single worst problem black America faces. It spawned countless other problems in black America, including gang violence, drug abuse, low academic achievement, high dropout and unemployment rates, and high crime and incarceration rates.

Liberalism is a moral manipulation that exaggerates inequity and unfairness in American life in order to justify overreaching public policies and programs. Liberalism undermines the spirit of self-help and individual responsibility. For liberals in academia, the fact that black college students earn lower grades and have a higher dropout rate than any group besides reservation Indians means that blacks remain stymied and victimized by white racism. Thus, their push for affirmative action and other race-based programs is to assuage their guilt and shame for America's past by having people around with black skin color. The heck with the human being inside that skin.

Shelby Steele argues that the civil rights movement's goal was a free society — one not necessarily free of all bigotry but free of illegal discrimination. After that, we minorities should be simply left alone, as opposed to being smothered by the paternalism, inspired by white guilt, that has emerged since the 1960s. On that note, I just cannot resist the temptation to refer readers to my Proclamation of Amnesty and Pardon (http://tinyurl.com/opd8vgd), which grants Americans of European ancestry amnesty and pardon for their own grievances and those of their forebears against my people so that they stop feeling guilty and stop acting like fools in their relationship with Americans of African ancestry.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog

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


19 February, 2015

Another attempt to whitewash Hitler's socialism

Comments on Musolff, Andreas. "Metaphor, Nation and the Holocaust: The Concept of the Body Politic". New York, NY: Routledge, 2010

There have been many attempts to explain the evils of Nazism and they almost invariably end up with a confession of failure. They find Nazism inexplicable. The best that they can usually do is to say that Hitler resented being rejected by the Jewish Rector of the Vienna art school. So he then took it out on all Jews. But that is pretty laughable if one reads Hitler's own account of the matter in Mein Kampf. He reports that the Rector told him that his real talent was in architecture so he should concentrate on that. And Hitler agreed enthusiastically with that!

The latest work by Musolff -- a German employed at an English university -- also ends with a confession of failure. He claims that Hitler's clever use of popular language lies behind the popularity of Nazism. His book is of course not available online but his book is essentially an expansion of a 2008 essay so I think the abstract from that essay gives a fair idea of Musolff's thinking:

Over the past decade several studies have been published that investigate the metaphors employed in Nazi racist ideology from the combined perspectives of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) and Cognitive Semantics . The paper reviews these studies, and discusses their differences to earlier studies that were based on traditional rhetorical definitions of metaphor . Particular attention is paid to comparisons between Hitler’s metaphors and recent discriminatory propaganda, as well as to the interpretation of such ideological metaphors as 'viruses of the mind', and to the relationship between Hitler’s use of the Great Chain of Being and classical versions of this concept . In conclusion, it is argued that cognitively oriented CDA studies of metaphor use can contribute significantly not only to the conceptual reconstruction of metaphoric mappings but also to understanding their discursive history.

Distinguished psychohistorian Liah Greenfeld has written a scathing demolition of Musolff's ideas so I will refer readers to that rather than wade any further into Musolff myself.

Interestingly, however, Greenfield too cannot place Nazism within any general psychological and historical framework. From her conclusion:

It must be kept in mind that the only way to account for the Holocaust in the framework of the fundamental understandings of the Western civilization, within which it was committed, is to regard it as an aberration, a totally implausible, horrific episode due to the German cultural exceptionalism (which prevented Germany from being fully a part of this civilization, despite its location smack in the middle of Europe), an aberration which other countries allowed to happen precisely because they could not ever imagine and bring themselves to believe that something like that could be happening.

To explain it otherwise is to reject these fundamental understandings altogether and, with them, reject the Western civilization. This is simple logic; there is nothing more to it. The Holocaust has forever undermined this civilization’s self-confidence, and it is quite possible, judging by the political events of the last quarter century (after the fall of Communism which, while it lasted, kept the Western world’s fomenting sense of self-betrayal in check) that this rejection is already happening. The civilization is evidently under a relentless attack – from within, and it well may be in its death throes. But dying civilizations do not evolve new fundamental understandings, and our logical possibilities for making sense of the realities, including historical realities, around us, remain limited to what we have.

One has to agree with her that the Holocaust has undermined our civilization’s self-confidence but the claim that Nazism and the holocaust were an "aberration" is witting blindness. There was NOTHING aberrant about Hitler. Socialists like him littered the 20th century with mass murder -- from Lenin to Pol Pot. Hitler's ideas -- including his antisemitism -- were typical of the Leftist ideas of his day. He just applied German thoroughness to implementing them. The hate that motivates the Left makes mass murder easy for them.

It is only because they close their minds to what Hitler actually preached that historians find Nazism inexplicable. They cannot afford to admit his socialism so will forever fail at their avowed objective of understanding Nazism in a way that will prevent similar outbreaks of horror in the future. It is only an understanding of the inherent evil of Leftism that could prevent such outbreaks in the future.

The latest evidence of that evil is the way the Left whitewash Islamic supremacism. Obama even refuses to utter the words "Islam" or "Muslim" in his responses to the latest episodes of Islamic horror in Syria and elsewhere. Mass murder has just never bothered the Left and that is still so.

Islam too is largely hate-motivated. Leftists hate a world that they do not understand and Muslims hate a world that is not wholly Muslim. Borrow a copy of the Koran and start your reading of it from Surah 9. You will find there how much Mohammed hated unbelievers and how he instructed his followers to attack them. Hate breeds horror. It is as simple as that.

Footnote: The psychohistorians attach great significance to Hitler's use of the human body as an analogy for the German Volk. And it is certainly true that Hitler did indeed describe the German people as a living body infected by dangerous bacteria -- the Jews.

And the psychohistorians are aware that other people have used that sort of thinking. What they do not in my reading seem to do is connect that analogy with prewar Leftism. The organic theory of the state in fact goes back to Hegel, the founding philosopher of the Left, and is well represented in the writings of a man very prominent worldwide during Hitler's youth -- American Democrat president Woodrow Wilson, the great world government dreamer. Wilson claimed that the U.S. government was "not a machine, but a living thing. It falls, not under the theory of the universe, but under the theory of organic life..."


Federal Judge Temporarily Blocks Obama's Executive Action On Immigration

In a move cheered by conservatives, a federal judge in Texas has temporarily halted implementation of President Barack Obama's controversial executive action on immigration.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen comes as lawmakers in Washington continue to squabble over a bill linking funding for the Department of Homeland Security to blocking the president's immigration action.

In the ruling, Hanen argued that the Obama administration violated the Administrative Procedure Act, which calls for a more elaborate rulemaking process before taking action.

Hanen subsequently determined that a lawsuit filed by Texas and 25 other states challenging Obama's immigration action can go forward.

The judge said a preliminary injunction was necessary to prevent the action from doing "irreparable harm" to the states while the case moves through the legal process.

Hanen, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, also argued that the immigration action would be "virtually irreversible" once implemented.

A number of Republican lawmakers released statements applauding the ruling, including House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

"The president said 22 times he did not have the authority to take the very action on immigration he eventually did, so it is no surprise that at least one court has agreed," Boehner said.

He added, "Hopefully, Senate Democrats who claim to oppose this executive overreach will now let the Senate begin debate on a bill to fund the Homeland Security department."

However, a statement from the White House argued that Obama's executive actions on immigration are well within his legal authority.

"Top law enforcement officials, along with state and local leaders across the country, have emphasized that these policies will also benefit the economy and help keep communities safe," the White House said.

The statement added, "The district court's decision wrongly prevents these lawful, commonsense policies from taking effect and the Department of Justice has indicated that it will appeal that decision."

The action Obama unveiled in November would temporarily shield up to 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation, including the parents of U.S. citizens.



Putin Paranoia

By Patrick J. Buchanan

Hopefully, the shaky truce between Vladimir Putin and Ukraine's Petro Poroshenko, brokered in Minsk by Angela Merkel, will hold.

For nothing good, but much evil, could come of broadening and lengthening this war that has cost the lives of 5,400 Ukrainians.

The longer it goes on, the greater the casualties, the more land Ukraine will lose, and the greater the likelihood Kiev will end up an amputated and bankrupt republic, a dependency the size of France on the doorstep of Europe.

Had no truce been achieved, 8,000 Ukrainian troops trapped in the Debaltseve pocket could have been forced to surrender or wiped out, causing a regime crisis in Kiev. U.S. weapons could have begun flowing in, setting the stage for a collision between Russia and the United States.

One understands Russia's vital interest in retaining its Black Sea naval base in Crimea, and keeping Ukraine out of NATO. And one sees the vital interest of Ukraine in not losing the Donbas.

But what is America's vital interest here?

Merkel says a great principle is at stake, that in post-Cold War Europe, borders are not to be changed by force. That is idealistic, but is it realistic?

At the Cold War's end, Yugoslavia split into seven nations, the USSR into 15. Croatia, Bosnia, Kosovo, even Slovenia briefly, had to fight to break free. So, too, did the statelets of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in breaking from Georgia, and Transnistria from Moldova.

Inside Russia there are still minorities such as the Chechens who wish to break free. And in many of the new nations like Ukraine, there are ethnic Russians who want to go home.

Indeed, a spirit of secessionism pervades the continent of Europe.

But while London permitted the Scottish secessionists a vote, Madrid refuses to concede that right to the Basques or Catalans. And some of these ethnic minorities may one day fight to break free, as the Irish did a century ago.

Yet of all of the secessionist movements from the Atlantic to the Urals, none imperils a vital interest of the United States. None is really our business. And none justifies a war with Russia.

Indeed, what is it about this generation of Americans that makes us such compulsive meddlers in the affairs of nations we could not find on a map? Consider if you will our particular affliction: Putin paranoia.

Forty years ago, this writer was in Moscow with Richard Nixon on his last summit with Leonid Brezhnev. It was not a contentious affair, though the USSR was then the command center of an immense empire that stretched from Berlin to the Bering Sea.

And when we are warned that Putin wishes to restore that USSR of 1974, and to reassemble that Soviet Empire of yesterday, have we really considered what that would require of him?

To restore the USSR, Putin would have to recapture Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, an area the size of the United States.

To resurrect the Soviet Empire, Putin would have to invade and occupy Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and then overrun Germany to the Elbe River.

How far along is Putin in re-establishing the empire of the czars and commissars? He has reannexed Crimea, which is roughly the size of Vermont, and which the Romanovs acquired in the 18th century.

Yet almost daily we hear the din from Capitol Hill, "The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming!"

That there is bad blood between America and Putin is undeniable. And, indeed, Putin has his quarrels with us as well. In his eyes, we took advantage of the dissolution of the USSR to move NATO into Eastern Europe and the Baltic republics. We used our color-coded revolutions to dump over pro-Russian regimes in Serbia, Ukraine, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan.

Yet beyond our mutual distrust, or even contempt, is there not common ground between us?

As the century unfolds, two clear and present dangers threaten U.S. strategic interests: the rising power of a covetous China and the spread of Islamic terrorism.

In dealing with both, Russia is a natural ally. China sees Siberia and the Russian Far East, with its shrinking population, as a storehouse of the resources Beijing needs.

And against the Taliban in Afghanistan, ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and al-Qaida, Russia, which suffered in Beslan and Moscow what New York, London, Madrid, Paris and Copenhagen have suffered, is on our side.

During the Cold War, Russia was in thrall to an ideology hostile to all we believed in. She had rulers who commanded a world empire. Yet we had presidents who could do business with Moscow.

If we could negotiate with neo-Stalinists issues as grave as the the Berlin Wall, and ballistic missiles in Cuba, why cannot we sit down with Vladimir Putin and discuss less earthshaking matters, such as whose flag should fly over Luhansk and Donetsk?



Double standard at Barack Obama's 'Injustice' Department

By Bill Wilson

As U.S. Senators take up the nomination of Loretta Lynch for Attorney General, they should keep an eye across the country on the scandal enveloping now-former Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber. At first glance, these two unfolding political dramas might seem as far apart as "the east is from the west," but a closer examination reveals a troubling common undercurrent.

First, let's look at Lynch, whose refusal to criminally prosecute "too big to indict" banks — including those with ties to drug and terrorist organizations — has prompted intense GOP scrutiny of her nomination. More disturbingly, Lynch has vowed to implement Barack Obama's unconstitutional executive amnesty provisions — flatly rejecting the very rule of law she has sworn to uphold and enforce. Clearly, her nomination should be a non-starter on that basis alone — but the real issue here isn't so much Lynch's unfitness for office as it is the culture of corruption from which she was spawned.

No agency — not the EPA, IRS nor NSA — epitomizes the rogue "thugocracy" of Obama's Administration more than the U.S. Department of Justice. And it's not just the agency's headline-grabbing lawlessness — like the "Fast and Furious" gun-running scandal or its repeated efforts to spy on journalists. There's a root evil at work — a fundamental hypocrisy that's much darker and far more sinister.

That evil? The rising tide of unequal justice: Agenda-driven law enforcement that's willing to overlook real crime on the one hand while manufacturing scandals out of thin air on the other — all depending on partisan calculation and ideological impact.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog

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


18 February, 2015

Apocalypse Not: The Legacy of Julian Simon

By Aaron Tao

“The ultimate resource is people—especially skilled, spirited, and hopeful young people endowed with liberty—who will exert their wills and imaginations for their own benefit and inevitably benefit the rest of us as well.” —Julian Simon

February 12 marks the birthday of the late economist Julian Simon (1932–1998). On this special occasion, I wish to bring attention to this thinker whose work I feel has not been fully appreciated. The implications of his controversial but time-tested ideas certainly deserve greater attention in academia and society at large.

Simon is perhaps best known for his famous wager against ecologist Paul R. Ehrlich, author of the notorious best-seller The Population Bomb.

In line with classical Malthusian theory, Ehrlich predicted that human population growth would result in overconsumption, resource shortages, and global famine—in short, an apocalyptic scenario for humanity. Simon optimistically countered Ehrlich’s claim and argued that the human condition and our overall welfare would flourish thanks to efficient markets, technological innovation, and people’s collective ingenuity. Both men agreed to put their money where their mouth is.

They agreed that rising prices of raw materials would indicate that these commodities were becoming more scarce, and this became the premise of The Bet. The metals chromium, copper, nickel, tin, and tungsten were chosen as measures of resource scarcity by Ehrlich’s team. Ehrlich and his Malthusian colleagues invested a total of $1,000 (in 1980 prices) on the five metals ($200 each). The terms of the wager were simple: If by the end of the period from September 29, 1980, to September 29, 1990, the inflation-adjusted prices of the metals rose, then Simon would pay Ehrlich the combined difference, and vice versa if the prices fell.

Here’s the final outcome as summarized by Wired:

Between 1980 and 1990, the world’s population grew by more than 800 million, the largest increase in one decade in all of history. But by September 1990, without a single exception, the price of each of Ehrlich’s selected metals had fallen, and in some cases had dropped through the floor. Chrome, which had sold for $3.90 a pound in 1980, was down to $3.70 in 1990. Tin, which was $8.72 a pound in 1980, was down to $3.88 a decade later.

Which is how it came to pass that in October 1990, Paul Ehrlich mailed Julian Simon a check for $576.07.

A more perfect resolution of the Ehrlich-Simon debate could not be imagined.

Looking back on this high-profile debate, it is important to realize that Simon did not win because he was a savvier investor or had special knowledge about economic trends. Rather, Simon’s ideas were shown to be more empirically, intellectually, and morally sound. A distinguishing hallmark of Simon’s work was that he held a sincere conviction that human imagination was the ultimate renewable resource that can create a better world. In his magnum opus The Ultimate Resource, Simon looked to the future with optimism tempered by an ultimate belief in human potential:

I do not believe that nature is limitlessly bountiful. I believe instead that the possibilities in the world are sufficiently great so that with the present state of knowledge, and with the additional knowledge that the human imagination and human enterprise will develop in the future, we and our descendants can manipulate the elements in such fashion that we can have all the mineral raw materials that we need and desire at prices ever smaller relative to other prices and to our total incomes. In short, our cornucopia is the human mind and heart, and not a Santa Claus natural environment. So has it been in the past, and therefore so is it likely to be in the future.

Despite Simon’s vindication from the celebrated public wager (and from lots of contemporary research), the Malthusian views of Ehrlich and company still remain popular and entrenched among academics, political activists, and the mass media.

Having studied evolutionary biology back in college, I can attest to the predominance of Malthusian views in higher education. It’s understandable why Thomas Malthus continues to occupy a “hallowed place in the history of biology” (mainly for his having influenced Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution through natural selection). But as much as I appreciated evolutionary insights in explaining the diversity of life on Earth, I often felt uneasy when my teachers and fellow students talked about public policy and politics, especially when the discussion involved environmentalism.

I was particularly disturbed that many environmentalists expressed blatant anti-globalization, anti-industrial, anti-trade, and misanthropic views (an observation shared by ecologist Patrick Moore, a founder of Greenpeace who left that organization because it began to embrace far-left politics). On a regular basis, I heard environmentalists on campus propose “solutions” that called for more government control over people and resources—or else [insert apocalyptic scenario] was destined to happen. Having a basic understanding of free-market economics certainly helped keep me immune from these bad ideas, but I felt something crucial was missing from my intellectual arsenal.

Being the curious student that I was (and because belonging to an ideological minority taught me to “know thyself and thy enemy”), I read extensively, and eventually I came across science writer Matt Ridley and his book The Rational Optimist. And from there I was introduced to the work of Julian Simon.

These thinkers were a breath of fresh air. I also came to realize that Simon had laid the intellectual groundwork for a modern, optimistic vision for humanity, perhaps more so than anyone else. In the biological sciences, growth limits are usually seen within the carrying capacity of natural systems. But when it comes to resource consumption, Homo sapiens are not rodents or locusts—and this obvious fact has huge implications.

As Simon crucially pointed out, we human beings possess imagination and ingenuity that have enabled us to overcome numerous challenges throughout our history. Although these factors are often overlooked and cannot be easily modeled, they are what differentiate us from all other species on the planet.

In The Ultimate Resource, Simon emphasizes that raw materials such as petroleum and copper are not “resources” until they are altered by human intellect:

Resources in their raw form are useful and valuable only when found, understood, gathered together, and harnessed for human needs. The basic ingredient in the process, along with the raw elements, is human knowledge. And we develop knowledge about how to use raw elements for our benefit only in response to our needs.

Human beings are hardwired to find new ways to do more with less. When a given resource becomes more scarce, it becomes more expensive; and the greater scarcity is conveyed through the price system. As a result of price signals, people are incentivized to use less of the resource and to develop new substitutes—or to find new reserves of that resource that were previously unknown or unprofitable to bring to market.

From the predicted food shortages back in Thomas Malthus’s day to modern dire warnings over peak oil, Malthusian fear mongering has been discredited again and again. It is past time to retire Malthus and reject the toxic ideologies pushed by his latter-day followers for once and for all. Although we certainly have genuine heroes to thank, like Norman Borlaug (the “Father of the Green Revolution”), the triumph of free-market and classical liberal ideas was the most critical factor in preventing the horrific scenarios envisioned by the doom crowd. As Chelsea German at HumanProgress.org succinctly summarizes it, “Capitalism Defused the Population Bomb.”

But what, or more accurately, who drives the innovative engine of capitalism? Again, we go back to Simon and his unique insights:

[T]he source of knowledge is the human mind. Ultimately, then, the key constraint is human imagination acting together with educated skills. This is why an increase of human beings, along with causing an additional consumption of resources, constitutes a crucial addition to the stock of natural resources.

We must remember, however, that human imagination can flourish only if the economic system gives individuals the freedom to exercise their talents and to take advantage of opportunities.

Although vast amounts of empirical evidence support the case for crediting free markets, free trade, and globalization for raising living standards and creating new sources of prosperity, we must never lose sight of the fundamental components that made it all possible: people themselves and their unlimited imaginations.

Julian Simon contributed truly original wisdom to the intellectual and moral case for a free society. Much more can be said of his legacy as a scholar, but Simon’s vast accomplishments best speak for themselves. The Ultimate Resource is a treasure and deserves to be on the bookshelf of every freedom lover and entrepreneur.



LBJ's $22,000,000,000,000 War on Poverty Penalizes Parents Who Marry

Fifty-one years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson launched the War on Poverty. Since then, taxpayers have spent more than $22 trillion fighting Johnson’s war, three times the cost of all military wars in U.S. history.

Last year, taxpayers spent more than $920 billion on 80 different anti-poverty programs.

Despite this spending, the percentage of Americans who are poor has barely budged since the late 1960s. As President Reagan put it: “We declared war on poverty, and poverty won.”

A major reason for the nation’s lack of success for the last half century has been the collapse of marriage. Marriage is a powerful force in reducing poverty; a single mother with children is four times more likely to be poor than a similar mother who is married. More than two-thirds of all poor families with children in the U.S. are headed by single parents.

But since the beginning of the war on poverty, marriage has declined sharply. In 1964, 7 percent of U.S. children were born outside marriage. Today, the number is 41 percent. Society is dividing into two castes. In the top half, children are raised by married couples with college education; in the bottom half, children are raised by single mothers with a high-school degree or less.

When compared to children in intact married homes, children raised by single parents are more likely to have emotional and behavioral problems; be physically abused; smoke, drink, and use drugs; be aggressive; engage in violent, delinquent, and criminal behavior; have poor school performance; be expelled from school; and drop out of high school.

Given the effectiveness of marriage in reducing poverty and other social problems, you would think that strengthening marriage would be a top priority for the welfare state. Wrong. The welfare system does the opposite. Welfare actively penalizes marriage by reducing benefits when low-income couples do marry.

For example, a single mother with two children who earns $15,000 per year will generally receive around $5,200 per year from the Food Stamp program. However, if she marries a father with the same earnings level, her food stamps would be cut to zero. A single mother receiving public housing benefits would receive a subsidy worth on average around $11,000 per year if she was not employed. But if she married a man earning $20,000 per year, these benefits would be cut nearly in half.

The federal government runs more than 80 welfare aid programs; nearly all of them provide very real financial incentives for couples to remain separate and unmarried. Is there a way to reduce welfare’s marriage penalties without raising overall welfare spending and costing the taxpayer a bundle? Yes.

Shrink welfare fraud. Take the earned income tax credit. This program provides more than $56 billion per year in cash grants to low-income persons. But, according to the IRS, a quarter to a third of all EITC claims are fraudulent. It would not be hard to sharply reduce fraud and save some $10 to $15 billion per year. These savings could be redirected toward reducing marriage penalties in other welfare programs.

Reducing welfare’s marriage penalties would aid moms, dads and kids. That’s a positive first step toward actually winning the war on poverty.



Jihad in Copenhagen

Islamic terrorism has once again struck Europe. The Wall Street Journal reports, “Danish police said they shot dead a gunman on Sunday who they believe was behind shootings at a free-speech event at a Copenhagen cafe and a nearby synagogue a day earlier.”

The first clue of motive comes from the fact that what Barack Obama might call a “random shooting” happened at a synagogue, killing one Jewish man.

The second clue is this from the WSJ: “Police said a man sprayed dozens of gunshots through the plate glass windows of central Copenhagen’s Krudttoenden cafe, where Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks and France’s ambassador to Denmark, François Zimeray, were attending the free-speech conference. Neither Mr. Vilks nor Mr. Zimeray was injured.” One person was killed, however.

In 2007, Vilks drew caricatures of Muhammad as a dog, and the Islamic State has a $150,000 bounty on his head. And witnesses reported hearing the shooter yell, “Allahu Akbar!”

These attacks are by no means “random” acts of “lone wolves,” and these murderers aren’t motivated by what Obama called “whatever ideology” – this is jihad in the name of Islam.



'Blockbuster' Report: Scott Walker Didn't Finish College

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has made a splash in the 2016 Republican presidential field. That makes him a prime Leftmedia target, and The Washington Post is on the case. Did you know — gasp! — that Walker dropped out of Marquette University? Where’s the fainting couch?

Even though college attendance is prevalent these days, the majority of Americans still don’t have a four-year degree. And the shocking reason Walker didn’t finish is that he found a good job. Hardly scandalous.

If college is a requisite for the presidency, someone should have told George Washington — our greatest president. He didn’t attend college at all. And speaking of college records, political analyst Michael Barone asks the Leftmedia, “Why weren’t you — why aren’t you — curious about how Obama behaved in college?”



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog

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


17 February, 2015

True Lies

Brian Williams, Dan Rather, Fareed Zakaria, Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Lena Dunham etc. The lies from the Left never stop

“NBC Nightly News” anchorman Brian Williams frequently fabricated a dramatic story that he was under enemy attack while reporting from Iraq. NBC is now investigating whether Williams also embellished events in New Orleans during his reporting on Hurricane Katrina.

Williams always plays the hero in his yarns, braving natural and hostile human enemies to deliver us the truth on the evening news.

Former CBS anchorman Dan Rather tried to pass off fake memos as authentic evidence about former President George W. Bush’s supposedly checkered National Guard record.

CNN news host Fareed Zakaria, who recently interviewed President Obama, was caught using the written work of others as if it were his own. He joins a distinguished array of accused plagiarists, from historian Doris Kearns Goodwin to columnist Maureen Dowd.

Usually, plagiarism is excused. Research assistants are blamed or clerical slips are cited – and little happens. In lieu of admitting deliberate dishonesty, our celebrities when caught prefer using the wishy-washy prefix “mis-” to downplay a supposed accident – as in misremembering, misstating or misconstruing.

Politicians are often the worst offenders. Vice President Joe Biden withdrew from the presidential race of 1988 once it was revealed that he had been caught plagiarizing in law school. In that campaign, he gave a speech lifted from British Labor Party candidate Neil Kinnock.

Hillary Clinton fantasized when she melodramatically claimed she had been under sniper fire when landing in Bosnia. Her husband, former President Bill Clinton, was more overt in lying under oath in the Monica Lewinsky debacle. Former Sen. John Walsh (D-Mont.) was caught plagiarizing elements of his master’s thesis.

President Obama has explained that some of the characters in his autobiography, “Dreams From My Father,” were “composites” or “compressed,” which suggests that in some instances what he described did not exactly happen.

What are the consequences of lying about or exaggerating one’s past or stealing the written work of others? It depends.

Punishment is calibrated by the stature of the perpetrator. If the offender is powerful, then misremembering, misstating and misconstruing are considered minor and aberrant transgressions. If not, the sins are called lying and plagiarizing, and deemed a window into a bad soul. Thus a career can be derailed.

Young, upcoming lying reporters like onetime New York Times fabulist Jayson Blair and The New Republic’s past stable of fantasy writers – Stephen Glass, Scott Beauchamp and Ruth Shalit – had their work finally disowned by their publications. Former Washington Post reporter Janet Cooke got her Pulitzer Prize revoked for fabricating a story.

Obscure Sen. Walsh was forced out of his re-election race. Biden, on the other hand, became vice president. It did not matter much that the Obama biography by Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Maraniss contradicted many of the details from Obama’s autobiography.

Hillary Clinton may well follow her husband’s trajectory and become president. The Rev. Al Sharpton helped perpetuate the Tawana Brawley hoax; he is now a frequent guest at the White House.

Why do so many of our elites cut corners and embellish their past or steal the work of others?

For them, such deception may be a small gamble worth taking, with mild consequences if caught. Plagiarism is a shortcut to publishing without all the work of creating new ideas or doing laborious research. Padding a resume or mixing truth with half-truths and composites creates more dramatic personal histories that enhance careers.

Our culture itself has redefined the truth into a relative idea without fault. Some academics suggested that Brian Williams may have lied because of “memory distortion” rather than a character defect.

Contemporary postmodern thought sees the “truth” as a construct. The social aim of these fantasy narratives is what counts. If they serve progressive race, class and gender issues, then why follow the quaint rules of evidence that were established by an ossified and reactionary establishment?

Feminist actress and screenwriter Lena Dunham in her memoir described her alleged rapist as a campus conservative named Barry. After suspicion was cast on one particular man fitting Dunham’s book description, Dunham clarified that she meant to refer to someone else as the perpetrator.

Surely the exonerated Duke University men’s lacrosse players who were accused of sexual assault or the University of Virginia frat boys accused of rape in a magazine article in theory could have been guilty – even if they were proven not to be.

Michael Brown was suspected of committing a strong-arm robbery right before his death. He then walked down the middle of a street, blocking traffic, and rushed a policeman. Autopsy and toxicology reports of gunpowder residuals and the presence of THC suggest that Brown had marijuana in his system and was in close contact to the officer who fired. Do those details matter, if a “gentle giant” can become emblematic of an alleged epidemic of racist, trigger-happy cops who recklessly shoot unarmed youth?

The Greek word for truth was “aletheia” – literally “not forgetting.” Yet that ancient idea of eternal differences between truth and myth is now lost in the modern age.

Our lies become accepted as true, but only depending on how powerful and influential we are – or how supposedly noble the cause for which we lie.



Lies the Media Told Me

Marshall McLuhan's claim that ‘the medium is the message" is a rule of thumb adopted by today's news media. Truth is optional, and the means by which it is delivered to the public has become a matter of "style" and bias. If truth does not comport with an established narrative, falsehood is permissible. After all, the public, to whom the news is directed, doesn't know the difference.

Truth, in the news media, is becoming more and more as rare as a halal hamburger in Riyadh, or a wine list in a Tehran restaurant.

If a news event doesn't fit the New York Times's printable meme or mantra, it isn't going to be reported without slanting and bias so severe that even a cursory examination of it will capsize the story to reveal the rust and barnacles on its hull. The same rule of thumb goes for most news organizations and outlets, including the Washington Post and other "major" dailies. Almost every one of them delivers messages, not news.

Most of them don't even pretend to be paragons of journalism anymore. What, after all, is a journal? It is a record of significant or noteworthy events, entered without prejudice for or against the things in the events. The news media couldn't even report Paul Revere shouting "The British are coming!" without injecting some squib about gay rights, because some of the British officers were perhaps gay, and any shots fired at them could be said to be "homophobic."

"Cow bites milkmaid" won't be reported by the New York Times without some subtle, sub-textual message about animal rights or gender exploitation. Virtually the only realm of unbiased news reportage left in any medium is the obituaries, and sometimes even those are skewed when the deceased was a celebrity or a politician whose true character is not only suspect but so reeking with scandal (e.g., the passing of Ted Kennedy) that toxic fumes leak from the person's casket. That's another kind of "odor of sanctity." It can't be dispersed or disguised by a gallon of eau de cologne spritzers.

The phony war stories of Brian Williams are but the tip of the media practice and culture of rearranging reality to suit a fantasy world of political correctness and to satisfy a hankering for a "perfect" world. Perhaps he thought that if Hillary Clinton could get away with lying about her "dodging bullets" in Bosnia for so long before being found out, he could get away with claiming that the helicopter he was riding in Iraq came under RPG fire, when no such thing happened. Hillary claimed that she "misremembered" the imaginary sniper fire episode in Bosnia in 1996. "Misremembering" things seems to be as common a thing as zits on a high school sophomore.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Williams was photographed in waders sloshing thru flood waters. He claimed to have seen bodies floating under his hotel window, and that gangs had invaded his hotel and he was frightened. None of this happened, except for the photo-op. The rest was his imagination. He and his ilk can always claim, when the truth contracts their assertions, that the problem is a matter of "misremembering," or symptoms of "post-combat mental trauma."

As Daniel Greenfield put it in his FrontPage article of February 9th, "Brian Williams for President," about the major news networks abetting the "misdemeanor" of lying to the public because the lies help to advance the Progressive agenda of turning America into a minimum security correctional facility:

"Brian Williams is in trouble for lying, but he was part of a media culture of deceit where lies were acceptable for a good progressive cause. Williams isn't really in trouble because he lied, but because he got caught. Worse still, the lies were self-serving. They served Brian Williams; they didn't serve the left.

Williams had failed to draw the line between the "good lie" (ObamaCare is making life better) and the "bad lie" (I swam the flooded French Quarter with puppies on my back during Katrina while Al Qaeda shot RPGs at me). But the borders between the "good lie" and the "bad lie" have been vague when it comes to the titans of the left."

If he thought he could get away with another whopper, Williams probably would have also claimed that he hurt his index finger by sticking it into all fifty dikes and flood walls during Katrina to help stop the flooding.

For the longest time, for decades, in fact, I grew to despise news anchors. It began with the hectoring voice of Walter Cronkite in the 1950's. But Brian Williams is representative of the smarmy, sneering, cynically sanctimonious, slickly groomed face also telling me "that's how it is." Their offensive, know-it-all styles of delivery made them personalities, not newsmen, actors, not conveyers of truth, perhaps a rung and a half up from carnival barkers.

This false news reportage has become a tradition among news anchors, continued by the likes of Peter Jennings and Dan Rather, to whom news reportage/lying to the public is a "crude art form," akin to a Jackson Pollack canvas. These people are so desperate to adhere to their politically correct agenda, and want to be remembered as the electronic heralds of a "new world order," that they are willing to fabricate a glittering monstrance and substitute their glossy, patent leather faces for a eucharist.



A Blow to Illinois Unions Is a Win for Jobs

While it’s debatable whether anything politically good can come out of Chicago, something good came out of the Illinois state capital of Springfield this week. In a blow to the state’s bloated government unions, newly elected Republican Governor Bruce Rauner signed an executive order Monday allowing state workers to opt out of paying union dues.

At issue is Illinois' lack of a “right to work” law, meaning workers can be required to pay either union dues or fees as a condition of employment. As a result, most government employees in Illinois have to dish out part of their paycheck to a union as a condition of getting that paycheck. And even those who refuse to join a union are required to pay “fair share” dues. After all, they “benefit” from union contracts.

Citing First Amendment protections of freedom of speech and association, however, Rauner took issue with this practice, saying compulsory payments to unions require some workers to “subsidize and enable union activities that they do not support,” and he ordered the state “to immediately cease enforcement of the Fair Share Contract Provisions.”

Naturally, unions aren’t taking this well. According to the state’s largest public union, “The governor’s proposal to bar public employees from participating in our democracy would further tilt a playing field weighted heavily in favor of big business and the wealthy.” Of course, participatory democracy has nothing to do with this. Instead, unions are downright petrified they’re going to lose their money.

Public unions play leading roles in the Prairie State’s corruption drama. While collecting forced dues from government workers, unions use the dough to lobby the government for more pay and benefits in a relationship Investor’s Business Daily aptly terms “incestuous.” In fact, The Heritage Foundation’s James Sherk notes, “State employees in Illinois make 26 percent more than comparable private sector workers. They enjoy particularly generous retirement benefits.”

Meanwhile, the state’s pension system is the most underfunded in the country, and taxpayers are squeezed, dishing out the second-highest property taxes in the nation in a failed attempt to fund it all.

But it gets even better. To grease the skids, public unions donate heavily to lawmakers' re-election campaigns, meaning legislators have little impetus to fight union demands. The Illinois Policy Institute reports that between 2002 and 2014, a whopping 86% of state legislators received campaign contributions from government unions, including more than $1 million that went to the state speaker of the house – who also happens to be chairman of the Democrat Party of Illinois.

Of course, this dance doesn’t benefit Illinois residents, who bear the financial brunt of paying for the ongoing rendezvous. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the state’s economic situation is downright abysmal. While nationwide employment growth from 2003 to 2014 was 7.3%, in Illinois, it was 0.2%. And the state ranks consistently low in business climate, too.

Still, unions aren’t going to take this blow lying down. But proving he’s no dummy, Rauner coupled his executive order with a preemptive lawsuit asking a federal district court to uphold the order. There is precedent, too. In the 2014 Supreme Court case of Harris vs. Quinn, the Court raised the question of whether forced payment of union dues is constitutional.

At the very least, however, Illinois' public unions are now on the defensive and scrambling to keep the money and power that are their raison d'être. If Rauner’s actions are any indication, though, unions are fighting a losing battle.


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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog

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)


16 February, 2015

Tanks in WWI

Tanks are now only a minor feature of WWI propaganda but I think it is important to combat propaganda wherever we see it.

The still widely-believed myth is that the invention of tanks by the British was a major factor in the defeat of Germany. It wasn't.

It is true that the allies did produce and field large numbers of tanks, whereas Germany did not. So it is clear that the allies at the time believed their own propaganda. Estimates vary but it is generally said that Britain produced around 2000 tanks and the French over 3000 while Germany produced only around 50. And the French Renault tanks were in many ways actually superior to the British designs.

The big flaws in WWI tank deployment were light armour, slow speed and a tendency to get bogged in the lush agricultural lands of Belgium and Northern France. Even tracked vehicles could not traverse that ground whenever it was wet, and that was often.

The light armour was actually penetrable by rifle and machine gun fire in the early stages and up to the end was an easy kill for German field guns. And Germany had a lot of those.

This handicap was greatly amplified by the slow speed of the tanks -- 5mph for British heavy tanks. It certainly gave German field gunners easy targeting. So the tanks that did not get bogged were generally knocked out without too much trouble.

The British light tanks ("Whippets") did rather better than the heavy tanks but there were only about 200 of them fielded and the British themselves considered them as enough of a failure to cut the numbers they had ordered. They were designed as "fast" tanks but that was only 8mph.

But the tanks did have some engagements in which they helped so how can I be sure that they did not make a crucial difference overall?

I can be sure because almost up to the end Ludendorff was advancing. In his last great push, German troops got to within 50 miles of Paris. But that push cost Ludenfdorff over half a million men and that left Germany with nothing like enough troops to take on the great wave of American troops that began arriving at that time. The American troops did not play a large role in the actual fighting but the sheer number of them told Ludendorff that he was finished and so he asked for an armistice. It was the arrival of the Americans that defeated Germany. Just the prospect of fighting so many fresh and carefully-trained troops led to the surrender.


Food authoritarianism poorly based

The dietary guidelines endorsed by the US and UK governments for the past three decades, which demonise fat as the number one nutritional villain, turn out to have been based on flimsy evidence.

A new study in the journal Open Heart has found that these guidelines, which advise restricting fat to no more than 30 percent of total energy intake and saturated fat to no more than 10 percent, should never have been issued. The guidelines were based on a non-randomised study of fewer than 2,500 middle-aged men, most of whom were already sick-hardly a sound basis for issuing dietary advice to millions of healthy men and women of all ages.

This is not the first time official diet advice has later been undermined by evidence. Saturated fat, it turns out, is not as bad for you as once was thought. Even the link between cholesterol and heart disease has been questioned.

Another public health myth that was recently debunked: the obesity explosion. Just one year ago, the National Obesity Forum in the UK was predicting rates of obesity were going to increase much more than expected and policymakers needed to prepare for an exponential rise.

As it turns out, rates of obesity have levelled off in the UK, especially among children. In Australia, childhood obesity plateaued a decade ago and in New South Wales may even be declining.

The same public health lobby that vilified fat 30 years ago has now moved on to sugar, with some scientists claiming that sugary foods are as 'addictive' as cocaine. This anti-sugar line is being used to justify policies like soft drink taxes and school candy bans.

But with its history of falling for dietary fads, like fat yesterday and sugar today, should we really trust these diet nannies to make food decisions for the rest of us? With their record of making doomsday predictions that don't come to pass, like the obesity 'bomb', should we trust them when they claim to have identified a crisis requiring urgent government action?

There is no one nutrient that is responsible for obesity. A person can grow to an unhealthy weight by eating too much fatty food or too much sugary food-the real problem is eating too much, period. This simple wisdom is something that most people already understand. The only problem with it, it seems, is that if everyone already understands it then there's no work left for nanny.



Doubts About Obama's Hatred of Christianity Should Now be Erased

By Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson

“For the devil is come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has but a short time.” – Revelation 12:12
“This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility.” – Barack Obama to Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev

If anyone doubted Barack Hussein Obama’s deep hatred of Christianity and abiding love for Islam, those doubts should now be erased after Obama verbally attacked some 3,500 Christians at the recent National Prayer Breakfast.

Just days after ISIS burned a Jordanian pilot alive, Obama used the occasion to minimize the escalating brutality by Islamists and lecture Christians about their supposed history of intolerance, incredibly reaching back as far as a thousand years to make his point:

“Unless we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ,” Obama said. “In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.”

And thus Obama’s hatred of Christianity has been revealed for the world to see.

Obama left out that the Crusades were a defensive measure against the Islamic conquest of the Christian world. Islam teaches war against “non-believers” and conversion by force. Christianity teaches that people must wage an internal spiritual battle that leads to repentance and inner peace.

Obama also failed to mention that some of the greatest abolitionists and civil rights leaders who eradicated slavery and Jim Crow were Christians. And that slavery still exists today in many Muslim countries!

Contrast Obama’s rebuke of Christianity to what he has said about Islam:

“Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance.”

"The Muslim call to prayer is “one of the prettiest sounds on Earth at sunset.”

“America is not – and will never be – at war with Islam."

Islam influenced Obama at a young age. His biological father and his stepfather were both Muslim. He lived in a Muslim nation. Obama was a close friend of Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. and a member of his America-hating, anti-Israel and racist black church. As a result of his background, Obama has an aversion to Christianity and for America’s exceptionality.

Fundamentally transforming … the world

Obama not only wants to fundamentally transform America, he wants to transform the world and prop Islam up as a “great religion.” He wants Christians and Jews to doubt their faith and turn a blind eye to the evil nature of Islam.

Case in point: Iranian officials claim that Obama administration officials are “begging” them to sign an agreement on nuclear weapons. According to the Associated Press, the United States is conceding ground to Iran in talks and will now allow it to “keep much of its uranium-enriching technology.”

Obama’s love for Iran, a major state sponsor of terrorism, is no secret. In the past, he has openly gushed about this murderous Islamic nation:

“To the people and leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran … your art, your music, literature and innovation have made the world a better and more beautiful place. … We know that you’re a great civilization and your accomplishments have earned the respect of the United States and the world.”

Obama’s affinity for Islam, his hostility toward Israel and his selfish political aspiration to negotiate “peace for our time” is empowering Iran and jeopardizing the security of the U.S. and our allies.

Iran has stated that it wants to wipe Israel off the face of the earth, and a nuclear Iran could be the leverage Obama seeks to coerce Israel to allow a Palestinian state, which would be a major political and personal accomplishment for Obama.

Obama operatives are trying to undermine the upcoming March 17 Israeli elections – no doubt to support a more liberal Israeli leader. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz has reported that a U.S. taxpayer-funded nonprofit organization called OneVoice is actively working with a campaign operation called Victory 2015 (V15) – working hand-in-hand with Obama field director Jeremy Bird – in an effort to defeat Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Why Obama is revealing his dark heart now

Obama knows “his time is short” and that he has no more elections. Despite losing both chambers of Congress, Obama is still acting like he’s in control – and Republicans refuse to stop him. They’re caving in on almost every campaign promise. The weaker the opposing force, the bolder Obama becomes.

Republicans are weak with Obama, like the West is weak with Islamists. Obama said the sound of Muslim prayer is “one of the prettiest sounds on earth at sunset.” If that’s true, what is the second prettiest sound – that of a man being burned alive or the sound of a human being’s head being sliced off by Islamic terrorists?




State officials in Ohio filed a lawsuit on Monday, Jan. 26 alleging Obamacare tax assessments against government agencies are unconstitutional. Unsurprisingly, the case was covered closely by major media outlets across the nation.

But while the Ohio case may be getting all the headlines, it could be a case brought forward by an unknown Pennsylvania tax collector that ends up taking down key provisions of President Barack Obama’s signature law when the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit considers the case in the spring.

Like countless other Americans, Jeffrey Cutler, currently the tax collector of East Lampeter Township, Pennsylvania, lost his health insurance in October 2013 when his insurance company notified him that his plan did not qualify for renewal due to provisions in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare. Cutler, who was covered by the same plan from 2007 to its cancellation in 2013, was pleased with his coverage and did not wish to obtain a different—and in his opinion an inferior—plan through the Obamacare exchange in Pennsylvania.

On Nov. 14, 2013, facing intense political pressure over thousands of cancelled policies, Obama announced a “transition policy” that promised to allow individuals like Cutler to keep, at least temporarily, health insurance plans that originally did not qualify for renewal under the ACA.

Cutler soon discovered, however, Obama’s promise was not a universal policy applying to all the states; only citizens in those states whose regulators chose to implement Obama’s transition policy would be able to keep their health insurance plans. In other words, the Obama administration gave individual states the power to decide for themselves whether or not existing federal law would be enforced in their own states.

Unfortunately for Cutler, Pennsylvania was not one of the states that mandated what became known as Obama’s “administrative fix.” Then-Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Michael Consedine did allow individuals to keep their insurance plans that would otherwise be cancelled by Obamacare mandates, but the decision was ultimately left to the insurance companies to decide whether or not insurance plans would be cancelled.

Cutler’s insurance company chose to cancel Cutler’s plan, and Cutler went without insurance in 2014, which means he now owes the federal government at least $95 for failing to have adequate health insurance coverage.

Critics of Obamacare, including House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), immediately questioned the constitutionality of the Obamacare administrative fix; they alleged the Obama administration violated the Constitution when it single-handedly, without the approval of Congress, altered the ACA’s clear provisions about when plans considered to be inadequate would be cancelled.

Cutler’s suit, filed on December 31, 2013, took a different approach. Cutler claimed the law violates the Constitution because it does not apply the law equally, which past Supreme Courts have determined is a guarantee of the Fifth Amendment.

Cutler, who is now represented by constitutional lawyers David Yerushalmi and Robert Muise of the American Freedom Law Center, argues that because the so-called administrative fix allowed states to apply federal law unequally, the Obama administration violated the Constitution.

Further, Cutler asserts that because the religious exemptions provided in the law do not apply to all religions—Cutler is Jewish born—the ACA violates his First Amendment rights as well.

The government filed for a dismissal in the district court on the grounds that Cutler, who initially sued without legal representation, did not have standing and that he did not sufficiently allege a legal claim. The court granted the motion and Cutler’s case was dismissed.

In an interview, Cutler said now that his case is being handled by expert constitutional lawyers Yerushalmi and Muise, he is confident his appeal will be successful. A brief laying out Cutler’s case will be filed in February and the government’s response is due in March. Oral arguments have not yet been scheduled.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog

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


15 February, 2015

Conservative and liberal brains again

Ever since the first twin studies of the matter came out in the '80s, I have been pointing out that political orientation has a substantial inherited component and hence arises from inborn differences in the brains of liberals and conservatives. That is not at all a popular proposition among either the right or on the Left but the scientific evidence for it continues to accumulate. We can now specify to a degree the actual brain regions involved.

The Left endeavour to "spin" the findings concerned in a way favorable to themselves so I do occasionally take a little time to "unspin" such claims. Below is another example. It was reported as "Liberals have more tolerance to uncertainty (bigger anterior cingulate cortex), and conservatives have more sensitivity to fear (bigger right amygdala)". So conservatives are scaredy cats and liberals are fine tolerant people.

They base that on the following excerpt from the original research report:

"...[O]ur findings are consistent with the proposal that political orientation is associated with psychological processes for managing fear and uncertainty. The amygdala has many functions, including fear processing. Individuals with a larger amygdala are more sensitive to fear, which, taken together with our findings, might suggest the testable hypothesis that individuals with larger amagdala are more inclined to integrate conservative views into their belief systems... our finding of an association between anterior cingulate cortex [ACC] may be linked with tolerance to uncertainty. One of the functions of the anterior cingulate cortex is to monitor uncertainty and conflicts. Thus it is conceivable that individuals with a larger ACC have a higher capacity to tolerate uncertainty and conflicts, allowing them to accept more liberal views."

As you can see, the report authors were much more tentative in interpreting their findings than were the commentators on it. The commentators have turned maybes into definite statements.

Most such reports are however parsimoniously interpreted as conservatives being more cautiuous, which is hardly a discovery. And if there is something wrong with caution then there is everything wrong with a lot of things. Science, for instance, is a sustained exercise in caution. So conservatives are born more cautious and Leftist brains miss most of that out. So the "sensitive to fear" report above could be equally well restated as "cautious". And the finding that liberals "have a higher capacity to tolerate uncertainty and conflicts" is pure guesswork. As the report authors note, that is just "one of the functions of the anterior cingulate cortex".

I give the journal abstract below, paragraphed to make it easier to follow:

Political Orientations Are Correlated with Brain Structure in Young Adults

By Ryota Kanai et al.


Substantial differences exist in the cognitive styles of liberals and conservatives on psychological measures [1]. Variability in political attitudes reflects genetic influences and their interaction with environmental factors [2, 3].

Recent work has shown a correlation between liberalism and conflict-related activity measured by event-related potentials originating in the anterior cingulate cortex [4]. Here we show that this functional correlate of political attitudes has a counterpart in brain structure.

In a large sample of young adults, we related self-reported political attitudes to gray matter volume using structural MRI. We found that greater liberalism was associated with increased gray matter volume in the anterior cingulate cortex, whereas greater conservatism was associated with increased volume of the right amygdala. These results were replicated in an independent sample of additional participants.

Our findings extend previous observations that political attitudes reflect differences in self-regulatory conflict monitoring [4] and recognition of emotional faces [5] by showing that such attitudes are reflected in human brain structure.

Although our data do not determine whether these regions play a causal role in the formation of political attitudes, they converge with previous work [4, 6] to suggest a possible link between brain structure and psychological mechanisms that mediate political attitudes.

Current Biology 21, 677–680, April 26, 2011 ª2011. DOI 10.1016/j.cub.2011.03.017


Obama White House dithered for nearly a month before launching bid to rescue ISIS hostages Kayla Mueller, James Foley and Steven Sotloff

The United Kingdom gave the Obama administration intelligence in June 2014 about where in Syria the ISIS terror army was holding its American captives, but the White House dithered and missed its opportunity to rescue them, according to a shocking report published Thursday.

U.S. and British officials said the administration sat on the information for nearly a month before launching a military raid to recover American aid worker Kayla Mueller and journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff.

By the time a rescue was mounted on July 4, 2014, the hostages had been moved.

All three are now dead. ISIS militants executed Sotloff and Foley, and ISIS claims a Jordanian airstrike killed Mueller when it hit a buiding where she was being held.

The Daily Beast quoted an unnamed American official saying that Obama’s national security team refused to plan a rescue mission around information gathered by a foreign government.

'The issue was that they didn’t trust it, and they wanted to develop and mature the intelligence, because it wasn’t our own,' the American official said. 'They got the information. They just didn’t trust it. And they did sit on it, there’s no doubt about that.'

British officials and private security contractors said that hesitation was a source of frustration since a string of videotaped ISIS executions began in August and might possibly have been prevented.

British intelligence had learned in May of last year from released ISIS captives the locations of two or three places where hostages were being held captive, according to the Daily Beast.

The UK also had surveillance images from satellites and drones, and the results of some 'electronic eavesdropping.

The information wasn't certain until early June, however. By then the British government had a 'positive identification and that information was shared with Washington,' according to a British source who spoke with the Daily Beast.

National Security Council spokesperson Bernadette Meehan insisted that 'U.S. forces conducted this (rescue) operation as soon as the president and his national-security team were confident the mission could be carried out successfully and consistent with our policies for undertaking such operations.'

But Foley's mother Diane said the U.S. also had intelligence from the French government about the hostages' whereabouts as early as March 2014 but did nothing about it. 'That was part of our frustration,' she told the Daily Beast.

'The State Department said they were connecting with the French and everybody at the highest levels. Very specific information was available as early as mid-March.'

'And that’s what’s been so tough for us as families, because apparently they were held in the same place all those months,' Foley said.

Obama himself has pushed back against the idea that he acted too slowly. 'I don’t think it’s accurate then to say that the United States government hasn’t done everything that we could,' he told the Buzzfeed website on Tuesday.



US Marines in Yemen Forced to Surrender Their Weapons!

Joe Otto

I am furious. I was going to write today about a different topic, but I just learned something that has left me absiolutely livid.

The Obama administration evacuated the U.S. Embassy in Yemen. That wasn’t too much of a surprise. We knew that this day would come.

Iran-backed rebel fighters toppled Yemen, a country that Obama once touted as a War-on-Terror success story, has.

Some of the last personnel to leave the embassy were the Marine guards. When they got to the airport, they were allegedly ordered to remove the firing pins from their weapons and surrender them to Yemeni officials. The Houthi rebels would not let them take their weapons with them and orders came down from Obama’s State Department for the Marines to hand them over to the rebels.

This story has created quite a scandal and the administration is trying to cover their actions. They’re now claiming that service rifles were destroyed at the embassy, but that the Marines’ personal weapons were surrendered to Houthi rebels at the airport.

Not a chance. As many as 100 Marines were providing security for the convoy travelling to the airport. When have on-duty Marines providing a security escort ever used their privately owned weapons? I’d venture to guess NEVER.

Words cannot describe how infuriating this is. I never served in the military, but I have enough friends who have served to know that Marines don’t surrender their rifles. Ever.

It is just so disgraceful. I mean honestly, what is the point of this?

The Marine guards could have taken their weapons with them. Instead, they were instructed to surrender them to Yemeni officials in some messed up ceremony straight out of Obama’s politically correct playbook!

The Obama administration can’t stop surrendering to our enemies! Demand that Congress intervene!

It’s one thing to surrender a diplomatic post. At the end of the day, the safety of our personnel has to be our top priority. If the country is going to hell and terrorists are taking control of the government, then it is time to move our personnel to safety.

But that’s not what happened today. What happened today was a surrender ceremony where U.S. Marines were forced to hand over their rifles to a rebel force.

The headline reads “U.S. Marines in Yemen Forced to Surrender Their Weapons” but the headline should read “Houthi Rebels Killed Trying to Seize Marines’ Weapons.”

Some media outlets are reporting that the rifles were destroyed. That is a LIE! The Marines removed the rifles’ firing pins. The only way to truly destroy a weapon is to take a blowtorch to it, which I doubt was done in the backseat of an SUV while these Marines were racing to the airport.

Now, these Iran-backed Houthi rebels have American rifles and 20 of our vehicles. They’ve also stormed the Embassy and taken it over.

Meanwhile, our perpetually stupid State Department announced that it is confident that these rebels will let the Americans back into the Embassy.

Yes, folks… it doesn’t get dumber than this. We evacuated our embassy, had our Marines surrender their weapons, and ran with our tail between our legs. And while the rebels are ransacking our embassy, State Dept. Spokesperson Marie Harf has the gall to say the administration is “confident” we’ll be allowed to return.

This is what I’m talking about. This wanton disregard for the facts that permeates through the entire investigation.

Islamic terrorists attack a Kosher deli in Paris? The administration says that is nothing but a random attack…

ISIS burns a captured pilot alive? Obama says we can’t judge because of atrocities committed by Christians 1000 years ago…

Shi’ite rebels seize and ransack our embassy after Marines are ordered to surrender their weapons? Don’t worry; they’ll let us come back…

These rebels are shouting “Death to America” from the courtyard of our embassy. It takes a special kind of stupid to believe that these extremists – who control the Yemeni government – would ever let Americans return.

I knew that the Obama administration’s weakness would come to a head sooner or later, but I never imagined something like this. I never imagined that Marines would be humiliated and forced to surrender their weapons…

Do you want to know why the world is in chaos? It is because the Obama administration is weak and unwilling to stand up to our enemies.

Now, the President wants Congress to give him a blank check to fight ISIS however he pleases. This Authorization for the Use of Military Force will determine how ISIS and other extremists are fought for the remaining years of Obama’s presidency. Barack Obama is telling Congress, “Don’t worry about the specifics… I know what I’m doing.”

Absolutely not! Barack Obama has proven himself to be unfit to fight the war on terror on his own. His idea of fighting terror is to remove the phrase “radical Islamic extremism" from our lexicon, send weapons to our enemies, and force our Marines to surrender their rifles to the enemy.

Six months after calling Yemen a success story, the U.S. Embassy is now in rebel hands.

Congress has the constitutional authority to decide how the fight against ISIS will be waged. It is imperative that you tell your Congressman and Senators to intervene!



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog

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


13 February, 2015

A genuinely funny political advertisement from Israel


Obama is showing his colors

In the latter stages of his tenure and when he cannot be re-elected anyway, Obama has begun revealing his true anti-American, pro-Islamic colours and boy are they revealing.

“Christians did some terrible things, too”, he said at this week’s prayer breakfast. “Just look at the Crusades”, he said, when he again tried to defend Islamic atrocities as mere workplace incidents.

If Christianity can be blamed for the Crusades why shouldn’t Islam be blamed for terrorism?

Of course Christianity was responsible for atrocities equal to Islam’s, but Christianity moved into a modern world centuries ago while Islam still practises and promotes its abhorrent past as though scores still need to be settled.

Forget the conspiracy theories, there is now no doubt where Barack Hussein Obama’s faith allegiance lies: “There is no sweeter sound on Earth than the Muslim call to prayer.” “The future must not belong to those who slander the Prophet of Islam.” “Islam is not part of the problem in combating violent extremism – it is an important part of promoting peace.” “Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation”, he said.

In childlike denial, both he and Abbott still refuse to identify terrorism with Islam. Charlie Hebdo and the Kosher deli store killings were, according to Obama, “random acts of violence” and “we should not over-react”.

Within six minutes of being notified of James Foley’s graphic beheading, he was back on the golf course. Yet within minutes of being notified of his beloved Saudi King Abdullah’s death he had cut short his Indian visit so he could be present at his wake. (Saudi Wahhabists were the original creators of the Islamic State, Al Queda and the “student” Taliban.)

Obama gave our enemies the dates and times American troops were to be withdrawn. He is now defining for the enemy where exactly American bombing raids will and won’t be carried out.

Among others he has freed five high-value Afghani terrorists in exchange for one American deserter who has converted to Islam and is about to face a Court Martial.

Two million Christians lived in peace under Syria’s Bashar Assad. But Obama sent the CIA to train and arm Sunni Al Qaeda fighters to slaughter those Christians. Obama says he is arming “moderates” but, just like the “moderates” he armed in Benghazi, he knows it is the terrorists who get the arms.

Obama has recently made arrangements to train and equip those same Syrian rebels in Saudi camps on Saudi soil.

Obama’s so-called “moderate” allies shoot and cannibalise captured American soldiers in cold blood, but this doesn’t stop Obama. He refuses to arm and train Kurdish Peshmergers, the only fighting force with the stomach to put boots on the ground to defeat the ISIS.

He has an overt hatred of Israel and is actively providing vast sums of money in an attempt to destabilise Netanyahu in the upcoming elections. He openly supports the Muslim Brotherhood who supports Al Queda.

The timetable for American withdrawal from Afghanistan is the same timetable for the Islamic State to join with the Taliban to further it’s caliphate across the Levant. Just wait and watch.

The Benghazi massacre, was "only a reaction to a silly video” said Obama's Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. The pleas for help from the murdered Americans were ignored as the White House watched a live feed for seven hours while Embassy staff battled for their lives.

The order that stopped all rescue efforts (a stand down order) could only have been given by Obama.

Obama is a Sunni Muslim of the Luo tribe who feigned conversion to electorally palatable Christianity in order fight the good fight from the White House.

In 2011, Malik’s “Barack H. Obama Foundation,” received quick approval as a charitable foundation. It was illegally backdated to 2008 and personally signed by Lois Lerner, the IRS chief who, under questioning, took the 5th (a legal refusal to answer on the basis it may incriminate the accused).

Funds from this “charitable foundation” now support Obama’s brother, Malik's 12 wives in luxury. Malik also owns and manages Sudan’s Islamic "Da’wa Organisation", which finances terrorism throughout northern and central Africa.

According to Judge Tahani al-Gebali of Egypt’s Supreme Court, Malik Obama also oversees the Muslim Brotherhood’s international investments.

Judge Gebali claims Obama, through his Egyptian Embassy, bribed Muslim Brotherhood leaders with over $850,000 per year and it claims that Barack Obama himself is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, the same mob that slaughtered thousands of Coptic Christians and burned their churches... Barack Obama uttered not a word in protest.

Obama’s close relationship with his brother has continued to this day; completely concealed from the American public. He was raised in the Muslim faith by his father and attended a Madrass in Indonesia.

Now, we should be prepared to give this bloke the benefit of the doubt when it comes to such serious charges as treason and sedition but fair dinkum the evidence is stark.

In six short years Barack Hussein Obama has extended America’s debt from $8 trillion to $19 trillion (soon to be $21 trillion) has crippled American exports and has opened America’s borders to all comers with promises of fat welfare cheques and citizenship.





A dubious Pledge

"I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all".

Many of us will recognize these words as the “Pledge of Allegiance.” As a child in elementary and middle school, I remember saying the Pledge—every single day—mumbling the words, hand over my heart, facing the flag placed at the front of the classroom. As a twelve year old, there was no greater honor than being the student allowed to read the Pledge over the school intercom.

I am not alone in this experience. The Pledge is a hallmark of the American educational system. Every day across the country students state their loyalty and dedication to the flag and the U.S. government. As of 2003, the majority of states actually require the pledge to be said in schools. A few states make the pledge optional, and a few have no laws.

Although the pledge contains the words, “with liberty and justice for all,” the pledge is anything but freedom preserving. For those of us who value individual liberties, the recitation of the Pledge should induce immediate feelings of duress and an uncomfortable tightening in our stomachs.

In fact, the origins of the pledge date back to 1892. The original version was written by Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister and fervent socialist. Bellamy published the Pledge in The Youth’s Companion in September of that year. He hoped the Pledge would promote egalitarianism and undermine the “capitalistic greed” of the country. By reciting the words daily, it was hoped that the Pledge would unite school children in loyalty to the state and a collective society.

The Pledge was altered several times from Bellamy’s original words. The words “under God” were added in 1954 in an attempt to emphasize the distinctions between the U.S. and the atheistic Soviet Union.

The Pledge has been the center of controversy over the years. For the most part, those opposed to Pledge have done so on religious grounds. In 1943, the Supreme Court ruled that requiring a person to say the Pledge violates the First and Fourteenth amendments.

Issues of religion aside, the Pledge of Allegiance is disturbing.

Schools are supposed to be a place of learning, a place where students learn to think critically. Schooling is supposed to prepare students to function in society. It is supposed to make them responsible citizens.

The cultivation of devotion to the flag and the U.S. government creates anything but responsible citizens. In fact, the Pledge is a complete slap in the face to the principles it supposedly espouses. It encourages, not a love of liberty and justice, but blind obedience to an “indivisible” government.

If you’re skeptical of this, consider what happens to those who disagree with the Pledge and ask that their children be “opted out.” Not only do they see their children socially ostracized as “that kid,” but they are often viewed as “unpatriotic” or “un-American.” Heaven forbid we question authority!

It’s time to rethink the Pledge of Allegiance. As opposed to teaching our children to blindly follow a piece of cloth and the government behind it, let’s teach them to think critically, value liberty, and truly appreciate the need to protect personal freedoms.


I am rather pleased to reflect that I refused to say the Australian equivalent when I was in High School many years ago. The pledge is clearly outdated. Many Southerners must find that the "indivisible" rankles and "justice" is something of a joke in America today.


Michelle Obama's Self-Serving 'Cheese Dust' Disdain

Before the nation's Food Nanny guilt-trips you into ditching boxed dinners on a frazzled night, know this: The first lady profited from cheese dust before she was against it.

In the new issue of Cooking Light magazine, Michelle Obama takes another sanctimonious stand against processed foods. The occasion of this latest hectoring is a month-long celebration of the fifth anniversary of her Let's Move initiative. This time, she spins a slickly crafted tale of how her former personal chef challenged daughter Malia several years ago to turn a block of cheese into powder. "She sat there for 30 minutes trying to pulverize a block of cheese into dust," Mrs. Obama claims.

"She was really focused on it, and it just didn't work, so she had to give up. And from then on, we stopped eating macaroni and cheese out of a box because cheese dust is not food," snob momma Obama pontificated.

Hey, Michelle Antoinette: Shunning convenience foods is easy when you've got a taxpayer-subsidized cooking staff whipping up four-course feasts every night. Those boxed meals you spit upon are affordable and easy to store, and last a long time. For someone who pretends to be sympathetic to working-class and middle-class families, Her Royal Highness sure has a funny way of showing it.

But the faux populist narrative must be spoon-fed to the masses. Cooking Light's editor marveled at how "real" Mrs. Obama is and how genuinely "personal" her government health crusade is. Yahoo News similarly gushed over the nation's enlightened "family meal champion" and touted the five-year anniversary of her "pivotal" Let's Move initiative.

Message from sycophantic foodie and women's magazines: Michelle Obama is just like you and me! She's an ordinary mom who cares! Except she's not.

Before she was wielding the power of public office to dictate school lunches and castigate junk-meal makers, Mrs. Obama profited from the very same processed food industry she now demonizes. What none of the fan-girling mainstream journalists who've covered her Let's Move anniversary campaign has bothered to mention in their glowing profiles is that "cheese dust" was gold dust for the Obamas.

The first lady may not think it's food now, but powdered edibles provided hefty financial sustenance for her family 10 years ago.
It's just one of the many tasty perks of political influence Mrs. Barack Obama has enjoyed in her adult lifetime.

Let's move? How about let's remember, shall we? In June 2005, a few months after her husband was elected to the U.S. Senate, Mrs. Obama snagged a seat on the corporate board of directors of TreeHouse Foods Inc. Currying favor, the food-processing company put her on its audit and nominating and corporate governance committees despite her complete lack of experience or expertise. For her on-the-job training and the privilege of putting her name and face on their literature, the company forked over $45,000 in 2005 and $51,200 in 2006 to Mrs. Obama — as well as 7,500 TreeHouse stock options worth more than $72,000 for each year.

Mrs. Obama raked in that easy money thanks to the worldwide conglomerate's popular product line of powdered non-dairy creamers and sweeteners, hot and cold cereals, evil macaroni and cheese, skillet dinners, powdered gravy and sauce mixes, powdered drink mixes, powdered soup, and puddings.

She certainly didn't look down her nose at milk dust, cheese dust, juice dust, oatmeal dust or broth dust when it came mixed with a healthy paycheck.

I wouldn't begrudge Mrs. Obama's enterprises, except for the fact that she's using taxpayer money and public office to shove her highbrow tastes and control-freak ideology down our throats. More offensive: Constant posturing from the White House about the need for jobs, while Mrs. Obama now sneers at the food-processing industry that put money in her designer pocket. Kraft Foods alone employs 103,000 people, with manufacturing and processing facilities worldwide, and reported annual net revenues topping $40 billion.

When you look past the phony concerned-mom costumery, Mrs. Obama's healthy living campaigns are all about control and cash flow. While she food-shames the rest of us, her Partnership for a Healthier America charity is a conduit for corporations and lobbyists to buy access. Her Fed Foods racket is pulling in millions of dollars from secret donors and nonprofits.

Mrs. Obama's self-aggrandizing food elitism is hard for ordinary Americans to swallow, no matter how much truffle oil her personal chef drizzles on top.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog

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


12 February, 2015

Who won the Battle of Britain?

The bit of history I want to challenge below may seem to be of no interest to people today but, as we shall see, its central lesson is in fact highly relevant to America's current war on Daesh in Syria.

Finding the truth amid a fog of lies is always hard but if we are to deal with reality constructively, we need to find the truth. One of the great obstacles is propaganda -- and wartime propaganda is surprisingly persistent. The propaganda of the victor in a war tends to become the history of that war. I don't think anyone now believes the WWI Allied propaganda that it was "The great war for civilization" but that is probably only because so much has happened since then.

One bit of propaganda that always amuses me is the Hollywood portrayal of German troops in WWII as stupid and hopeless bunglers while Allied troops were savvy and clever. That is of course the exact opposite of the truth. One only has to reflect on the mere 6 weeks that it took Hitler's troops to overrun France to suspect that portrayal. It took Germany just 6 weeks to conquer French forces that were more numerous and in some ways better equipped than they were. The Wehrmacht was in fact by far the most militarily efficient force deployed in WWII.

And I am afraid that the British victory in the Battle of Britain is a myth too. The story is that poorly trained Allied airmen got into their Spitfires and turned back the Luftwaffe. They didn't. The Heinkel and Dornier bombers mostly got through and unloaded onto their target areas. The extensive damage they did to places like Coventry is testimony to that.

So what have we not been told? The fact is that the trained pilots of the Luftwaffe in their excellent Messerschmitt 109s made mincemeat out of the British fighters. The German bombers got through because their escorting Messerschmitts shot the Hawker Hurricanes and Supermarine Spitfires down before they could get to the bombers. The British counted as an air "Ace" a pilot who shot down a dozen or more German planes while Germany had lots of pilots with 100 or more "kills". Adolf Galland is the best known example of that but other Luftwaffe pilots had even more "kills". There is a list of WWII air aces somewhere and about the first 100 pilots on that list were German.

So how come the Royal Airforce did so poorly? The British aircraft were pretty good but the Battle of Britain was fought mainly by the older Hawker Hurricanes. Spitfire production had not ramped up at that stage. But all British fighters at that time mounted machine guns only, whereas the Messerschmitt had cannon as well. So a hit from a Messerschmitt could be much more deadly.

But some RAF pilots did relatively well so it was not mainly their machines that were wanting. It was their training. Like the French, the British had simply not trained nearly enough pilots -- whereas Germany had been training pilots since the Spanish civil war. Britain's large motor vehicle industry was readily converted from making motor cars to making aircraft and it did pour out lots of them. But where were the pilots to fly them? Men were sent up to face the Luftwaffe with as little as ten hours of air training. They were lucky to get their machine pointed in the right direction at that stage and were hence sitting ducks. Very few allied pilots lasted long. It was common for them to fly only a few sorties at most before being shot down.

So why did the Luftwaffe eventually go away? Because the German High Command learnt at that stage a lesson the Allies also learnt later on when it was their turn to bomb Germany: Aircraft are expensive and bombing is not very effective at achieving war aims. You need boots on the ground. America is facing that fact right now in its attempts to suppress Daesh in Syria. Fortunately, Daesh do not have an air arm

What Germany found was that bombing affected production of war materiel only marginally and that it did not corrode enemy morale to any significant extent. So the Luftwaffe went away and concentrated on easy targets in Russia instead.

So nobody won the battle of Britain. The Royal Airforce did not stop the bombing and the Luftwaffe failed to achieve their basic objectives of stopping British war production and intimidating the British population.


The Left-dominated Israeli Press are keeping silent on a huge story

Kalman Liebeskind, writing from Israel, points to the U.S. financed V15 group as pouring money into Leftist Israeli political parties. It appears that Obama is attempting to hijack Israel's elections and get rid of conservative PM Netanyahu

If one of the ways to judge if a state is democratic is by whether its press is worthy of the name, the last few weeks have shown that we have nothing in common with a democratic state. That is because what has been done here by a long roster of journalists and media sources, who cannot abide the thought that Binyamin Netanyahu might win the elections again, is a travesty against democracy. Hysteria, frenzy, there is no other way to define what is happening on screen, on the radio waves, on the Facebook and Twitter pages of just about every leading mainstream Israeli journalist.

In their eyes, Netanyahu has become a demon and the ultimate symbol of evil, so that those who intend to grant him those 20 or so Knesset seats are viewed as the ignorant masses. Likud spokesmen are rudely attacked on mainstream media, while senior journalists ignore any facts that don't fit the master plan. There are no rules, no laws, everything we ever learned in the School of Journalism will just have to wait for the day after the elections. Shush, there is a war going on.

But we are in the midst of an election campaign, and the election campaign story is very simple. Here it is in one short sentence: An organization whose goal is switching our Prime Minster has as its organizational, legal and bureaucratic base another organization to which the American Embassy belongs and to which John Kerry channels funds. Read that sentence slowly and aloud and tell me if that doesn't sound insane. Tell me if that story did not have to be the most explosive one of this entire election campaign.

Do you realize what is happening here? The Israeli media is lacing mercilessly into Netanyahu because of the "finger he is poking into America's eye", because the planned speech he intends to give in the US Congress may insult Obama – and absolutely refuses to notice that at the same exact time, an organization funded by Obama is cooperating with the group that has as its goal pushing Netanyahu out of office.

This is the story that should have been splashed all over the news by the Israeli media. The State Department's spokesman should have been forced to explain what is going on. The American ambassador should have been seen perspiring in TV studios. None of this happened, of course, because this story doesn't interest our media in the slightest. We have no press during this period. The Israeli press and its democratic flak jacket are on vacation, on its office door hangs a sign saying "out due to elections" and we are completely vulnerable.

Let's forget that the fact that we journalists didn't discover what V15 was doing is a colossal failure on our part. The problem is that once the Likud did expose the entire scandal, the only thing the media did, instead of taking up a cudgel and forging on by itself, was to try to bury the story. On Army Radio – whose budget should be cut by the amount that really belongs on Herzog and Livni's campaign fund disbursements– I heard, too many times to count, both before the Likud press conference and after it, that the whole V15 story was concocted to deflect the public's attention from the story of Sara Netanyahu's deposit bottles. That the story is only a diversion. The station's political correspondent repeated that statement so many times that he practically lost his voice.

While the media took on the story of the returnable bottles and demanded explanations, responses and a criminal investigation, no less, we were witness to a totally different press when it came to the V15 story. Here we had a press that has no desire to investigate, a press uninterested in anything, a press that delivers only an unembellished report. The "Likud says", the "Likud claims", the "Likud will hold a press conference" as all they said. The Likud members' most difficult mission this past week was to convince the press that there was a story at all. One after another the party's spokemen were attacked by interviewers, who not only didn't do their jobs, but demanded that the Likud bring them a full dossier of proofs – or they would decide forthwith that there is nothing to the story.

Did the Likud claimed that one of Obama's past campaign managers is helping V15? Army Radio rushed to announce a "scoop" – they, too, have an advisor for New Media who once worked with the Republicans. Did the Likud claim that OneVoice is interfering in a sovereign nations' elections? Army Radio responded by attacking Likud MK Yuval Steinitz for once appearing before OneVoice, as if one speech neutralizes the fact that the organization is now working to defeat Netanyahu.

The media kept grinding away at the idiotic story of Sara Netanyahu's returnable bottles and exactly when she gave the blasted 4000 IS she received for them to the state's coffers – but the connection between the US State Department and an organization working to defeat Netanyahu didn't interest a soul among them.

Let's take a look at Yoel Hasson, a member of the (self-titled) "Zionist Camp" of Herzog and Livni. After Ar'el Segal revealed that the honorable Hasson himself is on the board of governors of OneVoice, Hasson rushed to deny it and claim that "I was never a member of the board there". A short time later – when the Hebrew language Rotternet site revealed that not only his name, but also his photograph and bio appears on the list of board members on OneVoice's site - an unusual coincidence occurred and they were removed. Hasson explained that he had no idea who had put his name there. Of course, we know about that – which of us hasn't had some organization choose to post his name and photo as a member of their board by mistake?

Seriously, doesn't this merit some discussion? Doesn't this seem a bit suspicious? Wouldn't a fair press force the "Zionist Camp" to deal with the issue and furnish explanations for it?

If we go back 15 years, we will soon see that this is a repeat of the same corrupt press of 1999. That was when the Likud found out about Herzog and Barak's illegal NPO's. Then, like now, only the then fledgling and small "Makor Chadash" Hebrew newspaper featured the issue. No one else showed any interest in their story. Then, as well, the Likud party's leaders (Livni was one of them then) were forced to call a press conference to publicize what they had discovered. Then, as now, by the next morning the entire story had been buried, because there were almost no journalists who found it worth taking up.

Almost, but not quite. There was one rare, intrepid journalist, Shelly Yehimovich, whose political leanings were with the left, but whose integrity forced her to bring up the story on the radio again and again, even if it didn't serve her side. This week, too, there was one – Keren Neubach – who, I am willing to bet will not vote Likud, just as Shelly Yehimovich didn't – but whose pointed questions and demand for answers facing the V15 representative preserved a small part of the honor of her chosen profession.

The time has come to put a stop to pretensions of objectivity. A month and a half before Election Day, everything is political, everything is tainted, everything has been bought.



Obama To Scrap Warplane The Islamic State Fears

The venerable A-10 Warthog, designed to stop Soviet tanks, and the perfect weapon to "degrade and destroy" the Islamic State, as President Obama promised, faces a budgetary chopping block.

We have noted the irony of how Obama was going to war against the Islamic State with weapons systems he had scrapped, ending the production runs of the F-22 Raptor and Tomahawk cruise missiles. They were dismissed by the administration as relics of the Cold War even as Russia was rearming and trying to reassemble the old Soviet Union.

We've also mentioned the phasing out of the A-10 Thunderbolt, a close-support aircraft that entered service in 1972 and was designed to combat Soviet tank formations on a European battlefield.

Dubbed the "Warthog" because of its decidedly un-sleek profile, the A-10 has been found to be useful in another capacity in Iraq — attacking IS forces that don't want to be on the business end of the Warthog's 30 mm cannon as it flies low and slow over the battlefield.

As Iraqi News reported last week after an A-10 sortie against IS forces near Mosul: "The aircraft sparked panic in the ranks of ISIS and bombing its elements in spaces close to the ground." Such strikes also prove the value of such a low-maintenance aircraft built to take the punishment expected in close air support.

"Elements of the terrorist organization targeted the aircraft with 4 Strella missiles, but that did not cause it any damage, prompting the remaining elements of the organization to leave the bodies of the dead and carry the wounded to escape," according to the Iraqi report.

This is not surprising, since the A-10 can almost hover over a battlefield as it picks out targets for its 20-foot-long, 2.5 ton, seven-barrel Gatling gun that can fire 1,100 of those 30 mm shells. The titanium shell that wraps around the bottom of its cockpit makes it difficult to shoot down.

The U.S. sent the aircraft to the region in late November with the 163rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, a unit with the Indiana Air National Guard. The unit also provided close air support for air operations against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

On Jan. 15, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James pointed out that the A-10 had conducted 11% of all sorties against IS since August, despite the fact it was not deployed to the battlefield until November.

But it may be shot down soon by the budget-cutters. The Pentagon figures it can save $4.2 billion in operation and maintenance costs over five years by retiring all 283 of the Air Force's A-10s. It also believes the F-35, despite its unit cost and troubled development, can fill the need for close air-support need. Whether it can take the punishment the A-10 can is open to question.



Poetic Social Justice: Minimum Wage Laws Hits San Francisco business

In this iteration, the Daily Caller notes that a beloved San Francisco bookstore will have to close because minimum wage laws.

Back in November, residents of the city voted to increase the minimum wage gradually to $15 an hour over the course of three years. Though the wage hike was designed to help address income inequality, several businesses have already had to close. …

When it came time to break the news to his six employees, [Borderlands Books owner Alan] Beatts decided it was best to talk with each of them individually. He knew it would be tough because his employees love books, love the written word and to them, it was more than just a job.

“I spoke to each of my employees individually,” Beatts notes. “The typical reaction was shock and sadness.”

Michael Saltsman, the research director at the Employment Policies Institute, fears that more is to come as a result of the wage increase.

“We’re probably just seeing the beginning of this,” Saltsman told TheDCNF. “In a relatively short period of time it’s concerning we have a couple stories like these popup.”

“What we do know is San Francisco is an expensive place to do business,” Saltsman also noted. “It’s pretty clear that if this minimum wage didn’t go up, this business would still be open.”

Advocates of minimum wage laws argue that it is more humanitarian to force wage increases, but how humanitarian is it to cost someone their business or their job? We should note that Borderlands closure is but one of several in San Francisco since the wage increase law passed.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog

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


11 February, 2015

Gallup: United States ‘More Liberal in Recent Years’

Buried below its rankings of the most conservative and liberal states, Gallup declared that “Americans have become slightly less conservative and more liberal in recent years.”

The polling group did hedge the judgment by also stating that state-by-state, the ideological bends have “generally remained quite stable.”

The declaration of America’s leftward lean has been a consistent theme in Gallup’s annual state-by-state surveys. In 2014, Gallup said the nation’s “Conservative advantage down from last year.”

Their 2013 judgment was nearly identical to this year’s:

“America has become a slightly more liberal and a slightly less conservative nation than it was in 2011 -- based on residents' self-reports of their ideology…”

Beyond the state-by-state trends, this survey seems to indicate that while President Obama might have fallen short of “fundamentally transforming” America, he has tilted the nation leftward, at the very least.

Gallup’s 2015 “State of the States” series revealed the list of the most conservative and liberal states in the country. Mississippi was named the most conservative, while Massachusetts was deemed the most liberal.

Gallup also determined the most “moderate” state in the U.S. was Delaware, due to the state’s high percentage of self-described moderates.

The comprehensive survey polled 177,034 adults in all 50 states and Washington, DC.



Obama's Morally Confused Prayer Breakfast Lecture

By David Limbaugh

I find it very odd that a president notably lacking in humility and frequently riding his own high horse would lecture American Christians about those subjects -- because they presumably condemn acts of barbarism by Islamists.

Talk about a string of disconnects. While we're at it, let's note one more. Obama, at the National Prayer Breakfast, also exhorted us to "uphold the distinction between our faith and our governments — between church and between state." Last time I checked, it was not Christians, unless you believe that Obama is a Christian, who were using government power to restrict religious liberties of others.

Obama, however, has conspicuously infringed on the conscience rights of Christians in supporting mandates that require religious organizations to pay for contraception and abortifacients.

Indeed, Obama was too busy lecturing Christians about "theocracies that restrict people's choice of faith" — though there are no Christian theocracies in the world — to note that many Muslim nations in the world are theocratic and under Shariah.

Is Obama's moral compass so skewed that he is utterly blind to the rampant theocratic oppression that routinely occurs in Muslim nations in the world? This takes moral equivalency to new levels.

But that wasn't even his worst moral distortion of the morning. On the heels of the Islamic State group's burning alive a captured Jordanian pilot, Obama's instinct was not to decry ISIS' depraved murder but to caution us not to judge the religion of Islam. Was anyone doing that, by the way?

As usual, Obama's first impulse to another atrocity committed in the name of Islam was to defend Islam — and attack Christianity and Christians, who Obama apparently believes are holding their noses in the air thinking they don't engage in such behavior in the name of their religion.

Foremost on his mind was to correct the record on Islam, kind of a pre-emptive defense of the religion he holds dear from his childhood, against any attempts to tar it based on thousands of "isolated" incidents. Here's where his moral equivalence reared its ugly head again.

He said, "We ... see faith being twisted and distorted, used as a wedge or, worse, sometimes used as a weapon." That was his predicate for chronicling the recent despicable actions of ISIS — an acronym, by the way, that, in his moral bewilderment, he refuses to utter — and then glibly transitioning into certain regrettable actions committed by or with the support of Christians in history.

Of course, he was compelled to invoke the Crusades, which in his view were unprovoked acts of aggression by Christians against Muslims but which in reality were far more complex than that. And of course, he had to mention the Inquisition, as if that is somehow relevant, even microscopically, to what's going on today.

But no blanket condemnation would be complete without Obama's obligatory and habitual denunciation of slavery and Jim Crow, only this time he cited them as examples not of America's evil past but of evils committed in the name of Christianity.

As long as we're talking about "wedges" and "weapons," it sure seems to me as if that's precisely how Obama continues to use slavery and Jim Crow. He just will not let these go. It obviously never occurs to him that Christianity was one of the main driving forces in eradicating slavery in this country. But we can hardly expect him to give us a fair reading of Christianity's role when he is on a mission to demonize it.

Obama is the one who needs to demonstrate a little humility and dismount his own elevated steed. He needs to put aside the pride that contributes to clouding his judgment about acts of terror committed by Islamists. He needs to recognize that it is nothing short of an act of moral cowardice to suggest that the multitudinous atrocities committed in the name of Islam today, whether or not they are representative of the true religion of Islam, bear any comparison to acts of Christians — today or in the past.

He needs to reset his own bias-riddled perception and open his willfully closed eyes to the fact that we have real enemies today who are killing us in the name of their religion and that, regardless of how representative they are of the faith that fuels their war cry, they see themselves as faith-driven and they are not going to be deterred or pacified by craven denunciations of Christianity or fervent defenses of Islam proper.

This is not about the Islamists' grievances over poverty or injustice or any of the other pet causes with which Obama can identify but about conquering the world for a global caliphate and subjugating or killing everyone who will not submit. There is no appeasing this mindset.

Americans are in greater danger now than we have been in decades because we have a leader who simply will not recognize that our allies and we are under attack around the world by untold numbers of people acting under the banner of Islam. No matter how many peaceful Muslims there are in the world, it doesn't change the fact that we're threatened by many who aren't.

If Obama spent one-tenth of the time focusing on these radical enemies as he does apologizing for the religion they claim to represent, Americans would be much safer.



Lessons From an Unenduring Majority

A 2002 book, “The Emerging Democratic Majority,” posited, as the title suggests, an “enduring Democratic majority” in the wake of “permanent changes” to America’s demography. Co-authored by John B. Judis and Ruy Teixeira, the book’s central idea – the heart of the Emerging Democratic Majority (“EDM”) theory – was that the Democrat Party had amassed such a solid coalition of voters over the decades that the party could endure occasional bad election cycles and still retain control of the levers of government over the long haul. Recently revisiting his book, Judis noted it is, well, wrong. How times change.

Sadly for EDM – and every other Democrat-ideology theory forced into sustained contact with reality – the theory was flawed. It turns out – to paraphrase Mark Twain – news of the Republican Party’s death was greatly exaggerated. What hasn’t been exaggerated is the magnitude of just how far the authors' theory missed the mark. The theory wasn’t just wrong: It was exactly wrong – a feat extremely difficult even for Democrats to pull off. As Noah Rothman notes at Hot Air, the fatal flaw in EDM is, “Voters expected results from the party in which they had vested new authority.” After the better part of a decade getting none – or should we say the wrong results – voters learned to vote with their feet, walking out on Democrats at the polls.

The results of that reality check have been telling. Americans do not believe Democrats can provide economic security, let alone national security. The Democrat Party has become the party of racial, social and economic division, promoting class warfare as a primary means to gain political power, at the expense of all. It has accelerated national spending to a point of unfathomable debt, reincarnated the permanent welfare state, and turned public education into a 12-year babysitting service in which children simply bide time until they are turned out onto the streets of reality, lacking critical skills to become productive members of society.

In broad brushstrokes, in the wake of the contentious Barack Obama Era, Democrats have lost both the House and the Senate, lost control of 69 of 99 state-level legislative chambers, and lost countless officeholder seats. In short, the Democrat Party is in its worst position in 90 years. Americans no longer believe Democrats can deliver on any of their Pollyanna visions of the future.

Lest Republicans succumb to the same ruinous party-in-majority arrogance that (at least for the time being) wiped out the Democrats, we should warn that there’s a lesson here for every politician. The lesson is this: Ignoring or mistaking the will of the people can be hazardous to one’s political health.

Surveying the Democrat debris in the wake of the 2014 midterm Republican wave, the Chosen One commented, “To everyone that voted, I want you to know that I heard you.” The problem is that in his arrogance he didn’t hear. Immediately following his seemingly conciliatory statement, he punchlined, “To two-thirds of voters that chose not to participate in the process yesterday, I hear you, too.” Sure, Barry: It wasn’t popular will, it was just all those eeevil Republicans holding “the people” back from the polls. Any wonder why Democrats went 0-for-2 in Obama’s midterm cycles?

Summarizing the myriad lessons-learned littering the landscape of Democrats' political destruction, we offer the same advice to Democrats as we do to Republicans: Take time to do the hard thinking to connect the dots between our nation’s core founding principles and today’s voters. The notion that a party can have an enduring majority without understanding the fundamental principles upon which America was founded is mistaken. The same is true for a party that ignores or misunderstands the will of America’s voters. Listen to the Founders. Then listen to the voters. That’s how to create an “enduring majority.” Anything else is just another political theory on the ash heap of history.



There Is a Simple Formula for Unleashing Economic Prosperity

The age old question in economics is this: how does a nation or state create economic growth and rising living standards for its citizens? Once upon a time superstitious economists believed that growth was a function of the constellation of the stars.

That kind of belief in astrology as a predictor of growth was no more misguided than many of the fad economic theories that are peddled today by charlatan economists who preach more government interventionism.

President Obama takes a victory lap for the economic recovery of the last five years despite in being the slowest since the Great Depression. Median household incomes have collapsed by $1,500 in real terms during the Obama recovery. That’s some rebound. Obama’s stimulus plans have created fewer jobs than would have been created by doing nothing – and that is according to his own analysis.

In sum, confusion reigns on how to regenerate growth.

But there is a simple and time-tested formula for unleashing economic prosperity – here at home and abroad. This formula is not complicated. The Heritage Foundation’s 2015 Index of Economic Freedom – which ranks 186 nations – shows conclusively that growth is a byproduct of free enterprise policies and limited government interference.

Adjusted for purchasing power, gross domestic product (GDP) per capita is more than 6 times higher in “free” vs. “repressed” economies. So for example, the per capita income is over $50,000 in a free nation like the United States. It is $11,610 in a repressed nation like Cuba. Israel has a per capita income of $34,770 versus $14,845 in Lebanon. Israel is far more economically free than Lebanon.

Take two nations that start at the same place economically. After two decades, the citizens in the nations with economic freedom will enjoy a standard of living one third greater than their counterparts in the less free zone. Poverty rates will also fall in the free nations much faster than the command and control economies. Health, education and environmental improvement are also closely tied to economic freedom. Free markets are the path to fairness. That’s a lesson even Pope Francis, a recent critic of capitalism, needs to learn.

Economic freedom isn’t hard to achieve: it means low taxes, free trade, limited government spending, a sound currency, the rule of law, and a light hand of regulation. Cronyism, which is too often regarded as a partner of capitalism, is exposed as a deterrent to growth. Russia is a nation not of free market capitalists, but of cronyism – and its economy has floundered. In other words, countries that grow reward citizens for how hard they work and what they know, not who they know.

The United States is ranked by Heritage as only the 12th economically freest nation in the world today, behind places like Hong Kong, Switzerland and even Canada. Only a decade ago, the U.S. consistently ranked in the top ten or higher of most free nations – but that all predated stimulus plans, bailouts, tax hikes on the rich, and Obamacare.

While many nations in the rest of the world tragically flirt with proven failed big government strategies and cheap money, the U.S. has an opportunity to win the global competition for jobs, businesses and capital investment. The low hanging fruit in Washington is to chop our highest in the world corporate income tax, reform our welfare system to reward work over handouts, approve free trade deals and drill for our domestic energy resources. That would be a good start to raising worker incomes and it may even move America, the Land of the Free, back into the economic freedom top 10 – where we belong.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, 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)


10 February, 2015

Do the Jordanian strikes on Daesh (ISIS) prove that Daesh are "Bad" Muslims?

Mr Obama says so but that is pretty good evidence that the truth lies elsewhere. And the truth is in fact the exact opposite. The Middle East is very tribal and Muslims are always fighting with one another: Nation against nation (Iran/Iraq); Sect against sect (Sunni/Shia) and tribe against tribe (Libya). And the big Jordanian attacks on Daesh are very tribal -- motivated by revenge, nothing else. Jordanian Major General Mansour al-Jabour has said as much.

Muslims are like Catholics. Most Catholics don't do what the Pope tells them (contraception, divorce). They are "bad" Catholics. Likewise most Muslims don't do what the Koran tells them (Jihad). They are "bad" Muslims. It is Daesh who are the "good" Muslims. They are in fact engaged in Jihad, as the Koran commends.

The Muslim religion is a great problem wherever there are Muslims. Most Muslims find their religion's commandments at least as difficult as Catholics find the commandments of their religion so they are no problem to anyone much. But some Muslims DO follow their commandments and they are a BIG problem. It is because of that minority that we need to send ALL Muslims back to their ancestral hellholes. Any Muslim could become "good" and we have no way of telling which.


The Western press is now the PR wing of the Islamic State

In poring over its murder-stunt videos, we give IS exactly what it wants -- says Brendan O’Neill below. He has a point but I am not sure that it could be otherwise

Here’s a question for the Western media: if you really think the Islamic State is morally bankrupt, monstrous, one of the worst movements of recent times, then why are you doing its PR work for it? Why are you spreading its propaganda, and by extension its brand, and effectively acting as its unofficial press officer? For make no mistake — when Western media outlets splash the Islamic State’s sordid snuff movies across their front pages, complete with tantalising screengrabs of the seconds just before the really bad thing happens, that is what they are doing: conniving, almost, with the terrorists; certainly helping to complete their acts of terrorism through dutifully advertising them to jaw-dropped Western publics.

It takes two to tango — it also takes two to terrorise: the terrorist himself and the interpreter of his act, the media, which can spread far and wide the fear that the terrorist longs to strike into our hearts but is incapable of disseminating on his own.

Yesterday, IS released yet another capital-punishment video, its worst yet. No details of its contents are necessary here, not least because you can turn to any newspaper in Britain, and elsewhere, and see on the front pages gruesome, gory info about what IS did, and even photos of the dead man walking. Some papers show the milliseconds before the true horror occurs, and the effect is like a Victorian freakshow: you find yourself wondering what happened next, how bad it was; did he scream, did he writhe?

The coverage acts as an invitation to Google, to hunt down the reality horror movie online, where of course it’s available. It’s a modern version of the old haunting cry of ‘Roll up, roll up’: ‘See what happens to the man in the cage!’

Some media outlets will defend their eye-watering descriptions of what happens in the video, and their use of copious shots from it, as newsworthy and possibly even a blow for press freedom. Now, spiked is as absolutist about free speech as it’s possible to get, but I just don’t buy this justification.

Of course it is in the public interest to tell us that a Jordanian citizen was executed by IS and that Jordan has promised that its retribution will be ‘swift’ — these are important global matters. But the creative writing-style descriptions of every wound on the prisoner’s face? The Wes Craven-style poring-over of the moment the thing happens? The depressing detail about what the man does as he’s dying? Is that stuff necessary?

It seems to me that the aim of much of the press coverage of IS’s warped snuffism is less to inform than to titillate, to provoke, to provide people with outrage porn they can morally get off on. Many newspapers now feel a bit like those cheap Victorian news-sheets that claimed to be raising awareness about the scourge of child prostitution but conveniently came with loads of lurid detail about what was done to such children: now, as then, dubious claims of newsiness act as a cover for the publication of moral pornography.

The worst thing is that this is exactly what IS wants — for its self-consciously pre-modern, super-violent brand to be broadcast as far and as frequently as possible. It especially wants this PR boost now, after the harsh reality of its defeat in Kobane at the hands of the Kurds and its suffocation in Mosul by the various Iraqi and external forces that have reportedly surrounded and isolated that city. A rattled IS wants to remind the West of its menace, and what better way to do that than by videoing something truly shocking, in the knowledge that a Western media hungry for gorno will lap it up.

Some have asked why IS makes such abhorrent videos. Partly it’s because this group seems to float free of the moral and political universe inhabited by most other political groupings, even violent ones; but it’s also because it knows its videos will get a good response, ‘hits’, be dutifully obsessed over by the Western media. For very little outlay — a couple of cameras, some walk-on jihadists in menacing masks, a few hours in the editing suite — IS knows it can grab the world’s attention and hold our minds hostage courtesy of the media’s response to its murder-stunts. In this sense, it’s possible the Western media provides IS with an incentive to keep executing people on film: maybe it makes these videos because, at some level, some in the West want them.

There’s a real danger that today’s fearful Western societies amplify acts of terrorism by overreacting to them. We saw this over the past 10 years, when Western politicos and media outlets responded to acts of Islamist terrorism in Western cities by doing the things that the usually small groups of terrorists could never achieve on their own: rewriting laws, limiting liberty, overhauling the justice system, and instituting a culture of fear.

The impact of terrorism is very often determined, not by what the isolated, unrepresentative terrorist does, but by how we respond to what he does. The moral resourcefulness, or otherwise, of a target society is ultimately the deciding factor in whether terrorism will just have a temporary bloody impact or a longer-lasting political, legal and moral impact. And too often we have enabled the latter impact to occur. And so it is with the Islamic State today: if Jihadi John and the rest haunt our dreams, it’s because of what the media has made them into, because of how our own societies have made monsters of these pathetic killers.

There are two possible consequences of the Western media’s lapping-up of IS snuff movies. The first is that they will help IS recruit more nihilistic Westerners. As George Packer of the New Yorker said of last week’s execution of the Japanese journalist Kenji Goto, there is ‘an undeniable attraction in this horror for a number of young people around… Europe and America, who want to leave behind the comfort and safety of normal life for the exaltation of the caliphate’.

It’s a sad fact that, for complicated reasons, we live in societies in which fairly significant numbers of young people feel estranged from mainstream politics and morality and drawn towards nihilistic ways of thinking, and these media-spread videos act as an invitation to some of these youngsters to pursue their nihilistic urges with the one global group devoted to such despicable behaviour.

The second consequence of the media’s publicity for IS horrors is that IS will feel encouraged, incited in fact, to up the ante. Its horrendous new video suggests it is learning the lesson of diminishing returns — that the media had tired somewhat of its beheading videos and so IS needed to do something new and spectacular to get back on the front pages. So it did, and it worked. What will it do next? Who knows. But it will have to be extra atrocious if IS wants the Western media to carry on doing it a favour by making a global spectacle of its squalid murders.



Turning Ukraine into a stage for Western preening

Western interventionists are do-gooders who think they have the moral high ground in waging cold war on Russia, but where is the high ground in obstructing the independence struggle of Eastern Ukraine? Mr Putin is assisting cautiously something that everyone should be supporting

Since a ceasefire was agreed in early September between the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine, little has actually ceased. The rebels continued to push for independence, even staging de facto national elections in November; the government continued to try to quash the rebellion, declaring the rebels’ political moves illegitimate; and the firing and fighting have continued unabated. According to recent United Nations figures, since April the death toll has reached 5,300, with 12,000 more wounded, and 1.2million having fled their homes.

And now it appears the conflict is entering a far more dangerous phase. In recent weeks, the rebels have made significant territorial gains - 500sq kilometres, according to NATO estimates - and the talk now is of them pushing on towards Mariupol so as to connect the rebel-held regions to Crimea, annexed by Russia in March last year. There is talk also of raising mass armies. Rebel leader Alexander Zakharchenko has spoken of rallying together 100,000 troops, while Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko has promised to draft an army of 200,000.

Much of the Western media focus, though, has not been on the conflict itself, exactly; it has been on Russia’s role in proceedings. Russia has been presented as the shady protagonist in the conflict, the military power behind the scenes, taking advantage of the massive political instability in Ukraine to advance its own territorial and political interests. And no doubt, Russia’s role is significant. Russian weaponry and Russian soldiers do seem to be involved in the conflict, with anecdotes, satellite imagery and corpses dragged out by the Ukrainian government and its allies as evidence.

Russian president Vladimir Putin denies military involvement, claiming that the Russian soldiers killed or captured in eastern Ukraine were there voluntarily, unofficially. But this seems unlikely, not least because Putin seems to be actively profiting from the escalating conflict on Russia’s borders. Fighting back the West’s supplicants in Ukraine plays well to a domestic audience: it bolsters Putin’s authority. Russia’s willingness to back the rebels in eastern Ukraine is not just a territorial exercise, then; it’s a reputation-building one, too. And it is making the situation in Ukraine worse, deepening antagonisms, unsettling a region, and rendering a federal solution to the split even more unlikely.

But, as spiked has argued from the beginning of Ukraine’s descent into civil war, while Russia’s actions are making things worse, the West’s role has been more destructive. At every stage of the recent conflict, from the Maidan Square protests towards the end of 2013, which eventually brought down the democratically elected government of President Yanukovych, to the constant cosying up to his pro-Western successors, too many in Europe and the US have recklessly, cluelessly upped the ante.

In fact, even before the recent conflagration, before the Maidan protests, the West, be it through NATO’s two-decades-long flirtation with Russia’s neighbours or the European Union’s entreaties to Ukraine through its Eastern Partnership scheme, has constantly threatened to pull Russia’s old allies into its orbit, all in the name of promoting ‘democratic’ or ‘Western’ values. Indeed, Western provocation, raising the stakes in Russia’s old Eastern Bloc backyard, has a history that extends back to the end of the Cold War.

So, Western leaders, cheered on by a braying, Russia-stereotyping commentariat, have not only helped to create the situation in Ukraine - they have also ceaselessly used it to haul themselves on to the moral high ground, issuing condemnations of Russia, and pushing through new rafts of economic sanctions with one hand, while beckoning Ukraine’s government to come ever closer to the European Union with the other.

And now, as Russia responds ever more dangerously, ever more unpredictably, to what it perceives to be a threat on its border, how are Western leaders and an increasingly excited media responding? By upping the ante yet further. Elite opinion, such as it is, is now becoming increasingly, myopically martial. The talk is now of backing the Ukrainian government, not just with Russia-baiting, Putin-demonising rhetoric, and yet another new regime of sanctions, but with actual military assistance.

One Financial Times columnist urges the West to arm the Ukrainians; the Washington Post says the ‘clear answer is direct military support’; a collection of US think tanks and politicians has just released a report urging similar. Western politicians, with the exception of the likes of Republican senator John McCain, may not have been quite so forthright so far; but the prospect of military intervention is now firmly circulating in the policymaking air.

And the most incredible aspect to this slow-motion slippage into something approaching international warfare in Ukraine is that those calling for the West to get stuck in are doing so for the most abstract, most self-aggrandising, and therefore most dangerous reasons. Theirs is not a geopolitical calculation. It is not a matter of realpolitik balancing of power blocs. No, theirs is a vain comic-book calculation. It is a matter of fighting the bad guy, of doing battle with the forces of Russian irrationality and reaction.

Former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton likened Russia’s actions to those of Hitler in the 1930s. Others, incredibly, have displayed even less subtlety. One US commentator blamed everything on, variously, ‘Putin the Thug’ and ‘Czar Putin’; one UK commentator said that the West was dealing with ‘classic psychopathic behaviour’; and in the Guardian, columnist, policy adviser and laptop bombardier Timothy Garton Ash decided to invoke his own Kosovo-era version of Hitler: ‘Vladimir Putin is the Slobodan Miloševi? of the former Soviet Union: as bad, but bigger.’

This is what the conflict in Ukraine has been rendered up as: a battle between the West and Putin the Bad Man. It is a chance, once more, for Western commentators and politicians to act out their liberal interventionist fantasies, to do battle with a psychopath, a thug, a man intent on doing wrong. Those venting their anti-Putin diatribes no doubt feel terribly good about themselves. Those calling for the West to do more no doubt remain convinced that, abstractly, as a moral decision, it is the Right Thing To Do.

And that is the problem. This same unthinking, politically dumb impulse has already wreaked immeasurable damage across the globe, pulling down social arrangements and civic structures from Iraq to Libya, and leaving behind little but massive instability. And yet, because it always looks like the right thing to do, especially when the antagonist is conjured up as a psychopathic wrongdoer, the clueless interventionists continue to call cluelessly for intervention. They up the ante, selfishly, vainly and, ultimately, barbarically.

Russia’s destabilising involvement in Ukraine cannot be ignored. But just as significant is the equally deleterious role of the bumbling, purpose-seeking West and its international institutions. Their culpability in Ukraine’s disintegration has been ignored for far too long.


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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, 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)


9 February, 2015

Fascist Scotland

Jealousy has always been the key to understanding Scots. Perhaps because they have always been poor relative to the English, they have a hatred of anybody richer than them. The name of Scotland's largest landowner, the Duke of Buccleuch (pronounced "baklew) is not so much uttered as spat out in most of Scotland. So they have always been very jealous of one another and that has made them very socialist. It's only by going abroad and escaping envious eyes that Scots can prosper.

But socialism plus nationalism is the recipe for Fascism -- and Scottish nationalism is more than mere patriotism. It has morphed into national self-assertiveness and new and improved hatred of their Southern neighbour. And so a form of Fascism does seem to have emerged.

The recent referendum on Scottish independence seems to have been the flash-point. It pumped up nationalism to new heights and the failure of the referendum has left nationalists seething with anger. And anger is of course behind most Leftist policies. So Scotland is getting some severely Leftist policies. And the MAJORITY of Scots who voted to stay united with England are simply not respected. Nationalists are not accepting their defeat graciously. And since they do have control of the Scottish parliament, they can do a lot of damage. See below. -- JR

By Allan Massie

The smell of blood is in the Scottish air – and the nationalist daggers are out once again. No matter that they lost the referendum. SNP membership is surging, and so is the spiteful abuse of their opponents, openly branded quislings and collaborators for daring to disagree.

The nationalists are on aggressive form, set to rule not just the Scottish parliament but a majority of Scotland’s 59 Westminster seats. New polling funded by Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft has predicted a 21 per cent swing to the SNP, which would mean Labour losing 35 of their 41 seats.

If that seems like a distant issue from south of the border, then consider this: if the SNP performs as the polls suggest, an overall Labour majority in May will be almost impossible. But a Labour-SNP coalition becomes an increasingly likely scenario – and a worrying one. Because the SNP could influence the whole of the UK with what has become a divisive brand of state socialism.

Just look at what they plan in Scotland, harrying the great estates – and their owners – with taxes and forcible land sales. The nationalists even want to meddle in family life with sinister new measures promising government supervision of all Scottish children.

This might chime well in Left-wing cities such as Glasgow and Dundee, the new nationalist heartland, but many see the proposed land reform as fuelled by class envy and socialist dogma.

The SNP’s claim to a monopoly on Scottish patriotism infuriated many unionists during the referendum campaign, but its Stalinist identification of the party with the state is worrying even more.

For now, the guns have mostly fallen silent, as this is the close season for game birds and stalking, but for landowners and their employees there is a feeling that the guns are being turned on them, and that the traditional social and economic pattern of country life is in danger of being torn up.

Under the bureaucratic slogan of ‘sustainable development’, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has proposed a raft of separate measures that she believes will attract the support of the Scottish Left, and which landowners believe is a class-based attack on the great estates and centuries of tradition.

One is a plan to give rural communities the right of compulsory purchase over the land they farm – even if the landowner, whose family may have been custodians of it for generations, doesn’t want to sell it.

The SNP also want to change the inheritance laws of primogeniture that would fragment the ownership of the great estates within a few generations by ensuring the division of property among all of a landowner’s children. Then there is the removal of the tax breaks that make many estates viable and investment in them possible.

In truth, however, the country sports that the SNP so despises are all that makes many of the estates economically viable.

The party is fond of preaching that the ownership of much of the land is concentrated in comparatively few hands. Some 400 individuals or trusts (family or commercial) are said to own most of Scotland. Yet much of the country is mountain and moorland. A 500-acre chunk of arable land in, say, Berwickshire, is far more profitable than 5,000 or even 15,000 acres in the Highlands.

Jamie Williamson, laird of Alvie and Dalraddy, near Aviemore, tells me wryly that his 13,000 acres are MAMBA – ‘more and more of b***** all’.

‘We farm cows, sheep, trees and tourists,’ he adds. ‘Field sports are more important – we offer grouse-shooting and deer-stalking – because the Highlands are less favourable for agriculture.

‘The poorer the land, the more you need to live off it. Round here, that’s a minimum of 2,000 to 5,000 acres.

‘We’re faced with people who have a politically motivated agenda and don’t realise what they’re doing. It could end up like Ireland, where sub-division means that everyone has a quarter-acre potato patch. The attitude now is, “You’ve got it, we want it.” '

Lack of respect for property rights is characteristic of all socialist regimes, so it is not surprising that the SNP’s land reform will render property insecure.

Actually, Scots already have a Land Reform Act, passed in the first Scottish Parliament with little controversy. It established a statutory right to roam throughout the countryside with a few designated exceptions. That right had always existed, as trespass on private property was not an offence in Scotland unless there was damage or malicious intent.

The Act also gave a community the right to buy an estate if the owner was willing to sell, and provided public funds to make this possible. There have been a handful of buyouts, some apparently successful. In a warning to the SNP, however, others have proved far more problematic.

The 94-strong community on the beautiful Hebridean island of Gigha became the best-known beneficiaries of the legislation when they bought their seven-mile-long island from businessman Derek Holt in 2002 with £4 million of public money in the form of a grant and a loan. The population has since swollen to 160 people, but the island is reported to be £3 million in debt, and looking to the Government for further help.

Highland estates change hands frequently; the land is unproductive, country sports are labour and investment-intensive. They swallow money. It’s why any community that benefits from a buyout – whether voluntary or as part of a socialist land-grab – is likely to be going back to Holyrood soon, holding out the begging-bowl.

This isn’t true of all parts of Scotland, I should add. The fertile estates in the Borders , where I live, rarely change hands, because they are not loss-making. Estates such as those of the Duke of Buccleuch, the Marquess of Lothian and the Duke of Roxburghe make a huge contribution to the social, economic and cultural life of the region. They offer access and provide employment for tens of thousands.

It is estimated that ten per cent of Scottish jobs are in agriculture and activities related to it, such as shooting. They are generally a force for good, and for prosperity, and only a fool would want to break them up. However, that is exactly what the SNP plans.

It’s easy to see that such measures might have a rabble-rousing appeal for city-dwellers to whom the big estates are bad and the poor, embattled workers are victims.

These are also, of course, people who have no idea of how the rural economy works. It is private spite dressed up as public interest.

The final nail in the coffin of the sporting estates would be the SNP plan to remove the ‘de-rating’ tax-break brought in by the Major Government 20 years ago.

On the face of it this may seem a more justifiable change, as most businesses pay rates, but the consequences might be damaging.

Jamie Williamson is quite clear about that. His estate employs 19 people directly and as many again indirectly, while overheads are huge and the profit on field sports is meagre enough to be tipped into the red if the new taxes are too high. If that happens, many estates will abandon shooting, and with it will go the tourism and hospitality industries that rely on it. ‘It could,’ he adds, ‘have an impact all the way down the line.’

Williamson is a landowner, a laird, so the response may be ‘he would say that, wouldn’t he?’ But his views are echoed and put even more forcibly by Alex Hogg, who is a gamekeeper, not a landowner. In fact, he’s chairman of the Scottish Gamekeepers Association.

He says: ‘Local businesses are supported by the estates and shooting brings in millions. ‘Why would you want to drive away that investment?

‘The SNP keeps talking about public interest. But surely the public interest is served by having a thriving community that’s not subsidised. I’m dumbfounded by these proposals. The SNP has gone far-Left, and it scares me.’

Since it came into office, the SNP has weakened local democracy in favour of enforcing its own ideologically driven diktats. It has overridden, for example, local objections to wind farms. It has created a single Scottish police force, free of any local democratic control. Worse still, the SNP state has no regard for the individual.

Another SNP measure hits at the autonomy of the family. This is the Named Persons Act, which provides for the state to appoint a named guardian, usually a social worker or teacher, for every child and adolescent in Scotland.

This is, of course, dressed up as a means of providing protection for vulnerable children and young people. Who, they say, could possibly object to this?

The answer is anyone who believes parents are better judges of their children’s interests than the state or social workers. The SNP claims parents and children have asked for these guardians but, for me, the assumption is clear: parents can’t be trusted and children belong not to their parents but to the state, just as in Mao’s China.

Meanwhile the intrusion of the state into private life gathers pace.

The SNP is planning a new ‘SuperID database’, effectively a computerised Big Brother, that would store a great deal of confidential information including health details, tax payments, even whether someone is a member of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh.

This information can be shared among government bodies – including, bizarrely, Quality Meat Scotland.

Willie Rennie, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, says: ‘This needs to be stopped. They plan to take information on people using the health service and allow access to 120 organisations.’

The East German Stasi would have loved to have a database that linked health, tax and much other private information on its citizens. It could become reality in Scotland.

And yet, despite its contempt for individuals, for families, for property rights and for liberty, the SNP is riding high in the polls. Its dream is that it will hold the balance of power at Westminster where, Sturgeon insists, they would do a deal with Labour, but on no account with the Tories.

This is rank hypocrisy. When the SNP ran a minority government between 2007 and 2011, they happily did deals with the Scottish Conservatives to get budgets through.

Actually the SNP’s intentions in Westminster are absolutely clear. They aim to make a bloody nuisance of themselves.

They hope to exasperate the English to such an extent that eventually they will tell the Scots to clear out – even though 55 per cent of us voted to remain part of the United Kingdom. As Salmond, defeated in September but hoping to return to the Commons as an MP, charmingly put it, he hopes ‘to hold England’s feet to the fire’.

There is talk in Scotland of Labour, the Tories and Liberal Democrats doing a deal to keep Salmond out, or at least encouraging voters to back the candidate most likely to beat the SNP.

If that happens, the Nationalists will surely shriek foul. But considering what they plan for the rest of us, the laugh will be on them.



The Prime Minister of New Zealand gets the hypocrisy of the Left


Perry's Claim to Fame Is Simple: Jobs

Texas is where the jobs are

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is considering another run for the White House in 2016, and his platform is strong in the primary concern of voters. As political strategist James Carville so memorably put it during Bill Clinton’s first campaign, “It’s the economy, stupid.”

In his State of the Union, Barack Obama crowed about the jobs he created since 2010: “America has put more people back to work than Europe, Japan and all advanced economies combined. Our manufacturers have added almost 800,000 new jobs.”

But Obama didn’t give credit where it’s due. Since the start of the Great Recession in 2007, the 1.169 million increase in jobs nationwide up to December 2014 can be attributed entirely to the roaring Texas economy. The other 49 states and Washington, DC, altogether have lost about 275,000 jobs. Texas enjoyed its 51st consecutive month of growth in December, adding more that 2,000 jobs every business day. And while the nationwide headline unemployment rate stands at 5.6%, the rate in Texas dropped to 4.6%. Pretty impressive numbers for a candidate’s résumé.

Of course, Texas owes much of its boom to fracking on privately owned land. Fracking has sparked a recovery in other industries, including construction. From January to November, more building permits for single-family houses were issued in Houston alone than in all of California in the same period.

Unfortunately, some of Texas' job growth came because of crony capitalism – sweetheart tax deals and so forth. That shouldn’t play well with free-market conservatives, but the average voter probably won’t care much about that angle when Perry can say, “Yeah, but Texas under my leadership is responsible for virtually all the job growth in the nation.”

One issue that will tickle conservative heart strings is that leftists are labeling Perry a “tenther.” Like the supposedly pejorative “denier,” the Left now labels anyone who believes in the Tenth Amendment a “tenther”. We’re mighty proud to be in that club.

Interviewed by Heartland magazine, Perry said that he wants to be a strong Tenth Amendment leader, working with other governors who share his passion. “We need to get back to 50 states competing against other … to become a powerful country, a powerful economy again.” He continued, “We need to … make the states … into laboratories of innovation [again to] put America back on the road to recovery.”

A push to restore the federalism our Founders established is long overdue and we hope the next president and governors have the wisdom to restore the Tenth Amendment as we have the Second.

Meanwhile, should Perry emerge as a viable candidate, the Left will simply lie to destroy him. Lies, character assassination, mudslinging. The Left’s stock in trade.

Indeed, this is why he had a run-in last year with Travis County Democrat District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg after she was arrested for drunk driving with three times the legal limit of blood alcohol. During her arrest and booking, she behaved like a bratty eighth grader. Sentenced to 45 days, she served half. Because she heads the Public Integrity Unit of the DA’s office, Perry asked her to resign. Like any good disgraced Democrat, she refused, causing Perry to cut funding to her office until she was replaced.

Smelling blood in the water, special prosecutor Michael McCrum took the matter to a grand jury and got an indictment for two class A misdemeanors: abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant. Got that? Perry allegedly “abused” Lehmberg by demanding her resignation. And he “abused” the power of the veto. That’s rich.

The Leftmedia lost no time headlining: GOVERNOR INDICTED. Unfortunately, the case will drag on for months, keeping Perry’s “sullied” name in the news. He could lose campaign contributors, as ridiculous as that might seem, but Democrats have been at this game for decades, and they know their stuff. Let’s hope the voters show more sense than the media hounds.

In terms of campaigning, two things will work to Perry’s advantage this time: He’s no longer governor and can focus all his energy on the campaign, and he’s not coming off back surgery, which many think put him off his game in 2012. And, again, that job-creation résumé is going to play well in a nation sloughing along under Obamanomics.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, 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)


8 February, 2015

Just another Leftist psychopathic liar

Remember Bill Clinton claiming that Hillary was named after Sir Edmund? Problem: Edmund Hillary was just a New Zealand sheep farmer at the time she was born. Climbing Everest came years later. A typical psychopathic lie

Longtime residents of French Quarter say the NBC News anchor’s vivid claims about Katrina since the August 2005 hurricane have been overblown.

Williams’ past reporting has come under new scrutiny after revelations earlier this week that he had peddled a false story about what he described as a near-death experience in which a US army helicopter he was riding in in Iraq in 2003 came under RPG and AK-47 fire. The story was exposed by US soldiers as false. Williams called it a “mistake” and apologized.

Longtime residents of New Orleans’ French Quarter say they believe Williams’ vivid claims about his Katrina reporting in the years since the devastating August 2005 storm have also been overblown. They shake their heads at Williams’ having said that he saw a body floating face-down outside his hotel. They say it is highly unlikely that Williams’ hotel was “overrun with gangs”, as the anchor has said. They say there was no dysentery, a disease Williams has said that he caught while he was in the city reporting, and that bottled water was plentiful in the area – despite Williams’ claims to the contrary.

“I saw one of his tapes last night. He said he was told not to drink bottled water in front of people because people would kill you for it?” said Dr Brobson Lutz, a former director of the New Orleans city health department who is a longtime resident of the French Quarter and who ran an EMS station there after the storm. “That’s absolutely hogwash.”



Fallout hits Hildabeest

There’s an emerging consensus among some political gabbers that Brian Williams’ long-running misrepresentations about his time in Iraq does serious damage to a major national figure.

The twist: The figure being skewered is not the embattled NBC anchorman but Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Why would misstatements by Williams — that a helicopter he rode in a dozen years ago in Iraq came under enemy fire — damage the once and likely future presidential candidate?

Because the former secretary of state and frontrunner-in-waiting for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination had her own Williams-esque flight of war-zone “misspeak.”

Clinton’s error came in the thick of her 2008 run for the presidency, when she claimed in a speech that she and her party once ducked sniper fire on an airport tarmac in Bosnia. It wasn’t true.

The NBC anchor’s career-threatening failure on the Iraq story now has commentators, particularly on the political right, saying Clinton should be in just as much trouble.

At least one seasoned hand in Clintonworld theorizes, though, that Hillary’s 2008 campaign trail plotz will not ultimately be as damaging as Williams’ meltdown. Here’s why: Williams has told the tale of the attack on a U.S. military helicopter many times over the years since he embedded with the Army during the 2003 Iraqi invasion. His problem is that he has expanded and embellished the alleged brush with danger many times.

According to reporting led by the military journal Stars & Stripes, aviators on the scene at the time said the copter carrying Williams was an hour behind another Chinook forced to land, after being hit by a rocket-propelled grenade.

In multiple retellings over the years, though, the NBC anchor has gone from saying he was “on the ground” when he learned about the RPG threat to suggesting the copter immediately in front of his took the hit to saying his own chopper was battered by both the RPG and AK-47 fire.

Williams told Stars & Stripes he “misremembered” the incident and that he doesn’t “know what screwed up in my mind that caused me to conflate one aircraft with another.” An on-air apology Wednesday night has done little to quell the furor.

Flashing back a couple of campaign seasons, NBC News was among the outlets that hit hardest when Hillary Clinton got her own war story wrong. Though Williams was on the periphery of that reporting, his network reported Clinton’s flub and how it took her a week to correct it.

When first learning of Williams’ own veracity problem this week, one former Clinton aide said he was “chagrined,” thinking, “This will bring back something from that campaign, and those parallels will be drawn as if what she did was exactly like what Brian Williams did.”

Clinton had said during a March 2008 speech that, while visiting Bosnia in 1996 as first lady, she remembered “landing under sniper fire.” A greeting ceremony had to be cancelled, she said, as her party “ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.”

Videotape instead showed Clinton, her daughter Chelsea and their entourage simply striding across a tarmac with smiles and greeting a retinue of well-wishers.



The Big Unemployment Lie

The U.S. economy added 257,000 jobs in January, but the headline unemployment rate rose one-tenth of a point to 5.7%. The broader measure, known as the U-6 rate, also climbed from 11.2% to 11.3%. That’s mixed good news, since slight growth in record-low labor participation likely caused the rate spike. Even when we create jobs in the Obama economy, we seem to lose ground.

One of the problems is that each month’s jobs report pushes the same fraudulent narrative embraced by Barack Obama’s administration since before his re-election. To hear Obama tell it, the country’s current unemployment rate is pretty much back to where it was before the Great Recession. Therefore, the economy is on the mend, and we have the Great One’s policies to thank for it.

None of this is true.

The so-called official unemployment rate that is recorded and made public by the Bureau of Labor Statistics is known as the U-3 rate, but it doesn’t provide the full jobs picture for the country. The U-3 number records only those people who are currently out of work, not receiving any employment income and actively seeking new employment.

Yet there is an alarmingly vast swath of people who aren’t counted in these “official” unemployment numbers. Skilled laborers who have been out of work for a sustained period of time who earn at least $20 in a week are not considered unemployed under U-3. Nor are people working part-time but seeking full-time work to support their families.

Jim Clifford, Chairman and CEO of Gallup, wrote this week, “The official unemployment rate, which cruelly overlooks the suffering of the long-term and often permanently unemployed as well as the depressingly underemployed, amounts to a Big Lie.”

In fact, the unemployment rate “goes down” when more people leave the workforce than continue looking for work. So the worse reality gets, the better the headlines can be.

If we want a true sense of the unemployment picture, we should focus on the U-6 rate. This unemployment figure is publicly available, though it never receives the fanfare or public scrutiny that the U-3 number does. Indeed, one has to dig for the U-6 number; the Obama administration would never deliberately bring it up in a press release or a news conference. The U-6 rate is a look at real unemployment – not just those who are out of work, but also those who’ve been out of work so long that they’re no longer counted in the U-3 report.

That’s why we note the U-6 rate every month.

The underemployment picture is even worse. This group, including those mentioned above who are working but not at the level they should be based on skill or economic need, is 15.9%. If you adhere to Gallup’s definition of a good job as 30-plus hours per week with a regular paycheck, then only 44% of the eligible adult population is working full-time. (Stay-at-home moms and certain others aren’t counted in the working population, but 44% is still a shockingly low rate in a supposedly healthy economy.)

Politicians in Washington can’t seem to understand why unemployment is down and people just aren’t “feeling it.” Well, they’re not feeling it because most of them aren’t seeing it. Regardless of the rosy picture that the White House paints with its misleading data, Clifton notes, “Right now, as many as 30 million Americans are either out of work or severely underemployed. Trust me, the vast majority of them aren’t throwing parties to toast ‘falling’ unemployment.”

If we continue to gloss over this very real jobs problem, we can’t create the conditions that are necessary for a real economic recovery.

Dictators and leftists often embrace the old saw that if a lie is repeated often enough, it becomes reality. Such is the case with our “official” unemployment rate. The White House embraces it for the sake of political expediency. The Leftmedia embrace it because they love to report good news when there’s a Democrat in the White House. Wall Street embraces it because they want investors to keep buying stocks. And so, the rest of the country is led to believe that all is well and getting better.

The time has come to face the facts as they exist, not as the Leftmedia want us to see them.



Obama Wants to Remove Funding for Veterans!

We receive emails on a daily basis calling us racists for opposing Obama. The President’s race and skin color has absolutely NOTHING to do with it. Here’s an example of why we oppose this man’s Presidency:

This past August, Obama signed the Veterans Choice Program into law, allowing military veterans to seek medical assistance outside the VA instead of waiting on endless lines. It set aside $10 Billion to pay for veterans’ medical care outside the VA.

We praised the President and Congress for getting the ball rolling and fixing at least some of the problems plaguing the VA for years.

Well, yesterday Obama sent his proposed budget to Congress for consideration. And guess what… he wants to DEFUND this important program!

As I said, this legislation was signed into law last August. It passed through the GOP-held House of Representatives and then the Democrat-controlled Senate. This was bipartisan legislation the American people DEMANDED.

And now, Obama wants to let the Department of Veterans Affairs to raid this $10 billion fund and allocate this money towards programs that only seem to fail our vets!

I will confess that in the past, I have held off from placing the blame where it was due. I have been desperately trying to convince myself that Obama’s policies were the result of his weakness or stupidity. I think that many of his decisions still are. I didn’t want to believe that the President of the United States was doing these things on purpose.

But this is undeniable. For the President to submit a budget that dismantles an entire program for serving veterans is unacceptable. That wasn’t an accident… Obama and his staffers deliberately chose to dismantle this crucial aid program.

When I find out about treachery like this, it immediately gives me pause. I understand that this makes it easy to become discouraged. All in all, we sent close to 100,000 faxes to Congress demanding that they alleviate the fatal wait times at VA hospitals. And it worked. We helped get legislation signed into law.

But now, just 6 months after this law was passed, the President wants to cannibalize it to fund other failing VA policies. He touted this program as a success in August but now apparently it is too successful for his liking.

If anything, this is just more proof of how Barack H. Obama doesn’t care about our veterans. How else do you explain the President signing this into law and then wanting to defund it a few months later?

We fought so hard to reform the VA and get our veterans the medical care they deserve outside the VA hospital system. Now, Obama wants to throw these veterans back into a failed system so they can die while waiting months to be seen by a doctor!



What French McDonald’s Restaurants Tell Us About the Pros and Cons of a Minimum Wage Hike

President Obama said in a YouTube interview last month that he wanted to focus, during his last two years as president on helping people get ahead.

“In particular, how can I make sure that folks who are working hard…cannot just survive, but how can they thrive? How can they get ahead?” Obama said.

Many think the answer to helping Americans thrive and get ahead is to increase the minimum wage—and Obama has often talked about his support for hiking it. But it’s a mistake to think hiking the minimum wage will help.

In fact, a hiked minimum wage could harm people, not help them thrive.

The Heritage Foundation’s James Sherk says that raising wages would have a particular impact on the fast food industry, where many low skilled and young workers get their start in a journey to better and higher paying jobs. Sherk states that by raising worker wages, “many fast-food restaurants would respond by restructuring dramatically in order to use less labor.” In other words, there would be fewer jobs as a result of the mandated higher wages—and fewer opportunities for low-skilled and young-workers to be employed.

The president only has to look at McDonald’s restaurants in France to see the impact a higher minimum wage would have. France’s minimum wage is $10.60 an hour. Not surprisingly, every McDonald’s has resorted to using touch screen ordering rather than workers. It simply doesn’t make sense, when minimum wage starts that high, to employ people when machines can do the job.

This is reality. When faced with high operating costs, corporations such as McDonald’s will find ways to cut costs, whether by substituting technology for labor or forgoing improvements and investments in the company’s future.

Ultimately passing a minimum wage hike would provide fewer, not more, opportunities to Americans. If Obama wants to see all Americans thrive, he should make sure they have as many opportunities to do so as possible—and stop promoting a minimum wage hike.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, 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)


6 February, 2015

Conservatives have a better sense of humor

This is an article from a few years back but it reinforces much that I have been saying for many years. And it is in the NYT!

We begin by asking you to rate, on a scale of 1 (not funny at all) to 9 (hilarious) the following three attempts at humor:

A) Jake is about to chip onto the green at his local golf course when a long funeral procession passes by. He stops in midswing, doffs his cap, closes his eyes and bows in prayer. His playing companion is deeply impressed. “That’s the most thoughtful and touching thing I’ve ever seen,” he says. Jake replies, “Yeah, well, we were married 35 years.”

B) I think there should be something in science called the “reindeer effect.” I don’t know what it would be, but I think it’d be good to hear someone say, “Gentlemen, what we have here is a terrifying example of the reindeer effect.”

C) If you saw two guys named Hambone and Flippy, which one would you think liked dolphins the most? I’d say Flippy, wouldn’t you? You’d be wrong, though. It’s Hambone.

Those were some of the jokes rated by nearly 300 people in Boston in a recent study. (You can rate some of the others at TierneyLab, nytimes.com/tierneylab.) The researchers picked out a variety of jokes — good, bad, conventional, absurdist — to look for differences in reactions between self-described liberals and conservatives.

They expected conservatives to like traditional jokes, like the one about the golfing widower, that reinforce racial and gender stereotypes. And because liberals had previously been reported to be more flexible and open to new ideas, the researchers expected them to get a bigger laugh out of unconventional humor, like Jack Handey’s “Deep Thoughts” about the reindeer effect and Hambone.

Indeed, the conservatives did rate the traditional golf and marriage jokes as significantly funnier than the liberals did. But they also gave higher ratings to the absurdist “Deep Thoughts.” In fact, they enjoyed all kinds of humor more.

“I was surprised,” said Dan Ariely, a psychologist at Duke University, who collaborated on the study with Elisabeth Malin, a student at Mount Holyoke College. “Conservatives are supposed to be more rigid and less sophisticated, but they liked even the more complex humor.”

Do conservatives have more fun? Should liberals start describing themselves as humor-challenged? To investigate these questions, we need to delve into the science of humor (not a funny enterprise), starting with two basic kinds of humor identified in the 1980s by Willibald Ruch, a psychologist who now teaches at the University of Zurich.

The first category is incongruity-resolution humor, or INC-RES in humor jargon. It covers traditional jokes and cartoons in which the incongruity of the punch line (the husband who misses his wife’s funeral) can be resolved by other information (he’s playing golf). You can clearly get the joke, and it often reinforces stereotypes (the golf-obsessed husband).

Dr. Ruch and other researchers reported that this humor, with its orderly structure and reinforcement of stereotypes, appealed most to conservatives who shunned ambiguity and complicated new ideas, and who were more repressed and conformist than liberals.

The second category, nonsense humor, covers many “Far Side” cartoons, Monty Python sketches and “Deep Thoughts.” The punch line’s incongruity isn’t neatly resolved — you’re left to enjoy the ambiguity and absurdity of the reindeer effect or Hambone’s affection for dolphins. This humor was reported to appeal to liberals because of their “openness to ideas” and their tendency to “seek new experiences.”

But then why didn’t the liberals in the Boston experiment like the nonsense humor of “Deep Thoughts” as much as the conservatives did? One possible explanation is that conservatives’ rigidity mattered less than another aspect of their personality. Rod Martin, the author of “The Psychology of Humor,” said the results of the Boston study might reflect another trait that has been shown to correlate with a taste for jokes: cheerfulness.

“Conservatives tend to be happier than liberals in general,” said Dr. Martin, a psychologist at the University of Western Ontario. “A conservative outlook rationalizes social inequality, accepting the world as it is, and making it less of a threat to one’s well-being, whereas a liberal outlook leads to dissatisfaction with the world as it is, and a sense that things need to change before one can be really happy.”

Another possible explanation is that conservatives, or at least the ones in Boston, really aren’t the stiffs they’re made out to be by social scientists. When these scientists analyze conservatives, they can sound like Victorians describing headhunters in Borneo. They try to be objective, but it’s an alien culture.

The studies hailing liberals’ nonconformity and “openness to ideas” have been done by social scientists working in a culture that’s remarkably homogenous politically. Democrats outnumber Republicans by at least seven to one on social science and humanities faculties, according to studies by Daniel Klein, an economist at George Mason University. If you’re a professor who truly “seeks new experiences,” try going into a faculty club today and passing out McCain-Palin buttons.

Could it be that the image of conservatives as humorless, dogmatic neurotics is based more on political bias than sound social science? Philip Tetlock, a psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley, who reviews the evidence of cognitive differences in his 2005 book, “Expert Political Judgment,” said that while there were valid differences, “liberals and conservatives are roughly equally closed-minded in dealing with dissonant real-world evidence.”

So perhaps conservatives don’t have a monopoly on humorless dogmatism. Maybe the stereotype of the dour, rigid conservative has more to do with social scientists’ groupthink and wariness of outsiders — which, come to think of it, resembles the herding behavior of certain hoofed animals. Ladies and gentlemen, what we have here is a terrifying example of the reindeer effect.



Obama Versus America

By Thomas Sowell

In his recent trip to India, President Obama repeated a long-standing pattern of his – denigrating the United States to foreign audiences. He said that he had been discriminated against because of his skin color in America, a country in which there is, even now, “terrible poverty.”

Make no mistake about it, there is no society of human beings in which there are no rotten people. But for a President of the United States to be smearing America in a foreign country, whose track record is far worse, is both irresponsible and immature.

Years after the last lynching of blacks took place in the Jim Crow South, India’s own government was still publishing annual statistics on atrocities against the untouchables, including fatal atrocities. The June 2003 issue of “National Geographic” magazine had a chilling article on the continuing atrocities against untouchables in India in the 21st century.

Nothing that happened to Barack Obama when he was attending a posh private school in Hawaii, or elite academic institutions on the mainland, was in the same league with the appalling treatment of untouchables in India. And what Obama called “terrible poverty” in America would be called prosperity in India.

The history of the human race has not always been a pretty picture, regardless of what part of the world you look at, and regardless of whatever color of the rainbow the people have been.

If you want to spend your life nursing grievances, you will never run out of grievances to nurse, regardless of what color your skin is. If some people cannot be rotten to you because of your race, they will find some other reason to be rotten to you.

The question is whether you want to deal with such episodes at the time when they occur or whether you want to nurse your grievances for years, and look for opportunities for “payback” against other people for what somebody else did. Much that has been said and done by both President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder suggests that they are in payback mode.

Both have repeatedly jumped into local law enforcement issues, far from Washington, and turned them into racial issues, long before the facts came out. These two men – neither of whom grew up in a ghetto – have been quick to play the role of defenders of the ghetto, even when that meant defending the kinds of hoodlums who can make life a living hell for decent people in black ghettos.

Far from benefitting ghetto blacks, the vision presented by the Obama administration, and the policies growing out of that vision, have a track record of counterproductive results on both sides of the Atlantic – that is, among low-income whites in England as well as low-income blacks in the United States.

In both countries, children from low-income immigrant families do far better in schools than the native-born, low-income children. Moreover, low-income immigrant groups rise out of poverty far more readily than low-income natives.

The January 31st issue of the distinguished British magazine “The Economist” reports that the children of African refugees from Somalia do far better in school than low-income British children in general. “Somali immigrants,” it reports, “insist that their children turn up for extra lessons at weekends.” These are “well-ordered children” and their parents understand that education “is their ticket out of poverty.”

Contrast that with the Obama administration’s threatening schools with federal action if they do not reduce their disciplining of black males for misbehavior.

Despite whatever political benefit or personal satisfaction that may give Barack Obama and Eric Holder, reducing the sanctions against misbehavior in school virtually guarantees that classroom disorder will make the teaching of other black students far less effective, if not impossible.

For black children whose best ticket out of poverty is education, that is a lifelong tragedy, even if it is a political bonanza to politicians who claim to be their friends and defenders.

The biggest advantage that the children of low-income immigrants have over the children of native-born, low-income families is that low-income immigrants have not been saturated for generations with the rhetoric of victimhood and hopelessness, spread by people like Obama, Holder and their counterparts overseas.



Obama is Just Doing a Jim Dandy Job!

By Rich Kozlovich

While 54% of voters want no new taxes and more budget cuts, President Obama is expected to propose a near $4 trillion federal budget that includes tax and spending increases. However, 16% actually do favor a federal budget that increases spending and 21% think we should continue spending like drunken sailors at the same level. Only that would “be an insult to drunken sailors – at least they’re spending their own money”.

So now we absolutely know one thing from that poll - we have 37% of the American population that never took arithmetic in school. Is possible that reading, writing and arithmetic isn't taught in American schools any longer?

Rasmussen polls show society isn’t all that thrilled with their health care and don’t expect Obamacare to fix it. Furthermore they think society is better off without government interference in the nation’s health care system. All these things Americans don't like are foundational to everything Obama is doing and yet Rasmussen’s Daily Presidential Tracking Poll gives Obama a 51% performance approval rating. Does that make sense to anyone?

I don’t really know if Rasmussen can be trusted any more than other pollsters, but I put pollsters as a whole in the same category as snake oil salesmen. They ask questions in ways that will generate affirmation versus reality. Having said that - I've followed the Rasmussen polls for some time now and I keep seeing a majority who claim they dislike Obama's policies and yet think he's just doing a Jim Dandy job. Is that rational? Is that a case of cognitive dissonance or was Gruber right – people are stupid? The second question we need clarity on is this - if so many people are stupid, did they get that way on their own?

I think it’s a combination of the following. An American educational system that's turned into an expensive failure, cognitive dissonance is rampant, the pollsters are corrupt, people are largely misinformed and uninformed by choice, a corrupt media wants to keep them that way - and Gruber was right. There is only one question I think needs to be answered. Since Gruber was attacked as ‘arrogant’ by various writers – we need to clearly define in our minds if he was being arrogant or was he merely making an observation of reality that no one liked?

Here’s an insight to the correct answer. Newsweek gave a test to 1000 people and found that 29% of Americans didn’t know who the Vice President was, 27% didn’t know the President of the U.S. was in charge of the executive branch and 70% didn’t know the supreme law of the land was the U.S. Constitution. One commenter made the observation that perhaps they thought it was the Prime Directive from the United Federation of Planets. I would be willing to bet if that question was part of the test a fair number would have agreed – and believed it! Is that an indication the American educational system has failed to teach history and civics?

Apparently 33% don’t know the official date for the signing of the Declaration of Independence was July 4, 1776. Hummmm, I wonder if they go around asking why July 4th is a national holiday. Oh wait….I know….I know…..it’s a national holiday created to lend economic support to fireworks manufacturers…Right?

But that’s only a third of the population, perhaps I’m just being picky since 65% didn’t know the Constitution was written by the Founding Fathers at the Constitutional Convention – that’s 65%, - and only 12% could name one of the writers, 43% didn’t know the first ten amendments to the Constitution is called the Bill of Rights and 63% didn’t know there were nine justices on the U.S. Supreme Court. Now, perhaps I'm just being picky again, but is this another indictment of American education?

Now for those who are snickering– how many amendments are there to the U.S. Constitution? Answer without looking it up!

Eighty percent didn’t know who the President of the U.S. was during WWI and 40% didn’t know the U.S. was fighting Germany, Italy and Japan during WWII, with a full 73% being unaware the “cold war” was over the spread of communism. Now does all of this give anyone the impression that someone in American education is clearly dropping the ball? Is it any wonder why so many believe "going green" is good, in spite of the fact the green movement has been responsbible for more death and suffering than the socialist monsters of the 20th century.

And 51% believe Obama, who increased the national debt from a little over ten trillion dollars to a little over eighteen trillion dollars in six years without having much of an impact of the "Great Recession", is just doing a Jim Dandy job!

Have a really good day!



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, 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)


5 February, 2015

Why we should cut Russia some slack

I admire the Russian people. They suffer a generally dreadful climate and have almost always had atrocious government. Yet through all that they have not only survived but have made great contributions to human civilization. One only has to mention the names of Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky to know how much of our classical music we owe to Russians. And there are other notable Russian composers too: Rachmaninoff, Rimsky-Korsakoff, Gliere, Borodin, Mussorgsky Scriabin, Glazunov, Prokofiev etc. The list goes on.

And in literature we think of Tolstoy, Pushkin, Dostoyevsky, Gogol, Turgenev, Pasternak, Nabokov, Gorky etc. Perhaps because of limits imposed by their climate, Russians are great readers.

And in science and technology too Russians have much to their credit. Sikorsky invented the helicopter as we know it today; the first earth satellite was Russian, and Russia's military industries are legendary. If there were a war tomorrow, the absurd F35 fighter would be rapidly blasted out of the sky by the latest products of the Mikoyan and Sukhoi design bureaux. Multi-role aircraft rarely perform any role well and the F35 is an extreme example of that. It is a political compromise and is as good as you would expect from that.

And I admire the Russian people for not losing their patriotism. Most of the Western intelligentsia have lost theirs under Leftist influence but not even Communism could suppress Russian patriotism. Despite the theoretical internationalism of Communism, Stalin in fact had to name what we call WWII as "The great patriotic war" in order to get maximum support from the Russian people. Patriots stand ready to support and defend their own people. It is only nationalists who want to subdue other people.

So why has the Western world declared a new Cold War on Russia? Because of typical Leftist meddling in other people's affairs. Ukraine is in the midst of a civil war. America has had a couple of those too so can hardly criticize. Ukraine is a botch of a country and the war is an attempt to remedy that. Ukrainians dislike Russians greatly -- about as passionately as Scots loathe the English. And the "United" Kingdom went within a hairsbreadth of breaking up over that just last year. So the Russians of Ukraine want to get out from under a Ukrainian majority who despise them and, sadly, war is usually needed for that.

And Mr Putin is cautiously supporting Ukraine's Russians. No Russian leader would do less, given Russian patriotism. The West should encourage the independence movement in Eastern Ukraine, not condemn it. Didn't America have a war of independence once? So why aren't Americans sympathetic to the independence desires of others?

The cold war is hurting the great Russian people and it should cease at once. While King Obama has been doing all he can to reduce American military preparedness, Mr. Putin has been steadily rebuilding his forces. In the face of Western hostility he is well positioned to turn the cold war hot. What if he decided to invade one or all of the Baltic states, with withdrawal being conditional on an end to the cold war and a large sum of monetary assistance as reparations for the damage to Russia's economy?

The West could do nothing militarily. The USAF would not dare to deploy the F35 in its present bungled state, leaving only the ageing F22 Raptor to face the startling performance of the latest Russian military aircraft. So Russian air superiority in the Baltic would be established from the start. American aviators would get as rude a shock as they did in WWII when encountering Japan's Mitsubishi Zero fighter.

And no Western military would have the stomach for a fight with Russia anyway. All that the Western militaries are good for these days for is to take on moronic Middle-Easterners -- and they have had little success even at that. Ever since Vietnam, the American army has lost all its wars. There have been some battlefield successes but no lasting victories. Iraq, for instance, is now arguably more hostile to the West overall than it was under Saddam. There would surely be enough warning in that to preclude a hot war with Russia. Russia could do to American forces what it did to Napoleon and Hitler.

And there are substantial Russian populations in the Baltic States so Mr Putin could well declare that he was on another rescue mission. Russians would rally to the cause. It would take a very large sum indeed to buy the withdrawal of Russian troops under those circumstances. Yet the West would feel obliged to rescue the heroic people of the Baltic states from a war brought on by Western folly -- so would pay the Danegeld. Western taxpayers would feel the pain resulting from the folly of their leaders. The world desperately needs a leader who is a man of peace at the moment.


Life isn't fair

This 4 year old has the sort of looks that most adult women could only dream of

But here's the challenging bit. This girl will retain most of those looks into her early adulthood.

How do I know that? Because her mother did.

Life isn't fair. Wise people deal with that. Foolish people whine about it


Regulations Have Consequences

The article below by Daniel Greenfield was written 5 years ago but it is an exceptionally clear analysis of its subject

It is part of the basic theory of government that when the regulators try to regulate the regulated, the regulated will in turn try to control the terms of their regulation by attempting to influence the regulators. In other words, that which government controls, will try to control it. Because regulation is a two way street. By regulating people, countries and industries-- you are entering into a relationship with that which you regulate.

To rule over the unrepresented creates an unstable situation. And so the regulated will either attempt to indirectly or directly influence the regulators, overthrow them or escape their control. This too is an inevitable outgrowth of the basic theory of government, one which liberals tend to deliberately ignore when complaining about corporate lobbying. Corporate lobbying and donations to both parties are a direct product of the growth of government regulation, interference in industries, bailouts, grants and other forms of corporate welfare. The more government interacts positively or negatively with business, the more business lobbyists will try to influence how those interactions go.

There is of course one easy way to end most corporate influence on politics. But it is not one that the very people agitating against corporate money in politics will champion. That is because it requires them to give up power. Corporations are motivated to spend money in the hopes of either earning a profit or avoiding a loss. Spending money on lobbying would dry up if there were no profits or losses to be gained from doing so. But the very politicians who wail about corporate money, still expect those donations to keep coming in. And they continue exercising power over entire industries and fields, which naturally summon the companies dealing in them to try to shape how that power is exercised.

What has the expanding network of government regulations wrought? First, it has created a vast industry of lobbyists from companies who either want to avoid regulation or want to exploit regulation in order to benefit themselves or harm their competitors. Companies who want the government to pass along taxpayer money to them or create monopolies for their benefit. Companies who want government contracts for items that the government doesn't need or doesn't need to buy at that price, but will anyway because companies find it cheaper to donate to congressmen than compete fairly for the contract. All this is the result of a system in which government regulations have made it increasingly entangled with the very businesses that government is regulating.

Secondly, it has convinced many companies that it is simply easier to opt out, and move their manufacturing facilities out of the control. This has been a boon for China, but a disaster for America. The manufacturing sectors of America have become depressed, and perfect fodder for Democratic politicians to bring home the dole by taxing America's remaining businesses. But as Thatcher once reputedly said, "The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money." In America, if the process goes on, there will be two types of companies, government subsidized companies and companies that have relocated overseas. And America will finally have Europe's economy with everyone on the dole, including the companies themselves.

As government continues to press companies over overseas revenue, they will find it simpler to relocate their headquarters overseas. Some have already done it. This will deprive the system of another source of taxable revenue, which will only drive them to press down harder on the existing sources. Which will further accelerate the entire process. But the people behind it know exactly what they're doing.

The combination of regulation and taxation makes it gradually too expensive for companies to operate legitimately. That means the only possible way for them to continue operating is to either leave the country, or throw in with the system and get a grant to begin doing something absolutely useless. Under socialism, rent seeking behavior by a company is much safer than making a good product and selling it. And so the successful business strategy now relies on integrating business with government, to produce a socialist state, in which business is not simply regulated by government, but is an actual part of government.

Consider a system in which Cap and Trade can allow speculators hiding behind environmentalist credentials to rob existing companies of billions of dollars, and decimate entire industries-- through government regulation. Under such a system it makes no sense to own a factory. Instead it makes sense to visibly drive a Prius while flying a private jet around the country, talk about the shrinking icebergs while eating imported lobster, and lobbying for wealth redistribution from actual productive companies.

That is the socialist strategy. Not to destroy business. But to destroy legitimate and productive business. Business that does not rely on government for its moneymaking strategy. And in the end all that remains is a whitemarket economy that is tightly regulated, low priced, inaccessible and virtually useless for obtaining many basic products and services-- and a blackmarket economy that is unregulated, overpriced and where anything can be found. That doesn't just apply to the kind of health care system that the left would like to impose on America. That is the kind of system they want to impose comprehensively in every area of life, minus of course the blackmarket, which is of course an inevitable outgrowth of overregulation.

Regulation is inimical to economic diversity. The more you regulate a field, the less authentic economic diversity it can have, because economic diversity is a function of economic creativity and mobility. Regulation leads to central planning in the long run, and to a freeze on economic creativity in the short run. The more regulation you have, the less economic diversity remains and the economic ecosystem rewards only business strategies that are symbiotic or parasitic on government. Regulation steadily makes the government the key, and then eventually the only player in the marketplace, as it comes to control everything from manufacturing to the sale of the products all down the line.

The growing influence of corporate money on politics is not a sign of capitalism, but of socialism. Capitalism does not require buying politicians. Socialism does. And the influence of corporate money on politics parallels exactly the influence that politicians have on business. It is a two way street, and those that the regulators regulate will attempt to influence the regulators. The more this happens, the more it's a sign that there are too many regulations, not too few.

Regulators like to believe that they can absolutely control human behavior. But human beings respond in unexpected ways. And one of those ways is that they will strive to escape or seek to control, those who would control them. Democracy is the outgrowth of the practical recognition that the rule of the people is also the best way to maintain a civil and working society. It avoids the power struggle between the government and the governed. By trying to rule without representation, the power struggle resumes. Because regulations have consequences. And the first consequence of regulation is that those you rule over, will try to rule over you.

Via Rich Kozlovich


AG Nominee Lynch's Claim Illegals Have 'Right' to Work in U.S. 'Just Absolutely Crazy'

Speaking about Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch’s statement that illegal aliens have the “right to work” in the United States, Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) said he was “astounded” by Lynch’s comments, calling them “crazy” and “just not true.”
CNSNews.com asked Vitter, “Do illegal aliens have the right to work in the United States?”

“No, they do not, and more importantly, the law is very clear on the fact that they do not have the right to work in the United States,” Vitter answered.

“Ms. Lynch basically said illegal aliens have the same right to work in the United States as citizens and green card holders, which is just absolutely crazy and just not true. The law is very clear on that. And for her to say that is just…I was absolutely astounded.”

During her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Lynch asserted that illegal aliens living in the United States shared the same right to work as U.S. citizens and legal residents.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) asked Lynch during the hearing, “Who has more right to a job in this country" – citizens and legal permanent residents or illegal aliens?

“I believe that the right and the obligation to work is one that's shared by everyone in this country regardless of how they came here,” Lynch responded.

CNSNews.com asked Vitter, “Do you believe Ms. Lynch’s comments reflect what the president believes about illegal aliens in the United States?”

“Absolutely, Ms. Lynch’s comments obviously reflect the president’s stance on immigration, and it’s clear she supports his position on it,” he responded.

“It’s a deciding factor for me,” Vitter continued. “I said weeks ago that I would vote against Ms. Lynch being confirmed as attorney general, specifically because of this issue. The fact that she would say something that is so contrary to U.S. law tells me she should not be the next attorney general.”

Vitter also said he was not surprised Lynch’s support for illegal aliens’ “right to work” in the United States did not get much airtime in the mainstream media last week.

“It doesn’t surprise me,” Vitter explained, adding that “the mainstream media has a history of not covering things or reporting things that are critical of the president’s agenda, and clearly it’s no different with this issue.”



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, 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)


4 February, 2015

Are Republicans more open to new product choices?

The authors below were clearly embarrassed by their findings. They wanted to find out that Leftists were more adventurous. So they offer some contorted reasoning to explain why it was conservatives who were more adventurous.

They need not have worried, however. What generalizability do findings have that are based on the responses of convenient groups of American college undergraduates? Non-existent sampling gives non-existent generalizability.

As it happens, I looked at the question some time ago, using proper sampling of the general population. And I used both measures of general sensation seeking and consumer sensation seeking. And I found the opposite to the report below! How I interpreted my findings may however be rather uncongenial to Leftists. I headed my article as: "Political radicals as sensation seekers"

And I think that fits. Conservatives are the contented people and Leftists are the restless, dissatisfied ones. The journal article summarized below is "Political conservatism and variety-seeking"


Some people may think of political conservatives as having a desire to maintain traditions, but a new study shows they also have a more adventurous side that seeks out variety in products.

The new research from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University was recently posted online by the Journal of Consumer Psychology. It includes three experiments in which political conservatives prove they are more likely to choose a variety of consumer products than their liberal counterparts.

"Although political conservatives have been found in previous studies to have a higher desire for control, they have an even stronger motivation to follow when there is no threat to the system or individual," explains Naomi Mandel, professor in the W. P. Carey School of Business, one of the study authors. "Since we have a very individualistic culture in the United States and Europe, people tend to think of others more favorably when they include more variety in their consumption choices. Therefore, political conservatives may seek out that approval and positive evaluation."

In a series of experiments, Mandel and her co-author - Daniel Fernandes, assistant professor of the Catholic University of Portugal - found political conservatives wanted more variety in their products than liberals.

For example, the researchers first used several established scales to question and determine the political leanings of 192 college undergraduates. Then, they told the students to imagine four consecutive weekly trips during which they could select from four brands of snack chips. Overwhelmingly, the politically conservative students chose more variety in their chips for the month than the more liberal students did.

In another experiment, 111 undergrads were polled for their political leanings. Then, they completed other tasks before ultimately being asked to select three candy bars from five options as a reward for participating. Again, the political conservatives exhibited much more variety in the candy bars chosen.

"Differences between liberals and conservatives are rooted in basic personality dispositions that reflect and reinforce differences in fundamental psychological needs and motives," says Mandel. "We wanted to understand how and why a consumer's political ideology could affect his or her ."



Greek leeches

By economic historian Martin Hutchinson

"We are not worried. Our team is strong. We have Icarus in the wings" chortled Greek leftist Alexis Tsipras after his election victory. You'd think a Greek would remember that Icarus fell to a watery grave when his wings melted – the country's education system is clearly not what it was. All the same, apart from a few cheap laughs, it's worth reflecting what his victory will bring both Greece and the rest of Europe.

Greece has been a problem for the EU ever since it joined in 1981. The 1980s prime minister Andreas Papandreou was both highly corrupt and thoroughly anti-Western, and developed considerable skill in sucking subsidies and special deals for both Greece and his cronies out of the Brussels bureaucracy. (At that time Greece was both small and much poorer than any other EU member, so playing to the liberal conscience in Brussels generally worked well – it was only taxpayers' money, after all.)

By 2008, buoyed by EU subsidies, Greece had achieved a per capita GDP of $32,000. That was higher than all of central Europe and about three times the level of its neighbors Bulgaria, Macedonia and Romania, all of which had been capitalist for a couple of decades by then and were considerably better run.

As an indication of how badly Greece was run even before Tsipras won last week's election, you can look at the ratings for the country by Transparency International, the Heritage Foundation and the World Bank, which between them cover the gamut of political/economic belief in the West. On Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index, Greece ranked 69th in 2014, equal with Bulgaria and Romania and below Macedonia. That's actually a 10-place improvement over 2010 – center-right prime minister Georgios Samaras had some genuine if modest progress to his credit. Heritage International's 2015 Index of Economic Freedom ranked Greece an appalling 130th, hugely below its Balkan neighbors, all of which ranked in the 50s. Finally, even the World Bank's left-friendly 2015 Ease of Doing Business ranking put Greece at #61 compared with Bulgaria, Macedonia and Romania at #38, #30 and #48 respectively.

Given those ratings, prepared by agencies varying in their worldviews, it's clear that Greece's purchasing power gross national income per capita, recorded by the World Bank at $25,700 in 2013, is still far too high compared with its fellow EU members Bulgaria at $15,200, Romania at $18,400, or better-run non-member Macedonia at $11,500. History has repeatedly shown that there is a limit on the living standards that can be achieved in kleptocratic states, in which there are few returns for legitimate innovation and business capability and massive rewards for insider dealing and corruption. Greece has since 1981 managed to suck resources out of its richer neighbors to raise living standards artificially far above that limit. Tsipras intends to demand a redoubling of that resource transfer; he must be resisted.

Tsipras is right that it is impossible to achieve through government cuts the further austerity needed to get Greek living standards to their appropriate level. The necessary adjustment must instead be achieved by Greece leaving the euro and allowing its currency to float downwards. Northern European taxpayers have been supporting this mess since 1981. Tsipras' election, against a government that was at least modestly improving Greece's position, means that it is time for them to stop doing so.

Tsipras has promised to increase tax compliance, as well as restoring many of the cuts in social programs that were made in the last few years. However, tax increases have already been tried by the previous government; while raising the tax to GDP ratio four percentage points to 33% from 2009 to 2012 that ratio appears to have topped out at that level and to be unable to rise further. Given Syriza's hostile attitude to private wealth, it's likely that tax flight will soar following their election and that Greek tax compliance, already abominable, will fall to hitherto unimagined levels.

After four years of grinding austerity, Greece is currently running a "primary surplus" on its budget. However this is a spurious statistic, much loved by spendthrift Brazilians; it actually means the country is running a massive deficit when interest on its huge debt is factored in. Given the likelihood of capital flight (which after all is a big problem in Russia, which ranked far above Greece on the Heritage survey and immediately below it on the World Bank one) tax collection is likely to decline rather than increase. Needless to say, one would be mad indeed to start a small business under a Syriza government. So a Greek debt crisis appears unavoidable, even with a helpful degree of laxity among the EU's paymasters.

Giving in to Tsipras would be bad news indeed for the euro's future and indeed for that of the EU. Spain's Podemos, which professes the same mad-left belief system as Tsipras' Syriza, would be immensely strengthened, probably sufficiently so as to win the next Spanish election, due later this year. Italy's feeble attempts at reform would halt altogether, as the innumerable special interests in that country would see a chance to preserve their privileges by leeching off northern European taxpayers. France would probably tip over into the ranks of the leechers from the shrinking group of northern European resource generators.

In such circumstances, the euro would be doomed. It's one thing to decree in an academic vacuum that a common currency requires income transfers from the richer states of Europe to the poorer; it's quite another to require such transfers in hard cash from the honest burghers of Munich, Amsterdam and Helsinki to prop up Tsipras and his corrupt leftist looters. Redistribution schemes are generally of pretty dubious morality. In this case the doubtful morality would be plain for all to see, and revulsion to it would be infinitely reinforced by a rebirth of nationalism, in itself healthy but devastatingly bad for trans-national projects such as the euro.

The other alternative would be to throw Greece out of the euro, which should have been done five years ago. It would probably not be necessary to throw Greece out of the EU; there are now enough corrupt ineptly-run Balkan members of the EU (with more to come) that Greece's approach to life sticks out less among the EU's other members than it did in 1981.

In 2010 it was disclosed that Greece was nowhere near fulfilling the Maastricht Criteria for euro membership and never had been and that its 2001 entry into the euro had been accomplished through accounting fraud abetted by Goldman Sachs. Rather than propping Greece up with huge subsidies and a debt renegotiation, on promises of better behavior in the future, the EU authorities should have realized that behavior sufficiently better as to solve Greece's problems was most unlikely to occur, and would cause huge political damage if it was attempted. Had Greece been thrown out of the euro in 2010, its necessary decline in living standards would have been imposed by devaluation of the "new drachma" rather than by the EU or its own government, and so much less political damage would have been caused.

If Greece were to exit the euro now, its currency the "new drachma" would decline rapidly to 50-60% of its previous value, as Greek living standards were brought in line with those of its neighbors in Bulgaria, Romania and Macedonia. Following this move, Greek small businesses would find their possibilities immeasurably increased and exporters would thrive, while imports became very expensive indeed for the Greek population. Of course, with Tsipras in power the benefits of this devaluation would almost certainly be absorbed in state bloat and yet further corruption, so that Greek living standards would decline yet further, but that's what the silly people voted for; they deserve it.

Meanwhile, the euro itself would be immeasurably strengthened, as the other weak sisters, seeing the decline in Greek living standards, would redouble their own efforts at public sector austerity. Provided Podemos was defeated in Spain later this year (which would be more likely to happen, since Syriza's success had led not to further handouts but to Greek impoverishment) both Spain and Italy should be able to right their economies with only modest additional effort. The recent revulsion against profligacy in France suggests that there, too, a Greek sacrifice should produce sufficient improvement.

This strengthening of the euro would not remove the political difficulties of the EU, notably the blatant expansionism of its monstrous bureaucracy, but it would provide the great majority of Europeans with a better, more disciplined future than would be available through more handouts. It would at least allow the euro to stagger on towards the next crisis, rather than collapsing as would be the inevitable end-result of a Greek bailout.

"Beware of Greeks bearing gifts" (Timeo Daneos et dona ferentes) wrote Vergil in the Aeneid two thousand years ago. The EU hasn't seen many gifts from Greece since 1981; instead there has been a steady procession of Greeks demanding gifts, ever more urgently. It's time for the handouts to stop.

Via email


When the levy breaks? NM legislator proposes eliminating almost all taxes

Calling New Mexico’s tax system “a mess,” a state senator proposes a plan to eliminate most levies in the Land of Enchantment.

“It’s difficult, it’s confusing, and it’s certainly not fair or simple,” State Sen. William Sharer, R-Farmington, said during a news conference Wednesday.

Brandishing a copy of the state’s 1,089-page tax code, Sharer claimed New Mexico could eliminate almost every tax currently levied by reforming the way it collects the gross receipts tax.

“No personal income tax, no corporate income tax, no compensating tax, no vehicle excise tax, no insurance premium tax and about a hundred other taxes go away,” Sharer said.

The GRT would stay, but would be reduced to 2 percent. Currently the state GRT is 5.125 percent, and additional taxes in counties and cities raises the rate in some municipalities to as high as 8.6875 percent.

Sharer cited a study by Lee Reynis at the University of New Mexico Bureau of Business and Economic Research that found a 2 percent GRT would generate more revenue than existing taxes do, provided that all exemptions, deductions and credits were eliminated from the GRT.

Currently, Sharer said, there are more than 300 exemptions, deductions and credits. If these were eliminated, the GRT would be sufficient to pay all the expenses of the state and local governments at current funding levels, without any cuts in spending.


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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, 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)


3 February, 2015

Will magnetic media create a black hole in the history of late 20th century creativity?

Apologies for that portentous heading but it does express a fear I have. Let me explain. Magnetic media came into their own during the late 20th century. First there were open reel tape-recorders for sound; then there cassette tapes for sound; then there were floppy disks for computer software, including games; then there were VHS video recorders for a full audio-visual experience. But all those are now obsolete. They were an advance for their times but have now been superseded by DVDs etc.

None of that would be any great problem except for one thing: Magnetic media degrade over time. That was recently brought home to me when I got out one of my old VCRs and set it up to play some video tapes of two Mozart operas that had been recorded about a quarter of a century ago. They were a professional production so should have been of good quality. Unfortunately they were only good in parts, as the curate said. At their best they reproduced about as well as a DVD but in other parts there was a lot of flicker, "snow" etc. And it was not the player that was at fault. More recent recordings were fine.

Yet the performances were good ones that deserved to be preserved. And, probably because they were great works by a very famous composer, they ARE now available on DVD (See here and here). But what of less famous works by less famous composers and performers? They must be on the brink of being lost forever. I think that is a great pity. Hopefully, all of the best of late 20th century creativity will be transferred to optical format before it is too late but I am pessimistic about most of it.

Interestingly, not all old audio-visual technology is so fragile. Sound and vision recorded on movie film is pretty long lasting, as is music recorded on the old black vinyl LPs.

Hard disks are also of course magnetic media but disk failure is frequent enough for most people to keep backups of everything -- so data on them is less likely to be irretrievably lost. I back up my more recent files onto DVDs several times a year.


Want to Defeat Terrorism? It’s Time to Go to the Source

by Michael Ledeen

Lots of well-known former foreign policy/national security officials don’t, or feel obliged to appear “realistic” (diplospeak for “don’t do anything, keep talking”). Some former military officers do, although only up to a point.

Three duly respected policy professionals, Denis Ross (Obama’s — and plenty of others’ — Middle East guru for a few years early on), Eric Edelman (Bush’s under secretary of defense and earlier ambassador to Turkey), and Ray Takeyh of the Council on Foreign Relations (who recently published a very important story detailing the background of the Iranian occupation of the US Embassy in Tehran in ’79), tell us it’s time to get tougher with Iran:

"[It's] time to acknowledge that we need a revamped coercive strategy, one that threatens what the Islamic Republic values the most—its influence in the Middle East and its standing at home."

In other words, threaten the regime itself and its foreign legions in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen. But just when you say to yourself, “Finally! They’re going to call for regime change,” they tiptoe delicately into dipspeak: “Iranian officials must come to understand that there will be no further concessions to reach an accord and that time is running out for negotiations.”
Further down, they return to the “we’re almost, kinda for regime change” theme:

"the United States should consider a political warfare campaign against Tehran to complement its economic sanctions policy. The administration officials and its broadcast services should draw attention to the unsavory nature of the theocratic regime and repressive behavior. Such language will not just showcase our values but potentially inspire political dissent."

As if the Iranian people needed the State Department and the appeasers at the feckless Persian service of the Voice of America to tear the blinders from their eyes and enable seem to see that they are living in misery under a hateful regime! If you really want to “inspire political dissent,” just do it. Call for the release of the opposition leaders, support the students’ and workers’ and women’s movements, and call for a national referendum on the legitimacy of the Islamic Republic.

But the three gurus aren’t calling for that. They have no apparent interest in real political warfare, except as part of the nuclear negotiations. They’re calling for some sort of military action in Syria and Iraq, not as a decisive blow to the expansionist activities of the Islamic Republic, but as an essential ingredient in the parlay with Zarif and Rouhani. Their main objective is to compel the Tehran regime to come to terms on the nuclear deal.

"A regime stressed at home and under pressure abroad may yet consider the price of its nuclear intransigence".

That won’t do, I’m afraid, because, as the Washington Post said in 2012, to get an end to the Iranian nuclear project, you have to have regime change in Tehran. To be sure, the destruction of the Assad regime would be a major step in that direction, but the three gurus don’t even mention that; nor, for that matter, does the exemplary General Robert Scales, although he has a better grasp of the dynamics of the Middle East war.

Scales, albeit using different language, stresses the importance of defeating the jihadis on the ground, in large part because defeat undermines their messianic world-view. He calls it depriving the enemy of “hope,” I call it a blow to their conviction that their bloody enterprise is blessed by Allah. It comes to the same thing:

"Think of hope as a material formed in a crucible over time by a series of successful terrorist strikes against the West and Western-affiliated countries in the Middle East. Since violent actions filled this crucible, only a violent military counterresponse can crack the crucible and empty it of hope. The object of a campaign against hope is not necessarily to kill in large numbers but rather to find the greatest vulnerability and shatter it dramatically and decisively.

The terrorist’s greatest source of hope today comes from Islamic State battlefield successes in Syria and Iraq. A defeat there cracks the crucible. The question is how to do it with enough drama and speed that terrorists the world over lose hope and become passive. From any perspective, the Islamic State enclave in Syria is militarily unassailable. But Iraq is a different story."

I certainly agree with the general’s main point — defeat of the enemy is very important, and when we defeat them it is not just a gain of terrain but also an ideological and political victory for our side — I think his context is too narrow, and I don’t share either his pessimism on Syria or his surprising optimism regarding Iraq.

I remain perplexed at the failure of our policy elite to advocate all-out political and military support for the Kurds. They are pro-Western, they are tough and brave, and their enemies in the region are ours: above all, Iran, Turkey and Syria. They are the most effective force against ISIS. Our failure to do more for them is yet further evidence of Obama’s grotesque alliance with the Iranians, from Syria and Iraq all the way down to Yemen.

In like manner, I don’t get the optimism about Iraq, which is effectively at the mercy of Iran, and therefore a totally unreliable force.

Why not go to the source, as my late boss General Alexander Haig loved to intone? Tehran is the source. Unmentioned by Scales, pigeonholed by the three gurus as a negotiating challenge rather than the terror master of the world, its defeat should be the West’s central mission.



As usual, the Leftist response to criticism is attack, not thought

The latest from Britain, where the Labour Party is led by Ed Miliband, the hard-Left son of a prominent Marxist theoretician (Leftists love theory; the facts not so much). He has become increasingly unpopular and even party members have questioned his leadership. But let any outsider criticize him and ...

Labour went to war with Boots yesterday after the chemist chain warned of catastrophe if the party won the general election. Stefano Pessina, the firm’s acting boss, said Ed Miliband’s policies were ‘not helpful for business and not helpful for the country’.

Labour business spokesman Chuka Umunna hit back with a series of extraordinary attacks on Mr Pessina and his firm, which has 70,000 UK workers. He questioned whether Boots paid enough tax while fellow Labour MPs said they would not listen to a multi-millionaire who lived in ‘a big mansion’.

The extreme response will fuel claims that the party is anti-business and raise further doubts over Mr Miliband’s election strategy. The reaction also showed ‘staggering immaturity’ on the part of the Labour leadership, according to a former party adviser. As chaos in the Labour ranks escalated:

* Miliband allies were said to be plotting a way to keep him in place, even if Labour lose the election;

* The editor of the left-wing New Statesman said the leader had a ‘haunted’ look and even shadow chancellor Ed Balls had ‘all but given up’ on him;

* The party’s biggest private donor attacked Mr Miliband’s NHS and mansion tax policies;

* Lord Mandelson was accused of plotting to destabilise Mr Miliband;

* The party’s election campaign chief Douglas Alexander repeatedly refused to rule out a deal with Scottish nationalists in the event of a hung parliament.

Labour’s uneasy relationship with business exploded into the open thanks to the intervention of Mr Pessina, who heads Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc, owner of the biggest chain of UK chemists.

It is highly unusual for captains of industry to be so outspoken this close to an election.

But Mr Miliband has announced a series of policies taking aim at what he calls capitalist ‘predators’ across a range of industries from energy suppliers to private landlords.

Mr Pessina said: ‘If they acted as they speak, it would be a catastrophe. The problem is, would they act that way or not? One thing is to threaten and to shout, but it is completely different to be in charge and to manage the country day to day.’

Labour has previously had close links with Boots – former health secretary Patricia Hewitt worked for it as an adviser.

But last night Labour MPs tweeted criticisms of Mr Pessina, a 73-year-old Italian who is estimated to have a £7.5billion fortune. Ilford South MP Mike Gapes wrote: ‘Does Boots boss own a big mansion in UK? Does he pay income tax in UK? Does he vote in UK?’

Mr Umunna said: ‘It is important that the voice of business is heard during this general election campaign, not least on Europe. 'But the British people and British businesses will draw their own conclusions when those who don’t live here, don’t pay tax in this country and lead firms that reportedly avoid making a fair contribution in what they pay purport to know what is in Britain’s best interests.’

But former Labour adviser Dan Hodges said attacking Boots was a ‘mad, pitch-to-the-Greens and the left’ strategy, adding: ‘The immaturity that surrounds Labour’s political decision-making is simply staggering.’

John Mills, Labour’s biggest individual donor, said reports he had criticised Mr Miliband were ‘pure mischief-making’ but went on to raise doubts about key policies.

A spokesman for Walgreens Boots Alliance insisted Mr Pessina’s comments had been taken out of context, adding: ‘He is not campaigning against Ed Miliband or Labour.’

The company has been accused of trying to cut its UK tax bill by moving its HQ to Switzerland.

The firm’s spokesman said it was now paying more tax than it had as a listed company.



UK: Socialized medicine at work

If you are seriously ill, British government doctors often just want to kill you as not being worth their time. The evil "Liverpool pathway" -- where they bombed the elderly out with morphine and then let them die of thirst -- now seems to be gone but the underlying attitude remains

A father who doctors ‘gave up’ on following a stroke is now recovering after The Mail on Sunday highlighted his plight.

Doctors applied four times to place a ‘do not resuscitate’ order on the medical notes of Paul Scoble, 48, after he suffered the devastating stroke last August.

It meant they would not have tried to restart his heart if he had gone into cardiac arrest, and would have left him to die.

He was immobile, breathing through a ventilator and largely unable to communicate. Doctors at Basildon Hospital in Essex told Mr Scoble’s children, Danielle and Leon, to prepare for the worst and asked them to ‘seriously consider’ what their father’s life would be like if he did survive, the siblings said.

Besides suffering the stroke, Mr Scoble also had two leaky heart valves. The doctors resisted the idea of carrying out an operation to mend them and said the chances of him surviving it were slim. But Danielle and Leon refused to listen and contacted bosses at other hospitals to ask if they would operate.

After The Mail on Sunday highlighted their plight in November, medics at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London agreed to operate and he was transferred there.

Now, Mr Scoble, who runs a family import business with Danielle and Leon, is off a ventilator, eating and talking.

Last night he said: ‘I feel very lucky to be here and I owe my life to my family, friends, The Mail on Sunday and everyone at the Royal Brompton.

‘I am very disappointed at what happened to me at Basildon Hospital and what they put my family through, and I am quite shocked about how far this had to go before I could get the help I needed.’

Danielle, 29, said: ‘He is doing brilliantly – a million times better than how he was in Basildon. He is ever so grateful. He feels so lucky to have got out of there and had this operation.’



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, 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)


2 February, 2015

No math gene: Learning mathematics takes practice (??)

Dear me! We do have some nonsense below. A study making claims about genetics that in fact has no genetic data is the first surprise but the way they interpret their numbers is also remarkable. It is an extreme example of a common tendency among Leftists academics: The tendency to conclude what they want to conclude regardless of what the numbers say. Academics are almost all Leftists so they just KNOW what the truth is, and who cares about evidence? It is reminiscent of the way some climate scientists interpret temperature changes amounting to only hundredths of one degree as catastrophic.

What these authors found was that ability at different mathematical tasks correlated at around .50. To anybody else that would be a high correlation but they report it as if it were no relationship! I could easily go on to criticize other aspects of the study (e.g. sampling) but what they in fact found was only a small departure from what others before them have found so there is no point. The results are entirely in keeping with there being a "mathematical gene" or complex of genes. The only slightly surprising thing about the study is the dogged refusal of the authors to face the facts. But as Leftists that is really no surprise at all.

Excerpt from a report in phys.org below followed by the journal abstract. The original article appeared in an "author pays" journal so it is a bit surprising that phys.org seized on such rubbish. I guess that they are Leftist too.

New research at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim could have an effect on how math is taught.

If you want to be really good at all types of math, you need to practice them all. You can't trust your innate natural talent to do most of the job for you.

This might seem obvious to some, but it goes against the traditional view that if you are good at math, it is a skill that you are simply born with.

Professor Hermundur Sigmundsson at Department of Psychology is one of three researchers involved in the project. The results have been published in Psychological Reports

The researchers tested the math skills of 70 Norwegian fifth graders, aged 10.5 years on average. Their results suggest that it is important to practice every single kind of math subject to be good at all of them, and that these skills aren't something you are born with. "We found support for a task specificity hypothesis. You become good at exactly what you practice," Sigmundsson says.

Nine types of math tasks were tested, from normal addition and subtraction, both orally and in writing, to oral multiplication and understanding the clock and the calendar.

"Our study shows little correlation between (being good at) the nine different mathematical skills, Sigmundsson said.




H. Sigmundsson et al.


Individual differences in mathematical skills are typically explained by an innate capability to solve mathematical tasks. At the behavioural level, this implies a consistent level of mathematical achievement that can be captured by strong relationships between tasks, as well as by a single statistical dimension that underlies performance on all mathematical tasks. To investigate this general assumption, the present study explored interrelations and dimensions of mathematical skills. For this purpose, 68 ten-year-old children from two schools were tested using nine mathematics tasks from the Basic Knowledge in Mathematics Test. Relatively low-to-moderate correlations between the mathematics tasks indicated most tasks shared less than 25% of their variance. There were four principal components, accounting for 70% of the variance in mathematical skill across tasks and participants. The high specificity in mathematical skills was discussed in relation to the principle of task specificity of learning.



The Smart Way to Stop Illegal Immigration

The new Congress has come ready with some fresh ideas for immigration reform. Freshman Republican Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., said in a recent interview, “We have to start with a secure border, we have to start with a guest worker program.” Gardner is right to link border security with a guest worker visa program. The former cannot be achieved without the latter.

Gardner’s comments are an under appreciated bit of common sense in an immigration debate stubbornly stuck between the polar opposite demands for nearly unlimited border security from the populist Right and unconditional amnesty from the progressive Left. Neither position will stop illegal immigration.

Doubling down on enforcement by itself won’t work. Since 1992, there has been an almost 500 percent increase in the number of Border Patrol agents and patrol hours spent along the Southwest border. In 2014, apprehensions — a proxy measure of the number of illegal crossers — were little more than a fourth of their 2000 peak of 1.6 million. Last year’s apprehensions were almost 100,000 fewer than they were forty years ago in 1974.

Texas Republican Rep. Mike McCaul’s new Secure Our Borders First Act would amass dubious technologies at the border — fences and other security gimmicks that will have little impact on an already trivial flow of unlawful immigrants. Instead of beefing up security, a guest worker visa program could decrease illegal immigration even further. History provides a prime example.

In 1953, there were about 2 million illegal immigrants from Mexico in the United States. By 1955, the number had fallen 90 percent and the cross-border flow nearly ceased — all while the number of Border Patrol agents actually dropped. This turnaround was achieved by the expansion of the so-called “Bracero” guest worker visa program.

After the expansion, Mexican workers learned that they could get a work visa easily. The visa allowed American farmers to legally hire migrant workers with minimum government oversight. Border Patrol helped by handing illegal immigrants a Bracero visa at their worksites. Many times, Border Patrol even brought the workers to the border so they could take one step into Mexico and immediately into the U.S. legally — a process dubbed “walking around the statute.”

Once Mexican migrants realized it was simple and cheap to get a visa and American farmers realized they could hire all of the legal migrant workers they demanded, the illegal immigrant market virtually disappeared. At this point, Border Patrol and immigration enforcement focused on those few illegal immigrants that remained — a job made much easier, because Bracero shrunk their numbers so dramatically.

Bracero was ended in 1965, due primarily to opposition from labor unions. As a result, the number of illegal immigrants shot up after that year. This deprived American businesses of a legal way to hire migrants, and migrants of a safe and legal way to enter, ushering in the modern age of illegal immigration.

Enforcement is vital but it is merely an expensive band aid without a functional guest worker visa program. The government can’t get a handle on illegal immigration without a guest worker visa program to legalize much of the flow. A large and lightly regulated guest worker visa will drive would-be illegal immigrants into the legal system — an option that currently does not exist for them.

Amnesty has similarly failed to control illegal immigration — even when combined with more border security. The 1986 Ronald Reagan amnesty did both in spades but did not create a guest-worker visa. The number of illegal immigrants shot up after Reagan’s amnesty because the labor market demanded more workers but there was no legal way for them to come.

Bracero wasn’t a perfect guest worker visa, but its example shows how the opportunity for legal migration can crush illegal immigration. Gardner was right to link border security with a guest worker visa program. In practice, a functional guest worker visa makes border security possible. It’s high time Congress recognizes that.



Finally Someone on the Left Gets It: It’s Not “Violent Extremism,” It’s Radical Islam

You won’t hear me say that often, but when someone is right, they’re right.

Iraq War veteran and current Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-2) didn’t mince words in explaining how she feels about the Obama Administration’s insistence that we only refer to terrorists as “violent extremists” and not radical Islamists.

Secretary of State John Kerry has recently been on a PC trip of late doubling down on the Administration’s preferred euphemistic nomenclature, “violent extremism,” to describe those radical Islamists who are terrorizing, beheading, enslaving, and slaughtering thousands upon thousand around the globe in the name of Islam. Secretary Kerry recently said groups like ISIS and al Qaeda are “nothing more than a form of criminal anarchy–nihilism, which illegitimately claims an ideological and religious foundation.”

As the Washington Times reports, Representative Gabbard has had enough:

"This is not just about words," the Hawaii Democrat told Fox News' Greta Van Susteren. "It's not about semantics. It's really about having a real, true understanding of who our enemy is and how important that is, that we have to understand what their motivation is and what their ideology is — the radical Islamic ideology that is fueling them."

Ms. Gabbard took umbrage with Secretary of State John Kerry's recent assertion that the criminal conduct of terrorists with the Islamic State and al Qaeda is "rooted in alienation, poverty, thrill-seeking and other factors," which she said is flat-out wrong.

"If that's really the cause, then the solution would be just to give them a trophy, give them a hug, give them a good-paying job, $10,000, and a skateboard so they can go and get their thrills and say, 'OK, great, they are going to be happy and they won't be fighting anymore,'" she said. "That's not the case. … We've got to look at what their ideology is and how that's fueling these tragic attacks that keep on occurring."

Representative Gabbard gets it. You cannot defeat an enemy that you refuse to name.

We’re no more in some esoteric war against “violent extremism” than we are against pink flying unicorns. The fact of the matter is that there is a radical Islamic dogma that thousands of terrorists around the globe have committed their lives to.

It’s not “nihilistic,” which ironically means, “Rejecting all religious and moral principles in the belief that life is meaningless.” Radical Islamic terrorists are exactly the opposite. Theirs is an unyielding, dogmatic adherence to a particular interpretation of the Islamic religion where there meaning in life is to kill the infidel and bring about an Islamic state here on earth.

Representative Gabbard merely points out the deadly naivety of the Administration’s political correct blindness to the truth about the enemy we face.

Thankfully some on the Left, including Representative Gabbard and Bill Maher, are starting to get this. But it is going to take more than a handful on the Left to right the ship on this issue before it’s too late for America’s foreign policy and the world.



Freedom of religion is under attack in the District

America was founded on freedom of religion. But this freedom is under attack in Washington, DC. Two newly signed bills could set a precedent for other local governments to intervene in the religious beliefs of Americans.

The Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act: The bill forces pro-life employers in the District to cover elective, surgical abortions in their health plans.

The Human Rights Amendment Act: This bill forces educational organizations into promoting and condoning lifestyles, orientations, or belief that go against their religious convictions. Under the Human Rights Amendment Act, a religious school could be forced to host a gay pride day, “coming out” day, or support a student group dedicated to furthering LGBT activities.

Here’s the good news: Congress can stop this violation of liberty. Congress has the power to overturn any law made in Washington, DC. In order to stop this, lawmakers must introduce and pass a disapproval resolution for the two bills.



Memo To Obama: Man Up And Tell Bibi To Stay Home

An excerpt from the anti-Israel libertarian Justin Raimondo below. He seems to think it meaningful that Leftists (Indyk, Foxman) are critical of a GOP-run Congress. I would be surprised if they were anything else. But they are making a big noise about the issue so that does get attention

Sneaking around behind the President’s back to invite a foreign leader to address Congress – specifically for the purpose of undermining how the chief executive conducts US foreign policy – would normally be regarded by patriotic conservatives with unmitigated horror. Imagine, for example, if a Democratic Congress had invited Daniel Ortega to address the assembled solons back in the 1980s, when President Reagan was (covertly) funding and supporting a contra movement to overthrow the Sandinista regime. Heads would’ve exploded all across the political spectrum, not just on the right. While this example is somewhat more dramatic than House Speaker John Boehner’s invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – for the specific purpose of undermining the nuclear talks with Iran – it isn’t by much.

The Boehner ploy has split the pro-Israel community down the middle, with such stalwarts as the Anti-Defamation League’s Abe Foxman denouncing it as “ill-advised” and former US Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk – founder of the staunchly pro-Israel Saban Center at the Brookings Institution – saying:

“Netanyahu is using the Republican Congress for a photo-op for his election campaign, and the Republicans are using Bibi for their campaign against Obama. Unfortunately, the US relationship will take the hit. It would be far wiser for us to stay out of their politics and for them to stay out of ours.”



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, 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)


1 February, 2015

If Social Security was really about funding your retirement...

The more I see and hear about Social Security, the clearer it becomes how many people misunderstand it.

I'm 65 and a few months now; after some deliberation, I filed last month. My considerations: file now, and get a slightly smaller monthly check (and maybe lose part of it, since I'd continue to do at least some work on the books); or wait until I hit 66 in July ("full retirement" for my age-group), for a bigger monthly check and no real limits on what else I chose to earn, within reason.

I'm now waiting (finding other ways to cope) while they process the application, hoping all goes well and I have my first three months of "payback" in hand by mid-February.

I'm still editing part time, along with several months of full-time seasonal work to supplement things; once the regular checks start hitting my bank account, I might even put a little aside (yeah, sure!). I'm also thinking I could invest a little back into my long-dormant IRA account, or maybe put some cash into clean, full-band studio recordings of a couple of my better songs, then pitching those to create some residual income.

Meanwhile, by making $300-500 a month on top of the SSA checks, I can probably live fairly comfortably for my tastes, and I'm already three quarters of the way to that level, just with current recurring projects.

However, I still sometimes wish I could have held onto a bit more (or all?) of what I earned, and done it my way. . . .

If Social Security was really about funding your retirement, it would be a lot different. For one thing, it would be tied to some sort of investment process, so that at the very least the money taken out of your paycheck each time was earning at least a savings-bank level of interest. (If you recall your high school math classes, the concept of compound interest is what makes even the smallest regular infusion of cash into an account something to reckon with. See the example a few paragraphs below.)

A lot of folks try to make the point that the amount taken out for Social Security (then, since the mid-'60s, FICA) has always been a relative pittance, and that even when you double the figures (by including the so-called "employer share"), the grand total is far less than any of us might withdraw during our senior years. Some talk about how they "already got back what I paid in, even what my boss did," and pat themselves on the back for beating the system.

Unfortunately, this misses an important point: Had that "pittance" that was taken out over all those years (before you had a chance to decide where it might be better spent) been instead diverted into investment (even a simple 5% savings account, as once existed pretty much everywhere) it could now have been worth six figures (seven, in many cases)!

Yes, I know savings accounts have become worth less over time; so you could have moved it to a simple CD 20 years ago for that 5% (maybe 10% or more, given that you were leaving it there for several decades, while making regular additional contributions).

Do the math (no Common Core required!): On average, those small FICA deductions, amassed over 40-50 years of your working days, with nothing taken out before retirement, would have built to the higher six-figure levels if not higher, even under those limited conditions.

(Note that I didn't say it went into the stock market, where-with a little intelligent financial management, like getting out (or shifting to low-risk stocks, or even T-bills) during the the crashes and returning a while afterward-one could easily have generated well over a million dollars from those little pieces.

Let's use a low number, the one Obama threw out as "insufficient" in his State of the Union address: $15,000. The current "minimum wage" of $7.25 an hour, over 40 hours a week, would amount to . . . $290 a week, which times 52 equals . . . $15,080!

If you averaged $15,000 a year over your entire working life (most working folks exceed that at least a good part of that time, but again let's use the minimums), that's $1870 a year (the $935 taken from you, plus the added 6.2% your boss could have paid you instead it going to FICA); over 45 years, even at that measly 5%, that small investment becomes . . . $335,100.73! (It's a lot larger if you were to include the entire FICA deduction of 7.5%, doubled, but for now we'll stick with just the smaller amount.)

Let's say you now retire, then begin to take $1500 each month to live on fairly comfortably. (Remember, since you're not losing that 7.5% to FICA anymore, nor presumably any paying taxes on it, what was once a monthly gross of $1250 or less is now . . . a net of $1500!) On $335,000 and change, the interest alone (even at that measly 5%) is $16,755 a year, or $1396 a month; assuming this is your only source of income now (no part-time jobs, internet surveys, lottery tickets, etc.), perhaps you pull an extra $100 each month from that principal to stay on that $1500 monthly course (Again, you're now NETTING more than you were grossing with that $15,000 annual salary, and with no more FICA or withholding deductions being taken away it's even more!).

Whatever, the case, that principal will still remain in six figures for quite some time, even if it's now dwindling a bit faster (it would still be another 50 years or more before you began to run out of those invested funds). Meanwhile, want to spend more each month? There's always that part-time work (look for something online!), or you could even invest a little of what you already have in something slightly more risky-maybe buy a few shares of that latest high-tech IPO, the next Amazon, Facebook or Microsoft wanna-be?

I'm not going to claim there aren't lots of folks who wouldn't just piss it all away along the way if they were given this opportunity; maybe there must be some restrictions on what you can do with your own money. The fact remains, though: from the outset. there was never any choice given in the matter; Social Security got implemented and imposed, and that was that!

So much for the "entitlement" claims about all of this-even if, technically speaking, the program is and always has been administered as the definition of a Ponzi scheme (from before they started actually stealing from the "lockbox"): payments are transferred from the currently working (including us, if we still work part time?) to the non-working (retired, etc.).

Regardless of that, anything now coming back should be yours without question. The earning power that money could have had makes any trickle-back return now a small fraction of what the principal could have become. Meanwhile, with that investment to draw on all those years, who knows what ventures of your own you might have financed and succeeded at?

You could also have taken some time off earlier in life, while that nestegg continued to grow, for a "sabbatical" of sorts-living off the interest for a few months of travel, perhaps, or investing some of the principal in your own business, or an arts project. Maybe you'd just be able now to pass on some of this accumulated wealth to your kids and grandkids. Imagine the possibilities, using YOUR OWN money.

So what could be done now to remedy this travesty? The honest approach would be to fund the existing claims (at least for those over about age 50) from general revenues (which is where all that FICA money has gone already); younger workers should be allowed to keep their money, using it while knowing its intended purpose.

Maybe such a deal could be limited somewhat; perhaps it could only be used for further education, health crises . . . or retirement itself. It would still be more just, as a method for people working all their lives to prepare for an end to those days, as well as a comfortable seniority.

Let's also not forget the other half of this outrage: that "employer share" that's just as large as the wage deduction from the paycheck "earned" by the worker. That's part of what your boss had to allocate, allegedly on your behalf, to hire you; it could as easily gone right to your pocket, without harming the bottom line one bit!

(Again, it's likely this money would also be restricted, but it could at least form the baseline of a personal account for each employee, just as easily as it's now being funneled off through the SSA and Medicare accounts, then ending up paying for wars and corporate welfare.)

This writer has actually done a fair amount of thinking on this subject, for about three decades as of this article. My continuing thoughts on the matter involve "putting a floor on FICA": Up to a certain level of annual income, NO deductions would be taken from a paycheck-for anyone. (Stay tuned for my forthcoming e-book to get a more detailed discussion on this; I'm rewriting the original essay a bit.)

To begin with, those who remain at low income levels throughout their shortened lifetimes rarely live long enough to collect on it, yet the first dollar they make loses seven-and-a-half cents (while another equal amount that could be going into their pockets is also taken from the employer's funds). Consider also, at the upper end of the income spectrum, FICA deductions now cease entirely once you ?earn' over $118,500.

This means that anyone who's truly well-to-do (and least likely to miss it?) doesn't pay this little bit on those higher earnings, while remaining eligible for full SSA payments at retirement anyway.

Some "progressive" pundits have claimed that the solution to the current "shortfall" in Social Security (caused by both pilfering by other government programs and the rise and fall of population demographics) should be to raise this "ceiling," continuing to deduct FICA from these higher incomes. Whether or not they do that, they should clearly be raising the "floor" at the same time.

Let's postulate that "floor" as $15,000 a year-no windfall, but something livable for most of us. This would mean anyone making that much or less in a given year would have NO deductions taken from a paycheck for ?FICA payments,' an idea which is both entirely just and a good way to stop penalizing the "working poor" (Since those remaining at that level for more than a few working years rarely live long enough to collect it anyway, why steal from the poor to keep the middle and upper classes comfy?).

However, if it were run equitably, this measure would also apply to the first $15K anyone made each year. (Additionally, let's put that "employer share" on the same set of scales, letting that "contribution" remain in each worker's personal savings account, for medical, educational or retirement purposes; even those low-income workers could then accrue something for the long term, as would every other working person on the books.)



Fast track too risky

It asks us to trust President Slimy

U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Michael Froman appeared before Congress Tuesday to make the corporate argument for “fast track” trade promotion authority. The USTR and President Obama are pushing fast-track pre-approval for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and other big “trade” agreements they are working on. The Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable and other corporate groups and lobbyists are also pushing hard for Congress to pass fast track.

The promoters of fast track say we need it to push “trade” agreements through Congress to expand trade and increase exports. “What we’re going to do through this trade agreement is open up markets,” Froman told Congress Tuesday, “and then level the playing field so we can protect workers, protect American jobs and then ensure a fair and level playing field by raising labor and environmental standards, raising intellectual property rights, standards and enforcement, making sure that we’re putting disciplines on state-owned enterprises that pose a real threat to workers.”

These corporate arguments (you can see them in this Chamber of Commerce slide show “Ten Reasons Why America Needs Trade Promotion Authority”) just make me more skeptical of what they are selling. Here’s why.

1) President Obama, trade representative Froman, the Chamber of Commerce and others repeat the talking point, “95 percent of the world’s markets are outside the U.S..” This makes me skeptical of what they are selling because it is a “look over there at that shiny object” argument.

Saying that 95 percent of the world’s markets are outside the U.S. implies that we need TPP and other agreements because we are currently not selling goods to 95 percent of the world. This is patently false. We sell goods and services around the world already. In fact, it contradicts other corporate arguments for these agreements like, “More than 38 million American jobs already depend on trade.”

This argument deceives people about the very nature of these agreements. Most of the objections being voiced over these coming agreements are about non-trade issues. Only five of TPP’s 29 chapters deal with what people understand as “trade.” So an argument that TPP and similar agreements will “expand trade” masks what the bulk of these agreements are really about, which is getting governments off the backs of the giant corporations and protecting their profits from competition and democratic regulation.

Just one example of this is the “investor-state dispute settlements” provision, which I have called “corporate courts.” This part of “NAFTA-style” trade agreements, including TPP, allows corporations to sue governments that pass laws and regulations that interfere with profits. Similar clauses in trade agreements around the world have, for example, enabled tobacco companies to sue governments for trying to protect the health of their citizens. Under TPP these suits will be adjudicated by corporate attorneys, not democratically constituted courts.

Other examples are expanded copyright and patent protection for the giant multinationals, which will increase the cost of pharmaceutical products and potentially restrict the freedom of the Internet.

Obviously the corporate advocates of these agreements want this, so they are using distraction, diversion and shiny promises of increased trade and more jobs to sell the agreements.

2) Froman, testifying before the Senate Tuesday, said that we need these new agreements because our country has low tariffs and other barriers to entry while many countries we trade with have high tariffs and barriers to entry.

Wait, back up, he is saying that other countries have high tariffs and barriers to entry but we let goods from those countries into our country with low tariffs and few barriers? What? Doesn’t this undermine our country? Don’t low import tariffs cost badly needed revenue and enable offshoring of jobs and factories? Isn’t this a recipe for imbalance, job loss and huge trade deficits? (And don’t we have imbalance, job loss and huge trade deficits as a result of that recipe?)

In other words, he is saying that the U.S. has been an absolute and complete patsy on trade. And obviously we have been paying the price. Our government hasn’t enforced trade balance and hasn’t protected American interests, which has cost us wages, jobs, factories and entire industries. We have an enormous, humongous trade deficit and that has lowered our standard of living, and driven inequality. Trade agreements haven’t fixed this — recent trade agreements like NAFTA and South Korea have worsened this problem, with more job loss and even larger trade deficits.

Is there a section of these new agreements – the five of 23 chapters that are actually about trade, anyway – that requires that trade be balanced so we can stop losing jobs, wages, factories and industries? TPP is still secret, so we don’t really know. And fast track doesn’t give us time to find out once we do see the agreement, and doesn’t allow us to fix it if it doesn’t require balance.

What is needed is for the the contents of the TPP agreements to be made public now and for stakeholders like labor, environmental, consumer, democracy, health and all other groups to be part of the process right now. Then, when an agreement is concluded, Congress and the public need adequate time to fully analyze and discuss these agreements and their implications. Finally, Congress should be able to fix problems with the agreements to bring them in line with the interests of all Americans.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, 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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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.

Leftists are the "we know best" people, meaning that they are intrinsically arrogant. Matthew chapter 6 would not be for them. And arrogance leads directly into authoritarianism

Leftism is fundamentally authoritarian. Whether by revolution or by legislation, Leftists aim to change what people can and must do. When in 2008 Obama said that he wanted to "fundamentally transform" America, he was not talking about America's geography or topography but rather about American people. He wanted them to stop doing things that they wanted to do and make them do things that they did not want to do. Can you get a better definition of authoritarianism than that?

And note that an American President is elected to administer the law, not make it. That seems to have escaped Mr Obama

That Leftism is intrinsically authoritarian is not a new insight. It was well understood by none other than Friedrich Engels (Yes. THAT Engels). His excellent short essay On authority was written as a reproof to the dreamy Anarchist Left of his day. It concludes: "A revolution is certainly the most authoritarian thing there is; it is the act whereby one part of the population imposes its will upon the other part by means of rifles, bayonets and cannon — authoritarian means"

Conservatives adapt to the world they live in. Leftists want to change the world to suit themselves

Given their dislike of the world they live in, it would be a surprise if Leftists were patriotic and loved their own people. Prominent English Leftist politician Jack Straw probably said it best: "The English as a race are not worth saving"

Why do conservatives respect tradition and rely on the past in many ways? Because they want to know what works and the past is the chief source of evidence on that. Leftists are more faith-based. They cling to their theories (e.g. global warming) with religious fervour, even though theories are often wrong

"The best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley"[go oft astray] is a well known line from a famous poem by the great Scottish poet, Robert Burns. But the next line is even wiser: "And leave us nought but grief and pain for promised joy". Burns was a Leftist of sorts so he knew how often theories fail badly.

Thinking that you "know best" is an intrinsically precarious and foolish stance -- because nobody does. Reality is so complex and unpredictable that it can rarely be predicted far ahead. Conservatives can see that and that is why conservatives always want change to be done gradually, in a step by step way. So the Leftist often finds the things he "knows" to be out of step with reality, which challenges him and his ego. Sadly, rather than abandoning the things he "knows", he usually resorts to psychological defence mechanisms such as denial and projection. He is largely impervious to argument because he has to be. He can't afford to let reality in.

MESSAGE to Leftists: Even if you killed all conservatives tomorrow, you would just end up in another Soviet Union. Conservatives are all that stand between you and that dismal fate. And you may not even survive at all. Stalin killed off all the old Bolsheviks.


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)

Just the name of Hitler's political party should be sufficient to reject the claim that Hitler was "Right wing" but Leftists sometimes retort that the name "Democratic People's Republic of Korea" is not informative, in that it is the name of a dismal Stalinist tyranny. But "People's Republic" is a normal name for a Communist country whereas I know of no conservative political party that calls itself a "Socialist Worker's Party". Such parties are in fact usually of the extreme Left (Trotskyite etc.)

Most people find the viciousness of the Nazis to be incomprehensible -- for instance what they did in their concentration camps. But you just have to read a little of the vileness that pours out from modern-day "liberals" in their Twitter and blog comments to understand it all very well. Leftists haven't changed. They are still boiling with hate

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."

The Zimmerman case is an excellent proof that the Left is deep-down racist

Defensible and indefensible usages of the term "racism"

The book, The authoritarian personality, authored by T.W. Adorno et al. in 1950, has been massively popular among psychologists. It claims that a set of ideas that were popular in the "Progressive"-dominated America of the prewar era were "authoritarian". Leftist regimes always are authoritarian so that claim was not a big problem. What was quite amazing however is that Adorno et al. identified such ideas as "conservative". They were in fact simply popular ideas of the day but ones that had been most heavily promoted by the Left right up until the then-recent WWII. See here for details of prewar "Progressive" thinking.

Leftist psychologists have an amusingly simplistic conception of military organizations and military men. They seem to base it on occasions they have seen troops marching together on parade rather than any real knowledge of military men and the military life. They think that military men are "rigid" -- automatons who are unable to adjust to new challenges or think for themselves. What is incomprehensible to them is that being kadaver gehorsam (to use the extreme Prussian term for following orders) actually requires great flexibility -- enough flexibility to put your own ideas and wishes aside and do something very difficult. Ask any soldier if all commands are easy to obey.

It would be very easy for me to say that I am too much of an individual for the army but I did in fact join the army and enjoy it greatly, as most men do. In my observation, ALL army men are individuals. It is just that they accept discipline in order to be militarily efficient -- which is the whole point of the exercise. But that's too complex for simplistic Leftist thinking, of course

R.I.P. Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet deposed a law-defying Marxist President at the express and desperate invitation of the Chilean parliament. Allende had just burnt the electoral rolls so it wasn't hard to see what was coming. Pinochet pioneered the free-market reforms which Reagan and Thatcher later unleashed to world-changing effect. That he used far-Leftist methods to suppress far-Leftist violence is reasonable if not ideal. The Leftist view that they should have a monopoly of violence and that others should follow the law is a total absurdity which shows only that their hate overcomes their reason

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.

Judged by his deeds, Abraham Lincoln was one of the bloodiest villains ever to walk the Earth. See here. 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?

Conrad Black on the Declaration of Independence

Malcolm Gladwell: "There is more of reality and wisdom in a Chinese fortune cookie than can be found anywhere in Gladwell’s pages"


The 10 "cannots" (By William J. H. Boetcker) that Leftist politicians ignore:
*You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
* You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
* You cannot help little men by tearing down big men.
* You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
* You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
* You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money.
* You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
* You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.
* You cannot build character and courage by destroying men's initiative and independence.
* And you cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves.

A good short definition of conservative: "One who wants you to keep your hand out of his pocket."

Beware of good intentions. They mostly lead to coercion

A gargantuan case of hubris, coupled with stunning level of ignorance about how the real world works, is the essence of progressivism.

The U.S. Constitution is neither "living" nor dead. It is fixed until it is amended. But amending it is the privilege of the people, not of politicians or judges

It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong - Thomas Sowell

Leftists think that utopia can be coerced into existence -- so no dishonesty or brutality is beyond them in pursuit of that "noble" goal

"England is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality. In left-wing circles it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman and that it is a duty to snigger at every English institution" -- George Orwell

Was 16th century science pioneer Paracelsus a libertarian? His motto was "Alterius non sit qui suus esse potest" which means "Let no man belong to another who can belong to himself."

"When using today's model of society as a rule, most of history will be found to be full of oppression, bias, and bigotry." What today's arrogant judges of history fail to realize is that they, too, will be judged. What will Americans of 100 years from now make of, say, speech codes, political correctness, and zero tolerance - to name only three? Assuming, of course, there will still be an America that we, today, would recognize. Given the rogue Federal government spy apparatus, I am not at all sure of that. -- Paul Havemann

Economist Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973): "The champions of socialism call themselves progressives, but they recommend a system which is characterized by rigid observance of routine and by a resistance to every kind of improvement. They call themselves liberals, but they are intent upon abolishing liberty. They call themselves democrats, but they yearn for dictatorship. They call themselves revolutionaries, but they want to make the government omnipotent. They promise the blessings of the Garden of Eden, but they plan to transform the world into a gigantic post office."

It's the shared hatred of the rest of us that unites Islamists and the Left.

American liberals don't love America. They despise it. All they love is their own fantasy of what America could become. They are false patriots.

The Democratic Party: Con-men elected by the ignorant and the arrogant

The Democratic Party is a strange amalgam of elites, would-be elites and minorities. No wonder their policies are so confused and irrational

Why are conservatives more at ease with religion? Because it is basic to conservatism that some things are unknowable, and religious people have to accept that too. Leftists think that they know it all and feel threatened by any exceptions to that. Thinking that you know it all is however the pride that comes before a fall.

The characteristic emotion of the Leftist is not envy. It's rage

Leftists are committed to grievance, not truth

The British Left poured out a torrent of hate for Margaret Thatcher on the occasion of her death. She rescued Britain from chaos and restored Britain's prosperity. What's not to hate about that?

Something you didn't know about Margaret Thatcher

The world's dumbest investor? Without doubt it is Uncle Sam. Nobody anywhere could rival the scale of the losses on "investments" made under the Obama administration

"Behind the honeyed but patently absurd pleas for equality is a ruthless drive for placing themselves (the elites) at the top of a new hierarchy of power" -- Murray Rothbard - Egalitarianism and the Elites (1995)

A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money. -- G. Gordon Liddy

"World socialism as a whole, and all the figures associated with it, are shrouded in legend; its contradictions are forgotten or concealed; it does not respond to arguments but continually ignores them--all this stems from the mist of irrationality that surrounds socialism and from its instinctive aversion to scientific analysis... The doctrines of socialism seethe with contradictions, its theories are at constant odds with its practice, yet due to a powerful instinct these contradictions do not in the least hinder the unending propaganda of socialism. Indeed, no precise, distinct socialism even exists; instead there is only a vague, rosy notion of something noble and good, of equality, communal ownership, and justice: the advent of these things will bring instant euphoria and a social order beyond reproach." -- Solzhenitsyn

"The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left." -- Ecclesiastes 10:2 (NIV)

My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government. -- Thomas Jefferson

"Much that passes as idealism is disguised hatred or disguised love of power" -- Bertrand Russell

Evan Sayet: The Left sides "...invariably with evil over good, wrong over right, and the behaviors that lead to failure over those that lead to success." (t=5:35+ on video)

The Republicans are the gracious side of American politics. It is the Democrats who are the nasty party, the haters

Wanting to stay out of the quarrels of other nations is conservative -- but conservatives will fight if attacked or seriously endangered. Anglo/Irish statesman Lord Castlereagh (1769-1822), who led the political coalition that defeated Napoleon, was an isolationist, as were traditional American conservatives.

Some 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


The Bible is an Israeli book

To me, hostility to the Jews is a terrible tragedy. I weep for them at times. And I do literally put my money where my mouth is. I do at times send money to Israeli charities

My (Gentile) opinion of antisemitism: The Jews are the best we've got so killing them is killing us.

"And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" -- Genesis 12:3

"O pray for the peace of Jerusalem: They shall prosper that love thee" Psalm 122:6.

If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy -- Psalm 137 (NIV)

Israel, like the Jews throughout history, is hated not for her vices but her virtues. Israel is hated, as the United States is hated, because Israel is successful, because Israel is free, and because Israel is good. As Maxim Gorky put it: “Whatever nonsense the anti-Semites may talk, they dislike the Jew only because he is obviously better, more adroit, and more willing and capable of work than they are.” Whether driven by culture or genes—or like most behavior, an inextricable mix—the fact of Jewish genius is demonstrable." -- George Gilder

To Leftist haters, all the basic rules of liberal society — rejection of hate speech, commitment to academic freedom, rooting out racism, the absolute commitment to human dignity — go out the window when the subject is Israel.

I have always liked the story of Gideon (See Judges chapters 6 to 8) and it is surely no surprise that in the present age Israel is the Gideon of nations: Few in numbers but big in power and impact.

If I were not an atheist, I would believe that God had a sense of humour. He gave his chosen people (the Jews) enormous advantages -- high intelligence and high drive -- but to keep it fair he deprived them of something hugely important too: Political sense. So Jews to this day tend very strongly to be Leftist -- even though the chief source of antisemitism for roughly the last 200 years has been the political Left!

And the other side of the coin is that Jews tend to despise conservatives and Christians. Yet American fundamentalist Christians are the bedrock of the vital American support for Israel, the ultimate bolthole for all Jews. So Jewish political irrationality seems to be a rather good example of the saying that "The LORD giveth and the LORD taketh away". There are many other examples of such perversity (or "balance"). The sometimes severe side-effects of most pharmaceutical drugs is an obvious one but there is another ethnic example too, a rather amusing one. Chinese people are in general smart and patient people but their rate of traffic accidents in China is about 10 times higher than what prevails in Western societies. They are brilliant mathematicians and fearless business entrepreneurs but at the same time bad drivers!

Conservatives, on the other hand, could be antisemitic on entirely rational grounds: Namely, the overwhelming Leftism of the Diaspora Jewish population as a whole. Because they judge the individual, however, only a tiny minority of conservative-oriented people make such general judgments. The longer Jews continue on their "stiff-necked" course, however, the more that is in danger of changing. The children of Israel have been a stiff necked people since the days of Moses, however, so they will no doubt continue to vote with their emotions rather than their reason.

I despair of the ADL. Jews have enough problems already and yet in the ADL one has a prominent Jewish organization that does its best to make itself offensive to Christians. Their Leftism is more important to them than the welfare of Jewry -- which is the exact opposite of what they ostensibly stand for! Jewish cleverness seems to vanish when politics are involved. Fortunately, Christians are true to their saviour and have loving hearts. Jewish dissatisfaction with the myopia of the ADL is outlined here. Note that Foxy was too grand to reply to it.

Fortunately for America, though, liberal Jews there are rapidly dying out through intermarriage and failure to reproduce. And the quite poisonous liberal Jews of Israel are not much better off. Judaism is slowly returning to Orthodoxy and the Orthodox tend to be conservative.

The above is good testimony to the accuracy of the basic conservative insight that almost anything in human life is too complex to be reduced to any simple rule and too complex to be reduced to any rule at all without allowance for important exceptions to the rule concerned

Amid their many virtues, one virtue is often lacking among Jews in general and Israelis in particular: Humility. And that's an antisemitic comment only if Hashem is antisemitic. From Moses on, the Hebrew prophets repeatedy accused the Israelites of being "stiff-necked" and urged them to repent. So it's no wonder that the greatest Jewish prophet of all -- Jesus -- not only urged humility but exemplified it in his life and death

"Why should the German be interested in the liberation of the Jew, if the Jew is not interested in the liberation of the German?... We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time... In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.... Indeed, in North America, the practical domination of Judaism over the Christian world has achieved as its unambiguous and normal expression that the preaching of the Gospel itself and the Christian ministry have become articles of trade... Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist". Who said that? Hitler? No. It was Karl Marx. See also here and here and here. For roughly two centuries now, antisemitism has, throughout the Western world, been principally associated with Leftism (including the socialist Hitler) -- as it is to this day. See here.

Karl Marx hated just about everyone. Even his father, the kindly Heinrich Marx, thought Karl was not much of a human being

Leftists call their hatred of Israel "Anti-Zionism" but Zionists are only a small minority in Israel

Some of the Leftist hatred of Israel is motivated by old-fashioned antisemitism (beliefs in Jewish "control" etc.) but most of it is just the regular Leftist hatred of success in others. And because the societies they inhabit do not give them the vast amount of recognition that their large but weak egos need, some of the most virulent haters of Israel and America live in those countries. So the hatred is the product of pathologically high self-esteem.

Their threatened egos sometimes drive Leftists into quite desperate flights from reality. For instance, they often call Israel an "Apartheid state" -- when it is in fact the Arab states that practice Apartheid -- witness the severe restrictions on Christians in Saudi Arabia. There are no such restrictions in Israel.

If the Palestinians put down their weapons, there'd be peace. If the Israelis put down their weapons, there'd be genocide.

Alfred Dreyfus, a reminder of French antisemitism still relevant today

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" -- and that preference has NOTHING to do with an American soap opera that featured a character who was referred to in that way

Index page for this site


"Tongue Tied"
"Dissecting Leftism" (Backup here)
"Australian Politics"
"Education Watch International"
"Political Correctness Watch"
"Greenie Watch"
Western Heart


"Marx & Engels in their own words"
"A scripture blog"
"Some memoirs"
To be continued ....
Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).
Queensland Police -- A barrel with lots of bad apples
Australian Police News
Paralipomena (3)
Of Interest


"Food & Health Skeptic"
"Eye on Britain"
"Immigration Watch International".
"Leftists as Elitists"
Socialized Medicine
QANTAS -- A dying octopus
BRIAN LEITER (Ladderman)
Obama Watch
Obama Watch (2)
Dissecting Leftism -- Large font site
Michael Darby
Paralipomena (2)
AGL -- A bumbling monster
Telstra/Bigpond follies
Optus bungling
Vodafrauds (vodafone)
Bank of Queensland blues

There are also two blogspot blogs which record what I think are my main recent articles here and here. Similar content can be more conveniently accessed via my subject-indexed list of short articles here or here (I rarely write long articles these days)

Main academic menu
Menu of recent writings
basic home page
Pictorial Home Page
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: