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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31 January, 2016

Nuclear neglect

One of the ultimate underwriters of U.S. global power and national security is the capability of its nuclear arsenal. Rogue states, nations that sponsor terrorism as a matter of policy, and openly belligerent countries are all held in check by the threat of America’s nuclear power, which holds the definitive answer to such nations' use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). As most international arms experts concur, without this worldwide deterrent against states large enough to back large-scale terrorist organizations, these organizations' use of WMD would be substantially more likely and considerably less restrained. Given this, we’d like to think our federal government would be first in line to safeguard and maintain this arsenal. But we would be wrong.

We recently learned from a top Obama administration official that U.S. nuclear deterrent capability is rapidly waning, with no remedy in sight. In a letter not released to the public, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz asked White House budget director Shaun Donovan to revise the fiscal 2017 budget proposal, effectively implying that the nation’s nuclear capabilities were at stake as a result of a projected $5.2 billion shortfall, which as yet has not properly been addressed in the budget. Even Moniz, normally a reliable shill for the administration, has recognized the critical importance of the shortfall.

In the arcane language of government financial programming, this problem is known as "broken glass": a program that is "unexecutable" — i.e., dead — without additional funding. In this case, that’s a lot of glass. Some of the critical infrastructure Moniz references in his missive includes the roughly half of all nuclear facilities that are approaching half-century-old milestones, as well as the geriatric strategic computer systems that bear directly on the efficacy and reliability of America’s nuclear arsenal.

Of course, there’s also the fact of the aging ballistic sub fleet; the more-than-half-century-old B-52 fleet; the halting of new warhead design, construction and testing by the administration’s peace-at-all-costs arms-control wonks; and a host of other "minor" issues associated with U.S. nuclear surety, but we don’t want to haggle over a few billion dollars' worth of restoration to critical national defense. We’ll simply note in passing that all of them have been ignored for the better part of a decade, and we’ll leave it at that.

Apart from the criminally negligent abandonment associated with the commander in chief’s most important job — namely, protecting the nation — are the outright lies. Recall in the 2010 "New" Start Treaty with Russia, His Worldpeacedness secured Senate ratification to a 30% cut in warheads only after the Senate made him promise to modernize existing warheads and facilities. Setting aside the foolhardiness of relying on an unsecured future promise from anyone in the Obama administration — let alone from the head of the rotting fish itself — not only did Obama break his word to the Senate, but he has also accelerated the decline of the very warheads and facilities he promised to modernize.

As evidence, witness the testimony of Obama’s former secretary of defense, Bob Gates, who last fall told Congress that Obama’s "political aspiration" is "to get rid of nuclear weapons." Obama hasn’t changed much since he was a dope-smoking young peacenik. As a result, then-Secretary Gates was unable even to "[try] to make the ones that we already have more reliable and safer."

Notwithstanding the current crisis, the bigger question is, who, if anyone, will fix it? With "The Donald" not even knowing what the "nuclear triad" is — forgivable for a layman, but a presidential candidate? — and Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders unwilling to preserve the remainder of that triad, we have little reason for optimism. And what if, in the dead of some otherwise calm night, an "unscheduled sunrise" suddenly appears over an American city in the not-too-distant future? Then all bets are off. What will we respond with then?



Hillary Clinton, analyzed

Perhaps we should pity Hillary Clinton. Yes, one hand, she’s a power hungry politician who never let an ethics rule stop her quest for the White House. But perhaps she never let go of her childhood motivations. Perhaps she’s still trying to rectify the abusive home life of her childhood. Blogger Ann Althouse caught an insightful essay by Camille Paglia delving into the origins of Clinton’s feminism. Paglia, who is a feminist thinker and a bundle of contradictions such as her Left-leaning Libertarianism, disdains Clinton for how she handled the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Paglia argues that Clinton never got broad appeal from men because her brand of feminism disdains men:

    "Childhood photos of Bill Clinton show his gregarious, fun-loving charm already fully formed. The young Hillary Rodham, in contrast, looks armored, with a sharp gaze and a tense, over-bright smile. Like many first-born daughters, she became her father’s favorite son, marginalizing her less self-assured and accomplished brothers.

    "The ‘enabling’ with which Hillary has been charged in her conflicted marriage may actually have been the pitying indulgence and half-scornful toleration that she first directed toward her brothers. She demoted her husband to a fraternal role — the shiftless ‘bad boy’ in chronic need of scolding and spanking."

And that isn’t the only clue. The Washington Free Beacon’s David Rutz points out that Clinton employs cliché after cliché in her speaking. Can she articulate an original thought, hold an original opinion? This is her last shot at the presidency. The desperation is almost palpable.



Government admits the economy stinks — now what?

The U.S. economy has just suffered through the worse ten-year period in terms of economic growth since the Great Depression. This lost decade of despair and hopelessness has led to more than 6 million more Americans aged 16-64 dropping out of the workforce than would normally be expected.

With the near-disastrous Gross Domestic Product for the fourth quarter of 2015 being announced at 0.7 percent annualized by the Bureau of Economic Analysis and just 2.4 percent for the year, America cannot be allowed to continue down this pathway to the poorhouse.

Yet, rather than help the economy, President Barack Obama’s pen and phone have energized an alphabet soup of federal agencies to enact expensive, job strangling regulations that are turning towns in Kentucky into ghost towns and replacing store clerks with self-help check out stands.

While denying the transport of oil through the efficient and safe Keystone XL pipeline, they are also making it significantly expensive to ship oil by rail at the exact time oil producers are struggling for every cent due to falling prices.

Non-union manufacturers are being harassed as OSHA is now allowing union representatives to participate in safety inspections of their shops.

Potential copper mines are being stymied, farmers are being threatened with EPA inspections of their land, and coal leases on federal lands have been stopped.

Even those who need a wood burning stove to keep them warm in the winter are now forced to buy top of the line models costing five figures or go cold.

High tech companies like Disney and others continue to use the lack of effective enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws to turn away and replace skilled Americans in favor of less expensive foreign imports, and with all the talk of job creation, there are actually fewer people aged 16-64 working in America in 2015 than in 2007.

What can Congress do in the face of a thirty front war where it seems a constitutionally unhinged Chief Executive can run rampant disrupting private sector growth?

Simple answer, assert their Article One authority when Obama is pushing for a must-pass bill, like the upcoming Puerto Rico bailout.

If Speaker Ryan is serious about reasserting Article One, and this author has no reason to believe otherwise, he needs to look to his right to create a GOP bill where the compromise to Obama is that Puerto Rico gets bailed out.  What Obama has to give is the inclusion of legislation like Representative Ken Buck’s comprehensive bill, The Article I Consolidated Appropriations Amendments of 2016, of already vetted riders designed to rein in the President and reinvigorate the economy.

As knowing Washington insiders are always quick to tell conservatives, you need compromise to make anything happen, on the Puerto Rico bill it is Obama that is asking for action, and GOP leadership holds the cards.

The just released GDP numbers confirm what most Americans know from their own economic circumstances and choices, the economy stinks, and now many economists are coming to the conclusion that it is only going to get worse.  Now is the time for the GOP leadership in Congress to assert themselves and forcibly cut the regulatory binds that the Lilliputian left has used to tie down our Gulliver like economy.

Our leaders can no longer pretend that we can afford to wait for the long, eight-year national nightmare to end before the government boot gets taken off the throat of the job creators.  Any time Obama wants anything, I repeat anything, from Congress a price has to be extracted that helps make America great again.  For the American people failure is not an option, and failure to try is the ultimate surrender.

The GOP Congress just needs to read their own campaign material and fundraising letters to know what to do.  Now they need to regain the trust of the voters by going Nike, and just doing it.



Rand Paul: 'If You Want to Defend the Country, It Begins With Border Security'

Closing down mosques to prevent radicalization, as Sen. Marco Rubio once suggested, is a "huge mistake," Sen. Rand Paul said Thursday at the Republican debate in Des Moines.

"But I would say that if you want to defend the country, it begins with border security. And this is where I've had my disagreement with Senator Rubio."

"When he brought forward the 'Gang of Eight' bill to give citizenship to those who came here illegally, I put forward an amendment that says we should have more scrutiny on those who are coming as students, those who are coming as immigrants, those who are coming as refugees, because we had two refugees come to my town in Bowling Green and try to attack us.

"Marco opposed this because...he made a deal with Chuck Schumer that he would oppose any conservative amendments. And I think that's a mistake, and I just don't think Marco can have it both ways. You can't be in favor of, defend us against Islam -- radical Islam -- if you're not for border security."

Rubio jumped in with a response:

"The first thing -- I don't know of anyone who's not in favor of fully vetting people that are trying to come into this country, other than perhaps Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. I think we all support that. Rand's amendment was not the right way to do it.

"I do believe that people who are trying to come to the United States -- this country has a right to know who they are and why they are coming.

"And that's why I've been clear, when I am the president of the United States of America, we don't know who you are, and we don't know why you're trying to come to the United States, you are not going to get in, because the radical threat that we now face from ISIS is extraordinary and unprecedented, and when I'm president, we are keeping ISIS out of America."

Elsewhere in the debate, Rubio insisted that he does not support "blanket amnesty."

"What I've always said is that this issue does need to be solved. They've been talking about this issue for 30 years, and nothing ever happens. And, I'm going to tell you exactly how we're going to deal with it when I am president.

"Number one, we're going to keep ISIS out of America. If we don't know who you are, or why you're coming, you will not get into the United States.

"Number two, we're going to enforce our immigration laws. I am the son and grandson of immigrants. And I know that securing our borders is not anti-immigrant and we will do it.

"We'll hire 20,000 new border agents instead of 20,000 new IRS agents. We will finish the 700 miles of fencing and walls our nation needs. We'll have mandatory E-verify, a mandatory entry/exit tracking system and until all of that is in place and all of that is working and we can prove to the people of this country that illegal immigration is under control, nothing else is going to happen.

"We are not going to round up and deport 12 million people, but we're not going to hand out citizenship cards, either. There will be a process. We will see what the American people are willing to support. But it will not be unconstitutional executive orders like the ones Barack Obama has forced on 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)


29 January, 2016

IQ and health:  More discomfort for the Left

The Left hate IQ because it conflicts with their crazy "all men are equal" gospel.  So they never give up hope of discrediting the whole concept.  They have tried all sorts of arguments but the phenomenon is so robust and so pervasive that it has easily survived all the assaults aimed at it. It cannot be explained away.

But the unending stream of scientific findings showing how important IQ is to one's life chances has now mostly driven Leftists back to their most basic defence-mechanism:  Denial.  They just refuse to think or talk about it. They act as it doesn't exist -- with results that range from the hilarious to the disastrous.

For those of us who think reality is important, however, the recent report below should be of interest.  The basic finding -- that high IQ people are healthier -- actually dates back to the 1920s but it is nice to see current research coming to the same conclusion.  That's the pesky thing about IQ:  Careful research into it always leads to the same conclusion

The findings below in fact support something I have been saying for a long time:  That high IQ is an index of general biological fitness.  The brain is just one of the body's organs and if it is functioning well, it is likely that the rest of the body is functioning well too.  As a great Rabbi once said:  "To him that hath, more will be given him" (Matthew 13:12). Jesus was not an egalitarian

Clever people are more likely to be healthier than those with a lower IQ due to a genetic link between how our bodies manage diseases and intelligence.

Researchers from Scotland analysed data from around 100,000 people held in the UK Biobank.

They compared each person's mental test data with their genome and found that traits linked to disease and thinking skills shared the same genetic influences. 

In particular, the international team of scientists led by the University of Edinburgh found 'significant negative genetic correlations' between a person's education and verbal-numerical reasoning skills and Alzheimer's disease, coronary artery disease and strokes.

In other words, well-educated people who excel at problem solving are less likely to contract the conditions.

Clever people were also less likely to be overweight.  [I like that one]

The team found there was a negative genetic correlation between body mass index and verbal-numerical reasoning, while a greater risk of high blood pressure was associated with lower education.

The researchers explained: 'Our results provide comprehensive new findings on the overlaps between cognitive ability levels, genetic bases for health-related characteristics such as height and blood pressure, and physical and psychiatric disorders even in mostly healthy, non-diagnosed individuals.

'They make important steps toward understanding the specific patterns of overlap between biological influences on health and their consequences for key cognitive abilities.

'For example, some of the association between educational attainment - often used as a social background indicator - and health appears to have a genetic [cause].'

However, the team added: 'It has not escaped our notice that there are multiple possible interpretations of these genetic correlations.

The results of the latest Edinburgh-based study build on previous research that found 95% of the link between intelligence and life expectancy is genetic.

Using a study on twins, experts from the London School of Economics found brighter twins tend to live longer and noted the pattern was much more pronounced in fraternal - non identical - twins, than identical pairs.

By looking at both fraternal twins - who only share half their twin's DNA - with identical twins, researchers were also able to distinguish between genetic effects and environmental factors, including housing, schooling and childhood nutrition.

'Not only might particular genes contribute both to cognitive and health-related traits, but genetic variants relating to health conditions could have indirect effects on cognitive ability and vice versa, [on] lifestyle choices.'

As an example, poorly educated people may be less likely to make informed choices about what they eat and how much they drink.

The study is not all good news for intelligent people, though.

The team did find that the genetic variants associated with obtaining a degree were also related to a higher genetic risk of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and autism.

Edinburgh University Professor Ian Deary, who led the research, said the study could help in understanding some of the links between low levels of cognitive function and poor health.

Psychologist Saskia Hagenaars, who worked on the research, added: 'The study supports an existing theory which says that those with better overall health are likely to have higher levels of intelligence.'

The UK Biobank, launched in 2007, is a major long-term investigation into the respective contributions of genetic predisposition and environmental exposure in the development of disease.

The findings are published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.



A Trump fan

Maybe this tells us more than the polls do


What the economy needs now

Everyone’s blaming the oil price collapse and China’s sliding economy, for the rout of the stock market these first two weeks of 2016. That’s part of the story, but there may also be a policy explanation for the bearish sell-off.

Call it the Bernie Sanders effect. In the Democratic presidential primary debate last week between Hillary and Bernie, the race was on to see which could raise taxes and punish businesses more. While Hillary was touting her income tax surcharge on millionaires that could raise income taxes to near 50 percent (and her capital gains tax hike), Sen. Sanders said that a 90 percent tax rate might be too high, but somewhere approaching that number is the target he’d shoot for. Bernie also talks about breaking up the banks, putting Wall Streeters in jail, a single-payer health care plan to the left of Obamacare, and adding trillions of new government spending.

This isn’t blossoming investor confidence. Was it just coincidence that polls that show Bernie surging into a widening lead against Hillary in New Hampshire and even beating several Republicans in a head-to-head competition were released the same day the stock market took another nose dive.

But for the umpteenth time: Where is the Republican growth message? The economy is sputtering clearly with corporate profits and business investment weakening and consumer spending slowing down as well. The GOP runs the House and Senate, but still no sign of a growth package to offer up a contrasting vision from the Bernie and Hillary show. Too many in the GOP have bought into the Chamber of Commerce unwise idea that funding the Export-Import Bank is a stimulus.

If the economy does sink into negative territory this year, the Democrats will surely demand more infrastructure spending, unemployment assistance, job training and a panoply of "stimulus" budget busters that didn’t work in 2009 and won’t work now. The Republican response to this nonsense should be short and sweet: been there. Done that.

What could be done right now to stimulate growth, investment and investor confidence almost immediately? The answer is a business tax rate reduction. Pass a rate cut to 15 percent, with full capital expensing and a 5 percent voluntary repatriation tax on the $2 trillion owned by U.S. multinational firms that is parked abroad to avoid the high corporate tax.

This won’t cost the Treasury much in lost revenues, and who knows? It may raise money over five years through the money and businesses repatriated back to America. Apple and GE might bring back tens of billions of dollars for assembly plants and research centers on these shores.

The current U.S. rate of 35 percent (federal) is the highest of all the nations we compete with. The rest of the world is at a rate closer to 25 percent with some nations like Ireland as low as 12.5 percent. Let’s go from the highest rate in the world to one of the lowest and see what happens to capital flows.

We know the 35 percent rate is an economic Get Out of Town and Do Not Stop at Go card. We have seen companies like Burger King, Medtronics. Pfizer, and dozens more leave the United States. In search of lower tax rates. More companies will scamper out if this isn’t fixed — and they take jobs with them.

Liberals like to pretend that the U.S. tax rates aren’t chasing out businesses and jobs, but then why are all the nations we compete with slashing their rates. The international average has come down from almost 40 percent in 1990 to 25 percent today. For two and a half decades the U.S. rates haven’t budged, while the rest of the world keeps chopping. We’re like a 6th grader who stops growing and then goes out and tries to play competitive basketball with 20 year olds over six feet tall.

Study after study tells us that the corporate tax at 35 percent is a loser. The American Enterprise Institute has found that wages rise much slower, if at all, in nations with high corporate tax rates. This happens because of less investment in the high tax nations, which means lower paying jobs. In other words, it’s not rich fat cat shareholders, but working class Americans who suffer the most.

Even President Obama’s own tax reform commission, headed by former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker found "deep flaws" in the corporate tax. It concluded that the corporate tax "acts to reduce the productivity of American businesses and American workers, increase the likelihood and cost of financial distress, and drain resources away from more valuable uses."

As for the stimulus value of our proposed business tax cut, the Tax Foundation finds that immediate expensing and cutting the business tax rate are the best short-term strategy for generating more growth. Here is how the Foundation put it: "A cut in the corporate tax rate would have large effects on GDP, but minimal effects on federal revenue in the long run." Nothing else has this kind of big bang for the buck payoff. By the way, for those Keynesians out there stuck on the demand side, tax rebates and credits, produce almost no positive feedback.

Republicans are preparing their budget plan this week. They should use a process that President Reagan used called Reconciliation to make room for a corporate tax cut jobs stimulus. This means the Republicans in the Senate will need only 51 votes to pass it once the House does so by a wide margin. We can imagine several Democrats in red states joining the GOP for this growth stimulus.

If Mr. Obama vetoes such a bill, austerity Democrats will pay a high price in November.



Wages Lead to Trouble in Walmart-Land

Walmart has announced that it’s closing 154 stores, most of them the company’s Express stores operating in small communities. After moving into rural communities, and often choking out independent small businesses, Walmart is tweaking its business model. The reason? The rising cost of wages has overtaken the profit margins of those stores.

On one hand, Walmart raised wages to keep workers, but it also announced the move in response to political pressure to raise the minimum wage. $15 an hour, anyone?

The company also backed out of establishing stores in the District of Columbia, making the city’s liberal politicians "blood mad." After all, the stores would have created jobs in some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods, while providing options for residents to buy groceries and goods.

This led the editors at Investor’s Business Daily to write, "Sorry, but forcing employers of unskilled, largely untrained labor to pay higher prices for their labor is a recipe for automation, layoffs and no job creation. It punishes the poor, unskilled and uneducated most of all. The leftist demagogues who push this nonsense should be ashamed."

And liberal politicians wonder where the jobs have gone.



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)


28 January, 2016

A Leftist view of the Cologne attacks

Australia has a far-Leftist webzine called "New Matilda" that I often read to get near to where the Leftist beating heart lies. It is not in mainstream politics so its writers can let it all hang out.  And they are of course enthusiastic defenders of Islam. Leftist haters and Muslim haters understand one another.  So I was interested to read their take on the mass sex attacks by young Muslim males on German women in Cologne on New Year's eve.

A recent article in "New Matilda" by one Randa Abdel-Fattah (I dare not guess his/her religion) gives a take on it.  Like most "New Matilda" articles it is long and rambling so I am not going to reproduce any of it but it can be summed up quite simply.  It is of course yet another exercise in moral equivalence and its central contention is that condemnation of the Cologne events is "racist".

Why is it racist?  Because Westerners too have done bad things in the past and we do not condemn such attacks when they are committed by white men.  That's the argument.

It is difficult to know where to start in refuting such a feeble argument but let's start with its central pillar: that the Syrians and others in Cologne were "brown".  I quote "Is the concern about sexual assault against women, or sexual assault against women when the perpetrators are brown men?"

As far as I know, Syrians would normally be classed as white.  They are not as fair as Northern Europeans but are pretty similar to Italians, who are undoubtedly white.  Let that slide however.  Maybe we are racist about off-white people.

That's not very plausible, however.  Not very long ago Australia's most populous State, New South Wales, was almost entirely run by people of Italian and Greek ancestry -- the Iemma administration.  And they were voted into power by the people of NSW.

So the question is whether we are equally scandalized by the same class of offence when it is committed by white and off-white people.  Abdel-Fattah obviously thinks we are not.  But he has a problem:  Where has there been anything remotely equivalent to the Cologne events that was committed by white people?  There has not been, of course. 

So fat Abdul trawls through history back to the '50s to find some bad deeds committed by white men.  And he finds a few.  Even if we allow such things as comparable, however, he would have to show that they were not condemned by other whites.  He does not even attempt to do that.  His article is an outpouring of hate.  It is nothing logical

I think he should be called Abdul Fathead.


The Demand for Villains

By Thomas Sowell

The latest tempest in a teapot controversy is over a lack of black nominees for this year’s Academy Awards in Hollywood.

The assumption seems to be that different groups would be proportionally represented if somebody were not doing somebody else wrong. That assumption carries great weight in far more important things than Academy Awards and in places more important than Hollywood, including the Supreme Court of the United States.

In an earlier era, the groupthink assumption was that groups that did not succeed as often, or as well, were genetically inferior. But is our current groupthink assumption based on any more hard evidence?

Having spent decades researching racial and ethnic groups around the world, I have never yet found a country in which all groups — or even most groups — are even roughly equally represented in most endeavors.

Nor have I been the only one with that experience. The great French historian Fernand Braudel said, "In no society have all regions and all parts of the population developed equally." A study of military forces around the world failed to find a single one in which in which the ethnic makeup of the military was the same as that of the society.

My own favorite example of unrepresentativeness, however, is right at home. Having watched National Football League games for more than 50 years, I have seen hundreds of black players score touchdowns, but I have never seen one black player kick the extra point.

What are we to conclude from this? Do those who believe in genetics think that blacks are just genetically incapable of kicking a football?

Since there have long been black colleges with football teams, have they had to import white players to do the opening kickoff, so that the games could get underway? Or to kick the extra point after touchdowns? Apparently not.

How about racist discrimination? Are racists so inconsistent that they are somehow able to stifle their racism when it comes to letting black players score touchdowns, but absolutely draw the line when it comes to letting blacks kick the extra point?

With all the heated and bitter debates between those who believe in heredity and those who believe in environment as explanations of group differences in outcomes, both seem to ignore the possibility that some groups just do not want to do the same things as other groups.

I doubt whether any of the guys who grew up in my old neighborhood in Harlem ever went on to become ballet dancers. Nor is it likely that this had anything to do with either genetics or racism. The very thought of becoming a ballet dancer never crossed my mind and it probably never occurred to the other guys either.

If people don’t want to do something, chances are they are not going to do it, even if they have all the innate potential in the world, and even if all the doors of opportunity are wide open.

People come from different cultures. They know different things and want different things.

When I arrived in Harlem from the South as a kid, I had no idea what a public library was. An older boy who tried to explain it to me barely succeeded in getting me to get a library card and borrow a couple of books. But it changed the course of my life. Not every kid from a similar background had someone to change the course of his life.

When Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe arrived in New York in the 19th century, they were even poorer than blacks from the South who arrived in Harlem in the 20th century. But the Jews crowded into public libraries because books had been part of their culture for centuries. New York’s elite public high schools and outstanding free colleges were practically tailor-made for them.

Groups differ from other groups all over the world, for all sorts of reasons, ranging from geography to demography, history and culture. There is not much we can do about geography and nothing we can do about the past. But we can stop looking for villains every time we see differences.

That is not likely to happen, however, when grievances can be cashed in for goodies — and polarize a whole society in the process.



Sheriff Joe Arpaio Endorses Trump for President

A man who has been styled as "America’s toughest sheriff" for the pink underwear he’s handed out to inmates, who long has been at odds with the Obama administration over illegal aliens and more, has endorsed Donald Trump for president.

The announcement of the endorsement by Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona, was announced by the Trump campaign Tuesday afternoon.

Both Arpaio and Trump are leaders who are unafraid to state their case – especially on the important issue of illegal aliens in the United States. Arpaio was the first to sue Obama over his 2014 administration orders that another four or five million illegals be given a legal status in the United States.

And when he announced his campaign, Trump took on Obama’s open borders policy by calling for a crackdown on the number of illegal aliens allowed into the country, and allowed to remain.

Trump said, "I have great respect for Sheriff Arpaio. We must restore law and order on the border and respect the men and women of our police forces. I thank him for his support of my policies and candidacy for president."

Arpaio said: "Donald Trump is a leader. He produces results and is ready to get tough in order to protect American jobs and families. I have fought on the front lines to prevent illegal immigration.

"I know Donald Trump will stand with me and countless Americans to secure our border. I am proud to support him as the best candidate for president of the United States of America."

Trump has visited Arizona twice since announcing his campaign in June and Arpaio has been at those rallies.

The announcement from the Trump camp came only hours after another significant endorsement was announced, that of Jerry Falwell Jr.

The endorsement from the president of Liberty University was personal and not on behalf of the university. But he said he saw parallels between Trump and his late father.

"Like Mr. Trump, dad would speak his mind. … Dad explained that when he walked into the voting booth, he wasn’t electing a Sunday school teacher, or a pastor, or even a president who shared his theological beliefs. He was electing a president of the United States to lead a nation."


How the Justice Department Is Funding Progressive Groups

When a big corporation is charged with antitrust or regulatory violations, and fined billions of dollars, have you ever wondered where that money goes? You might assume that it is deposited in the United States Treasury, for general purposes, or that it goes to victims of the companies’ misconduct. In some cases, you’d be right, but it turns out an awful lot of that money is being funneled straight into progressive non-profits, at the express direction of the Department of Justice.

According to an exposé in the Wall Street Journal, the DOJ often mandates as part of settlements that the defendants pay a certain share of their fines to non-profit organizations. Looking at the list of these organizations, a certain bias becomes apparent. Some of the names include the National Council of La Raza, the National Urban League, and Neighborworks America, all of which promote causes of the political left. It’s unclear whether any right leaning organizations ever benefited from this program.

To make matters worse, the DOJ incentives these donations by weighting them double. In other words, if a company owes $100 million in fines, they can pay $50 million to liberal groups in lieu of the full amount. In this way, the government funds its own supporters to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.

There is a tendency to forget that government bureaucrats are people like you and me, and like all people, they possess political opinions and bias. The idea that a person collecting a government paycheck is motivated by an urge for public service rather than advancing his own ends is a myth perpetrated by those who don’t want too many questions asked about the locus of political power.

Even those of us who accept that government officials will always be incapable of true impartiality may have underestimated just how partisan and unjust some of their behavior has become. We were shocked when we discovered that the IRS had been abusing its power to target political non-profit groups, potentially ensuring Barack Obama’s reelection in 2012, but we shouldn’t have been. It was merely the actions of self-interested people, acting as self-interested people will when given too much power over their fellow man and stripped of all means of accountability.

This new scandal is perhaps even more upsetting. The discovery that the Department of Justice—that name rings awfully hollow now—is outright funding organizations sympathetic to its agenda using the legal authority of the federal government is disgusting on a visceral level. Imagine the outrage if the situation were reverse; if the DOJ was collecting fines and funneling them to churches, the National Rifle Association, and FreedomWorks instead of these bastions of progressive thought. Democrats in America would go on an all out rampage over such a miscarriage of justice, and they would be right to do so.

Instead, all we’ve heard from the mainstream media—with the notable exception of the Wall Street Journal—has been silence. It’s vital that we shine a light on these corrupt practices and make it clear that the American people will not tolerate such a blatantly partisan use of the Justice Department. This is just one more example of how the Obama administration has usurped power from Congress, and twisted the law to promote itself over the well-being of the Republic.



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)


27 January, 2016

The Supreme Court orders the president to prove that he is faithfully executing the law   
On four separate occasions, President Obama swore that he would "faithfully execute the Office of President." Yesterday, the Supreme Court told him to prove it. As expected, the justices voted to review Texas's challenge to Obama's executive action on immigration, known as DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans). Critically, the Court ordered the Obama administration to answer a pivotal question: Whether DAPA "violates the Take Care Clause of the Constitution."

In 225 years, the Supreme Court has never had occasion to ask the president whether he has reneged on his oath to take care that the laws are faithfully executed. However, with pens-and-phones replacing checks-and-balances, the Supreme Court is now poised to break new constitutional ground in order to preserve our embattled separation of powers.

On November 20, 2014, President Obama announced DAPA. This executive action purported to rely on "prosecutorial discretion" to defer the deportations of up to 5 million aliens and grant them work authorization. Two weeks later, Texas attorney general Greg Abbott (who had just been elected governor and would take office in January 2015) challenged DAPA in federal court in Brownsville. Two months later - and two days before the Department of Homeland Security would have begun accepting new applicants - Judge Andrew Hanen put DAPA on hold nationwide.

Judge Hanen found fatal the government's failure to comply with the notice-and-comment requirements of the Administrative Procedures Act (APA). Because Hanen ruled on narrow grounds, the court did not need to address whether the president had failed to comply with the Constitution's requirement that he "take care that the laws be faithfully executed." The case was then appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. In July, a divided court affirmed Judge Hanen's ruling on administrative-law grounds. It, too, did not reach the constitutional question.

In November the United States appealed the case to the Supreme Court and asked the justices to consider two questions: First, whether Texas had suffered a sufficient injury to have standing to challenge DAPA in federal court; and second, whether DAPA complies with the APA. The government implored the Court to stay away from the constitutional question. In a footnote, the Justice Department wrote that "neither court below addressed" the "constitutional question," which had "no independent content" - that is, the constitutional claim had no merit, and was not even worthy of consideration.

But Texas had a different plan. In its brief to the Supreme Court, Texas solicitor general Scott Keller invited the justices to consider an additional question: "Whether DAPA is contrary to law or violates the Constitution." The justices took Keller's offer and made it more specific. On Tuesday, the Court ordered that "the parties are directed to brief and argue the following question: `Whether the Guidance violates the Take Care Clause of the Constitution.'"

With this decision, the justices directed the president to justify DAPA and prove that his executive action on immigration is consistent with congressional design, not an effort to rewrite the law. Based on my initial research, this is the first time the Supreme Court has ever asked the president to state this constitutional case. Indeed, I could only locate three instances where the Court ruled against the executive branch, finding that the Take Care Clause limits its authority. (In different contexts, it has been cited to bolster the president's power.)

First, in 1838, the justices invoked the clause to rein in a rogue postmaster general, originally appointed by President Andrew Jackson, who had chosen not to enforce a directive of Congress. In Kendall v. U.S. the Court ruled: "To contend that the obligation imposed on the President to see the laws faithfully executed, implies a power to forbid their execution, is a novel construction of the constitution, and entirely inadmissible." In other words, the executive branch cannot forbid the enforcement of the laws.

Second, in the landmark 1952 decision of Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, the Court found that President Harry S. Truman lacked the authority to seize steel mills without congressional authorization. Justice Hugo Black concluded, "In the framework of our Constitution, the President's power to see that the laws are faithfully executed refutes the idea that he is to be a lawmaker." Truman's unilateral actions violated the Take Care clause.

Third is the Court's 2008 decision in Medellin v. Texas, which was argued by then-Texas solicitor general Ted Cruz. In that case, the Court held that Congress had not yet not given President George W. Bush the statutory authority to enforce a treaty. Chief Justice Roberts, writing for a 6-3 majority, explained that this treaty could become binding only "through passage of legislation by both Houses of Congress," not by the president's unilateral action.

In neither Youngstown nor Medellin did the justices ask the president to prove that he was faithfully executing the laws (Kendall came to the Court on a writ of error, so there would not have been a question presented). Faced with an unprecedented expansion of executive powers, United States v. Texas is the first instance where the Supreme Court has put this burden on the president.

As I've explained elsewhere in a two-part series (Part I in the Georgetown Law Review Online and Part II in the Texas Review of Law & Politics), DAPA is not consistent with previous exercises of deferred action and constitutes an attempt to navigate around an uncooperative legislature. This pattern of behavior amounts to a deliberate decision not to act in good faith, but in an effort to undermine the Laws of Congress. The president's duty under Article II has been violated.

Maybe the justices will agree with me, maybe they won't. The mere fact that the Court asked the government to brief this question in no way suggests how it will rule. But at a minimum, the justices recognized that the resolution of this foundational case requires a full accounting of the separation of powers - including the president's own testament. However the Court rules in this case, it will set a powerful precedent for presidents of both parties, who seek to rewrite the law without Congress. In 2016, the president of the United States will at last meet the Take Care clause.


These Leftist Double Standards are Simply Mindboggling

A comment from Australia on a situation familiar in most Western countries

Until recently most folks would have been rather ashamed to be found guilty of committing gross double standards, horrific hypocrisy, and being swamped with logical contradictions. But regrettably many today not only do not mind all this, but even wear it as a badge of honour.

And there is no group more guilty of all this than the secular left. They regularly delight in utter hypocrisy and rampant double standards. But in an age where reason, logic and morality mean very little, they don't seem to mind a bit being caught out time and time again with such duplicity and deception.

Examples of this are everywhere to be found. Let me just offer two very recent cases of this, both from Australia. The first one comes from Tasmania. As one news report states:

    "Former Greens leader and Senator Bob Brown has been arrested during a community protest over logging in northwest Tasmania, after he refused to leave the site. Mr Brown was protesting with activists about the Forestry Tasmania's logging project at Lapoinya when he was asked by police to leave the site but refused.

    He was taken to Burnie police station to be processed before he is released from police custody. Steve Chaffer from the Bob Brown Foundation told AAP that Mr Brown had gone up to support the community protest. He said the arrest is a reflection of new "draconian" laws in Tasmania which prevent protests at workplaces."

Um, and what would those draconian laws be Mr Brown? Oh yeah, exclusion laws - you know, the very ones you and the Greens fully supported when it comes to peaceful vigils outside of abortion clinics. You don't want any of those crazed baby lovers anywhere near those death mills, and you find nothing draconian about such laws at all. But here, well..

Jim Collins, head of FamilyVoice Australia's Tasmania branch was quick to get a media release out highlighting this gross hypocrisy. He writes:

    "Tasmanian Greens former leader Bob Brown has been arrested for protesting inside an exclusion zone around a northwest logging site. Everybody knows Bob Brown is passionate about our environment. But where was his objection in 2013 when all Tasmanian Greens MPs voted for a draconian law prohibiting any form of protest - even silent prayer - inside a 150 metre exclusion zone around abortion facilities?

    Graham Preston is currently on trial in a Hobart court for standing peacefully near an abortion clinic, holding a sign saying: "Everyone has the right to life, Article 3 Universal Declaration of Human Rights." The back said: "Every child has the right to life, Article 6 Convention on the Rights of the Child." His second sign showed an unborn child eight weeks from conception.

    Bob Brown's protest was designed to save trees, and he faces a $10,000 fine. By contrast, Graham Preston wanted to peacefully save human lives. He faces a possible $11,550 fine and/or one year in jail. If Green activists want to protest about restrictions on their freedom to protest, removing our abortion clinic `no go areas' should be on their protest priority list too!"

Yes exactly, but do not expect any rational clarity and logical consistency anytime soon from the mad hatter Greens. They seem to prefer things to be as irrational, bizarre and contradictory as possible. The secular left are experts at all this, after all.

Things get no better in the Australian state of Victoria. The radical leftist Labor government there seems to be on a crusade to stamp out biblical Christianity. They have already told us that religious Christmas carols are verboten at Christmas, and now want to tell the churches just what is and is not sinful behaviour.

They want to ban all help for any homosexual who may want assistance in exiting the lifestyle. Nope, they must not be allowed to have any choice in the matter. Homosexuals must remain as they are, and any attempts to help them go otherwise will result in Big Brother Victoria throwing the book at you.

I wrote about this diabolical anti-Christian bigotry here: billmuehlenberg.com/2016/01/25/our-victorian-gaystapo/

But let me try to get this straight. If you happen to be a homosexual in Victoria who would like some help in getting out of the lifestyle, the government will deny you that right, and prosecute anyone who dares to offer such assistance. Right, got it.

Yet I am 100 per cent certain that Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and his Labor Party are fully supportive of men who want to become women, or women who want to become men. They would simply squeal with delight over cases like that of Bruce Jenner.

They would enthusiastically promote, endorse and celebrate such "transitions" and would insist that all available help be given to them, all at the taxpayer's expense of course. One can completely ignore reality and biology and simply proclaim you are not who you were born to be, and the secular lefties just love it.

`Of course you can be any gender you want to be honey. How dare I or anyone else prevent you from choosing for yourself just what you want.' But hey, when it comes to homosexuality, it is a completely different story: `Sorry bud, but once homosexual, always homosexual. You were born that way, it is immutable, and we will make it a crime to even suggest otherwise. Tough luck bud, you must remain as you are, because we say so.'

Hmm, gotta love the double standards of Andrews and the loony left. Biology is merely a figment of our imagination, and choice is the name of the game - indeed, a fundamental human right. But those who seek to leave one very PC lifestyle have no rights whatsoever, and any and all choices must be stripped away from them.

Never mind the many thousands of ex-homosexuals who have proven what a lot of baloney the "born that way" mantra is. I know many of these people. Real change is possible, and those who seek such change have every right to get any help required.

But not here in the People's Republik of Viktoria. Fuhrer Andrews has decided that the right to choose will not be available to any homosexual who wants out, and they must remain as they are, because the State always knows best. Folks, in my books that is just about as fascist and totalitarian as you can get.

But with the gaystapo now running the show here, we can expect even worse hellishness to come. If you happen to be a Bible-believing Christian who lives in the police state of Victoria, you now have to decide if you are ready for prison ministry.

There will be no other options here: you will either remain true to Christ and His Word and become an enemy of the State, or you will renounce Christ and cozy up to the pink dictators. It is your choice. But I implore you to choose wisely my friend.

Welcome to the Brave New World of secular left hypocrisy.



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)


26 January, 2016

Sex as a motivator and its role in Islam

Sigmund Freud's speculations and formulations are not widely accepted by psychologists today but any reader of his "Psychopathology of everyday life" will surely conclude that he was a keen observer.  I think everybody should read that book.  The things he reported there were real even if his theories about them are disputable.  When I was doing my Master's degree in psychology at the University of Sydney, one of my tutors was the highly regarded John Maze, who was as much a philosopher as a psychologist, and it was his view that Freud alone was actually doing real psychology.  The rest of us were behaviourists or what not.  So that may be another reason why I have more time for old Sigmund than most contemporary psychologists do.

And one thing that stands out in Freud's thinking is the overwhelming importance of the sex drive.  Freud called it "libido" and put it behind almost all human behaviour.  And I think there is no doubt that he gained that impression from the counselling sessions he did with troubled people in his clinical practice.  So I take it as one of Freud's acute observations that the sex-drive is a pervasive and super powerful influence on human behaviour. 

And the history of Islam bears that out.  Polygamous societies generally, including traditional Mormons, are known for the difficulties they create in young men.  If rich older guys have all the women locked up, what are the young men supposed to do?   Mormons mostly just kick the young men out into the secular world but Islam provides no alternative like that.  But it DOES provide a choice:  Die fighting the infidel and you will get your women in heaven.  The birthrate in heaven is apparently much more skewed than it is on earth.

And that is exactly what enabled Islam to be militarily successful for many centuries.  When non-Muslim armies faced Muslim armies comprised of unmarried young men, they were up against something quite alien to their own thinking:  Men who WANTED to die, fearless warriors.  That was very hard to combat for normal people with a fear of mortality. 

Now, however, that does not work as well.  Western armies have advanced military equipment that makes a great rushing charges by fanatics simply obsolete.  The machine gun alone does that.  But young Muslim males still have the same sexual frustrations as ever.  So some do set out to be killed productively -- in killing unbelievers.  That is why many flock to ISIS.  ISIS enables them to become once more the men of old, who sacrifice their life for the promise of a heavenly future.

But it is still only a tiny minority who go that far for their faith.  I think it is clear that only a small minority of Muslims are certain of their heavenly future. So what do the doubters  do?

They molest non-Muslim women.  The vast scandals in Britain about mainly Pakistani men who made sex slaves of dumb young white British girls were perhaps the best known examples of that until the recent events in Cologne became known.

Speaking of the young men who make up most of the recent "Syrians" who have entered Europe as refugees, Geert Wilders describes them as "testosterone bombs" and that is a good and well founded application of libido theory.  Freud was right.  Libido is such a powerful motivator that it goes close to being unrepressible.  The young Muslims of Cologne essentially could not help themselves.  They MUST get some contact with females, even if they do it in a totally wrong way. 

And it is not in fact in the West alone that they behave that way.  Young men are very predatory towards women even in Muslim countries.  That is one reason why men and women are kept drastically separate in such countries.  So young Muslim males are a very unsatisfactory immigrant group for any Western country.  They should all be sent home to the hellholes their foolish religion has created.

There is some further useful background on Muslim sexual hangups and the events in Cologne  by French female journalist Laurence D'Hondt here.  I translate her article roughly below.  She obviously knows the Arab world well:

Huge sexual frustration is at the root of the violence in Cologne

Events in Cologne recall the violence in Tahrir Square in Cairo. Both events reflect a sexual frustration that haunts the Arab world. With the rise of Saudi Wahhabism and the lack of economic prospects, young people no longer have access to the women of their own country.

We may recall the story of the French journalists who covered  the events of Tahrir Square in Cairo.  They were pushed,  touched and  in some cases, raped. Despite their knowledge of these countries, these experienced women journalists were shocked by the sudden violence expressed from these men who were there for  other purposes.

The events that occurred during the night of New Year in Cologne resemble the violence experienced in Egypt: men surrounded a  number of young women on which they literally melt with the aim of touching, pushing their hands where they can, because female  company is so difficult to access. Rape in this case is rare and usually the result of an isolated man with a deliberate intention to take action.

It is a unique form of violence that is basically unknown in European countries, but is, in contrast, common in Arab countries where the local police, knowing this, immediately intervene with  batons or other weapons. The lack of immediate reaction from the German police is probably partly linked to the incomprehension of what was going on in Cologne overnight on New Year's Eve.

Most young men -and women- young people growing up today in the Arab-Muslim societies have a totally restrained sexuality. Their literature and film are full of stories of their small and big frustrations. Whether taking the Egyptian film, "Women bus" whose story revolves around young men that rub against the body 'too' closely' to young women on transport in Cairo. Whether we read author Khaled El Khamissi which in "Noah's Ark", tells how a youth is deadlocked when he finds the lack of access to the labor market and a fortiori to sexuality, because he lacks the means to marry a woman.

According to a UN report conducted in April, 99.3% of Egyptian women and young girls were victims of sexual harassment, a phenomenon described as endemic. A similar situation in Yemen.  And that becomes commonplace in Iraq or Syria where the collapse of state structures gives free rein to violence against women. Even in the very liberated Lebanon, the author Rachid El Daif, tells in "Show me your legs Leila", how sexuality is disconnected from reality and how men and women are found only in fiction where the woman should aspire to virginity and the man to the omnipotence. The first victims of this frustration are Arab and non-Western.

In the Arab world today, sex is more than ever padlocked.
There are several reasons for this. They are economic firstly. Indeed,  in most rural and even urban areas of the Arab-Muslim world, marriage, which gives access to sexuality, is possible only by having the means to offer women the amount required by her family as a bride price. With no means due to the lack of economic opportunity, men are forced to remain living with their families and have only one outlet for their sexuality to try their luck with prostitutes or foreigners.

In recent decades, these economic blocks have been reinforced by restrictive religious considerations modeled on the Saudi Wahhabism: men and women are forced to live in separate worlds where diversity is seen as an invitation to debauchery and where any offender behavior or attitude is considered un-Islamic.

Thus it is not rare in Arab countries to meet men of 30 or 35 years who have never had the opportunity to touch a woman. This sexual frustration, told by literature and cinema is one of the engines of the violence today in the Arab world.

It was 20 years ago, that a Syrian lady offered ??this reflection to me: "But I do not understand how men and women in Europe may lie next to each other on the beaches without pouncing on each other".  Yet she was 60, was Christian and Syrian by origin, living in Cairo ...


Obama regrets polarized rancor. He should

by Jeff Jacoby

ONE OF the "few regrets" of his presidency, President Obama said dolefully in his State of the Union speech, was "that the rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better." Were he endowed with "the gifts of Lincoln or Roosevelt," he remarked, he could have done more to bridge the partisan divide. But he pledged to "keep trying to be better so long as I hold this office."

Did you experience a touch of déjà vu when the president said that? Four years ago, when he was in the home stretch of his first term and running for a second, he said much the same thing.

"I'm the first one to confess that the spirit that I brought to Washington, that I wanted to see instituted, where we weren't constantly in a political slugfest . . . I haven't fully accomplished that," Obama told an interviewer in 2012. "My biggest disappointment is that we haven't changed the tone in Washington as much as I would have liked."

Did he even try?

From his earliest days as a presidential contender, Obama had held himself out as a healer — as a visionary who would never "pit red America against blue America," who committed himself to ending "a politics that breeds division and conflict and cynicism." That uplifting promise was at the very heart of Obama's appeal; it was what led so many voters to invest so much hope and faith — even love — in the prospect of an Obama presidency.

Yet in his first term, American political life grew more bitter, not less. Unity and goodwill receded even further. As measured by Gallup, Obama supplanted George W. Bush as the most polarizing president ever. Democrats and Republicans blamed each other for the nastiness and distrust. The president often took the low road; his opponents often did too. Deeply controversial legislation, especially Obamacare, was rammed through on party-line votes. The rise of the Tea Party prefigured sweeping Republican gains in the 2010 midterm elections, which led both parties into an even more toxic relationship.

By the time Obama ran for re-election in 2012, little remained of 2008's optimistic candidate of hope. In his place was a snappish incumbent grimly focused on winning a second term by any means necessary. Even liberal media outlets remarked on the disparity. "Obama and his top campaign aides have engaged far more frequently in character attacks and personal insults," Politico reported.

But when voters renewed Obama's lease on the White House, they also gave him a fresh opportunity to make good on the signal promise of his rise to power. A second term offered this most polarizing of presidents a chance to extend olive branches — and to eschew the ad hominem attacks that so infuriate his critics. Democracy doesn't work "if we think the people who disagree with us are all motivated by malice," the president said in his address to Congress this month. "It doesn't work if we think that our political opponents are unpatriotic or trying to weaken America."

That's exactly the right message. If only Obama had heeded it.

Let's be clear: The president is not to blame for the polarization of American life. The "mushy middle" has been dwindling for years. With Democrats moving to the left and Republicans moving to the right, there is far less overlap between the parties than there was a generation ago. In a recent study, the Pew Research Center found that 92 percent of Republicans are now to the right of the median Democrat, and 94 percent of Democrats are to the left of the median Republican.

What's worse — much worse — is how intensely hostile the antipathy between right and left has become. Large swaths of each camp say the opposing party is not merely misguided, but an explicit threat to the nation's well-being. Obama could have led the way in suppressing this corrosive tendency. Instead he inflamed it.

It would not have required "the gifts of Lincoln or Roosevelt" to eschew the ridicule and taunts that so pollute modern political discourse. The gifts of Gerald Ford would have done nicely. Like all presidents, Obama has been frustrated by partisan opponents. But no chief executive in modern times has been so quick to impugn his critics' motives, or to resort to mockery and demonization when amicable persuasion would serve so much better.

Obama routinely speaks of his critics as if their motives couldn't possibly be rational or decent. When Republicans balked at his proposal to allow 10,000 Syrian refugees to enter the United States (a proposal I favor), Obama jeered. "Apparently they're scared of widows and orphans," he said. "That doesn't sound very tough to me."

When GOP lawmakers resisted raising the debt limit, Obama tweeted: "Are they really willing to hurt people just to score political points?" Efforts to repeal Obamacare he attributed to cruelty — the "one unifying principle" for Republicans, the president told reporters, is "making sure that 30 million people don't have health care."

With Obama, there seems to be no possibility of honorable disagreement. Oppose something he wants, and you are a bought-and-paid-for stooge, or a denier of science, or a peddler of fiction, or a scoundrel who puts party ahead of country. He isn't the only one who talks this way, not by a long shot. But he is our only president, and how he expresses himself matters. When presidential rhetoric is mean and contemptuous, the whole public square is befouled.

It can always get worse, as Donald Trump demonstrates daily. But an awful lot of Americans, Republicans and Democrats both, want it to get better. Obama insisted he was going to heal the divide, but never even made the effort. He still has a year in office. It's not too late to start.



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 January, 2016

The New England Journal of Medicine promotes research secrecy

Charles Murray comments: "NEJM editors: Bullshit. If your data can't be shared, along with coding documentation, you've got something to hide"

Another Facebook commenter: "My favorite line: "other researches might "even use the data to try to disprove what the original investigators had posited." This is so stunning I have no words to express it.

NEJM and JAMA are the two most prestigious American medical journals so what they do and say is widely noted.  But both journals still publish a lot of rubbish.  See e.g. here, here, here, and here.

So I was not totally surprised at the latest NEJM article excerpted below. They advocate abandoning one of the basic  safeguards of science:  data transparency.  Science exists on  trust.  If a scientist reports a set of findings, other scientists will always believe what he says.  But, with various levels of self-awareness, scientists will sometimes misrepresent their findings. And that is no mean problem.  Around two thirds of research findings reported in leading journals have been found to be "unreplicable".  In other words, other researchers doing  the same thing fail to confirm the original finding. So two thirds of what is reported is apparently wrong.

Not all the erroneous findings are conscious and deliberate fraud.  Most commonly, the problem is that the author takes a rosy view of what is in his data.  There is something in his data that suits his preconceptions so he reports that and ignores other information in his data that is contrary to his expectations.

So to be sure that his data has been fully and dispassionately analysed, a scientist has long been held responsible for making his data available to other analysts.  It's a basic safeguard.  And if a scientist refuses to make his raw data available that basically tells you all you need to know: His work is faulty and he knows it is faulty.

So, now that we know how serious the unreplicability problem is, some journals are taking steps to circumvent it -- such as asking authors to pre-register their hypotheses to defeat data dredging.  But NEJM is doing the opposite.  They want to make it harder to check on the soundness of a research report!  That is so amazing that I am inclined to apply the usual suspicion:  I am inclined to suspect that the authors of the article (Dan L. Longo  and Jeffrey M. Drazen) have things in their own research past that they don't want to see the light of day.

And the reasons they give for what they advocate are so specious as to border on the hilarious.  They fear, for instance, that other scientists might "use the data to try to disprove what the original investigators had posited".  But why fear that?  That possibility is what data openness is all about.

And there is no doubt that closer scrutiny of many findings WILL "disprove what the original investigators had posited".  I have only once requested raw data from another researcher  -- a request that was refused -- but that was mainly because there was very often enough information in the statistics provided to show that the conclusions did not follow from the data.  I did and reported that often in my 20 years as an active social science researcher  and I still do it often on my blogs. I pointed to an example of it just yesterday.

So NEJM is in the position of defending crap science.

But why?  Are there any non-personal motives involved?  I suspect that it might have something to do with the battering Warmists have taken over their refusal to release their data.  And the reason for Warmist secrecy is plain.  The classic case was Michael Mann's "hockeystick" picture of climate history.  When he did inadvertently let  details of his data and methods leak out, skeptics showed that his procedures were so faulty that just putting random numbers through Mann's computer program would produce a "hockeystick".  Since we in fact live in a era of exceptional temperature stability (with year to year temperature averages differing by only hundredths of one degree), the Warmist claim that we live in an era of dangerous warming was always going to need heroic lies to support it.

And academics do generally support Warmism (It gives them a golden shower of research grants) so I think our medical authors may be wading in to give some skin of defensibility for the chronic Warmist secrecy.

The aerial view of the concept of data sharing is beautiful. What could be better than having high-quality information carefully reexamined for the possibility that new nuggets of useful data are lying there, previously unseen? The potential for leveraging existing results for even more benefit pays appropriate increased tribute to the patients who put themselves at risk to generate the data. The moral imperative to honor their collective sacrifice is the trump card that takes this trick.

However, many of us who have actually conducted clinical research, managed clinical studies and data collection and analysis, and curated data sets have concerns about the details.

The first concern is that someone not involved in the generation and collection of the data may not understand the choices made in defining the parameters. Special problems arise if data are to be combined from independent studies and considered comparable. How heterogeneous were the study populations? Were the eligibility criteria the same? Can it be assumed that the differences in study populations, data collection and analysis, and treatments, both protocol-specified and unspecified, can be ignored?

A second concern held by some is that a new class of research person will emerge — people who had nothing to do with the design and execution of the study but use another group’s data for their own ends, possibly stealing from the research productivity planned by the data gatherers, or even use the data to try to disprove what the original investigators had posited. There is concern among some front-line researchers that the system will be taken over by what some researchers have characterized as "research parasites."

More HERE 


Assimilation Nation No More -- The American pot that no longer melts?

America has always been a melting pot. We are a nation founded by people from all over the world who came here seeking a better life for themselves and their families. So why is immigration such a hot-button issue?

To be sure, it has often been steeped in bitter controversy at various points throughout our history. Certain ethnic groups have bravely borne the brunt of suspicion and hostility — and proven their ability to become good, patriotic Americans. But today, the issue seems to have taken on a harder edge. Why?

I think it’s because something fundamental has changed at the heart of what it means to be an immigrant. For the first two centuries or so of our history, individuals found success in the United States through assimilation, while simultaneously maintaining their heritage. Today, however, that is less and less the case.

And this is no accident. As Mike Gonzalez documents in his book, "A Race for the Future: How Conservatives Can Break the Liberal Monopoly on Hispanic Americans," for at least the last four decades, the federal government has been inflaming the balkanization of our country by encouraging immigrants to view themselves more as aggrieved ethnic groups than as aspiring Americans.

This flies in the face of what our nation’s Founders said was crucial for the success of the American experiment: for us to become one people dedicated to the principles enshrined in the Declaration of Independence. Mr. Gonzalez writes: "E Pluribus Unum, the official motto in the Great Seal of the United States, demonstrated this urge for unity. In Latin it means ‘Out of many, one,’ and it has been through the centuries a reminder of the imperative of uniting different groups."

Today, though, a victim mentality prevails — one that affects even those who have been American all their lives. Ask yourself: Are there many Americans nowadays who love their country so much that they are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for it?

Former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan thinks there are, and I agree. But she also fears that their numbers are steadily diminishing. As she once observed in a speech to the Heritage Foundation: "We are living in the beginning of what I believe is post-patriotic America. The ties that bind still exist, but they are growing frayed and tired and attenuated."

She went on to indict our educational system for no longer fostering a sense of patriotism:

"Nobody is really teaching our children to love their country. They still pick it up from their parents, from here and there, but in general, we have dropped the ball. The schools, most of them, do not encourage patriotic feeling. Small things — so many of them do not teach the Pledge of Allegiance. Bigger things — they do not celebrate Washington’s Birthday and draw pictures of him and hear stories about him as they did when we were kids.

"There is no Washington’s Birthday; there is Presidents' Day, which my 11-year-old son was once under the impression was a celebration of Bill Clinton’s birthday. Beyond that the teaching of history has changed and has been altered all out of shape. My son is instructed far more in the sins of racism than in the virtues of an Abe Lincoln.

"There is a school in Washington — and I almost moved there so my son could attend — that actually had pictures of Washington or Lincoln on the wall. On the walls of my son’s classroom they had a big portrait of [Mexican artist] Frida Kahlo."

We sometimes hear it said that our diversity is our strength. Actually, our strength lies in our historical excellence at forging one nation out of such a wide array of people. We’re different, but we’re united in the essentials.

At least we used to be. The question that lies before us is how to regain the wisdom of our Founders on the nagging question of immigration, and find a way to restore the ideal of "E Pluribus Unum."

More HERE 


One Hospital Tells You What You Will Have To Pay -- Before The Surgery

Don’t take our word for it. You can try this out yourself. Just google Surgery Center of Oklahoma and here is what you will find. For Achilles tendon repair, you will pay $5,730. That’s not an estimate with a huge variance around it. It’s a package price that includes doctor, nurse, anesthesia, room, drugs, supplies – everything.

For rotator cuff repair, the price is $8,260.  For carpal tunnel release, it’s $2,750. All these prices are posted online for everyone to see.

The center is owned by Dr. Keith Smith, an Oklahoma anesthesiologist who started posting prices about the same time the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) was enacted. Since then he has adjusted his prices (downward!) five times.

As Steven Brill so eloquently explained on 60 Minutes and in his book, America’s Bitter Pill, the average patient has no idea what anything is going to cost when he enters a hospital and no idea what he is being billed for when he leaves. Based on what payers actually pay, there is a three to one difference in spending for essentially the same services among the 306 hospital referral regions across the country. Within those regions, the differences are even greater. At the hospital level, there is a twelve to one difference across the country in what payers pay for an MRI scan of lower limb joints!

How refreshing, therefore, to find a hospital that quotes package prices in advance and is willing to compete for patients based on price and quality. Why are they doing it? For the simplest reason of all: to attract patients.
Recommended by Forbes

Five years ago, Dr. Smith was frustrated. His surgery center had the best surgeons, the best outcomes and the lowest prices (sometimes by as much as 80 percent). His lobby should have been packed. Patients should have been beating down his door. But they weren’t. In fact, the patient flow was stagnant. He was outperforming his competitors, yet no one knew it. So, Dr. Smith started posting his prices online, while at the same time calling his center "free market-loving, price-displaying and state-of-the-art."

So what happened? Nothing happened. At least not initially. Nothing? Nothing.

Like other cities around the country, Oklahoma City is a place where employers routinely complain about health care costs. But not one of them bothered to notice that they could improve outcomes and cut their costs in half by choosing Dr. Smith’s center instead of the alternatives.

In fact, it took two whole years before the employers realized a huge opportunity was located right in their own backyard. It began with Jay Kempton, a third-party administrator whose company contracts with many of the local banks.

Fast forward to today. Not only are Kempton’s clients using Dr. Smith’s surgery center, but so is Oklahoma County and soon (if not already) Oklahoma State employees will be using it as well. The Alaska Teachers Union has offered to fly teachers and an escort all the way to Oklahoma for their surgeries. Canadians are also customers, choosing to travel to Dr. Smith’s surgery center rather than endure lengthy waits for free care back home.

There is more good news. Dr. Smith is no longer alone. Other surgery centers around the country are also posting prices, including Monticello Community Surgery Center in Charlottesville, Virginia, Ocean Surgery Center in Torrance, California, Orthopedic Surgery Center of Clearwater, Florida, and newer centers in Ohio and South Carolina.

 Here is something surprising. The prices that these centers are posting are all competitive with each other. Some of Monticello’s prices in Charlottesville are lower than Dr. Smith’s Oklahoma City prices, while others are higher – just like the price differentials you’d expect to find between grocery stores in the same town. But all of these prices are lower than the expected costs at nearby large hospital systems. The centers seem to be aware that they are all within a quick plane ride of each other and therefore they are all potential competitors for the medical tourist market.

Then again, maybe that’s not surprising. That’s the way markets are supposed to work.

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)


24 January, 2016

Poverty and IQ again

Charles Murray showed a couple of decades ago that the poor tend to have lower IQs.  And it was hardly a surprise that being dumb might keep you poor.  But the Left purport to love the poor so Murray was furiously attacked over his findings -- though he had not in fact said most of the things he was alleged to have said.  It was a very cautious and  scholarly book rather than any kind of polemic. The Leftist rage at Murray finally exhausted itself but Murray still has his marbles and is an active Facebooker so I imagine that he could give you more details of the "controversy".

Murray seems to have won the war, however. Leftists do now  occasionally mention the inverse correlation between lower social class and IQ.  Rather than say that low IQ causes poverty, however, they try to prove that poverty causes low IQ.  I dealt  with the latest such attempt a couple of weeks ago

There was another attempt in that direction back in 2013 that I commented on at the time.  It claimed that poverty was very stressful and that the stress prevented your brain from working properly. I would have thought that middle-class careerists were under the greatest stress but let's leave that for the moment.  The title of the article was "Poverty Impedes Cognitive Function".  There is a journalistic rendering of the claim here.

I put the findings in context at the time, showing that the conclusions did not follow from the reported evidence.  I was not aware, however, that Jelte Wicherts also looked at the study around the same time.  Now that J.P. Rushton is deceased, Wicherts is probably the man who knows the research on IQ better than anyone else.  And he is fair.  If someone puts up a celebratory claim about IQ, Wicherts will look at that critically, and if someone puts up claims that disrespect IQ Wicherts will look at that critically too.  So I have a very favourable impression of Dr. Wicherts.

I have now come across his criticism of the 2013 study and it does not disappoint.  I reproduce the abstract below:

"Mani et al. (Research Articles, 30 August, p. 976) presented laboratory experiments that aimed to show that poverty-related worries impede cognitive functioning. A reanalysis without dichotomization of income fails to corroborate their findings and highlights spurious interactions between income and experimental manipulation due to ceiling effects caused by short and easy tests. This suggests that effects of financial worries are not limited to the poor"



Rush's Take on Trump

Rush Limbaugh seems to have realized that this election is coming down to Trump/Cruz, and it seems like he's getting worried. Yesterday, Rush talked about what this means for conservatism:

    On his show on Wednesday, conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh offered his analysis of Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump’s rise, which he argued wasn’t a sign that conservative orthodoxy was winning the day, but instead it is a pushback against the modern-day Democratic Party and President Barack Obama.

    And that according to Limbaugh is a sign of the rise of nationalism and populism overtaking conservatism.

    "What’s happening here, nationalism, dirty word, ooh, people hate it, populism, even dirtier word," Limbaugh said. "Nationalism and populism have overtaken conservatism in terms of appeal.  And when this has happened, when it exposes — what people in Washington are afraid of —  and that that is, you know, all this money we’ve asked people to send us and all these donations people have made, this movement, promote that movement, where is conservatism in Washington, they’re asking.  Where is it?  The Republican Party isn’t conservative.  Where are all these conservative people that are contributing to policy being implemented in Congress or in the Senate?  They don’t see it."

Is Rush right? Trump is, for all intents and purposes, new to or alien to conservatism, but his rise has been buoyed by the support of conservative talk radio hosts like Rush, Levin, and Michael Savage. Perhaps this is a sign that no one trusts the GOP to actually govern conservatively



Sanders Admits What Other Democrats Won't

Just as populism seems to have overtaken the Republican base, more overt socialism is gaining momentum among Democrats. The party has long had a socialist bent, but Bernie Sanders actually has the integrity to call it what it is.

Although Hillary Clinton, a closet socialist, remains the Democrat frontrunner, mentions of avowed-socialist Sanders as the potential nominee unfortunately no longer induce uncontrollable laughter. Clinton deserves as much credit as anyone for Saunders' surge. After all, pretty much anyone stands a chance against a candidate with so many scandals under her belt that even the lefty Atlantic saw fit to print a "Clinton Scandal Primer." And attitudes about sexual assault have changed enough on the Left that the "progressives" over at Vox have a thorough and damning recap of Bill Clinton’s history of rape accusations.

Still, the fact that a significant number of Americans would truly consider electing an outright socialist as leader of the free world moves into the realm of downright outrageous, but it’s not without precursor in American history.

How is Sanders peddling his socialist wares? As we wrote last year, he’s invoking Franklin D. Roosevelt, who "redefined the relationship of the federal government to the people of our nation" and "restored their faith in government." One might credit Mussolini with the same, but we digress.

In truth, as Mark Alexander has noted, Sanders' Democratic Socialism is "nothing more than Marxist Socialism repackaged. It seeks a centrally planned economy directed by a dominant-party state that controls economic production by way of taxation, regulation and income redistribution."

This fits Sanders to a T. His view of a government-defined and government-run nation flies in the face of Liberty as expressed in our Declaration of Independence and codified by the Constitution.

Free health care for everyone? Check. Free college for all? Check. Free government-run child care? Check. Actual freedom? Oh, you’re out of luck there. Besides, free things are quite expensive. His proposal to pay for all this "free stuff" is $19.6 trillion in new taxes over the next 10 years, which would represent a 47% increase in the overall burden. That defies logic and approaches insanity.

Sanders claims he wants to make the rich pay their proverbial fair share, but a look at his menu of tax hikes shows they’re being served to Americans rich, poor and everywhere in between. As the Washington Examiner reports, Sanders' taxes include a business health care premium tax ($6.3 trillion), an end to tax breaks for employer health insurance ($3.1 trillion), an individual health care premium tax ($2.1 trillion), an increase in marginal income tax rates ($1.1 trillion), a payroll tax hike ($319 billion), a death tax hike ($243 billion), and an energy tax on oil companies ($135 billion). And that’s just a partial list.

Despite Sanders' rhetoric, his taxes would hit regular workers, business owners, energy consumers (higher costs are always passed to consumers), and just about everyone else. Thanks to his death tax, even dying won’t rescue you from Bernie’s tax grab. Of course, as the Examiner notes, Sanders revenue estimates are highly questionable. Were he to succeed in completely dismantling the economy by taxing into oblivion everything that moves and then taxing corpses to boot, it’s unlikely he’d be able to squeeze 19 cents out of economically parched Americans, let alone $19 trillion.

Still, Sanders is plowing ahead with his open attempt to sell America on his brand of socialism. As The Wall Street Journal notes, his frankness is winning over some Democrat voters. Indeed, few can deny Sanders has shifted the Democrat primary debate decidedly left. Despite Hillary’s surname, the Democrats have fallen a long way from Bill "The Era of Big Government Is Over" Clinton.

And with Clinton looking more like the challenger in this primary race and less like the party’s favored daughter, it’s not entirely impossible that Democrats will pin their party logo to a red hammer-and-sickle flag. It would at least finally be truth in advertising.



More history

When Bill Clinton was president, he allowed Hillary to assume authority over a health care reform.  After threats and intimidation, she couldn’t get a vote in a democratic controlled congress.  This fiasco cost the American taxpayers about $13 million in cost for studies, promotion, and other efforts.

Then President Clinton gave Hillary authority over selecting a female attorney general.  Her first two selections were Zoe Baird and Kimba Wood – both were forced to withdraw their names from consideration.

Next she chose Janet Reno – husband Bill described her selection as "my worst mistake."  Some may not remember that Reno made the decision to gas David Koresh and the Branch Davidian religious sect in Waco, Texas resulting in dozens of deaths of women and children.

Husband Bill allowed Hillary to make recommendations for the head of the Civil Rights Commission.  Lani Guanier was her selection.  When a little probing led to the discovery of Ms. Guanier’s radical views, her name had to be withdrawn from consideration.

Apparently a slow learner, husband Bill allowed Hillary to make some more recommendations.  She chose former law partners Web Hubbel for the Justice Department, Vince Foster for the White House staff, and William Kennedy for the Treasury Department.  Her selections went well: Hubbel went to prison, Foster (presumably) committed suicide, and Kennedy was forced to resign.

Many younger votes will have no knowledge of "Travelgate."  Hillary wanted to award unfettered travel contracts to Clinton   friend, Harry Thompson – and the White House Travel Office refused to comply.  She managed to have them reported to the FBI and fired.  This ruined their reputations, cost them their jobs, and caused a thirty-six month investigation. Only one employee, Billy Dale was charged with a crime, and that of the enormous crime of mixing personal and White House funds. A jury acquitted him of any crime in less than two hours.

Still not convinced of her ineptness, Hillary was allowed to recommend a close Clinton friend, Craig Livingstone, for the position of Director of White House security. When Livingstone was investigated for the improper access of about 900 FBI files of Clinton enemies (Filegate) and the widespread use of drugs by White House staff, suddenly Hillary and the president denied even knowing Livingstone, and of course, denied knowledge of drug use in the White House.  Following  this debacle, the FBI closed its White House Liaison Office after more than thirty years of service to seven presidents.

Next, when women started coming forward with allegations of sexual harassment and rape by Bill Clinton, Hillary was put  in charge of the "bimbo eruption" and scandal defense.  Some of her more notable decisions in the debacle was:

She urged her husband not to settle the Paula Jones lawsuit.  After the Starr investigation they settled with Ms. Jones.

She refused to release the Whitewater documents, which led to the appointment of Ken Starr as Special Prosecutor. After $80 million dollars of taxpayer money was spent, Starr's investigation led to Monica Lewinsky, which led to Bill lying about and later admitting his affairs.

Hillary’s devious game plan resulted in Bill losing his license to practice law for 'lying under oath' to a grand jury and then his subsequent impeachment by the House of Representatives.

Hillary avoided indictment for perjury and obstruction of justice during the Starr investigation by repeating, "I do not recall," "I have no recollection," and "I don’t know" a total of 56 times while under oath.

After leaving the White House, Hillary was forced to return an estimated $200,000 in White House furniture, china, and artwork that she had stolen.

What a swell party – ready for another four or eight year of this type low-life mess?

Now we are exposed to the destruction of possibly incriminating emails while Hillary was Secretary of State and the "pay to play" schemes of the Clinton Foundation – we have no idea what shoe will fall next.  But to her loyal fans - "what difference does it make?"

Via email


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 January, 2016

Tensions in the GOP

The GOP establishment believes in compromise with the Democrats but, in their self-righteousness, the only compromise the Democrats usually accept is a complete GOP backdown. And they get it, to the anger of the conservative grassroots

The party of the American establishment is undergoing the biggest revolt against its own establishment since at least 1964. Two ferociously anti-establishment figures are dominating the Iowa caucuses, accounting, if polls are to be believed, for half the GOP vote. The three main establishment candidates together account for only 13 percentage points. Statewide, according to the latest Fox News Poll, 57 percent of Republicans believe they have been betrayed by their own party.

In an interview the other morning, commentator Patrick J. Buchanan, who ran two insurgent campaigns for president and won the 1996 New Hampshire primary, told me "the Republican establishment is a church whose pews are empty."

In earlier Republican upheavals, the rebels were defeated in nomination fights (1952, 1992 and 1996), rejected in a brutal general election defeat (1964) or merged with the establishment (1980). This time businessman Donald J. Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas are conducting White House drives that, unlike the Barry Goldwater campaign of 1964, do not so much aim to take over the party as they seek to ridicule, repudiate and renounce its leadership.

"The civil war in the Republican Party of the United States," Theodore H. White wrote in his "Making of the President" volume for 1964, "is one of the more fascinating stories of Western civilization." If White, who died 30 years ago, were here today, he might argue that that sentence applied even more so to the 2016 race.

The difference: This time it is not a faction that is in rebellion but the majority of the party.

The Democrats, famous for their internal feuds, have not in modern times faced an insurrection remotely like the one the Republicans are experiencing right now, except perhaps at the end of the Lyndon Johnson years. But even then, the party establishment moved in rough alignment with the party base, and the rebels left the Johnson camp with reluctance and regret.

Not so this time with the Republicans. "The people I know are relishing the discomfort this is causing with an establishment they can’t stand," said Buchanan. "The base of the party is totally estranged from the establishment."

The Fox Iowa poll shows that nearly two-thirds of Republicans with no college degree feel betrayed by their party, which might lead to the conclusion that this rebellion is class-oriented and in fact fueled by new Republicans who do not fit the party’s traditional mold. But that is not the case; more than half of Republicans with college degrees feel betrayed by their party, too – – and nearly three in five of those who say they will "definitely" attend a party caucus two weeks from now share that bitter sentiment.

This reflects another important shift in the character of Republican politics. A quarter-century ago, the Republican Party had a share of issue-oriented activists who were less concerned with victory in the general election than with their own special causes, often involving social issues such as abortion.

Indeed, at the party’s 1992 convention, when Buchanan spoke of the "culture war" that was enveloping the nation, those issue activists played a key role in the platform fight at the party’s Houston convention. In a study published in the Political Science Quarterly, the Colby College political scientist L. Sandy Maisel found that their determination to shape a document that customarily is soon forgotten resulted in their successful exclusion of moderates from the platform committee.

Now these very same activists — or their next-generational legatees — are determined to prevail in the election itself, and their rhetoric, especially from Cruz, is full of disdain for the establishment candidates they say always get the nomination but never get, or keep, the presidency. Their examples are Gerald R. Ford and George H.W. Bush, who were defeated for re-election in 1976 and 1992, respectively, along with nominees Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas (1996), Sen.John McCain of Arizona (2008) and former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts (2012).

The roots of this rebellion actually go back to 1976, with the challenge Ronald Reagan mounted to the nomination of Ford, an accidental president but as a former House minority leader and a creature of moderate Grand Rapids, Michigan, politics, a sturdy symbol of the Main Street strain of the Republican establishment. Ford was a Rotarian, and in fact his hometown club now bears the name Gerald R. Ford Rotary Club.

The Reagan rebellion of 1976 bore fruit four years later, when the former governor of California won the nomination and defeated President Jimmy Carter. Reagan’s appeal and political skills papered over the divisions in the GOP for his two terms and for the first half of the elder Bush’s single term. But since then the tensions have simmered and in the past several years have boiled over, fortified by a pervasive public frustration with politics.

"This is a special case of a broader sense of dissatisfaction and frustration with government," says John J. Pitney Jr., a Clare-mont McKenna College political scientist widely regarded as a leading student of GOP politics. "The anger is particularly intense on the Republican side because they have control of Congress and haven’t been able to do much."

Now the Republicans are energized with the conviction that there is much they can do. The result is a rebellion that is transforming not only their politics but the broader political system as well.



SCOTUS to Review Obama's Unilateral Amnesty

Finally, after a year of legal hurdles in the lower courts, the Supreme Court will determine the constitutionality of Barack Obama’s unilateral amnesty. On Tuesday, the justices agreed to hear United States v. Texas, the subject of two executive actions. "One, known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA), would halt deportations and offer work permits to the parents of U.S. citizens and permanent legal residents," The Hill explains. "The other would expand Obama’s 2012 program — the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative — which provides the same protections to some high-achieving illegal immigrants brought to the country before age 16. The expanded program would simply extend DACA eligibility to a greater number of people."

Twenty-six states sued to stop Obama’s amnesty shortly after it went into effect. U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen issued a temporary injunction last February, correctly accusing Obama of exceeding his executive authority. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit agreed in November and upheld the injunction. But the Supreme Court will ultimately have the final say.

The timing is interesting to say the least. The Hill notes, "If the justices had declined to [take up Obama’s amnesty] in the next round of cases, it would have solidified the Fifth Circuit’s injunction through the end of Obama’s White House tenure." Since a Republican president could undo these actions as early as next January, the justices' decision to take up the case leaves open the possibility that they have enough support to uphold Obama’s amnesty. The administration’s track record in cases regarding executive overreach, however, suggests otherwise. We’ll find out by June.



Establishment support for Trump?

How did it come down to Trump vs. Cruz? And what about the framing of Establishment versus Outsider? Trump has never held elective office, so he is perceived as an outsider. But he has long been a backer of Democrat politicians and has held a number of progressive views (New York values, one might say) that don’t match the conservative base of the party. So does that make him Establishment?

Cruz is a senator in Washington, so by comparison to Trump, is he Establishment? Hardly, considering that Cruz has made his name by tweaking the nose of the GOP establishment (including calling Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell a liar on the Senate floor) and generally taking on what he calls the "Washington cartel." He is arguably the most resolutely conservative of all the Republican candidates, and his voting record and his public stance on the issues bears that out.

Take Cruz’s stance against ethanol subsidies. He refused to pander to Iowa power brokers, while other candidates dutifully bowed to King Corn and the mandates and subsidies that undermine the free market and exceed the government’s constitutional role. Trump on Tuesday called for increasing the ethanol blended into gasoline.

If there are any other questions as to whether Cruz is indeed the outsider candidate, just take a look at Iowa Republican Governor Terry Branstad’s words on the subject: "Because as Iowans learn about his anti-renewable fuel stand, and that it will cost us jobs, and will further reduce farm income, I think people will realize that it’s not in our interest. I don’t think that Ted Cruz is the right one for Iowans to support in the caucus."

Traditionally, Iowa governors, regardless of party affiliation, have steered clear of offering opinions of the caucus. But Branstad’s son runs a group that’s part of the ethanol lobby, so he couldn’t remain silent.

The establishment’s rejection of Cruz is due to his solid conservatism and his combativeness with his fellow Republicans in Washington. In fact, there are reports that the establishment is beginning to coalesce around Trump — not because he represents the establishment GOP, but because he is the leading Not-Cruz. The establishment would rather have a dealmaker who boasts of having bought politicians and, more importantly, a moderate-to-liberal candidate, than a principled conservative.

Republican donors and consultants now don’t seem so quick to write off a Trump nomination. Is it because his momentum now makes him more viable than originally perceived? Is it because of the staunch support of his base? Yes, on both counts.

Trump’s supporters are an important asset that cannot be underestimated if Republicans want to win the White House this year. They are motivated because they are fed up with the establishment in Washington. But if that is truly the case, then who would better serve those voters' interests: Trump or Cruz?

Sarah Palin chose Trump, endorsing him Tuesday. The former vice presidential candidate has been a standard-bearer for the Tea Party movement since she emerged on the national stage in 2008, so her endorsement of Trump is important.

At first glance, it’s also a puzzling move, though it shouldn’t be. On April 15, 2009, a big day in the early life of the Tea Party, Trump said, "I don’t march with the Tea Party." He also said Obama "really has made a great impact on people," and, "I think he’s doing a really good job."

But Palin says, "Enough is enough. These issues that Donald Trump talks about had to be debated. And he brought them to the forefront. And that’s why we are where we are today. … We are mad and we’ve been had."

Given Palin’s supposed conservative bona fides, she should have endorsed Cruz, particularly when one takes into account Trump’s previous progressive stances on some issues. And Cruz rightly credits Palin with helping secure his Senate seat. Yet Palin went with The Donald, signifying that she has been more populist than conservative from the beginning. Nevertheless, perception is everything, and her endorsement will only help Trump and hurt Cruz, especially in Iowa.

Republicans are highly motivated to win the White House this year. After eight years of Obama, and a potential four years of Hillary Clinton, the GOP needs to be prepared to do whatever it takes to win. However, the party needs to guard against leaving the bedrock principles of conservatism to be trumped by nationalistic populism. Otherwise a White House win will be a pyrrhic victory.



Hidden Costs of Obamacare’s Slacker Mandate

Obamacare’s so-called "slacker mandate"—which requires that health plans include dependent children up to age 26 on their parents’ policies—has had an unintended but predictable consequence: it has raised unemployment for young adults by eliminating the need for their own health coverage. The mandate has, as the Washington Post puts it, "helped millennials chill out." A study from the National Bureau of Economic Research has even estimated how jobless young adults are spending their extra time: about 10 minutes more are spent exercising, 20 minutes sleeping, and 30 minutes socializing (for 23-25 year olds). The slacker mandate also has other unintended consequences, explains Independent Institute Senior Fellow John R. Graham.

Parents pay for the mandated coverage for adult dependents through higher premiums. But parents are not the only ones who pay. Another study from the National Bureau of Economic Research finds that "the slacker mandate reduced wages among workers without children by $210 a month," Graham writes, "but it did not reduce wages among workers with children (either minor or adult) by a statistically significant amount."

"The latter result makes sense, because the working parents simply paid higher premiums to keep their adult dependents on their employer-based plans," Graham continues. "The former result is shocking. How to explain it? I suspect it is easy in the short term to impose these costs on workers without kids because of the high information and friction costs to those workers of learning and responding to the cost of the mandate." Indeed, the cost shifting may have been a prime reason behind the political push for the mandate, Graham concludes.



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 January, 2016

Could a Movie Derail Hillary Clinton for Good?

Benghazi. Four Americans killed. A film with the recurring theme of a fading superpower that trades on its still-existing military power while trying to figure out its purpose. A movie depicting men who were denied everything yet gave everything they had to protect their fellow Americans.

"13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi" is the title of this newly released movie and it tells the story of what happened during the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. consulate from the perspective of American fighters on the ground. According to The Washington Post, Paramount insists the film is "not political," but the Post argues that it is political — even though former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is not mentioned by name and Barack Obama is mentioned only in passing. The Post has a point, but that’s only because Obama and Clinton politicized the attack from the beginning.

Further, while the movie does not directly attack the Obama administration, it does show the general incompetence, corruption and sluggish bureaucracy in Washington. And it shows what our guys on the ground went through having been abandoned by Obama and Clinton.

National Review’s David French, an Iraq war veteran, notes, "The Benghazi controversy is the story of three great failures — the failure to either fortify or evacuate Benghazi when threats increased, the failure to adequately protect and support American personnel during the attack itself, and the repeated lies told the American public after the attack to minimize both the nature of the jihadist threat and the scale of the administration’s incompetence."

As we have known from the start, the attack in Benghazi was not because of a YouTube video. Obama and Clinton lied in blaming a video because Obama desperately wanted to cover up his administration’s failure to recognize the escalating threat to American security in Benghazi and the Middle East generally, as well as the failure to respond to the attack with military force.

Further, Obama and Clinton lied in order to secure Obama’s re-election. And now, Clinton, whose role with Benghazi among other scandalous activities should disqualify her from even being able to run for president, is still the leading contender for the Democrat nomination. That is absolutely appalling.

Equally appalling is that there are several Democrat politicians who have essentially accused our Special Forces who were on the ground in Benghazi of lying. That’s right, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) are accusing Kris Paronto and John Tiegen of lying about the order to "stand down."

There is ample evidence from multiple testimonies that a "stand down" order was given. The CIA officer who was in charge at Benghazi denies having given the order as the movie alleges. Security operators interviewed by the author upon whose book the movie was based said the CIA chief did give a stand down order. Did he or didn’t he, and if so, was he directed by Washington?

When asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper if she had plans to see the movie, Clinton replied that she was "too busy campaigning." Yet she isn’t too busy to appear on the Jimmy Fallon Show, the Ellen DeGeneres show or to be interviewed by YouTube stars. She even had the audacity to mention that she had given testimony before Congress about Benghazi for 11 hours — as if the number of hours was a point in her favor.

So we have another lie. She isn’t too busy; she doesn’t want to see the truth. Perhaps she is using the two-hour time slot to come up with more lies for when she’s questioned by potential supporters. Her hopes that her role in Benghazi would fade have not turned in her favor.

On a final note, the movie illustrates some policy challenges for Republicans, too. National Review’s Stanley Kurtz writes, "13 Hours ends by noting that Libya has become a failed state and a training ground for ISIS, subtly pointing the finger at Hillary’s misjudgment on the Libya campaign in a way that most Republicans so far have not."

That’s because some of them favored intervention.

Republicans candidates had better be clear on their vision of foreign policy. They must make it known whether the United States will or won’t be in the business of removing dictators (like Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi), and whether America’s national security must be at stake before making such a move. And if we do remove a dictator, there should be clearly defined strategic objectives and follow-up actions in place.

Obama’s policy of removing Gadhafi with no strategic objective in mind was exactly wrong, as evidenced by the continuing turmoil there. And he undermined our objectives in Iraq by prematurely withdrawing. Republican candidates need to seize the opportunity to zero in on the failed foreign policies of Clinton and her former boss. If there is ever a chance to beat the Islamic State, then we must first beat Clinton.



Why Are the Media’s ‘Consumer Interest Groups’ So Leftist and Anti-Consumer?

The Media’s double standard when describing political advocacy organizations is as obvious as it is unsurprising.

The Media rarely if ever identify Leftist entities as Leftist – instead assigning them non-ideological descriptives.  Often, it is the ridiculous "consumer interest group" – as if the anti-free market side of the equation is pro-consumer, and the defenders of freedom are against the purchasing public.

Never mind that no one is more pro-consumer than a private company – after all, they are the ones trying to please as many consumers as possible.  It would then stand to reason that the organizations defending private companies from government overreach are also pro-consumer.

Because these "consumer interest groups" are in fact "government interest groups" – every "solution" they push results in larger, more interfering government.  Which is about as anti-consumer as you can get.

How’s ObamaCare treating consumers?  The Veterans Administration?  The Department of Motor Vehicles?  Would you rather head there – or to Amazon.com or your neighborhood deli?

Meanwhile, the Media almost always identify Conservative groups as conservative – that is, when they mention them at all.  Often, marketplace political stories only quote Leftist groups – and company representatives.

Which is itself biased.  It depicts the debate as a struggle between the plucky little "consumer interest" groups (who actually often have very large [George Soros] money behind them) – and the evil Industry Titans.

There are perhaps dozens of conservative/free market groups out there – yet the Media often can’t seem to find room for any of them in their stories.

The latest bit of wireless phone news is a fabulous case study.

AT&T Dials Up Toll-Free ‘Sponsored Data’: The company on Monday introduced "Sponsored Data," or data that is paid is for by a business that wouldn’t count against a subscriber’s capped plan. Think a toll free 1-800 number or free shipping for the delivery of data.

Here in Reality, this should be a non-news story – other than the good news for consumers.  They will be getting more data for the same money – which will in a great many instances allow them to actually purchase less data, saving them coin.

This model exists…well, everywhere.  As stated above, companies via 800 numbers pick up the tab for your call.  Many then after you call to place an order pick up the tab to ship it to you.  The examples of this free market paradigm are nearly endless.

AT&T and Verizon Wireless in particular have been aggressive in getting their customers to switch to tiered plans that require people to pay more to get more data.

Again, here in Reality when we use more – we pay more.  You pay more for ten steaks than you do for two.  It costs more to gas up an Escalade than it does an Escort.

So if the companies providing the biggest data-chewing content were to pay for it – it would in fact be a tremendous consumer boon.  Imagine car makers paying for your gasoline – oh wait, some do.  Isn’t Reality great?

But this is the Media and the Left – they don’t reside in Reality.  "Consumer advocate group Free Press" has already criticized the plan.

There are those magic Media words – "consumer advocate group."  Never mind that Free Press was co-founded by a self-avowed Marxist – they are "consumer advocates."  This story quotes Free Press and AT&T only – not a conservative group to be found.

Then there’s this: "AT&T Sponsored Data Plan Threatens Open Internet, Consumer Groups Argue"

In which Free Press and their fellow Media Marxist joint Public Knowledge are quoted.  As is AT&T.  And that’s it.

FCC Ready To Step In On AT&T’s Sponsored Data Plan: "Like a toddler with a pet dog, AT&T (NYSE:T) has a history of poking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) until it turns around and barks. And that’s just what it’s done now."

That’s an objective opening paragraph.  Keep in mind that the last time AT&T "poked" the FCC, it was when they wanted to buy T-Mobile.  The Media Marxist chorus screeched their opposition, and the FCC blocked the deal – issuing an error-riddled report in defense of its decision.

But this "news" story ignores all of this.  Instead it portrays AT&T as a serial government instigator.  And pretends the government’s bark is worse than its bite – when it’s chomping huge chunks out of the private sector.

A few months ago, ESPN was also discussing possibly paying for delivery of its digital content. "Why We’re Praying That ESPN Does Not Begin Subsidizing Wireless Plans"

Handout recipients having their cell phones and plans (ObamaPhones) entirely paid for by a fraud-riddled government?  With money the government gets by taxing consumers’ phones?  Outstanding.

Consumers having their cell phone plans "subsidized" – incentivized – by private companies?  Awful.

This "news" story appeared (with apparently unintentional irony) at Consumerist.com.

The Media aren’t reporting on these choice-and-wallet-expanding possibilities – they are choosing the anti-free market side against them.  And providing cover for the government interest "consumer interest" groups lining up likewise.

The Media and the Left together pretend to look out for the Little Guy – all the while making it ever more excruciating for him.



Another Nutritional Supplement may do more harm than good

I wonder if Bill Quick is using this stuff in his daily medicinal cocktail?

Chromium is most frequently used in supplement form for weight management, body building and type 2 diabetes. Now UNSW and University of Sydney research has revealed that chromium is partially converted into a carcinogenic form when it enters cells, prompting concerns about commonly taken dosages.

The Australian National Health and Medical Research Council recommend 25-35 micrograms of chromium daily as an adequate adult intake. The US National Academy of Sciences advises that a maximum of 200 micrograms of chromium a day is considered safe.

Some commercially available tablets have been found to contain up to 500 micrograms of chromium each.

The research, published in the chemistry journal Angewandte Chemie, was conducted on animal fat cells, which were x-rayed to allow scientists to observe the behaviour of chromium within the cell.  "We were able to show that oxidation of chromium inside the cell does occur, as it loses electrons and transforms into a carcinogenic form," said UNSW's Dr Lindsay Wu.

"This is the first time oxidation was observed in a biological sample with the same results expected in human cells."

The researchers say more study is needed to conclusively say whether the supplements significantly alter cancer risk.



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)


20 January, 2016

Donald Trump's Bold Promise

Donald Trump went to speak at Liberty University today, where he made a promise to the student body:

    "Donald Trump took the stage at Liberty University on Monday, drawing comparisons between himself and its iconic founder, Jerry Falwell, and vowing to "protect Christianity."

    The front-running GOP presidential candidate spoke to 13,000 people attending the speech at the Virginia school, after a glowing introduction from the late founder's son, Jerry Falwell Jr., who said the politically incorrect real estate mogul reminded him of his father.

    The speech was broadcast on Newsmax TV.

    "I knew his father a little bit," Trump said. "To be compared to his father is really an honor for me. I want to thank Jerry for saying that."

    Trump drew one of his biggest applause responses for denouncing the persecution of Christians in the Middle East.

    "We're going to protect Christianity," he declared. "I asked Jerry and some of the fold, 2 Corinthians 3:17: 'Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty'," he said. "It is so true … so representative of what's taken place."

    "Christianity is under siege," he added. "Very bad things are happening … Somehow we have to unify, we have to band together, we have to do really in a really large version what they've done at Liberty ... You band together, you've created one of the great universities, colleges anywhere in the country, anywhere in the world, and that's what our country has to do around Christianity."

It's a speech that's sure to assuage the concern of voters who might be leaning towards Ted Cruz in the wake of last week's showdown.



Life under an iron fist

Federal government overseers threaten property and livelihoods of hardworking westerners

Paul Driessen

Activists protesting federal land mismanagement and the imprisonment of Dwight and Steven Hammond recently occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters building in Oregon. Some facts, context and perspective may help people understand what’s really going on here.

At its core, this is about the often callous, iron-fisted hand of the federal government being slammed down on American citizens. Examples abound – from the IRS targeting 200 conservative groups, to the seizure of cars and bank accounts of innocent business owners, to heavily armed Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) agents bursting into Gibson Guitar facilities over phony exotic wood violations, to EPA destroying tens of thousands of coal industry jobs to "prevent climate chaos." Making these outrages even more intolerable, those responsible are almost never held accountable, much less liable for damages.

Problems like these can become exponentially worse for people in one of the twelve western states where the federal government controls 30% (Montana), 49% (Oregon) or even 85% (Nevada and Alaska) of all the land. These government lands total 640 million acres: 28% of the entire 2.27-billion-acre United States.

Though they are often, incorrectly called "public" lands, the "public" has no fundamental right to enter them or utilize their water and other resources. They are federal government reservations, administered and controlled by agencies that increasingly want economic, motorized and many other activities prohibited and eliminated – under laws interpreted, implemented and imposed by officials in the FWS, Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Park Service and other federal agencies.

The feds also exercise effective, often punitive control over millions of acres of state and private lands located next to or in the midst of these government fiefdoms. People living in those areas rely on the federal reserves for forage, water, timber, energy, mineral and other resources that are increasingly made off limits, on the ground that "beneficial uses" might impact wildlife, scenic or environmental values.

However, millions of people do have valid, existing, longstanding, protected rights to these lands and their resources, in the form of "appurtenances" conveyed to them by deed or will from the first settler or miner. The forage, water rights, range improvements, easements, rights of ways, mineral rights and other property interests that the first settlers created or were granted to these western lands are constitutionally protected and have been preserved in every federal land law ever enacted by Congress. Those rights cannot be summarily taken away – though federal agencies increasingly try to do so.

As an 1888 congressional report explained, the original idea for these lands involved use and protection: settlements, harvesting of commercial quality trees, watershed protection, and no land monopolies. Various laws allowed mining, oil drilling, ranching, farming and other activities, to supply food, energy and raw material needs, while early environmentalists wanted certain areas preserved as national parks and wilderness. Of course, modern resource use and extraction methods are far more responsible and environmentally sound than their predecessors, so impacts can be much better limited and repaired.

Nevertheless, "wise use" or "multiple use" is under attack, and such uses are now rare or nonexistent across many western and Alaskan government lands. Landowners who remain are barely holding on.

Imagine the feds owning half of Ohio or Pennsylvania – and gradually, systematically closing off access, taking away water and forage rights, banning economic uses, charging higher fees for remaining rights, forcing landowners into years-long courtroom battles, and refusing to pay up when courts order them to compensate owners for attorney fees and lost income. That’s the situation facing rural westerners.

The Hammonds got in trouble because they started a "backfire," to burn combustible material, create a "fire break" and protect their home and ranch from a raging fire. They accidentally burned 139 acres of federal land before they put the fire out. Now they are serving five years in prison, even though Senior Federal Judge Michael Hogan felt a year or less was fair and just under the circumstances.

They could have been charged under a 1948 law that provides for fines or jail terms up to five years for setting a fire on government lands without permission. But they were not. Instead, the Obama Justice Department charged them under the 1996 Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act – as though what they did, in an honest attempt to protect their property, was an act of deliberate terrorism. That law requires a minimum five-year sentence. Judge Hogan’s lighter sentence was thus overruled.

Why would the DOJ do that? Probably because the feds never forget or forgive. Some years earlier, the Hammonds had removed a barrier the BLM had installed to block access to water they thought was legally theirs. Turns out it was. But they had failed to fully adjudicate their rights to the water – an oversight that they then fixed, thus safeguarding their rights. The Hammonds were also the only ranchers who refused to go along with a BLM "cow-free wilderness" plan. The feds were determined to get even.

Why would the Hammonds just give up and go back to prison? Because the DOJ wouldn’t budge, and they could not afford the huge expense of continuing to battle a vindictive federal behemoth. So now a middle-aged mom and elderly grandmother must run their 6,000-acre ranch, pay $200,000 more in fines, and hope they can avoid bankruptcy, which would result in BLM getting the Hammond ranch.

It is absurd, outrageous and infuriating. The Obama DOJ refuses to call Fort Hood, Boston, San Bernardino and other massacres terrorism – but it labels a backfire "terrorism." But it gets worse.

Harney County, Oregon, where the Hammonds live, is over 6.4 million acres (over 10,000 square miles, ten times the size of Rhode Island), and 72% of it is controlled by the federal government. A 2012 wildfire in the county burned 160,000 acres! A 2015 fire in the county next door burned 800,000 acres!

Still worse, the BLM has often lit fires in Harney County and elsewhere (often on private land) that got out of control, burned extensive private property and even killed cattle. No one can recall the feds ever compensating ranchers for their lost livestock, fences or forage. In 2013, the Forest Service started two "prescribed burns" in South Dakota that blew out of control and torched thousands of acres of federal and private land. No federal employee has ever been prosecuted for any of those destructive fires.

To top it off, many of these fires are ultimately due to lousy management practices that restrict or prohibit tree cutting, tree thinning and insect control. That leaves vast tinderboxes of dry, rail-thin trees and brush ready to explode in superheated conflagrations that immolate wildlife and incinerate soil nutrients and organisms, ensuring that what’s left gets washed away in storms and spring snow melts. So the feds "protect" our treasured national forests from ranchers and miners by letting them go up in smoke.

But despite all these outrages, and not content with its already vast landholdings, the feds are trying to gain absolute control over all private lands still left in Harney County, and elsewhere. As Congressman Greg Walden noted in a January 5 speech, they are trying to drive ranchers and even joggers out of the Malheur Refuge. Failing that, President Obama might turn 2.5 million acres into a national monument.

The twisted saga is reminiscent of travesties under Stalin, Mao, Castro and other dictators. And it is just one of hundreds, some of which I will profile in future articles. It’s no wonder people are frustrated and angry – and some support Ammon Bundy and other activists who took over the Malheur headquarters. History will judge whether that peaceful occupation of federal property was wise, helpful or justified.

But many in the Obama Administration, news media, academia and general public certainly support or justify the seizure of college administrative offices, Occupy Wall Street encampments, and even Black Lives Matter kill-the-cops rants, Ferguson, Missouri riots, Palestinian attacks on Israelis, and Obama BFF Bill Ayers’ criminal activities. John Kerry went so far as to say, with Charlie Hebdo there was "perhaps … a rationale … [and] you could say, okay, they’re really angry because of this and that."

So twelve Hebdo staffers murdered by Islamist terrorists is "rational" or excusable, but occupying a federal building is intolerable. We are dealing with a festering, growing, open wound. Congress, the courts and our next president need to heal it, and address the root causes, before things get out of hand.

Via email


Clinton Supporters Sign Petition to Repeal Bill of Rights

Supporters of Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton eagerly signed a fake petition calling for a repeal of the Bill of Rights, in a video highlighting the mindlessness of the average Clinton voter.

"Hillary Clinton has announced a plan to help repeal the Bill of Rights for the New World Order and progress America and help with the government," media analyst and social prankster Mark Dice babbles to a curious passerby before pointing to a clipboard and saying, "Just print birthdate, signature to support Hillary’s plan to repeal the Bill of Rights."

Unaware he’s being filmed, the man signs and verbally endorses the pretend plan to eviscerate the first 10 amendments in the US Constitution, asserting, "She’s gonna lead us."

"We’re gonna go in the right direction," he says.

Approaching a couple walking, Dice again inquires, "Support Hillary’s plan to repeal the Bill of Rights to help modernize the New World Order."

"You probably saw her primary campaign promises to repeal the Bill of Rights, part of the new freedom for the New World Order," Dice remarks, to which the man signing the petition says, "I did."

Dice then riffs on the fictitious petition’s premise.

"You know it’s a woman that’s gonna finally repeal the Bill of Rights, we’re hoping, but we still needed some signatures just to show that the people are behind her finally to have someone do that," Dice says, to which the couple nods in agreement.

While the petition may be fake, Clinton has already proven herself an enemy of the Constitution.

The former secretary of state threw her support behind recent executive orders by the Obama administration toughening firearm background checks, largely seen as infringements on the Second Amendment.

Last November, the Clinton campaign was also accused of going after comedians who poked fun at her in a compilation video uploaded by comedy studio Laugh Factory.



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 January, 2016

A quiz

Who said:

1) "We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good."
    A. Karl Marx
    B. Adolph Hitler
    C. Joseph Stalin
    D. Barack Obama
    E. None of the above

2) "It's time for a new beginning, for an end to government of the few, by the few, and for the few, and to replace it with shared responsibility, for shared prosperity."
    A. Lenin
    B. Mussolini
    C. Idi Amin
    D. Barack Obama
    E. None of the above

3) "(We) can't just let business as usual go on, and that means
something has to be taken away from some people."
    A.  Nikita  Khrushev
    B.  Joseph Goebbels
    C. Boris Yeltsin
    D. Barack Obama
    E. None of the above

4) "We have to build a political consensus and that requires people to give up a little bit of their own in order to create this common ground."
    A. Mao Tse Dung
    B. Hugo Chavez
    C. Kim Jong II
    D. Barack Obama
    E. None of the above

5) "I certainly think the free-market has failed."
     A.  Karl Marx
     B. Lenin
     C. Molotov
     D. Barack Obama
     E. None of the above

6) "I think it's time to send a clear message to what has become the most profitable sector in (the) entire economy that they are being watched."
    A. Pinochet
    B. Milosevic
    C. Saddam Hussein
    D. Barack Obama
    E. None of the above

And if you think that Barack Obama said all these things - think again!  All were said by Hillary


Reflections on Wise and Suicidal Immigration

By Victor Davis Hanson

Legal immigration has historically been classically liberal and a great boon for the United States.  Immigrants often bring in energy and fresh ideas.

In the past, newcomers from around the world were eager for a second start in the United States. They nearly all worked hard, reminding American-born citizens that that they can never rest on their laurels.

Immigrants honed American competition and helped to keep the nation productive.

Immigrants were typically hyper-patriotic. They reminded complacent Americans how lucky they were to be born in the U.S.

No one knew better how uninviting were the alternatives abroad than did those who had been forced to live under fascism, communism, totalitarianism, tribalism, or endemic poverty and corruption. Most immigrants believed that they always had been Americans in spirit, just unfortunately born in the wrong country.

Immigrants characteristically had rejected their native cultures and were eager to adopt a new American identity. So they were not foolish enough to question what had made America attractive to them in the first place: constitutional government, the rule of law, personal freedom, free-market capitalism, and an independent judiciary and press.

Instead, immigrants often enriched that immutable Western core with diverse contributions of food, music, literature, and art.

Through integration and intermarriage immigrants quickly became part of the American dream. The path from Italian to Italian-American to American usually was completed in two generations.

What then were the ingredients of past successful American immigration policy?  Four enlightened rules.

One, immigrants came legally. Breaking the law was a lousy way to start American residency. How can an immigrant continue to respect and follow his adopted country’s legal system when his first act as an American resident is to mock federal law?

Two, immigration was blind and diverse. It did not favor one particular group over another. The more diverse the immigrant blocs, the less likely they were to form lasting separate communities. There were, of course, mass influxes of immigrants in the past, but they were quite diverse: gobs of Germans, hordes of Irish, masses of Italians and Sicilians, huge influxes of Poles and Jews, lots of Japanese and Chinese, large arrivals of Mexicans. But note how diverse and varied were the immigrants’ places of origin and how destined they were to bump into each other upon arrival. Each group was wary of the other trying to use immigration as a crass tool to boost their own political fortunes by bringing in more kin than their rivals.

Three, immigrants usually arrived in manageable numbers; mass arrivals were usually periodic and episodic, not continuous and institutionalized. Only that way could the melting pot absorb newcomers and avoid the tribalism and factionalism that had always plagued so many prior failed multi-ethnic national experiments abroad. To avoid the fate of Austria-Hungary or Yugoslavia, immigrants—geographically, politically, culturally—by needs were soon intermixed and intermingled.

Four, both hosts and immigrants insisted on rapid Americanization. Immigrants learned English, followed all the laws of their host, and assumed America was good without having to be perfect. Otherwise they would have stayed home.

Unfortunately, 21st century immigration policy has forgotten these old rules and become illiberal and tribal. Is it any surprise that foolish immigration practices are proving as reactionary and destructive as wise ones were once enlightened and beneficial?

Immigration is now often in violation of U.S. law. There are somewhere over 11 illegal immigrants currently living in the United States. Breaking the law should be the last not the first act of a new immigrant.

Under political pressure, entire cities have declared themselves immune from federal immigration laws—apparently on the theory that immigrants’ children and those given amnesty will vote for their enablers. Well-connected ethnic elites will have more careerist opportunities if they can pose as self-appointed representatives of masses of the unassimilated and poor.

In recent years, a third of all Texas murders were committed by unlawful immigrants. There are nearly 300,000 aliens in the nation’s state and local prisons.

A staggering one-quarter of all federal inmates are now aliens. There are over 20,000 unlawful immigrants in California prisons alone.

Immigration is growing less diverse. Over half of all immigrants come from a single country, Mexico. Over 70% of all unlawful immigrants come from Central America or Mexico.

Such an absence of diversity shorts immigration aspirations from dozens of other countries. We reward the unskilled who illegally cross into the United States, and punish the doctor or architect who waits patiently for a legal invitation. The lack of variety among immigrants makes integration and assimilation more difficult.

The number of immigrants is at a near-record percentage of the American population. In absolute numbers, there are now nearly 50 million foreign-born residents—the largest in our history. Democrats are not shy in warning their conservative opponents that they have changed the political future of the country—convinced that their sponsorship of government largess and destruction of immigration law will create a permanently indebted ethnic bloc. Such hopes remind us that otherwise, progressives have no agenda that appeals to the majority of American citizens. Therefore, they must impede integration and assimilation in fears that a successful and empowered immigrant is likely not to remain beholden to Democratic pieties.

There were waves of 19th century immigration in the past. But what is different this time around is that the host America has largely given up on the multiracial melting pot for the multicultural salad bowl.

The result is that millions of new arrivals are not meeting enough with others outside their ethnic group. Assimilation, to the degree it is even seen as a positive, is delayed for generations. One in four American residents currently does not speak English at home–the former common tie that helped bind multiracial America. Careers are enhanced by accent marks and hyphenation. Ethnic identity is now essential not secondary to character.

Most immigrants still come to work. But the sheer size of the pool of new immigrants means that those who don’t seek jobs can pose staggering costs on the host. Currently about 30% of all immigrant-headed households are on some form of public assistance. That is not much of a problem when strapped middle-class taxpayers can be dubbed racists and xenophobes for opposing expansions of entitlements in a country $20 trillion in debt.

The mentality of many immigrants has changed as well from one of excitement at becoming an American, to sometimes resentment that the host has not measured up to particular agendas and expectations. When an immigrant is waved through the border without legality, he has less respect for the United States, whose magnanimity earns contempt as weakness not gratitude for caring. Cheering the Mexican national team and booing the U.S flag at a soccer match in Pasadena are what the host now expects of the guest.

Even unlawful immigrants routinely now sue universities to ensure discounted rates of in-state tuition, sue property owners for being in the way of their illegal migration pathways, sue states for not providing them with driver’s licenses, and sue the U.S. government for insufficient services. In contrast, the Mexican constitution prohibits immigration that imperils the ethnic essence of the Mexican people. Is such a racialist worldview shared by illegal immigrants in their eagerness to see racism as the cause for worry over open borders—on the logic of "our racist government does not let in others unlike ourselves, so why would they?"

The classically liberal ideals of legality, moderation, diversity, assimilation and gratitude explain why America’s immigration policies in the past were so beneficial to the growth of the United States.

Likewise, the lack of all that explains the present immigration chaos.



Affordable Housing Mandates Are Costly and Unfair

The Supreme Court will do homebuyers a world of good if it strikes down a controversial ordinance in San Jose, California, mandating that housing developers sell a portion of their houses at below market prices. Affordable housing mandates-also called inclusionary zoning-are a textbook example of a government policy that does the opposite of what their supporters claim. Rather than make housing less expensive, they raise home prices-usually by tens of thousands of dollars. Their counterproductive effects have been confirmed by numerous studies, as Independent Institute Research Fellow Gary M. Galles explained last week in an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times.

Studies of the San Francisco Bay Area, Southern California, and Massachusetts, Galles shows, all found that after a city enacted affordable housing mandates, construction fell and home prices rose. The reason shouldn't be surprising: restricting supply in the face of growing demand is a sure recipe for pushing up prices. One can blame housing activists who are blind to evidence and logic, and one can blame politicians who seek reelection by repeating noble-sounding rhetoric. But another factor may also be at work.

"Perhaps the reason that inclusionary zoning mandates aren't more widely opposed is that they transfer so much wealth from real estate developers and homebuyers to people who already own property," Galles writes. "The mandates are portrayed as compassionate, but they survive because they have the opposite of the supposed intention, resulting in higher home prices, not lower." But not only do housing mandates benefit homeowners at the expense of homebuyers and developers, they also violate the Fifth Amendment's prohibition against the taking of private property without just compensation. The Supreme Court should move quickly to strike them down.



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 January, 2016

It takes a criminal to know a criminal

Why does the left have such an affinity and affection for criminals? Because deep down they know they are criminals themselves. Lincoln defined slavery as, "you work, I eat." That is the mantra of the left.

Living off the labor of others is called theft whether the gun is in the hand of a street criminal or an IRS agent.

This is the thesis of Dinesh D’Souza’s book, "Stealing America: What My Experience with Criminal Gangs Taught Me about Obama, Hillary, and the Democratic Party." D’Souza argues philosophical political discussions with liberals are totally pointless since they have no philosophy other than, we want what you’ve got and they will use the government to get it and whatever con they can think of to justify it.dinesh d'souza cpac

In 1974 I was campaign manager for a Republican running for Attorney General of Idaho.  During the race there was a riot at the Idaho State Penitentiary. My candidate pledged that if he won the race he would have a member of his staff interview every guard and inmate to find out what was going on. He won and I did.

My experience with criminals over 40 years ago was quite different than D’Souza’s recent experience as an inmate after his conviction for campaign finance law violations. Whether that difference in attitudes was because of a change in the culture or it was because I represented law enforcement and D’Souza was a fellow inmate I do not know but I suspect the former.

Most of the inmates I interviewed told me they were in prison through no fault of their own.  Their imprisonment was the result of some mix-up, misunderstanding or circumstances beyond their control. While I did not believe their protestations at the time their answers were a tribute to the morality of the times in that the inmates felt the need to deny culpability.

In D’Souza’s experience he was placed in a detention center with thieves, rapists and murderers. None of them felt compelled to deny their evil deeds. They adopted the defense Bill and Hillary used in the mid to late 1990’s. The, "everybody does it," defense. As you may recall, everybody lies about sex, everybody is immoral just like the Clintons.  The media and the culture accepted this defense and Clinton’s popularity rose (if you believe the polls) while six-year-old children asked their mothers, "Mommy what’s a BJ?"

Now approximately twenty years later D’Souza’s fellow inmates are telling him the culture is corrupt, and that they are no different that the local politician, business person, or government employee other than the fact they got caught and held to a different standard because the establishment types are part of the ruling class and the convicts are not.

D’Souza believes they have a point. Was Solyndra really an effort to build solar panels or was it a criminal enterprise to rip the taxpayers off for millions of dollars? Did anyone go to jail for that?

How does one explain the many office holders who come to Washington, D.C., the state capitols, county court houses, or city halls with modest means and a few years later leave multi-millionaires?

The public seems to catching up to the perceptions of murders, thieves and rapists.  A recent Gallup Poll reveals that 75 percent the public believes that corruption is widespread in the U.S. Government.

Can America recover from this loss of faith?  One can only hope.



Trump's Trump Card

By Stephen Green

Josh Kraushaar rethinks a presumption or two:

    "The win­ner-take all rules for many of the more mod­er­ate "blue" states on March 15 and bey­ond should fa­vor a more prag­mat­ic Re­pub­lic­an down the stretch — at least on pa­per.

    But these cal­cu­la­tions are based on a premise that I’m hav­ing a bit more trouble ac­cept­ing these days — that blue-state Re­pub­lic­ans are more likely to sup­port the es­tab­lish­ment can­did­ate than their red-state coun­ter­parts. It’s an es­pe­cially shaky as­sump­tion to make with Trump, giv­en the polit­ic­al ped­i­gree of his strongest sup­port­ers. To put it an­oth­er way, many of Trump’s sup­port­ers are self-de­scribed mod­er­ates and view him as the more cent­rist can­did­ate. (Based on his his­tory of hold­ing lib­er­al po­s­i­tions and past dona­tions to prom­in­ent Demo­crats, they have a point.)

    The or­din­ary rules of the polit­ic­al game haven’t ap­plied to Trump so far, and if he lives up to the hype early on, there’s little reas­on to be­lieve he’ll fade as the race moves in­to more mod­er­ate ter­rit­ory. If Trump wins Iowa—the one state where he hasn’t led in many pub­lic polls—it’s hard to see where his mo­mentum stops."

Ted Cruz currently leads in Iowa, and if he fails to win there it's difficult to see how he picks up momentum against Trump's media machine in the bigger, more moderate states. And if Cruz does win Iowa, keep in mind Iowa's long and storied history of picking losers. In seven contested caucuses since 1976, Iowa has correctly picked the eventual nominee three times (Ford '76, Dole '96, Bush 2k) and only one (Bush) went on to win the general election. Iowa has never been all that it's cracked up to be, and yet it's the basket where Cruz has put most of his eggs.

Harkening back to a report of mine from last week, Kraushaar adds:

    "As The New York Times’s Nate Cohn con­cluded, Trump’s strongest voters are "self-iden­ti­fied Re­pub­lic­ans who non­ethe­less are re­gistered as Demo­crats" and are well-rep­res­en­ted in the in­dus­tri­al North and Ap­palachia. There’s a reas­on why Trump spent time last week in Low­ell, Mas­sachu­setts and Bur­l­ing­ton, Ver­mont—in two New Eng­land states that hold primar­ies on Su­per Tues­day. And polls show Trump’s fa­vor­ab­il­ity stead­ily im­prov­ing among GOP voters, coun­ter­ing the wide­spread be­lief that he’ll flame out when the field nar­rows".

If Trump doesn't flame out -- and there's not much time left for that to happen -- then his victory is gonna be yuge.



What happens to principle in a dying culture?

Bruce Hanify

What happens to principle in a dying culture? I’ve been asking myself that question almost every day for just about 40 years now.

In "A World of Sergeants" I wrote about what it was like to grow up in an America that still had fathers. Just about every adult male I knew during my formative years had served in one of the Armed Forces between 1941 and 1965. Following World War II, it was pretty much expected that you would sign up for service out of high school. If you left home when you were 17, and Vern or Loren from Missouri or North Dakota was your Drill Instructor in basic training, it took the Momma’s Boy out of you and put "grunt" into you.

A noticeable difference in bearing and judgment ensued. When that boy returned to his hometown to get a job and marry his sweetheart, he had "man" written all over him. I’m telling you, whenever I went to to a friend’s house, the guy sitting in the big easy chair was a man’s man. He stood for something and you knew he stood for something and that meant something because that’s how it was — like sinew in a forearm. He didn’t need tattoos or a pony tail or earrings to prove his substance. His substance was in his bearing and his work and his character — his principles. Those kind of guys weren’t impressed by boys who wanted to look like girls. They were impressed by whether you stood for something worth standing for, not pretending to be something you weren’t. About 1970 that culture passed away.

I think America was a better country before people began pretending as much as we do. If you were to ask me my diagnosis for what ails us, I would tell you no one can tell the difference between character and personality. Personality is androgynous. Character is decidedly masculine or feminine, not something vague. That distinction has been lost. With that basic understanding lost (for the moment), principle went out the door.

Because, you know, we are dying. The reasons are multiple — too many for one blog post. We could start with our globalist friends who don’t like national borders and constitutions. They see labor as completely replaceable from any source and will never prioritize patriotism over control of the labor force. In fact, patriotism impedes their control. Whether your computer tech comes from India or Mexico makes no difference to them except insofar as they can put pressure on the American economy.

Our public representatives who serve the banks that serve the investors grow weary of having to think in terms of the America I grew up in, where families and patriotism were the guiding principles — just ask Paul Ryan. And if some foolish Americans believe their government has a duty to protect and enforce the Bill of Rights against any and all schemes to water them down, the political elites and the media immediately start labeling such persons names, from bigoted and xenophobic to racist and even "terrorist."

It has come to this in America: people who believe in the principles of private property and free enterprise are more likely to be called "terrorists" instead of industrious citizens. You ought to ask yourself, How long can that last? My guess is it will lead to either a complete collapse, followed by chaos, or an outright explosion. Neither outcome seems good to me, yet what is the cause for this insecurity? It is the wanton sacrifice of the principles of family and national economy to personal greed. For want of principle a great nation has to be divided up among vultures and swindlers — under the guise of political correctness? How nutty is that?

From my social contacts both online and in the physical world, it seems likely to me that 45-50% of my fellow Americans are willing to bow to some form of gun control, regardless of what the Second Amendment stands for. That same group sincerely believes the UN needs to ensure that there is "social justice" and "environmental responsibility" imposed upon the United States.

Notice how they never hold Russia or China or any part of the Islamic world to those standards? Why are they so quick to surrender American sovereignty to an outside jurisdiction that clearly targets the United States as a hostile force? Where is their loyalty? Every one of my liberal friends deems it racist to talk about enforcing our southern border. They can’t conceive of leadership such as Calvin Coolidge provided, which prioritized the American family over foreign interests. They just don’t get that, and their lack of understanding is always coupled with gun control! Rather neat piece of brain washing, don’t you think?

If you make what seems an ordinary pitch for border enforcement and pro-American economic policies (leaving aside the Second Amendment momentarily), somehow that means you would have turned away Jewish refugees during World War II? What does border enforcement have to do with World War II? How does self-protection and national economic growth become something other than principles of patriotism and loyalty?

How sane can a country be when it’s ruling elites continually harass it with relentless assaults on its educational, medical, and criminal justice resources, then punish it with charges of "racism" when people cry out for relief? Every person I know instinctively feels the need for concentrating on our own infrastructure and our own social fabric at this time.

What is behind this maniacal drive to bring in as many immigrants to our country as we can — people whose religion and cultures are often antithetical to our own? Why is it racist to question the wisdom of those policies? What kind of government would intentionally subject its people to chaos and violence then condemn those who ask questions?

Somewhere in the last 40 years, self-aggrandizement has replaced principle. We have a situation where people often confuse virtue with "niceness." "Niceness" excuses them from having to stand for something. By denying the principles of loyalty and economy and duty at this crucial period, they risk the safety of themselves, their families — and their country. One can only imagine how things will look by the end of this year. When will we awaken to the power of principle in our lives? What steps will be necessary to restore order to chaos? Sanity to madness?

While I cannot predict specific answers to those questions, I can echo Margaret Thatcher’s observation that The Facts of Life are Conservative. Sooner or later all little boys must become men, and women must step up to their roles as women. You can only pretend for so long before Hell demands its due from a crude and foolish people.



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 January, 2016

It's a Three-Man Race

Donald Trump may just win the Republican presidential nomination. Thursday night’s debate made clear that this is at most a three-man race between the real-estate mogul, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. And Trump pretty clearly came away stronger than anyone, not because he had the best or most well-thought-out answers, but because he keeps proving his very presence can dominate the stage. His supporters are now itching for the chance for him to take on Hillary Clinton.

Chris Christie had his moments, and Jeb Bush and John Kasich weren’t bad. Ben Carson once again, unfortunately, seemed entirely out of his depth. It’s tough to see a way up for any of these four.

So we’ll highlight three exchanges between the trio we view as the strongest contenders.

First, the "birther" controversy over Cruz’s eligibility to run for president. Cruz addressed it head-on:

"Back in September, my friend Donald said that he had had his lawyers look at this from every which way, and there was no issue there. … Now, since September, the Constitution hasn’t changed. But the poll numbers have. And I recognize that Donald is dismayed that his poll numbers are falling in Iowa. But the facts and the law here are really quite clear. Under longstanding U.S. law, the child of a U.S. citizen born abroad is a natural-born citizen.

"If a soldier has a child abroad, that child is a natural-born citizen. That’s why John McCain, even though he was born in Panama, was eligible to run for president. If an American missionary has a child abroad, that child is a natural-born citizen. That’s why George Romney, Mitt’s dad, was eligible to run for president, even though he was born in Mexico.

"At the end of the day, the legal issue is quite straightforward, but I would note that the birther theories that Donald has been relying on — some of the more extreme ones insist that you must not only be born on U.S. soil, but have two parents born on U.S. soil. Under that theory, not only would I be disqualified, Marco Rubio would be disqualified, Bobby Jindal would be disqualified and, interestingly enough, Donald J. Trump would be disqualified — because Donald’s mother was born in Scotland. She was naturalized."

After some cross-talk, Cruz redirected the focus, saying, "You’re an American, as is everybody else on this stage, and I would suggest we focus on who’s best prepared to be commander in chief, because that’s the most important question facing the country."

Trump didn’t concede anything and neither will his supporters or those who insist Cruz isn’t eligible, but in our estimation Cruz won the debate exchange handily.

He did not, however, come out so well on the question of "New York values." Having previously hit Trump with that phrase, Cruz was asked to define his terms.

"I think most people know exactly what ‘New York values’ are," he replied. Prompted for more, he answered, "There are many wonderful, wonderful working men and women in the state of New York, but everyone understands that the values in New York City are socially liberal, are pro-abortion, are pro-gay-marriage, focused around money and the media. … Not too many years ago, Donald did a long interview with Tim Russert. And in that interview, he explained his views on a whole host of issues that were very, very different from the views he’s describing now. In his explanation, he said, ‘Look, I’m from New York. That’s what we believe in New York. Those aren’t Iowa values.’"

For the record, in that 1999 interview Trump said he was "very pro-choice," which he conceded was probably "a little bit of a New York background." And in his 2000 book, "America We Deserve," Trump wrote, "I support the ban on assault weapons and I also support a slightly longer waiting period to purchase a gun."

Cruz is right that the values of the leftist elite don’t jive with conservative ones, but he whiffed on the formulation, as Trump’s rebuttal clearly illustrated.

"He insulted a lot of people," Trump said of Cruz. "When the World Trade Center came down, I saw something that no place on earth could have handled more beautifully, more humanely than New York," Trump recalled. "You had two 110-story buildings come crashing down. Thousands of people killed. And the cleanup started the next day, and it was the most horrific cleanup. … And the people in New York fought, fought and fought. … We rebuilt downtown Manhattan, and everybody in the world watched and everybody in the world loved New York and loved New Yorkers."

Trump clearly won this round with his heart-felt appeal, and it left even Cruz applauding.

Finally, on immigration, an issue many conservatives view as "make-or-break" for their votes, Rubio came away still looking weak and untrustworthy. Asked to explain his work to expand legal immigration, Rubio argued that the issue has changed: "First and foremost, this issue has to be more than anything else about keeping America safe. And here’s why: There’s a radical jihadist group that is manipulating our immigration system, and not just green cards. They’re recruiting people that enter as doctors, and engineers, and even fiancées. They understand the vulnerabilities we have on the southern border. They’re looking to manipulate the visa waiver countries to get people into the United States. So our number one priority must now become ensuring that ISIS cannot get killers into the United States."

He added, "The issue is a dramatically different issue than it was 24 months ago. Twenty-four months ago, 36 months ago, you did you not have a group of radical crazies named ISIS burning people in cages and recruiting people to enter our country legally."

He’s right that it’s a national security issue, but it always has been. And Cruz hit back hard: "Radical Islamic terrorism was not invented 24 months ago. Twenty-four months ago, we had al-Qaida, we had Boko Haram, we had Hezbollah, we had Iran putting operatives in Central America, South America. It’s the reason why I stood with Jeff Sessions and Steve King and led the fight to stop the Gang of Eight amnesty bill. It was clear then like it’s clear now that border security is national security."

Another win for Cruz. Frankly, immigration is possibly a deal-breaker for conservatives and Rubio, despite his conservative record on almost every other issue. Neither Rubio nor Cruz is always forthright about his position — past or present — but there’s one thing voters will remember: Rubio helped write the Gang of Eight bill; Cruz opposed it. End of story.

To sum up, the "establishment" is coalescing around Rubio (which is rather ironic given that he was part of the first Tea Party wave elected to Congress, and defeated a liberal Republican in a primary to win his seat.) Mainstream conservatives are rallying around Cruz’s banner. And those who simply wish a pox on both houses believe Trump is their man. One thing’s for sure, this race is as interesting as any in recent memory.



Obama's "fundamental" changes have been economically incompetent and destructive

When Barack Obama campaigned for president in 2008, he pledged to strengthen the economy, create jobs and restore confidence in America. On Tuesday in his final State of the Union Address, he tried to convince America that he had succeeded. But after seven years of watching the White House operate outside the realm of reality, no one is fooled.

Obama set the stage by preemptively insulting anyone who would attempt to unravel the spin he was about to spew, stating, "Anyone claiming that America’s economy is in decline is peddling fiction." Of course, someone who lives in a world of fantasy, where a jump in the national debt from $10.6 trillion in 2009 to $18.8 trillion today is "economic progress," can hardly be trusted to judge fact and fiction.

In the land of reality, Obama’s economy is a downright failure. First, as The Daily Signal explains, while Obama touted lower unemployment and more jobs, the fact is that the 5% unemployment rate today is worse than the 4.4% rate under George W. Bush in May of 2007. And the unemployment rate doesn’t count the millions who have left the workforce during Obama’s reign. Indeed, the labor participation rate today is the lowest since 1977, standing at just 62.6%. What’s more, the average unemployed worker has been jobless for more than six months, longer than at any time between 1945 and Obama’s inauguration.

As for those new jobs? Job creation has mostly kept pace with population growth. While treading water is better than the alternative, it’s hardly worthy of a medal.

And let’s not forget the $80 billion (per year) in new regulations under Obama that have wreaked financial havoc on business and individuals alike — ObamaCare being the prime example. Obama said Tuesday that "there are outdated regulations that need to be changed, and there’s red tape that needs to be cut," but under his watch Americans have inherited 184 new major rules. Meanwhile, just 17 federal rules have been scaled back. That red tape seems to be sticking pretty close to Obama.

Then there’s Obama’s claim that government spending on renewable energy has brightened the economic landscape. "On rooftops from Arizona to New York," he said, "solar is saving Americans tens of millions of dollars a year on their energy bills and employs more Americans than coal — in jobs that pay better than average." Well, remember all those regulations? They’re killing thousands of better-than-average-pay coal jobs. Meanwhile, solar energy, while growing thanks to taxpayer-funded subsidies, remains one of the most expensive ways to generate electricity. So if there are more solar jobs than coal ones, it’s because Obama put his foot on the scale.

Finally, while Obama claimed over the last seven years that progress toward the goal of "a growing economy that works better" for everyone, those facing declining incomes under his watch might disagree. As the Signal notes, "Between 2007 and 2011 (the most recent data available) labor income for non-elderly households in the middle quintile dropped roughly 10 percentage points."

While no amount of rhetoric can spin all this into a booming economy, Obama still tries. As The Wall Street Journal observes, "Obama’s legacy project is already in high gear. This includes Tuesday night’s State of the Union, which is best understood as the start of a campaign to persuade Americans that the last seven years have been better than they believe. He needs to start early because this reality makeover won’t be easy."

Indeed, Obama prepares to exit office with a limping U.S. economy, an economic slowdown in China that could make the limp more pronounced, and falling oil prices that might bring relief at the pump but are hitting the U.S. drilling industry hard.

It’s little wonder that the Democrat presidential candidates lining up to take Obama’s place are far from enthusiastic about the economic legacy they’re simultaneously running on and against.

Who can blame them? Obama’s economic legacy will be one of change minus the hope. And no lies intermittently augmented by nearly 15 minutes of applause can change that.



Another "anti-obesity" measure flops

The nice thing about the free market is that it allows lots of different people to try lots of different solutions to the same problem.

Take Walmart. Five years ago, when everyone in the public sector was still focused on making restaurants add calorie counts to their menus-which it turns out doesn't work-the company decided to launch a healthy eating initiative of its own design.

Instead of pinning their hopes on numbers-based nutritional labels, Walmart designed a simple front-of-package 'Great for You' logo to be attached to a small number of food items.
It also reduced prices on fresh fruits and vegetables and reformulated recipes for some of its home brand products to reduce sodium and sugar content.

These were great, innovative ideas-and it turns out they don't work either.

According to a new study, the initiative had no effect on the ongoing shift toward healthier eating that has been observed among Walmart customers since 2000. Calories, sugar density, and soda consumption were already trending down. The healthy eating initiative did not make them trend down any faster.

Walmart should not be criticised for this. It's good that they tried something new, and a failure can teach you as much as a success-if you are willing to learn from it.

Unfortunately, the public health academics behind the evaluation study would prefer to double down: "These results suggest that food retailer-based initiatives ... may not suffice to improve the nutritional profile of food purchases. More systemic shifts in consumers' characteristics and preferences may be needed."

If obesity prevention programs are really about evidence and not an ideological commitment to the nanny state, it would make sense to get things right at the "retailer-based initiative" scale before attempting something "more systemic." But that's a big if.



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 January, 2016

The case for isolationism

Isolationism was the traditional stance of American conservatives.  America was led into WWI, Korea and Vietnam by Democrat Presidents, even though America had not been attacked. And it has long been held that FDR provoked an attack from Japan in order to take America into WWII.  Conservatives held that America should go to war only if America had been directly attacked -- which explains the invasion of Iraq under GWB.   Economic historian Martin Hutchinson draws on history to make a case below for a revival of isolationism

Saudi Arabia and Iran lurched into a dangerous situation last week, with Saudi Arabia executing a Shia cleric and Iranian militants the attacking the Saudi embassy, which has now been closed. The United States is inevitably involved, with troops in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet it's difficult to see what vital U.S. interests are at stake, now that fracking has made the country more or less independent of the Middle East as a source of energy. Isolationism is used as a term of abuse in U.S. politics, but may well represent the best way of protecting U.S. interests in a difficult world.

The term "isolationism" got a bad reputation in U.S. politics in 1939-41, when those fearing another world war failed to take a stand against the threats of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. Once war came, the isolationists' reputation was destroyed, as was that of the British "appeasers" who had similarly attempted to keep the country out of the coming inferno in 1936-39. Yet the stance of both isolationists and appeasers was at least arguable, and the mess of the late 1930s was a unique one, caused by huge policy errors in previous decades.

The century of Pax Britannica showed examples in both directions on the question of isolationism. At one extreme, Robert, Lord Salisbury, late in the century, coined the term "splendid isolation" and used it to describe a policy in which Britain had no strong attachments on the Continent of Europe, and acted purely defensively to defend its gigantic empire. Since the country also pursued a policy of unilateral free trade, its isolationism was at the same time internationalist; there were no tariff or other barriers cutting off Imperial markets from foreign competition, or favoring British goods.

Britain's abandonment of Salisbury's isolation proved fatal. Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, quite strongly pro-British but an unstable personality, feared above all else the encirclement of Germany by her enemies. The 1907 Triple Entente, by which Britain aligned with France and Russia and held secret (from the British Cabinet, but not from the Kaiser, whose spies were typically efficient) military conversations on how to resist a German attack on France, convinced the Kaiser and the belligerent German military brass that encirclement was happening and that Germany should act before Russian strength was built up. Hence the disaster of 1914.

At the other extreme, Henry, Lord Palmerston in 1850 propounded the principle of "Civis Romanus sum" by which "As the Roman, in days of old, held himself free from indignity, when he could say "Civis Romanus sum," so also a British subject, in whatever land he may be, shall feel confident that the watchful eye and the strong arm of England will protect him from injustice and wrong." In practice, the manic interventionism to which this policy would have led was rejected by the House of Lords at the time and was scaled back by Palmerston himself in 1863-64, when he failed to protect Denmark's Schleswig-Holstein against the advances of the powerful Prussia.

The originators of the two streams of British 19th Century foreign policy were Robert, Lord Castlereagh and George Canning, in the years after 1815. Castlereagh sought to preserve good relations with the major powers and to intervene only on a multilateral basis, when the good order of Europe was threatened, and then only to prop up existing regimes (under the principles of the 1820 Troppau Protocol.) Canning went to the other extreme; he dissolved Castlereagh's relations with the major "autocratic" powers of Europe and meddled in liberation movements in South America and Greece, seeking to impose British ideas of free institutions on polities that lacked the preconditions for them.

Turning from this discussion of the 19th century to the problems of the 21st, it is immediately clear that the United States is not currently in anything like as strong an economic, political or moral position as was Palmerston's Britain for a few short years around 1850. In the 1990s, when the U.S. economy was at its peak of innovation and success, it enjoyed the same global position as did Britain's economy in the peak years of the Industrial Revolution around 1850, when its industrial output, built up by innovation and successful policies in the years since 1815, was many times that of its competitors. Morally also, the U.S. in the 1990s like Britain in 1850 enjoyed the prestige of victory in a global war (albeit a "cold" one). Further, as with Britain in 1850 it appeared that rival powers were both generally friendly and much more limited than itself in geopolitical potential.

Today, the U.S. economic, political and military position is much closer to the declining and threatened global position that Britain occupied in the 1890s under Salisbury. Industrial supremacy, so effortless in the U.S. in 1999 and in Britain in 1850, has been threatened by poor subsequent policies (unilateral free trade in Victorian Britain, over-regulation and both monetary and fiscal folly in today's U.S.) New economic and geopolitical rivals have sprung up or turned more hostile: Germany, Russia and the United States for 1890s Britain; China, Russia, India and ISIS for today's U.S.

Just as Palmerston himself discovered after 1860 that unlimited interventionism was too expensive and indeed reckless a strategy for the no longer invincible Britain to follow, so today the United States is reassessing its foreign policy in the light of new threats and diminished power. It is no longer possible to follow the "Civis Romanus Sum" approach, in which like George Canning's Britain and George W. Bush's U.S., the country plunged into difficult situations worldwide under the na‹ve belief that insults to British/U.S. interests should always be avenged, while British or U.S. values and political structures could easily be imposed on different cultures.

Instead an approach like Salisbury's is much more appropriate. Under this approach, the U.S. would remain in isolation, splendid or otherwise, avoiding as far as possible all military entanglements and with no permanent friends and no permanent enemies, preserving its moderate strength and economic power while other countries perhaps dissipate theirs in fruitless adventures. The difficulty in Salisbury's isolation is that it was not permanent and it gave Britain a false sense of security while the country persisted with unilateral free trade and its power, economic and otherwise, steadily diminished even as events like the Diamond Jubilee regatta proclaimed its supremacy to the world. Eventually, when Britain was faced with its first real military test in the Boer War, its decline became evident to its competitors. British policymakers' chosen solution to this problem, the Triple Entente, was disastrous, but after the Boer War even if Salisbury had lived Britain would have been very vulnerable to an attack by a combination of its competitors.

For Britain, the correct policy after Salisbury came to power in 1885 would have been that proposed by Joseph Chamberlain in 1903 and finally implemented by his son Neville in 1932: one of Imperial Preference, in which a modest common tariff among Britain's Empire and Dominions would have provided a modest blockade against tariff-protected foreign imports and a large enough market for British heavy industry to achieve economies of scale to achieve optimal economies of scale. By such a means, Britain's relative industrial decline could have been reversed and its strength preserved for the challenges of the 20th Century.

Similarly for the United States today a policy of isolation must thus be combined with a rectification of the economic mistakes that have caused U.S. economic power to diminish so sadly since the 1990s. The jungle of over-regulation, which has reduced U.S. productivity growth from 2.8% per annum in 1948-73 to 0.6% in 2011-15, must be slashed back with the most draconian of machetes, or preferably torched. The fiscal deficits must be eliminated; they have caused U.S. public debt to soar and its financial position to become vulnerable to any rise in interest rates. Immigration, both legal and illegal, must be reduced to a level which the economy can easily absorb, and skewed towards the higher-skill labor that adds value to the economy. Above all, the insane policy of negative real interest rates must be reversed, so that U.S. savings can once again recover, the country's elderly have a sufficiency to retire on, its young people be weaned off state welfare and loan schemes, and its small businesses capitalized as they should be with accumulated private savings.

Salisbury recognized in 1885 that Britain's relative power had diminished sufficiently so that, while the country's military strength should be rebuilt after the depredations of Gladstonian economy, it could no longer afford to intervene, whether to promote British values or otherwise. Had he possessed the political power to rebuild Britain's economic strength at the same time (he was dependent on the free-trading votes of the Liberal Unionists), his successors might not have felt forced to enter into fatally entangling alliances with other powers.

Similarly, a wise U.S. administration will disentangle itself from the Middle East (in which the energy self-sufficient U.S. has no vital interests) and will rectify its economic errors to rebuild its power. Otherwise, within the next decade or so it will find itself so economically and militarily enfeebled that it will feel forced to enter into an entangling alliance - at which point a new and even more devastating 1914 will most likely be only a few years away.

Isolation may not be splendid, but it is sometimes necessary. The U.S. no longer has the strength to pursue an interventionist policy effectively, and should learn from its own 21st Century follies and Britain's 19th Cen



Potential for new border crisis prompted immigrant raids

Clinton Opposes Obama's Immigration Policies

A spike in families and children arriving at the US southern border from Central America has prompted fears of another crisis like the one that dominated national news during the summer of 2014. That could roil an already tumultuous presidential race, giving more momentum to Republican front-runner Donald Trump while creating problems for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and President Obama.

The number of Central American families and unaccompanied minors arriving at the border this fall more than doubled from the year before, according to the most recent figures. The numbers could go even higher beginning in February and early spring, when arrivals traditionally increase, potentially eclipsing the levels that produced the 2014 crisis.

Such concerns helped prompt the Department of Homeland Security, with the close involvement of the White House, to initiate crackdowns on migrants in several states over the holidays, picking up 121 people for deportation. In some instances, people were detained during surprise early morning home raids that have infuriated the president's Democratic allies.

Clinton broke with Obama on the issue at an Iowa forum Monday night, calling for an end to the raids that she said "have sown fear and division in immigrant communities across the country."

"We have laws and we must be guided by those laws, but we shouldn't have armed federal officers showing up at people's homes, taking women and children out of their beds in the middle of the night," she said in a statement.

Such images remain vivid to policymakers, and avoiding a repeat is a priority. This time it would come in the middle of a presidential campaign where immigration is already a fraught topic, with Trump insisting he would deport everyone here illegally while senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida exchange barbs about who has the stronger record on this issue.

And officials defend the controversial raids, which have been denounced by the other Democratic presidential candidates in addition to Clinton while drawing praise from Trump, who also took credit for them. Although Democrats question whether such crackdowns will deter desperate women and children, White House officials said the tactics are in line with new deportation policies outlined by the Obama administration that prioritize criminals and recent arrivals. All those targeted had arrived after 2014 and had exhausted their legal options.

"Our desire to make clear that individuals should not embark on the dangerous journey from Central America to the Southwest border, that's a case that we've tried to tell in a variety of ways," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said.

"It was only after individuals had exhausted the legal remedies available to them . . . was a decision made to remove them," he said.

Several of the detention raids were conducted in Georgia, and stories are circulating about immigration officials banging on doors and rounding up families.

"People are very confused; they don't know what's going on," Nicholls said. "We are not happy with Obama."

Obama himself had pleased many Latinos by issuing executive actions in 2014 sparing millions from deportation, though that plan is now being challenged in court. It was a turnaround after he was labeled "deporter-in-chief" earlier in his administration for presiding over record removals, seen as an effort, ultimately unsuccessful, to win over Republicans to enact comprehensive immigration legislation.



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 January, 2016

Satirical site debunks Snopes.com

I have over the years had various gripes with the Leftward lean of Snopes.com (e.g. here and   here and   here and   here).  They do a useful job of debunking myths, hoaxes and legends but they are far too quick to brand something favorable to conservatives as either false or undetermined.  They even have their own contemptuous word for a sentimental story favorable to conservatives.  They call it a "glurge".

So I was delighted to read the latest from The People's Cube -- a well-known satirical site run by Oleg Atbashian, a former Soviet citizen. And with that background it is easy to understand that Oleg skewers Leftism savagely.  I read most of his posts and have occasionally quoted them.

The gist of his latest is that Snopes have apparently taken some of his posts seriously.  Although his posts are perfectly transparent (they would not be good satire otherwise) they fooled the humorless Leftists running Snopes!  Talk about being hoist with your own petard!  Snopes did however eventually  wake up but continued their debunking of Oleg's "dangerous" humor.  For a while they gave the People's Cube as the source of the story but now they give no source at all.  The whole thing has tickled Oleg's funnybone and below is an excerpt fom his latest post in which he half-seriously lists his gripes with Snopes:

Snopes falsely described us as "a clickbait web site known for spreading malware," which is slanderous misinformation.

While our satire was clearly a response to Zakaria's asinine article gloating over the premature deaths of white males, which we extrapolated to the extermination of white females through Jihad, rape, and sex slavery, the Snopes's "debunking" omits this point entirely, stating only that "There was nothing to the report" and that "it was just another fake news item that apparently originated with a clickbait web site known for spreading malware."

At the very bottom of the page, however, the Snopes article is tagged as "satire" and "The People's Cube," while none of these words appear in the body of the article, which is what most people will read. Thus, Snopes was well aware that this was satire and who the author was, but it knowingly withheld this information from its readers, which is called "intentional misleading."

For a self-described fact-checking website that claims to be "the definitive Internet reference source for urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors, and misinformation," such biased, slanderous, and intentionally misleading misinformation constitutes malpractice, as it violates public trust.

In addition to being unprofessional, slanderous, and misleading, this under-debunking was also plain stupid: if you want to lie about something, at least make sure you flush the evidence and wash your hands afterwards.

The author of the article is listed as one Jeff Zarronandia, "an American author and journalist who won the Pulitzer Prize for numismatics in 2006 and was one of four finalists for the prize in 2008. He was also the winner of the Distinguished Conflagration Award of the American Society of Muleskinners for 2005."

While this is obviously an attempt at a joke, this joker seems to deny the right to a joke to others. Besides, the very idea of listing made-up prizes, awards, and societies as his credentials on a fact-checking resource surpasses unprofessionalism and approaches imbecility. Perhaps Snopes should do some fact-checking on its authors before it attempts fact-checking satirical fiction.



Donald Trump's big tent

The GOP should stop fooling itself. Trump is reaching more than just undereducated, angry white men

Republicans explain away their unwelcome poll-leader by dismissing his supporters as a loud but narrow network of angry white men and celebrity chasers.

It's not true. A POLITICO review of private and public polling data and interviews with GOP pollsters shows a coalition that certainly begins with conservative, blue-collar men now extends to pro-choice Republicans, independents and even registered Democrats unnerved, primarily, by illegal immigration.

Indeed, the uncomfortable truth, for the pundits and fellow Republicans who turned their noses up at Trump, is that his appeal has spread over seven months so far beyond a rabble-rousing, anti-establishment rump to encompass the very elements of the American electorate the GOP has been eager to reach. And while it's no majority, it's a bigger group than anything the rest of the fragmented Republican field has galvanized.

"His coalition is not all angry working white males," said Adrian Gray, a Republican pollster. "It's all stripes. It's a pretty big coalition. And among other demographics where he's doing worse, he's still leading or in the top two."

Certainly, non-college-educated men have formed his base. Every one of 10 recent Iowa, New Hampshire, and national polls of Republicans shows Trump with more male support than female support and significantly more support from non-college graduates than those with degrees.

Trump's robust performance with this group, however, has deflected attention from the breadth of his coalition. Though Trump has less support with women and educated men, he's still at or near the top of the GOP field in those categories. And, exposing the depth of the GOP establishment's misunderstanding of Trump's support network, his coalition includes far-right conservatives as well as people who hardly register on Republican radar.

Trump's supporters skewed significantly against the GOP grain on abortion, for instance, in an internal poll of Iowa caucus-goers conducted for a rival presidential contender last summer. Respondents who identified themselves as "pro-choice" were three times more likely than "pro-life" voters to support Trump, according to a Republican strategist with knowledge of the survey.

One large dataset shows Trump excelling above all with voters who call themselves Republicans even though they aren't officially registered as Republicans.

Civis Analytics, a Democratic data firm founded by veterans of President Barack Obama's campaigns, built a model based on over 11,000 phone interviews with self-identified Republicans in 2015, part of a wider polling project. The data, first reported by The New York Times, shows Trump getting the support of 29 percent of registered Republicans but 36 percent of registered independents and 43 percent of registered Democrats, who in some states can still participate in GOP primaries.

The Civis data projects Trump's support by congressional district, showing that Trump is especially strong in the rare pockets of the country where Obama performed worse while winning the 2008 presidential election than John Kerry did while losing in 2004, according to a POLITICO analysis.

In the Civis' model, Trump runs ahead of his 33-percent national average in 30 of the 40 districts where Kerry matched or exceeded Obama's performance, even though Obama ran about 5 points ahead of Kerry nationally.

Those districts are largely contained in a band running through Appalachia, from Pennsylvania to Tennessee, and then across the Deep South to Arkansas and Oklahoma. Once Democratic strongholds, voters there have sloughed off the party in recent decades - a trend that accelerated rapidly under Obama. Now, Trump is giving a voice to some of their protectionist concerns about immigration and trade.

"Essentially, the old base of the Democratic Party, non-college whites in the Midwest and Appalachia, have been cut loose and are floating like an iceberg in the middle of the electorate," said one Republican strategist supporting another presidential candidate. "And they've glommed onto the Republicans because it's a two-party system. But they have no affection for the Republican Party as an institution."

Now, they form a key piece of the Trump puzzle.

The pro-Trump crowd's varied background is matched by equally diverse reasons for supporting him. But even though it has faded in intensity as an issue since Trump burst on the political scene this summer with an incendiary announcement speech, immigration is still driving a core base of voters into Trump's camp.

In WBUR's most recent poll of the New Hampshire primary, Trump's favorability numbers jumped from 46 percent overall to 62 percent among those who said that illegal immigration posed a "major threat" to "you and people you know." While 27 percent of all respondents said they plan to vote for Trump in New Hampshire's February primary, his support rose to 35 percent among the GOP voters most concerned about immigration.

In Iowa, where Cruz has caught or even surpassed Trump in many recent Republican caucus polls, Trump still maintained a double-digit lead over Cruz among "immigration voters" in the most recent Quinnipiac University survey there. Among everyone in the poll, though, the two were essentially tied (28 percent for Cruz to 27 percent for Trump).

"There's a segment of the population, white working middle-aged men, that has felt three big changes in America - globalization, technology, and demographics - that are changing everything we do on a daily basis," said Gray. "In a lot of ways, this group has felt left behind by each of those."

But "even people above the median income feel insecure, sometimes financially insecure because of these changes," Gray continued. "That's what builds the coalition beyond low-income and downscale."

Trump also runs particularly well with people looking for a "strong leader." While Cruz dominated among Quinnipiac poll respondents in Iowa who wanted a candidate who "shares your values," Trump got 40 percent of those looking for a strong leader. Fox News' most recent Iowa poll showed Trump getting 39 percent of those voters, too.

Focus groups of GOP voters help explain how and why. One such exercise, conducted by Data Targeting, a GOP consulting firm in Florida, recently interviewed a uniformly downcast group of Republicans about the direction of the country and its government. Two gave replies of "stagnant" when asked to describe it. Other replies included "mess," "weak," and "bought."

The focus group illustrated how some typical political responses to government dysfunction have lost currency, opening a door into the presidential campaign that Trump barged through. When one participant said, "Democrats and Republicans need to work together," another immediately replied, "That's my worst nightmare!" "They're all puppets," another participant chimed in.

"Nearly every candidate running on the Republican side has made an effort to present themselves as not of Washington," said Jim Hobart, a Republican pollster. "No one has a more credible message on that than Donald Trump. When he says it, it's really true. It's tough to out-anti-Washington Donald Trump."

This makes for an uncomfortable truth for the GOP. But there's enough discomfort to go around. For Trump's camp, it's unclear just how many of his supporters will actually cast a ballot for him - or anyone else - when caucuses and primaries finally begin next month.

Almost uniformly, GOP political professionals have discounted Trump's chances of turning the full measure of his support into actual primary and caucus votes, and later delegates to the Republican National Convention. Public polls, they argue, are vastly oversampling nonvoters caught up in the mania surrounding Trump, distorting the picture of a more traditional Republican electorate that does not back him as heavily.

"It's one thing to have support from people in all these different groups," said Mark Stephenson, a Republican data and analytics expert who was the chief data officer on Scott Walker's presidential campaign. "It really is another thing to turn them into a Trump voter, or especially a Trump caucus-goer, on election night."

Trump's most natural supporters are some of the people most disillusioned with politics. In the run-up to the 2014 elections, the Pew Research Center asked a broad group of Americans to rate their financial security on a sliding scale. As whites fall from the highest levels of financial security to the lowest levels, their support for Republican candidates plummeted from 51 percent to 21 percent. (Democrats' support stayed constant around one-third.)

The remainder shifted almost fully into the "other/not sure" category, rather than moving into the Democratic column. Nearly all said they did not plan to vote that year. Trump's candidacy may have activated a group of them, but converting them into voters remains difficult.

Meanwhile, the Civis Analytics data showing Trump at his strongest with registered voters who are not registered Republicans won't be a barrier in every state primary, but it is a real obstacle nevertheless, starting in the first caucus state of Iowa. Only a small number of first-time participants usually join every four years, though Trump's campaign is aiming to drive a generation of first-time caucus-goers and GOP primary voters into the process starting this February.

In a recent survey conducted for a different presidential campaign, Trump still ran ahead of Ted Cruz in Iowa - but only among voters who both could caucus in 2016 and have never actually shown up to one before. Past Republican caucus-goers, on the other hand, gave Cruz a solid first-place finish. One reason Trump's polling lead in New Hampshire has proven more durable is that the state has an open primary system, instead of Iowa's closed (and complicated) caucus.

Trump has been overcoming supposedly insurmountable obstacles since his presidential campaign began. But now that he has amassed these supporters, converting them from Trump fans into Trump voters may be the biggest one yet.



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)


13 January, 2016

Fascism in America

Mussolini prophesied that the 20th century would be the century of Fascism -- and libertarians believe that came true.  Fascism was just a Leftist sect and modern-day Leftists have put a straitjacket on what Americans can and must do that is very reminiscent of what Mussolini did.  And the picture above symbolizes that.  It is of course a picture of the platform in the House of Representatives from which Obama will give his State of the Union address imminently.

Note that there are Roman Fasces (bundles of rods) on either side of the picture.  Mussolini too used that symbolism, which is why his political party came to be called the Fascist party.  Obama is as Fascist as any democratic leader today in his endeavour to rule like a king so it is very fitting that he will deliver his speech between two Fasces.

Background on Italian and American Fascism here and here.


Uproar on Trump's Muslim ban; silence on Abbas's Jewish ban

A major uproar exploded across the political scene recently when Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump called for "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States." Conversely, there has been a remarkable, deafening silence on the official position proclaimed by Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas: "If there is an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, we won't agree to the presence of one Israeli in it."

"Israeli," of course, means "Jew." Abbas has no problem with Arabs who hold Israeli citizenship living in a Palestinian state. This is purely a racist policy aimed at ensuring the absence of Jews, because they are Jews. And Abbas is in power; Trump is not, so Abbas's statement has real meaning.

This Palestinian policy has been reiterated by senior figures like PA top negotiator Saeb Erakat (who recently refused to address a New York conference unless the flag of Israel, the country he claims to recognize and with which he asserts in English a desire to live in peace, was removed).

It has also been reiterated by former PA `prime minister' Ahmad Qurei; PLO ambassador Maen Areikat; and putative moderate academic Sari Nusseibeh, who even went so far as to explicitly urge that Jews be ethnically cleansed from the eastern half of Jerusalem.

Many, ourselves included, think Trump's suggestion to exclude any and all Muslims from coming to America excessive and ill-conceived. For all that, some proportion is in order. Trump was speaking of a major security threat and was proposing an explicitly temporary measure ("until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on").

After all, the refugees pouring out of Syria pose a national security problem.

According to FBI Director James Comey and National Intelligence Director James Clapper, the minority of Islamic State hardened jihadists and ISIS supporters among them are largely undetectable.

Unlike Trump's proposal, this Palestinian policy is not proposed as a temporary measure. Nor is it about responding to security threats. It's about excluding Jews, about a future state of Palestine being judenrein.

In short, the PA policy is one of unadulterated Jew-hatred.

The same glaring anti-Israel contradiction emerges in other guises. When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated during his 2015 election campaign that a Palestinian state couldn't be created under current conditions, the international outcry, including from President Barack Obama, was loud and relentless.

Compare that to Obama's reaction in March 2014, when Abbas told Obama that he will neither accept Israel as a Jewish state, nor conclude a comprehensive peace if it means signing an `end of claims' clause. How did Obama react? He praised Abbas for having "consistently renounced violence... consistently sought a diplomatic and peaceful solution that allows for two states, side by side, in peace and security."

Or again, compare that to this past September, when Abbas told the UN that the Oslo Accords were dead. There was no sputtering of outrage, no dressing-down from Obama, no threat to curtail US aid to the PA. There was none again this week, when the State Department was informed of PA pensions to Jew-murdering terrorists and their families. Rather, it ignored this, saying that the need to "calm current tensions" somehow required leaving open the PLO's Washington office, even as the PA is funding and promoting the murder of Jews.

Compare too, the international silence over Abbas' incitement of the recent wave of Palestinian violence and terror attacks in Israel.

Abbas not only falsely alleged that Jews were conducting a "fierce attack . against al-Aksa Mosque," but also urged Palestinians to prevent Jews visiting Judaism's holiest, site, Jerusalem's Temple Mount, saying "The al-Aksa [Mosque] is ours ... and [the Jews] have no right to defile it with their filthy feet ... We bless every drop of blood that has been spilled for Jerusalem ... blood spilled for Allah."

Last week, Abbas described the daily onslaught of stabbings, car-rammings and other murders, claiming the lives of 24 Jews, as "justified popular unrest."

Had Abbas' words, suitably adjusted, been uttered by an Israeli leader, newspapers around the world would carry detailed reports on their front pages; parliaments around the world would vote to condemn him and the society that tolerated such words; human rights organizations would organize petitions and rallies condemning Israel; international leaders would issue statements of condemnation and the United Nations would surely be called into special session to consider formally condemning Israel in the harshest terms.

Today, however, we rail on Trump's temporary immigration proposals while ignoring the vilest anti-Semitic hate speech and Muslim supremacism of the PA, which receives over $500 million annually from the US tax-payer.

Such is the combination of indifference and acquiescence to Jew-hatred and fear of offending Muslims in which we debate vital matters. Presumably, we will still be arguing in this vein when terrorists strike next, here and in Israel.



MY! How the worm turns!

I have been saying statins do more harm than good for many years -- in the face of official denials. Below is another recent report in support of that. What will it take for the government position to crumble?  Your government will NOT protect you!

Statins, which are designed to help protect people from heart failure, can actually increase the risk of a heart attack according to a new study.

Researchers say the drugs, which are taken by around 12 million patients in the UK, are more likely to cause calcium deposits in the arteries, which can lead to a heart attack.

Statins were developed to lower cholesterol, but they also block a molecule needed to produce vitamin K, which prevents calcification of the arteries.

The author of the report, published in Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology, says there is 'no evidence to support people taking statins', which opponents say also cause other health issues including skeletal weakness and muscle pain.

Professor Harumi Okuyama, of Nagoya City University, Japan, told the Sunday Express:'We have collected a wealth of information on cholesterol and statins from many published papers and find overwhelming evidence that these drugs accelerate hardening of the arteries and can cause, or worsen, heart failure.'

Similarly, Dr Peter Langsjoen, a heart specialist based in Texas who is co-author of the study, said: 'These drugs should never have been approved for use. The long-term effects are devastating.'

However, there is plenty of support for statins within the medical profession and the drugs are considered to generally lower cholesterol levels by 25 to 35 per cent.

The medications Lipitor, Crestor, Zocor and other statins have been the standard treatment for lowering cholesterol for more than 20 years.  Those pills work by curbing the production of cholesterol in the liver.

Statins have also long been recommended for people who already have heart disease and have been credited with helping to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.

A spokesman for MHRA, the Government drug regulator, said: 'The benefits of statins are well established and are considered to outweigh the risk of side effects in the majority of patients.'

Last year, NHS watchdog NICE encouraged GPs to prescribe the cholesterol-busting drugs to anyone with a 10 per cent chance of having a heart attack.  That change has resulted in 17million adults - nearly all people over the age of 40 - now being eligible to take the drugs.



N.Y. Restaurant Owners Plead for Mercy as Gov. Cuomo Tightens Screws on Wages

More than 100 restaurant owners in the state of New York are begging Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) not to force them to pay their waiters and waitresses $15 an hour. But it's doubtful he heard them over the roar of union workers at rallies Jan. 4 supporting Cuomo's call for a statewide $15 an hour minimum wage.

Melissa Fleischut, president and CEO of the New York State Restaurant Association, can see the $15 an hour wage coming, but she's hoping for a five-year moratorium for people who make their livings on tips.

She said her organization's members would be crushed by a $15 an hour wage mandate, on top of the 50 percent increase in wages for what are known as "tipped workers" that went into effect the last day of December 2015.

The cash wage for tipped employees was raised from $5.00 to $7.50 on Dec. 31.

"The industry needs time to adjust to this dramatic increase," Fleischut said.

She warned that if Cuomo follows the Dec. 31 raise with a mandate to double wages for tipped workers, the same people Cuomo says he wants to help are going to lose their jobs.

Fleischut said restaurant owners were already looking for ways to cut back because of the Dec. 31 wage edict, like telling customers they no longer need tip servers to replacing wait staff with tablets at every table.

"It's hard to imagine any business giving half of their labor force a 50 percent raise overnight, but that's the reality the hospitality industry is facing at the moment," said Fleischut. "Any further increase will just exacerbate these problems."

American Action Forum economists Douglas Holtz-Eakin and Ben Gitis believe job losses in New York's restaurants could be just the beginning of a boomerang nightmare of unintended consequences.

They warned the state of New York could lose as least 200,000 jobs if a statewide $15 an hour minimum wage is imposed. Other economists warn the state could see close to 600,000 people thrown out of work.

But none of those scenarios is playing into Cuomo's thinking.



Obama should look in mirror on gun enforcement

"If Obama's contention is that he is merely enforcing the law as written with his so-called executive action on firearms, and that he believes doing so can prevent more shootings, then Obama must be admitting that his apparent failure to enforce existing law makes him culpable for gun-related murders. Of course, Obama should enforce existing laws. He's the President after all.

"Unfortunately, Obama's record is of declining enforcement actions against illegal firearm dealers with only his Justice Department only generating about 200 convictions a year of illegal unlicensed gun sales. There is no loophole that prevents federal law enforcement officials from going after illegal unlicensed gun trafficking, otherwise, there would not be any convictions at all. Obama should urge the Department of Justice to aggressively investigate and prosecute real gun trafficking crimes involving real criminals and stop the politicized rhetoric against law-abiding gun owners.

"What is even more distressing is that while Obama blames law-abiding gun owners for violence, he hypocritically is releasing tens of thousands of felons from federal prisons, increasing the risk of repeated crimes. It would seem that with his tepid prosecution record and his felon release program that all Obama needs to do to find out who's at fault is look in the mirror."



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 January, 2016

Notes on a Phenomenon

by Mark Steyn

On Tuesday night, my daughter and her friends went down to Claremont, New Hampshire to see Donald Trump in action. She and her chums range from the not terribly political to those with the usual enthusiasms of youth, so they went mainly because Trump's a hot ticket, and we don't get a lot of those in the Granite State. Her only other candidate encounter this season was at the North Haverhill Fair last summer when Lindsey Graham pounced outside the 4-H barn, no doubt with an eye to recruiting her for one of his "rotating first ladies".

At any rate, after hearing my daughter's account of the night, my sons said they wanted to see Trump, too. I wasn't particularly enthusiastic, having wasted far too much of my time in New Hampshire on campaign events, going all the way back to the oxymoronic "Dole rallies" of 1996. But they persisted. So we checked out the schedule and discovered that he was due to be in Bernie Sanders' socialist fortress of Vermont on Thursday. Which is how we wound up crossing the Connecticut River and traversing the Green Mountain State, and eventually found ourselves in an unusually lively Burlington. Herewith, a few notes on what I saw:

~THE VENUE: When was the last time a GOP presidential candidate held (in the frantic run-up to Iowa and New Hampshire) an event in Vermont? Every fourth January, Republican campaigns are focused on the first caucus and the first primary states, as Bush, Rubio, Christie, Kasich, Huckabee, Fiorina et al are right now. But in fact the Green Mountain primary is on March 1st, and its delegates count as much as any other state's. In recent cycles, the American electoral system has diminished and degraded itself by retreating into turnout-model reductionism and seriously competing only over a handful of purple states. Even if he's only doing it as a massive head-fake, Trump understands the importance of symbolism: By going into Berniestan, he's saying he's going for every voter and he's happy to play down the other guy's half of the field.

~THE PROTESTS: On the closed block of Main Street outside the Flynn Theatre there was something of a carnival atmosphere. On the south side the thousands of Trump supporters snaked down the sidewalk and round the corner. On the north side the hundreds of protesters waved the usual signs: "DUMP TRUMP", "TRUMPISM IS FASCISM", "TRUMP: AMERICAN IDIOT", etc. Marginally more inventive were "TRUMP IS THE REAL TERRORIST" and the elliptical "TRUMP - THE OTHER WHITE MEAT". My older boy ran into high-school pals who were variously there to attend the rally and there to protest it. The media like to play up the anti-Trump demonstrations, but even this works to his benefit, since they come almost exclusively from the leaden clich‚s of college-debt social justice. For a six-year bachelor's degree in orientation studies, you'd think these fellows could work up something other than chants that were stale back when Pete Seeger was wondering where all the flowers went. A couple of straggle-bearded hipster dweebs wandered around waving "NO BORDER" signs, which would be a tougher sell in, say, downtown Cologne. A bossy girl of vaguely sapphic mien led us all in a "Black Lives Matter! Black Lives Matter!" chant, which is pretty funny on a street that's 99.99999999999 per cent white. If black lives matter that much, you'd think they could have bussed one in. As enthusiasm faltered, she segued deftly into "Don't give in to racist fear! Immigrants are welcome here!" I must say, as an immigrant myself, I've never found Vermont that welcoming, but perhaps I'm insufficiently exotic for their tastes.

There were a few ill advised ventures into wit. The local toup‚e salesman wandered around with a big sign recommending Trump try his range of non-flyaway wigs and weaves: This would have been a cuter joke six months ago, but this far in felt a bit like a bad rug, forced and awkward. Still, he was a pleasant chap, so we all pretended to be amused. The guy from the "Vermont Comedy Club" passed out free tickets inviting us to "Comb Over To A Real Show!" for "Trumprov" - a night of Trump improv comedy he'd scheduled to compete with the main event.

~THE MUSIC: In Claremont, my daughter had been bewildered by the songs played beforehand: a loop of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera and Cats alternating with Elton John's "Tiny Dancer" and "Rocket Man", occasionally punctuated by the Beatles' "Hey, Jude"... Listening to the same tape in Burlington, it occurred to me the unifying feature might be that they're all tenants of Trump's at Trump Tower (I know Andrew is, and Sir Elt), or it might just be that British pop stars are more easygoing about being associated with Republican candidates. You'll recall that Sam & Dave and Isaac Hayes told Bob Dole to quit using his version of "I'm A Soul Man" ("I'm A Dole Man") and Heart did the same re Sarah Palin and "Barracuda". Evidently, Andrew Lloyd Webber is more relaxed about the title song of Phantom, and certainly its descending haunted-house organ motif is unlike any other warm-up music for a presidential nominee: "The Phantom of the Op-e-ra is here ...inside your mind!" Very true.

~THE ESTABLISHMENT: The reserved seating at the front of these events is usually held for the big donors. Trump has no donors, so there are no money guys who've paid for access hogging the best seats. Instead, they were taken by folks who'd been backing him the longest. One couple were there because they were tootling along with a Trump sticker on the back of the car (something of a rare sight in Vermont) and at the stop sign an appreciative campaign staffer behind had leaped out and offered them VIP tickets. The only real VIP in the seats was a former finalist at "The Apprentice" whom Trump had asked along.

That said, while the donor class continues to hurl bazillion-dollar checks at Mike Murphy's "Right-to-Risibility" Bush campaign, at the state level of the GOP establishment Trump is not without supporters: He was introduced on stage by Deb Billado, the Chittenden County chair for the Vermont Republican Party (Chittenden is the state's most populous county - and the most Ben & Jerrified), and prowling the aisles you could spot the occasional New Hampshire state rep. So if, as some of the dottier rumors suggest, the Republican establishment is planning to run third-party if Trump gets the nomination, it's not clear how much of the state apparatus they'll be taking with them. "If Trump were the nominee, the GOP would cease to be," declares Michael Gerson. The state legislators and volunteers present on Thursday would disagree.

~BACKSTAGE: I did check out the action backstage, and I'll say this: It was unlike any other candidate event I've been to. By comparison with, say, presidential campaigns such as Lamar Alexander's or Orrin Hatch's, Trump is very lightly staffed, and entirely unmanaged. Twenty minutes before the event, backstage is usually a whirl of activity with minions pretending to look busy and frantically tippy-tapping away on their phones over some vital matter or other. Deputy speechwriters and assistant campaign managers bustle about saying things like, "Mike's seen the Egyptian Prime Minister's response to the Secretary of State, so we're working on a sentence to add to the nuclear-proliferation section." There's none of that around Trump. He's meandering around back there shooting the breeze, posing for pics, totally relaxed - and so are his press secretary and campaign manager, too. If you've seen any of those inside-the-campaign movies, from Robert Redford in The Candidate to George Clooney in Ides of March, it looks all wrong: There's far too few people, and there's none of the fake busyness.

And then the announcement: "Ladies and gentlemen, the next President of the United States, Donald J Trump..."

~THE SHOW: He's very good at this. Very good. On the same day as Trump's speech, Peter Shumlin, the colorless dullard serving as Vermont's governor, came to the State House in Montpelier to deliver his "State of the State" address. He required two prompters so he could do the Obama swivel-head like a guy with good seats at Wimbledon following the world's slowest centre-court rally. Two prompters! In the Vermont legislature! And for the same old generic boilerplate you forget as soon as you've heard it.

Trump has no prompters. He walks out, pulls a couple of pieces of folded paper from his pocket, and then starts talking. Somewhere in there is the germ of a stump speech, but it would bore him to do the same poll-tested focus-grouped thing night after night, so he basically riffs on whatever's on his mind. This can lead to some odd juxtapositions: One minute he's talking about the Iran deal, the next he detours into how Macy's stock is in the toilet since they dumped Trump ties. But in a strange way it all hangs together: It's both a political speech, and a simultaneous running commentary on his own campaign.

It's also hilarious. I've seen no end of really mediocre shows at the Flynn in the last quarter-century, and I would have to account this the best night's entertainment I've had there with the exception of the great jazz singer Dianne Reeves a few years back. He's way funnier than half the stand-up acts I've seen at the Juste pour rires comedy festival a couple of hours north in Montreal. And I can guarantee that he was funnier than any of the guys trying their hand at Trump Improv night at the Vermont Comedy Club a couple of blocks away. He has a natural comic timing.

Just to be non-partisan about this, the other day I was listening to Obama's gun-control photo-op at the White House, and he thanked Gabby Giffords, by explaining that her husband Mark's brother is an astronaut in outer space and he'd called just before Mark's last meeting at the White House but, not wishing to disturb the President, Mark didn't pick up. "Which made me feel kind of bad," said the President. "That's a long-distance call." As I was driving along, I remember thinking how brilliantly Obama delivered that line. He's not usually generous to others and he's too thin-skinned to be self-deprecating with respect to himself, but, when he wants to get laughs, he knows how to do it. Trump's is a different style: He's looser, and more freewheeling. He's not like Jeb - he doesn't need writers, and scripted lines; he has a natural instinct for where the comedy lies. He has a zest for the comedy of life.

To be sure, some of the gags can be a little - what's the word? - mean-spirited. The performance was interrupted by knots of protesters. "Throw 'em out!" barked Trump, after the first chants broke out. The second time it happened, he watched one of the security guys carefully picking up the heckler's coat. "Confiscate their coats," deadpanned Trump. "It's ten below zero outside." Third time it happened, he extended his coat riff: "We'll mail them back to them in a couple of weeks." On MSNBC, they apparently had a discussion on how Trump could be so outrageous as to demand the confiscation of private property. But in showbusiness this is what is known as a "joke". And in the theatre it lands: everyone's laughing and having a ball.

That's the point. I think it would help if every member of the pundit class had to attend a Trump rally before cranking out the usual shtick about how he's tapping into what Jeb called "angst and anger". Yes, Trump supporters are indignant (and right to be) about the bipartisan cartel's erasure of the southern border and their preference for unskilled Third World labor over their own citizenry, but "anger" is not the defining quality of a Trump night out. The candidate is clearly having the time of his life, and that's infectious, which is why his supporters are having a good time, too. Had Mitt campaigned like this, he'd be president. But he had no ability to connect with voters. Nor does Jeb ("I've been endorsed by another 27 has-beens") Bush.

~THE HORSE RACE: Trump always talks about the polls - or "the ratings", as he calls them. For example, he suggested it was time for Rand Paul to get out because his ratings are "horrible". Pundits complain that Trump spends time in his speeches scoffing at his rivals' numbers rather than laying out his ten-point plan for capital-gains tax reform. But these same pundits go on cable TV shows where the same polls are pored over in great detail - Carson's down five in Iowa, Christie's up three in New Hampshire. So presumably the media feel this horse-race stuff is of interest to their general audience. In that case, why shouldn't it be of interest to people so into it that they've spent all day lining up in freezing temperatures to see their preferred candidate? And Trump is funnier on the horse-race stuff than most of the professional analysts: He'd noticed in one poll that George Pataki had been at zero, but then he saw that next to the "0" was the "less than" symbol ("<"), and he wondered how that was even possible, even for George Pataki. That's a very endearing feature of his act: He's done Miss Universe and "The Apprentice" and he understands that the conventions of the nominating system are more ridiculous than either.

~MESSAGE DISCIPLINE: In fairness, he is (or was) actually competing against Pataki, and still is (just about) against Rand Paul. But he also did a couple of minutes on Martin O'Malley. He'd been talking about the crowds he's been getting, and he'd said that when he goes back home his wife asks him how the speech went and whether anyone was there. Because the cameras stay directly focused on him and never show the audience. And he thought at first this was because they were fixed and hammered into place - until a protester starts yelling and then suddenly the cameras are twisting around like pretzels, no matter what corner of the room they're in. Anyway, at some point, he mused on a Martin O'Malley rally at which apparently only one person showed up. So O'Malley talked with him one on one for an hour, and at the end a reporter asked the guy whether he would be supporting O'Malley. And the fellow said no.

And we all laughed, as did Trump.

Now, short of the mullahs nuking Hillary in Chappaqua and the following day Kim Jong-Un nuking Bernie in Burlington, there is no conceivable scenario in which Trump will be facing off against Martin O'Malley. So talking about him is a complete waste of time - and Karl Rove says that campaigning is all about the efficient use of the dwindling amount of time you have this close to Iowa and New Hampshire. So doing ten minutes of knee-slappers on Martin O'Malley is ten minutes you could have used to talk about Social Security reform that you'll never get back.

Maybe Rove is right. But as a practical matter it's led to the stilted robotic artificiality of the eternally on-message candidate - which is one of the things that normal people hate about politics. And Trump's messages are so clear that he doesn't have to "stay on" them. People get them instantly: On Thursday he did a little bit of audience participation. "Who's going to pay for the wall?" And everyone yelled back, "Mexico!" He may appear to be totally undisciplined, yet everyone's got the message. Likewise, his line on an end to Muslim immigration "until we can figure out what the hell's going on" is actually a subtle and very artfully poised way of putting it that generates huge applause. Trump has such a natural talent for "message" that it frees up plenty of time to do ten minutes of Martin O'Malley shtick.

~AUTHENTICITY: Traditionally in American politics the way you connect with voters is to pretend you're just as big a broken-down loser as they are. One recalls Lamar Alexander and his team flying in to Manchester, New Hampshire and just before touchdown changing out of their Brooks Brothers suits and button-down shirts into suspiciously pressed and unstained plaid. In this cycle, it's been John Kasich doing his slickly produced, soft-focus "son of a mailman" ads. So much presidential politicking is now complete bollocks, as rote and meaningless as English panto or Chinese opera conventions. Trump doesn't bother with any of that. Halfway through, he detoured into an aside about how he was now having to go around in an armored car, and how many rounds it could take before the window disintegrated, and how the security guys shove you in and let the reinforced door slam you in the ass. And the thing's ugly as hell. "If I win," sighed Trump, "I'll never ride in a Rolls-Royce ever again." And all around me guys who drive Chevy Silverados and women who drive Honda Civics roared with laughter. Usually, a candidate claims, like Clinton, to feel our pain, but, just for a moment there, we felt Trump's.

What is "authenticity" in contemporary politics? Is it a man who parlayed a routine Congressional career into a lucrative gig at Lehman Brothers presenting himself as the son of a mailman? Or is it a billionaire with a supermodel wife dropping the pretense that he's no different from you stump-toothed losers in the rusting double-wides? Trump's lack of pandering extends to America, too. He doesn't do the this-is-the-greatest-country-in-the-history-of-countries shtick that Mitt did last time round. He isn't promising, like Marco Rubio, a "second American century". His pitch is that the American dream is dead - which, for many Americans, it is. In 1980, Jimmy Carter's "malaise" was an aberration - a half-decade blip in three decades of post-war US prosperity that had enabled Americans with high school educations to lead middle-class lives in a three-bedroom house on a nice-sized lot in an agreeable neighborhood. In 2015, for many Americans, "malaise" is not a blip, but a permanent feature of life that has squeezed them out of the middle class. They're not in the mood for bromides about second American centuries: They'd like what's left of their own lifespan to be less worse.

That's the other quality on display: at certain points - for example, when Trump started talking about "beautiful Kate in San Francisco" being killed by an illegal immigrant - I turned around and saw men and women tearing up.

~IDEOLOGY: Is Trump "conservative"? Peggy Noonan:

Mr. Trump's supporters don't care if he's classically conservative. Doctrinal purity is not the story this year.

If the national GOP is a vehicle for ensuring that John Boehner, Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan have a car and driver and a Gulf emir-sized retinue, then it's very effective. If it's a vehicle for advancing conservative principles, then it's a rusted-up lemon on cinder blocks. At an event with Newt Gingrich about a decade ago, one of my neighbors asked why the Republicans were so ineffectual. Newt said it was because they're still getting used to being the majority party. Somebody responded, "So the Iraqis are supposed to get the hang of self-government after six months, but the Republican Party still can't manage it after ten years?"

For many conservative voters, 2014 was the GOP's last chance, and they blew it. For those conservative voters whose priority is immigration, 2016 is America's last chance, and Trump's the only reason anyone's even talking about that.

~IT'S CHRISTMAS IN AMERICA: One of the loudest cheers came from another diversion in the midst of China trade talk or whatever: a pledge that under a Trump Administration people would be saying "Merry Christmas!" again. At a certain level it seems an odd thing to be talking about on January 7th, but in a broader sense it resonates because people understand that at the municipal, school and county level the culture wars never stop. Christmas concerts become "winter" and "holiday" concerts. Department stores issue elaborate instructions on approved seasonal greetings. School districts declare the American flag culturally insensitive. "Cinco de Mayo" is a wonderfully diverse and inclusive way of celebrating the Mexican contribution to America, but nobody thinks of marking "Victoria Day" to help Canadians feel welcome. Powerline's John Hinderaker has a note on whether or not Trump is aware that he can't sign an executive order abolishing gun-free zones in American schoolhouses. Yes, he knows that. But he also knows that using the bully pulpit to push back against the remorseless one-way cultural warfare of the left is one of the most powerful tools a president has - and one that, for example, President Bush chose not to use, to disastrous effect.

~THE DIFFERENCE: Trump has already demonstrated that he knows how to change the conversation. Peggy Noonan:

He changed the debate on illegal immigration. He said he'd build a wall and close the border and as the months passed and his competitors saw his surge, they too were suddenly, clearly, aggressively for ending illegal immigration.

At least until they can see him off, and get back to talking about "comprehensive reform" and bringing people "out of the shadows" and how family values "don't stop at the Rio Grande". But until then Trump has so dramatically moved the needle on this subject that in The New York Times Thomas L Friedman is now calling for "controlling low-skilled immigration".

He moved the meter on the "war on women", too. Mrs Clinton pulled out the card, and Trump flung it right back in her face with her sleazy sociopath of a husband's four decades of abuse against vulnerable women. Hillary's now backed off.

On Thursday, because of Obama, gun control was in the news. Trump's pushing back on that, too:

You know what a gun-free zone is to a sicko? That's bait.

~THE WINNOWING: It's assumed by the GOP establishment that once the field narrows Trump will bump up against his natural ceiling. I think the opposite is true. Trump has essentially sat out these stupid ten-man TV debates and then resumed his rise once they're over. If it came down to a four- or three- or two-man race, the man I saw on Thursday night would be a formidable debate opponent. And I don't doubt he could hold his own against Hillary.

~THE END: What can stop Trump? The establishment want him gone, and are pinning their hopes on an alleged lack of precinct captains in the fiendishly difficult caucus state of Iowa. If that doesn't work, they're building a southern firewall. Peggy Noonan again:

In Virginia the state Republican Party wants a so-called loyalty oath in the March 1 presidential primary. Virginia is an open-primary state-any registered voter can vote in either primary-but the GOP apparently wants to discourage independents and Democrats from voting for Mr. Trump. So they've decided voters should sign a statement of affiliation with the GOP before they get to cast a ballot. This is so idiotic it's almost unbelievable. When Democrats and independents want to vote in your primary you should be happy. Politics is a game of addition! You want headlines that say "Massive GOP Turnout." You don't greet first-time voters with an oath but with cookies, ginger ale and balloons.

So, for all the post-2012 talk about outreach to Hispanics and gays, in the end the GOP would rather have the old, safe, depressed-turnout model than a bunch of first-time Republican voters coming in and monkeying about with their racket.

The headline in Friday's local paper read: "BURLINGTON TRUMPED". That's what his fans liked. In the liberal heart of a liberal state, the supporters streaming out of the Flynn Theatre, waving genially to the social-justice doofuses across the way, couldn't recall a night like it. Not in Vermont. In New Hampshire, sure. In South Carolina. But not in Vermont. It felt good to be taking it to the other side's turf. And they'd like a lot more of it between now and November.



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.

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11 January, 2016

Leftist hate and self-righteousness observed

To the man I sat next to on my way in to Boston:

When I boarded the commuter rail, you were already in the midst of a spirited phone conversation and didn't seem to care about how loud you were talking. You were talking with someone about the Paris train attack and the growing epidemic of gun violence in America.

You spoke about the "murderous NRA" and "bloodthirsty gun nuts" who were causing our schools to "run red with blood." You spoke profanely of the Republicans who opposed President Obama's call for "sensible gun control," and you lamented the number of "inbred redneck politicians" who have "infiltrated Capitol Hill."

I found myself amazed at the irony of the situation. While you were spewing your venom, I sat quietly next to you with my National Rifle Association membership card in my wallet and my 9mm pistol in its holster. You were only 12 inches away from my legally owned semiautomatic pistol. I suppose I didn't look like the "bloodthirsty gun nut" you thought I should be. It apparently didn't register to you that I could so cleverly disguise myself by wearing a fleece coat, Patriots hat, and khakis.

So, to the angry liberal who sat next to me on the commuter rail: I don't hate you. I don't have any ill feelings toward you. I don't wish to do you harm. And I don't regret sitting next to you. On the contrary; I feel bad for you. It must hurt carrying that much hate inside of you.

You obviously have strong opinions about this hot topic. So, let me say this as plainly as I can: If a bad guy with a gun had decided to walk onto that train and start shooting people, I would have been prepared and able to use my gun to defend my own life and the lives of everyone else on that train, including yours. Although you may hate me, a gun owner, I would risk my life for you.

Opinions and ideologies make a pretty thin shield against the bullets of a madman. Your liberal self-righteousness and ignorance may have made you feel superior and comfortable, but during that 40-minute train ride to Boston, my gun kept you safe.



"Erosion", undermining Israel through lies and deception

REVIEW of a short and clear book aimed at the reclamation of the good name of the Jewish state

The year 2016 seems as though it will be more of the same, only more so.

Massacres, murders and mayhem in the West, massacres, murders and chaos in Syria, kidnappings in Africa, Shiite-Sunni violence (hopefully not the bomb), stabbings and shootings in Israel - and no one, except the Zionist Jews are able to see that there is a straight line leading from Islam to Islamists to Islamic terror in all of the above.

The world insists on separating Israel from the rest of the terror that is trying to destroy anyone who is deemed an infidel. That has happened because years of well funded Arab propaganda laced with a good dose of hereditary anti-Semitism have convinced people that there is "a reason, a rationale," as  US Foreign Secretary John Kerry egregiously explained after the Paris massacre, for killing Jews.

It wasn't always like that vis a vis the world and Israel, but worldwide support for Israel has eroded to the point where it is acceptable to talk about the disappearance of the Jewish state, a state voted into being by the United Nations, as if that is not such a terrible thing.  Delegitimization now poses an ominous threat and, as Per Ahlmark delineated: "In the past, the most dangerous anti-Semites were those who sought to make the world Judenrein, free of Jews, but today the most dangerous anti-Semites are those who want to make the world Judenstaatrein, free of a Jewish state."

Thus, the new anti-Semitism differs from the old in that it is directed against the country of the Jews instead of against only individual Jews or communities - and has added new excuses for hate to its malevolent litany.

Since the world has not yet realized that the war against Israel's existence is part of the Islamic  war to conquer the world, with many believing the anti-Israel canards instead, it is important to gain tools to fight this new anti-Semitism.

How does one do this?  Professor Alex Grobman, whose advanced degrees in Contemporary Jewish History were earned at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, feels, correctly, that a good part of the solution lies in combating ignorance, by knowing the answers to the lies propagated about the Jewish State.

His book, "Erosion, Undermining Israel through Lies and Deception" is an easily read work of less than 100 pages (the thoroughly researched footnotes make it 115 pages altogether) that puts paid to the most serious of those lies. The book's title is an apt one - the early Zionists reclaimed a land whose soil had eroded for thousands of years, and now their progeny must reclaim Zionism's good name, eroded by clever propaganda machines.

Reading "Erosion" is important for giving informed self-confidence to those committed to the state of Israel, for giving them thoroughly backed-up answers to false accusations, but even more for those Jews and non-Jews who don't even realize that they are being fed lies.

The pro-Palestinian propaganda all sounds so plausible - and it works because most Westerners do not believe that someone will knowingly tell a lie, a big lie of historical magnitude or significance.  But that is just what the anti-Zionists (read anti-Semites), do. Witness the Palestinian Authority textbooks that claim that Israel rejected the UN Partition Plan. Today, who, except for historically conscious Zionists, remembers that Israel accepted that 2-state plan that created an impossibly small Jewish state and the Arabs rejected it out of hand? And if the books are not changed, that lie will be accepted as fact in another few years.

Ruth Wisse, as the writer quotes, has observed that even without that ill-fated partition plan, pre-1967 Israel had only 8000 square  miles and is the only homeland for the Jewish people.  That land's population is already 20.6 % Arab. The ratio of lands in Arab hands to that of Israel is 640:1. Why do the Arabs think they merit more, she asks? And why are the Arab conquests which resulted in that ratio forgotten, as they portray themselves as victims and Israel as the oppressor, Prof. Grobman adds.

And why does the world not realize that the war against Israel's existence, lies and all, is part of the Islamic  war to conquer the world?

The impetus for turning lies into "facts" is fueled by anti-Semitism, and its success has given rise to that new anti Semitism that transcends social systems, borders, ethnic groups and political affiliation.

British publicist Melanie Phillips said it succinctly: Israel inspires an obsessional hatred of a type and scale that is directed at no other country.

"Erosion" analyzes the facets of that obsession. It shows the reader clearly how double standards are applied when dealing with Israel and the rest of the world, a fact not realized by most observers who do not have comparisons at hand.

It draws the demarcation line on the far side of which criticism of Israel's actions is not true criticism, but unacceptable anti-Semitism.

The book leads to awareness of how cyberspace makes it easy to spread lies, to bring the crazies out of the closet and keep their messages of hate online.

The reader learns about the methods by which this is done, such as the "War of Analogy", Defense Minister Yaalon's term for comparing Israel to all that is reprehensible in history and human behavior, and how to combat these baseless lies. Especially spurious is the comparison to Nazis - and the ridiculous accusation of apartheid in a state where you have as much chance of being treated by an Arab doctor as by a Jewish one.

It tells about London's role in harboring anti-Israeli organizations, about how terrorist acts are far from random and about the civil rights masquerade, today's excuse for hating Jews.

The reader will understand what BDS, the third attempt to destroy Israel when wars and terror did not do the job, is really about.

And he will learn the truth about specific charges against Israel: The history of the water issue, a commodity scarce in this area of the world,  used as a weapon turned against Israel when the truth is exactly the opposite; the idea behind targeted killings of terrorists carried out by Israel, automatically condemned when they are actually the way to avoid civilian casualties; the rationale that built the security fence and checkpoints and their place in the context of world defense systems.

Readers of "Erosion" will find that the hour or two it takes to read this book will enrich their ability to defend Israel - to themselves and others  - immeasurably. And then they can look for the writers other books. I suggest starting with "BDS: the movement to destroy Israel", a discriminatory practice that the EU, chillingly aping Nazi Germany, has so recently embraced.



Cruz's Iowa Success Endangers Corn Lobby

Children of the corn?

Could the corn lobby's stranglehold on political rhetoric be cracking? With just weeks until the Iowa caucuses, presidential candidate Ted Cruz is leading the field, polling at 31%. He's also an aggressive critic of the ethanol mandate. Known as the Renewable Fuel Standard; the mandate requires a massive amount of ethanol be used in the nation's gas supply, and it sends a very lucrative stream of money flowing to corn producers. And Iowa is the nation's largest producer of the stuff.

Thus, Cruz's lead has given the corn lobby a bit of heartburn. As the Washington Examiner's Timothy Carney wrote, "If Cruz wins Iowa, especially if he wins big, it will confirm that the subsidies and mandates for ethanol are very important only to a sliver of the population (largely the lobbyists and executives of the giant agribusinesses that receive the lion's share of the benefit). . If the ethanol lobby is a paper tiger, then the federal ethanol mandate is not long for this world."

At the beginning of this presidential race, we saw the power the corn lobby had. In March, former candidate Scott Walker hired Liz Mair as a communications consultant but fired her hours later after the Iowa GOP machine skewered her because she wrote several tweets disparaging Iowa and how it hamstrung national policy. Reading between the lines, she was clearly referencing subsidies for ethanol. Meanwhile, the great ethanol boondoggle is an inefficient waste of food and natural resources all in the pursuit of corny science.

Update: "The RFS is scheduled to expire in 2022," Cruz said in Cherokee, Iowa. "When I said we should phase it out, I said it should be a five-year phase out. A phase-out from 2017 to 2022 is a five-year phaseout."



Last Year, Murder Spiked in Liberal Cities

The nation's largest cities and bastions of liberal government are supposed to be the cities on the hills, the shining examples of how compassionately the Left can govern, right? But the crime statistics coming out of places like Washington, DC, Baltimore and Chicago tell a different story.

While overall crime is down, homicides across the nation spiked in 2015. For example, 344 homicides occurred in Baltimore last year. Most of these crimes were black-on-black crime committed with firearms and, as Hot Air's Jazz Shaw notes, most of these crimes happened after the Freddie Gray incident.

In Chicago, police are shooting fewer people, but that comes as Chicago residents are shooting each other more, as about 3,000 people were shot in the Windy City in 2015. As with many questions of crime statistics, the story behind the numbers is murkier than a blanket assessment that the protests over policing have had a chilling effect over the ability for law enforcement to do its job.

2015 saw the rise of a heroin epidemic and gangs jumped into the emerging black market, for example. While liberals worry about greenways and clean energy, they forget the basics of governance. Primarily, government's foremost task is providing general safety. And the bottom line is that guns aren't the problem; leftist policies are.



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 January, 2016

Is there an inverse relationship between caution and emotionality?

I think it stands to reason that there is.  Emotion can easily make you throw caution to the winds and you need to be pretty  level-headed to be cautious.  Caution is about thinking ahead and weighing up the possibilities. And that requires cool reflection.  You cannot reasonably do that in the heat of emotions

And that explains something basic about the Left-Right divide.  Conservatives have always characterized themselves as cautious -- as wary of rushing into things -- whereas Leftists are clearly in the grip of strong emotions and throw caution to the winds.  I think we can show that Leftist beliefs and policies make no rational sense but they do make emotional sense. An example of emotionality that any conservative blogger will be familiar with is the choleric rage that Leftists hurl at him or her in the form of emails and online comments.  By contrast, conservatives are less emotional and are thus able to provide an anchor of rationality to public discourse.

The Leftist obsession over equality can only be called a passion.  Equality between different people has never happened, cannot happen and will not happen.  But a push for equality pervades Leftist thinking and policy.  And Leftist are prepared to break heads to achieve their aim of equality. From the French revolution to Soviet Russia and Maoist China they slaughtered millions in support of the deeply felt need for equality that they obviously felt.

Soviet Russia was in fact grossly elitist. Only the Nomenklatura had access to living standards that were normal in the West.  The rest of the population lived very restricted lives with abysmal accommodation and very limited choice of food and clothing.  Even mass murder could not carve a path to equality.  But Russian Leftists were prepared to go to that length to achieve it.

And global warming is another belief that can only be explained by an emotional commitment.  The correlation between global temperature and CO2 levels has repeatedly been shown to be zilch yet Leftists still believe that CO2 causes warming.

And, of course, conservatives are often amazed by the way in which no presentation of facts can budge the beliefs of a Leftist.  You can't reason with emotions.  A Leftist's beliefs serve his emotional needs so a presentation of facts that challenge that belief is met with anger rather than interest.  So the conservative habit of opposing Leftist beliefs with facts is futile.  In doing that, one is challenging deeply felt emotional needs.  The Leftist NEEDS to believe the crazy things he does in order to legitimate deeds and policies that he NEEDS to carry out.

What the emotions are will of course be variable.  Many Leftist voters are presumably genuinely compassionate people who are so deeply moved by what they see as evils in the world about them that they will vote for ANY policy that purports to ameliorate the evil concerned. 

Leftist leaders, on the other hand, may start out that way but because of their greater involvement with the issues concerned will either become wiser and swing Right (as Churchill and Reagan did) or will become bitter and angry at the impossibility of great change in the world's existing arrangements -- and will conclude that no progress towards the Good is possible until the whole existing system is smashed -- which is what drove the French and Russian revolutions.  The Leftist becomes so frustrated at the impossibility of bringing about his dream world that he comes to hate the existing world and to be angry at those who enable or defend it.

So I predict that if a good measure of emotionality can be devised it will be shown to differentiate the Left and Right well. Conservatives will be shown to have milder emotions that enable them to think things through while Leftists will be shown to be emotion dominated.  And I am sure that there are degrees of both orientations and that both extremes are maladaptive.  I have met  Right-leaning people who are so emotionally insensitive that  they are social misfits.  And I have met very emotional Leftists who are a neurotic mess.

Self-report measures of emotionality

There are of course some existing self-report measures of emotionality but self-report measures of politically-relevant variables cannot withstand the characteristic Leftist talent for defensiveness, particularly the defences of compartmentalization and denial.  Leftists are largely incapable of admitting anything dismal or adverse in their thinking.  They usually cannot admit their anger and the bleak thoughts it inspires.

I found just that in my many years of research into attitudes to authority.  I have probably done more published research on that than anyone else alive or dead.  A liking for authority is definitional of Leftism, with Communist countries being the indubitable example of that.  But even in Western countries it is Leftists who are the big advocates of more and more government control over practically everything we do.  They need central power to bring about the changes they want.

Their latest craze is to cut off all reliable sources of electricity in the name of their global warming fantasy.  But no-one in the modern world would voluntarily leave themselves without a reliable source of electricity. So the big problem for Leftists is that, left to themselves, people don't behave in the way that Leftists dream of. So they must be FORCED to do as the Leftist wants. 

And only a very strong central government can achieve that.  Leftism is intrinsically authoritarian.  Mr Obama's declaration on February 16, 2008, that he wanted to "fundamentally transform" America was nothing if not authoritarian. And what could be more authoritarian than one of the more intelligible utterances of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, the founder of European Leftism and  guru to Karl Marx? Hegel said:  "All the worth which the human being possesses, all spiritual reality, he possesses only through the State."

And, just judging by what they advocate, 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

So in questionnaires about attitude to authority Leftists should show a distinct tendency to approve of authority, even a love of it.  But they don't. I repeatedly found in my surveys that Leftists were no more likely to approve of authority than were conservatives. And the reason for that is plain.  Authoritarianism has a bad name.  Everyone knows about Communist brutality. So putting yourself anywhere in that league is resisted.  If they are to have any credibility or popularity at all, Leftists have a desperate need to dissociate themselves from authoritarianism.  So any liking for big authority has to be denied.

The denial is so strong and so fundamental that even social desirability indexes don't pick it up.  Leftists genuinely believe that they are good people and don't think they are faking anything in claiming that.  The evil side of their wishes is brushed aside into a compartment that they don't enter.  They don't confront the viciousness of which they are capable. They desperately need to think well of themselves, as T.S. Eliot observed long ago.  My hypothesis can only reasonably be tested neurologically

There does seem to be real progress in an understanding of the brain so it's possible that my neurological theory above will one day be confirmed. I think I have shown that it explains a lot


This is the charming Far-Leftist that Britain nearly got as Prime Minister

The charmer is Ed Miliband.  His father was Ralph Miliband  -- a Polish Jewish expert on Karl Marx -- and Ed did not fall far from the tree.  Ed is the former leader of the British Labour Party -- who was routed at the last British general election. Lucky Britain



Trump speaks simple sense on guns

Donald Trump wasn't going to wait until Barack Obama's charade of a 2nd Amendment townhall was over to challenge the President's radical anti-gun policy and the worst inclinations of the authoritarian left:

    "As President Obama was at a CNN town hall meeting discussing his passion for gun control, Donald Trump vowed to end gun-free zones.

    The billionaire presidential candidate was hosting a campaign rally in Burlington, Vermont at the same time as Obama’s televised meeting, juxtaposing the two events.

    Perhaps it was no mistake then that Trump chose to talk about gun control at the end of his speech.

    "I will get rid of gun-free zones in schools — you have to — and on military bases on my first day. It gets signed. My first day – there’s no more gun free zones," Trump told supporters as they cheered wildly"

    Trump pointed out that gun-free zones were dangerous because they attracted people considering a mass shooting.

    "You know what a gun-free zone is to a sicko?" Trump asked. "That’s bait."

    He lamented that soldiers were killed by terrorists in a military recruitment center and at a military base because they were not allowed to have weapons – even though they were trained to use firearms.

This is common sense to most Americans outside of the Beltway and the coasts. Good for Trump for understanding.



Confirmed: Obama Let Terrorist Refugees into the Country!

Yesterday, two Middle Eastern refugees were arrested here in the United States on terrorism charges.

Remember when the Left said that there weren’t ever any refugees in the United States arrested for terrorism? We just had two in one day.

And they weren’t connected, mind you. One arrest was made Sacramento, CA and the other was made in Houston, TX. These were two separate lone wolf incidents.

These men came into the country as refugees, underwent "rigorous" background checks according to the President, and then turned to jihad. The fact that we caught them is a miracle.

In the coming week, Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan have promised a vote on a bill to block Middle Eastern refugees from entering the country until full background checks are guaranteed. The President says that the system is good enough and he’s ok with terrorists slipping through.

This is madness!

Both of the men arrested are Palestinians who were born in Iraq. One of them came to the United States in 2009 and the other in 2012.

They were here for years. One agent working on the case has come out and said that their arrest has saved countless lives.

This isn’t about racism. This isn’t about sticking it to a certain group of people and spitefully keeping them out.

Listen… at the end of the day, before you go to bed, you lock your front door. Is it because you hate everyone on the outside? Of course not. You lock your doors because you love everyone on the inside.

We, as a country, need to lock our door and only open it when we know exactly who is trying to get in.

How many more terrorist refugees are already here? How many are concealing themselves and are currently in the application process?

We have said it from the beginning, that even allowing one terrorist to slip through would be a complete failure. Well, the FBI just arrested two in one day.

The American SAFE Act passed Congress with a veto-proof majority earlier in the year. It is up to you and every other patriotic American to hold Congress’ feet to the fire and force members in both parties to vote for this bill!

They passed the bill once already. Demand that Congress halt refugee entries until the Obama administration certifies the background checks!

The Director of the FBI has admitted that the background check system is incomplete and that they cannot fully weed out terrorists. You can’t just pick up the phone and ask the Syrian government for records. There is a civil war ravaging the country. The arrests in Houston and Sacramento prove that terrorists slip through.

We’re just starting to learn of the brutality facing many European communities after letting in unlimited numbers of unvetted refugees. Groups of Arab men roam the streets mugging and sexually assaulting their victims. That is what Obama plans on bringing here.

The fact of the matter is that Obama is moving forward anyway, knowing that he is allowing terrorists into the US anyway, all in the name of political correctness. It isn’t a lot to ask that we verify the identities and intentions of people we let into this country. But Obama won’t delay. He’s on a mission to bring as many of them here as possible and he doesn’t care how many terrorists slip through.



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 January, 2016

Blatant crocodile tears

Liberal networks were super impressed with the waterworks display put on by President Obama the other night. The reluctant commander in chief is using the latest terror attack on American soil as an excuse to grab guns from law abiding Americans, and his emotional display and supposed "evolution" to a policy position he's held for decades impressed a lot of people. But it didn't impress Mark Levin:

    "Did Obama cry when the precious young lady was murdered in cold blood in San Francisco, a sanctuary city? We didn’t hear from him for 48 to 72 hours," Levin said Tuesday. "Did Obama cry when an American reporter was decapitated on tape? No, 10 minutes later he was seen laughing and going off to play golf."

    "Did Obama cry when in the mass murder in San Bernardino, California when he made his statement? No. And he got around and going and visiting the area, and those folks on the way to his vacation," he said. "I’m sorry, I can’t put up with this crap!"

    "Obama has made this a more violent, crime ridden, terrorist target, this nation. He absolutely has. And what did he do to our police departments? What has he done to them? From Ferguson to Chicago to Baltimore," Levin argued the police officers are "treated like crap!"
Levin is right. Obama reserves both his outrage and his effort for instances that fit into his pre conceived view of the world and advance his liberal narrative. Nothing else matter



Russian Church Replaces Rome as the Center of Christianity?

Christians worldwide turn to Russia for protection

At no time in history has the persecution of Christians been as intense and widespread as it is now.  Christians in the Middle East are in dire need of a champion, which, in today’s world can only be a great power, and it is Russia that has taken on that responsibility.

With its secular ideology, the West can no longer protect Christian interests in the world as it did for centuries. Although the USA has a higher percentage of church goers than other Western countries, it underestimates the importance of religion in the countries it targets for regime change. Turning a blind eye to beheadings, child rape and other atrocities, it has created a hell on earth for Christians all over the Middle East.

And with the Arab Spring, things went from bad to worse, as ISIS’ success in Iraq inspired similar groups. The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Boko Haram in Nigeria and Al-Shabaab in Somalia are all committing atrocities against Christians.

Obsessed by its Constitution, the US assumes that it can impose the separation of church and state on a world where cultural and religious traditions run deep.  Its failure to realize that these traditions contribute to a rejection of Western-style democracy, and similarly, to notice  the spiritual dimension of Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy, including his standing among persecuted Christians, gives Russia a decisive advantage.

Vladimir Putin knows that modernity’s separation of politics from religion inspires many across the globe to return to their religious roots. In February 2012, he made a solemn vow to the Russian Orthodox Church to protect persecuted Christians all over the world, a commitment that has even caught the attention of America’s powerful Evangelicals.

Syrian Christians are thrilled and grateful for Russia’s decisive response to the slaughter they have endured for more than four years. But to understand the true significance of this initiative, you have to know that aside from Russia, Georgia and Armenia, there are Orthodox communities in fifteen European and near Eastern countries for whom Putin is increasingly looking like a 21st Century Constantine.

That 4th century Roman emperor converted to Christianity,  put an end to the persecutions Christians had suffered under his predecessors. and granted the Church privileges that allowed it to become a worldwide power. Notwithstanding the electrifying presence of Pope Francis, in future we could see the Eastern Church replace Rome as the center of Christianity.

This will happen without the help of the media. Incapable of imagining the spiritual development that has taken place in Russia since the demise of Communism, it portrays Putin’s assertions of faith as geopolitical opportunism. Yet in his autobiography "First Person", published in 2000, the Russian President declared that the first line in every Russian law should refer to moral values. He wants Russia to be as aware of its spiritual heritage as it is of its political and geographical position.

President Putin is convinced that spirituality has a profound effect on the way a culture develops, providing an indispensable moral compass that goes deeper than passing political expediency and secular "freedom".

As increasing numbers of Christians across the spectrum turn toward Russia, its global influence can only grow.



Health expenses surging in Mass.

Consumers and businesses across Massachusetts will have to pay more for health care in 2016, as insurance rates rise at a faster clip and some premiums soar by double digit rates.

At Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, the state’s biggest commercial insurer, premiums will rise an average of 5 percent this year. Rates are set to increase between 3 and 7 percent at Tufts Health Plan, 6 to 12 percent at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, and as much as 17 percent at Fallon Health.

The jumps in premiums come as insurers pass on the costs of rising drug prices, insurers and analysts said, and grapple with the cost of expanding coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Most of the state’s major health insurers are sharply raising premiums for individuals, small firms, and big businesses, according to a Globe review of figures provided by the insurers and the state Division of Insurance.

For many, the upward trend is troubling.

"People cannot sustain the amount of money they’re paying for health care, " said Joshua Archambault, senior fellow at the Pioneer Institute, a right-leaning Boston think tank. "At some point, people really can’t afford it."

With the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, more people have coverage, and as a result they are using more medical services and prescription drugs, analysts said. In addition, they said, insurers may be passing along the costs of millions of dollars in taxes and fees to finance the expansion of health coverage.

Several insurers and the state Division of Insurance, which approves rates for individual and small-business plans, attribute rising premiums in part to a controversial element of the federal health care law. That program, called risk adjustment, requires insurers with healthier members to make payments to companies with sicker members in order to share the risks and cost of insuring people with a lot of medical needs. It is designed to prevent insurers from boosting profits by enrolling only healthy members.

When the program went into effect in 2015, most insurers ended up paying money to their largest competitor, Blue Cross, which received more than $51 million in risk adjustment payments. Tufts Health Plan received more than $8 million.

The program aims to smooth and stabilize insurance rates, but some insurers say it is having the opposite effect. Companies, including Harvard Pilgrim, which made about $4 million in payments, Fallon, which paid about $11 million, and Neighborhood Health Plan, which paid about $28 million,said they raised rates more in 2016 because of risk-adjustment.

One portion of the market, health plans for individuals and small businesses, shows the steepness of some increases. Harvard Pilgrim raised premiums 8.7 percent for these plans in 2016, compared with a 1.4 percent decline in rates in 2015. Fallon’s rates are up 16.5 percent, compared with a 4.9 percent increase a year earlier. At Neighborhood Health, premiums rose 9.4 percent in 2016, compared to 5.9 percent a year earlier.

The national insurer United HealthCare raised rates 13 percent in 2016, after raising them 4.5 percent a year earlier.

Blue Cross, on the other hand, said the payments it received to help cover its higher population of sicker members helped it keep its premium increases modest: rates for individuals, small businesses, and large businesses are up about 5 percent this year, compared with 4.2 percent in 2015.



Burying Negative Polls

Network news outlets conduct their own polls. They also bury the poll results when they don't like them. On PBS on Jan. 1, liberal pundit Mark Shields brought some very bad news for the left. The NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found 73 percent say they want the next president to take a different approach from President Obama's.

So NBC, both the creator of the poll and a relentless cheerleader of Obama, chose not to air that bombshell. Instead, they buried it deep in an article on the "Meet the Press" website. "This will become a high hurdle for the Democrats at some stage of the 2016 election," Democratic pollster Fred Yang declared in that piece.

So what did they pluck out of their December polling to report instead? Take a look.

Dec. 10: "Nightly News" anchor Lester Holt promoted "brand-new" results that 57 percent of America opposed Donald Trump's notion to ban (temporarily) Muslim immigration to America. On screen, a graphic showed it was 57 percent opposed, and only 25 percent in favor.

Dec. 11: "Today" doubled down. Peter Alexander reported "the firestorm over Trump's proposed Muslim ban keeps raging. Our new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows nearly 6 in 10 Americans oppose Trump's proposal. But Republicans are divided, 42 percent in favor, 36 percent against."

Dec. 13: Both "Meet the Press" and "Nightly News" touted NBC's poll showing Trump on top of GOP race, with 27 percent to Ted Cruz's 22 percent. Still no mention of the current president's unpopularity.

Dec. 14: On "Today," Peter Alexander repeated the Trump/Cruz findings, then added: "There are some new numbers from our NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll out just this morning that show Hillary Clinton would trounce Donald Trump in a head-to-head matchup. It's much closer though between Clinton and Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Ben Carson."

But there's no mention that if she runs on Obama's platform, she too would be crushed.

That evening, "Nightly News" anchor Lester Holt reported, "In our brand-new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll [apparently their polls never age], 40 percent say the federal government's top priority is national security and terrorism. That number has more than doubled since April, and 29 percent say they're worried that they, or a loved one, will be the victim of a terror attack. But today, for the second time in just over a week, President Obama argued that his strategy against ISIS is working."

Holt (and NBC) deliberately skipped numbers revolving around this issue that are far more important. Obama has his lowest approval rating since right before the 2014 midterm wipeout, at 43 percent. More to the point, just 37 percent approve and 57 percent disapprove of the president's handling of foreign policy, and only 34 percent approve and 60 percent disapprove of his handling of ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

NBC's pollsters said these low numbers on foreign policy were comparable to George W. Bush's numbers at this point in his second term. In addition, only 20 percent of the public believes the country is headed in the right direction, versus a whopping 70 percent who think it's on the wrong track.

The networks constantly hammered George W. Bush with bad polling results like these in the long war on terrorism. But for Obama, NBC and the other networks routinely and shamelessly spike these awful numbers to preserve his "legacy" and to keep Clinton "inevitable" in November.



Inside the garden of Political Town Hall Plants

On Thursday, CNN will host a town hall with President Obama as part of his "final-year push to make gun control part of his legacy." In addition to sitting down with liberal anchor Anderson Cooper, the network says Obama will "take questions from the audience."

Uh-oh. Get out your best pruning shears and trowels. In an age of micromanaged partisan stagecraft and left-wing media enablers, there is no such thing as a spontaneous question.

CNN has a long history of allowing political plants to flourish in its public forums.

At the cable station's Democratic debate in Las Vegas in 2007, moderator Wolf Blitzer introduced several citizen questioners as "ordinary people, undecided voters." But they later turned out to include a former Arkansas Democratic director of political affairs, the president of the Islamic Society of Nevada, and a far left anti-war activist who'd been quoted in newspapers lambasting Harry Reid for his failure to pull out of Iraq.

At a CNN/YouTube GOP debate two weeks later, the everyday, "undecided voters" whose questions were chosen included:

—A member of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transexual Americans For Hillary Clinton Steering Committee.

—A young woman named "Journey" who questioned the candidates on abortion and whom CNN failed to properly identify as an outspoken John Edwards supporter.

—A supposed "Log Cabin Republican" who had declared his support for Obama on an Obama '08 campaign blog.

—A supposedly unaffiliated "concerned mother" who was actually a staffer and prominent Pittsburgh union activist for the United Steelworkers — which had endorsed Edwards for president.

—A supposed "undecided" voter who urged Ron Paul to run as an independent, but who had already publicly declared his support for former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson's Democratic presidential bid.

—A staffer for Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.; a former intern for Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., and a former intern for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Once a manipulative gardener, always a manipulative gardener. During the push for Obamacare, Democrat plants spread like kudzu across town hall propaganda events.



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 January, 2016

Does poverty reduce your IQ?

Only in America, allegedly.  That poverty CORRELATES with low IQ has long been known.  Poor people are often that way because they make dumb decisions -- spending all their money on beer, drugs and cigarettes, for instance.  A much more interesting question, therefore is whether poverty CAUSES low IQ.  We know that low IQ causes poverty but does poverty cause low IQ?

A recent very extensive and very sophisticated study set out to examine that -- and the results have been reported enthusiastically -- as showing that poverty DOES have an effect on IQ.  I reproduce a popular report of it below.

I have however, in my usual pesky way, gone back to the underlying academic journal article and read it. I have even looked at the numbers!  Despite its great methodological care and statistical complexity, it is an amusing example of failing to do something that the best journals now recommend:  Pre-register your expectations.  Studies that do not do that are very prone to data dredging effects -- looking for any correlation in the data that seems large and changing your hypothesis to say that's what you expected all along.

And the authors below did not pre-register their expectations.  They data-dredged.  After all the hard work they did in gathering and analysing their data, they initially found NO EFFECT of poverty on IQ.  So they desperately looked at their data to see what was in fact going on.  And they found that if they used U.S. data only, there was a weak effect in the direction expected. 

Findings that were not pre-registered can of course still be accepted and there are long-standing procedures to allow for data dredging -- adopting an experiment-wise error-rate approach, for instance.  That is however very rarely done in fact.  It would take all the fun out of a lot of research. But some approach to allowing for that sort of thing is now being given emphasis in journal review policies.  In simple words, a much stronger effect is required for an unplanned relationship to be taken seriously. A weak relationship could be just a random oscillation.

The effects reported below were however very slight so I think that by current academic standards we should accept the null hypothesis.  We should conclude that poverty does NOT demonstrably affect IQ.

I don't like to flog a dead horse but a second defect in the study is that the findings were not controlled for race. Could race alone account for the aberrant U.S. results?  Knowing as we do how atypical are the IQs of persons with sub-Saharan African ancestry ("blacks", to use non-academic language) the researchers  should clearly have excluded blacks from all analyses on the grounds that they are a quite separate population requiring study in their own right.  The authors admit this but did not do it

The original study is rather misleadingly titled:  "Large Cross-National Differences in Gene × Socioeconomic Status Interaction on Intelligence"

Poverty has long been linked with lower levels of intelligence, especially among children, but a new study has suggested its impact may depend on where you live.

Scientists believe a person's intelligence is formed by a complex interplay between the genes they inherit from their parents and the environment they grow up in.

But a study of twins has determined that childhood poverty appears to 'dampen down' the potential contained within a person's genes - and the situation varies from country to country.

The study, conducted by researchers at University of Texas at Austin and the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, found people born in the US tend to suffer the effects of poverty more.

Elsewhere, the link between poverty and a lower IQ was less noticeable in Western Europe and Australia, and in fact the opposite may be true in the Netherlands.

The study, which is published in the journal Psychological Science, analysed the findings of 14 peer-reviewed papers.

Combined, they drew upon almost 25,000 sets of twins and siblings from the US, Australia, England, Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands.

The researchers said the differences between the US and European countries may be due in part to more universal access to healthcare, which has helped to close some socioeconomic gaps.

Differences in the education systems in the countries may also play a role.

The researchers behind the study added that the results could prove useful in helping to tackle gaps between socioeconomic groups.

They said that providing more uniform access to education and healthcare can counter and even reverse the negative effect of poverty on genes involved in IQ.



Oregon standoff: Militia occupy wildlife refuge for fourth day

The Leftist attempt to brand these people as "terrorists" is typical Leftist absurdity.  Terrorists kill people.  Who have these people killed?  Similar groups agitating for Leftist causes would be called "protesters" -- and that is what these people are.  And, to use more leftist terminology, what they are doing is a "sit in"

AMMON Bundy, the militiaman leading a standoff at a remote US wildlife centre in Oregon now in its fourth day, has hit back at claims he is a domestic terrorist.

Saturday’s takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge outside the town of Burns, Oregon, was spurred by the imprisonment of two ranchers for setting fires that spread to federal land. The occupation marked the latest protest over federal management of public land in the west, long seen by political conservatives in the region as an intrusion on individual freedom and property rights.

Bundy, 40, whose father’s ranch in Nevada was the scene of an armed standoff against federal land managers in 2014, said his group was defending the Constitution and personal liberty against the federal government.

Online, public opinion was sharply split on what was quickly dubbed the #Oregonstandoff, with many branding the takeover an act of domestic terrorism, while others saw an act of resistance against government oppression.

A CNN reporter approached Bundy on Monday night and asked him about people saying his group is committing terrorism.

"There’s been a lot of social media discussion about what you all are doing out here," the reporter said. "They’ve used words like ‘Ya’ll Qaeda’ and ‘Vanilla ISIS.’  And while they sound like funny names, they are basically calling you terrorists. How do you respond to these kinds of accusations?"

Bundy responded: "Well I would just encourage — well, one, I think that is the minority. But I would encourage people to look into what is really happening and find out who is truly doing the terrorising," he said.

"Who has been taking ranches? This refuge alone, over 100 ranches have been taken so they can make this refuge."
Ammon Bundy CNN interview

The protesters say they aim to protect the rights of ranchers and start a national debate about states’ rights and federal land-use policy that they hope will force the federal government to release tracts of western land.

The FBI said it was working with state and local law enforcement for a peaceful resolution.

The ranchers whose cause Bundy’s group has embraced — Dwight Hammond Jr. and his son, Steven — surrendered to federal authorities in California on Monday after being resentenced to longer prison terms for arson.

While turning themselves in they complained their five-year terms were "far too long" and announced they would seek rare clemency from President Barack Obama.

A Gallup poll released last month showed a majority of Americans view "big government" as the biggest threat to the nation in the future, when asked to choose between that, big labour and big business.



Crocodile tears

PRESIDENT Barack Obama wiped away tears as he condemned gun violence across the US and announced a new plan to tighten gun rules.

Mr Obama delivered a powerful address in the White House on Tuesday, surrounded by family members of people killed in shootings. His voice rose to a yell as he said the constitutional rights of Americans to bear arms needed to be balanced by the right to worship and gather peacefully.

"People are dying. And the constant excuses for inaction no longer do, no longer suffice," he said. "That is why we are here today. Not to debate the last mass shooting, but to do something to prevent the next one."

Mr Obama has often said his toughest time in office was grappling with the December 2012 massacre of 20 children and six adults at a primary school in Newtown, Connecticut.  "Every time I think about those kids, it gets me mad," Mr Obama said, tears rolling down his cheek.

Mr Obama laid out executive action he is taking to require more gun sellers to get licences and more gun buyers to undergo background checks.



Obama plans to allow health care providers to provide information about mentally ill patients to the FBI for its background check system. No one wants a mentally ill and potentially violent person to be able to buy a firearm in order to hurt or kill people, but we expect that Obama telling states and agencies to violate HIPAA and snitch on patients isn't going to survive in court. The sticking point has always been what constitutes sufficient mental problems to override Second Amendment rights. Furthermore, Obama's implied assertion that this will deter "gun violence" is dubious.

The background check provision is both worrisome and peculiar, in that it could have some interesting effects that Obama didn't' intend.

Obama will direct the ATF to focus on what it means to be "engaged in the business" of selling firearms. "Quantity and frequency of sales are relevant indicators," the White House fact sheet says. "There is no specific threshold number of firearms purchased or sold that triggers the licensure requirement."

In other words, Obama took a vague requirement and ... did nothing to make it more specific. Instead, it will be left to the ATF to look for people "engaged in the business." As The Truth About Guns' Nick Leghorn put it, "Either the Executive Action is simply Obama paying lip service to 'closing the gun show loophole' by appearing tough on private gun sales while actually doing nothing, or this is Obama being purposefully vague to allow his ATF to go after as many people as possible."

On the other hand, Obama, already Gun Salesman of the Decade, might also become "kitchen table FFL dealer" creator of the decade. If he's going to blur the line around what constitutes "engaged in the business" of selling firearms, then more Americans than ever could soon become not only gun owners but licensed firearms dealers.

Complicating the process by which trusts obtain items regulated by the National Firearms Act (NFA) targets already law-abiding gun owners, not criminals. If you try to find examples of NFA-regulated items being used in crimes, you'll have to go back at least a decade. Even then there's some disagreement since the federal government doesn't track those crimes, likely because then they'd have to admit crime with such items isn't a real problem.

In short, there is absolutely no rationale for Obama changing anything related to NFA items. It's just a way to say "screw you" to the most enthusiastic gun owners — the "bitter clingers," if you will. Most people can't afford a $30,000 fully automatic M16, but most of the people who can are likely Republicans who donate heavily to the NRA.

Obama has done nothing to deter crime. Does anyone expect the gang bangers of Chicago, for example, to suddenly engage in only lawful firearms transactions? Murder is against the law, no matter the weapon used. Criminals won't comply or be deterred by this new hoop.

It's also worth reiterating that these measures wouldn't have stopped a single recent mass shooting, from Newtown to San Bernardino. Obama knows that, which simply means he's aiming for what's beyond the target.

Meanwhile, one positive change is that people will no longer need permission from their local Chief Law Enforcement Officer to obtain an item regulated under the NFA, like suppressors. In some states, that's a big deal, because individuals can't procure NFA items when their sheriff or police chief refuses to approve any and all NFA applications.

Obama wants to appropriate "funding for 200 new ATF agents and investigators to help enforce our gun laws." As we have noted previously, enforcement under Obama has become lax. We're hardly in favor of expanding bureaucracy, but if enforcing the laws already on the books becomes a focus, then it might be a welcome change.

Far more worrisome than the specific proposals themselves, Obama's actions continue a tyrannical trend: He demands his ideological preferences be passed into law, and when Congress declines, he takes action to do it anyway. As House Speaker Paul Ryan put it, Obama "is at minimum subverting the legislative branch, and potentially overturning its will." Ryan added, "This is a dangerous level of executive overreach."

Specifics aside, this lawlessness not only is a grossly unconstitutional executive overreach in itself, but it sets a precedent and a legacy that is dangerous to our Republic.

More HERE 

There is a  new  lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- mostly about political correctness and the Cecil Rhodes controversy


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 January, 2016

High doses of Vitamin D can be bad for you

I often wonder whether the Left or the Right are more likely to be health freaks. In particular, who is more likely to be a pill popper?  I was amused to see how science fiction author and conservative blogger Bill Quick was attached to his "supplements".  He clearly believed that his daily dose of vitamins etc kept him healthy.  When I made skeptical comments about that (Me, skeptical?) he got on his high horse and unfriended me on Facebook and put a block on my email access to him. I was mightily amused by that act of religious devotion.  He even called me unscientific.  When a novelist calls an actual much-published scientist unscientific, that is amusing too.  It would have been interesting if he had tried to prove it but he did not

Anyway, there is plenty of literature showing that too much of anything tends to be bad for you.  I think the craze for high doses of vitamin C has now run its course by now, for instance.

The recent study below is only a small one but getting any significant effect from such a small sample over a short period is interesting. The point of the study was to find out if you could make oldsters (like Bill Quick) less shaky on their pins by dosing them up with a pile of vitamin D. Sadly, the hi-dose  vitamin just made them fall over MORE.

Some kind person should pass on a link to this to poor old Bill Quick. His site is Daily Pundit.  If it is of any interest, at age 72 I take no pills of any kind.  I have a weakness for gin, though

Monthly High-Dose Vitamin D Treatment for the Prevention of Functional Decline: A Randomized Clinical Trial

By Heike A. Bischoff-Ferrari, et al.


Importance:  Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with poor physical performance.

Objective:  To determine the effectiveness of high-dose vitamin D in lowering the risk of functional decline.

Design, Setting, and Participants:  One-year, double-blind, randomized clinical trial conducted in Zurich, Switzerland. The screening phase was December 1, 2009, to May 31, 2010, and the last study visit was in May 2011. The dates of our analysis were June 15, 2012, to October 10, 2015. Participants were 200 community-dwelling men and women 70 years and older with a prior fall.

Interventions:  Three study groups with monthly treatments, including a low-dose control group receiving 24?000 IU of vitamin D3 (24?000 IU group), a group receiving 60?000 IU of vitamin D3 (60?000 IU group), and a group receiving 24?000 IU of vitamin D3 plus 300 ?g of calcifediol (24?000 IU plus calcifediol group).

Main Outcomes and Measures:  The primary end point was improving lower extremity function (on the Short Physical Performance Battery) and achieving 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels of at least 30 ng/mL at 6 and 12 months. A secondary end point was monthly reported falls. Analyses were adjusted for age, sex, and body mass index.

Results: The study cohort comprised 200 participants (men and women ?70 years with a prior fall). Their mean age was 78 years, 67.0% (134 of 200) were female, and 58.0% (116 of 200) were vitamin D deficient (<20 ng/mL) at baseline. Intent-to-treat analyses showed that, while 60?000 IU and 24?000 IU plus calcifediol were more likely than 24?000 IU to result in 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels of at least 30 ng/mL (P?=?.001), they were not more effective in improving lower extremity function, which did not differ among the treatment groups (P?=?.26). However, over the 12-month follow-up, the incidence of falls differed significantly among the treatment groups, with higher incidences in the 60?000 IU group (66.9%; 95% CI, 54.4% to 77.5%) and the 24?000 IU plus calcifediol group (66.1%; 95% CI, 53.5%-76.8%) group compared with the 24?000 IU group (47.9%; 95% CI, 35.8%-60.3%) (P?=?.048). Consistent with the incidence of falls, the mean number of falls differed marginally by treatment group. The 60?000 IU group (mean, 1.47) and the 24?000 IU plus calcifediol group (mean, 1.24) had higher mean numbers of falls compared with the 24?000 IU group (mean, 0.94) (P?=?.09).

Conclusions and Relevance:  Although higher monthly doses of vitamin D were effective in reaching a threshold of at least 30 ng/mL of 25-hydroxyvitamin D, they had no benefit on lower extremity function and were associated with increased risk of falls compared with 24?000 IU.

JAMA Intern Med. Published online January 04, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.7148


A new financial meltdown looming?

By economic historian MARTIN HUTCHINSON

Imagine a game of Monopoly(™ Parker Brothers) in which the money supply for each player was infinite. You would see a glut of houses on all available spaces, followed in due course by a glut of hotels. Players would never go bankrupt, and all available spaces would be built until they could not physically hold any more wooden house/hotel tokens. Relaxing the normal constraints would make it a very dull game, with little suspense involved.

Well, that’s basically where we are today with the Fed’s monetary policies. The glut of houses happened in 2007; we are now seeing the glut of hotels. Needless to say, just as the housing glut became a deep depression with massive loss of wealth, so too today’s glut of hotels will shortly come to an unpleasant end.

The hotels glut has been building for several years. Having spoken at a hotel conference in 1999, I am the lucky recipient of a weekly newsletter, the International Hotel Investment News, detailing bids, deals and expansion in the global hotel industry. This has been extraordinarily bullish for about five years now, and last week reported that 2015 was yet another record year for lodging transactions, with deal volume up 56% in the first half of the year worldwide and 73% above last year’s level in the United States. Total deal volume in 2015 is expected to come in at $68 billion. The largest of these transactions, Marriott’s takeover of Starwood, is expected to create the world’s largest hotel company with 1.1 million rooms. Overall, IHIF described 2015 as a "dead sprint toward high occupancy and record rates."

While business and leisure travel have also been increasing year by year, the world’s slow economic growth must put a cap on them – as evidenced by the positively spooky deserted nature of a large luxury hotel in Stamford, CT. in which I spent a day just before Christmas. Not the high season, admittedly, but Stamford is a very prosperous town and a major nexus of the hedge fund and financial sectors – in other words one of the world’s solidest and best hotel markets.

The problem is worldwide; Hong Kong retail sales are reported to be down in absolute terms this year because of a dearth of Chinese tourists. You can bet that Hong Kong hotels, an exuberantly overbuilt market, will also be hurting badly. The Macao casino business, also, is down by about two thirds following China’s crackdown on corruption.

What’s more the hotel space is being disrupted by Airbnb, the agency for private apartment and room lettings, which currently has only $900 million in projected revenues this year but in 2015 raised $1.5 billion in new venture capital on a $25.5 billion valuation, double the valuation of Starwood, the object of the year’s largest hotel M&A transaction. As we know from the retail business in 2008-09, that kind of disruption has to produce bankruptcies somewhere, either of the disruptor (unlikely with such a well-funded operation) or among the disrupted.

You would expect a hotel bubble. The Fed had ensured that banks have oodles of money to lend at ultra-low interest rates, generally below the rate of inflation before the risk premium is added in. That has naturally caused a surplus of investment in real estate, which has apparently stable cash flows that can surplus gigantic amounts of debt if the interest rates are low enough. In 2004-07 the surplus went into housing. Then the market crashed, negating participants’ assumptions about the invulnerability of home values to market decline.

This time around, the memory of pain from housing is too recent, so that sector has remained relatively controlled (though a price rise of 5.2% nationwide in the year to October, at a time when general inflation is about zero, indicates that exuberance has not entirely disappeared.) Retail real estate, too, had produced a lot of losses in 2008-09, as the Internet shook up the sector and consigned major operations such as Blockbuster Video to irrelevance. The hotel sector, on the other hand, has no recent history of major disaster and apparently had the right sort of steady income, especially in the luxury sector, which could be used to support a mountain of debt. Thus in November 2015 the number of hotel rooms under construction was 21% above the previous year (which was already a buoyant market), with some markets such as Los Angeles/Long Beach up over 100%.

The junk bond market is already in trouble, largely because of energy sector financing that depended on $100 oil. During the course of 2016, it is likely to see wave after wave of defaults and downgrades, as companies run into difficulties and discover that their cash flow is insufficient and refinancing possibilities have dried up. The tightening in the junk bond market and the leveraged loan market will also affect the hotel sector, as companies with unexpectedly tight cash flow and big expansion plans find themselves unable to raise the necessary finance.

The result will be a credit market Armageddon, similar to that of 2007-08, but this time not confined to housing. Just as in 2007-08, financial institutions will find themselves caught in the resulting backwash. This time, however, the biggest losers will not be the investment banks caught in the intricacies of securitized housing finance but the banks themselves, which will have lent directly against energy and hotels, without having laid off all the risk on unfortunate German regional banks through securitization. The downturn will prove that it is not necessary to be large and financially sophisticated to get into difficulties; if the Fed pursues extreme monetary policies even the simplest bank business strategy can go drastically wrong.

Monopoly™ was originally invented to show the evils of real estate speculation, and popularize Henry George’s (1839-97) eccentric theories on land ownership, which held that all land should be held in common with any increases in its value taxed at 100% to contribute to the needs of the state. The game failed to move the needle much on the popularity of George’s beliefs, but we can expect that a real financial crisis, which will appear to have been caused by excessive property speculation, will bring George’s theories very much back into vogue.

In 2008, the left asserted that the crisis had been caused by a lack of sufficiently detailed bank regulation, rather than by a combination of crazed Fed monetary policies and Federal meddling with the housing market to achieve social goals thought to be desirable. This time around, apart from a general demand for more regulation and more state spending, it seems unimaginable that we will escape demands for higher taxes. Thus a George tax on land value appreciation (without the George preference for abolishing all other taxes to make way for it) seems a likely demand, concentrated on the rich and with a certain amount of plausibility in the claim that it is relatively economically un-damaging.

Monopoly™ is realistic in that it is an excess of money in the game which produces bankruptcies; if money is limited the smart player concentrates on acquiring railroad stations and reaping the modest but steady rewards from those genuine operating businesses. Only when the amounts of money in the game become huge does the concentration of hotels become excessive and the game become a form of financial Russian Roulette with massive, indeed excessive rewards for the winners and total wipeout for the losers. Sound familiar?

The solution to the current cycle of massive overbuilding in real estate and speculative projects, producing massive and destructive bankruptcy cycles once a decade is simple as in Monopoly™ – reduce the supply of money and make it more expensive to borrow. Our current economy, if operated with sound money and light regulation, would produce all the productivity gains of the halcyon period 1948-73.



Scotland: Another prominent Leftist who thinks she is above the restrictions she wants to place on others

Self-love is very big among Leftists

A nationalist MP who campaigned against the sell-off of social housing has been accused of 'shameless hypocrisy' after buying up ex-council flats.

Dr Lisa Cameron makes thousands of pounds from renting the properties to her constituents, who pay more than tenants in identical homes still in public hands.

A Scottish Daily Mail investigation has uncovered the details of her £628,000 portfolio of seven properties, which includes five ex-local authority dwellings in impoverished areas – three of which were repossessions, sold off at bargain prices after previous owners could not keep up their mortgage payments.

The homes are now rented out on the private market for up to £400 a month – around £150 more than the average council rent for the East Kilbride area she represents.

Dr Cameron's husband, who was declared bankrupt less than three years ago, is responsible for the day-to-day running of the flourishing business.

But at a General Election hustings in April, 43-year-old Dr Cameron vowed to 'oppose the sale of housing association homes', arguing: 'We need to make sure we have affordable homes for people within our communities. We would end austerity to the most vulnerable people and support them in finding homes.'

In recent years there have been up to 4,000 people on the housing waiting list in East Kilbride, and South Lanarkshire Council has struggled with a shortfall of affordable housing.

In 2013, Nicola Sturgeon scrapped the popular right-to-buy policy for council tenants in an effort to prevent the further sell-off of homes.

The First Minister, who has said it is 'absolutely vital that people can access social housing when they need it most', will come under intense pressure to take action against her MP.

The party is still reeling after it suspended another MP, Michelle Thomson, amid a police investigation into allegations of mortgage fraud involving property deals.

On top of the £74,000 Westminster salary to which she is entitled, Dr Cameron receives £150 a month from her company, Psychological Services Scotland, for five hours' work supervising the reports of an assistant forensic psychologist.

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)


5 January, 2016

Trump Popularity Soars With Group Democrats Fear Losing Most

Ever since Donald Trump shook the foundation of our voting population in the middle of 2015, it’s been all Trump ever since. We know that he takes a solid 25 percent or more in most Republican primary polls. We know that the other primary candidates are often asked about Trump and his comments. We know that the Republican establishment still hasn’t figured out how to respond to him.

But what happens when we add Democrats, independents and unaffiliated voters into the mix?

According to new data by Civis Analytics, those who identify as Republicans but are actually registered as Democrats support the real estate mogul at a higher rate than registered Republicans.

While we do know that not all Democrats will support Trump, this graph is a testament to the bipartisan appeal of his common-sense solutions and his "git-er-done" attitude.

Hot Air derived two important — and possibly contradictory — conclusions from this data:

"If you’re a Trump fan, here’s the smoking gun that he really is a new Reagan, the guy who’s going to broaden the tent and sweep to victory in November by bringing centrist Democrats into the GOP."

Hot Air also had some choice words about the Obama administration’s effect on the Democrats:

"During the Obama era, many of these voters have abandoned the Democrats. Many Democrats may now even identify as Republicans, or as independents who lean Republican, when asked by pollsters — a choice that means they’re included in a national Republican primary survey, whether they remain registered as Democrats or not."

After seeing a chart like this, I can’t help but think that Hillary Clinton’s and Bernie Sanders’ campaigns may morph into an effort to salvage and revive their lukewarm Democrat voter base.

Honestly, I can’t wait to see what the average Democrat does when they receive their next health insurance bill, which will be sky-high under 2016 mandates. A lot of questions will be asked and a lot of hard truths will be told — and more of the Democrats’ failed policies will be fully exposed.



Obama Releasing The Worst Terrorist Yet!

The President is pushing to release as many prisoners from Guantanamo Bay as fast as possible. The next terrorist slated for release is Haji Hamidullah. Let me tell you a little bit about this scumbag.

Previously, Obama has released lesser terrorists, such as Osama bin Laden's bodyguards. But now, he is going for it all.

Haji Hamidullah first popped up on our radar when American forces discovered his plan to smuggle shoulder-fired rockets into the Kabul Airport to start taking down commercial and military planes. In January, a raid on his compound discovered that he did in fact obtain rockets for an attack on the airport. This is a man who was potentially days away from shooting down commercial airliners.

Hamidullah was implicated in a number of high profile Taliban attacks before he was ultimately captured in the summer of 2003.

When he was interrogated, Defense Department officials determined that he had a high intelligence value and a high likelihood of returning to fight if ever released. That’s the determination of Joint Task Force – Guantanamo. If Haji Hamidullah was ever released, innocent people would once again wind up in his crosshairs. Their recommendation in 2007 was ongoing detention.

Now, President Obama is preparing to let him go. Obama is going to send him back to some third world prison where he’ll surely escape. And then he’ll be back on the battlefield killing Americans and our allies.

What is Obama thinking?!

Luckily, the Pentagon is fighting back. Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve learned that Pentagon officials have been deliberately delaying and sabotaging the President’s Guantanamo releases.

For example, one prisoner was slated to be released to another country but needed to pass a physical before being allowed across the border. The country demanded the terrorist’s medical records and Pentagon officials simply refused, citing health privacy laws. That's not a joke. The Pentagon used HIPAA to stop the President from setting these monsters free.

A handful of bureaucrats were able to stall long enough to call off the transfer.

But the White House is getting wise to this. When someone gets in the way of their goals to put terrorists back onto the battlefield, they replace them with a loyalist who will happily push their agenda.

Rumor has it that was one of the reasons that former-Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel was forced out.

The truth is that as we speak, opponents to Obama’s plans are being reassigned and the prisoner releases are being put back on schedule.



Under pressure, Hildabeest finally recognizes genocide when she sees it

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton says she now believes the Islamic State group’s persecution of Christians, the Yazidi minority and other religious and ethnic minorities in the Middle East should be defined as "genocide."

Her declaration came Tuesday night in response to a voter at a town hall in New Hampshire, her last campaign event of 2015. Clinton said she’s been reluctant to use the term in recent months because calling something "genocide" has broad implications.

The voter who asked Clinton to use the term "genocide" to describe the Islamic State killings cited world leaders including the Pope and various advocacy groups that are using the phrase to define the extremist group’s killing of Christians, Yazidis, Kurdish Muslims, and other religious and ethnic minorities.

"Will you join those leaders, faith leaders and secular leaders and political leaders from both the right and the left, in calling what is happening by its proper name: Genocide?" the voter asked.

"I will because we now have enough evidence," Clinton replied.

The Islamic State group’s actions, she said, are "deliberately aimed at destroying not only the lives, but wiping out the existence of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East in territory controlled by ISIS."



Hillary's Marxist Agenda

Hillary Clinton is running a new series of radio ads in South Carolina that were originally written by Karl Marx.

The ads declare America’s capitalist economy to be a rigged game and vow punitive government actions against job creators to make salaries equal.

They’re intended to sap support from her nearest rival Bernie Sanders, a U.S. Senator from Vermont and member of the Socialist Party.

Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton has begun airing radio ads in Iowa and South Carolina that sound off against income inequality — the same platform on which her top rival Bernard Sanders has been running.

"On average, it takes 300 Americans working for a solid year to make as much money as one top CEO," one ad whines. "It’s called the wage gap."

"Boosting incomes for hardworking families so they can afford a middle class life is the defining economic challenge of our time," wails another. 



Many a true word ...


Last, the good news

2015 – By John Stossel

We reporters focus on bad news, but at year’s end, let’s remember what went right. 2015 was a better time to be alive than most any prior point in history.

The rich got richer. Some people think that’s a problem, but why? Do rich people sit on their piles of money and cackle about how rich they are? Do they build giant houses that damage the environment? Well, they sometimes do.

But mostly they invest, hoping to get richer still. Those investments create jobs and better products and make most everyone else richer. Even if the rich leave money in banks, banks lend it to people who put it to productive use.

Sure, income inequality has grown – but so what? The rich don’t get richer at the expense of the poor. Poor people’s income grew 48 percent over the past 35 years. Bernie Sanders says that "the middle class is disappearing!" But that’s mainly because many middle-class people moved into the upper class. Middle class incomes grew 40 percent over the past 30 years.

This year we heard more horror stories about bad schools and students who don’t learn. But take heart: Seven more states passed education choice legislation.

That means more students can opt out of bad schools and pick better ones, and over the long haul competing schools will have to get better at what they do. That will lead to a brighter future for all students – and for society, which will benefit from their improved skills.

In 2015, two more states and Washington, D.C., legalized marijuana. Authorities are always reluctant to give up control, but gradually the end of the expensive, destructive and futile drug war will come.

Meanwhile, real crime – violence and thefts – continue to fall. We cover horrible mass shootings and spikes in crime in cities like Baltimore and St. Louis, but overall, crime is down – over the past 20 years, down by about half.

Unfortunately, terrorism has increased – mainly because of ISIS in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Nevertheless, there are far fewer deaths from war and terror than there were 30 years ago, and in America, the odds of you or your family being killed by a terrorist are infinitesimal compared to disease, accidents and a thousand more-ordinary threats.

Marriage is good for civilization. This year the Supreme Court declared that gay people may get married. Government shouldn’t be in the marriage business at all, since marriage is a contract between individuals, but if it’s going to wade into that issue, it’s better to have one clear rule instead of ugly ongoing fights about it.

Ending the political squabble means we can all go back to minding our own business and worrying about our own marriages.

In 2015, women in Saudi Arabia got to vote.

More countries elected leaders, rather than inheriting them.

The picture isn’t all rosy. As I mentioned, terrorism is up. Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are on track to lead America into bankruptcy. We have eternal problems like hunger and disease.  But even those "eternal" problems are closer to being solved than they used to be.

Thanks to better vaccines, 6 million fewer children under the age of 5 die each year compared to 30 years ago.

Twenty-five years ago, 2 billion people lived in extreme poverty – that meant surviving on about a dollar a day, often with little access to basic needs like water and food. "Experts" predicted that number would rise as the population grew. Happily, thanks to the power of free markets, they were wrong. In the space of a generation, half the people most in need in the world were rescued.

Ten percent of the world’s people still live in dire poverty, but the trend is clear: Where there is rule of law and individual freedom, humanity is better off. As Marian Tupy of HumanProgress.org puts it, "Away from the front pages of our newspapers and television, billions of people go about their lives unmolested, enjoying incremental improvements that make each year better than the last."

So enjoy it. Happy New 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)


4 January, 2016

Did Mohammed exist?

Islam claims that, during his lifetime, Mohammed took a night journey on a flying steed, called al Buraq, to Jerusalem to the Farthest (al-Aqsa) Mosque.  The irony is that, according to Muslim sources, there was no mosque in Jerusalem for Mohammed to visit.  So why are they fighting over what never was?

Official Muslim history says Mohammed died in 632 AD – if one uses the Islamic calendar, the year 10.  Of this, there is no debate among imams, mullahs, Shi'a, Sunni, Wahhabi, Sufi, etc.  By every account, Western or Islamic, Arab armies did not reach Byzantine Roman Christian Jerusalem until 636 AD of our calendar, to immediately set a siege.  The Arabs did not enter in until 637 AD, when Christians finally surrendered the city.

Almost five years after Mohammed's death.  Five years!

Even were one to accept Islam, there were no mosques in Jerusalem until after Mohammed's death.  Whenever and wherever Mohammed made his night journey, al-Aqsa could not have been in Jerusalem.

This is only if one accepts Islam.  If one does not accept Islam, the story unravels even further.

Western deconstructionists now question the very existence of Islam's Mohammed.  The British historian Tom Holland and America's Robert Spencer  have done masterful jobs pointing out that the Mohammed of the Koran is a collection of biographic myths, appended centuries later.  The Christian apologist Jay Smith has made a career of deflating Islamic claims.  All three trace the legends of Mohammed back to the fertile imagination of Abd al Malik, the fifth caliph of the new Arab Empire – an empire that did not even call itself Muslim originally.

Was there even a Mohammed?

Probably!  But the Koran exaggerates and inflates his life.  And his teachings?  In fact, much of Koranic doctrine can be traced to then centuries-old Gnostic texts that arose after the birth of Christianity.

That is it. Soon after Christianity started, counterfeit Gnostic gospels arose in the second century.  These were discredited early on by the Church, but the ridiculous legends remained floating around among the Arabs.  Mohammed plagiarized from counterfeits for his own political motives.  Hence, the Koran, rather than being revealed wisdom from God, was rather a bastardized recompilation of earlier counterfeits, which Mohammed jumbled for his own ends.  What astounds us is that Mohammed used such ridiculous sources to counterfeit from.

Further aggravating this are the Koranic references to Mecca that have been shown could apply only to the Nabateans in Petra.  The Koran mentions olives, which do not grow in Mecca.  The earliest mosques pointed to Petra, not Mecca.

Did Mohammed exist?  If he did, was Mohammed from Petra, or did he borrow Petra sources?  We know he borrowed from the Gnostics.  And why doesn't Mecca show up on any maps until 900 AD?

But now, for the absolute coup de grace: "The 'Birmingham Koran' fragment that could shake Islam after carbon-dating suggests it is OLDER than the Prophet Muhammad"

Islam, and its prophet, may be a total fraud.

Of course, a lot of this is arcane stuff.  The average Westerner is not going to learn Arabic, nor its myriad ancient dialects, to source this myth out.  Nor, for that matter, will the modern Muslim.

But a Muslim can be asked this one simple question.  If official Muslim history says Islam entered into Jerusalem during Mohammed's lifetime, how could al-Aqsa (The Farthest Mosque) possibly be in Jerusalem?  How could Mohammed visit a mosque that did not exist?

Concerning religion, one can argue whether Buddism's Mahabodhi Temple bears a real connection to the Budda or is primarily a British reconstruction, but Buddism does not rise or fall based on the Mahabodhi Temple.  Catholicism does not require Rome; during the 14th century, the pope was based in France.  Eastern Christianity does not require Constantinople.  Protestantism does not require Geneva.

But Islam's claim to al-Aqsa requires that a mosque existed in Jerusalem during Mohammed's lifetime.  Muslims even admit that the present al-Aqsa site was originally built in 705 AD, over seventy years after Mohammed's death.  Islam has a real problem.  Their own history contradicts their claim.

The mosque on the Temple Mount should therefore be referred to as "the Southern Mosque," given its location on the Temple Mount at the southern end.  No one should indulge this Islamic error.  Media commentators should be called out for even saying "al-Aqsa" at all.  Every Muslim must hear the truth – if not from their leaders, then from the West.



The ‘Refugee Crisis’: Muslim History vs. Western Fantasy

Those who forget or ignore history are destined to be conquered by those who remember and praise it

Raymond Ibrahim

One of the primary reasons Islamic and Western nations are "worlds apart" is because the way they understand the world is worlds apart.  Whereas Muslims see the world through the lens of history, the West has jettisoned or rewritten history to suit its ideologies. 

This dichotomy of Muslim and Western thinking is evident everywhere.  When the Islamic State declared that it will "conquer Rome" and "break its crosses," few in the West realized that those are the verbatim words and goals of Islam’s founder and his companions as recorded in Muslim sources —words and goals that prompted over a thousand years of jihad on Europe.

Most recently, the Islamic State released a map of the areas it plans on expanding into over the next five years.  The map includes European nations such as Portugal, Spain, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Greece, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Romania, Armenia, Georgia, Crete, Cyprus, and parts of Russia.

The reason these European nations are included in the Islamic State’s map is simple.  According to Islamic law, once a country has been conquered (or "opened," as it’s called in the euphemistic Arabic), it becomes Islamic in perpetuity.

This, incidentally, is the real reason Muslims despise Israel.  It’s not due to sympathy for the Palestinians —if so, neighboring Arab nations would’ve absorbed them long ago (just as they would be absorbing all of today’s Muslim refugees). 

No, Israel is hated because the descendants of "apes and pigs" —to use the Koran’s terminology —dare to rule land that was once "opened" by jihad and therefore must be returned to Islam.  (Read more about Islam’s "How Dare You?!" phenomenon to understand the source of Islamic rage, especially toward Israel.)

All the aforementioned European nations are also seen as being currently "occupied" by Christian "infidels" and in need of "liberation."  This is why jihadi organizations refer to terrorist attacks on such countries as "defensive jihads."

One rarely heard about Islamic designs on European nations because they are large and blocked together, altogether distant from the Muslim world.  Conversely, tiny Israel is right in the heart of the Islamic world—hence why most jihadi aspirations were traditionally geared toward the Jewish state: it was more of a realistic conquest. 

Now, however, that the "caliphate" has been reborn and is expanding before a paralytic West, dreams of reconquering portions of Europe—if not through jihad, then through migration—are becoming more plausible, perhaps even more so than conquering Israel.

Because of their historical experiences with Islam, some central and east European nations are aware of Muslim aspirations.  Hungary’s prime minister even cited his nation’s unpleasant past under Islamic rule (in the guise of the Ottoman Empire) as reason to disallow Muslim refugees from entering. 

But for more "enlightened" Western nations—that is, for idealistic nations that reject or rewrite history according to their subjective fantasies—Hungary’s reasoning is unjust, unhumanitarian, and racist.  

To be sure, most of Europe has experience with Islamic depredations.  As late as the seventeenth century, even distant Iceland was being invaded by Muslim slave traders. Roughly 800 years earlier, in 846, Rome was sacked and the Vatican defiled by Muslim raiders.

Some of the Muslims migrating to Italy vow to do the same today, and Pope Francis acknowledges it.  Yet, all the same, he suggests that "you can take precautions, and put these people to work."  (We’ve seen this sort of thinking before: the U.S. State Department cites a lack of "job opportunities" as reason for the existence of the Islamic State).

Perhaps because the U.K., Scandinavia, and North America were never conquered and occupied by the sword of Islam—unlike those southeast European nations that are resisting Muslim refugees—they feel free to rewrite history according to their subjective ideals, specifically, that historic Christianity is bad and all other religions and people are good (the darker and/or more foreign the better).

Indeed, countless are the books and courses on the "sins" of Christian Europe, from the Crusades to colonialism.  (Most recently, a book traces the rise of Islamic supremacism in Egypt to the disciplining of a rude Muslim girl by a European nun.)

This "new history"—particularly that Muslims are the historic "victims" of "intolerant" Western Christians—has metastasized everywhere, from high school to college and from Hollywood to the news media (which are becoming increasingly harder to distinguish from one another). 

When U.S. President Barack Hussein Obama condemned medieval Christians as a way to relativize Islamic State atrocities—or at best to claim that religion, any religion, is never the driving force of violence—he was merely being representative of the mainstream way history is taught in the West.

Even otherwise sound books of history contribute to this distorted thinking.  While such works may mention "Ottoman expansion" into Europe, the Islamic element is omitted.  Thus Turks are portrayed as just another competitive people, out to carve a niche for themselves in Europe, no differently than rival Christian empires.   That the "Ottomans" (or "Saracens," or "Arabs," or "Moors," or "Tatars") were operating under the distinctly Islamic banner of jihad —just like the Islamic State is today —that connection is never made. 

Generations of pseudo history have led the West to think that, far from being suspicious or judgmental of them, Muslims must be accommodated —say, by allowing them to migrate into the West in mass.  Perhaps then they’ll "like us"? 

Such is progressive wisdom.

Meanwhile, back in the school rooms of much of the Muslim world, children continue to be indoctrinated in glorifying and reminiscing over the jihadi conquests of yore —conquests by the sword and in the name of Allah.  While the progressive West demonizes European/Christian history —when I was in elementary school, Christopher Columbus was a hero, when I got into college, he became a villain —Mehmet the Conqueror, whose atrocities against Christian Europeans make the Islamic State look like a bunch of boy scouts, is praised every year in "secular" Turkey on the anniversary of the savage sack of Constantinople. 

The result of Western fantasies and Islamic history is that Muslims are now entering the West, unfettered, in the guise of refugees who refuse to assimilate with the "infidels" and who form enclaves, or in Islamic terminology, ribats —frontier posts where the jihad is waged on the infidel, one way or the other.

Nor is this mere conjecture.  The Islamic State is intentionally driving the refugee phenomenon and has promised to send half a million people —mostly Muslim—into Europe.  It claims that 4,000 of these refugees are its own operatives: "Just wait….  It’s our dream that there should be a caliphate not only in Syria but in all the world, and we will have it soon, inshallah [Allah willing]."

It is often said that those who ignore history are destined to repeat it.  What does one say of those who rewrite history in a way that demonizes their ancestors while whitewashing the crimes of their forebears’ enemies?

The result is before us.  History is not repeating itself; sword waving Muslims are not militarily conquering Europe.  Rather, they are being allowed to walk right in.

Perhaps a new aphorism needs to be coined for our times: Those who forget or ignore history are destined to be conquered by those who remember and praise it.



Some history of the "Jim Crow" laws:  They were Leftist laws

Leftists tend to object to points such as the above on the grounds that the Southern Democrats were in fact conservative -- as is allegedly shown by the strong showing that the GOP now has in the South.  But that is false. The Southern Democrats for the first two thirds of the 20th century may have differed in some ways from Northern Democrats but both were Leftist.  They both were anti-business and strong believers in government intervention in daily life.  The Jim Crow laws were one such intervention.  The Jim Crow laws were certainly different from current Democrat policies but in their own way they were just as much Big Government as the Democrat policies of today. 

That great Leftist hero, FDR, was President in the Jim Crow era and he was the biggest interventionist since Lincoln -- and his base of support was in the South. He was notable for turning away Jews trying to flee Nazi Germany.  Fortunately, many Southerners seem to have learnt to distrust secular Messiahs eventually.

FDR vote in blue.  The South voted solid Leftist in the Jim Crow era

And that other great "progressive" hero of the Jim Crow era, Woodrow Wilson, was also solid in the South.  When he came to power as President he resegregated Washington government agencies, after the GOP had desegregated them.  He too was a Leftist racist

1912 election

And the Left are still racist to this day.  Affirmative action is nothing if not racist.  They will never realize Martin Luther King's dream.  King was a Republican, after all.


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 January, 2016

Q. Why Are There No Muslim Terrorists in Japan?

A. Because there are virtually no Muslims in Japan

And all strata of Japan, from the prime minister to the working class, intend to keep it that way

There are countries in the world, mainly in Europe, that are presently undergoing significant cultural transformations as a result of Muslim immigration. France, Germany, Belgium and Holland are interesting examples of cases where immigration from Muslim countries, together with the Muslims’ high fertility rate, effects every area of life.

It is interesting to know that there is a country in the world whose official and public approach to the Muslim matter is totally different. This country is Japan. This country keeps a very low profile on all levels regarding the Muslim matter: On the diplomatic level, senior political figures from Islamic countries almost never visit Japan, and Japanese leaders rarely visit Muslim countries.

The relations with Muslim countries are based on concerns such as oil and gas, which Japan imports from some Muslim countries. The official policy of Japan is not to give citizenship to Muslims who come to Japan, and even permits for permanent residency are given sparingly to Muslims.

Japan forbids exhorting people to adopt the religion of Islam (Dawah), and any Muslim who actively encourages conversion to Islam is seen as proselytizing to a foreign and undesirable culture.

Few academic institutions teach the Arabic language. It is very difficult to import books of the Qur’an to Japan, and Muslims who come to Japan, are usually employees of foreign companies. In Japan there are very few mosques. The official policy of the Japanese authorities is to make every effort not to allow entry to Muslims, even if they are physicians, engineers and managers sent by foreign companies that are active in the region. Japanese society expects Muslim men to pray at home.

Japanese companies seeking foreign workers specifically note that they are not interested in Muslim workers. And any Muslim who does manage to enter Japan will find it very difficult  to rent an apartment. Anywhere a Muslim lives, the neighbors become uneasy. Japan forbids the establishment of Islamic organizations, so setting up Islamic institutions such as mosques and schools is almost impossible. In Tokyo there is only one imam.

In contrast with what is happening in Europe, very few Japanese are drawn to Islam. If a Japanese woman marries a Muslim, she will be considered an outcast by her social and familial environment. There is no application of Shari’a law in Japan. There is some food in Japan that is halal, kosher according to Islamic law, but it is not easy to find it in the supermarket.

The Japanese approach to Muslims is also evidenced by the numbers: in Japan there are 127 million residents, but only ten thousand Muslims, less than one hundredth of a percent. The number of Japanese who have converted is thought to be few. In Japan there are a few tens of thousands of foreign workers who are Muslim, mainly from Pakistan, who have managed to enter Japan as workers with construction companies. However, because of the negative attitude towards Islam they keep a low profile.

There are several reasons for this situation:

First, the Japanese tend to lump all Muslims together as fundamentalists who are unwilling to give up their traditional point of view and adopt modern ways of thinking and behavior. In Japan, Islam is perceived as a strange religion, that any intelligent person should avoid.

Second, most Japanese have no religion, but behaviors connected with the Shinto religion along with elements of Buddhism are integrated into national customs . In Japan, religion is connected to the nationalist concept, and prejudices exist towards foreigners whether they are Chinese, Korean, Malaysian or Indonesian, and Westerners don’t escape this phenomenon either. There are those who call this a "developed sense of nationalism" and there are those who call this "racism". It seems that neither of these is wrong.

And Third, the Japanese dismiss the concept of monotheism and faith in an abstract god,  because their world concept is apparently connected to the material, not to faith and emotions. It seems that they group Judaism together with Islam. Christianity exists in Japan and is not regarded negatively, apparently because the image of Jesus perceived in Japan is like the images of Buddha and Shinto.

The most interesting thing in Japan’s approach to Islam is the fact that the Japanese do not feel the need to apologize to Muslims for the negative way in which they relate to Islam. They make a clear distinction between their economic interest in resources of oil and gas from Muslim countries, which behooves Japan to maintain good relations with these countries on the one hand, and on the other hand, the Japanese nationalist viewpoints, which see Islam as something that is suitable for others, not for Japan, and therefore the Muslims must remain outside.

Because the Japanese have a gentle temperament, and project serenity and tranquility toward foreigners, foreigners tend to relate to the Japanese with politeness and respect. A Japanese diplomat would never raise his voice or speak rudely in the presence of foreigners, therefore foreigners relate to the Japanese with respect, despite their racism and discrimination against Muslims in the matter of immigration.

A Japanese official who is presented with an embarrassing question regarding the way the Japanese relate to Muslims, will usually refrain from answering, because he knows that a truthful answer would arouse anger, and he is both unable and unwilling to give an answer that is not true. He will smile but not answer, and if pressed, he will ask for time so that his superiors can answer, while he knows that this answer will never come.

Japan manages to remain a country almost without a Muslim presence because Japan’s negative attitude toward Islam and Muslims pervades every level of the population, from the man in the street to organizations and companies to senior officialdom. In Japan, contrary to the situation in other countries, there are no "human rights" organizations to offer support to Muslims’ claims against the government’s position. In Japan no one illegally smuggles Muslims into the country to earn a few yen, and almost no one gives them the legal support they would  need in order to get permits for temporary or permanent residency or citizenship.

Japan is teaching the whole world an interesting lesson: there is a direct correlation between national heritage and permission to immigrate: a people that has a solid and clear national heritage and identity will not allow the unemployed of the world to enter its country; and a people whose cultural heritage and national identity is weak and fragile, has no defense mechanisms to prevent a foreign culture from penetrating into its country and its land.



Greece Illustrates 150 Years of Socialist Failure in Europe

Greece cannot pay its debts ... ever. Nor can several other members of the European Union. That’s why Europe’s elite are loath to place Greece in default. If Greece is allowed to abrogate its debts, why should any of the other debtor members of the EU pay up? The financial consequences of massive default by most of the EU members is hard to predict, but it won't be pretty. Europe has built a financial house of cards, and the slightest loss of confidence will bring it crashing down.

The tragedy of Europe has socialism at its core. Europe has flirted with socialism since the late nineteenth century. Nineteenth century Bismarckian socialism produced two world wars. Leninist socialism slaughtered and enslaved hundreds of millions until it collapsed, mercifully without a third world war. Yet, not to be deterred, in the ashes of World War II, Europe’s socialists embarked on a new socialist dream. If socialism fails in one country, perhaps it will succeed if all of Europe joined a supra-national socialist organization. Oh, they don't call what has evolved from this dream "socialism," but it is socialism nonetheless.

Socialism will not work, whether in one country, a multi-state region such as Europe, or the entire world. Ludwig von Mises explained that socialism is not an alternative economic system. It is a program for consumption. It tells us nothing about economic production. Since each man's production must be distributed to all of mankind, there is no economic incentive to produce anything, although there may be the incentive of coercion and threats of violence. Conversely, free market capitalism is an economic system of production, whereby each man owns the product of his own labors and, therefore, has great economic incentives to produce both for himself, his family, and has surplus goods to trade for the surplus product of others. Even under life and death threats neither the socialist worker nor his overseer would know what to produce, how to produce it, or in what quantities and qualities. These economic cues are the product of free market capitalism and money prices.

Under capitalism, man specializes to produce trade goods for the product of others. This is just one way of stating Say’s Law; i.e., that production precedes consumption and that production itself creates demand. For example, a farmer may grow some corn for his family to consume or to feed to his own livestock, but he sells most of his corn on the market in exchange for money with which to buy all the many other necessities and luxuries of life. His corn crop is his demand and money is simply the indirect medium of exchange.

Keynes attempted to deny Say’s Law, claiming that demand itself — created artificially by central bank money printing — would spur production. He attempted, illogically and unsuccessfully, to place consumption ahead of production. To this day Keynes is very popular with spendthrift politicians, to whom he bestowed a moral imperative to spend money that they did not have.

We see the result of 150 years of European socialism playing out in grand style in Greece today. The producing countries are beginning to realize that they have been robbed by the EU’s socialist guarantee that no nation will be allowed to default on its bonds. Greece merely accepted this guarantee at face value and spent itself into national bankruptcy. Other EU nations are not far behind. It’s time to give free market capitalism and sound money a chance: it’s worked every time it’s been tried.



Dear Media: Stop Trying To Teach Christians Theology

Christianity obviously doesn’t mean what you think it means. So stop making yourself out to be televangelists.

Every journalist in America has been secretly attending seminary, and now understands Christianity better than most Christians do. This is the only conclusion I can draw after months of theology lectures from reporters whose most recent encounter with religious terminology was Hozier’s "Take Me to Church."

To those of us for whom church isn’t a metaphor for sex, it’s been a frustrating few months. First, the chattering class endlessly assured Christian bakers, restaurant-owners, photographers, and florists that Jesus would be totally down with making same-sex nuptials fabulous (and presumably, with paying the $135,000 fine for those who felt differently).

Then, in the wake of June’s gay "marriage" decision at the Supreme Court, we got an earful about how mean and un-Christian it would be not to attend same-sex "weddings." (Wouldn’t you know it, we’ve been reading the Bible wrong all these centuries!) Then the Kim-pocalypse struck, and we were treated to smug editorials on how the Kentucky clerk’s faith represents the dark side of Christianity, while those who ignore tertiary topics like—say—God’s design for human sexuality in favor of social justice issues, are the good Christians. (I once was blind, but now I see!) But this month, the media got an opportunity to bestow their theological insights on us like never before. Did they ever.

Shock: Christian College Upholds Christianity

When Wheaton political science professor Larycia Hawkins was suspended after wearing a hijab during Advent, writers at outlets like The Huffington Post thought this headline was too good to resist: "A Christian College Placed a Professor on Leave for Wearing A Hijab."

Except, they didn’t. Wheaton has made it clear that it has no policy regarding Islamic religious garb, or as Hawkins calls it, "embodied solidarity" with Muslims. Instead, the administration suspended Hawkins for her bizarre explanation of the stunt:

"I stand in human solidarity with my Muslim neighbor because we are formed of the same primordial clay, descendants of the same cradle of humankind—a cave in Sterkfontein, South Africa that I had the privilege to descend into to plumb the depths of our common humanity in 2014. I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book. And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God."

Putting aside for a moment the question of how many Muslims would agree that mankind crawled from a cave in South Africa, Wheaton points out that its faculty and staff "make a commitment to accept and model our institution’s faith foundations with integrity, compassion, and theological clarity." As part of the faculty’s jobs, the college asks them to "faithfully represent the College’s evangelical statement of faith." In other words, what Wheaton professors say in front of students has to be recognizably evangelical. Obviously, the administration felt Hawkins failed this test by equating the God of Christianity with the god of Islam.

Ruth Graham at The Atlantic published a much-needed clarification that seemed like it might quell the cries of "bigotry" and "Islamophobia." Alas, shifting attention from Hawkins’ headscarf to her statements only gave the media the chance to don again their theology professor bowties.

I Don’t Like Your Religion, So Change It

"Instead of debating the wisdom of bringing guns to campus to kill potential terrorists," sneered David R. Wheeler at CNN, referring to Jerry Falwell Jr.’s recent remarks, "what about listening to the actual words of Jesus, such as ‘love your enemy’? What about 1 John 4:18: ‘There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear’?" (It’s a good thing we have CNN contributors to apprise us of these obscure Bible passages!)

Wheeler says a few rare-as-snow-leopards Christians still live by Jesus’ words—Christians like Larycia Hawkins—"But they get punished," he writes, for exercising such virtues. In a huff over Wheaton’s decision to suspend Hawkins, he sermonizes: "She didn’t say Islam and Christianity were the same religion…She didn’t say Muslims believe in the divinity of Christ…All she said was that they worship the same God."

Evidently, he believes this should be no problem. Wheeler, like so much of the mainstream media, has scrutinized the situation with the eye of a trained theologian and after much deliberation concluded that—surprise!—evangelical Christians are just being meanies.

We could multiply articles in the Christians-are-meanies-and-I-know-the-Bible-better-than-they-do genre like St. Peter multiplied the animals after they left Jonah’s Ark. But it wouldn’t change the fact that the Most Holy Synod of Journalists doesn’t have an inerrant track record on religion. For instance, they sometimes need reminders that the resurrection is an actual thing Christians believe happened.

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)


2 January, 2016

Why Do Intellectuals Oppose Capitalism?

Excerpt below from  Robert Nozick, considered by some to have been the foremost libertarian intellectual.  I have some coments at the foot of the excerpt

It is surprising that intellectuals oppose capitalism so. Other groups of comparable socio-economic status do not show the same degree of opposition in the same proportions. Statistically, then, intellectuals are an anomaly.

Not all intellectuals are on the "left." Like other groups, their opinions are spread along a curve. But in their case, the curve is shifted and skewed to the political left.

By intellectuals, I do not mean all people of intelligence or of a certain level of education, but those who, in their vocation, deal with ideas as expressed in words, shaping the word flow others receive. These wordsmiths include poets, novelists, literary critics, newspaper and magazine journalists, and many professors.

Wordsmith intellectuals fare well in capitalist society; there they have great freedom to formulate, encounter, and propagate new ideas, to read and discuss them. Their occupational skills are in demand, their income much above average. Why then do they disproportionately oppose capitalism? Indeed, some data suggest that the more prosperous and successful the intellectual, the more likely he is to oppose capitalism. This opposition to capitalism is mainly "from the left" but not solely so. Yeats, Eliot, and Pound opposed market society from the right.

Intellectuals feel they are the most valuable people, the ones with the highest merit, and that society should reward people in accordance with their value and merit. But a capitalist society does not satisfy the principle of distribution "to each according to his merit or value." Apart from the gifts, inheritances, and gambling winnings that occur in a free society, the market distributes to those who satisfy the perceived market-expressed demands of others, and how much it so distributes depends on how much is demanded and how great the alternative supply is. Unsuccessful businessmen and workers do not have the same animus against the capitalist system as do the wordsmith intellectuals. Only the sense of unrecognized superiority, of entitlement betrayed, produces that animus.

The Schooling of Intellectuals

What factor produced feelings of superior value on the part of intellectuals? I want to focus on one institution in particular: schools. As book knowledge became increasingly important, schooling—the education together in classes of young people in reading and book knowledge—spread. Schools became the major institution outside of the family to shape the attitudes of young people, and almost all those who later became intellectuals went through schools. There they were successful. They were judged against others and deemed superior. They were praised and rewarded, the teacher’s favorites. How could they fail to see themselves as superior? Daily, they experienced differences in facility with ideas, in quick-wittedness. The schools told them, and showed them, they were better.

The schools, too, exhibited and thereby taught the principle of reward in accordance with (intellectual) merit. To the intellectually meritorious went the praise, the teacher’s smiles, and the highest grades. In the currency the schools had to offer, the smartest constituted the upper class. Though not part of the official curricula, in the schools the intellectuals learned the lessons of their own greater value in comparison with the others, and of how this greater value entitled them to greater rewards.

The wider market society, however, taught a different lesson. There the greatest rewards did not go to the verbally brightest. There the intellectual skills were not most highly valued. Schooled in the lesson that they were most valuable, the most deserving of reward, the most entitled to reward, how could the intellectuals, by and large, fail to resent the capitalist society which deprived them of the just deserts to which their superiority "entitled" them? Is it surprising that what the schooled intellectuals felt for capitalist society was a deep and sullen animus that, although clothed with various publicly appropriate reasons, continued even when those particular reasons were shown to be inadequate?

In saying that intellectuals feel entitled to the highest rewards the general society can offer (wealth, status, etc.), I do not mean that intellectuals hold these rewards to be the highest goods. Perhaps they value more the intrinsic rewards of intellectual activity or the esteem of the ages. Nevertheless, they also feel entitled to the highest appreciation from the general society, to the most and best it has to offer, paltry though that may be. I don’t mean to emphasize especially the rewards that find their way into the intellectuals’ pockets or even reach them personally. Identifying themselves as intellectuals, they can resent the fact that intellectual activity is not most highly valued and rewarded.

The intellectual wants the whole society to be a school writ large, to be like the environment where he did so well and was so well appreciated. By incorporating standards of reward that are different from the wider society, the schools guarantee that some will experience downward mobility later. Those at the top of the school’s hierarchy will feel entitled to a top position, not only in that micro-society but in the wider one, a society whose system they will resent when it fails to treat them according to their self-prescribed wants and entitlements. The school system thereby produces anti-capitalist feeling among intellectuals. Rather, it produces anti-capitalist feeling among verbal intellectuals. Why do the numbersmiths not develop the same attitudes as these wordsmiths? I conjecture that these quantitatively bright children, although they get good grades on the relevant examinations, do not receive the same face-to-face attention and approval from the teachers as do the verbally bright children. It is the verbal skills that bring these personal rewards from the teacher, and apparently it is these rewards that especially shape the sense of entitlement.

Central Planning in the Classroom

There is a further point to be added. The (future) wordsmith intellectuals are successful within the formal, official social system of the schools, wherein the relevant rewards are distributed by the central authority of the teacher. The schools contain another informal social system within classrooms, hallways, and schoolyards, wherein rewards are distributed not by central direction but spontaneously at the pleasure and whim of schoolmates. Here the intellectuals do less well.

It is not surprising, therefore, that distribution of goods and rewards via a centrally organized distributional mechanism later strikes intellectuals as more appropriate than the "anarchy and chaos" of the marketplace. For distribution in a centrally planned socialist society stands to distribution in a capitalist society as distribution by the teacher stands to distribution by the schoolyard and hallway.

This unintended consequence of the school system, the anti-capitalist animus of intellectuals, is, of course, reinforced when pupils read or are taught by intellectuals who present those very anti-capitalist attitudes.

Stated as a general point, it is hardly contestable that the norms within schools will affect the normative beliefs of people after they leave the schools. The schools, after all, are the major non-familial society that children learn to operate in, and hence schooling constitutes their preparation for the larger non-familial society. It is not surprising that those successful by the norms of a school system should resent a society, adhering to different norms, which does not grant them the same success. Nor, when those are the very ones who go on to shape a society’s self-image, its evaluation of itself, is it surprising when the society’s verbally responsive portion turns against it. If you were designing a society, you would not seek to design it so that the wordsmiths, with all their influence, were schooled into animus against the norms of the society.

More HERE 

I have put up this essay from  1998 because I think Nozick is describing and explaining a problem that is still a big one for conservatives.  If all the big talkers are against us, how do we get our points across?  I have myself previously looked at the problem here and my conclusions are similar.  It may help to neutralize Leftist intellectuals if we repeatedly accuse them of being mean souls motivated by jealousy

A small personal note:  I have exactly the background that should make me a Leftist intellectual -- doing well at school etc.  So how come I did not become one?  An important fact, I think, is that I am totally devoid of envy.  I am PLEASED to see other people doing well.  I don't get burnt up by it


Terrorism is the symptom, ideology the disease

By John Bolton, a former US ambassador to the United Nations

THE DEMOCRATIC and Republican presidential primary campaigns are now approaching the ultimate reality: voters actually voting. Given the priority of international terrorism in their minds, this is a critical opportunity to test whether the candidates truly understand the threat of radical Islam.

The central question for US policy makers is how the terrorists (and their state sponsors and other accomplices) see us, and how we should see them. Too often, especially among Democrats but also for some Republicans, there is serious confusion about radical Islam’s true ramifications, thereby blinding us to the magnitude of its danger. Even worse, our misperceptions tie our hands in developing ways to protect innocent civilians at home, and our interests and allies abroad.

Although communism and radical Islam differ in countless ways, they share one critical element: they are ideologies driven by an obsession to force the real world to match their preconceptions, whether of class conflict or superior religious belief. Terrorist attacks are simply manifestations of the ideology, the symptoms of the threat, not the threat itself. Accordingly, US policies that ignore the ideological driving force will fail, because they are not addressing the real menace.

In his classic work, "Russia and the West Under Lenin and Stalin,’’ George Kennan observed, "Many people in the Western governments came to hate the Soviet leaders for what they did. The Communists, on the other hand, hated the Western governments for what they were, regardless of what they did." Even considering the profound differences between communism and Islamism, Kennan’s insight is a lodestar for would-be presidents.

In the West, there is nearly universal revulsion at the bestiality of Al Qaeda, ISIS, Hamas, and Hezbollah, and their mass murdering of innocent civilians, Muslim and non-Muslim alike. But their barbarism extends beyond slaughtering noncombatants. It also includes forced marriages, selling women and children into slavery, medieval punishments for alleged heresy and apostasy, and beguiling and then brainwashing the unwary. As heinous as these acts are, however, they are not isolated aberrations. They are symptoms of the underlying radical-Islam disease itself, and it is that disease which should be our principal target.

Similarly, terrorist propaganda against the West is filled with hatred for specific targets: Mohammed cartoons and videos, the Guantanamo Bay prison camp, women’s education, and more, all of which supposedly offend the radicals’ tender sensibilities. "Offensive" though these examples may be, they are merely pretexts. If they were eliminated, there would be others: the presence of US forces in Muslim lands (even when protecting Muslims from terror and oppression), for example.

Those who neither recognize nor understand the terrorist ideology react to the radical Islamists at the capillary level, and their perception of how the West should respond also reflects an instinct for the capillary. Like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, they believe that if we only stopped referring to "Islamic terrorism," if we only closed Gitmo, or stopped making offensive cartoons and videos, the terrorist threat would recede.

This approach is pure fantasy. Our actions did not cause radical Islamists to hate us. Western efforts at appeasement will not induce more "moderate" policies from them.

We cannot remain crouched in the fetal position, hoping not to offend anyone, or respond to terrorism’s global reality only after we are attacked. We could make innumerable "reforms" to Western behavior that the radicals deem offensive, but it would not alter their ideology. If anything, it would only convince them that many in the West have lost faith in their basic values and philosophy of freedom. Our efforts at appeasement, in this uncomfortably accurate light, are simply evidence of the underlying decay of Western culture itself.

Similarly, ad hoc law-enforcement responses to individual terrorist acts are insufficient. There are simply too many aspiring San Bernardino shooters; too many Tsarnaev brothers; too many Major Nidal Hasans; too many Boko Harams; too many terrorists in Benghazi, the Islamic State, and Afghanistan. Even legitimate law-enforcement surveillance efforts, themselves under assault, will never suffice to protect the United States and our allies against an army of hostile, ideological terrorists.

Refusing to acknowledge that we face an ideologically motivated foe is not a grand strategy. It has already failed for almost 30 years, even as the radical ideology fueling terrorism has spread, gaining countless new adherents. In the war we are in, not of our choosing but because we are being attacked, the only long-term strategy is to destroy the enemy, not try to appease it. That is what the voter should be demanding to hear from the presidential candidates. For as Winston Churchill said, confronting the Nazi ideology, "without victory, there is no survival."



Obama Announces Radical Executive Order on immigrants?

The President has just announced a new executive order to rewrite immigration law and bring even more foreigners here to compete with Americans for jobs. Not only that, but it will save immigrants slated for deportation and give them work permits as well.

The new executive action is going to explode the number of work permits and green cards given to foreign aliens. It will allow hundreds of thousands of foreigners to come here with little-to-no questions asked!

Here is the regulation that was added to the Federal Register today. It is 181 pages long. It will open the floodgates and automatically grant work permits to foreign college graduates. Not only that, but it will spare immigrants already ordered to be deported.

It is hard enough for Americans to find jobs. Now, with the stroke of a pen, Obama is making American workers compete with hundreds of thousands of skilled foreigners.



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 January, 2016

Good Riddance To 2015, The Year Of The Big Lie

Thomas Sowell

How shall we remember 2015? Or shall we try to forget it? It is always hard to know when a turning point has been reached, and usually it is long afterwards before we recognize it. However, if 2015 has been a turning point, it may well have marked a turn in a downward direction for America and for Western civilization.

This was the year when we essentially let the world know that we were giving up any effort to try to stop Iran — the world's leading sponsor of international terrorism — from getting a nuclear bomb. Surely it does not take much imagination to foresee what lies at the end of that road.

It will not matter if we have more nuclear bombs than they have, if they are willing to die and we are not. That can determine who surrenders. And ISIS and other terrorists have given us grisly demonstrations of what surrender would mean.

Putting aside, for the moment, the fateful question of whether 2015 is a turning point, what do we see when we look back instead of looking forward? What characterizes the year that is now ending?

More than anything else, 2015 has been the year of the big lie. There have been lies in other years, and some of them pretty big. But even so, 2015 has set new highs — or new lows.

This is the year when we learned, from her own e-mails, after three long years of stalling, stonewalling and evasions, that Secretary of State Clinton lied, and so did President Barack Obama and others under him, when they all told us in 2012 that the terrorist attack in Benghazi that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans was not a terrorist attack, but a protest demonstration that got out of hand.

"What difference, at this point, does it make?" as Mrs. Clinton later melodramatically cried out at a congressional committee hearing investigating that episode.

First of all, it made enough of a difference for some of the highest officials of American government to concoct a false story that they knew at the time was false.

It mattered enough that, if the truth had come out, on the eve of a presidential election, it could have destroyed Barack Obama's happy tale of how he had dealt a crippling blow to terrorists by killing Osama bin Laden (with an assist from the Navy's SEALS).



No, leftists don't think like conservatives. Blame Plato

Liberals do not think like conservatives. You have probably noticed this.

Liberals [claim to] believe that human nature is essentially good, while conservatives believe that man is a flawed creature, and that we must exert great effort to be good.

The first Western philosopher who left a significant paper trail was a liberal. His name was Plato, and what modern liberals believe to this day can be traced back to his ideas.

Plato's Republic is the earliest written defense of the idea that men are basically good, and that they are prevented from doing good by, "Ignorance, the root and stem of all evil."

This is why people on the Left call us on the Right stupid or evil. Obviously, if you were smart, you would not disagree with them, and if you were good, you would be one of them.

Since liberals believe that human nature makes us good and ignorance make us bad, they seek to purify the world of ignorance. This is their rationale behind everything from "sensitivity training" for those who dare to dissent from political correctness to state-sponsored "re-education" camps and gulags.

The Left's fear of ignorance explains why they tend to oppose the free exchange of ideas: Some of those ideas might be "bad" and therefore dangerous. (Whereas conservatives are usually more worried about bad actions, not thoughts.)

The Left's obsession with criminalizing "hate speech" is an example of their fear of bad ideas. Professor Richard Moon -- whose name might be familiar -- told me that "hate speech" deserves less Charter protection because it does not "positively contribute to social discourse." He was referring to R. v. Keegstra.

Then he raised Bill Whatcott’s case, in which the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that since truth can be used to spread lies, truth is no defence, either. The Left says truth does not add value to the marketplace of ideas if that truth is inconvenient.

The Left’s fear of "ignorance" is also why they wish to control your child’s education. Plato suggested taking children from their parents to be raised away from their parents' contaminating influences.

In the recent past, a child’s education focused upon learning from the experience of the preceding generations -- not just abstract traditional moral truths but also hands-on skills, passed on through apprenticeships.

Today, however, children are separated not just from their parents, but from children of different ages and even from society itself, and all formal education takes place in a classroom rather than an artisan's workshop. (Nowhere are ideas more important and actions less significant than in a place where there is little action and lots of thought.)

Which is why the State is so concerned about homeschoolers "poisoning" their children with incorrect thinking. In State schools, kindergarteners can be taught to accept "gay marriage," and shielded from the "historical racism" of Huckleberry Finn; you can now graduate with a degree in English from UCLA without having ever taken a course on (potentially offensive) Shakespeare.

(And notice what the "corrupting influences" are currently considered to be? "Homophobia", Euro-centrism and the past.)

It's not surprising that my transition from liberal to conservative began a few years ago, after I read about how the modern education system, a la Plato, was designed to turn children against their parents' values. Learning about how I and so many others had been brainwashed was the first step in rejecting this aspect of my "education."

Today's fashionable, Plato-inspired "Values Clarification" education doesn't teach children about the difference between right and wrong. In fact, teachers must even refrain from making comments such as "That’s good" or "That’s bad" when responding to a child’s idea. The rationale for "values clarification"? Again, the Left's presumption that people basically good, and when they use reason, they will choose good values because good values are more rational.

And of course, if you fail to "choose good values," the Left will pressure you to do so whether you want to or not.
Conservatives do not believe in this approach and neither did Aristotle, Plato’s student



Has America’s social fabric been torn asunder?

The government depends upon mass, voluntary compliance with the law for it to be able to enforce the rules on society as a whole.

Simple things like a general agreement that if the speed limit says 55 miles per hour, that we will travel somewhere in the general proximity of that posting, with the outliers risking a ticket.

The understanding that we drive on the right hand side of the road and that slower vehicles stay to the far right on multi-lane highways make the free flow of traffic possible.

But events over the weekend make a reasonable person wonder whether the constant fraying of the social contract has finally created a tear that is rapidly becoming irreparable.

In malls across the country, thousands of people congregated, not for the purposes of shopping, going to a movie or simply enjoying each other’s company, but instead with the goal of disrupting people from using the already hard pressed brick and mortar stores for their intended purpose.

At Minneapolis’ Mall of America, the radical Black Lives Matter group even went so far as to feint a protest so there would be a heavy police presence, allowing them to shut down part of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport during the height of the Christmas travel season.  Beyond the obvious problem that their actions caused hundreds of people to miss their flights home, they deliberately placed thousands at an additional risk of a terrorist attack due to distracted security.

Mall disruptions also were reported in New Jersey, Kentucky and elsewhere around the country.  When combined with flash mob convenience store robberies and random assaults by mobs playing the "knockout game", it would be hard to not notice that something is badly amiss.

Even our assumed driving rules are under attack.  On the Washington, D.C. Beltway, a group of approximately fifty motorcyclists caused a delay as they uniformly slowed down across all the lanes bringing traffic to a standstill. As they got moving again, they aggressively cut cars off from passing, and even went so far as to drive north bound up the south bound lanes.  There did not appear to be any political or other message in the motorcycle foolishness, but instead the mass act of civil disobedience seems to have been done just because they could. However, it reveals the fragility of our common understanding about the need to follow the rules.

While it is usually dangerous to draw broad societal assumptions based upon flash mobs at malls, roadways or even political protests blocking bridges, it is safe to note that these occurrences are becoming significantly more frequent.

And it is fair to tie this civil disobedience to President Obama’s continued attack on the law as a whole.  When the President doesn’t enforce the nation’s immigration laws, people naturally believe that if the law isn’t going to be enforced then it is null and void, and the fabric of our nation’s social contract is torn.

When Obama nullifies sentencing decisions for thousands of drug dealers and others, releasing them back into their former neighborhoods it sends a message that the system was wrong and the fabric tears a little more.

When Democrats in Congress urge Obama to use his pen and phone to circumvent Congress, they send a powerful message to their constituents that the rule of law doesn’t matter, and the tear grows.

And when the left and some on the right make those who seek to enforce the laws, targets for attack and murder, creating a schism of fear between the protector and the protected, the fabric itself becomes unrecognizable.

The social fabric that binds America together as one has always been fragile, and to complete the fundamental transformation that Obama strives to achieve, it must be torn asunder from top to bottom in a wholesale surrender of the current rule of law to another set of laws composed not through consent, compromise and agreement, but instead through forced acquiescence.

America should not worry about getting on a slippery slope away from rule by the consent of the governed, because we are already half-way down the slide and few have noticed.

As more and more people read the news and wonder what is happening to their country thinking that the craziness that seems to ooze from our government is an anomaly rather than the forced new normal under Obama, a ballot box response erupts if there is a trusted alternative.

Something to think about as we head into the presidential primary season.



The Greatest Murder Machine in History

When one thinks of mass murder, Hitler comes to mind. If not Hitler, then Tojo, Stalin, or Mao. Credit is given to the 20th-century totalitarians as the worst species of tyranny to have ever arisen. However, the alarming truth is that Islam has killed more than any of these, and may surpass all of them combined in numbers and cruelty.

The enormity of the slaughters of the "religion of peace" are so far beyond comprehension that even honest historians overlook the scale. When one looks beyond our myopic focus, Islam is the greatest killing machine in the history of mankind, bar none.

"According to some calculations, the Indian (subcontinent) population decreased by 80 million between 1000 (conquest of Afghanistan) and 1525 (end of Delhi Sultanate)". -- Koenrad Elst as quoted on Daniel Pipes site

80 Million?! The conquistadors' crimes pale into insignificance at that number. No wonder Hitler admired Islam as a fighting religion. He stood in awe of Islam, whose butchery even he did not surpass.

Over 110 Million Blacks were killed by Islam.  "... a minumum of 28 Million African were enslaved in the Muslim Middle East.  Since, at least, 80 percent of those captured by Muslim slave traders were calculated to have died before reaching the slave market, it is believed that the death toll from 1400 years of Arab and Muslim slave raids into Africa could have been as high as 112 Millions.  When added to the number of those sold in the slave markets, the total number of African victims of the trans-Saharan and East African slave trade could be significantly higher than 140 Million people". -- John Allembillah Azumah, author of The Legacy of Arab-Islam in Africa: A Quest for Inter-religious Dialogue

Add just those two numbers alone together, and Islam has surpassed the victims of 20th-century totalitarianism. However, it does not end there. Add the millions who died at the hand of Muslims in the Sudan in our lifetime.

Much of Islamic slavery was sexual in nature, with a preference for women. Those men who were captured were castrated. The mulatto children of the women were often killed, which explains why Islam was not demographically shifted towards the black race, unlike slaves in the West, who bore children to breed a mestizo class. Add in those dead children; and we arrive at well over 200 million.

Remember that in the 7th century, North Africa was almost totally Christian. What happened to them?

We know that over 1 million Europeans were enslaved by Barbary Pirates. How many died is anybody's guess.

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)



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.

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" Can you imagine any previous American president doing that? Many were men with significant personal experience in the armed forces in their youth.

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.

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

R.I.P. Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet deposed a law-defying Marxist President at the express and desperate invitation of the Chilean parliament. Allende had just burnt the electoral rolls so it wasn't hard to see what was coming. Pinochet pioneered the free-market reforms which Reagan and Thatcher later unleashed to world-changing effect. That he used far-Leftist methods to suppress far-Leftist violence is reasonable if not ideal. The Leftist view that they should have a monopoly of violence and that others should follow the law is a total absurdity which shows only that their hate overcomes their reason

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a war criminal. Both British and American codebreakers had cracked the Japanese naval code so FDR knew what was coming at Pearl Harbor. But for his own political reasons he warned no-one there. So responsibility for the civilian and military deaths at Pearl Harbor lies with FDR as well as with the Japanese. The huge firepower available at Pearl Harbor, both aboard ship and on land, could have largely neutered the attack. Can you imagine 8 battleships and various lesser craft firing all their AA batteries as the Japanese came in? The Japanese naval airforce would have been annihilated and the war would have been over before it began.

FDR prolonged the Depression. He certainly didn't cure it.

WWII did NOT end the Great Depression. It just concealed it. It in fact made living standards worse

FDR appointed a known KKK member, Hugo Black, to the Supreme Court

Joe McCarthy was eventually proved right after the fall of the Soviet Union. To accuse anyone of McCarthyism is to accuse them of accuracy!

The KKK was intimately associated with the Democratic party. They ATTACKED Republicans!

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."

The "steamroller" above who got steamrollered by his own hubris. Spitzer is a warning of how self-destructive a vast ego can be -- and also of how destructive of others it can be.

Heritage is what survives death: Very rare and hence very valuable

Big business is not your friend. As Adam Smith said: "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty or justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary

How can I accept the Communist doctrine, which sets up as its bible, above and beyond criticism, an obsolete textbook which I know not only to be scientifically erroneous but without interest or application to the modern world? How can I adopt a creed which, preferring the mud to the fish, exalts the boorish proletariat above the bourgeoisie and the intelligentsia, who with all their faults, are the quality of life and surely carry the seeds of all human achievement? Even if we need a religion, how can we find it in the turbid rubbish of the red bookshop? It is hard for an educated, decent, intelligent son of Western Europe to find his ideals here, unless he has first suffered some strange and horrid process of conversion which has changed all his values. -- John Maynard Keynes

Some wisdom from "Bron" Waugh: "The purpose of politics is to help them [politicians] overcome these feelings of inferiority and compensate for their personal inadequacies in the pursuit of power"

"There are countless horrible things happening all over the country, and horrible people prospering, but we must never allow them to disturb our equanimity or deflect us from our sacred duty to sabotage and annoy them whenever possible"

The urge to pass new laws must be seen as an illness, not much different from the urge to bite old women. Anyone suspected of suffering from it should either be treated with the appropriate pills or, if it is too late for that, elected to Parliament [or Congress, as the case may be] and paid a huge salary with endless holidays, to do nothing whatever"

"It is my settled opinion, after some years as a political correspondent, that no one is attracted to a political career in the first place unless he is socially or emotionally crippled"

Two lines below of a famous hymn that would be incomprehensible to Leftists today ("honor"? "right"? "freedom?" Freedom to agree with them is the only freedom they believe in)

First to fight for right and freedom,
And to keep our honor clean

It is of course the hymn of the USMC -- still today the relentless warriors that they always were. Freedom needs a soldier

If any of the short observations above about Leftism seem wrong, note that they do not stand alone. The evidence for them is set out at great length in my MONOGRAPH on Leftism.

3 memoirs of "Supermac", a 20th century Disraeli (Aristocratic British Conservative Prime Minister -- 1957 to 1963 -- Harold Macmillan):

"It breaks my heart to see (I can't interfere or do anything at my age) what is happening in our country today - this terrible strike of the best men in the world, who beat the Kaiser's army and beat Hitler's army, and never gave in. Pointless, endless. We can't afford that kind of thing. And then this growing division which the noble Lord who has just spoken mentioned, of a comparatively prosperous south, and an ailing north and midlands. That can't go on." -- Mac on the British working class: "the best men in the world" (From his Maiden speech in the House of Lords, 13 November 1984)

"As a Conservative, I am naturally in favour of returning into private ownership and private management all those means of production and distribution which are now controlled by state capitalism"

During Macmillan's time as prime minister, average living standards steadily rose while numerous social reforms were carried out


The Bible is an Israeli book

To me, hostility to the Jews is a terrible tragedy. I weep for them at times. And I do literally put my money where my mouth is. I do at times send money to Israeli charities

My (Gentile) opinion of antisemitism: The Jews are the best we've got so killing them is killing us.

"And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" -- Genesis 12:3

"O pray for the peace of Jerusalem: They shall prosper that love thee" Psalm 122:6.

If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy -- Psalm 137 (NIV)

Israel, like the Jews throughout history, is hated not for her vices but her virtues. Israel is hated, as the United States is hated, because Israel is successful, because Israel is free, and because Israel is good. As Maxim Gorky put it: “Whatever nonsense the anti-Semites may talk, they dislike the Jew only because he is obviously better, more adroit, and more willing and capable of work than they are.” Whether driven by culture or genes—or like most behavior, an inextricable mix—the fact of Jewish genius is demonstrable." -- George Gilder

To Leftist haters, all the basic rules of liberal society — rejection of hate speech, commitment to academic freedom, rooting out racism, the absolute commitment to human dignity — go out the window when the subject is Israel.

I have always liked the story of Gideon (See Judges chapters 6 to 8) and it is surely no surprise that in the present age Israel is the Gideon of nations: Few in numbers but big in power and impact.

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.

Alfred Dreyfus, a reminder of French antisemitism still relevant today

Eugenio Pacelli, a righteous Gentile, a true man of God and a brilliant Pope


Many people hunger and thirst after righteousness. Some find it in the hatreds of the Left. Others find it in the love of Christ. I don't hunger and thirst after righteousness at all. I hunger and thirst after truth. How old-fashioned can you get?

The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody. And I have NO investments in oil companies or mining companies

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"
"Dissecting Leftism" (Backup here)
"Australian Politics"
"Education Watch International"
"Political Correctness Watch"
"Greenie Watch"
Western Heart


"Marx & Engels in their own words"
"A scripture blog"
"Some memoirs"
To be continued ....
Coral reef compendium.
Queensland Police
Australian Police News
Paralipomena (3)
Of Interest
Dagmar Schellenberger
My alternative Wikipedia


"Food & Health Skeptic"
"Eye on Britain"
"Immigration Watch International".
"Leftists as Elitists"
Socialized Medicine
QANTAS -- A dying octopus
BRIAN LEITER (Ladderman)
Obama Watch
Obama Watch (2)
Dissecting Leftism -- Large font site
Michael Darby
Paralipomena (2)
AGL -- A bumbling monster
Telstra/Bigpond follies
Optus bungling
Vodafrauds (vodafone)
Bank of Queensland blues

There are also two blogspot blogs which record what I think are my main recent articles here and here. Similar content can be more conveniently accessed via my subject-indexed list of short articles here or here (I rarely write long articles these days)

Mirror for "Dissecting Leftism"
Alt archives
Longer Academic Papers
Johnray links
Academic home page
Academic Backup Page
Dagmar Schellenberger
General Backup
My alternative Wikipedia
General Backup 2

Selected reading



Rightism defined
Leftist Churches
Leftist Racism
Fascism is Leftist
Hitler a socialist
Leftism is authoritarian
James on Leftism
Irbe on Leftism
Beltt on Leftism
Van Hiel
Pyszczynski et al.

Main academic menu
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basic home page
Pictorial Home Page
Selected pictures from blogs (Backup here)
Another picture page (Best with broadband. Rarely updated)

Note: If the link to one of my articles is not working, the article concerned can generally be viewed by prefixing to the filename the following: