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

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

As President, Trump will be as transformative as Reagan; He has blown the political consensus out of the water

The original of this mirror site is HERE. My Blogroll; Archives here or here; My Home Page. My Recipes. My alternative Wikipedia.

For a list of blog backups see here or here.

Email me (John Ray) here. NOTE: The short comments that I have in the side column of the primary site for this blog are now given at the foot of this site.

31 January, 2018

The EQ dream

The whole idea of IQ is poison to the "all men are equal" crowd because it demonstrates that they are not. So the game is on to show that IQ differences may exist but those differences are unimportant. And the prime way of doing that has been to promote the idea of Emotional Intelligence (EQ), which can be trained.  In any activity taking part among a group EQ is said to be very important.  It's an attractive dream but it is at variance with reality.  Because it is so attractive it has been much researched and the Wikipedia entry on it summarizes the findings pretty well.

Chief among the problems with EQ, is that there are a variety of things which are called Emotional Intelligence but they correlate poorly with one another  So which is the "true" emotional intelligence?  The concept is fine but going out there among the population and assessing it is very difficult.  One could argue that if it can be measured, nobody so far has achieved that.  Different tests will pick out different groups of people as emotionally intelligent.  Does it exist at all in reality?

The second problem is predictive power.  No matter which version of EQ that you use does it predict success (however defined) any better than IQ?  And it does not in general.  All the enthusiasm for it is misplaced.  It is a unicorn concept.  It sounds attractive but it does not exist out there in the world.

So why on earth is Ezekiel Emanuel pushing that old barrow of rubbish below?  Easy. He is a far Leftist and the chief architect of Obamacare. His brother is Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.  His ideology makes him WANT to believe in EQ.  The editors of JAMA were very incautious to let his blatherings into the pages of their journal.  Obviously, they knew nothing about the psychological research into EQ

Does Medicine Overemphasize IQ?

Ezekiel J. Emanuel, MD, PhD; Emily Gudbranson, BA

Everyone wants the best physician. Patients want their physician to know medical information by heart, to possess diagnostic acumen, and to be well-versed in the latest tests and treatments. Finding the best physicians often involves looking for resumes with stellar attributes, such as having graduated at the top of a collegiate class, attended the best medical schools, completed internships and residency training at the nation’s most prestigious hospitals, and been awarded the most competitive fellowships. Many medical schools, likewise, want only the smartest students, as assessed by the highest grade point averages and MCAT scores.

This selection process has persisted for decades. But is it misguided? Do the smartest students, as measured by science grades and standardized test results, truly make the best physicians?

Overemphasizing IQ

By prioritizing academic pedigree, the medical profession has traditionally overemphasized general intelligence and underemphasized—if not totally ignored—emotional intelligence. With “objective” assessments and little grade inflation, performance in hard science courses and on the MCAT have been the primary determinants of medical school admissions.1,2 Although good test scores and grades in calculus, physics, or organic chemistry may signal one kind of intelligence, reliance solely on those metrics results in an incomplete and inaccurate assessment of a student’s potential to be an excellent, caring physician.

Medical schools often conflate high MCAT scores and grades in the hard sciences with actual intelligence. For instance, good test takers can score extremely high on multiple-choice examinations but may lack real analytic ability, problem-solving skills, and common sense. Scoring well on these metrics reveals nothing about other types of intelligences, especially emotional intelligence, that are critical to being an excellent physician. Knowing how to calculate the speed of a ball rolling down an inclined plane or recalling the Bamford-Stevens reaction are totally irrelevant to being an astute diagnostician, much less an oncologist sensitively discussing end-of-life care preferences with a patient who has developed metastatic cancer.

The prioritization of student grades and test scores in the US News & World Report rankings of medical schools fuels a vicious cycle. Medical schools have placed more emphasis on these criteria, ultimately striving to select students with higher scores to maintain their ranking. From 2000 to 2016, the grade point averages of students admitted to US medical schools have actually increased from 3.60 to 3.70,3 and MCAT scores in both biological and physical sciences have also increased by 5% to 10%.4 European universities may emphasize IQ even more in medical student selection, because they rely on standardized tests at the end of high school, such as A-level examinations in England.

Providing high-quality care certainly requires intelligence. A high IQ may help a physician diagnose congestive heart failure and select the right medications and interventions, but it is still no guarantee that the physician can lead a multidisciplinary team or effectively help patients change their behaviors in ways that tangibly improve their health outcomes.

The Ubiquitous Importance of Emotional Intelligence
A certain threshold of intelligence is absolutely necessary to succeed in any field. In medicine, IQ is necessary to master and critically assess the volume and complexity of information integral to contemporary medical education. But past this threshold, success in medicine is ultimately more about emotional intelligence.

Psychologists have identified 9 distinct kinds of intelligence, ranging from mathematical and linguistic to musical and the capacity to observe and understand the natural world.5 Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to manage emotions and interact effectively with others. People with high EQs are sensitive to the moods and temperaments of others, display empathy, and appreciate multiple perspectives when approaching situations.

Is EQ really necessary for success? A major part of what distinguishes human brain functions from those of primates is a larger prefrontal cortex and extensive intrabrain connections, which endow humans with significantly greater ability to navigate social interactions and collaborate. It makes sense, then, that humans should use this unique ability to its greatest extent.

Consider a simple negotiation session. Participants—executives, physicians, and others—are grouped into teams and given the exact same starting scenario and facts. When told to come to the best possible deal, as measured in a hard outcome such as the most money, results vary 4-fold or more. The best deals are reached by teams that exhibit mutual trust, an understanding of the interests of the other side, and the ability to reach a mutually beneficial arrangement. These variations are not the result of differences in brain power but rather differences in EQ. According to Diamond, “[In negotiations] emotions and perceptions are far more important than power and logic in dealing with others. [EQ] produces four times as much value as conventional tools like leverage and ‘win-win’ because (a) you have a better starting point for persuasion, (b) people are more willing to do things for you when you value them, no matter who they are, and (c) the world is mostly about emotions, not the logic of ‘win-win.’”6

EQ in Medicine

Vitally important to the success of 21st-century clinicians are 3 capabilities: to (1) effectively lead teams, (2) coordinate care, and (3) engender behavior change in patients and colleagues. (Both 1 and 3 require negotiating skills.) Thus, effective physicians need both an adequate IQ and a high EQ.

For the 10% of chronically ill patients who consume nearly two-thirds of all health care spending,7 the primary challenge is not solving diagnostic conundrums, unraveling complex genetic mutations, or administering specially designed therapeutic regimens. Rather, physicians caring for chronically ill patients with several comorbidities must lead multidisciplinary teams that emphasize educating patients, ensuring medication adherence, diagnosing and treating concomitant mental health issues, anticipating potential illness exacerbations, and explicitly discussing treatment preferences.

These activities depend on listening, building trust, empathy, and delineating mutual goals. Chronic care management, in addition to sufficient intelligence, therefore primarily requires a high EQ. As Goleman suggested, “Analytics and technical skills do matter, but mainly as ‘threshold capabilities’—that is, they are the entry-level requirements for executive positions… [But] emotional intelligence is the sine qua non of leadership. Without it a person can have the best training in the world; an incisive analytical mind; and an endless supply of smart ideas; but he still won’t make a great leader.”8

Minimizing or ignoring EQ when selecting and training medical students may partially explain why US medical professionals fare so poorly in assembling well-functioning teams to care for chronically and terminally ill patients.


A Report on Terrorism That Falls Short on Useful Details

A new government report on terrorism uses data selectively to produce skewed conclusions on the percentage of acts of terrorism committed in the U.S. by those born in another country.

In a quick read, the Jan. 16 report from the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department appears to demonstrate that foreign-born individuals committed approximately 73 percent of terror crimes from Sept. 11, 2001, through Dec. 31, 2016.

The joint report says its goal was to provide statistics that would help to develop policies that would be effective in “protecting [American] citizens from terrorist attacks.”

To achieve this goal, it makes sense that the report should analyze all data on terrorism committed in the U.S. However, the report selectively uses data in three ways, resulting in the slanted conclusions.

First, the report considers only instances of international terrorism, defined as “investigations of terrorist acts planned or committed outside the territorial jurisdiction of the United States over which federal criminal jurisdiction exists and those within the United States involving international terrorists and terrorist groups.”

What the report fails to include are cases of domestic terrorism—attacks on U.S. soil committed by individuals not connected to international terror groups. So for example, the report excludes eco-terrorism or neo-Nazi terrorist activities.

It certainly can be of value to analyze specific types of terrorism; but the focus on international terrorism reveals why the report concludes that foreign-born individuals are more likely to be involved in acts of terror.

While many of these individuals could be linked to Islamist terrorism, the data is not transparent. It likely includes terror groups from the Irish Republican Army to the Cambodian Freedom Fighters. The report would have been more helpful if it had at least laid out the types of terror groups involved and their sizes.

Second, the report says its data includes offenses such as “fraud, immigration, firearms, drugs, false statements, perjury, and obstruction of justice” in counting cases of international terrorism. Adding these events into the mix is not transparent at best, but deceptive at worst.

While the report claims that such crimes are related to international terrorism, it is impossible for readers to confirm the validity of these classifications without access to detailed accounts of the individual events. If the government can’t provide this data, it would better serve the public by providing an accounting of cases of explicit terrorism crimes.

Third, and as noted in a Lawfare article, an earlier version of the dataset “included almost 100 foreign-born defendants who were extradited into the United States and therefore never would have been affected by U.S. immigration policy.”

Extradition is completely different from voluntary migration and refugee flows. So these convictions numbering in the hundreds—if indeed included in the report—should be addressed separately if the Trump administration wants to make an argument about the connection between immigration and terrorism.

The government should provide data that is transparent, clear, and properly gathered and analyzed. This report falls short and officials ought to improve it to provide policymakers and the American people with the best information with which to make decisions.

The Heritage Foundation has tracked all Islamist terror plots and attacks on U.S. soil that have occurred since 9/11.

The information recorded in the Heritage timeline provides an accurate and transparent display of the individuals behind acts of terror against the U.S.

We must identify and understand the nature of the threat if we are to develop public policy that effectively addresses it. To do this, we need better, accurate data from the Trump administration.



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

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


30 January, 2018

Polls, polls, polls

We learnt in 2016 that polls tell you nothing about Trump.  They didn't even give him a chance in the primaries and Hillary had her victory speech ready to go on election night.  So do the polls below tell us anything?  Probably not

Talk show host Oprah Winfrey would easily beat President Trump in a 2020 match-up, a new poll indicates, but Democratic and liberal household names Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders would best the Republican by more.

The new survey, conducted by SSRS and commissioned by CNN, found that Winfrey would best Trump among registered voters by nine points, with the talk show queen receiving 51 per cent and the sitting president getting 42 per cent.

Former Vice President Joe Biden would take 57 per cent of registered voters surveyed, to Trump's 40 per cent – winning by the biggest margin of the three – while former Democratic candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, would beat Trump 55 per cent to 42 per cent.

President Trump trounced 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton with the white vote, 57 per cent to 37 per cent, according to CNN's exit polls.

That margin evaporates in the newest poll, with Biden getting the most support among white registered voters, beating Trump 50 per cent to 48 per cent.

Sanders and Winfrey perform better too, with Sander attracting 48 per cent to Trump's 49 per cent, and Winfrey receiving 45 per cent to Trump's 50 per cent of white registered voters.

The poll also shows white women voting for the Democratic candidates instead of the Republican, like they did in 2016. 

Biden wins white women by 23 points, while Sanders has a 17-point edge and Winfrey wins the group by 14 points.

Former Vice President Biden has said he's purposely not making a decision about 2020 yet, while Sanders – an independent who ran for the nomination the last time around – hasn't laid out his plans yet.



Minimum Wage Hikes Cause Hundreds of Bus Boys to Lose Jobs at Red Robin

Red Robin, a popular burger chain, will cut jobs at all 570 of its locations because, chief financial officer Guy Constant said, “We need ... to address the labor [cost] increases we’ve seen.”

To put it differently, Red Robin is cutting these jobs because of bad government policy: namely, hikes in the minimum wage. On January 1, some 18 states—from Maine to Hawaii—increased their minimum wage.

Founded in Seattle but headquartered in Colorado, Red Robin hopes to save some $8 million this year by eliminating bussers from their restaurants. (Bussers, or busboys, clear dirty dishes from tables, set tables, and otherwise assist the wait staff.) According to the New York Post, the company saved some $10 million last year after eliminating “expediters,” who plate food in the kitchen.

Despite what many people, including policymakers, would argue, this is an altogether painfully predictable response to increased labor costs. It’s basic economics. The “first law of demand” teaches us that when the price of a good or service increases, people will tend to buy fewer units. Conversely, when the price of a good or service decreases, people will tend to buy more. This idea is usually presented no later than chapter 3 in any econ 101 textbook.

Labor is no exception to this rule. If the cost of employing workers increases, we’d expect companies to hire fewer workers and even to let some go.

Some might say, “Well, why can’t Red Robin just make a smaller profit and stop being greedy?” Consider, however, that pretax profit margins for the restaurant industry typically range between 2 and 6 percent. This means there’s not a lot of room for error or cost increases before realizing a loss.

Now suppose that a restaurant like Red Robin is operating normally when minimum-wage hikes are imposed. Let’s take Colorado as an example. On January 1, Colorado’s minimum wage increased by about 10 percent—from $9.30 to $10.20 an hour.

Have the workers at the restaurant—the cooks, the servers, or the bussers—acquired any new skills? No! Will they magically become more productive and begin to generate more revenue for their employer as a result of this policy? No! The workers simply become more expensive to employ. So what is a company like Red Robin to do?

One option would be to add a surcharge to customers’ bills to recoup some of the losses from the higher labor costs. This is precisely what happened in San Diego following a minimum-wage increase—much to the chagrin of policymakers and customers alike. Another option would be to increase menu prices—a particularly unpopular move when it comes to luring in customers.

A third alternative would be to fire some staff and make due with a smaller workforce. Restaurants like Chili’s have taken to installing ordering kiosks at its tables, allowing customers to order and pay their tabs without ever having to speak to a waiter. Other restaurants, like McDonald’s and Wendy’s, have also begun to substitute technology for human beings in the form of automated ordering kiosks.

Note that three groups could lose here. First, Red Robin loses. No company likes firing employees, incurring higher costs, or trying to provide the same quality service with fewer workers.

Second, customers may lose through poorer service or higher prices.

And third, workers lose if they find themselves without jobs.

While we may not like the idea of someone trying to live on $5 or even $7 an hour, we can likely all agree that earning a small wage is better than earning nothing at all due to unemployment. It’s easy to vilify restaurants and other companies when they respond to higher costs with layoffs. But it’s important to place the blame where it belongs. In this case, it’s bad policy—not incompetence, not corporate greed—that’s causing people to lose their jobs.



The Supreme Court was not the only area where Trump has had wins in appointing conservative judges

The past year was probably the most consequential in modern history for the appointment of conservative judges to the federal courts, with a successor to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia who shares his judicial philosophy, and a historic number of appeals court judges who will shape the law for two generations. What led to this transformative moment was a unique presidential election, the first in American history during which the composition of the federal judiciary, particularly the Supreme Court, was cited as a major factor for a large swath of voters. The issue might well have been decisive to the outcome of that contest.

Since the 2016 election, President Donald Trump has nominated judges who have a demonstrated commitment to, as the president puts it, interpreting the Constitution “the way it was meant to be.” In so doing, Trump is ensuring that his legacy will last far beyond his term in office. Tax and health care reform can quickly evaporate with future changes in congressional majorities, but federal judges serve for life, often making decisions about our Constitution and laws that affect one or two generations. History shows, just as well, that federal judges can block a president’s agenda, preventing the executive branch from accomplishing its goals when it comes to deregulation, national security and other aspects of domestic and social policy reform.

The year of “extraordinary accomplishment,” as Majority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell described it, began with the nomination and confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the seat left vacant by Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court. He will likely serve for decades, and may well be the deciding vote in enormously important cases touching on free speech, religious liberty, gun rights and the scope of authority of the administrative state.

Less noticed, but almost as important, are the many federal appeals court vacancies the president had an opportunity to fill last year. The Senate confirmed 12 nominees to fill those vacancies on the appeals courts, which was an all-time record for a presidential administration in its first year. The record was previously shared by Presidents John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon, with 11 in their respective first years. Only three were confirmed during President Barack Obama’s first year.

Statistics, however, tell only part of the story. What makes this judicial sweep so significant is the extraordinary backgrounds of Trump’s nominees. Gorsuch and the president’s appeals court nominees have among the most distinguished credentials possible and demonstrated records of applying the Constitution and laws as they are written. Many have explicitly rejected, in word and deed, making decisions based on their own political preferences, or any partisan agenda, and they have demonstrated and promised independence, invoking the separation of powers, federalism and checks and balances that are the hallmarks of limited government under our Constitution. Many have records of refusing to take issues unaddressed by the Constitution away from the people and those they elect to represent them.

Though relatively young as judicial appointees, they almost uniformly have some of the most extraordinary professional resumes in the legal system, with service on state supreme courts or other very distinguished posts in government or on leading law school faculties or at the best law firms in the country. Several, such as Joan Larsen of Michigan, Allison Eid of Colorado, David Stras of Minnesota and Don Willett of Texas, have been leading conservative  intellectuals on their state supreme courts. Others, such as Amy Barrett of Norte Dame and Stephanos Bibas of the University of Pennsylvania, are leading constitutional law scholars committed to the original meaning of the Constitution. And, several, including Gregory Katsas and Kyle Duncan have argued important limited government cases before the Supreme Court. People with such talent and philosophical commitment are very likely to prove transformational for the future of our legal culture. That is particularly meaningful given the widespread skepticism held by so many Americans toward government institutions.

In a year when legislative victories were hard to come by, the “judicial wave” of 2017 was a very important benchmark of political success. And, looking ahead to the rest of 2018, it is likely to become the GOP leadership’s case-in-chief for redoubling unified and intense action on the many federal judicial nominees the president still has to nominate and get confirmed.



Dow Grows 31% in Trump's First Year, Highest Gain Since FDR in 1933

First-year stockmasrket and job figures tend to reflect business expectations but will not be continued if promises are not kept. Trump has however delivered on his promises

Although most of the liberal media are not reporting this, it is now a fact that the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the Dow, experienced growth of 31% in Donald Trump's first year as president, the greatest growth for a president's first year since Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1933, some 84 years ago, reported CNBC.com.

The Dow is a stock market index of 30 major publicly traded companies. It measures how the 30 companies traded on the stock market in a standard trading session. The Dow was first calculated in 1896 and is considered one of the more reliable ways to measure economic growth. Some of the 30 companies in the Dow today include Apple, Boeing, Coca-Cola, ExxonMobil, Microsoft, Nike, Visa and Walmart.

In its story, CNBC reported that the 30-stock index "had surged more than 31 percent since Trump's inauguration," which "marks the index's best performance during the first year of a president since Franklin Roosevelt."

In FDR's first presidential year, 1933, the Dow soared 96.5%, according to FactSet and CNBC. In Trump's first year it rose 31.3%.

In Harry Truman's first year, the Dow grew 30.9% and under Barack Obama, first year, it rose 28%.

Baird investment strategist Bruce Bittles told CNBC, "This is all about policy. You've got lower taxes, less regulation and confidence in the economy is high. Things are firing on all cylinders."



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

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


29 January, 2018

Smart people are less likely to go mad

That's an easy to understand heading, is it not?  It's my summary of an article titled: "Association of Heritable Cognitive Ability and Psychopathology With White Matter Properties in Children and Adolescents".  It appeared in JAMA Psychiatry. Published online January 24, 2018

By a Norwegian, a German and a Vietnamese (Dag Alnæs, Tobias Kaufmann and Nhat Trung Doan), all of whom work at Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway


Importance:  Many mental disorders emerge during adolescence, which may reflect a cost of the potential for brain plasticity offered during this period. Brain dysconnectivity has been proposed as a common factor across diagnostic categories.

Objective:  To investigate the hypothesis that brain dysconnectivity is a transdiagnostic phenotype in adolescence with increased susceptibility and symptoms of psychiatric disease.

Design, Setting, and Participants:  We investigated clinical symptoms as well as cognitive function in 6487 individuals aged 8 to 21 years from November 1, 2009, to November 30, 2011, in the Philadelphia Neurodevelopmental Cohort and analyzed diffusion magnetic resonance imaging brain scans for 748 of the participants.

Main Outcomes and Measures:  Independent component analysis was used to derive dimensional psychopathology scores, and genome-wide complex trait analysis was used to estimate its heritability. Multimodal fusion simultaneously modeled contributions of the diffusion magnetic resonance imaging metrics fractional anisotropy, mean diffusivity, radial diffusivity, L1 (the principal diffusion tensor imaging eigen value), mode of anisotropy, as well as dominant and secondary fiber orientations, and structural connectivity density, and their association with general psychopathology and cognition.

Results:  Machine learning with 10-fold cross-validation and permutation testing in 729 individuals (aged 8 to 22 years; mean [SD] age, 15.1 [3.3] years; 343 females [46%]) revealed significant association with general psychopathology levels (r?=?0.24, P?<?.001) and cognition (r?=?0.39, P?<?.001). A brain white matter pattern reflecting frontotemporal connectivity and crossing fibers in the uncinate fasciculus was the most associated feature for both traits. Univariate analysis across a range of clinical domains and cognitive test scores confirmed its transdiagnostic importance. Both the general psychopathology (16%; SE, 0.095; P?=?.05) and cognitive (18%; SE, 0.09; P?=?.01) factor were heritable and showed a negative genetic correlation.

Conclusion and relevance:  Dimensional and heritable general cognitive and psychopathology factors are associated with specific patterns of white matter properties, suggesting that dysconnectivity is a transdiagnostic brain-based phenotype in individuals with increased susceptibility and symptoms of psychiatric disorders.


Comment:  Aren't you glad I summarized that for you?  To be fair, they had to tell you all that stuff to make their point.  And what they say goes well beyond my simple summary. They found that a particular brain feature was associated with (and probably caused) both low IQ and a variety of mental disorders.  And it was all genetically inherited.

So to make it simple again: Some people are born with defective brains.  That's not terribly new news, of course.  What is interesting is that a particular brain feature,  "dysconnectivity", underlies both personality and IQ.  You can be both dumb and off your head at the same time!

And that relates well to something I have been saying for a long time:  That a high IQ tends to be just one symptom of general biological fitness.  "To him that hath, more will be given him", as Jesus said several times (Matthew 13:12 & 25:29; Mark 4:25). There is no equality in nature.  We knew that already but it is nice to see it in a particular brain feature. 


European CEOs Go One By One To Tell Trump They Are Investing Billions Back In The US

The Left were all confident that Trump would be ignored and denounced at Davos.  Roughly the opposite happened

President Donald J. Trump hosted a dinner with European business leaders and CEOs at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland Thursday evening. Trump has been making the rounds in Davos, holding bilateral meetings with other world leaders and conducting business roundtables. Trump met with various business leaders in shadow of the recent economic boom in America.

In a stunning moment, one by one, European titans of industry from companies like Adidas, Siemens and Bayer went around the table to thank Trump for the passage of tax cuts and the easing of corporate tax burdens. Almost every CEO had a new US-based investment or strategic business to announce.

The president of Seimens, Joe Kaeser, said, “since you have been so successful in tax reform we have decided to develop the next generation gas turbines in the United States.”

Trump responded “That’s great!”

Exchanges like this continued all around the table.



Objections to Trump

The Left say he is anti-democratic but it is they who want to overturn a duly elected President.  The Left just can't help their authoritarianism. It is intrinsic to them

One year after his inauguration, the idea that Donald Trump is a tyrant continues to be a strong current in political discussion. Of course this charge has been a mainstay of his critics, from Democrats to those who imagine themselves to be ‘the resistance’. But we also hear it from Republican politicians and conservatives as well. Recently, outgoing Republican Jeff Flake compared Trump to Joseph Stalin, for referring to the media as ‘the enemy of the people’. And David Frum, former speechwriter for George W Bush, has a new book out, Trumpocracy, in which he argues that Trump is a corrupt authoritarian.

These claims that Trump is a despot are over the top, and don’t correspond with the reality of his actions in office. In fact, it is hard to say Trump stands for any principle, as his views seem to change by the day, or tweet. If he is an autocrat, he is far from a consistent one. Yes, he does make authoritarian outbursts, but he has not followed through on them. He has threatened to change the libel laws, introduce a Muslim travel ban, investigate voter fraud (and potentially suppress certain voters), remove those disloyal to him in the Department of Justice, and dismiss Robert Mueller as the special investigator. But none of these things has materialised.

Moreover, an aspiring would-be dictator would need to subordinate the institutions around him – after all, in the US federal system there are many levels of government and the president’s powers are limited. In Trump’s first year, he simply hasn’t done that. His cabinet often disagrees with him: congressional Republicans have pursued their longstanding agenda, which conflicts with Trump’s electoral promises (and to which Trump has willingly acquiesced, desperate to have any sign of success); Democrats in Congress have successfully opposed his policies, including his proposed reforms to Obamacare and immigration, which triggered the latest government shutdown. Trump clearly hates the media, and his threats are wrong and should be opposed, but he is unsuccessful in silencing them – the mainstream media are obsessed with denouncing Trump’s every move.

Among the most consistent talking points of Trump’s first year is that he is a ‘danger to democracy’. And yet nothing he has proposed is as anti-democratic as the goal of his antagonists: to remove him from office. Their arguments for ousting Trump keep changing: he’s Hitler, he’s colluding with the Russians, and, more recently, he’s mentally unfit and a racist. As do their suggested methods of removal: Electoral College coup, obscure interpretation of the 25th Amendment, impeachment. Such an overturning of the vote, which they so desperately want, would directly undermine democracy.

Time and again, it appears that Trump’s bark is worse than his bite. Does that mean that everything is okay with his presidency? That we should ignore his outbursts, or laugh them off as ‘just words’ or ‘just tweets’? No. Trump’s bigoted comments, his lies and name-calling, his illiberal intimidations – these are all serious problems and cannot just be waved away, as his apologists often try to do.

For Trump’s defenders, these are superficial issues of personality. For instance, Reverend Jerry Falwell Jr recently tweeted: ‘Complaining about the temperament of the @POTUS or saying his behaviour is not presidential is no longer relevant. @realDonaldTrump has single-handedly changed the definition of what behaviour is “presidential” from phony, failed & rehearsed to authentic, successful & down to Earth.’

Likewise, the conservative Victor Davis Hanson says the negative reaction to Trump’s behaviour can be explained by elitist prejudices: ‘To many progressives and indeed elites of all persuasions, Trump is also the Prince of Anti-Culture: mindlessly naive American boosterism; conspicuous, 1950s-style unapologetic consumption; repetitive and limited vocabulary; fast-food culinary tastes; Queens accent; herky-jerky mannerisms; ostentatious dress; bulging appearance; poorly disguised facial expressions; embracing rather than sneering at middle-class appetites; a lack of subtlety, nuance, and ambiguity.’

There’s no doubt that a good portion of the visceral opposition to Trump is down to a snobbish reaction to what he represents culturally, and reflects the cultural elite’s horror at not having complete dominance, as they did when Obama was in office. But that doesn’t mean there is nothing wrong with Trump’s conduct. Trump gives his opponents much that is objectionable to work with. Take the recent ‘shithole’ comment about immigrants from Africa and Haiti. The response may have been hysterical (as if prior presidents had not said worse). But Trump’s comment was clearly racist and should be roundly denounced.



Poll: Voters Overwhelmingly Support Medicaid Work Requirements

Two-thirds of Pennsylvania voters support Medicaid work requirements. In other states, thousands of Americans previously dependent on government programs have transformed their lives and achieved independence thanks to work requirements. But Pennsylvania’s human services system still traps people in poverty by discouraging work—and voters want that to change.

Two-thirds of Pennsylvania voters support requiring healthy adult Medicaid recipients to pursue work in order to continue receiving government benefits, according to polling released today by the Commonwealth Foundation. The poll of 400 likely Pennsylvania voters, conducted by McLaughlin & Associates, found majority support for work requirements across party lines and among all demographics.

“Voters recognize that promoting work can transform lives and expand resources for those who need them most,” commented Elizabeth Stelle, director of policy analysis for the Commonwealth Foundation. “States like Kansas and Maine have proven work requirements in food stamps boost incomes and help individuals transition to productive careers. The success of work requirements in other programs led the federal Department of Health and Human Services to approve a landmark Medicaid work requirement for healthy Kentuckians last week.”

“Pennsylvania lawmakers already recognize the popularity of this reform,” Stelle continued. “HB 59, vetoed by the governor last fall, directed state officials to pursue a work search requirement for healthy adults with Medicaid coverage. Likewise, state House members recently promoted HB 1659 to restore work requirements in food stamps.”

Work requirements spurred half of those leaving the SNAP (food stamps) programs in Kansas and Maine to more than double their incomes, according to a recent study by the Commonwealth Foundation. If Pennsylvania adopted similar reforms in its food stamps program, the results would be transformative: as many as 100,000 people would rejoin the workforce and wages would grow by $175 to $210 million, according to estimates.

“We must not let people languish in a broken system because we lack the political will to fix it,” Stelle said. “Lawmakers and the governor must recognize that promoting work is key to ending generational poverty and preserving resources for those who need them most.”



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

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


28 January, 2018

Charles Murray on Culture vs. Economics:  An interview

Tamar Jacoby:

It's an age-old debate between the left and the right. The left says poverty—inner-city poverty and working-class poverty—is mostly about economics. The right says culture has at least as much to do with it. You're a longtime proponent of the cultural explanation. Can you spell that out for us?

Charles Murray:

I believe—I've believed for 40 years—that the reforms of the 1960s and the sexual revolution combined to create a perfect storm. And that storm changed the rules of the game for poor people—especially young poor people. In 1960, if you were male, working age, and not physically disabled, you were in the labor force. You were either working or you were looking for work. If you were a woman in your 20s, you were probably already married and had children.

Now let's be clear—this is not the natural state of affairs. Your late teens are not the time you want to get up every day and go to work at the same time even if you don't feel like it. If you're a guy, it's certainly not the time when you naturally say, "I think I want to get married."

And yet, into the '60s, there were norms. And those norms held, almost universally.

But then, at some point in the '60s, the rules changed.

By 1970, it had become much easier if you were a guy to commit a crime, get caught for it, and still not go to jail. It was much easier to slide through school, even if you were a troublemaker, and end up with a diploma without having learned anything or having faced any pressure to learn something.If you were a young woman at the end of the 1960s, if you had a baby, you were not the only girl in your high school class who had one. There were probably half a dozen others. The stigma was pretty much gone. You could afford to take care of the child without a husband. And you could live with a boyfriend, which you couldn't have done before.

Meanwhile—the other element of the perfect storm—there was the sexual revolution. The pill was first put on sale in 1960. For the first time in human history, women had a safe, convenient way to have sexual intercourse even if the guy did nothing to protect against pregnancy. Naturally, this had a huge effect on family formation.


So let me play devil's advocate. I say it's not an either/or. Okay, culture plays a huge role. But doesn't economics have at least as much to do with it?

The US lost 5.6 million manufacturing jobs between 2000 and 2010—30 percent of manufacturing employment. The guy who used to make $25 an hour in a fabricating plant now has to work at Wendy's for minimum wage. And this in turn drives other changes—cultural changes.

When you can't find a job that pays what you're used to, you drop out of the labor force. And then the women in your community are much less interested in marrying you. And pretty soon, those women are raising kids on their own, etc., etc.

In this theory, economics and culture intertwine and drive each other. Is there anything to that?


I'm not denying that these things have occurred. I'm not denying that they have interacted. But I wish people would take a closer look at the timing.

The problems we're talking about start in the last half of the '60s. That's when labor force participation started to decline, when out-of-wedlock births started to rise, when crime rose. But in the last half of the '60s, the jobs hadn't left.

The economy was red hot.

And as we've seen in the years since, things don't get much better when the economy improves. We had a natural experiment in the late 1990s. There were "help wanted" signs everywhere. You could work as many hours a week as you wanted, even if you had low skills and little education. Even then, employers were begging for welders and electricians and cabinetmakers—and they were willing to pay $25 to $30 an hour.

What happened? White male labor force participation stopped declining for a couple years. But it did not go back up. People did not flock back into the labor force. There was no turnaround.


It's very hard to put Humpty Dumpty back together again?


Exactly. Some of the most depressing research has to do with chronic unemployment. Once you've been out of the labor force for a while, getting back in is really hard.


So this brings us to policy. What can we do about this? I guess that's one reason I cling to economic causality along with cultural causality. Culture is so hard to change.


We've been trying 20, 30, 40 years—policy intervention after policy intervention. And most of what we've tried hasn't worked or worked only around the edges.


What about reasserting the norms? Moral suasion—by government or civil society—could that work?


I think there should be a lot more of it. As we know, the educated middle class has been doing better and better in recent years—economically and maintaining the old norms. But that new upper class has been AWOL in the culture wars.

They get married. They work long hours. They're engaged in their communities. But they don't say, "This would be a good idea for other people as well." They're nonjudgmental. They don't preach what they practice.

I don't mean people should get bullhorns and go down to working-class neighborhoods and yell. That's not how it worked in the 1950s.

But the norms were in the air. Values were promulgated by people at the top of society as a matter of course.

It's about policymakers and people who write TV shows and people who make movies. They need to start saying, "You know, it's really a good thing for kids if their parents are married. It's really important that guys get into the labor force and stay there."


We do sometimes change cultural norms. In our lifetimes, society succeeded in creating a new norm around smoking—and a lot of people stopped smoking.


That's right. I'm not sure it would be that simple. But I won't argue with you.

I know you'd like to hear something more optimistic, and I wish I could help you. But the one thing I'll say is that American history does seem to go in cycles.

We have a history of revivals—of what used to be called "reawakenings." In the past, they were religious. We had three or four of them. And each one had huge effects across the culture. The civil rights movement was also a kind of great awakening—an about-face in our values over just 10 years.


And you think that kind of thing could happen again?


Well, let's just say there's a lot less resistance today to some of the things we've been talking about—reasserting norms about marriage and family and work—than there was 20 or 30 years ago. Back then, I could not have said many of the things I've said today without getting hissed by the audience. So I think there is some potential for a cultural revival.

What are the odds? I don't know. But they're greater than zero. And given how little we know about how to effect change programmatically, with government interventions, I say we'd better go with the only game in town. I think that's culture.



States Look to Rein in Occupational Licensing Laws, Reduce Burden on Workers

The inability of the federal government to organize its affairs should not distract from progress at the state level. Even though an increasing number of Americans work in occupations subject to licensing requirements, from 5 percent of the workforce in 1950 to about 30 percent today, some states are fighting back.

A bill introduced in Florida would scale back licensing requirements for some professions and remove them completely for others. South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard recently proposed creating an interstate compact to facilitate people to continue working when they move to another participating state. Such reforms could improve the lives of many Americans by reducing barriers to work and mobility.

Overly-burdensome licensing requirements can limit the number of people that are able to work in licensed occupations. As I’ve written previously, a recent paper from the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty estimated that if licensing requirements for the ten occupations were equivalent to requirements in the least burdensome states, employment in some professions would increase by over four percent.

For some professions, such as hair braiders, policymakers may determine that the occupation can be removed from the licensing framework altogether. For others where such a move is not practical or the arguments in favor of a move are less clear cut, they can consider reducing the requirements to levels already in place in other states, whether by reducing the number of required hours, the number of tests, or scaling back other measures.

Policymakers in Florida are taking this approach. This is welcome news, because the most recent report from the Institute for Justice found the state had the 5th most burdensome licensing laws. On Friday, the Florida House passed a licensing reform bill 74-28. If it were to become law the bill would remove seven professions, including hair braiders, nail polishers, and my personal favorite, timekeepers and announcers, from the state’s occupational licensure framework.

For other occupations the bill would significantly reduce the number of hours of training required to get a license. Barbers would require 600 hours of training, down from 1,200. Restricted barbers, with a narrower scope of practice clarified in the bill, would require 325 hours.

By shrinking the number of occupations subject to licensing regulations, and lowering the burden for some other occupations, the bill would reduce barriers to entry and increase the number of opportunities available to Floridians. A similar reform effort passed the House last year, but did not ultimately become law. However, it is a positive sign that this bill was one of the first to be taken up in 2018, and makes enactment more likely.

South Dakota Governor Daugaard recently wrote in the Wall Street Journal about the introduction of legislation to establish a multistate “Compact for the Temporary Licensure of Professionals.” Under the compact, individuals living in one state who have been licensed in an occupation in another participating state can receive an in-state temporary license within 30 days of requesting one. The ability to obtain a temporary license quickly would allow people in these occupations to avoid disruptions in their ability to work if they move from one participating state to another. They could continue to work while they work on fulfilling the requirements for a permanent license.

Previous research concluded that the interstate migration rate for workers in state-specific licensed occupations was 36 percent lower than for people in unaffected professions. Occupational licensing can increase the costs related to moving, as people who move miss out on earnings and have their career trajectories derailed. The authors of that study found that the increase in occupational licensing since 1980 can explain 6 percent of the decline in interstate migration since then. The higher costs deter some people from moving, and make it harder for those that do end up doing so.

The compact would not go as far as a full reciprocity agreement, in which participating states would accept licenses issued in other participating states. However, the compact would go some way towards reducing the cost and disruption introduced by occupational licensing on interstate migration.

Florida and South Dakota offer an example to other states with their occupational licensing reforms. These efforts are a step forward in terms of reviewing the occupational licensing framework in place, and seeking to find practical, actionable ways to reduce the related burdens.



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

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


26 January, 2018

Foundlings:  A pre-modern social welfare system

I actually knew a foundling once so it's really quite recent history. It reflected a time when food was much less abundant than it is now in a modern capitalist society.  Lots of people had to battle to feed their families.  There was even some real starvation. 

Under those circumstances, a father wanted to be sure that the kids he was feeding were all his.  And the only way he could achieve that was by forging all sorts of bonds which would ensure that his wife slept only with him.  Marriage was a public agreement that she would do that and he would provide for the resultant kids.  And the society generally co-operated with that.  There were all sorts of norms for female behaviour that made it punitively difficult for her to stray.

But the sex drive being what it is, women did sometimes stray. The woman and her lover of course did the utmost to hide her lack of virtue but that became difficult when a baby popped out.  The social disgrace was enormous and even the woman's family would not support her lest they to fell into disgrace.

So how was she to support herself and the babe?  She could hardly go to work with a new baby and the poorhouse would close its doors to her.  The poorhouse was the Victorian social support net for those who could not support themselves.  So on many occasions the baby had to be disposed of in some way.  A common way was for the mother to wrap the baby up warmly and leave it on the doorstep of one of the great houses.

When one of the servants opened the door of the house next morning, the babe was found.  And there was generally some sympathy for it among the servants.  The cook (who had access to food) or some other kindly person would informally "adopt" the babe and see to its needs. It became a foundling. 

The master of the house would not always be told imediately but, when he was, he would generally accept it as a fait accompli and wash his hands of the matter.  As long as his dinners were not interrupted and the cleaning was done, he could allow the servants the occasional folly. But he would not acknowledge the baby in any way.

But babies grow up eventually and the legitimate children in the house would sometimes notice another child in their environment and might even get to play with it. So if the child had some virtue -- a clever brain or a pleasant manner, say -- this would become generally known to all -- eventually even to the master.  And for the inculcation of virtue, the foundling would quite often be included in the children's lessons. 

Children of a great house were not sent to a school.  They were taught at home by a tutor or a governess.  A tutor mainly taught Latin and a governess generally taught French but there was some general education included.  So foundlings often got a better education than children brought up in a poor household.  And there were occasions, when the foundling displayed some talent or other, that the master of the house would give some acknowledgement to the foundling -- taking personal credit for having taken in the foundling.

So it was a very hit-and-miss social safety net but its results for the child would fall within the range of what many legitimate children experienced at the time.  That it didn't starve was a significant achievement.

Having a great house nearby was not always available so an embarrassing babe would be left on the doorstep of what was apparently a prosperous couple -- with uneven but not too terrible results.  The foundling I knew was actually unaware for most of her life that she was a foundling.  She was brought up no differently from the other children of the family.  It is normal for babies to be treasured.

There are of course still foundlings of a sort in the Western world today.  A babe is left at a hospital by a distressed mother and modern social welfare measures grind into gear.

In history and in literature there are many stories about foundlings, starting with Moses.


Don Lemon really is a lemon

After news broke that a Michigan man threatened to carry-out a mass shooting at CNN’s headquarters, Don Lemon placed the blame for the domestic terrorist threat on President Donald Trump’s rhetoric against the press.

The man in question, reported Hitler-fan Brandon Griesemer, allegedly called CNN 22 times this month before his arrest claiming he was “coming to gun you all down” and referring the network as “fake news.”

In response to this incident, Lemon said the following:

“There’s nothing random about this. Nothing. This is what happens when the president of the United States, Donald Trump, repeatedly attacks members of the press simply for reporting facts he does not like. I’ve heard from a number of very credible sources from within the White House that you watch this show. So, Mr. President, I’m going to speak directly to you: The caller who threatened to kill CNN employees made his threat using these words: ‘Fake news.’ … I wonder where he got those words.”

Of course, the term “fake news” has been Trump’s go to slam against the press for the past two years — particularly CNN. He used the attack against them as recently as yesterday morning, calling them “Fake News CNN,” and famously shouted, “You are fake news” at the network’s White House reporter during a presser.


So by this logic, is Don saying that he and his party are responsible for the Democrat Bernie supporter who shot at a bunch of congressmen on a ball field nearly killing Scalise? This was after their rhetoric of GOP killing everyone.


Trump was right -- again

Donald Trump recently got in trouble with liberals for referring to one of the most impoverished third world countries, Haiti, as a s*******. Port-Au-Prince, the biggest city in Haiti, doesn’t have a sewer system and crime is out of control but apparently, that’s not enough for liberals to classify it as a bad place to live.

Now, some videos have emerged that prove Trump was absolutely correct. Narrative shattered. From Conservative Tribune:

Despite all the grief President Donald Trump recently received for allegedly referring to Haiti as a “s***hole” nation, the fact remains the island does suffer from some serious sanitation problems — primarily because it lacks a conventional trash disposal system.

As a result, Haiti is teeming with trash everywhere — on the streets, in rivers and even along the coast. According to Deutsche Welle, it’s so bad there that sadly many Haitians literally live “in (and around) garbage.”

And according to environmental activist Rosaly Byrd, there’s so much trash that it’s virtually impossible to go swimming anywhere in Haiti without encountering some.

All Trump did was ask a question that not enough politicians have asked. Why are we importing a lot more unskilled and impoverished workers from places like Haiti than we are people from places like Norway? A normal person can think about that question rationally. Liberals aren’t capable of seeing beyond race.  It’s really pathetic. They can’t accept reality.

It has really been remarkable watching how badly liberals were triggered over Trump’s comment.



Why evangelicals stand by Trump: Those calling out the hypocrisy of Christian conservatives ignore the scars of recent history

Evangelicals don't see Trump as the embodiment of Christian values but as a protector of their right to live by them

By S.E. Cupp

It was one of President Trump’s most supportive voting blocs in 2016: 80% of white evangelicals voted for him, according to exit polls. Just 16% voted for Hillary Clinton.

Many on the left and in the media were shocked then by Trump’s evangelical support, and they are shocked now, after some faith leaders have brushed off credible new allegations that the President had an extramarital affair with a porn star years ago, then paid her to stay silent.

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins told Politico, “We kind of gave him — ‘All right, you get a mulligan. You get a do-over here.’ ” Franklin Graham, son of the Rev. Billy Graham, told CNN that Trump is a “changed person.” He rationalized, “These alleged affairs, they’re alleged with Trump, didn’t happen while he was in office.”

There are two ways to view this: Either evangelicals like Perkins are rank hypocrites or, in the spirit of their faith, are simply very, very forgiving.

Many lean toward the former interpretation, and I get the temptation.

But it willfully leaves out a lot of recent history. As the left and liberal media try to “figure out” Christian America during this latest, complicated moment, it’s instructive to understand where they’ve recently been.

Two years into Barack Obama’s first term, I wrote a book on the liberal war on Christianity. When “Losing Our Religion” came out, folks on the right got it immediately. “Of course the left is attacking Christians,” was the general refrain.

Many on the left, however, were incredulous. One far-left radio host had me on to tell me he had no plans to read the book, but that my premise was absurd on its face. Christianity’s the biggest religion in the country; it can’t possibly be an oppressed class, they insisted.

OK, ask one — just one — evangelical Christian why they voted for Trump.

Perkins spelled it out. Evangelical Christians, he says, “were tired of being kicked around by Barack Obama and his leftists. And I think they are finally glad that there’s somebody on the playground that is willing to punch the bully.”

It wasn’t just Obama’s condescension toward the faithful, who he famously said “cling to guns and religion” when angry or scared. It was eight years of policies that trampled on their religious values, from expanded abortion rights and decreased regulation, even in the face of horrific cases like Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s, to continued efforts to chip away at religious employers’ rights.

It was a smugness from the liberal media, which talked about Christian America as if it were a vestigial organ of some extinct, diseased dinosaur.

Liberal television hosts mocked Sarah Palin for banal things like praying, and reporters wrote that her faith — Pentecostalism — was fanatical, kooky and bigoted. Liberal networks and newsrooms were windowless cocoons of secularism that only deigned to cover Christianity to dismiss its relevance or spotlight its perceived backwardness.

And it was decades of concerted cultural elitism that marginalized Christians as not cool enough to cater to. Movies like “The Passion of the Christ” and “The Chronicles of Narnia” were blockbuster hits in spite of dismissive Hollywood film critics who refused to believe there were enough Christians to go see them. Celebrities called them fanatics; comedians made fun of them.

Many evangelicals I talk to say they grew tired of turning the other cheek. In Trump, they finally found someone who was willing to voice the anger and resentment they had been holding in.

They could overlook his personal foibles — after all, let he who is without sin cast the first stone — and his evangelical illiteracy, in exchange for getting someone who would tell off all their past tormentors.

It’s worth noting, there’s also Trump’s record. From tapping Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court to acknowledging Jerusalem is the capital of Israel to following through on his pro-life rhetoric, the President has delivered on a number of promises he made to evangelicals. But that’s not why they voted for him.

So while the willingness to forgive and even defend Trump’s alleged sins seems anathema to many, the fact is evangelicals, like many Trump voters, had good reason to pull the lever for him — and now to stand by him.



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

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


25 January, 2018

Politics as unusual: why America's 'forgotten citizens' stick by their champion

During the dizzying first year of Donald Trump's presidency, Americans and the world at large witnessed a political personality in a state of perpetual war. To the delight of his core supporters, but to the dismay of many others, this pugnacious approach defined Trump's image. But what can we expect from the persistent battler in the future?

To win the White House, Trump attacked opponent after opponent, first during the nominating process against 16 other foes and then in the general election against Hillary Clinton. Radioactive nicknames, including the relentless repetition of 'Crooked Hillary,' became part of his arsenal of insults, and he turned Twitter into a verbal grenade launcher to assault enemies and to defend himself.

What worked for a candidate who'd never sought elective office carried over to Trump's governing. At every turn, when a challenge to his stature or power arose, he punched back with as much force as he could muster.

No matter whether it was his perception of 'fake news' (a phrase he didn't start using until after his election), the investigation of Russian involvement in the campaign (in his opinion "the single greatest witch-hunt in American history") or North Korean missile tests authorised by the country's leader Kim Jong-un (dismissed as 'Little Rocket Man'), Trump didn't turn the other cheek. No direct shot or apparent slight went unanswered.

Trump's combativeness appeals to his base of political support - generally between 38 and 40pc of US voters who approve his leadership. Though on average 55 to 57pc disapprove, the fluctuation in his core following is relatively small, given the enormous attention - both negative and positive - he's received the past year.

Winner of 45.9pc of the popular vote in 2016, his current support largely comes from a coalition of conservative Republicans and independents or former Democrats whom Trump frequently calls the "forgotten men and women" of America.

A two-pronged support base

Interestingly, the reasons of the two main groups for backing him differ. Traditional party members - and Trump's approval among just Republicans stands at over 80pc - applaud the strength of the economy, the soaring stock market, the recently enacted tax-cut legislation, the reversal of government regulations and a multitude of conservative (and lifetime) judicial appointments.

The "forgotten" citizens, mostly members of the working class and instrumental in delivering Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin to Trump's Electoral College triumph, take note of what's happening economically and governmentally, but they also enthusiastically endorse the president's social and cultural stands.

They admire that he's willing to keep attacking the traditional news media, to defend retaining controversial Civil War monuments and to denounce professional athletes who refuse to stand for the National Anthem to protest racial inequality. In their opinion, Trump is fighting for causes they embrace. He's a word warrior (if you will), and his outbursts of full-throated criticism cheer them.

That Trump took 57pc of the white vote (to Clinton's 37pc) - including a whopping 62pc of whites between the ages of 45 and 64 and the same percentage of white men - helps explain why the president targets so many messages to working-class whites. These men and women are nostalgic for an earlier time in the US.

You might even say that many committed to "Make America Great Again" - Trump's signature slogan - long for a national past markedly different from the present.

In general terms, they tend to be less multicultural, less secular, less globalised and less environmentally sensitive. Most of them, frankly, weren't offended the other day when the president referred to "shithole countries" - like Haiti, El Salvador and African nations - for sending immigrants to the US. These newcomers often compete with white working-class men and women for jobs.

To be sure, there's undeniable irony of a billionaire business mogul serving as the tribune of the struggling blue-collar class, but Trump methodically sought their votes. Other candidates, including Clinton, didn't.

"I have visited the laid-off factory workers and the communities crushed by our horrible and unfair trade deals," Trump told the Republican National Convention in the summer of 2016. "These are the forgotten men and women of our country. People who work hard but no longer have a voice. I am your voice."

The Twitter factor

During recent months, Trump's voice has been heard at campaign-style rallies in key states, but it's most often expressed via his thumbs through Twitter, where he currently boasts about nearly 50 million followers.

His tweets report on his activities and travels, with many trumpeting economic trends for which he - as with every other president - takes credit. But the messages that take on a perceived ­opponent or a potential danger to his standing become news stories on their own, receiving enormous amplification in the media's global echo chamber.

Last month, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat, called on Trump to resign on the basis of what she said were "very credible allegations of misconduct" by more than a dozen women before he entered the Oval Office. Trump lost no time reacting.

"Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky for Chuck Schumer and someone who would come to my office 'begging' for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump," he tweeted.

The sexually suggestive phrasing ("would do anything") raised eyebrows, while the boxing reference reinforced his self-identity as someone ready to do battle whenever confronted by man - or woman.

A new 'diplomacy'

What's simultaneously fascinating and worrying about Trump's use of Twitter is his consistency in formulating messages with haymaker impact. Potentially sensitive international matters are rarely couched in diplomatic language.

He's harshly taken on UK prime minister Theresa May for her objections to him retweeting anti-Muslim videos from the far-right organisation Britain First, and even the prospect of launching nuclear weapons can provoke a scary response.

As 2018 began, Trump tweeted: "North Korean leader Kim Jong-un just stated that the 'Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times'. Will someone from his depleted and food-starved regime please inform him that I too have a nuclear button, but it is a much bigger and more powerful one than his, and my button works!"

Weaponising Twitter, which disturbs many Americans and others as being unpresidential, is a deliberate strategy to provide continuous, direct communication with core supporters. For no cost, and without much effort, Trump can go around the traditional media and deliver his message exactly as he wants.

Twitter, in effect, becomes a stream-of-consciousness script tapped out by the narrator-protagonist occupying the most significant government office in the US, if not the world. The most fervent Trump followers - who hate politics as usual and enjoy punch-in-the-nose outbursts aimed at adversaries - take delight in the social media fisticuffs.

Riding a rollercoaster

As Trump's first year in the White House ends, drama and combat have been pre-eminent hallmarks of this president. But most impartial observers wonder whether the citizenry, beyond the core voters, can stay tuned day-after-day without wanting to turn the channel? How long can any nation ride a rollercoaster?

The recent publication of Michael Wolff's tell-all-and-more portrait, Fire and Fury, lays bare an administration in disarray and an easily distracted president unwilling to tackle complex details of the office.

A flawed book, littered throughout with factual mistakes, Fire and Fury nonetheless raises serious questions about Trump's process for making judgments and decisions.

Whether from genuine grievance or gnawing insecurity, Trump took particular umbrage that his mental fitness deserved anyone's scrutiny. Twitter became his medium of self-assessment, and he pronounced himself "a very stable genius."

Personal testimonials of intellectual acuity might seem out of place in high electoral office, but the past year has brought a succession of jaw-dropping statements and actions, which produced a large question mark that hangs over the White House.

Back in May, Trump admitted to NBC News that the investigation of possible Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign served as a principal reason for firing FBI director James Comey because "this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story."

Trump's own Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, and the Justice Department proposed the removal of Comey for other causes, but the president publicly pointed elsewhere.

After the violent demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia, pitting white supremacists against groups opposed to the Neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan, the president told a news conference that "you had some very bad people in that group [the supremacists], but you also had people that were fine people on both sides."

Interestingly, Trump's approval from core supporters stayed almost exactly where it was for several days after Comey's firing and "the very fine people" comment, according to the Gallup organisation's tracking surveys of opinion. He paid no price with his backers.

Thus far the impact of the Wolff book - with a remarkable 1.4 million copies in print - has also been negligible among Trump's base. To be safe, however, the president on Twitter and in talking with reporters keeps defending himself in no uncertain terms.

The Fake News defence

Back in October, Trump remarked during an interview, "one of the greatest of all terms I've come up with is 'fake'." He's certainly liberal invoking it - nearly 200 times on Twitter alone attacking 'fake news' this past 12 months - and hatred of the mainstream media is so high among his followers that repeatedly making the charge guarantees applause.

What's baffling to some White House watchers, however, is Trump's duality, if not duplicity, in his handling of the communications outlets he attacks with such abandon.

Late last March, when he decided not to put a healthcare bill up for a vote in Congress, he personally called reporters at both The New York Times and Washington Post to explain the decision. Other interviews with so-called 'fake news' sources have followed since then, including one with The New York Times this past December 28.

Down in Florida for the holidays, Trump assured reporter Michael Schmidt that "no collusion" occurred between his election campaign and the Russians. Indeed, the president repeated his two-word denial of any complicity 16 separate times in the half-hour session.

Reiterating the same phrase over and over is revealing in itself, but, then, Trump's last recorded statement in the exchange made readers wonder what he really thinks about traditional news institutions.

"We're going to win another four years for a lot of reasons, most importantly because our country is starting to do well again and we're being respected again. But another reason that I'm going to win another four years is because newspapers, television, all forms of media will tank if I'm not there because without me, their ratings are going down the tubes. Without me, The New York Times will indeed be not the failing New York Times, but the failed New York Times. So they basically have to let me win. And eventually, probably six months before the election, they'll be loving me because they're saying, 'Please, please, don't lose Donald Trump'."

Trump's ability to joke about himself is one of his least conspicuous traits. His assurance of re-election and the media's role in it might be an attempt at humour, but even if it is, the speaker's self-regard tends to overshadow everything else.

Does he persistently assail the news media to curry favour with his core followers, or are his attacks the volleys of someone with very thin skin who wants attention and the last word? It's difficult to tell.

What's definitely known is that Trump will seek a second term in 2020. He officially filed formal papers with the Federal Election Commission on the day he was inaugurated last year, even going so far as to trademark a new slogan for his re-election bid.

Instead of "Make America Great Again," the emphasis will shift to continuity by looking ahead: "Keep America Great!" Note the exclamation mark, Trump's own flourish. Before then, though, the mid-term Congressional elections loom this November. If the Democrats win control of the House of Representatives or the Senate - or both chambers - investigations of the administration will proliferate, including almost certain consideration of presidential impeachment.

But the actions and distractions, the ups and the downs, of Trump's first year have kept his core followers together in nearly unwavering fashion. His constant war against the mainstream media, the Washington establishment and globalist elites caters to his base - but doesn't expand his universe of potential voters to a coalition with broader appeal.



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

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


24 January, 2018

IQ: Matzo with sauce get it nearly right

The journal abstract:

The paradox of intelligence: Heritability and malleability coexist in hidden gene-environment interplay.

Sauce, Bruno; Matzel, Louis D.


Intelligence can have an extremely high heritability, but also be malleable; a paradox that has been the source of continuous controversy. Here we attempt to clarify the issue, and advance a frequently overlooked solution to the paradox: Intelligence is a trait with unusual properties that create a large reservoir of hidden gene–environment (GE) networks, allowing for the contribution of high genetic and environmental influences on individual differences in IQ. GE interplay is difficult to specify with current methods, and is underestimated in standard metrics of heritability (thus inflating estimates of “genetic” effects). We describe empirical evidence for GE interplay in intelligence, with malleability existing on top of heritability. The evidence covers cognitive gains consequent to adoption/immigration, changes in IQ’s heritability across life span and socioeconomic status, gains in IQ over time consequent to societal development (the Flynn effect), the slowdown of age-related cognitive decline, and the gains in intelligence from early education. The GE solution has novel implications for enduring problems, including our inability to identify intelligence-related genes (also known as IQ’s “missing heritability”), and the loss of initial benefits from early intervention programs (such as “Head Start”). The GE solution can be a powerful guide to future research, and may also aid policies to overcome barriers to the development of intelligence, particularly in impoverished and underprivileged populations.



The above article is in the Psych. Bulletin, a top journal in psychology which is devoted to surveying the research literature on a particular subject and attempting a theoretical integration of it.  Sauce & Matzel, however, don't come up with much. Their concept of gene–environment (GE) networks is really just a rehash of the well-known finding that to maximize your  final IQ you need good environmental influences on top of your genetic given. 

Considering that the article is a research summary, it is however interesting how high the genetic given is rated.  They say that measured IQ is 80% genetic. Around 70% is the figure that has mostly been quoted in the past and people who hate the idea of IQ have on occasions put the figure as low as 50%.

The authors are aware that an enriched (stimulating) environment from early childhood on can bump up IQ but they are also aware that the gain is not permanent once the enrichment fades out. Headstart kids, for instance, test as brighter while in the program but revert to an IQ similar to their peers when they get into normal schooling.

But what the authors conclude from that is, I think, too optimistic.  They seem to think that the environmental enrichment should be kept up into much later life.  What they overlook is that all environmental influences tend to fade out  as maturation goes on and by about age 30 environmental influences seem to zero out entirely.  Identical twins reared apart will have very similar IQs at whatever age that is measured but the greatest similarity occurs when it is measured around age 30.

So growing up is a process of your genetics coming to the fore and the advantages/disadvantages of your environment fading out.  So enriching the environment throughout childhood is pissing into the wind.  What you are trying to manipulate will have less and less influence as maturation goes on and it will have NO final influence.


Trump’s enemies blunder

Schumer chose illegal aliens over the American people, and it BACKFIRED

IN THE staring match that gripped Washington DC over the weekend, it was the Democrats who blinked first.

Senate Democrats chose to push the US government into a shutdown — smack bang on the anniversary of Donald Trump assuming the presidency. The hope was that the move would embarrass the commander-in-chief, and strongarm Republicans into protecting the Dreamers, more than 700,000 illegal immigrants who came to the country when they were children.

Forcing a shutdown is a risky political move. Last time it happened in 2013 over Obamacare, the Republicans copped the blame. This time around, it’s not yet clear who voters will punish.

Regardless, the Democrats have given in just three days after taking the nuclear option — and they’ve got next to nothing to show for it.

They wanted a deal on the Dreamers. All Republican Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has pledged is that it is his “intention” to deal with immigration issues in the Senate over the next three weeks. They received no commitment on whether House Republicans would get on board

The Republicans would have been forced to deal with the Dreamers soon enough, because Mr Trump gave the Congress a March 5 deadline to resolve their status once and for all.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the Democrats’ position was “indefensible” and that, in the end, they agreed to everything that was in the original continuing resolution.

Mr Trump said he was “pleased” the Democrats had “come to their senses” but added that “we will make a long-term deal on immigration if, and only if, it is good for our country”. He tweeted at the weekend that the shutdown was a “nice present” on his one-year anniversary.



The most unpopular president on record - but here's why Trump could win again in 2020

Donald Trump ends his first year as the most unpopular president on record.

He is the only US president since Harry Truman to have a negative net approval rating after 12 months in the White House - some 24 points below Barack Obama at the same time in his presidency.

The year since Mr Trump's inauguration has been packed with controversy and intrigue - during which there have been persistent allegations over Russian connections. He has fired the head of the FBI, launched tirades against the media, failed to push through healthcare reform and has escalated his rhetoric surrounding North Korea.

All of this led to a slump in approval ratings, with Mr Trump achieving a majority disapproval rating in a record of just eight days since his inauguration.

In the run-up to this year's US mid-term elections, this might be enough to worry him - particularly after Trump-backed Roy Moore faced a shock defeat in Republican-leaning Alabama last year.

But this overall unpopularity may not matter that much - after all, Mr Trump was unpopular when he was elected America's 45th president.

When we dig into the figures, few people seem to have really changed their minds about him - and this is how the president still stands a chance in 2020.

While there has been an overall drop in public opinion, the president's approval ratings have remained relatively stable since July, even experiencing a small uptick following his handling of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, and Hurricane Irma. The polarisation of America's politics is so extreme that his popularity among Democrats can't really drop any further, while Republicans seemingly refuse to desert him, no matter what he does.

Mr Trump's approval rating hasn't dropped much among those who voted for him

Back in January 2016, Mr Trump claimed that he could shoot somebody and not lose any votes. He seems to have largely been correct in this estimation, with his approval rating among those who voted for him last November standing at 90pc.

Among those who self-identify as being conservatives - although not necessarily Republicans - his approval rating is actually marginally higher than it was at the start of the year while, importantly, he is liked better by people who are registered to vote. His approval rating among registered voters hasn't dropped below 40pc all year.


This doesn't mean that there isn't cause for concern for Mr Trump among these ratings. Although his electoral college victory was significant, he lost the overall popular vote, and his election was secured by around 100,000 voters in key swing states.

It is therefore potentially significant that the demographic that has gone off Mr Trump most since the start of the year is of those who self-identify as being moderates.

Among these middle-ground voters - who make up 29pc of the population - Mr Trump's approval score slipped from a three-poll average of 40.5pc in January 2017 to 30.7pc this January.

Could he in again? Given that Mr Trump managed to win last year despite being unpopular among swathes of America, the impact of his waning popularity on his chances of a second term are not clear-cut.

Additionally, a US presidential election isn't conducted on a national level, so national polling is only of limited use when assessing his chances.

In a race for electoral college votes, a presidential election is essentially divided into 50 separate votes in each of America's states - a lesson Hillary Clinton bitterly learned as last year's results trickled out.

Consequently, we must look at state-level data to gain a full picture of how he is performing compared to this time last year, especially in the states that turned red in 2016.

Mr Trump had a positive net approval rating in 17 states during 2017, all of which he won in the 2016 presidential election.

Some 33 states had a negative net approval rating. This includes all six states that swung to him in the 2016 election. He had an average negative approval rating in each of these states in 2017. A negative net approval rate in these states may not bode too well for a potential 2020 run for the Republican president.



Feds planning massive Northern California immigration sweep to strike against sanctuary laws

U.S. immigration officials have begun preparing for a major sweep in San Francisco and other Northern California cities in which federal officers would look to arrest more than 1,500 undocumented people while sending a message that immigration policy will be enforced in the sanctuary state, according to a source familiar with the operation.

Officials at Immigration and Customs Enforcement, known as ICE, declined to comment Tuesday on plans for the operation.

The campaign, centered in the Bay Area, could happen within weeks, and is expected to become the biggest enforcement action of its kind under President Trump, said the source, who requested anonymity because the plans have not been made public.

Trump has expressed frustration that sanctuary laws — which seek to protect immigrants and persuade them not to live in the shadows by restricting cooperation between local and federal authorities — get in the way of his goal of tightening immigration.

The operation would go after people who have been identified as targets for deportation, including those who have been served with final deportation orders and those with criminal histories, the source said. The number could tick up if officers come across other undocumented immigrants in the course of their actions and make what are known as collateral arrests.

Under the Trump administration, ICE has repeatedly warned that if the agency can’t detain people from local jails, it will be forced to arrest them in the communities that hold such policies.



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

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


23 January, 2018

A debate between extremists

There is an article here by an Erik Sherman about Trump's new division of The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) of the Department of Health and Human Services.  The new division has the mission of restoring freedom of conscience to religious people -- something of which all conservatives would surely approve.  But Mr Sherman does not approve.  To him there should be no liberty to withdraw ones services on religious grounds.

He argues that Christians are free enough already and that in an emergency, people might not be able to find an alternative service provider in a timely manner.

We all know of religious cake-bakers and others who have been harassed and prosecuted over their adherence to what the scriptures say about homosexuality so Mr Sherman's claim that they are already free enough is crass and stupid.  It is an argument that flies in the face of the facts

His second point about emergency services falls down when we look at the servicves at issue. Is there anything urgent about cakes, abortions or contraceptives?  Hardly.  People are not wheeled comatose on a trolley into emergency rooms for want of a cake!  The man is a fruitcake.

So it is no surprise that Sherman has attracted a reply from the Bolen report.  Sadly, the Bolen report is also off into the stratosphere. It goes on about vaccines made out of pork for Muslims, Vegans being injected with material from animal tissues and all sorts of improbabilities.  Extremism begets extremism, I guess. I do think Forbes showed a notable error of judgment in publishing the idiotic Sherman article.


US Government shutdown: Donald Trump urges change to Senate rule as stalemate enters second day

I guess it's not very original of me but I hope the shutdown goes on for a long time.  It would show Americans how little they need the government for.  It's all just play-acting anyway. Republicans have cancelled the requirement for a supermajority on  previous occasions so they could do that now too.  The Donks won't budge so they may have to.

If Harry Reid could ditch a supermajority rule, so can Mitch McConnell.  The Democrats set the precedent. McConnell is reluctant because he wants to preserve the power of Congress to block funding legislation from a future Democrat administration. But the Donks have already shown a willingness to ditch such rules so McConnell is wishing on a dream.  Supermajority rules are finished. Both parties have already ditched them for judicial appointments -- and judicial appointments are arguably much more important than a temporary budget impasse. As usual, Trump is right.

Top Republicans have been quick to dismiss Donald Trump's call to change Senate rules, which currently require a super-majority for legislation to advance, if the Government shutdown drags on.

Funding for federal agencies ran out on Saturday with Mr Trump and Republican politicians locked in a standoff with Democrats, who say any funding bill must include protections for "Dreamers".

As the shutdown entered its second day, there appeared to be no clear path for a quick end to the crisis.

"The Dems just want illegal immigrants to pour into our nation unchecked," Mr Trump tweeted. "If stalemate continues, Republicans should go to 51 percent (Nuclear Option) and vote on real, long term budget."

The proposal was almost immediately rejected by Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.

Senate Republicans oppose changing the chamber's rules so that legislation to fund the Government and end the current shutdown could pass with a simple majority, a spokesman for Senator McConnell said.

Current Senate rules require a super-majority of three-fifths of the chamber, usually 60 out of 100, for legislation to clear procedural hurdles and pass.



One year later, President Trump restores limited government, the separation of powers and U.S. economic prosperity

On Jan. 17, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) took to the floor the U.S. Senate and disgracefully compared President Donald Trump to one-time Soviet dictator Josef Stalin because the President called the fake news publishing stories falsely alleging he is a Russian agent “an enemy of the American people.”

Perhaps not appreciating the irony, just a day later, Flake voted to reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), legislation that authorizes the President to exercise intelligence gathering powers said to have been abused during the Bush and Obama administrations in the form of mass surveillance.

It is all political theater for the retiring Arizona senator as the elites in Washington, D.C. applaud his “courage” for idiotically comparing the President to one of the greatest mass murdering dictators in human history who killed millions of his own people and sent many more to gulags.

As a personal note, my wife’s aunt grew up in one of those gulags in Siberia before being liberated years later and eventually immigrating to the U.S. In 2016, she voted for Trump.

Flake’s was an outrageous, despicable comparison, and reflects how hysterical and disconnected from reality Trump’s opponents have become since his unlikely victory in 2016. If Flake truly believed Trump was a Stalinist — who spied on, imprisoned and mass-murdered his political enemies — he wouldn’t be granting more national security powers to the executive branch.

To be fair, perhaps Flake thought he was voting to spy on Trump and the First Family so that the intelligence agencies will finally help overturn the outcome of the 2016 election with their fake, trumped up charges of treason and foreign collusion. Who’s the real monster?

Since the Church Committee, which was convened in 1975 to get to the bottom of revelations by Seymour Hersh’s explosive report to the New York Times on Dec. 22, 1974 that the CIA had engaged in a mass, domestic surveillance program against anti-war protestors, members of Congress and other political figures, the de-weaponization of intelligence — a war power, mind you — against the American people was an article of faith in our democracy.

Now, sadly it is a forgotten epitaph memorializing the destruction of the Constitution by those now in a frenzy to utilize that very deep state to overturn the American people’s Nov. 2016 decision to elect Donald Trump. Have they stopped to consider the irreparable damage that has been inflicted on the republican form of government and the rule of law by their rash inquisition?

This feverish mob mentality, which Flake does nothing to alleviate, is utterly dangerous.

In the meantime, back in reality, President Trump is at work on behalf of the American people who elected him. He is internally taking on these deep state actors that unconstitutionally used the nation’s surveillance powers against the opposition party in the 2016 election campaign. On the day FISA Section 702 was reauthorized in the House, Trump tweeted, “I have personally directed the fix to the unmasking process since taking office…”

Meaning, despite the broad grant of authority by Congress, Trump is circumscribing the exercise of those surveillance powers to prevent these types of partisan, political abuses of the surveillance authority from ever happening again. The nation’s intelligence agencies must never again be weaponized against political enemies.

It is Trump’s Justice Department that is now turning over the papers to the House Intelligence Committee that document these abuses and more.

Americans for Limited Government did not support the FISA reauthorization precisely because of those unconstitutional abuses, but we are pleased that the President is taking action to rein them in all the same. Thank goodness for small favors.

That is the true story of Trump’s first year in office. The President is restoring limited government through his actions, while his opponents are distracted by his unique, Trumpian rhetoric he uses to connect with his supporters. It’s okay, Jeff. We get it, even if you don’t.

Where he has the power, Trump is rescinding and limiting economy-killing regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and others.

But, the President is not relying solely on his executive authority to get things done. In other areas, he is helping to restore Congress’ Article I responsibilities. Even on former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which Trump campaigned against and has suspended becoming effective March 5, Trump put the issue where it belongs — in Congress. At the time, he said, “Hopefully now Congress will be able to help them and do it properly.”

Agree or disagree with DACA, that is limited government in action. President Trump cannot just arbitrarily change the law. Making laws is Congress’ job. If members want to do DACA, then they should put it in a bill and put it on his desk.

But Trump is being no pushover. He wants a lot in return, supporting a bill by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) that ends chain migration, eliminates the visa lottery, fully funds the southern border wall and implements a national E-Verify system.

Here, Trump is clearly exercising the separation of powers and using the bully pulpit to get parts of the agenda he campaigned on into law. That’s exactly what he’s supposed to be doing.

Trump is also enforcing the nation’s immigration laws vigorously, prioritizing deportations of violent gang members, cracking down on sanctuary cities and extreme vetting to keep terrorists out of America.

Another constitutional responsibility of the federal government Trump has taken full command of is foreign relations, securing the release of American held hostages, strengthening old alliances and forging new ones.

Also, on foreign affairs, Trump is keeping his promise to be tough on trade and other economic relations. Under Trump, the U.S. has withdrawn from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. He has left the Paris Climate Accord. He has ordered that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to be renegotiated. He has initiated discussions with China to begin narrowing the trade deficit.

Here, Trump is exercising the authority granted by statute and under the Constitution to put America first on trade and to take a tough stance with foreign nations that take advantage of the U.S. And for the tens of millions of Americans who voted for him — particularly in the rust belt states of Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania who put him over the top in the Electoral College — it’s about time.

More broadly on the economy, Trump successfully navigated the pitfalls in Congress and got the most major tax cuts for individuals and corporations since Reagan, ensured the repatriation of trillions of dollars of foreign earnings to be reinvested into the U.S. economy, opened up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling and repealed the Obamacare individual mandate to purchase health insurance. Each of those individually would have been major legislative achievements. Trump got them all in the same bill.

Overall, Trump’s actions on taxes, trade, energy and deregulation are going to help the U.S. economy to grow more robustly and create new, good-paying jobs over the next decade. And yes, taking on the fake news enemy of the American people and telling the truth for a change.

By every measure, President Trump deserves not only credit, but the heartfelt thanks of the American people he is fighting on behalf of, regardless of who they supported in 2016.

We need to set aside the hysterical rantings of Trump’s opponents, like retiring Sen. Jeff Flake whom history will soon forget, and focus on what Trump has actually done as president. These are the acts of a little “R” republican; of the dutiful watchman.

One year later, the American people are getting what they voted for in President Donald Trump: the restoration of limited government, the separation of powers and new-found prosperity for the U.S. economy. Agree or disagree with President Trump’s agenda, he is putting America first — and he is getting the job done.



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

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


22 January, 2018

Treat women with respect

It was once normal courtesy and gentlemanliness to treat women with respect and conservatives still have some tendency to do so. Feminists too demand respect for women but rarely do anything to inspire or earn it.

For those of us who follow the news closely, there has been the unpleasant experience of reading about a date between a monkey-like man named Ansari and a pseudonymous woman named Grace.

The initial reaction to the story about that encounter told by  Grace was condemnatory.  Mr Ansari pushed himself unforgiveably on her.  Subsequent comments however have been exculpatory of Mr Ansari.  He stopped when he was formally told to so that is OK.

I am the last one to sympathize with feminist complaints and I accept that any comment on the encounter is approaching the limits of the absurd if one does not know the participants concerned -- but I do strongly disapprove of the actions of Mr Ansari.  His actions may, I suspect, have been fairly mainstream but that is in my view no praise of them.

I am of the painfully old-fashioned view that women should always be treated with respect, even if they are not paragons of virtue.  And I have been married 4 times so maybe I am qualified to have a view of such matters. I even came of age in the licentious sixties so that may be an additional qualification.

So I have experienced many occasions on which a rapport seemed evident between myself and a woman.  And such a rapport is a very valuable thing that must be left to develop in its own way and at its own pace.  And if it does end up in bed that is the most natural thing with no need for pressure of any sort.  In that context the behavior of Mr Ansari was simply ugly.  That it may also be common is saddening. For balance, I append below a defence of Mr Ansari by a conservative female columnist:

A young woman approaches a famous comedian at the 2017 Emmy Awards after-party in Los Angeles. The young photographer is excited to meet him, they chat, talk photography, take a few pictures of each other, then she returns to the dance floor with her date. Later in the evening she gives the comedian her number.

That week they exchange a few flirty texts and then agree to meet. She runs various outfits by her girlfriends and settles on a tank top and jeans. The young woman and the comedian meet up, have a few drinks and later that evening they have bad sex on his kitchen counter. And then she outs him in the media, humiliates and destroys him because the sex wasn’t romantic and the man wasn’t Prince Charming. Good grief.

This isn’t female empowerment. This is girl power gone badly wrong. The sexual revolution has given women access to sex and men on demand; it doesn’t guarantee that sex will be great or that men will be romantic. Tinder is not called Tender for a reason. The sexual revolution delivered us the ability to avoid pregnancy when we don’t want to have a baby and, if we don’t want sex, the right to say no. Or to swipe left.

This angry 23-year-old woman, who has chosen to remain anonymous while naming the comedian as 34-year-old Aziz Ansari, had chance after chance that warm evening in September last year to say no to his advances.

Ansari wasn’t coy about his desire. They drank, they kissed. She performed oral sex on him; he performed oral sex on her. She didn’t like what he did with his fingers. But she stayed. He asked her how she wanted to have sex. She didn’t say, ‘Hey, I’m not into this, I’m leaving.’ She didn’t say, ‘Hey, this isn’t what I want after all.’

She stayed. And then she told the world she was uncomfortable with his behaviour, he wasn’t very good at sex and she felt violated.

She says he didn’t read her cues that she wanted something more from the night than his desire for hot, fast sex. This week the young woman spoke to Babe.net, a feminist website “for girls who don’t give a f..k”. She decided on a graphic expose of “the worst night of my life” after the comedian won best actor for his Netflix show Master of None at the Golden Globes last weekend. On the red carpet, Ansari wore a “Time’s Up” pin and said he supported the fight against sexual assault and harassment. For that, in her mind, he deserved to be outed as a lousy lay and an even worse mind-reader.

Babe.net gave Ansari’s anonymous accuser the fictional name Grace. So let’s do the same. Grace told Babe.net that Ansari texted her the next evening saying: “It was fun meeting you last night.” And she replied: “Last night might’ve been fun for you, but it wasn’t for me … You ignored clear non-verbal cues; you kept going with advances.”

“I’m so sad to hear this,” he responded. “Clearly, I misread things in the moment and I’m truly sorry.”

The problem for Grace is she didn’t leave his apartment when she worked out that the night wasn’t the start of a grand romance. She stayed. They watched an episode of Seinfeld on the couch. When he suggested she perform oral sex on him again, she did. No wonder Ansari continued with his advances.

Before she left, she said: “You guys are all the same, you guys are all the f..king same.” She could have left it at that. Or left it at her last text message to him.

If Grace’s other sexual encounters are the same, she needs to ask how is a man meant to know what she’s thinking when she doesn’t make it clear to him? When Ansari didn’t turn out to be Mr Darcy, Grace expected him to be capable of reading her mind. That’s a big enough ask and rather tricky when you’re not sure what’s in your own mind.

Grace could have spent more time getting to know Ansari before getting naked. The idea that sex on a first date would be some magical match of sexual desires between two people who don’t know each other is plain dumb on Grace’s part.

And her whining about bad sex is downright dangerous. Not just for Ansari, who has been humiliated, his reputation being destroyed. Grace’s public shaming of Ansari is dangerous for other men too as they try to discern the unspoken words of a woman’s mind. Didn’t the sexual revolution teach women to speak up, take control, rather than give non-verbal cues?

Claims that Grace relenting is not Grace consenting may sound terribly clever in a women’s studies class but it makes no sense in the real world of sex, or life. Consent is not a checklist done before two people strip naked and then at each stage of sex. All of us relent in so many ways, every day, sometimes about sex, or at work, or negotiating with headstrong children. Relenting can often mean consenting. It’s just a slower way of getting there. When is a bloke meant to know when it’s not consent if we don’t speak up?

Grace’s problem is she can’t accept that her evening of bad sex has no more meaning than just that. It’s like a dud meal in a good restaurant, or a new pair of shoes that look great at first sight but don’t fit as well when you wear them out. It’s like a visit to the hairdresser that doesn’t pan out as expected. That’s all.

In 2009 Lily Allen sang about a bloke who treats her with respect, loves her all the time, calls her 15 times a day, “but there’s just one thing that’s getting in the way, when we go up to bed you’re just no good”.

“It’s not fair,’ sang Allen, “you never make me scream, you never make me scream.”

Complaining about bad sex should have stopped at a funny song. Grace’s clawing need to make her rotten date part of the #MeToo movement is especially dangerous to real victims, women who have been sexually abused, women who have been raped. She disrespects and devalues them.

Sadly, Grace isn’t the first to cheapen the #MeToo cause. Last month a 3000-word piece of fiction in The New Yorker went viral. Cat Person by Kristen Roupenian tells the story of 20-year-old Margot, a college student who flirts with 34-year-old Robert as she serves him popcorn at a movie theatre. They swap numbers, then some flirty texts where both try to be something they’re not. Robert pretends to own a couple of cats because that’s what girls like. Margot tries to be a sweet young thing so as not to scare him off. They go on a date, Margot drinks three beers and takes a swig of whisky and still Robert doesn’t rush things. Much to her chagrin. When they finally have sex, she’s repulsed by his weight, and the sex is disappointing. She doesn’t pull away, because that would require “tact and gentleness that she felt was impossible to summon”. In the days that follow Robert tries to understand where he went wrong, and Margot blows him off in a text.

Cat Person comes with a sting with Robert’s last text to Margot: “whore”. The more potent sting came when a neat piece of fiction about two flawed characters was elevated into revolutionary feminist art by millions of women eager to wage war on Robert.

The reaction to Cat Person is a peek into Western feminism’s fatal flaw: its obsession with the most trivial travails of dating. Here’s a summary: Cat Person is “the story of the year”, it’s “the next step in the #MeToo movement”, a “major cultural touchstone” for women by tapping into our “inner monologue”. It speaks “truth to power”. It is “the most gut-wrenching relatable content I’ve ever read”. Some girls need to get out more.

It’s true that Cat Person captures a lived experience for some. One rainy day last June, a young woman I know bumped umbrellas on a busy city street with a young man she didn’t know. He asked for her number and she gave it to him, more out of awkwardness than interest. He texted her a few days later suggesting a drink. She didn’t respond. He texted again, “will I be seeing you again?” When she didn’t respond again, he texted: “I guess not cause you are a bitch.”

That drew a response from the young woman: “woah, mate, you have no idea what’s going on in my life, I’m simply not in a position to do the whole going out on a date thing. Always act with kindness. x”

The young man started texting again: “When I stopped you on the street it’s not only cause you’re pretty, I’d like to get to know you.” When she didn’t respond, he wrote, “seeing as I can’t have you, can I ask you a question.” Eight minutes later, like the fictional Robert in Cat Person, the young man asked: “What am I doing wrong?”

These two might have followed Margot and Robert — gone on a date, had crummy sex. And so what? Alas, it was inevitable that a fine piece of fiction from The New Yorker last December would become real life, if not this week, then next week. Not just because this stuff happens between men and women, wires get crossed, expectations are often dashed for one or the other. But because the #MeToo movement was always destined to go off the rails of credibility by including silly claims that sully the serious ones.

If complaining about bad sex is the next step in the #MeToo movement, god help us all. It’s not, as some claim, overdue justice to shame a bloke for being bad in bed. It’s not, as others claim, a correction of power when millions of women coalesce on Facebook to support a fictional Margot or a real-life Grace by humiliating a young man for not being a mind-reader. It’s not a worthy form of feminism when guilt is determined by those who shout the loudest on social media platforms. If feminism has settled on this as the new battleground to bring men to heel, then the women’s lib movement is officially out of ideas.

Earlier this month, as millions of young Western women were inhaling the injustice of Margot’s treatment in Cat Person, just as they are rallying behind Grace this week, another young woman stood on a real-life platform in a Tehran street and removed her hijab, protesting against Iran’s treatment of women.

Her target is real injustice, her act one of real girl power.



Russia is a Christian country -- and as a good Russian, Vladimir Vladimirovich honors that

In his latest publicity stunt, Vladimir Putin braved icy waters to take a dip in Lake Seliger, north of Moscow, during the celebration of Epiphany.

He was seen taking the plunge to commemorate the Baptism of Jesus which is celebrated with a feast by members of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The President wandered to the water in a thick fur coat and matching boots before removing his clothing and taking a dip.

The plunge crowned a busy day for Putin who earlier laid flowers during a ceremony at the Piskaryovskoye Memorial Cemetery to mark the 75th anniversary of the breakthrough the Nazi Siege of Leningrad in the World War II.

This is the not the first time Putin has taken his shirt off in front of the cameras. The famous 2007 picture of him hunting topless appears in the 2018 Putin Calendar which also sees him cuddle a kitten and show off his judo skills.

In others he appear more statesman-like; being saluted by a Kremlin guard or  inspecting a Russian Navy warship.



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

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


21 January, 2018

Senators shut down most American government functions: Trump on sidelines

A refusal to compromise on both sides.  The Donks think they can use it to force through legalization of DACA. A few Republicans sympathize

The federal government shut down at the stroke of midnight Friday - halting all but the most essential operations and marring the one-year anniversary of President Donald Trump's inauguration in a striking display of Washington dysfunction.

Senate republicans fell far short of passing a procedural motion that would have kept the federal government funded, causing the fourth government shutdown in a quarter century. 

Five Democrats who represent Trump-country red states crossed the aisle to vote with Republicans, but the GOP lost four of its own, erasing any doubts about the state of partisan bickering in the US Capitol.

The recalcitrant Democrats included four who are up for re-election this year – Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Claire McCaskill of Missouri – along with Alabamian Doug Jones, who took his Senate seat just days ago in a bright red state. 

Despite hours of attempted negotiations, talks failed and the shutdown was finalized, and quickly the blame game began.

Just after midnight on Saturday morning the White House released a statement, calling Democrats 'obstructionist losers' who 'put politics above our national security, military families, vulnerable children, and our country's ability to serve all Americans'.

'We will not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants while Democrats hold our lawful citizens hostage over their reckless demands. This is the behavior of obstructionist losers, not legislators,' the statement reads, before promising that during the shutdown Trump will continue to work for the American people. 

McConnell and Schumer each took the floor after the shutdown was finalized Friday night - with each lawmaker attempting to paint the opposition party as guilty.

'The decision by Senate Democrats to shove aside millions of Americans for the sake of irresponsible political gain was 100 percent avoidable,' McConnell said. He claimed that the Democrats held the opposition party 'hostage' 'over the completely unrelated issue of illegal immigration.' 

But despite Trump's attempts to paint democrats as the guilty party - recent polls show Republicans and President Trump will bear most of the blame.

A national ABC News/Washington Post poll released Friday found 48 percent of people surveyed say they will blame Trump and the GOP for a shutdown, while only 28 percent will blame Democrats.

Even before the vote, President Donald Trump was pessimistic - seeming resigned to presiding over the first shutdown since 2013. 'Not looking good for our great Military or Safety & Security on the dangerous Southern Border,' Trump tweeted, referring to the hit the Homeland Security Department would take in the event the government's wheels grind to a halt.   

'Dems want a Shutdown in order to help diminish the great success of the Tax Cuts, and what they are doing for our booming economy,' the president claimed.

With the Friday's late-night voting failure, Congress will have failed to keep the lights on in Washington for just the fourth time in a quarter-century. 

But ultimately a broad range of federal operations would be curtailed, although food inspections, law enforcement, airport security and other vital services would continue, along with Social Security and military operations. 

Republicans are calling the current standoff the 'Schumer Shutdown,' arguing that there's nothing in the bill that Democrats oppose, while a short-term extension would give lawmakers time to work out differences on issues like protecting young immigrants and disaster assistance.

The U.S. military will continue to fight wars and conduct missions around the world, including in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. And members of the military will report to work, though they won't get paid until Congress approves funding.



Trump’s exam shows serious heart concerns, doctors outside the White House say

In order to find something wrong with him they have had to resort to a discredited theory.  It is now clear that cholesterol is NOT a problem.  We need it, in fact. Trump should be taking NO statins.  The whole issue is covered in detail below:

Cardiologists not associated with the White House said Wednesday that President Trump’s physical exam revealed serious heart concerns, including very high levels of so-called bad cholesterol, which raises the risk he could suffer a heart attack while in office.

Dr. Ronny L. Jackson, a rear admiral and the White House physician, said Tuesday in his report on the president’s medical condition that Trump was in “excellent” cardiac health, despite having an LDL cholesterol level of 143, well above the desired level of 100 or less.

Dr. Eric Topol, a cardiologist at the Scripps Research Institute, disputed that rosy assessment. On Wednesday, he said the most alarming fact is that the president’s LDL levels remain above 140 even though he is taking 10 milligrams of Crestor, a powerful drug that is used to lower cholesterol levels to well below 100.

“That’s a really high LDL,” Topol said, echoing the concerns of other heart experts who reviewed Jackson’s report. “We’re talking about a 70-plus-year-old man who is obese and doesn’t exercise. Just looking at the lab value, you would raise a big red flag.” He added: “I would never use the word excellent health. How you could take these indices and say excellent health? That is completely contradicted.”

On Tuesday, Jackson said he would be prescribing a higher dose of Crestor, the brand name for rosuvastatin, to help lower the LDL levels. He said he is pressing Trump — who at 6-foot-3 and 239 pounds is just below the official label of obese — to eat better and abandon his largely sedentary life for one that includes exercise.

But on the positive side, Jackson said Trump has no history of smoking or drinking and does not have diabetes. An exercise stress test using a treadmill showed “above average” capacity for his age. An ultrasound of the heart was normal, he said.

“His cardiac health is excellent,” Jackson said. “He doesn’t smoke, he doesn’t have diabetes — a lot of the traditional risk factors he doesn’t have. And so I think those things, in combination with the excellent cardiac results that we got from the exercise stress test, I think, are very reassuring.”

Asked if Trump has heart disease, Jackson said he did not. “Technically, he has nonclinical coronary atherosclerosis,” Jackson told reporters.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, White House press secretary, stood by Jackson’s assessment, noting on Wednesday that he has been a White House physician 12 years, treating George W. Bush and Barack Obama in addition to Trump.

“He is the only doctor that has weighed in on this matter that has actually examined the president,” Sanders said. She called Jackson “the only credible source when it comes to diagnosing any health concerns. We support what he said yesterday 100 percent — that he is in excellent health.”

David Axelrod, one of Obama’s top advisers, said on Twitter Tuesday: “I knew Dr. Ronny Jackson in the White House. In my experience, he was very good guy and straight shooter.”



Jobless claims drop to lowest level in nearly 45 years

New applications for unemployment insurance benefits plunged by 41,000 to 220,000 in the second week of 2018, the Labor Department reported Thursday, the lowest level in nearly 45 years.

The report easily beat forecasters expectations for new jobless claims to drift down to around 250,000.

Low jobless claims are a good sign because they suggest that layoffs are relatively scarce. Federal Reserve officials and investors watch the numbers because they come out weekly, providing an early warning sign of any trouble.

New claims, which are adjusted for seasonal variations, are well below the mark that would suggest that unemployment is going to rise.

Thursday's number was likely artificially low because of the difficulties involved in adjusting for the seasonal affects of holiday hiring and winter weather. The extreme low level of claims "is probably an outlier," noted Jim O'Sullivan, chief U.S. economist for High Frequency Economics.

Nevertheless, new claims have scraped multi-decade lows several times in recent years as the jobs recovery steadily reduced the number of unemployed workers throughout the end of President Obama's term and the beginning of President Trump's.

The total number of people receiving unemployment benefits, which are available for up to 26 weeks in most states, stayed below 2 million, also near the lowest levels since the 1970s.

And at 4.1 percent in December, unemployment is as low as it has been since the dot-com bubble.

The Trump administration and congressional Republicans have stated that they want to maintain a high level of job creation not only decrease unemployment, but also boost the labor force participation rate by encouraging people who have retired or quit the workforce to seek out jobs.



Trump: Working Is Good for Your Health

States will now be allowed to implement work requirements for able-bodied Medicaid recipients.

Working is a good thing and good for your health too. President Donald Trump is now making this argument as his administration announced that it would allow states to enact work requirements for Medicaid. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) stated that it would “support state efforts to test incentives that make participation in work or other community engagement a requirement for continued Medicaid eligibility or coverage for certain adult Medicaid beneficiaries. … CMS supports state efforts to enable individuals to gain and maintain employment.”

Citing research on the overall health benefits of working, the CMS said, “A growing body of evidence suggests that targeting certain health determinants, including productive work and community engagement, may improve health outcomes.” The Foundation for Government Accountability noted that since 2000 the number of individuals receiving Medicaid benefits has more than doubled to 75 million enrolled — including 28 million able-bodied adults. Over 50% of Medicaid beneficiaries who are able-bodied adults do not work.

Since the passage of ObamaCare the number of individuals enrolled in Medicaid has increased significantly, greatly adding cost to the program. Unfortunately, there are those who reject the notion that able-bodied adults benefiting from the Medicaid program should be required to perform at least 80 hours of work a month via a job, community engagement activity, education, job skills training or volunteering. Fundamentally, working is a good and rewarding aspect of life. It produces less dependency, greater personal accountability, and purpose in life. It is the primary means by which an individual positively contributes to their community and society at large. Work is empowering, and should never be vilified for political gain.



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

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


19 January, 2018

A Theoretical Deconstruction of Liberalism

The basis of liberalism needs to be inspected and a complete autopsy performed on this disease. We ought to begin the dissection of liberalism by examining one of their most celebrated (and intellectually dishonest), tenets: egalitarianism.

Among the numerous, many incoherent, fluid versions of the term egalitarianism we learn that “everyone ought to be equal in economic and social opportunity.” One might think this an obvious and noble goal until the political and economic mechanisms of the implementation of this concept are inspected closely. Here, as is most usual, we find the inevitable link to communism where such an egalitarian doctrine specifies that everyone is supposed to enjoy material equality. That did work in Cambodia and North Korea according to certain notions of equality. Dead people are equal-- at least in a political sense. Noting that 100,000,000 people died as a direct result of this energetic far-leftist political notion, we can only show contempt for such a preposterous idea. People are not equal and probably shouldn’t be in any case. There is no way for the far-left and Marxists to gain equality without mass murder and/or confiscatory taxes or both and this theory is built into egalitarianism.

The snake oil theoretical basis of egalitarianism is touted by the understandable observation that material inequality is pervasive in the current economic systems globally. How novel! This corresponds with every worldwide observation dating back least 4000 years BCE with no contrary examples. The spurious details of egalitarianism start to brighten to the observer when it is made very clear that some method of forced material redistribution is necessary and mandatory for realization of this concept. Here is where the problems begin. The eternal quest for a governing body to exercise absolute coercive powers of material redistribution upon the masses have been tested, in limited numbers, by certain dictatorial political operatives thus producing the very inequalities of political power and inhuman coercion of the polis in exactly the manner that they complain about in their phony manifesto.

As in the French Revolution, “…the second most important event in history according to Lenin (or was that Stalin?),” there was no limit to the abuses of the Bolsheviki and their lackeys could use in grabbing material wealth and wholesale murder and genocide and wasting it in failed social projects doomed to disappointment due to the intrinsic faults in the general theory. 20,000,000 Kulaks were murdered, several million Ukrainians were starved and some 30 million Russians died to support this concept of egalitarianism. The wealth in those cases were merely transferred to the Marxist elites and shared within their ‘Communist Party.’ They promptly exhausted these resources and hid away money in Swiss bank accounts. The USSR collapsed in 1989. But, there is no apology from the left for these actions and no call for something like a Russian War Crimes Tribunal to investigate how 60,000,000 people were murdered in the USSR and more in the People’s Republic of China and elsewhere. When 100,000,000 people die and certain political groups voice no serious objections we know there is a major problem yet to be solved.

The followers of Lenin, Castro, Sung, Ho and others did ‘redistribute’ shares of material resources in a vastly unequal manner to their political cronies, thus ignoring the tenets of egalitarianism in their selfish, ruthless and misguided cases. Party members suddenly became the material elites that they had previously ranted against and the masses remained hungry or dead. The promises of ‘land reform’ and ‘rule by the masses’ were short-lived. But, they had the loot!

The United States Declaration of Independence declares “all men are created equal", and, as such, each person should receive equal treatment under the law. The political assertion that "all men are created equal" fails in the face of world history everywhere. It is a goal. People are unfortunately not equal and espousing the classless system designed by the left is merely an excuse for murder and confiscation of power and wealth. Just check out the SAT and public school test scores and wonder why people are not equal, or even close to being so. Check the high school graduation statistics.

All US citizens ought to be equal under the law, but not politically mandated to be equal in intellectual gifts, attitude, achievements or economic abilities. We might as well dump school tests and give away jobs at random. That would be a fine method for the left to select our brain surgeons. It turns out that favored leftist legislation actually forces inequality in the law by discriminating against many because of their color or other political an economic attributes. Examples of this include set-asides, reverse discrimination, quotas and certain court rulings that frequently are the reverse what the voters wanted. We have to manage ‘equality’ so that every person gets fair treatment and they are not just sorted politically where certain groups are sequestered in the gulags or mass graves, as is the celebrated leftist egalitarian solution to this problem. The left is actually against equality and equal treatment because if ordinary people are allowed to exercise their entrepreneurial skills they will defeat the egalitarian precepts and obtain unequal wealth. Such is the history of the bourgeoisie, the enemy of socialism and Marxism. Those who are unskilled or besotted with drugs and crime will sink to the bottom of society. All men were created equal but some choose to become unequal by their actions. The left needs those who cannot cope to fill their ranks with howls and votes. Their vote is a cheap purchase.

Modern liberalism depends, desperately, upon the concept of egalitarianism for their power base. Their bourgeois opponents have the wealth so they are the only source of this substance. Nobody ever accused the left of getting rich in honest business. Liberals must grunt and grab as much of this wealth base as possible. No liberal in good standing would ever suggest a tax cut. Or, if they did as a cheap artifice, recalling Clinton’s Middle Class Tax Cut would quickly drop the notion after the power was obtained to do so, as he quickly did after the election. No tax relief!

We find from the literature of political fiction (George Orwell’s Animal Farm) that "All Animals Are Equal, but the pigs seemed to be more equal than others”. The pigs in this reference are the liberals or their more violent Marxist congeners. This is the actual basis of egalitarianism: use any phony doctrine or persuasive slogan promising some unearned wealth to the masses, preferable festooned with gooey precepts, and then proceed to grunt and then grab the wealth and spend it on yourselves.

Egalitarianism is just a slick political system designed to confiscate your wealth and is merely a political construct that only benefits the ‘more equal pigs.’



UK: Illiberal liberals are closing minds, not opening them

Which came first: the alt-right or the social-justice movement?

Will Donald Trump eventually be toppled by leftist activism, or will such activism guarantee his second term in office?

Is Katie Hopkins right to describe herself as the creation of her enemies, as the ‘monster’ to the liberal-left’s Dr Frankenstein?

Do attempts to shut down free speech on university campuses prevent the dissemination of extremist views, or make such views more likely to gain traction?

It’s a circular pattern that appears to be accelerating, largely thanks to the nuance-free arena of social media. As politics becomes more polarised, each side is resorting to increasingly distorted caricatures of the other. It’s like a pair of duellists retreating indefinitely until they are no more than blurs on the horizon. This explains why so many online spats feel as though people are lashing out at imaginary opponents.

This leaves us in a quandary. More than ever, we are in need of frank discussion about the issues that matter most. But with figures on all sides of the political spectrum so determined to double down on their alienating and ad hominem strategies, the possibility of debate is seriously curtailed. The rapper Joyner Lucas has addressed this problem in his recent viral hit ‘I’m Not Racist’, which presents two men – one white, one black – candidly airing their grievances. One commentator found the conceit ‘exhausting’, claiming that ‘the notion that social divisions [can] be reconciled through “honest” conversation’ is ‘hopelessly outdated’. God help us if he’s right.

It’s an attitude that is entirely self-defeating. The ongoing demonisation of those who voted to leave the European Union has all but ensured the impossibility of a second referendum. Smearing one’s opponents as ‘racist’ or ‘stupid’ may be satisfying in the short term, but it’s unlikely to change any minds. Nor is it supported by the facts. A recent study by the think-tank Open Europe has revealed that although immigration was a major factor in the referendum, the vast majority of voters have a ‘far more nuanced and sophisticated’ attitude on the subject than is generally acknowledged. Likewise, the inaccurate and promiscuous use of terms such as ‘Nazi’ and ‘fascist’ has been a boon to the far right, particularly in the US. It has enabled vile fringe groups to claim a level of support they simply do not have.

Uncritical fealty to any given ideology is always a bad idea, because ideologies are only ever sustained through over-simplification. In their current forms, the far right and the liberal-left are equally reactionary movements. Both are mired in identity politics – a xenophobic form of nationalism on the one hand, and intersectional victimhood on the other – and consequently neither is capable of rational debate.  Each ideology feeds on the other, existing only to counter its antithesis.

Part of the problem is that many who identify as ‘left-wing’ are nothing of the sort. There is nothing leftist about campus radicalism that promotes No Platforming and censorship. There is nothing leftist about the kind of slippery wordplay that sees the Daily Mail redefined as ‘far right’. There is nothing leftist about identity politics in its prevailing form, because it fails to recognise the centrality of class when it comes to social and economic opportunity. There’s a simple test: if you think the Guardian is left-wing, then you’re probably not left-wing.

Whether or not the hijacking of the left was the principal contributory factor to Trump’s success is one of those chicken-and-egg questions that is difficult to answer. What we can say for certain is that the tactics of these illiberal self-styled ‘leftists’ is generating the very conditions through which the likes of Trump are able to thrive. Resentment is a powerful emotion. We have already seen what happens when a presidential candidate writes off half of the electorate as ‘deplorables’. This hasn’t stopped supposed progressives from insisting that if you are white ‘your DNA is an abomination’, or that heterosexual men ‘hate women’ if they do not acknowledge their ‘toxic masculinity’. Such commentators haven’t so much shot themselves in the foot, as opted directly for the full amputation.

We are dealing with forms of zealotry that are more religious than political. There is a very good reason why Joseph Schumpeter devoted an entire chapter to ‘Marx the Prophet’ in his seminal work Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy (1942). He understood that once a series of tenets are accepted as articles of faith, debate is no longer feasible. In such instances, says Schumpeter, ‘the opponent is not merely in error but in sin. Dissent is disapproved of not only intellectually but also morally. There cannot be any excuse for it once the Message has been revealed.’

This is why the new illiberal leftists are unlikely to deviate from the self-destructive path they have chosen. In these precarious times, we should be aspiring to a form of political discourse that is at once nuanced and open-minded. Instead, we are likely to see greater degrees of polarisation. Herbert Spencer opens his First Principles (1862) by reminding us that ‘when passing judgment on the opinions of others’, we should be willing to concede that even an erroneous proposition contains ‘a nucleus of reality’. For those of us who wish to remedy our degraded culture of political debate, this might be a good place to start.



So Much for Using the 25th Amendment Against Trump


For some time now, Democrats and their media allies have obsessed about the president’s health — particularly his mental fitness — largely as 25th Amendment groundwork for their pathetic impeachment campaign. So the report given Tuesday by the White House’s lead physician, Navy Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson, deflated their hopes:

In summary, the president’s overall health is excellent. His cardiac performance during his physical exam was very good. … We discussed diet, exercise and weight loss. He would benefit from a diet that is lower in fat and carbohydrates and from a routine exercise regimen. … All clinical data indicates that the president is currently very healthy and that he will remain so for the duration of his presidency.

Jackson has spent a lot of time with Trump, and his report certainly calls into question all the baloney from author Michael Wolff and his book, Fire and Fury. “The guy can’t go put one coherent sentence after another,” Wolff insists. “He’s off. He can’t stay on subject. He can’t stay on point.” News outlets likewise have featured psychiatrists “diagnosing” Trump despite never having even met him. That got so bad the American Psychiatric Association told shrinks to knock it off with violating the “Goldwater Rule” — questioning from afar the mental state of a public figure.

In fact, due to the Left’s incessant questions, Trump insisted that he also take some sort of cognitive test, so Jackson complied, though he noted it was the first time a sitting president had undergone such a test. Trump scored a perfect 30 out of 30 on the very extensive Montreal Cognitive Assessment. Jackson noted, “If he had some type of mental, cognitive issue … this test is sensitive enough. It would pick up on it. He would not have gotten 30 out of 30 on the test. So I’m very confident at this particular stage that he has nothing like that going on.”

Oh, and by the way, Jackson was also Barack Obama’s personal physician, and, as you recall, Obama refused to release some of his medical records…



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

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


18 January, 2018

The Real 'Dreamers'

DACA illegals may be sympathetic figures, but they're not who Democrats and the MSM paint them to be

As Donald Trump and congressional leaders are ostensibly working toward a legislative solution to the DACA problem created by Barack Obama, it’s important to note exactly who these “Dreamers” really are. They are about 800,000 young adults brought here illegally by their parents, and are called “Dreamers” because of the acronym of the DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act, which has never passed Congress. Thus, it’s not surprising that myths abound in the mainstream media’s reporting on Dreamers.

Using language designed to blur the distinctions between legal or illegal and child or adult, the MSM paint Dreamers en masse as poor children abused by an “unjust” U.S. immigration system. On top of this all-too-sympathetic and simplistic description is the regularly repeated claim that the presence of these illegal Dreamers equates to an economic benefit outweighing any welfare burden the American taxpayer has been forced to provide. So, what is the reality?

The Congressional Budget Office recently released its findings on the cost of granting amnesty to Dreamers, concluding that it would add $26 billion to the deficit over the next decade. So much for the economic benefit regularly parroted by the MSM. Steven Camarota, research director for the Center for Immigration Studies, also noted that the CBO “estimated that about one-third of the [DACA] adults … have not even graduated high school, and only about 15 percent have at least two years of college.” Camarota pointed out that “54.1 percent of households headed by native-born Hispanics access one or more of the welfare programs, and they tend to have poverty rates twice as high as the general population.”

While it is certainly understandable to have sympathy for those who were young children when their parents illegally smuggled them into the U.S., the fault for their current predicament lies not with American citizens, nor U.S. border laws, but with their parents. Where is the condemnation from Democrats and the MSM on those who blatantly broke U.S. law? It’s nowhere to be found; rather it is reserved solely for those Americans who dare to call for the upholding of our laws and national sovereignty. These American citizens are the ones Democrats and the MSM continually decry as heartless, bigoted and racist. Once again, it’s a case of feelings trumping facts.

Finally, as our Arnold Ahlert writes, “It’s time to cut through the progressive hype with a couple of simple questions: Who doesn’t have dreams, and in what universe should the dreams of those who have no business being here supersede those of American citizens?”



Don’t Believe the Hype behind the immigration numbers

Every day the mainstream media is hysterical about the DACA, the Dreamers (because American kids aren’t allowed to have dreams), and Amnesty. They will spit out numbers and shady poll results trying to paint a rosy picture of illegal immigration. But a small amount of research will show they are spitting out lies to achieve the desired outcome, the importation of millions of progressive voters. To quote a famous rap group, “Don’t Believe the Hype.”

One of the biggest lies being told about immigration is how many illegal immigrants are in the country. The media often touts the 11-12 million number put out by the Census Bureau. The Census Bureau reaches the number through a flawed method. It counts on a survey done by the federal government. If we are to believe the liberal logic that illegal immigrants are “in the shadows,” then the number cannot be right because people “in the shadows” do not voluntarily speak to people working for the government. Remember, they’re “in the shadows.”

The actual number is between 20-30 million illegal immigrants. The figure comes from a report titled The Underground Labor Force Is Rising To The Surface. The report was put together in 2005 by two Bear Sterns analysists using remittances, housing permits and school enrollment in illegal immigrant communities, and cross-border flows. Because the report is over ten years old, you can bet the number is closer to 30 million.

Another lie often told is immigrants legal and illegal do not commit crimes, and the data shows Americans commit crimes at a higher rate. This myth comes from a few studies with incredibly biased base models. Ann Coulter pointed out the Bianca Bersani study uses poor minority neighborhoods in crime-ridden cities like Detroit to compare it to all of America. The Alex Piquero study uses teenagers with juvenile records as the base for Americans. These are dishonest studies and should not be taken seriously.

The best way to look at these numbers is to look at the prison population. If you take the census data, immigrants make up 13.9 percent of the population, including illegal immigrants. If you use the numbers from the Bear Sterns study and increase the number of illegal immigrants by 10 million, the percentage increases to 16.8.

Thanks to an Executive Order by President Trump, we now know how many legal and illegal immigrants are in federal prisons. Previous administrations have been reluctant to give up this information. According to the latest report, 21 percent of federal prisoners are foreign-born. State and local prison populations are harder to come by because they don’t want people to know how bad the numbers are. The most accurate number of state and local prisons comes from a 2011 GAO report reporting legal and illegal immigrants make up at least 16.4 percent of that population.

This number is likely much higher because according to amnesty groups, illegals immigrant criminals prey on illegal immigrant communities. Therefore, thousands of crimes being committed by illegal immigrants go unreported because the victims do not report them.

The next lie is the economic benefit of the Dreamers and immigrants in general legal and illegal. The news media and amnesty proponents always bring up the notion that the Dreamers are contributing to the system and are a net benefit for the country. A quick glance at the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report for H.R. 3440, Dream Act of 2017, destroys that narrative, which is probably why the media hasn’t reported on it.

The CBO report states, “In total, CBO and JCT estimate that changes in direct spending and revenues from enacting H.R. 3440 would increase budget deficits by $25.9 billion over the 2018-2027 period.” This is at the federal level, who knows the damage the bill will do at the state and local level.

The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) demolishes the notion that illegal immigration is net positive for the country. FAIR released the report in late 2017, and it showed illegal immigration cost federal, state, and local taxpayers $134.8 billion per year. The report also showed illegal immigration only contributes $18.9 billion in federal, state, and local taxes bringing the total impact too -$115.9 billion. Is it right for a country over $20 trillion in debt to over $100 billion per year on non-citizens?

The debate is bound to get nastier. Democrats want mass immigration, legal and illegal because they want votes. Many businesses want mass immigration, legal and illegal, because they want cheap labor, not realizing once the progressives take over they will confiscate their businesses. The numbers above are just a sampling of the lengths the pro-amnesty crowd will go to get their desired outcome. Amnesty is a bad deal for America, it was a bad deal in 1986, and it is still a bad deal.



Time's Up for 'Temporary' Alien Protection

Michelle Malkin

DREAMers and immigrant demonstrators protest President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. One holds a sign that reads, "GOP You killed our Dreams. 2018 starts Now! (Screenshot)
Se acabo el tiempo.

Seventeen years after granting "temporary protected status" to nearly 200,000 Salvadoran citizens who had fled earthquakes in 2001 or who were already here illegally and claimed they were unable to return to their homeland because of civil strife, America is setting a deadline:

Get right with the law or go home.

As if we haven't shown enough generosity to these provisional guests in our home, the Department of Homeland Security gave the Salvadorans until September 2019 to get their affairs in order. But the usual suspects in the permanent Gang of Amnesty — identity-politics Democrats, Big Business Republicans, anti-rule of law activists and sovereignty-sabotaging pundits — condemned the Trump administration's announcement this week with a heaping dose of hyperbole.

Maria Rodriguez, executive director of the Florida Immigrant Coalition, called the move a "racial cleansing."

Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin called the revocation "monstrous" and called on Democrats to hold government funding hostage until the nearly two-decade-old "temporary" protections were restored indefinitely.

NBC analyst Anand Giridharadas likened the decision to "the German occupation of, and use of forced labor from, Belgium in World War I; and the Armenian genocide."

That's insanity. Here's a proposal. How about I force my way into Mr. Giridharadas' residence uninvited and demand to stay for at least 17 years under the guise of seeking "temporary" shelter. Would he consider a rational and responsible decision to evict me and reclaim his home for himself and his family tantamount to a war crime?

Enforcing a limit on humanitarian gestures is the responsible thing for any self-sustaining nation to do. Previous Democrat and Republican presidents, however, have shirked their duty — opting instead to renew illegal alien protections ad nauseam. So beneficiaries of our supposedly time-limited generosity established families and footholds here. They gained permanent residency, work permits and other taxpayer-subsidized benefits, along with ever-expanding lobbying power as a political constituency.

The Temporary Protected Status program was supposed to provide short-term relief and shelter to people from foreign countries hit by natural disasters, environmental catastrophes, civil war, epidemic diseases or other "extraordinary and temporary conditions." But they were always expected to go back home when those conditions improved.

The federal statute that created TPS clearly mandates terminating the protections once the conditions that led to TPS designation no longer exist. The law "prohibits judicial review of any determination with respect to the designation, termination, or extension of TPS" and "prohibits the Senate from considering legislation that would adjust the status of TPS aliens to that of a lawful temporary or permanent resident" once the status is removed, according to former House Judiciary Committee immigration counsel Nolan Rappaport.

Back in 1999, however, the Federation for American Immigration Reform warned Congress:

"Each special program that provides short-term relief has been followed by persistent demands for similar treatment by other groups and nationalities, not necessarily made up of persons in the same circumstances. It has now been politicized beyond recognition, and certainly no longer deserves the support of the general public."

Indeed, TPS turned into TINO: Temporary in Name Only. Illegal aliens from Honduras and Nicaragua were added to the list, followed by citizens of Haiti, Nepal, Syria, Angola, Sudan, Yemen, Montserrat and more. To date, we've granted sacrosanct TPS status to more than 400,000 people from a total of 22 countries who have grown increasingly entitled to automatic renewal of their protections every 18 months over the past two decades.

There's no polite way to tell houseguests who've overstayed their welcome that it's time to go, but perpetual amnesty for illegal aliens — whether it's called TPS, DACA or DREAM — will only beget more illegal immigration.

Time's up.



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

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


17 January, 2018

That wonderful government healthcare again

Thank goodness for the private sector

U.S. Navy veteran Eric Walker was told to go home and take care of his cocaine addiction when he went to the emergency room at the Dorn Veterans Hospital in South Carolina over serious stomach pains.

It turns out 47-year-old Walker, who served in the Navy during the first Iraq War, had gall stones and gall bladder and pancreas disease. He’s now suing the Veterans Administration, The State reports.

When Walker first entered the emergency room in May 2015, medical staff at the Dorn VA apparently asked for a urine sample in response to complaints about stomach pain.

After an hour, staff told him he tested positive for cocaine and stated that “his stomach pains were a direct result of ingesting multiple illegal drugs, in particular, excessive cocaine,” notes a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Columbia.

Moreover, Walker says staff told him to head home and get rid of his cocaine addiction.

Walker’s condition got worse and after a few days, his neighbor had to drive him to [private] Lexington Medical Center, where his attorney Todd Lyle said Walker was “promptly diagnosed and rushed to emergency surgery for gall stones and disease of the gall bladder and pancreas.”

Walker recovered from the surgery, and now he’s seeking damages from the VA to recover costs from his treatment at Lexington and for pain and suffering. His lawsuit claims his urine was switched with someone else’s at the hospital, and was the reason for the cocaine abuse misdiagnosis.



Right to Work Laws Protect Workers from Union Corruption

A recent report from the Detroit Free Press entitled “Embezzlement plagues union offices around U.S., records show” provides another reason why states should enact right-to-work laws, which free workers from paying forced union dues.

The story reports over 300 instances of embezzlement at union offices in the past two years. It discusses instances of massive amounts of stolen union funds. Theft at union offices is occurring in big cities and small towns all over the country. No group of workers were spared, with union offices representing nurses, teachers, electricians, plumbers, and others experiencing scandals involving misappropriation of funds.

A common theme in the article is that embezzlement doesn’t just happen at union locations. Businesses, nonprofits, and churches all suffer from cases of fraud and stolen funds. As Peter Henning, a former federal prosecutor, told the Free Press, “Unions are not unique… Another group hit hard by embezzlement are churches. You can’t train people to be ethical. It’s just access to money.”

However, there is one major difference between how labor unions operate and other entities.

Across the country, millions of workers are compelled to financially support a union that they do not support or want to represent them in the workplace. In states that allow forced union dues, workers who refuse to pay dues can be terminated. In other words, many workers have no choice but to pay for a union they don’t want, which increases their exposure to embezzlement at the risk of being fired.

While embezzlement at unions may not be more prevalent than at any other kind of organization, workers should not be forced to hand over their hard earned money to entities that experience so many instances of theft.

It may not be reasonable to expect unions to safeguard every single dollar they receive, but it is also unreasonable to force workers to fund unions they disagree with and don’t want representing them.

Widespread union corruption is just another reason why states should adopt right-to-work laws and free workers from forced union dues requirements.



California gov. looks into the future and sees disaster

Supreme Court is set to consider if benefit cuts permissible
Ruling could provide relief to cash-strapped localities

California Governor Jerry Brown said legal rulings may clear the way for making cuts to public pension benefits, which would go against long-standing assumptions and potentially provide financial relief to the state and its local governments.

Brown said he has a "hunch" the courts would "modify" the so-called California rule, which holds that benefits promised to public employees can’t be rolled back. The state’s Supreme Court is set to hear a case in which lower courts ruled that reductions to pensions are permissible if the payments remain “reasonable” for workers.

"There is more flexibility than there is currently assumed by those who discuss the California rule,” Brown said during a briefing on the budget in Sacramento. He said that in the next recession, the governor “will have the option of considering pension cutbacks for the first time.”

That would be a major shift in California, where municipal officials have long believed they couldn’t adjust the benefits even as they struggle to cover the cost. They have raised taxes and dipped into reserves to meet rising contributions. The California Public Employees’ Retirement System, the nation’s largest public pension, has about 68 percent of assets needed to cover its liabilities. For the fiscal year beginning in July, the state’s contribution to Calpers is double what it was in fiscal 2009.

Across the country, states and local governments have about $1.7 trillion less than what they need to cover retirement benefits -- the result of investment losses, the failure by governments to make adequate contributions and perks granted in boom times.

"In the next downturn, when things look pretty dire, that would be one of the items on the chopping block," Brown said.



In Oregon, Progressivism Spills Over at the Pump

A dumb new state law prohibits urban Oregonians from filling their own gas tanks. Frank Lloyd Wright purportedly said, “Tip the world over on its side and everything loose will land in Los Angeles.” Today, however, Oregon is the state with the strangest state of mind, which has something to do with its being impeccably progressive: In the series Portlandia, the mention of artisanal lightbulbs might be satirical, but given today’s gas-pumping controversy, perhaps not.

On Jan. 1, by the grace of God — or of the government, which is pretty much the same thing to progressives — a sliver of a right was granted to Oregonians: Henceforth they can pump gas into their cars and trucks, all by themselves. But only in counties with populations of less than 40,000, evidently because this walk on the wild side is deemed to be prudent only in the hinterlands, where there is a scarcity of qualified technicians trained in the science of pumping.

Still, 2018 will be the year of living dangerously in the state that was settled by people who trekked there on the Oregon Trail, through the territory of Native Americans hostile to Manifest Destiny. Oregon is one of two states that ban self-service filling stations. The other is almost-as-deep-blue New Jersey. There the ban is straightforward, no-damned-nonsense-about-anything-else protectionism: The point is to spare full-service gas stations from competing with self-service stations that, having lower labor costs, have lower prices.

Oregon’s Legislature offers 17 reasons “it is in the public interest to maintain a prohibition on the self-service dispensing of Class 1 flammable liquids” — aka, gasoline, which you put in your car’s “Class 1 flammable liquids tank.”

The first reason is: The dispensing of such liquids “by dispensers properly trained in appropriate safety procedures reduces fire hazards.” This presumably refers to the many conflagrations regularly occurring at filling stations throughout the 48 states where 96 percent of Americans live lives jeopardized by state legislators who are negligent regarding their nanny-state duty to assume that their constituents are imbeciles.

Among Oregon’s 16 other reasons are: Service-station cashiers are often unable to “give undivided attention” to the rank amateurs dispensing flammable liquids. When purchasers of such liquids leave their vehicles they risk “crime,” and “personal injury” from slick surfaces. (“Oregon’s weather is uniquely adverse”; i.e., it rains there.) “Exposure to toxic fumes.” Senior citizens or persons with disabilities might have to pay a higher cost at a full-service pump, which would be discriminatory.

When people pump gas without the help of “trained and certified” specialists, no specialists peer under the hood to administer prophylactic maintenance, thereby “endangering both the customer and other motorists and resulting in unnecessary and costly repairs.” Self-service “has contributed to diminishing the availability of automotive repair facilities at gasoline stations” without providing — note the adjective — “sustained” reduction in gas prices. Self-service causes unemployment. And “small children left unattended” by novice gas pumpers “creates a dangerous situation.”

So there. Oregon’s Solomonic decision — freedom to pump in rural counties; everywhere else, unthinkable — terrified some Oregonians: “No! Disabled, seniors, people with young children in the car need help. Not to mention getting out of your car with transients around and not feeling safe too. This is a very bad idea.” “Not a good idea, there are lots of reason to have an attendant helping, one is they need a job too. Many people are not capable of knowing how to pump gas and the hazards of not doing it correctly. Besides I don’t want to go to work smelling of gas.”

The complainers drew complaints: “You put the gas in your car not shower in it princess.” “If your only marketable job skill is being able to pump gas, by god, move to Oregon and you will have reached the promised land.” “Pumped my own gas my whole life and now my hands have literally melted down to my wrists. I’m typing this with my tongue.” These days, civic discourse is not for shrinking violets.

To be fair, when Oregonians flinch from a rendezvous with an unattended gas pump, progressive government has done its duty, as it understands this. It wants the governed to become used to having things done for them, as by “trained and certified” gas pumpers.

Progressives are proud believers in providing experts — usually themselves — to help the rest of us cope with life. The only downside is that, as Alexis de Tocqueville anticipated, such government, by being the “shepherd” of the governed, can “take away from them entirely the trouble of thinking” and keep them “fixed irrevocably in childhood.”



Because it reduces the supply of rental accommodation, rent control actually INCREASES the rents that the poor have to pay

The Effects of Rent Control Expansion on Tenants, Landlords, and Inequality: Evidence from San Francisco

Rebecca Diamond et al.


We exploit quasi-experimental variation in assignment of rent control to study its impacts on tenants, landlords, and the overall rental market. Leveraging new data tracking individuals’ migration, we find rent control increased renters’ probabilities of staying at their addresses by nearly 20%. Landlords treated by rent control reduced rental housing supply by 15%, causing a 5.1% city-wide rent increase. Using a dynamic, neighborhood choice model, we find rent control offered large benefits to covered tenants. Welfare losses from decreased housing supply could be mitigated if insurance against rent increases were provided as government social insurance, instead of a regulated landlord mandate.



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

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


16 January, 2018

Fiction as commentary

The social justice warriors can often be violent but in Western societies they are greatly restrained by the forces of law and order.  I have just been reading a series of short stories in which they have more power than they do at the moment. It is a look at the dystopian future they have in mind for us all.  But because it is so close to what we see of them right now, the stories are quite riveting.  They stand alone as good fiction, even while having a thought-provoking purpose.  The title of the book is "Appalling Stories. 13 Tales of Social Injustice" By David Dubrow, Paul Hair, and Ray Zacek. It is available on Amazon


The Left are unresponsive to facts so get them where they do respond -- by attacking their social status.  Hence Trump's attacks on the purveyors of status -- the media

A good friend of mine wrote me recently. He complained about smug leftist neighbors who are “making decisions to ‘feel good’ with virtually no regard for true factual input or testing.” I get this a lot.

If you want to understand Donald Trump, you need understand why this complaint is myopic. Once you do understand, you’ll never see politics the same way again. You’ll also begin to grasp that leftism does work, and that you’ve just failed to understand how.  Which is why you lose so often.

Want a clue?  “Feel good” about what?

Not about being right, which is best described as “useful, to a point.” Aristotle noticed over 2,000 years ago that many people aren’t persuadable by logical arguments. So what’s the “feeling good” all about?

Try this on for size: People often take public positions in an attempt to increase their social status.

If you’ve been in a corporate setting, or settings with certain friends, I don’t need to offer further examples of this idea. You’ve seen it happen, and you also know that you need to be “reading the room” at all times before you speak and act. Failure costs status. People notice this dynamic, and act accordingly.

I didn’t say it was an ideal state of affairs. But a truly rational person must notice reality. My friend and his wife are picking up on a “we’re higher status than you” signal, and it’s part of the reason they’re so upset.

Macro examples also abound: Do you really think it’s a coincidence that leftism and its “Diversity Pokemon Points” amount to a full caste system?

Do you have any doubt about The left’s hatred for those who will not stay in their assigned status? Have you noticed their quickness to turn on their own allies? Fail to follow the latest fad, and your status is demoted.

Perhaps you’ve noticed that endlessly callous virtue signaling is the identifying badge of our modern try-hard Striver Class.

Maybe that’s because American public education is now a 20-year Milgram Experiment. Where the meta-message inside political correctness is to override your own judgement, in favor of deliberately-shifting judgements from people with higher status.

These aren’t accidents. They’re clues. Leftism isn’t a policy machine or an economic machine. Its economic results would tell you that much in a hurry. But the machine keeps running. Which means it must work for something. The correct question is: in what way does it work?

Analysis: Leftism is a status machine. A very, very successful status machine. Conservatives have lost status battle after status battle, often because they fought it as a policy battle. It rarely is. That’s conservatism’s most consistent and most damaging mistake.

From theory to practice: Trumping the media

President Trump’s systematic thrashing of the leftist media is the example that illustrates the theory.

Conservatives complained about the media for a long time. Aristotle’s dialectic approach, against people uninterested in truth. Net effect? Very low. Sad!

So let’s apply what we’ve learned.

Why do the media have power? Because they have social status with ordinary people. Are we still hearing about Watergate — decades later? The Pentagon Papers? How many movies seem to exist just to show journalists as heroes? Or let’s take a different tack: What’s the attraction of such a low-paying profession? Status given by the profession, and status from rubbing shoulders with high-status people. Status by acting as a vector for status signals, which is what every women’s magazine is. Ditto publications like WIRED, which is just Cosmo for geeks.

The media offers people clues about what things are high status within the areas they cover. People notice, and act accordingly. Yet most conservatives still don’t understand Trump’s response:

If I lower the media’s status, I will wreck their power.

So The Donald says that the media has “some of the most dishonest people” he has ever seen. Not an arm’s length complaint. A direct and personal status attack, rooted in truth.

Trump also acts in ways that cause journalists to fulfill his pre-suasion labeling. He makes “outrageous” statements, which many people outside the Beltway Bubble agree with. Those statements receive over-the-top media attacks, which make his enemies look ridiculous. Then events swiftly show that Trump had a point. Trump rubs it in, using the media’s own “Fake News” term against them and pouncing on every sloppy and dishonest mistake. As a final topper, Trump makes the dishonest media a focus during every massive rally. Which strengthens his out-grouping effect among participants and viewers.

He uses ridicule and lèse majesté, not bended knee and appeals — note that subordinating word — to logical argument.

The result? American belief in the credibility of their news media is now at about 32 percent. That’s the lowest ever polled, and an 8 percent drop from the lowest point of the 2008-2015 period. The media has lost audience, and a lot of power. When Vogue tried to damage Melania by ripping her wardrobe, activists promptly made memes from a photo of the weird-looking critic. The attack instantly lost its power.

Facebook has tried to fight these trend lines by flagging items as “fake news.” Recently, the social media giant decided to stop. Too many people sought out flagged articles. Or, put another way: In many circles, the mainstream media’s status has become negative. What an amazing amount of damage to a hostile institution.

Rational people notice and acknowledge real-world results. Even the left has noticed.

So, why hadn’t anyone ever done this before? In fairness, Newt Gingrich had some success in the 2012 primaries, and Ted Cruz has also tried. But they lacked the full array of tools. Worse, they didn’t understand how to make the media their enemy.

Once you understand conservatives’ biggest and most consistent mistake, it all becomes clear. Facts don't matter to the Left.  Status does. Make them feel bad.



Trump blows away another Leftist attack on himself
Never in the field of human politics has so much abuse been borne by one person

As the Russia collusion delusion melts away, the Left has adopted a new attack against President Trump. We have heard whispers for months, but the publication of Michael Wolff’s new book turned the rumors into a full-fledged media conspiracy.

According to the Left, the president is crazy. As Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) noted recently, this tactic is not new for the Left — it has questioned the sanity of virtually every Republican president.

The theme of Wolff’s book is that the president can’t focus, is impulsive, can’t read, is obsessed with himself, etc. Well, little did Democrat congressional leaders know, as they were headed to the White House Tuesday, that they would end up demolishing the narrative the Left has been constructing in recent weeks.

They walked into the Cabinet Room and sat down at the table. The White House press pool was brought in to take a few pictures and record a few moments of video, which is shared with other media outlets and used for brief clips on the evening news. At that point the press is normally ushered out of the room.

Instead, President Trump kept the cameras rolling so that the American people could watch the negotiations play out on national TV. For the next hour, every cable channel broadcast the meeting live. It showed President Trump in command and fully in charge of the facts.

At one point, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) complained that what the president was proposing is very complex and would be hard to get done. Trump urged him to be serious about negotiating and to get it done.

The entire performance was a brilliant strategic move. Even CNN’s Wolf Blitzer acknowledged that President Trump deserved “a lot of credit” for hosting a “really remarkable meeting.”

But What’s the Policy?

The way the president conducted Tuesday’s meeting was remarkable. He looked very much like a stable genius. But there are concerns by many on the Right over where this may be headed.

For example, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) pushed for a “clean DACA bill,” meaning no border security measures, followed by “comprehensive immigration reform,” which really means a massive amnesty.

DACA, Barack Obama’s unconstitutional amnesty for the children of illegal immigrants, is a bitter pill to swallow. If that pill is part of any deal, then it is imperative that the president gets authorization and funding for a border wall. For many conservatives, a big new immigration law prior to the wall would likely be a bridge too far.

The White House must be very careful that these negotiations do not result in a situation where all the president gets is a pledge to fund the wall at some future point. We have been burned by past promises for future border security. We cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of the past.

If that happens, we will have another wave of illegal immigrants bringing their children across the border. In fact, it may be happening already.

In my view, the president can survive, regardless of what the polling says, if DACA is terminated. What I don’t think he can survive is getting through his first term without serious progress on the wall.

A Good Day

There are many ways to define a good day. For me, a good day is whenever I can cause the Left to set its hair on fire. And when I tweeted support for the president’s performance at Tuesday’s meeting, I got an avalanche of attacks from hateful progressives, which I find reaffirming. A far-left attack group called “Right Wing Watch” generated the wave of invective.

As you can imagine, the remarks ran the gamut from suggestions that I needed a mental evaluation to accusing me of being anti-American. Much of it can’t be repeated here.

When I did a little checking, I quickly discovered that many of my critics where proud atheists. Not surprisingly, the anti-faith movement has become one of the most intolerant and vicious battering rams of the Left.

I hope President Trump is teaching every Republican leader that if they wake up in the morning and are not being attacked by the Left, they aren’t doing their job!



A new level of abuse from the Left in the DACA debate

If you support Trump, you are an "inhumane beast raised by wolves”

Judging by appearances, Rubin (on Left) was the one raised by wolves

Stephanie Hamill, advisor to the National Diversity Coalition for Trump, defended Trump to the panel, saying “I respect our laws and I understand we can’t allow everybody to come in,” also saying that the United States is “the most generous country in the world,” statements she could barely get out over the loud protests of the other panelists.

Washington Post writer Jennifer Rubin responded, “Okay, number one, we do not have open borders. If she’d actually talk to any real people who actually work for the Immigration and Customs Agency, she would find out that in fact we have fewer border crossings than we have. Our borders are more secure than ever"

“Thanks to Trump,” Hamill said.

Rubin shot back, “Excuse me, it’s my turn! You be quiet while I speak!.. . She added, “And third of all, what kind of person would send back people who have been working here, who have contributed to this country, who have children here, who would be separated from their children, from their communities, what kind of inhumane beast–are you raised by wolves?”



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

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


15 January, 2018

The Labor Market Resurgence

There is good news to welcome in the New Year. For the first time in a very long time, labor markets have heated up, and much of the credit goes to the Trump administration and, specifically, Neomi Rao, the head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, who has taken the lead in chopping through the regulatory morass that for too long has strangled labor markets. But don’t take my word for it. Even the New York Times confirms the widespread “perception that years of increased environmental, financial, and other regulatory oversight by the Obama administration dampened investment and job creation—and that [Donald] Trump's more hands-off approach has unleashed the 'animal spirits' of companies that had hoarded cash after the recession of 2008."

By way of example, the Wall Street Journal has reported that pay raises were accompanied by signing and retention bonuses in tight-labor market cities like Minneapolis, especially in key sectors like construction, information technology, and manufacturing. Manufacturing is an especially critical indicator, because it shows that job growth wage increases are possible without following Trump’s counterproductive infatuation with protectionist legislation.

To be sure, the Times piece dutifully downplays the good news by reminding readers that “there is little historical evidence tying regulation levels to growth.”  The article even throws a bone in the direction of progressive economists who insist that in the long run, Obama-style regulations can produce benefits, not only for the regulated parties, but for the larger economy and the overall environment.

Yet this skepticism about the current wave of deregulation misses a critical point. The policy shift from the Obama administration to the Trump administration has been dramatic. The Obama administration relentlessly added new labor market regulations while Trump’s has pared back on the enforcement of the labor and antidiscrimination law to an extent that has little historical precedent. It is no wonder that wages were stagnant and that firms were reluctant to move forward with new hiring and expansion under the prior regulatory regime. But a year into the Trump administration, it is possible to explain the correct relationship between regulation and growth, by stressing two key points. The first disentangles good from bad forms of regulation. The second explains why wage increases are often a delayed response even to sensible forms of deregulation.

The first point relies on the simple distinction between regulations that help markets and regulations that strangle them. In the first class are the many regulations that increase the security of transactions. These include rules requiring that certain contracts (such as long-term employment contracts) be in writing, or recorded to be binding on third parties. In addition, sensible regulation of public utilities and the enforcement of antitrust to control monopolies and cartels generally lead to improved economic growth.

But Obama’s bundle of regulatory goodies never ameliorated either of these two recurrent problems.  Instead, at every point, his regulations increased transactional uncertainty by introducing restrictive trade practices in labor markets. Thus its vigorous enforcement of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the National Labor Relations Act limited freedom of contract between employers and employees. Any regulation that stifles freedom of contract in competitive markets produces losses to all trading parties, while simultaneously reducing the economic opportunities of third parties. These rules hold as much in labor markets as anywhere else. Obama’s most notable initiative under FLSA was to propose doubling the annual wage level at which minimum wage and, most critically, overtime regulations would kick in, to around $47,000. That one blunder would have upended huge growth in three vital areas of the economy—start-ups, graduate students and post-doc fellows, and the gig economy. By rolling back this regulation, Trump transformed the regulatory landscape for the better.

Similarly, the Obama administration aggressively sought to hold franchisors, like McDonald’s, responsible for the unfair labor practices of their franchisees. That one sop to organized labor would have upended decades of prior practice in another highly successful industry. Nixing this proposal, as the Trump administration did, was a huge change for the better. Progressive policymakers are correct insofar as they argue that it is improper to judge regulations solely by their short-term burdens on regulatory parties. But that mantra continues to naively assume that these negative short-term effects will somehow usher in long-term positive effects. With virtually all progressive regulations, exactly the opposite is true. Systemically negative long-term effects on third parties only compound the original regulatory blunders.

The second point goes to the temporal relationship between regulation and investment. Investment decisions are made over time frames that can run from five years to a generation. These decisions are necessarily riskier if the regulatory environment can become more ominous between the time of the initial expenditures to the time the project goes into operation. Now that Trump has been in office for close to a year, business people look less to his erratic foreign policy tweets and more to his steadfastness of purpose on domestic regulation. Even without the controversial business tax cuts, the stable regulatory environment creates intangible but positive expectations that increase business confidence and open the purse strings. These new investments, present and future, create higher wages and increased consumption.

Progressive critics, of course, are never satisfied, because they still fear that minorities and the poor will miss the parade, thereby aggravating already savage inequalities in income, wealth, and opportunity. Critics like Vanderbilt Law School Professor Ganesh Sitaraman, in his much lauded, but profoundly misguided 2017 book The Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution: Why Economic Inequality Threatens Our Republic, argues that this situation will lead to wholesale class warfare or even violence. But Sitaraman only reflects the confusion of his mentor, Elizabeth Warren, who thinks that the only way the rich get richer is for the poor to get poorer. Right now, ironically, race relations are, if anything, better than a year ago because we do not have the constant acrimony over the deaths of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown that defined the final period of the Obama administration. It is not too far-fetched to assume that the relative calm in race relations (to which Charlottesville was the dreadful exception) stems in part because of increasing economic opportunities. As the the Wall Street Journal reports, “the unemployment rate for black Americans fell to its lowest rate ever at 6.8%.” The quiet news is the best news of all.

Theoretically, moreover, Sitaraman’s point is an absurdity because voluntary contracts in all markets—labor and finance not excepted—are positive-sum transactions that leave both sides better off than before. John F. Kennedy famously summed up the correct position by disdaining the epithet of the “trickle-down” economy by noting that “a rising tide raises all boats.” That is doubly true when all major federal initiatives are moving in the same direction. It is no coincidence that the widespread economic improvement has taken hold—including in minority communities—exactly at the time when the federal enforcement of the employment discrimination laws has fallen to a low ebb. By cutting off market transactions, these rules were job killers for black workers from disadvantaged backgrounds who today are more likely to be hired by employers who know that they will not face heavy liabilities if they are fired or demoted.

The key lesson going forward is to be aware of half measures that will only muddy the waters. The evidence on the power of deregulation will become clear only if the Trump administration continues its all-in policies. Even more importantly, it must firmly reject any and every progressive effort to tighten employment regulation. Perhaps the most perverse recent proposal is from Moshe Marvit and Shaun Richmand, both strong union advocates. Their legislative reform is to junk the current employment-at-will doctrine—whose powerful efficiency features are often overlooked—in favor of a “just-cause” dismissal regime in order to counter systemic employer hostility to union organizers, and indifference to workplace sexual harassment. This massive system of regulation would stop job growth in its tracks.

Remember, the strongest protection for any worker is not some balky legal regime, but a growing economy that makes the threat to quit credible. Indeed, one of the reasons why private sector unionism has dropped and covers only 6 percent of workers is that just–cause provisions are always needed to protect the union’s precarious position as representative of workers, many of whom would happily do without its services. It is critical to remember that the current labor boom is no short-term bubble. Today’s improvements rest on solid productivity gains. The same employers who fiercely resist unionization are happy to pay higher wages to workers whose efforts increase the profits and net worth of the firm, both in the short and long run.



Unions are out of control, the Office of Labor-Management Standards can fix that

Although the Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) at the Department of Labor is not a large agency, it has a critical mission: rooting corruption out of unions to protect workers’ hard-earned dues money and helping to ensure free and fair union elections. Unfortunately, the agency’s capacity declined during the Obama Era. Now Congress needs to increase funding to rebuild the agency, which has lost more than one-third of its employees since 2008.

While President George W. Bush’s Administration was disappointing at times, his selection of Elaine Chao for Labor Secretary was a wise one. She chose Don Todd to lead OLMS; and because she saw the importance of the agency’s mission, she worked to increase its funding. But even with the increased funding, the agency’s staff was still significantly smaller than it was during the Reagan Era.

Under Don Todd’s leadership, OLMS grew and was very productive. For example, the agency dramatically increased the number of unions it audited. Compliance audits of unions increased by nearly 400% from 206 in the year 2000, the last full year of the Clinton Administration, to 798 in 2008, the last full year of the Bush Administration.

Perhaps if OLMS had had as many employees under Bush as it had under Reagan, it would have been able to audit even more unions than the OLMS did under Reagan. Nonetheless, the agency’s vigorous enforcement of labor law throughout the Bush years resulted in hundreds of corrupt union officials going to prison and tens of millions of dollars being returned to their unions.

Big Labor worked hard and gave generously to elect Obama and other Democrats and to enact Obama’s agenda. Democrats paid union bosses back for their support by pursuing policies designed to increase their power—and revenues. One of the Obama Administration’s favors to union bosses was to deprioritize the work of OLMS. On Obama’s watch, the OLMS workforce was slashed, and funding, audits, investigations, indictments, and convictions all decreased, which was good news for corrupt union bosses, but bad news for their union’s membership.

As an example of the stark contrasts between the Bush and Obama Administrations, consider the number of compliance audits of international unions that OLMS conducted under each. (Of course, it should be noted these audits are labor-intensive due to the size and complexity of international unions.) During the Bush Administration, there were 35 compliance audits of international unions; under Obama, there were zero compliance audits of these unions. In other words, the nation’s largest unions were given some latitude to do as they pleased for eight years, and not one of them had their books audited by the Labor Department.

While the Obama Administration refused to be held accountable to the law—by dragging its feet in appointing inspectors general, obstructing investigations by inspectors general, and refusing to cooperate with Congressional investigations—Obama’s Labor Department refused to hold the nation’s largest unions accountable to the law. Human nature being what it is, it seems highly likely that at least some of these international unions had some less-than-honorable officers or staffers who stole from union members.

Fortunately, the Trump Administration has been selecting quality leaders to turn things around at the Labor Department, and the Administration has also requested a funding increase of several million dollars for OLMS. These additional funds were requested to restart the long-neglected audits of international unions and to upgrade the agency’s dated electronic filing system.

Because of the important work of the agency, Congress should appropriate every penny requested for OLMS. In addition, if any savings can be found in the rest of the budget, Congress should appropriate even more funds to reverse the detrimental staff reductions under Obama. With good leadership and adequate staffing, who knows how much union corruption might be discovered after eight years of lax enforcement?



Keep alert to your surroundings?

This picture is one of a series here


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

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


14 January, 2018

Let's look inside a Leftist emptyhead

Alon Ben-Meir is Senior Fellow, Center for Global Affairs, NYU.  He is an elderly Jewish "expert" on peace in the Middle East.  It must be hard to be an expert on something that does not exist and shows no signs of coming to be but Ben-meir has allegedly attained it.  On his deathbed he will perhaps be wondering why he spent so much of his life on something so ephemeral.  But he has been heaped with honours and recognition from Leftists so  he might reflect that he has actually done rather well. Seeking praise and recognition is a major Leftist aim, after all.  Too bad if you accomplish nothing good.

He has recently put up an article under the heading: "A Party That Has Lost Its Soul".  And that heading typifies the article.  "Soul" is not defined nor is there any discussion of when and where and how the loss occurred.  The party concerned is of course the Republican party. So we have a meaningless but emotional outpouring.

We also learn that the GOP has failed to "safeguard America’s national interest".  How?  He does not say.

We also hear that the GOP has "no scruples and no moral compass".  So it must be the GOP that says "there is no such thing as right and wrong"?  I would have sworn that was a Leftist docrtine.

And Trump is a "president who has nothing to offer the country but disgrace".  Again no elaboration on that. I thought he offered America renewed greatness. What have I missed?

I have so far referred to his first paragraph only but the rest of his article  is similar so I think I have said enough to show that this Leftist eminence seems to have managed the remarkable feat of having emotions but no brains.  Sadly, a lot of the Left seem like that.

I note that proud RINO, Rick Moran, also accuses the GOP of having lost its soul.  But at least he says why.  It is because judge Moore was "credibly accused" of something.  No presumption of innocence?  Souls seem to fly out the window very readily these days.  As an atheist, I don't have one so I'm OK.


More statin propaganda

The New York Times has just published an article supposedly examining the pros and cons of the elderly taking statins. On the face of it the article appears to be balanced however, there are a great number of errors and omissions in this article and as a result the article creates completely the wrong impression about statins.

The New Times Article can be found here, it might be worth comparing the article with the information below.

The first problem with the New York Times article is found in the second paragraph where the author incorrectly states “[statins] get much of the credit for the nation’s plummeting rates of heart attacks and strokes”.

In fact, heart disease death rates have been declining rapidly in the United States (and the UK) since the 1970s. Statins were introduced in the mid to late 1990s - around 20-25 years after the sharp decline was already well under way.

The reduction in heart disease deaths in the United States (and the UK) is mostly due to the reduction in the number of people who smoke cigarettes. Improvements in hospital treatments has also contributed.

In addition, retrospective studies have also failed to find any benefit associated with statins. Although statin clinical trials have predicted a slight reduction in heart attacks in some patient groups, studies that have looked retrospectively have found that these predicted benefits have not actually materialized.

Clinical trials are perceived as the gold standard of clinical research but in recent decades there has been a greater understanding of how the clinical trial process can be manipulated by commercial interests in order to get the result that is favorable to the company sponsoring the trial. Therefore, it is also important to look retrospectively at the risks and benefits as the drug is used widely in the general population.

For example, researchers collected data from all but one of the municipalities of Sweden and they found that statins had not provided any benefit despite a huge increase in usage.

In 2012 the British Heart Foundation published a report detailing a wide range of heart disease statistics. One of the highlights of this report was the decline in heart disease death rates that had been seen in the UK between the years 2002 and 2010. The report listed the improvements that had led to this decline in deaths - statins were not mentioned at all.

Doctors in the pockets of drugs companies and lazy reporters often repeat the myth that statins have contributed to the decline in heart disease deaths, but there is not any to data to support this.

There are many other problems with the New York Times article, such as quoting relative percentages instead of absolute percentages (relative percentages hugely misrepresent the data), and also a failure to mention the other common adverse effects of statins that the elderly are more vulnerable to. However, I want to take particular issue with the fact that the New York Times article also fails to inform people of the strong connection between low cholesterol levels and shorter life expectancy and increased cancer rates - a correlation particularly strong in the elderly. People with High Cholesterol Live Longer!



Leftist Socialism: The Toothfish of Modern Politics

Patagonian Toothfish, the rejected ugly, oily, bottom dwelling toothy fish was rebranded Chilean Sea Bass and became an expensive delicacy for gullible millennials.

So it is with Socialism, a rejected, ugly, oily, bottom dwelling ideology that enriched the elite and enslaved the masses was rebranded Social Democracy and became a rallying cry for naive 21st century millennials.

It is often useful to look backward to move forward so let's review. Karl Marx, author of The Communist Manifesto, stated unequivocally, "Democracy is the road to socialism." Vladimir Lenin, founder of the Russian Communist Party, affirmed, "The goal of socialism is communism." Social democracy began in the late 19th early 20th century as a political ideology advocating an evolutionary and peaceful transition from capitalism to socialism using established political processes to effect the transition rather than the revolutionary processes of Marxism.

The Socialist Party of America had been unable to field a successful presidential candidate for decades so in 1972 the Socialist Party of America officially rebranded itself and changed its name to Social Democrats, USA. "The name 'Socialist' was replaced by 'Social Democrats' because many Americans associated the word 'socialism' with Soviet Communism." Anyone familiar with Marx and Lenin correctly associated the two which is why rebranding was necessary to eliminate its negative image and conceal its identity.

The thing about rebranding is that it does not change the product itself - only the name changes and its psychological associations.

Rebranding Toothfish as Chilean Sea Bass was a successful marketing strategy designed to sell a rejected fish in the food industry. Similarly, rebranding the Socialist Party of America as Social Democrats was a successful marketing strategy designed to sell a rejected ideology in the political sphere. Both were highly successful.

The democratic socialism currently embraced by the left-wing radicals that dominate the Democrat Party in America has embraced identity politics to increase its membership with inclusive promises of "social justice and income equality." These slogan promises disguise the reality of socialism because, like the Patagonian Toothfish, changing its name does not change what socialism is.

Millennials would be well advised to ignore the rebranded marketing campaigns of political elites like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, DeBlasio, Obama and actually investigate real life socialism in real life countries like Cuba and Venezuela. Instead of accepting the fake news provided by the colluding mainstream media, millennials should be listening to real people who have escaped the tyranny of socialism/communism instead of watching the paid political pundits on television.

Millennials forget that people are not drowning on freedom rafts sailing from Miami to Cuba - they are risking their lives to sail from Cuba to Miami.

The Socialist Party of America's dream to transition America from a capitalist country to a socialist/communist country was always a long-term project and did not collapse with the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989.

On Jan. 10, 1963, Congressman Albert S. Herlong Jr. of Florida read a list of 45 Communist goals into the Congressional Record. The list was derived from researcher Cleon Skousen's book The Naked Communist. The goals that articulate and expose the thinking and strategies of the political elite 55 years ago are the same goals and policies of today's Leftist Democrat leaders Sanders, Warren, DeBlasio, and Obama.



Trump Can Take Credit for Black Unemployment Drop
There’s plenty to celebrate in the December Bureau of Labor Statistics report showing black unemployment at 6.8 percent, the lowest ever since they started reporting the data in 1972.

President Trump tweeted out his excitement and, of course, took credit for the good news. Has there ever been a politician who didn’t take credit for good news on his watch (or rationalize away responsibility for bad news)?

The president’s detractors, of course, wasted no time in challenging him, pointing out that unemployment rates have been dropping since the economic recovery started, well before Trump took office. Trump, they say, is as responsible for this latest monthly drop as he is for the morning sunrise.

It seems to me quite reasonable for Trump to take credit for this. There are, indeed, positive things happening as result of his leadership — deregulation, a new tax bill, overall business-friendly policies and rhetoric. These things create a business environment of optimism and confidence, which drives investment and increases demand for labor.

However, rather than obsessing about what particular politician to praise or excoriate for certain economic results, our discussion should be about policies and not about personalities. Let’s savor this news but not lose our sobriety regarding the great task before us in this community.

The latest 6.8 percent black unemployment figure sounds great for blacks. But not for whites. The white rate for December was 3.7 percent. Why should there be celebrations that the black rate is “only” 3.1 percentage points higher than the white rate? Why should there be a different economic standard for blacks?

Black unemployment rates have averaged twice the white rate since 1972.

Black poverty rates are around twice the national average.

Black income and household wealth have hardly changed, remaining a fraction of that of whites.

This is the conversation we should be having. When do all American citizens participate equally in our national economic cornucopia?

Donald Trump was onto something when he asked blacks, during the presidential campaign, “What do you have to lose?”

Trump is offering a mindset that blacks should relish. A completely new and different reality. The cultural and political reality that blacks have turned to for years — big government — is the reason these gaps persist. It’s time for something new.

Black unemployment peaked at 16.8 percent in March 2010 during President Obama’s efforts to recover from the 2007-2008 economic collapse.

But the irony is that the collapse was driven by government policies put in place to help low-income Americans to make housing purchases. Contrary to what Barack Obama pitched to the country — blaming business and claiming the problem was insufficient government and regulation — American Enterprise Institute scholar Peter Wallison has shown the opposite.

Government policies mandating higher quotas of mortgages for low- to moderate-income borrowers put an increasing percentage of subprime mortgages on the market. By 2008, according to Wallison, 56 percent of the mortgages acquired by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — the two massive government-backed mortgage companies — were in this category.

Then everything collapsed.

An ocean of new regulations on financial services, enacted as part of the Dodd-Frank Act, was the Democratic Congress’ answer to their own misdiagnosed analysis of what caused the collapse. As a result, we had a slower-than-normal economic recovery.

These are the discussions we need today. How do we get out of the big government mindset that has been a drag on our economy and has perpetuated economic underperformance in low-income communities?

In this context, Trump is right to boast. He is bringing badly needed new thinking on issues concerning low-income America. It’s already making a difference.



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

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


12 January, 2018

Trump: Halt the ‘Hate,’ ‘Hostility and Anger’

In a bipartisan meeting with Congressional lawmakers on Tuesday, President Donald Trump bemoaned the nation’s “system” of inciting widespread hatred, even in the face of good news.

In the meeting negotiating terms of proposed immigration reform and border security measures, Trump said the system is rigged to encourage blind hatred: “Our system is designed right now that everybody should hate each other and we can’t have that.

“You know, we have a great country; we have a country that’s doing very well, in many respects. We are just hitting a new high on the stock market again. And that means jobs. I look at stocks -- I don't look at the stocks, I look at the jobs, I look at the 401(k)s. I look at what’s happening, where police come up to me and they say “Thank you, you are making me look like a financial genius,” literally. Meaning about them. "And, their wives never thought this was possible, right?"

This system really lends itself to not getting along.  It lends itself to hostility and anger, and they hate the Republicans.  And they hate the Democrats.

“And in the old days of earmarks, you can say what you want about certain Presidents and others, where they all talk about they went out to dinner at night and they all got along, and they passed bills.  That was an earmark system, and maybe we should think about it.”



Google’s New Fact-Check Feature Almost Exclusively Targets Conservative Sites

Google, the most powerful search engine in the world, is now displaying fact checks for conservative publications in its results. No prominent liberal site receives the same treatment.

And not only is Google’s fact-checking highly partisan — perhaps reflecting the sentiments of its leaders — it is also blatantly wrong, asserting sites made “claims” they demonstrably never made.

When searching for a media outlet that leans right, like The Daily Caller (TheDC), Google gives users details on the sidebar, including what topics the site typically writes about, as well as a sidebar titled “Reviewed Claims.”

Vox, and other left-wing outlets and blogs like Gizmodo, are not given the same fact-check treatment. When searching their names, a “Topics they write about” section appears, but there are no “Reviewed Claims.”

In fact, a review of mainstream outlets, as well as other outlets associated with liberal and conservative audiences, shows that only the conservative sites feature the highly misleading, subjective analysis. Several conservative-leaning outlets like TheDC are “vetted,” while equally partisan sites like Vox, ThinkProgress, Slate, The Huffington Post, Daily Kos, Salon, Vice and Mother Jones are spared.

Occupy Democrats is apparently the only popular content provider from that end of the political spectrum with a fact-checking section.

Ostensibly trying to sum up the crux of the post, the third-party “fact-checking” organization says the “claim” in a DC article that special Counsel Robert Mueller is hiring people that “are all Hillary Clinton supporters” is misleading, if not false.

The problem is that TheDC’s article makes no such claim. Their cited language doesn’t even appear in the article. Worse yet, there was no language trying to make it seem that the investigation into the Trump administration and Russia is entirely comprised of Clinton donors. The story simply contained the news: Mueller hired a Hillary Clinton donor to aid the investigation into President Donald Trump.

Still, the Washington Post gave the claim, which came from Trump himself, its official “Three Pinocchios” rating. The method applies to several other checks. Claims concocted or adulterated by someone outside the TheDC are attributed to TheDC, in what appears to be a feature that only applies to conservative sites.

Examples of such misattribution and misrepresentation are aplenty.

For instance, using Snopes.com, an organization with highly dubious fact-checking capabilities, Google’s platform shows an article by TheDC to have a so-called “mixture” of truth.

The “claim” made, according to Snopes.com, and in-turn Google, is “a transgender women raped a young girl in a women’s bathroom because bills were passed…”

A quick read of the news piece shows that there was no mention of a bill or any form of legislation. The story was merely a straightforward reporting of a disturbing incident originally reported on by a local outlet.

And like Snopes, another one of Google’s fact-checking partners, Climate Feedback, is not usually regarded as objective.

Snopes and Google also decided to “fact-check” an obviously tongue-in-cheek article in which a writer for TheDC pokes fun at a professor saying the solar eclipse in 2017 was naturally racist.

Even Vox pointed out the absurdity of the educator’s literary tirade on Mother Nature’s purported racial prejudice, and the damage it might have done to real arguments of apparent racism.

While Snopes got some flak for its choice, no one seems to have noticed the absurdity of the world’s go-to search engine providing fact-checks to purposefully irreverent content, rather than hard news stories.

Overall, such inclusion embodies Google’s fact-checking services, which, as many presciently feared, are biased, if not also downright libelous.



Underestimating Trump Supporters

David Limbaugh

It is disheartening to see the ongoing rift between those conservatives supporting President Donald Trump and those opposing him — a rift that began before Trump and may survive his presidency.

Many conservatives opposed Trump's nomination because they believed he was not a true conservative — not even really a bona fide Republican — but rather a narcissistic opportunist who wanted to take his game show hosting and self-promotional platform to a grander stage.

Many also thought that a Trump presidency, even if it would somewhat forestall the Obama-Clinton agenda, would not be worth the long-term damage it would do to the conservative movement. They believed a Trump victory would embolden the so-called alt-right movement, which they saw as Trump's main base. They saw a mob-like mentality among many of his supporters, saying they were fueled by rage and would rubber-stamp every crazy idea Trump might pursue and also push him to pursue even nuttier ideas.

Admittedly, in the red-hot contentiousness of the primary campaigns, some of the alt-right types did surface as among the most vocal of Trump supporters. Trump supporters seemed to defend anything Trump said or did, even if indefensible.

I admit that during the primaries, I was concerned about Trump's commitment to conservatism and worried that the justifiable outrage of many of his most ardent supporters at the direction the country was headed under Obama was clouding their judgment. Trump was not the answer to the quintessentially anti-conservative and fundamentally leftist Obama.

Then two things happened. The first was that Trump won the GOP nomination fairly and squarely. This meant that he would be facing off against Hillary Clinton, the most corrupt, self-serving and politically opportunistic presidential candidate in decades — someone who had tied herself to the far left and who promised to double down on the Obama agenda.

There is nothing to blunt one's concerns about flaws in a GOP presidential candidate like the sober realization that unless he wins, the abominable Hillary Clinton will be the next president and drive America past the point of returning to anything resembling its founding principles. Only conservatives who didn't view America's trajectory with similar urgency could rationalize their refusal to vote for Trump against Clinton.

This same obliviousness to the urgency of our situation also led to GOP establishment inertia regarding the Obama agenda. The establishment's insufficient energy and willingness to oppose him sowed the seeds of Trump's rise to power. How ironic that the people who remain most opposed to Trump today are to some extent responsible for the emergence of such an unorthodox character to fill the void they helped to create.

The second thing is that I came to realize that I had misunderstood much of Trump's grass-roots support. Yes, grass-roots voters were convinced that there was no difference between the two parties and that only an outsider like Trump could break the mold and inaugurate a new paradigm in Washington. But they were not a mob, and they saw something that others may not have seen.

This epiphany came to me when I was debating a longtime friend who is respected in the community and every bit as conservative as I am but had supported Trump from the beginning. I saw that he was not the exceptional Trump supporter but the typical one, someone who had not given over his critical faculties to runaway emotions but who genuinely believed that Trump, flaws and all, was the answer for these unusual times. As time passed, my epiphany was repeatedly confirmed: Trump supporters are patriotic Americans — not bigots, not political illiterates, not overreacting zealots — who just wanted our country and culture back. It's that simple.

Based on my observation of those on the right who continue to oppose, even revile, Trump at almost every turn, I conclude that their ongoing opposition can largely be traced to disagreement on the two factors I describe — not to mention a healthy dose of stubborn pride, in some cases.

Many of them still deny the urgency in the Obama-Clinton agenda and seem to hold the average Trump supporter in contempt. Another irony emerges as to their willful blindness when it comes to the imminent dangers to America from the Obama-Clinton left. While they claim to have a monopoly on pure conservatism, they frequently hold hands in shared disgust with the leftists still pushing that agenda, and they often diminish the strides Trump has made toward rolling back Obama-era "progress" and advancing conservatism. Their opposition also goes beyond policy, as evidenced by their reflexive sympathy for Trump's Democratic Russia-collusion accusers and their revulsion at conservatives pointing to Obama and Clinton corruption. To them, even to utter criticism against Obama and Clinton is "whataboutism" — an alleged effort to divert attention from Trump's supposed corruption. What they don't realize is their cries of "whataboutism" reveal their own version of the malady; when you point out a Trump success, they say, "What about his character?"

The Trump opponents have a variety of excuses to deny Trump credit for advancing this agenda and discredit those who foresaw the landscape better than they. They can't stand his tone, his manners or his tweets. They view him as temperamentally and mentally unfit for office. Even when he achieves policy success after policy success, they childishly huff that it is only because other people besides Trump are running the White House — that he has delegated foreign policy matters and "outsourced" his legislative agenda. Come on, people.

Well, I don't know whether Trump has morphed into a full-blown ideological conservative, but I do know that he's largely governing as one — and an effective one at that, accomplishing some bold things that few other conservative presidents would have even tried.

Why are some never-Trumpers obsessively bogged down in evaluating Trump's character and competence and preoccupied with sanctimoniously judging Trump's supporters instead of admitting that Trump's supporters are just rooting for America and that Trump's policies are — to this point — moving us back toward the direction of the American dream?

This shouldn't be a contest over who's more conservative; it should be about what's best for the United States. I'm pleased with how things are going. If the conservative movement doesn't come together in the future, I don't think it will be primarily the fault of the Trump supporters.



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

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


11 January, 2018

Sexual harassment in Hollywood

Perhaps because I am old and remember different ways of doing things in the past, I draw conclusions about the sexual harassment furore in Hollywood which are diametrically opposite to the current beliefs

No figures have been mentioned for how many women gave in to approaches by Weinstein and others but many clearly did.

In days of not so long ago, a man who got "fresh" with a woman would get a slap across the face from her and that would be the end of the matter. So how come that didn't happen to Harvey Weinstein as far as we know?  Weinstein himself tells us the answer to that and no-one has been able to gainsay him:  It was because the women consented to his approaches.  And the police have got nothing on him because there is no evidence that the women did not consent.

Aha!  Someone will say: But it was coerced consent.  But there is no evidence that the coercion was heavily physical.  The women would just have had to let out a big scream and Weinstein would have rapidly detumesced.

So it is undoubted that the women consented because they wanted something from Weinstein.  That was the coercion.  There is almost a physical hunger to be "in the movies" in Hollywood.  People come to that suburb of Los Angeles from all over the world in hopes of being "noticed".  And most women have had at some time the experience of having sex when they did not really want it. So what Weinstein offered was a price they were willing to pay.

In short, Weinstein BOUGHT them.  And they didn't complain at the time because they went willingly into the transaction and had good hopes of it.  They prostituted themselves to his ugliness -- to be paid not in money but in fame.

So they have nothing to complain about.  By complaining at this juncture they reveal themselves for what they are:  Prostitutes.


Melanie Phillips on Hollywood

Stars who dressed in black at the Golden Globes were simply advertising their hypocrisy

Never mind the movies: the theatricality and demand for applause at the Golden Globe awards in Los Angeles at the weekend took place on the red carpet. Actors wore black outfits to signal their solidarity with victims of the sexual harassment scandals that have consumed Hollywood.

It’s hard to recall a more egregious display of vanity signalling than the black dress protest. It was “please snap me while I pose in my conscience”. MeToo! MeToo! -------

The hypocrisy is epic. Many actors expressing such outrage use sexual chemistry to attract the predatory male movie executives they then profess to despise. They habitually wear outfits that leave little to the imagination, split upwards or downwards or utterly transparent. What’s more, many of the movies and TV series in which they appear, some of them having forgotten to put on any clothes at all, have long crossed the line into soft porn.--------

Yet many of those blustering in black at the Globes knew about this behaviour but kept quiet about it in order not to jeopardise their careers.----------

Laura Dern used her acceptance speech for her best supporting actress award to urge: “May we teach our children that speaking out without the fear of retribution is our culture’s new north star.”

Yet the causes regularly promoted by such luvvies — climate change, Black Lives Matter, anti-colonialism, anti-Islamophobia, LGBT issues — are being advanced by condign retribution, such as character assassination or social and professional ostracism, against any who dares speak against them.

Moreover, Hollywood’s finest don’t don black outfits to protest against men in the developing world who not only abuse but slaughter women, men and children.

Millions of women around the world really do suffer in cultures where male violence towards women is a given; but on those victims, these Hollywood hypocrites are silent.

In cultures they choose to present as victims of western colonialism, they simply ignore the all-too real oppression of women. They profess “solidarity” with oppressed women; but of course, it’s really all about themselves



Love Texas


Liberal Prof: There's No Evidence of Collusion, 'I've Never Seen Media Malpractice Like This'

Stephen Cohen, a professor emeritus of Russian Studies at New York University and a contributing editor to the leftist magazine The Nation, said -- contrary to claims of The Washington Post -- "we do not" know if our democracy was "hacked" by Trump-Russia collusion, it is "not true" that a "consensus of intelligence agencies" said there was collusion and, when it comes to news coverage of the president, "I have never seen media malpractice like this before in my life."

Cohen, an author, writer, and leading expert on Russia since the Bolshevik coup d'etat in 1917, added that he travels to Moscow regularly and even knows Russian intelligence officers and he has not yet "found anybody in Moscow who believes the story" of collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and Russian officials.

On the Dec. 15 edition of Tucker Carlson Tonight, host Tucker Carlson quoted from The Washington Post, which in a story about Trump and Russia ran a headline "hacking democracy," implying that this was true, an established fact. Carlson asked Prof. Cohen if it is true that "our democracy was, quote, 'hacked,' do we know that?"

Prof. Cohen, who is also professor emeritus of Russian Studies at Princeton University, said, "We do not. It's been alleged."  He then explained the "media malpractice" of The Post.

"Originally it was said that 17 intelligence agencies made that finding," said Cohen. "Turned out it was a few people and a couple of intelligence agencies. If you read on in The Washington Post story in the first paragraph, they go back to this claim that it's a consensus of intelligence agencies."

"So, it's simply not true," he said. "I have to say that, in addition to being a professor for a long time, I was also a paid consultant of a major American television network."

"I admire mainstream media, I learned a lot," said Prof. Cohen.  "But I have never seen media malpractice like this before in my life."

"What that constitutes is essentially making allegations for which there is no verified fact, information or evidence," he said.  "And then basically your commentary on it. So, briefly put, it said that somehow Trump has been compromised by Putin, the leader of Russia. Then when Trump does diplomacy with Putin, The New York Times literally calls it treason. I've never seen anything like this before."

Prof. Cohen then noted how, in the past, the media were often skeptical of leaks from U.S. intelligence agencies because all leaks have a political agenda atatched to them. He also said that presidents should be skeptical of intelligence claims and cited the Bay of Pigs disaster, based on CIA intel; the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution under President Lyndon Johnson; and the intelligence claims about WMD in Iraq.

"A president who is skeptical about intelligence, critical mind of it, is a good president," said Cohen.

Carlson then asked, "Do we have, that you have seen, any evidence at all that the Russian government materially affected the outcome of the 2016 election?"

Prof. Cohen said, "I've heard you say repeatedly there is no evidence. I've looked harder than you have. I've looked here in America but, also, I've looked in Moscow. When I'm there, I ask people I know and yes, I confess, I do know people who are or have been Russian intelligence agents. I haven't found anybody in Moscow who believes the story."

Stephen Cohen is the author of nine books on the Soviet Union and post-Communist Russia, as well as countless essays and articles. He is a former CBS News consultant, a friend of Mikhail Gorbachev, and he advised President George H.W. Bush in the 1980s.



How Income Taxes Increase Economic Inequality

New research suggests that some politicians may have been barking up the wrong tree when it comes to battling income inequality.

Take, for instance, Bernie Sanders, the former left-wing candidate for U.S. president who in 2015 said that a 90 percent top income tax rate on the wealthy would not be too high. His idea was to reduce income inequality and he cited the eye-watering tax rates as the right way to do it. Plenty in the media rushed to his defense.

The problem is that the evidence from the real world doesn’t support such assertions.

Income taxes don’t reduce income inequality. Instead they do quite the opposite, according to December-dated analysis published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

The paper looked at three major 20th century U.S. tax reforms and found that they did nothing to decrease income inequality and everything to increase it.

“I find that all the considered tax policy reforms raised economic inequality, instead of lowering it, as was intended by the policymakers,” states the paper titled “Do Taxes Increase Economic Inequality? A Comparative Study Based on the State Personal Income Tax” by Ugo Troiano, professor of economics at the University of Michigan.

The tax policy reforms he references are the introduction of state income tax, the introduction of tax withholding along with reporting by employers, and the agreement between the federal government and the states to coordinate audits.

Why did income inequality increase when that wasn’t the goal of the reforms?

“The fact that the only effect that these reforms had in common was raising the revenues from income tax and making the government bigger and the private sector smaller, suggest that a bigger government, at least in the recent history, had the effect of higher inequality,” the report states.

In other words, bigger government ends up retarding the private sector and reducing the size of the wealth pie. Naturally, the poorer come out worst in such a situation, while the well-heeled can get top tier advice to dodge the tax bullet. Hence, the rich get richer and the poor stay skint.

One caveat that Troiano does suggest is that it is possible in each case that the labor market changed dramatically after the reforms to cause the increase in income inequality. That said, this last idea seems unlikely.

There are others who take a far more cynical view than does Troiano.

“Nobody who believes in liberty, or public choice theory, will be surprised to learn that higher taxes lead to more inequality,” says Robert E. Wright, professor of political economy at Augustana University in South Dakota.

The problem is that the elites in any society, including the U.S., control the government and they quite naturally take care of themselves first, he says. He points out that the major difference between a tin-pot dictator in a dodgy country somewhere and the U.S. republic is that the latter “has to be more clandestine” in its efforts to rig the game.

That covert approach manifests in mind-bogglingly complex tax regulations, according to Wright, a view with which anyone trying to file their tax returns now may agree.

“Income taxes laden with complex deductions are particularly good ways of quietly redistributing wealth from the middle class to the rich, which I think explains America's outlying position in the inequality category,” he says.

The outlying position he refers to is what economists call the Gini coefficient, which measures income distribution. The higher the number (which is always between one and zero), the more unequal. The U.S. figure is high relative to other rich countries such as those in Europe.

What is notable is that states with no income tax, such as Alaska and New Hampshire, tend to have lower Gini coefficients than those with higher state income tax rates, such as New York and Massachusetts, according to data from the World Atlas website.

“That’s hardly coincidental if Troiano is correct,” says Wright.

What's perhaps more notable is that if Sanders and his ilk wish to lower inequality of income, maybe they should think about scrapping income taxes altogether.



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

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


10 January, 2018

The dangerous Dr. Lee

The Soviets used psychiatry to oppress those who disagreed with them so it is no wonder that American Leftists are marching in their footsteps.  The American Left always did like the Soviets

A PSYCHIATRIST has called for Donald Trump to be physically detained for an “emergency” mental health evaluation, sparking a debate about the professional ethics of “armchair” diagnosis.

Dr Bandy Lee, assistant professor in forensic psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine, met with a dozen Democratic politicians last month to “brief” them on Mr Trump’s fitness for office — despite never having met or evaluated the US President.

“Lawmakers were saying they have been very concerned about this, the President’s dangerousness, the dangers that his mental instability poses on the nation,” Dr Lee told CNN last week.

It came as Mr Trump fired off a series of tweets accusing the media of “taking out the old Ronald Reagan playbook and screaming mental stability and intelligence,” branding himself a “very stable genius”.

In October, Dr Lee co-authored a book called The Dangerous Case Of Donald Trump, a compilation of 27 essays by psychiatrists and mental health experts offering the view that Mr Trump “presents a clear and present danger to our nation”.

Dr Lee joins a chorus of left-wing media outlets and commentators calling for Mr Trump to be removed under Section 4 of the 25th Amendment of the US Constitution, which allows for the Vice President to take over if he and a majority of Cabinet secretaries decide the President is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office”.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, it is “unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion” on a public figure “unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorisation for such a statement”.

It’s known as the Goldwater Rule, after former presidential candidate Barry Goldwater. In 1964, Fact magazine published an article titled “The Unconscious of a Conservative: A Special Issue on the Mind of Barry Goldwater”, featuring a poll of psychiatrists in which almost half said Mr Goldwater was psychologically unfit to be president.

Mr Goldwater lost the election but several years later successfully sued the magazine’s publisher for defamation. Current APA president Maria Oquendo has described it as a “large, very public ethical misstep by a significant number of psychiatrists”.

Dr Lee claims she has not broken the Goldwater Rule because “we are not diagnosing him ... we are mainly concerned that an emergency evaluation be done”.

Her comments have been criticised by some of her peers, however. In a letter published in The New England Journal Of Medicine, Columbia University Department of Psychiatry chairman Dr Jeffrey Lieberman accused Dr Lee and her colleagues of “a misguided and dangerous morality”.

“Although moral and civic imperatives justify citizens speaking out against injustices of government and its leaders, that does not mean that psychiatrists can use their medical credentials to brand elected officials with neuropsychiatric diagnoses without sufficient evidence and appropriate circumstances,” he wrote.

“To do so undermines the profession’s integrity and credibility.  “More than any other medical specialty, psychiatry is vulnerable to being exploited for partisan political purposes and for bypassing due process for establishing guilt, fault and fact.”

Harvard Law School Professor Alan Dershowitz has also described the push by left-wing psychiatrists to remove Mr Trump as “very dangerous”.

“That’s what they did in Russia. That’s what they did in China. That’s what they did in apartheid South Africa,” he told Fox News. “How dare liberals, people on the left, try to undo democracy by accusing a president of being mentally ill without any basis.

“The 25th Amendment doesn’t apply. Everybody knew who Donald Trump was when they elected him ... he hasn’t changed in office and this idea of diagnosing him instead of opposing him politically poses an enormous danger to our democracy.”



Instead of 'Infrastructure Investment,' How About Killing Davis-Bacon?
Is there a difference between President Barack Obama’s “stimulus” and President Donald Trump’s “infrastructure investment”? Despite costing $800 billion, most economists do not believe Obama’s “stimulus” program did much stimulating. During the Great Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt’s secretary of Treasury wrote in his diary that the New Deal spending, designed to rescue the economy, was not working. Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau wrote:

“We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. … I want to see this country prosperous. I want to see people get a job. I want to see people get enough to eat. We have never made good on our promises. … I say after eight years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started and an enormous debt to boot!”

Trump, in announcing his upcoming plans for 2018, said: “Infrastructure is, by far, the easiest. People want it, Republicans and Democrats. We’re going to have tremendous Democrat support on infrastructure, as you know. I could’ve started with infrastructure. I actually wanted to save the easy one for the one down the road. We’ll be having that done pretty quickly.”

What if, instead of spending more on infrastructure, the government began paying nearly 20 percent less for projects? And how about pushing privatization, where possible, over the inevitably more costly government spending?

The Davis-Bacon Act, a Depression-era measure, was designed to thwart black workers from competing against white workers. It requires federal contractors to pay “prevailing union wages.” This act sought to shut out black workers from competing for construction jobs after white workers protested that Southern blacks were hired to build a Veterans Bureau hospital in Long Island, New York — the district of Rep. Robert Bacon, one of the bill’s sponsors. It is remarkable the Davis-Bacon still lives despite its racist intent and its discriminatory effect — to this day — on black workers. Passed in 1931, two Republicans teamed up to sponsor it.

In a labor market dominated by exclusionary unions that demanded above-market wages, blacks, at the time, competed by working for less money than the unionists. Davis-Bacon stopped this by requiring federal contractors to pay prevailing local union wages, causing massive black unemployment. Lawmakers made no secret of the law’s goal.

In the House of Representatives, Congressman William Upshaw (D-GA) said: “You will not think that a Southern man is more than human if he smiles over the fact of your reaction to that real problem you are confronted with in any community with a superabundance or large aggregation of Negro labor.” Rep. Miles Clayton Allgood (D-AL) supported the bill and complained of “cheap colored labor” that “is in competition with white labor throughout the country.” Rep. John J. Cochran (D-MO) stated that he had “received numerous complaints in recent months about Southern contractors employing low-paid colored mechanics getting work and bringing the employees from the South.”

Davis-Bacon adds as much as 20 percent more to the cost of any federal project. And most states have enacted local Davis-Bacon laws that similarly jack up the price of those government construction projects.

This brings us to privatization. Why not encourage more projects to be built and run by the private market?

In California, for example, the Democratic governor pushes a “bullet train” that promises to benefit Los Angeles-to-San Francisco travelers. Yet the governor expects taxpayers to pay for at least part of this supposedly wonderful project. If it is predicted to be so profitable, why should taxpayers finance it?

Finally, it is not true that our gas tax has not kept pace with federal highway route expenses. From 1982 through 2014, federal gas tax revenues increased nearly 6 percent a year, according to the Cato Institute’s Chris Edwards. He also points out that, beyond transportation and water, “most of America’s infrastructure is provided by the private sector, not governments.” “In fact,” says Edwards, “private infrastructure spending — on factories, freight rail, cell towers, pipelines, refineries, and other items — is four times larger than federal, state, and local government infrastructure spending combined.”

Businessman Trump is uniquely positioned to make the case not for more government spending but for less — but more efficient — spending. Obama’s failed “stimulus” should serve as Exhibit A for what we ought not do. Trump should make the case to abolish Davis-Bacon and for the privatization of as much infrastructure as possible.

So what’s the difference between Obama’s “stimulus” and Trump’s “infrastructure investment”? Obama spent $830 billion in four years, while Trump says he wants to spend as much as $1 trillion in 10 years. Unless we kill Davis-Bacon and move toward more privatization, the answer may be no difference at all.



Tax Reform Delivers Another Blow to Union-Funded 'Fight for $15'

The failing “Fight for $15” movement just suffered another blow. It appears that tax reform has produced results that have largely eluded the union-funded movement to raise the wages of workers across the country.

Americans for Tax Reform has a handy list of all the companies that are hiking wages, handing out millions in bonuses, and making charitable donations. And it is lengthy. In a very short time frame, tax reform has made good on what the Fight for $15 movement promised—provide a direct, positive impact on the well-being of thousands of workers.

Who would have guessed that lessening the tax burden on employers would have positive impact on wages and economic growth?

In contrast, the Fight for $15 has failed to deliver, despite the millions of dues dollars that the Service Employee International Union, along with other unions, have spent on the effort.

Part of the organizations’ failure stems from the fact that artificially raising wages to $15 per hour is a bad idea. Even the liberal-leaning Washington Post editorial board recently published an editorial imploring Montgomery County, Maryland, to not raise the minimum wage to $15.

Further, in real world test cases, the outcome of $15 minimum wage has not been pretty. A National Bureau of Economic Research study found that in Seattle, which recently raised the minimum wage to $15, “some employers have not been able to afford the increased minimums. They’ve cut their payrolls, putting off new hiring, reducing hours or letting their workers go.”

Additionally, a study commissioned by the City of Seattle to monitor the impact of the $15, found the wage increase cost jobs and hours for workers.

While raising minimum wages to $15 is not economically wise, the Fight for $15, a thinly veiled union front group, has had to deal with other setbacks. Despite organizing protests and lobbying efforts, Michael Saltsman, managing director at the Employment Policies Institute, documents the Fight for $15’s losses in trying to raise the minimum wage:

New Mexico Gov. Susanna Martinez vetoed a state wage hike, pointing to its consequences for small businesses. And in Maine, legislators — at the urging of restaurant servers — are poised to roll-back harmful minimum wage provisions passed by ballot measure on Election Day.

Last month, Baltimore Democratic Mayor Catherine Pugh vetoed a $15 minimum wage. She justified her decision by pointing to the impact it would have on city finances and city businesses. City analyses predicted the wage hike would have raised city payroll costs by $115 million over four years. Employers in the city told her they would be forced to reduce job opportunities and move outside city limits if the law took effect.

Also last month, the City of Flagstaff voted to roll back its forthcoming $12 minimum wage after numerous municipal small businesses like Cultured Yogurt dessert shop and Country Host restaurant were forced to close as a result.

In Iowa, state legislators recently voted to set one minimum wage at the state level and eliminate the patchwork of local minimum wage increases around the state. Missouri legislators are working to do the same. Last summer, Cleveland’s Democratic City Council voted against a $15 minimum wage then worked with state legislators to set state preemption on this issue.

Numerous Chicago suburbs, including Barrington, Oak Forest, Rosemont, and Tinley Park, have opted out of Cook County’s $13 minimum wage. Some cities in Santa Clara County in California have also chosen to do the same.

Ultimately, a strong economy is the best path to higher wages. Unions should recognize this and stop wasting member dues on the Fight for $15 movement, which even if it succeeds in raising minimum wage laws is bad news for workers at-large.



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

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


9 January, 2018

Democrat Outrage Over GOP Tax Cuts Unfounded, Immoral

Government redistribution of wealth isn't charity, and tax cuts won't make Americans less generous

The progressive Democrat outrage over the recently signed Republican tax reform law provides both a fascinating insight into the minds of leftists and a unique opportunity to discuss taxes and spending from a moral standpoint.

Democrats are clearly infuriated at the idea that the federal government will now be prevented from confiscating quite as much of the earnings of tens of millions of Americans as it did last year. In a bizarre twist of logic, Democrats see tax cuts as greedy American citizens stealing from government. That is evidenced in their rhetoric, with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi calling the tax cuts “Armageddon,” and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer accusing Republicans of “giv[ing] the richest few a bigger piece of the pie.”

Socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) called it a “looting of the federal treasury,” at least before conceding to CNN’s Jake Tapper that 91% of the middle class he claims to champion will, in fact, benefit from the Republican tax cuts, and then blaming Republicans for not making the cuts permanent. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) brilliantly trolled Sanders on Twitter, inviting him to co-sponsor legislation doing just that.

The common thread in the government-loving leftist narrative is that government has a right to whatever portion of our earnings it deems necessary to achieve its ends, with taxpayers as slaves whose labor provides the necessary funding.

Democrats have hijacked and distorted language and turned it on its face, accusing workers who want to keep more of their money to provide for their families of being “greedy,” while painting government, which takes our earnings by force to give to those who have not earned it, as altruistic. Harvard economist Thomas Sowell captures the essence of this looking-glass logic, stating, “I have never understood why it is ‘greed’ to want to keep the money you have earned but not greed to want to take somebody else’s money.”

As to the why of the progressive Democrat pursuit of what renowned economist Frederic Bastiat called “legal plunder,” well, that is a logical political calculation on their part, and it comes down to raw power. For, as socialist playwright George Bernard Shaw smugly noted, “A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend upon the support of Paul.” Democrats seek to steal greater amounts from a shrinking number of workers, with the clear knowledge that voters benefitting from the redistribution of those ill-gotten gains will keep them in power.

Democrats claim to be horrified at the thought that tax cuts will (allegedly) increase the deficit by $1.5 trillion over 10 years (as if keeping money in private hands, rather than ever-expanding government spending, is the problem). Yet an astute observer would note these same Democrats happily ran up the deficit during the Barack Obama years, resulting in $10 trillion in new debt.

Tax cuts are good policy. As liberal icon John F. Kennedy declared in 1962, in calling for significant cuts to the corporate and personal income tax rates, “In short, it is a paradoxical truth that … the soundest way to raise the revenues in the long run is to cut the rates now.”

Tax cuts are also morally sound, allowing free men and women to provide for the care of their families, rather than be rendered serfs on a government master’s plantation, retaining just enough of the fruits of their labor to maintain subsistence.

And while leftists claim taxes need to be higher so the so-called “rich” can pay their “fair share,” let’s remind them they can voluntarily donate more of their money to government if they wish. That is, unless they wish to admit their philosophy is not about caring for the needy, but about cultivating envy and justifying theft.

Thus, speaking of benevolence with money, another fear regarding the impact of tax cuts is that, with the standard deductions and child tax credits doubling, it will drastically reduce the number of people who itemize and, therefore, reduce the number of people who give to charity.

Such a thought shows a misunderstanding of the nature of charity, which is a voluntary, individual act (by definition, government cannot be charitable, because it uses force). The American people are empirically the most generous people on Earth, giving twice as much in personal charity as the next closest country, Canada.

People give to charity not for tax breaks (which would be silly; the taxes saved are far less than the amount given to charity), but out of a sincere desire to help their fellow man. Last year alone, individual Americans donated nearly $300 billion to charity, nearly three times more than was donated by foundations and corporations.

The reality is that with more money in their own pockets, there will be more available for Americans to donate to charity. Multiple studies show the more conservative and religious a person is, the more they donate to charity, both in hard dollars and as a percentage of income. (Perhaps that’s tied with the way leftists think about taxes and deductions.) There is no reason to think the tax cuts will do anything but encourage even greater charitable giving, since those who were previously barely making ends meet may now have the means, and the desire, to share.

And voluntary sharing is a very good thing. Government redistribution is not.



Trump Rule Aims to Extend Health Care Option to 11 Million Uninsured

Small businesses and sole proprietors will be able to band together under a new federal rule to create employee health plans that would expand coverage options for 11 million uninsured Americans, senior Trump administration officials said.

The Labor Department rule allowing “association health plans,” placed Thursday in the Federal Register, builds on an executive order by President Donald Trump from October.

One senior Trump administration official said during a background briefing Wednesday that the association health plans will “level the playing field” between small businesses and large corporations and provide “more health care for more people at a lower cost.”

Currently, 8 million Americans employed by small businesses and another 3 million sole proprietors, who do business without employees, don’t have access to a group health insurance plan.

Entry on the Federal Register opens a 60-day public comment period, and the rule could be implemented as early as summer, officials said.

“The main objective of this effort is to expand choices for people who do not yet have insurance and [create] more options for employers and employees to take advantage of,” Robert Moffit, a senior fellow in health policy studies at The Heritage Foundation and a former assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services, told The Daily Signal.

In theory, individual small businesses without many employees could band together—in some cases across state lines—to create a health insurance plan covering a combined, large pool of employees, not unlike that of a health plan run by a big company with its own large pool of employees.

Such association members must have a “commonality,” which could be based on region or industry, senior administration officials said on background.

For example, companies in a specific state could band together for a plan. Already, industry groups such as the National Association of Restaurants and the National Homebuilders Association have expressed support for the concept.

While association plans are targeted for small businesses, a larger corporation could join one. However, these companies already have existing plans, so there would be less incentive to do so, the senior administration officials said.

Conceptually, the association health plans would be comparable to certain union-sponsored plans, such as that of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, in which an individual entrepreneur may buy into a larger health insurance plan, officials said.

Administration officials who briefed state leaders on the idea described them as “cautious but not antagonistic” and “intrigued.”

States will be free to regulate to ensure the solvency of the plans.

America’s Health Insurance Plans, the health insurance lobby, has warned that such plans could be prone to fraud without state oversight.

“For example, between 2000 and 2002, insurance scams through associations left more than 200,000 policyholders with unpaid medical bills totaling $252 million,” a research brief from the organization says.

However, Moffit contends this is not alone a reason to oppose the plans.

“That’s a matter of how they are governed,” Moffit said. “Medicaid is prone to fraud. Nobody is saying we should ban Medicaid. If that’s a reason for opposition, you could apply such a rationale across the board to welfare programs and food stamps.”

Participating companies will be required to have a role in governing the health plans, senior administration officials said.

Another potential point for opponents is that fewer people who are uninsured will turn to the existing insurance exchanges created under the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.

This could drive up the cost of the exchange plans, because they would have fewer participants. But Trump administration officials contend their plan will increase consumer options.

The rule will go into place administratively under an existing law, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, known as ERISA.

When signing the executive order Oct. 12, Trump predicted:

Insurance companies will be fighting to get every single person signed up, and you will be hopefully negotiating, negotiating, negotiating, and you’ll get such low prices for such great care.

Trump’s executive order primarily does three things:

—Allows more small businesses to form associations to buy insurance plans, with the goal of creating more competition and expanding options across state lines.

—Reviews establishment of “short-term limited duration insurance,” which would not be subject to Obamacare’s expensive and comprehensive coverage regulations.

—Makes it easier for businesses to offer health reimbursement accounts, allowing more employees of small businesses to get coverage through work.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who had opposed other administration-backed health care plans, said at the signing ceremony that the Trump executive order was “the biggest free-market reform of health care in a generation.”

Paul added that the reform, “if it works and goes as planned, will allow millions of people to get insurance across state lines at an inexpensive price.”

In a Facebook post Thursday morning, Paul said he “applauds” the new rule allowing association health plans as described in the original version of this article:



The Obama legacy: Health Insurance Premiums Rising as High as 265% in Virginia This Year

Health insurance premiums in Virginia’s individual marketplace are set to rise as high as 265 percent in this new year.

According to the Virginia State Corporation Commission’s Affordable Care Act filing data, the maximum allowable premium hike for Optima Health Plan customers is 265.5 percent, which represents the largest increases in the Virginia individual market next year. Some Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company health plans on the individual market are set to rise 168.6 percent in 2018.

Thee Virginia State Corporation Commission explained that the sharp increases are legal in the state because they follow “federal uniform modification guidelines.” Insurance companies such as CareFirst provided reasons for the rate changes such as the “age factor.”



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

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


8 January, 2018

DOJ misconduct in Nevada in Bundy case

The Bundy family was the group at the center of a tense standoff in Nevada in 2014. The nation was glued to TV sets as federal agents squared off against the family and their allies. A recent ruling by a federal judge, based on the shocking report released by Bureau of Land Management whistleblower Larry Wooten, has thrust the Bundy family back into the headlines.

Much of the problem for Bundy began with the listing of the desert tortoise as an endangered species in 1989 and the federal government’s subsequent efforts to protect it by restricting cattle grazing near Bundy’s ranch. But the evidence showing that cattle are detrimental to the desert tortoise is weak, as even the federal government has admitted.

In 1994, [the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service] acknowledged in its Desert Tortoise Recovery Plan that the “extremely controversial” question of whether cattle harmed tortoise populations was not settled.

In 2002, the U.S. Geological Survey said in a report that the evidence for the harm done by cattle was “not overwhelming.” William Boarman, the biologist who wrote the report, said he was not aware of subsequent studies showing a strong link.

Cattle may even be beneficial to the tortoise. As hard as it might be to believe, the desert tortoise was abundant decades ago when the cattle population was much higher, and the range was overgrazed. But as Bureau of Land Management (BLM) restrictions on cattle grazing grew stricter, the desert tortoise population declined.

The evidence that cattle are detrimental to the desert tortoise was so weak that two judges ruled in favor of Bundy’s neighbors who sued to stop the BLM’s efforts to drive their cattle off the range. But the BLM under the Clinton Administration would not be deterred; the agency tightened regulations on the ranchers and ultimately succeeded in removing their cattle from the range. Incredibly, while the federal government continues to try to remove the relatively few remaining cattle from Clark County, it continues to protect the common raven—which is not at all endangered—even though it regularly devours young tortoises.

Although many have tried to portray Bundy as a villain or a deadbeat, he seems more like a regular guy who’s standing up for his family and the only way of life he’s ever known. Bundy is a 71-year-old, God-fearing grandfather. For most of his life, he has lived in a modest two-bedroom home that he helped his father build. He pays his taxes, and he had no history of violence.

The federal government would finally stand down and end the contentious situation. However, the feds would not forget what happened.

Bundy was arrested in Portland, Oregon on February 10, 2016 as he was attempting to visit another protest site. Bundy would be charged with a litany of charges including conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States, assault on a federal officer by use of a deadly weapon and aiding and abetting, and interfering with commerce by extortion and aiding, just to name a few. Everything seemed to be wrapped up until a whistleblower came forward.

BLM Special Agent Larry Wooten conducted an investigation into the handling of the 2014 Nevada standoff by the BLM. Wooten’s 18-page report is a damning indictment of the federal government. Wooten’s report lists dozens of violations of procedures, acts of bias, and blatant Brady Act violations, failing to turn over exculpatory evidence. Wooten stated the operation conducted against the Bundy family was, “the most intrusive, oppressive, large scale and militaristic trespass cattle impound possible.” The operation was conducted like a military mission despite the FBI’s threat assessment team declaring the Bundy family non-violent.

The conduct of the BLM and U.S. Attorney was so dishonest, U.S. District Court Judge Gloria Navarro, an Obama appointee, declared a mistrial. The judge stating, “the failure is prejudicial,” to ensuring a fair trial. Navarro set a retrial for late February, but it is uncertain if the feds will attempt to pursue the case further.

Americans for Limited Government Rick Manning stated, “the judge threw out the case because the prosecution engaged in multiple examples of prosecutorial misconduct. The extraordinary links the federal government went through to destroy the lives of the Bundy family is a cautionary tale about an out of control avaricious federal government. The charges against the Bundy’s need to be dropped. Once more, every legal action should be taken against the federal government employees who abused their power in this case to ensure that others will think twice before destroying citizens lives in a witch-hunt.”

This is an all too familiar pattern of federal government misconduct. It seems not one week goes by without a story about federal prosecutors not turning over Brady material. Attorney General Jeff Sessions must hold officials accountable. He inherited a corrupt DOJ that apparently has never heard of the Constitution. Prosecutors involved in malicious prosecutions, like this one, must be made to pay the lawyer fees of the defense and should be disbarred.



Those caring, compassionate Leftists again

Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), was reportedly forced to cancel an upcoming appearance at a highly anticipated technology conference after receiving multiple death threats.

Due to the intense debate surrounding internet regulations imposed under the Obama administration’s FCC in 2015, which were couched as a vague principle called “net neutrality,” Pai and the FCC have been engulfed in a stormy situation in the past year.

Recently, Pai was forced to cut his speech on why he thinks repealing net neutrality rules is a good thing for consumers and the country because of a bomb threat at agency headquarters. The ostensible danger was not surprising since people across the internet were constantly unleashing extremely vile and even racist attacks against Pai, including through methods directed at his children outside of his own home. (RELATED: Net Neutrality Activists Tied To Violent Groups, Convicted Al-Qaida Terrorist)

Now, Pai and his office, according to Recode, apparently feel he should abandon his plans to attend CES, the international Consumer Electronics Show, due to violent threats.

Initially, people and publications across Twitter interpreted his lack of attendance as an act of cowardice.

Celebrities and journalists have also been feverishly outspoken in support of one side of the debate for quite some time.

“Everything Ajit Pai Has Fucked Up in the Last Three Months,” reads a critical headline from Gizmodo, for example.

“White House Endorses FCC Chair Ajit Pai’s Quest To Murder Net Neutrality,” reads another.

Death threats haven’t been directed at just Pai. Federal authorities are charging a net neutrality supporter for threatening to kill Republican Rep. John Katko and do harm to his family. (RELATED: The FCC Repeals Internet Regulations After Months Of Wild Protests)

Brian Hart, director of the office of media relations at the FCC, told The Daily Caller News Foundation that they “cannot comment on security measures or concerns.”



Leftists Beclown Themselves on Iran

They are "justifying and excusing Islamic fascism in a broader and confused attempt at signaling tolerance."

As we noted yesterday, protests in Iran continue as citizens rise up to object to tyranny and corruption in the Iranian regime. Donald Trump and his administration — particularly UN Ambassador Nikki Haley — have clearly stood with the Iranian people in support of Liberty. Meanwhile, American leftists provide quite the teachable moment.

In fact, David Harsanyi nailed it, writing, “The Iranian people are in the midst of their largest protests since the 2009 Green movement, and many on the Left don’t seem especially thrilled about the prospects of a free Iran. The muted reaction is partly due to a troubling trend of justifying and excusing Islamic fascism in a broader and confused attempt at signaling tolerance. But almost surely an even more powerful factor is the need to protect Barack Obama’s legacy and criticize Donald Trump.”

A few examples: The New York Times, in a story that included coverage of the death of 12 protesters at the hands of Iranian government forces, blamed … the protesters. “Iranian authorities have clamped down on Tehran after demonstrators across the country ignored calls for calm,” the paper of record tweeted. Imagine a similar framing of anti-Trump rallies last year had the result been a dozen deaths at the hands of police. That’s right — a similar framing is unimaginable.

Speaking of anti-Trump protesters, the Women’s March, famous for running around the DC Mall wearing vagina hats, has been utterly silent about the Iranian protests, in which The Washington Times notes “women have become symbolic leaders.” American feminists fancy themselves the oppressed subjects of the dystopian TV series “The Handmaid’s Tale,” but when they have a chance to stand up for actually oppressed women around the world, their silence is deafening.

Finally, both The New York Times and Newsweek scolded Trump over his statements about Iran blocking social media sites. When Trump condemned the Iranian government’s crackdown, Times White House correspondent Maggie Haberman responded by tweeting, “The president often blocks individual people from seeing the @realDonaldTrump Twitter feed.” Newsweek made the supposed contrast even more clear, tweeting, “Trump bars Americans on Twitter but tells Iran to unblock social media sites.” As if the comparison is even remotely relevant. Hateful leftist Twitter trolls being blocked is not the same thing as shutting down access to Twitter. Oh, and by the way, nearly the entire American mainstream media apparatus is freely opposed to Trump. That’s a contrast from the state-run propaganda in Iran.

But by all means, leftists will continue to ignore protests for Liberty in Iran all while circling the wagons to defend Obama’s horrible nuclear deal.



GOP Rep Hurd: Trump ‘Tactics’ Are Producing ‘Successful’ Results on North Korea

Thursday on Fox News Channel’s “Fox & Friends,” Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) said President Donald Trump’s tactics towards North Korea have “been successful.”

Hurd said, “Here’s one of the things I have learned as an undercover officer in the CIA, I was one of the guys in the back alley 4:00 in the morning, be nice with nice guys and tough with tough guys. We have to look at what is actually happening. The fact that North Korea picked up the phone and called South Korea to start a dialogue, that’s a big deal. That’s a good thing in order to resolve this escalation of tension with diplomacy.”

He added, “The fact that the North Koreans are talking about joining the Olympics and participating in the Olympics is a big deal. The fact that we have China working with us on sanctions against North Korea, a year ago nobody thought that was possible. So, you may not like the tactics, but the actions and what those tactics are producing, we got to say it’s been successful.”



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

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


7 January, 2018

Pregnant women who eat up to NINE eggs a day have babies with higher IQs, study suggests

Is this too good to be true?  It is.  Note the word "suggests" above.  It seems to be another case of rodent studies not generalizing to humans.  The key ingredient, choline, does perk up mice babies but the same clear finding has not been found among humans.  The authors of the study reported below set out to do a really tightly controlled study that would settle the matter. 

The tight controls they put in place do indeed make it an admirable study but that also greatly limited their pool of people they could experiment with.  There were only 13 women each in their two experimental groups.  And from a statistical viewpoint that is far to few to rule out chance effects.  They did report statistical significance for their findings but that rules out only purely statistical effects, not unrepresentative sampling effects. So they were aware of obvious criticisms but were not in a position to rule them out.

They were also aware of criticisms of the measuring instrument  they used -- saying it correlates with adult IQ. But they still have the difficulty that IQs at different ages correlate rather poorly and that IQ measured at any time during childhood correlates rather poorly with IQ at age 30 -- which is about when environmental factors cease to be influential. In other words, the younger the child, the less well you are able to predict their final IQ.  And in this study we were dealing with neonates, which is very young indeed.

So it would need much stronger evidence than we have so far to make any policy recommendations.  If you like eggs, eat them. If you don't, there is no cause for concern

I follow the summary article below with the journal abstract

Pregnant women who eat up to nine eggs a day have babies with higher IQs, new research suggests.

Eggs contain high amounts of choline, which boosts infants' memories and abilities to process information.

However, nine is an unusually high number to eat in a day and they are linked to high cholesterol which can be deadly.

Recommendations advise 480mg of the nutrient a day in expectant mothers, however, the study suggests nearly double that amount is required for optimal results.

Yet, the researchers warn many pregnant women fail to even consume the recommended choline intake, which may be due to eggs' reputation for causing raised cholesterol levels, as well as warnings against expectant mothers eating them if undercooked.

On average, one egg yolk contains around 115mg of choline. Other sources include red meat, fish, poultry, legumes and nuts.

The NHS says that mothers-to-be do not need to go on a special diet, but stress it's important to eat a variety of different foods every day to get the right balance of nutrients that she and her baby need.

It recommends eggs for pregnant women but warns you should avoid eating some raw or partially cooked eggs, as there is a risk of salmonella. 

How the research was carried out 

The researchers from Cornell University analyzed 26 pregnant women entering their third trimesters.

Half of the study's participants ate 480mg of choline every day until their delivery, while the remainder consumed 930mg.

The participants' babies were assessed for their information processing speed and memories at four, seven, 10 and 13 months old.

Results reveal babies have significantly faster reaction times if their mothers ate 930mg of choline a day during the final stage of their pregnancy.

Infants are also faster at processing information if their mothers consumed around twice the recommended choline intake every day of their third trimester. 

A person's IQ is partially determined by their memory. 

Study author Marie Caudill said: 'In animal models using rodents, there's widespread agreement that supplementing the maternal diet with additional amounts of this single nutrient has lifelong benefits on offspring cognitive function.

'Our study provides some evidence that a similar result is found in humans.'

The findings were published in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.


Maternal choline supplementation during the third trimester of pregnancy improves infant information processing speed: a randomized, double-blind, controlled feeding study

Marie A. Caudill et al.


Rodent studies demonstrate that supplementing the maternal diet with choline during pregnancy produces life-long cognitive benefits for the offspring. In contrast, the two experimental studies examining cognitive effects of maternal choline supplementation in humans produced inconsistent results, perhaps because of poor participant adherence and/or uncontrolled variation in intake of choline or other nutrients. We examined the effects of maternal choline supplementation during pregnancy on infant cognition, with intake of choline and other nutrients tightly controlled. Women entering their third trimester were randomized to consume, until delivery, either 480 mg choline/d (n = 13) or 930 mg choline/d (n = 13). Infant information processing speed and visuospatial memory were tested at 4, 7, 10, and 13 mo of age (n = 24). Mean reaction time (RT) averaged across the four ages was significantly faster for infants born to mothers in the 930 (vs. 480) mg choline/d group. This result indicates that maternal consumption of approximately twice the recommended amount of choline during the last trimester improves infant information processing speed. Furthermore, for the 480-mg choline/d group, there was a significant linear effect of exposure duration (infants exposed longer showed faster RTs), suggesting that even modest increases in maternal choline intake during pregnancy may produce cognitive benefits for offspring



Manufacturing in the U.S. Just Accelerated to Its Best Year Since 2004

U.S. manufacturing expanded in December at the fastest pace in three months, as gains in orders and production capped the strongest year for factories since 2004, the Institute for Supply Management said Wednesday.

Key Takeaways

The survey-based measure of factory activity -- the year’s second-highest behind September, when storm-related supply delays boosted the index -- brings the 2017 average to 57.6, the best in 13 years. The latest gain extends a string of strong readings that’s been fueled by more domestic business investment, improving global economies and steady spending by American households.

A common refrain from companies surveyed, though, was difficulty finding highly-skilled labor, and some firms are paying higher wages to attract the workforce needed, ISM manufacturing survey committee chairman Timothy Fiore said on a conference call with reporters.

The acceleration in bookings indicates production will remain robust in coming months as factories race to limit mounting order backlogs amid declining customer inventories. Increasing export orders underscore improvement in global markets.

The figures suggest manufacturing strength will persist into early 2018, even after the ISM’s semi-annual survey of purchasing managers published last month showed factories anticipate growth in capital spending to slow this year. The December monthly poll was taken before President Donald Trump signed the tax legislation, which provides companies with incentives to invest more, Fiore said in an interview.



ICE Hits Back Hard Against 'Sanctuary State' California

California has declared itself a "sanctuary state" for illegal immigrants. But that won't stop Immigration and Customs Enforcement. ICE's Acting Director, Thomas Homan, fired a warning shot to the Golden State, telling them that they'd "better hold on tight" in the fight over illegal immigration.

In an interview with Neil Cavuto, Homan revealed what he thought of the new California law.  "I think it's terrible," Homan said, plainly. "If [California Gov. Jerry Brown] thinks he is protecting the community, he's doing quite the opposite," Homan said. "He is knowingly putting law enforcement at risk."

Homan also added that, no matter what California does, the crackdown over illegal immigration will continue.

The "sanctuary state" law prevents local and state law enforcement from working with ICE officers. To compensate, Homan said that ICE would double its officers in California.

"There's no sanctuary from law enforcement," he said. "California better hold on tight: they're about to see a lot more deportation officers. If politicians don't protect their communities, then ICE will."

Homan added that he hopes the Justice Department would go a step further – arresting Brown and sanctuary city mayors for "harboring illegal aliens," which is a federal crime.



Virginia election results 2017: Republican David Yancey wins Virginia House seat -- by lot

A Republican won a Virginia state House of Delegates race so close that its outcome was determined by pulling the candidate’s name out of a ceramic bowl Thursday.

The win allows the Republicans to maintain a slim majority in the House, though a final tally is still uncertain because the Democrat in the race could ask for another recount. The outcome of another close legislative race is also in doubt because it’s locked in a court battle.

The drawing of lots Thursday drew quite a crowd at the Virginia elections board meeting. Officials detailed how the drawing would work and Del. David Yancey’s name was chosen first out of a ceramic bowl, making him the winner of the 94th District race.

The name of each candidate was printed on a piece of paper and placed into separate film canisters. The canisters were put into a cobalt-blue-and-white ceramic bowl made by a local artist, stirred around and Yancey’s name was chosen.

It’s been nearly 50 years since a legislative seat was settled by drawing lots in Virginia.

The race between Yancey, a three-term incumbent, and Democratic challenger Shelly Simonds has bounced back and forth since the November election, when Virginia Democrats — fueled by voter anger directed at Republican President Donald Trump — wiped out a 66-34 advantage held by Republicans in the House. The election has been widely seen as a potential harbinger of the 2018 midterm congressional elections.

With Yancey’s win, Republicans hold a slim, 51-49 advantage over Democrats in the Virginia House. But the race may not be over. Simonds could ask for another recount, a move that would likely delay a winner being declared before the 2018 legislative session begins next week. That would still allow Republicans to elect a speaker and make committee assignments based on a 50-49 advantage.



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

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


5 January, 2018

Suppression of Good News Is the Media's Dirtiest Tactic. Here's What They Missed Last Year

Here are headlines you won't read in almost any major American newspaper, hear on any of the evening news programs, or see in your Yahoo "news" feed:

* Dow Hits 87 Record Closes Since Trump Elected

* Texas Hero Was NRA Instructor

* Dow Reaches Four 1,000 Point Milestones in One Year for the First Time Ever

* ISIS on the Run, Almost Completely Destroyed

* New Home Sales Highest in a Decade

* Texas Hero Uses AR-15 to Save the Day

* Dow Hits Two Streaks Lasting More Than Ten Days, First Time Since 1959

* Trump Donates One Million Dollars of His Own Money to Hurricane Victims

* U.S. Economy Gains Over Six Trillion in New Capital

* U.S. Senator Viciously Attacked by Deranged Socialist Neighbor

* U.S. Economy Grows at 3% for First Time Since Bush Administration

* Unemployment Rate Lowest in 17 Years

If Hillary was the president and the market were doing this well (I know, right?), Wolf Blitzer would be living on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. We would hear the bell ringing at the opening of every report, which would appear about every five minutes on CNN. Instead of reporting on the economic turnaround of the century, we see doctored reports about Donald Trump feeding fish or his "12-Diet Cokes-a-day" habit.

Bag of Dirty Tricks

The favorite tool in the main stream media's (MSM) tool bag is the overt suppression of good news favoring conservatives or Republicans. Following closely behind is their suppression of bad news about Democrats.

The Texas hero who saved many lives in Sutherland Springs was not only an NRA member, but an NRA Instructor. Beyond that, he used an AR-15 to shoot a mass murderer. You didn't hear those facts often - if ever -from NBC, CBS, "The View," The Huffington Post, The New York Times, ABC, ESPN, USA Today, or MSNBC - and the list goes on.

You also didn't hear much from the MSM about the corruption trial of Democrat Bob Menendez, a sitting U.S. Senator. According to the Media Research Center, there was literally zero reporting on any broadcast network since the start of the trial, including the evening shows on CNN, CBS and ABC, as well as NBC's "Today" show.

The Main Stream Media: Where Good News for Conservatives Goes to Die

Good news for conservatives or Republicans gets little, if any, time.  When it actually does happen, it's coupled with snarky comments that serve to undermine the good news. The press uses headlines like this when reporting what would otherwise be good news:

* Dow Jones Hits All-Time High, Poor and Middle Class Benefit the Least

* Not One but TWO AR-15's Used in Texas Shooting

It's their all-time favorite template of "Insert Good News Here" followed by "Women and Children Hardest Hit". A great example of this is a recent Newsweek headline: "Trump Donating $1 Million to Harvey Victims, an Amount Billionaire Once Described as a 'Small Loan'". 

It's like the old joke goes: If Trump walked on water, the press would report that he can't swim.

The good news is that, with the advent of the Internet, we can immediately see how deceptive they really are. The Trump fish story is a classic example, as debunked by The Hill. There are dozens more just like it every day. Except now, there are people calling out their deceptions, using actual video or audio evidence to refute the MSM's slanted reporting.

The Left's Ongoing Deception

Much like ignoring the upward surge of the Dow, the media has set a blistering pace of deception since Donald Trump was elected. This will only serve to hasten their demise as demonstrated by the significant declines in viewership of and subscriptions to traditional media outlets.

At the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), I witnessed the media's unhinged disdain for the incoming Trump administration in real time. The hate was palpable. One woman who worked for a major media news organization was visibly upset during the Pence speech. I watched her as she angrily sneered at many of the applause lines. To say she was seething would be an understatement. At one point in time, I really thought she was going to have a literal breakdown right in front of me.

How is it possible that she could somehow separate herself from her obvious loathing for the new administration and report on an event in an unbiased way? She couldn't - and it showed.

I first experienced this phenomenon years ago when attending NRA Annual Meetings with tens of thousands of other NRA members. What did the media choose to cover? They highlighted the dozens of protestors outside. Did they report that the crime rate in the convention's host city always goes down when the NRA is in town? Of course not. Did they report on the fact that around 80,000 gun owners were in one building and no one got shot? Nope. Did they report on the tremendous economic activity that occurred in the area because of the NRA? Silence.

I regularly challenge young conservative students to attend events like the NRA Annual Meeting, CPAC, or even a local gathering of conservative activists on campus and then watch how the event is reported on the evening news. Watch what doesn't get reported - that's the biggest deception.

It's All Going to Be OK

Be of good cheer fellow conservatives, the economy is roaring back, ISIS is on the run, freedom is on the move and America is leading from the front once again. Pass the cigars, raise a toast, and wait for the nonstop press reports on homelessness in 3...2...1...



America's Left in the Grip of Insanity

Ben Shapiro

President Trump is unpopular. He's unpopular because he's boorish, crude and silly; he's unpopular because he has a unique capacity to turn winning news cycles into referenda on his use of Twitter. But the United States under President Trump hasn't seen any serious anti-liberty revanchism. In fact, under Trump, regulations have dropped precipitously; the economy continues its pattern of growth; and press freedoms have actually been strengthened. Despite popular opinion, women aren't on the verge of enslavement into Vice President Mike Pence's "Handmaid's Tale," nor are black Americans in danger of resegregation or political disenfranchisement.

Yet while Iranians protest against a regime that reportedly hangs homosexuals from cranes, members of the hard left in the United States insist that protesters against the Trump administration demonstrate bravery similar to that of Iranians risking death by an Islamist regime. Huffington Post political commentator Alex Mohajer tweeted: "The #IranianProtests, the #Resistance, and @WomensMarch are all the same. Across the world, people are fighting autocracies and oppressive regimes. @realDonaldTrump is NO DIFFERENT than the oppressive Ayatollahs in Iran." Oddly, that movement of solidarity hasn't prompted those who walked in the Women's March on Washington to say a single word in support of the Iranian protesters to this point.

This idiocy doesn't merely spring from hatred for Trump but from a deep-seated need to justify the Obama administration's feckless Iran policy. Thomas Erdbrink of The New York Times reported that violence broke out in Iran after the demonstrators ignored "pleas for calm from President Hassan Rouhani" and termed Rouhani -- a tool of the mullahs -- a "moderate." Meanwhile, one CNN anchor fretted that Trump might put a "finger on the scale" against the Iranian regime. Members of the Obama administration took to Twitter to tell Trump to be quiet (Susan Rice, former national security adviser), chide Trump for failing to take in Iranian refugees (Samantha Power, former U.N. ambassador) and suggest that American policy has nothing to do with Iran's protests (Ben Rhodes, former national security adviser and architect of the Iran nuclear deal narrative). All of these administration members did nothing as President Obama watched dissidents die in the streets in 2009, and all of them actively abetted the maximization of Iran's regional power.

Herein lies the insanity of the left. Only nutcases on the right believed that Barack Obama's governance was morally equivalent to the Iranian government. In the main, conservatives thought that Obama pursued bad policies domestically and horribly immoral foreign policies. But many on the left seem to believe that Trump is merely steps removed from the ayatollahs. The ayatollahs agree, and they use that nuttery for public-relations leverage: No wonder Ayatollah Khamenei tweeted: "The U.S. gov. commits oppression inside the U.S., too. U.S. police murder black women, men, & children for no justifiable reason, and the murderers are acquitted in U.S. courts. This is their judicial system! And they slam other countries' and our country's judicial system. #BLM."

Trump isn't Khamenei. And the only recent administration to help build Iran's power is the Obama administration. Comparing the Trump administration to Iran's regime isn't just delusional; it's insulting and counterproductive. And the only people it helps are America's enemies.



Trump To Dole Out ‘Dishonest And Corrupt’ Media Awards Next Week

President Donald Trump announced Tuesday that he will hand out awards for dishonest media reporting in several different categories on Jan 8.

"I will be announcing THE MOST DISHONEST & CORRUPT MEDIA AWARDS OF THE YEAR on Monday at 5:00 o’clock. Subjects will cover Dishonesty & Bad Reporting in various categories from the Fake News Media. Stay tuned!"

The president vented in late November that a contest should be held for the worst political coverage, excluding Fox News. He added that the winner of such an award should get a “fake news trophy.”

The president appears to have held the contest within the White House. Trump’s awards are likely to provoke significant backlash from news media organizations.



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

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


4 January, 2018

Kellyanne Conway Lays Out the White House Agenda for 2018

Sounds good

During an appearance on Fox and Friends Tuesday morning, Special Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway laid out the White House agenda for the next 30 days and 2018 overall, which includes a push for an infrastructure package, job growth, skills training, welfare reform, getting the border wall built and much more.

"This is a president who is invested in all types of careers and is trying to tell Americans that we dignify every type of work...not everybody is cut out for college and that's fine," Conway said. "We need to rebuild our nation's road and bridges and certainly our air-traffic control system."

As Conway discussed, President Trump will host Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan at Camp David this weekend to develop a reconciled agenda. Ryan has ambitious goals of entitlement reform and McConnell wants Dodd-Frank on the table for changes.

"America should look at this as a very positive development," she said, adding that the president wants Democrats to come to the table with ideas. "We hope they can come together for the good of the country."



Once again, Obamacare fails

Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning today issued the following statement blasting the failure in New Mexico of another health care law co-op:

“New Mexico Health Connections was founded using $77 million of taxpayer loans. Now, they’re seeking private sector funding to keep them afloat at some level. Obamacare co-ops were supposed to be the non-profit approach to health insurance to make certain that everyone had low-cost options for coverage. Not surprisingly, co-ops across the nation have failed as customer costs exceeded revenues.

President Trump should demand that the New Mexico Health Connections the U.S. taxpayers at the front of the line for repaying the $77 million in loans they received. Naturally, these payments will never be received and the people who put their trust in a guaranteed to fail co-op business model will find in New Mexico as people have found in other states across the Union, that low-cost Obamacare was more hope than reality.”



Haley: We cut almost $300 million from UN budget

Retribution for an attempted rebuke from the General Assembly, or just good reform practice? After warning the United Nations that the US would “take names” of countries that voted for a resolution demanding that Donald Trump withdraw recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, ambassador Nikki Haley announced a $285 million cut to the UN’s operations budget. Haley cited the need to address “inefficiencies,” but the timing seems to send a message too:

The announcement didn’t make clear the entire amount of the budget or specify what effect the cut would have on the U.S. contribution.

U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said that the “inefficiency and overspending” of the organization is well-known, and she would not let “the generosity of the American people be taken advantage of.”

She also said that while the mission was pleased with the results of budget negotiations, it would continue to “look at ways to increase the U.N.’s efficiency while protecting our interests.”

Note that this is not a cut in our contribution, but in the UN’s overall biennial spending in the 2018-19 budget. How much will that save the US? We are the largest contributor for UN operations; we supplied 22% of the previous biennial budget, and we’re probably still on the hook for a similar amount in this next budget. Assuming that percentage applies evenly to the savings, we cut our total outlay by $62.7 million.

To be sure, $285 million is a lot of money, but as with all such figures, context is necessary. The UN’s operating budget for the biennium ending now was $5.4 billion, approved exactly two years previous to this announcement. That budget trimmed off $100 million from the previous biennial budget, although then-Secretary General Ban Ki-moon complained that the issue was fewer resources, not an effort to reform the UN’s budget. “Funding continues to shrink,” Ban said at the time, “while demands on the United Nations grow.”

(Note, however, that peacekeeping functions and subsidiary UN agencies operate out of separate budgets funded mainly by voluntary donations from member nations.)

As a percentage of the overall budget, the cuts announced by Haley amount to just under 5.3%. That’s not insignificant — a 5.3% cut in real terms to the US federal budget would remove $217 billion in spending — but it’s not a crippling blow either. Plus, it seems very unlikely to have been part of a punishment for the General Assembly vote that took place last week, as budget negotiations would have been going on for months.

Still, this sends a message that the US will keep the pressure on the UN for real reform in its operations. Haley intends to get tough with the UN both on policy and “inefficiency and overspending,” which is a diplomatic manner of saying featherbedding and corruption. If the UN can’t do that on its own, the US intends to reduce the spoils possible and remove much of the incentive.



Social Security Beneficiaries Hit Record 61,859,250

The number of Social Security beneficiaries hit a record 61,859,250 in November, according to data released by the Social Security Administration.

At the same time, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with unemployment at the lowest rate since 2000 (4.1 percent), there were 126,827,000 full-time workers in the United States (including government workers). Yet that equaled only 2.05 full-time workers for each person receiving Social Security benefits.

Even when all 153,918,000 people who had jobs in November are considered (counting both full- and part-time workers), the ratio of workers to Social Security beneficiaries was about 2.49 to 1.

The record 61,859,250 Social Security beneficiaries in November, included 45,439,781 retired workers and their dependents; 5,992,862 survivors of deceased workers; and 10,426,607 disabled workers and their dependents.

The Social Security program has two primary elements: Old Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance. Each of these are supposed to be supported by a "payroll tax" imposed on a worker's earnings.

The payroll tax for the OASI is 10.03 percent and is split so that one half is deducted from a worker's paycheck and the other half is paid to the government by the employer. The payroll tax for DI is 2.37 percent and, like the OASI tax, is split between a deduction from a worker's paycheck and a payment made directly by the employer.

In total, the worker and employer must pay the government 12.4 percent in taxes (on the first $127,200 a worker makes) for the combined OASDI tax. Self-employed Americans pay the entire 12.4 percent directly.

But this is no longer enough, says the Social Security board of trustees, which includes the commissioner of Social Security and the secretaries of the Treasury, Labor and Health and Human Services.

In the past, when Social Security ran surpluses, the federal government loaned the surplus to itself so it could spend it immediately on other government programs.

In their 2017 report, the Social Security board of trustees puts it this way: "The Department of the Treasury invests trust fund reserves in interest-bearing securities issued by the U.S. Government."

Without the "interest" the government pays itself back on the money it has already spent from previous Social Security surpluses, the Social Security program would not have enough money now to pay all the current benefits it owes.

"The 2016 excess of total income over cost for the year was $35 billion," said the trustees' report. But "total income" — as the report calls it — includes the interest the government pays itself.

"However, when interest income is excluded," the report admitted, "Social Security's cost is projected to exceed its non-interest income throughout the projection period, as it has since 2010. For 2016, cost for the year exceeded non-interest income by $53 billion. For 2017, total income for the program is projected to exceed cost for the year by $59 billion, and non-interest income is projected to be $27 billion less than program cost for the year."



Nearly 25 Percent of DACA Illegal Aliens Are ‘Functionally Illiterate’ in English

Nearly 25 percent of illegal aliens eligible for former President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program are “functionally illiterate” in the English language, a researcher says.

According to Center for Immigration Studies Director of Research Steven Camarota, about 24 percent of illegal aliens who are eligible for DACA — which President Trump administration will officially end in March 2018 — overstate their English proficiency skills and are “below basic” or “functionally illiterate.”

Additionally, the research found that about 46 percent of DACA illegal aliens only have “basic” English proficiency skills, despite narratives from corporate interests and the open borders lobby that recipients of the program are vastly highly-educated.

Camarota writes:

Even those numbers could exaggerate the level of assimilation. As mentioned above, a high-school diploma has become so commonplace among today’s youth (due in large part to watered-down standards) that it is no longer a strong indicator of skills. Similarly, CIS research has shown that immigrants tend to overstate their English ability.

When Hispanic immigrants, who make up some 80 to 90 percent of DACA recipients, recently took an objective test of English literacy, 44 percent of those who said they speak English “well” or “very well” actually scored “below basic” — a level sometimes described as functional illiteracy. Based on test-takers with the required age and residency, I estimate that perhaps 24 percent of the DACA-eligible population fall into the functionally illiterate category and another 46 percent have only “basic” English ability.

The research showing a lack of English proficiency among DACA illegal aliens comes as the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report revealing that nearly 1 in 5 illegal aliens eligible for DACA would end up on food stamps within 10 years, Breitbart News reported.

The majority of DACA illegal aliens also live in low-income households, according to a study by Harvard scholar Roberto Gonzales outlined by the Center for Immigration Studies. That study found that 73 percent of illegal aliens covered by DACA are living in low-income households, qualifying for free lunch at American public high schools, as well as other federal welfare benefits, Breitbart News reported.

Also as Breitbart News reported, only four percent of DACA illegal aliens have completed a college education, making the DACA population far less likely than the native American population to finish college with a degree.



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

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


3 January, 2018

Trump economy set to roar in 2018

By Robert Romano

When it comes to the economy, observers are often loath to make predictions. After all, it is not a hard science, where a hypothesis is formulated, and observations are made to prove or disprove the hypothesis. What will U.S. economic growth be in 2018?

Who knows? It could be faster than 2017. But maybe it will be slower.

But what we can do is take into consideration certain factors that might serve to either hamper growth, or to foster it. And when we consider the economy being fostered under President Donald Trump’s first term, there are things to be bullish about.  After all, Trump promised we would start winning again.

Well, the past two quarters’ growth have come in over an inflation-adjusted 3 percent annualized, with a solid fourth quarter hoped for. If it does, even if 2017 does not produce 3 percent growth — a number not seen since 2005 — the U.S. economy will be well-positioned in 2018 to get there. Why?

The biggest reason just happened, and that’s President Trump and Congress’ $1.5 trillion tax cut plan, which will account for an average 1 percent of Gross Domestic Product each of the first four years, making it the largest tax cut since Reagan’s 1981 plan as a percent of the economy.

It will put hundreds of billions of dollars back into businesses and individuals each year, which can be spent, invested or saved. It’s going to have a major impact. To be clear, even if we were to experience an unforeseen economic slowdown right now — Reagan had a major recession even after the 1981 tax cuts — the recovery could still be magnificent.

Other considerations are the regulatory environment that is now being fostered. Trump has left the Paris climate accords and his EPA head Scott Pruitt is tearing up the new and existing coal power plant regulations. He has ended the practice of sue and settle whereby the agency would agree to a left-wing environmentalist group’s lawsuit in exchange for expanding the regulatory mandate of the EPA. The Waters of the United States rule regulating every puddle in America is being rescinded.

Federal lands are being reopened. The aforementioned tax cut bill also contained a provision that will allow for oil drilling in previously prohibited areas of Alaska.

On trade, Trump has put forward an America first policy, cancelling the TPP and renegotiating NAFTA, all the while getting tough on trade enforcement against South Korea and Mexico.

Since Trump took office, 171,000 new manufacturing jobs have been created.

The number of 16-to-64-year-olds who have entered the labor force has increased by 879,000, increasing labor participation to 73.3 percent for that group. There still remain 8 million of this age group out of the labor force had participation remained at the same rate as it was in 2000. Meaning there is a lot of room to grow.

Labor market conditions remain a key consideration and considerable headwind, as the expansion of the workforce tends to correlate with economic growth. So, if the Trump economy is successful in attracting new investment and the creation of new businesses and business expansions, leading to major new hiring, things could be looking up.

Whether it comes in 2018 or later remains to be seen, but by giving the American people more of their own money back, rolling back onerous regulations, setting a new paradigm on trade and lowering the cost of doing business in the U.S., after Trump’s first year in office, the recipe for robust growth is there. Let the winning begin.



Voter suppression? Alabama election exposed a myth

by Jeff Jacoby

AFRICAN-AMERICANS constitute 26 percent of Alabama's people, but they accounted for 29 percent of the voters in this month's special election for the US Senate. Whites make up 69 percent of the state's population, yet they were only 66 percent of those who voted. Black voters, in other words, punched above their weight on Election Day, turning up at the polls at a rate that exceeded their share of the general public. Whites, by contrast, underperformed.

But surely that's impossible! Haven't we been told time and again that Deep Red states like Alabama engage in voter suppression, cynically disenfranchising minorities through outrageous election rules that, as Jay Michaelson wrote in The Daily Beast, "just coincidentally happen to disproportionately hit communities of color"? Weren't we reminded in the weeks leading up to the election that Alabama's rules amount to "a naked attempt to suppress the voting rights of people of color" and that black electoral clout is undermined by all the hurdles the state's Republican politicians have devised to deter minorities from casting ballots?

What angry critics decry as voter suppression, Republicans defend as precautions to ensure the integrity of elections. In Alabama, as in many other states, voters are required to show a photo ID. There is no same-day registration and no early voting, and citizens with convictions for felonies of "moral turpitude" are barred from participating in elections.

Are these outrageous infringements on a core American right — or are they reasonable safeguards of that right? There are sincere arguments on both sides.

But there's plenty of cynicism on both sides, too.

Voter fraud, rampant in earlier eras, is essentially a nonissue in contemporary America; states without voter ID laws seem to have no trouble conducting fair elections. GOP lawmakers have sometimes admitted that there is a racial and partisan component to their support for such measures: The lack of an ID law, an Alabama state senator once confided in an interview, "is very beneficial to the black power structure and the rest of the Democrats."

On the other hand, voter ID laws are extremely popular across the political, racial, and geographic spectrum. In a 2016 Gallup poll, 63 percent of Democrats supported voter ID laws. So did 77 percent of nonwhites. So did large majorities in every region of the country. To denounce voter ID laws as racist abominations when nonwhite voters favor those laws as overwhelmingly as white voters do is more than a little disingenuous.

It's also condescending. For most of American history, black citizens really were disenfranchised, excluded from elections by violence and intimidation, humiliating "literacy" tests, and defiantly segregationist politicians. If anyone has reason to value the right to vote, it is African-Americans. For people with historical memories of Bull Connor and the Freedom Summer martyrs, having to show an ID when voting is a trivial detail, not "disenfranchisement."

And that is just what the data show. Far from being suppressed, black voters routinely show up on Election Day at roughly the same rate as white voters. And — as with any other voting bloc — when they are especially motivated, they turn out at even higher rates.

One such motivation was Barack Obama's 2012 reelection, which so energized black voters that their turnout not only hit an all-time high, but surpassed white turnout by 2.1 percentage points. Another motivation was this month's race in Alabama, and the exceptionally distasteful candidacy of Roy Moore. Alabama's election rules, bewailed by so many as an obstacle to minority turnout, didn't keep black voters from flocking to the polls.

Nor have similar rules elsewhere. Even in Republican-dominated states with voter ID laws, black turnout has risen. When the Wall Street Journal's Jason Riley made that claim in a 2014 column, PolitiFact put it under the microscope — and confirmed its accuracy: "Census data shows that . . . black voter turnout was higher nationally than white voter turnout," the fact-checkers concluded, "and at least as high in the states with strict voter ID laws."

This doesn't mean that Republicans who champion such laws don't expect them to yield political dividends. It only means that voter suppression is more of a bugaboo than a real phenomenon. At the same time, that very bugaboo may be helping Democrats. The louder they howl about Republican attempts to keep minorities from voting, the more fervently their base may be galvanized to get to the polls. That too helps explain why ballot-integrity laws haven't impeded black voter turnout.

To repeat, politics is a cynic's game. Republican strategists push for voter ID rules for the same reason Democratic strategists push for automatically registering people to vote when they sign up for welfare benefits or a driver's license: Each camp believes it will work to their party's benefit.

Ultimately, though, elections come down to voters, who have minds of their own and routinely upset the experts' calculations. Alabama is only the latest reminder that when elections are free and fair, outcomes aren't guaranteed. In the Heart of Dixie, as in the rest of 21st-century America, voter suppression is a thing of the past.



Iran As I See It

By Rich Kozlovich

Yesterday I linked to this article, Western media are ignoring a revolution in Iran, commenting:

"These pensioners are old enough to remember how life was when the Shah of Iran was in charge, and when they were young, impetuous and....well....stupid. Now all a sudden the Reza Shah wasn't so bad after all." "Admittedly, he was a tyrant, but the freedoms under the Shah were far greater than anything going on in Iran right now." 

"They traded a beneficent tyrant for an insane group of clerics who've done nothing but suppress them, murder them, abuse them and rob them for decades, and now - they've discovered they've robbed them blind. And now they're shocked! Imagine that!"

I followed that up with this link: Iranian Women Defy Islamic Dress Code as Anti-Government Protests Sweep Nation, with the author stating:

"Since the 1979 Iranian Revolution, which established Islamic rule in the once free and prosperous country, women have been historically oppressed. However, brave women are now taking to the streets in defiance of Sharia law. These protests are reminiscent of 1979 when thousands of women publicly condemned the government imposed veiling of women."

We should remember that Iran was very westernized under the Shah, and the transition to an Islamic state had to have been a shock to a great many Iranians - who also dared not say anything for fear of what might happen to they and their families.

Which brings us to the important question: How important are these protests?

First, this isn't an isolated incident. These demonstrations are breaking out all over the country and the numbers are substantial, so substantial security forces have used tear gas and water cannons to break them up.

It's hard to know for sure just how big a deal this will become, but one thing is clear. These people know their leader's obsession with foreign involvement in the affairs of Syria, Iraq, Bahrain, Yemen and Saudi Arabia, and their obsession with their nuclear program, and their obsession to defeat or control these non Shiite Muslim countries has absolutely been of no benefit to the people of Iran, and has impacted their economy adversely.

And the foreign investments the government promised hasn't materialized, and I'm sure Trump's decision not to recertify their nuclear program may have been part of the reason for that. It seems to me investors really understand - there's a new sheriff in town - and Iran may not be the best place to put their money.

Yet their oil production is way ahead of where everyone anticipated it to be, but the price of oil isn't what it once was and the Middle East can't make demands any longer - we now have fracking - the world doesn't need them.

I don't know what happened to the billions of dollars Obama sneaked into Iran, but it didn't go to the people of Iran who suffer from high unemployment, especially among the youths of the nation. A demographic that can explode with little provocation, especially when the entire nation knows governmental corruption is massive.

There are two things that aren't talked about in the news much, or at all, and that's the problem with Iran's geography and demography. Geographical boundaries of a nation don't necessarily create a national identity. Societies are made up of communities, and in this case - tribes. Tribes who may self identify in ways Iran's leaders may not like.

Modern Iran, once known as Persia, is mostly useless desert, but it's also a mountain country. And Iran has no navigable rivers - an important component to capital generation - the ability to move goods quickly and cheaply.

Mountain farming is difficult, but that's the only areas in Iran where they're high enough to get enough moisture to grow crops, but the rains are inconsistent, thus making Iran's agricultural economy a feast or famine cycle.

Being a mountain nation makes it difficult to invade, but it also makes it difficult to control. These mountain populations are populations separated by valleys, and those populations don't necessarily identify with people in the next valley, much less those further on.

In spite of the fact Iran has between a 90 and 95 percent Shiite Muslim population, this is not a demographically homogeneous nation. Not only do these mountains create separate identities, sixteen percent of Iran's population are Azerbaijanis, and they have a large Kurdish population, neither of which are easy to deal with. Over half of the Iranians don't even consider themselves Persian.

What will happen? At some point economic reality will have to set in on this nation. It's too small, too land locked, it has no ability to be a real capital generator outside of its oil, and that value is dropping by the minute, the United States is going to cause them as many problems as they can, and their single port could easily be destroyed by a deep water Navy. They are not in a position to enforce their will against anyone, ergo, they use proxy forces - terrorists - and that will come back to haunt them.

Their options are running low, their credibility is non-existent, they're despised throughout the region, and now they're dealing with a President of the United States who isn't going to be bluffed or intimidated. It would seem to me there's going to be a regime change of major proportions, and the clerics will not be a part of the change, and Islam - as it's being imposed on Iran now - will be in for a shock.



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

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


2 January, 2018

Conservatives’ taking on Silicon Valley

Conservatives have found the latest mark in their long-running assault on cultural elites: Silicon Valley.

From Steve Bannon railing against the "lords of technology" to Donald Trump Jr. using Twitter's "blue check mark" as an insult, anti-tech tropes are ricocheting around the right, painting the internet industry as an unaccountable monolith that looks down on so-called mainstream Americans.

For tech companies, flush with cash and facing little risk of regulation from Republicans, the intensifying rhetoric poses minimal short-term danger in Washington. But a sustained assault could, over time, turn the tech industry into a conservative punching bag, like Hollywood or the news media. And that threatens to alienate parts of tech's vast user base that spans the ideological spectrum.

Conservatives say their disdain stems from suspicions that tech companies are biased against their views — as well as from the industry's usefulness as a symbol of the establishment amid the populist backlash unleashed by President Donald Trump.

“They’re looking out for themselves, and building technologies for themselves, while giving the short end of the stick to the rest of the country,” said Garrett Johnson, co-founder of the right-of-center tech group Lincoln Network, adding that many fellow conservatives are eager to "pick a fight" with Silicon Valley.

Fueling the dynamic is the fact that many executives in the tech industry espouse socially liberal views and rallied around Hillary Clinton's White House bid. While the industry does have a libertarian streak, few in the tech sector self-identify, at least in public, as Republican.

Bannon, the former Trump White House adviser and current Breitbart executive chairman, is one of the leading voices on the right to have latched onto tech as an adversary.

At an October state GOP convention in Anaheim, California, he told the assembled Republicans they should start worrying about the danger swelling within the borders of their own state, a force Bannon branded “the lords of technology in Silicon Valley.”

Pacing back and forth across the stage, Bannon called the industry a challenge to the country itself, run by so-called globalists with no particular affinity for the U.S. From there, he made the leap to California’s “sanctuary cities” and to those who he says feel free to pick and choose which U.S. laws they’re willing to follow.

“Trust me, if you do not roll this back, 10 or 15 years from now, the folks in Silicon Valley and the progressive left in this state are going to try to secede from the union,” warned Bannon.

The tech industry says such attacks are misplaced. "The internet is not a partisan issue, and American voters of both parties value the high-quality products and services internet companies provide at little or no cost to consumers," said Noah Theran, spokesman for the Internet Association, a trade group whose members include Google, Facebook and Twitter.

Theran said that Internet companies help people to connect, small businesses to compete and nonprofits to raise funds, adding, "the sound bites coming from inside-the-Beltway do not ring true to voters who care deeply about their access to internet platforms."

Perhaps because conservatives have so actively adopted Twitter as a forum to push their ideas and debates, the site’s perceived missteps have also been a particular target of their scorn — especially about the ways the company goes about verifying selected users of the platform.

Twitter has said that verification, signified by a blue check-mark badge appended to a user’s screen name, is just mechanics. It’s a visual cue that lets users know when accounts of public interest belong to who they say they belong to. But some on the right see it as a signal of social status the company hands out willy-nilly — and rarely to conservatives.

After then-Breitbart technology editor Milo Yiannopoulos was stripped of his check mark under Twitter’s policy against abusiveness in January 2016, he brought up the issue at a White House press briefing.

“My verification check was taken away for making jokes about the wrong group of people,” Yiannopoulos complained to Obama press secretary Josh Earnest. Earnest replied: “I’m not sure exactly what sort of government policy decision could have any influence on that.”

From there, the concept has developed such currency in conservative circles that it serves as a broad-brush putdown dropped into conversation without any other context.

“If only blue check mark SJWs [social justice warriors] cared as much about terrorists attacking us as they do about me attacking socialism,” tweeted Donald Trump Jr. in November after taking heat for a joke about giving away half of his daughter’s Halloween candy.

Other constructions include “blue check-mark mafia” and “blue-check MSM,” a reference to the mainstream media.

Twitter’s verification program is currently “paused,” the company announced last month. That move came after the company was criticized for verifying the account of the chief organizer of a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, at which a counter-protester was killed.

That organizer had celebrated by tweeting, "Looks like I FINALLY got verified by Twitter. I must be the only working class white advocate with that distinction."

More recently, Twitter moved this month to remove what it called “hateful conduct and abusive behavior” from its platform, beginning with booting the leaders of far-right and white nationalist groups. Some on the right warned that conservatives are widely at risk of being silenced by what was quickly branded the "#twitterpurge."

Conservatives are still in the early stages of figuring out how to use the cultural complaint against tech to their political advantage. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) is on the cutting edge of that effort.

In October, Twitter rejected as "inflammatory" a Blackburn video ad, meant to kick off her Senate run, in which she says, “I fought Planned Parenthood and we stopped the sale of baby body parts, thank God.” Rather than asking the company to reconsider or reworking the spot, Blackburn’s camp immediately spun it into an fundraising opportunity. Her campaign sent out an email to her list saying, “Silicon Valley elites are trying to impose their values on us.”

Twitter’s refusal to run Blackburn’s ad reverberated on the right. And when Twitter reversed its decision a day later, Fox News ran it with a “breaking” banner.

Twitter’s yanking of Blackburn’s ad was such a gift from the company to the candidate, joked one conservative commentator, that it should count as an “in-kind donation.”

The idea that Silicon Valley is biased against conservatives goes at least as far back as May 2016, when Facebook was condemned on the right for filtering conservative news sources from its "trending news" scroller. That led to a sit-down meeting between Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and more than a dozen conservatives — among them Glenn Beck, Jim DeMint and S.E. Cupp — in the company’s sprawling Menlo Park, California, complex.

What's newer is the right's effort to craft cultural framing around the tension.

Some attribute the push to Trump himself. The president has proved himself willing to take the gloves off against Silicon Valley. “Facebook was on her side, not mine!” he tweeted in October, in what appeared to be an attempt to counter reports that Russia used the social network to boost Trump’s candidacy against Hillary Clinton.

Of course, critiques of the tech industry’s biggest players are not limited to conservatives. In recent months, there's been considerable talk on the left that Silicon Valley’s power is disturbingly unchecked.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), for example, has criticized Twitter, Facebook and Google for what he says is their generally ineffectual response to Russian manipulation of their platforms around the 2016 election. And other Democrats — like Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts — have argued that the country needs to confront big tech companies’ overwhelming power to shape what people see, say and shop for online.

But conservatives are ahead of the game when it comes to turning it into a cultural argument. And some of them are looking to see whether it can carry weight at the ballot box.

Paul Nehlen, who is challenging House Speaker Paul Ryan in the Republican primary in his Wisconsin district, announced in mid-December that if elected he’d push for a bill that would ban the big online companies from blocking speech.

Nehlen said he’d battle against “shadowbanning,” the practice of websites hiding what some users post without letting them know. Facebook-owned Instagram in particular has been criticized for the practice, which conservatives say is disproportionately used to silence them.

For some slices of the right, their leaders’ willingness to confront Silicon Valley has become a litmus test.

“The GOP’s voters are being systematically censored off of the primary channels of public communication by left-wing tech giants,” wrote Nehlen, “and Ryan — indeed, the entire GOP Congress — has sat utterly mute for years and allowed it to happen.”



Trump reverses another Obama policy

President Donald Trump derailed a $13 billion dollar project to build an Amtrak tunnel between New Jersey and New York’s Penn Station Friday, Crain’s New York Business reports.

Trump is scrapping a proposal by former-President Barack Obama for the federal government to cover half the cost of the new line. New Jersey and New York would cover the other half of the cost under the Obama-era proposal.

Department of Transportation Deputy Administrator K. Jane Williams notified State officials in response to an updated proposal to fund the states’ half of the price tag through federal loans. The states’ proposal referenced the Obama administration’s plan for the federal government to underwrite the project as an “agreement.”

“Your letter also references a non-existent ’50/50? agreement between USDOT, New York, and New Jersey. There is no such agreement,” Williams’ letter said, according to Crain’s New York Business. “We consider it unhelpful to reference a non-existent ‘agreement’ rather than directly address the responsibility for funding a local project where nine out of 10 passengers are local transit riders.”

The proposed line would shuttle tens of thousands of commuters daily in one of the United States’ most important economic areas.



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

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


1 January, 2018

Steven Spielberg’s ‘The Post’ Fails To Land the Real Scoop On the Fate of Free Vietnam

"Democracy dies in darkness" is the new motto of the Washington Post. It adopted the slogan amid the campaign of the liberal press to topple President Trump.

Steven Spielberg’s new movie about the Washington Post is a reminder — however unintended — of something else. Sometimes democracy dies in the full glare of the press.

That’s what happened in Vietnam. And the film, "The Post," takes on a special irony today, as a press full of righteous indignation seeks to overturn an American election.

Mr. Spielberg’s epic is about events that took place in 1971. That’s when the Washington Post published the secret history of the Vietnam War known as the Pentagon Papers.

The history had been assembled on orders of President Johnson’s secretary of defense, Robert McNamara. A security analyst, Daniel Ellsberg, who’d turned against the war, leaked the documents to the New York Times.

Among the things the papers showed is that America’s leaders sometimes lied. About, say, the events in the Tonkin Gulf that led Congress to authorize the Vietnam War. Or about whether we could win.

The Times started publishing the papers in June 1971 but was stopped by a federal judge. Mr. Ellsberg then gave boxes of the papers to the Washington Post. All eyes then fell on the paper’s owner, Katharine Graham.

Played by Meryl Streep, the doughty doyenne is torn between two factions. On one side are her bankers, who are trying to raise capital for the paper; on the other, her famed editor, Ben Bradlee, played by Tom Hanks.

"What are you going to do, Mrs. Graham?" Bradlee asks her.

The real drama, though, was the war. Bradlee is up on his high horse. "The way they lied — those days have to be over," the editor tells Graham.

Fair enough. It’s not my intention to fault either of them.

Yet this movie deals with only some of the lies about Vietnam. Inexcusable as they were, the lies told by the Americans were relatively small beer.

It was our Communist enemies who told the big lie — that the war was a struggle for liberation by Vietnam’s noble comrades, who took on the Americans with pitchforks. What hooey.

The truth is that the war was a conquest of free South Vietnam by a well-armed, Soviet-backed regime in the north. At the end, the enemy emerged from the jungles with tanks and surface-to-air missiles.

The Pentagon Papers disclosed that our own leaders, in effect, refused to heed evidence that we would lose the war — and sent our troops anyway. "The Post" seems to buy into this theory. Yet it wasn’t sending troops that turned out to be the error. Rather, it was assuming we couldn’t win.

On the ground in Vietnam, our GIs did just that. In the most famous battle, Tet in 1968, our soldiers trounced the Communists. The cause of free Vietnam was betrayed in the United States Congress, which had been turned by the anti-war movement.

That danger had worried the Washington Post’s greatest editor, J. Russell Wiggins. He was the editor who built it into a national publication. He, however, was a liberal hawk.

And staunch. Once, on a visit to Moscow, Wiggins was shown by a representative of the North Vietnamese a sheaf of newspaper clippings about the peace movement in the United States.

That was how the Communists planned to win the war, the thug told Wiggins. A colleague, Stephen Rosenfeld, later described how "Russ’ face reddened and he set his jaw."

When The Washington Post fell away from the war, Wiggins quit, ahead of his retirement, and became LBJ’s ambassador to the United Nations. He is, sadly, unmentioned in the movie.

The Supreme Court allowed the Times and Washington Post to proceed. Nixon launched his hunt for leakers. The movie ends with the discovery of the Watergate burglary that eventually cost Nixon the presidency.

It fell to President Ford and Secretary of State Kissinger to try — heroically, in my view — to keep Congress from abandoning Vietnam. Early in 1975, though, Congress cut off supplies of ammo and materiel to our ally.

The Communist conquest quickly followed.

Let President Trump — and his critics — remember: When Congress cut off Vietnam, it wasn’t about saving our GIs. They’d long since been withdrawn.

No, the decision by Congress was to retreat in the face of Soviet Communism. It was about abandoning the hope of free Vietnam itself.

Vietnam’s democracy died in broad daylight.



US stocks mount milestone-shattering run in the year of Trump
Business is booming

Wall Street has taken stock investors on a mostly smooth, record-shattering ride in 2017. The major stock indexes are closing in on double-digit gains for the year, led by Apple, Facebook, and other technology stocks.

"This would go in the category of stellar year, with very little volatility in the market and pullbacks that were essentially minor," said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial.

Several factors kept the market on an upward grind for most of the year and repeatedly drove stock indexes to all-time highs. The global economy rebounded, while the US economy and job market continued to strengthen, which helped drive strong corporate earnings growth.

Investors also drew encouragement from the push in Washington, D.C., to slash corporate taxes, roll back regulations and enact other pro-business policies. Congress passed the $1.5 trillion tax overhaul bill, which reduces corporate taxes from 35 percent to 21 percent, last week.

The S&P 500 index is on track to finish the year with a gain of about 22.5 percent, counting dividends. That means if you invested $1,000 in an S&P 500 index fund at the beginning of the year, you’d wind up with about $1,225 at the end of the year.

Other major market indexes also were on course to deliver solid gains. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 25.1 percent, while the Nasdaq composite is headed for a 28.2 percent gain. The tech-heavy index blew past the 6,000-point mark for the first time in April.

Small-company stocks, which trounced the rest of the market in 2016, got a boost this year as investors bet that the companies would be big beneficiaries of a corporate tax cut bill. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks is on course for a 13.1 percent gain.

For the most part, markets overseas also fared better this year than in 2016.

In Europe, Britain’s market closed the year with a gain of 7.6 percent. Indexes in Germany and France finished 2017 with gains of 12.5 percent and 9.3 percent, respectively. Japan’s Nikkei and Hong Kong’s benchmark index notched gains of 19.1 percent and 36 percent, respectively.

The gains in overseas markets reflect how economies in Japan, Europe, China, and many developing nations began growing in tandem with the United States for the first time in a decade. The United States delivered GDP growth of 3.1 percent in the second quarter and a 3.3 percent gain in the third, its fastest rate in three years.

"We hadn’t seen that kind of growth all together in a long time," said Paul Christopher, head of global market strategy for Wells Fargo Investment Institute. "We had a pretty strong third quarter and we’re going to have a pretty strong fourth quarter, too."

The market also rode out many negative headlines in 2017.

North Korea tested a ballistic missile for the first time in July. Then, reportedly, a hydrogen bomb in August. Major hurricanes slammed into Texas, Louisiana, and Florida. And congressional Republicans’ failed attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act fueled worries on Wall Street that the Trump administration’s plans for a sweeping corporate tax cut and other pro-business policies would be delayed or derailed entirely.

Still, investors seemed determined to keep the market moving higher. On days when the market pulled back, stocks typically rebounded the next day.

"You had geopolitical risk with regard to North Korea and the saber-rattling on both sides caught the market’s attention, but it became a buying opportunity," Krosby said.

The last time the S&P 500 had a correction, or a decline of 10 percent or more, was in February 2016. In 2017, the biggest single-day drop was less than 2 percent.

And the VIX, a measure of how much volatility investors expect in stocks, is on track to end near historic lows. Traders repeatedly bought back in on bad news in 2017 because they, and corporations, have a lot of cash and don’t see better places to get a return as long as the economy and company earnings continue to improve, Christopher said.

"People have just been waiting for pullbacks to buy the dips," he said. "There’s still a lot of cash on the balance sheets of businesses and households."

And now eight years into the bull market, many analysts expect stocks to keep climbing next year.

"We expect the bull market to continue in 2018, but at a more moderate pace," said Terry Sandven, chief equity strategist at US Bank Wealth Management.



Some Leftists reject the "Russia" obsession

Excerpt from Justin Raimondo below:

The small but intrepid band of left-wing commentators who remain sane in the midst of the Trump Derangement Syndrome epidemic have written (and tweeted) about the new left-wing Russophobia and their severe disappointment that it appears to be taking over the Democratic party base. Glenn Greenwald, Michael Tracey, Doug Henwood, Aaron Mate (of The Real News), Robert Parry of Consortium News have all reported, refuted, and regretted this ominous development, while managing to give the impression that this something new and unique.

The “Trump is a Russian agent” crowd has not one iota of credible evidence that the elected President of the United States “colluded” with the Russians to somehow hypnotize American voters into casting their votes for him: none, nada, zero, zilch.

That doesn’t matter to the Washington Post, the New York Times, or Louise Mensch, three of the most prominent disseminators of the collusion conspiracy theory: they simply report it as fact. Nary a day goes by when the latest iteration of this continuing hoax doesn’t morph into a new variation. Paul Manafort is spilling the beans. Mike Flynn is singing like a bird. Yes, they write like that, in trite, tired phrases worn down by overuse: their imaginative powers are confined to emitting evidence-free conclusions, like that time the Post reported the Russians had hacked into Vermont’s power grid (false – they never even called the power company), or when Mensch swears half the White House staff is about to be perp-walked. All is always about to be revealed – just keep reading the Post, checking the Times, and following Mensch’s tweets!

From a seemingly successful political scam the new Russophobia is fast turning into a growing industry, with several rival conspiracy theorists and “expose the Russians” outfits peddling their wares. The politics of this is reflected in the reunion of the “centrist” liberals with the neoconservatives, like David Frum, Bill Kristol, and Max Boot, all of whom are fanatic NeverTrumpers and have joined the anti-Trump “Popular Front” advocated by liberal warhorse Michael Tomasky.



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

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Home (Index page)

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. And now a "Deplorable"

When it comes to political incorrectness, I hit the trifecta. I talk about race, IQ and social class. I have an academic background in all three subjects but that wins me no forgiveness

At its most basic psychological level, conservatives are the contented people and Leftists are the discontented people. And both are largely dispositional, inborn -- which is why they so rarely change

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.

So an essential feature of Leftism is that they think they have the right to tell other people what to do

Leftists are the disgruntled folk. They see things in the world that are not ideal and conclude therefore that they have the right to change those things by force. Conservative explanations of why things are not ideal -- and never can be -- fall on deaf ears

Leftists aim to deliver dismay and disruption into other people's lives -- and they are good at achieving that.

German has a word that describes most Leftists well: "Scheinheilig" - A person who appears to be very kind, soft natured, and filled with pure goodness but behind the facade, has a vile nature. He is seemingly holy but is an unscrupulous person on the inside.

The new faith is very oppressive: Leftist orthodoxy is the new dominant religion of the Western world and it is every bit as bigoted and oppressive as Christianity was at its worst

There are two varieties of authoritarian Leftism. Fascists are soft Leftists, preaching one big happy family -- "Better together" in other words. Communists are hard Leftists, preaching class war.

Socialism is the most evil malady ever to afflict the human brain. The death toll in WWII alone tells you that

You do still occasionally see some mention of the old idea that Leftist parties represent the worker. In the case of the U.S. Democrats that is long gone. Now they want to REFORM the worker. No wonder most working class Americans these days vote Republican. Democrats are the party of the minorities and the smug

We live in a country where the people own the Government and not in a country where the Government owns the people -- Churchill

The Left have a lot in common with tortoises. They have a thick mental shell that protects them from the reality of the world about them

Definition of a Socialist: Someone who wants everything you have...except your job.

Let's start with some thought-provoking graphics

Israel: A great powerhouse of the human spirit

The difference in practice

The United Nations: A great ideal but a sordid reality

Alfred Dreyfus, a reminder of French antisemitism still relevant today

Eugenio Pacelli, a righteous Gentile, a true man of God and a brilliant Pope

Leftism in one picture:

The "steamroller" above who got steamrollered by his own hubris. Spitzer is a warning of how self-destructive a vast ego can be -- and also of how destructive of others it can be.

R.I.P. Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet deposed a law-defying Marxist President at the express and desperate invitation of the Chilean parliament. Allende had just burnt the electoral rolls so it wasn't hard to see what was coming. Pinochet pioneered the free-market reforms which Reagan and Thatcher later unleashed to world-changing effect. That he used far-Leftist methods to suppress far-Leftist violence is reasonable if not ideal. The Leftist view that they should have a monopoly of violence and that others should follow the law is a total absurdity which shows only that their hate overcomes their reason

Leftist writers usually seem quite reasonable and persuasive at first glance. The problem is not what they say but what they don't say. Leftist beliefs are so counterfactual ("all men are equal", "all men are brothers" etc.) that to be a Leftist you have to have a talent for blotting out from your mind facts that don't suit you. And that is what you see in Leftist writing: A very selective view of reality. Facts that disrupt a Leftist story are simply ignored. Leftist writing is cherrypicking on a grand scale

So if ever you read something written by a Leftist that sounds totally reasonable, you have an urgent need to find out what other people say on that topic. The Leftist will almost certainly have told only half the story

We conservatives have the facts on our side, which is why Leftists never want to debate us and do their best to shut us up. It's very revealing the way they go to great lengths to suppress conservative speech at universities. Universities should be where the best and brightest Leftists are to be found but even they cannot stand the intellectual challenge that conservatism poses for them. It is clearly a great threat to them. If what we say were ridiculous or wrong, they would grab every opportunity to let us know it

A conservative does not hanker after the new; He hankers after the good. Leftists hanker after the untested

Just one thing is sufficient to tell all and sundry what an unamerican lamebrain Obama is. He pronounced an army corps as an army "corpse" Link here. Can you imagine any previous American president doing that? Many were men with significant personal experience in the armed forces in their youth.

A favorite Leftist saying sums up the whole of Leftism: "To make an omelette, you've got to break eggs". They want to change some state of affairs and don't care who or what they destroy or damage in the process. They think their alleged good intentions are sufficient to absolve them from all blame for even the most evil deeds

In practical politics, the art of Leftism is to sound good while proposing something destructive

Leftists are the "we know best" people, meaning that they are intrinsically arrogant. Matthew chapter 6 would not be for them. And arrogance leads directly into authoritarianism

Leftism is fundamentally authoritarian. Whether by revolution or by legislation, Leftists aim to change what people can and must do. When in 2008 Obama said that he wanted to "fundamentally transform" America, he was not talking about America's geography or topography but rather about American people. He wanted them to stop doing things that they wanted to do and make them do things that they did not want to do. Can you get a better definition of authoritarianism than that?

And note that an American President is elected to administer the law, not make it. That seems to have escaped Mr Obama

That Leftism is intrinsically authoritarian is not a new insight. It was well understood by none other than Friedrich Engels (Yes. THAT Engels). His clever short essay On authority was written as a reproof to the dreamy Anarchist Left of his day. It concludes: "A revolution is certainly the most authoritarian thing there is; it is the act whereby one part of the population imposes its will upon the other part by means of rifles, bayonets and cannon — authoritarian means"

Inside Every Liberal is a Totalitarian Screaming to Get Out

Insight: "A man's admiration for absolute government is proportionate to the contempt he feels for those around him." —Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859)

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.

Hatred has long been a central pillar of leftist ideologies, premised as they are on trampling individual rights for the sake of a collectivist plan. Karl Marx boasted that he was “the greatest hater of the so-called positive.” In 1923, V.I. Lenin chillingly declared to the Soviet Commissars of Education, “We must teach our children to hate. Hatred is the basis of communism.” In his tract “Left-Wing Communism,” Lenin went so far as to assert that hatred was “the basis of every socialist and Communist movement.”

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

Thomas Sowell: “There are no solutions, only trade-offs.” Leftists don't understand that -- which is a major factor behind their simplistic thinking. They just never see the trade-offs. But implementing any Leftist idea will hit us all with the trade-offs

"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 their theories fail badly.

Mostly, luck happens when opportunity meets preparation.

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

Thinking that you "know best" is an intrinsically precarious and foolish stance -- because nobody does. Reality is so complex and unpredictable that it can rarely be predicted far ahead. Conservatives can see that and that is why conservatives always want change to be done gradually, in a step by step way. So the Leftist often finds the things he "knows" to be out of step with reality, which challenges him and his ego. Sadly, rather than abandoning the things he "knows", he usually resorts to psychological defence mechanisms such as denial and projection. He is largely impervious to argument because he has to be. He can't afford to let reality in.

A prize example of the Leftist tendency to projection (seeing your own faults in others) is the absurd Robert "Bob" Altemeyer, an acclaimed psychologist and father of a Canadian Leftist politician. Altemeyer claims that there is no such thing as Leftist authoritarianism and that it is conservatives who are "Enemies of Freedom". That Leftists (e.g. Mrs Obama) are such enemies of freedom that they even want to dictate what people eat has apparently passed Altemeyer by. Even Stalin did not go that far. And there is the little fact that all the great authoritarian regimes of the 20th century (Stalin, Hitler and Mao) were socialist. Freud saw reliance on defence mechanisms such as projection as being maladjusted. It is difficult to dispute that. Altemeyer is too illiterate to realize it but he is actually a good Hegelian. Hegel thought that "true" freedom was marching in step with a Left-led herd.

What libertarian said this? “The bureaucracy is a parasite on the body of society, a parasite which ‘chokes’ all its vital pores…The state is a parasitic organism”. It was VI Lenin, in August 1917, before he set up his own vastly bureaucratic state. He could see the problem but had no clue about how to solve it.

It was Democrat John F Kennedy who cut taxes and declared that “a rising tide lifts all boats"

Leftist stupidity is a special class of stupidity. The people concerned are mostly not stupid in general but they have a character defect (mostly arrogance) that makes them impatient with complexity and unwilling to study it. So in their policies they repeatedly shoot themselves in the foot; They fail to attain their objectives. The world IS complex so a simplistic approach to it CANNOT work.

Seminal Leftist philosopher, G.W.F. Hegel said something that certainly applies to his fellow Leftists: "We learn from history that we do not learn from history". And he captured the Left in this saying too: "Evil resides in the very gaze which perceives Evil all around itself".

"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

Funny how to the Leftist intelligentsia poor blacks are 'oppressed' and poor whites are 'trash'. Racism, anyone?

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.

A Conservative manifesto from England -- The inimitable Jacob Rees-Mogg


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)

Just the name of Hitler's political party should be sufficient to reject the claim that Hitler was "Right wing" but Leftists sometimes retort that the name "Democratic People's Republic of Korea" is not informative, in that it is the name of a dismal Stalinist tyranny. But "People's Republic" is a normal name for a Communist country whereas I know of no conservative political party that calls itself a "Socialist Worker's Party". Such parties are in fact usually of the extreme Left (Trotskyite etc.)

Most people find the viciousness of the Nazis to be incomprehensible -- for instance what they did in their concentration camps. But you just have to read a little of the vileness that pours out from modern-day "liberals" in their Twitter and blog comments to understand it all very well. Leftists haven't changed. They are still boiling with hate

Hatred as a motivating force for political strategy leads to misguided ­decisions. “Hatred is blind,” as Alexandre Dumas warned, “rage carries you away; and he who pours out vengeance runs the risk of tasting a bitter draught.”

Who said this in 1968? "I am not, and never have been, a man of the right. My position was on the Left and is now in the centre of politics". It was Sir Oswald Mosley, founder and leader of the British Union of Fascists

The term "Fascism" is mostly used by the Left as a brainless term of abuse. But when they do make a serious attempt to define it, they produce very complex and elaborate definitions -- e.g. here and here. In fact, Fascism is simply extreme socialism plus nationalism. But great gyrations are needed to avoid mentioning the first part of that recipe, of course.

Three examples of Leftist racism below (much more here and here):

Jesse Owens, the African-American hero of the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, said "Hitler didn't snub me – it was our president who snubbed me. The president didn't even send me a telegram." Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt never even invited the quadruple gold medal-winner to the White House

Beatrice Webb, a founder of the London School of Economics and the Fabian Society, and married to a Labour MP, mused in 1922 on whether when English children were "dying from lack of milk", one should extend "the charitable impulse" to Russian and Chinese children who, if saved this year, might anyway die next. Besides, she continued, there was "the larger question of whether those races are desirable inhabitants" and "obviously" one wouldn't "spend one's available income" on "a Central African negro".

Hugh Dalton, offered the Colonial Office during Attlee's 1945-51 Labour government, turned it down because "I had a horrid vision of pullulating, poverty stricken, diseased nigger communities, for whom one can do nothing in the short run and who, the more one tries to help them, are querulous and ungrateful."

The Zimmerman case is an excellent proof that the Left is deep-down racist

Defensible and indefensible usages of the term "racism"

The book, The authoritarian personality, authored by T.W. Adorno et al. in 1950, has been massively popular among psychologists. It claims that a set of ideas that were popular in the "Progressive"-dominated America of the prewar era were "authoritarian". Leftist regimes always are authoritarian so that claim was not a big problem. What was quite amazing however is that Adorno et al. identified such ideas as "conservative". They were in fact simply popular ideas of the day but ones that had been most heavily promoted by the Left right up until the then-recent WWII. See here for details of prewar "Progressive" thinking.

Leftist psychologists have an amusingly simplistic conception of military organizations and military men. They seem to base it on occasions they have seen troops marching together on parade rather than any real knowledge of military men and the military life. They think that military men are "rigid" -- automatons who are unable to adjust to new challenges or think for themselves. What is incomprehensible to them is that being kadaver gehorsam (to use the extreme Prussian term for following orders) actually requires great flexibility -- enough flexibility to put your own ideas and wishes aside and do something very difficult. Ask any soldier if all commands are easy to obey.

It would be very easy for me to say that I am too much of an individual for the army but I did in fact join the army and enjoy it greatly, as most men do. In my observation, ALL army men are individuals. It is just that they accept discipline in order to be militarily efficient -- which is the whole point of the exercise. But that's too complex for simplistic Leftist thinking, of course

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a war criminal. Both British and American codebreakers had cracked the Japanese naval code so FDR knew what was coming at Pearl Harbor. But for his own political reasons he warned no-one there. So responsibility for the civilian and military deaths at Pearl Harbor lies with FDR as well as with the Japanese. The huge firepower available at Pearl Harbor, both aboard ship and on land, could have largely neutered the attack. Can you imagine 8 battleships and various lesser craft firing all their AA batteries as the Japanese came in? The Japanese naval airforce would have been annihilated and the war would have been over before it began.

FDR prolonged the Depression. He certainly didn't cure it.

WWII did NOT end the Great Depression. It just concealed it. It in fact made living standards worse

FDR appointed a known KKK member, Hugo Black, to the Supreme Court

Joe McCarthy was eventually proved right after the fall of the Soviet Union. To accuse anyone of McCarthyism is to accuse them of accuracy!

The KKK was intimately associated with the Democratic party. They ATTACKED Republicans!

High Level of Welfare Use by Legal and Illegal Immigrants in the USA. Low skill immigrants receive 4 to 5 dollars of benefits for every dollar in taxes paid

People who mention differences in black vs. white IQ are these days almost universally howled down and subjected to the most extreme abuse. I am a psychometrician, however, so I feel obliged to defend the scientific truth of the matter: The average African adult has about the same IQ as an average white 11-year-old and African Americans (who are partly white in ancestry) average out at a mental age of 14. The American Psychological Association is generally Left-leaning but it is the world's most prestigious body of academic psychologists. And even they have had to concede that sort of gap (one SD) in black vs. white average IQ. 11-year olds can do a lot of things but they also have their limits and there are times when such limits need to be allowed for.

The association between high IQ and long life is overwhelmingly genetic: "In the combined sample the genetic contribution to the covariance was 95%"

The Dark Ages were not dark

Judged by his deeds, Abraham Lincoln was one of the bloodiest villains ever to walk the Earth. See here. And: America's uncivil war was caused by trade protectionism. The slavery issue was just camouflage, as Abraham Lincoln himself admitted. See also here

At the beginning of the North/South War, Confederate general Robert E. Lee did not own any slaves. Union General Ulysses L. Grant did.

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.

“From the fact that people are very different it follows that, if we treat them equally, the result must be inequality in their actual position, and that the only way to place them in an equal position would be to treat them differently. Equality before the law and material equality are therefore not only different but are in conflict with each other; and we can achieve either one or the other, but not both at the same time.” ? Friedrich Hayek, The Constitution Of Liberty


The 10 "cannots" (By William J. H. Boetcker) that Leftist politicians ignore:
*You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
* You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
* You cannot help little men by tearing down big men.
* You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
* You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
* You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money.
* You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
* You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.
* You cannot build character and courage by destroying men's initiative and independence.
* And you cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves.

A good short definition of conservative: "One who wants you to keep your hand out of his pocket."

Beware of good intentions. They mostly lead to coercion

A gargantuan case of hubris, coupled with stunning level of ignorance about how the real world works, is the essence of progressivism.

The U.S. Constitution is neither "living" nor dead. It is fixed until it is amended. But amending it is the privilege of the people, not of politicians or judges

It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong - Thomas Sowell

Leftists think that utopia can be coerced into existence -- so no dishonesty or brutality is beyond them in pursuit of that "noble" goal

"England is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality. In left-wing circles it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman and that it is a duty to snigger at every English institution" -- George Orwell

Was 16th century science pioneer Paracelsus a libertarian? His motto was "Alterius non sit qui suus esse potest" which means "Let no man belong to another who can belong to himself."

"When using today's model of society as a rule, most of history will be found to be full of oppression, bias, and bigotry." What today's arrogant judges of history fail to realize is that they, too, will be judged. What will Americans of 100 years from now make of, say, speech codes, political correctness, and zero tolerance - to name only three? Assuming, of course, there will still be an America that we, today, would recognize. Given the rogue Federal government spy apparatus, I am not at all sure of that. -- Paul Havemann

Economist Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973): "The champions of socialism call themselves progressives, but they recommend a system which is characterized by rigid observance of routine and by a resistance to every kind of improvement. They call themselves liberals, but they are intent upon abolishing liberty. They call themselves democrats, but they yearn for dictatorship. They call themselves revolutionaries, but they want to make the government omnipotent. They promise the blessings of the Garden of Eden, but they plan to transform the world into a gigantic post office."

It's the shared hatred of the rest of us that unites Islamists and the Left.

American liberals don't love America. They despise it. All they love is their own fantasy of what America could become. They are false patriots.

The Democratic Party: Con-men elected by the ignorant and the arrogant

The Democratic Party is a strange amalgam of elites, would-be elites and minorities. No wonder their policies are so confused and irrational

Why are conservatives more at ease with religion? Because it is basic to conservatism that some things are unknowable, and religious people have to accept that too. Leftists think that they know it all and feel threatened by any exceptions to that. Thinking that you know it all is however the pride that comes before a fall.

The characteristic emotion of the Leftist is not envy. It's rage

Leftists are committed to grievance, not truth

The British Left poured out a torrent of hate for Margaret Thatcher on the occasion of her death. She rescued Britain from chaos and restored Britain's prosperity. What's not to hate about that?

Something you didn't know about Margaret Thatcher

The world's dumbest investor? Without doubt it is Uncle Sam. Nobody anywhere could rival the scale of the losses on "investments" made under the Obama administration

"Behind the honeyed but patently absurd pleas for equality is a ruthless drive for placing themselves (the elites) at the top of a new hierarchy of power" -- Murray Rothbard - Egalitarianism and the Elites (1995)

A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money. -- G. Gordon Liddy

"World socialism as a whole, and all the figures associated with it, are shrouded in legend; its contradictions are forgotten or concealed; it does not respond to arguments but continually ignores them--all this stems from the mist of irrationality that surrounds socialism and from its instinctive aversion to scientific analysis... The doctrines of socialism seethe with contradictions, its theories are at constant odds with its practice, yet due to a powerful instinct these contradictions do not in the least hinder the unending propaganda of socialism. Indeed, no precise, distinct socialism even exists; instead there is only a vague, rosy notion of something noble and good, of equality, communal ownership, and justice: the advent of these things will bring instant euphoria and a social order beyond reproach." -- Solzhenitsyn

"The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left." -- Ecclesiastes 10:2 (NIV)

My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government. -- Thomas Jefferson

"Much that passes as idealism is disguised hatred or disguised love of power" -- Bertrand Russell

Evan Sayet: The Left sides "...invariably with evil over good, wrong over right, and the behaviors that lead to failure over those that lead to success." (t=5:35+ on video)

The Republicans are the gracious side of American politics. It is the Democrats who are the nasty party, the haters

Wanting to stay out of the quarrels of other nations is conservative -- but conservatives will fight if attacked or seriously endangered. Anglo/Irish statesman Lord Castlereagh (1769-1822), who led the political coalition that defeated Napoleon, was an isolationist, as were traditional American conservatives.

Some wisdom from the past: "The bosom of America is open to receive not only the opulent and respectable stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all nations and religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges, if by decency and propriety of conduct they appear to merit the enjoyment." —George Washington, 1783

Some useful definitions:

If a conservative doesn't like guns, he doesn't buy one. If a liberal doesn't like guns, he wants all guns outlawed.
If a conservative is a vegetarian, he doesn't eat meat. If a liberal is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for everyone.
If a conservative is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation. A liberal wonders who is going to take care of him.
If a conservative doesn't like a talk show host, he switches channels. Liberals demand that those they don't like be shut down.
If a conservative is a non-believer, he doesn't go to church. A liberal non-believer wants any mention of God and religion silenced. (Unless it's a foreign religion, of course!)
If a conservative decides he needs health care, he goes about shopping for it, or may choose a job that provides it. A liberal demands that the rest of us pay for his.

There is better evidence for creation than there is for the Leftist claim that “gender” is a “social construct”. Most Leftist claims seem to be faith-based rather than founded on the facts

Leftists are classic weak characters. They dish out abuse by the bucketload but cannot take it when they get it back. Witness the Loughner hysteria.

Death taxes: You would expect a conscientious person, of whatever degree of intelligence, to reflect on the strange contradiction involved in denying people the right to unearned wealth, while supporting programs that give people unearned wealth.

America is no longer the land of the free. It is now the land of the regulated -- though it is not alone in that, of course

The Leftist motto: "I love humanity. It's just people I can't stand"

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

Envy is a strong and widespread human emotion so there has alway been widespread support for policies of economic "levelling". Both the USA and the modern-day State of Israel were founded by communists but reality taught both societies that respect for the individual gave much better outcomes than levelling ideas. Sadly, there are many people in both societies in whom hatred for others is so strong that they are incapable of respect for the individual. The destructiveness of what they support causes them to call themselves many names in different times and places but they are the backbone of the political Left

Gore Vidal: "Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little". Vidal was of course a Leftist

The large number of rich Leftists suggests that, for them, envy is secondary. They are directly driven by hatred and scorn for many of the other people that they see about them. Hatred of others can be rooted in many things, not only in envy. But the haters come together as the Left. Some evidence here showing that envy is not what defines the Left

Leftists hate the world around them and want to change it: the people in it most particularly. Conservatives just want to be left alone to make their own decisions and follow their own values.

The failure of the Soviet experiment has definitely made the American Left more vicious and hate-filled than they were. The plain failure of what passed for ideas among them has enraged rather than humbled them.

Ronald Reagan famously observed that the status quo is Latin for “the mess we’re in.” So much for the vacant Leftist claim that conservatives are simply defenders of the status quo. They think that conservatives are as lacking in principles as they are.

Was Confucius a conservative? The following saying would seem to reflect good conservative caution: "The superior man, when resting in safety, does not forget that danger may come. When in a state of security he does not forget the possibility of ruin. When all is orderly, he does not forget that disorder may come. Thus his person is not endangered, and his States and all their clans are preserved."

The shallow thinkers of the Left sometimes claim that conservatives want to impose their own will on others in the matter of abortion. To make that claim is however to confuse religion with politics. Conservatives are in fact divided about their response to abortion. The REAL opposition to abortion is religious rather than political. And the church which has historically tended to support the LEFT -- the Roman Catholic church -- is the most fervent in the anti-abortion cause. Conservatives are indeed the one side of politics to have moral qualms on the issue but they tend to seek a middle road in dealing with it. Taking the issue to the point of legal prohibitions is a religious doctrine rather than a conservative one -- and the religion concerned may or may not be characteristically conservative. More on that here

Some Leftist hatred arises from the fact that they blame "society" for their own personal problems and inadequacies

The Leftist hunger for change to the society that they hate leads to a hunger for control over other people. And they will do and say anything to get that control: "Power at any price". Leftist politicians are mostly self-aggrandizing crooks who gain power by deceiving the uninformed with snake-oil promises -- power which they invariably use to destroy. Destruction is all that they are good at. Destruction is what haters do.

Leftists are consistent only in their hate. They don't have principles. How can they when "there is no such thing as right and wrong"? All they have is postures, pretend-principles that can be changed as easily as one changes one's shirt

A Leftist assumption: Making money doesn't entitle you to it, but wanting money does.

"Politicians never accuse you of 'greed' for wanting other people's money -- only for wanting to keep your own money." --columnist Joe Sobran (1946-2010)

Leftist policies are candy-coated rat poison that may appear appealing at first, but inevitably do a lot of damage to everyone impacted by them.

A tribute and thanks to Mary Jo Kopechne. Her death was reprehensible but she probably did more by her death that she ever would have in life: She spared the world a President Ted Kennedy. That the heap of corruption that was Ted Kennedy died peacefully in his bed is one of the clearest demonstrations that we do not live in a just world. Even Joe Stalin seems to have been smothered to death by Nikita Khrushchev

I often wonder why Leftists refer to conservatives as "wingnuts". A wingnut is a very useful device that adds versatility wherever it is used. Clearly, Leftists are not even good at abuse. Once they have accused their opponents of racism and Nazism, their cupboard is bare. Similarly, Leftists seem to think it is a devastating critique to refer to "Worldnet Daily" as "Worldnut Daily". The poverty of their argumentation is truly pitiful

The Leftist assertion that there is no such thing as right and wrong has a distinguished history. It was Pontius Pilate who said "What is truth?" (John 18:38). From a Christian viewpoint, the assertion is undoubtedly the Devil's gospel

Even in the Old Testament they knew about "Postmodernism": "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" - Isaiah 5:20 (KJV)

Was Solomon the first conservative? "The hearts of men are full of evil and madness is in their hearts" -- Ecclesiastes: 9:3 (RSV). He could almost have been talking about Global Warming.

Leftist hatred of Christianity goes back as far as the massacre of the Carmelite nuns during the French revolution. Yancey has written a whole book tabulating modern Leftist hatred of Christians. It is a rival religion to Leftism.

"If one rejects laissez faire on account of man's fallibility and moral weakness, one must for the same reason also reject every kind of government action." - Ludwig von Mises

The naive scholar who searches for a consistent Leftist program will not find it. What there is consists only in the negation of the present.

Because of their need to be different from the mainstream, Leftists are very good at pretending that sow's ears are silk purses

Among intelligent people, Leftism is a character defect. Leftists HATE success in others -- which is why notably successful societies such as the USA and Israel are hated and failures such as the Palestinians can do no wrong.

A Leftist's beliefs are all designed to pander to his ego. So when you have an argument with a Leftist, you are not really discussing the facts. You are threatening his self esteem. Which is why the normal Leftist response to challenge is mere abuse.

Because of the fragility of a Leftist's ego, anything that threatens it is intolerable and provokes rage. So most Leftist blogs can be summarized in one sentence: "How DARE anybody question what I believe!". Rage and abuse substitute for an appeal to facts and reason.

Because their beliefs serve their ego rather than reality, Leftists just KNOW what is good for us. Conservatives need evidence.

Absolute certainty is the privilege of uneducated men and fanatics. -- C.J. Keyser

Hell is paved with good intentions" -- Boswell's Life of Johnson of 1775

"Almost all professors of the arts and sciences are egregiously conceited, and derive their happiness from their conceit" -- Erasmus


"Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him" (Proverbs 26: 12). I think that sums up Leftists pretty well.

Eminent British astrophysicist Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington is often quoted as saying: "Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine." It was probably in fact said by his contemporary, J.B.S. Haldane. But regardless of authorship, it could well be a conservative credo not only about the cosmos but also about human beings and human society. Mankind is too complex to be summed up by simple rules and even complex rules are only approximations with many exceptions.

Politics is the only thing Leftists know about. They know nothing of economics, history or business. Their only expertise is in promoting feelings of grievance

Socialism makes the individual the slave of the state -- capitalism frees them.

Many readers here will have noticed that what I say about Leftists sometimes sounds reminiscent of what Leftists say about conservatives. There is an excellent reason for that. Leftists are great "projectors" (people who see their own faults in others). So a good first step in finding out what is true of Leftists is to look at what they say about conservatives! They even accuse conservatives of projection (of course).

The research shows clearly that one's Left/Right stance is strongly genetically inherited but nobody knows just what specifically is inherited. What is inherited that makes people Leftist or Rightist? There is any amount of evidence that personality traits are strongly genetically inherited so my proposal is that hard-core Leftists are people who tend to let their emotions (including hatred and envy) run away with them and who are much more in need of seeing themselves as better than others -- two attributes that are probably related to one another. Such Leftists may be an evolutionary leftover from a more primitive past.

Leftists seem to believe that if someone like Al Gore says it, it must be right. They obviously have a strong need for an authority figure. The fact that the two most authoritarian regimes of the 20th century (Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia) were socialist is thus no surprise. Leftists often accuse conservatives of being "authoritarian" but that is just part of their usual "projective" strategy -- seeing in others what is really true of themselves.

"With their infernal racial set-asides, racial quotas, and race norming, liberals share many of the Klan's premises. The Klan sees the world in terms of race and ethnicity. So do liberals! Indeed, liberals and white supremacists are the only people left in America who are neurotically obsessed with race. Conservatives champion a color-blind society" -- Ann Coulter

Politicians are in general only a little above average in intelligence so the idea that they can make better decisions for us that we can make ourselves is laughable

A quote from the late Dr. Adrian Rogers: "You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."

The Supreme Court of the United States is now and always has been a judicial abomination. Its guiding principles have always been political rather than judicial. It is not as political as Stalin's courts but its respect for the constitution is little better. Some recent abuses: The "equal treatment" provision of the 14th amendment was specifically written to outlaw racial discrimination yet the court has allowed various forms of "affirmative action" for decades -- when all such policies should have been completely stuck down immediately. The 2nd. amendment says that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed yet gun control laws infringe it in every State in the union. The 1st amendment provides that speech shall be freely exercised yet the court has upheld various restrictions on the financing and display of political advertising. The court has found a right to abortion in the constitution when the word abortion is not even mentioned there. The court invents rights that do not exist and denies rights that do.

"Some action that is unconstitutional has much to recommend it" -- Elena Kagan, nominated to SCOTUS by Obama

Frank Sulloway, the anti-scientist

The basic aim of all bureaucrats is to maximize their funding and minimize their workload

A lesson in Australian: When an Australian calls someone a "big-noter", he is saying that the person is a chronic and rather pathetic seeker of admiration -- as in someone who often pulls out "big notes" (e.g. $100.00 bills) to pay for things, thus endeavouring to create the impression that he is rich. The term describes the mentality rather than the actual behavior with money and it aptly describes many Leftists. When they purport to show "compassion" by advocating things that cost themselves nothing (e.g. advocating more taxes on "the rich" to help "the poor"), an Australian might say that the Leftist is "big-noting himself". There is an example of the usage here. The term conveys contempt. There is a wise description of Australians generally here

Some ancient wisdom for Leftists: "Be not righteous overmuch; neither make thyself over wise: Why shouldest thou die before thy time?" -- Ecclesiastes 7:16

Jesse Jackson: "There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery -- then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved." There ARE important racial differences.

Some Jimmy Carter wisdom: "I think it's inevitable that there will be a lower standard of living than what everybody had always anticipated," he told advisers in 1979. "there's going to be a downward turning."

Heritage is what survives death: Very rare and hence very valuable

Big business is not your friend. As Adam Smith said: "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty or justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary

How can I accept the Communist doctrine, which sets up as its bible, above and beyond criticism, an obsolete textbook which I know not only to be scientifically erroneous but without interest or application to the modern world? How can I adopt a creed which, preferring the mud to the fish, exalts the boorish proletariat above the bourgeoisie and the intelligentsia, who with all their faults, are the quality of life and surely carry the seeds of all human achievement? Even if we need a religion, how can we find it in the turbid rubbish of the red bookshop? It is hard for an educated, decent, intelligent son of Western Europe to find his ideals here, unless he has first suffered some strange and horrid process of conversion which has changed all his values. -- John Maynard Keynes

Some wisdom from "Bron" Waugh: "The purpose of politics is to help them [politicians] overcome these feelings of inferiority and compensate for their personal inadequacies in the pursuit of power"

"There are countless horrible things happening all over the country, and horrible people prospering, but we must never allow them to disturb our equanimity or deflect us from our sacred duty to sabotage and annoy them whenever possible"

The urge to pass new laws must be seen as an illness, not much different from the urge to bite old women. Anyone suspected of suffering from it should either be treated with the appropriate pills or, if it is too late for that, elected to Parliament [or Congress, as the case may be] and paid a huge salary with endless holidays, to do nothing whatever"

"It is my settled opinion, after some years as a political correspondent, that no one is attracted to a political career in the first place unless he is socially or emotionally crippled"

Two lines below of a famous hymn that would be incomprehensible to Leftists today ("honor"? "right"? "freedom?" Freedom to agree with them is the only freedom they believe in)

First to fight for right and freedom,
And to keep our honor clean

It is of course the hymn of the USMC -- still today the relentless warriors that they always were. Freedom needs a soldier

If any of the short observations above about Leftism seem wrong, note that they do not stand alone. The evidence for them is set out at great length in my MONOGRAPH on Leftism.

3 memoirs of "Supermac", a 20th century Disraeli (Aristocratic British Conservative Prime Minister -- 1957 to 1963 -- Harold Macmillan):

"It breaks my heart to see (I can't interfere or do anything at my age) what is happening in our country today - this terrible strike of the best men in the world, who beat the Kaiser's army and beat Hitler's army, and never gave in. Pointless, endless. We can't afford that kind of thing. And then this growing division which the noble Lord who has just spoken mentioned, of a comparatively prosperous south, and an ailing north and midlands. That can't go on." -- Mac on the British working class: "the best men in the world" (From his Maiden speech in the House of Lords, 13 November 1984)

"As a Conservative, I am naturally in favour of returning into private ownership and private management all those means of production and distribution which are now controlled by state capitalism"

During Macmillan's time as prime minister, average living standards steadily rose while numerous social reforms were carried out

"Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see." --?Arthur Schopenhauer


The Bible is an Israeli book

There is a view on both Left and Right that Jews are "too" influential. And it is true that they are more influential than their numbers would indicate. But they are exactly as influential as their IQs would indicate

To me, hostility to the Jews is a terrible tragedy. I weep for them at times. And I do literally put my money where my mouth is. I do at times send money to Israeli charities

My (Gentile) opinion of antisemitism: The Jews are the best we've got so killing them is killing us.

"And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" -- Genesis 12:3

"O pray for the peace of Jerusalem: They shall prosper that love thee" Psalm 122:6.

If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy -- Psalm 137 (NIV)

Israel, like the Jews throughout history, is hated not for her vices but her virtues. Israel is hated, as the United States is hated, because Israel is successful, because Israel is free, and because Israel is good. As Maxim Gorky put it: “Whatever nonsense the anti-Semites may talk, they dislike the Jew only because he is obviously better, more adroit, and more willing and capable of work than they are.” Whether driven by culture or genes—or like most behavior, an inextricable mix—the fact of Jewish genius is demonstrable." -- George Gilder

To Leftist haters, all the basic rules of liberal society — rejection of hate speech, commitment to academic freedom, rooting out racism, the absolute commitment to human dignity — go out the window when the subject is Israel.

I have always liked the story of Gideon (See Judges chapters 6 to 8) and it is surely no surprise that in the present age Israel is the Gideon of nations: Few in numbers but big in power and impact.

Is the Israel Defence Force the most effective military force per capita since Genghis Khan? They probably are but they are also the most ethically advanced military force that the world has ever seen

If I were not an atheist, I would believe that God had a sense of humour. He gave his chosen people (the Jews) enormous advantages -- high intelligence and high drive -- but to keep it fair he deprived them of something hugely important too: Political sense. So Jews to this day tend very strongly to be Leftist -- even though the chief source of antisemitism for roughly the last 200 years has been the political Left!

And the other side of the coin is that Jews tend to despise conservatives and Christians. Yet American fundamentalist Christians are the bedrock of the vital American support for Israel, the ultimate bolthole for all Jews. So Jewish political irrationality seems to be a rather good example of the saying that "The LORD giveth and the LORD taketh away". There are many other examples of such perversity (or "balance"). The sometimes severe side-effects of most pharmaceutical drugs is an obvious one but there is another ethnic example too, a rather amusing one. Chinese people are in general smart and patient people but their rate of traffic accidents in China is about 10 times higher than what prevails in Western societies. They are brilliant mathematicians and fearless business entrepreneurs but at the same time bad drivers!

Conservatives, on the other hand, could be antisemitic on entirely rational grounds: Namely, the overwhelming Leftism of the Diaspora Jewish population as a whole. Because they judge the individual, however, only a tiny minority of conservative-oriented people make such general judgments. The longer Jews continue on their "stiff-necked" course, however, the more that is in danger of changing. The children of Israel have been a stiff necked people since the days of Moses, however, so they will no doubt continue to vote with their emotions rather than their reason.

I despair of the ADL. Jews have enough problems already and yet in the ADL one has a prominent Jewish organization that does its best to make itself offensive to Christians. Their Leftism is more important to them than the welfare of Jewry -- which is the exact opposite of what they ostensibly stand for! Jewish cleverness seems to vanish when politics are involved. Fortunately, Christians are true to their saviour and have loving hearts. Jewish dissatisfaction with the myopia of the ADL is outlined here. Note that Foxy was too grand to reply to it.

Fortunately for America, though, liberal Jews there are rapidly dying out through intermarriage and failure to reproduce. And the quite poisonous liberal Jews of Israel are not much better off. Judaism is slowly returning to Orthodoxy and the Orthodox tend to be conservative.

The above is good testimony to the accuracy of the basic conservative insight that almost anything in human life is too complex to be reduced to any simple rule and too complex to be reduced to any rule at all without allowance for important exceptions to the rule concerned

Amid their many virtues, one virtue is often lacking among Jews in general and Israelis in particular: Humility. And that's an antisemitic comment only if Hashem is antisemitic. From Moses on, the Hebrew prophets repeatedy accused the Israelites of being "stiff-necked" and urged them to repent. So it's no wonder that the greatest Jewish prophet of all -- Jesus -- not only urged humility but exemplified it in his life and death

"Why should the German be interested in the liberation of the Jew, if the Jew is not interested in the liberation of the German?... We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time... In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.... Indeed, in North America, the practical domination of Judaism over the Christian world has achieved as its unambiguous and normal expression that the preaching of the Gospel itself and the Christian ministry have become articles of trade... Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist". Who said that? Hitler? No. It was Karl Marx. See also here and here and here. For roughly two centuries now, antisemitism has, throughout the Western world, been principally associated with Leftism (including the socialist Hitler) -- as it is to this day. See here.

Karl Marx hated just about everyone. Even his father, the kindly Heinrich Marx, thought Karl was not much of a human being

Leftists call their hatred of Israel "Anti-Zionism" but Zionists are only a small minority in Israel

Some of the Leftist hatred of Israel is motivated by old-fashioned antisemitism (beliefs in Jewish "control" etc.) but most of it is just the regular Leftist hatred of success in others. And because the societies they inhabit do not give them the vast amount of recognition that their large but weak egos need, some of the most virulent haters of Israel and America live in those countries. So the hatred is the product of pathologically high self-esteem.

Their threatened egos sometimes drive Leftists into quite desperate flights from reality. For instance, they often call Israel an "Apartheid state" -- when it is in fact the Arab states that practice Apartheid -- witness the severe restrictions on Christians in Saudi Arabia. There are no such restrictions in Israel.

If the Palestinians put down their weapons, there'd be peace. If the Israelis put down their weapons, there'd be genocide.


Many people hunger and thirst after righteousness. Some find it in the hatreds of the Left. Others find it in the love of Christ. I don't hunger and thirst after righteousness at all. I hunger and thirst after truth. How old-fashioned can you get?

The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody. And I have NO investments in oil companies, mining companies or "Big Pharma"

UPDATE: Despite my (statistical) aversion to mining stocks, I have recently bought a few shares in BHP -- the world's biggest miner, I gather. I run the grave risk of becoming a speaker of famous last words for saying this but I suspect that BHP is now so big as to be largely immune from the risks that plague most mining companies. I also know of no issue affecting BHP where my writings would have any relevance. The Left seem to have a visceral hatred of miners. I have never quite figured out why.

I imagine that few of my readers will understand it, but I am an unabashed monarchist. And, as someone who was born and bred in a monarchy and who still lives there (i.e. Australia), that gives me no conflicts at all. In theory, one's respect for the monarchy does not depend on who wears the crown but the impeccable behaviour of the present Queen does of course help perpetuate that respect. Aside from my huge respect for the Queen, however, my favourite member of the Royal family is the redheaded Prince Harry. The Royal family is of course a military family and Prince Harry is a great example of that. As one of the world's most privileged people, he could well be an idle layabout but instead he loves his life in the army. When his girlfriend Chelsy ditched him because he was so often away, Prince Harry said: "I love Chelsy but the army comes first". A perfect military man! I doubt that many women would understand or approve of his attitude but perhaps my own small army background powers my approval of that attitude.

I imagine that most Americans might find this rather mad -- but I believe that a constitutional Monarchy is the best form of government presently available. Can a libertarian be a Monarchist? I think so -- and prominent British libertarian Sean Gabb seems to think so too! Long live the Queen! (And note that Australia ranks well above the USA on the Index of Economic freedom. Heh!)

The Australian flag with the Union Jack quartered in it

Throughout Europe there is an association between monarchism and conservatism. It is a little sad that American conservatives do not have access to that satisfaction. So even though Australia is much more distant from Europe (geographically) than the USA is, Australia is in some ways more of an outpost of Europe than America is! Mind you: Australia is not very atypical of its region. Australia lies just South of Asia -- and both Japan and Thailand have greatly respected monarchies. And the demise of the Cambodian monarchy was disastrous for Cambodia

Throughout the world today, possession of a U.S. or U.K. passport is greatly valued. I once shared that view. Developments in recent years have however made me profoundly grateful that I am a 5th generation Australian. My Australian passport is a door into a much less oppressive and much less messed-up place than either the USA or Britain

Following the Sotomayor precedent, I would hope that a wise older white man such as myself with the richness of that experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than someone who hasn’t lived that life.

IQ and ideology: Most academics are Left-leaning. Why? Because very bright people who have balls go into business, while very bright people with no balls go into academe. I did both with considerable success, which makes me a considerable rarity. Although I am a born academic, I have always been good with money too. My share portfolio even survived the GFC in good shape. The academics hate it that bright people with balls make more money than them.

I have no hesitation in saying that the single book which has influenced me most is the New Testament. And my Scripture blog will show that I know whereof I speak. Some might conclude that I must therefore be a very confused sort of atheist but I can assure everyone that I do not feel the least bit confused. The New Testament is a lighthouse that has illumined the thinking of all sorts of men and women and I am deeply grateful that it has shone on me.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age. Conservatism is in touch with reality. Leftism is not.

I imagine that the RD are still sending mailouts to my 1950s address

Most teenagers have sporting and movie posters on their bedroom walls. At age 14 I had a map of Taiwan on my wall.

"Remind me never to get this guy mad at me" -- Instapundit

It seems to be a common view that you cannot talk informatively about a country unless you have been there. I completely reject that view but it is nonetheless likely that some Leftist dimbulb will at some stage aver that any comments I make about politics and events in the USA should not be heeded because I am an Australian who has lived almost all his life in Australia. I am reluctant to pander to such ignorance in the era of the "global village" but for the sake of the argument I might mention that I have visited the USA 3 times -- spending enough time in Los Angeles and NYC to get to know a fair bit about those places at least. I did however get outside those places enough to realize that they are NOT America.

"Intellectual" = Leftist dreamer. I have more publications in the academic journals than almost all "public intellectuals" but I am never called an intellectual and nor would I want to be. Call me a scholar or an academic, however, and I will accept either as a just and earned appellation

A small personal note: I have always been very self-confident. I inherited it from my mother, along with my skeptical nature. So I don't need to feed my self-esteem by claiming that I am wiser than others -- which is what Leftists do.

As with conservatives generally, it bothers me not a bit to admit to large gaps in my knowledge and understanding. For instance, I don't know if the slight global warming of the 20th century will resume in the 21st, though I suspect not. And I don't know what a "healthy" diet is, if there is one. Constantly-changing official advice on the matter suggests that nobody knows

Leftists are usually just anxious little people trying to pretend that they are significant. No doubt there are some Leftists who are genuinely concerned about inequities in our society but their arrogance lies in thinking that they understand it without close enquiry

My academic background

My full name is Dr. John Joseph RAY. I am a former university teacher aged 65 at the time of writing in 2009. I was born of Australian pioneer stock in 1943 at Innisfail in the State of Queensland in Australia. I trace my ancestry wholly to the British Isles. After an early education at Innisfail State Rural School and Cairns State High School, I taught myself for matriculation. I took my B.A. in Psychology from the University of Queensland in Brisbane. I then moved to Sydney (in New South Wales, Australia) and took my M.A. in psychology from the University of Sydney in 1969 and my Ph.D. from the School of Behavioural Sciences at Macquarie University in 1974. I first tutored in psychology at Macquarie University and then taught sociology at the University of NSW. My doctorate is in psychology but I taught mainly sociology in my 14 years as a university teacher. In High Schools I taught economics. I have taught in both traditional and "progressive" (low discipline) High Schools. Fuller biographical notes here

I completed the work for my Ph.D. at the end of 1970 but the degree was not awarded until 1974 -- due to some academic nastiness from Seymour Martin Lipset and Fred Emery. A conservative or libertarian who makes it through the academic maze has to be at least twice as good as the average conformist Leftist. Fortunately, I am a born academic.

Despite my great sympathy and respect for Christianity, I am the most complete atheist you could find. I don't even believe that the word "God" is meaningful. I am not at all original in that view, of course. Such views are particularly associated with the noted German philosopher Rudolf Carnap. Unlike Carnap, however, none of my wives have committed suicide

Very occasionally in my writings I make reference to the greats of analytical philosophy such as Carnap and Wittgenstein. As philosophy is a heavily Leftist discipline however, I have long awaited an attack from some philosopher accusing me of making coat-trailing references not backed by any real philosophical erudition. I suppose it is encouraging that no such attacks have eventuated but I thought that I should perhaps forestall them anyway -- by pointing out that in my younger days I did complete three full-year courses in analytical philosophy (at 3 different universities!) and that I have had papers on mainstream analytical philosophy topics published in academic journals

As well as being an academic, I am an army man and I am pleased and proud to say that I have worn my country's uniform. Although my service in the Australian army was chiefly noted for its un-notability, I DID join voluntarily in the Vietnam era, I DID reach the rank of Sergeant, and I DID volunteer for a posting in Vietnam. So I think I may be forgiven for saying something that most army men think but which most don't say because they think it is too obvious: The profession of arms is the noblest profession of all because it is the only profession where you offer to lay down your life in performing your duties. Our men fought so that people could say and think what they like but I myself always treat military men with great respect -- respect which in my view is simply their due.

A real army story here

Even a stopped clock is right twice a day and there is JUST ONE saying of Hitler's that I rather like. It may not even be original to him but it is found in chapter 2 of Mein Kampf (published in 1925): "Widerstaende sind nicht da, dass man vor ihnen kapituliert, sondern dass man sie bricht". The equivalent English saying is "Difficulties exist to be overcome" and that traces back at least to the 1920s -- with attributions to Montessori and others. Hitler's metaphor is however one of smashing barriers rather than of politely hopping over them and I am myself certainly more outspoken than polite. Hitler's colloquial Southern German is notoriously difficult to translate but I think I can manage a reasonable translation of that saying: "Resistance is there not for us to capitulate to but for us to break". I am quite sure that I don't have anything like that degree of determination in my own life but it seems to me to be a good attitude in general anyway

I have used many sites to post my writings over the years and many have gone bad on me for various reasons. So if you click on a link here to my other writings you may get a "page not found" response if the link was put up some time before the present. All is not lost, however. All my writings have been reposted elsewhere. If you do strike a failed link, just take the filename (the last part of the link) and add it to the address of any of my current home pages and -- Voila! -- you should find the article concerned.

COMMENTS: I have gradually added comments facilities to all my blogs. The comments I get are interesting. They are mostly from Leftists and most consist either of abuse or mere assertions. Reasoned arguments backed up by references to supporting evidence are almost unheard of from Leftists. Needless to say, I just delete such useless comments.

You can email me here (Hotmail address). In emailing me, you can address me as "John", "Jon", "Dr. Ray" or "JR" and that will be fine -- but my preference is for "JR" -- and that preference has NOTHING to do with an American soap opera that featured a character who was referred to in that way


"Tongue Tied"
"Dissecting Leftism"
"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)

Some more useful links

Alt archives for "Dissecting Leftism" here or here
Longer Academic Papers
Johnray links
Academic home page
Academic Backup Page
General Backup
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.

Cautionary blogs about big Australian organizations:

Bank of Queensland
Queensland Police
Australian police news
QANTAS, a dying octopus

Main academic menu
Menu of recent writings
basic home page
Pictorial Home Page
Selected pictures from blogs (Backup here)
Another picture page (Best with broadband. Rarely updated)

Note: If the link to one of my articles is not working, the article concerned can generally be viewed by prefixing to the filename the following:

OR: (After 2015)