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

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

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29 February, 2016

Ho Hum! More Leftist nonsense about IQ

As with Leftists in general you have to look past what the author below says to what he doesn't say.  It is true that tracking down a particular gene for any given type of behavior is in its infancy, though some progress has been made with IQ. But we don't need to know that.   We can assess inheritance by twin studies.  And for many years now we have found that identical twins reared apart are amazingly similar whereas non-identical twins reared apart can be quite different.  And that shows how much we owe to our genes.  In the case of IQ the twin studies indicate that about two thirds of it is inherited.

The author  below, Oliver James, refers to Prof. Robert Plomin, a leading behaviour geneticist, but he totallly misrepresents what Plomin says.  Plomin is a very active researcher and I read his papers frequently.  He is the last person to deny genetic influences on behaviour.  He studies them all the time. There is no point in listing his academic articles here but you can find here an article in which he discusses his research and conclusions.  Believe Plomin on Plomin, not some Leftist nutter. 

See also my recent comment on Plomin's work here.  It gives the link to Plomin's own comprehensive study. 

You would not guess it from Mr James's deceptions but there is in fact a steady stream of findings coming out all the time about IQ and its genetic base.  I have collected my various posts over the last couple of years on the subject into a single blog, an IQ blog.  I have done that mainly for my personal ease of reference but I think anybody browsing through the entries there will  be amazed at the wide-ranging influence of IQ.

Mr James is just a liar.  He says he had a difficult childhood.  I believe it

When I was ten, my parents were informed by my headmaster that I was born stupid, and would have to move to a school for the congenitally defective.

To be fair, I was a badly behaved slacker who was always at or near the bottom of every class (the weekly beatings did not help). But the interesting thing is that it was not my genes that made me a thicko.

Although hardly anyone outside the world of science is aware of it, research in the past decade has proved for the first time that no one is made dim or bright by their genes, or for that matter, mad or sane.

It’s finally being established that your character and mentality is not in your genes. The age-old nature-nurture debate is over, and nurture has won.

Don’t take my word for it: Professor Robert Plomin, a behavioural geneticist at King’s College, London, one of the world’s leading experts in this field, said last year: ‘I’ve been looking for these genes for 15 years and I don’t have any.’

Or look at the huge 2013 study of the genes of twins, whose title told you all you need to know: ‘No genetic influence for childhood behaviour problems from DNA analysis’. Many other studies have had similar findings.

Yes, significant genes for differences in physical traits, like height or eye colour, have been identified by the international quest for genes known as the Human Genome Project.

But no genes that matter have been found for psychological traits.



Economic Literacy 101

Do millennials really want the Big Government socialist policies Bernie and Hillary advocate?

Paul Driessen         

America’s 18- to 34-year-old “millennials” have been tutored in group-think schools that extol socialism. Now they lionize liberal politicians whose class-warfare prescriptions include taxing away all but maybe 1% of the nation’s 0.0001% billionaires’ wealth, then going after Wall Street, Big Business, millionaires and upper middle classes – and giving the “revenue” to those who “need” or “deserve” it more.

 The entire process revolves around three central questions. Which ruling class elites get to determine who loses, who wins, by how much? Who grants them the power to do so, and holds them accountable? And what happens when the inevitable discontent over their autocratic decisions boils over?

Interestingly, many of the same generation have flocked to see films that glorify individual liberty and defiance of centralized government control. In The Hunger Games, a few small gestures of disobedience grew into a revolution against Capital elites who lived well and ruled imperiously, while subjugated masses in the Districts starved in poverty and sent their children to die in televised “hunting games.”

In Divergent, a Faction system preserves a society that primarily benefits the ruling Erudites by stifling individuality. The heroes and heroines refuse to confine their lives and ambitions to only one of the other four factions in which they were placed at age sixteen. Again, the ruling class lives far better than the ruled masses. (Ponder the politicians, bureaucrats and lobbyists in counties around Washington, DC.)

Are so many millennials really willing to let ruling classes confiscate wealth, impose penalties, determine appropriate welfare payments, and dole out favors? Has their “education” made them incapable of understanding the blessings of liberty, free enterprise capitalism, reliable and affordable fossil fuel energy, and entrepreneurial opportunities? Have instructors so brilliantly presented socialism through rose-colored glasses that young voters are blissfully unaware of its abject failures and horrid excesses?

Are millennials perhaps a little schizophrenic – loving liberty in theory and celluloid, but content to live reality in the Districts, among the Amity and Abnegation Factions, enjoying the bread and circuses (welfare payments and show trials for humbled banker and corporate bigwigs) bestowed upon them? Or perhaps they assume they will be among the Capital’s Erudite and Candor classes, governing the rest of America, in the name of justice, fairness, diversity and equality?

They seem to view free or low-cost college tuition, child care, healthcare, food and housing – along with $15-per-hour “living wages” for entry-level jobs … six-figure incomes after college … and “safe zones” – as “basic constitutional rights.” But when they “feel the Bern,” have they pondered how this system must necessarily work in the Real World, where they will feel the actual burn?

As the late Southern Baptist pastor and author Adrian Pierce Rogers succinctly explained, the hard reality is that “government cannot give anything to anybody that it doesn’t first take from somebody else. What one person receives without working for another person must work for without receiving.”

That is precisely what Senator Sanders’ wealth taxation and redistribution scheme proposes to do. The problem, as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher astutely observed, “is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.” Even in the wealthy United States, “eventually” would come quickly, because socialism destroys the incentive to work, innovate, invest, take risks and create new wealth.

Ultimately, nations are left with a large and growing population of have-nots who demand more – when there is no “more” to be had. That is what Italy, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Venezuela and other socialist, populist, egalitarian paradises have been discovering.

They used to provide all kinds of free stuff. Today they are basket cases – struggling with anemic growth, recession, bankruptcy and government “junk” bonds that no sane investor wants.

Today, 59% of young Greeks are unemployed. Youth unemployment is 56% in Spain, 42% in Italy, 38% in Portugal. In Brazil, electricity rates soared 51% last year, food prices rose 15% and overall inflation stood at 11% – a vast improvement over its 5000% annual inflation rate (!) in the early 1990s but still awful. In all of Latin America, only Argentina at 27% and Venezuela at 200% had worse inflation.

American students are immersed in “sustainability” studies and projects, mostly based on still persistent notions that we are running out of essential resources and destroying Planet Earth. Those ideas are the foundation of policies and regulations that perpetuate what really is unsustainable: unemployment, government spending, anti-growth policies, and the anger and unrest they cause.

It may be, as Winston Churchill once observed, that “the inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of its blessings.” However, he continued, “the inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of misery and scarcity.” Unfortunately, simple, basic truths like this are rarely taught in our schools.

Students today want equality of outcomes, rather than of opportunities that yield positive outcomes and potentially rich rewards by dint of hard work. If millennials applied their socialist principle to grades – with all scores on exams and projects averaged out among the smart and less talented, the hard-working and deadbeat – shiftless classmates would be happy to coast along, once ambitious scholars would exert far less effort, and all would soon flounder in a sea of F’s.

Similarly, socialist policies stifle the innovation, economic growth and job creation that young people need if they are to get beyond minimum-wage service jobs, and out of their parents’ basements.

Free tuition? City University of New York had that for awhile, until 1976, when it ran out of money and the city nearly went bankrupt. Even Sanders admits his plan would cost yet another $750 billion over ten years. But perhaps it would work if half of the administrative positions were eliminated, faculty salaries got a 25 or 35% trimming, and sabbaticals came just once a decade.

Surely the “progressives” who rule our campuses – and try to ban and silence contrarian speakers like Ben Shapiro – would support this to ensure “free stuff.” Surely, the next Erudite and Candor egalitarians in The Capital would be content with salaries that are no higher than those of the masses they govern.

Bottom line, the bills must eventually be paid. Millennials may get free stuff today. But they and their children and grandchildren will pay for their freebies many times over, through higher taxes, increasing control over their lives, higher inflation, fewer jobs at reduced salaries, and lower living standards.

As to accountability, government excels at fining and jailing citizens and businessmen for violating any of the thousands of regulations that carry criminal sanctions, even if the “perpetrator” did not intend to violate the rule or had no clue that such a rule could possibly exist. But the ruling elites apply very different standards when the incompetent or criminal actions of their own agents are involved.

Thus a rancher is prosecuted for “terrorism” for accidentally burning 139 acres of national forests, but government officials get off scot-free when they torch 160,000 acres mere miles away. Citizens go to prison for inadvertently “impacting” wetlands, but EPA bureaucrats receive get a pass cards when they deliberately open an abandoned mine and unleash 3,000,000 gallons of toxic sludge. IRS directors simply “take the Fifth” after targeting conservatives and destroying records, and an OPM director resigns rather than testify about how her screw-ups let hackers get personnel records – while private citizens are hounded and threatened until they cave in or run out of money to defend themselves.

The more government control and socialist wealth redistribution we get, the worse these abuses become. Will the socialist voters demand accountability? Or do they simply not care when ruling elites and their cronies violate laws and abuse their public trust, to advance agendas or enrich and protect themselves?

All these questions would generate very interesting discussions with socialist candidates and voters.

Via email


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

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


28 February, 2016

You are not as rational as you think

The article below is unusually fair, considering that it comes from a psychologist at UCI (Peter Ditto) and there is much to applaud in it.  Its central idea, that reason is the servant of the emotions, goes all the way back to David Hume, one of the great British empiricist philosophers of the 18th century.

Ditto extends that thinking to say that political attitudes are not rational either and that they are essentially emotionally based.  As I have often pointed out that there is a large hereditary component in political attitudes, I of course agree with that and have often argued that political attitudes can only be explained at the psychological level.

What is conservative or Leftist in political party programs varies from time to time and place to place so searching for any consistency over time in either can seem a complete failure.  At the psychological level, however, I argue, there is plenty of consistency and order in what people believe.  At its simplest, conservatives are cautious and Leftists are angry.

Where I part company with Ditto is his claim that Left and Right are equally emotional and that their beliefs are therefore equally irrational. I would claim that the Left are much more emotional and therefore much more irrational.  We see that in the way Leftists fly into a rage and want to shut you up if ever you present facts that upset their beliefs. Just try to discuss the research on African IQ and you will rapidly find that out. What you find is that Leftists substitute abuse for rational argument.  Conservatives can get abusive too but normally only after they have presented fact-based arguments.  Leftists skip the fact-based argument part and go straight to rage. 

Any conservative blogger can tell you that comments and emails they get from Leftists are almost invariably of that sort. Any sort of reasoned submission from Leftists is so uncommon in  comments on my blog that the sole reasoned  comment I did once receive elicited a whole investigation of it and subsequent post on it from me.  Even then, however, the comment was mostly abusive.  It was just that I could see a reasonable point amid  the abuse.  See here for that episode.

Ditto has done quite a lot of research on his claims and I have read some of it.  You can find links to it here.  The framework for it the one put forward by Jonathan Haidt -- in which Leftists are said to be guided by only two moral principles while conservatives are guided by five.

As I have pointed out on previous occasions, the big problem with Haidt's research -- and the research of those who bob along in his wake -- is that it relies on questionnaires and therefore relies on people describing their thinking honestly.  And the human propensity to lie is so great that that is a rather heroic  assumption.   I did 20 years of questionnaire research from 1970 to 1990 that resulted in over 200 published academic journal articles. And I used all the tricks that psychologists know to catch and correct for dishonest responding.  And I concluded in the end that the whole effort was mostly a waste of time.

The thing that most convinced me that questionnaires are mostly useless came from the fact that my principal research interest was in authoritarianism and attitude to authority.  There can be few things more authoritarian than Communism or wanting to "fundamentally transform" America (Obama's promise), so one would expect Leftists to agree heartily with statements approving of authority and its exercise.  But they do not.  They deny having in their motivations anything like what they actually do in politics.  Their rage-filled motivations are just too dismal for them to admit -- even to themselves, probably.

So in studying the psychology of politics, I now look at what Leftists do and what policies they promote in actual electoral politics.  And I find that all the great tyrannies and political mass murders of the last century have been the work of people who preached some flavour of socialism -- from Lenin to Stalin to Hitler to Mao to Fidel Castro. And to this day American  Leftists speak kindly of the brutal Castro, with Obama's recent visit to Cuba  illustrating that for all to see.  So if that consistency of behavior among Leftists is not evidence of underlying rage and hate among them, I would like to see what would constitute better evidence.  That Leftists claim benevolent intentions is clearly just camouflage.  They want to destroy, not lift up.

The death penalty: does it deter crime? Climate change: are humans responsible? Guns: do their risks outweigh their benefits? You might think your understanding of political issues is based on solid, unbiased facts. You might be wrong.

“People think that they think like scientists,” said Professor Peter Ditto, who studies human judgment and decision making at UC Irvine. “But really they think like lawyers.”

“Scientists don't care what the answer is: they look at the data and draw a conclusion,” said Ditto. “Lawyers know the conclusion they want to reach, then they harness a bunch of facts to support that conclusion.”

And this, said Ditto, is how we construct our political facts, whether we realize we’re doing it or not.
America the polarized

Ditto’s research wasn’t always focused on politics – he started with a more general interest in denial and why people refuse to believe certain things even when presented with strong evidence. That led him to ask questions about health psychology.

“Why is it that when people get confronted with an illness, they sometimes say, ‘No, no, maybe that test is wrong’?” said Ditto. “What we want to believe changes how we think about the information that comes in.”

Then the hyperpolarized, hyperpartisan political environment of the U.S. caught his attention: It's an arena in which people’s emotions so clearly affect their judgements about what is true.

People expect political opinions to be biased, but facts are supposed to be facts: verifiable, unbiased.

“What's so striking is that the two sides have different sets of facts,” said Ditto. “Liberals and conservatives look at the same thing and see something very different. This is exactly the kind of motivated reasoning that I've always been interested in.”
Pot, meet kettle

Anyone who watches politics knows that biases are rampant on both sides of the political spectrum; pure objectivity and politics rarely mingle. But are either conservatives or liberals more biased than the other?

“What we find is both sides are equally biased in their own direction,” Ditto said.

People are savvy at spotting bias in other people’s arguments, but they consistently fail to recognize bias in themselves.

“Everybody is calling each other out for their own sins,” said Ditto. “In psychology we call it the ‘bias blind spot.’” [Freud called it "projection"]

For example, both liberals and conservatives claim freedom as one of their core values, and both sides have similar blind spots when it comes to freedom.

“We're happy to give freedom to people for the things that we think are morally right, and not for things we think are morally wrong,” said Ditto.

Conservatives push for economic freedom, but not freedom around things that they think are morally wrong, like gay marriage or abortions.

“Liberals show exactly the opposite pattern,” said Ditto. “They're comfortable with freedom when it comes to sexual behavior, and less so in economic behavior.”

How morals define your politics

Much of Ditto and his colleagues’ work centers on Moral Foundations Theory, a framework used by psychologists to conceptualize the core values that factor into human morality worldwide: harm, fairness, loyalty, authority/tradition, and purity.

“You see these in all sorts of different cultures. These are the five major things that morality tends to deal with, but different groups differ in how much they weight each of those different kinds of factors,” explained Ditto.

To dig into the details of how morals affect human behavior and political ideologies, Ditto and his collaborators at UC Irvine, New York University, the University of Virginia and the University of Southern California created the website www.yourmorals.org, where anyone online can fill out a series of psychological surveys related to morality. To date, over 600,000 have taken surveys on the site.

From the surveys, it’s relatively easy to pin where people lie on the political spectrum.

“Liberals essentially care about two things, when it comes to morality: harm and fairness. If it doesn't harm somebody or if it isn't unfair then it's morally okay to do,” said Ditto.

Conservatives, on the other hand, aren’t the polar opposite of liberals; they find all five factors to be important.

“Conservatives care about harm and fairness, just like liberals do, but they care more than liberals about group loyalty, authority and tradition, and about purity,” said Ditto.

When Ditto and his team looked through the results from the online surveys, the participants were predominantly liberal, but a third unexpected group participated in high numbers: libertarians.

“If you look at libertarians, they’re low on everything. Their worldview isn’t a deeply moral worldview, it’s more of a pragmatic, utilitarian worldview,” said Ditto.

Morals and practicality

Why don’t we seem to learn from past political mistakes? Because our morals determine the facts, not the other way around.

“What we find is that people's moral visions almost always cohere or are consistent with their practical beliefs. So the things they think are morally wrong, they think are practically ineffective,” said Ditto.

As an example, Ditto brings up waterboarding and controversial enhanced interrogation techniques.

“Almost everybody who thinks that torture is morally wrong also thinks it's practically ineffective. People who have less of a moral problem with it, very often think that it is effective,” said Ditto.

The same pattern is found when people are asked about the death penalty.

“People who think that the death penalty is wrong, also think it's practically ineffective, that it doesn't deter crime,” said Ditto.

Are conservatives anti-science?

Conservatives, particularly in the U.S., are often painted as being generally anti-science for their stances on issues like climate change. Science, ironically, says otherwise.

“It's wrong to say that one group devalues science more than the other,” says Ditto. “Both groups will accept scientific information if it supports what they want to believe, and they'll denigrate it if it doesn't.”

Ditto points to a classic study from researchers at Stanford published in 1979, in which they presented subjects with scientific information that either suggested capital punishment deterred crime or that it did not. The study was the same, only the conclusions were changed.

When asked if the study was a good study, the answers depended on the participants’ beliefs when they went in.

“You saw this wonderful pattern where everybody thought that the study was much better when it supported their side, and they thought it was a less good study when it supported the other side,” said Ditto.

Is there any common ground?

If liberals and conservatives can’t even agree on the basic facts, is there any hope for finding common ground and ending the current political gridlock?

“The two sides are kind of mirror images of each other. Both sides seem to think that the other one is evil. But really if you look, everybody behaves in very similar ways,” said Ditto.

Conservatives and liberals share certain core values: helping disadvantaged people and establishing a basic sense of fairness.

Events can galvanize both sides around a common cause. The Charleston shootings in 2015 led to less support for flying the Confederate flag, regardless of political stripe. The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks led to widespread support for military action and security measures that would have been politically impossible before.

Ditto sees room for improvement in how political debates are waged.

“I'm particularly interested in how to make politics more civil. How to get the two sides to understand each other better, and lower the temperature on the political conflict.”

“The real issue in politics is a massive lack of self-awareness,” said Ditto. “If you can get people to realize a little bit of humility, a little bit of recognizing that they're doing the same things that the other side is doing, maybe that will help.”



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

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


26 February, 2016

Clinton stirs up race hatred

Any problem blacks have is due to white racism, apparently

"I believe strongly that we have to deal with systemic racism, and systemic racism is found in our criminal justice system, it's found in housing, in job opportunities, in eduation," Hillary Clinton told a Democrat town hall in South Carolina Tuesday night.

"It's also cultural," she said. "And so there are barriers that people are encountering that I think we need to be honest about."

Clinton said one of those barriers is the refusal of some states to expand Medicaid: "In this state, your (Republican) governor, legislature wouldn't extend Medicaid, and so people can't get the health care that they deserve to have."

The exchange on race began when a black woman stood up and told Clinton, "Recently I started wearing my hair natural...and I've noticed a difference in the way some people address and look at me." She asked Clinton, "What do you intend to do to  help fix the broken racial relations in our nation?"

"Well, Kyla, first of all, thank you for being so candid and brave to stand up and say this about yourself, because I think it really helps to shine a spotlight on what are one of the many barriers that still stand in the way of people feeling like they can pursue their own dreams, they can be who they are, they can have the future that they want in our country," Clinton said.

Clinton talked about meeting with five "mothers of the movement" (black lives matter), "who have lost children to police actions and to random senseless gun violence."

"These are the bravest women," Clinton said. "And there's no doubt that in each case...there is a racial component to it.

"A young black teenager, 17 years old playing the music in his car too loud with a bunch of his friends, and white guy comes up and tells him to turn the music down. They exchange words, the man pulls out his gun and kills him.

"So, we have serious challenges, and I think it's important for people -- and particularly for white people, to be honest about those, and to recognize that our experiences may not equip us to understand what a lot of our African American fellow citizens go through every single day.

"So, for me, when I talk about breaking down all the barriers that stand in the way of people's ambitions and dreams, racism, along with economic issues, educational issues, and all the rest, have to be addressed. Otherwise, we are never going to be the nation we should be. We're never going to overcome our legacy -- dating back to slavery, segregation, Jim Crow.

"It is still, unfortunately, alive and well, and you've got places in this state where an African American baby has a higher rate of dying than you have in a lot of other places. The infant mortality rate can be compared to some third world poor countries, you know?

In this state, your governor, legislature wouldn't extend Medicaid, and so people can't get the health care that they deserve to have.

"So, I think there are a lot of barriers that we have to be honest about, and I think honesty and willingness to listen to each other, actually respect each other, would go a long way toward us rolling up our sleeves and dealing with a lot of these issues. And giving you the feeling that you have a right to wear your hair anyway you want to. That's your right.

"As somebody who has had, you know, a lot of different hairstyles...I say that from some personal experience."

Clinton said the "answer" is to "figure out how we're going to lift up the good practices, reform policing, provide more support so that force is a last resort, not a first choice, and that means helping to train police so that when they go out on the street -- I'm sure they're nervous and scared too."



Entrance poll: Strong desire for outsider drives Trump win in Nevada

A clear majority of those attending the Nevada caucuses want the next president to be from outside the political establishment, driving businessman Donald Trump to victory.

The 6 in 10 caucus-goers who said they prefer an outsider over someone with political experience was a higher percentage than in any other GOP primary or caucus so far, according to the entrance poll conducted for the Associated Press and television networks by Edison Research.

But in a silver lining for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, he earned majority support from those who'd rather have the next president be someone with political experience. That made him the first candidate to consolidate that support in any early primary or caucus state.

Among those arriving at Nevada's Republican caucuses Tuesday, nearly 6 in 10 said they are angry at the way the government is working, according to the entrance poll. Another third of caucus attendees said they are dissatisfied with the government.

That means Nevada caucus-goers were significantly angrier than Republicans in earlier primary and caucus states. Only about 4 in 10 of those participating in Iowa's caucuses or New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries said they were angry.

Trump was supported by about half of the angry Nevada caucus attendees. Among those who said they were merely dissatisfied, Trump held a somewhat smaller lead over Rubio, with Trump supported by about 4 in 10 and Rubio by about a third.

Nevada caucus-goers were also significantly more likely than those in earlier voting states to want a political outsider as the next president, and those who did overwhelmingly supported Trump. More than half of those wanting someone with political experience supported Rubio.

About 4 in 10 Nevada caucus-goers were born-again Christians, but they failed to give much of a bump to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who has campaigned hard for their support. In fact, about 4 in 10 of them supported Trump. Even Rubio caught Cruz among that group, with about a quarter of evangelicals supporting each.

Cruz came closest to Trump among those calling themselves very conservative, who accounted for about 4 in 10 caucus-goers. But Trump was supported by half of those who said they were only somewhat conservative, and more than half of moderates.

Trump was supported by an overwhelming majority — nearly 9 in 10 — of those caring most about having a candidate who "tells it like it is" and by 6 in 10 who wanted a candidate who can bring change. Rubio was supported by about half those who cared most about electability.

Cruz was favored among those wanting someone who shares their values, but by a narrower margin — about 4 in 10 supported him, while about a quarter supported Rubio and 2 in 10 supported Trump.

About 3 in 10 said the quality that mattered most in choosing a candidate was someone who shared their values. That's slightly more than said they want a candidate who can win in November or who can bring change, each chosen by about a quarter of caucus attendees.

Caucus attendees were most likely to say the top issues facing the country are the economy or government spending, each listed by about 3 in 10. Immigration and terrorism were each chosen by slightly fewer — about 2 in 10.

Trump was supported by about 6 in 10 of those who said they care most about immigration



Win not confined to one or two demographics

Contrary to early Democrat claims.  He even got 45% of Latino Republicans

“Actually, I won everything,” Donald Trump said this week, after his victory in South Carolina and before his rout in Nevada. “I won short people, tall people. I won fat people, skinny people. I won highly educated, okay educated, and practically not educated at all. I won the evangelicals big and I won the military.”

The Republican presidential frontrunner was, broadly speaking, correct. After his third consecutive victory, one that puts him on course to win the Republican nomination for the White House, it is less useful to ask who is voting for him than who isn’t.

The only state he didn’t win was Iowa, where he came second.

In New Hampshire; South Carolina; and, on Tuesday, Nevada, Trump did not just win resoundingly by leveraging one or two types of conservative voter. Entrance polls reveal he triumphed by drawing on a pool of voters as wide as it was deep.

Who are Trump supporters? Insofar as the Republican electorate goes, the answer, for the moment at least, seems to be everyone.



Why a Millennial like me appreciates the Reagan legacy

By Kent Kellar

I remember where I was when Ronald Reagan died almost twelve years ago. I was more ambivalent than sad to receive the news from the radio. I was born during the last twelve months of the Reagan’s term. The first president I remember was Bill Clinton, who my blue collar parents voted for. Why would I identify with someone I did not remember?

To tell you that, I first have to tell you how my family became conservative.

In the nineties, my parents eventually soured on the Clintons, shocked that these people were going to take over their healthcare. As a couple years went on, and scandals blossomed into impeachment hearings, the Howard house, like so much of Missouri, came to distrust Democrats. A couple years later, we awoke to see New York and the Pentagon on fire, and suddenly the President that was barely better than Al Gore became someone special to us; George W. Bush became someone we trusted as we were saddened and sobered by the realities of terrorism and war.

While I was still too young, the rest of my family voted for Bush in 2004. We weren’t conservative ideologues, but we knew America wouldn’t be in safe hands if it were left to John Kerry. In 2005, my dad gave us a treat, and added us to his XM radio package. At 17, while the news cycle was spinning, I turned on Sean Hannity to hear a different perspective on the coverage of Hurricane Katrina, when the media was attacking President Bush as if he personally caused the disaster.

I was hooked, as talk radio opened my world to a new perspective on what was going on around me. Sean Hannity was just the gateway drug. Mark Levin filled in for him that Christmas Eve, before Levin himself had been nationally syndicated, and suddenly I was listening to him every night online; he started out on just four stations. From there, I even started listening to Rush Limbaugh, finding that the reproach on talk radio was not valid, but a product of others’ disdain.reagan podium

These men, derided as entertainers, introduced me not only to my conservatism, but to the best President of their lifetime, Ronald Reagan. The first time I heard Ronald Reagan’s “A Time for Choosing” speech was on the Mark Levin Show. Like the generation before me, I was blown away by his common sense, humor and belief in preserving American freedom, under assault by foreign ideas believed in both distant capitals, and our own. Without Mark Levin, and his belief in the Reagan legacy, I probably would not have heard it.

Ronald Reagan, as a public figure and as President, influenced these men in numerous ways, giving them the courage and confidence to devote their lives to a greater ideal, America. Not the America that the left caricatured as a horrible place, but the real America, where hard work pays off and success is attainable, not immoral.

I didn’t have to hide under my desk in Cold War era drills or live in fear of nuclear annihilation. I wasn’t drafted to stand guard against a communist invasion, or be sent to a warzone where communists were trying to subjugate the next country. More to my circumstance — I had articulate people on the radio to offer me an alternative to so many misguided interpretations of my surroundings, because the so-called “Fairness Doctrine” that muzzled alternatives to liberal media was gone. I have President Reagan to thank for that.

In this election, so many of Millennials’ minds are held captive by socialism, the envious notion that was imported from Europe by the American left. In this time for choosing, the only way to break the bonds of their captivity is to show them that the freedom they crave is incompatible with a state that would manage their lives. In order to do that, they need to choose from bold colors, not pale pastels, to quote Reagan’s speech to Young Americans for Freedom in 1975.

To this day, none of my household supports left-wing candidates anymore. The ripple effect of the Reagan legacy matters. If it could change the course of my life, it could change the course of other millennials too.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL 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 and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


25 February, 2016

Oh frabjous joy:  A psychological attack on Trump supporters!

Some PR guy has claimed that the big thing characterizing Trump supporters is authoritarianism.  Since I have had more papers on authoritarianism published in the academic journals than anyone else, I am in a good position to comment on this scurrilous attack on Trump supporters.

The article is: "The best predictor of Trump support isn't income, education, or age. It's authoritarianism" -- by Matthew MacWilliams.

Calling conservatives "authoritarian" is of course a very old Leftist slur -- tracing back to the writings of Marxist theoretician Theodor Adorno and his friends in 1950.  The Adorno work has been pretty thoroughtly demolished but the accusation still pops up occasionally.

It's a tremendous example of projection that Leftists see conservatives as being authoritarian.  What could be more authoritarian than Communism or trying to "thoroughly transform" America?

Psychologists customarily measure authoritarianism in people by asking them a set of questions that allegedly indicate it. Exactly what questions MacWilliams asked he does not give but he does say that they were based on a set that have been going around for some time.

That set asks respondents to choose between paired items indicating preferences for child-rearing values. Respondents were asked to indicate which characteristic is more desirable: (1)  respect for elders or independence; (2) obedience or self-reliance; (3) good manners or curiosity.

So the questions are in fact about child-rearing.  They are not about attitude to authority or authoritarian behaviour.  It's possible that such attitudes about child rearing generalize to various authorities or types of authority but that is not shown.  It is an assertion, not a fact.

So what Mac found was simple:  Trump supporters tend to have old-fashioned views about child-rearing.  Who is to say that that is bad?  Are the permissively treated and drug-addled snowflakes of today better off than the children of yesteryear?  It would take a bold person to assert it, I think.

Even that finding does however have doubts hanging over it.  The set of questions is ipsatively scored:  They don't allow people to choose BOTH alternatives.  That can lead to very distorted findings.  I have written in the journals about such problems on several occasions -- e.g. here.  From a psychometric viewpoint, I would recommend that Mac's work be disregarded.


FBI Had a Way to Circumvent Farook's Passcode

This is of course a privacy issue and I would normally agree that if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear.  But with an out-of-control administration even the innocent have something to fear -- so I am in favour of hobbling their intrusions in all ways possible.  I certainly wouldn't buy a used car from them

Amidst the FBI’s demands that Apple create software to break the security the tech company engineered into the iPhone, the underreported fact is that the government bungled its initial attempts to access the cell phone the San Bernardino County Health Department gave to eventual terrorist Syed Farook. The first mistake was the county didn’t set up the phone so that it had administrative access over the device. If it had taken that preemptive step, investigators could have easily gathered everything the phone could provide.

The second mistake was hours after the shooting when San Bernardino, working with the FBI, reset the phone’s iCloud password, allowing investigators to see the data the phone was automatically backing up to a remote location on Apple’s servers. Problem was, the last time the phone updated to iCloud was on Oct. 19 — weeks before the Dec. 2 shooting. There was information still on the phone. Investigators [could have teased that information from the phone by turning on the phone’s automatic updates, going to a location frequented by Farook and the device would have automatically sent information to iCloud. Voilà! With the recent information in the cloud, then investigators could have reset Farook’s iCloud password. Instead, the government is trying to force Apple to destroy the security protocols it has built into its current devices because a series of government mistakes.



Victory as Senate Stops Obama

In the wake of Justice Antonin Scalia's untimely death, thousands of activists reached out to their elected representatives to send a message: any Obama nominee to the Supreme Court would be unacceptable. It looks like the Senate Judiciary Committee got the message loud and clear:

    The Republican Senators in charge of the Judiciary Committee just made a bold announcement after a closed door meeting today: There will be NO confirmation hearings for President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nomination under ANY CIRCUMSTANCE!

    The meeting took place on the first full session day since Justice Antonin Scalia died on February 13th.

    This is a crushing defeat for the Obama White House, as the President is hopeful to leave a legacy on the Supreme Court that could spend the next 20-40 years enacting his radical left-wing agenda...

Special thanks to President Obama, Chuck Schumer, and Joe Biden for providing the intellectual basis for conservatives to make this move.



Democrat Double Standards

To paraphrase William Shakespeare, the villany Democrats teach, Republicans will execute, and it shall go hard but they will better the instruction. It wasn’t so long ago that the power was flipped in the Senate.

George W. Bush controlled the White House and Democrats controlled the upper chamber from 2001 to 2003. Bush nominated 32 judges during that time. Not one of them even made it to the Judiciary Committee for a hearing. In 2005, Democrats — including Barack Obama, Joe Biden, John Kerry, Harry Reid and Hillary Clinton — filibustered the nomination of Samuel Alito. That same quintet is now leading the chorus calling for the Republican-controlled Senate to do its “constitutional duties” and rubber stamp whomever Obama nominates.

When Bush had a year and six months left in his last term, Sen. Chuck Schumer said unless something extraordinary happened, the Senate shouldn’t approve any Bush nominee. Going back to the last few weeks of George H.W Bush’s administration, Biden said Bush shouldn’t nominate anyone until after the 1992 presidential election was completed — the same thing Republicans are saying to Obama. But now that he’s co-captain in the Oval Office, Biden conveniently insists, “Nearly a quarter century ago, in June 1992, I gave a lengthy speech on the Senate floor about a hypothetical vacancy on the Supreme Court. Some critics say that one excerpt of my speech is evidence that I oppose filling a Supreme Court vacancy in an election year. This is not an accurate description of my views on the subject.”

When members of the current administration occupied seats in the Senate, its views on the Senate’s role in the nomination of a Supreme Court Justice was robust. After all, the Senate offers its consent and advice, per the Constitution. But the Democrats' interpretation of the Constitution changes with the political winds.



Conservative Victory in the Nation's Most Liberal State?

In a surprising recent poll, the lead candidate to replace ultra liberal Senator Barbara Boxer is....

Condoleeza Rice. As Breitbart notes:

    The leader in the race to replace retiring U.S. Senator Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) in America’s most liberal state is… Republican Condoleezza Rice, according to a new Field Pollreleased Wednesday. Rice, the former Secretary of State and Stanford don, is backed by 49% of voters–ahead of Attorney General Kamala Harris, the liberal Democrat who was the first to declare. The poll, which sampled 972 likely voters in California, presented respondents with a list of 18 potential candidates and asked if they “would be inclined or not inclined to vote for that person,” with no limit on the number they could support.

Rice led among both male and female voters, and did well among Latino voters, though the top choice for Latinos remains former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Rice and Harris each polled 74% among their respective political parties.

    Rice has shown no political ambitions since leaving the Bush administration, though she spoke at the 2012 Republican National Convention and is frequently mentioned as a possible vice presidential contender. She is considered a moderate on many issues, including immigration, though she is disliked by the left for her relatively hawkish views on foreign policy.

Conservative activists have known this for quite some time, and there is a groundswell of support. Conservative Action Fund's Draft Condi collected thousands of signatures urging Condi to run. Theoretically, her candidacy would provide the GOP with the perfect opportunity to turn deep blue California purple.

Will she change her mind?



Here’s Why Insurance Premiums Are ‘High and Rising’ for Obamacare Enrollees

Rising health insurance premiums under Obamacare will continue to hit Americans this year, according to a new report from the Congressional Budget Office.

“High and rising premiums for private health insurance are a matter of concern for [Obamacare] enrollees. They also affect the federal budget, because the federal government subsidizes most premiums—directly or indirectly—at a cost of roughly $300 billion in fiscal year 2016,” the CBO said.

The nonpartisan agency and the staff of Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation projected that in 2016, “the average premium for an employment-based insurance plan will be about $6,400 for single coverage and about $15,500 for family coverage.”

By 2025, they predict, average premiums for employment-based coverage will cost about 60 percent more than this year under the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare.

Average premiums for individually purchased coverage aren’t expected to be as high, “mostly because nongroup coverage is less extensive and thus requires enrollees to make higher out-of-pocket payments when they receive care,” according to the Feb. 11 report.

The CBO, a nonpartisan agency, produces “independent analyses of budgetary and economic issues to support the congressional budget process.”

“Notwithstanding the exemptions, the [individual] mandate significantly reduces average premiums … by encouraging healthier people to obtain insurance, which lowers average spending on health care among the insured population,” the CBO and Joint Committee on Taxation found.

However, the report says Obamacare regulations still will “increase premiums noticeably in the nongroup market,” and those affected represent only a small fraction of the private insurance market.

A 2009 analysis by the CBO and Joint Committee on Taxation found that regulations similar to those of the Affordable Care Act would increase nongroup premium costs by 27 percent to 30 percent this year, “although other provisions would have reduced premiums.” 

“This was their stance in 2009 and little has changed, as we observe increased premiums in the [insurance] exchanges and rising deductibles in many types of insurance,” Drew Gonshorowski, a senior health policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal.

“The CBO again reaffirms that regulations within the [Affordable Care Act] drive up premiums,” Gonshorowski said.

The report also notes that the increase in premiums will cause employment-based insurance tax exemptions to cost more than $250 billion in fiscal year 2016 and about $40 billion for those who buy on Obamacare’s insurance exchanges.

Gonshorowski and Ed Haislmaier, Heritage’s senior research fellow in health policy, noted in a study that premiums jumped by 9 percent on average because of the health care law’s benefit mandates—which cover “essential health benefits” and “preventive services.”

If Congress eliminated the benefit mandates and requirements, the researchers estimated, “premiums for younger adults could be reduced by as much as 44 percent, and premiums for preretirement-age adults could decrease by about 7 percent.”



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL 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 and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


24 February, 2016

Peggy Noonan on the Left

It's a pretty good explanation for the Trump rebellion

There is something increasingly unappeasable in the left. This is something conservatives and others have come to fear, that progressives now accept no limits. We can’t just have court-ordered legalized abortion across the land, we have to have it up to the point of birth, and taxpayers have to pay for it. It’s not enough to win same-sex marriage, you’ve got to personally approve of it and if you publicly resist you’ll be ruined. It’s not enough that we have publicly funded contraceptives, the nuns have to provide them.

This unappeasable spirit always turns to the courts to have its way.

If progressives were wise they would step back, accept their victories, take a breath and turn to the idea of solidifying gains, of heroic patience, of being peaceable.

Don’t make them bake the cake. Don’t make them accept the progressive replacement for Scalia. Leave the nuns alone.

Progressives have no idea how fragile it all is. That’s why they feel free to be unappeasable. They don’t know what they’re grinding down.

They think America has endless give. But America is composed of humans, and they do not have endless give.

Isn’t that what we’re seeing this year in the political realm? That they don’t have endless give? And we’ll be seeing more of it.



The Rise of Intolerant Liberals

Why have liberals become so intolerant? They think nothing of denying someone as prominent as former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice from speaking on a college campus. They embrace activists who shut down speakers. They publicly shame people for the slightest deviation from liberal orthodoxy.

For them everything from science to the law is “settled” once they get into power. Progress is a one-way street. Their mindset is the very definition of closed-mindedness.

The easy answer would be “they are all bad people.” But frankly that’s a cop-out. Not all liberals are bad people, any more than all conservatives are angels. No doubt among the fevered minions of liberal activists there are people with, shall we say, psychological issues, but that doesn’t explain why so many otherwise reasonable people are so beholden to liberalism as an ideology.

The short answer is that it pays. A lot of people in and out of government benefit. Liberalism also makes people feel good. Whether you are politician dispensing government benefits or the citizen receiving them, liberalism hides the self-interest and sometimes even greed that motivate people.

But the devolution of liberalism into something now openly illiberal has causes far more complex than these familiar explanations provide.

For one thing, liberalism is no longer mainly about ideas. It is about power—as in who has it and who doesn’t. Believing they already know the answers to all questions, liberals view politics and governing as mopping up operations.

Academic research is about proving a point rather than discovering the truth. Science is treated as the private preserve of a certain ideology, not to mention a political weapon to justify preferred policy outcomes. Mistaking as they do their ideology for morality, they see no reason to shun the most cynical of political tactics to get their way. For them, the end justifies the means.

Second, liberalism today is not the liberalism of yesteryear. It’s not Franklin Roosevelt’s or John Kennedy’s liberalism. It’s not even the liberalism of Bill Clinton. It has become something much more radical. Bill Clinton talked about the “era of big government” being over.

Today, there is virtually no government program that liberals won’t embrace. Clinton had his Sister Souljah moment when he repudiated extremism in his party. Today liberals can’t get close enough to the “black lives matter” movement.

Third, liberals have surrendered to (some would say created) the nasty culture of intolerance that infuses our popular culture. To this extent, they are not at all different from some self-proclaimed right-wing people who do the same. But the difference is—or at least is supposed to be—that liberals profess to be the party of the open mind. They have become anything but.

Now that they control so many of our institutions—our universities, high-tech corporate board rooms, the entertainment industry, and increasingly even mainstream churches—they are closing the door behind them, making sure that no one, especially conservatives, will sneak in the back door.

Finally, liberalism has become hostile to open inquiry. Liberal intellectuals used to love open-ended debates because they thought they could win people over with their intelligence and wit. No more. Today’s liberal intellectuals are much more interested in stifling debates than having them. After all, who needs debates when all the big questions have been answered by their ideology? Liberals are no longer the scruffy radicals of Washington Square, but a tenured Mandarin class hotly competing for government research grants.

As I argue in my forthcoming book, “The Closing of the Liberal Mind,” to this Mandarin class:

    Knowledge, like human progress, must be created and managed by state policy, bureaucratized and forced on all people equally despite the infinite differences that exist between individual human beings. It is a sad state of affairs, especially for intellectuals who are expected to know better.

There’s an old saying, he who controls knowledge controls power. Liberals get this adage instinctively. They treat truth not as wisdom—as something to be discovered—but as a will to power to be imposed by law and governmental fiat.

In this quest for power, they have become masters at controlling not only knowledge, but popular culture. For example, when Americans watch entertainers like Jon Stewart, they don’t see an ideologue channeling liberal clichés. They see just a really funny guy. The ideology is completely buried. Young people respond in lockstep not because they were indoctrinated by some boring Maoist, but because they think the whole thing is great fun.

What we have here is nothing less than a new and highly attractive form of illiberalism—an illiberal liberalism, if you will. Intolerance is championed in the name of tolerance, closed-mindedness in the name of open-mindedness, and hatred in the name of compassion. It’s classic double-think, and the deception is precisely the danger. Americans don’t expect liberals to be authoritarian wolves in sheep’s clothing. They are not prepared to be on guard all the time because liberals are supposed to be the good guys—the guardians of freedom of speech and the like.

Alas, they are not. Just ask Condi Rice or anyone else who has been denied the opportunity to speak on an American campus.



Obama’s Visit to Cuba Betrays America’s Commitment to Freedom

When President Barack Obama arrives in Havana next month, he will be greeted by an old-school autocrat, hungry for resources to sustain his oppressive regime. His visit will do little to improve the lives of every day Cubans, but it will significantly strengthen the regime that rules them at gunpoint.

It is clear that human rights are not at the forefront of the administration’s Cuba policy, so this rapprochement will do little else besides lend unearned legitimacy to a murderous dictatorship.

No sitting U.S. president has set foot on Cuban soil since Calvin Coolidge visited the democratically elected Cuban President Gerardo Machado in 1928.

The reason: For over half a century, the island nation has been ruled by a military dictatorship born from a bloody revolution and preserved through foreign-subsidized repression.

Led by Raúl Castro, the Cuban regime has murdered, imprisoned, and silenced countless of its own citizens. Internationally, it has actively worked to undermine democracy in the Americas, using its puppet in Venezuela to incubate and spread the anti-democratic disease that ails most of the Western Hemisphere.

This cavalier behavior has compromised America’s stance abroad. Lending recognition to the Cuban regime betrays American values and sends the wrong message to both our allies and adversaries. His administration’s continued unilateral concessions have emboldened the regime and undermined the democratic efforts it oppresses. How can America justify crossing oceans in the defense of liberty if it chooses to ignore abuses occurring less than 90 miles away from our shores.

When asked about visiting Cuba in a December 2015 interview, Obama said he wished to meet with Cuba’s dissidents “who want to broaden the scope for, you know, free expression inside of Cuba.”

However, considering his decision to stand with the regime, instead of the civil society it oppresses, this statement rings hollow.

Even if the president musters the courage to ask for such a meeting or to initiate a serious human rights discussion, his concessions have left the U.S. no real leverage to advocate for human rights. Raúl Castro has rightly judged Obama’s interest in the rapprochement to be more about his political legacy than the plight of the Cuban people. As it stands, the president will be another tourist in Havana. He will see and do only what he is allowed to and will leave the regime richer and stronger than when he landed.

Choosing to level with Castro in his own turf is Obama’s latest and most damaging concession yet. He has indeed charted a “new course” by reversing years of democratic efforts and returning to the old policies that enabled despots in the hemisphere. So far, the only accomplishment of the president’s radical Cuba policy has been the legitimization of the Castro regime, and it increasing looks like it will be the only one.



Trump Hits 50 Percent in Massachusetts

Before we know it, Tuesday's Nevada caucus will be over and all attention will head towards next week's Super Tuesday and the 12 states that will decide who their Republican nominee will be.  The states voting on March 1st will be Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and Virginia. 

In the latest Emerson poll from Massachusetts, where 42 delegates are at stake, Trump is up by a very large margin; 50 percent to Trump, 16 to Marco Rubio, and 10 to Ted Cruz. 

On a side note, the fact that future hall of fame quarterback Tom Brady of the New England Patriots and pitcher Clay Buchholz of the Boston Red Sox have come out in support of Trump may have helped the Republican frontrunner with the Boston sports faithful.


There is a  new  lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- mostly about Muslim immigration and IQ


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL 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 and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


23 February, 2016

A plug for Ted Cruz

Below is a video by a Leftist saying what is bad about Ted Cruz.  It sounds like a list of reasons to vote for him to me.  It is however a good indicator of Leftist priorities.

The speaker is Robert Reich.  He was the Secretary of Labor for Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1997.

New York Times: Young Female Voters Not Warming to Hillary

    In the sun-drenched student center on the Pennsylvania State University campus here, a few days after Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont trounced Hillary Clinton in the New Hampshire Democratic primary last week, Renee Tillman, Melanie Suarez and Kamryn Sandidge were picking at their lunchtime salads when they were asked if they considered themselves feminists.

    The three, all sophomores, shook their heads. “I couldn’t even tell you what a feminist is,” said Ms. Tillman, 19, who is African-American. She and her friends note that the nation already has a black president; they see themselves in a postgender world. As Ms. Sandidge, also African-American, said, “I don’t find gender that important.”

    A few tables away, Caela Camazine, a 19-year-old freshman, said she was “definitely” a feminist. Reproductive rights are her top priority, and the idea of a woman in the White House evokes her childhood dream of a career in medicine. It always bothered her, she said, when people referred to doctors as “he” or “him.”

    “Having a female president to me means opening the door for that pronoun to shift,” she said. Yet she plans to vote for a man: Mr. Sanders.

    It is as if Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, based partly on revealing the power of female voters, has instead revealed something else: a generational schism that threatens to undermine it. Mrs. Clinton lost the women’s vote in New Hampshire by 11 percentage points. Broken down by age, the results were even more striking: She led by 19 points among women 65 and older, but trailed by a huge margin, 59 points, among millennial voters, ages 18 to 29.

Gee, Hillary's people skills aren't serving her well when it comes to connecting to young people? Who'd have seen that coming?

You can almost forgive Hillary for being so off the mark here. Establishment Democrats truly believe that nothing has changed in the way of racial, ethnic, or gender equality in the last sixty years. In fact, their entire electoral strategy is pretty much based on convincing the voters that it's 1956. Young female voters who've had an African-American president since they were drinking juice boxes and watching Hannah Montana definitely aren't buying it.

Many think Bernie's appeal is in the constant promise of free stuff to a portion of the electorate too young to understand that's a lie, and much of it certainly is. However, the biggest difference between the Democratic front-runners is in level of authenticity.

Hillary has none.  Everything she says and does comes across with a calculation that doesn't appeal to the voters of the party that's goes after emotion and nothing else.

Bernie may be insanely wrong about everything, but one can easily tell that he believes in everything he's saying with every fiber of his being. In the battle between the judgmental grandma who trots out an octogenarian to slut shame young women into voting for her and the crazy uncle who keeps promising that this next birthday will be your best ever, the latter will win every time.

Another thing at play here is the fact that Hillary Clinton isn't a real feminist, or even an empowered woman. She's where she is solely because she rode the coattails of two extremely successful men who publicly embarrassed her, one personally and the other professionally. She's an old-school Democrat who views people as members of voting blocs and not individuals.

To her horror, young, free-thinking American women are, well, thinking freely.



Almost Half of US Residents Still Pay No Federal Income Tax

According to data published by the IRS and the U.S. Census Bureau, 44.2 percent of U.S. residents paid no federal income tax in 2013 (the most recent year for which data is available).

No doubt many of the non-payers would willingly pay income tax in exchange for the chance to work in a more dynamic economy that generated more and better jobs. But our labor market has been hobbled by government regulations, cronyism, government power grabs, a tax code nobody understands, and federal waste.

In 1962, the percentage of people who did not pay federal income taxes themselves and who were not claimed as dependents by someone who paid federal income taxes stood at 24.0 percent; it fell to 12.6 percent by 1969 before beginning a ragged and ultimately steady increase.

By 2000, the percentage was 34.1 percent; by 2009, it was 49.6 percent. The number dropped to 44.7 percent in 2011, and it has hovered around 44 percent ever since.

An astounding 33.67 percent of tax returns are filed only to claim benefits while not paying any income tax. That is up from 18.64 percent in 1990.

As President Ronald Reagan said on Jan, 20, 1981, in his inaugural address, “Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem.”

The federal government stands in the way of success for too many people. Establishing a limited federal government is as critical now as when Reagan said those words.



The Lure of Socialism

By Thomas Sowell

Many people of mature years are amazed at how many young people have voted for Senator Bernie Sanders, and are enthusiastic about the socialism he preaches.

Many of those older people have lived long enough to have seen socialism fail, time and again, in countries around the world. Venezuela, with all its rich oil resources, is currently on the verge of economic collapse, after its heady fling with socialism.

But, most of the young have missed all that, and their dumbed-down education is far more likely to present the inspiring rhetoric of socialism than to present its dismal track record.

Socialism is in fact a wonderful vision — a world of the imagination far better than any place anywhere in the real world, at any time over the thousands of years of recorded history. Even many conservatives would probably prefer to live in such a world, if they thought it was possible.

Who would not want to live in a world where college was free, along with many other things, and where government protected us from the shocks of life and guaranteed our happiness? It would be Disneyland for adults!

Free college of course has an appeal to the young, especially those who have never studied economics. But college cannot possibly be free. It would not be free even if there was no such thing as money.

Consider the costs of just one professor teaching just one course. He or she has probably spent more than 20 years being educated, from kindergarten to the Ph.D., before ending up standing in front of a class and trying to convey some of the knowledge picked up in all those years. That means being fed, clothed and housed all those years, along with other expenses.

All the people who grew the food, manufactured the clothing and built the housing used by this one professor, for at least two decades, had to be compensated for their efforts, or those efforts would not continue. And of course someone has to produce food, clothing and shelter for all the students in this one course, as well as books, computers and other requirements or amenities.

Add up all these costs — and multiply by a hundred or so — and you have a rough idea of what going to college costs. Whether these costs are paid by using money in a capitalist economy or by some other mechanism in a feudal economy, a socialist economy, or whatever, there are heavy costs to pay.

Moreover, under any economic system, those costs are either going to be paid or there are not going to be any colleges. Money is just an artificial device for getting real things done.

Those young people who understand this, whether clearly or vaguely, are not likely to be deterred from wanting socialism. Because what they really want is for somebody else to pay for their decision to go to college.

A market economy is one in which whoever makes a decision is the one who pays for that decision. It forces people to be sure that what they want to do is really worth what it is going to cost.

Even the existing subsidies of college have led many people to go to college who have very little interest in, or benefit from, going to college, except for enjoying the social scene while postponing adult responsibilities for a few years.

Whether judging by test results, by number of hours per week devoted to studying or by on-campus interviews, it is clear that today’s college students learn a lot less than college students once did. If college becomes "free," even more people can attend college without bothering to become educated and without acquiring any economically meaningful skills.

More fundamentally, making all sorts of other things "free" means more of those things being wasted as well. Even worse, it means putting more and more of the decisions that shape our lives into the hands of politicians and bureaucrats who control the purse strings.

Obamacare has given us a foretaste of what that means in reality, despite how wonderful it may sound in political rhetoric.

Worst of all, government giveaways polarize society into segments, each trying to get what it wants at somebody else’s expense, creating mutual bitterness that can tear a society apart. Some seem to blithely assume that "the rich" can be taxed to pay for what they want — as if "the rich" don’t see what is coming and take their wealth elsewhere.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL 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 and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


22 February, 2016

Bureaucracy and canned tomatoes

I initially thought this story was too trivial to be worth mentioning but it is such an hilarious example of bureaucracy in action that I thought I should mention it after all.  The story concerns Australia but the lessons about bureaucracy are universal.

I first noticed the story because I do buy canned tomatoes.  I tip a can of them into my crockpot as the first step towards making a curry.  And I had noticed the odd price disparity between different brands.  The "Home" brand I buy from Woolworths costs me only 59c whereas other brands cost as much as $1.40 per can. And the 59c cans come all the way from Italy -- something I have mentioned before.

And the first sentence from the Fairfax news report below is misleading. The bureaucracy has indeed laboured mightily but the assertion that "The days of cheap tinned tomatoes are over" is nonsense.  The duties recently imposed range between 4% and 8% and they will be levied on the wholesale price.  So say Woolworths buy my 59c can for 50c (it's probably less).  So Woolworths will now have to pay how much extra to put that can on their shelves?  4c.  So now I will have to pay about 65c for my tomatoes.  Why bother?  A 65c can of Italian tomatoes is still going to be hugely competitive with a $1.40 can of Australian-grown tomatoes.  I can't see the price rise influencing any purchasing decisions at all.

So how come the bureaucracy has laboured and brought forth a nullity? Because it is a rule-following organism. The duty imposed was a dumping duty -- meaning the Italians sell their product for export at a lower prices than they charge local Italian shopkeepers.  They do it because they still have some profit at the lower price and some profit is better than none.  It keeps their volumes and market share up. 

And dumping duty is calculated according to strict rules.  You subtract the price to Australia from the price to Italy and express it as a percentage.  You then add that percentage to the Australian price in the form of an import duty.  So, as it happened, the Italian canners were selling us their tomatoes only a touch more cheaply than they charge Italian customers.  The export discount was minor so the dumping duty was minor.  A bureaucrat with a brain would have said "This is not worth bothering about".  But a bureaucrat is not paid to think.  He is paid to follow rules.  And our lot did exactly that.

But that is not the only absurdity.  The big market for tomatoes is for fresh tomatoes.  As little as 2% of Australian-grown tomatoes end up in cans.  So if Italian canned tomatoes took over completely, it would make no important difference to Australian tomato farming.  The growers would continue growing as before.  The main existing canners are owned by Coca Cola so sympathy for them is probably not large -- and they can lots of other fruit so their production lines would not be likely to lie idle.

So we see yet again why conservatives dislike bureaucracy and why Leftists love it.  Leftists hate the society they live in so much that imposing anything inefficient, costly and wasteful on their society seems great to them.

And it is bureaucracy that created the problem in the first place -- the EU bureaucracy.  EU farmers -- particularly French ones -- are prone to huge tantrums if they are not making enough money.  They blockade things, burn things and generally create havoc.  So to placate them, the EU bureaucracy pays them big subsidies.  That 50c can of tomatoes probably cost $1 to produce -- with the EU taxpayer supplying the other 50c

Ain't government wonderful?

The days of cheap tinned tomatoes are over, with the federal government backing a decision to slap anti-dumping measures on two Italian giants that account for half of imported tinned tomatoes in Australia.

The Anti-Dumping Commission found exporters La Doria and Feger di Gerardo Ferraioli guilty of dumping - selling product for less than they sell for in their own country - and causing "material damage" to the local industry.

Industry Minister Christopher Pyne said the government would impose dumping duties on the two players: 8.4 per cent to Feger tomato products and 4.5 per cent to La Doria imports.

"This ruling will ensure that Australia's only canned tomato producer, SPC Ardmona, can now compete equally in Australian stores and supermarkets," he said.

The decision means all 105 canned tomato exporters from Italy will now be affected by dumping duties. An earlier ruling saw Feger and La Doria escape penalty for dumping.

With the price of a 400 gram tin of Italian tomatoes as low as 60 cents on shelves, consumers should expect overall prices to rise. A similar SPC tin is $1.40.

But Coca-Cola Amatil-owned SPC, which has suffered a loss of 40 per cent of volume and reduced profitability during its fight, urged consumers to consider "the quality, value, ethics and food miles" of Australian-grown products.

"This is a win for SPC and our growers, and for Australian industry, which faces daily pressure to compete with cheap imports and those cutting corners and putting slavery in a can," said SPC's managing director Reg Weine.


Mr Weine's "slavery in a can" remark refers to claims that Italian growers use poorly paid illegal immigrants from Muslim lands to do much of their harvesting.  They probably do. Americans would understand


This Government Agency Offends the Constitution and Needs to Be Eliminated

A little-known federal government agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, imposes enormous costs on consumers and financial service providers through costly and unwarranted command-and-control regulation.

What’s more, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau runs afoul of the constitutionally mandated separation of powers. Thus, both economic and constitutional concerns indicate that it is time for Congress to abolish the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and reallocate those of its functions that merit being retained to other existing federal regulatory agencies.

Creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was a key feature of the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010, which, as Heritage scholars have explained, represents a failed attempt to address the causes of the 2008 financial crisis (in fact, it makes future financial crises and bailouts more likely).

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is given broad authority, through rulemaking and enforcement actions, “to implement and, where applicable, enforce Federal consumer financial law consistently for the purpose of ensuring that all consumers have access to markets for consumer financial products and services and that markets for consumer financial products and services are fair, transparent, and competitive.”

Despite these lofty goals, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has imposed high costs on the finance sector and consumers while reducing the choice of products and services—and thus competition and innovation within the consumer financial marketplace.

In enacting Dodd-Frank, Congress went out of its way to shield the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from the normal forms of congressional oversight that hold government agencies accountable to the people’s elected representatives. Dodd-Frank allows the agency to obtain the budget it desires directly from the Federal Reserve Board, free from congressional appropriations oversight and budgetary review. That means Congress cannot effectively question Consumer Financial Protection Bureau policies.

Moreover, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is free from presidential oversight and from effective Federal Reserve Board management control. More than any other federal agency, it is a power unto itself, able to impose its regulatory will on individual Americans without political accountability.

This is at odds with the importance the Framers of the Constitution placed on effective congressional and executive oversight to the legitimacy of government action.

Specifically, in Federalist 58, James Madison explained that the congressional “power of the purse may … be regarded as the most complete and effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people, for obtaining a redress of every grievance, and for carrying into effect every just and salutary measure.”

Congress, however, cannot employ this “effectual weapon” with respect to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, since it does not appropriate funds for the agency and may not even review the bureau’s budget.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has praised this freedom from accountability to Congress, stating that its “funding outside the congressional appropriations process” ensures its “full independence” from Congress.

And in Federalist 72, Alexander Hamilton explained that with respect to the execution of the laws, the people look to the president to guide the “assistants or deputies … subject to his superintendence.”

Hamilton added in Federalist 70 that absent a clear chain of command, the public cannot “determine on whom the blame or the punishment of a pernicious measure, or series of pernicious measures ought really to fall.”

For that reason, as James Madison explained to the First Congress, the Constitution sought to ensure that “those who are employed in the execution of the law will be in their proper situation, and the chain of dependence be preserved; the lowest officers, the middle grade, and the highest, will depend, as they ought, on the president, and the president on the community.”

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau insulation from presidential control means that there is no “chain of dependence” linking the bureau to presidential oversight and no presidential “superintendence” of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau activities.

Despite the principled case for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s unconstitutionality, however, lawsuits challenging it are time-consuming, uncertain, and of questionable utility in reining in the bureau. The federal courts have been reluctant to invoke constitutional “first principles” to second-guess congressional decisions regarding agency structure and broad delegations of authority. Accordingly, congressional action is needed.

Specifically, Congress should identify the consumer protections currently assigned to the bureau. Given the broad sweep of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s authority and the harm it has imposed through its regulatory actions, some of those responsibilities merit being eliminated or, if not, substantially curtailed.

Congress should repeal all Consumer Financial Protection Bureau-related statutory provisions and restore the authority of more constitutionally accountable federal agencies—the Federal Trade Commission and the traditional federal financial institution regulators —over consumer protection with respect to financial services.

Congress should review existing federal financial services regulatory statutes with an eye to eliminating programs that are excessively burdensome and harmful to the American economy and consider ways to harmonize the application of financial institution regulatory standards.

Also, as Heritage Foundation scholars have recommended, Congress should consider enacting additional regulatory reform legislation, such as requiring congressional approval of new major regulations issued by agencies (including financial services regulators) and subjecting “independent” agencies (including financial services agencies) to executive branch regulatory review.

Carried out appropriately, this legislative reform agenda would inure to the benefit of the American economy and further the cause of sound, constitutionally accountable government.


NOTE:  For the last week or so I have been doing a bit of work on my side-column. I think I have got it how I want it now so readers might find a few thoughts in it that are new.


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL 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 and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


21 February, 2016

1 Peter chapter 1:3-5

I went to a Presbyterian funeral on Friday and the text for the sermon was as above.   I should not have been surprised but I WAS rather surprised to note that the minister completely ignored what the text actually said.  He just saw in it what he wanted to see.  Here it is (RSV):

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and to an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,  who by God's power are guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time"

The first sentence is an explicit contradiction of the pagan Mumbo-Jumbo known as the Trinity doctrine -- a doctrine accepted by most Christian churches, including Presbyterians.  The Trinity doctrine says Jesus is God and yet we have Peter plainly denying that -- in saying that God is the father of Jesus.   And yet the minister saw no issue in the text.  I will not grumble further about Trinity theology as I have done so often before (e.g. here and here).

And then there is the issue of who goes to heaven and when.  The minister was sure that the deceased was in heaven already but Peter spoke not of Christians going to heaven but rather of Christians having an inheritance which is "KEPT in heaven" and that actual salvation occurs "in the last time" -- the "last trump" (not Donald), as the Apostle Paul has it in 1 Corinthians 15:52 -- when the dead are raised at the second coming of Christ.  And the minister missed that issue too.  Does anybody actually LISTEN to what the Bible says these days?  A lot of clergy clearly do not. 

I have carefully not identified the minister and his church as he is clearly just conforming to the traditions of his denomination and probably means well


The Replication Crisis and the Repetition Crisis

Steve Sailer notes that extensive restrictions on what social and biological scientists are allowed to think leads to only junk science being done.  He particularly concentrates on the problem of "data dredging" and rightly so.  It is a pernicious practice wide open to dishonesty  -- but there is an accepted remedy for it:  adoption of an experiment-wise error-rate approach.  That the remedy is rarely used is the real evidence of extensive unscientific "science"

With data becoming ever more abundant, this should be the golden age of the social sciences. And yet they seem to be suffering two mirror-image nervous breakdowns—the Replication Crisis and the Repetition Crisis.

Outright made-up-data fraud is hardly unknown in academia, but the double disasters have more to do with shortcomings in how contemporary researchers analyze relatively honest data. I suspect that the systemic failures stem more from researchers being allowed both too many and too few of that evocative (if actually rather dry) technical term: "degrees of freedom."

One cause of the Replication Crisis has been that analysts grant themselves excessive post hoc liberties to crunch the numbers however many ways it takes to find something—anything—that is "statistically significant" (which isn’t the same as actually significant) and thus qualifies as a paper for publish-or-perish purposes. Hence, social scientists seem to be coming up with a surplus of implausible junk science findings on trivial topics, such as "priming" (the contemporary version of subliminal advertising), which then routinely fail to replicate.

In contrast, in what I’ll dub the Repetition Crisis (a.k.a. the Explanation Crisis), academics hamstring the interest and usefulness of their findings by ruling out ahead of time any explanatory factors other than the same tiny number of politically correct concepts that were exhausted decades ago.

Why a Repetition Crisis? Dissident social psychologist Jonathan Haidt of NYU’s Stern School of Business, author of The Righteous Mind, pointed out in a freewheeling interview with John Leo how the ever-growing list of sacred cows in American life restricts what social scientists can allow themselves to discover about important issues:

For many years now, there have been six sacred groups. You know, the big three are African-Americans, women and LGBT. That’s where most of the action is. Then there are three other groups: Latinos, Native Americans…and people with disabilities. So those are the six that have been there for a while. But now we have a seventh—Muslims.

One could argue that there are more sacred groups than seven, but Haidt’s next point was illuminating:

"Something like 70 or 75 percent of America is now in a protected group. This is a disaster for social science because social science is really hard to begin with. And now you have to try to explain social problems without saying anything that casts any blame on any member of a protected group. And not just moral blame, but causal blame. None of these groups can have done anything that led to their victimization or marginalization.

For example, in discussing crime or poverty, social scientists are allowed to imply that the dirt that white people live upon is inherently magic while the dirt under black people is obviously tragic. But anything smarter and more interesting could get them furiously denounced by angry know-nothing students (or Watsoned out of their jobs if they lack tenure). So it’s safest just to blame everything and anything on white people.

Still, as the generations roll by, that’s increasingly sounding like a senile conspiracy theory. In 2016, blaming white privilege for everything you don’t like isn’t quite as lame as blaming the Bavarian Illuminati, but the gap is closing.

As the range of acceptable insights narrows, boredom stalks the social sciences.  Haidt notes:

"Anthropology and sociology are the worst—those fields seem to be really hostile and rejecting toward people who aren’t devoted to social justice.

Today, for example, it seems astonishing that 60 years ago cultural anthropologists like Margaret Mead could be celebrities. The educated public now assumes that cultural anthropologists are pedantic and petulant, best avoided"

It’s not surprising, therefore, that many social scientists try to sidestep the Repetition Crisis by avoiding important issues in favor of marketing-research-like problems, which in turn worsens the Replication Crisis. (The central distinction between science and marketing research is that the latter doesn’t strive to discover permanent truths: That, say, Bill Cosby was good at advertising Jell-O Pudding Pops in 1979 is good enough for marketing research. If you want to know whether to hire Cosby in 2016, marketing researchers would be happy to take your money.)

One cause of the Replication Crisis is the social-science version of the Hollywood excuse "We’ll fix it in post." As postproduction computer-generated imagery has gotten cheaper, movie directors have become more likely to rationalize on-set flaws in dialogue, acting, or their own direction with the reassurance that the scene can always be salvaged in postproduction by computer wizardry.

Similarly, Malcolm Gladwell-ish experiments can be often rescued after the fact by comparing multiple effects across subdivisions of the sample. Because you need to achieve a single result that would happen only 5 percent of the time by chance, if you can crunch your data twenty different ways, you have a 50-50 shot at statistical significance. [aka "data dredging" -- JR]

One way to think of the Replication and Repetition Crises is as emanating from opposite abuses of degrees of freedom. That cool-sounding phrase from early-20th-century statistics has been adopted over the years by mechanical engineering, rocket science, and robotics, although its statistical definition—"the number of values in the final calculation of a statistic that are free to vary"—remains notoriously frustrating for statistics instructors to get across verbally.

The term "degrees of freedom" was popularized by Ronald A. Fisher in the 1920s based on a 1908 paper published under the pseudonym "Student" by a quality-control expert at the Guinness brewery in Dublin. William Sealy Gosset was among the first to think rigorously about how much a statistical analyst’s confidence in his own conclusions ought to be reduced by the limited sample sizes he was forced to work with.

An influential 2011 paper on the Replication Crisis by Joseph P. Simmons, Leif D. Nelson, and Uri Simonsohn offered the term "researcher degrees of freedom" as a critique of the growing ability of researchers to slice and dice their way to statistically significant but temporary or even nonexistent correlations:

    "The culprit is a construct we refer to as researcher degrees of freedom. In the course of collecting and analyzing data, researchers have many decisions to make: Should more data be collected? Should some observations be excluded? Which conditions should be combined and which ones compared? Which control variables should be considered? Should specific measures be combined or transformed or both?

    It is rare, and sometimes impractical, for researchers to make all these decisions beforehand. Rather, it is common (and accepted practice) for researchers to explore various analytic alternatives, to search for a combination that yields "statistical significance," and to then report only what "worked." The problem, of course, is that the likelihood of at least one (of many) analyses producing a falsely positive finding at the 5% level is necessarily greater than 5%". ["data dredging" again -- JR]

This term, "researcher degrees of freedom," is even more useful if we recognize that just as analysts can overfit models that therefore won’t be replicable, they can also underfit by not being allowed adequate intellectual degrees of freedom to offer "controversial" explanations, driving them into endless repetitions of aging mantras about racism and sexism. The issue for Student was that data were expensive while potential explanatory factors were cheap. Today, the mirror image often reigns: Data are readily available, but honest explanatory factors can cost you your job.

Too many researcher degrees of freedom permit trickery; but too few cause stupidity.



An Endorsement of Bernie

    Former president of Cuba, Fidel Castro, held a four-hour long speech yesterday where he praised Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders for his "revolutionary" and "socialist ideas for America" reports the Havana Times.

    The former Cuban leader gave an impressive four-hour long speech to a crowd of thousands gathered to hear the words of the retired leader, a rare feat these past months due to his dwindling health at age 89.

    "Comrades, I speak before you today because I feel energized by this new America that is being born in front of our eyes" he told the crowd. "Socialism is coming to America, and its name is Bernie Sanders, the new face of Socialism" he said to an exalted crowd.

Castro's continued existence is a testament to the notion that good people die young, and evil people live forever. Tragically, many Americans don't understand the horrors his regime visited upon the Cuban people, turning the island nation into a prison from which millions of people have tried to flee on anything that would float.

But dont' tell that to Bernie Sanders. The Woodstock era wackjob who would like you to believe that he supports a more benign form of socialism("Democratic Socialism") heaped praise on the Cuban mass murderer in 1985 when the United States was still engaged in the Cold War. As CNS News notes:

    "In 1961, [America] invaded Cuba, and everybody was totally convinced that Castro was the worst guy in the world," said Sanders.

    "All the Cuban people were going to rise up in rebellion against Fidel Castro. They forgot that he educated their kids, gave their kids health care, totally transformed society," he said.

    "You know, not to say Fidel Castro and Cuba are perfect - they are certainly not - but just because Ronald Reagan dislikes these people does not mean to say the people in these nations feel the same," continued Sanders.

These are dangerous times in America, where idealistic young crowds seem to have no understanding of the horrors of global socialism.  Sanders can whitewash his past all he wants, but the fact remains: this is a man so obsessed with the notion of radical equality that he's willing to excuse the violence and repression of the Castro regime and those like it; a man who saw the Iron Curtain as a choice honeymoon location. Castro recognizes this temperament, and that's why he's as giddy as a kid on Christmas morning. Americans who care deeply about their liberties should take note, and vote accordingly. 



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL 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 and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


19 February, 2016

9/11 memo could have saved America: Michael Moore blames George W Bush

This news will boost Trump but rather unfairly. There are a myriad of warnings received by the U.S. intelligence services and knowing which to take seriously is a very difficult job.  Why would this one have stood out to GWB?  It didn't.  Muslims are great blowhards.  Iranians, for instance, have been chanting "Death to America" for decades but have never done anything about it

THIS is the chilling memo that warned the US Government a terror attack would be made against prime US targets five weeks before September 11 took place.

The document, marked as being "declassified and approved for release" on April 10, 2004, was posted to social media overnight by controversial filmmaker Michael Moore.

In a Facebook post, Moore makes fresh claims that then US president George W Bush saw the presidential daily brief titled Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US but did nothing about it.

Moore, who posted the image to his Facebook and Twitter pages, wrote: "Here’s the actual memo. Note reference/warning using words ‘World Trade Center’. 5 weeks before 9/11, GWB read this and did nothing."

The memo warns: "Clandestine, foreign government and media reports indicate Bin Laden since 1997 has wanted to conduct terrorist attacks in the US.

"Bin Laden implied in US television interviews in 1997 and 1998 that his followers would follow the example of World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef and ‘bring the fighting to America’."

Ramzi Yousef was one of the terrorists who bombed the World Trade Center in February 1993.  Yousef killed six people and injured more than 1000 after driving a van full of explosives into the basement of one tower.

Critics and some commentators claim the memo is definitive proof the US knew an attack on the twin towers was imminent, but authorities failed to prevent it.

The Fahrenheit 9/11 filmmaker, who has just released Where to Invade Next, also posted a picture of Bush being briefed on August 6, 2001, during the president’s summer vacation to back his claim.

"Here’s the photo of the exact moment on August 6, 2001, while W was on vacation, he was handed the briefing that read ‘Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.’ It said he might use planes. Bush put it down and went fishing."

While many of Moore’s Facebook page supported his claim, some critics claim the note is too vague and not specific enough.

Rebecca Green posted: "While I support you Michael Moore, and agree that Bush may have known about the attack, where’s the proof that this was the exact moment he found out? And who would have taken this picture? Where’s the credibility in your statement that he put the paper down and went fishing?"

Kathy Dittoe also wrote: "Where is the validation that he put the paper down and went fishing? I’m no Bush fan but am tired of both the left and right making claims with no back up. It’s like the candidates saying they’re going to do this or that if their (sic) elected president and don’t really go into how they expect they can do it."

Tom Switzer, a research associate at the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, warned Moore’s posts should be taken with a grain of salt.

Mr Switzer said while he agreed with Moore that the war in Iraq was illegal, immoral and unnecessary, the claim George W Bush knew an attack on the World Trade Center was imminent was completely far-fetched.  Mr Switzer likened Moore’s claim as a "conspiracy theory without any evidence".

He said he wasn’t sure why Moore was posing the memo 15 years after it was made, but said Donald Trump’s recent claims that Bush failed to protect America could have something to do with it.

He said he believed Moore was simply trying to appeal to the conspiracy mindset of both the left and the right and no one could have predicted how big the attack could be.  "It (9/11) caught the Bush Administration complexly off guard," Mr Switzer said.  "I suspect he’s (Moore) only posting this memo now on the back of Trump’s comments."

Mr Switzer said not even the Democrats would claim the Bush Administration knew such an attack was imminent or knew the level of detail enough to stop such an attack taking place.

Moore’s posts follow comments made by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump earlier this week where he lashed out at fellow candidate Jeb Bush, arguing the Bush Administration had failed to keep America safe.

"The war in Iraq was a big, fat mistake, right?" Trump said. "I wanna tell you. They lied. They said there were weapons of mass destruction. There were none. And they knew there were none. There were no weapons of mass destruction."

While Jeb Bush argued his brother kept the country safe, Trump lashed out again, this time bringing up the September 11 terrorist attacks.

"How did he keep us safe when the World Trade Center came down? I lost hundreds of friends. The World Trade Center came down during his reign. He kept us safe? That’s not safe. That is not safe. That is not safe."

While most across the globe think the war in Iraq was a mistake, the majority of Republicans still back it.  They also argue that president Bush didn’t knowingly "lie" about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.  Even the Democrats don’t blame Bush for 9/11.

Trump’s comments echo those made last October when he argued that George W Bush failed to keep the country safe during the September 11 terrorist attacks.  "Blame him, or don’t blame him, but he was president. The World Trade Center came down during his reign." Trump told Bloomberg TV.

Jeb Bush at the time wrote a column for the conservative National Review, likening Trump’s claims to those made by Moore.

"Trump echoes the attacks of Michael Moore and the fringe Left against my brother is yet another example of his dangerous views on national security issues," he wrote.

The Review further backed Jeb Bush’s comments noting that while America’s national security system failed in the lead-up to September 11, the failures preceded the former president’s inauguration.

Referring to the Bin Laden warning memo, a 2012 article in The New York Times revealed the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) as well as the National Security Council warned that al-Qaeda was a threat in the lead-up to the terror attacks which killed almost 3000 people.

But the warnings were reportedly considered part of a "disinformation campaign".

According to The Times the Bush White House declassified this daily brief on April 10, 2004, in response to pressure from the 9/11 Commission, which was investigating the events leading to the attack.

It goes on to reveal how administration "officials dismissed the document’s significance, saying that, despite the jaw-dropping headline, it was only an assessment of al-Qaeda’s history, not a warning of the impending attack."

It was not until September 4 that Cabinet met and approved a plan to fight al-Qaeda.  The plan was sitting on the President’s desk, waiting for his signature, on the morning the attacks shocked the world.

In an October 2015 interview with CNN, Phillip Zelikow who was the executive director of the 9/11 Commission, said "the US government as a whole did not grasp just how large catastrophic attack could be."

"That was true of both the Clinton administration and the Bush administration, and true for the Congress as well."



Not the America I Knew

Envy is defined by Dictionary.com as "a feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another’s advantages, success, possessions, etc." That perfectly characterizes the entire political philosophy of the Democratic progressive left.

Listening to presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, I often hear the principles I grew up with and practiced being disregarded, even denounced.

In his victory speech following his New Hampshire primary win, Sanders said America was founded on the principle of fairness.

No it wasn’t. You don’t find the word "fairness" in the Declaration of Independence, or the Constitution. The word you do find is "liberty." The Founders wanted Americans to be liberated from oppressive, intrusive, dictatorial government and to be free to pursue happiness, according to their definition of the word.

Sanders and Clinton aren’t channeling the Founders, they’re channeling Robin Hood. They want to take from people who have sacrificed, invested, risked and worked hard and give the fruits of their labors to others who have not embraced those noble practices.

Listening to some of the younger people who are enthralled by Sanders' philosophy suggests that they have been brainwashed by their public school teachers and college professors. Maybe we should increase the voting age to 30 when they might be expected to have achieved some modicum of success and will resent having their paychecks gutted by dysfunctional government.

The late football coach Vince Lombardi once said, "The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand."

Do you hear anything like that coming from the mouths of Sanders or Clinton? Where is the rhetoric I heard as a child such as "you can do this," "apply yourself," "persistence ensures success"?

Today, it is all about envying what others have. In biblical terms it is covetousness, a violation of the Tenth Commandment. Covetousness is destructive, not to the person who is its object, but to the person doing the coveting.

Does someone who envies, or covets, improve his station in life? Why won’t Sanders and Clinton speak of the virtues of hard work and making the right decisions so people can fend for themselves and their families? Instead we get speeches attacking millionaires and billionaires, as if they have cornered the market on wealth, leaving none behind for anyone else.

What a CEO or Wall Street banker earns has nothing to do with what I make, or could make, if I choose the right path. The right path means staying in school, getting married before having children and taking reasonable risks to improve one’s life, such as moving from a town where it is difficult to get a job or advance in one, to a place where there are better prospects.

Bernie Sanders is now trying to attract African-American voters by promising them more jobs, more government programs, more stuff. He’s also courting civil rights power broker Rev. Al Sharpton in hopes that he can help steer minority voters his way in exchange for access to the White House, but consider this quote from one of the great African-American leaders of the past, Booker T. Washington: "Nothing ever comes to one, that is worth having, except as a result of hard work."

That such noble sentiments have largely disappeared from our culture and been replaced by envy, greed and entitlement, explains why our national debt soars, why so many find themselves in financial difficulty, or think they do, because that’s what the left has told them.

If our forebears could rise from their graves, would they not rebuke us for the mess we have made of the nation they birthed and bequeathed to us?

At the founding of America, self-interest was often secondary to the public good. Today, self-interest is supreme and the public good is largely forgotten. No wonder we are in trouble on all levels, as liberal-progressives double down on failure to promote their own political self-interest.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL 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 and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


18 February, 2016

A case study in Leftist stupidity and refusal to learn -- the "stolen generation" myth in Australia

On very shallow grounds, many Australian Leftist historians  have alleged  that 1930s social workers took black (Aboriginal) children from their families willy-nilly and forcibly adopted them into white families in order to make them more like whites.  The allegation  suits the Leftist tendency to see "racism" under every bed.

Australia is a very tolerant, laid back country that has been absorbing people from many cultures for a couple of hundred years but Leftists are determined to find that Australians are racist -- and the "stolen generation" myth serves that purpose.  That the social workers concerned were do-gooder predecessors of today's Leftists doesn't seem to register.

Note the word "generation".  That implies thousands.  But at most one or two dubious removals have been identified.  Only endangered children were removed -- for their own safety -- as various official enquiries in modern times have found.

So how did Leftist historians get it so wrong?  By committing a characteristic Leftist mistake:  Thinking things were simpler than they were.  In particular, they committed a mistake well known to psychologists:  Mistaking attitudes for actions. 

Psychologists themselves fall into that mistake at times.  The most hilarious example of that happens when psychologists purport to study the psychology of conservatism -- aiming to disparage it, of course.  They produce sets of statements -- "scales" -- which they believe typify conservative thought and then correlate agreement with them to all sorts of maladjustment.  And when they find a correlation they think they have proved that conservatives are a sick lot.

One problem:  The scales fail to predict vote for conservative political candidates in national elections.  From Adorno, through McClosky to Altemeyer, their lists of "conservative" attitudes do not predict conservative actions.  Which shows you how little Leftists know about conservatism -- or anything else much for that matter.

The best known example of an attitude-behavior gap in fact comes from the era of the allegedly "stolen" generation.  In the 1930s LaPiere asked restaurateurs if they would serve a minority   person.  Most said No.  So LaPiere sent minorities into the restaurants of the Naysayers and found that they almost all were served without demur.  The restaurateurs' attitudes and actions usually did not match.

Why?  Because of practical difficulties, mostly.  Tossing someone out of your restaurant would create an unpleasant scene which was best avoided.

And a similar thing happened among Australian social workers of the 1930s.  Like most people in that era (and indeed today) the social workers saw Aborigines as a sad lot and wished to improve their situation.  And a solution that occurred to some of them was to remove all black children from their families and have them brought up by whites in white adoptive families.  They failed to grasp how profound are the differences between Aborigines and whites.  You are still not allowed to see that, of course.

And the reason why they did not implement that policy was that it was both difficult and mostly illegal.  So it was only when the safety of a black child was threatened that they used their social-work powers to remove that child from its family.  Given the high rate of dysfunction in black families, however, the only reasonably available adoptive families were often white.  And thus the myth of "stolen" children arose among incautious Leftist historians.  Caution is in short supply among Leftists generally.

The myth persists among Australian Leftists to this day and it is such a pernicious myth that social workers are often now afraid to remove endangered Aboriginal children from dysfunctional families.  It's a myth that kills black kids:  Another bad effect of Leftism.

For a systematic debunking of the myth, see historian Keith Windschuttle's magisterial tome "The Fabrication of Aboriginal History, Volume Three, The Stolen Generations 1881-2008". For more concise treatments of the topic see here and here and here (scroll down)


Trump's rejection of the Bushes will help him

He's already got a lot of support from registered Democrats.  This should get him more.  And who can deny that the Middle-East intervention has not gone well?

Donald Trump adopted Ronald Reagan’s slogan, "Let’s Make America Great Again," but he continues to defy Reagan’s sacred commandment: "Thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican."

With good reason. Look what Trump’s latest sacrilege got him: Jeb Bush, watching, Eli Manning-like, as big brother shows him how to win the game. And with that sibling psycho-drama comes the added burden of revisiting the terrorist attack of Sept. 11, 2001, which happened on George W. Bush’s presidential watch, and led to his decision to invade Iraq.

Those issues hobbled Jeb Bush at the start of his campaign, as he tried to prove he was his own man — and not his brother’s keeper. Now, thanks to Trump, they are back in the spotlight.

If Reagan-era conventions applied, Trump has gone so nuclear with the ill-speaking, he should be radioactive. But until voters say so, he’s not. Ever the gambler, he’s betting the passion for political revolution on the right is as real as the one on the left — and that flushing out the establishment represented by the Bush dynasty is the path to victory.

That was clear during last Saturday’s debate, when Trump declared, "Obviously, the war in Iraq was a big, fat mistake. George Bush made a mistake. We can make mistakes. But that one was a beauty. We should have never been in Iraq. We have destabilized the Middle East." Trump continued to attack during a Monday press conference, comparing the argument that Bush kept the country safe after 9/11 to saying that a rival team "scored 19 runs in the first inning, but after that, we played pretty well."

Marveling at Trump’s chutzpah now sounds as trite as the sentiment behind Reagan’s famous "It’s morning again in America" ad — a theme reprised in a Marco Rubio campaign ad. But Trump’s success, so far, is based on a different kind of self-promotion. Jeb Bush derides it as Trump’s willingness to insult his way to the White House. The problem for all Trump opponents is that some of his insults ring true enough.

Jeb Bush may have a little more zip than he did when Trump first tagged him as "low-energy," but he’s far from electric. As for his brother, it’s hard to deny that on the morning of Sept. 11, George W. Bush did not keep the country safe. Having the former president recount his version of being told when the planes struck the World Trade Center towers is a reminder of the controversy over warnings the Bush administration failed to heed.

And hearing the former president declare "The presidency is a serious job that requires sound judgment and good ideas" is not necessarily a boost to the brother who wants to be president. Does Jeb really want to answer yet again for W’s judgment and ideas?

Remember how Jeb Bush struggled to answer questions about the Iraq invasion? First, he said that he, too, would have authorized the invasion. Then he said that, knowing what we know now, mistakes were made. After that, he said we should focus on the lessons learned. And after that, he said the lesson learned was the need for good intelligence.

Pushing Bush back to that turf is win-win for Trump’s quest to make himself great. Making the country great is another matter.



SCOTUS:  Now is the time to Follow Democrat Precedents

"The Constitution is not a living organism. ... It's a legal document, and it says what it says and doesn't say what it doesn't say." —Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

News of Antonin Scalia's death was like a kick to the gut for conservatives. Scalia long has been the anchor of the conservative wing of the court. He was a champion of "originalism" — the philosophy of interpreting the Constitution according to the intentions of the men who wrote it. His jurisprudential brilliance and his sharp wit were legendary, and even though he spent most of his career on the Court in the minority, he had more influence in the minority than his lesser colleagues had in the majority. Such was the high quality of his legal reasoning.

His loss is devastating and cannot be overstated.

His passing also throws a huge curve ball into the political circus that is the presidential election year. Constitutionally, Barack Obama is well within his powers to nominate another justice to replace Scalia, even if that nominee will inevitably be a far left-wing radical with barely disguised contempt for the Constitution as originally written. After all, it should not be surprising for a radical leftist president to nominate a radical leftist judge who shares his view that the Constitution "reflected the fundamental flaw of this country."

At Saturday night's GOP debate, pretty much every Republican frowned on the idea of Obama, with less than a year left in office, nominating another justice, and most said the Senate should block any Obama nominee. Predictably, Democrats are outraged at the thought of Obama not getting his choice confirmed.

What short memories they have.

First, let's stipulate that Obama does have the power, even the duty some might argue, to nominate a replacement to the Supreme Court. Article II, Section 2, Clause 2, states, "He shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint ... Judges of the supreme Court."

But maybe angry liberals, furious at expected GOP "obstruction," should recall the words of a newly elected Barack Obama on Jan. 23, 2009, when at the beginning of a meeting to discuss the "stimulus" bill he arrogantly chided GOP Minority Leader Eric Cantor, "Elections have consequences, and at the end of the day, I won." Considering that Republicans made historic gains in the U.S. House, Senate, and state governorships and legislatures during the 2010 and 2014 midterms, it would seem that Republicans are well within their rights to demand a Supreme Court nominee that is acceptable to them.

Democrats might also do well to note that Senator Barack Obama voted against George W. Bush nominee and now Chief Justice John Roberts — the same man who saved ObamaCare not once but twice — and filibustered Samuel Alito. In doing so, Obama declared it incumbent upon the Senate to make "an examination of a judge's philosophy, ideology and record." It's worth noting that of the 16 presidents who served in the Senate, Obama is the only one who filibustered a Supreme Court nomination. What goes around comes around.

Furthermore, it was none other than soon-to-be top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer (D-NY) who, in 2007, a full 18 months before Bush left office, gave a speech to the liberal American Constitution Society in which he said, "We should not confirm any Bush nominee to the Supreme Court, except in extraordinary circumstances. ... They must prove by actions, not words, that they are in the mainstream rather than we have to prove that they are not."

And then there's the sordid history of Democrat senators like Chuck Schumer, Ted Kennedy and Obama's own vice president, Joe Biden, engaging in vicious character assassination of conservative judicial nominees like Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas.

Democrats are currently pleading that they confirmed Anthony Kennedy in 1988 — also an election year. But they conveniently neglect to mention why that was necessary. Bork, Ronald Reagan's first choice for the seat, was so thoroughly pilloried and slandered that a new term — "borked" — was coined to describe the attack. Bork was defeated, leaving Reagan to choose Kennedy instead.

And Thomas referred to his confirmation process, which he narrowly passed after Democrats portrayed him as a sexual deviant, as a "high-tech lynching."

Several 4-4 decisions now loom, leaving bad results in place for Little Sisters of the Poor, Obama's immigration actions and forced union dues supporting political causes that workers oppose. And with a series of 5-4 opinions from the High Court in recent years deciding the scope of our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, our First Amendment rights as pertains to political speech, the legal definition of marriage (and in the process putting our freedoms of religion, speech and assembly at risk), it is absolutely imperative that Republicans hold out for a strict constructionist in the mold of Scalia.

Scalia was a legal giant and, though portrayed as just short of the devil by leftists, a good man who quietly lived by his principles, even when he thought no one was looking, which may be why he was able to be "best buddies" with an ideological opposite like Ruth Bader-Ginsberg. Republicans owe it to his memory, and more importantly, to the never-ending battle for the security and sanctity of the Constitution which Scalia spent nearly half a century honoring and defending, to make sure that the next Supreme Court justice shares his respect and reverence for Rule of Law.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL 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 and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


17 February, 2016

Fierce battle lines drawn over Supreme Court seat

An epic Washington political battle took shape Sunday after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia as Senate Republicans dug in and refused to act on any Supreme Court nomination by President Obama. The White House vowed to submit a nominee within weeks.

Two senators seeking the Republican presidential nomination, Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida, both said unequivocally that the Republican-controlled Senate should ignore any nomination sent by Obama to Capitol Hill.
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“The president can nominate whoever he wants, but the Senate is not going to act, and that’s pretty clear,” Rubio said on “Fox News Sunday.” “So, we can keep debating it but we’re not moving forward on it, period.”

In an interview on ABC’s “This Week,” Cruz, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said: “Let the election decide it. If the Democrats want to replace this nominee, they need to win the election.”

In Saturday night’s Republican debate in South Carolina, Donald Trump called on the Senate to delay action on the nomination. Jeb Bush said it was Obama’s right to make a nomination but said he doubted the president would submit a consensus nominee.
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Candidates for the Supreme Court

The president would have to try to find a candidate with enough appeal to Republicans, who have widely said they won’t act on a nomination, to force a vote.

The comments followed declarations by Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, that Obama should not try to fill the vacancy left by Scalia, who died Saturday in Texas, given that less than a year remains in his second term.

That view is backed by Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, which would consider any nominee. The stance puts Senate Republicans in the politically charged position of defying the president on a crucial court opening amid the heat of the presidential campaign — and while also trying to hold on to their majority in the Senate.

Democrats immediately sought to pressure Republicans, saying that a refusal to even consider a nominee would amount to an outrageous act of obstructionism.

Democrats predicted that a backlash from the public, particularly in the swing states where Republicans need to win to hold their control of the Senate, could eventually prompt reconsideration by McConnell.

“I think there is at least a 50-50 chance that pressure from the Republican Senate caucus will force McConnell to reverse himself and at least hold hearings and a vote,” said Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, a member of the Judiciary Committee.

Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, rejected McConnell’s call to allow the next president to appoint the new justice.

“Senator McConnell is right that the American people should have a voice in the selection of the next Supreme Court justice. In fact, they did — when President Obama won the 2012 election by 5 million votes,” Warren wrote on her Twitter page.

Scalia’s body was taken to a West Texas airport Sunday afternoon and was being flown to Virginia after it was determined he died of natural causes. Scalia’s family didn’t think a private autopsy was necessary and requested his remains be flown home as soon as possible, said Chris Lujan, a manager for Sunset Funeral Homes.

Scalia, 79, was found dead in his room at a West Texas resort ranch Saturday morning. Judge Cinderela Guevara of Presidio County, site of the ranch, told the Washington Post that he died of a heart attack.

In choosing a nominee, Obama could pick a liberal version of Scalia, which would fire up Democrats but would virtually assure that Republicans would block the nomination in the Senate.

Or he could choose a moderate — someone who came up as a prosecutor or a corporate litigator, with little record on culture-war issues — which could increase pressure on Republicans to allow a vote.

If Obama passes up the opportunity to put forward a progressive in favor of someone who represented corporations, it could provoke a backlash from the left and hurt Democrats in upcoming elections.

The two Democratic presidential candidates will have to take a stand on whomever the president nominates, and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont is challenging Hillary Clinton from the left and making the power of the corporate establishment an issue.

It was not clear which way the president was leaning. But some former White House officials said they would advocate a nominee with a proven record of support in Congress as a way of laying bare the purely political nature of the Republican opposition.

“There will be many opinions on this and a lot of good candidates,” said David Axelrod, a former senior adviser to Obama. “But I would favor sitting appellate judges like Srinivasan or Jane Kelly from the Eighth Circuit, who have cleared the Senate unanimously.”

Sri Srinivasan, an Indian-American jurist whom Obama nominated to the US Court of Appeals, was confirmed by a vote of 97 to 0 by the Senate in May 2013. Kelly, a former federal public defender in Iowa who was in Obama’s class at Harvard Law School, was nominated to the Court of Appeals in 2013. Like Srinivasan, she was confirmed unanimously — in her case, 96 to 0.

Two other potential nominees are Patricia Ann Millet another judge on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, and Paul J. Watford, a judge on the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

The shock of Scalia’s death and the battle over whether to proceed with a confirmation threatened to upend McConnell’s careful plans to show that the Senate was working again after years of dysfunction. Republicans were eager for a relatively calm year leading into the election, but Scalia’s death ended those hopes.

Democrats said that if McConnell persisted in trying to block a nomination, he should anticipate little cooperation from them moving forward.

“If McConnell stonewalls, we will empty the arsenal,” said one top Democratic official, who requested anonymity to discuss party strategy. “We will make sure this is seen as the radical, unprecedented act of obstruction that it is.”

Democrats said that they would welcome the opportunity to confirm a justice who would reshape the ideological makeup of the court with so many crucial decisions looming.

They said that if Republicans dismiss a nominee without a hearing or a vote, it would play to their political advantage and would motivate voters both in the presidential contest and the crucial Senate races in states such as Illinois, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Hampshire, and elsewhere.

Republicans said the fight would energize their voters as well and they would face a conservative revolt if they did proceed with a nominee, allowing Obama a late-term victory in potentially reshaping the court.



There’s Ample Precedent For Rejecting Lame Duck Supreme Court Nominees

Historically, many Supreme Court nominations made in a President’s final year in office are rejected by the Senate. That started with John Quincy Adams and last occurred to Lyndon B. Johnson.

It is critically important that the Senate hold pro forma sessions, since President Barack Obama would be able to make a recess appointment to the Supreme Court if the Senate goes out of session. Currently, there is a five-day recess this week and a two-week recess scheduled for April. There have been twelve such recess appointments to the high court. A recess appointment would last until the end of the Senate’s next session.

Historically, most presidents select a nominee within a week of a Supreme Court vacancy. However, there have been several lengthy vacancies when the Senate refused to play ball with controversial presidents or controversial nominees.

President John Tyler had a particularly difficult time filling vacancies. Smith Thompson died in office December 18, 1843. His replacement, Samuel Nelson, was in office starting February 14, 1845. That’s a vacancy of 424 days. Henry Baldwin died in office April 21, 1844. His replacement, Robert Cooper, was in office starting August 4, 1846. This vacancy lasted 835 days because Tyler could not get the Senate to work with him. During Tyler’s presidency, the Senate rejected nine separate Supreme Court nominations!

Most recently, Abe Fortas resigned May 14, 1969. His replacement, Harry Blackmun, was in office starting June 9, 1970, making the gap just longer than a year.

Several pending cases were expected to be 5-4 decisions. Crucially, the immigration (DAPA) case, United States v. Texas et al., and the mandatory union dues case, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, and the Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged v. Burwell cases on the contraception mandate accommodation.

Decisions that are tied with a 4-4 vote have no binding precedent and the decision of the lower court is upheld. This would be good in United States v. Texas et al., because the lower court’s decision was that states have standing to sue against an Obama policy that muzzles states from enforcing immigration laws.

But this would bad in the Friedrichs case as the lower court ruled that teachers must pay union dues, even if those dues fund political causes that violate a union members beliefs. Likewise, if the lower court’s decision in the Little Sisters of the Poor case were to be upheld, it would force the nonprofit organization to fund contraception, even though that violates their religious beliefs.



Black Lies Matter

Manhattan Institute fellow Heather Mac Donald has written extensively about crime and has a new op-ed revealing that, while Black Lives Matter has “convinced Democrats and progressives that there is an epidemic of racist white police officers killing young black men,” the “movement is based on fiction.”

    Not just the fictional account of the 2014 police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., but the utter misrepresentation of police shootings generally.

    To judge from Black Lives Matter protesters and their media and political allies, you would think that killer cops pose the biggest threat to young black men today. But this perception, like almost everything else that many people think they know about fatal police shootings, is wrong.

    The Washington Post has been gathering data on fatal police shootings over the past year and a half to correct acknowledged deficiencies in federal tallies. The emerging data should open many eyes.

    For starters, fatal police shootings make up a much larger proportion of white and Hispanic homicide deaths than black homicide deaths. According to the Post database, in 2015 officers killed 662 whites and Hispanics, and 258 blacks. (The overwhelming majority of all those police-shooting victims were attacking the officer, often with a gun.) Using the 2014 homicide numbers as an approximation of 2015’s, those 662 white and Hispanic victims of police shootings would make up 12% of all white and Hispanic homicide deaths. That is three times the proportion of black deaths that result from police shootings.

    The lower proportion of black deaths due to police shootings can be attributed to the lamentable black-on-black homicide rate. There were 6,095 black homicide deaths in 2014 — the most recent year for which such data are available — compared with 5,397 homicide deaths for whites and Hispanics combined. Almost all of those black homicide victims had black killers.

    Police officers — of all races — are also disproportionately endangered by black assailants. Over the past decade, according to FBI data, 40% of cop killers have been black. Officers are killed by blacks at a rate 2.5 times higher than the rate at which blacks are killed by police.

Never mind these facts, though. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders will be increasingly campaigning on the issue as they traverse the South during primary season.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL 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 and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


16 February, 2016

A Progressive Wish List, An Unsustainable Budget

It’s quite telling that the cover of the federal budget for the 2017 fiscal year portrays snow-capped mountains, because the proposals read like a liberal wish list being sent to Santa’s workshop. Despite the absurd recommendations by President Obama, however, the enactment of such policies would have devastating consequences for years to come.

This spending proposal, that last to be offered by our current president, includes spending increases of $4.15 trillion (with a T), as well as $2.6 trillion in tax hikes. All of this comes on the heels of the CBO report on future federal debt. At our current spending levels, including the Omnibus bill passed last December, the annual budget deficit is projected to rise to $544 billion. This will all contribute to the national debt, sitting at record heights of $19 trillion, and is expected to rise by $9.4 trillion in the next decade. Even now, reigning in federal spending should be priority number one of all our elected officials, not increasing government programs to score a few political points.

Clearly, however, the Obama administration prefers the latter, which is way the newly proposed budget reads more like a partisan cheat sheet rather than a serious effort to work with the legislature and improve our country’s fiscal integrity. In fact, there are so many ideologically-motivated proposals that Congress is likely to disregard the entire document.

Throughout the budget plan, Obama is picking clear winners and losers with his increases in spending and taxes. Among them is the government-satellite green energy industry. In his budget, Obama plans to increase research on developing and implementing green energy sources to $12.8 billion, double the amount that the program currently receives. Furthermore, another $1.3 billion will be sent to a green Climate Fund, agreed upon at the Paris climate conference, that will allow developing countries to develop their own alternate energy markets with heavy government intervention.

A second clear winner from the Obama budget: higher education administrators. With plans to massively increase the amount of federal spending towards lower and higher education, another rise in tuition will likely follow shortly afterwards. After all, it has been recorded that recent increases in federal education funding have produced entire departments of unnecessary administrators at universities across the nation.

Of course, not everyone makes off as well as these government favorites. One of the biggest losers from the budget proposal: reliable energy sources. From the increasingly-burdensome regulations on the coal industry to the new $10 dollar tax on oil barrels (which would translate into a 22 cent-per-gallon tax on gasoline), well-established energy sources are being hindered from innovating and expanding to benefit Americans across the country, which will then disproportionately impact low-income individuals and families.

As a matter of fact, it will be the American citizens that will suffer the most from Obama’s budget proposal. Cadillac taxes on health care are expected to rise significantly. Expansions in Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security will pose a serious cost on future generations, as more and more members of the baby-boomer generation are retiring. Taxes will increase, national debt will balloon, and the US will be all the worse just so that President Obama can take advantage of his office one last time.

Not long after Obama proposed his 2017 budget, Republican legislators immediately dismissed the document as ludicrous. Speaker Ryan tweeted out a comical, though telling, survey asking if the mountain on the cover represented the increases in debt, regulations, or taxes found in the budget plan (Hint: it’s all of the above). Many other legislators, in the both the House and Senate, have outright rejected the plan and indicated that they will propose their own budget with much less liberal use of the purse.

Whether he intended to make serious changes or not, President Obama has presented us with his last attempt at implementing his ideological agenda. Though some proposals are about as realistic as elves and flying reindeer, the potential harm done to the country, should such a budget pass, is no laughing matter.



Why old-school gender politics is turning off young women

It seems that Hillary Clinton’s decision to play the gender card has left her with a losing hand. Following her defeat in New Hampshire on Tuesday, it’s become apparent that Clinton’s reliance on chasing the female vote has turned off a significant number of voters.

Clinton’s 2008 campaign for the presidency pointedly denounced the idea that gender played an important role in her politics: ‘I am not running as a woman. I am running because I believe I am the best qualified and experienced person.’ What a difference eight years make. This time round, Clinton kicked off her campaign with a clear message that she was running for president as a ‘wife, mom [and] grandma’.

But Clinton’s recent exploitation of gender politics isn’t that much of a u-turn. In her 2008 concession speech, she famously announced:

‘Although we weren’t able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it’s got about 18million cracks in it, and the light is shining through like never before, filling us all with the hope and the sure knowledge that the path will be a little easier next time.’

Clinton’s current campaign has simply picked up the mic from that speech in Washington, but this time with an almost blind commitment to chasing the female vote.

The list of Clinton’s famous supporters is like a who’s who of celebrity feminists. Jamie Lee Curtis, Lena Dunham, Katy Perry, Demi Lovato and other young famous women have come out in support of the grandma-in-chief.

Since the campaign began, Clinton’s feminist support base has been on the offensive, criticising the way in which Clinton has been supposedly stereotyped by the media. In a recent plug for the Clinton campaign, Dunham provided a list of ‘rabidly sexist’ words which had been used to describe Clinton. ‘I literally want to make a list that we hand to media outlets that says, “these are the words you can’t use when describing a female candidate”’, she wrote. This is all despite the fact that Dunham’s own interview with Clinton ended with what some might call a sexist question: ‘Our last question is by far our most important question, which is that we need to ask you about this dress.’

If you thought that was bad enough, Clinton’s campaign took a turn for the worse last week when old-school feminist Gloria Steinem and former Democratic secretary of state Madeleine Albright attempted to garner female support for Clinton by chastising young women who intended to vote for Clinton’s rival, Bernie Sanders. Albright gave female voters a stern warning, uttering her now infamous slogan, ‘There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other!’. Meanwhile, Steinem told talk-show host Bill Maher that young women weren’t supporting Clinton because they were more interested in getting lucky: ‘When you’re young, you’re thinking: “Where are the boys?” The boys are with Bernie.’

Despite her claims otherwise, Clinton’s focus on ‘womanly politics’ is a clear endorsement of ‘vagina voting’. But though she has been criticised for courting the millennial vote, with Dunham donning embroidered Clinton outfits, this brand of gender-obsessed politics is not a specifically young phenomenon. The fact that both Steinem and Albright, proponents of the ‘personal is political’ generation of feminism, have come out with such rubbish shows that identity politics is not simply a millennial fashion: it has deeper roots, back to the start of second-wave feminism and its elevation of sexual identity over class and economic considerations.

In fact, young women have defended their choice not to be pigeonholed by their gender. The New York Times published several letters it received from women who were outraged by the suggestion that they had a duty to support Clinton simply because she was female. ‘I am tired of being condescended to by other women about the presidential election’, read one. ‘The cluelessness of these feminist elders is astounding’, read another.

Clinton’s presidential campaign is the result of decades of gender-obsessed feminism. Perhaps this is why Clinton has failed to hit it off with many young women who aren’t part of the small, identity-politics-obsessed campus scene, who don’t read the Vagenda or watch Girls. The Clinton camp has whinged about the Republicans’ use of Clinton’s personal life, especially in relation to her husband’s affair, as an argument against her. But what did she expect? Clinton’s entire campaign is focused on her personality and emotional relationships – her personal life is the basis of her political campaign.

I hope young women are turning away from Clinton in reaction to the insulting suggestion that politics is about electing someone who looks like you, rather than someone you believe in. But it’s probably not as simple as that – Bernie Sanders is hardly innocent of playing up to specific interest groups and courting the hip youth vote. Nevertheless, it’s exciting to see women rejecting the idea that simply having a female president would be beneficial to women. Never mind Clinton’s cracks in the glass ceiling, it is the cracks in her campaign that are really interesting.



In defence of "The Selfish Gene"

Richard Dawkins’ book is more than a Thatcherite manifesto

Believe it or not, when "The Selfish Gene", by Richard Dawkins, was published 40 years ago, it was greeted with warmth and interest. There was no shrieking, no alarm. Only recently has it come to be considered offensive – with its capacity to upset and outrage growing with every year.

While the reviews in 1976 were ‘gratifyingly favourable’, as Dawkins wrote in the preface to the 1989 edition, ‘it was not seen, initially, as a controversial book. Its reputation for contentiousness took years to grow, until, by now, it is widely regarded as a work of radical extremism.’ In the 21st century, The Selfish Gene remains one of the most disputed pieces of scientific writing.

As The Selfish Gene’s repute spread, its perceived ‘biological reductionism’ or ‘determinism’ came to be regarded as an affront to notions of the soul, to free will and human agency. Christians mistrusted it as much as the secular left. If the 1960s was the decade in which everything seemed possible, The Selfish Gene seemed to epitomise the 1970s spirit of defeatism and fatalism.

That decade also saw the re-emergence of the right in Britain under Margaret Thatcher, and it was unfortunate that a book with ‘selfish’ in its title should appear concurrently with the rise of the woman famed for proclaiming there to be ‘no such thing as society’, even if she was misquoted. Dawkins argued that ‘a dominant quality of our genes is ruthless selfishness, which will usually give rise to selfishness in individual behaviour… We are born selfish.’ Dawkins was thus deemed the biological godfather for the tooth-and-claw capitalism of the 1980s, and the casino capitalism of the 2000s. Others couldn’t help but point out that, in the wake of The Selfish Gene’s appearance, anti-humanist genetic determinism started to take a foothold in Western cultural discourse. ‘It’s my genes’ was now a defence and an excuse.

As Dawkins wrote in the original, and has had to restate for over 40 years to those who deliberately misunderstand his thesis, he didn’t state that human behaviour was self-seeking. As a Labour supporter, he certainly didn’t advocate that it should be.

His thesis was that genes behave as if they seek self-propagation, and this was (largely) the determinant of behaviour in nature. Individuals are just the carriers of these apparently selfish genes, which seek to self-replicate. This is why bees apparently commit suicide in defence of the hive, or birds will risk their lives to warn the flock of an approaching hawk. It is the selfishness of genes that facilitates behaviour benefiting the greater good.

In the end, though, does any of this matter? Trying to wring cultural significance out of what goes on in nature is always fraught with difficulty, because people will perceive what they want and draw allusions as they please. Female penguins go out and hunt and the males look after the offspring, therefore the same arrangement could and should apply to humans. Lesbian lizards in South America demonstrate that civil partnerships are normal. Six per cent of elephant seals take all the females, so here’s to a society based on alpha-male principles.

Yet as Dawkins concludes in The Selfish Gene itself, while humans emerged from the animal world, we alone are the species not bound to its whims. We alone have reason. We alone erect cathedrals and invent computers. That’s why Dawkins is both a humanist and an atheist: we don’t have to be nature’s puppets or mental slaves to belief systems. In other words, The Selfish Gene can tell us many fundamental things about the world except one: the mind of man.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL 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 and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


15 February, 2016

Millennials Pick Socialism Over Capitalism

A new survey from YouGov finds that millennials have more favorable views of socialism than of capitalism.

As Santayana said, those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it. Less than two decades after socialism seemed to have been confined to the dust-heap of history, another generation may have to learn hard lessons.

The survey, taken at the end of January, found that 43 percent of Americans under 30 had a favorable view of socialism. Less than a third of millennials had a favorable view of capitalism. No other age or ethnic demographic preferred socialism over capitalism.

Seniors, unsurprisingly, had the most favorable view of capitalism. Just 23 percent of Americans older than 65 had a positive view of socialism. Sixty-three percent of seniors, though, had a favorable view of capitalism.

Seniors, after all, experienced the long-standing intellectual battle between capitalism and socialism played out in real life. They witnessed a post-war economic euphoria grind down into a socialist malaise, only to be reinvigorated by a global embrace of disruptive technology, deregulation, and global trade.

In the past 20 years, the number of people living in poverty worldwide has fallen by half. In 1990, 43 percent of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty. In 2013, the United Nations estimated that just 22 percent of the world’s population continued to live in extreme poverty.

“Never in history have the living conditions and prospects of so many people changed so dramatically and so fast,” the UN Human Development report said.

Even if millenials aren’t swayed by the dramatic improvement in worldwide living standards, one would hope they would see the benefits of capitalism in the products and services that inhabit their world.

They live, and thrive, in a consumer-driven, on-demand society. They have immediate access, at their fingertips, to more knowledge, art, music, and communication than the wealthiest oligarch just a few decades ago.

Each and every one of the products and services they use every day was developed by someone chasing profit and market-share. It is a cliche to say that capitalism has powered the technological and scientific innovations that have improved all our lives. Apparently, however, it is a cliche that bears repeating.

On a postive note, every other demographic block in America still prefers capitalism over socialism. Well, Democrats, perhaps naturally, are evenly split between the two economic systems. At least Democrats, though, have slightly higher unfavorable ratings of socialism than capitalism.

The danger, of course, is that the demographic in America that does prefer socialism is also the future of the country. Of course, they have the luxury of looking positively on socialism, since any impact on their lives is restricted to dusty history books.

The finding also presents something of an existential dilema for the conservative and libertarian movement. Since the 1980s, the institutional infrastructure of the conservative and libertarian movement has grown exponentially.

Aside from dozens of national think tanks and advocacy organizations devoted to propogating conservative and free market views, there are more than a hundred free-market think tanks in states across the country.

It is safe to say that billions of dollars have been spent over the past two decades promoting and educating the public on the benefits of capitalism and free markets. There are publishing imprints, media companies and new conservative news sites everywhere. Yet, something has gone horribly wrong.

Many in the commentariat have watched the rise of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
with a certain touch of condescending nostalgia. “Oh, look a socialist is running for President, isn’t that cute,” you can almost hear them type.

For many, Bernie’s label as a socialist was something he would have to overcome to make a serious run for the White House. It may now be, however, something he needs to more warmly embrace.



The Other Black History

    The irony is that black history in the first half of the 20th century is a history of tremendous progress despite overwhelming odds. During a period of legal discrimination and violent hostility to their advancement, blacks managed to make unprecedented gains that have never been repeated. Black poverty fell to 47% from 87% between 1940 and 1960 — before the implementation of Great Society programs that receive so much credit for poverty reduction. The percentage of black white-collar workers quadrupled between 1940 and 1970—before the implementation of affirmative-action policies that supposedly produced today’s black middle class.

    In New York City, the earnings of black workers tripled between 1940 and 1950, and over the next decade the city saw a 55% increase in the number of black lawyers, a 56% increase in the number of black doctors and a 125% increase in the number of black teachers, according to political scientist Michael Javen Fortner’s new book, “Black Silent Majority.” The number of black nurses, accountants and engineers grew at an even faster clip over the same period. “There are signs that the Negro has begun to develop a large, strong middle class,” wrote Time magazine in 1953.

    You don’t hear much about this black history during Black History Month (or any other month, for that matter) because it undercuts the dominant narrative pushed by the political left and accepted uncritically by the media. The Rev. Al Sharpton and the NAACP have no use for empirical evidence of significant black socioeconomic gains during the Jim Crow era, because they have spent decades insisting that blacks can’t advance until racism has been eliminated. If racism is no longer a significant barrier to black upward mobility and doesn’t explain today’s racial disparities, then blacks may have no use for Mr. Sharpton and the NAACP. The main priority of civil-rights leaders today is self-preservation.



US elections follow cyclical pattern

Do you see a partisan pattern to our elections, mainly at the national level but also at the state and local ones as well?

Let’s take the recent presidential elections. I will start with the Democrats Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman, who were followed by Republican Dwight Eisenhower and then by Democrats John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson.

Johnson was followed by Republicans Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, then Democrat Jimmy Carter, then Republican Ronald Reagan, followed by his vice president, George H.W. Bush. Then came Democrat Bill Clinton, succeeded by Republican George W. Bush and finally Democrat Barack Obama.

Notice that the two parties alternate, although former vice presidents Truman, Johnson and the first Bush carried on their party’s hold on the White House. That does not change the alternating pattern.

What accounts for this?

Some would say that Americans like to change the party of the person holding the top job because their democratic views do not favor a one-party monopoly on power. “Time for a change” has defined lots of elections. But why?

Here is my take on the issue.

In the time of the Democrats FDR and Truman, voters got the New Deal and the Fair Deal, with lots of progressive reforms, such as Social Security, pro-labor programs, the GI Bill, the integration of the military and an activist foreign policy, with two big wars. Taxes were high. Regulations on businesses appeared excessive.

Eisenhower promised a moderate domestic police, stable taxes and an end to the latest war, in Korea. But he didn’t repeal the New Deal – he even expanded it in such areas civil rights and major public works programs, such as the Interstate Highway System.

Then, according to Kennedy, it was “time to get the country moving again.” His election, while fraudulent – electoral votes were illegally delivered from Illinoisand Texas – produced the New Frontier and Johnson’s Great Society. New programs and regulations arose, as did the Vietnam War.

Nixon, like Ike, promised moderation and a plan to end a war. He didn’t promise dirty tricks, but he produced them. Carter, righteous – or self-righteous – promised honesty and clean government, but his incompetence, in both foreign policy, especially with the Soviet Union, and the economy with stagflation, ushered in Reagan.

The Gipper called for a stronger America, economic renewal, and victory in the Cold War. His vice president, Bush, presided over the collapse of the Soviet Union, got a half-victory over Saddam Hussein in the Gulf War and raised taxes, but became fuddled in managing the economy.

This left an opening for Clinton, who promised economic reform, a measured foreign policy, and reforms in health care and education. He also left a bad taste in the mouths of many voters with his personal conduct. Then, in one of the country’s strangest and most disputed elections, the Supreme Court awarded the presidency to George W. Bush. Like his father, Bush mismanaged a dormant economy while fighting a necessary war in Afghanistan after 9/11 and, breaking new ground, a crusading, expensive war of choice in Iraq. Bad.

Enter Obama pledging to end American-run wars, revive the economy and provide health care for all (or most) Americans. These he did, but the wars still rage, the Islamic State spread its tentacles, and the world is a mess, with the U.S. no longer able to be the “leader of the free world.”

So, what’s next?

Hillary Clinton was not Obama’s vice president, but she was close to that as secretary of state. Clearly, she is another VP legacy candidate. Bernie Sanders is a cause, not a likely nominee. The Republican field is in great disarray, with Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, etc. They all want to be another Reagan, only a more militant one who reduces taxes even more and eliminates Obamacare. There is not much there but anger.

Clinton is clearly the odds-on favorite, and rightly so.



A new Cold War?

Tensions may be rising, but Russia is not to blame

Earlier this month, James Clapper, US national intelligence chief, announced that US intelligence agencies would be conducting a major review of alleged Russian funding of opposition parties in Europe. Russia, a senior unnamed British government official claims, is trying to destroy European unity on several political, social and military matters.

Now, it may well be the case that Russia has given money to Front National or Golden Dawn or UKIP or Jeremy Corbyn for all we know. After all, funding other nations’ opposition parties has always been bread-and-butter work for foreign powers, including the US secret service – it funnelled money into the so-called Colour Revolutions and armed groups in Ukraine and the Middle East. I’ve no doubt Russia does it, too.

However, the idea that Putin is behind the current refugee crisis and the longer-term political problems in the Eurozone is simply ludicrous. Not even the flimsiest understanding of the history of the past decade could support such a proposition. From the financial crisis to the crushing of the Greek economy to Angela Merkel’s unilateral decision to allow a million refugees into Germany, these developments can’t be put down to the actions of Russia.

Perhaps Russia is also behind the EU’s current headache, Poland’s governing Law and Justice Party, which is currently subject to an unprecedented inquiry into whether new Polish laws break EU law.

The only problem is the Law and Justice Party is one of the most rabidly anti-Moscow parties out there. Perhaps Cameron has also been receiving Moscow gold in exchange for pushing the UK towards a Brexit? I doubt it. It’s a fantasy that we are in some kind of Cold War situation, with Moscow funnelling gold into various groups with the aim of toppling the EU and creating discord. If only it were that simple. Thanks, Putin, but save your money for the crashing Russian economy. The EU is managing to disintegrate entirely on its own.

These overblown claims are part of a trend. It has become common for politicians and the media to discredit Putin with tales of corruption and murder. The Litvinenko farce and Clapper’s comments show that the Western propaganda mill is once again cranking into action. Why is this happening?

For several years now, military and political tensions between Russia and the West have been growing. The Ukraine crisis, rather than being the cause of worsening tensions, actually represents the emergence of these tensions. But these tensions are not the result of Russian revanchism or aggression. Much of the blame lies with Western foreign policy.

Over the past 20 years, several developments have worried Moscow – particularly the rise of Western military intervention. The intervention in Kosovo in 1999 was a decisive moment: NATO acted outside of its mandate, becoming a kind of free-floating Western military force. The invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan were also catastrophic: the US, UK and other allies destroyed two countries without fully understanding what they were doing. The intervention in Libya, although originally supported by Russia, soon tipped over into incoherent regime change, the consequences of which are still unfolding. If anyone is to blame for overturning the postwar international order, it is the West.

NATO has expanded relentlessly, first taking in the Baltic republics, then Albania and Croatia in 2009. Bosnia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Georgia are now in the waiting room. A strategic alliance should be just that: strategic. Would the West seriously want to go to war over any of these states?

The idea that we have divergent interests from Russia simply cannot be sustained. At least in principle there were different ways of organising society at stake during the Cold War. This is not the case today. We have no divergence in interests with Russia; in fact, we have common interests – tackling ISIS, ensuring European security, maintaining oil prices, and so on. Russia doesn’t want to invade Lithuania or Poland or Latvia. Russia does not want to invade Ukraine. Russia does, however, have legitimate interests, and we need to take these seriously. We need to accept that Russia is a real country with real interests, just like our own, and not the pantomime villain the media are presenting it as at the moment.

More HERE 


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL 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 and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


14 February, 2016

High-cholesterol diets are 'not linked to increased risk of heart attack'

There go a million dietary warnings.  This has long been known but getting it generally accepted is the problem

Studies linked high-cholesterol with heart problems, the egg and other high-cholesterol foods were deemed dangerous, prompting doctors and dietitians to advise restricting egg consumption.

However, in 2000 the American Heart Association revised its recommendations, suggesting it is safe to eat an egg a day. And now, a new study has added weight to that advice.

Eating an egg a day doesn't increase a person's risk of heart attack, scientists have revealed. Eggs are high in dietary cholesterol - but don't have an effect on a person's blood cholesterol levels, a new study found

Thus, a high-cholesterol diet should not be associated with cardiovascular disease.

The findings even apply to people genetically predisposed to a greater effect of dietary cholesterol on their metabolism, researchers noted.

For most people, dietary cholesterol only has a minor effect on serum cholesterol – otherwise known as the cholesterol that is found in the blood stream.



Social Security Hurts Working Americans

Most working Americans pay 12.4% towards Social Security; the employee pays 6.2% as does his or her employer. So, nearly one in eight dollars earned goes to the government for Social Security. Think about the magnitude of how this negatively impacts our hard-working Americans. Then think, would the American worker be more secure if they invested in a tax-free investment account, which they own and control with the help of an investment advisor? The answer is clearly yes! For 30 years, Chile has proven personal ownership and investment creates prosperity and freedom for its citizens.

Jose Pinera, a Harvard PhD in economics, created Chile's personal Social Security account system in 1980. Spectacularly, the private-ownership of retirement accounts by workers in Chile has greatly improved their lives as well as the economy of Chile. Recently, Jose Pinera revealed that in 1999 President Bill Clinton strongly supported private-ownership Social Security in America, and as early as 1996, Mack McLarty, Clinton's former Chief of Staff, went to Chile to observe the transition to ownership. In 1999, Clinton's State of the Union speech proposed "USA accounts" for every American worker.

“USA accounts,” universal savings accounts, funded by close to 11% of the then-Social Security surplus as a means of taking pressure off the Social Security program, which was approaching insolvency then. According to the plan, every American would have had a private savings account, funded by a portion of his or her payroll taxes.

“USA accounts will help all Americans to share in our nation’s wealth and to enjoy a more secure retirement,” Clinton said. He was right.

Clinton, the most-capable president since Reagan, recognized the value of owning the product of a person’s labor – property rights. Enormously beneficial, saving and investing promotes economic growth and the advancement of civilization. Unfortunately, Clinton wasn't able to make his vision come to life. Around the same time, Clinton and Monica Lewinsky's affair was exposed, and the Republican Party impeached Clinton for being dishonest under oath. He needed the Democrats to vote against being found guilty, and, as always, the Democrats oppose property rights and ownership. So, Clinton dropped his quest for USA accounts, and, harmfully, the Social Security continued to be a Ponzi scheme decreasing a worker’s income and the income of our next generation.

Worse and foreseeable, eighteen years later Social Security is insolvent. In 2014, it spent $63 billion more than it took in, and its future liabilities today exceed $26 trillion. Recently Investor’s Business Daily explains the benefits of the proposed savings accounts.

Again, the biggest negative impact is on the American worker. Instead of having 18 years of investment, we have an unpaid tax bill of $26 trillion while Chilean employees have their investments and a growth of 9.23 percent above inflation over the first 30 years. Plus, Chile has weathered the last 10 years of very difficult world-wide financial downturn better than almost every other country.

Its a huge lesson to the American worker. Public policy impacts everyone’s life. The Clinton/Lewinsky tryst destroyed excellent, public policy. Then a second opportunity appeared for Social Security reform with President Bush strongly supported personal accounts in 2005, which was thwarted Sen. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who bragged about defeating the “sweet man.” Immorally, her political gamesmanship has hurt millions of Americans.

Wake-up, Americans! Policy that promotes ownership of your work, promotes freedom and advances civilization. Government-ownership only creates debt and destruction. We need to listen to Jose Pinera.

    "They (worker in Chile) trust the private sector and prefer market risk to political risk. If you invest money in the market, it could go up or down. Over a 40-year period, though, a diversified portfolio will have very low risk and provide a positive rate of real return. But when the government runs the pension system, it can slash benefits at any time."

Workers arise. Demand ownership of the product of your labor.



Economic Mobility, Class Warfare, and Poverty

The quality of economic analysis from politicians is never good, but it becomes even worse during election season.

The class-warfare rhetoric being spewed by Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton is profoundly anti-empirical. Our leftist friends genuinely seem to think the economy is a fixed pie and that it’s their job to use coercive government power to reallocate the slices.

The only real quandary is whether Bernie’s sincere demagoguery is more disturbing or less disturbing than Hillary’s hypocritical attacks on the top 1 percent.

Since I mentioned that the left’s rhetoric is anti-empirical, let’s look at the evidence.obama soak the rich

I’ve previously shared very detailed IRS data showing that the so-called rich pay a hugely disproportionate share of the tax burden.

Let’s augment that analysis by perusing some data on income mobility.

Writing for Money, Chris Taylor explains that America is not a land of dynastic wealth.

…70% of wealthy families lose their wealth by the second generation, and a stunning 90% by the third, according to the Williams Group wealth consultancy. …When I asked financial planners why…second- and third-generation heirs turn out to be so ham-handed, the answers were surprisingly frank. A sampling: “Most of them have no clue as to the value of money or how to handle it.” “Generation Threes are usually doomed.” “It takes the average recipient of an inheritance 19 days until they buy a new car.”

But you don’t have to examine several generations to recognize that American society still has a lot of income mobility.

Tami Luhby looks at how people move up and down the income ladder during their lives.

The Top 1% is often considered an exclusive, monolithic group, but folks actually rise up into it and fall out of it quite often. …Some 11% of Americans will join the Top 1% for at least one year during their prime working lives (age 25 to 60), according to research done by Thomas Hirschl, a sociology professor at Cornell University. But only 5.8% will be in it for two years or more. As for holding onto this status for at least 10 years? Only a miniscule 1.1% of Americans are this fortunate. “Affluence is dynamic, said Hirschl… “The 1% really isn’t the 1%. People move around a lot.”

The same is true for the super-rich, the upper-middle class, and the poor.

The IRS looked at how frequently the same Top 400 taxpayers appeared on the list over a 22-year period ending in 2013. Some 72% ranked that high for just one year. Only 3% were listed for a decade or more. …While just over half of Americans reach the Top 10% at least once in their careers, only 14% stay in it for a decade or more, Hirschl found. …On the flip side, it’s not uncommon for Americans to spend some time at the bottom of the heap. Some 54% of Americans will be in or near poverty for at least one year by their 60th birthday, Hirschl said.

Now let’s shift back toward public policy.

The good news (relatively speaking) is that the politics of envy don’t seem to work very well. This polling data finds that most Americans do not support higher taxes (presumably from the rich) to impose more equality.

And when you combine these numbers with the polling data I shared back in 2012, I’m somewhat comforted that the American people aren’t too susceptible to the poison of class warfare.

Let’s close with some ideological bridge building.

I certainly don’t share the same perspective on public policy as Cass Sunstein since the well-known Harvard law professor leans to the left.

But I think he makes an excellent observation in his column for Bloomberg. Smart leftists should focus on how to help the poor, not demonize the rich.

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have been operating within the terms set by Top 1 Percent progressivism. …For Top 1 Percent progressives, the accumulation of riches at the very top is what gets the juices flowing. They prioritize much higher taxes on top-earners, more aggressive regulation of Wall Street, restrictions on the compensation of chief executives, and criminal prosecution of those responsible for the financial crisis. Top 1 Percent progressivism emphasizes the idea of fairness — but it’s nevertheless a politics of outrage, animated by at least a trace of envy. It’s as if “millionaires and billionaires” were the principal problem facing America today.

Bottom 10 Percent progressives are not enthusiastic about concentrations of wealth. But that’s not what keeps them up at night. Their focus is on deprivation and lack of opportunity. They’re motivated by empathy for people who are suffering, rather than outrage over unjustified wealth. They want higher floors for living standards, and do not much care about lower ceilings.

So far, so good.

I’ve also argued that our goal should be reducing poverty, not punishing success.

This is why I want pro-growth tax reform, a smaller government, and less suffocating red tape.

Unfortunately, Prof. Sunstein then wanders into very strange territory when it comes to actual policy. He actually endorses the utterly awful economic “bill of rights” proposed by one of America’s worst presidents.

Their defining document is one of the 20th century’s greatest speeches, delivered by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1944, in which he called for a Second Bill of Rights, including the right to a decent education, the right to adequate medical care and food, and the right to “adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment.”

If you think I’m exaggerating about FDR being an awful President, click here.

And if you want more information about FDR’s terrible “bill of rights,” click here.

So I like his diagnosis of why the left is wrong to fixate on hating success.

But he needs to look at real-world evidence so he can understand that free markets and small government are the right prescription for prosperity.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL 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 and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


12 February, 2016

When Government Makes Your Choices for You – You End Up with No Choices

Federal regulation of the internet

The old politician saw is: “The most dangerous place for you in Washington – is between (fill in name of pol) and a camera.” We’ll coin a government saw: “The most dangerous place for you anywhere on the planet – is government between you and the free market.”

Any and every tax, law and regulation – is government placing itself between you and the free market. And, conversely, between the free market and you. And, of course, it makes the market less free. It’s inherent. The bigger the tax – the less money you have for the market, and the less money marketeers have to operate. The bigger the laws and regulations – the less freedom we and the marketeers have to maneuver.

Think of government as a straight jacket. The bigger government is – the tighter are the arms constricting the marketplace.Straitjacket-rear

We have spent years now warning you of the unbelievably narrowing nature of the ridiculous regulation known as Network Neutrality. Which is an all-encompassing government straight jacket locked onto the Internet. So huge is this regulatory power grab – it makes the government the preemptive decider on all things Internet marketplace.

We Net Neutrality realists warned of a Mother-May-I regulatory regime. Where every once-free marketeer would be reduced to having to ask government for permission before trying anything new – otherwise known as innovating, a crucial component of a free market.

Net Neutrality proponents repeatedly denied that this obvious reality – was an obvious reality. Now that the Barack Obama Administration has slammed Net Neutrality down upon us – this obvious reality is playing out. The once-free market – is now totally un-free.

Rather than testing new ideas in the marketplace to see if We the Consumers will like them – the marketeers must first go to our government overlords and see if they will approve them.

To wit: Zero-rating. A fancy phrase for a routine free market feature. Zero-rating toll-free phone numbers – are the companies you’re calling paying for the calls so you don’t. Zero-rating free shipping – is the companies from whom you’re purchasing paying for delivery so you don’t. Under Net Neutrality, bandwidth hog companies paying for their bandwidth so you don’t – may be outlawed.

We don’t yet know – our government overlords haven’t yet decided. So the $1 trillion Internet marketplace twists in the wind – while we await permission to try zero-rating online. Uncertainty is a huge bane of the market – Net Neutrality is uber-uncertainty on steroids.

On the Web – the biggest bandwidth hog is video. So we’re talking companies like Netflix and Google’s YouTube (who together, all by themselves, consume half of all U.S. bandwidth). To address this, different cellular phone companies want to try different variations of zero-rating.

T-Mobile’s Binge On would allow you unlimited access to twenty-four different video-intensive sites (with more likely to come) – without them counting against your data cap. (Their list includes Netflix – not Google’s YouTube.) Verizon’s FreeBee would allow any company that wishes to pay for their bandwidth (or per-click, another routine marketplace wrinkle) and join Verizon’s unlimited list plan (that list too would likely grow).

All of which are new and innovative ways to try new pricing models – and address the bandwidth shortage issues the market faces (largely because of government failure). All of which means We the Consumers would be able to afford to do a whole lot more Web surfing – which is good for us, and for every Web company on the planet.

This would be a free marketplace – where We the Consumers choose which plans we prefer. If we watch a lot of YouTube, we’d probably stay away from T-Mobile and choose another provider that includes YouTube in their package. If we don’t care about YouTube, but like Netflix – T-Mobile may be the one for us. Different providers would provide different packages – and constantly update them to make them as attractive to us as possible (for instance, T-Mobile might rush to add YouTube should it prove to be a popular offering).

We the Consumers would have the power. To determine which plans succeed – and which do not. We would have maximum choices – at the lowest price.

Government and its absurd Net Neutrality take this vibrant, choice-rich prospective marketplace – and preemptively strangle it in the crib. Rather than trying out Binge On and FreeBee on us – T-Mobile and Verizon have to beg our government overlords for approval.

Which makes it far less likely we will see either program – or any others from any other providers. Why subject yourself to the time-and-money-waste and egregious annoyance of genuflecting before government – all for permission to offer We the Consumers more for less? These companies don’t need the headache – and can’t afford it.

And how likely is it that an uber-regulatory government that slammed us with Net Neutrality – will be in an un-regulatory mood when it comes to these zero-rating plans? I am not particularly optimistic.

The result of this Net Neutrality inanity? Far fewer choices for us – at much higher prices. (See: ObamaCare.)

And ultimately, just one choice – government: “(T)he ultimate goal (of Net Neutrality) is to get rid of the media capitalists in the phone and cable companies and to divest them from control.” (See: ObamaCare.)

It is and always will be the case: When government makes your choices for you – you end up with no choices.



Maine Required Childless Adults to Work to Get Food Stamps. Here’s What Happened

One trillion dollars—that’s how much the government spent last year on means-tested welfare aid, providing cash, food, housing, medical care, and social services to poor and low-income individuals. The food stamp program is the nation’s second largest welfare program.

The number of food stamp recipients has risen dramatically, from 17.2 million in 2000 to 45.8 million in 2015. Costs have soared over the same period, from $20.7 billion in 2000 to $83.1 billion in 2014.

The most rapid growth in the food stamp caseload in recent years has been among able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs). These are work-capable adult recipients between the ages of 18 and 49 who do not have children or other dependents to support.

The Need for Work Requirements

Since 2008, the food stamp caseload of adults without dependents who are able-bodied has more than doubled nationally, swelling from nearly 2 million recipients in 2008 to around 5 million today. They gained notoriety when Fox News aired a documentary on food stamps featuring 29-year-old Jason Greenslate, a Californian who reported that he spends his time surfing and playing in his rock band, all the while receiving benefits from the food stamp program.

In response to the growth in food stamp dependence, Maine’s governor, Paul LePage, recently established work requirements on recipients who are without dependents and able-bodied. In Maine, all able-bodied adults without dependents in the food stamp program are now required to take a job, participate in training, or perform community service.

Job openings for lower-skill workers are abundant in Maine, and for those ABAWD recipients who cannot find immediate employment, Maine offers both training and community service slots. But despite vigorous outreach efforts by the government to encourage participation, most childless adult recipients in Maine refused to participate in training or even to perform community service for six hours per week. When ABAWD recipients refused to participate, their food stamp benefits ceased.

In the first three months after Maine’s work policy went into effect, its caseload of able-bodied adults without dependents plummeted by 80 percent, falling from 13,332 recipients in Dec. 2014 to 2,678 in March 2015.

This rapid drop in welfare dependence has a historical precedent: When work requirements were established in the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program in the 1990s, nationwide caseloads dropped by almost as much, albeit over a few years rather than a few months.

The Maine food stamp work requirement is sound public policy. Government should aid those in need, but welfare should not be a one-way handout. Nearly nine out of ten Americans believe that able-bodied, non-elderly adults who receive cash, food, or housing assistance from the government should be required to work or prepare for work as a condition of receiving aid.

LePage’s reform puts the public’s convictions into action. The Maine reforms recognize that giving welfare to those who refuse to take steps to help themselves is unfair to taxpayers and fosters a harmful dependence among beneficiaries.

Off-the-Books Employment

The Maine work requirement also reduces fraud. The most common type of fraud in welfare involves “off the books” employment. In food stamps, as in other welfare programs, benefits go down as earnings rise.

But “off the books” employment is rarely reported to the welfare office; hiding earnings enables a recipient to “double-dip,” getting full welfare benefits he is ineligible to receive while simultaneously receiving earnings from an unreported job.

A work requirement substantially reduces welfare fraud because insisting a recipient be in the welfare office periodically interferes with holding a hidden job. Recipients cannot be in two places at once. Faced with a work requirement, many recipients with hidden jobs simply leave the rolls. No doubt, a significant part of the rapid caseload decline in Maine involves flushing fraudulent double-dippers out of the welfare system.

Government data show that many adults without children on food stamps use their own funds counter-productively. Over half of able-bodied adults without dependents regularly smoke tobacco; those who smoke consume on average 19 packs of cigarettes per month at an estimated monthly cost of $111. These individuals rely on the taxpayers to pay for their food while they spend their own money on cigarettes.

The federal government should establish work requirements similar to Maine’s for the 4.7 million able-bodied adults without dependents currently receiving food stamps nationwide. If the caseload drops at the same rate it did in Maine (which is very likely), taxpayer savings would be over $8.4 billion per year. Further reforms could bring the savings to $9.7 billion per year: around $100 per year for every individual currently paying federal income tax.

Some may argue that individual state governments, and not the federal government, should choose whether to require work in the food stamp program. But over 90 percent of food stamp funding comes from the federal government. Since the federal government pays for nearly the entire food stamp program, it has the obligation to establish the principles on which the program operates.

Requiring work for able-bodied welfare recipients was a key element of President Ronald Reagan’s welfare philosophy. It was the foundation of the successful welfare reform in the 1990s. But the idea of work in welfare has fallen by the wayside. It is time to reanimate the principle.



How Trump Smashed the Conventional Wisdom

I found the above graphic on Facebook.  It is however my long-standing habit to look up the source of quotations and citations.  As I always have a Bible within armsreach, that was easy in this case.  The quotation is accurate but YHVH did NOT find such a man on the occasion Ezekiel describes

The conventional wisdom was that Donald Trump's candidacy is driven by disaffected working class whites. While that may have been true at one time, it's clear now that Trump's nationalist message is resonating elsewhere. According to CBS polling data, Trump dominated both college graduates and the upper income brackets.

While Trump's says things that are politically incorrect at best, and divisive at worst, he also paints an optimistic, no excuses vision that appeals to the casually engaged voter, for whom eminent domain is not a pressing issue. When faced with a GOP that they believe is either impotent or incompetent, they're choosing the man who's making bold promises and embodies success. Candidates who wish to knock him off should pay attention.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL 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 and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


11 February, 2016

Relief of Poverty: Four Centuries of Futility

More than 400 years ago, the British adopted the Poor Law system, under which local communities were made responsible for the relief of poverty. For the next four centuries the Poor Laws were amended again and again, as the following argument went to and fro: Was the system providing necessary relief or was it in various ways interfering with the natural workings of the labor market by subsidizing idleness and encouraging indolence.

At one point a royal commission recommended the following two tests:

*    The less eligibility test: a pauper should have to enter a workhouse with conditions worse than that of the poorest free labourer outside of the workhouse.

*    The workhouse test: relief should only be available in a workhouse in which conditions were to be so uninviting that anyone capable of coping outside them would choose not to be in one.

The history of the British Poor Laws makes for interesting reading and even more interesting is their treatment in the novels of Charles Dickens and Frances Trollope and later Jack London.

But before continuing, let’s stop and ask a pertinent question. Do you see anything wrong with this historical approach to welfare?

Think about it. The central government (the British Parliament) was passing laws telling local communities how to deal with people. The standards all have to do with making sure that welfare is no more attractive than work. But this only works if the “paupers” are all the same. The system becomes completely dysfunctional if what one person views as “uninviting” is different than what someone else regards as “uninviting.” Or if conditions that one person views as “worse” or “better” are different from what others view as “worse” or “better.” Treating people at the bottom of the income ladder as if they all viewed the world the same way is not only foolish, it’s the sort of thing no private charity would ever do. (More on that below.)

So, the biggest problem with the Poor Laws is that they tended to treat everyone seeking relief as if they were the same when in fact they were not at all the same. (Just read Charles Dickens!)

Flash forward to the current era and we find that the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute and the left-leaning Brookings Institution have come together to find common ground in a new report on how to reform the American approach to welfare.

Among the recommendations: such conservative ideas as attaching a job requirement to the food stamp program and provisions to encourage marriage and birth control; such liberal ideas as a small increase in the minimum wage and more federal investment in early childhood education and community colleges; and what I suppose is a left/right idea: increasing the amount of the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Even getting this much agreement was not easy according to a report in The New York Times. Just so l get this exactly right I am going to quote directly from reporter Eduardo Porter’s account:

    The two sides will never entirely agree, of course, partly because they view the causes of poverty from such different angles.

    To the left, deprivation is caused mostly by factors beyond the control of the poor. These include globalization that undercut good jobs previously within the reach of the less educated, an educational system segregated by race and class, lack of parental resources, discrimination, excessive use of prison.

    Experts on the right, by contrast, put a lot of the weight on personal responsibility, often faulting the bad choices of the poor. And government support, by providing the poor with an income with few strings attached, has made their choices worse.

In other words, after four centuries of fruitless debate, not much has really changed. Scholars sitting in a room in Washington, DC are arguing about the motivations and the behavior of millions of people they have never met and never will meet and both sides feel free to generalize about the whole lot of them.

Meanwhile, the system continues in its dysfunction. In the Wall Street Journal, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Sen. Tim Scott write:

    The federal government now runs more than 80 different antipoverty programs at a cost of about $750 billion a year. Yet 46 million Americans are poor today, and the poverty rate has barely budged: from 19% in 1965 to 14.8% in 2014. If you were raised poor, you’re as likely to stay poor as you were 50 years ago.

Yet there are programs that work and Ryan visited one in Dallas the other day. They are almost always in the private sector, supported by voluntary contributions from people who would never even think of contributing to the Food Stamp program.

Ordinary people living in the communities with others who need help have far more common sense than scholars or bureaucrats or legislators who are miles away.

That’s why Michael Stroup and I recommended 30 years ago letting taxpayers decide where their welfare tax dollars go, instead of leaving that decision to bureaucrats.



Sloppy Language and Thinking

By Walter E. Williams

George Orwell said, "But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought." Gore Vidal elaborated on that insight, saying, "As societies grow decadent, the language grows decadent, too. Words are used to disguise, not to illuminate." And John Milton predicted, "When language in common use in any country becomes irregular and depraved, it is followed by their ruin and degradation."

These observations bear heeding about how sloppy language is corrupting our society.

The Atlantic magazine reported that public schools are nearly as segregated in 2012 as they were in the late 1960s. An Education Next series commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Coleman Report includes an article by Steven Rivkin, "Desegregation Since the Coleman Report," that holds that American schools are still segregated. In 2001, Harvard University's Civil Rights Project press release stated, "Almost half a century after the U.S. Supreme Court concluded that Southern school segregation was unconstitutional and 'inherently unequal' ... racial and ethnic segregation continued to intensify throughout the 1990s."

Let's examine the term "racial segregation." Blacks are about 50 percent of the Washington, D.C., population. Reagan National Airport serves the Washington, D.C., area and, like every airport, it has water fountains. At no time is there anything close to blacks being 50 percent of water fountain users. Suppose it turns out that only 15 percent of the water fountain users are black.

Would the scholars, whose studies say that schools are segregated because of racial differences in attendance, condemn Reagan National Airport water fountains as being segregated? Would they propose bussing blacks in from water fountains in southeast D.C. in order to integrate the Reagan National Airport water fountains?

What about ice hockey games? Shall we call them "segregated"? I have never seen a proportional representation of black fans in the audience; in fact, most times I did not see any.

Based upon racial disparities, might we conclude that opera performances, dressage and wine tastings are also segregated? If you want to see more "segregation," visit South Dakota, Iowa, Maine, Montana and Vermont. Not even 1 percent of their populations is black. What might our segregation scholars propose? Would they suggest rounding up blacks in the states where they are over-represented, such as in Georgia, Mississippi and Alabama, and bussing them to America's "segregated" states? Might they suggest drafting blacks to attend operas, dressage and wine tastings?

They would not propose such nonsense, because they would recognize in these instances that racial homogeneity does not mean racial segregation. The test they would use is: If a black wants to use a water fountain, attend an opera or live in Montana, can he? That ought to be the same test for schools: If a black lives in a school district, is he free to attend? If the answer is yes then the school is not segregated, even if no blacks attend.

Terms related to segregation are "disparities," "gaps" and "disproportionality," all of which are taken as signs of injustice that must be corrected. The median income of women is less than that of men. Black and Hispanic students are suspended and expelled at higher rates than white students. There are race and sex disparities and gaps all over the place. For example, blacks are 13 percent of the population but 80 percent of professional basketball players and 66 percent of professional football players, and on top of that some of the most highly paid players.

Those numbers do not mean that everything is hunky-dory for blacks. How many times have you seen a black player kick an extra point in professional football? What should be done about all of these glaring disparities? We might also ask what can be done to make basketball, football, dressage and ice hockey look more like America: in a word, using that beloved term, diverse.

Before we invest resources into worrying about such matters, we might focus on language corruption, because it is polluting our thinking, resulting in inept and dangerous social policies.



Obama Ordered Cleansing of DHS Terrorist Connections

By Mark Alexander

In 2009, an Islamist planned to kill 290 civilians on a Christmas Day flight from Europe to Detroit. Fortunately, the bomb material concealed in Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s underwear failed to detonate after alert passengers subdued and detained him. At that time, Barack Obama condemned the intelligence community, declaring, “This was not a failure to collect intelligence, it was a failure to integrate and understand the intelligence that we already had.”

But Obama has disabled our national security capabilities in order to avoid the appearance of “profiling Muslims,” which has made “connecting the dots” more difficult. In the latest report from DHS whistleblower Philip Haney, just before the “underwear bomber” incident, he was “ordered by my superiors at the Department of Homeland Security to delete or modify several hundred records of individuals tied to designated Islamist terror groups like Hamas from the important federal database… These types of records are the basis for any ability to ‘connect dots’. … Even worse, going forward, my colleagues and I were prohibited from entering pertinent information into the database. …

[T]he type of information that the Obama administration ordered removed from travel and national security databases was the kind of information that, if properly assessed, could have prevented subsequent domestic Islamist attacks like the ones committed by Faisal Shahzad (May 2010), Detroit ‘honor killing’ perpetrator Rahim A. Alfetlawi (2011); Amine El Khalifi, who plotted to blow up the U.S. Capitol (2012); Dzhokhar or Tamerlan Tsarnaev who conducted the Boston Marathon bombing (2013); Oklahoma beheading suspect Alton Nolen (2014); or the Muhammed Yusuf Abdulazeez attack (2015) killing five military personnel in Chattanooga Tennessee.”

Haney also notes the 2015 San Bernardino attack, killing 14 and severely wounding 22 others, could likely have been thwarted had intelligence not been scrubbed.

This politically correct “cleansing” of references to Islamic terrorist ties from critical national security databases is not only reckless, but is reminiscent of the last Democrat president’s obsession with keeping up PC appearances. In 1998, almost three years prior to the devastating 9/11 attack on our nation, the al-Qa'ida terrorist cell which organized that attack was already on U.S.

Then-Demo chief Bill Clinton, had declined numerous opportunities to capture or kill their leader, Sheik Osama bin Laden, including TWO opportunities when our Spec Ops shooters had him, literally, in their sights. Clinton also refused an FBI field agent’s efforts to open a case file on Arab nationals who were, curiously, training to fly commercial aircraft, but not training for takeoffs or landings. The rationale for the case file denial was to avoid the appearance of any presumption of religious bias against Muslims.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL 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 and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


10 February, 2016


Much of what the psychohistorians write is either banal or fanciful, in my opinion, but the latest essay (below) by psychohistorian Richard A. Koenigsberg seems to me to be highly diagnostic of Leftism.  So I will leave people to read it below and will offer some comments tying it in to Leftism at the foot of it

In "Constitutional Law of the Third Reich", Nazi political theorist Ernst Rudolf Huber wrote:

    "The Fuhrer is himself the bearer of the collective will of the people. In his will the will of the people is realized. His will is not the subjective will of a single man, but the collective national will is embodied within him in all its objective, historical greatness. The people's collective will has its foundation in the political idea which is given to a people. It is present in the people, but the Fuhrer raises it to consciousness and discloses it." (in Murphy 1943)

According to Huber, Nazism did not arise out of the subjective will of a single man. Rather, Hitler embodied the “collective will of the people.”

The will of a people, Huber suggests, has its foundation in the political idea which is “given to a people.” This idea already is “present in the people”; but the Fuehrer “raises it to consciousness and discloses it.” In other words, a people’s political idea is latent. The role of the leader is to manifest this latent idea—to “disclose it” to the people.

Once an idea has become conscious within a people, what follows is the will to act upon it: to turn the idea into reality. The leader’s role is to create or invent ways to activate the people’s will and to set a path that enables a people to express its collective will.

Ideology, I theorize, represents or reflects a fantasy that is shared by members of a society. This shared fantasy lies at the core—constitutes the heart and soul—of a given culture. The leader’s role is to “divine” the cultural fantasy, to give it voice.

Through his language, the leader invents images and metaphors that contain the fantasy. His role, like that of a psychoanalyst, is to “make conscious the unconscious;” to enable society’s members to become aware of a fantasy that had been hidden or latent.

In order to have a significant impact, the leader himself must be deeply mindful of his culture, that is, of its central fantasies. He processes his own fantasies (the cultural fantasy that exists within him), then develops methods for presenting or “returning” the fantasy to his people. The ideology becomes the container for a people’s shared fantasies.

Why was Hitler able to hold his audiences spellbound? Why did Germans become so excited when he spoke? Because what he said evoked something deep within many of them. People were “turned on” by Hitler’s words.

We are on the wrong track if we imagine that ideas put forth by political leaders contain, or are intended to contain, some form of “truth”; that ideas correspond to some aspect of “external reality.” The coin of the realm in politics is fantasy: the leader’s ability to express his own fantasies, and to induce or seduce others to share those fantasies. The leader presents ideas that resonate with his audience. His utterances allow followers to externalize inner states of being.

Highly successful leaders are deeply plugged in to the ideological fantasies that they put forth. No one was more moved by Hitler’s ideas more than Hitler. By virtue of his ability to share his excitement and passion, he was able to evoke a similar experience within his followers.

Ideologies function to express, contain and engage society’s members’ fantasies. The ideology becomes the modus operandi: the vehicle allowing a shared fantasy to make its way into reality (man in culture, Norman O. Brown said, is “Man dreaming while awake”). They act as a gravitational force, “pulling” fantasies into the world—capturing or sequestering the energy bound to a fantasy.

Political history occurs when a group acts upon an ideological fantasy. Hitler worked to transform his fantasy of Germany into a societal discourse. His will was the will to persuade the German people to actualize propositions contained within the ideological fantasy.

Each ideology revolves around a central fantasy. This core fantasy constitutes the heart and soul of the ideology: a sublime or omnipotent object.

History is generated in the name of these omnipotent objects. For the Nazis, this omnipotent object was “Germany.” Japan fought the Second World War for the sake of “the Emperor.” The United States participated in the First and Second World Wars for “freedom and democracy,” while radical Islamic movements revolve around “Allah.”

Historians study the numerous “reasons” why specific conflicts arise at a particular moment in history, for example, the variables that lead to the outbreak of a war. But for action to be undertaken at all, there must be a core fantasy—an omnipotent object. Without “Germany” or “the Emperor” or “freedom and democracy” there could not have been a Second World War.

To understand a particular ideology is to uncover and reveal the core fantasy. In the case of Nazism, this fantasy revolved around the idea of Germany as an actual body (politic) suffering from a potentially fatal disease, the source of which was the Jew. Hitler put himself forward as “doctor” of the German people, the man who could root out and destroy the cause of Germany’s suffering, thereby rescuing the nation and saving it from death.

For any ideology, I pose and seek to answer the question: Why does this ideology exist?

*    What fantasy or set of fantasies does the ideology contain or convey?

*    What methods are used by the leader to encourage members of his society to believe in and act upon the ideological fantasy?

*    Why are followers willing to perform violent acts in the name of the ideological fantasy?

*    What do leaders and followers hope to achieve by acting upon their society’s ideological fantasy?

Ideologies constitute modus operandi for the expression and enactment of shared fantasies. They become central within a society precisely because they allow unconscious fantasies to be expressed and articulated. They are containers for shared fantasies, driving the historical process. Unconscious fantasies enter history through ideologies.

Where Freud interpreted individual dreams and dreaming, I interpret collective dreams and dreaming, seeking to ascertain latent thoughts beneath manifest content. This is what I mean when I speak of “making conscious the unconscious in social reality.”

The Nazi revolution constituted the acting out of a dream that many people were having at the same time—a shared fantasy powerful enough to give rise to an ideology and social movement. Dreaming this dream most deeply, Hitler was able to articulate the Nazi fantasy. To know why Nazism achieved popularity, one seeks to determine precisely what Hitler said that caused Germans to rise to their feet and shout "Heil Hitler."

I theorize that a necessary condition for the espousal of an ideology within a society is the existence of an unconscious fantasy shared by group members. The ideology is a cultural creation or invention permitting a shared fantasy to manifest as social reality.

It is through the medium of an ideology that a shared fantasy becomes part of the world. An ideology is believed, embraced and perpetuated—it achieves status and power as an element of culture—insofar as it resonates with a fantasy and permits this fantasy to be activated upon the stage of society.

Koenigsberg is an acute student of "Das dritte Reich".  He draws a lot of conclusions from the Nazi phenomenon and the essay above is an example of that.  So when he talks about ideology, he is primarily talking about a socialist ideology.  And I see his remarks as quite applicable to the modern-day Left.  The fantasy that drove Hitler is the same as the fantasy that drives both Communism and the the modern social democratic Left:  The creation of a new Eden.  Hitler had a rather clearer idea of what he wanted his new Eden to be like but he was in many ways a very smart Leftist and Koenigsberg is wise to study him and draw lessons from his words.

So it all goes back to Moses, the first articulator of an Edenic vision.  And Western society has been so steeped in the Bible that it lies behind most of our ideas and traditions.  It has made our mental world -- so that even non-believers are influenced by it.  It is an inescapable part of Western thinking.

And that in turn explains why three strands of Leftism -- Nazism, Communism and democratic Leftism, all have the same fantasy.  It goes back to Moses.  The garden of Eden is a fantasy that became deeply embedded in us because of the historic influence of the Bible. Moses gave the Left its fantasy.  And the fact that the modern world is so far away from an Eden explains the Leftist  hate of it. Brazilian essayist Olavo de Carvalho is particularly good on Leftism as a search for a new Eden.  See here

Conservatives, on the other hand are basically happy people who enjoy much about them -- their families, their traditions, their church, their sports, their clubs, their military connections, the friends they went to school with, tales of their forebears and a general feeling of connectedness with the past -- so need no fantasies of an Edenic state.  They can look at the world about them calmly.  They don't have to see it through a haze of hate.


The Congress Strikes Back

Article I of the U.S. Constitution grants Congress the power to make law and to allocate how money is spent in the enforcement of those laws. The president’s role, in contrast, was envisioned by the founders as much more limited. They didn’t want a king, who could govern as he pleased without accountability to the people, and so they restricted his role to Commander in Chief of the military, with the power to make treaties only with the advice and consent of the Senate.

The modern presidency, however, has come to look very different from what the Constitution specifies. Over time, frustrations with the glacial pace of Senate proceedings, combined with a desire of congressmen to avoid responsibility for unpopular decisions, has led Congress to cede much of its authority to the executive branch. The president, either through executive orders or through regulatory agencies, now has much more power than Thomas Jefferson or George Washington would have imagined.

The imperial presidency has been an accumulation over time, but under Barack Obama it has reached new heights. The 44th president’s promise to use “a pen and a phone” to make law when Congress refuses to bend to his will shows how far we have come from the idea of limited government.

Fortunately, some Members of Congress recognize the dangers of allowing a nation of 300 million to be governed unilaterally by a single man. That why Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. Jeb Hensarling, allied with other liberty-minded lawmakers, are launching their Article I Project, to reclaim government from an executive out of control and restore the Congress to its rightful, Constitutional place.

The Article I Project has four clearly-defined goals:

*    To restore the power of the purse to Congress by reforming the budget process.

*    To put an end to legislative “cliffs” and governing by crisis.

*    Regulatory reforms, such as the REINS Act, to give Congress input into executive branch regulations.

*    To fix the laws that allow the president or his bureaucrats to ignore or rewrite laws passed by Congress.

The nice thing about these goals is that, while they are all import, they are not so hopelessly intertwined with one another that they can’t be pursued separately. We need not wait for a “comprehensive” reform package, with all the complications such a process involves, to get to work right away on these badly needed reforms. In fact, Paul Ryan can get started right now with the budget process that is set to begin within the next couple of weeks.

Sen. Lee and Rep. Hensarling should be applauded for undertaking this long-overdue project. FreedomWorks looks forward to assisting with these efforts in any way possible, throughout 2016 and beyond.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL 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 and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


9 February, 2016

Obama’s 0.7 percent “solution”

Obama, Democrats and bureaucrats bury America’s future under more federal regulations

Paul Driessen

America’s abysmal 0.7% economic growth during the fourth quarter of 2015 meant the annual growth rate was an anemic 2.4% … and average annual growth for the six-year Obama era a pathetic 2.2 percent.

This is “dead last compared to six other recession recoveries since 1960,” Heritage Foundation economist Stephen Moore points out. The six averaged a robust 4.0% while the Reagan era recovery averaged a “sizzling” 4.8% over six years. That means the Obama recovery lost $1.8 trillion (in constant 2009 money) that would have been pumped into the economy under an average recovery, and $2.8 trillion under a Reagan-style rebound, Moore says, citing a congressional Joint Economic Committee analysis.

But job growth is “strong,” the White House insists, averaging 280,000 each of the last three months of 2015 (and a mere 151,000 last month). This deceptive claim hides the fact that 94 million Americans over age 16 are not working. The horrid 62.7% labor force participation rate remains the worst in decades.

Under an average post-1960 recovery, 5 million more Americans would be working today than actually are; a Reagan recovery would have 12 million more working now. Even an average recovery would have given every American an after-tax annual income $3,339 higher than he or she is actually getting today, the JEC calculates. That’s why tens of millions are on unemployment, disability and food stamps.

Many jobs created during the Obama era are part-time, held by people who want full-time work but cannot find it – and those part-time slots offer lower salaries, benefits and job security. That means family bread winners must work several jobs to make ends meet, often suffering the adverse health effects of increased stress and sleep deprivation: ulcers, weight gain, strokes, heart attacks, alcohol, drugs, suicide.

While the official jobless rate is 5.0% the real one is 10% or higher, since the official rate ignores those who have given up looking and dropped out of the analysis – or have entered the cash only, barter, pay-little-income-tax economy. Moreover, jobless rates for black and Hispanic Americans are much higher. The Wall Street Journal’s Dan Henninger notes that black unemployment is 9% in Texas, 12% in South Carolina, and 13% in Arkansas, again not counting those too demoralized to look for work.

What has gone wrong with the American economy and job-creating machine?

First of all, the Obama Administration has deliberately destroyed tens of thousands of jobs in the name of preventing “dangerous manmade climate change” and “fundamentally transforming” our energy, economic, social and legal systems – via its war on coal, oil, natural gas, manufacturing, and the vast majority of economic activities on government controlled lands in the western states and Alaska.

Entire communities, states and regions are being hammered. If these policies continue, millions more Americans will lose their jobs in the next few years.

Second, government has simply gotten much too big, powerful and unaccountable – at the local and state level, and especially at the federal level. It is not coincidental that five of the ten wealthiest counties in the United States are in the Washington, DC area. Members of Congress and 20% of federal bureaucrats earn well into six-figure incomes, while many lawyers and lobbyists working the legislative and regulatory hallways and back rooms earn millions annually.

According to carefully nurtured mythology, our “public servants” are more knowledgeable and altruistic than almost anyone in the private sector; and they are dedicated to finding and punishing miscreants who would routinely rob, cheat and pollute if it weren’t for the lawmakers and regulators. It does happen. But IRS, VA, EPA, Benghazi, Gold King, Flint, Michigan and countless other examples dramatize how false this narrative is – as do multiple studies by Congress, Ron Arnold, E&E Legal, myself and many others.

In far too many cases, the president and his regulators are arrogant, incompetent, negligent, abusive and vindictive. While they still employ the formal regulatory process (draft rules, comment periods, reviews and final rulemaking), they increasingly avoid it via executive orders, guidance memos, informal bulletins and other tactics that have equally effective regulatory impact. They also use investigations, tax exemption denials, tax audits, warning letters, land and property seizures, and selective arrests, fines and prosecutions, to compel businesses, nonprofits, political groups and individuals to kowtow to them.

Government agencies and officials routinely coordinate or collude with activist groups to develop and promote policies and regulations, often employing secret personal email accounts, off-site meetings that avoid transparency, and million-dollar payments to activists who rubberstamp and promote the rules. They exaggerate and manipulate data and studies to justify policies and regulations, while demanding larger budgets, more personnel, more power to control our lives, livelihoods and business operations.

And yet even shady, incompetent or blatantly illegal actions are shielded by colleagues, judges, laws, politicians and the media from any accountability, liability or penalty. And policies and rules arising from these questionable to illegal means are rarely overturned by the courts.

Large corporations and wealthy individuals can often survive, even thrive, under these conditions – especially if they secure mandates, subsidies and government-guaranteed loans for their products. They also use laws, regulations and bureaucracies to stifle competition. Small businesses cannot even read the mountains of laws and regulations, much less comprehend them or know they are in compliance.

* The Tax Code is 74,000 pages and 33 million words long, counting important cases and interpretations. America’s 35% corporate tax rate is the highest among all developed countries.

* The Code of Federal Regulations is 175,000 pages long and coupled with more than 1.4 million pages of ten-point-type Federal Register proposed and final rules published just since 1993.

* The 2015 Federal Register contained a record 81,611 pages. The 2016 FR will likely be even longer, as some 60 federal departments, agencies and commissions have more than 3,000 regulations in the pipeline, to implement and impose every remaining item on the Obama agenda.

* Over 4,450 federal crimes are embedded in those laws and regulations – and neither an inability to understand the complex edicts nor an absence of intent to violate them is a defense.

* Complying with all these regulations costs American businesses and families $1.9 trillion per year. That’s one-tenth of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product – $5,900 a year for every American citizen.

* EPA’s new 70 ppb ozone standard will likely put half of all U.S. counties out of compliance and close down transportation, housing and factory projects, for minuscule to imaginary health benefits.

* EPA’s Clean Power Plan will cost up to $73 billion annually in higher electricity prices, force states to shutter their coal-fired power plants, and destroy numerous mining, utility and factory jobs – to prevent a hypothetical and undetectable 0.018 degrees C (0.032 degrees F) of warming 85 years from now.

* The 2015 Paris climate treaty will cost some $484 billion per year for the next 25 years, just to replace carbon-based energy with wind, solar and biofuel energy, Bloomberg New Energy Finance calculates.

Now climate activists want EPA to use the Clean Air Act and Paris treaty to regulate and eliminate all vehicle, drilling, pipeline, landfill, gas-fired generator and other CO2 and methane sources, crippling our economy – and then still send hundreds of billions to developing countries for “climate reparations.”

But as climate scientist John Christy recently told Congress, the entire Obama climate agenda is based on computer models that do not work. “The real word is not going along with rapid warming” assertions, he emphasized. “The models need to go back to the drawing board.” And EPA’s rules need to be scrapped.

You may despise politics. But the politicians and bureaucrats are hot on your trail – and Democrats running for president would put Obama’s policies on steroids. (So would Michael Bloomberg). So get motivated, informed and involved – before our vibrant free enterprise republic is only a dim memory.

Via email


Donald Trump versus Ted Cruz

Rich Lowry

At the moment, the Republican establishment is relevant to the presidential-nomination battle only as an epithet. The fight for the Republican nomination isn’t so much a vicious brawl between the grass roots and the establishment as it is a bitter struggle between traditional conservatism and populism that few could have foreseen.

Conservatism has always had a populist element, encapsulated by the oft-quoted William F. Buckley Jr. line that he would rather be governed by the first 2, 000 names in the Boston phone book than by the Harvard faculty. But the populism was tethered to, and in the service of, an ideology of limited-government constitutionalism.

The fight between Ted Cruz and Donald Trump is over whether that connection will continue to exist, and whether the conservatism (as represented by Cruz) or the populism (as represented by Trump) will be ascendant. Cruz did all he could as long as possible to accommodate Trump, but now that the fight between them is out in the open, the differences are particularly stark.

Cruz is a rigorous constitutionalist. He’s devoted much of his career to defending the Constitution and has argued numerous cases before the Supreme Court. Trump has certainly heard of the Constitution, but he may know even less about it than he knows about the Bible.

Although Cruz is more flexible than his reputation suggests, he has the long baseline of consistency that you would expect from a genuine believer in a political philosophy. Trump has a few long-running themes and bugaboos, but has been all over the map on almost everything and sometimes will meander from one position to another within the same answer, in keeping with his lack of ideological anchor (and limited knowledge of policy).

The two have completely different political styles. Trump is instinctual and has a roguish charm, whereas Cruz is earnest and tightly disciplined. If almost everything about Trump is unconventional, Cruz is outwardly a very traditional politician.

The irony of Cruz’s position now is that, despite all his outsider branding, he is not getting savaged by the establishment. It is Trump who calls him a hypocrite and a liar. It is Trump who says he’s a nasty guy and a maniac with a temperament problem. And it is Trump, of course, who constantly raises doubts about his eligibility to serve as president.

If you guessed a key event in the nomination fight would be the “othering” of the most potent tea-party conservative in the country by a billionaire businessman with a long trail of liberal positions and a history of praising President Barack Obama –well, then, you forecast the GOP race perfectly.

In short, Cruz is under assault from a segment of the anti-establishment, although Cruz takes every opportunity to portray himself as the victim of the machinations of dastardly political insiders. The reality is that the establishment is sitting on its hands, agonizing over whom it loathes least, Trump or Cruz, while the fight between populism and conservatism rages.

The battle for the soul of the GOP is now a battle for the soul of the right.



There is a  new  lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- mostly about immigration


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL 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 and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


8 February, 2016

Johnny Cash and the Democrats

I rarely listen to Country & Western music but when I do my favorite singer is, unsurprisingly, Johnny Cash.  And I am far from alone in that.  He was very popular for most of his life.  And that is what I want to talk about.  But a few preliminary comments first:

I have no information on how he voted while he was alive but his close friendship with Jimmy Carter suggests at least some Democrat sympathies. Plus he was a Southerner and the South in his early days  mostly voted Democrat.

But if he was a Democrat he was a sincere one.  Leftist politicians are just parasites in compassionate clothing but in the general population, many Leftist voters probably do have some real compassion for various groups.  The Leftist appeal to compassion would not work otherwise. 

Although he was himself never sent to jail, the group that Johnny Cash had compassion for was prisoners.  And, as most will know, he put his money where his mouth was, or, more precisely, he put his mouth where the money was not.  He did many jailhouse concerts and charged nothing for them, even though he could have got big money for them elsewhere. He used his talent to do whatever he could for prisoners.

So what was the secret of his popularity?  There are a number of possible reasons: His marvellous bass-baritone voice plus he was quite good looking in his youth.  He looked a lot like Elvis, in fact.  And the intense romanticism of his songs no doubt helped a lot.

My favorite two songs of his are "Walk the Line" and "ring of fire".  In the first he promises fidelity to his wife and in the second he compares being in love to being surrounded by fire.  Those two songs would probably have some claim to being the greatest love songs ever written, with only "My love is like a red, red rose" by Robert Burns being clearly more deserving of that title.

But the lesson I draw from his work is the great simplicity of his writing.   Each song has simple words that are repeated a lot.  I give the words of both below:

Ring Of Fire Lyrics

Love is a burnin' thing
And it makes a fiery ring
Bound by wild desire
I fell into a ring of fire

I fell into a burnin' ring of fire
I went down, down, down
And the flames went higher
And it burns, burns, burns
The ring of fire, the ring of fire

I fell into a burnin' ring of fire
I went down, down, down
And the flames went higher
And it burns, burns, burns
The ring of fire, the ring of fire

The taste of love is sweet
When hearts like ours meet
I fell for you like a child
Oh, but the fire went wild

I fell into a burnin' ring of fire
I went down, down, down
And the flames went higher
And it burns, burns, burns
The ring of fire, the ring of fire

I fell into a burnin' ring of fire
I went down, down, down
And the flames went higher
And it burns, burns, burns
The ring of fire, the ring of fire
And it burns, burns, burns
The ring of fire, the ring of fire
The ring of fire, the ring of fire
The ring of fire

"I Walk The Line"

I keep a close watch on this heart of mine
I keep my eyes wide open all the time
I keep the ends out for the tie that binds
Because you're mine, I walk the line

I find it very, very easy to be true
I find myself alone when each day is through
Yes, I'll admit that I'm a fool for you
Because you're mine, I walk the line

As sure as night is dark and day is light
I keep you on my mind both day and night
And happiness I've known proves that it's right
Because you're mine, I walk the line

You've got a way to keep me on your side
You give me cause for love that I can't hide
For you I know I'd even try to turn the tide
Because you're mine, I walk the line

I keep a close watch on this heart of mine
I keep my eyes wide open all the time
I keep the ends out for the tie that binds
Because you're mine, I walk the line

And the "freight-train" rhythm of both songs is simple too.  So when extremely simple words and thoughts are immensely popular, can we learn something about politics from that?  I think we can but it is a hard lesson:  Simplicity is attractive.  And the Democrat message is simple indeed.  Listen to Bernie Sanders saying how bad many things are but without making any serious attempt at explaining why they are so or advancing any ideas to fix them that would in fact work.  The Leftist message is simple but wrong.  The conservative message is complex but right.  It's not a happy thought for conservatives.

What can we do about it?  I think we need a great communicator.  Reagan was one and Trump seems to be another.  His messages are simple too, way too simple for policy wonks, but maybe simple enough to win elections.  He is a smart man so if he does win he would almost certainly take well-argued advice and not do anything too foolish


Bigoted Treatment of Trump supporters

As the chances of Trump winning the nomination have risen, the media have taken to scrutinising his supporters, who have propelled him to the top of the Republican polls, much in the way of anthropologists who study an exotic tribe. And many have concluded that the typical Trump voter is even scarier than the man himself.

Based on polls that found that perhaps eight out of every 10 Trump supporters lack a college degree, analysts find that Trump’s backers are dumb. As a writer for Gawker explained, ‘The profound stupidity of [Trump’s] discourse is perfectly matched to the profound stupidity of its intended audience’. The Washington Post gathered psychologists to examine the average Trump supporter. Their diagnosis? Trump’s fans ‘like people who tell us that our problems are simple and easy to solve’.

Many of our leading experts find that, on top of being ignorant and simple-minded, the Trump supporter is racist. The Post’s long-distance psychologists also determined that Trump followers are the kind who ‘don’t like people who don’t look like us’.

According to CNN, ‘racial and economic fears’ lie behind the Trump phenomenon, with ‘no getting around’ that ‘racial attitudes are fuelling’ support for him. And some conservatives say Trump supporters are bigots. Kevin Williamson of the National Review writes: ‘Thomas Aquinas cautioned against “homo unius libri”, a warning that would not get very far with the typical Trump voter stuck sniggering over “homo”. (They’d snigger over “snigger”, too, for similar reasons.)’

Upon hearing all of these derogatory remarks thrown at them, Trump supporters might reasonably reply: tell me something I haven’t heard before. For many years, sections of the masses like the Trump-proletariat have been blamed by elites for blocking ‘progress’ in society. On the campaign trail in 2008, Obama dismissed them as those who cling to their guns and Bibles.

Campaigners for same-sex marriage called them knuckle-draggers and bigots for not ‘evolving’ upon demand and dropping the centuries-old understanding of what marriage means. Indeed, much of Trump’s support comes from people wanting to kick back against the condescending views they experience from those on top – like being told they are dumb and racist. Saying you are for Trump is a way of saying ‘f*ck you’ to the snobs.

Onlookers lazily see in Trump’s support a racist blob, the same old Republican Party at it again. As it happens, Trump’s followers don’t neatly fit their stereotypes. Many are from the industrial North, not just the much-demonised ‘red states’ of the South and Appalachia. Many have moderate views, and don’t feel that certain hot-button issues, like abortion, should be a priority. Many are secular, although they often are, like many of the religious, traditionalist (rather than cosmopolitan) in cultural terms. And some Trump supporters are Democrats: 20 per cent of Democrats say they will vote for Trump, and many who back him were once registered Democrats.

Trump supporters appear to be united by a number of populist and nationalist themes, but a key one is a rejection of the political establishment and cultural elite. Given that Trump is a billionaire capitalist, he is an unlikely champion of an anti-elitist cause. But in cultural terms, his supporters see an ally. Just as Trump is relentlessly mocked for his combed-over hair, his non-polished way of speaking, and his tacky style, so his supporters know that they, too, are looked down on as uncool by the coastal elites for the way they speak and dress.

And when Trump is condemned by the media for these and other transgressions, his anti-elite credentials grow in their eyes.    
In particular, Trump supporters seem to be sick and tired of being described by the elite as a problem to be solved. Consider the response to the terrorist shootings in San Bernardino, California.

Many, if not most, Americans concluded that something must be done to prevent a future attack. But they heard their president use most of his special TV address to implore them not to be Islamophobes – that is, their president considered them as people on the verge of a revenge-seeking rampage. They heard their president and the New York Times tell them that, after radical Islamists shoot up the town, it is they who must hand over their guns. And they heard the Washington Post condemn them, in the same week as that horrific attack, as un-Christian and un-American for even questioning the wisdom of letting Syrian refugees enter the country. They, not the radical Islamists, were seen as the problem.

Trump adherents are most often called racist for their support for his anti-immigration stances, like building a wall along the Mexico border, deporting the 12million in the US illegally, and enforcing a ban on Muslims coming into the country. But Trump backers might wonder why only they get the racist label slapped on them. Other Republican politicians share his views: candidates like Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush have also called for bans on Muslims, without the uproar. Democrats brag that ‘President Obama has the most border patrols and security deployed at the border of any previous president’, and Obama has been called the ‘deporter-in-chief’ for his record-setting number of deportations.

It is easier to dismiss Trump supporters as racist than to understand what is driving their views on immigration. Concerns about national security and cultural assimilation play a part. There is also a class element for some who fear the under-cutting of wages (a position Democrats used to take, when they listened to the industrial unions). Being pro-immigration, I think all of these reasons are misguided, but clearly you can’t put it all down to xenophobia.

In adopting such views on immigration, it is not as if Trump and his supporters are expressing a type of white nationalism, as some claim. Yes, if their views harden into such a stance, that would be a problem. But the blame for any Trump-led ‘white identity politics’, if it ever arises, would have to be laid at the door of the liberal multiculturalists, who have been drumming into us for decades how the differences between races are essential, fixed and something to be celebrated.

Trump’s supporters are expressing legitimate concerns, even if their preferred candidate is offering false solutions to them. Their lack of faith in the vision-less establishment is perfectly reasonable. Their largely working-class interests have been ignored by the elites of both major parties. They have been actively silenced by the PC cultural police. In a democracy, it is important, at a minimum, to listen to this section of society, rather than ignore them or say such views cannot be aired.

Today’s denunciations of Trump supporters as bigots are exactly the kind of put-downs that drive their resentment and drive them into the arms of Trump. Dismissing their concerns now, in this way, only strengthens their views and support for him.

You don’t agree with Trump? Fine. But don’t denigrate the people who support him. Offer them a counter-argument; offer them something that addresses their concerns and interests. Don’t insult them; inspire them, if you can.



Picture retrospective

I found some good graphics to put a up last year, mostly mocking or humorous ones -- so they may be worth another look in an idle moment.  As I do a couple of times a year, therefore, I have put up a small retrospective gallery of them.  See here or here to access the pictures for the second half of last year.


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL 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 and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


7 February, 2016

Obama Orders Border Patrol to Stand Down

This is hard to believe but I have checked it.  "We might as well abolish our immigration laws altogether," said agent Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council. -- JR

It always surprises me to learn just how far the Obama administration will go to damage the country.

For years, we have been critical of the Obama administration’s policy of dealing with illegal immigrants caught crossing the border. They are apprehended, processed, and then given a document known as a “Notice to Appear.” It is essentially a court date to begin deportation proceedings.

But instead of locking them up until their court date, the Obama administration has always let them go instead. More than 90% of captured illegal aliens never bother to show up to their court dates, leading Border Patrol agents to dub them, “Notices to Disappear.”

Well now, the Obama administration is changing course. No, they’re not going to hold the captured illegals until trial.

Border Patrol agents have been instructed not to make arrests at all!

Tell Congress to grow a backbone! Put a stop to this dangerous catch-and-release program before any more Americans are victimized!

Without an arrest, there is no court date set, and therefore there is no embarrassing statistics of illegal aliens skipping their court dates.

Brandon Judd, the President of the National Border Patrol Council brought this to the American people’s attention.

By refusing to even initially arrest these illegal aliens, there is no record of them even entering the country at all. It’s as if they were never caught.

Border Patrol agents are literally being forced to just watch as whole crowds of illegal aliens invade this country. The have been instructed by the White House to just sit on their hands. If they try to enforce the law, they will be fired.

They aren’t allowed to arrest illegal aliens. They aren’t allowed to fight back when they are assaulted.

Whether you support Donald Trump or not, he’s right on one point: we don’t have a country anymore. When the administration actively tells Border Patrol agents just to ‘let them in,’ then we cease to be a country.

Never before in our history – or I would venture to say, in the history of any modern country – have Border Patrol Agents been instructed to release every illegal border crossers they catch. Never.

This new executive directive from Obama is treason. He is putting his own political correctness, and the desires of big business seeking cheap labor, above the safety and security of this nation.

Obama has officially opened our borders to illegals!

We have no idea who these people are, what their intentions are, what diseases they may be carrying…

There is a reason that the legal immigration process is so dragged out. One criminal or terrorist slipping through can have a devastating effect. One carrier of a deadly disease can subject Americans to needless death and suffering.

Right now, as you are reading this, the Feds have indicted an illegal alien and charged him with the murder of an American mother of three. He never should have been in this country. Only because of Obama’s immigration policy was he allowed to turn these children into orphans…

The law says that illegal aliens caught at the border are to be arrested and given a deportation court date. Obama is refusing to arrest them so that he doesn’t have to deport them!

This is treason. This is tyranny.



Suspect in slaying could have been held by ICE

An alleged gang member indicted last week in the fatal shooting of a mother of three in Chelsea had arrived in the United States illegally as a teenager and was charged with other violent crimes, raising questions about why US immigration officials did not detain or deport him before the woman’s death.

Hector Ramirez, now 22, was arrested by US Customs and Border Protection in July 2010 in Texas, court records show. Two years later, an ex-girlfriend took out a restraining order against him. In 2014, Chelsea police charged the suspected MS-13 gang member in a vicious knife attack on a teenager and the robbery of a man at gunpoint — an arrest that would customarily have alerted immigration authorities, who, critics say, could have detained him.

A few months later, Katerin Gomez was killed by a gunshot to the head.

“This is a classic case of when a detainer really should be issued and would have been a huge help to public safety and might have saved this woman’s life,” said Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies.

Vaughan raised the Ramirez case before the House Judiciary Committee last year when testifying about immigration enforcement. “The victims can be anyone. And everyone in the community deserves the protection that this kind of enforcement provides.”

Federal immigration officials had no explanation this week for why they did not detain Ramirez, also known as Hector Ramires. He is among 56 people indicted on federal criminal charges, including the murders of five people and attempted murders of 14, last week in a takedown of the East Coast chapter of the MS-13 international street gang, which has terrorized immigrant cities in Massachusetts.

Several of the accused are immigrants here illegally, the US attorney’s office has said. Many, if not all, of the victims are also immigrants.

Because the US immigration system’s records are largely secret, the Globe could not independently review Ramirez’s immigration case or any others. Immigration officials have said that disclosing such records would violate immigrants’ privacy. But the secrecy also allowed Ramirez’s status to remain unclear to the public when federal officials announced last week’s highly publicized raids.

Shawn Neudauer, spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, declined to comment Thursday because the criminal case against Ramirez is pending. Asked to comment on the civil immigration case only, he also declined. “Please refer all future questions to the US Attorney’s Office,” he said in a statement.

The US Attorney’s office declined to comment on the immigration case.

Ramirez is among tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors — mainly boys from Central America — who have flooded the southern border in recent years.

Typically they are turned over to the US Department of Health and Human Services for placement with relatives or guardians. An HHS spokeswoman said Homeland Security officials fingerprint and perform background checks on the minors before referring them for placement. She declined to comment on Ramirez because of his pending case in federal court.



Rushbo on Obama's religion

A person's faith is their own business, but in the wake of President Obama's speech at a Baltimore mosque, Rush had some tough questions for the commander in chief. As the Blaze reports:

“He talks about how awesome Islam is all the time, one of the most beautiful sounds he’s ever heard is the morning call to prayer in an Islamic country,” the radio show host added. “He says it’s the most peaceful, most giving religion out there, that the mosque called a prayer one of the most beautiful sounds in the world. And, at the same time, he’s out there, and look what he says about Christians. He says he is one. Look, he talks about ‘em as bitter clingers and they hold on to their guns when they’re nervous.”

Limbaugh then revealed his question.

“My question is, given all this, why did he choose to become a Christian? I’ve always wondered that,” he told his audience. “He’s such a defender and promoter of Islam, and, on the other hand, he and his party are constantly denigrating Christians. I don’t care what the issue is, whether it’s guns, whether it’s gay marriage, any cultural or social issue, or the bitter clinger comments. I’ve always wondered about this.”

The radio host argued he was “not saying anything. I’m just asking a question,” he insisted.

It's a fair question. As we reported yesterday, Obama seems to think faithful Americans are irrational and filled with fear, and when he uses the term "faith," he really means blindly accepting whatever socialist items he has on the menu that week. Instead of taking his advice, Christian Americans should pray that the last year of his presidency passes swiftly, without incident.



Obama's War on Poor Americans

President Obama just can't help himself. Due to a broad array of economic factors, including, but not limited to, the expansion of an American domestic oil industry that his administration has rejected every step of the way, the price of oil is lower than it's been in years. This has been a source of some relief for middle income Americans who are currently unemployed or undermployed on a massive scale. However, because it flies in the face of President Obama's green agenda, he's doing what Democrats do best: calling for a tax.

President Barack Obama is about to unveil an ambitious plan for a “21st century clean transportation system.” And he hopes to fund it with a tax on oil.

Obama aides told POLITICO that when he releases his final budget request next week, the president will propose more than $300 billion worth of investments over the next decade in mass transit, high-speed rail, self-driving cars, and other transportation approaches designed to reduce carbon emissions and congestion. To pay for it all, Obama will call for a $10 “fee” on every barrel of oil, a surcharge that would be paid by oil companies but would presumably be passed along to consumers.

There is no real chance that the Republican-controlled Congress will embrace Obama’s grand vision of climate-friendly mobility in an election year—especially after passing a long-stalled bipartisan highway bill just last year—and his aides acknowledge it’s mostly an effort to jump-start a conversation about the future of transportation. But by raising the specter of new taxes on fossil fuels, it could create a political quandary for Democrats. The fee could add as much as 25 cents a gallon to the cost of gasoline, and even with petroleum prices at historic lows, the proposal could be particularly awkward for Hillary Clinton, who has embraced most of Obama’s policies but has also vowed to oppose any tax hikes on families earning less than $250,000 a year.

As Politico correctly points out, this tax is going to be passed down to the American consumer who's already been browbeaten by the Obama economy, at which point money will be handed over to the same administration that brought us Solyndra, Solar City, and other failed energy and infrastructure investment projects, at a point when our current pace of government spending is already unsustainable.

Obama's last year can't pass fast enough.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL 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 and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


6 February, 2016


Today is the birthday of a man who is probably history's most beloved conservative:  Ronald Wilson Reagan

I am pleased to say that I was around during his presidency and remember him well.  I normally live in Australia but was in America for a short time during his second campaign for president and did my very small bit for him while I was there.  I wore a large "Reagan/Bush" campaign button wherever I went.  I was in NYC at the time so I did get some funny looks over it. 

Reagan was such an electrifying political figure that  many of his speeches were broadcast worldwide so I saw them even while I was in Australia.  And I noted how he always referred to himself as "your president".  He rightly cast himself as a servant of the people.  And partly because of that I felt he was my president too even though I lived in Australia.

The speech I particularly remember of course was the solemn speech he gave when the space shuttle crashed.  America was lucky at that time to have a man who could give exactly the right  speech to mark its heroic loss.

I remember waking up on that morning in the company of wife and  children in my big and comfortable  home and amid smells of breakfast pancakes cooking -- to turn on the TV to hear that awful news and feel distressed but comforted that the man bringing me that awful message about our reach for the stars did it in a way that I felt.

But most of his other speeches were marked by humor.  There are many collections of the jokes he told but this is my favorite:

You have to know of the prior Dan Quayle/Lloyd Bentsen matchup to get it, of course, but Bentsen's quite unfair remark has been widely repeated so I think that most reading here would know of it

Saturday is my Sabbath so I would not normally post anything today but Reagan is the man I most admire so I felt that I needed to say something on this day. We will never see his like again.


Who's Up for Another Obama Lecture on 'Who We Are'?

In a show staged to curry Muslim favor and propagate the myth that any connection made between the Religion of Peace™ and violence is inherently hateful, bigoted and entirely un-American, Barack Obama Wednesday made his first visit to a U.S. mosque — one with what he called an “all-American story.” His visit had less to do with any religious tendencies and more to do with jockeying for position for his post-presidential career. Obama’s religion is himself and whatever it takes to advance his political viability.

Speaking to the Islamic Society of Baltimore, Obama lamented that this is a “time of fear” for Muslim-Americans who are being “targeted or blamed for the violent acts of the very few.” He lectured in his all-too-familiar pattern: “That’s not who we are. We are one American family, and when any part of our family starts to feel separate or second-class or targeted, it tears at the fabric of our nation.”

In the wake of beheadings, rapes and even reports of hundreds of children being burned alive in the name of Islam, Obama had the gall to opine, “When any religious group is targeted, we all have a responsibility to speak up.” What has he ever said about Muslims perpetrating those attacks — the Muslim fanatics currently wiping ancient Christian communities off the map in the Middle East? Not much, though at last year’s National Prayer Breakfast he chided Christians for attacking Muslims … in the Crusades.

“You’ve seen too often people conflating the horrific acts of terrorism with the beliefs of an entire faith,” he said Wednesday. He claimed groups like the Islamic State “twist” the Koran, and he promised, “I refuse to give them legitimacy. We should never give them that legitimacy. We shouldn’t play into terrorist propaganda.”

It’s hardly “giving them legitimacy” or “playing into propaganda” to note that radical Islamic ideology motivated attacks on the World Trade Center (1993 and 2001); assaulting the U.S.S. Cole; the attack on the U.S. military recruiting office in Little Rock, Arkansas; the Fort Hood rampage; the Boston Marathon bombing; the Garland, Texas attack; the Chattanooga and San Bernardino murders; the Charlie Hebdo attacks; the Paris massacre — and the list goes on, and on, and on.

And it’s hardly propaganda to note, as we’ve done, that there is plenty in the Koran and the Hadith (the teachings of Muhammad) advocating death to infidels. Yet the silence from many high-profile Muslims who are not unequivocally condemning these and countless other acts of terror is deafening. Indeed, the world is still waiting to hear a Muslim outcry — vocal and without exception or caveat — denouncing terrorist acts perpetrated in the name of Islam.

Undeterred, Obama lectured “my fellow Christians” that “we have to understand an attack on one faith is an attack on all our faiths.” Christians and Muslims, despite his insistence that we’re all “descendants of Abraham,” do not serve the same God.

Obama is afflicted with an extreme case of a blinding Islamophilia — so much so that he is more concerned with protecting Muslims from alleged offense than with facing deadly reality. He bemoaned, “We’ve seen children bullied, we’ve seen mosques vandalized,” while ignoring the fact that Americans are worried about a jihadi shooting up the local military base, recruiting center, or gathering of coworkers — all of which have happened on Obama’s watch.

Now, back to the supposed “all-American story.” So intent is Obama on denying the obvious that he chose to visit a mosque with terrorist ties in order to demonstrate Islam’s supposedly peaceful agenda. As Investor’s Business Daily (IBD) reports, Obama’s mosque of choice “happens to be controlled by a radical Muslim Brotherhood front group his own Justice Department has implicated in the largest terrorist fundraising plot in U.S. history.”

Indeed, the Islamic Society of Baltimore is part of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). In 2007, federal prosecutors named ISNA as an unindicted terrorist co-conspirator in a plot to send more than $12 million to Hamas suicide bombers. It’s been under FBI surveillance as well. What’s more, IBD reports that Imam Mohamad Adam el-Sheikh from the mosque told The Washington Post in 2004 that suicide bombings are “acceptable (as a method for Muslims) to defend themselves.”

While Islamic radicals wage war for a caliphate not only in the Middle East but worldwide, Obama keynotes at a terror-linked mosque to give Islam some free PR. As outrageous as this is, it’s hardly surprising, as it’s been Obama’s strategy both at home and abroad since Day One: Apologize your way to world peace.

Unfortunately, Obama’s denial of reality has not made America — or the world — a safer place. And a premier mosque performance will not do so either.


5 February, 2016

Some new/old findings about IQ

A paper titled "Top 10 Replicated Findings From Behavioral Genetics" has just come out with Robert Plomin as lead author.  The finding of the paper is an embarrassment to most psychologists.  We now know that most findings from psychological research are NOT replicable.  They are a flash in the pan with no generalizability.  They tell us nothing. So the fact that findings about the influence of genetics on behavior ARE replicable makes them stand out from other research.  It is putting it a little to strongly to say that it is the only sort of psychological research that it worth bothering with, but it gets close to that. I say here why I gave up on survey research after 20 years of doing it.

I have always noted that the heritability of IQ is by far the best replicated finding in psychology but Plomin shows that other effects of genetics on behaviour are highy replicable too.  Leftists hate all mention of genetics so on that issue, as on many others, they are on the wrong side of history.  And how ironic that is precisely the most well substantiated findings in psychology that are too politically incorrect for general mention.

So why are studies in the genetics of behaviour so robust?  Plomin suggests five sensible reasons but let me give a more impressionist reason:  It is because genetic effects on  behaviour are REAL.  There really is something going on there.  And, as Plomin's other findings show, what is going on is that genetics have a strong and pervasive effect on ALL behaviour.  As Plomin points out, even family environment is not an influence in its own right.  It too is affected by genetics.  I am reminded of something Hans Eysenck said to me around a quarter of a century ago:  "It's ALL genetics".  Already in his time, he had seen how pervasive genetic influences were.

My days as an active psychological researcher are long gone and I read very little in the psychological research literature these days.  I have however kept a watching brief on research on IQ.  So I was well aware of one of Plomin's more surprising findings:  The influence of IQ GROWS as the person grows up.  IQ is only a small influence of behaviour in early childhood but a large influence on the same person's behaviour in adulthood.  The genetic infuence in fact seems to keep growing until about age 30.  That can be seen as rather counterintuitive.  One would think that a small child had ONLY genetic influences to guide his behaviours but as he grew up he would come under all sorts of additional influences on his behaviour.

Plomin explores some possible reasons behind that finding but I think he misses the obvious:  A child is very heavily regulated whilst growing up.  He is pushed in all sorts of directions by parents, teachers and others.  It is only in adulthood that he is reasonably free to "be himself".  And that is exactly what happens.  He throws off most of his environmental influences and behaves in a way that feels good or right to himself.


21st century California dreaming

Where unaccountable bureacracy leads

The stylish new eastern span of the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge cost $6.4 billion, about $5 billion more than the original estimate, and came in ten years late. As we noted two years ago, all that time and money could not prevent hundreds of leaks during the first winter storm. A supposedly watertight steel chamber supporting the roadbed was leaking, and water also entering through guardrail holes for lights and service panels. Caltrans bosses were stumped and said that any solution would be “high maintenance.” About this time last year, the bridge continued to leak water inside the structure and efforts to caulk about 900 bolt holes had only been partly successful. Independent experts warned about corrosion and rust on strands of the main cable and anchor rods. Caltrans bosses didn’t want to talk about it, but in early 2016 they think they’ve got the problem whipped.

“After spending more than $1.4 million trying to plug leaks that put the cable of the Bay Bridge’s new eastern span at risk of corrosion,” writes Jaxon Van Derbeken in the San Francisco Chronicle, “Caltrans says it has finally hit on a fix that costs less than $100,000—and has all but eliminated a problem that plagued the project for years.” Caltrans maintenance engineer Ken Brown explained that water was coming in through gaps on the roadway side of the guardrails and the application of industrial-grade caulking plugged up 90 percent of the leaks. Brown, however, still sought a longer-term fix and Berkeley corrosion expert Lisa Fulton said “we will have to wait and see,” whether Caltrans “got something right this time.” Taxpayers, meanwhile, have good reason to remain skeptical.

Since the leaks were not supposed to happen, the bridge’s design wasn’t exactly right. The new span was supposed to cost some $1.5 billion, not more than $6 billion, so costs were out of control. The new span was supposed to be safe but the problems persist. Congressman Mark DeSaulnier, who as a state senator held hearings on the bridge problems, is on record that “there’s never been anyone in the management of the bridge who has been held accountable.” The congressman has that right, so despite the industrial-grade caulking the stylish new span is still the bridge to no accountability.



Trump Like Reagan? This GOP Leader Thinks So

Donald Trump has compared his potentially transformative, magnetic candidacy to Ronald Reagan. At least one man who remembers Reagan fondly agrees: former New York Senator Al D'Amato:

Former Sen. Alphonse D’Amato (R-N.Y.) says he sees similarities between Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump and former President Ronald Reagan.

“You know, 30 years ago there was a movement started by someone who establishment Republicans were opposed to,” D’Amato said of Reagan in a radio interview with John Catsimatidis on "The Cats Roundtable" on New York's AM-970.

“Well let me tell you, I think Trump has got a movement that’s picking up steam, and once a movement picks up that kind of steam, pretty hard to stop.”
The former New York senator praised Trump’s decision to hold a fundraiser for veterans instead of attending Thursday's GOP presidential debate on Fox News.

“He demonstrated that he’s not going to be pushed around,” D’Amato said.

He added that Trump’s decision to include the last two Republican winners of the Iowa caucuses — Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum — was politically “brilliant.”

Trump decided to skip last week’s Fox News debate after a harsh statement released by the network mocked him for not wanting to participate in a debate that anchor Megyn Kelly would be hosting.



America’s Economic Freedom Has Rapidly Declined Under Obama

America’s declining score in the index is closely related to rapidly rising government spending, subsidies, and bailouts

Millions of people around the world are emerging from poverty thanks to rising economic freedom. But by sharp contrast, America’s economic freedom has been on a declining path over the past decade.

According to the 2016 Index of Economic Freedom, an annual publication by The Heritage Foundation, America’s economic freedom has tumbled. With losses of economic freedom in eight of the past nine years, the U.S. has tied its worst score ever, wiping out a decade of progress.

The U.S. has fallen from the 6th freest economy in the world, when President Barack Obama took office, to 11th place in 2016. America’s declining score in the index is closely related to rapidly rising government spending, subsidies, and bailouts.

Since early 2009:

Government spending has exploded, amounting to $29,867 per household in 2015.

The national debt has risen to $125,000 for every tax-filing household in America—a total over $18 trillion.

The government takeover of health care is raising prices and disrupting markets.

Bailouts and new government regulations have increased uncertainty, stifling investment and job creation.

This is not something to take lightly. Economic freedom is the foundation of U.S. economic strength, and economic strength is the foundation of America’s high living standards, military power, and status as a world leader. The perils of losing economic freedom are not fictional.

It is painfully clear that our economy has been performing far below its potential, with individuals, families, and entrepreneurs being squeezed by the proliferation of big-government bureaucracy and regulations.

As documented by the index, and by other scholars, America’s economic freedom has been declining at an alarming pace.

Indeed, as The Wall Street Journal recently summed it up succinctly, Obama is “a champion when it comes to limiting economic freedom, and American workers have the slow growth in jobs and wages to prove it.”

Not surprisingly, our economic dynamism and innovative capacity have been measurably reduced.

Not surprisingly, our economic dynamism and innovative capacity have been measurably reduced. Self-inflicted wounds include:

The U.S. has the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world. This has driven new jobs to other, more competitive nations and has meant fewer jobs and lower wages for Americans.
The overall annual cost of meeting regulatory requirements has increased by over $80 billion since 2009, with more than 180 new regulations in place. In terms of ease of starting a new business, analyzed by a recently published World Bank report, the U.S. is ranked shockingly low at 49th, trailing countries such as Canada, Georgia, Ireland, Lithuania, and Malaysia.
No wonder the labor force participation rate has remained at near record lows after more than five years of steady decline.

Worse, vibrant entrepreneurial growth has been stymied by greater policy uncertainty and mounting debt. And a disturbing trend toward cronyism has gravely eroded the rule of law and distorted our free-market system.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, keynote speaker of the official release of the 2016 Index, recently stated:

It’s been almost seven years since the Obama “recovery” began, and our economy is barely out of neutral. Why does America have to settle for this?

Restoring economic freedom is prerequisite to revitalizing and brightening America’s future. 2016 is the year to reaffirm the principles of limited government, free enterprise, and rule of law so that we can reconstitute an America where freedom, opportunity, and prosperity flourish.

The time to act is now.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL 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 and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


4 February, 2016

Is sugar good for you after all?

Now that the accumulation of evidence has forced even myopic medical researchers and bureaucrats to abandon their demonization of salt and fat in the diet, the solons have reached back to an old scare popularized obsessively by Dr. Robert Lustig. Lustig claims that sugar is bad for you.  The health establishment ridiculed Lustig's "evidence" for many years but they were desperate when salt and fat were taken away from them so Lustig and his theories are suddenly now in good odor.  They particularly demonize a very simple sugar -- fructose -- because it is widely used in American fizzy drinks. 

But the evidence for the demonization of sugar is mostly just epidemiological speculation and it is an easy bet that sugar will one day be comprehensively exonerated too. 

More importantly, however, fat was eventually found actually to be GOOD for you.  Will the same be found for sugar?  A straw in the wind below.  The article concerns fucose, not fructose but both are sugars.   Science has just recently figured out that fucose is one of the essential sugars that the body needs to function properly.  Below is one of several recent reports which find that fucose helps fight cancer!

Dietary Fucose Helps Attenuate Metastatic Melanoma in Mice

Tracy Hampton, PhD

Investigators have identified a mechanism that’s blocked during melanoma metastasis but can be restored in mice by adding the sugar fucose to the diet (Lau E et al. Sci Signal. 2015;8[406]:ra124).

Led by researchers at the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute in La Jolla, California, the team found that activating transcription factor 2 (ATF2), which is abundant in advanced stages of melanoma, blunts expression of the gene encoding fucokinase (FUK), an enzyme that attaches fucose to target molecules. The findings suggest FUK repression promotes melanoma motility and invasiveness in vitro.

JAMA. 2016;315(5):455. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.19343


Obamacare’s Cost per Beneficiary Explodes with Shrinking Enrollment

The Congressional Budget Office’s latest budget estimate shows Obamacare’s costs per beneficiary have exploded, as enrolment in Obamacare’s broken exchanges collapses. January’s update estimates 2016 exchange enrolment at 13 million people (p. 69). Although the president’s administration had previously downgraded its estimate of Obamacare enrolment, this is the first significant change by the non-partisan CBO.

As recently as March 2015, CBO was still assuming 21 million enrollees in Obamacare’s exchanges this year (Table 2). In the January update, it has changed its estimate only for 2016 enrollment, not for future years. Next March’s update will include a more thorough analysis including future years, and we can expect those estimates to be similarly downgraded.

What is shocking, however, is that the January update still estimates that tax credits, which subsidize insurers participating in exchanges, will cost taxpayers $56 billion this year (p. 182). That amounts to about $4,308 per enrollee (although not all are subsidized). Back in March 2010, CBO estimated that 21 million people would be covered in exchanges in 2016, for a total cost of $59 billion in tax credits (pp. 20-23). That would amount to about $2,810 per enrollee.

This leads to the conclusion that Obamacare exchanges are, in fact, high-risk pools for sick individuals who cannot get coverage elsewhere. They are not a properly functioning, broad-based market for health insurance.

And, by the way, CBO confirms that Obamacare kills jobs:

CBO anticipates that several developments in federal fiscal policy under current law will affect the economy through their impact on the labor market. The most sizable effects stem from provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA’s largest effect on the labor market—especially as overall employment conditions improve—will come from provisions of the act that raise effective marginal tax rates on earnings, thereby reducing how much some people choose to work. The health insurance subsidies that the act provides through the expansion of Medicaid and the exchanges are phased out for people with higher income, creating an implicit tax on some people’s additional earnings. The act also directly imposes higher taxes on some people’s labor income. Because both effects on labor supply will grow over the next few years, CBO projects, they will subtract from economic growth over that period.



Socialism Gets a Second Life

Why do the young love Bernie Sanders? Because their experience of capitalism is different.

I was watching Bernie Sanders speak last week at a town hall in Bedford when an early intuition became a conviction: Take Mr. Sanders seriously. He is not just another antic presence in Crazy Year 2016. His rise signifies a major shift within the Democratic Party.

The big room was full, 700 to 800 people, good for 5 p.m. on a Friday. The audience wasn’t raucous or full of cheers as at his big rallies, but thinking and nodding. They were young and middle-aged, with not many white-haired heads. There was a working-class feel to them, though Bedford is relatively affluent.

“Let me disabuse you,” Mr. Sanders says to those who think he cannot win. He quotes New Hampshire polls, where he’s way ahead. He can defeat Donald Trump, he says.

Then the meat. He described America as a place of broad suffering — “student debt,” “two-job families” with strained marriages and insufficient child care, “the old on fixed incomes.”

We can turn it around if we make clear to “the billionaire class” that income inequality “is not moral.” The economy is “rigged.” Real unemployment is not 5% but twice that. “Youth unemployment is off the charts.” He wants job-training programs for the young. The minimum wage is “a starvation wage.” Raise it to “a living wage — 15 bucks an hour.”

The audience is attentive, supportive. “Yeah!” some shout.

He speaks of Goldman Sachs, of “banksters” and of a Republican Party owned by “the oil industry, coal industry.”

“Health care is a right of all people, not a privilege.” He asks if any in the audience have high-insurance deductibles. They start to call out: “$4,000,” “5,000,” “6,000!” Someone yells: “Nothing’s covered!”

No one mentions ObamaCare, but it seems clear it hasn’t worked here.

Mr. Sanders says people don’t go to the doctor when they’re sick because of the deductibles. “Same with mental-health care!” a woman calls out. “Mental-health care must be considered part of health care,” he responds, to applause. He is for “a Medicare-for-all, single-payer system.”

How to pay for it all? “Impose a tax on Wall Street speculation,” he says, briefly. He does not elaborate and is not pressed to.

Mr. Sanders’s essential message was somber, grim, even dark. It’s all stark — good guys and bad guys, angels and devils. But it’s also clear and easy to understand: We are in terrible trouble because our entire system is rigged, the billionaires did it, they are the beneficiaries of the biggest income transfer from the poor to the rich in the history of man, and we are going to stop it. How? Through “a political revolution.” But a soft one that will take place in voting booths. We will vote to go left.

As the audience left they seemed not pumped or excited, but satisfied.

I listen to Mr. Sanders a lot, and what he says marks a departure from the ways the Democratic Party has been operating for at least a generation now.

Formally, since 1992, the Democratic Party has been Clintonian in its economics — moderate, showing the influence of the Democratic Leadership Council. Free-market capitalism is something you live with and accept; the wealth it produces can be directed toward public programs and endeavors. The Clinton administration didn’t hate Wall Street, it hired Wall Street. Big government, big Wall Street — it all worked. It was the Great Accommodation, and it was a break with more-socialist approaches of the past.

All this began to shatter in the crash of 2008, not that anyone noticed — it got lost in the Obama hoopla. In March 2009, when Mr. Obama told Wall Street bankers at the White House that his administration was the only thing standing between them and “the pitchforks,” he was wittingly or unwittingly acknowledging the Great Accommodation.

The rise of Bernie Sanders means that accommodation is ending, and something new will take its place.

Surely it means something that Mr. Obama spent eight years insisting he was not a socialist, and Bernie Sanders is rising while saying he is one.

It has left Hillary Clinton scrambling, unsteady. She thought she and her husband had cracked the code and made peace with big wealth. But her party is undoing it — without her permission and without her leading the way. She is meekly following.

It is my guess that Mr. Sanders will win in Iowa and New Hampshire. But the tendency he represents — whether it succeeds this time or simply settles in and grows — is, I suspect, here to stay.

A conservative of a certain age might say: “No, he’s a fad. Socialism is yesterday! Marx is dead, the American economic behemoth rolled over and flattened him. Socialism is an antique idea that rocks with age. America is about the future, not the past.”

I disagree. It’s back because it’s new again.

For so many, 2008 shattered faith in the system — in its fairness, usefulness and efficacy, even in its ability to endure.

As for the young, let’s say you’re 20 or 30, meaning you’ll be voting for a long time. What in your formative years would have taught you about the excellence of free markets, low taxes, “a friendly business climate”? A teacher in public high school? Maybe one — the faculty-lounge eccentric who boycotted the union meetings. And who in our colleges teaches the virtues of capitalism?

If you are 20 or 30 you probably see capitalism in terms of two dramatic themes. The first was the crash of ‘08, in which heedless, irresponsible operators in business and government kited the system and scrammed. The second is income inequality. Why are some people richer than the richest kings and so many poor as serfs? Is that what capitalism gives you? Then maybe we should rethink this!

And Mr. Sanders makes it sound so easy. We’re rich, he says; we can do this with a few taxes. It is soft Marxism. And it’s not socialism now, it’s “democratic socialism” like they have in Europe. You’ve been to Europe. Aside from its refugee crisis and some EU problems, it’s a great place — a big welfare state that’s wealthy! The French take three-hour lunches.

Socialism is an old idea to you if you’re over 50 but a nice new idea if you’re 25.

Do you know what’s old if you’re 25? The free-market capitalist system that drove us into a ditch.

Polls show the generation gap. Mr. Sanders does poorly among the old. They remember socialism. He does well among the young, who’ve just discovered it and have little to no knowledge of its effects. A nationwide Marist poll in November showed Mr. Sanders already leading Mrs. Clinton, 58% to 35%, among voters under 30. She led him among all other age groups, and 69% to 21% among those 60 and older. By this month a CBS/New York Times poll had Mr. Sanders up 60% to 31% among voters under 45.

Bernie Sanders is an indicator of the Democratic future. He is telling you where that party’s going. In time some Democrats will leave over it, and look for other homes.

It’s all part of the great scrambling that is happening this political year — the most dramatic, and perhaps most consequential, of our lifetimes.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL 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 and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


3 February, 2016

Inequality in wealth and income is much less than it first seems if you take the full picture into account

Inequality was the single most popular topic when economists gathered at their annual convention in San Francisco last month. But here is what everyone should know. Most of the studies you read about in newspapers are flawed. A new study exposes those flaws and presents a much rosier picture of the American economy.

A typical study of the distribution of income compares people on the top and bottom rungs of the income ladder. The problem: the entire population is on the ladder. That means these studies are comparing retirees with people who are working. They are comparing people who are at the peak of their career earnings with people who are just starting out.

Studies of the distribution of wealth typically have an even bigger problem. They count private savings (such as an IRA or 401(k) account) and private pensions as part of an individual’s wealth. But they ignore Social Security and other entitlement benefits, even though people pay taxes to these programs at the same time they are contributing to their private retirement accounts.

A 60 year old couple, each having earned the maximum FICA wage over their work lives, is entitled to Social Security benefits worth $1.2 million. If they delay the collection of benefits until age 70, their Social Security wealth is about $1.6 million. Does anyone think this hidden asset should be ignored in comparisons of the distribution of wealth?

The new study is by Alan J. Auerbach (Berkeley), Laurence J. Kotlikoff (Boston University) and Darryl Koehler (Fiscal analysis Center).  It departs from previous studies in three important ways: (1) it recognizes that the only meaningful way to compare income and wealth is to do it for people of approximately the same age, (2) it chooses people’s after-tax consumption (standard of living) as the best measure of wellbeing – not just at a point in time, but over the remainder of individuals’ entire lives and (3) it includes such government benefits as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in calculating people’s expected consumption.

To appreciate what difference this approach makes, take people in their 40s. Those in the top fifth of the distribution can expect to enjoy 55.3 percent of this age group’s lifetime resources over the remainder of their lives. People in the bottom fifth can expect only 4 percent. That’s a wealth difference of almost 14 to 1. But after government transfer programs do their redistribution, the wealth difference is cut in half: the difference in lifetime consumption drops to 7 to 1.

It is well known that inequality increases with age, with the greatest inequality existing among the elderly. Other studies have concluded that the main reason for this is differences in saving behavior, not some mysterious Wall Street malfeasance imagined by Paul Krugman or Bernie Sanders. Those who save more when they are young accumulate more and have more when they retire. Those who save very little, will have a lot less in the retirement years.

This study finds that among 20 year olds, the wealth difference between the highest and lowest fifths is 7 to 1. But among 70 year olds the difference in wealth is more than 70 to 1. That change over the lifecycle of a group of cohorts is rather astonishing. Even so, after government redistribution takes its toll, the difference in remaining lifetime consumption falls all the way down to 8.6 to 1 for this age group.

One reason for these results is our highly progressive fiscal system. Consider again, those people in their 40s.  For those in the top 1 percent of this age group, the expected net tax rate going forward (taxes minus entitlement benefits) is 45 percent.  For those in the top fifth of the distribution, the average net tax rate is 32.5 percent.  But for those in the bottom fifth, the net taxes are negative: every dollar of private sector income is matched by a 34 cent government subsidy.

Among those in their 70s, the redistribution is much greater. The top 1 percent in this age group faces a remaining lifetime net tax rate of 26.8 percent.  In contrast, those in the lowest fifth face a negative net tax rate of nearly 700 percent! For every $1 of private income, they get $7 from the government.

Interestingly, one important contributor to inequality of lifetime consumption is inequality in life expectancy. The gap in expected years of life for those in the top and bottom fifths of the income distribution has been growing for some 30 years and it has a big effect on lifetime consumption. Take people in their 20s. The authors estimate that if those in the bottom fifth lived as long as those in the top fifth, they would get one-third more benefits from government over their lifetimes.

Overall, our fiscal system is highly progressive. There is a price to be paid for this progressivity, however. The more redistribution that takes place, the smaller the rewards for working, saving and investing and the larger the rewards for not working, not saving and not investing. That has to be bad for economic growth.



The downsides of popunomics

Economic historian MARTIN HUTCHINSON supplies an economist's perspective on the Presidential races.  He sees much irrationality on all sides

Donald Trump currently looks likely to win the Republican Presidential nomination and it appears Bernie Sanders has a decent shot at the Democrat one. The two candidates have unexpectedly strong support from voters who normally do not participate in elections and, although they are nominally from opposite political poles, their economic nostrums have a lot in common. While one can democratically rejoice that these new voices are being heard, there is just one problem. The populist economics — “popunomics” — that both candidates are selling may appeal to the masses, but is highly economically counterproductive.

There is a reason economics is called the “dismal science.” Most of its tenets are very unappealing to the mass of people, who can only with great difficulty be convinced of their validity. Many tried and tested tenets of economics, validated by centuries of experience, appear both unattractive and unlikely to the man in the street assessing them by “common sense.”

One man one vote electoral systems make no distinction between voters educated in the relevant disciplines and those who are not. This does not matter for most areas of knowledge; few elections are decided on the arcana of differential equations or cosmology (though the age of the universe may become an issue if the Republicans nominate a creationist!)

Sometimes “common sense” is more correct than received wisdom that has been polluted by ideology or careerist considerations. The “scientific consensus” on global warming, for example, is mostly a consensus of those scientists paid or ideologically motivated to be alarmist about it; the truck driver’s healthy skepticism is much close to what appears to be the truth. Similarly on immigration; the economic studies purporting to show from experience after the 1980 Mariel influx of uneducated Cubans to Miami that low-skill immigration does not affect wages turn out to have been hopelessly flawed in their methodology, and driven mostly by the ideological blinkers of the researchers and/or the economic interests of those paying them. In this case, truck driver prejudice again turned out to be correct – but so would an argument from economic first principles, as set out in this column as far back as 2004.

Nevertheless, William F. Buckley’s famous claim that he would rather be governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston telephone directory than by the Harvard faculty is misguided. (For one thing, a bunch of people called Lemuel P. Aardvark and AAA1 Auto Repair might have biases of their own! – AAA1 Auto Repair is a salt-of-the-earth type with great foreign policy expertise from his early years in Nicaragua, but Aardvark is a Beacon Hill-dwelling Brahmin, even snootier and more left-wing than the Harvard faculty!) As Lord Liverpool knew very well 200 years ago, it was not a good idea to extend the franchise to so many ignorant people that knowledge and understanding among the electorate are swamped by prejudice.

Popunomics has a number of core beliefs, held without any possibility of change by argument, and some peripheral ideas that can sometimes be modified or dropped. Perhaps its most important core belief is that free trade is a crony capitalist rip-off designed to export American jobs to the Third World and giving unfair advantages to China, which does not “play fair.” Both Trump and Sanders appear to believe this, and share their belief with voters, who regard it as painfully obvious, subject to doubt only by those with a financial axe to grind.

As economically knowledgeable readers will know, the falsity of this belief was demonstrated 200 years ago next summer, by David Ricardo. By his principle of comparative advantage, if the U.S. makes those things at which it is best, and China specializes in those things at which its costs are relatively lower, both countries’ economies benefit.

The last 20 years have been difficult for free traders. The Internet and modern telecoms, which cannot be un-invented, have greatly reduced the cost of running a truly global supply chain. This has thereby increased the economic possibilities for low-wage workers located far from the major centers of consumption in the West, and conversely lowered the equilibrium wage for low-skill U.S. and Western European workers whose main advantage was their proximity to rich consumers.

This has made life very difficult for potential Trump/Sanders voters. It is also an inevitable phenomenon, finite in duration and probably nearing its end, which would not have been solved by a rise in protectionism. Had such a rise occurred the West’s economy would have been hollowed out, with more and more of its production becoming completely uneconomic while China and other emerging markets acquired the capability to produce more and more of the world’s GDP at lower and lower costs. We have essentially seen this movie before; it was the fate of the Soviet Union and its allied Comecon bloc, and we know how it ended.

However the populists do have a point in one respect: Establishment foolishness has also contributed to their decline in living standards and the insecurity of their employment. Ultra-low interest rates, pursued with ever greater enthusiasm by Fed chairmen since Alan Greenspan in 1995, have artificially narrowed the differential between U.S. borrowing costs and emerging markets’ borrowing costs. This has enhanced the cost differential between Western and emerging market production, force-feeding globalization and worsening its impoverishing effect in the West. The other effects of funny money have also been pernicious for Trump/Sanders voters, raising asset prices, enriching the 1% and diverting manufacturing investment into unproductive real estate and tech startup speculation. The Trump/Sanders’ voters instincts are not wrong, they have indeed been ripped off by elite policies; they have simply misidentified the policies that are to blame.

A second area where popunomics is damaging is that of social programs. Those programs that mostly genuinely help the very poor have no particular populist salience, even being mildly unpopular, but Social Security and Medicare, universal programs targeted at old age, are politically untouchable. Their actuarial deficits and distortion of the healthcare market are problems that it appears impossible to address. Indeed, budget deficits as a whole, which used to be a salient issue with the electorate, have now fallen victim to popunomics and have barely been addressed in the current Presidential campaign.

The same process appears to have occurred in Japan, where prime minister Junichiro Koizumi’s attempt to get Japanese public spending under control proved short-lived and the current Abe government, although nominally from the conservative side in politics, is committed to continual budget deficits and “stimulus” programs, financed by central bank money printing. Schemes that appear to give the populace something for nothing and push costs off into the future are a popunomics elixir.

Taxing the rich, far beyond the level that yields additional revenue, is also a popunomics staple. The 98% marginal tax rates of investment income in 1970s Britain and the 75% tax on income plus an additional tax on wealth in France were vote-winners, and such schemes are abandoned only very reluctantly by a mass electorate. As Lord Salisbury wrote in 1859: “The classes that represent civilization, the holders of accumulated capital and accumulated thought, have a right to require securities to protect them from being overwhelmed by hordes who have neither knowledge to guide them nor stake in the Commonwealth to control them.”

James Madison intended the Constitution to erect such barriers, but popunomics has always opposed them, and since the crash of 2008 popunomics has increasingly tended to prevail. In former days, Swiss bank accounts provided a key civil liberty by giving the rich some protection against populist looting, but the advent of universal data and intrusive Revenue agents has eliminated even this protection.

Popunomics has further elements, equally damaging economically, which from time to time become prominent. Minimum wages are in general a popunomics idea; in difficult times they are set far above the level at which they suppress job opportunities for the modestly skilled. Heavy union protections against job losses are a popunomics idea which became fashionable in the 1930s and remained salient during the decades of U.S. economic supremacy; they have been partly driven out by globalization, but will return should protectionism come into vogue. Draconian financial regulation, with taxes on short-term trading profits also have considerable popunomics appeal; like most other forms of regulation (by no means all of which are popunomic) they do huge economic damage, almost all of it hidden.

Finally, low mortgage rates and subsidies or – God help us – government guarantees for home ownership have huge appeal to a populace for whom an overpriced house, preventing them from distant job searches and tying up their assets, is the only form of saving they truly understand. In this respect Germany benefits hugely from its undeveloped mortgage market where at least until recently down-payments of 30-40% were normal. As we learned in 2007-08, the costs of this policy, to the economy as a whole and homeowners in particular, greatly exceed its benefits.

There are reasonable disagreements to be had about the size of government, and popular pressure is useful in battling the evils of elite domination, such as cronyism and subservience to fashionable but damaging economic fads. Nevertheless the economic ideas of a mass electorate – what they think they know – are mostly damaging to the general welfare and should be resisted.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL 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 and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


2 February, 2016

Poorly-based official wisdom once again

More evidence that statins are bad for you.  The official enthusiasm for statins was so great that it was even proposed that they put statins into the water supply. Sadly, official health advice  is often so wrong that it should never be accepted without scrutiny.  It is as likely to do you harm as good.  The bureaucracy is not wise.  It is invariably captive to the intellectual fashions of its day

So the power of the State should never be used to enforce any form of health compliance.  In addition to the example below, consider the case of Jehovah's Witnesses and their refusal to accept blood transfusions.  In some cases laws have been passed to force transfusions on them.  But a study of survival after heart surgery showed that no Jehovah's Witness died of it but many others did.  They have certainly had the last laugh -- and in consequence blood transfusions are now much more sparingly prescribed than they once were

That Jehovah is clearly one heck of a clever guy.  Maybe more people should heed his advice

Healthy patients taking the heart drug statins have a significantly higher risk of new diabetes and a very high risk of serious diabetic complications, a study has found.

The research, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine in May 2015, tracked individuals in a database for almost ten years. It discovered statin users had a higher incidence of diabetes and also weight gain.

Patients using the drugs were also more likely than the others to develop diabetes with complications including eye, nerve and kidney damage.

Professor Ishak Mansi, a heart specialist at the University of Texas who led the study, said the association between statin use and diabetes complications 'was never shown before.

Users of statins were more than twice as likely to develop diabetes and were 250 percent more likely than their non-statin-using counterparts to develop diabetes with complications.

Patients included in the study were identified as healthy adults and researchers assessed of 3982 statin users and 21,988 non users over the decade. 

'The risk of diabetes with statins has been known, but until now it was thought that this might be due to the fact that people who were prescribed statins had greater medical risks to begin with,' said Dr Mansi in a statement.

Mansi told the Express that those results are 'alarming'.

He added that drugs may be doing more harm than good for people at low risk of heart disease: 'I am sceptical about the prescribing guidelines for people at lower risk (of heart disease). I am concerned about the long term effects on the huge population of healthy people on these drugs who continue for many years.'



The 2nd Amendment as an antidote to Muslim terrorism

The Islamic State’s call for “lone wolf” attacks on Western infidels might have met its match in the Second Amendment, as an armed man saves lives by shooting a jihadist wannabe bent on heeding that call.

Vaughan Foods employee Traci Johnson is alive today because the business she works for is not a gun-free zone at a time when the Islamic State is encouraging attacks on infidels in the West like the one in Moore, Okla., where co-worker Colleen Hufford was stabbed and beheaded.

The alleged attacker, 30-year-old Alton Nolen, was stopped as he was stabbing and preparing to behead Johnson by Mark Vaughan, the food distributor’s chief operating officer. Vaughn, who is also a reserve county deputy, drew the gun he was carrying and stopped Nolen, police say, before he could claim more victims.

“This was not going to stop if he (Vaughan) did not stop it,” Moore Police Sgt. Jeremy Lewis told the media.

Some will claim this is more “workplace violence” — a phrase used by the Obama administration to describe the carnage left by Maj. Nidal Hassan at Ft. Hood — the work of a disgruntled ex-employee with no significance beyond that.

But the similarities are eerie and may indicate the shape of a new threat we face.

Nolen was a recent convert to Islam and while still an employee at Vaughan tried to convert his co-workers, they said. He was convicted in 2011 of multiple felony drug offenses, assault and battery on a police officer and escaping from detention.

He was released from prison in March 2013. It is suspected that much of his Islamic conversion occurred while he was in prison, an increasingly common phenomenon among African-American inmates.

Nolen’s Facebook page contains such items as a burning lower Manhattan after the 9/11 attacks and a photo of the pope with the caption “Sharia Law is coming!”

In March, Nolen posted a gruesome photo of a beheading with the explanation that “Islamic terrorists behead their victims” because of a precedent bestowed by their prophet, a reference to the Prophet Mohammed’s frequent beheadings of those he considered infidels.

Nolen might be a lone wolf, but he’s just the type the Islamic State is looking for: individuals angry at a society and culture they see as victimizing and oppressing them.

They don’t need to sneak across the border — they’re already here. They don’t even need passports, which many have, such as the Minneapolis airport worker who fought and died for IS in Syria.

No direct connection has been established. But Nolen is what IS spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani said the group is looking for in a videotaped statement released shortly before the attack in Moore.

“If you can kill a disbelieving American or European — especially the spiteful and filthy French — or an Australian, or a Canadian, or any other disbeliever from the disbelievers waging war, including the citizens of the countries that just joined a coalition against the Islamic State, then rely upon Allah, and kill him in any manner or way, however that might be.”

That was the possible motivation of 18-year-old Abdul Numan Haider, who was shot dead after he stabbed two Australian counterterrorism officers on Sept. 23, police said. Haider had been asked to come to a police station after he’d been seen with an Islamic State flag at a shopping center.

The incident happened mere days after Australian authorities conducted raids nabbing 15 suspected of IS ties.

The Islamic State has issued a global call to lone wolves. One could be standing behind you on the bus, walking next you at the mall or sitting in the next cubicle. In the age of the Islamic State and solo terrorism, gun-free zones are simply an invitation for a terrorist attack.

In Moore, Okla., the life-saving value of the Second Amendment was proved once again. It may be our secret weapon in the ongoing war against terrorism.



The Absurdity of Regulation

While the constitution grants Congress the power to legislate, recent administrations have chosen to circumvent this authority, using regulatory agencies instead to advance their agenda and create de facto laws. Regulations are especially dangerous to liberty, because those craft them are not elected and therefore not accountable to the people. For this reason, rules are often arbitrary, capricious, and selectively enforced. Sometimes, they are downright absurd.

We've all heard stories of children's lemonade stands being shut down for lacking the proper permits. Now, a similarly ridiculous example is the kerfuffle over a neighborhood tree house that critics say intrude into public space. Of course, the location of this nonsense is Washington, DC, the regulatory capital of the country. A family's tree house is under legal scrutiny because it protrudes into an alley by about 20 inches. There have been orders to stop work, and the city has said the family should have obtained the proper permits before building.

Far from being a case of negligence, however, it appears that the family did everything in their power to ensure the building was legal, including filling out paperwork, seeking tree house guidelines (which don't exist), and even hiring a specialist to ensure they weren't harming the tree. They also distributed fliers to neighbors prior to building, so no one can claim they weren't consulted. It was apparently not enough.

Incidents like this may seem trivial, but they highlight the dangers of a legal and regulatory system blind to common sense and individual circumstances. Whereas the system of Common Law once valued reasonable solutions based on tradition and reason, the more modern system of statute law leave no room for the application of judgment, even when the outcome is plainly unjust. It's a triumph of mechanical bureaucracy over humanity.

When we allow black and white regulations to cover every aspect of life, whether or not an individual is subject to punishment or left alone becomes merely a matter of authorities' discretion, having very little to do with the individual's behavior or whether anyone has actually been harmed. This is why it's so important to hold regulatory agencies accountable and roll back some of the overcriminalization that is in danger of making us all guilty in the eyes of the law.



Senator Jeff Sessions Stands Against Executive Power

Jeff Sessions support is coveted by both Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, with many suggesting he may endorse the latter. This week, he warned Americans to choose their next leader wisely:

    Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, a leading voice on trade, immigration and executive powers, is urging Americans to choose their next president carefully because 2016 "is the last chance for the American people to take back control of their government."

    In a sober interview with Secrets, the Republican warned that liberal special interests, Wall Street moguls, and international media conglomerates are fast turning the United States into just another member of the European Union and that the effort is being led by a Democratic president eager to go his own way with executive orders.

    "This election is different because we have pell mell erosion of law, the constitutional order, where President Obama has pushed an agenda that eviscerates the immigration legal system, and pushed this trade agreement that will commence decades of transferring American economic power to an ever-expanding international commission. It's just not going to stop" unless voters take action, he warned.


There is a  new  lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- mostly Muslim "refugees" and such things


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) 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 and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


1 February, 2016

Trump's past is not the issue

It has been fashionable the last two weeks to pen articles attacking Donald Trump, the front-runner in the race for the Republican Party nomination for President.  "He’s not a true conservative." "He’s not Ronald Reagan," they said.  The jury’s still out on whether or not he’s a true conservative, but we can agree that he is not Ronald Reagan.

I would say he is more like Abraham Lincoln.  Lincoln had been elected to Congress as a member of the Whig Party, but he parted company with the Whigs and joined the Republicans, when the Whig leaders wouldn’t take a stand on the biggest issue of the day—slavery.  The country’s whole future hung on the issue of slavery.  Lincoln was against it, but the Whigs didn’t want to ruffle the feathers of pro-slavery voters.  Lincoln became President, won the Civil War, and ended that barbaric practice.  The Whig Party disappeared from the national stage and became a paragraph in history books.  You can almost hear the Whig poobahs saying about Lincoln, "He’s not a true conservative.  He flip-flopped on the tariff issue."  Small minds, small issues.

Similarly, Donald Trump took a stand on the big issue of our day—immigration—coming out strongly in favor of securing the border and deporting illegal aliens, while the Republican leadership and the other candidates in the race for President (with maybe only one exception) talked about "immigration reform."  They don’t want to ruffle the feathers of "Latino voters;" while Trump wants to save America.   Immediately, Trump jolted into the lead in the race and has stayed there ever since, in spite of being rude, bombastic, and obnoxious. 

By contrast, Marco Rubio, arguably the most likable guy in the pack, will never rise much above 15% in the polls because he is on the wrong side of this issue.  Unless Rubio comes out and says, "to hell with the so-called Latino vote,  I’m gonna deport every last one of the illegal aliens,"  he will stay in the pack fighting for second or third place twenty points behind Trump.

The media pundits don’t get it, though.  They offer up all kinds of explanations for Trump’s success that have nothing to do with the issue of immigration:  It’s his simple sentences.  It’s his rudeness and bruskness.  It’s his hair.  He’s an outsider. The people who support him are stupid (40% of Republicans!).

Some critics argue that Trump was a liberal Democrat until recently and we cannot trust him to keep any of his promises on immigration, or anything else.  The answer to that is that lots of Republicans were elected as Tea Party candidates a few years ago, yet they ended up supporting the big-government-open-borders policies of the Obama administration once they got into office.  Why should we trust anyone?  Maybe all of the candidates are lying.  In which case, Trump is no better or worse than the others.  But, if he is telling the truth and he ends up keeping his promises, since he is the only one with a plan to reverse the illegal immigration problem, shouldn’t we put our support behind him?

Going back to the Ronald Reagan comparison, Mark Steyn noted rightly that Reagan could not get elected governor of California today.  The demographics have changed so much that the state is now solidly left.  America is going in the same direction.  With more and more people coming into the country with different ideas about work, liberty, the rule of law, morality—it will be hard to elect anyone who is not pandering to them, promising more subsidies, more government, more corruption.

With this election the country stands at a crossroads—do we keep going in the same direction —the one leading over the cliff— or do we change direction?  Many people believe Trump will lead the country in the right direction.  Maybe he will, maybe he won’t.  But it is certain that most of the other candidates will not.



How Are Republicans and Democrats Different?

When Democrats accuse Republicans of being selfish, it's just the usual Leftist projection of their own faults onto others

John C. Goodman

Have you ever wondered why Republicans and Democrats differ in the way they think about government? I’m not talking about the difference between conservatives and liberals. Those differences are pretty apparent. But most Democrats are not all that liberal and ideology is not what drives them to the voting booth.

A Kaiser Family Foundation poll finds that

"61% of registered Democrats say candidates’ detailed policy plans – on health care or other topics – matter to their vote, and 35% say a candidate’s general values and approach to government matters more. For Republicans it’s the reverse: 51% care most about a candidate’s general values and approach to government, and 45% prioritize their policy plans"

Let’s drill down a bit on what that really means. Ezra Klein describes an interesting journalistic experiment. MSNBC asked Benjy Sarlin, its reporter on the Republican race, and Alex Seitz-Wald, its reporter on the Democratic race, to flip jobs for a week and write up what they learned. I‘ll skip the full conversation and zero in on what Klein found most revealing -- a statement by Sarlin:

"I was caught off guard by how specific and personal Democratic voters’ issues tended to be. One woman told me she had lost a job because she had to take care of a sick relative and wanted paid family leave. Another woman told me her insurance stopped covering a certain medication that had grown too expensive and she liked how Clinton and Sanders talked about lowering drug prices. One man told me his wages were stagnant at his hotel job and he was looking for policies to increase them"

"We’re talking about bread-and-butter issues," Phyllis Thede, an Iowa state representative backing Clinton, told me when I asked about her constituents’ top concerns.

By contrast, Republican voters tend to be excited by more abstract issues: One of the most common answers I get from Cruz voters when I ask about their leading concern is "the Constitution." There are fewer "I have a specific problem in my own life, and I’d like the government to do x about it" responses.

These findings are consistent with my own anecdotal experience. For many years I was an attentive viewer of C-Span’s morning show – where callers could call in on a "Democratic" or "Republican" line. What I found striking was how rarely anyone on the Democratic line talked the way Bernie Sanders talks. I don’t recall a single caller saying we should all (including the caller) pay higher taxes so that we can have paid family leave or free college tuition or universal pre-school or universal long term care.

Instead I heard teachers arguing for more pay for teachers, seniors wanting more out of Social Security and Medicare, union members wanting trade protection, etc. In other words, what I heard a lot of was selfishness. The Democratic line attracted a lot of people who want government to intervene for their benefit at everyone else’s expense.

In column after column, New York Times writer Paul Krugman repeats the canard that the Republican Party is the party of selfishness and greed and the Democratic Party is the party of altruism and charity. This, by the way, is how most of the intellectual elite thinks. Yet if we look at the personal behavior of Republicans and Democrats, the reverse seems to be true.

The modern Democratic Party descended from the Roosevelt coalition. And that coalition was solidly based on economic self-interest. At Franklin Roosevelt’s behest, Congress passed the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA), which attempted to regulate the entire economy, based on the Italian fascist model. In each industry, management and labor were allowed to collude to set prices, wages, output, etc. Every industry or trade was allowed to conspire to pursue its own interests at the expense of the public. The Supreme Court put an end to the NIRA, but it didn’t put an end to the ideas behind it.

The regulatory agencies that survived judicial scrutiny continued the Roosevelt pattern. The CAB served as a cartel agent for the airlines. The ICC served as a cartel agent for the trucking and railroad industries. The FCC was a cartel agent for the broadcast industry. The AAA was the vehicle that allowed farmers to seek monopoly rents.

The Democratic Party attracts rent seekers. The Republican Party attracts them as well. But the Democratic Party’s essence seems to be rent seeking. Democratic candidates campaign on the idea of taking from Peter to give to Paul and brag about it once they have done it. Republicans do it too, but afterward they are more likely to apologize for what they have done.



Veterans, Trump and the Hypocrisy of the Democratic National Committee

Reading the reactions from some veterans to Donald Trump’s "support the troops" rally last night, you would think that the Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan was trying to give money to veteran’s charities.

It’s worth noting right out of the gate that I don’t particularly care for Trump’s brand of "scream louder than the other guy" politics. But it should come as no surprise that hypocrisy abounds in some of the negative reactions to the Donald’s event.

One of the more notable critics of Trump, and the rest of the GOP field, is Marine Corps veteran Sean Sorbie.

In a piece posted to Medium.com, he rhetorically brutalizes Trump, Cruz and Fiorina for using veterans as pawns in their political chess match.

"My brothers and sisters in arms deserve so much more than the pandering and cheap political stunts being pulled by today’s Republican presidential candidates. It is insulting that America’s veterans are being used as a bargaining chip by candidates who want to get air time next to Donald Trump."

Sorbie then goes on to claim that Republicans in general would hurt veterans because of their opposition to raising the minimum wage and Obamacare, among other Democratic Party platform talking points. The last half of the article is some kind of odd victory lap touting the supposed success of the Democratic Party in improving the quality of benefits and access to veterans.

By now, you are probably having the same thought I had after reading the article: "What is this guy’s deal?" The truth about Sorbie, however, is where the egregious hypocrisy begins to reveal itself.

Sorbie works for the Democratic National Committee, a fact he conveniently omits from the article.

While Democrats are tripping over themselves to knock Trump for "politicizing veterans," the DNC is carting out their own veteran to push their politics.

I can only presume that Sorbie is an educated and intelligent person. This leads me to believe that he knew he was using his status as a veteran on behalf of the DNC to bolster the credibility of his argument and shield it from criticism. Who’s going to knock a veteran?

There’s certainly nothing wrong with appealing to your time in the service as part of building an argument. There is, and should be, an added level of credibility when a veteran puts forth a case on veteran’s issues. However, Sorbie wasn’t just making a case for veteran's issues, he was criticizing Republicans for doing the exact same thing he and the DNC are doing–which is politicizing veterans to score points against the other side.

It’s certainly no coincidence that Sorbie penned the hit piece for the DNC against Trump and the Republicans. He knew it would be virtually impossible for anyone in politics or the media to openly criticize the actions and words of a veteran, unless of course that person was also a veteran.

I too served in the United States Marine Corps. I was on active duty from 2010 to 2014 and completed two deployments to Afghanistan.

I don’t disagree with most of what Sorbie says in his article about the actions of some GOP candidates. Trump has insulted veterans. It is ridiculous that candidates are using donations to veteran’s charity as bargaining chips in a political race. We do deserve much better than cheap political stunts.

None of that, however, changes the fact that he is hammering Trump for using veterans as political pawns, while himself being used as a political pawn by the DNC.

The last paragraph of the article is painful to read once you are aware that Sorbie is a paid employee of the DNC.

(Emphasis added)

"Once again, it’s insulting that Republican presidential candidates are using veterans like myself to get media attention. Instead, they should look to Democrats who have delivered on their promises to veterans and will never exploit our service and honor to this country."

Whether or not Sorbie was directed to write the piece by the DNC, or took it upon himself, doesn't really matter. I'm sure he'll argue that he found some spare time to draft and copy edit a lengthy column for his employer all out of the kindness of his heart. Regardless, The DNC benefits from the use of a veteran's service to push their political agenda.


This is just standard Leftism: Rules are for other people, not us


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL 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 and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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



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Postings from Brisbane, Australia by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.) -- former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party.

As a good academic, I first define my terms: A Leftist is a person who is so dissatisfied with the way things naturally are that he/she is prepared to use force to make people behave in ways that they otherwise would not.

Let's start with some thought-provoking graphics

Israel: A great powerhouse of the human spirit

The United Nations: A great ideal but a sordid reality

Alfred Dreyfus, a reminder of French antisemitism still relevant today

Eugenio Pacelli, a righteous Gentile, a true man of God and a brilliant Pope

Leftism in one picture:

The "steamroller" above who got steamrollered by his own hubris. Spitzer is a warning of how self-destructive a vast ego can be -- and also of how destructive of others it can be.

R.I.P. Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet deposed a law-defying Marxist President at the express and desperate invitation of the Chilean parliament. Allende had just burnt the electoral rolls so it wasn't hard to see what was coming. Pinochet pioneered the free-market reforms which Reagan and Thatcher later unleashed to world-changing effect. That he used far-Leftist methods to suppress far-Leftist violence is reasonable if not ideal. The Leftist view that they should have a monopoly of violence and that others should follow the law is a total absurdity which shows only that their hate overcomes their reason

Leftist writers usually seem quite reasonable and persuasive at first glance. The problem is not what they say but what they don't say. Leftist beliefs are so counterfactual ("all men are equal", "all men are brothers" etc.) that to be a Leftist you have to have a talent for blotting out from your mind facts that don't suit you. And that is what you see in Leftist writing: A very selective view of reality. Facts that disrupt a Leftist story are simply ignored. Leftist writing is cherrypicking on a grand scale

A conservative does not hanker after the new; He hankers after the good. Leftists hanker after the untested

Just one thing is sufficient to tell all and sundry what an unamerican lamebrain Obama is. He pronounced an army corps as an army "corpse" Link here. Can you imagine any previous American president doing that? Many were men with significant personal experience in the armed forces in their youth.

A favorite Leftist saying sums up the whole of Leftism: "To make an omelette, you've got to break eggs". They want to change some state of affairs and don't care who or what they destroy or damage in the process. They think their alleged good intentions are sufficient to absolve them from all blame for even the most evil deeds

Leftists are the "we know best" people, meaning that they are intrinsically arrogant. Matthew chapter 6 would not be for them. And arrogance leads directly into authoritarianism

Leftism is fundamentally authoritarian. Whether by revolution or by legislation, Leftists aim to change what people can and must do. When in 2008 Obama said that he wanted to "fundamentally transform" America, he was not talking about America's geography or topography but rather about American people. He wanted them to stop doing things that they wanted to do and make them do things that they did not want to do. Can you get a better definition of authoritarianism than that?

And note that an American President is elected to administer the law, not make it. That seems to have escaped Mr Obama

That Leftism is intrinsically authoritarian is not a new insight. It was well understood by none other than Friedrich Engels (Yes. THAT Engels). His clever short essay On authority was written as a reproof to the dreamy Anarchist Left of his day. It concludes: "A revolution is certainly the most authoritarian thing there is; it is the act whereby one part of the population imposes its will upon the other part by means of rifles, bayonets and cannon — authoritarian means"

Leftists think of themselves as the new nobility

Many people in literary and academic circles today who once supported Stalin and his heirs are generally held blameless and may even still be admired whereas anybody who gave the slightest hint of support for the similarly brutal Hitler regime is an utter polecat and pariah. Why? Because Hitler's enemies were "only" the Jews whereas Stalin's enemies were those the modern day Left still hates -- people who are doing well for themselves materially. Modern day Leftists understand and excuse Stalin and his supporters because Stalin's hates are their hates.

If you understand that Leftism is hate, everything falls into place.

The strongest way of influencing people is to convince them that you will do them some good. Leftists and con-men misuse that

Leftists believe only what they want to believe. So presenting evidence contradicting their beliefs simply enrages them. They do not learn from it

Psychological defence mechanisms such as projection play a large part in Leftist thinking and discourse. So their frantic search for evil in the words and deeds of others is easily understandable. The evil is in themselves.

Leftists who think that they can conjure up paradise out of their own limited brains are simply fools -- arrogant and dangerous fools. They essentially know nothing. Conservatives learn from the thousands of years of human brains that have preceded us -- including the Bible, the ancient Greeks and much else. The death of Socrates is, for instance, an amazing prefiguration of the intolerant 21st century. Ask any conservative stranded in academe about his freedom of speech

Most Leftist claims are simply propaganda. Those who utter such claims must know that they are not telling the whole story. Hitler described his Marxist adversaries as "lying with a virtuosity that would bend iron beams". At the risk of ad hominem shrieks, I think that image is too good to remain disused.

Conservatives adapt to the world they live in. Leftists want to change the world to suit themselves

Given their dislike of the world they live in, it would be a surprise if Leftists were patriotic and loved their own people. Prominent English Leftist politician Jack Straw probably said it best: "The English as a race are not worth saving"

In his 1888 book, The Anti-Christ Friedrich Nietzsche argues that we should treat the common man well and kindly because he is the backdrop against which the exceptional man can be seen. So Nietzsche deplores those who agitate the common man: "Whom do I hate most among the rabble of today? The socialist rabble, the chandala [outcast] apostles, who undermine the instinct, the pleasure, the worker's sense of satisfaction with his small existence—who make him envious, who teach him revenge. The source of wrong is never unequal rights but the claim of “equal” rights"

Why do conservatives respect tradition and rely on the past in many ways? Because they want to know what works and the past is the chief source of evidence on that. Leftists are more faith-based. They cling to their theories (e.g. global warming) with religious fervour, even though theories are often wrong

"The best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley"[go oft astray] is a well known line from a famous poem by the great Scottish poet, Robert Burns. But the next line is even wiser: "And leave us nought but grief and pain for promised joy". Burns was a Leftist of sorts so he knew how often theories fail badly.

Thinking that you "know best" is an intrinsically precarious and foolish stance -- because nobody does. Reality is so complex and unpredictable that it can rarely be predicted far ahead. Conservatives can see that and that is why conservatives always want change to be done gradually, in a step by step way. So the Leftist often finds the things he "knows" to be out of step with reality, which challenges him and his ego. Sadly, rather than abandoning the things he "knows", he usually resorts to psychological defence mechanisms such as denial and projection. He is largely impervious to argument because he has to be. He can't afford to let reality in.

A prize example of the Leftist tendency to projection (seeing your own faults in others) is the absurd Robert "Bob" Altemeyer, an acclaimed psychologist and father of a prominent Canadian Leftist politician. Altemeyer claims that there is no such thing as Leftist authoritarianism and that it is conservatives who are "Enemies of Freedom". That Leftists (e.g. Mrs Obama) are such enemies of freedom that they even want to dictate what people eat has apparently passed Altemeyer by. Even Stalin did not go that far. And there is the little fact that all the great authoritarian regimes of the 20th century (Stalin, Hitler and Mao) were socialist. Freud saw reliance on defence mechanisms such as projection as being maladjusted. It is difficult to dispute that. Altemeyer is too illiterate to realize it but he is actually a good Hegelian. Hegel thought that "true" freedom was marching in step with a Left-led herd.

What libertarian said this? “The bureaucracy is a parasite on the body of society, a parasite which ‘chokes’ all its vital pores…The state is a parasitic organism”. It was VI Lenin, in August 1917, before he set up his own vastly bureaucratic state. He could see the problem but had no clue about how to solve it.

It was Democrat John F Kennedy who cut taxes and declared that “a rising tide lifts all boats"

Leftist stupidity is a special class of stupidity. The people concerned are mostly not stupid in general but they have a character defect (mostly arrogance) that makes them impatient with complexity and unwilling to study it. So in their policies they repeatedly shoot themselves in the foot; They fail to attain their objectives. The world IS complex so a simplistic approach to it CANNOT work.

"A man who is not a socialist at age 20 has no heart; A man who is still a socialist at age 30 has no head". Who said that? Most people attribute it to Winston but as far as I can tell it was first said by Georges Clemenceau, French Premier in WWI -- whose own career approximated the transition concerned. And he in turn was probably updating an earlier saying about monarchy versus Republicanism by Guizot. Other attributions here. There is in fact a normal drift from Left to Right as people get older. Both Reagan and Churchill started out as liberals

MESSAGE to Leftists: Even if you killed all conservatives tomorrow, you would just end up in another Soviet Union. Conservatives are all that stand between you and that dismal fate. And you may not even survive at all. Stalin killed off all the old Bolsheviks.


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)

Just the name of Hitler's political party should be sufficient to reject the claim that Hitler was "Right wing" but Leftists sometimes retort that the name "Democratic People's Republic of Korea" is not informative, in that it is the name of a dismal Stalinist tyranny. But "People's Republic" is a normal name for a Communist country whereas I know of no conservative political party that calls itself a "Socialist Worker's Party". Such parties are in fact usually of the extreme Left (Trotskyite etc.)

Most people find the viciousness of the Nazis to be incomprehensible -- for instance what they did in their concentration camps. But you just have to read a little of the vileness that pours out from modern-day "liberals" in their Twitter and blog comments to understand it all very well. Leftists haven't changed. They are still boiling with hate

Hatred as a motivating force for political strategy leads to misguided ­decisions. “Hatred is blind,” as Alexandre Dumas warned, “rage carries you away; and he who pours out vengeance runs the risk of tasting a bitter draught.”

Who said this in 1968? "I am not, and never have been, a man of the right. My position was on the Left and is now in the centre of politics". It was Sir Oswald Mosley, founder and leader of the British Union of Fascists

The term "Fascism" is mostly used by the Left as a brainless term of abuse. But when they do make a serious attempt to define it, they produce very complex and elaborate definitions -- e.g. here and here. In fact, Fascism is simply extreme socialism plus nationalism. But great gyrations are needed to avoid mentioning the first part of that recipe, of course.

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

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a war criminal. Both British and American codebreakers had cracked the Japanese naval code so FDR knew what was coming at Pearl Harbor. But for his own political reasons he warned no-one there. So responsibility for the civilian and military deaths at Pearl Harbor lies with FDR as well as with the Japanese. The huge firepower available at Pearl Harbor, both aboard ship and on land, could have largely neutered the attack. Can you imagine 8 battleships and various lesser craft firing all their AA batteries as the Japanese came in? The Japanese naval airforce would have been annihilated and the war would have been over before it began.

FDR prolonged the Depression. He certainly didn't cure it.

WWII did NOT end the Great Depression. It just concealed it. It in fact made living standards worse

FDR appointed a known KKK member, Hugo Black, to the Supreme Court

Joe McCarthy was eventually proved right after the fall of the Soviet Union. To accuse anyone of McCarthyism is to accuse them of accuracy!

The KKK was intimately associated with the Democratic party. They ATTACKED Republicans!

High Level of Welfare Use by Legal and Illegal Immigrants in the USA. Low skill immigrants receive 4 to 5 dollars of benefits for every dollar in taxes paid

People who mention differences in black vs. white IQ are these days almost universally howled down and subjected to the most extreme abuse. I am a psychometrician, however, so I feel obliged to defend the scientific truth of the matter: The average African adult has about the same IQ as an average white 11-year-old and African Americans (who are partly white in ancestry) average out at a mental age of 14. The American Psychological Association is generally Left-leaning but it is the world's most prestigious body of academic psychologists. And even they have had to concede that sort of gap (one SD) in black vs. white average IQ. 11-year olds can do a lot of things but they also have their limits and there are times when such limits need to be allowed for.

The association between high IQ and long life is overwhelmingly genetic: "In the combined sample the genetic contribution to the covariance was 95%"

The Dark Ages were not dark

Judged by his deeds, Abraham Lincoln was one of the bloodiest villains ever to walk the Earth. See here. And: America's uncivil war was caused by trade protectionism. The slavery issue was just camouflage, as Abraham Lincoln himself admitted. See also here

Was slavery already washed up by the tides of history before Lincoln took it on? Eric Williams in his book "Capitalism and Slavery" tells us: “The commercial capitalism of the eighteenth century developed the wealth of Europe by means of slavery and monopoly. But in so doing it helped to create the industrial capitalism of the nineteenth century, which turned round and destroyed the power of commercial capitalism, slavery, and all its works. Without a grasp of these economic changes the history of the period is meaningless.”

Did William Zantzinger kill poor Hattie Carroll?

Did Bismarck predict where WWI would start or was it just a "free" translation by Churchill?

Conrad Black on the Declaration of Independence

Malcolm Gladwell: "There is more of reality and wisdom in a Chinese fortune cookie than can be found anywhere in Gladwell’s pages"

Some people are born bad -- confirmed by genetics research

The dark side of American exceptionalism: America could well be seen as the land of folly. It fought two unnecessary civil wars, would have done well to keep out of two world wars, endured the extraordinary folly of Prohibition and twice elected a traitor President -- Barack Obama. That America remains a good place to be is a tribute to the energy and hard work of individual Americans.


The 10 "cannots" (By William J. H. Boetcker) that Leftist politicians ignore:
*You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
* You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
* You cannot help little men by tearing down big men.
* You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
* You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
* You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money.
* You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
* You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.
* You cannot build character and courage by destroying men's initiative and independence.
* And you cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves.

A good short definition of conservative: "One who wants you to keep your hand out of his pocket."

Beware of good intentions. They mostly lead to coercion

A gargantuan case of hubris, coupled with stunning level of ignorance about how the real world works, is the essence of progressivism.

The U.S. Constitution is neither "living" nor dead. It is fixed until it is amended. But amending it is the privilege of the people, not of politicians or judges

It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong - Thomas Sowell

Leftists think that utopia can be coerced into existence -- so no dishonesty or brutality is beyond them in pursuit of that "noble" goal

"England is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality. In left-wing circles it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman and that it is a duty to snigger at every English institution" -- George Orwell

Was 16th century science pioneer Paracelsus a libertarian? His motto was "Alterius non sit qui suus esse potest" which means "Let no man belong to another who can belong to himself."

"When using today's model of society as a rule, most of history will be found to be full of oppression, bias, and bigotry." What today's arrogant judges of history fail to realize is that they, too, will be judged. What will Americans of 100 years from now make of, say, speech codes, political correctness, and zero tolerance - to name only three? Assuming, of course, there will still be an America that we, today, would recognize. Given the rogue Federal government spy apparatus, I am not at all sure of that. -- Paul Havemann

Economist Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973): "The champions of socialism call themselves progressives, but they recommend a system which is characterized by rigid observance of routine and by a resistance to every kind of improvement. They call themselves liberals, but they are intent upon abolishing liberty. They call themselves democrats, but they yearn for dictatorship. They call themselves revolutionaries, but they want to make the government omnipotent. They promise the blessings of the Garden of Eden, but they plan to transform the world into a gigantic post office."

It's the shared hatred of the rest of us that unites Islamists and the Left.

American liberals don't love America. They despise it. All they love is their own fantasy of what America could become. They are false patriots.

The Democratic Party: Con-men elected by the ignorant and the arrogant

The Democratic Party is a strange amalgam of elites, would-be elites and minorities. No wonder their policies are so confused and irrational

Why are conservatives more at ease with religion? Because it is basic to conservatism that some things are unknowable, and religious people have to accept that too. Leftists think that they know it all and feel threatened by any exceptions to that. Thinking that you know it all is however the pride that comes before a fall.

The characteristic emotion of the Leftist is not envy. It's rage

Leftists are committed to grievance, not truth

The British Left poured out a torrent of hate for Margaret Thatcher on the occasion of her death. She rescued Britain from chaos and restored Britain's prosperity. What's not to hate about that?

Something you didn't know about Margaret Thatcher

The world's dumbest investor? Without doubt it is Uncle Sam. Nobody anywhere could rival the scale of the losses on "investments" made under the Obama administration

"Behind the honeyed but patently absurd pleas for equality is a ruthless drive for placing themselves (the elites) at the top of a new hierarchy of power" -- Murray Rothbard - Egalitarianism and the Elites (1995)

A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money. -- G. Gordon Liddy

"World socialism as a whole, and all the figures associated with it, are shrouded in legend; its contradictions are forgotten or concealed; it does not respond to arguments but continually ignores them--all this stems from the mist of irrationality that surrounds socialism and from its instinctive aversion to scientific analysis... The doctrines of socialism seethe with contradictions, its theories are at constant odds with its practice, yet due to a powerful instinct these contradictions do not in the least hinder the unending propaganda of socialism. Indeed, no precise, distinct socialism even exists; instead there is only a vague, rosy notion of something noble and good, of equality, communal ownership, and justice: the advent of these things will bring instant euphoria and a social order beyond reproach." -- Solzhenitsyn

"The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left." -- Ecclesiastes 10:2 (NIV)

My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government. -- Thomas Jefferson

"Much that passes as idealism is disguised hatred or disguised love of power" -- Bertrand Russell

Evan Sayet: The Left sides "...invariably with evil over good, wrong over right, and the behaviors that lead to failure over those that lead to success." (t=5:35+ on video)

The Republicans are the gracious side of American politics. It is the Democrats who are the nasty party, the haters

Wanting to stay out of the quarrels of other nations is conservative -- but conservatives will fight if attacked or seriously endangered. Anglo/Irish statesman Lord Castlereagh (1769-1822), who led the political coalition that defeated Napoleon, was an isolationist, as were traditional American conservatives.

Some wisdom from the past: "The bosom of America is open to receive not only the opulent and respectable stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all nations and religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges, if by decency and propriety of conduct they appear to merit the enjoyment." —George Washington, 1783

Some useful definitions:

If a conservative doesn't like guns, he doesn't buy one. If a liberal doesn't like guns, he wants all guns outlawed.
If a conservative is a vegetarian, he doesn't eat meat. If a liberal is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for everyone.
If a conservative is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation. A liberal wonders who is going to take care of him.
If a conservative doesn't like a talk show host, he switches channels. Liberals demand that those they don't like be shut down.
If a conservative is a non-believer, he doesn't go to church. A liberal non-believer wants any mention of God and religion silenced. (Unless it's a foreign religion, of course!)
If a conservative decides he needs health care, he goes about shopping for it, or may choose a job that provides it. A liberal demands that the rest of us pay for his.

There is better evidence for creation than there is for the Leftist claim that “gender” is a “social construct”. Most Leftist claims seem to be faith-based rather than founded on the facts

Leftists are classic weak characters. They dish out abuse by the bucketload but cannot take it when they get it back. Witness the Loughner hysteria.

Death taxes: You would expect a conscientious person, of whatever degree of intelligence, to reflect on the strange contradiction involved in denying people the right to unearned wealth, while supporting programs that give people unearned wealth.

America is no longer the land of the free. It is now the land of the regulated -- though it is not alone in that, of course

The Leftist motto: "I love humanity. It's just people I can't stand"

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

Envy is a strong and widespread human emotion so there has alway been widespread support for policies of economic "levelling". Both the USA and the modern-day State of Israel were founded by communists but reality taught both societies that respect for the individual gave much better outcomes than levelling ideas. Sadly, there are many people in both societies in whom hatred for others is so strong that they are incapable of respect for the individual. The destructiveness of what they support causes them to call themselves many names in different times and places but they are the backbone of the political Left

Gore Vidal: "Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little". Vidal was of course a Leftist

The large number of rich Leftists suggests that, for them, envy is secondary. They are directly driven by hatred and scorn for many of the other people that they see about them. Hatred of others can be rooted in many things, not only in envy. But the haters come together as the Left. Some evidence here showing that envy is not what defines the Left

Leftists hate the world around them and want to change it: the people in it most particularly. Conservatives just want to be left alone to make their own decisions and follow their own values.

The failure of the Soviet experiment has definitely made the American Left more vicious and hate-filled than they were. The plain failure of what passed for ideas among them has enraged rather than humbled them.

Ronald Reagan famously observed that the status quo is Latin for “the mess we’re in.” So much for the vacant Leftist claim that conservatives are simply defenders of the status quo. They think that conservatives are as lacking in principles as they are.

Was Confucius a conservative? The following saying would seem to reflect good conservative caution: "The superior man, when resting in safety, does not forget that danger may come. When in a state of security he does not forget the possibility of ruin. When all is orderly, he does not forget that disorder may come. Thus his person is not endangered, and his States and all their clans are preserved."

The shallow thinkers of the Left sometimes claim that conservatives want to impose their own will on others in the matter of abortion. To make that claim is however to confuse religion with politics. Conservatives are in fact divided about their response to abortion. The REAL opposition to abortion is religious rather than political. And the church which has historically tended to support the LEFT -- the Roman Catholic church -- is the most fervent in the anti-abortion cause. Conservatives are indeed the one side of politics to have moral qualms on the issue but they tend to seek a middle road in dealing with it. Taking the issue to the point of legal prohibitions is a religious doctrine rather than a conservative one -- and the religion concerned may or may not be characteristically conservative. More on that here

Some Leftist hatred arises from the fact that they blame "society" for their own personal problems and inadequacies

The Leftist hunger for change to the society that they hate leads to a hunger for control over other people. And they will do and say anything to get that control: "Power at any price". Leftist politicians are mostly self-aggrandizing crooks who gain power by deceiving the uninformed with snake-oil promises -- power which they invariably use to destroy. Destruction is all that they are good at. Destruction is what haters do.

Leftists are consistent only in their hate. They don't have principles. How can they when "there is no such thing as right and wrong"? All they have is postures, pretend-principles that can be changed as easily as one changes one's shirt

A Leftist assumption: Making money doesn't entitle you to it, but wanting money does.

"Politicians never accuse you of 'greed' for wanting other people's money -- only for wanting to keep your own money." --columnist Joe Sobran (1946-2010)

Leftist policies are candy-coated rat poison that may appear appealing at first, but inevitably do a lot of damage to everyone impacted by them.

A tribute and thanks to Mary Jo Kopechne. Her death was reprehensible but she probably did more by her death that she ever would have in life: She spared the world a President Ted Kennedy. That the heap of corruption that was Ted Kennedy died peacefully in his bed is one of the clearest demonstrations that we do not live in a just world. Even Joe Stalin seems to have been smothered to death by Nikita Khrushchev

I often wonder why Leftists refer to conservatives as "wingnuts". A wingnut is a very useful device that adds versatility wherever it is used. Clearly, Leftists are not even good at abuse. Once they have accused their opponents of racism and Nazism, their cupboard is bare. Similarly, Leftists seem to think it is a devastating critique to refer to "Worldnet Daily" as "Worldnut Daily". The poverty of their argumentation is truly pitiful

The Leftist assertion that there is no such thing as right and wrong has a distinguished history. It was Pontius Pilate who said "What is truth?" (John 18:38). From a Christian viewpoint, the assertion is undoubtedly the Devil's gospel

Even in the Old Testament they knew about "Postmodernism": "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" - Isaiah 5:20 (KJV)

Was Solomon the first conservative? "The hearts of men are full of evil and madness is in their hearts" -- Ecclesiastes: 9:3 (RSV). He could almost have been talking about Global Warming.

Leftist hatred of Christianity goes back as far as the massacre of the Carmelite nuns during the French revolution. Yancey has written a whole book tabulating modern Leftist hatred of Christians. It is a rival religion to Leftism.

"If one rejects laissez faire on account of man's fallibility and moral weakness, one must for the same reason also reject every kind of government action." - Ludwig von Mises

The naive scholar who searches for a consistent Leftist program will not find it. What there is consists only in the negation of the present.

Because of their need to be different from the mainstream, Leftists are very good at pretending that sow's ears are silk purses

Among intelligent people, Leftism is a character defect. Leftists HATE success in others -- which is why notably successful societies such as the USA and Israel are hated and failures such as the Palestinians can do no wrong.

A Leftist's beliefs are all designed to pander to his ego. So when you have an argument with a Leftist, you are not really discussing the facts. You are threatening his self esteem. Which is why the normal Leftist response to challenge is mere abuse.

Because of the fragility of a Leftist's ego, anything that threatens it is intolerable and provokes rage. So most Leftist blogs can be summarized in one sentence: "How DARE anybody question what I believe!". Rage and abuse substitute for an appeal to facts and reason.

Because their beliefs serve their ego rather than reality, Leftists just KNOW what is good for us. Conservatives need evidence.

Absolute certainty is the privilege of uneducated men and fanatics. -- C.J. Keyser

Hell is paved with good intentions" -- Boswell's Life of Johnson of 1775

"Almost all professors of the arts and sciences are egregiously conceited, and derive their happiness from their conceit" -- Erasmus


"Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him" (Proverbs 26: 12). I think that sums up Leftists pretty well.

Eminent British astrophysicist Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington is often quoted as saying: "Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine." It was probably in fact said by his contemporary, J.B.S. Haldane. But regardless of authorship, it could well be a conservative credo not only about the cosmos but also about human beings and human society. Mankind is too complex to be summed up by simple rules and even complex rules are only approximations with many exceptions.

Politics is the only thing Leftists know about. They know nothing of economics, history or business. Their only expertise is in promoting feelings of grievance

Socialism makes the individual the slave of the state -- capitalism frees them.

Many readers here will have noticed that what I say about Leftists sometimes sounds reminiscent of what Leftists say about conservatives. There is an excellent reason for that. Leftists are great "projectors" (people who see their own faults in others). So a good first step in finding out what is true of Leftists is to look at what they say about conservatives! They even accuse conservatives of projection (of course).

The research shows clearly that one's Left/Right stance is strongly genetically inherited but nobody knows just what specifically is inherited. What is inherited that makes people Leftist or Rightist? There is any amount of evidence that personality traits are strongly genetically inherited so my proposal is that hard-core Leftists are people who tend to let their emotions (including hatred and envy) run away with them and who are much more in need of seeing themselves as better than others -- two attributes that are probably related to one another. Such Leftists may be an evolutionary leftover from a more primitive past.

Leftists seem to believe that if someone like Al Gore says it, it must be right. They obviously have a strong need for an authority figure. The fact that the two most authoritarian regimes of the 20th century (Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia) were socialist is thus no surprise. Leftists often accuse conservatives of being "authoritarian" but that is just part of their usual "projective" strategy -- seeing in others what is really true of themselves.

"With their infernal racial set-asides, racial quotas, and race norming, liberals share many of the Klan's premises. The Klan sees the world in terms of race and ethnicity. So do liberals! Indeed, liberals and white supremacists are the only people left in America who are neurotically obsessed with race. Conservatives champion a color-blind society" -- Ann Coulter

Politicians are in general only a little above average in intelligence so the idea that they can make better decisions for us that we can make ourselves is laughable

A quote from the late Dr. Adrian Rogers: "You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."

The Supreme Court of the United States is now and always has been a judicial abomination. Its guiding principles have always been political rather than judicial. It is not as political as Stalin's courts but its respect for the constitution is little better. Some recent abuses: The "equal treatment" provision of the 14th amendment was specifically written to outlaw racial discrimination yet the court has allowed various forms of "affirmative action" for decades -- when all such policies should have been completely stuck down immediately. The 2nd. amendment says that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed yet gun control laws infringe it in every State in the union. The 1st amendment provides that speech shall be freely exercised yet the court has upheld various restrictions on the financing and display of political advertising. The court has found a right to abortion in the constitution when the word abortion is not even mentioned there. The court invents rights that do not exist and denies rights that do.

"Some action that is unconstitutional has much to recommend it" -- Elena Kagan, nominated to SCOTUS by Obama

Frank Sulloway, the anti-scientist

The basic aim of all bureaucrats is to maximize their funding and minimize their workload

A lesson in Australian: When an Australian calls someone a "big-noter", he is saying that the person is a chronic and rather pathetic seeker of admiration -- as in someone who often pulls out "big notes" (e.g. $100.00 bills) to pay for things, thus endeavouring to create the impression that he is rich. The term describes the mentality rather than the actual behavior with money and it aptly describes many Leftists. When they purport to show "compassion" by advocating things that cost themselves nothing (e.g. advocating more taxes on "the rich" to help "the poor"), an Australian might say that the Leftist is "big-noting himself". There is an example of the usage here. The term conveys contempt. There is a wise description of Australians generally here

Some ancient wisdom for Leftists: "Be not righteous overmuch; neither make thyself over wise: Why shouldest thou die before thy time?" -- Ecclesiastes 7:16

Jesse Jackson: "There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery -- then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved." There ARE important racial differences.

Some Jimmy Carter wisdom: "I think it's inevitable that there will be a lower standard of living than what everybody had always anticipated," he told advisers in 1979. "there's going to be a downward turning."

Heritage is what survives death: Very rare and hence very valuable

Big business is not your friend. As Adam Smith said: "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty or justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary

How can I accept the Communist doctrine, which sets up as its bible, above and beyond criticism, an obsolete textbook which I know not only to be scientifically erroneous but without interest or application to the modern world? How can I adopt a creed which, preferring the mud to the fish, exalts the boorish proletariat above the bourgeoisie and the intelligentsia, who with all their faults, are the quality of life and surely carry the seeds of all human achievement? Even if we need a religion, how can we find it in the turbid rubbish of the red bookshop? It is hard for an educated, decent, intelligent son of Western Europe to find his ideals here, unless he has first suffered some strange and horrid process of conversion which has changed all his values. -- John Maynard Keynes

Some wisdom from "Bron" Waugh: "The purpose of politics is to help them [politicians] overcome these feelings of inferiority and compensate for their personal inadequacies in the pursuit of power"

"There are countless horrible things happening all over the country, and horrible people prospering, but we must never allow them to disturb our equanimity or deflect us from our sacred duty to sabotage and annoy them whenever possible"

The urge to pass new laws must be seen as an illness, not much different from the urge to bite old women. Anyone suspected of suffering from it should either be treated with the appropriate pills or, if it is too late for that, elected to Parliament [or Congress, as the case may be] and paid a huge salary with endless holidays, to do nothing whatever"

"It is my settled opinion, after some years as a political correspondent, that no one is attracted to a political career in the first place unless he is socially or emotionally crippled"

Two lines below of a famous hymn that would be incomprehensible to Leftists today ("honor"? "right"? "freedom?" Freedom to agree with them is the only freedom they believe in)

First to fight for right and freedom,
And to keep our honor clean

It is of course the hymn of the USMC -- still today the relentless warriors that they always were. Freedom needs a soldier

If any of the short observations above about Leftism seem wrong, note that they do not stand alone. The evidence for them is set out at great length in my MONOGRAPH on Leftism.

3 memoirs of "Supermac", a 20th century Disraeli (Aristocratic British Conservative Prime Minister -- 1957 to 1963 -- Harold Macmillan):

"It breaks my heart to see (I can't interfere or do anything at my age) what is happening in our country today - this terrible strike of the best men in the world, who beat the Kaiser's army and beat Hitler's army, and never gave in. Pointless, endless. We can't afford that kind of thing. And then this growing division which the noble Lord who has just spoken mentioned, of a comparatively prosperous south, and an ailing north and midlands. That can't go on." -- Mac on the British working class: "the best men in the world" (From his Maiden speech in the House of Lords, 13 November 1984)

"As a Conservative, I am naturally in favour of returning into private ownership and private management all those means of production and distribution which are now controlled by state capitalism"

During Macmillan's time as prime minister, average living standards steadily rose while numerous social reforms were carried out


The Bible is an Israeli book

To me, hostility to the Jews is a terrible tragedy. I weep for them at times. And I do literally put my money where my mouth is. I do at times send money to Israeli charities

My (Gentile) opinion of antisemitism: The Jews are the best we've got so killing them is killing us.

"And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" -- Genesis 12:3

"O pray for the peace of Jerusalem: They shall prosper that love thee" Psalm 122:6.

If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy -- Psalm 137 (NIV)

Israel, like the Jews throughout history, is hated not for her vices but her virtues. Israel is hated, as the United States is hated, because Israel is successful, because Israel is free, and because Israel is good. As Maxim Gorky put it: “Whatever nonsense the anti-Semites may talk, they dislike the Jew only because he is obviously better, more adroit, and more willing and capable of work than they are.” Whether driven by culture or genes—or like most behavior, an inextricable mix—the fact of Jewish genius is demonstrable." -- George Gilder

To Leftist haters, all the basic rules of liberal society — rejection of hate speech, commitment to academic freedom, rooting out racism, the absolute commitment to human dignity — go out the window when the subject is Israel.

I have always liked the story of Gideon (See Judges chapters 6 to 8) and it is surely no surprise that in the present age Israel is the Gideon of nations: Few in numbers but big in power and impact.

Is the Israel Defence Force the most effective military force per capita since Genghis Khan? They probably are but they are also the most ethically advanced military force that the world has ever seen

If I were not an atheist, I would believe that God had a sense of humour. He gave his chosen people (the Jews) enormous advantages -- high intelligence and high drive -- but to keep it fair he deprived them of something hugely important too: Political sense. So Jews to this day tend very strongly to be Leftist -- even though the chief source of antisemitism for roughly the last 200 years has been the political Left!

And the other side of the coin is that Jews tend to despise conservatives and Christians. Yet American fundamentalist Christians are the bedrock of the vital American support for Israel, the ultimate bolthole for all Jews. So Jewish political irrationality seems to be a rather good example of the saying that "The LORD giveth and the LORD taketh away". There are many other examples of such perversity (or "balance"). The sometimes severe side-effects of most pharmaceutical drugs is an obvious one but there is another ethnic example too, a rather amusing one. Chinese people are in general smart and patient people but their rate of traffic accidents in China is about 10 times higher than what prevails in Western societies. They are brilliant mathematicians and fearless business entrepreneurs but at the same time bad drivers!

Conservatives, on the other hand, could be antisemitic on entirely rational grounds: Namely, the overwhelming Leftism of the Diaspora Jewish population as a whole. Because they judge the individual, however, only a tiny minority of conservative-oriented people make such general judgments. The longer Jews continue on their "stiff-necked" course, however, the more that is in danger of changing. The children of Israel have been a stiff necked people since the days of Moses, however, so they will no doubt continue to vote with their emotions rather than their reason.

I despair of the ADL. Jews have enough problems already and yet in the ADL one has a prominent Jewish organization that does its best to make itself offensive to Christians. Their Leftism is more important to them than the welfare of Jewry -- which is the exact opposite of what they ostensibly stand for! Jewish cleverness seems to vanish when politics are involved. Fortunately, Christians are true to their saviour and have loving hearts. Jewish dissatisfaction with the myopia of the ADL is outlined here. Note that Foxy was too grand to reply to it.

Fortunately for America, though, liberal Jews there are rapidly dying out through intermarriage and failure to reproduce. And the quite poisonous liberal Jews of Israel are not much better off. Judaism is slowly returning to Orthodoxy and the Orthodox tend to be conservative.

The above is good testimony to the accuracy of the basic conservative insight that almost anything in human life is too complex to be reduced to any simple rule and too complex to be reduced to any rule at all without allowance for important exceptions to the rule concerned

Amid their many virtues, one virtue is often lacking among Jews in general and Israelis in particular: Humility. And that's an antisemitic comment only if Hashem is antisemitic. From Moses on, the Hebrew prophets repeatedy accused the Israelites of being "stiff-necked" and urged them to repent. So it's no wonder that the greatest Jewish prophet of all -- Jesus -- not only urged humility but exemplified it in his life and death

"Why should the German be interested in the liberation of the Jew, if the Jew is not interested in the liberation of the German?... We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time... In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.... Indeed, in North America, the practical domination of Judaism over the Christian world has achieved as its unambiguous and normal expression that the preaching of the Gospel itself and the Christian ministry have become articles of trade... Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist". Who said that? Hitler? No. It was Karl Marx. See also here and here and here. For roughly two centuries now, antisemitism has, throughout the Western world, been principally associated with Leftism (including the socialist Hitler) -- as it is to this day. See here.

Karl Marx hated just about everyone. Even his father, the kindly Heinrich Marx, thought Karl was not much of a human being

Leftists call their hatred of Israel "Anti-Zionism" but Zionists are only a small minority in Israel

Some of the Leftist hatred of Israel is motivated by old-fashioned antisemitism (beliefs in Jewish "control" etc.) but most of it is just the regular Leftist hatred of success in others. And because the societies they inhabit do not give them the vast amount of recognition that their large but weak egos need, some of the most virulent haters of Israel and America live in those countries. So the hatred is the product of pathologically high self-esteem.

Their threatened egos sometimes drive Leftists into quite desperate flights from reality. For instance, they often call Israel an "Apartheid state" -- when it is in fact the Arab states that practice Apartheid -- witness the severe restrictions on Christians in Saudi Arabia. There are no such restrictions in Israel.

If the Palestinians put down their weapons, there'd be peace. If the Israelis put down their weapons, there'd be genocide.


Many people hunger and thirst after righteousness. Some find it in the hatreds of the Left. Others find it in the love of Christ. I don't hunger and thirst after righteousness at all. I hunger and thirst after truth. How old-fashioned can you get?

The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody. And I have NO investments in oil companies, mining companies or "Big Pharma"

UPDATE: Despite my (statistical) aversion to mining stocks, I have recently bought a few shares in BHP -- the world's biggest miner, I gather. I run the grave risk of becoming a speaker of famous last words for saying this but I suspect that BHP is now so big as to be largely immune from the risks that plague most mining companies. I also know of no issue affecting BHP where my writings would have any relevance. The Left seem to have a visceral hatred of miners. I have never quite figured out why.

I imagine that few of my readers will understand it, but I am an unabashed monarchist. And, as someone who was born and bred in a monarchy and who still lives there (i.e. Australia), that gives me no conflicts at all. In theory, one's respect for the monarchy does not depend on who wears the crown but the impeccable behaviour of the present Queen does of course help perpetuate that respect. Aside from my huge respect for the Queen, however, my favourite member of the Royal family is the redheaded Prince Harry. The Royal family is of course a military family and Prince Harry is a great example of that. As one of the world's most privileged people, he could well be an idle layabout but instead he loves his life in the army. When his girlfriend Chelsy ditched him because he was so often away, Prince Harry said: "I love Chelsy but the army comes first". A perfect military man! I doubt that many women would understand or approve of his attitude but perhaps my own small army background powers my approval of that attitude.

I imagine that most Americans might find this rather mad -- but I believe that a constitutional Monarchy is the best form of government presently available. Can a libertarian be a Monarchist? I think so -- and prominent British libertarian Sean Gabb seems to think so too! Long live the Queen! (And note that Australia ranks well above the USA on the Index of Economic freedom. Heh!)

The Australian flag with the Union Jack quartered in it

Throughout Europe there is an association between monarchism and conservatism. It is a little sad that American conservatives do not have access to that satisfaction. So even though Australia is much more distant from Europe (geographically) than the USA is, Australia is in some ways more of an outpost of Europe than America is! Mind you: Australia is not very atypical of its region. Australia lies just South of Asia -- and both Japan and Thailand have greatly respected monarchies. And the demise of the Cambodian monarchy was disastrous for Cambodia

Throughout the world today, possession of a U.S. or U.K. passport is greatly valued. I once shared that view. Developments in recent years have however made me profoundly grateful that I am a 5th generation Australian. My Australian passport is a door into a much less oppressive and much less messed-up place than either the USA or Britain

Following the Sotomayor precedent, I would hope that a wise older white man such as myself with the richness of that experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than someone who hasn’t lived that life.

IQ and ideology: Most academics are Left-leaning. Why? Because very bright people who have balls go into business, while very bright people with no balls go into academe. I did both with considerable success, which makes me a considerable rarity. Although I am a born academic, I have always been good with money too. My share portfolio even survived the GFC in good shape. The academics hate it that bright people with balls make more money than them.

I have no hesitation in saying that the single book which has influenced me most is the New Testament. And my Scripture blog will show that I know whereof I speak. Some might conclude that I must therefore be a very confused sort of atheist but I can assure everyone that I do not feel the least bit confused. The New Testament is a lighthouse that has illumined the thinking of all sorts of men and women and I am deeply grateful that it has shone on me.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age. Conservatism is in touch with reality. Leftism is not.

I imagine that the RD are still sending mailouts to my 1950s address

Most teenagers have sporting and movie posters on their bedroom walls. At age 14 I had a map of Taiwan on my wall.

"Remind me never to get this guy mad at me" -- Instapundit

It seems to be a common view that you cannot talk informatively about a country unless you have been there. I completely reject that view but it is nonetheless likely that some Leftist dimbulb will at some stage aver that any comments I make about politics and events in the USA should not be heeded because I am an Australian who has lived almost all his life in Australia. I am reluctant to pander to such ignorance in the era of the "global village" but for the sake of the argument I might mention that I have visited the USA 3 times -- spending enough time in Los Angeles and NYC to get to know a fair bit about those places at least. I did however get outside those places enough to realize that they are NOT America.

"Intellectual" = Leftist dreamer. I have more publications in the academic journals than almost all "public intellectuals" but I am never called an intellectual and nor would I want to be. Call me a scholar or an academic, however, and I will accept either as a just and earned appellation

My academic background

My full name is Dr. John Joseph RAY. I am a former university teacher aged 65 at the time of writing in 2009. I was born of Australian pioneer stock in 1943 at Innisfail in the State of Queensland in Australia. I trace my ancestry wholly to the British Isles. After an early education at Innisfail State Rural School and Cairns State High School, I taught myself for matriculation. I took my B.A. in Psychology from the University of Queensland in Brisbane. I then moved to Sydney (in New South Wales, Australia) and took my M.A. in psychology from the University of Sydney in 1969 and my Ph.D. from the School of Behavioural Sciences at Macquarie University in 1974. I first tutored in psychology at Macquarie University and then taught sociology at the University of NSW. My doctorate is in psychology but I taught mainly sociology in my 14 years as a university teacher. In High Schools I taught economics. I have taught in both traditional and "progressive" (low discipline) High Schools. Fuller biographical notes here

I completed the work for my Ph.D. at the end of 1970 but the degree was not awarded until 1974 -- due to some academic nastiness from Seymour Martin Lipset and Fred Emery. A conservative or libertarian who makes it through the academic maze has to be at least twice as good as the average conformist Leftist. Fortunately, I am a born academic.

Despite my great sympathy and respect for Christianity, I am the most complete atheist you could find. I don't even believe that the word "God" is meaningful. I am not at all original in that view, of course. Such views are particularly associated with the noted German philosopher Rudolf Carnap. Unlike Carnap, however, none of my wives have committed suicide

Very occasionally in my writings I make reference to the greats of analytical philosophy such as Carnap and Wittgenstein. As philosophy is a heavily Leftist discipline however, I have long awaited an attack from some philosopher accusing me of making coat-trailing references not backed by any real philosophical erudition. I suppose it is encouraging that no such attacks have eventuated but I thought that I should perhaps forestall them anyway -- by pointing out that in my younger days I did complete three full-year courses in analytical philosophy (at 3 different universities!) and that I have had papers on mainstream analytical philosophy topics published in academic journals

As well as being an academic, I am an army man and I am pleased and proud to say that I have worn my country's uniform. Although my service in the Australian army was chiefly noted for its un-notability, I DID join voluntarily in the Vietnam era, I DID reach the rank of Sergeant, and I DID volunteer for a posting in Vietnam. So I think I may be forgiven for saying something that most army men think but which most don't say because they think it is too obvious: The profession of arms is the noblest profession of all because it is the only profession where you offer to lay down your life in performing your duties. Our men fought so that people could say and think what they like but I myself always treat military men with great respect -- respect which in my view is simply their due.

A real army story here

Even a stopped clock is right twice a day and there is JUST ONE saying of Hitler's that I rather like. It may not even be original to him but it is found in chapter 2 of Mein Kampf (published in 1925): "Widerstaende sind nicht da, dass man vor ihnen kapituliert, sondern dass man sie bricht". The equivalent English saying is "Difficulties exist to be overcome" and that traces back at least to the 1920s -- with attributions to Montessori and others. Hitler's metaphor is however one of smashing barriers rather than of politely hopping over them and I am myself certainly more outspoken than polite. Hitler's colloquial Southern German is notoriously difficult to translate but I think I can manage a reasonable translation of that saying: "Resistance is there not for us to capitulate to but for us to break". I am quite sure that I don't have anything like that degree of determination in my own life but it seems to me to be a good attitude in general anyway

I have used many sites to post my writings over the years and many have gone bad on me for various reasons. So if you click on a link here to my other writings you may get a "page not found" response if the link was put up some time before the present. All is not lost, however. All my writings have been reposted elsewhere. If you do strike a failed link, just take the filename (the last part of the link) and add it to the address of any of my current home pages and -- Voila! -- you should find the article concerned.

COMMENTS: I have gradually added comments facilities to all my blogs. The comments I get are interesting. They are mostly from Leftists and most consist either of abuse or mere assertions. Reasoned arguments backed up by references to supporting evidence are almost unheard of from Leftists. Needless to say, I just delete such useless comments.

You can email me here (Hotmail address). In emailing me, you can address me as "John", "Jon", "Dr. Ray" or "JR" and that will be fine -- but my preference is for "JR" -- and that preference has NOTHING to do with an American soap opera that featured a character who was referred to in that way


"Tongue Tied"
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"Marx & Engels in their own words"
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To be continued ....
Coral reef compendium.
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Of Interest
Dagmar Schellenberger
My alternative Wikipedia


"Food & Health Skeptic"
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Paralipomena (2)
AGL -- A bumbling monster
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Leftism is authoritarian
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