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

This document is part of an archive of postings on Dissecting Leftism, a blog hosted by Blogspot who are in turn owned by Google. The index to the archive is available here or here. Indexes to my other blogs can be located here or here. Archives do accompany my original postings but, given the animus towards conservative writing on Google and other internet institutions, their permanence is uncertain. These alternative archives help ensure a more permant record of what I have written. My Home Page. My Recipes. My alternative Wikipedia. My Blogroll. 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 document.


31 January, 2019

Is Belarus ("White Russia") another East Germany?

Belarus gets a bad name in the West because of its authoritarian government.  They do have elections there which are not a total sham but President Lukashenko always gets big majorities. So we tend to expect only bad things from the place.

I was talking recently to a lady of Belarusian heritage who still speaks Russian and who still has close family in Belarus.  She reports that people who know Belarus are often very complimentary about it.  It seems well-organized and orderly with very little crime.  It is not a rich country (average income of $8,000 pa) by Western standards but most people eat well and products from all over Europe are to be found in the shops.  Some people who know the place say that Belarus is the best country in the world to live in.

There are occasional big demonstrations about the government but that is true of the USA as well.  Demonstrators will demonstrate.

That is such a different view to what I had expected that I did a little research to see what support I could find for it.  Belarus is however not a place of much interest to the rest of the world but I did find a few interesting facts.

* It is heavily industrialized but is also about 40% primeval forest. Greenies should love it.  It has about the same population as Sweden -- about 8 million.  It lies between Russia and Poland so was the most "Western" part of the old Soviet Union. It is now an independent country.

* The capital city, Minsk, has a population of about 2 million. It was completely destroyed during the Second World War, but, following the example of Warsaw, it was rebuilt in the same place and now is an attractive city

* Minsk is a very green and clean city. In addition to numerous parks, here is the third largest botanical garden in the world.

* Minsk is a very safe city. In the list of 378 most dangerous cities from Numbeo, Minsk was on the 351th place in terms of danger and became the safest city among the former Soviet Union countries. Belarus itself is one of the safest countries in the world according to statistics.

??* Compared to many large cities, there are very few traffic jams in Minsk.

* It is also surprising for big cities that it's relatively quiet at night, relatively few nightclubs and bars.

* Public transport is always on time. Surprisingly, but it's true: the schedule is maintained with a possible deviation of a couple of minutes.

So you see what people mean when they find a lot to like about Belarus.  What it reminds me of is the old East Germany.   After German reunification, some East Germans moved to the West and a lot visited the West.  They were mostly not very impressed.  They liked the higher salaries, larger apartments and the up-to-date technology in the West but were very scornful of the social life there.  The old East Germany had a generally fraternal feel while the West is definitely a dog-eat-dog society.  East Germans called it an "elbows" society, where people had little care for one another.

So it should not be a surprise but it is clear that socialism does have an appeal for a lot of people. Living under an authoritarian government that organizes everything can be fairly relaxing as long as it provides a reasonable level of prosperity, which East Germany did and which Belarus does.

So an intriguing possibility which exists is that some Germans could return to a society like the old East Germany.  Very little remains -- even in the Eastern lands of modern-day Germany -- of the old Eastern system but Belarus has something similar. Even the language  would not be a problem for many Easterners.  Russian was taught in the schools of the old East Germany.

If you don't speak Russian, however, forget it.  Russian has about twice as much grammar as German and German is frustrating enough for English speakers.

For my previous comments on East Germany, see here and  here

See also below:


In Defense of Assimilation
The worst thought crime is the one you don’t realize you’re committing. So it was with NBC News legend Tom Brokaw, who — for good reason — didn’t understand that assimilation is now a third rail of American politics.

He caused a furor with comments on the venerable Sunday news program “Meet the Press” over the weekend, including, most controversially, his statement that he believes “that the Hispanics should work harder at assimilation.”

The condemnations were swift and sweeping, and a sign that being a beloved media figure who has never before said anything that could legitimately be considered bigoted is no defense when the furies descend.

It was Presidential Medal of Freedom to white hood in one sound bite. A group called Latino Victory hit Brokaw for allegedly giving “credence to white supremacist ideology.”

Typically, his apologies were deemed insufficient and part and parcel of the original offense.

Let’s stipulate that using a definite article to refer to any minority group will always strike people as tone-deaf, but what Brokaw was getting at — the importance of assimilation to cultural cohesion — should be uncontroversial.

It isn’t anymore. The head of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists rejected the very idea of assimilation, which he decried as “denying one culture for the other.” It is astonishing that in that formulation “the other” is American culture. We are perhaps the only nation in world history that has sought to “otherize” its own culture.

It’s also been a trope to accuse Brokaw, as Democratic Congressman Joaquin Castro did, of xenophobia. But saying immigrants should assimilate is the opposite of xenophobia — it is an expression of a belief that they can be and should be fully part of the American mainstream.

The old American ideal of the melting pot is that immigrants become wholly American (learning the language, embracing the folkways and traditions, becoming deeply patriotic), but also make a distinctive contribution to our national culture, which is organic and open to a variety of influences. It is wrong to view this dominant culture as hateful or exclusionary.

As Michael Lind wrote in his brilliant 1995 book, “The Next American Nation”: “The common culture of the American nation is a unique blend of elements contributed by Algonquian Indians and Midwestern Quakers and black Americans and Mexican mestizos and New England patricians. The national culture is not a white culture; black Americans have shaped it far more than the most numerous white immigrant group, German-Americans.”

In his comments, Brokaw focused on assimilation as a function of individual effort on the part of immigrants. The real problem is that we have fashioned an immigration system that is not geared toward assimilation.

In 1920, when we were absorbing another historic wave of immigrants, the newcomers were evenly distributed across nationalities. No single group predominated. In contrast, the wave of the last few decades has been heavily tilted toward Mexico in particular and Latin American countries in general.

In the early 20th century, we also reduced numbers of immigrants after 1924, facilitating the breakup of ethnic communities and a de-emphasis on ethnic identity.

We have never tapped the brakes on the current wave. A National Academy of Sciences study noted that Spanish-speaking immigrants are acquiring English more slowly than other immigrant groups: “A major reason is the larger size and frequent replenishment of the Spanish-speaking population in the United States.”

Reducing levels of immigration would aid in assimilation, if that is still considered a universally desirable goal.

In the play that that gave us the phrase “the melting pot,” Israel Zangwill wrote, “Yes, East and West, and North and South, the palm and the pine, the pole and the equator, the crescent and the cross — how the great Alchemist melts and fuses them with his purging flame!”

The Brokaw controversy is a sign that the great Alchemist may soon be looking for work.



White House Eyes Reducing Capital Gains Taxes Without Congress

The White House is having internal discussions about the prospect of executive action by President Donald Trump to hold down capital gains taxes, said Larry Kudlow, director of the president’s National Economic Council.

“I personally have campaigned for inflation indexing of capital gains for at least three decades,” Kudlow told The Daily Signal during a press gaggle Thursday at the White House.

The Trump administration’s goal, in theory, would be to end unfair taxation on income from stocks, real estate, or other investments that come from inflationary gains.

“I still strongly support it and I know the president has a very positive view about it,” Kudlow said of indexing. “We are talking about it internally. We are still talking about it internally.”

The development comes after 51 leaders of conservative groups asked for the executive action in a Jan. 22 letter to Trump. Among the groups are Americans for Tax Reform, Citizens Against Government Waste, and the American Legislative Exchange Council.

The Daily Signal asked Kudlow whether the law allows the president to act without Congress, something the top economic adviser said is under review.

“Many lawyers believe he can. Not all lawyers believe he can,” Kudlow said. “I’m not a lawyer.” “I have a hard enough time doing my own thing,” he quipped. “[But] inflation indexing in cap gains, would love to see that.”

The letter to Trump—also signed by leaders of the 60 Plus Association, American Conservative Union, and Club for Growth—notes that because Democrats control the House and Republicans control the Senate, it’s not likely lawmakers would pass the proposal.

“With a divided Congress, any effort to pass Tax Reform 2.0 or additional middle-class tax reduction is unlikely,” the letter from conservative leaders says. “On the other hand, ending the inflation tax can be achieved through the administration’s executive authority.”

The capital gains tax is imposed on the profit from sale of certain assets, such as a stock, bond, or real estate. The rate on capital gains taxes is based on a taxpayer’s income tax bracket, ranging from 0 to 15 percent.

In laying out the case to the president, the letter, spearheaded by Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist, states: 

When a family or a business saves money and buys a stock, real estate, or any other asset, the investment grows in value over time. Some of that growth is due to the asset appreciating in real terms, and some of that growth is merely due to the effect of inflation making everything more expensive.

Our tax system does not distinguish between these two increases in savings—the economic growth increase and the merely inflationary increase. The whole gain is taxable. According to the nonpartisan Tax Foundation, fully one-third of all unrealized capital gains are due only to inflation. …

According to legal scholarship going back decades, the executive branch can define cost basis in an investment in such a way that the inflation tax on savings can be eliminated. Rather than having to pay tax on both real and inflationary gains, a family or business selling an asset would only pay tax on the real gain, or the gain derived from economic growth.

Last June, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told The Wall Street Journal the administration would prefer that Congress pass legislation, but could act on its own in lieu of that.

Without weighing in on the issue of executive action, Adam Michel, a senior policy analyst for The Heritage Foundation who specializes in tax policy, said indexing capital gains is good policy. Heritage was not among the groups represented in the letter to Trump.

“Indexing capital gains taxes is a necessary policy to alleviate the inflation tax on investment in America,” Michel told The Daily Signal. “It is silly for the government to tax inflation. Indexing would be sensible.”



Conservatives are united in opposing H.R. 1, the attempt by House Democrats to fundamentally undermine the American electoral system

While they cloak the bill in terms of “restoring democracy” and “preventing corruption,” the legislation has one goal: to protect incumbents, at the expense of the First Amendment, federalism, and individual voter integrity.

H.R. 1 undermines the First Amendment. H.R. 1 undoes key Supreme Court cases that protect elections as fundamental to free speech. It would allow the Federal Election Commission to track and catalogue more of what Americans are saying, register even very small political donations, and make public those who donate to different charitable and nonprofit organizations. The legislation will subject private citizens to intimidation and harassment for their private and political beliefs, far broader than what was done in the IRS targeting scandal in 2013.

H.R. 1 yanks election authority away from the states. H.R. 1 reasserts the ability of the federal government to micromanage state elections through a process known as “preclearance.” Preclearance, which was previously overturned by the Supreme Court, requires states to get permission from the federal government for changes as small as modifying the hours of an election office, or moving a voting location from a school gym to the library. Critically, none of these practices would undo any fraud or corruption. Rather, these same practices result in incorrect registrations and inaccurate voter data, while failing to address actual corrupt practices like ballot harvesting. Moreover, they are all designed to eliminate the federalism that keeps elections transparent, local, and fair.

H.R. 1 attacks individual voter integrity. America was founded on the principle of “one person, one vote.” H.R. 1 turns this on its head by weaponizing every aspect of the political regulatory system. The Federal Election Commission, which is currently a neutral body, would be given a 3-2 makeup, guaranteeing a partisan outcome with little accountability toward the actual votes which are cast. H.R. 1 also includes a 600 percent government match for political donations, and authorizes even more public dollars to campaigns. The bill also wants to make Election Day a new paid holiday for government workers, with additional paid vacation given to bureaucrats to oversee the polls. All of these changes are designed to distance the outcome of the election from those casting their votes.

H.R. 1 would also implement the following changes:

* Forces states to implement mandatory voter registration, removing civic participation as a voluntary choice, and increasing chances for error.
* Mandates that states allow all felons to vote.
* Forces states to extend periods of early voting, which has shown to have no effect on turnout.
* Mandates same-day voter registration, which encourages voter fraud.
* Limits the ability of states to cooperate to see who is registered in multiple states at the same time.
* Prohibits election observers from cooperating with election officials to file formal challenges to suspicious voter registrations.
* Criminalizes protected political speech by making it a crime to “discourage” someone from voting
* Bars states from making their own laws about voting by mail.
* Prohibits chief election officials in each state from participating in federal election campaigns.
* Mandates free mailing of absentee ballots.
* Mandates that states adopt new redistricting commissions.

H.R. 1 would cause sweeping and irrevocable damage to the free speech, privacy, and integrity that are central components to free and fair elections in America. We oppose H.R. 1 in the strongest terms, and urge all conservatives to do likewise.



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, 2019

The Real Lesson of the Shutdown

So much of government in Washington is nonessential.
One of the lessons of the Trump–Pelosi standoff on border security is that government shutdowns are a foolish way to resolve partisan disputes.

But the other lesson may be far more important. The partial shutdown, with agencies such as the Transportation, Agriculture, and State Departments, as well as other independent agencies, closed for business, demonstrated how irrelevant so much of our $4 trillion government is to the everyday lives of Americans.

As I traveled over the last several weeks to Florida, California, and many states in between, and asked people what they thought of the shutdown, many said they didn’t even know the government was shut down for more than a month. Their everyday lives were disrupted or inconvenienced only, if at all, in a trivial way. It turns out there are countless Americans who don’t watch CNN or MSNBC and so didn’t learn about the supposed horrors of agency closures.

This was a particularly painless shutdown for the average taxpayer because the essential activities of government were mostly unaffected. Seniors got their social-security checks. The military was protecting us. We got through the airports with minimal delays — until the last week when some TSA officials and air-traffic controllers weren’t on the job.

It was also telling that the only real “victims” of the shutdown (about whom the media obsessed) were 800,000 government employees who were furloughed. Yes, I know many people in Washington who work for the federal government who faced financial stress for several weeks (and I also know many for whom this was a deferred-pay vacation).

But wait a minute. What is the primary purpose of a government program or agency? To give workers a paycheck? I thought these agencies were in business to serve the taxpayers and provide important services for our economy and our citizens. Businesses don’t keep workers on the payroll if what they produce isn’t necessary to customers or if they don’t add to earnings. They certainly can’t do that if they are losing money. The federal government is $1 trillion in the red a year despite record revenues in 2018.

The media tried to find stories of major negative effects from the shutdown, but amazingly, their findings were pretty slim pickings. One of my favorites was that a climate-change report was going to be delayed. Say it ain’t so. The Wall Street Journal reported that paleontologists were forced to delay their dinosaur research. The horrors! Agencies like the Census may not be able to find out how many bathrooms you have in your house or how often you drive to work. But none of this is the government’s business anyway.

Yes, government is important, and liberals love to point to the very important things government does — like providing security at airports or food-safety inspections. But those public-safety functions are classified as “essential” government services. There were 800,000 government employees laid off due to the partial shutdown. Less than half are considered “essential.” Many of the other half are engaged in activities that are completely incidental to the lives of Americans in most parts of the country. I am not saying that all of these activities are not valuable. I am saying that for the benefit of taxpayers, congress and the president need to find out which are and which aren’t.

Now that the government is reopened, Congress needs to figure out what we can live without in terms of redundant, wasteful, and obsolete services. Congress could start by investigating the thousands upon thousands of examples of waste and misappropriation of funds. Why do federal-government workers get as many as 40 days a year in sick leave, vacation, holidays, personal days, and so on? Many private-sector workers don’t get benefits nearly this exorbitant.

Congress should also examine its spending priorities. Do we need an Urban Transit Agency? This should be conducted by cities and states, not the feds. Do we need a vast diplomatic corps at the State Department? Probably that could be cut in half. Do we need crop subsidies? Do we need the Defense Department to be spending money on climate change? Do we need to pay for foreign-aid programs or arrogant institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF, all of which have done little to provide real and lasting economic aid to the poor around the world?

All of government today has more employees than our entire manufacturing sector in America. Twenty years ago, I wrote a book entitled: Government: America’s Number One Growth Industry. It still is, which happens to be the reason we have a $1 trillion deficit and $22 trillion debt. Institutions that lose money year after year after year can’t afford to be spending tens of billions of dollars on nonessential activities.

In October, Trump floated a proposal for every agency to cut at least 5 percent of its budget this year. The government shutdown has taught us how easy this should be.



"The Kulaks Must Be Liquidated as a Class"


Elizabeth Warren is not proposing a tax; she’s proposing asset forfeiture.

History is very short, if you look at it the right way.

The American Revolution seems like it was a very long time ago, but looked at with the right kind of eyes, it was the day before yesterday: The revolution of Washington and Jefferson inspired the French Revolution, which unhappily perverted the classical-liberal principles of the American Founders and created instead an ersatz religion purporting to be a cult of pure reason — le Culte de la Raison — which culminated in fanaticism, terror, and dictatorship. The French Revolution inspired the Russian Revolution, which created its own cult of pure reason — “scientific socialism” — and modeled its “enemies of the people” purges on French revolutionary practice, culminating in fanaticism, terror, and dictatorship. The Russian Revolution in turn inspired the Iranian one, which had intellectual roots in the Bolshevik experience in the Caucasus and culminated in fanaticism, terror, and dictatorship. The Iranians exported many of their revolutionary principles to Hugo Chávez, his United Socialist party, and their so-called Bolivarian Revolution (whose colectiovos gangs were modeled on Iran’s basji militias) which culminated in fanaticism, terror, and dictatorship, currently on particularly dramatic display.

In most cases, the revolution begins with a peasant prelude and reaches its crescendo with some variation on the theme of Napoleon; socialist revolutions in particular have a peculiar habit of beginning with a man in a work shirt and ending up with a man dressed like Cap’n Crunch. Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro does look a sight in his beauty-pageant sash and Mr. T-worthy gold chains. The people who endure his socialist government are eating zoo animals and pets in what was the richest country in South America.

Elizabeth Warren is going to look terrific in those mirrored aviator sunglasses and peaked captain’s hat. She’s spent half her life playing dress-up, morally — pretending to be an Indian — so she may as well dress the part of her aspirations. “Who are you wearing to the state dinner? Oscar de la Renta? Prada? Pinochet?”

Revolutions do not set out to be awful. Not usually. They just end up that way. When the Bolsheviks came to power in Russia, many of them wanted to prohibit capital punishment, which they saw as a high-handed czarist institution. V. I. Lenin overruled them. “How can you make a revolution without executions?” he asked. The key to revolution in his mind — and in those of his revolutionary antecedents and descendants — was terror. “We shall return to terror and to economic terror,” he promised, in a revolution of “unrestricted power based on force, not law.”

Senator Warren apparently has found her guiding spirit and has announced along with her presidential campaign a campaign of economic terror based on force, not law. Specifically, she has proposed to begin seizing a portion of the assets of some wealthy Americans, a course of action that the federal government has no constitutional power to undertake. The seizure of assets is a fundamentally different thing from the taxation of income, which itself took a constitutional amendment to implement. What Warren is proposing is essentially a federal version of the hated asset-forfeiture programs that have been so much abused by law-enforcement agencies — minus the allegation of criminal misconduct and made universal and annual.

The senator is in a bit of a panic: She hadn’t expected to face a challenge from her left in her quest for the Democratic nomination, but as her entire party lurches in a chávista direction, she has been forced to go one step farther lest she fall into the “moderate” class, whose members almost certainly will be slaughtered in the 2020 Democratic primary. And so she proposes this ridiculous and illegal course of action.

She may not be the radical she pretends to be, but Senator Warren has pretended to be a lot of things. A Cherokee, for one, which is good for a laugh, but perhaps not the worst of it. Her longing for fame — and money and power — is impossible to miss. She spent a period trying to launch a career as a writer of dopey self-help books (The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan!) and then tried on the costume of a Lou Dobbs-style populist China hawk, and even in her scourge-of-Wall-Street incarnation, she couldn’t help cribbing from Margaret Thatcher in pandering to Dobbs, then at CNN: “One of the problems with spending money in this way is that at some point we really do run out of money.” She boasted that her little bureaucratic fiefdom — the Congressional Oversight Panel — was called “COP.” Her “professor of color” act got her a couple of cushy academic postings and a net worth of a few million dollars. I covered her Senate race against Scott Brown and watched her doing a pretty poor impersonation of an Irish-American ward-heeler in Boston, clapping along awkwardly to “Charlie on the M.T.A.” like some animatronic Muldoon. If she has to pretend to be Hugo Chávez, it won’t be her first act of cultural appropriation. And the recipe book should be a hoot.

Funny thing about Senator Warren’s asset-forfeiture scheme. Like many similar proposals, it probably would not raise much revenue and might in fact leave the country as a whole economically worse off. And the people advising Senator Warren on that are perfectly content with that outcome, because, as Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman argue in the case of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal to radically increase income taxes, this is to be understood not as an economic question but as a moral one: It is simply morally obligatory to hurt wealthy people. “The point of high top marginal income tax rates is to constrain the immoderate, and especially unmerited, accumulation of riches,” they write.

And who gets to decide what’s merited and what’s unmerited? What are the chances that, say, Senator Warren’s modest millions or her multimillion-dollar home are deemed “unmerited”? What decides, of course, is “unrestricted power based on force, not law,” because the law cannot substantially answer that kind of question but can only instead encode the desires of people with power, which is what Senator Warren is seeking more of.

Again, we have been here before.

When the socialist schemes of Joseph Stalin et al. foundered, they blamed the “kulaks,” i.e. those who had enjoyed the “unmerited accumulation of riches.” There was never any real definition of a “kulak.” Basically, if you had one cow and your neighbor had two, he was a kulak. Stalin announced the “liquidation of the kulaks as a class” as a necessary precondition for the progress of his program, which was, like Kamala Harris, “for the people.” Dekulakization (??????????????) was responsible for the deaths of about 5 million subjects of the workers’ paradise. This was necessary, the socialists argued, because the kulaks dominated the political party system (“for the rich, wealth begets power,” Zucman writes), because expropriating their wealth was necessary to fund benefits for the people (“The affluent,” Saez and Zucman write, “can contribute more to the public coffers. And given the revenue needs of the country, it is necessary”), because the kulaks were hoarders (under the headline “Elizabeth Warren is trying to save capitalism from itself,” David Atkins of Washington Monthly decries the “artificial lack of resources caused by the looting and hoarding of the obscenely wealthy”), etc.

But do our modern progressives really propose to liquidate these “hoarders” as a class?

Saez and Zucman write hopefully of the prospect that high tax rates would make the class of people with larger incomes “largely disappear.” Representative Ocasio-Cortez declares it “immoral” that we have a “system that allows billionaires to exist.” Marshall Steinbaum, the research director of the progressive Roosevelt Institute, wrote: “It’s increasingly clear that having wealthy people around is a luxury our society can no longer afford.”

And, so, here we are again: The kulaks must be liquidated as a class. But who is a kulak?

You may not feel like a kulak. You may take comfort in hearing that only the “tippy-top” wealthiest people are to be expropriated in the name of social justice. Those children at Covington Catholic probably didn’t think they were Nazis a week ago, either.



Trump’s Re-election Chances May Be Better Than You Think


Whether or not they like Trump, millions of voters still think the president is all that stands between them and socialism, radical cultural transformation, and social chaos.
What are Donald Trump’s chances for reelection in 2020?

If history is any guide, pretty good.

In early 1994, Bill Clinton’s approval rating after two years in office hovered around a dismal 40 percent. The first midterm elections of the Clinton presidency were an utter disaster.

A new generation of younger, more conservative Republicans led by firebrand Newt Gingrich and his “Contract with America” gave Republicans a majority in the House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years. Republicans also picked up eight Senate seats in 1994 to take majority control of both houses of Congress.

It was no wonder that Republicans thought the 1996 presidential election would be a Republican shoo-in. But Republicans nominated 73-year-old Senate leader Bob Dole, a sober but otherwise uninspired Washington fixture.

By September of 1996, “comeback kid” Clinton had a Gallup approval rating of 60 percent. Dole was crushed in an Electoral College landslide.

Barack Obama was given a similarly dismal prognosis after the 2010 midterms, when Democrats lost 63 House seats and six Senate seats. Republicans regained majority control of the House, though Democrats clung to a narrow majority in the Senate. At the time, Obama had an approval rating in the mid-40s.

Republicans once again figured Obama would be a one-term president. Yet they nominated a Dole-like candidate in the 2012 election. Republican nominee Mitt Romney had little appeal to Republicans’ conservative base and was easily caricatured by the left as an out of touch elite.

By late 2012, Obama’s approval rating was consistently at or above 50 percent, and he wound up easily beating Romney.

What is the significance of these rebound stories for Trump, who had a better first midterm result than either Clinton or Obama and similarly low approval ratings?

People, not polls, elect presidents.

Presidents run for reelection against real opponents, not public perceptions. For all the media hype, voters often pick the lesser of two evils, not their ideals of a perfect candidate.

We have no idea what the economy or the world abroad will be like in 2020. And no one knows what the country will think of the newly Democrat-controlled Congress in two years.

The public has been hearing a lot from radical new House representatives such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) and Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.). Their pledges to deliver “Medicare for All,” to phase out fossil fuels, and to abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service are occasionally delivered with snark. Tlaib recently used profanity to punctuate her desire to see Trump impeached.

But much of the public supports Trump’s agenda of deregulation, increased oil and gas production, getting tough with China on trade, and stopping illegal immigration.

What if the Democrats impeach Trump, even knowing that a Republican Senate would never convict him?

When Republicans did that to Bill Clinton, his approval rating went up. Some Republican senators even joined the Democrats in the effort to acquit Clinton. As a reward for the drawn-out drama around the impeachment, Republicans lost seats in both the 1998 and 2000 House elections.

We still don’t have any idea whom the Democrats will nominate to run against Trump. Will they go the 1996 or 2012 Republican route with a predictable has-been such as Joe Biden, who will turn 78 shortly after the 2020 election?

Well-known candidates from the Senate such as Walter Mondale in 1984, Dole in 1996, John Kerry in 2004, John McCain in 2008, and Hillary Clinton in 2016 have a poor recent track record in recent presidential elections. They are usually nominated only by process of elimination and the calling in of political chits rather than due to grassroots zeal.

Democrats can continue their hard-left drift and nominate socialist Bernie Sanders, or they can try again to elect the first female president, either Kamala Harris or Elizabeth Warren, both of whom represent the far left.

But going to extremes did not work well in 1972, when leftist Democratic Senator George McGovern was crushed by incumbent Richard Nixon. The Republicans learned that lesson earlier when they nominated Senator Barry Goldwater in 1964 and were wiped out.

Whether or not they like Trump, millions of voters still think the president is all that stands between them and socialism, radical cultural transformation, and social chaos.



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, 2019

Trump was ahead of the times: Saw years ago the trouble with open borders, while others were downplaying it

Donald Trump’s wall draws a line between two centuries. The 20th-century dream of a liberal international order is dimming. The new world order is nationalist, Western and unrepentant.

In 2015, Trump wrote the blueprint for what would become his winning election manifesto. In "Great Again", immigration, infrastructure and national security formed the basis of renewed patriotism. To get an idea of how essential building the southern wall was to his election manifesto, note the chapter title: "Immigration: Good Walls Make Good Neighbours".

No Democrat can feign shock about Trump’s border wall demand. It has been in the offing for years. Despite it forming the core of Trump’s winning election campaign, or perhaps because of it, the Democrats are holding the US government to ransom by blocking funds for construction.

Like open-border activists the world over, they use race-baiting inflammatory rhetoric to conceal the irrationality of porous border policy. But people beyond the beltway know there will be no liberty in the world unless free world nations defend their borders.

The southern border wall is estimated to cost 0.01 per cent of federal funding. It will be designed to deter people-smugglers and traffickers. Republicans are aiming to create a disincentive for gangs who profit from the movement of people across the southern border.

There is a large-scale illegal immigration problem in the US. About 400,000 migrants were caught trying to cross the border last year. Senate Republicans report 6000 were gang members. There were 60,000 unaccompanied children who arrived at the border in the last financial year — a 25 per cent increase. About 70 per cent of aspiring immigrants become victims of violence or trafficking en route to the US border.

If Trump needed evidence that the border wall constitutes a national emergency, the Democrats are providing it readily. Their refusal to support a hard border endangers US citizens while enabling criminal activity, people-smugglers and trafficking. But the irrationality of the American Left runs deep. In response to Trump’s Oval Office address on border security last week, #MeToo activist Rose McGowan tweeted: “Trump was grooming hard tonight. Hitler-Ian rhetoric.” Bette Midler compared his approach to Munchausen by proxy. It would be better simply to emphasise Trump’s historical claim that Mexico would pay for the wall.

The convulsions over border security in the US reflect the broader shift in geopolitics triggered by mass migration from the global south. Australia has fought a protracted battle to secure borders by introducing boat turnbacks and tougher vetting procedures while maintaining offshore immigration processing.

The Liberal Coalition government has thwarted 80 people-smuggling operations in five years. The Australian reported last year that 33 boats had been turned back and more than 3300 illegal immigrants denied entry.

In contrast to Australia, the EU has facilitated people-smuggling and trafficking operations by demanding open borders.

Recent data from Eurostat, the European statistical agency, found 618,780 non-EU citizens were illegally in the union. The problems caused by malformed immigration policy are comprehensive. Last year, the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees found about 43,000 migrants were unable to read or write. Despite targeted language courses, they were unable to learn German.

Language difficulties result in many migrants being unemployable in the West. The consequent welfare dependency coupled with a failure to integrate are creating a perfect storm in the West as public resentment rises in response to poorly designed migration policy.

Statistical agencies estimate the number of undocumented mig­rants in the US is about 11 million. A recent Yale University study by Fazel-Zarandi et al. put the figure at closer to double that. The think tank Federation for American Immigration Reform issued a study that estimated the cost of resettling refugees for the five years to 2016. The authors, Matthew O’Brien and Spencer Raley, included costs for various government services, public education and housing, Medicaid and food stamps. They concluded that for the first five years, resettling a refugee cost about $US79,600 ($110,200) in taxpayer funding. Across the period studied, taxpayers paid $US8.8bn for refugee resettlement.

While it is contentious to use a utilitarian calculus to assess refugees’ contribution to society, the fin­ancial crises that have rocked Western countries coupled with unprecedented debt are forcing a rethink on immigration and population policy. Many people are questioning the sustainability of mass immigration programs.

The rise of jihad as a Western condition has contributed further to public scepticism about the social and economic benefits of mass immigration and accepting large cohorts of asylum-seekers.

The argument for open borders fell foul of public opinion as violent crime rose, public debt increased and activists failed to counter evidence that lax border security had enabled terrorism.

As the backlash against porous borders grew, politicians, officials and the media no longer could depend on shaming dissenters into silence. Instead of acknowledging the failure of multiculturalism and improving border security in response to it, globalists refused to reckon with reality.

The EU and UN defended the old world order by vilifying dissenters from porous border policy as racist, xenophobic and intolerant. In late 2016, the then UN high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, lashed out at conservative politicians.

His bizarre speech at The Hague illustrated the globalist panic about democratic demands for national security. He said: “I am the global voice on human rights, universal rights; elected by all governments.” He compared Trump and Viktor Orban to Islamic State. But the emotive rhetoric failed. The political cor­rectness and collective guilt that had kept dissenters in check for decades succumbed to grassroots resistance marshalled by politicians with realist instincts.

Trump understands the new world order and the natural instinct for security that gave rise to it. He won the US presidency with the vow to make America great again in the wake of globalism. His political future is nailed to the wall.



Reality Check: Support for Single-Payer Healthcare Craters When Americans Discover Higher Taxes, Longer Wait Times

Leftists are crowing about a new public survey that they claim shows robust, or even overwhelming, support for single-payer healthcare -- which they refer to as "Medicare for All."  As usual, whenever Medicare is invoked in this context, it is imperative to note the mathematical reality that the existing program is currently on an express train to insolvency, according to government accountants.  Undaunted, an increasing number of Democrats are determined to take the financially-doomed program for seniors and massively expand it to the entire population.  And look, they say, it's popular:

Overall, a majority of Americans (56/42) initially favor "Medicare for All."  But as I've argued repeatedly, and will continue to argue, this is a disastrous policy.  It would (1) uproot well over 150,000,000 Americans from their existing healthcare arrangements, (2) hand much more unaccountable power over to an unresponsive and often incompetent federal bureaucracy, (3) inevitably increase wait times for care through rationing, (4) deeply hamper America's world-leading innovation in the critical field of medical technology, and (5) require truly enormous tax increases on every single American worker and family.  How might those, shall we say, "policy tradeoffs" sit with voters?  Not well:

The poll found that Americans initially support “Medicare-for-all,” 56 percent to 42 percent. However, those numbers shifted dramatically when people were asked about the potential impact, pro and con. Support increased when people learned “Medicare-for-all” would guarantee health insurance as a right (71 percent) and eliminate premiums and reduce out-of-pocket costs (67 percent). But if they were told that a government-run system could lead to delays in getting care or higher taxes, support plunged to 26 percent and 37 percent, respectively. “The issue that will really be fundamental would be the tax issue,” said Robert Blendon, a professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health who reviewed the poll. He pointed out that state single-payer efforts in Vermont and Colorado failed because of concerns about the tax increases needed to put them in place.

Democrats inveighed against the GOP-passed tax reform law of 2017 by warning -- falsely -- that it was a tax increase on the middle class, eventually shifting to complain that the middle class tax cuts weren't permanent (before voting en masse against making them permanent).  In light of the political anathema that is hiking taxes on the non-"rich," let there be no mistake: Single-payer health care would absolutely, positively force tax rates much higher on middle income and working class Americans.  Please recall this menu of ugly options to cover the annual (!) $3.2 to $3.8 trillion price tag (for context, the entire federal budget in 2017 was $4 trillion) of "Medicare for All," which would bend the total American healthcare cost curve upward by four-to-six trillion dollars over its first decade alone:

 The Mercatus Study -- like others -- shows that "Medicare for All" would require a federal tax hike of roughly 10% of GDP even after capturing state govt. savings.

But capturing the savings to families into a "single-payer tax" is not easy -- which is why Sanders comes up short

Perhaps the most efficient way to achieve that would be to combine the top three revenue generators listed: Raise the payroll tax (paid for by workers and employers) by ten percentage points for everyone, impose a brand new 20 percent national VAT/sales tax, and hike income tax rates across the board by ten percentage points.  Not one of those three; all of those three.  That is an extraordinary, radical, humongous package of tax increases on virtually all Americans.  Please notice that cobbling together a string of more populist "fair share" nibblings that tend to poll better would result in woefully insufficient revenues.

If the general concept of tax increases to pay for single-payer drags public support down into the 30's, how would the bruising blend of hikes mentioned above go over with Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer?

As for delays in treatment, that consequence is an unavoidable side effect of government-run systems, as we've seen at the VA, and in places like Great Britain (where entire types of surgeries are sometimes postponed nationwide for months, with even more drastic measures being debated), and Canada. 

Americans would have their existing plans canceled, be given far fewer options, wait longer (already polling at 26 percent) for care, and relinquish decision-making power to a centralized government machine under "Medicare for All."  And that's even if we somehow had a realistic or palatable way to pay for it, which we don't. 

There's a reason why this idea crashed and burned in Colorado, was abandoned in uber-liberal Vermont, and would shatter California's broken budget.  The failed state-level experiments are already speaking for themselves -- loudly.  I'll leave you with a useful refutation of the deeply misleading statistics that are often invoked to justify demolishing America's world-class healthcare status quo in favor of a government supremacist regime.



The FDA is on a mission to 'protect' you from harmless products

Regardless of how you feel about any given government shutdown, they do provide a great opportunity to evaluate what the government is actually doing when agencies are funded. A strong argument can be made that President Trump and his supporters should be eager to reopen the government so that the administration can continue its unprecedented work in cutting regulatory red tape.

However, this is not so much the case when it comes to the Food and Drug Administration. Some of the current agenda items at the FDA should leave supporters of the Trump administration scratching their heads.

While it is hard to tell what exactly is going on inside federal agencies whether the government is open or not, we do know that the FDA, the agency charged with ensuring the safety of critical consumer products such as medicine, cosmetics, and, of course, food, is considering major regulatory actions against products that not only aren’t hurting anyone, but allow consumers to reduce their risk of having life-threatening illnesses.

The FDA’s crusade against e-cigarettes and other reduced-risk nicotine products is the one grabbing the most attention. Commissioner Scott Gottlieb last Friday just trial-ballooned the prospect of completely banning e-cigarettes and vaping products. FDA also appears to be considering a regulation on using dairy terms in the name of plant-based products.

That’s right, the FDA is positioning itself to go after almond milk and vegan cheese.

The current impasse over funding the government is entirely about immigration and border security, but this seems like as good a time as any to ask why we’re funding what can only be described as radical nanny-statism at the FDA. Vaping and vegan products aren’t likely to find a lot of sympathizers outside of the people who actually consume them. But perception and popularity generally do not breed good policy, which is a reason why we supposedly have “independent” regulatory agencies like the FDA.

The idea that companies using dairy terms in their plant-based product names constitutes a crisis deserving FDA attention is ridiculous on its face and most certainly does not justify a massive breach of these companies’ First Amendment rights. What’s more likely happening here is a giveaway to the dairy industry in terms of a regulatory boot on the neck of their competitors — as if the billions of dollars in direct and indirect subsidies for dairy producers are not enough. There are already regulations forcing companies to clearly list the ingredients of their food products.

If these are insufficient to protect people from getting confused by almond milk, then that’s a problem for the Department of Education, not the FDA.

Despite the obvious public health crisis presented by conventional cigarette use, there is no evidence to suggest that e-cigarettes and vaping products constitute any sort of major threat. Nicotine is undeniably addictive, however it is not known to cause cancer. Getting products to market that will safely deliver nicotine to the millions of people who struggle to quit smoking or choose not to will save countless lives, not endanger them. Other countries realize the amazing benefits offered by reduced-risk nicotine products, not emergencies. According to Cancer Research UK, “Switching from tobacco to e-cigarettes substantially reduces a major health risk.”

Cancer Research UK further adds that no significant evidence exists that the chemicals in the vapor emitted from these products present any danger:

"Some studies have found chemicals in e-cigarette vapour that are known to cause health problems. But these studies have tended to use artificial conditions, and when good quality e-cigarettes are used normally (e.g. not overheated), there are far fewer harmful chemicals present in the vapour than in tobacco smoke. If the e-liquid is being overheated it tends to produce an acrid, unpleasant taste — you’ll know if this happens."

Restricting e-cigarette and vaping products because they might be dangerous when misused is a terrible precedent to set in terms of consumer product safety. It’s hard to imagine a product that isn’t potentially dangerous when misused.

When the government inevitably opens back up, most Americans will likely be relieved to have government watchdogs back on their normal beat. However, the overzealous agenda of the current FDA begs the question: What good is a watchdog that gets distracted and bites innocent people?



Trump hatred among British conservatives too

There's still a small segment of the GOP that doesn't like Trump (think Jeff Flake). There's a larger segment in Britain

Britain’s Telegraph newspaper has apologised and paid damages to US first lady Melania Trump after publishing an article it says contained many false statements.

The newspaper said on Saturday it apologises “unreservedly” to Mrs Trump and her family for any embarrassment caused by the content of a cover story published on January 19 in the newspaper’s weekly magazine supplement.

“As a mark of our regret we have agreed to pay Mrs Trump substantial damages as well as her legal costs,” The Telegraph said.

The newspaper did not disclose the size of the settlement with Mrs Trump. The Telegraph said it falsely characterised Mrs Trump’s father’s personality, falsely reported the reasons she left an architecture program, and falsely reported her career as a model was unsuccessful before she met Donald Trump.

“We accept that Mrs Trump was a successful professional model in her own right before she met her husband and obtained her own modelling work without his assistance,” the newspaper said, also acknowledging it had incorrectly reported the year when the couple first met.

“The claim that Mrs Trump cried on election night is also false,” The Telegraph said.

It also retracted the statement that Mrs Trump’s father, mother and sister had relocated to New York in 2005 to live in buildings owned by Trump.

The Telegraph is one of Britain’s leading broadsheet newspapers and is traditionally aligned with the Conservative Party.

It is not the first time Mrs Trump has successfully challenged the British press.

She received damages and an apology from the Daily Mail in 2017 after bringing a libel action against the popular tabloid.



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, 2019

Barmaid Sandy


That she has a degree in economics and international relations proves that if you have a good rack and Leftist attitudes you don't actually have to know anything


Britain is doing well economically under a conservative administration too

The number of people in work has hit another high and wages have continued to grow at their fastest pace in a decade despite a slowdown in the economy and the uncertainty created by Brexit.

Employment rose by 141,000 to 32.5 million in the three months to November, the highest since records began in 1971, the Office for National Statistics said. While unemployment increased by 8,000 to 1.37 million, the total is 68,000 lower than a year ago. This pushed the jobless rate to 4 per cent, the lowest since 1975.



Leftists are attacking America’s bedrock institutions to advance “social justice”

Progressives want to radically transform America’s noble experiment in self-government, the securing of inalienable rights of the individual, and the rule of law within the structure of a constitutional republic. They prefer a model of an all-powerful government expanding its reach as necessary to bring about their evolving conception of a virtuous society. They use epithets such as “racist” and “bigot” to silence opposition to their leftist agenda and try to ruin the livelihoods of those who won't be silenced. When that does not work, progressives resort to “hate speech” codes enforced by sympathetic social media and college campus censors.

The liberal media’s darling and possible candidate for the presidency, former Democrat Representative Beto O'Rourke, questioned whether the United States can “still be managed by the same principles that were set down 230-plus years ago.” That’s nothing new for progressives. They have been mouthing much the same thing for over a century, from Woodrow Wilson through Barack Obama and beyond. They believe that the Constitution is nothing more than an outdated document written by dead white males to protect their property interests.

President Woodrow Wilson, the progressives’ hero who was a blatant racist himself, urged that the Constitution be treated as a living document and that its core principle of checks and balances be discarded.  “No living thing can have its organs offset against each other, as checks, and live,” he wrote.

Barack Obama criticized the Constitution’s focus on “negative liberties” rather than saying “what the federal government or state government must do on your behalf.” Obama had in mind “the issues of redistribution of wealth, and of more basic issues such as political and economic justice in society.”

In an op-ed column for the New York Times entitled “Let’s Give Up on the Constitution,” a progressive law professor, Louis Michael Seidman, wrote that “our insistence on obedience to the Constitution, with all its archaic, idiosyncratic and downright evil provisions” is to blame for “a dysfunctional political system.” In a law review article that he wrote in 2018, the professor defined progressivism today as “a modern political stance favoring an activist government that strives to achieve the public good, including the correction of unjust distributions produced by the market and the dismantling of power hierarchies based on traits like race, nationality, gender, class, and sexual orientation.”

Progressives are not content with tearing down the U.S. Constitution’s pillars of liberty to advance their idea of “the public good.” They also believe it necessary to delegitimize traditional Western religious beliefs and their adherents as evil vestiges of racism, sexism, and homophobia.

“Christians became moral renegades,” wrote Rachel Lu, a contributor at The Federalist, “because the mainstream culture shifted, leaving our beliefs ‘on the wrong side of history’ as progressives have envisioned it. We’re vilified for maintaining positions that have been embedded in the Christian tradition for centuries. If the dominant culture can change enough to permit this level of kulturkampf against an ancient Western faith, who can say how much further it might go?”

Totalitarian purges and persecutions in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries demonstrate how much further such enforced cultural transformation can go. Progressives like to think of themselves as too enlightened to go down such a destructive path. However, they mimic the dogma of the French Revolution’s Republic of Virtue that perverted the reasoned enlightened thought and political philosophy upon which the Founding Fathers had drawn for their own inspiration.

The Founding Fathers sought to preserve individual freedom of worship and practice while eschewing the establishment of any official state religion. French revolutionary zealots, on the other hand, sought to de-Christianize France as much as possible. Their secular belief, based on the slogan "Liberté, égalité, fraternité," was intended to replace religious beliefs. Temples of Reason took the place of churches, which were treated as the enemies of the Republic of Virtue.

Progressives today target traditional religious beliefs to make way for the dominance of secularism in all realms of American society. Moral absolutes of good and evil based on religious truths get in the way of progressives’ application of evolving cultural norms to define morality. In arguing for their belief in moral relativism, they seek to marginalize people of faith and interfere with their freedom of religion. Progressives use all instruments available to them to enforce their code of secular virtues.

For example, progressives are using activist courts to force Christian photographers and bakers to employ their expressive skills to celebrate same-sex weddings. An activist federal judge in Pennsylvania just blocked the Trump administration from implementing a rule that would have allowed employers to decline to offer contraceptive coverage in their health insurance policies on moral or religious grounds.

Progressives troll and slander people of faith on social media. A recent example is the vicious onslaught against Second Lady Karen Pence for daring to decide to teach art at a traditional Christian school in Virginia. One anti-religion progressive tweeted that “Karen Pence is an extremist bigot” and “a dangerous monster” who is “unfit to even be around kids, let alone teach them.” A fellow hater of religion replied that “exposing children to the toxic virus of religion before they are 21 should be considered child abuse.”

This anti-religion attitude has moved from social media to the halls of Congress. Nominees for federal judgeships have been lambasted for their personal religious views during Senate confirmation hearings. For example, Senator Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Senator Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, quizzed Brian Buescher, President Trump’s nominee for the U.S. District Court in Nebraska, over his membership in the Catholic charity organization known as the Knights of Columbus. The senators were uncomfortable with some of the religious-based stances the Knights of Columbus organization has taken on such issues as same-sex marriage and abortion. They wanted to know if Mr. Buescher would resign from the Knights of Columbus once he is confirmed. Last year, Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., went after another Trump nominee for the federal bench, Amy Coney Barrett, for her Catholic beliefs. “When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern,” Senator Feinstein said. Evidently, these senators have forgotten that Article VI of the Constitution states that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

The zealots of the French Revolution went after people who, in their minds, had strayed from the path of virtue and expressed impure thoughts favoring the interests of the rich and powerful propertied classes. The progressives of today likewise believe, in the words of Professor Seidman, that free speech “favors status quo distributions and, so, the rich and powerful.”  He added that “the free speech right tends to obstruct the realization of progressive objectives.”

It follows, therefore, that progressives must seek to enforce their own code of acceptable speech. Words deemed offensive to certain “oppressed” identity groups would themselves be considered acts of violence that must be suppressed. Anyone who crosses the line is subject to boycott, ostracism, vitriolic personal attacks online, firing and even physical assault.

Of course, progressives can hurl pretty much any epithet at Christians and Jews they want and get away with it. They hide behind the First Amendment. But, for example, when a public high school teacher simply declined, out of religious conviction, to use the politically correct pronoun for a self-identified transgender student, the teacher was fired. “I am being punished for what I haven’t said,” the fired teacher told a Virginia newspaper. After all, once you know the gender that someone identifies with, “if you continue to misgender them, that’s when you get into violent territory,” wrote a transgender activist.

During the French Revolution, the Enragés were a direct action group who advocated radical measures including violence to achieve social and economic transformation on behalf of the poor who constituted the bottom 90 percent of the population.

Today’s progressives are the 21st century’s version of the Enragés, without there being anything remotely close in the United States to the horrendous conditions that inflamed the rage of the French masses. Progressives wear their rage on their sleeves. Just recall those who disrupted the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings, hounded senators at their homes, issued death threats, and then clawed at the Supreme Court doors when they did not get their way. Protesters in the third anti-Trump Women’s March this weekend held up signs with radical slogans such as “White Old Men…Extinction Nearing!” and “Pussy is God.”

There is little difference between today’s version of progressivism and democratic socialism. Both call for radical change in America’s government, economy and society in the service of “social justice” for the “oppressed.”

The New York Democratic Socialists of America  tweeted last year their core demands: "Abolish profit, abolish prisons, abolish cash bail, abolish borders." Its platform has moved to the House of Representatives in the person of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America who was recently elected as a progressive Democrat congresswoman from New York. She is leading the charge for such radical ideas as confiscatory taxes, a rapid change-over to a fossil fuel free economy, government-run health care for all, and open borders. “I do think we are in a crisis of late-stage capitalism,” she claimed. Evidently, historically low unemployment, including for African-Americans and Hispanics, is a “crisis” according to the self-described radical Ms. Ocasio-Cortez.

We are at the crossroads that Ronald Reagan foresaw nearly fifty-five years ago in his 1964 speech entitled “A Time for Choosing.”  He observed that “the full power of centralized government was the very thing the Founding Fathers sought to minimize. Either we accept the responsibility for our own destiny, or we abandon the American Revolution and confess that an intellectual belief in a far-distant capitol can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.”

The progressives want our country to abandon the American Revolution and its legacy of constrained governmental power and the protection of individuals’ inalienable rights. In the progressives’ version of the French Revolution’s Republic of Virtue, border barriers are “immoral,” masculinity is “toxic,” all white persons in America are born “privileged,” due process depends on the racial or sexual identity of the accused and accuser, and biological sex is no more than an “oppressive” social construct.  Equality of outcome must be enforced through massive government action to redistribute wealth and control major sectors of the economy. All this does not represent the land of the free that many of us grew up in. Rather, we would be taking what Ronald Reagan described as “the first step into a thousand years of darkness.”



The crusade against masculinity

Courage, stoicism and autonomy are things we should all strive for

Toxic masculinity has emerged as the target of choice of many identitarians. That said, the term itself has almost become redundant, since masculinity itself is now increasingly framed as toxic, as a kind of poison.

The recent entry of the term ‘toxic masculinity’ into mainstream media discussions – as we saw last week with the controversy over Gillette’s #MeToo-inspired advert – coincides with a growing tendency to cast men, especially white men, as the key obstacle to a just, ‘inclusive’ and ‘diverse’ society. It is important to note that the crusade is not simply against men, but against the values associated with men. Outwardly, the wrath of the campaign is directed against male violence, entitlement and sexual aggressiveness. But this crusade is also intensely hostile to virtues such as courage, risk-taking, self-control and stoicism. These once-celebrated values are treated as pathologies.

The invention of toxic masculinity is really an attempt to pathologise masculine identity. Our era is characterised by the flourishing and celebration of a growing number of identities, but it makes an exception for male identity. That cannot be celebrated. Indeed, male identity has all but become what the sociologist Erving Goffman, in his classic study Stigma, characterised as a ‘spoiled identity’.

A spoiled identity is one that lacks any redeeming moral qualities. It is an identity that invites stigma and scorn. What is perhaps unique to the spoiled identity of masculinity is that it has not only been morally devalued – it has also been medicalised. The American Psychological Association, for example, recently published guidelines for dealing with boys and men which explicitly present masculinity as a medical problem.

According to the APA, traditional masculinity is ‘marked by stoicism, competitiveness’; it casually couples these values with ‘dominance and aggression’. It says that the bad habits associated with masculinity, ‘like suppressing emotions and masking distress’, often start early in life and are ‘psychologically harmful’.

Psychology has a long history of denigrating identities by medicalising them. Until the 1970s, homosexuality was broadly treated as an illness. Today, it seems, it is the turn of masculinity to be cast in the role of a dangerous pathology.

These guidelines reflect a wider cultural crusade against masculinity which is aimed at re-engineering boys and young men. As one of the authors of the guidelines, Ryon McDermott explains, ‘If we can change men, [then] we can change the world’. From this standpoint, masculinity is the moral equivalent of a disease that must be eradicated.

Since the rapid ascendancy of the #MeToo movement, the moral crusade against masculinity has gained widespread support among the cultural elites and mainstream media. And now psychology is providing the intellectual resources that might give this crusade the authority of scientific expertise.

In truth, though, it is not science but moralising that informs the APA guidelines. The APA condemns so-called masculine values while counterposing them to what it considers emotionally correct values.

Since the 1990s, the emotional inadequacy of men has been a constant theme in psychological literature. The central argument being that the failure of men to seek help, display their emotions and acknowledge their vulnerability harms them and others. The term ‘toxic masculinity’ has been developed to disparage stoic men who are drawn towards autonomous behaviour and self-control.

The apparent inability of masculinity to acquiesce to weakness is framed as a fatal flaw in the male psyche. Self-control and the aspiration for individual autonomy are presented as psychologically destructive impulses. Indeed, the therapeutic profession has continually decried the tendency of young boys to aspire to autonomy. As two British psychologists, Dan Kindlon and Michael Thompson, wrote in The Times in 1999, ‘Stereotypical ideas about masculine toughness deny a boy his emotions and rob him of the chance to develop the full range of emotional resources’.

This new hostility to masculine values is not simply a hostility to men. Women who display such ‘masculine’ characteristics as self-control and strong ambition have also come under intense suspicion. Men who act like women are clearly preferred to women who behave like men. According to today’s emotionally correct hierarchy, feminine women come out on top, feminine men beat masculine women for second place, and ‘macho’ men come last.

The stigmatisation of masculine behaviour actually corrodes the psychological and moral development of boys and young men. Young boys are continually taught that they are morally and emotionally inferior to their female counterparts. Many of them are led to believe that unless they cease behaving like boys, they will never become emotionally literate and be able to cope with the challenges of life. Teaching children that masculine behaviour is a cultural crime disorients young boys. Many young men today find the transition to adulthood confusing because values that are associated with being a man receive so little cultural validation.

Humanity as a whole suffers from this crusade against values that are (wrongly) attributed to men. Courage, autonomy and risk-taking have been central to the development of the human spirit. Contrary to the APA’s new guidelines, the ethos of stoicism serves well those who face difficult experiences. Humanist values will suffer a severe setback if this crusade against so-called male values continues.



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)


27 January, 2019

All babies are born equal, no matter their race or class (?)

Do-gooder BS gets really extreme here.  What they did was equalize the mothers in major ways and then discovered that their babies were equal too!  If a student had handed me a research proposal as dumb as that, I would have failed it.  IQ, health and much else is inherited and IQ is quite well related to physical health, wealth, social position etc. So the equalizations they did would have strongly equalized IQ as well

But that's not the worst of it. They examined IQ only up to age 2.  That is also hilarious.  You cannot reliably measure IQ at age 2.  Any scores you get at that age have little or no relation to scores at ages 16 or 30 (for instance)

What a shemozzle!  Totally unwarranted inferences from a brainless study

Babies born in similar circumstances will thrive regardless of race or ­geography, Oxford-led research has found, quashing the idea that race or class determines intelligence.

In a scientific first, the team of ­researchers tracked the physical and intellectual development of babies around the world from the earliest days after conception to age two.

“At every single stage we’ve shown that healthy mothers have healthy ­babies and that healthy babies all grow at exactly the same rate,” said Prof ­Stephen Kennedy, the co-director of the Oxford Maternal and Perinatal Health Institute.

“It doesn’t matter where you are living, it doesn’t matter what the colour of your skin is, it doesn’t matter what your race and ­ethnicity is, receiving decent medical care and nutrition is the key.”

The INTERGROWTH-21st Project, led jointly by Prof Kennedy and Prof José Villar at Oxford, involved nearly 60,000 mothers and babies, tracking growth in the womb, then followed more than 1,300 of the children, measuring growth and development.

The mothers – in locations as diverse as Brazil, India and Italy – were chosen because they were in good health and lived in similar, clean, urban environments. Their babies scored similarly on both physical and intellectual development.

The study should help settle the debate over the role of genetics in determining intelligence, which has been rumbling since the publication of Charles Murray’s The Bell Curve in the Nineties. The book argued that a “cognitive elite” was becoming separated from the general population.

“There’s still a substantial body of opinion out there in both the scientific and lay communities who genuinely believe that intelligence is predominantly determined by genes and the environment that you’re living in and that your parents and grandparents were living in and their nutritional and health status are not relevant,” said Prof Kennedy. “Well, that’s clearly not the case.”



Another Nuclear Option to Clear Judicial Backlog?

If there's one thing President Donald Trump has been dogged about — besides feeding his Twitter habit — it's the pace he's kept in sending judicial nominees to the Senate. For most of the first half of his term, he was getting approvals at a blistering pace. But as the 115th Congress closed, the petulant antics of lame-duck GOP Sen. Jeff Flake left the president with dozens of nominees who didn't get through the process. As our Thomas Gallatin wrote late last year, "Hopefully, with Flake gone and a larger majority, Senate Republicans can make up lost ground and get Trump's nominees confirmed at a rapid pace."

To that end, President Trump has renominated a slate of 51 jurists — including one for Brett Kavanaugh's old seat and another for a newly created judgeship in the U.S. Court of Military Commission Review — in his latest effort to put a dent in the 140 judicial vacancies currently without nominees. (Six vacancies in various district courts have nominees pending.) One would think that without Flake to gum up the works and an enhanced Senate majority of 53 Republican senators — a majority that makes moderates like Maine's Susan Collins and Alaska's Lisa Murkowski less of an obstacle in seating conservative jurists — that Trump's nominees would sail through.

Unfortunately, minority Democrats have found a new stalling tactic as they try to run out the clock on Trump's term. Hot Air's Jazz Shaw points out, "The reason for this [delay is] the fact that Democrats are dragging their feet as much as possible and demanding a full 30 hours of allowable debate after cloture, even in cases where no serious objections have been raised and the candidate will clearly be confirmed anyway." At 30 hours per nominee, confirmation is like pulling teeth.

Shaw further notes that when Republicans were in the minority during the Obama administration, they reached an informal agreement with Democrats to limit debate to eight hours. It's doubtful Chuck Schumer intends to play nice like the GOP did, though.

In that same vein, Washington Examiner analyst Quin Hillyer suggests that those holdovers previously nominated be waived through the Senate committee process. According to Senate rules, the leadership can order that nominees bypass committee, writes Hillyer, and in this case it's appropriate because the nominees were vetted by the previous Congress. This process wouldn't be used for new nominees, but it could clear the backlog.

During the Obama administration, Democrats tried to paint Republicans as constituting a "do-nothing Congress." Now that we have a Democrat-controlled House bent on investigating Donald Trump and a rump coalition of 47 Democrat senators who exist simply to be obstinate rather than do the people's business, these suggestions have been placed in the hopper. Trump can now at least focus on the judicial branch — a task that's always time well spent. But he's going to need help from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.



Under Trump, US Economic Freedom Rises Significantly

The U.S. economy is roaring like no other time in recent memory. The job market is hot, unemployment is down to record lows, and small business optimism is soaring.

But this newfound dynamism didn’t come from nowhere. It required a package of market and consumer-friendly reforms passed by Congress and adopted by the Trump administration. These reforms have boosted economic freedom.

According to The Heritage Foundation’s 2019 Index of Economic Freedom, America’s economic freedom has seen a dramatic boost—from 18th place in the world to 12th place in the span of just one year. America’s score ticked up by more than a full point from last year, reaching the highest level in eight years.

The annual index—now celebrating its 25th year—provides an overall snapshot of almost every country’s level of economic freedom. It takes into account a variety of factors, like taxation, regulation, and trade. It is relevant to our job prospects and the prices we pay for goods and services, not to mention what kind of appliances and cars we can choose and buy.

Higher economic freedom scores tend to correlate with faster growth and broader economic expansion, as well as higher incomes and overall wealth. In fact, per capita incomes in the freest countries as measured by the index are six to seven times higher than incomes in the least free countries.

With that in mind, the United States’ notable rebound is very good news.

The vibrant growth we’re feeling has been unleashed by several key policy changes over the past two years, the most important being the 2017 tax cuts and deregulation. Real gross domestic product grew by upward of 3 percent over the last four quarters—unlike anything seen in the last 13 years. No wonder small business optimism has risen.

More remarkably, almost half of the states in the union now enjoy their lowest unemployment rates ever recorded by the Labor Department. Wages are rising for the first time in two decades, with an overall unemployment rate of 3.8 percent, matching the lowest rate in 50 years.

As the index has demonstrated since its first edition in 1995, the overarching objective of economic policies should be to create an environment that empowers people with more choices, thereby encouraging greater dynamism, business creation, and economic expansion.

Fortunately, some policymakers, both in the U.S. and abroad, have been paying attention to the data presented in the index. More than half of the countries ranked in this year’s index registered gains in economic freedom.

Others have stuck with discredited models of state planning and centralized control, and have reaped the consequences. Regrettably, the world remains divided between those who have economic freedom and those who do not.

This year’s index results give cause for cautious optimism, but show that the task of restoring America’s economic freedom is far from complete. As the U.S. economy is becoming more vibrant, the coming months and years present unique opportunities to implement more freedom-oriented economic policies.

America should build upon its new momentum. Why would we heap on more government spending, protectionism, and taxes?

Cutting the corporate tax rate to a competitive level was a critical step to freeing up capital for investment. Reducing government spending remains equally vital to enhancing economic freedom and improving the country’s overall economic performance.

It is also vital to keep the economy open to flows of international trade and investment. Protectionist policies are sure to hamper growth and reduce prosperity within the U.S., for individuals and businesses alike.

Delivering on policies that will promote economic freedom in these areas is key to making sure this rebound in dynamism doesn’t come to an abrupt halt.

2019 is the year of renewed opportunity for America. We must not let it go to waste.



End of Net Neutrality Brings Booming Broadband Growth

A recent report from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) shows that the removal of Title II regulations — or net neutrality — in 2017 helped boost the growth of broadband and close the digital divide.

In what FCC Chairman Ajit Pai called "a stunning drop," the number of Americans lacking access to fixed terrestrial broadband service of 100 megabits per second download and 10 Mbps upload plummeted 56 percent — from 78.9 million to 34.8 million.

Those lacking access to the minimum broadband standard of 25/3 Mbps decreased from 24.8 million to 19.4 million.

"In other words, the digital divide is closing," Pai wrote.

Meanwhile, competition is increasing. The report also points out that the number of Americans who have at least two wired broadband providers offering 100/10 Mbps competing for their business rose from 26 percent to 54.5 percent.

Pai also noted that wireless providers increased their capital investment in 2017 while prices went down an average of 11 percent.

While Title II regulations weren’t removed until June 2018 when the order was finalized, Pai made it clear after taking the chairman’s post in January 2017 that we would reverse former chairman Tom Wheeler’s 2015 move to establish the regulations. The report shows that the market responded.

Roslyn Layton of the American Enterprise Institute pointed out this past December that a year after that decision the internet is humming right along. She pointed out that the FCC actually "added cops to beat," restoring power to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to police the internet.

Layton wrote that while the FTC oversaw the internet from 1996 to 2015, the web "experienced massive growth and success." The FTC took 500 actions against internet service providers during that time and fined one ISP $100 million for transparency violations in 2014, she noted.

Pai and the FCC look ahead to a 2019 in which internet growth keeps going.

"As we head into 2019, we are on the right track, and we aim to keep these positive trends going," Pai wrote. "We will continue to close the digital divide and bring better, faster, cheaper broadband to all Americans by continuing to eliminate barriers to infrastructure investment and broadband deployment and promoting innovation."



Trump Administration Asks Supreme Court to Review Census Citizenship Case

The Trump administration is asking the Supreme Court to hear a case on including a citizenship question on the 2020 census.

Last week, federal Judge Jesse M. Furman of the Southern District of New York ruled the Census Bureau could not ask about citizenship. The judge ruled the question would lead to undercounting illegal residents and Hispanics.

“This is the right step for the administration to take, as the 2020 census needs to be printed soon. The United States is a nation-state constituted to safeguard the rights of American citizens, and the only distinction colorblind government should take note of is citizenship. It is irrational that the census can ask a question on race, ethnicity, sex and everything else, but not citizenship,” says Mike Gonzalez, a senior fellow at the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy at The Heritage Foundation.

On Tuesday, the Trump administration moved to bypass the appeals courts, and take the issue straight to the Supreme Court, given the urgency to prepare the U.S. Census. The case would normally be appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit.

“Time is of the essence,” Hans von Spakovsky, senior legal fellow with The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal. “It takes a long lead time to print the millions of census forms.”

He noted bypassing the regular appeals process is a very rare request and very rarely granted.

Von Spakovsky and Gonzalez published an op-ed in The Daily Signal Saturday, saying, “The administration must wage a fierce fight to get this decision overturned,” referring to Furman’s ruling.

Solicitor General Noel Francisco petitioned the court, arguing, the “case is of such imperative public importance as to justify deviation from normal appellate practice and to require immediate determination in this Court.”

The plaintiffs challenging the citizenship question include several advocacy groups, 18 states, and several cities and jurisdictions.

Currently, all 50 states count the entire population when it comes to redistricting for state legislative seats. However, based on a 2015 Supreme Court ruling, states would be allowed to set their own standards—such as citizenship or even registered voters—so long as the standard is uniform and complies with the 14th Amendment, said Logan Churchwell, a spokesman for the Public Interest Legal Foundation.

The entire population includes illegal immigrants.

The organization has filed an amicus brief on the side of the administration in the case.

“Without citizenship data in the census, where you live determines the protection you have under the Voting Rights Act,” Churchwell told The Daily Signal.

Churchwell said citizenship data would also make it easier for the Justice Department to know whether to investigate if certain maps are drawn in a constitutional way, in compliance with the 14th Amendment.

He said counting noncitizens or illegal immigrants also disproportionately harms African-American voters by making Hispanic districts larger and decreasing the size of predominantly black districts. He pointed to the Los Angeles City Commission as an example.

Counting citizenship “could be the Trump administration’s greatest legacy in terms of empowering and enfranchising African-Americans and helping African-Americans get elected,” Churchwell said.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who oversees the Census Bureau, announced the policy to include a citizenship question last year. The plaintiffs sought to stop the case from proceeding until litigation was solved on whether Ross could be compelled to testify. The Supreme Court ruled last week that it would not stop the trial from going forward over the dispute about the Ross testimony.

There are separate cases in Maryland and California litigating the same matter, The Washington Post reported.



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, 2019

I'm back already

My procedure went unexpectedly well and I am now out of hospital and back to normal.  So I am posting today but will be observing my usual Sabbath tomorrow


Shutdown alarm is unfounded

There's a view that the President is elected to adminster the law only, not to create it or force it to be created.  Trump, however, is doing what he does on the authority of the voters. They voted for the wall in voting for him.  It was his big issue.  He has a democratic mandate to build the wall. So I think we have here a case of divided authority rather than one branch of government usurping the authority of another

According to Congressional Budget Office (CBO) data, the federal government spent $3.9 trillion in 2017. In Argentina, total federal spending in 2017 was $161 billion.

The above statistical disparity rates mention in consideration of all the hand wringing related to the partial federal government shutdown in the U.S. Supposedly an elongated one would slam the brakes on the U.S. economic expansion. No less than J.P. Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon observed this week that a prolonged shuttering of one quarter of the federal government could “reduce growth to zero.”

Dimon would be wise to relax. So would others convinced that government spending is a substantial driver of U.S. economic vitality. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Implicit in what’s wholly false is that Argentina’s economy is a fraction of the U.S.’s simply because its politicians are quite a bit more parsimonious than are the members of Congress. Such a view isn’t serious, but it’s a reminder of just how much statistics can obscure reality.

Simply put, Argentina’s federal spending is a fraction of U.S. federal spending precisely because its economic output is a fraction of what takes place stateside. Just the same, federal spending in the U.S. dwarfs that of other countries precisely because the U.S. economy is quite a bit larger than other country economies.

Governments only have money to spend insofar as the private sector in countries produces wealth for them to spend. Congress was able to spend $4.1 trillion (according to CBO data) in 2018 because American output is many multiples of $4.1 trillion.

Governments can’t stimulate economic growth with spending; rather their spending is only possible because of economic growth. Applied to the partial shutdown of the federal government, what limits government spending logically cannot limit economic growth. Figure that if there were a permanent cessation of a quarter of federal activity, the result would be trillions worth of extra resources for private actors to put to work.

Readers might think about the above for a moment. When our federal government spends, it means that Nancy Pelosi, Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump are playing a substantial role in the allocation of trillions worth of wealth first created in the private sector. On the other hand, when fewer dollars flow to Washington it happily means that people like Jeff Bezos, Peter Thiel and Travis Kalanick have more in the way of resources to experiment with. Yet defenders of the big government status quo persist.

In a client report written last week, Regions Bank chief economist Richard Moody lamented that the partial shutdown would disrupt the “flow of economic data” at a “most inopportune time given increased uncertainty about over the course of the U.S. economy.” Moody unwittingly makes the case the case for a more permanent shutdown.

Lest he forget, arguably the most scrutinized of all economic statistics produced by the federal government is the one that measures the rate of unemployment in the U.S. Yet too often unsaid here is how totally unnecessary the report is. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) employs 2,500 people at a cost of $640 million annually to produce its monthly unemployment report. Each month, meanwhile, the private company ADP releases a report two days ahead of the BLS's that nearly mimics the BLS's, all at no expense to the taxpayer. There is a market demand for reliable employment data, and the market is providing it. What works for unemployment can logically work for any other statistic that economists claim to be necessary for them to do their jobs. If it’s necessary, private actors can do it without burdening every American with the cost.

The point of all this is that true believers in limited government would be wise to not let this partial government shutdown go to waste. Instead, proponents of a shrunken federal footprint should seriously address whether or not many people in a country populated by over 300 million have actually noticed a difference in their lives in the past few weeks. 

Indeed, arguably the most vivid lesson of the shutdown is being overlooked. 800,000 furloughed federal employees, and what, exactly, is the noticeable harm?  The media trumpet the federal employees’ missed paychecks and niche difficulties faced by the citizenry (economists and financial types lacking economic data, for instance), but what goes unreported is that for 95% of the population, life goes on essentially unaffected in any material way. What better evidence that our government spending is mostly waste and make-work?

So while alarmists will continue to promote false notions about the “lost” economic growth that will result from the political class wasting fewer dollars, reality will continue to intrude on what’s not serious as most get on with their lives properly indifferent to what at least temporarily limits the activities of ¼ of our federal behemoth.

Which brings up a challenge that is also an opportunity. What hasn’t affected voters after three weeks will similarly not affect them after three years. If Republicans really want to prove how unnecessary our $4 trillion federal government is, keep it shut down through the 2021. The economy will boom in the interim thanks to a shrunken federal burden, and a long-term point will have been made about the good of shrinking Leviathan to all of our betterment.



The 7 Most Insane Licensing Proposals of 2019 (So Far)

State lawmakers target pet groomers, drain cleaners, interior designers, pecan buyers, athletic trainers, antler dealers, and....art therapists?

The new year brought the opening of many state legislative sessions, and the opening of state legislative sessions has brought a predictable but disappointing flurry of new licensing proposals.

Today, nearly 30 percent of American workers need a license to do their jobs, up from just 5 percent in the 1950s. The majority of that growth, as the White House noted in a 2016 report on licensure, comes "from an increase in the number of professions that require a license rather than composition in the workforce."

Some states seem to have gotten wise to the economic problems that excessive licensing can cause—one study has found that licensing laws across all 50 states resulted in 2.85 million fewer jobs and cost consumers more than $200 billion annually. As Reason detailed last week, the governors of Ohio and Idaho took action in early 2019 to join three other states—Louisiana, Nebraska, and Oklahoma—in approving important reforms that curtail the power of licensing boards and increase economic freedom.

Unfortunately, many state lawmakers seem determined to continue the expansion of occupational licensing into professions where there is little public health or safety justification for these barriers to employment.

"We know occupational licensing reduces consumer choice, increases prices, and keeps people out of jobs. It also criminalizes innocent behavior," says Shoshana Weissman, digital media director and policy fellow at the R Street Institute, which tracks these and other state legislative proposals, and advocates for licensing reforms. "Are we willing to fine people or throw them in jail for practicing interior design or being a health coach without a license? This is insanity and it hurts real people."

Insanity, indeed. Here are the five worst occupational licensing proposals of 2019—so far.

Pet Groomers (New Jersey and New York)

Two states are proposing new regulations for anyone who makes money by bathing, brushing, clipping, or styling a pet, and New Jersey's proposal is a particularly good example of how bad licensing laws get on the books.

The bill offered by three members of the state assembly would create a new licensing board—the New Jersey State Board of Pet Groomers—consisting of three members of the public, three pet groomers, two veterinarians, and one governor-appointee. The bill, as currently written, would delegate pretty much all rulemaking authority to the newly created board. The board would get to set qualification requirements, including a written and practical test that applicants would have to pass, and would determine licensing fees as well as fines for unlicensed pet grooming. The board would also be empowered to investigate and even shut down pet groomers that it determined were not meeting the board's standards.

All of that might sound fine—no one wants their pet to get a bad haircut—but those types of provisions are the makings of an anti-competitive cartel. The groomers and veterinarians on the board have an incentive to limit competition and control a majority of the votes. By proposing to delegate so much authority to the board, the state lawmakers have effectively eliminated their own role in the lawmaking process—and are effectively allowing the board to do whatever it wants.

That's not just unwise, it might also run afoul of a 2014 Supreme Court ruling that requires state lawmakers to actively supervise licensing boards.

Pecan Buyers (Texas)

Should it be a crime to buy nuts without a government-issued permission slip? At least one state lawmaker in Texas (Rep. Mary González) thinks so. Her bill would require anyone "engaged in the business of purchasing in-shell pecans from a pecan producer" to be licensed by the state—though grocery stores would be exempted.

Getting the license would require the payment of a fee of $400 and showing government-issued identification. What's really pernicious about González' proposal, though, is the record-keeping requirement imposed on those licensed pecan buyers. Licensed pecan buyers would have to maintain up-to-date records of all purchases, including the date and location of the transaction, the license plate number of the seller's vehicle (along with the make and model), and the address "or physical location of the tree" where the pecans originated.

Failure to keep those records accurately would trigger a $250 fine, and each violation could be another fine. Assuming that pecan buyers in Texas are probably buying thousands if not millions of pecans every month, well, those fines could add up fast.

Athletic Trainers (West Virginia)

Despite living in one of America's least healthy states, three state lawmakers in West Virginia have decided that what their state really needs is fewer personal trainers.

There are plenty of reasons to be skeptical of the need for a license like this, of course, but the bill also highlights another problem with licensing laws in general. Buried way down on the 14th page of the proposal is a clause that would allow the state board of physical therapy (which would be given power over athletic trainers) to block applicants who have committed a "felony or other crime involving moral turpitude" along with anyone who is judged to be "guilty of unprofessional conduct" as determined by the board itself.

As we've covered at Reason on many occasions, banning individuals with criminal records from getting licenses is bad policy. It continues to punish someone long after they've paid their debt to society, it decreases employment, and it increases recidivism—because the best predictor of whether someone will commit another crime after getting out of prison is whether they have a job or not. The use of deliberately vague language ("moral turpitude" and "unprofessional conduct") gives the state board even greater authority to block would-be personal trainers from getting licensed.

Antler Dealers (Nevada)

A full legislative committee in the Nevada Assembly has teamed up to introduce a bill on behalf of the state Department of Wildlife to create a new licensing category for people who sell or trade antlers. The bill would make it a crime to "engage in the business of buying, selling, trading or dealing in certain antlers or any head or skull of a big game mammal without first obtaining an antler dealer's license," though the proposal does not include any details for how violators would be punished.

There's no testing or mandatory training requirements included in the bill—a would-be antler dealer only has to sign up with the Department of Wildlife and pay a fee—making this the least bad form of licensing. Still, it would likely restrict the ability of non-Nevada residents to sell antlers in Nevada, and...do we really need a license for selling antlers in the first place?

Art Therapists, Drain Cleaners, and Interior Designers (Massachusetts)

Yes, these are all serious proposals.

Sen. Diana DiZoglio (D-First Essex) wants to license practitioners of art therapy, which is "a mental health discipline that integrates use of psychotherapeutic principles, art media, and the creative process." That sounds like it might help some people cope with stress or more severe mental disorders, but it also really doesn't sound like something that needs a permission slip from the government.

Meanwhile, Sen. Barry Finegold (D-Middlesex) has a bill to license drain cleaners under the auspices of the Board of Examiners of Plumbers—which really sounds like it should be abolished, rather than expanded—and to impose unspecified civil penalties against anyone who dares to make money by cleaning a drain without the state board's permission.

And Sen. Joan Lovely (D-Second Essex) is proposing to make Massachusetts the fourth state to adopt licensing for interior designers, presumably to protect her constituents from the dangers of mismatched drapes and ugly throw pillows. The proposal would create a new board to regulate interior designers, and the bill specifies that four of the five members of the board must be "engaged in the practice of interior design." I'm sure they can be trusted to write rules that don't restrict their own competitors.



When single-payer medicine kills

The deaths of up to 250 patients who died following heart surgery at an NHS hospital are to be reviewed.

All the patients underwent surgery at St George's Hospital in Tooting, south London, between April 2013 and September 2018.

The review, commissioned by NHS Improvement, comes after the hospital suspended complex heart surgery last year to improve services.

A leaked report previously suggested that poor relationships at the cardiac unit contributed to a higher mortality rate.

The review only applies to cardiac surgery at St George's, and does not include other associated specialities - for example, cardiology.

The panel will examine the safety and quality of care that patients who died during or after cardiac surgery at St George's received during the review period.

They will do this by reviewing the medical records of deceased cardiac surgery patients, as well as any investigations conducted by the Trust at the time of the patients' deaths.

The panel is likely to review between 200-250 deaths as part of this process, which will take place between six and 12 months to complete.

The period between April 2013 and March 2017 has been identified as a time when the trust had a statistically higher mortality rate compared with the other 31 cardiac surgery centres in the UK.

The panel will also review deaths between April 2017 and 1 September 2018, when improvements were being made.

Last summer a leaked report  warned that a "toxic" feud between two rival camps at the unit left staff feeling a high death rate was inevitable.

St George's Hospital heart unit was consumed by a "dark force" and patients were put at risk, the investigation concluded.

The damning review was written by former NHS England deputy medical director Mike Bewick in response to higher mortality rates at the hospital.

He found the south London facility had a cardiac surgery death rate of 3.7 per cent - above the national 2 per cent average, reports said.

Internal scrutiny was said to be "inadequate" and the department was riven between "two camps" exhibiting "tribal-like activity".

Professor Bewick's review was quoted as saying: "Some felt that there was a persistent toxic atmosphere and stated that there was a 'dark force' in the unit."

Conversations with 39 members of staff revealed they were shocked by the death rate, but "most felt that poor performance was inevitable due to the pervading atmosphere".

The independent reviewer examined "disturbing and often difficult information", concluding an "existential threat" was posed to the unit because staff and patients would go elsewhere if problems persisted.



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, 2019


Later today I am going into hospital for a day procedure so I am unlikely to be back on top of things for a while. At age 75 my resilence is limited. Presuming all goes well, I should be back posting on Sunday.  If there are complications, of course, I could be admitted and that would take a longer time to resolve.  I will however be in very good hands so I think I will end up satisfactorily patched up. My mood is a bit dark at the moment -- unusual for me -- but as I write this I am listening to some of the marvellous music of Mozart and that helps


Trump has the media tied in knots

The story from the NYT below is amusing. They hate Trump but can't stop helping him.  "There's no such thing as bad publicity" and Trump uses simple words that anyone can understand.  Commentary is irrelevant

"POCAHONTAS" won’t be lonely for long. As other Democrats join Elizabeth Warren in the contest for the party’s presidential nomination, President Trump will assign them their own nicknames, different from hers but just as derisive. There’s no doubt.

But how much heed will we in the media pay to this stupidity? Will we sprint to Beto O’Rourke, Cory Booker or Mike Bloomberg for a reaction to what Trump just called one of them and then rush back to him for his response to that response? Or will we note Trump’s latest nonsense only briefly and pivot to matters more consequential?

That’s a specific question but also an overarching one — about the degree to which we’ll let him set the terms of the 2020 presidential campaign, about our appetite for antics versus substance, and about whether we’ll repeat the mistakes that we made in 2016 and continued to make during the first stages of his presidency. There were plenty.

Trump tortures us.

Deliberately, yes, but I’m referring to the ways in which he keeps yanking our gaze his way. I mean the tough choices that he, more than his predecessors in the White House, forces us to make. His demand for television airtime on Tuesday night was a perfect example: We had to weigh a request in line with precedent against a president out of line when it comes to truth. We had to wrestle with — and figure out when and how to resist — his talent for using us as vessels for propaganda.

We will wrestle with that repeatedly between now and November 2020, especially in the context of what may well be the most emotional and intense presidential race of our lifetimes. With the dawn of 2019 and the acceleration of potential Democratic candidates’ preparations for presidential bids, we have a chance to do things differently than we did the last time around — to redeem ourselves.

Our success or failure will affect our stature at a time of rickety public trust in us. It will raise or lower the temperature of civic discourse, which is perilously hot. Above all, it will have an impact on who takes the oath of office in January 2021. Democracies don’t just get the leaders they deserve. They get the leaders who make it through whatever obstacle course — and thrive in whatever atmosphere — their media has created.

“The shadow of what we did last time looms over this next time,” the former CBS newsman Dan Rather, who has covered more than half a century of presidential elections, told me. And what we did last time was emphasize the sound and the fury, because Trump provided both in lavish measure.

“When you cover this as spectacle,” Rather said, “what’s lost is context, perspective and depth. And when you cover this as spectacle, he is the star.” Spectacle is his métier. He’s indisputably spectacular.

And even if it’s a ghastly spectacle and presented that way, it still lets him control the narrative. As the writer Steve Almond observed in a recently published essay, “He appears powerful to his followers, which is central to his strongman mystique.”

TRUMP was and is a perverse gift to the mainstream, establishment media, a magnet for eyeballs at a juncture when we were struggling economically and desperately needed one. Just present him as the high-wire act and car crash that he is; the audience gorges on it. But readers’ news appetite isn’t infinite, so they’re starved of information about the fraudulence of his supposed populism and the toll of his incompetence.

And he wins. He doesn’t hate the media, not at all. He uses us.



Economic history shows how to prevent socialism

Martin Hutchinson

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio claimed last week that there was plenty of money for his pet projects, but it was “in the wrong hands.” In response, the Wall Street Journal, supposedly the voice of capitalism, gave a turgid list of rich New Yorkers’ charitable donations while blasting the inefficiencies of de Blasio’s administration. Both sides are wrong; in a well-run system, property rights should be inviolable regardless of what owners do with their property. That’s tough to defend when funny money has unfairly rewarded speculators – yet another reason to return to sound policies.

Politically, de Blasio doubtless feels he is on the winning side of the argument. A majority of Millennials claim to favor Socialism, though a high percentage of that majority are unable to define it correctly. That combination is a staggering indictment of U.S. public schools and colleges, but we knew that. Rich New Yorkers tend to have an exceptional penchant for displays of vulgar, tasteless excess – even by the standards of those who, like myself, find President Trump’s gold leaf rather attractive. Most important, since New York is the United States’ financial center, much of the New York wealth has been gained by exploiting the artificially low interest rates and overblown asset prices of the last 24 years – so can it really be said to be legitimate?

Certainly, the Wall Street Journal’s defense of New York’s capitalists is feeble indeed. You can bet your bottom dollar that every $50 million extension to the Metropolitan Museum has given its donor an equivalent tax deduction. That means roughly $20 million or even $25 million, given state and city taxes, of that $50 million extension has come from the pockets of you and me, and represents extra taxes we must pay to fund public services. Looked at that way, de Blasio would seem to have a point – if he simply seized the $50 million and funded public services directly with it, you and I would be $20-25 million better off. The charitable tax deduction is a universally corrupting influence and needs to be abolished. Certainly, completely contrary to the Wall Street Journal’s view, the fact that rich people get to deduct their charitable donations is the best possible argument for their expropriation.

That counter-intuitive argument, that de Blasio is right and we should wish the very rich to be expropriated, is an indication that the current U.S. economy has moved a long way from a healthy free market. Accumulation of wealth by rich speculators is subsidized by interest rates that have been for two decades far below their free-market levels. It is also subsidized by a charitable tax deduction that blesses the ultra-rich far more than it does other taxpayers, producing the nauseating result that by making flashy well-publicized charitable donations they save taxes and at the same time get held up as models of virtue by the Wall Street Journal. It is perfectly possible for the very rich to be models of virtue, but the most virtuous ones are those whose wealth accumulation does the most for their fellow men, not those prone to splashy tax-deductible charitable donations that burden the rest of us with the taxes they have avoided.

The problem with just shrugging our shoulders and accepting the morality of de Blasio and the current tax system and Fed policy is that such an economic system does not work too well. In this system, it is much easier to get rich from borrowing excessively and doing something not very clever than from true entrepreneurship. Eddie Lampert’s destructive 14-year ownership of Sears is a prime example of this.

In a system in which cheap money is the most reliable source of wealth, access to cheap money becomes the deciding factor in who gets wealthy, so mediocre projects with quick paybacks get financed in vast numbers and the long-term and difficult projects don’t happen at all. The result is an economy in which innovation and productivity improvement slow to a crawl or cease altogether, as was the case in the United States in 2008-16 and is still the case in Britain and the Eurozone.

To see how the economy ought to work, we must go back to the dawn of the Industrial age, when low tax, sound money and well-aligned incentives made productivity growth in the British and later world economies accelerate rather than decelerate. From 1819, Britain was on the Gold Standard, so there was no question of spuriously cheap borrowing making people rich. At that period, if you became rich, you had done it either by successful trade or by getting your hands dirty in some way in industry. On the other side, there was no Income Tax and all taxes were on some element of consumption, so the very rich who engaged in vulgar displays of ostentation were financially penalized by paying taxes on the cost of their ostentation. As for charity, there was no charitable tax deduction (because no Income Tax to deduct it from) so charitable donations were made only by the truly charitable, for genuinely beneficial purposes – and they cost non-donors nothing.

In the early industrial system, statesmen on both sides of the political divide held property rights as sacrosanct. “Property is theft” was the sort of thing only a Frenchman (Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, 1840) could say, resulting from that society’s impoverishment and tendency to violent revolutions – with such attitudes it was no wonder that country never made any material progress! With property rights sacrosanct, entrepreneurs and inventors could be sure that, if they devised a new product or way of doing business that was genuinely superior, they would be able to keep most of the proceeds of doing so.

For the early 19th Century, there was also an important moral component to this. John Locke, a hundred years earlier, had defined the purpose of government as to secure people’s life, liberty and property. Security of property from arbitrary raids, either by powerful barons or the government, was a vitally important principle over which the English Civil War had been fought, and which was incorporated into British constitutional practice by the great Earl of Clarendon after the Restoration. Britain’s better economic performance after 1660, and the growth of a huge capital market that could finance government’s needs, were important advantages the country enjoyed over rivals such as France that did not have such security. The United States, where Thomas Jefferson perverted Locke’s trilogy to replace property with French rubbish about the pursuit of happiness, suffered thereby in having a distinctly gamey business climate.

For statesmen of the early Industrial Revolution, the idea of “redistributing” people’s property to remedy imagined injustices would have been a laughable negation of what government was about. It was not possible for “the wrong people” to be rich, because there was no mechanism to make them so; the law existed to prevent fraud, and with a Gold Standard monetary system there was no great advantage to having better access to financing sources. Since property had been acquired legitimately its possessor had an absolute moral right to it – the miser just as much as the philanthropist.

The lesson is clear. Capitalism is a moral economic system and works well if allowed to do so. It however requires certain rules in order to function, notably the security of private property. If private property is insecure, to be looted by every passing populist, then the universally enriching features of capitalism do not work. Capitalists, instead of competing properly in the market, spend their resources on shielding their wealth from populists, thereby preventing it from doing any good.

If the economic system is distorted by government meddling, however, the moral equation that is central to capitalism falls apart. If interest rates are artificially distorted by government over a prolonged period, then not only does the capitalist system itself work badly, but it unfairly rewards some participants, producing property to which there is no intrinsic moral right. Equally, if government provides egregious tax breaks to the very rich for their “charitable” activities” then not only do corrupt excrescences like the Clinton Foundation spring up, but government gains the moral right to divert property into its own uses, rather than just rewarding property owners for deploying their property in one manner rather than another.

De Blasio is wrong, politically, morally and economically. But we must eliminate grossly distorting government policies such as “funny money” interest rates and the charitable tax deduction before we truly have the right to rule him out of the discussion.



The true Trump legacy: Renewed economy, restored hope

Amidst all of the focus on the partial government shutdown and the national security and humanitarian crisis at the border, the fact that President Trump has now been in office for a full two years cannot be lost, and quite a two years it has been.

President Trump inherited an economy with low unemployment, but one where many Americans had been left behind with stagnant wages, manufacturing jobs off-shored, and a genuine lost hope for much of middle America. Into this, the previous president declared that it would take a magic wand to bring those job back.

Twenty four months later, more than 500,000 new manufacturing jobs have been created out of a total of 4.8 million new jobs nationwide. The unemployment rate has been below 4 percent for eight out of the last twelve months. To understand the significance of this, prior to 2018, the unemployment rate had fallen below 4 percent only five times since 1970. That’s right, if you are 38 years old, the unemployment rate has been below 4 percent more in the past year than in the entire rest of your lifetime.

The ability to get a job has reached across racial boundaries. African American, Asian and Hispanic unemployment reached the lowest rates on record in the past year, and real wages have been increasing as the amount workers are paid has exceeded the inflation rate in 2018 meaning people are getting ahead rather than just fighting to stay even.

One real outcome is that 4.6 million fewer Americans are dependent upon food stamps. Not because standards have become more stringent, but because they are wealthier and more able to care for their own family’s needs.

This is the dignity and hope created by a job and the rising tide which lifts all boats in the Trump economy.  It is the beginning of breaking the stranglehold of the dependency cycle which has ensnared generations in some communities in the despair of constant poverty.

Let’s be clear however, there are still problems to tackle as the labor participation rate for people ages 18 to 64, while rising, is still too low compared to prior generations. But the trend is in the right direction as more jobs are available than workers in the workforce to fill them for the first time since the Labor Department started tracking job availability.

What’s more, people are now voluntarily leaving their jobs at a higher rate than when the President took office. While this would seem to be a negative, it actually demonstrates that people feel free to risk leaving a job they don’t like without having another one lined up due to confidence that they will be able to find a better one shortly.

This freedom to move jobs without fear of not finding a new one had been lost over the past decade, and the Trump economy has restored it.

So, what was this “magic wand” that failed former President Obama derided?

Rather than a wand, it actually was a pair of magic scissors.

Scissors cutting regulations at a record pace which restricted economic growth only issuing new ones when absolutely necessary

Scissors cutting taxes for both individuals and business allowing for Americans to keep more of their hard earned dollars, but also encouraging business to expand their operations and bring hundreds of billions of dollars back to America for investment here.

Scissors cutting bad trade deals which encouraged the off-shoring of American jobs. Trade deals built from a Cold War model designed to prop up struggling economies around the world through opening up our markets while leaving foreign ones closed to U.S. products.  One of President Trump’s first actions was to exit the disastrous Trans-Pacific Partnership, and he has continued by renegotiating NAFTA, the South Korean Free Trade Agreement, opening negotiations with Japan and the European Union while pressing China to engage in honest trade.

President Trump promised America that he would Make America Great Again, and in his first two years, he has jump started a restoration of our economy that benefits all of America and not just those who live on the two coasts.

Is there work still to be done?  Absolutely. But at the quarter pole of his presidency, President Trump has accomplished what previous White House occupants have declared the impossible.

And in the midst of the current turmoil over the President’s attempt to unravel the open borders policy of his predecessor, this simply should not be missed.

America is working, Americans is more prosperous and Americans have renewed hope for our collective future.

That is the true Trump legacy, the renewed hope and vigor of a great people striving to make tomorrow better for their children benefitting from fewer government restraints, taxes and bad deals designed to transfer their opportunities overseas. While much remains to be done, the first two years of Donald Trump’s presidency have been remarkably successful in restoring America’s heartland after decades of neglect.



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, 2019

As MLK foresaw, racism in America has been largely overcome

I think Jeff Jacoby is a bit optimistic below.  It is undoubted that whites have been persuaded that they should treat blacks as equals -- or at least say they do -- but America's major racial problems -- stratospheric black crimes of violence and heavy black welfare dependence -- remain.  No American can be unaware of that but they can be persuaded not to mention it. 

Jeff is mainly going by what people say but psychologists have long been aware that what people say is a poor guide to action -- particularly in racial matters.  So white flight goes on.  A few brave whites are enticed by low prices to move into the margins of black ghettoes but the ghettoes remain. Racial segregation is not much less than it was in the old South

I note that claims of interracial marriage tend to be overstated.  The high rate of intermarriage between whites and Asians tends to get lumped into that.  And gold-digging white women who partner with rich black men are not much of an examplar for anyone

I am aware that my occasional mention of racial issues puts this blog at some risk of being cancelled by Google -- who host it.  The fact that I have extensive academic publications on such matters, combined with the fact that even here I tend to write in a scholarly way, seems so far to have protected me.  Leftist censorship of all conservative writing has however been ratcheting up lately so this blog is clearly not safe

If DISSECTING LEFTISM is wiped out by Google, however, I will simply host it elsewhere -- probably here -- and my various home pages will also tell you where the new blog is located

"I HAVE NO DESPAIR about the future," wrote the Rev. Martin Luther King in his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" in April 1963. "I have no fear about the outcome of our struggle in Birmingham.... We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the nation, because the goal of America is freedom."

He was right.

It is a commonplace that racism is America's original sin. Hardly a day goes by without attention being focused on instances of the racial injustice, friction, and double standards that can still be found in this nation. Open the morning paper or watch cable news, and there will be something to remind you of the country's racial tensions — from controversy over flying the Confederate flag to NFL players protesting police brutality, from anti-black taunts at high school football games to the anti-white tweets of a New York Times editorialist, from accusations of voter suppression in Georgia to an Iowa congressman defending "white nationalism." It isn't surprising that when Americans are asked in opinion polls whether race relations are getting better, many of them — sometimes most of them — gloomily reply that racism is still a major problem.

But it isn't. It is only a minor problem now, one that has grown steadily less toxic and less entrenched. King predicted confidently that America would surmount its benighted racial past and his confidence was not misplaced. Though his own life was cut short by a racist assassin, he foresaw that racism would lose its grip on American life.

"We've got some difficult days ahead, but ... I've been to the mountaintop," King said in his final speech. "I've looked over, and I've seen the Promised Land." He knew that American racism would wither away. Fifty-one years later, it mostly has.

Consider some of the data on changing American values.

In 1958, 48 percent of white Americans polled by Gallup said that "if colored people came to live next door," they would be likely to move. By 1978, only 13 percent still said that; by 1997, the proportion had fallen to 1 percent.

That dramatic metamorphosis in American attitudes shows up as well in the World Values Survey. When researchers in 59 countries asked residents how they would feel about having neighbors of a different race, Americans turned out to be among the least racist people in the world. The United States ranked 47th out of 59 countries surveyed, making it more racially accepting than Japan, Mexico, Germany, South Korea, and the Netherlands, among others.

That's only one measure of racism's profound decline. Friendship is another.

In 1964, a mere 18 percent of white Americans claimed to have a friend who was black. Four decades later, Gallup found that the proportion of interracial friendships had more than quadrupled: 82 percent of whites said they had close nonwhite friends (and 88 percent of blacks reported having close friends who were not black). Perhaps some white respondents were fibbing to appear more enlightened. But as commentator Jonah Goldberg observes, "the mere fact that they wanted others to believe they had a black friend is a kind of progress."

It isn't only American friendships that straddle the color line. American families do too.

In King's day, the vast majority of Americans disapproved of marriages between whites and nonwhites. Today the opposite is true: Nearly 90 percent of the public approves of interracial marriage. In 1967, just 3 percent of couples tying the knot were of different races, according to the Pew Research Center. By 2015, 17 percent of all US newlyweds — one of every six — had married someone of another color. Naturally, the number of multiracial American children has soared in recent years as well.

When King was assassinated, tens of millions of Americans would have put the prospect of a black US president in the realm of sheer fantasy. In fact, the election of the first black president was just a few decades away. And when Barack Obama in 2008 won the White House, it was with a greater share of the white vote than six of the previous seven Democratic nominees. White racism, once such a powerful force in US electoral politics, had shrunk to puny insignificance.

In December 2014 — in the aftermath of the Ferguson riots, the killing of Trayvon Martin, and other racial flashpoints — an interviewer asked Obama if the United States was growing more racially divided. The president rejected the premise of the question. "No, I actually think that it's probably in its day-to-day interactions less racially divided," Obama said. A few disturbing events had "gotten a lot of attention," he acknowledged, but "I think that's good. I think it ... points to our ability to solve these problems."

None of this is to claim that racial ugliness has vanished outright, or that racial concerns can be safely ignored. It is to claim that despite the occasional eruption of racist hatred or cruelty, and despite the coarse racial crudeness of the incumbent president, the American people are far removed from the bigots of yesteryear. In less than two generations, the United States transformed itself from a largely racist society to a largely non-racist one. "We shall overcome," King and the civil rights heroes vowed. Inspired by their courage, uplifted by their moral leadership, Americans did just that.



The Left’s Extremism Will Continue to Drive Support for Trump

What are Donald Trump’s chances for re-election in 2020? If history is any guide, pretty good.

In early 1994, Bill Clinton’s approval rating after two years in office hovered around a dismal 40 percent. The first midterm elections of the Clinton presidency were an utter disaster.

A new generation of younger, more conservative Republicans led by firebrand Newt Gingrich and his “Contract with America” gave Republicans a majority in the House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years. Republicans also picked up eight Senate seats in 1994 to take majority control of both houses of Congress.

It was no wonder that Republicans thought the 1996 presidential election would be a Republican shoo-in. But Republicans nominated 73-year-old Senate leader Bob Dole, a sober but otherwise uninspired Washington fixture. By September of 1996, “comeback kid” Clinton had a Gallup approval rating of 60 percent. Dole was crushed in an Electoral College landslide.

Barack Obama was given a similarly dismal prognosis after the 2010 midterms, when Democrats lost 63 House seats and six Senate seats. Republicans regained majority control of the House, though Democrats clung to a narrow majority in the Senate. At the time, Obama had an approval rating in the mid-40s.

Republicans once again figured Obama would be a one-term president. Yet they nominated a Dole-like candidate in the 2012 election. Republican nominee Mitt Romney had little appeal to Republicans’ conservative base and was easily caricatured by the left as an out-of-touch elite.

By late 2012, Obama’s approval rating was consistently at or above 50 percent, and he wound up easily beating Romney.

What is the significance of these rebound stories for Trump, who had a better first midterm result than either Clinton or Obama and similarly low approval ratings? People, not polls, elect presidents.

Presidents run for re-election against real opponents, not public perceptions. For all the media hype, voters often pick the lesser of two evils, not their ideals of a perfect candidate.

We have no idea what the economy or the world abroad will be like in 2020. And no one knows what the country will think of the newly Democrat-controlled Congress in two years.

The public has been hearing a lot from radical new House representatives such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich. Their pledges to deliver “Medicare for All,” to phase out fossil fuels and to abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement service are occasionally delivered with snark. Tlaib recently used profanity to punctuate her desire to see Trump impeached.

But much of the public supports Trump’s agenda of deregulation, increased oil and gas production, getting tough with China on trade, and stopping illegal immigration.

What if the Democrats impeach Trump, even knowing that a Republican Senate would never convict him?

When Republicans did that to Clinton, his approval rating went up. Some Republican senators even joined the Democrats in the effort to acquit Clinton. As a reward for the drawn-out drama around the impeachment, Republicans lost seats in both the 1998 and 2000 House elections.

We still don’t have any idea whom the Democrats will nominate to run against Trump. Will they go the 1996 or 2012 Republican route with a predictable has-been such as Joe Biden, who will turn 78 shortly after the 2020 election?

Well-known candidates from the Senate such as Walter Mondale in 1984, Dole in 1996, John Kerry in 2004, John McCain in 2008, and Hillary Clinton in 2016 have a poor track record in recent presidential elections. They are usually nominated only by process of elimination and the calling in of political chits rather than due to grassroots zeal.

Democrats can continue their hard-left drift and nominate socialist Bernie Sanders, or they can try again to elect the first female president, either Kamala Harris or Elizabeth Warren, both of whom represent the far left.

But going to extremes did not work well in 1972, when leftist Democratic Sen. George McGovern was crushed by incumbent Richard Nixon. The Republicans learned that lesson earlier when they nominated Sen. Barry Goldwater in 1964 and were wiped out.

Whether or not they like Trump, millions of voters still think the president is all that stands between them and socialism, radical cultural transformation, and social chaos.

Many would prefer Trump’s sometimes-over-the-top tweets and hard bark to the circus they saw at the Brett Kavanaugh nomination hearings, the rantings of Ocasio-Cortez, or the endless attempts to remove Trump from office.

What usually ensure one-term presidencies are unpopular wars (Lyndon Johnson) or tough economic times (Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush).

If Trump avoids both, perhaps a majority of voters will see him as political chemotherapy—occasionally nausea-inducing but still necessary and largely effective—to stop a toxic and metastasizing political cancer.



WaPo Urges Pelosi To Take Trump’s Deal as Pressure Splits Dem. Leadership from Others

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and congressional Democrats are losing one big voice in their opposition to President Donald Trump’s push for a border wall: The Washington Post’s Editorial Board.

The Post noted in a Sunday editorial reasons why Pelosi should rebuke the president’s most recent offer to temporarily extend protections for the so-called Dreamers.

But the paper eventually explained that taking the deal would ultimately help those who came here through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

“He should not be rewarded for having taken the government hostage. Any piece of a wall would reinforce his hateful, anti-immigrant rhetoric,” The Post noted. “He’s unreliable, having made and withdrawn similar offers in the past.”

The Post’s editorial board has blasted Trump in the past for what its writers call pushing immigration policies that would “cripple the economy.” It’s taking a different approach now.

Sunday’s editorial explained why young people who came to the U.S. through the Obama-era program are in peril of being deported. If nothing happens soon, then the Dreamers could get the short end of the stick, The Post noted.

“If no deal is reached, the Supreme Court is likely at some point to end that dispensation, as Mr. Trump has demanded, and they will be sent back into the shadows, or to countries of which they have no memory.”

Trump offered Pelosi and congressional Democrats a deal on Saturday. His deal included $800 million in urgent humanitarian assistance, $805 million in new drug detection technology, and three years of legal relief from deportation for DACA recipients in exchange for the $5.7 billion for “strategic deployment of physical barriers.”

Pelosi was not impressed. She preemptively shot down the proposal in a statement before the president’s announcement.



4 Border Activists Convicted of Illegally Entering Refuge, Aiding Illegal Immigrants

Four activists have been found guilty of illegally entering a federal wildlife refuge in southwestern Arizona as part of their effort to assist illegal immigrants.

The four women were part of a group called No More Deaths, which says it is fighting to reduce the number of fatalities among illegal immigrants who try to cross the desert and go through the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, Fox News reported.

The four defendants — Natalie Hoffman, Oona Holcomb, Madeline Huse and Zaachila Orozco-McCormick  — were all found without permits inside the refuge on Aug. 13, 2017. They were leaving jugs of water and cans of beans for illegal immigrants who might pass that way.

Catherine Gaffney, a No More Deaths volunteer, attacked the verdict, according to a news release on the group’s website. “This verdict challenges not only No More Deaths volunteers, but people of conscience throughout the country,” Gaffney said. “If giving water to someone dying of thirst is illegal, what humanity is left in the law of this country?”

Art Del Cueto, vice president of the National Border Patrol Council, said humanitarian groups miss the point with their efforts, according to the Arizona Daily Independent. “While it’s humanitarian of them to want to put this out there and try to help these people, it’s not going to” migrants, Del Cueto said.

“It’s going to the drug cartels, it’s going to the people smuggling, and it’s going to the scouts that are up there trying to harm (migrants). It’s not being used for the purpose they intended.”

U.S. Magistrate Judge Bernardo Velasco ruled Friday that the women broke the rules. “The Defendants did not get an access permit, they did not remain on the designated roads, and they left water, food, and crates in the Refuge,” his ruling stated. “All of this, in addition to violating the law, erodes the national decision to maintain the Refuge in its pristine nature.”

The defendants said they did not get a permit because permit forms specifically required those applying to agree not to leave behind food, water, blankets or other aid for illegal immigrants, according to the Arizona Daily Indpendent.

In his ruling, Velasco noted that the defendants claimed they were “acting in accordance with a higher law.” One of the Defendants claims her conduct is not civil disobedience, but rather civil initiative, which is somehow not a criminal offense,” he wrote.

Velasco said No More Deaths was to blame for not advising the women of the consequences of violating the refuge’s rules, according to the Arizona Republic.

The women could face up to six months in prison and a $500 fine when they are sentenced.

“No one in charge of No More Deaths ever informed them that their conduct could be prosecuted as a criminal offense nor did any of the Defendants make any independent inquiry into the legality or consequences of their activities,” Velasco wrote. “The Court can only speculate as to what the Defendants’ decisions would have been had they known the actual risk of their undertaking,” he wrote.



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, 2019

Beto O’Rourke Questions ‘Principles’ of Constitution: ‘Does This Still Work?’

In the interview report below you see the whole Left/Right  opposition.  Brainless Beto wants "sweeping change" while conservatives are very leery of that -- with good historical precedent -- and see sweeping change as dangerously arrogant.  Conservatives don't see change as a virtue or goal at all.  They value stability, not change, though cautious and well-justified changes are not seen as incompatible with stability.  So we can see why any agreement between the two sides is always going to be a big mountain to climb

Former Congressman and potential 2020 Democratic nominee Beto O’Rourke questioned the “principles” of the U.S. Constitution on Wednesday, arguing that its usefulness is the “question of the moment.”

In an interview with The Washington Post, O’Rourke was asked if he believes the U.S. is capable of “dramatically [changing] its approach to a whole host of issues” or whether he holds a “dismal suspicion that the country is now incapable of implementing sweeping change.”

“I’m hesitant to answer it because I really feel like it deserves its due, and I don’t want to give you a — actually, just selfishly, I don’t want a sound bite of it reported, but, yeah, I think that’s the question of the moment: Does this still work?” O’Rourke replied.

“Can an empire like ours with a military presence in over 170 countries around the globe, with trading relationships … and security agreements in every continent, can it still be managed by the same principles that were set down 230-plus years ago?”

During the interview, O’Rourke also made an argument that the “border is already fully secured and that further investment would take it even further ‘past the point of diminishing returns'” by forcing illegal migrants into dangerous territories.

“You will ensure death,” he said of Trump’s plan to build a wall on the southern border. “You and I, as Americans, have caused the deaths of others through these walls.”

The 46-year-old, who lost his Senate race against Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) last November, is currently weighing up whether to run for the 2020 presidential nomination.



Modern Monetary Theory: Who’ll be brave enough to try it?

This theory is something of a relief.  It does explain why inflation remained under control during Obama's money printing binge.  It applies because unemployment was high at the outset of the Obama era.  It does NOT apply to the Trump economy, however, as unemployment is very low now.  The theory requires Trump to raise taxes, which he will not do.  So we should expect the emergence of significant inflation in a Trump second term -- or maybe before

In the past decade, the world has suffered two global crises: the financial disaster of 2008 and the eurozone sovereign debt crisis two years later. Policymakers responded with bailouts, cheap funding schemes, zero interest rates and quantitative easing. In one sense, the past ten years was a period of intense economic experimentation. In another, nothing has changed.

Following previous crises, macroeconomic ideas were replaced. After the Second World War, Keynesian, under which governments spend to create demand and protect jobs, was ascendant. After the inflation-induced recessions in the 1970s, the big idea was monetarism, using interest rates and the money supply to keep prices under control.

And now, after two existential crises? Nothing. The fundamental macroeconomic ideas have not changed. Labour and the Tories do battle on the scale of the deficit, like two old fools arguing who should pay for the last round long after the bar has closed. Beyond that, John McDonnell’s socialist revolution is pilfered from crumbling communist textbooks. It’s all a bit disappointing.

A new idea is slowly gaining momentum, though, particularly in the United States, where the charismatic Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been championing it. The idea is modern monetary theory and, as with many new ideas, it is not actually that new. Its origins date back to 1993 and it even featured in the 2016 US election. Bernie Sanders’ economic adviser was Stephanie Kelton, a prominent advocate of MMT.

At first glance, the theory seems barmy. As long as a government borrows in its own currency, it need never default because it can always print the money it needs. Described that way, MMT sounds like that other MMT, the magic money tree, or Jeremy Corbyn’s “People’s QE” - the kind of thing Weimar Germany and Zimbabwe tried with devastating inflationary consequences. But that’s because we’re looking through the wrong end of the telescope.

Warren Mosler, a former banker and hedge fund manager, went back to basics when he was developing the idea. The challenges governments face are growth, unemployment and inflation. To achieve those goals today, central banks use rates to regulate the economy while governments manage the public finances.

Mr Mosler and Ms Kelton look at the world differently. Running a budget deficit is not a sign of overspending, they say. Inflation is. Viewed though that lens, deficits look fine so long as inflation is under control. If inflation is low, unemployment high and the private sector is not picking up the slack, the government’s role is to create productive work through tax cuts or spending. The new jobs will create enough demand to drive up prices.

But who finances the deficits? That’s where money-printing comes in. It is here that convention is flipped on its head. Under MMT, tax and spending decisions are taken to regulate the economy, ignoring the impact on the public finances. If inflation picks up, rates don’t budge (Mr Mosler would have them set at zero). Instead, taxes rise to suck demand out of the system. In doing so, the budget may move into surplus. The central bank’s role is simply to finance the deficit.

Surely markets will hate this and punish governments with higher borrowing costs? Proponents reply that the government does not need to borrow from the market. When the state cuts income taxes, it creates more domestic savings. Those savings are exactly equal to the state’s additional borrowing. As a nation, one hand owes the other. The central bank only need mark the debt on the government’s ledger.

The key here is to think of the state as a monopolist, not a household. A government that borrows in its own currency has a monopoly on the money supply so cannot run out and go bust. Foreign investors might lose money on their dollar assets, but the debt can always be paid. The model does not work for countries without their own currency, such as eurozone members. As they do not control their currency, they must live within their means and ultimately balance their books. They are not monetary monopolists, just households for the purposes of budget management.

Although MMT has been jumped on by deficit-spending left-wingers, the theory is not intrinsically fiscally irresponsible. Mr Mosler claims to have developed the idea after a steam room session with arch-hawk Donald Rumsfeld, the former US defence secretary. JW Mason, an economist at the City University of New York, reckons it would lead to smaller budget deficits over the long term, provided politicians are bold enough to combat inflation with higher taxes.

Ultimately, the theory reframes and simplifies our conception of the economy, drawing the focus on to the core priorities of employment and inflation. The deficit would no longer be an obstacle. There would be no tension between fiscal and monetary policy, just a single lever. Responsibility for economic management would fall to politicians, ending the outsourcing to technocrats that has provided legislators cover for so long. And there would no place for an independent central bank.

In a way, MMT is nothing new. Japan’s national debt is 2.4 times the size of its economy, three times UK levels, but most is owed to Japanese pension funds and its money-printing central bank. In Britain, the 527 billion pounds of debt raised by the state between 2009 and 2012 was largely matched by the Bank of England’s 375 billion pounds of QE. Today, Donald Trump is blowing up the US deficit and driving up inflation in what looks like a practical demonstration of MMT.

There, in a nutshell, is the problem. The theory states that President Trump should be raising taxes, not cutting them. But would politicians ever have the courage to raise taxes if domestic inflation is climbing, despite high unemployment? The whole reason central banks were given independence was because politicians cannot be trusted to make unpopular decisions.

What MMT does prove, however , is that we will not run out of new ideas as long as we can describe the world in different ways. That, at least, is encouraging.



Humans: The Domesticated Primates

Capital punishment is the key to civilization

As we became more peaceable, our bodies evolved along the lines of other tamed animals

A few years ago, I stayed in Kenya with the conservationists Karl and Kathy Ammann, who kept a rescued chimpanzee named Mzee in their home. Even as a young adult, Mzee was generally well-behaved and trustworthy. Yet he could be impulsive. At one point, over breakfast, Mzee and I reached for the jug of orange juice at the same time. He grabbed my hand as I held the jug, and he squeezed. Ouch. “You first!” I squeaked. I was still rubbing my fingers back to life once he had finished his drink.

“We differ from our ancient ancestors in ways similar to how dogs differ from wolves.

The truth is that even when chimpanzees know the rules perfectly well, they don’t always restrain their aggression. In the wild, their lives are full of violence. A day spent with wild chimpanzees gives you a good chance of seeing chases and hitting; every month, you are likely to see bloody wounds. Compared with even an unusually violent group of humans, chimpanzees are aggressive several hundred to a thousand times more often over the course of a year.

The greater peaceability of human societies comes from our nature. We can look each other in the eye. We don’t lose our tempers easily. We normally control our aggressive urges. In primates, one of the most potent stimuli for aggression is the presence of a strange individual. By contrast, Jerome Kagan, a pioneer in developmental psychology, reports that in his hundreds of observations of 2-year-olds meeting unfamiliar children, he has never seen one strike out at the other. That willingness to interact peacefully with others, even strangers, is inborn.

What accounts for this human difference? The answer lies in the evolutionary pressures that selected against aggression, particularly in men. The cultural anthropologist Christopher Boehm has found that, in hunter-gatherer societies, a man who threatens others by having too violent a temper is treated in a consistent way.

If the bully can’t be contained by the cajoling effects of ridicule or ostracism, the other men reach a consensus, make a plan and execute him. Over the eons, the long-term practice of killing unrepentant aggressors must have favored genes for more peaceful behavior.

No other mammal has the brainpower to organize capital punishment. When language became sufficiently sophisticated, our ancestors’ ability to conspire led not only to a more peaceful species but also to a new kind of hierarchy. No longer would human groups be ruled by the physical force of an individual. The emergence of capital punishment meant that henceforth, anyone aspiring to be an alpha couldn't get away with just being a fighter. He had to be a politician, too.

The result of generations of such selective pressure is that human beings are best understood as an animal species that has been domesticated—like dogs, horses or chickens. Recent archaeological evidence suggests that humans became increasingly docile and less reactively aggressive around the time of becoming Homo sapiens, a process that started about 300,000 years ago.

Critical clues come from comparisons with domesticated animals. In his 1868 book “The Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication,” Charles Darwin reported that there are various surprising biological markers of the domestication process.

For instance, every kind of domesticated nonhuman mammal includes some adults with floppy ears, which are very rare in adult wild animals. Making matters more mysterious, there was no obvious reason why docility should be linked to floppy ears. It was just something that happened.

Another example is white spots on foreheads, which are common in horses, cows, dogs and cats but not in wild animals. It was the same story for white feet, curly tails and more than a dozen other characteristics.

The list of traits associated with the “domestication syndrome” is useful, because it provides telling clues to the human past. Critically, the domestication syndrome includes changes to bones. Fossil bones allow archaeologists to recognize when species such as dogs, goats and pigs became domesticated.

As the archaeologist Helen Leach argued in an influential 2003 article, they can do the same for humans. Dr. Leach listed four characteristics of the bones of domesticated animals:

They mainly have smaller bodies than their wild ancestors; their faces tend to be shorter and don’t project as far forward; the differences between males and females are less highly developed; and they tend to have smaller brain cavities (and thus brains). As it turns out, all of these changes appear in human fossils. Even our brain size fits the pattern: While the human brain grew steadily over the last two million years, that trajectory took a sudden turn about 30,000 years ago, when brains started to become smaller.

The differences between modern humans and our earlier ancestors have a clear pattern: They look like the differences between a dog and a wolf.

Half a million years ago, our ancestors were heavier-bodied, with relatively bigger males, more masculine faces and bigger teeth. To extrapolate from domesticated animals, these characteristics indicate that our ancestors were less docile than we are today. Pre-sapiens humans would have had a greater propensity for reactive aggression, losing their tempers more easily, quick to threaten and fight one another.

A fascinating puzzle is why these physical changes go along with the changes in emotion and behavior that we call domestication. Why should humans and animals grow flatter faces as they become less aggressive?

One way of answering that question is to think about nipples. Nipples provide no benefit to males, yet mammals have maintained them since the origin of suckling around 200 million years ago. That is because, in the growing embryo, the sequence of development responsible for female nipples, which are adaptive, also leads to male nipples, which aren’t.

In the same way, the traits associated with domestication—like flatter faces and smaller brains—may not be evolutionarily adaptive in themselves. Rather, they are side effects that go along with what really matters about domestication: the reduction of aggression that, in animals, we call tameness. The forces that led us to become more peaceful with one another, over the course of thousands of generations, have apparently left their mark on our bodies as well as our minds.



Obama's Immigration Action Means Tax Refunds For Illegals, Says IRS

A great absurdity.  Hopefully Trump will find time to look into it

President Obama’s aggressive executive action on immigration is still being litigated in the courts. In the meantime, tax refunds for the affected illegal immigrants have become controversial too. The IRS has reconfirmed that illegal immigrants can file and claim refunds for the last three years. Sound too bizarre to be true? Some say it isn’t possible, but not the IRS.

It's called the Earned Income Tax Credit, the same refundable tax credit responsible for billions in fraudulent refunds. IRS Commissioner Koskinen explained the seemingly bizarre result to Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa). Illegal immigrants covered by the President’s amnesty deal can claim back tax credits for work they performed illegally, even if they never filed a tax return during those years.

This written response clarified the IRS chief's earlier statements, confirming that illegals can get back taxes. Earlier this year, Mr. Koskinen said that to claim a refund, an illegal immigrant would need to have filed past tax returns. Now, the IRS chief says they can claim it even if they never filed tax returns in the past. According to the IRS, illegal immigrants granted amnesty and Social Security numbers can claim up to three years of back tax credits.

The IRS says a 2000 Chief Counsel Advice (CCA) on this issue is correct. With the amnesty, illegal immigrants could receive tens of thousands of dollars in tax refunds. Under President Obama’s executive action, an illegal immigrant can: (1) get a Social Security number; (2) claim the Earned Income Tax Credit for the three open tax years; and (3) IRS sends three years of tax refunds. No matter that you never paid taxes, never filed a return, worked off the books, etc.

The IRS says this is the way the Earned Income Tax Credit works. IRS Commissioner Koskinen says the IRS is following a 15-year-old opinion that “a taxpayer may claim the Earned Income Tax Credit for a taxable year using a Social Security number acquired in a later taxable year.” Calling the three year tax refund perk a mockery of the law, Senator Grassley noted that illegals would be able to claim billions of dollars in tax benefits.

Meantime, U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry introduced a bill to keep undocumented workers from receiving the Earned Income Tax Credit. “My bill is a direct result of the (IRS) announcement,” said McHenry, a Republican who represents the 10th District, which includes Gaston County. “It’s very simple. If you’re not here legally, you should not be able to access the Earned Income Credit. It’s for the American taxpayers who are trying to make ends meet.”



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)


20 January, 2019

Make the shutdown permanent

The Daily Caller is taking the rare step of publishing this anonymous op-ed at the request of the author, a senior official in the Trump administration whose identity is known to us and whose career would be jeopardized by its disclosure. We believe publishing this essay anonymously is the only way to deliver an important perspective to our readers. We invite you to submit a question about the essay or our vetting process here.

As one of the senior officials working without a paycheck, a few words of advice for the president’s next move at shuttered government agencies: lock the doors, sell the furniture, and cut them down.

Federal employees are starting to feel the strain of the shutdown. I am one of them. But for the sake of our nation, I hope it lasts a very long time, till the government is changed and can never return to its previous form.

The lapse in appropriations is more than a battle over a wall. It is an opportunity to strip wasteful government agencies for good.

On an average day, roughly 15 percent of the employees around me are exceptional patriots serving their country. I wish I could give competitive salaries to them and no one else. But 80 percent feel no pressure to produce results. If they don’t feel like doing what they are told, they don’t.

Why would they? We can’t fire them. They avoid attention, plan their weekend, schedule vacation, their second job, their next position — some do this in the same position for more than a decade.

They do nothing that warrants punishment and nothing of external value. That is their workday: errands for the sake of errands — administering, refining, following and collaborating on process. “Process is your friend” is what delusional civil servants tell themselves. Even senior officials must gain approval from every rank across their department, other agencies and work units for basic administrative chores.

Process is what we serve, process keeps us safe, process is our core value. It takes a lot of people to maintain the process. Process provides jobs. In fact, there are process experts and certified process managers who protect the process. Then there are the 5 percent with moxie (career managers). At any given time they can change, clarify or add to the process — even to distort or block policy counsel for the president.

Saboteurs peddling opinion as research, tasking their staff on pet projects or pitching wasteful grants to their friends. Most of my career colleagues actively work against the president’s agenda. This means I typically spend about 15 percent of my time on the president’s agenda and 85 percent of my time trying to stop sabotage, and we have no power to get rid of them. Until the shutdown.

Due to the lack of funding, many federal agencies are now operating more effectively from the top down on a fraction of their workforce, with only select essential personnel serving national security tasks. One might think this is how government should function, but bureaucracies operate from the bottom up — a collective of self-generated ideas. Ideas become initiatives, formalize into offices, they seek funds from Congress and become bureaus or sub-agencies, and maybe one day grow to be their own independent agency, like ours. The nature of a big administrative bureaucracy is to grow to serve itself. I watch it and fight it daily.

When the agency is full, employees held liable for poor performance respond with threats, lawsuits, complaints and process in at least a dozen offices, taking years of mounting paperwork with no fear of accountability, extending their careers, while no real work is done. Do we succumb to such extortion? Yes. We pay them settlements, we waive bad reviews, and we promote them.

Many government agencies have adopted the position that more complaints are good because it shows inclusion in, you guessed it, the process. When complaints come, it is cheaper to pay them off than to hold public servants accountable. The result: People accused of serious offenses are not charged, and self-proclaimed victims are paid by you, the American taxpayer.

The message to federal supervisors is clear. Maintain the status quo, or face allegations. Many federal employees truly believe that doing tasks more efficiently and cutting out waste, by closing troubled programs instead of expanding them, “is morally wrong,” as one cried to me.

I get it. These are their pets. It is tough to put them down and let go, and many resist. This phenomenon was best summed up by a colleague who said, “The goal in government is to do nothing. If you try to get things done, that’s when you will run into trouble.”

But President Trump can end this abuse. Senior officials can reprioritize during an extended shutdown, focus on valuable results and weed out the saboteurs. We do not want most employees to return, because we are working better without them. Sure, we empathize with families making tough financial decisions, like mine, and just like private citizens who have to find other work and bring competitive value every day, while paying more than a third of their salary in federal taxes.

President Trump has created more jobs in the private sector than the furloughed federal workforce. Now that we are shut down, not only are we identifying and eliminating much of the sabotage and waste, but we are finally working on the president’s agenda.

President Trump does not need Congress to address the border emergency, and yes, it is an emergency. Billions upon billions of hard-earned tax dollars are still being dumped into foreign aid programs every year that do nothing for America’s interest or national security. The president does not need congressional funding to deconstruct abusive agencies who work against his agenda. This is a chance to effect real change, and his leverage grows stronger every day the shutdown lasts.

The president should add to his demands, including a vote on all of his political nominees in the Senate. Send the career appointees back. Many are in the 5 percent of saboteurs and resistance leaders.

A word of caution: To be a victory, this shutdown must be different than those of the past and should achieve lasting disruption with two major changes, or it will hurt the president.

The first thing we need out of this is better security, particularly at the southern border. Our founders envisioned a free market night watchman state, not the bungled bloated bureaucracy our government has become. But we have to keep the uniformed officers paid, which is an emergency. Ideally, continue a resolution to pay the essential employees only, if they are truly working on national security. Furloughed employees should find other work, never return and not be paid.

Secondly, we need savings for taxpayers. If this fight is merely rhetorical bickering with Nancy Pelosi, we all lose, especially the president. But if it proves that government is better when smaller, focusing only on essential functions that serve Americans, then President Trump will achieve something great that Reagan was only bold enough to dream.

The president’s instincts are right. Most Americans will not miss non-essential government functions. A referendum to end government plunder must happen. Wasteful government agencies are fighting for relevance but they will lose. Now is the time to deliver historic change by cutting them down forever.



Cracks in the Democrats’ wall opposition

Some Democrat lawmakers are losing their will to fight on in the ongoing stalemate with President Trump over border wall funding that has partially shuttered the federal government since before Christmas.

The GOP-controlled House of Representatives voted 217 to 185 on Dec. 20 for a spending bill with $5.7 billion for the wall. The measure floundered in the Senate and the partial shutdown began Dec. 22. The Senate remains in Republican hands but the House is now controlled by Democrats.

The president’s negotiations with Democrats over the $5 billion needed to begin construction of the border wall have gone nowhere largely because of Democrat intransigence –leadership in the House refuses even to meet with the president at the White House—and the federal government continues to be partially shut down for lack of appropriated funds. Although pressure on Trump has been growing, the president has vowed to keep the shutdown going as long as it takes to secure funding for the wall.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who barely won the House speakership after an internal party revolt, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), vow to prevent Trump from securing any funding for a wall along the nation’s multi-state border with Mexico.

Pelosi’s lieutenant, House Majority Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), said Democrats are solid in their opposition to negotiating with the president on the wall. “We are totally united — totally,” Hoyer reportedly said.

But that claim of unity is nonsense, according to Matthew Boyle of Breitbart News.

“In fact, many Democrats–particularly the newly elected freshmen–want to negotiate with Trump on the wall, and they are saying so publicly while expressing their disdain for Pelosi and her fellow leaders,” Boyle writes.

Freshman Rep. Jared Golden (D-Me.), is urging his party’s leaders to negotiate with Trump and the Republicans. Democrat leaders and Trump need “to stop hiding and show a little leadership” to bring the longest-lasting federal government shutdown in the nation’s history to an end, he said.

Freshman Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.) said “there’s a number of us on the Democratic side who are quite concerned that we’re not working on negotiated positions and taking the bull by the horns and trying to think about what it would look like.”

Freshman Rep. Max Rose (D-N.Y.) told local media he was “sick and tired” of government shutdowns being used “as a form of brinksmanship—a tool of negotiation.”

“All we’ve done in the House is repass the Senate bill,” he said. “Now that will allow us some freedom, some space, some real debate. The Senate though has to show their independence. I just got out of a bruising fight with my House leadership … Let’s open the government back up and let’s get back to work.”

Freshman Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-N.Y.), acknowledged he has been defying Pelosi and negotiating directly with GOP lawmakers.

“I’ve been meeting with several representatives from across the country, both Democrats and Republicans,” Brindisi said. “And I’ve been trying to force leadership on both sides of the aisle to work out a compromise to this shutdown.”

“If you listen to all the experts, they’ll say some elements of physical barriers where it makes sense are in order,” he said. “We need more border agents, we need more technology at our border crossings and ports of entries so trucks and shipping containers are inspected before coming into our country.”

Freshman Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.), is taking heat from her constituents.

“If I am getting comments and contact from my constituents expressing concern that the Democrats are not prioritizing security, then I think we can do better,” she said.

Freshman Rep. Colin Allred (D-Texas), said he would consider supporting appropriations needed to build the wall.

“I’m not going to rule anything out, I really am not,” he said.

Freshman Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Ga.), said she is optimistic a deal can be brokered.

“I hope that we can all come to a compromise because that’s the way things get done,” she said. “If we don’t compromise, the American people are the ones who get hurt. Right now, they are hanging in the balance.”

Freshman Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-N.J.) said he would vote for wall funding.

“If I had the opportunity to vote for some sort of a deal, I would,” he said. “I think if we work on the border security, in my opinion, the president would be willing to work on some of these other issues.”

Rep. Ami Bera (D-Calif.) told Vice News that plenty of Democrats outside the freshman cohort are bucking Pelosi’s refusal to negotiate.

“I think we all want to see DACA protections, so I think there’s an opportunity to, if they give something — it’s called negotiation, right?” Bera said. “Give us a chance to protect the Dreamers; maybe we can give something on border security.”

Some in the House Democrat leadership are also diverging from Pelosi’s position.

Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) said some kind of border barrier is necessary.

“If we have a partial wall, if we have fencing, if we have technology used to keep our border safe, all of that is fine,” Bustos, who chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), said on CNN last week.

Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), vice chairman of the House Democrat conference, said on MSNBC that a barrier of some kind would work in parts of the U.S.-Mexico border. “You know, I think there are parts of the border that would benefit from repairing fencing and other barricades that already exist there,” she said.

For his part, President Trump has said he is willing to fulfill his signature campaign promise by declaring a national emergency under federal law so the government can finally move forward with building a desperately needed wall on the nation’s porous southern boundary with Mexico.

Legal experts say the president has the authority to declare an emergency and invoke a federal statute called the National Emergencies Act that President Gerald Ford signed into law on Sept. 14, 1976.

President Trump has already invoked the National Emergencies Act three times in his tenure, according to ABC News. President Barack Obama invoked the statute no fewer than 10 times.

But the next move belongs to House Democrats.



Fake News Attacks Rand Paul for Getting Surgery in Canada, Fails to Realize Clinic Is Private

Some media outlets and activists are suggesting that Sen. Rand Paul (R–Ky.) is guilty of hypocrisy because he will travel to Canada for surgery related to his 2017 assault at the hands of a neighbor. Paul, after all, has warned loudly against adopting the Canadian health care system.

"Rand Paul, enemy of socialized medicine, will go to Canada for surgery," tweeted Talking Points Memo. The tweet includes a link to a Courier-Journal story that reminds readers that "Paul has called universal health care and nationalized options 'slavery.'" Newsweek went a similar route. And the Democratic Coalition tweeted:

"Oh, the irony: Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, one of the fiercest political critics of socialized medicine, will travel to Canada later this month to get hernia surgery."

Checkmate, libertarians? Nope.

Those who chuckled at this supposed irony missed a major detail, even though it was noted in the press coverage: Paul's surgery will take place at the Shouldice Hernia Hospital in Thornhill, Ontario. The clinic is private, and run for profit; The Toronto Star's Daniel Dale, who is from Thornhill, notes that it was "grandfathered in to Ontario's socialized health system."

According to Dale, New Democratic Party Leader Jack Layton, a left-leaning Canadian politician, attracted criticism in 2006 for visiting the private clinic, even though he was a champion of publicly provided health care. That is indeed hypocritical. Paul's decision to seek out the best care—and pay for it—is not.



Shock Poll: Trump Gains 19 Points with Latino Voters During Border Wall Shutdown

In the latest NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll released Thursday, President Donald Trump may have suffered some among Republicans overall, but he saw a huge point gain in a different demographic breakdown, and an unexpected one by conventional wisdom.

In early December, the poll had Trump’s approval rating among Latino adults at 31%. The results from the poll released Thursday show the president’s job approval among Latino adults at 50%.

That is an astonishing 19 point swing. Prior results had less variance, with Latino approval numbers at 36% in their November 1st findings. It was 27% in the pollster’s mid-October survey.

The January poll was conducted during the government shutdown over border wall funding, most notably. So the big swing among Latinos was while Trump and Democrats faced off over funding for the wall.

The president did not fare that well among all Americans, or even among Republicans, with a seven point drop with the latter since December.

In this same January poll, on the question of whether Trump is doing “too much, too little, or about the right amount to work with Democrats in Congress”, among Latinos, 50% of said he was doing too little, while 32% said he was doing the right amount. It was not a polled question in the December survey.



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, 2019

Who has more compassion, Democrats or Republicans?

Meri T. Long is a junior academic at the University of Pittsburgh whose research interest is compassion --  so her conclusions are of more than usual interest.  Her conclusion that liberals and conservatives are equally compassionate in their personal values is certainly not what you would expect from Democrat rhetoric.

She notes however that voters react to the rhetoric of their party leaders. A lot of talk about compassion leads followers to express more support for policies their party leaders say is compassionate.  So that does rather explain why Republicans are sometimes seen as less compassionate. They are not in fact less compassionate in themselves but are seen as that by supporting rhetoric from conservative leaders which rejects claims that Leftist policies (such as the very problematical Obamacare) have compassionate outcomes

A major caveat to her findings, however is that she seems to study attitudes only.  That is easy to do but there is a long-known and wide gap between attitudes and behavior.  And on the behavioral front it is always found that conservatives are the big charitable donors.  If deeds count, it is conservatives who are most compassionate

It’s a common refrain of American voters: How can your party be so heartless?

Democrats want to know how Republicans can support President Donald Trump’s policy of separating babies from refugee families. Republicans want to know how Democrats can sanction abortion. But does either party really care more about compassion?

In my research into the public’s support for a variety of government policies, I ask questions about how compassionate someone is, such as how concerned he or she is about others in need.

These questions are integral to understanding how people feel about who in America deserves government support.

Some people are more compassionate than others. But that doesn’t break simply along party lines.

I find that Democratic and Republican Party voters are similar, on average, thus busting up the cliche of bleeding-heart liberals and uncaring conservatives.

Then there are Trump voters.

Compassion is defined by many psychology researchers as concern for others in need and a desire to see others’ welfare improved.

The similarity in compassion among voters of both parties contrasts with other measures of personality and worldview that increasingly divide Republicans and Democrats, such as values about race and morality.

Republicans are not less compassionate than Democrats, but my research also shows that there is a stark divide between parties in how relevant an individual’s compassion is to his or her politics.

Public opinion surveys show that you can predict what kind of policies a more compassionate person would like, such as more government assistance for the poor or opposition to the death penalty.

But for most political issues, the conclusion for Republicans is that their compassion does not predict what policies they favor. Support for more government assistance to the poor or sick, or opinions about the death penalty, for example, are unrelated to how compassionate a Republican voter is.

In my work, I find that the primary policy area where compassion is consistently correlated to specific policies for conservatives is abortion, where more compassionate conservatives are more likely to say they are pro-life.

When Democratic voters say they are compassionate, you can predict their views on policies.

They’re more supportive of immigration, in favor of social services to the poor and opposed to capital punishment.

Yet, while Democrats may be more likely to vote with their heart, there isn’t evidence that they’re more compassionate than Republicans in their daily lives.

When it comes to volunteering or donating money, for example, compassion works the same way for Republicans and Democrats: More compassionate voters of either party donate and volunteer more.

My research suggests that voter attitudes about the role of compassion in politics are shaped not only by personal philosophy, but by party leaders.

Political speeches by Republican and Democratic leaders vary in the amount of compassionate language they use.

For instance, political leaders can draw attention to the needs of others in their campaign speeches and speeches on the House or Senate floor. They may talk about the need to care for certain people in need or implore people to “have a heart” for the plight of others. Often, leaders allude to the deserving nature of the recipients of government help, outlining how circumstances are beyond their control.

Democratic politicians use compassionate rhetoric much more often than their Republican counterparts and for many more groups in American society than Republican leaders do.

Do citizens respond to such rhetoric differently depending on what party they affiliate with?

When their leaders use compassionate political language, such as drawing attention to other people’s suffering and unmet needs as well as the worthiness of the groups in need, Republicans in experiments are actually moved to be more welcoming to immigrants and to support state help for the disabled.

This explains how Republican voters responded positively to Republican Sen. Robert Dole’s campaign for the rights of the disabled in 1989. It also explains the success of presidential candidate George W. Bush’s “compassionate conservatism” in 2000, which one Washington Post columnist wrote “won George W. Bush the White House in 2000.”

It also suggests that it’s not necessarily the public, but the party leaders, who differ so significantly in how relevant they believe compassion should be to politics.

Despite political rhetoric that places them at opposite ends of the spectrum, Republican and Democratic voters appear to be similarly compassionate.

Democrats view compassion as a political value while Republicans will integrate compassion into their politics when their leaders make it part of an explicit message.

There is a caveat to this: I asked these survey questions about personal feelings of compassion in a 2016 online survey that also asked about choice of president.

The survey was conducted a few days after Republican presidential primary candidates Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Gov. John Kasich of Ohio had dropped out of the race, making Donald Trump the only viable Republican candidate for the nomination.

In their responses to the survey, a large percentage of Republican voters said they would rather vote for someone other than Trump, even though he was the unofficial nominee at that point.

The Republican voters who didn’t support Trump were similar to Democrats on the survey with respect to their answers about compassion. Their average scores on the compassion items were the same. This is in line with the other survey data showing that liberals and conservatives, and Republicans and Democrats, are largely similar in these personality measures of compassion.

But Trump supporters’ answers were not in line with these findings.

Instead, their average responses to the broad compassion questions were significantly lower. These answers showed that Trump supporters were lower in personal compassion.

While a lot of the Republican voters in the sample may well have gone on to support Trump in the general election, the survey respondents who were early adopters of candidate Trump might continue to be his most steadfast supporters today.

We know that public officials’ rhetoric can influence public opinion on political issues. This leads to another important question: Can political messages influence how much people value compassion more generally? Or even how compassionate people consider themselves to be?

The research indicates that appeals to compassion — if made by trusted leaders — should work for voters of both parties.

But it also indicates that if such messages are absent, compassion is less likely to be seen as important in politics and the positions people and parties take.



Leftist policies increase INequality

One of the favorite avocations of left-wing politicians is denouncing ‘income inequality’ and simultaneously proposing socialist tax schemes that have left a string of European governments in various states of economic collapse. The latest? Junior Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY, recently called for a Francois-Hollande-style 70 percent marginal tax rate cloaked in an entirely unoriginal climate change proposal.

The primary argument from borderline-socialist Democrats is that their pet policy proposals – taking more of your money, regulating more of your business, and maintaining a monopoly on your children’s education – produce a less stratified income ladder, and that this is desirable. While the second assertion is debatable depending on your philosophical views, the first assertion is an outright falsehood. Claiming liberal policies reduce inequality and conservative policies perpetuate it makes for good campaign fodder, but it is liberal strongholds across the country that boast the highest levels of inequality.

The Gini coefficient is a statistical distribution measure used to calculate levels of inequality, and topping the list of states highest in inequality is nonother than New York State. Four of the six states highest in inequality boast liberal policies – New York, California, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. Four of the six states lowest in income inequality are governed by conservative policies – Alaska, Utah, Wyoming, and Nebraska. Granted, there is some variation, as New Hampshire and Hawaii are also in the top six. Looking at the issue from a city-level perspective, the Brookings Institution admitted that inequality was highest in cities mired in Big Government including, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, D.C., Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco. The researchers noted that cities with relatively low levels of income inequality are concentrated in the South and West. The least unequal city? Mesa, Arizona, dubbed ‘America’s Most Conservative City’ by Politico for its predominantly Christian populace and business-friendly regulatory structure.

An important aspect of income inequality is educational inequality, and unfortunately for left-wing states like California and New York, their record here is equally bleak. While California and New York are two of nineteen states with a higher percentage of college graduates than the national average, they are also ranked No.1 and No. 3 respectively for their shares of adults who never completed ninth grade. CNS News noted that California’s number of adults who never finished even one year of high school is larger than the entire populations of 15 other states. One solution to help California and New York reduce their vast educational and income disparities? Offer school choice options to low-income students like Florida did, and increase their likelihood to graduate and go to college. Dr. Matt Chingos of the Urban Institute found that Florida’s private school choice vouchers increased college enrollment rates by 6 percentage points, or about 15 percent.

Solutions like lowering taxes and increasing school choice have long been discredited by left-wing politicians seeking to justify their reelection bids. However, these policies are actually supported by a broad segment of Americans, not just conservatives.

Market Research Foundation focuses on identifying support for achievable policy issues that benefit American citizens, beyond the constraints of political ideology. We’ve found that when labels like ‘Conservative’ are removed from the conversation, a diverse group of Americans want lower taxes, less regulation, and more control over their children’s education.

Our 2018 survey on First Generation Americans found:

There is near universal support (90%) for reducing individual tax rates.

Seven-in-ten want to see reduced government regulation.

Our 2018 report on African Americans found:

Overwhelming preference for increasing school choice (90% support).

Four-in-five (80%) believe small business is the key to American success and the same number do not trust the government to spend tax dollars.

There is near universal support (93%) for reducing individual tax rates.

An unpopular reality that many on the left are reluctant to acknowledge, is that some level of income inequality is inevitable. Income is based on either contribution of value through market participation, or willingness to take on risk through investment, and people are capable of varying levels of each. A reasonable person with a cursory understanding of both markets and humans won’t seek to eliminate income inequality.

However, there are two key policies that reduce barriers to economic advancement and increase opportunity for all citizens. Foremost among them are increasing educational freedom and reducing burdensome taxes and regulations, both of which are not only popular, but possible.



Politics of Immigration

Walter E. Williams
Here are a couple of easy immigration questions — answerable with a simple “yes” or “no” — we might ask any American of any political stripe: Does everyone in the world have a right to live in the U.S.? Do the American people have a right, through their elected representatives, to decide who has the right to immigrate to their country and under what conditions? I believe that most Americans, even today’s open-borders people, would answer “no” to the first question and “yes” to the second.

There’s nothing new about this vision. Americans have held this view throughout our history, during times when immigration laws were very restrictive and when they were more relaxed. Tucker Carlson, host of Fox News Channel’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” gives us an interesting history lesson about immigration at Prager University. It was prompted by his watching a group of protesters who were denouncing President Donald Trump’s immigration policies. They were waving Mexican flags and shouting, “Si, se puede!” (“Yes, we can!”)

Unbeknownst to the protesters, the expression “Si, se puede” was a saying of Cesar Chavez’s. When Chavez, the founder of the United Farm Workers union, used the expression “Yes, we can,” he meant something entirely different: “Yes, we can” seal the borders. He hated illegal immigration. Chavez explained, “As long as we have a poor country bordering California, it’s going to be very difficult to win strikes.” Why? Farmers are willing to hire low-wage immigrants here illegally. Chavez had allies in his protest against the hiring of undocumented workers and lax enforcement of immigration laws. Included in one of his protest marches were Democratic Sen. Walter Mondale and a longtime Martin Luther King Jr. aide, the Rev. Ralph Abernathy.

Peaceful protest wasn’t Chavez’s only tool. He sent union members into the desert to assault Mexicans who were trying to sneak in to the country. They beat the Mexicans with chains and whips made of barbed wire. Undocumented immigrants who worked during strikes had their houses firebombed and their cars burned. By the way, Chavez remains a leftist hero. President Barack Obama declared his birthday a commemorative federal holiday, an official day off in several states. A number of buildings and student centers on college campuses and dozens of public schools bear the name Cesar Chavez.

Democrats have long taken stances against both legal and illegal immigration. In 1975, California Gov. Jerry Brown opposed Vietnamese immigration, saying that the state had enough poor people. He added, “There is something a little strange about saying ‘Let’s bring in 500,000 more people’ when we can’t take care of the 1 million (Californians) out of work.”

In his 1995 State of the Union address, President Bill Clinton said: “All Americans … are rightly disturbed by the large numbers of illegal aliens entering our country. The jobs they hold might otherwise be held by citizens or legal immigrants. The public service they use impose burdens on our taxpayers.” On a 1994 edition of CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., declared: “Border control is a federal responsibility. We simply don’t enforce our borders adequately. In my state, you have about 2,000 people a day, illegally, who cross the border. Now, this adds up to about 2 million people who compete for housing, who compete for classroom space.” She added: “In 1988, there were about 3,000 people on Medicaid. There’re well over 300,000 (people on Medicaid) today who are illegal aliens. That presents obvious problems.”

Tucker Carlson has a four-part explanation for the Democratic Party’s changing position on illegal immigration. He says, “One: According to a recent study from Yale, there are at least 22 million illegal immigrants living in the United States. Two: Democrats plan to give all of them citizenship. Read the Democrats’ 2016 party platform. Three: Studies show the overwhelming majority of first-time immigrant voters vote Democrat. Four: The biggest landslide in American presidential history was only 17 million votes. Do the math. The payoff for Democrats: permanent electoral majority for the foreseeable future. In a word: power.”



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, 2019

LEGAL immigration is a big problem too

Some of the dregs of the earth are coming in legally as refugees.  Ron Unz below does us a favour in pointing that out but he also says that illegal immigration is not a problem.  He has obviously not noticed certain caravans.  But what he says about illegal immigration needs to be considered.

I reproduce only a small part of what he says below.  He goes on further at great length to show that Hispanic crime is not particularly high.  Black crime is the big problem, he says.  He is undoubtedly right about black crime but I have crossed swords with him before in 2012 about his use of crime statistics to exonerate Hispanics.  What I said then stands today, I think.

The big problem is that crime statistics, including jail records, are very unreliable for a variety of reasons.  Depending where you look for your figures, hardly any Hispanics are serious criminals or up to a THIRD of Hispanic illegals are serious criminals.

When I pointed that out to Unz he rather surprised me by crumbling. He actually turned to "ad hominem" argument. He said that I did not know what I was talking about because I am  Australian.  Even Greenies and Warmists don't sink to that level in disputing with me.

Nonetheless, I am happy to concede that there is probably something in his claim that the Hispanic crime rate has been exaggerated.  When controlling for all factors involved, raw figures do reduce to something less less stark. 

But the debate is not about averages. It is about incidents. The fact that America now has in its neighborhoods vicious Latin American crime gangs like Salvatrucha is surely a matter of serious concern -- as are the many vicious crimes against American women perpetrated by Hispanic illegals.  Without such immigrants none of the crimes concerned would have occurred and many women would be alive today who have been murdered.  With a wall, it is unlikely that such criminals would have got in to the USA -- so a wall is long overdue.  Trump is right to highlight the stream of Hispanic criminals coming in

According to most estimates, the size of America’s undocumented population has been almost entirely stagnant since the 2008 Housing Meltdown wrecked employment in the construction industry, while net legal immigration has still regularly been running at a million or more a year. Therefore, it seems likely that nearly all net immigration over the last decade or so has been of the legal variety.

Despite having been totally “deplatformed” from all normal Internet services, the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer still apparently gets more traffic than all the other Alt-Right websites in the world combined, and its editor, Andrew Anglin, is an ardent Trump supporter. Nevertheless, he recently ran a lead editorial in which he ridiculed the whole “Build the Wall” nonsense, and correctly suggested that all the talk about it was largely due to the totally brainwashed stupidity of most anti-immigration rightwingers:

"We currently have a million people coming in every year through the various “legal” methods who do not leave and are often given citizenship…People are stupid in general, and most simply do not understand that the real threat to America is legal immigration…

The wall is largely a symbolic gesture in the larger scheme of things, and speaks to the absolutely brainwashed nature of the mass of conservatives who believe that legal immigration is “okay.”

I remember before Trump having these conversations in Columbus, Ohio, and hearing people say “it’s the illegals that’s the problem” and replying “well what about all these Somalians?” People would look confused for a minute and then say “aren’t they illegal?”

Hearing them talk about “I just want it to be legal” is infuriating, as they do not have any clear explanation as to why they believe this, and the fact that there is virtually no difference between the two allows liberals to exploit their inability to explain a difference and make them look stupid."

A national policy debate over whether immigration levels are much too high is long overdue. Instead, Donald Trump together with his political advisers and activist allies have sparked a heated battle over whether hordes of Mexican “rapists and killers” are illegally swarming across our border and we must build a wall to stop them. As a direct consequence, the supposedly horrific threat of immigrant and especially Hispanic crime has become a staple theme of rightwing pundits over the last couple of years.

 The climate of “political correctness” enforced upon our journalists and academic scholars on racially-charged issues such as crime tend to suppress any candid discussion of the facts, and in such a climate of silence, wild rumors and misunderstood statistics can easily propagate among ideological groups that have grown highly suspicious of the mainstream media narrative.



Are our life chances determined by our DNA?

In less than two decades, the bid to read the human genome has shrunk from billion-dollar space-race project to cheap parlour game. In 2000, President Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, then UK prime minister, jointly announced that scientists had elucidated the three billion letters of the human genome — or discovered “the language in which God created life”, as the US president solemnly phrased it.

In 2018, prompted by opposition goading, the Democrat US senator Elizabeth Warren took a consumer DNA test to prove a strain of Cherokee ancestry. Flashing a sliver of exotic bloodline for political advantage turned out to be a calamitous misjudgment: her actions upset Native Americans, who regard identity and culture as more than a matter of DNA.

Science too is engaged in the same enterprise: to reduce the complexity of human identity to genetics. While we have long known that genes build our bodies — determining eye and hair colour, influencing height and body shape — there is a growing conviction that genes also sculpt the mind. As the cost of gene-sequencing technology has plunged to a few hundred dollars, millions of people have had their DNA sliced and diced by scientists seeking to quantify the genetic contribution to personality, intelligence, behaviour and mental illness.

This is the dark and difficult territory explored by three important books that embody a new zeitgeist of genetic determinism. If DNA builds the brain and mind — the puppetmasters pulling our behavioural strings — then selfhood becomes circumscribed largely by our genes. The idea that we are little more than machines driven by our biology raises a profound conundrum: if the genes we inherit at conception shape personality, behaviour, mental health and intellectual achievement, where is the space for society and social policy — even parents — to make a difference? What of free will?

As might be guessed from its klaxon of a title, Blueprint is unequivocal in stating the supremacy of the genome. “Genetics is the most important factor shaping who we are,” opens Robert Plomin, a behavioural geneticist at King’s College London recognised globally (and reviled by some) for his research into the genetics of intelligence. “It explains more of the psychological differences between us than everything else put together,” he writes, adding that “the most important environmental factors, such as our families and schools, account for less than 5 per cent of the differences between us in our mental health or how well we did at school.”

For decades, Professor Plomin has been using twin and adoption studies to tease out the relative effects of genes and environment. Identical twins share 100 per cent of their DNA; in non-identical twins this drops to 50 per cent (the same genetic overlap as regular siblings). Adopted children share a home environment, but no DNA, with their adoptive parents; and 50 per cent of their DNA, but no home environment, with each of their biological parents.

A careful study of these permutations can point to the “heritability” of various characteristics and psychological traits. Body weight, for example, shows a heritability of about 70 per cent: thus 70 per cent of the differences in weight between people can be attributed to differences in their DNA. Identical twins tend to be more similar than non-identical, fraternal twins; adopted children are more like their biological parents than their adoptive parents.

Breast cancer, widely thought of as a genetic disease, shows a heritability of only 10 per cent. In contrast, it is 50 per cent for schizophrenia; 50 per cent for general intelligence (reasoning); and 60 per cent for school achievement. Last year Plomin claimed that children with high “polygenic scores” for educational achievement — showing a constellation of genetic variants known to be associated with academic success — gained good GCSE grades regardless of whether they went to non-selective or selective schools. His conclusion was that genes matter pretty much above all else when it comes to exam grades.

Even the home, the very definition of “environment”, is subject to genetic influence, he says. If kids in book-filled homes exhibit high IQs, it is because high-IQ parents tend to create book-filled homes. The parents are passing on their intelligence to their children via their genes, not their libraries: “The shocking and profound revelation . . . is that parents have little systematic effect on their children’s outcomes, beyond the blueprint that their genes provide.” His conclusion is that “parents matter, but they don’t make a difference”.

That is not the only seemingly contradictory message. Plomin describes DNA as a “fortune-teller” while simultaneously emphasising that “genetics describes what is — it does not predict what could be”. This caveat is odd, given his later enthusiasm for using genetic testing predictively in almost every aspect of life: in health, education, choosing a job and even attracting a spouse. He suggests, for example, that we could use polygenic scores for schizophrenia “to identify problems on the basis of causes rather than symptoms”.

This vision sounds worryingly like pre-medicalisation. Plomin proclaims himself a cheerleader for such implications but is disappointingly light on the ethical issues. A predisposition might never manifest as a symptom — and besides, “possible schizophrenic” is not the kind of descriptor I would want to carry around from birth.

Plomin admits that cowardice stopped him writing such a book before now; it probably also stopped him from addressing alleged racial differences in intelligence. This is a grave omission, as he is one of the few academics capable of authoritatively quashing the notion. James Watson, the 90-year-old DNA pioneer, recently restated his belief that blacks are cognitively inferior to whites. Those, like Plomin, responsible for fuelling the resurgence in genetic determinism have a responsibility to speak out — and early — against those who misuse science to sow division. (Plomin is writing an afterword for future editions.)

Neuroscientist Kevin Mitchell believes that genes conspire with a hidden factor — brain development — to shape psychology and behaviour. Neural development, he contends persuasively in his book Innate, adds random variation to the unfurling of the genetic blueprint, ensuring individuality, even among identical twins. These special siblings, though clones, rarely score identically for psychological traits. Genes are the ingredients but a lot depends on the oven: “You can’t bake the same cake twice.”

Mitchell, associate professor of neuroscience at Trinity College Dublin, explains: “It is mainly genetic variation affecting brain development that underlies innate differences in psychological traits. We are different from each other in large part because of the way our brains get wired before we are born.” Genetic relatives have brains that are wired alike. Thus, we should look to the cranium, not only to chromosomes, to learn how minds are shaped.

Indeed, each of us is a miniature study in how a genetic blueprint can quiver under the influence of random variation, like a pencil tracing that does not conform exactly to the original outline. The genes directing the development of each side of your body are identical — but you are still slightly asymmetrical (put a mirror down the middle of a mugshot and see how weird you look with perfect symmetry). Fascinatingly, identical twins do not always show the same handedness, despite shared DNA and upbringing.

What goes on in that oven, or the brain, cannot be described as environmental — the catch-all term for non-genetic factors — because it is intrinsic to the individual rather than shared. Mitchell labels it the “non-shared environment”, a crucial but overlooked component of innate traits. Once this factor is folded in, “many traits are even more innate than heritability estimates alone would suggest”.

This, he insists, does not close the door to free will and autonomy. Genes plus neural development pre-programme a path of possible action, not the action itself: “We still have free will, just not in the sense that we can choose to do any old random thing at any moment . . . when we do make deliberative decisions, it is between a limited set of options that our brain suggests.” Having free will, he adds, does not mean doing things for no reason, but “doing them for your reasons.” Those include wanting to conform to social and familial norms; unlike Plomin, Mitchell recognises the reality that societies and families can and do make a difference.

While both discuss heritable conditions such as autism and schizophrenia in terms of defective genes, Randolph Nesse turns this thinking on its head. In Good Reasons for Bad Feelings, he asks: why do such disorders persist in the human population, given that natural selection tends to weed out “bad” genes?

Mental illness and psychological ill-health, he theorises, could be the collateral damage caused by the selection, over evolutionary time, of thousands of genes for survival and fitness. Autism, for example, has a well-documented genetic overlap with higher cognitive ability: some biologists now regard autism as a disorder of high intelligence. Once, only the clever survived.

Nesse, who runs the Centre for Evolution and Medicine at Arizona State University, can also explain why life offers mental torment in abundance: “Natural selection does not give a fig about our happiness. In the calculus of evolution, only reproductive success matters.”

Charles Darwin was one of the first to see the similarity in facial expressions between humans and other animals: these hint at a shared evolutionary heritage when it comes to emotions. Jealousy and fear, for example, are thought to promote genetic survival: a jealous man who controls his partner is more likely to end up raising his own genetic offspring, according to the evolutionary scientist David Buss; fear makes us cautious and keeps us alive.

These are indeed good reasons for bad feelings. But extreme jealousy can lead to murder; extreme fear can become debilitating phobia. Panic attacks — an exceedingly common experience — mirror the fight-or-flight response. Anxiety, meanwhile, works on the smoke detector principle: “a useful response that often goes overboard”.

Nesse’s book offers fresh thinking in a field that has come to feel stagnant, even if new therapeutic avenues are not immediately obvious. The prevailing orthodoxy that each mental disorder must have its own distinct cause, possibly correctable through chemicals, has not been wholly successful over the decades. Biologists have also failed to uncover tidy genetic origins for heritable conditions such as schizophrenia and autism, instead finding the risk sprinkled across thousands of genes. Recasting our psychiatric and psychological shortcomings as the unintended sprawling by-products of evolution seems a useful way of understanding why our minds malfunction in the multiple, messy ways that they do. The UK’s Royal College of Psychiatry thinks so: it recently set up a special interest group on evolutionary psychiatry.

Given that natural selection is blind to organisms being happy, sad, manic or depressed, Nesse notes that things could have turned out worse: “Instead of being appalled at life’s suffering, we should be astounded and awed by the miracle of mental health for so many.”



AG Nominee Barr: ‘As We Open Our Front Door … We Cannot Allow Others’ to Crash ‘Through the Back Doors’

During his Senate confirmation hearing, Attorney General nominee William Barr said Tuesday that the U.S. must secure its borders and ensure that its laws “allow us to process, hold, and remove those who unlawfully enter.”

Barr outlined what his priorities would be if confirmed to the top post at the Department of Justice (DOJ), saying that under his leadership, the DOJ “will continue to prioritize enforcing and improving our immigration laws.”

“As a nation, we have the most liberal and expansive immigration laws in the world. Legal immigration has historically been a huge benefit to this country. However, as we open our front door and try to admit people in an orderly way, we cannot allow others to flout our legal system by crashing in through the back doors,” he said.

“In order to ensure that our immigration system works properly, we must secure our nation’s borders, and we must ensure that our laws allow us to process, hold, and remove those who unlawfully enter,” Barr said.

Barr pledged to “diligently implement” the First Step Act, the criminal justice reform measure which was signed into law recently. He said the new law “recognizes the progress we’ve made over the past three decades in fighting violent crime.”

“As attorney general, I will ensure that we will continue our efforts to combat violent crime,” he said. “In the past, I was focused on predatory violence, but today, I am also concerned about another type of violence.

“We can only survive and thrive as a nation if we are mutually tolerant of each other’s differences whether they be differences based on race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or political thinking, and yet, we see some people violently attacking others simply because of their differences. We must have zero tolerance for such crimes, and I will make this a priority as attorney general if confirmed,” Barr said.



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, 2019

'Father of DNA' James Watson Stripped of Honors Over More IQ  Comments

The story below shows the incredible power of America's racism hysteria. Its counter-factual beliefs must not be disputed.  Black IQ really is the third rail of political commentary in America. The reality is just too disturbing to face.

Note that NO evidence is mentioned to dispute Watson's claims -- for the excellent reason that Watson's comments are a good summary of the available evidence on the question.  Even the APA has acknowledged a large and persistent gap (one SD) between average black and white IQ and it would itself be floridly racist to say that what is genetic in whites is not genetic in blacks

The acclaimed Nobel Prize-winning scientist James Watson will be forever remembered as one of the 'fathers of DNA'. But also as something much worse.

In a resurfaced controversy that further dims the shine of one of the 20th century's most esteemed scientists, Watson – awarded the Nobel in 1962 for his role in the discovery of DNA's 'double helix' molecular structure – has been stripped of academic titles after repeating offensive racist views that began to shred his reputation over a decade ago.

After new racist comments by Watson surfaced in the recent PBS documentary American Masters: Decoding Watson, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) – the pioneering research lab Watson led for decades – had finally had enough.

"Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory unequivocally rejects the unsubstantiated and reckless personal opinions," CSHL said in statement.

"Dr. Watson's statements are reprehensible, unsupported by science, and in no way represent the views of CSHL… The Laboratory condemns the misuse of science to justify prejudice."

In the new documentary, Watson states: "There's a difference on the average between blacks and whites on IQ tests. I would say the difference is, it's genetic."

It's not the first time Watson has come under fire for stating these kinds of beliefs.

In 2007, Watson created a furore after he was quoted as saying he was "inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa" because "all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours – whereas all the testing says not really".

In the same article by The Times, Watson acknowledged such views were a "hot potato", but said that while he hoped that everyone was equal, "people who have to deal with black employees find this not true".

Watson later apologised for the comments, but the damage was done.

CSHL relieved him of all remaining administrative duties at the lab, leaving him only as an honorary figurehead in respect of his previous contributions to science. Now, those last accolades are also gone.

"In response to his most recent statements, which effectively reverse the written apology and retraction Dr. Watson made in 2007, the Laboratory has taken additional steps, including revoking his honorary titles of Chancellor Emeritus, Oliver R. Grace Professor Emeritus, and Honorary Trustee," the CSHL statement reads.

It's an indisputably inglorious end for one of the most glorious career arcs in 20th century science.

While the lesser-known story of Rosalind Franklin's unrecognised contributions to Watson and Francis Crick's famous DNA research are a telling reminder of the struggles women still face to be recognised in science, nobody denies the landmark contributions Watson himself made.

But, sadly, these famous accomplishments – which helped usher in a whole new era of knowledge in molecular biology and genetics – will now forever be linked with the offensive opinions of an old man in decline.

And an old man who, some say, should not be asked such questions any more.

"It is not news when a ninety-year-old man who has lost cognitive inhibition, and has drifted that way for decades as he aged, speaks from his present mind," CSHL Michael Wigler told The New York Times.

"It is not a moment for reflection. It is merely a peek into a corner of this nation's subconscious, and a strong whiff of its not-well-shrouded past secrets."

The last time Watson's racism created such controversy, the scientist ended up selling his Nobel Prize – citing financial issues from the resulting fallout that had rendered him an "unperson".

The buyer actually returned the Prize to Watson as a gesture of respect – but as time and the world moves on, the ageing scientist may find himself running out of such good will.

As for what we can ultimately make of the scientist's legacy, given the ugly shadow that now hangs over his earlier wins, helpful advice may come from a 2014 op-ed in The Guardian written about Watson.

"Celebrate science when it is great, and scientists when they deserve it," geneticist Adam Rutherford wrote.

"And when they turn out to be awful bigots, let's be honest about that too. It turns out that just like DNA, people are messy, complex and sometimes full of hideous errors."



Conservative Groups Targeted in Lois Lerner’s IRS Scandal Receive Settlement Checks

Dozens of conservative organizations are receiving late Christmas presents years after the IRS handed them a lump of coal.

The federal government in recent days has been issuing settlement checks to 100 right-of-center groups wrongfully targeted for their political beliefs under the Obama administration’s Internal Revenue Service, according to an attorney for the firm that represented plaintiffs in NorCal v. United States.

Three of the claimants in the $3.5 million national class-action suit are based in the Badger State.

“This is really a groundbreaking case. Hopefully it sets a precedent and will serve as a warning to government officials who further feel tempted to discriminate against U.S. citizens based on their viewpoints,” Edward Greim, attorney for Kansas City, Missouri-based Graves Garrett LLC told MacIver News Service.

Most of the claimants will each receive a check for approximately $14,000, Greim said. Five conservative groups that were integrally involved in the lawsuit get a bonus payment of $10,000 each, the attorney said.

About $2 million of the settlement goes to cover the legal costs of five long years of litigation. IRS attorneys attempted delay after delay, objection after objection, trying to use the very taxpayer protection statutes the plaintiffs were suing under to suppress documents.

The agency has admitted no wrongdoing in what a federal report found to be incidents of intrusive inspections of organizations seeking nonprofit status. Greim has said the seven-figure settlement suggests otherwise.

An IRS spokesman declined to comment.

Brandon Scholz, managing director of Wisconsin Small Businesses United, one of the groups receiving a settlement check, said the IRS’ conduct had a “chilling effect” on free speech.

“Shame on those people at the IRS who engaged in putting their foot down on the throats of people who were simply trying to advocate for an issue or express an opinion,” he said. “That stain on the IRS should remain there as a reminder that this should never take place again.”

Consumer Rights Wisconsin is the other conservative organization receiving a settlement check, according to Greim.

Disgraced former bureaucrat Lois Lerner led the IRS division that processes applications for tax-exempt groups. A 2013 inspector general’s report found the IRS had singled out conservative and tea party organizations for intense scrutiny, oftentimes simply based on their conservative-sounding or tea party names. The IRS delayed for months, even years, the applications, and some groups were improperly questioned about their donors and their religious affiliations and practices.

Lerner claims she did nothing wrong. In clearing her of wrongdoing, an Obama administration Department of Justice review described Lerner as a hero. But she invoked her Fifth Amendment right in refusing to answer questions before a congressional committee. The plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit took the first and only deposition of Lerner, a document that the former IRS official and her attorneys have fought to keep sealed.

“At one level, it’s hard to even assess a dollar amount to what they did, it’s so contrary to what we think our bureaucrats in Washington should be doing. It boggles the mind,” Greim said.

In signing off on the agreement in August, federal Judge Michael R. Barrett said the settlement was “fair, reasonable, and adequate.”

Greim said the money recovered in the settlement approximates the number of IRS violations involved. “That’s about what the evidence showed,” the attorney said. “We felt like we got about everything we could.”

Originally the class-action included some 400 potential claimants.

Conservative activists are skeptical of the IRS’ public apologies and its pledge to end such targeting practices. “The message is do not let up on the gas pedal. Do not be intimidated,” Scholz said. 



At last: V.A. Seeks to Redirect Billions of Dollars Into Private Care

The Department of Veterans Affairs is preparing to shift billions of dollars from government-run veterans’ hospitals to private health care providers, setting the stage for the biggest transformation of the veterans’ medical system in a generation.

Under proposed guidelines, it would be easier for veterans to receive care in privately run hospitals and have the government pay for it. Veterans would also be allowed access to a system of proposed walk-in clinics, which would serve as a bridge between V.A. emergency rooms and private providers, and would require co-pays for treatment.

Veterans’ hospitals, which treat seven million patients annually, have struggled to see patients on time in recent years, hit by a double crush of returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and aging Vietnam veterans. A scandal over hidden waiting lists in 2014 sent Congress searching for fixes, and in the years since, Republicans have pushed to send veterans to the private sector, while Democrats have favored increasing the number of doctors in the V.A.

If put into effect, the proposed rules — many of whose details remain unclear as they are negotiated within the Trump administration — would be a win for the once-obscure Concerned Veterans for America, an advocacy group funded by the network founded by the billionaire industrialists Charles G. and David H. Koch, which has long championed increasing the use of private sector health care for veterans.

For individual veterans, private care could mean shorter waits, more choices and fewer requirements for co-pays — and could prove popular. But some health care experts and veterans’ groups say the change, which has no separate source of funding, would redirect money that the current veterans’ health care system — the largest in the nation — uses to provide specialty care.

Critics have also warned that switching vast numbers of veterans to private hospitals would strain care in the private sector and that costs for taxpayers could skyrocket. In addition, they say it could threaten the future of traditional veterans’ hospitals, some of which are already under review for consolidation or closing.

President Trump, who made reforming veterans’ health care a major point of his campaign, may reveal details of the plan in his State of the Union address later this month, according to several people in the administration and others outside it who have been briefed on the plan.

The proposed changes have grown out of health care legislation, known as the Mission Act, passed by the last Congress. Supporters, who have been influential in administration policy, argue that the new rules would streamline care available to veterans, whose health problems are many but whose numbers are shrinking, and also prod the veterans’ hospital system to compete for patients, making it more efficient.

“Most veterans chose to serve their country, so they should have the choice to access care in the community with their V.A. benefits — especially if the V.A. can’t serve them in a timely and convenient manner,” said Dan Caldwell, executive director of Concerned Veterans for America.

Critics, which include nearly all of the major veterans’ organizations, say that paying for care in the private sector would starve the 153-year-old veterans’ health care system, causing many hospitals to close. [So what?] “We don’t like it,” said Rick Weidman, executive director of Vietnam Veterans of America. “This thing was initially sold as to supplement the V.A., and some people want to try and use it to supplant.”

Although the Trump administration has kept details quiet, officials inside and outside the department say the plan closely resembles the military’s insurance plan, Tricare Prime, which sets a lower bar than the Department of Veterans Affairs when it comes to getting private care.

Tricare automatically allows patients to see a private doctor if they have to travel more than 30 minutes for an appointment with a military doctor, or if they have to wait more than seven days for a routine visit or 24 hours for urgent care. Under current law, veterans qualify for private care only if they have waited 30 days, and sometimes they have to travel hundreds of miles. The administration may propose for veterans a time frame somewhere between the seven- and 30-day periods.

Health care experts say that, whatever the larger effects, allowing more access to private care will prove costly. A 2016 report ordered by Congress, from a panel called the Commission on Care, analyzed the cost of sending more veterans into the community for treatment and warned that unfettered access could cost well over $100 billion each year.

Though the rules would place some restrictions on veterans, early estimates by the Office of Management and Budget found that a Tricare-style system would cost about $60 billion each year, according to a former Veterans Affairs official who worked on the project. Congress is unlikely to approve more funding, so the costs are likely to be carved out of existing funds for veterans’ hospitals.

At the same time, Tricare has been popular among recipients — so popular that the percentage of military families using it has nearly doubled since 2001, as private insurance became more expensive, according to the Harvard lecturer Linda Bilmes.

“People will naturally gravitate toward the better deal, that’s economics,” she said. “It has meant a tremendous increase in costs for the government.”

A spokesman for the Department of Veterans Affairs, Curt Cashour, declined to comment on the specifics of the new rules.

“The Mission Act, which sailed through Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support and the strong backing of veterans service organizations, gives the V.A. secretary the authority to set access standards that provide veterans the best and most timely care possible, whether at V.A. or with community providers, and the department is committed to doing just that,” he said in an email.





For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and 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, 2019

Free enterprise healthcare growing even in Mass.

Urgent care centers, walk-in clinics that treat a range of pressing medical issues, are proliferating in crowded shopping centers and along busy roads across the state, especially in affluent suburbs. One 2-mile stretch of Route 9 will soon have four urgent care centers, the newest next to a Chipotle and a Staples in Natick. Chestnut Hill has three within a 15-minute drive, and Cambridge, four.

But no companies have rushed to open urgent care centers in Dorchester, Roxbury, or other lower-income neighborhoods in Boston.

The explosion of the urgent care industry is reshaping the health care landscape in Massachusetts and across the country. A state commission counted 150 urgent care centers last year, up from 18 in 2010. And more are coming this year.

The centers lure patients with convenience: They don’t require appointments, and they typically are open until 8 or 9 p.m., and on weekends. They promise to treat almost any non-life-threatening medical issue — at a fraction of the cost of hospital emergency rooms, and without the long wait.

What they don’t tend to prioritize is care for the poorest. Most firms operating urgent care centers report that only a small percent of their business comes from patients on Medicaid, known here as MassHealth.

And it remains unclear what effect these centers have on the overall health care marketplace. Do they help contain spending by diverting patients from emergency rooms? Or do they add to costs by encouraging new visits?

But at two of Massachusetts’ largest urgent care operators, American Family Care and CareWell Urgent Care, just 11 percent and 2.5 percent, respectively, of patients are on MassHealth.

In another type of walk-in medical clinic that provides more limited services and is located in CVS stores, just 5 percent of patients are on MassHealth.

MassHealth patients, meanwhile, still rely heavily on chaotic and expensive hospital emergency departments, though in some urban neighborhoods, community health centers offer expanded hours for urgent medical needs.

Even the national urgent care lobbying group acknowledges the disparity.

It estimates that 30 to 40 percent of centers refuse to treat Medicaid patients, saying the public program has onerous requirements and does not pay enough to cover their costs.

“We are not trying to cherry-pick, but we have to be sustainable,’’ said Dr. Gene Green, president of South Shore Health, the parent company of South Shore Hospital that recently bought six Health Express urgent care centers. About 2 percent of the centers’ patients are covered by MassHealth.

Some hospital systems, such as Cape Cod Healthcare, are building their own urgent care centers as part of a strategy to attract and retain patients in their networks. Compared with competitors, Cape Cod Healthcare sees a relatively higher share of MassHealth patients at its urgent care locations — about 20 percent. “That’s our population,” chief executive Michael K. Lauf said. “Do I think the odds are stacked against us [financially] because we do that? Yes.”

MassHealth pays health care providers much less than commercial insurers. CareWell, for example, said it receives an average of $74 for each urgent care visit from a MassHealth patient; commercial insurers pay CareWell at least double that — an average of $150 to $200 per visit.

That gap is one factor that pushes some providers to target middle- and high-income patients. An analysis by the state’s Health Policy Commission found that 58 percent of urgent care centers and 72 percent of CVS’s MinuteClinics are located in ZIP codes where residents earn above the median income.

“They are going to get a higher reimbursement by getting people with commercial insurance. Therefore, it’s in their financial interest to be in communities with higher-income patients with commercial insurance,” said Dr. Ateev Mehrotra, a professor at Harvard Medical School who studies walk-in clinics.

Massachusetts now has 59 MinuteClinics, up from 46 five years ago.

A CVS spokeswoman said the company selects locations based on a variety of factors, including store size and regulatory requirements. Jim Brennan, area executive for American Family Care in Massachusetts, said his company’s method for choosing urgent care locations is proprietary.

But executives generally search out retail centers with heavy pedestrian and car traffic, and neighborhoods with busy families consisting of two working adults and teenagers who play sports — and face sports injuries.

“Those people value their time,’’ American Family Care spokesman William Koleszar added. “We want it to be as easy to come to urgent care as it is to pick up their dry cleaning.’’

While AFC executives said their urgent care centers in low-income communities like New Bedford “do very well,’’ they said the state makes it harder for lower-income people to use them.

For those enrolled in MassHealth managed care plans — about 1.2 million people — the state generally will not pay for an urgent care center visit unless the patient has a referral from a primary care doctor.  [Which defeats the purpose of an urgent care facility]

Urgent care companies say the referral rules are dated and burdensome and prevent them from treating larger numbers of low-income patients. They want the rules lifted.

“We can be turning away dozens of [MassHealth] patients a day because we don’t have referrals,” said Shaun Ginter, chief executive of CareWell, which operates 16 urgent care centers in Massachusetts, from Worcester to Peabody to South Dennis.

But Massachusetts Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders said she is concerned about MassHealth patients going to urgent care centers that are not connected to larger health systems; encouraging treatment there would be “antithetical’’ to the state’s plan to manage care for MassHealth patients by requiring them to stay within specific networks of health care providers. [Typical Leftist authoritarianism]

State officials are considering licensing urgent care centers. “They are a growing part of health care. We need to take a prudent look,’’ Sudders said.

MinuteClinics began opening in Massachusetts more than a decade ago and are already regulated by the state, which requires them, for example, to provide a list of primary care doctors for customers who don’t have one.

Urgent care centers are still new enough to Massachusetts that the state has no official definition for them, nor specific rules for how they operate or what illnesses they can safely treat.

While most states do not specifically license urgent care centers, their oversight has grown with the expansion of the industry.

Urgent care centers can range from small offices staffed by nurse practitioners to large facilities run by emergency physicians, with expensive imaging equipment and blood-testing laboratories. Their hours vary.

Some centers are set up as doctor’s offices and charge similar prices, while others are licensed as hospital outpatient facilities and charge additional hefty fees that often come as a surprise to patients.

“There still needs to be education about what kinds of services urgent care centers actually provide to the community, and who can actually access their services,” said Senator James Welch, cochairman of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Health Care Financing.

Welch and Mariano expect lawmakers to work on health care legislation this session that includes regulations on urgent care.  [More of those lovely Fascist regulations]



A New Bill Would Rein in Executive Overreach and the Administrative State. But Does Congress Really Want That Power?

This week saw the reintroduction of the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act. Sponsored by Sens. Rand Paul (R–Ky.), Chuck Grassley (R–Iowa), Joni Ernst (R–Iowa), Todd Young (R–Ind.), and Ted Cruz (R–Tex.), the REINS Act tackles two major libertarian priorities: reducing burdensome regulations and reining in executive power. By passing it, Congress would reassert its role as a check on both runaway presidents and the administrative state.

As a joint statement released by the senators introducing the bill explains, the bill would require "that Congress affirmatively approve every new 'major rule' proposed by the Executive Branch before it can be enforced on the American people, as opposed to the status quo, where regulations ultimately take effect unless Congress specifically disapproves." (A "major rule" is defined as "a regulation that may result in an economic impact of $100 million or greater each year.")

This would be a welcome change. With active affirmation rather than passive consent, there would be much more scrutiny over the rules imposed on Americans and far fewer regulations would pass muster. Grassley is right when he says that "even when well-intended, government regulations are all too often ineffective, counterproductive or even outright harmful." He's also right that "more needs to be done to reclaim the rightful role of Congress as the lawmaking body of government."

But why wasn't this bill passed during the past two years of united Republican government? If we're to take Republican rhetoric at face value, the REINS Act should've sailed through Congress and landed on the president's desk post-haste. But when it was introduced under united Republican government, it went nowhere. That speaks to an enduring, bipartisan problem of reliance on the executive branch.

As Yuval Levin wrote in Commentary last year, "Members of Congress are happy to complain about the other branches, but they are not inclined to use the enormous power at their disposal to restrain those competing institutions and reassert their own." Instead, "Broad delegations of power in statutes have let presidents wield what are properly legislative authorities, and intentionally vague legislation has empowered judges to fill gaps that legislators should never have left open."

The depressing fact is that most members of Congress have become allergic to accountability. Politically, it's far easier for congressional Republicans to point to the deregulation agenda pursued by the Trump administration than to go on the record with votes on specific regulations, many of which would inevitably be controversial.

Essentially, our legislators don't want to legislate because it makes the business of getting reelected more of a burden. The failure to codify the REINS Act is a perfect example of the broader issue.

In this case, that congressional dysfunction led to a missed opportunity for substantive regulatory reform. While it's good that the REINS Act has been reintroduced, a component bill is not likely to pass the House now that it is controlled by the Democrats. To the extent that the Trump administration has rolled back the federal regulatory regime—a success that has been overstated—any progress can easily be erased by a future president.

Until Congress reasserts its constitutionally mandated authority as the foremost federal branch, we aren't likely to see much in the way of sweeping regulatory reform. And reliance on the executive is, unfortunately, a bipartisan scourge.



George Will: A fluent fool

He makes the elementary mistake of mistaking style for substance.  Trump is not gentlemanly enough for him

Some Will-speak:  “In one of contemporary history’s intriguing caroms, European politics just now is a story of how one decision by a pastor’s dutiful daughter has made life miserable for a vicar’s dutiful daughter. Two of the world’s most important conservative parties are involved in an unintended tutorial on a cardinal tenet of conservatism, the law of unintended consequences, which is that the unintended consequences of decisions in complex social situations are often larger than, and contrary to, those intended.”

That’s the elephantine lead of George Will’s recent column, headlined “Today’s Germany is the best Germany the world has seen.” The real story comes way down in paragraph six, where Will explains: “No European nation was as enchanted as Germany was by Barack Obama’s studied elegance and none is more repelled by Donald Trump’s visceral vulgarity.”

So it’s really all about Trump, which should be no surprise for George Will. He was hailed as the “best writer, any subject,” by the Washington Journalism Review and the “dean of conservative journalists” by Andrew Ferguson in an October 2017 Weekly Standard piece titled “The Greatness of George Will.”

“If Trump is Nominated, the GOP must keep him out of the White House,” ran the headline on Will’s April 29, 2016 column, in which he decried “Republican quislings” who were “slinking into support of the most anti-conservative presidential aspirant in their party’s history.” The quislings would “render themselves ineligible to participate in the party’s reconstruction.”

Two months later, Will announced a change in his voter registration to “unaffiliated,” citing Trump’s complaint about a “Mexican” judge. Will said he joined the Republican Party “because I was a conservative, and I leave it for the same reason: I’m a conservative.” In response, Trump tweeted, “George Will, one of the most overrated political pundits (who lost his way long ago), has left the Republican Party. He’s made many bad calls.”

In late June, 2016, Dan McLaughlin of National Review wrote that Will’s column “has kicked up a stir by arguing that voters of all ideological stripes should hand majority control of the Senate and House to the Democrats in November. This is a profoundly bad idea, and Will makes nearly no effort to consider its actual consequences.”

On November 2, 2016, Jonathan Chait noted Will’s ideological fervor but six months later, “none of his expectations has remotely come to pass.” Will’s April column “currently has less resemblance to the pronouncement of a conservative pope than to Will Ferrell in Old School, proclaiming that everybody is going streaking.”

Contrary to the edict of the conservative pope, Trump did win the election. He went on to take down ISIS, call out Islamic terrorism, calm down Kim Jong-un, lower taxes, and usher in an economic boom with economic growth in the 4 percent range. That counted for nothing with the erudite Will, with his PhD from Princeton.

Last May in New York Magazine, Ed Kilgore described Will as “one of the few #NeverTrump figures on the right who has neither wavered nor flagged in his disdain for the 45th president.” In January 2019, nearly three years after he urged the GOP to keep Trump out of White House, and with Democrats panting for impeachment, Will writes of the president’s “visceral vulgarity.” On the other hand, Will hails “Barack Obama’s studied elegance,” a strange statement for a conservative pundit, if he had bothered to study the record.

In 2009, one of Obama’s first acts was to cancel missile defense for U.S. allies Poland and the Czech Republic, both victims of Soviet occupation. That same year, “soldier of Allah” Nidal Hassan gunned down 13 unarmed American soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas, and wounded more than 30 others. The President of the United States, commander in chief of all U.S. forces, called this “workplace violence,” refused to link Islam with any act of terrorism, and in 2012 at the UN proclaimed “the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.”

In a deep recession, the president bulked up an already bloated federal government and told Americans if they liked their  health plan they could keep it, one of his many lies. The president cracked down on journalists such as Sharyl Attkisson and James Rosen and deployed the IRS against conservative groups. He deployed powerful forces in the FBI and DOJ to clear his chosen successor Hillary Clinton and frame Donald Trump.

POTUS 44 preserved the Communist dictatorship of Cuba and on his way out the door shipped planeloads of cash to the Islamic state of Iran, still chanting “Death to America.” With this guy, it was “your country, right or wrong.”

In the 2017 Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama, official biographer David Garrow called Dreams from My Father, POTUS 44’s defining narrative, a work of “historical fiction,” and the author a “composite character.” And like Paul Kengor in 2012, Pulitzer Prize winner Garrow charts the “Communist background” of Obama’s beloved “Frank,” the African American Frank Marshall Davis, who spent his life defending all-white Soviet dictatorships.

After all that, and a lot more, conservative pope George Will hails “Barack Obama’s studied elegance.” So the true back story to Will’s hatred of Donald Trump is gushing admiration for his predecessor. Like Winston Smith in George Orwell’s 1984, conservative George Will had won the victory over himself. He loved Barack Obama.



Wisdom from barmaid Sandy


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, 2019

Opposition to a border wall is opposition to public safety

Open borders cost innocent lives.

The battle between the Congressional Democrats and the Trump administration continues over the construction of a border wall along the U.S./Mexican border.

Many political battles are fought over hypothetical arguments.  This debate, however, is well-grounded in cold, hard, irrefutable facts and in the deaths of far too many innocent people, who have fallen victim to aliens who entered the United States illegally, often repeatedly.

Let me be clear, in my judgement, the Democrats have left the administration with no choice but to take the action of shutting down a part of the government.  As a former INS agent I can certainly empathize with the federal employees.  All too frequently the employees of the government suffer from the bad decisions of our political leaders.  However, America faces many threats and challenges that are the direct result of multiple failures of the immigration system and our nation must finally address these failures beginning with securing our borders.

The most critical issues that the federal government must address are national security and public safety.

On January 3, 2019 I participated in an interview of Fox & Friends First to discuss the senseless murder of 33 year old police officer Ronil Singh, from Newman, California, by a citizen of Mexico who was allegedly an illegal alien: 32 year old Gustavo Perez-Arriaga.

The Washington Post’s December 29, 2018 article, Suspect, 7 others, arrested in fatal shooting of California police officer, noted that this arrest that has sparked a debate about California’s sanctuary policies began with this excerpt:

The arrest Friday of a man in the shooting death of a California police officer has renewed criticism of sanctuary laws, with a local sheriff suggesting that the state's efforts to protect undocumented immigrants could have contributed to the killing.

Gustavo Perez Arriaga, a 32-year-old undocumented immigrant, was charged with homicide in connection with the shooting death of 33-year-old Newman police officer Ronil Singh, according to law enforcement.

Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson assailed sanctuary laws that limit state and local governments' cooperation with federal immigration agents, but he did not detail how those rules applied to Perez’s case or how they would have prevented Singh’s death.

He said Perez Arriaga publicized his gang affiliation and had been arrested twice for driving under the influence, but did not provide additional details about those arrests.

Let’s answer the question posed by the reporter in this case, as to how sanctuary policies impacted the murder of the police officer who, I must add, had, years earlier, legally immigrated to the United States from his native Fiji.  It is clear that so-called “sanctuary policies” actually serve as “magnet policies” that encourage aliens to enter the United States illegally and then seek out those jurisdictions that promise to harbor and shield these aliens who would be subject to deportation (removal) from ICE.

Crime scene investigators who investigate crimes first attempt to find out how a criminal gained access to the location where the crime was committed.  For illegal aliens the issue is how they came to enter the United States and evade detection.

That news article went on to report that Sheriff Christianson stated: Perez Arriaga had entered the U.S. at Arizona, and when he was arrested in Bakersfield, California, he was attempting to flee back to his home country, Mexico.

One of the advantages that alien criminals and terrorists have is their ability to evade the “long arm of the law” by fleeing from U.S. law enforcement authorities by going back to their home countries, where extradition may be difficult, if not impossible.

The Washington Post article also included this important excerpt:

In addition to Perez Arriaga’s arrest, Christianson said that Perez Arriaga’s brother, 25-year-old Adrian Virgen, and a co-worker, 27-year-old Erik Razo Quiroz, were arrested Thursday for allegedly helping Perez Arriaga escape after Singh was shot. Virgen and Quiroz are also in the country illegally, Christianson said.

Also arrested on charges of aiding and abetting were Bernabe Madrigal Castaneda, 59, Erasmo Villegas, 36, and Maria Luisa Moreno, 57, the Kern County Sheriff’s Office said. They were arrested inside the residence where Perez Arriaga was apprehended.

On Friday afternoon, the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department said it had arrested two more people for allegedly aiding Perez Arriaga in his attempt to escape: his girlfriend, 30-year-old Ana Leyde Cervantes, and another of his brothers, 34-year-old Conrado Virgen Mendoza.

“Anyone who aids and helps this criminal was going to go to jail,” Christianson said.

If there was true justice, the politicians who enacted the sanctuary policies should also be held accountable for their role in obstructing the federal government from enforcing our immigration laws that are critical for national security and public safety.

In point of fact, the terror attacks of 9/11 and other terror attacks launched by aliens who had, in one way or another, gained entry into the United States, were all made possible by multiple failures of the dysfunctional immigration system.

Let us remember that there have been a long list of Congressional hearings and reports from the GAO (Government Accountability Office), the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) and the OIG (Office of the Inspector General) about the costs of illegal immigration and the lack of effectiveness where drones on the border are concerned.

In fact, my recent article, Why Trump’s Wall Is A Must included information contained in an OIG report and other sources that illustrate just how big a waste of money UAV’s (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) or drones are.  Yet the Democrats want to purchase drones and not a wall because, as I noted in my recent article, Sanctuary Country - Immigration failures by design, the goal of these duplicitous politicians is to create the mere illusion of addressing the failures of the immigration system but not actually fix them.

For these politicians, the immigration system is actually a delivery system that delivers an unlimited supply of cheap and exploitable labor, an unlimited supply of foreign tourists, an unlimited number of clients for immigration lawyers and a virtually limitless supply of foreign students.

Many folks believe that the Democrats are determined to flood America with immigrants who will eventually vote for Democrats. While there is some likely truth in that assessment, what is ignored is that in reality--as more and more Americans suffer wage suppression from foreign workers--more Americans who are driven into poverty, will be driven to vote for Democratic candidates; not unlike the cattle who are moved in massive cattle drives.

I wrote about the destruction of the middle class through open borders in my article, Open Borders Facilitate America’s Race To The Bottom.

I frequently address the threats posed by terrorists. While not all fatalities are the result of terror attacks in the United States, indeed a far greater number of people are killed in the United States each year by aliens who commit a wide array of crimes that include drunk driving to crimes involving violence and narcotics.

Frequently the casualties are among the members of ethnic immigrant communities, not just from Latin America, but within such communities whose residents came to the United States from their home countries from around the world.  Crime is not limited to any race, religion or ethnicity.  Human nature is human nature.  Just as all people bleed red, every race, every religion and every ethnicity have members who constitute “The good, the bad and the ugly.”

America’s immigration laws, as I have frequently noted, do not discriminate as to race, religion or ethnicity but are intended to keep out aliens whose presence would pose a threat to national security, public safety, public health and the overall well-being of our nation and our citizens.

To substantiate that point, Title 8, United States Code, Section 1182--a statute contained within the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)--enumerates the categories of aliens who are to be excluded. Among these classes of aliens who are to be prevented from entering the United States are aliens who suffer from dangerous communicable diseases or extreme mental illness.

Additionally, convicted felons, human rights violators, war criminals, terrorists and spies are to be excluded as well as aliens who would seek unlawful employment thus displacing American workers or driving down the wages of American workers who are similarly employed and aliens who would likely become public charges.

Yet the leadership of the Democratic Party opposes the enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws from within the interior of the United States.  Some Democratic Party mayors and governors have declared their towns, cities and states to be “Sanctuaries” that are eager to harbor and shield illegal aliens from detection from ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement).

Unbelievably, many Democrats have called for the termination of ICE altogether.

Is there any wonder why they are determined to stop the administration from finally constructing an effective wall along the dangerous U.S./Mexican border?

The cynical Democrats proposed the DREAM Act (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act), invoking the imagery of the “American Dream” and were so compelled to exploit this imagery that they included the dreaded word “alien” in that legislative disaster.

Meanwhile they have created a nightmare for ever so many Americans and lawful immigrants such as Police Officer Singh, who paid the “ultimate price" and whose wife and child, family members, friends and colleagues have all been made to pay an unbearable price.



Oregon: Portland is becoming the sort of hellhole that Leftist management routinely produces

Unarmed cops, an 18% murder rise, and vigilante justice

It was a big year in Portland where the murder rate rose 18.6%. That was the perfect time for Portland’s progressive politburo to spend over $1 million on unarmed cops armed only with pepper spray.

There was a little bit of excitement when it was learned that their 200 hours of training would include “Taser Orientation” suggesting that they might be allowed to carry tasers. But Mayor Wheeler’s office explained that the weaponless cops weren’t being trained to use tasers, but “how to avoid being tased”.

Portlanders aren’t waiting for officers to show up and shout, “Don’t tase me, bro”. Instead in a city overrun with crime, they’re increasingly taking matters and guns into their hands.

Of the 32 violent deaths in Portland last year, 5 were found to have been carried out in self-defense. That tops the 4 deaths that occurred as a result of shootings by those cops who still have their guns.

Richard R. Hanley showed up in the parking lot outside Timeless Tattoo. The California homeless bum had previously made the news when he was arrested for attacking his ex-girlfriend and her new beau with a metal chain. Hanley, already on probation for a domestic abuse and strangulation conviction, with six felony and seven misdemeanor priors, also pulled out huge clumps of a female deputy’s hair.

The repeat offender began setting up his tent in the parking lot. When a female catering manager asked him to stop, he attacked her. Joseph D. Vinci, a tattoo artist, intervened. Hanley pulled a knife and Vinci pulled a gun. And Hanley’s long reign of terror ended to the outcry of local pro-crime activists.

Portland's other homeless death had a much darker ending.

Dallas Boyd, a 29-year-old mother of a two-year-old, was strangled to death by a homeless man and her body was left to rot in his van. Like Hanley, the homeless killer had racked up nine felonies, six misdemeanors and 15 parole violations, including  third-degree assault, and first-degree robbery.

Homeless crime has become both routine and terrifying. One Portlander described being threatened with a machete on a children’s playground, and it’s taken the city’s crime problem to new levels.

15% of Portland’s violent deaths in 2018 involved the homeless in some way.

Portland property crimes rose 15% in 2017. Its property crime rates easily outpace Boston and Denver, and put it on a par with dangerous cities like Atlanta.  Its homeless blight has put Portland on the same path as San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles. Portland’s Downtown Clean and Safe had picked up less than 9,897 used needles in 2015. This year it's 39,000. Garbage and biohazards have also increased.

Car thefts are up 45% in two years. In Mayor Wheeler’s State of the City address this year, he mentioned a “97 percent increase in stolen vehicle calls” in 5 years. There was also a "64 percent increase in unwanted persons calls and a 32 percent increase in disorder calls."

But Mayor Wheeler emphasized Portland was working on a more “inclusive” and diverse” police force, even as he admitted that the city was caught in a crime wave where, “assaults, homicides, sex offenses, etc. – have increased and are rising at a higher rate than last year; property crimes have also increased and are rising at a higher rate than last year.”

“Chief Outlaw leads a bureau with fewer officers today than a decade ago, despite a 10 percent increase in Portland’s population,” Wheeler whined.

Mayor Wheeler had picked Danielle Outlaw as the first African-American police chief. Outlaw was meant to be the face of Portland’s new inclusive and diverse force. She inherited the thankless job of trying to control homeless crime, without offending homeless advocates, and reining in political street violence without offending Antifa. And soon white hipsters were outraged at Chief Outlaw’s contemptuous dismissal of Antifa as schoolyard brats who, “come with the intention to fight. And then you get mad because I kicked your butt. And then you go back and you wail off and whine and complain.”

Chief Outlaw had also cleared the Occupy ICE encampment without the mayor’s approval, after he had insisted that the police should do nothing to interfere with the harassment of ICE employees.

Portland’s white radicals soon began accusing the city’s first African-American police chief of being a white supremacist while campaigning to get her fired.

“The fact that I, as a very obvious African American female police chief, have been accused by those within that group or those who support that group, as being a supporter and protector of those who are believed to be white supremacists—if that's even the case—is ridiculous. Right?” she asked.

Ridiculous is the only way that anything works in Portland.

Mayor Wheeler’s virtue signaling is being ignored by his own police chief while citizens are taking the law into their own hands. The tattoo parlor was only one of five self-defense killings in Portland.

Self-defense killings made up a sixth of deaths by violence in the past year. These included a U-Haul employee shooting an armed robber, a transgender man shot by a homeless woman after he tried to stab her with a knife, and a FedEx driver who killed a man in a fight over racial slurs.

The U-Haul robber had 9 previous convictions, including robbery, burglary and rape.

These are the warning signs of a dysfunctional city spinning out of control.

Mayor Hale, Wheeler’s predecessor, who turned Portland into a homeless encampment zone by refusing to enforce laws against bums setting up tents on public streets, decided not to run for reelection. His predecessor, Mayor Adams, is enmeshed in a sex scandal which involved an underage boy, sexual harassment, blackmail, and allegations of using an employee for sexual procurement.

Mayor Wheeler won’t go out with a sex scandal, but like his predecessor, he’s unable to reconcile the demands of virtue signaling in a leftist city with the practical problems caused by its implementation. The leftist solutions he’s tried, spending more on homeless services, demilitarizing and diversifying the police, have only backfired.

Portland, like countless other Democrat urban strongholds, proved that the more money is spent on homeless services, the worse homelessness becomes. Disarming police officers leads to more people taking the law into their own hands. And black cops will enforce the law just like white cops. They’re also less cowed by political correctness and more willing to speak their minds than their white counterparts.

The city government has turned Portland into a miserable hellhole, but individuals are stepping up.

In the Montavilla area, the Montavilla Initiative has been organizing neighborhood watches, foot patrols and monitoring area crime. Pro-crime and homeless advocates have accused them of being "vigilantes", but area residents see them as filling a vital need. It’s one of eight patrol groups in the area.

The Initiative describes a neighborhood needle exchange program degenerating into “human waste in neighbors’ yards, a large vehicle hosting drug deals in the parking lot of the exchange, heroin users shooting up and passing out and then driving off intoxicated, people urinating and defecating in public, clients shooting up in neighbors’ yards, even having sex on a neighbor’s front porch.”

It’s no wonder that Portland’s formerly hot housing market is cooling off and home values are falling. As housing prices increase, not everyone wants to pay record prices to live next to a needle exchange.

The escape from Portland has begun



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)


13 January, 2019

Mark Levin: Pelosi and Schumer Are "Pathological Liars"

Commenting on President Donald Trump's address to the nation about border security and the response of Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), conservative talk radio host and best selling author Mark Levin said the two Democrats are "pathological liars" who have been in Congress half-a-century and yet have done "nothing" about the border.

Levin, who worked in the Reagan Justice Department, said that neither Pelosi nor Schumer talked about the low-skilled American worker who is harmed by illegal alien labor -- aided and abetted by multi-national corporations -- and didn't talk about the "communities on the border that are suffering."

He further explained that the 2008 Democrat Party platform on border security and illegal immigration "basically supports virtually everything the Republican president of the United States said today," but now, for power reasons, the Democrats "want to drag us all off the cliff with them."

“Well, first of all, the president gave an outstanding speech, was concise," said Levin on Fox's Hannity on Tuesday night.  "It was compassionate and truly compassionate. He provided the context and both in terms of what's going on at the border, the expense which is de minimis and who is really responsible.

Levin continued, "Now, let's keep a few things in mind when you watch Schumer and Pelosi. They are pathological liars. They've been in Congress over half a century. What the Hell have they done about the border? Nothing."

"They're part of the scam artists," he said. "They get amnesty, legalization, citizenship, and never secure the border. Just spend billions and trillions more, more debt, more deficits on the redistribution of wealth, on $200-billion-a-year on illegal aliens."

"One more time: They fooled Reagan, they fooled Bush 41, they fooled Bush 43, but they're not going to fool Donald Trump who's dealt with tougher than Pelosi and Schumer," said Levin.

"These two and the rest of them are never forced to explain their flip-flop," said the best selling author.  "Where they were for border security, they voted to authorize walls, they voted to fund some of the walls, and now all of a sudden it's immoral."

"You know what's immoral?" he said. "When everybody talks about those government employees will be temporarily inconvenienced, who will get their money back. But nobody talks about the unskilled, low-skilled American worker who has to compete with people from Guatemala, from Honduras, from Mexico from south of the border who come into this country illegally."

"Nobody talks about the big corporations like Hewlett-Packard and Boeing and Disney and others, who are part of the scam artist operation, who want illegal aliens in this country," said Levin.

"Nobody talks about the fact that destroying our immigration system these Democrat cities, sanctuary cities, these Democrat states, sanctuary states, where the citizens are treated as second-class citizens, and the taxpayers have to cough up the money -- for what?"

Levin continued, "Let me explain what this is about: Power. Democrat Party power. Democrat Party before country. There's an excellent piece, in of all places, The Atlantic, a left-wing site, written by a guy by the name of Peter Beinart, a liberal. And he says, between 2008 and ‘16, the Democrats became more and more confident that the country's growing Latino population gave the party electoral edge."

"So they switched," he said. "They declared after Obama's 2008 win, if that pattern continues with the Latino vote, the GOP is doomed for 40 years of wandering in the desert. And he goes on to explain this -- this is a liberal and a liberal site. That is exactly what's going on."

"Notice Pelosi and Schumer didn't talk about the American worker," said Levin, who also hosts Life, Liberty & Levin on the Fox News Channel.  "Notice they didn't talk about the communities on the border that are suffering. Notice they never talk about law and order, because they hate law enforcement. They never talk about the overwhelming costs involved in health care, the overwhelming costs involved in our public schools. Localities and states they're barely reimbursed for this."

Concluding his comments, Levin said,  "The Democrat platform in 2008 basically supports virtually everything the Republican President of the United States said today.  The American people haven't changed. The Republican Party hasn't changed. The Democrats for political reasons and power reasons, they've changed and they want to drag us all off the cliff with them."



Envy drives Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney failed his nation when it needed him the most, and it seems that not much has changed since then.

Like Rip Van Winkle, Romney must have been stuck in an extended slumber since he lost the election of 2012 to Barack Obama. He doesn’t realize that the Republican Party of 2012 no longer exists as he remembers and hopes.

Bitter over his failed track record as a conservative and a Republican, he’s now lashing out jealousy at his own party by attacking Donald Trump.

In 2012, Romney took on an incumbent who had an approval rating of just 42 percent going into an election year, with a 57 percent disapproval rating on the economy — the kind of numbers that make for electoral landslides against failed presidents.

In fact, since 1940, no incumbent president had been reelected with an unemployment rate above 7.5 percent … until Obama pulled it off against Romney in 2012, when unemployment was at 8.8 percent.

It was a slam-dunk opportunity for Romney to restore GOP control of the executive branch, and he choked. Badly.

Political analysts have created lists upon lists speculating about the reasons for Romney’s unnecessary defeat, but the outcome basically came down to his inability to connect with ordinary people. Farmers in Pennsylvania and manufacturers in Ohio just couldn’t relate to a guy who was ashamed of his own wealth and embarrassed about living the American dream.

He failed to improve the GOP’s performance among minorities and did terrible with blue collar workers.

In losing the eminently winnable 2012 election, Romney not only failed his party; he failed his country.

Since elections have consequences, Romney’s blunder had real consequences for our country, including the disastrous Iran deal, ongoing dysfunction in the healthcare system, the rise of ISIS, and the threats of North Korea.

Romney is indirectly responsible for each of those failures because he couldn’t come through with a victory. The funny thing is, he probably could have won handily if he was as enthusiastically critical of Obama during the campaign as he is now of President Trump.

Rather than responsibly acknowledging his own failings, Romney is taking envy-laden cheap shots at the man whose 2016 election victory revealed Romney’s political ineptitude to the world.

Donald Trump showed the GOP how to beat the Democrats, and he did it by using the exact opposite strategy from the one Romney employed just four years earlier.

President Trump won by appealing to the very voters Romney failed to impress, taking pride in his business success, and being an unabashed cheerleader for America. But first he had to nip Romney’s 2016 candidacy in the bud to ensure that the Republican Party wouldn’t repeat the mistake it made in 2012.

Romney was the first victim of President Trump’s march to the White House, forced to abort his exploration of another potential candidacy because Donald Trump made sure that GOP primary voters did not forget Romney’s previous pathetic performance. He’s also probably still feeling a bit miffed that he didn’t get the Secretary of State job he interviewed for — one of the best decisions President Trump made during the transition.

Romney embodies the cautious lethargy that kept Republicans from ending the national nightmare that was Obama’s presidency, and now he’s letting personal jealousy drive him to repeat his failed political principles. Let’s hope he’s just as effective now as he was in 2012.



Despite Media Claims, Immigration Remains Among Top Concerns For Voters

The debate in Washington over construction of the wall has tended to overshadow (or at least divert) the ongoing debate over illegal immigration in general. While a solid barrier across areas commonly used by border jumpers is an important part of an overall immigration strategy, the wall has become an all or nothing proposition for members of Congress. It’s a fact that was highlighted by Senator Angus King’s laughable claim that “nobody in Congress wants open borders.”

This partisan spin falls flat under the least bit of scrutiny. King may technically be an independent, but he caucuses with the Democrats. And there are plenty of people in his caucus who have not only refused to discuss hardening the physical border, but have called for the abolishment of ICE. If you don’t want a barrier of any sort at the border and you want to get rid of the law enforcement personnel that remove illegal aliens, what else are we to call it besides the support of open borders? That’s like saying you’re fighting obesity while guzzling soda and chowing down on chocolate cake.

While there may be elected officials who don’t care about border security, that’s not true of the public at large, however. Senior Democrats are still playing this off as something that people just don’t care about, but the most recent polling shows that immigration is actually one of the top priorities on the minds of potential voters. (Associated Press)

As much of the U.S. government remains shut down over President Donald Trump’s insistence on funding for his border wall, nearly half of Americans identify immigration as a top issue for the government to work on this year.

An Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll conducted shortly before the shutdown began finds that both Republicans and Democrats are far more likely to include immigration in their list of top issues facing the country this year compared with a year ago.

Overall, 49 percent mentioned immigration in an open-ended question as one of the top five problems they hoped the government addresses in 2019. By contrast, 27 percent mentioned immigration in December 2017.

Republicans are still more concerned about immigration as a top priority, but in this survey, 37 percent of Democrats said the same thing. That’s a significant increase from the 20% who mentioned it in the same poll one year ago. This isn’t an issue that’s just going to go away if the Democrats refuse to debate it.

The breakdown in those numbers is rather stark when you consider what each side really wants out of this debate. Just because most people cite immigration as a top priority, liberals still want to focus on amnesty and the dreamers, while conservatives are concerned with border security and more resources to process cases at the border without releasing the detained into the country’s interior. But to write immigration off as a pressing concern for the voters is obviously a false narrative.



Border Wall: Monument for the People, Not Pols

Profligate politicians have never met a multibillion-dollar infrastructure project they didn't like — except when it comes to President Donald Trump's border wall.

Think about it.

Boston's Big Dig black hole, the nation's most expensive highway project, burned through $25 billion and was plagued by deadly engineering incompetence, endless cost overruns, leaks, lawsuits and debt.

California's high-speed rail boondoggle is a $100 billion bullet train to nowhere. Gov. Jerry "Moonbeam" Brown promised a 2020 completion date for the miracle transportation system. The latest estimates predict it won't open until at least 2033, and the costs keep rising.

Seattle's ill-fated Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement topped out at $4 billion in local, state and federal funds for a two-mile bored road tunnel that will finally open next month — nearly four years behind schedule and hundreds of millions of dollars over budget.

What the Big Dig, bullet train boondoggle and Seattle squander all have in common is that political elites, lobbyists and corporate heavy-hitters trampled over grassroots citizen opposition to get their way. Too many government construction projects are built because these publicly subsidized gravy trains reward campaign donors, powerful public employee unions and assorted control freaks in the urban planning and transportation sectors.

Another glaring example? Across the country, voters have repeatedly rejected billion-dollar sports stadium and arena subsidies over the past 30 years — only to be sabotaged by bipartisan alliances overruling the will of the people. I used to run a watchdog website called "Porkwatch" filled with so many field-of-schemes case studies that I couldn't keep track of them anymore.

Then there are all the tax-funded highways, bridges, museums and other edifices glorifying Beltway swamp creatures. The infamous Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia steered billions of federal dollars back to his home state, where more than 50 government buildings bear his or his wife's name — not to mention an eponymous telescope, multiple libraries and "lifelong learning centers," wellness centers, industrial parks, community centers, gardens, interchanges, highways, expressways, bridges, locks and a dam. A bas-relief sculpture of the alpha porker greets visitors at the Byrd dam, deemed unnecessary by locals.

Not to be outdone, GOP Sen. Mitch McConnell has his own park; former Democratic Sen. John Dingell has his own transit center; the late Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg has his own rail station; tax cheat Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel has his own tax-funded "Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service" at the City College of New York; and the recently retired powerbroker Democratic Sen. Harry Reid sponsored billions of dollars in egotistical earmarks, including several million for a "research and technology park" named after him.

Was there a swell of grassroots support for all these vanity projects? Was there overwhelming demand for the 10,000th long and windy road named after some blowhard incumbent hack?

Wouldn't it be refreshing, for once, for the federal government to prioritize infrastructure that serves the national interest over special interests? And how about dedicating and consecrating this project in the memory of the thousands of Americans and law-abiding immigrants who have sacrificed their lives for our security? We've already got Adopt-a-Highway sponsors. Why not an Adopt-a-Wall program?

Open borders academics and media propagandists keep lecturing that Americans don't want a wall. Yet, more than 325,000 citizens have raised $19.5 million in 22 days to fund the border that the Beltway obstinately refuses to fund.

President Trump's defining battle against the Beltway to fortify our borders — by concrete, steel, increased manpower, electronic surveillance, all of it — isn't just about fulfilling a campaign promise. The wall is a necessary monument to sovereignty in a nation clogged with billions of dollars of worthless political monuments to Me, Me, Me.



Alveda King: African American Leaders Unite to Support Trump's Wall

Some claim that building a wall is a “medieval solution” to a modern problem. The wheel is an ancient solution too. Nobody’s complaining about that. POTUS is on target. Walls do work; as in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, walls are still viable solutions. Why now? Just days away are the March for Life and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday, yet America is in crisis at the southern border.

As an African American voice for justice, a defender of the sanctity of life, and perhaps most importantly, a Christian evangelist, I stand with President Trump as he labors to build a wall. From my perspective, compassion trumps terror. Our prayers are needed more than ever. We must rally around the wall to avert crisis.

More HERE 


Allah sends a plague of locusts

Mecca's Grand Mosque plagued by swarm of locusts

Is Allah repeating the punishmment he visited on the Pharaohs?


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, 2019

Heaven preserve us from international bureaucracies

Thomas Friedman’s 2005 best-seller “The world is flat” asserted that we were moving inexorably towards globalization and that barriers to trade and people movement were disappearing, as would many aspects of sovereignty. It is now clear that this process produces a political reaction, in which ordinary people protest vehemently against the flattening of their planet. We should rejoice: a flat world would be a tyranny, and the bumps in our current planetary economic system are all that protects us from this nightmare.

Walter Russell Mead, in a year-end article, echoed this zeitgeist when he described the “liberal international order” as the biggest loser of 2018. This sounds alarming, until we realize that the “liberal international order” is not the classical sense liberal, nor fully international, nor even much of an order. It consists of a morass of international treaties and institutions, all of which are designed to replace the norms of the free market with the dictates of unelected bureaucrats. That is not “liberalism” in the classical sense, which allows free markets the maximum possible rein, with small governments confining themselves to setting up rules of trade and information provision. It is also anathema to individual freedom of all kinds.

Another symptom of the declining credibility of the “liberal international order” comes from Japan, where Vladimir Putin calendars, complete with bare-chested pictures, were the #1 best seller this year. This is not to claim that Japanese are dying to give Putin back the Kurile islands, far from it, nor are they keen to bring corruption and unexplained disappearances to Japan. However, Putin with his nationalism and contempt for international norms represents the best possible protest against the stultifying political correctness that the “liberal international order” represents.

At the state level also, the credibility of bossy international treaties and global organizations is declining rapidly. The U.S. withdrawal from the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change has been put down to President Trump’s eccentricity and hatred of the global order. However, last week Japan, generally a dutiful upholder of international agreements, pulled out of the International Whaling Commission, saying it had utterly failed to maintain a balance between whale preservation and orderly development of the whaling industry.

Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe has been in office for years and is nobody’s idea of a screaming radical. Japan’s withdrawal from an agreement with which it had complied for over 30 years is thus deeply significant. It is also however entirely justified; the Commission had allowed no whaling since 1986, on the grounds of whale stocks’ depletion, but those stocks have now rebuilt. Japan’s cultural and economic wishes for an active whaling industry should take precedence, in any rationally ordered society – which the Commission, being an international body, isn’t.

The current passion for international governance, of one sort or another, grew out of World War I and was reinforced by World War II — it was felt that anything that could avoid such global catastrophes in future would be beneficial. However, the winners of World Wars I and II, the United States, Britain, France and the Soviet Union, were all run by big-government advocates.

In 1919, for example, Britain’s Lloyd George believed in the “war socialism” which had taken hold during his period of office in 1916-18, while Woodrow Wilson was an authoritarian would-be-despot whose Progressive ideology believed that all problems could be solved by sufficiently fanatical and determined intellectuals. As for France, Georges Clemenceau was a more practical statesmen than the other two, but he was still a French Socialist, with an instinctive belief in government control.

In 1944-45, similar forces were at work. The United States was run by second-generation Progressives, who wrongly believed their meddling had solved the Great Depression (and several of whom were in any case in the pay of Stalin) while British policy was set mostly by the benign but economically unsophisticated Socialists led by Clement Attlee and the thoroughly un-benign but even more dictatorial Maynard Keynes. The free-market types who had run both the United States and Britain in the 1920s and 1930s – one thinks of the very able Andrew Mellon and the thoroughly capable Neville Chamberlain – were not involved in the design of either set of globalist institutions.

As a result of their provenance, the global institutions that came into being were thoroughly statist and oriented towards rule by “experts.” The World Bank has an innate bias towards the public sector in its lending, and generally requires local governments to support the projects it finances. The IMF offers free advice to governments, but that advice is always tailored towards government control, and the IMF by its very existence put out of business the London merchant banks’ advisory business, which had supported emerging markets economic development so well in the 19th Century.

Likewise, the treaties that were generated by the new international bodies were all heavily oriented towards state control and away from the private sector. Agreements such as the Law of the Sea treaty and the various climate-change agreements allowed infinite influence for left-oriented lobbying groups, but little if any say for private business, which was deemed to be a “vested interest” not worthy of a place at the table. All of this was entirely in the tradition of Keynes himself, who appears to have talked to few private bankers and no businessmen at all in his investigations of how the economy worked, thereby deriving an entirely misguided picture of economic reality.

In recent years, an alternative to the international development institutions has grown up, in the Chinese “belt and road” initiatives to develop emerging market infrastructure. In Africa in particular, but also in countries such as Ecuador and Sri Lanka, these were greeted with joy, as mechanisms by which capital could be injected into the economic development of these countries, without the tiresome and misguided moral and economic lectures from the World Bank and its equivalents.

However, very recently it has become apparent that the Chinese initiatives are a “debt trap” by which Chinese influence can be extended permanently into the recipient countries. China foreclosed on Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port facilities, taking control of them. In South Africa, China is blamed for the massive corruption of the Jacob Zuma administration, through its relationships with the Gupta family. In Malaysia, Mahathir’s new government has torn up several Chinese development agreements, in a bid to preserve Malaysia’s independence. Thus, Chinese imperialism is now seen by emerging markets as only marginally better than the international institutions as a road to development.

There is a better alternative. The global institutions designed by Progressives and socialists after World Wars I and II were not the only way to avoid global conflict. A century earlier, the Holy Alliance between the major powers, assembled at the Congress of Vienna, had provided an ongoing forum to discuss the inevitable areas of friction between different countries’ interests, and arrange solutions for conflicts short of war. It imposed no new international institutions, but merely arranged for a Congress to be held whenever a problem needed to be discussed. By the subsequent Troppau Protocol, the powers agreed to intervention only to prop up an existing government if its potential overthrow might disturb the international peace.

Since it had the ability to overpower any potential malefactor, and its members were in general agreement about the type of world they wanted to preserve, the Holy Alliance was both a more effective and less coercive version of the League of Nations/United Nations structures developed after the World Wars. Regrettably a foolish British statesman, George Canning, decided Britain’s interests lay more with the middle-class urban “liberals” attempting to disrupt the international order than with the order itself, so the Holy Alliance lasted in effective form for less than a decade. By the time global tensions escalated in the run-up to World War I, there was no forum where the world’s statesmen met regularly, to know each other and sort out difficulties such as territorial disputes and Balkan assassinations.

The “liberal international order” is a statist socialist myth. Rather than the current plethora of international bodies and treaties, the G7 and G20 annual meetings between the world’s leaders are all we need to solve disputes and arrange for arbitration of any especially knotty issues. These should not have secretariats of their own, because such secretariats become devoted to their own preservation and aggrandizement, as well as falling prey to Marxist and Alinskyite charitable organizations. Simple meetings, reinforced by ongoing contacts between the various national bureaucracies, are all we need to solve disputes. Anything more diverts control from elected or otherwise legitimate national governments, where it belongs.

Go on, abolish the supra-national bureaucracies, including the EU Commission and its associated empire! You will find that the more extreme forms of populism die down, because people are once again in control of their own destinies.



Navigating the Great Divide

In the months after the election of Donald Trump, there was a mini-political movement in California to get the Golden State to secede from the Union.

It didn't get off the ground, though during a recent trip to Northern California, many of the people I met were still so distraught over the Trump presidency that were he to win re-election, secession would be much more seriously pursued. A majority of Californians don't want to be governed by Donald Trump, and many liberal leaders and talking heads openly compare him to Adolf Hitler.

What if we arrived at a point where a solid majority of Californians wanted independence (and perhaps states like Washington and Oregon sought to join them)? Should they have the moral and constitutional right to do so? Would the other states ever impose military control over Californians to keep them in the Union?

The standard response is this issue was settled during the Civil War. Really? What the Civil War proved was that the North had more military might than the South. Imagine that it were the South in 1860 that held the political and military advantage to impose its will over the North, and moved to legalize the evil of slavery everywhere. Would the North have been morally wrong to secede?

The issue of secession takes on renewed vigor now given the British exit from the European Union. The EU allowed a fairly orderly process for allowing nations to leave the EU governing structure. The political tide in many places around the world appears to be for self-rule and sovereignty.

In America, the deepening and perhaps irreversible red state-blue state schism deserves immediate attention. We as a nation are more divided on ideological, cultural, economic and geographical lines than at any time since the Civil War. Look at the electoral map from recent elections.

In most of the South and the Mountain States — red America — liberal Democrats are virtually nonexistent in state government. In blue America — California, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island — Republicans have been wiped off the map. Today, there are only two states that have a divided legislature.

I hope that we can bridge our differences and come together as one nation. This 50-state union is what has made America the unrivaled superpower economically and militarily. We benefit mightily from being the largest free trade zone in the world and from our common bond of freedom.

But it's not unimaginable that the polar opposite visions of where America should be headed economically, culturally and morally can't be repaired. I hope I'm wrong, but prudence dictates we start thinking of what might happen if liberal and conservative America grow so polarized that they can't peaceably coexist in the future.

The fault lines are already showing. In some "progressive" parts of the country, liberals literally don't want to sit at the same lunch counter or restaurant as pro-Trump conservatives. Political activists are so persuaded of the rightness of their position — on abortion, climate change, universal health care, immigration policy, taxation — they now believe they have the moral authority to shut down the First, Second, Fourth, Ninth and Tenth Amendment rights of the people they disagree with.

Houston, we have a problem. The federal government is losing the consent of the governed.

Could this red-state vs. blue-state America end in violence and uprising if one side feels hopelessly aggrieved by the tyranny of the majority of the other side? We know, regrettably, from history that it can.

How do we head this off? Two ideas need to be pursued.

The most practical solution is a reinvigorated emphasis on federalism — a political movement that takes ever-expanding power away from the federal government and restores the sovereignty and home rule of the states. That way Americans can self-select to live under the laws they agree with but within the context of the legal protections of U.S. citizens embedded in the U.S. Constitution.

If you want drugs legalized, government-run health care, abortion on demand and an end to fossil fuels, move to California. If you want low taxes, right-to-work laws and prayer in school, move to Alabama.

If this doesn't work, America may need to consider a Brexit-like option. One of the flaws of the U.S. Constitution is that it never set forth terms of legal separation. Perhaps that needs to be fixed with a constitutional amendment that allows a state to leave the union if a supermajority of the citizens wants to opt out. As long as the states remained as a free trade zone and perhaps agreed to a common currency (like the euro) the economic costs would be small.

Some may view this as an un-American or even a treasonous idea. No. Offering states an exit option would force the majority of states to be more attentive to the grievances of the minority and would help resolve conflicts and could save the union from dissolution.

One last point: If it ever came to this, I suspect that conservatives would not have a big problem with blue states legally separating from red states. Liberals would greatly resist red states from separating from blue states. That is true because a) liberals believe in big centralized government having authority over the citizenry (they are more elitist and authoritarian), and b) they know that the low-tax, less-regulation, right-to-work, economic-freedom model of the red states would economically crush a nation with socialist impulses ruled by Bernie Sanders or another Barack Obama.



Mike Huckabee on barmaid Sandy: ‘There Was a Time When Dems Weren’t Socialists’

On his Twitter page, former governor of Arkansas and two-time GOP presidential primary candidate Mike Huckabee called out Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and the Democratic Party on policy grounds, suggesting that “[t]here was a time when Dems weren’t socialists.”

“I’m just fine w/ Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez dancing; I’m NOT fine w/ her tax proposals,” admitted Mike Huckabee in a tweet. “JFK wouldn’t be either. There was a time when Dems weren’t socialists. What happened to them?”

Huckabee’s remarks stem from a piece published Jan. 4, 2019 by Americans for Tax Reform titled “Ocasio-Cortez Tax Plan Creates 82.7% Top Income Tax Rate for New Yorkers.” According to the piece,

“In an upcoming 60 Minutes interview, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) will call for federal income tax rates of up to 70 percent as part of a proposal to create vast new government spending programs.

“The current top federal income tax rate is 37 percent, [and] the Ocasio-Cortez plan will nearly double the tax rate for the top bracket.”

Avowed “democratic socialist” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, in her “60 Minutes” interview, suggested raising taxes “as high as 60 or 70 percent” on the wealthiest Americans to pay for her “Green New Deal,” what CBSNews.com calls “a highly ambitious, some would say ‘unrealistic,’ proposal that would convert the entire U.S. Economy to renewable sources of energy in just 12 years, while guaranteeing every American a job at a fair wage.”

The Daily Signal’s Jarrett Stepman, in a commentary piece on Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal, warns that “the tax hikes on the rich would be one of the least radical parts of the agenda,” and further suggests that “if implemented, the Green New Deal would upend our way of life and destroy the liberty and prosperity that Americans, of all backgrounds, currently enjoy.”



Ocasio-Cortez Has A Meltdown Over Being Fact Checked Too Much

Socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) exploded on Monday after multiple left-wing publications fact-checked her and criticized her defense of the numerous falsehoods she has told.

The Daily Wire reports:

The former bartender claimed on CBS News’ “60 Minutes” on Sunday that people were too focused on being “factually” accurate, and not focused enough on being morally right, which drew widespread criticism.

That criticism carried over into news reports today from left-leaning publications, including The Washington Post and CNN, which published reports titled, “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s very bad defense of her falsehoods” and “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s very slippery slope on facts,” respectively.

Even leftist Whoopi Goldberg slammed Ocasio-Cortez, advising her to “sit still for a minute and learn the job .. .before you start pooping on people and what they’ve done, you got to do something … “

Ocasio-Cortez then suggested that it was not fair that she was, in her own mind, being held to the same standards as President Donald Trump.

Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler dismantled her claims, tweeting to her: “We have fact-checked you twice. We have fact-checked 7,645 Trump claims.”



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, 2019

Freedom FROM

The rare rational Leftist with whom can have an intelligent discussion sometimes asks us advocates of individual liberty what we mean by freedom or liberty.  They are right to ask that.  Over the centuries men have often fought for freedom.  But what was the freedom from?  Scots often declared that they were fighting for freedom.  So did that mean that they wanted a deregulated state?  Not at all.  What they were fighting for was freedom  from rule by the English. That the Scottish king was at least as tyrannical as the English king did not bother them. They saw it as a plus to be tyrannized by a fellow countryman.

And we see a similar ambiguity among libertarians.  It is sometimes said that there are as many versions of libertarianism  as there are libertarians.  Libertarians may even want opposite things. Some libertarians, for instance, want freedom for all individuals to smoke anywhere they happen to be.  That is a pretty purist libertarian position but, fortunately, not one often adopted.

In contrast, another libertarian may value the opportunity for all people everywhere to be able to breathe air unpolluted by the stink of tobacco smoke. So the two libertarians may want opposite things but value both things in the name of liberty.

Examples like that show that there really is no such thing as liberty in the abstract.  There are only freedoms from particular things. Liberty is meaningless without a predicate.

So to be frank and honest in our discourses we should list and justify separately what liberties we value.  Calling oneself a libertarian contains no real meaning at all.  A common list of things that libertarians want includes things that both Leftists and conservatives want but there will be no universally agreed list of those things.  We need to justify each of those freedoms by themselves.  Saying grandly that we stand for "liberty" is meaningless or at least uninformative.  And the same goes for individual liberty. There is no such thing by itself.

There is probably a fair amount of agreement about what liberties advocates of individual liberty want but that is just true of one particular time and place and one particular culture.  So being a libertarian is not easy at all.  It provides you with no magic key to unlock the "correct" position on any issue. We need to argue each point of the liberties we want.  Saying that we stand for freedom is just slipshod.  There is in fact no grand value that we are standing behind.  A love of liberty is always a love of some particular liberties.

Particularly under the influence of Disraeli, English conservatives often said that they stood for traditional English liberties -- which gave a reasonably clear list of liberties -- but there is not much left of those liberties in England these days.  The modern British state is a bureaucratic and authoritarian monster.

Libertarians do specify in general what liberties they want.  They say that they oppose force, fraud and coercion.  Unpacking those generalizations into particular policies is the problem, however -- as I have shown above with the example of smoking.

Note:  I use "liberty" and "freedom" interchangeably, which I think is common.  One word originates from Latin and the other from German but that seems to be the only difference -- JR


The Terrifying Rise of Financial Blacklisting

It is the most totalitarian form of blacklisting: not just to be prevented from speaking on a university campus, or to be kicked off social media, but to be shut out of the entire financial system. That is the terrifying new threat to freedom that western societies must now contend with.

Financial blacklisting doesn’t just rob you of a chance to spread your message: it robs you of your ability to do business, your livelihood, your very means of functioning in a capitalist society. Thanks to the encroachment of progressive ideology into the financial industry — including major credit card companies like Visa, Discover, and Mastercard — it has now become a reality.

I first wrote about the rise of financial blacklisting in July, in a column for Breitbart News in which I highlighted the growing tendency of online financial platforms — as well as Visa and MasterCard — to deny service to customers for political reasons. I was surprised to receive a strongly worded comment from the liberal Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), who bluntly warned that banks and credit card companies had become “de facto internet censors.” That even liberal groups had raised the alarm signaled the seriousness of the problem.

Since then, financial blacklisting has only gotten worse. In August, Mastercard and Discover deplatformed conservative and Islam critic Robert Spencer. In the same month, Visa and Mastercard ceased service to David Horowitz. While credit card processing service to Horowitz was eventually restored, Spencer remains financially blacklisted.

Crowdfunding platforms like Patreon, which allow online content creators to collect donations from their supporters, are frequently cast as the primary villains in financial blacklisting. Patreon’s recent ban of YouTuber Carl Benjamin, better known by his moniker Sargon of Akkad, triggered a crisis for the platform. Both donors and creators — including prominent atheist Sam Harris — quit the platform in protest, while Jordan Peterson and Dave Rubin pledged to create an alternative platform that is pro-free speech.

But Patreon and other crowdfunding platforms are not the real villains. They are dependent on the whims of the credit card companies, something that was already apparent in August when Mastercard forced them to withdraw service from Robert Spencer. We now know that the credit card companies were also a factor in Patreon’s decision to boot Benjamin.

YouTuber and Patreon creator Matt Christiansen recently released a transcript of his conversation with Jacqueline Hart of Patreon about Benjamin’s ban. Hart frankly admits that the sensibilities of credit card companies play a key role in Patreon’s decisions.

Here’s an excerpt of that transcript (emphasis ours):

JACQUELINE: The problem is is Patreon takes payments.  And while we are obviously supportive of the first amendment, there are other things that we have to consider. Our mission is to fund the creative class. In order to accomplish that mission we have to build a community of creators that are comfortable sharing a platform, and if we allow certain types of speech that some people would call free speech, then only creators that use Patreon that don’t mind their branding associated with that kind of speech would be those who use Patreon and we fail at our mission.  But secondly as a membership platform, payment processing is one of the core value propositions that we have. Payment processing depends on our ability to use the global payment network, and they have rules for what they will process.

MATT:  Are you telling me that this was Patreon’s decision then, or someone pressured you into this?

JACQUELINE:  No – this was entirely Patreon’s decision. 

MATT:  Well then I don’t understand passing the buck off to somebody else. 

JACQUELINE:  No, I’m not passing the buck off.  The thing is we have guidelines, but I’m trying to explain, #1 it is our mission to fund the creative class and obviously some people may not want to be associated. 

MATT:  Well if it’s your mission, then payment processors are irrelevant.  It’s your mission. That’s what you’re pursuing.

JACQUELINE:  We’re not visa and mastercard ourselves – we can’t just make the rules.  That’s what I’m saying – there is an extra layer there.

This “extra layer” places platforms like Patreon in an impossible position: abandon free speech or lose your ability to process payments. That’s also why so many free-speech alternatives to Patreon have failed: FreeStartr, Hatreon, MakerSupport, and SubscribeStar all tried to offer a more open platform, and were promptly dumped by the credit card companies. All are unable to do business.

This exposes the emptiness of establishment conservative arguments about the free market. Those who oppose Silicon Valley censorship aren’t allowed to just build their own alternative platforms. They must build their own global payment processing infrastructure to have any hope of restoring free speech online.

That, or they must find a way to stop Visa, Mastercard and Discover from taking advice from the far-left Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and Color of Change. The former was allegedly responsible for the blacklisting of Robert Spencer, while the latter claims to have removed 158 funding sources from “white supremacist sites” — although as the group won’t list what those sites are, we don’t know if they really are “white supremacist.” The far left typically includes regular Trump supporters under the label.

Another thing the credit card companies will have to avoid — listening to the New York Times, which is currently pressuring them to blacklist gun purchasers.

The only other option is to find an alternative to Visa, MasterCard, and Discover that is indifferent about American social justice politics. There’s only one card which has a similar level of global coverage — China’s UnionPay. It remains to be seen if a company at the whim of Chinese Communists is better than Visa, Discover, and Mastercard — all of which currently appear to be at the whim of American communists.

Visa, Mastercard, Discover and Patreon did not return requests for comment.



Sidestepping Congress to Build the Wall

Could President Trump order the construction of his proposed border wall without having Congress specifically authorize the funds to pay for it?

Authorizing funds to pay for the proposed border wall is the central focus in this year’s episode of federal government shutdown theater. The U.S. House of Representatives has approved a total of $5 billion (0.1%) of the U.S. government’s projected $4.4 trillion spending budget for 2019 toward border security improvements that includes money to construct the wall, while the U.S. Senate has countered with a spending proposal of $1.3 billion that includes no wall construction funds. The lack of a compromise in setting the amount of this spending authorization that President Trump would approve is why the federal government is now partially shut down, as Washington D.C. politicians put on their nearly annual political performance.

But former House Oversight Committee chairman Jason Chaffetz argues that President Trump could sidestep Congressional approval for the improved border barricade and use funds that haven’t been authorized to pay for it. Now a Fox News contributor, Chaffetz explains how that might happen in a recent op-ed:

Can the government spend money that has not been specifically authorized by Congress? In theory—no. In practice? Absolutely.

Each year the government spends hundreds of billions of dollars on things that are not specifically authorized by Congress. Both Democrats and Republicans have been complicit in this practice.

President Donald Trump, to his credit, has worked hard to get his wall funding properly authorized. But he may ultimately do exactly what presidents before him have done: take advantage of the broken Congressional process.

Washington’s dirty little secret is that unauthorized spending is not even uncommon anymore. As a freshman member of Congress, this truth stunned me—and I was not alone. By my estimation, there were many in the body who disapproved of the practice. But to our disappointment, the body as a whole was not inclined to address the issue.

How much money are we talking about? In 2016, the Congressional Budget Office reported that the U.S. government spent over $310 billion that wasn’t authorized by the Congress for that fiscal year. The $3.7 billion difference between the House and Senate budget bills for border security now being argued about on Capitol Hill, about 1.2% of the 2016’s total unauthorized spending total, could be scrounged from these funds.

Then, if President Trump wanted to escalate the stakes in this year’s government shutdown revue, he could force Congress to address the issue by ordering the shutdown of all the U.S. government’s nonessential functions whose money to operate comes from these unauthorized funds.



Anticipating New US-Bound ‘Caravan,’ Mexican Minister Says Mexico’s Southern Border Will be Secured to Ensure ‘Legal and Orderly’ Entry

A day before President Trump gives a prime time Oval Office address on “the humanitarian and national security crisis” on the Southwest border, Mexico’s interior minister outlined plans to strengthen her own country’s porous southern border, where hundreds of illegal crossing points have been identified.

Speaking at a gathering of Mexican diplomats at the foreign ministry, Olga Sánchez Cordero said at least 10,000 migrants had entered Mexico from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala since last October, and that another U.S.-bound “caravan” from the south was expected to arrive in mid-January.

Sánchez Cordero said the government was determined to ensure that “legal and orderly” entry takes place.

As part of the new government’s migration policy, she said, anyone wanting to enter Mexico would have to provide information including reason for entry, biometric data, and an identity document.

“Those who refuse to provide identity or biometric data will not be able to enter Mexican territory.”

For those whose objective in entering Mexico is to travel to the U.S., the government’s policy would be to stipulate “certain deadlines,” so that if access to the U.S. is not possible they return to their countries of origin.

Sánchez Cordero said although Mexico was not the cause of the mass migration phenomenon, it was “willing and determined to be part of the solution.”

To do so it would need the United Nations and Organization of American States (OAS) to assume their “co-responsibility in addressing the phenomenon,” along with the active participation of the governments of the migrants’ countries of origin.

“It is also essential that the governments of the countries of Central America, particularly Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, assume their inescapable responsibilities.”

She noted that there were 12 formal points of entry along the southern (Mexico-Guatemala/ Mexico-Belize) border, but that approximately 370 illegal crossing points had also been detected, and said the government would monitor them to prevent illegal entry into Mexico.

The minister predicted that mass migration would continue, and may even grow in the months and years to come.

“We need to bring order to our borders, and provide migrants with humanitarian aid and the dignified and respectful treatment they deserve,” she said.

Sánchez Cordero stressed that President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s instructions were for a humanitarian migration policy, with migrants seen not as delinquents but as human beings seeking to escape insecurity and deprivation in their countries of origin.

Participants in previous caravans that entered Mexico from Central America in the closing months of 2018 have either crossed into the U.S., are waiting in the border city of Tijuana, have taken up offers to be repatriated, or have applied for asylum in Mexico.

Sánchez Cordero’s figures about some 370 illegal crossing points along Mexico’s southern border are not new: They were cited in 2015 in a State Department Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs document, in which the Obama administration outlined ways it was helping the previous Mexican government to secure that border.

They included millions of dollars’ worth of mobile “non-intrusive inspection equipment” – scanners that use X-rays to inspect vehicles – and mobile kiosks used to capture migrants’ biometric and biographical data.



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, 2019
Postmodernism -- A much abused term

There are two articles here and here which seem to me to be very confused about what is postmodernism.  One claims that it is nothing more than a form of art criticism and the other claims that there can be conservative postmodernists -- with even the impeccably conservative Dennis Prager being elected as a postmodernist.

The first writer above, Michael Barnard, lists some of the many  lines of thought that have been described from time to time as postmodernist and many others could be added.  "Postmodernist" has become a sort of all-purpose description of any body of thought that seems fanciful or unrealistic, or, indeed incoherent.

So what is postmodernism?  Is it just a form of Art criticism as Barnard contends, for instance?  It may be the form that Barnard most respects but his own examples of where discourse about postmodernism arises show his claim as merely provocative if not silly.

So am I going to provide a better definition?  Not at all.  There are a variety of definitions and all get at something in postmodernism.  Read as many as you like.  I cover a fair few of them here

What I want to do is to trace postmodernism to it source and from that an understanding of what it is readily emerges.  It originated in a severe philosophical problem that became increasingly well-known and influential in the twentieth century. It traces at least from David Hume's denial in the 18th century that one can derive an “ought” from an “is” but arguably goes all the way back to Socrates.  The problem was how do we know what is right, good or ought to be done?  The expressions "X is pink" and "X is good" are of similar form so are they of the same kind?  Is goodness as objective a property as pinkness?

For almost everybody, the answer to that is clear.  The first is a statement of fact and the second is a value judgment.  But where do values come from?  Is goodness and rightness hiding under a rock somewhere?  If not, where is it?  There have been various attempts to answer that but in the end there is nothing objective that can be pointed to. It all devolves into a matter of opinion.

Analytical philosophers have labored long and hard to find ways of defining what is good but the very fact that they have different opinions about it undermines the effort.  We just have to accept that there is no such thing as an objective right and wrong.  Statements about rightness and wrongness are expressions of attitude, not expressions of fact.  Philosophy has failed to give an account of objective or absolute rightness and goodness.

Awareness of that state of affairs gradually grew throughout the twentieth century as exposure to education spread  -- and many people encountering it seemed to find it liberating.  They saw a failure of philosophy as telling them something important about the world.  They saw it as undermining all standards in morality, ethics, aesthetics and much else.  They interpreted it as liberating them from all restraints.

Civilized restraints however did not go away.  Certain old-fashioned customs were no longer seen as binding but what you needed to do to have a pleasant life did not change much.

But if your behavior remained constrained, your theorizing was not.  And the resultant gabble is what we identify as postmodernism.  Postmodernism is an attempt to use or at least understand why there are no absolute moral truths and, in some cases, an attempt to construct alternative truths.  Whatever you dreamed up could be justified by the absence of objective moral truths.

Thus it became customary that when a Leftist was backed into a corner over the value of some policy, he would say "But there's no such thing as right and wrong anyway".  He eluded a practical debate by describing it as something else, as a debate about moral absolutes

So postmodernists celebrate a lack of objective standards about what is good or right -- and usually offer their own behavior recommendations anyway, the pursuit of power being the main one.  In their celebration of their own incoherence they can say in almost the same breath that there is no such thing as right and wrong but Donald Trump is wrong about just about everything. Their philosophy does not even account for their own usage.

So most of the world's people  carry on with efforts to build a pleasant life for themselves and bother themselves with debates and explorations about how to achieve that.  Abstract philosophical debates don't enter their consciousness.

And conservatives in particular do that.  If analytical philosophy has failed to solve one of it central problems they are unconcerned.  What gives them the life they want is their overriding interest.  And they search for guidelines about that.  It is not at all clear how one should behave to have a life with maximum happiness and minimal pain.  And when they do arrive at a guideline or set of guidelines that sounds like it has an impressive track record (such as evangelical Christianity), they do tend to value that guideline and act in accordance with it.  They might even describe it as the "right" way to live in discussions with others who are searching.

Among Leftists, however, there seems to be a belief that because there is no such thing as objective right and wrong, therefore there are no guidelines that lead to a happy life.  One pities them.  It is  no wonder that all the surveys find that conservatives are happier.

So the absence of an objective right and wrong does not tell us that all roads will lead to happiness.  As Jesus said, that road may be "strait and narrow".

So in the end there was one moral philosopher who got it right.  R.M. Hare argued that the only defensible function of "is good' or "is right" statements is to commend.  That can be unpacked in various ways but it can also be unpacked to interpret "rightness" statements as saying "This makes me happy and I think it will make you happy too", or "This satisfies me and I think it would satisfy you too" or "This gets me results I like and I think you would like its results too" -- and so on.

The similarity of the two statements "X is pink" and "X is good"  does lead some people to think that the goodness they are discussing is something objective, something that can be pointed to in the same way that one can point to a color. A little reflection normally tells us however that the "goodness" or "rightness" being referred to is something fundamentally different from a color.

There is a belief among some people however -- particularly among the products of a Catholic education -- that there ARE some moral absolutes.  They cannot point to any proof of it but they FEEL that some things are "just wrong" and are always wrong.  There is a sound evolutionary reason for that feeling which I discuss in my fuller account of moral philosophy


Why The Attacks On Trump’s Character Don’t Land

 Derek Hunter

President Donald Trump’s character has been under nonstop attack since he first appeared on the national stage in the 1980s. Yet somehow people still seem to think this is an effective tactic in an attempt to either change him, take him down, or turn off his supporters. It’s not going to work.

When porn star Stormy Daniels emerged with allegations of a tryst with Trump in 2006, Trump supporters yawned. They didn’t deny the possibility, or even the probability, they simply didn’t care. Not because half the American people suddenly decided infidelity is a good thing, or even an indifferent thing, but because Donald Trump wasn’t elected the nation’s husband, he was elected President of the United States.

A good chunk of the 90s were spent arguing over this very thing – does legal but morally repugnant private conduct matter more than public behavior? The answer then was an unambiguous “no.” Putting aside what is unquestioningly a denigration of our culture and civil society, that the answer remains a resounding no today should surprise no one.

But the complaints about Trump’s character don’t stop at his actions in his personal life, they’ve bled into his actions and words as President.

One writer declared, “Trump’s refusal to listen to advisers, his inability to bite his tongue, his demonization and belittling of senators who vote for his agenda but refuse to keep quiet when he does or says things they disagree with, his rants against the First Amendment, his praise for dictators and insults for allies, his need to create new controversies to eclipse old ones, and his inexhaustible capacity to lie and fabricate history: All of this springs from his character.”

These have also largely fallen flat for the same reason his past personal conduct, both admitted (in his first 2 marriages) and denied, did – words aren’t actions. If Trump acted to limit freedom of the press, for example, that would be one thing. But complaining about CNN is hardly setting up a Gulag. If saying nice things about Kim Jong-Un translated into adopting hereditary, absolute power, rather than a plausible diplomatic tactic, then again, sure.

Lying is never good, but it’s also the currency of politicians. Not to excuse it, because I don’t, but exaggeration and falsehoods weren’t created on January 20, 2017. Just because the media embraced a hair-trigger, hyper-sensitive breathlessness in their reporting of the concept after 8 years of uninterrupted slumber does not mean people care.

That’s really what it boils down to – Trump supporters don’t care. None of the untruths, to whatever degree, aren’t important enough to matter. This is largely due to overkill. Liberal journalists are all too happy to “fact check” everything the President says, no matter how insignificant, as if flooding the zone will somehow bring about a critical mass that turns off support. What it really does is drown out all of it, and the petty nature of most of it leads the larger issues to be dismissed as well. Trump declaring he won the Electoral College in a historic landslide isn’t important to anyone, it’s the equivalent of stretching the size of a fish you caught. Yet it’s presented alongside other substantive falsehoods as if it’s the same as saying, “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.” It’s not, by a longshot.

That’s the difference between critics and haters. Critics, whether you agree with them or not, are generally justified in their criticisms, which tend to be based on specific policy or even style differences. Haters will be unsatisfied and angry even as someone accomplishes things they’d sworn they supported because of who is accomplishing them. It’s irrational. There is so much personal hatred of Donald Trump for existing in a way the old order doesn’t like, it’s become impossible and exhausting trying to separate out legitimate criticism from venomous ramblings. It’s like trying to blame which raindrops made you wet in a thunderstorm.

Mitt Romney, the failed 2012 GOP presidential nominee who will be sworn in as Utah’s junior Senator today, appears ready to ride his high horse right into the Senate. He’s attacking the President’s character now, after happily accepting his support during his election. “A president should demonstrate the essential qualities of honesty and integrity, and elevate the national discourse with comity and mutual respect,” Romney wrote.

He added, “With the nation so divided, resentful and angry, presidential leadership in qualities of character is indispensable. And it is in this province where the incumbent’s shortfall has been most glaring.”

Virtue signaling, Romney concluded, “I will speak out against significant statements or actions that are divisive, racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, dishonest or destructive to democratic institutions.” It could have been lifted from any transcript from CNN or MSNBC, and will go a long way toward his elevation to the post of “the new John McCain.”

But people have heard all of this before, and have discounted it. Partisanship existed long before Trump, he didn’t invent it and his unhinged critics are the ones who’ve lost their collective minds. The President treats every critic the same, regardless of race (it’s up to you whether you think that’s a good thing or not), and the same goes for gender. There is nothing “anti-immigrant” about seeking to end illegal immigration, unless you equate the two. And if the First Amendment has any meaning, exercising your right to it does not diminish any else’s to do the same, even if it’s pointed toward them.

There’s plenty to dislike about Donald Trump the man, just as there’s plenty to dislike about everyone, if you spend all your time looking for it. Trump voters don’t, Trump critics do. And they do so while claiming his supporters are obsessed with him…without irony.



Presidential Approval 2 Years In: Reagan 41%, Trump 39%

The data from Gallup's Presidential Job Approval Center show that approximately two years into their first term as president -- at the middle or end of December in their second year -- several presidents, including Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and Donald Trump shared a near-equal job approval rating among the American people, respectively 41%, 42% and 39%.

Both Reagan and Clinton were trending downward at the time, with Clinton dropping to 40% (December 28-30, 1994)  and Reagan falling to 37% in mid-January 1982 (and then 35% at January's end).

Only three recent presidents enjoyed job approval ratings above 50% two years into their first term: Jimmy Carter at 51%; George H.W. Bush at 63%; and George W. Bush at 63%.

Barack Obama's job approval rating two years in was 46% (Dec. 13-19, 2010).

Presidential Job Approval Two Years Into First Term

Donald J. Trump   39%   (Dec. 17-22, 2018)

Barack H. Obama   46%   (Dec. 13-19, 2010)

George W. Bush   63%   (Dec. 16-17, 2002)

Former President Bill Clinton. (Getty Images)
Bill Clinton   42%   (Dec. 16-18, 1994)

George H.W. Bush   63%   (Dec. 13-16, 1990)

Ronald W. Reagan   41%   (Dec. 10-13, 1982)

Jimmy Carter   51%   (Dec. 8-11, 1978)



A View of the Shutdown From the Border  

As the partial government shutdown enters its third week, there is still no immediate end in sight. In fact, if anything President Donald Trump upped the ante over the weekend by suggesting that he might use the military to build the wall after declaring the border situation a national emergency. Of course, if Trump were to attempt such an action it would be immediately challenged in the courts, and historical precedent in such cases does not favor the president. But we suspect that threat and his insistence that he’s willing for a shutdown to last for years are simply shots across the Democrat bow. Meanwhile, as both sides continue to dig in, some Americans are taking matters into their own hands, as in the case of Yellow National Park, where private businesses have banded together to keep the park open for the tourism their businesses depend upon.

As for the situation at the border in the midst of this shutdown, the best people to hear from are those actually dealing with the situation on the frontlines. Here’s a sampling of their perspective on why an actual physical wall is desperately needed:

Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, said, “I’ve been a Border Patrol agent for 21 years. I can personally tell you … that walls actually work. … If you interview Border Patrol agents, they will tell you that walls work. … They have been an absolute necessity for Border Patrol agents in securing the border. We need those physical barriers, and we appreciate President Trump and all of his efforts in getting us those physical barriers.”

Hector Garza, vice president of the National Border Patrol Council and a Border Patrol agent in Texas, argues, “We’re talking about murderers, rapists, [and] people that commit very serious crimes in this country. … These criminal aliens that have been released from jail [and] that have been deported will come right back into the United States. However, if we had a physical barrier, if we had a wall, we would be able to stop that. … We ask our congressmen to fund border security and fund the border wall.”

Finally, this assessment from Acting ICE Director Ronald Vitiello: “2,000 people are coming to the border each and every day. … Loopholes in the law [are] encouraging people to come to that border. … We are running out of resources and the status quo is not acceptable. [Democrats] are saying that a wall doesn’t work. Agents need an enduring capability to slow people down [at the border]. It provides an anchor for them to add technology, access roads, and patrol response to protect our border. We always have a safer border where we have that barrier. People who don’t believe it works — why do they have fences around their homes and lock their doors at night? … This is getting bottled up in politics. … I was in the Border Patrol for 33 years. … Walls work.”



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, 2019

The Truth About Sweden and Socialism

For years, I’ve heard American leftists say Sweden is proof that socialism works, that it doesn’t have to turn out as badly as the Soviet Union or Cuba or Venezuela did. But that’s not what Swedish historian Johan Norberg says in a new documentary and Stossel TV video.

“Sweden is not socialist—because the government doesn’t own the means of production. To see that, you have to go to Venezuela or Cuba or North Korea,” says Norberg. “We did have a period in the 1970s and 1980s when we had something that resembled socialism: a big government that taxed and spent heavily. And that’s the period in Swedish history when our economy was going south.”

Per capita gross domestic product fell. Sweden’s growth fell behind other countries. Inflation increased. Even socialistic Swedes complained about the high taxes.

Astrid Lindgren, author of the popular “Pippi Longstocking” children’s books, discovered that she was losing money by being popular. She had to pay a tax of 102 percent on any new book she sold. “She wrote this angry essay about a witch who was mean and vicious—but not as vicious as the Swedish tax authorities,” says Norberg.

Yet even those high taxes did not bring in enough money to fund Sweden’s big welfare state. “People couldn’t get the pension that they thought they depended on for the future,” recounts Norberg. “At that point the Swedish population just said, ‘Enough, we can’t do this.'”

Sweden then reduced government’s role. They cut public spending, privatized the national rail network, abolished certain government monopolies, eliminated inheritance taxes, and sold state-owned businesses like the maker of Absolut Vodka. They also reduced pension promises “so that it wasn’t as unsustainable,” adds Norberg.

As a result, says Norberg, his “impoverished peasant nation developed into one of the world’s richest countries.”

He acknowledges that Sweden, in some areas, has a big government: “We do have a bigger welfare state than the U.S., higher taxes than the U.S., but in other areas, when it comes to free markets, when it comes to competition, when it comes to free trade, Sweden is actually more free market.”

Sweden’s free market is not burdened by the U.S.’s excessive regulations, special-interest subsidies, and crony bailouts. That allows it to fund Sweden’s big welfare programs.

“Today our taxes pay for pensions—you (in the U.S.) call it Social Security—for 18-month paid parental leave, government-paid childcare for working families,” says Norberg.

But Sweden’s government doesn’t run all those programs. “Having the government manage all of these things didn’t work well.”

So they privatized. “We realized in Sweden that with these government monopolies, we don’t get the innovation that we get when we have competition,” says Norberg.

Sweden switched to a school voucher system. That allows parents to pick their kids’ school and forced schools to compete for the voucher money. “One result that we’ve seen is not just that the private schools are better,” says Norberg, “but even public schools in the vicinity of private schools often improve, because they have to.”

Sweden also partially privatized its retirement system. In America, the Cato Institute proposed something similar. President George W. Bush supported the idea but didn’t explain it well. He dropped the idea when politicians complained that privatizing Social Security scared voters.

Swedes were frightened by the idea at first, too, says Norberg, “But when they realized that the alternative was that the whole pension system would collapse, they thought that this was much better than doing nothing.”

So Sweden supports its welfare state with private pensions, school choice, and fewer regulations, and in international economic freedom comparisons, Sweden often earns a higher ranking than the U.S.

Next time you hear Democratic Socialists talk about how socialist Sweden is, remind them that the big welfare state is funded by Swedes’ free-market practices, not their socialist ones.



New York Times Bias Exposed

President Donald Trump has called out The New York Times for its bias numerous times and it turns out he was actually right. Former New York Times editor Jill Abramson’s soon-to-be published book “Merchants of Truth” suggests the magazine’s news reporting has become “unmistakably anti-Trump,” Fox News’ Howard Kurtz reports.

The fact is, The New York Times has had a liberal bias that started long before Trump was elected president. This often came through in more subtle ways, such as the stories it chose to cover—and how it treated Democrats versus Republicans. This is old news.

What has changed is that the Times is now so aggressively hostile to the president that it’s made it more hyperbolic and reckless, even in its straight news reporting. Trump has merely exposed the long-term biases that media organizations like the Times and The Washington Post have always had, but now those outlets—in their zeal to undo his presidency and get clicks—have undermined their own credibility.



Debunking Two Moral Questions People Often Ask to Support Lax Border Policy

Within some religious communities, as well as outside houses of worship, a question often being asked is: How can we turn away people from our borders in light of the Bible’s statement “Thou shall not afflict the Stranger”? Former President Obama, in concert with many liberal leaders, are in speeches across the country quoting this very passage to justify a lax, almost open-borders policy. The truth is that the Bible is speaking of individual sojourners and not thousands marching at one time, whose sheer numbers and concentration could immediately harm society.

America is not afflicting strangers within our country. Those in the caravan outside our borders could have spared themselves their discomfort along the way if they would have followed the common and lawful practice we’ve created for making application at our embassies back in their home countries.

In times past, the Bible would have seen the amassing of 7,000 on its borders, with still more threatening to come and charge the gates, as something worrisome and something quite political, which is precisely what some of the caravan sponsors and marchers – who are against the concept of a nation-state – have in mind.

The sojourner stranger of whom Scripture speaks was a harmless individual. This cannot entirely be said regarding the immigration phenomenon of the last few years. Among the caravan activists are former criminals, gang members, mules for drug lords, people carrying contagious diseases, and ANTIFA-types who pose a grave threat to the American population. Undoubtedly, the Bible would not demand a scenario where a host population and its families face their own form of potential affliction. The Bible, as the Constitution, is not a suicide pact and would not stand in the way of a vetting process that for safety and national security reasons takes place outside our borders.

Furthermore, not afflicting a newcomer living among us is a universal application of decency, but does not matriculate automatically into a right for citizenship in a particular country. Neither is there a biblical right to enter a country and thereby be supplied open-ended and across-the-board subsidies burdensomely placed on the backs of a tax-paying citizenry that itself does not receive such largess.

Self-defense is a primary theme in the Old Testament, and defending the country, as our Founders saw it, is the first duty of an American president. In the caravan and particularly among certain Middle-Eastern and North African countries, there is a worrisome proportion with tendencies and outlook which can result in certain forms of jihadism or extreme Shariaism. Here again, this is not the innocuous stranger and newcomer of which the Bible speaks. Statistics reveal that once migrants physically enter our borders, they often elude us forever, as was the case with the 9-11 hijackers; thus, our need for meticulous and comprehensive vetting off-shore.

The other question often posed in certain religious and secular communities is how a universal God, who is the father of all humanity, could allow a country to shut its doors to the needy trying to get in? While many to various degrees are needy, some of those trying today to enter our country pose a real threat to us, and even a universal God tells us of the need to protect ourselves from those among His creation who can harm us.

Among the most profound convictions of the Bible is that of personal responsibility. We are responsible to take care of and protect those we have freely chosen to live with: first our family, then our community and nation – in that order. One cannot shirk and displace this priority, this personal responsibility in the name of universalism or mankind.

Turning a blind eye to danger to those who directly depend on you, be it a head of a household or a president to his citizens, in the name of universalism is not moral. Morality is not what makes us feel good about ourselves or looks good to others, rather that which we ought to do, doing that for which we are personally responsible.

One of the gems of biblical understanding is that while God is universal and many of his laws and prescriptions universal, the incubation, implementation, and success of its ethos depends on what is done within the particular – the particular family, community and nation. It is within particular constructs that the Judeo-Christian paradigm is honed and flowers, and from inward is released outwardly. The universal is born and depends on what happens in the particular, i.e., subsidiarity.

Borders, distinct and sovereign nations are vital. No wonder when speaking to ancient Israel the universal God proffers the people with the following blessing: “And I shall protect your borders so that strangers and enemies not fill your camp and become a thorn in your side.” As with protecting one's home and family residents inside (Exodus: 22), so too the God of humanity prioritizes the legitimate need for protective borders and its citizens inside.

While we cannot absorb all who wish to come here, we can as humanitarians export our American prescription for a workable and productive life to those who wish to accept and import it. Absent that, our first responsibility is to protect this nation from harm, be it economic, social or physical. Defending our nation and families is a noble part of who we are.



The Personality Cult of Ginsburg

Many Americans lament the demise of the federal judiciary from an independent and objective part of the American system into a branch of government that seems more self-serving and politicized than ever before. But while leftist and conservative justices alike have strayed from the vision of our Founding Fathers, none have eclipsed the cult-like status of the Supreme Court’s oldest justice: 85-year-old Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Of course, Supreme Court justices are only human, and they’re just as susceptible to outside influences as any politicians on Capitol Hill. But the very nature of their position demands more discipline in order to fight the temptations of a society that can turn just about anyone into a celebrity overnight.

And even the most independent nominee can become more ideologically hardened after surviving the grind of the nomination process.

Politico’s Peter Canellos writes, “Even if nominees aren’t particularly partisan at the outset, they quickly learn to recognize their friends and enemies; the loyalties forged in the furnace of the confirmation process carry over onto the bench. It’s only human that such anger or gratitude, growing out of a trauma that some compare to a near-death experience, would alter judicial decision-making.”

Canellos adds, “There’s a third element to the politicization of the courts, though. That’s the visceral sense of approval and validation that judges get when they please their fans. The 60,000-member Federalist Society provides conservative judges with a Greek chorus of admirers. And many members of the Supreme Court, such as the late Antonin Scalia, couldn’t resist taking bows before conservative audiences for court rulings that devastated liberals.”

But earning the admiration of a respected organization like the Federalist Society is nothing compared to Ginsburg’s celebrity status among leftists, many of whom weren’t even born when Ginsburg was appointed to the High Court by Bill Clinton in 1993. From the “RGB” documentary of last year to the recent biopic entitled “On the Basis of Sex,” the leftist Supreme Court justice is being turned into a mythical figure. How can fair-minded Americans expect Ginsburg, a former ACLU general counsel, to make independent decisions based on the law when she’s been deified by millions on the Left?

As Ginsburg said in the RGB film, “I’m 84 years old and everyone wants to take their picture with me.”

In 2016, seemingly emboldened by her superstardom, she joked that it’d be time to move to New Zealand if Donald Trump were elected. “I can’t imagine what the country would be,” she said. Later, under intense criticism from both the right and the left, she admitted regret for the comments. But she never apologized — not to the American people, nor to the Republican nominee.

As Stephanie Mencimer writes at the far-left Mother Jones, “Ginsburg has since been tattooed on women’s arms, immortalized in song and a children’s book, and featured on [‘Saturday Night Live.’] She’s had her face plastered on everything from tote bags to water bottles. This merchandising could not have happened without the justice’s blessing; the law gives her a fair amount of control over the use of her image, as she well knows. Rather than start copyright battles, Ginsburg has encouraged her cult following. She assisted Carmon and Knizhnik with their book, appeared in the CNN documentary and makes a cameo in ‘On the Basis of Sex,’ carries an RBG tote bag in public, distributes RBG T-shirts to friends and admirers, and generally has reveled in her celebrity.”

Mencimer adds that Ginsburg’s desire to hang on to her position on the Court actually threatens to undermine the Left’s agenda. For years Ginsburg rejected suggestions by “progressive” supporters that she retire during the Barack Obama years to ensure a like-minded successor. Now, her desire to fight on through various health issues — including recent surgery for lung cancer — at an advanced age may be setting the stage for a conservative replacement if she’s unable to outlast Donald Trump.

But that’s not stopping her.

NPR’s Nina Totenberg writes, “Even as she was secretly undergoing a series of tests and consulting an array of doctors, she made multiple public appearances and was interviewed in front of audiences three times, at one point reciting from memory the words of several arias from an opera about her famous friendship and legal dueling with the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia.”

The Left has professed to do just about anything, even offering to donate their own organs to Ginsburg, in order to keep her on the bench.

But should Ginsburg retire or pass away before Trump leaves office, allowing him to replace her with a Constitution-friendly justice, the Left may one day regret the cult of personality that they alone created. And rightly so.



Elizabeth Warren, the would-be Queen

She planned to rule American businesses from atop the  Consumer Financial Protection Bureau but Trump's victory took that away from her

On December 31, Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren launched her 2020 presidential exploratory committee. A prominent member of the Democratic party, it has long been speculated that Warren’s ambitions were greater than the Senate.

Warren has positioned herself as an advocate for women’s rights, universal healthcare and the working class. However, this is nothing more than a carefully cultivated facade. When faced with even the slightest scrutiny, it becomes apparent that Warren’s priorities are not with the American people but are instead focused solely on serving her own ambitions.

Since first being elected in 2011, Warren has gained a reputation of hypocrisy. Focused on promoting herself instead of the interests of Massachusetts, Warren took every opportunity to be an incendiary roadblock to progress.

In 2016, Warren voted against the 21st Century Cures Act, a bipartisan bill that would have provided over $12 million in funds for fighting the opioid epidemic in her home state. That same year, she proceeded to criticize the Trump administration for not doing enough to combat the opioid crisis.

In another flagrant display of hypocrisy, Warren vocally aligned herself with the #MeToo movement while simultaneously accepting a $10,000 donation from a self-confessed sexual assailant, and ignored calls by opponents to return the funds.

Warren has proven repeatedly that she is willing to promote any stance that will win her national favor, even at the expense of her own long-term credibility.

During her first term as senator, Warren demonstrated that the health of Massachusetts was secondary to positioning herself as a 2020 contender. During her first six years in office, Warren focused her efforts on authoring two books, touring across the country holding book signings and speaking at campaign rallies across the country. Her constant travel to states like Wisconsin, Ohio, Iowa and California drove her opponent Geoff Diehl to create a “Where’s Warren?” campaign, which highlighted the Senator’s constant devotion to everyone but her own constituents.

Despite spending the majority of her time out of state, Warren refused to admit her presidential ambitions. In a blatant display of dishonesty and deceit, Warren claimed that her goals if re-elected would be to continue serving Massachusetts and that a 2020 bid was not on her mind.

When called to sign a pledge to serve the full term if re-elected, Warren refused, but was quoted several times stating clearly, “I am not running for president.” In a move that surprised no one, Warren did not even make it 60 days post re-election before breaking that promise.



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)


6 January, 2019

Universal Basic Income Is a (Costly) Socialist Pipe Dream

All the attempts to implement it have been abandoned on cost grounds

Universal basic income has had a phenomenal year in 2018 when it comes to publicity. Silicon Valley billionaires, academics, and leftist politicians are raving about the brilliant new scheme, which we are told will prevent a Social Darwinist dystopian future in which average Joes everywhere stand to lose their low-functioning blue collar jobs to the grave perils of automation.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO and one of the three wealthiest individuals in the world, is a big fan. He has emerged as a high-profile public cheerleader for the universal basic income scheme. During last year’s Harvard commencement address, the fanciful concept featured prominently: “We should explore ideas like universal basic income to make sure that everyone has a cushion to try new ideas.”

Zuckerberg seems to miss something on a basic human nature level. It may be fashionable to promote a philosophy of egalitarianism. The reality, however, is that human beings are not equal in terms of ability or anything else. Under our constitutional system, human beings enjoy equal protection of our constitutional rights, but that hardly means we should expect equality of outcomes. And that is something the Silicon Valley pseudo-socialists will never understand.

A Fanciful Notion

It would be nice to believe that a universal basic income program would allow human beings to fully realize their potential. Young people with few opportunities would enjoy the economic freedom to become captains of industry, technological pioneers, and inventors, perhaps learning how to code in their free time, developing software programs, and founding the next major social media platform to compete with Facebook.

To say this is a fanciful notion is an understatement. There are human beings who are highly motivated. There are human beings who are incredibly lazy and unproductive. There are human beings with IQs of 130, and there are human beings with IQs of 70. What message will human beings take away from receiving a monthly check, with no strings attached, for USD $1,000…or $2,000, or $5,000? Will this usher in some golden new age of invention, of technological wonder, of allowing the teeming and downtrodden masses to realize their full potential?

Such a program has never been tried on a large scale, so there are no empirical results, except for small-scale test runs. A basic understanding of human nature, coupled with common sense, however, suggests that the UBI is not the golden panacea that a few starry-eyed Silicon Valley billionaires make it out to be.

With a check in the mail each month for doing nothing, how many are now going to be “liberated” to work in what they really love, and how many are going to be encouraged to do nothing?

Why should we reward human beings for doing nothing? Mark Zuckerberg is the rare technological genius who would spend his free time coding and developing his own social media platform. What about typical human beings? With a check in the mail each month for doing nothing, how many are now going to be “liberated” to work in what they really love, and how many are going to be encouraged to do nothing?

The Numbers Don't Add up

Setting aside human nature, for a moment, let’s take a look at the economics of a UBI program.

Surprise, surprise. They are phenomenally expensive to implement. Just doling out USD $1,000 a month to Americans would cost USD $3.8 trillion a year, according to a recent study by Bridgewater Associates. Well, golly, that’s a tab even Zuckerberg can’t pick up.

National and local governments across the world have been cutting funding for UBI programs in droves. They are expensive and wreak havoc on local budgets. Unsurprisingly, taxpayers (one would presume even of a left-wing bent) don’t take too kindly to funding such pilot programs, especially when they are not the beneficiaries of this state largesse.

Programs in both Canada and Finland have been shut down under political and budgetary pressure, which brings us to the point.

Even with an incredibly low-brow American public, ever more eager to get something for nothing through the smoke and mirrors of big government socialism, I believe Americans are intelligent enough to see through the farce of the basic income.

I have no problem with Mark Zuckerberg or other wealthy benefactors funding such programs and showing us their data—holding up the great successes for all the world to see. But it is the height of hypocrisy to ask the United States government, already USD $22 trillion in debt, to fund handing out free money to the entire nation.



Major Victory for Cleaner Elections in CA

Media release from Judicial Watch [press@pr.judicialwatch.org]

Good news for the voters in California and across the country.

We have signed a settlement agreement with the State of California and the County of Los Angeles under which they will begin the process of removing from their voter registration rolls as many as 1.5 million inactive registered names that may be invalid.

These removals are required by the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), a federal law requiring the removal of inactive registrations from the voter rolls after two general federal elections (encompassing from 2 to 4 years). Inactive voter registrations belong, for the most part, to voters who have moved to another county or state or have passed away.

Los Angeles County has over 10 million residents, more than the populations of 41 of the 50 United States. California is America’s largest state, with almost 40 million residents.

We filed a 2017 federal lawsuit to force the cleanup of voter rolls (Judicial Watch, Inc., et al. v. Dean C. Logan, et al. (No. 2:17-cv-08948)). We sued on our own behalf and on behalf of Wolfgang Kupka, Rhue Guyant, Jerry Griffin, and Delores M. Mars, who are lawfully registered voters in Los Angeles County. We were joined by Election Integrity Project California, Inc., a public interest group that has long been involved in monitoring California’s voter rolls.

In our lawsuit, we alleged:

Los Angeles County has more voter registrations on its voter rolls than it has citizens who are old enough to register. 

Specifically, according to data provided to and published by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, Los Angeles County has a registration rate of 112 percent of its adult citizen population.

The entire State of California has a registration rate of about 101 percent of its age-eligible citizenry.

Eleven of California’s 58 counties have registration rates exceeding 100 percent of the age-eligible citizenry.

The lawsuit confirmed that Los Angeles County has on its rolls more than 1.5 million potentially ineligible voters. This means that more than one out of every five LA County registrations likely belongs to a voter who has moved or is deceased. We noted:

“Los Angeles County has the highest number of inactive registrations of any single county in the country.”

Our lawsuit also uncovered that neither the State of California nor Los Angeles County had been removing inactive voters from the voter registration rolls for the past 20 years. The Supreme Court affirmed last year in Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Inst., 138 S. Ct. 1833 (2018) that the NVRA “makes this removal mandatory.”

The new settlement agreement, filed with U.S. District Court Judge Manuel L. Real, requires all of the 1.5 million potentially ineligible registrants to be notified and asked to respond. If there is no response, those names are to be removed as required by the NVRA. California Secretary of State Padilla also agrees to update the State’s online NVRA manual to make clear that ineligible names must be removed and to notify each California county that they are obligated to do this. This should lead to cleaner voter rolls statewide.

Prior to this settlement agreement, we estimated that based on comparisons of national census data to voter-roll information, there were 3.5 million more names on various county voter rolls than there were citizens of voting age. This settlement could cut this number in half.

Judicial Watch Attorney Robert Popper is the director of our Election Integrity Project and led our legal team in this litigation. We were assisted in this case by Charles H. Bell Jr., of Bell, McAndrews & Hiltachk, LLP; and H. Christopher Coates of Law Office of H. Christopher Coates.

This is only the third statewide settlement achieved by private plaintiffs under the NVRA – and we were the plaintiff in each of those cases. The other statewide settlements are with Ohio (in 2014) and with Kentucky (2018), which agreed to a court-ordered consent decree.

You can take pride in knowing that we are the national leader in enforcing the list maintenance provisions of the NVRA. In addition to settlement agreements with Ohio and a win in Kentucky, we have filed a successful NVRA lawsuit against Indiana, causing it to voluntarily clean up its voting rolls, and we have an ongoing lawsuit with the State of Maryland.

We helped the State of Ohio successfully defend their settlement agreement before the Supreme Court. In North Carolina, we supported implementation of the state’s election integrity reform laws, filing amicus briefs in the Supreme Court in March 2017. And, in April 2018, we filed an amicus brief in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in support of Alabama’s voter ID law. In Georgia, we filed an amicus brief in support of Secretary Brian Kemp’s list maintenance process against a lawsuit by left-wing groups. We won when the Supreme Court ruled in Ohio’s favor.

This settlement vindicates our groundbreaking lawsuits to clean up state voter rolls to help ensure cleaner elections. We are thrilled with this historic settlement, which will set a nationwide precedent to ensure that states take reasonable steps to ensure that dead and other ineligible voters are removed from the rolls.

Via email


156,945,000: 2018 Ends With Record Employment; Participation Rate Hits Trump-Era High

Amid concerns about trade with China and rollercoaster stock markets, the final employment report of 2018 counts as good news.

The Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics said on Friday the economy added an impressivve 312,000 jobs in December, which was a month of strong retail sales; and the nation's unemployment rate increased two-tenths of a point to 3.9 percent, which is still an 18-year low.

The number of employed Americans has now set a 14th record under Trump:

When Trump became president in January 2017, 152,076,000 Americans were employed. Last month, that number grew to a record 156,945,000, a gain of 4,869,000 in two years.

At the same time, the number of unemployed Americans increased by 276,000 last month, to 6,294,000, as more people were actively looking for work but had not found a job.

In another positive sign, the labor force participation rate increased two-tenths of a point to 63.1 percent, the highest it's been since Trump took office.

In December, the nation’s civilian noninstitutionalized population, consisting of all people age 16 or older who were not in the military or an institution, reached  258,888,000. Of those, 163,240,000 participated in the labor force by either holding a job or actively seeking one.

The 163,240,000 who participated in the labor force equaled 63.1 percent of the 258,888,000 civilian noninstitutionalized population. The participation rate has showed little change since Trump took office. The highest it's ever been is 67.3 percent in the year 2000.

Among the major worker groups in December, the unemployment rates for adult men (3.6 percent) and Blacks (6.6 percent) increased in December. The jobless rates for adult women (3.5 percent), teenagers (12.5 percent), Whites (3.4 percent), Asians (3.3 percent), and Hispanics (4.4 percent) showed little or no change over the month.

In December, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose 11 cents to $27.48. Over the year, average hourly earnings have increased by 84 cents, or 3.2 percent.

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for November was revised up from +155,000 to +176,000, and the change for October was revised up from +237,000 to +274,000. After revisions, job gains have averaged 254,000 per month over the last 3 months.

The number of Americans counted as not in the labor force --  many are retirees -- dropped by 288,000 in December but remains high at 95,649,000.

China trade and earnings

Kevin Hassett, who chairs the White House Council of Economic Advisers, told CNN on Thursday that while the U.S. economy is growing at a 3 percent rate, "the rest of the world is slowing." Hassett said that slowdown is having an impact on earnings, particularly for companies that do business in China.

Hassett said he anticipates that "a heck of a lot of U.S. companies that have a lot of sales in China" are going to see their earnings downgraded -- until a trade deal with China is finalized.

"If we have a successful negotiation with China, then, you know, Apple's sales and everybody else's sales will recover," Hassett said.

Asked if he is concerned about the onset of recession later this year or in early 2020, Hassett said not really:

Look, there's never been a recession that started in the quarter after a quarter like the one that we just had in the fourth quarter of last year. And so we're carrying a lot of momentum in the next year. We had a lot of capital spending last year which meant that firms were building new factories. As those factories, you know, plug their machines in and start producing output, that will increase GDP next year.

And so with the kind of momentum we've got, I really don't see a recession next year. And I think that if we add...positive outcomes to the things that have stressed markets like the trade negotiations, then there's lots of upside risk in the market.



Trump’s New Asylum Policy Will Help Block Illegal Immigration

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen recently announced a significant policy change to stop illegal immigration.

After years of catch and release, loopholes, and poor enforcement, the Department of Homeland Security is moving to plug the holes in the U.S. immigration system, and especially the loopholes that surround the asylum system.

One of the most serious problems the U.S. faces in its immigration system is that when illegal immigrants cross the border, they can claim asylum in order to avoid quick deportation. This is an especially common tactic with illegal immigrants from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

Less than 10 percent of these individuals, however, will end up qualifying for asylum.

But asylum often isn’t the real objective: Those who manage to pass through the initial screening are often released into the U.S. This is made worse by various loopholes such as the Flores settlement and the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, which require unaccompanied children and adults with children to be released.

The result is that many “asylum seekers” will simply disappear, many not even bothering to apply for asylum after being released.

Congress should have closed this dangerous pathway for the illegal immigration of children years ago, but instead, asylum claims and the illegal immigration of children from Central America has ballooned. The U.S. currently has an asylum backlog of over 786,000 pending cases, which serves neither U.S. interests nor those of asylum-seekers with legitimate claims.

So, the administration searched its existing legal authority for ways to stop this phenomenon and found a provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act that allows the government to return aliens to Mexico while they await their immigration court hearing.

By ending catch and release and replacing it with “catch and return,” Homeland Security is ending one of the major incentives driving illegal immigration.

As the administration pursues this protocol, Mexico has said it will provide humanitarian visas, work authorizations, and other protections to those waiting in Mexico. This partnership with Mexico is a critical piece of the solution and one that the Trump administration should be commended for reaching.

This action also closely follows the recommendations of Heritage Foundation analysts for fixing the broken immigration system. Heritage research has recommended that Congress adjust the asylum process to move asylum processing to consulates in Mexico. This way, the U.S. does not have to detain asylum-seekers and none are released into the U.S. until they have proven their asylum claims are valid.

And on this note, Congress still should close these loopholes and fix the asylum system. This order will likely be challenged in the courts, and the only sure way to lastingly reform our broken asylum system is with legislation. Congress must do its job if the U.S. is ever going to really fix the problems in its immigration system.

In the meantime, the new asylum policy is welcome news.



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, 2019

GOP Rep Perfectly Explains Why Democrats Are So Eager To Have Open Borders

Due to the staunch refusal of Democrats to provide even a relatively paltry sum of requested border security funding to President Donald Trump, the federal government entered a partial shutdown prior to Christmas that’s extending into the new year — and a new Congress.

Of course, Democrats and their media allies have pointed the finger of blame for the shutdown toward Trump, while the White House and many Republicans have pointed the finger right back at Democrats and  House Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi, who has refused to even pretend to negotiate a deal to end the shutdown, preferring to instead let it linger until her new Democratic majority takes over the House on Jan. 3.

Considering the shutdown essentially boils down to the Democrat’s refusal to fork over a meager $5 billion for border security — a fraction of a fraction of the $4 trillion plus annual budget — many Americans have wondered why the Democrats are so dead set against securing the nation’s southern border.

But Republican Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks thinks he knows exactly why Pelosi and the Democrats have refused to budge on this issue and he pulled no punches explaining it.

The Daily Wire reported that during an appearance on a local media program while home over the holidays, Brooks bluntly suggested that Democrats didn’t want to secure the nation’s borders because they need an open southern border to continue bringing in new potential voters who could dramatically alter the shape and leanings of the American electorate over time.

“It is a very tough position that the Democrats have put us in,” Brooks said. “On the one hand you have got thousands of Americans who are dead — each year — because of the Democrats’ refusal to secure our borders.

“Those Americans are dying, either because they have been murdered by illegal aliens, vehicular homicides by illegal aliens or the illegal narcotics that are shipped into the country by illegal aliens and their drug cartels, with the drug overdoses that are in the tens of thousands of lost American lives per year.

“So the question is going to be, how much blood — American blood — you have to have on the hands of the Democrats leaders like Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer before they will help us with border security?” Brooks said. “Or is their craving for power such that they are willing to accept the loss of American lives?”

One of the co-hosts brought up the proposed compromise from earlier in 2018 which had fallen apart — amnesty for illegal aliens in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in exchange for border wall funding — and asked if the president and Republicans would be willing offer such a compromise once again.

“I don’t know if the Democrats are willing to do it now; they were not willing to do it earlier this year,” Brooks replied. “Keeping in mind, on our side — those of us who care about border security, and care about the financial health, and actual health, of American citizens — we’ve already compromised a lot on this issue.”

“Twenty-five billion dollars is what we need to properly secure our border with a wall and we’re all the way down to $5 billion — that is a huge compromise where you are giving up 80 percent of what is needed to adequately protect the lives and safety of American citizens,” he continued.

Brooks then proceeded to lay out exactly why, in his view, the Democrats have been so intransigent on the border security issue — a need to import new potential voters who would be likely to support the party and its policies that are increasingly being rejected by the American people.

“Democrats have an open borders philosophy, they don’t believe in border security, they believe this is the way to change the American electorate in order to win elections,” Brooks explained.

Brooks also hinted during that discussion that President Trump could very well veto any bills that emerged from Congress that did not include his requested border security funding, and reiterated that while Democrats seemed to be seeking to expand the pool of potential voters, the president was focused on protecting American citizens and taxpayers.

Democrats and their media allies will fervently deny that there is any truth behind the assertion made by Brooks that Democrats favor open borders and want to import new voters, but they will also fail to provide any other sort of logical or reasonable explanation for why they refuse to provide funding for border security.

In all likelihood, Brooks’ assumption hits the nail on the head and perfectly explains the most plausible reason for the Democrats’ refusal to budge on border security … other than, of course, the left’s base need to obstinately obstruct every single thing done by Trump, up to and including securing the nation from the risks and threats it faces at the southern border.



Pulling Young Americans Back From the Brink

During the 2016 campaign, Hillary Clinton often delivered the line: “America is great, because she is good.” It was a feel-good line, deployed then as code for “America is too good to elect Donald Trump.”

Notwithstanding the thick irony of Clinton claiming to be the virtuous alternative, her statement on its own terms made sense: If a nation would be great, it must be morally upright—and America, despite all its flaws, is fundamentally good.

This view puts Clinton increasingly on the fringes within her own movement. In 2018, the prophets of wokeness are calling progressives to “wake up” to the reality that America, at its core, is racist, misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic, and economically unjust. The system, they say, is “rigged.”

And today’s young adults are heeding those voices and increasingly embracing their viewpoint.

A recent study showed that 1 out of 5 Americans under the age of 37 do not think Americans should be proud of their history. One out of 5 millennial Americans see the flag as a sign of intolerance and hatred, and 2 out of 5 said it’s OK to burn the flag.

Clinton’s generation, the baby boomers, were most likely to say America has been, is, and will continue to be great, with 70 percent saying so. But only half of Americans under the age of 37 agreed, and a full 14 percent of millennials said America was never a great country to begin with, and never will be.

The survey, which was conducted by the polling firm YouGov and commissioned by the Foundation for Liberty and American Greatness, a nonprofit devoted to restoring civics, showed that it’s not just younger Americans who have a dim view of our nation.

Fifty percent of respondents across all age groups said America is sexist, and 49 percent said it is racist.

The survey does give some reason for hope. Americans across the board remain patriotic in a general sense, and that includes millennials and Generation Z. But the data do show a clear fault line: Young people are more likely to be skeptical and critical of America than their parents and grandparents. This is a growing divide not just between the left and the right, but between the old left and new left.

In a recent op-ed, New York Times columnist David Brooks put it this way:

The older liberals are appalled by President Trump, alarmed by global warming, disgusted by widening income inequality, and so on, but are more likely to believe the structures of society are basically sound. You can make change by voting for the right candidates and passing the right laws. You can change individual minds through education and debate.

The militants are more likely to believe that the system itself is rotten and needs to be torn down. We live in a rape culture, with systemic racism and systems of oppression inextricably tied to our institutions. We live in a capitalist society, a neoliberal system of exploitation. A person’s ideology is determined by his or her status in the power structure.

This divide within the left is real, and it will inevitably impact the nation as a whole if things don’t change.

Clinton is 71 years old. Her views, though certainly liberal, reflect a strong confidence in the goodness of America and our system of government that is common among her generation.

Younger Americans increasingly part with that view—and we shouldn’t be surprised given what is increasingly taught in schools. Students are taught to “see through” inherited institutions and ways of doing things, and to view society in terms of an ongoing struggle between oppressor and oppressed.

This oppressor-oppressed lens doesn’t make much room for the way we’ve traditionally conceived of America. In a world where there are only oppressors and oppressed, there can be no free men and women, no genuine liberty, no real self-government, and no common good. There are only people seeking raw power according to their self-interest.

Such a one-dimensional outlook would leave anyone cynical about America, even life itself. And it has done just that.

Many students have become disillusioned about our society and our system of government, even pushed to despair. And despair turns them into revolutionaries ready to dismantle the system.

Of course, there is much to reject about “the system,” if by system we mean everything coming from Washington, D.C. Conservatives are quick to decry crony capitalism, the growth of the sprawling administrative state, and the misuse of power by life-appointed judges.

But these are corruptions that have grown up around the system, not integral defects within the Founders’ design. Our actual system of representative government, codified by the Constitution, remains fundamentally good. It is a testament to our forebears who slowly wrung liberty from the hands of autocratic rulers—a process dating all the way back to Magna Carta in 1215.

What younger Americans on the left need to appreciate is that our Constitution and political traditions are essential for achieving even their own liberal vision of justice.

This system has secured a host of gains that liberals often take for granted, from the abolition of slavery to the enfranchisement of women and the civil rights movement. Each of these hard-won advances was achieved through our system of representative government, and to this day they are preserved by the rule of law.

By design, our system makes it very difficult to change the law, but equally difficult to undo changes from the past. It turns out “the system” is actually your friend if you care about preserving past achievements.

This means every American who seeks to change policy—whether liberal or conservative—must take on the mindset of a reformer, not a radical. Before we even enter the policy arena, we must settle it in our minds that the system we are partaking in—the exquisite structure of republican government handed down from centuries past—is not up for debate.

This American project is an achievement of human civilization, and though it may fall short at times, it’s the best shot at justice we have. We tear it down at our own peril.



Chicago Residents Now Pay City Taxes For Using PlayStation

The city of Chicago, known far and wide as one of the murder capitals of America, also has some of the most exorbitant taxes in the country, with one that really seems outrageous: an amusement tax that now taxes PlayStation users.

As Brittany Hunter writes for the Foundation for Economic Education, a tax imposed by the city of Chicago targets PlayStation users. It was added to the amusement tax that had put a 5% on activities such as an evening at the theater, concert, sports event or a movie.

In mid-November, PlayStation 4 users in Chicago received a message from Sony indicating that as of November 14, 2018, a 9% “amusement tax” would be imposed for PlayStation subscriptions such as PlayStation Now, PlayStation Plus, PlayStation Music. As Hunter notes:

The tax is specifically related to streaming services, so the PlayStation games themselves will not be subject to the 9 percent tax. But in today’s subscription-heavy economy, many users purchase these consoles as a medium to stream videos and music rather than using them solely to play games. Not to mention, the tax will still include subscription services that allow Playstation users to connect and play with other users around the globe. So if you own a PlayStation in Chicago, it is unlikely that you will be able to fully avoid this tax.

Americans for Tax Reform reported of the city’s implementation in 2015 of a “cloud tax” to add to the already existing amusement tax, “The new policy is predicted to generate an extra $12 million in annual revenue for the city, and is seen by many as a feeble attempt to quench the city’s $430 million budget deficit, and the $530 million in increased payments to police and fire fighter pension funds for 2016 … Chicago already has one of the highest sales tax rates in the country at 9.25%. Now, the tax collector can literally infiltrate the living room.’

Hunter points out that although Sony just announced its policy regarding the tax, Xbox and Nintendo users have been paying it for years. She surmises that Sony capitulated because of implicit threats from government. She adds, “A spokesman for the city’s Law Department, Bill McCaffrey, recently said, ‘If a business is not collecting the tax where we believe it applies, the city takes the necessary steps and works with the company to ensure compliance with the law.’”

The Liberty Justice Center fought against the implementation of the 2015 tax in Labell vs. The City of Chicago but the court ruled for the city, permitting it to institute the tax because it was simply a reinterpretation of the existing law.

Jeffrey Schwab of the Liberty Justice Center commented, “We plan to appeal this decision because it has far broader implications than this single attempt to tax online entertainment. Cloud-based entertainment isn’t unique to Chicago, and people take this entertainment in and out of city limits all the time. Therein lies one of the biggest problems with this tax: The city is taxing activity outside its borders because the tax applies regardless of whether a customer actually uses a service in Chicago. If today’s decision is allowed to stand, then local governments across Illinois could tax activity that occurs outside their borders. We will continue to fight for taxpayers against the city’s expansion of its taxing power.”

Apple joined the fight against the “cloud tax,” arguing it violated the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA) of 1998, which banned “state and local governments from taxing Internet access, or imposing multiple or discriminatory taxes on electronic commerce.” Apple also claims the new tax violated the Illinois constitution. Hunter quotes DigitalMusicNews.com’s Daniel Sanchez, who writes:

Under Illinois law, all home-rule ordinances must fall within the limits of the unit. So, a "home-rule unit" – in this case, Chicago – "may exercise any power and perform any function pertaining to its government and affairs. There’s just one problem. Chicago city officials have imposed the Amusement Tax on citizens streaming music when outside the "home-rule unit." By creating an "extraterritorial effect," the company argues, the city has "subjected Apple to collection requirements even for activities that take place primarily outside" Chicago. In addition, the city has extraterritorially expanded its taxing and regulatory jurisdiction to transaction and business activities outside of Chicago.



High School Photos Come Back To Haunt Ocasio-Cortez, She Went By A DIFFERENT Name

New York Democratic Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has come under fire for claiming to be a “girl from the Bronx” when she actually grew up in a wealthy suburb in upstate New York.

And now it appears that she may have gone by a completely different name when she was in high school.

In an exclusive to The Gateway Pundit, old yearbook photographs of Ocasio-Cortez not only show that she went to a fancy high school, she also appears to have gone by a different name.

TGP reports that an “anonymous classmate” reached out to them and provided photos of Ocasio-Cortez from high school.

Ocasio-Cortez graduated in 2007 from Yorktown Heights, which is a middle-to-upper class area in Westchester County in upstate New York City.

According to Trulia, the average price of a home in Yorktown goes for $477,000. That’s almost half a million dollars for a home, which signifies how nice of an area she grew up in.

It also appears that she went by the name “Sandy Ocasio” in high school and not Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

More 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)


3 January, 2019

Russia-mania takes over the world

In the 60s practically everything the Left disliked was blamed on "the CIA". In 2018, there were few things Western elites didn't blame on Russia

Over the summer, Sweden’s defence commission warned that ‘a larger European conflict could start with an attack on Sweden’. Politicians and military planners clearly agreed – in June, 22,000 Swedish volunteer soldiers were called up for the largest surprise exercise since 1975.

The protagonist of this European conflict wasn’t named as such, but it didn’t need to be. Because every politician and civil servant, every pundit and broadcaster, just knows that the protagonist is Russia. Because that is the function ‘Russia’ – alongside associated dread words such as ‘Vladimir Putin’ or ‘Russian oligarchs’ – now plays in the political imagination of Western elites. It is the catch-all, go-to explanation for their travails. The assumed military demiurge of global instability. The real, albeit dark and hidden, source of populist discontent.

Yet while Russia-mania is widespread among today’s political and cultural elites, it is not uniform.

For an older, right-wing section of the Western political and media class, otherwise known as the Cold War Re-Enactment Society, Russia looms large principally as a military, quasi-imperial threat. Jim Mattis, the former US marine and general, and now US defence secretary, said Russia was responsible for ‘the biggest attack [on the world order] since World War Two’. Whether this is true or not is beside the point. What matters is that Russia appears as a military aggressor. What matters is that Russia’s actions in Ukraine – which were arguably a defensive reaction to NATO and the EU’s expansion into Russia’s traditional ally – are grasped as an act of territorial aggrandisement. What matters is that Russia’s military operations in Syria – which, again, were arguably a pragmatic intervention to stabilise the West-stoked chaos – are rendered as an expression of imperial aggression. What matters is that Russian state involvement in the poisoning of the Skripals in Salisbury – which, given its failure, proved Russian incompetence – is presented as ‘part of a pattern of Russian aggression against Europe and its near neighbours, from the western Balkans to the Middle East’, to quote Theresa May.

And it matters because, if Russia is dressed up as the West’s old Cold War adversary, just with a new McMafia logo, then the crumbling, illegitimate and increasingly pointless postwar institutions through which Western elites have long ordered the world, suddenly look just that little bit more solid, legitimate and purposeful. And none more so than NATO.

This is why NATO has this year been accompanying its statements warning Russia to ‘stop its reckless pattern of behaviour’ with some of the largest military exercises since the fall of the Berlin Wall nearly three decades ago. Including one in November in Norway, involving 50,000 troops, 10,000 vehicles, 250 aircraft and 60 warships.

Then there is the newer form of Russia-mania. This has emerged from within the political and cultural elite that came to power after the Cold War, ploughing an uninspiring third way between the seeming extremes of the 20th century’s great ideologies. Broadly social democratic in sentiment, and elitist and aloof in practice, this band of merry technocrats and their middle-class supporters have found in ‘Russia’ a way to avoid having to face up to what the populist revolt reveals – that the majority of Western citizens share neither their worldview nor their wealth. Instead, they use ‘Russia’ to displace the people as the source of discontent and political revolt.

We have seen this play out in the US in the continuing obsession, fronted by Troll-Finder General Robert Mueller, over alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election. And the same obsession has emerged in the UK, too, with politicians and pundits claiming that a shadowy network of Russian influence tipped the EU referendum in favour of Leave.

It is never quite clear how the ‘Russians’ or ‘Putin’ did all this, beyond Facebook ads and decidedly dubious talk of so-called dark money. But then clarity is not the point for this stripe of Russia-maniac. He or she simply wants to believe that Trump or Brexit were not what they were. Not expressions of popular will. Not manifestations of popular discontent. Not democratic exercises.

No, they were the result, as one Tory MP put it, of ‘the covert and overt forms of malign influence used by Moscow’. Or, in the words of an Observer columnist, ‘a campaign that purported to be for the “left behind” was organised and funded by men with links across the global network of far-right American demagogues and kleptomaniac dictators such as Putin’.

Such has been the determination to blame ‘Russia’ or ‘Putin’ for the political class’s struggles, that in August Tom Watson, Labour’s conspiracy-theory-peddling deputy leader, called for a public inquiry into an alleged Russian Brexit plot. ‘[Voters] need to know whether that referendum was stolen or not’, he said.

Such a call ought to be mocked. After all, it is absurd to think ‘Russia’, ‘Putin’ and the trolls are the power behind every populist throne. But the claims aren’t mocked – they’re taken as calls to action. Think of anything viewed as a threat to our quaking political and cultural elites in the West, and you can bet your bottom ruble that some state agency or columnist is busy identifying Putin or one of his legion of bots and trolls as the source. The gilet jaunes protests in France? Check. Climate change? Check. Italy’s Five Star Movement? Check.

And all this from a nation with a GDP equivalent to Spain, an ageing, declining population, and a failing infrastructure. The reality of Russia is not that of a global threat, but of a struggling state. Russia is weak. Yet in the minds of those clinging desperately to the status quo, ‘Russia’ has never been more powerful.



Waves of Bogus Asylum Seekers Overwhelm Immigration System  

A tense exchange at the White House on Tuesday between President Donald Trump and the two leading congressional Democrats — recycled incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer — provided additional evidence that a chasm remains when it comes to achieving immigration reform.

While President Trump’s desire to secure the border and prioritize America’s needs when determining who to allow to enter our borders has the strong support of the American people, Democrats have abandoned long-held, sensible immigration positions in favor of a radical open-borders policy that allows violent criminals, and drug and sex traffickers to pour into our nation.

In recent months, Americans witnessed waves of thousands of migrants pushing their way up from Central America to the U.S., demanding to be let in while claiming a right to enter. When attempts were made to stop them, they rioted, tearing down border fences and attacking U.S. border agents. Or Trump was foiled by the courts in his efforts to limit the invasion. He’s filed an emergency appeal with the Supreme Court after the Ninth Circuit Court blocked his effort to prevent illegals from entering the U.S. and then seeking asylum.

The real immigration crisis is with asylum seekers. As President Trump has kept his promise to strengthen border security, the number of illegal aliens able to sneak into the U.S. has slowed.

However, those seeking entry have not changed their goals, just their tactics. In 2018 alone, the number of migrants demanding asylum at the U.S. border rose a staggering 67% according to Homeland Security, to nearly 93,000 people. Roughly a third arrived at ports of entry without permission, and another 14% were caught jumping the border illegally before filing for asylum.

Migrants know the immigration system is overwhelmed with existing applications for asylum, and they know there is a good chance they will be processed and released into the U.S. while waiting for immigration hearings sometimes years later that most will never come back for, choosing instead to disappear inside the U.S.

Laughably, one group of migrants is now demanding that the Trump administration either let them into the U.S. or pay them $50,000 each to return home. Points for creativity, we suppose, but good luck with that.

It’s difficult to qualify for asylum; only about 20% of applications are approved. To qualify, the migrant must face a “credible fear” of violence or serious discrimination due to race, religion, or political affiliation. Asylum is broken down into two broad categories: “affirmative” (not yet subjected to deportation proceedings) and “defensive” (fighting deportation).

Affirmative asylum seekers are far fewer in number but much likelier to be granted asylum; roughly 70% get approved. Defensive asylum seekers, on the other hand, are rolling the dice, hoping a friendly judge gives them a last-second reprieve; about 75-95% are rejected.

To increase their chances of gaining asylum, the recent migrant wave from Central America took the longest possible route through Mexico to the U.S. Part of this was to avoid the drug cartels that control the region between southern Mexico and the Texas border, but even more relevant, the migrants are fully aware that California is a “sanctuary” state, and immigration judges in San Diego are far more likely to grant asylum than judges in Texas.

While the migrant/open borders proponents argue these waves of migrants truly fear persecution in their home countries, that fallacy is exposed by the fact that, while defensive asylum applications have skyrocketed (the vast majority coming from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico), affirmative asylum applications have stayed roughly constant. It’s also noteworthy that these so-called asylum seekers have received significant financial and logistical support from leftist organizations as they try to force their way into the U.S.

In order to get the situation under control and discourage waves of questionable asylum seekers, the Trump administration has begun “metering” — claiming that detention and processing facilities are overcrowded (they are), so they can’t accept new claims until the backlog of existing claims are processed. Would-be asylum seekers are directed to wait in Mexico until they can be seen.

This has put pressure on Mexico to secure its own southern border so it’s not forced to accommodate and pay for feeding, housing, and securing tens of thousands of migrants.

Last year, the Trump administration received wide condemnation for its wise refusal to sign onto the United Nations’ Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration, which would have given international treaties and laws primacy over U.S. immigration laws. In explaining that refusal UN Ambassador Nikki Haley declared, “No country has done more than the United States, and our generosity will continue. But our decisions on immigration policies must always be made by Americans and Americans alone. We will decide how best to control our borders and who will be allowed to enter our country. The global approach in the New York Declaration is simply not compatible with U.S. sovereignty.”

Despite the faux outrage of world leaders, nearly a dozen countries — including Australia, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Israel, and Poland — have followed America’s lead in rejecting the treaty, and pressure is building in formerly pro-migrant countries like Belgium, Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands to spurn it as they face significant difficulties dealing with crime and cultural conflicts after absorbing massive waves of migrants.

As for the showdown with the Democrats, President Trump declared this week that he will get the U.S. border secured one way or another, even if he has to use the U.S. military to build the border wall.

And despite the propensity of Democrats to use immigrant children as political cannon fodder, the American people support Trump’s agenda of securing our borders.



This Insane Battle To Block a New Apartment Building Explains Why San Francisco and Other Cities Are So Expensive

Bob Tillman has spent nearly five years and $1.4 million on a legal battle to turn his coin-operated laundromat into an apartment building. His saga perfectly encapsulates the political dysfunction that's turning San Francisco—once a beacon for immigrants and home of the counterculture—into an exclusive playground for the ultra-wealthy.

The median cost of a single-family home in San Francisco is already five times the U.S. average, and the city now has the highest rent per square foot of any municipality in the nation. The explanation for the crisis is simple: As the city's population has surged, developers have found it nearly impossible to construct more housing. About 80 percent of San Francisco's existing buildings were already standing in 1980.

Tillman has owned his small laundromat in the Mission District for 20 years. In 2013, with the housing market hitting record highs, he decided to tear it down and build an eight-story, 75-unit apartment building. (Christian Britschgi first covered Tillman's project for Reason back in February.)

At first, it didn't seem like a controversial project: Nobody lives above the laundry, the building wouldn't displace anyone, it qualified for a density bonus and streamlined approval process under state law, and the site was already zoned for housing. While San Francisco passed a comprehensive zoning code in 1978 that restricted the construction of new housing to certain areas, mandated design elements, and limited the height of new structures in some parts of the city to just 40 feet, none of those regulations stood in the way of Tillman's plans.

"If you can't build here, you can't build anywhere," he told Reason.

But San Francisco developers are still required to get permission from city officials for any new construction, so, in early 2014, Tillman began submitting paperwork to the City Planning Department. He went through an environmental review, an application for a conditional use permit, and multiple public hearings.

In late 2017, the Planning Commission was ready to vote on Tillman's project, three and a half years after he first applied to build. That's when the real fight started.

The first hurdle came when the Planning Commission ordered a detailed historical review, based on a claim that various community groups had offices on the property in the 1970s and 80s, so the site might qualify for preservation. The resulting 137-page study cost Tillman $23,000 and delayed him an additional four months. It found that the laundry didn't merit landmark status.

But Tillman's project was still far from being approved. City law says that any individual or group, no matter where they live, can pay a $617 fee to appeal a decision by the Planning Commission. In this case, the challenge came from an organization called Calle 24, which declined Reason's interview request.

Calle 24 is one of several neighborhood groups determined to stop gentrification in the Mission, a neighborhood that's home to a working-class, Latino community. In the late 1990s, wealthier white residents starting moved in, driving up housing prices faster than in the rest of San Francisco. The group opposes market-rate housing on the grounds that it displaces low-income residents, and it set out to extract major concessions from Tillman.

Todd David, the executive director of the non-profit San Francisco Housing Action Coalition, attributes displacement in the Mission to the failure to build new housing. "When you have people with resources competing with people with fewer resources for a limited commodity, who's going to end up with that commodity?" David told Reason.

San Francisco's stringent rent control laws can slow that process. In buildings that were constructed prior to June of 1979, which describes about three-quarters of the city's existing rental properties, landlords can't increase rent by more than the rate of inflation. One year, owners of controlled units were allowed to boost rents by just 0.1 percent. In the Mission, this has allowed some long-term tenants to stay put, but rent control discourages new housing construction and merely delays the inevitable. When a tenant dies or moves out, landlords can raise the rent to market levels.

The city has tried to slow gentrification by requiring that all new buildings set aside a portion of their apartments for subsidized housing. In the case of Tillman's project, 11 percent of the units would be available only to families that earn less than 55 percent of the area's median income.

Organizers with Calle 24 said this wasn't nearly enough. At Tillman's first hearing before the Planning Commission, advocates asked for another delay to work out a deal for him to sell the laundry to a nonprofit that would use donations and government subsidies to build 100 percent affordable housing.

In November of 2017, the Planning Commission approved Tillman's project over the fierce objections of anti-development activists. After the Commissioners rejected another delay tactic, Calle 24 appealed the ruling to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the city's primary legislative body. That process would take another seven months.

Tillman feared his project was dead. The laudromat is in an area of the city represented by Supervisor Hillary Ronen, who's closely allied with the community groups fighting to stop the project. (Ronen didn't respond to Reason's interview request.) When the 11 members of the legislative body consider a local project, they generally defer to the supervisor who has home jurisdiction.

The Supervisors held a public hearing on the project on June 19, 2018. Four and a half years into the process, Ronen and the other Supervisors raised a new issue: Citing the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), an environmental law, they expressed concern that the building would cast a partial shadow on a playground next door. The Supervisors voted to delay the project.

Tillman says such shadows are not a legitimate grounds for appeal under CEQA, and that the Supervisors manufactured the issue to delay his plans further. So he sued San Francisco for $17 million in damages, or what he says his building would have generated thus far if not for the city's illegal delays. Litigation is rare tactic by San Francisco developers, who fear political retaliation on future developments. With only one project, Tillman had less to lose.

But in October of 2018, just two months after Tillman filed his lawsuit, the Planning Commission delivered a surprise. It had independently studied the shadow issue and found that it wouldn't have a significant negative impact on the playground next door. The Commission quickly reapproved the project, and Calle 24 declined to appeal.

Tillman finally has the green light to move forward, but he hasn't yet withdrawn his lawsuit out of concern that the Board of Supervisors is devising new ways to try to derail his project.

"We're in a hole," says Tillman. "And the first rule of holes is when you're in a hole, stop digging."



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, 2019

How Donald Trump Is Radically Reforming Obamacare

In the face of congressional inaction, the Trump administration has set out to reform Obamacare by executive order. The reforms stretch the boundaries of what many thought was possible without an act of Congress. Although some changes are still in the comment period (before the rules become formalized), the Trump reforms in some ways are more radical than Obamacare itself.

Personal and portable health insurance. The United States has a long history of encouraging health insurance at the place of work. Premiums paid by employers avoid federal and state income taxes as well as the Social Security (FICA) payroll tax. By contrast, unless they get Obamacare subsidies, most Americans receive no tax relief if they buy health insurance on their own.

Unfortunately, group insurance is not portable. When people leave their job, many must turn to individually purchased health insurance instead. This is the primary source of the “pre-existing condition” problem. Before Obamacare, insurers in the individual market could and did deny coverage to people with expensive health conditions, although Wharton health economist Mark Pauly finds that the instances of this were rare.

So why not let employees have insurance they can take with them from job to job and in and out of the labor market? This idea is highly popular in public opinion polls. But under the Obama administration, employers who did this could be fined as much as $100 per employee per day, or $36,500 per employee per year – the largest fine in all of Obamacare.

The Trump administration is proposing to get rid of those fines and actually encourage the purchase of individually owned insurance, using employer funds, through something called a Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA). Small businesses are allowed to do this as a result of the 21st Century Cures Act, passed in 2016. Trump is now proposing to allow employers of any size the same opportunity.

Given the sorry state of the individual market in most places, why would employers and their employees find this option attractive? Because of other Trump reforms.

In addition to broadening the scope for Association Health Plans earlier in the year, the administration announced last Thursday that  states will have the ability to (1) create risk pools and/or risk reinsurance in order to bring down premiums for average buyers, (2) create defined contribution accounts (combining Obamacare subsidies with other money) from which families can select health insurance that better meets their needs, (3) use Obamacare money to create a new and different system of subsidies and (4) create new insurance options, including non-qualified health plans.

Then on Monday, that administration released Reforming America’s Healthcare System Through Choice and Competition. This is the first time any administration has explicitly acknowledged that the most serious problems in health care arise not because of market failure, but because of unwise government policies; and it is the first time the federal government has committed to the idea of liberating the medical marketplace. In many ways the document is very similar to ideas I first proposed in Regulation of Medical Care: Is the Price Too High? (Cato: 1980)

I’ll have more to say about these policy changes in future posts.

The Treasury department believes as many as 10 million people will obtain individually owned insurance through their employers under the new rules. Harvard Business School’s Regina Herzlinger thinks the number could be much higher than that.

Tax fairness. The latest Trump executive order goes a long way toward eliminating unfairness in the tax code. For example, an above-average-income family would be able to obtain individually owned insurance with the same tax advantages as group insurance.

Below-average-income families have the opposite problem. Since these families pay no income taxes, their only tax subsidy at work is the avoidance of the payroll tax. This is well below the subsidies available in the Obamacare exchanges. Going forward, these families will be able to use employer money to obtain subsidized insurance in the exchanges. (But there will be no double dipping – it’s one subsidy or the other.)

A flexible savings account. More than 30 million Americans have a Health Savings Account, allowing them to manage some of their own health care dollars. These accounts are rigidly constrained, however. Because of an across-the-board high deductible and other requirements, most health plans sold in the Obamacare exchanges are not HSA-compatible.

HRAs, by contrast, can wrap around any health insurance plan and are available to pay for expenses insurance doesn’t pay for. Employer deposits to HRAs would give employees access to the full range of products available on the individual market. Money not spent on premiums would be available to pay other expenses, including deductibles and copayments.

Insurance tailored to family needs. Obamacare tries to force low-income families to buy the wrong kind of insurance. If a low-income couple has the misfortune to have a million-dollar premature baby, Obamacare insurance will pay the hospital the million dollars. But under some plans, the couple must pay the first $7,000 of medical expenses out of their own pocket. That’s great for hospitals, but it does almost nothing to help the family.

Before there was Obamacare, fast food workers often had limited benefit insurance – paying, say, the first $25,000 or $50,000 of medical expenses. This kind of insurance gave them easy entry into the health care system, although the cost of rare, catastrophic events was shifted to others.

Fast food workers tend to be among the 28 million people who are currently uninsured. Many of them are turning down Obamacare insurance – whether offered by an employer or in an exchange.

Under the new executive order, however, their employers can deposit up to $1,800 in an Excepted Benefit HRA, from which employees can purchase all types of primary care, including phone and email consultations, Uber-type house calls, the services of walk-in clinics, etc. They could also take advantage of the next option.

Free market health insurance. Historically, “short-term, limited duration” health plans have served as a bridge for people between jobs or migrating from school to work. They are not subject to Obamacare regulations and they can charge actuarially fair premiums. Although they typically last up to 12 months, the Obama administration restricted them to 3 months and outlawed renewal guarantees beyond that.

The Trump administration has now reversed those decisions, allowing short-term plans to last up to 12 months and allowing guaranteed renewals for up to three years. The ruling also allows the sale of a separate plan, called “health status insurance,” that protects people from premium increases due to a change in health condition should they want to buy short-term insurance for another 3 years.

By stringing together these two types of insurance, people will likely be able to remain insured indefinitely, with plans that look like a typical employer plan. The expected number of enrollees ranges from 1.9 million ( Medicare’s chief actuary) to 4.3 million (Urban Institute).

Yet as long as people are free to choose insurance that meets individual and family needs and as long as it is fairly priced, I think the real number will be even higher.



The Demo Degradation of American Patriotism

The greatest threat to the First Amendment and freedom of the press is the Leftmedia.
“Patriotism is as much a virtue as justice, and is as necessary for the support of societies as natural affection is for the support of families.” —Benjamin Rush (1773)

In a non-contextual defense of the mass media, I often see cited the following quote: “Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe.”

While I believe Thomas Jefferson was correct in that assessment, in context he was referring to an institution that would live up to the high journalistic standards expected of a “free press,” as well as a people who would be able to make decisions based on sound analysis rather than soundbites.

Jefferson also offered this observation on the press: “Newspapers … serve as chimneys to carry off noxious vapors and smoke.” In 1805, Jefferson wrote, “During the course of administration, and in order to disturb it, the artillery of the press has been leveled against us, charged with whatsoever its licentiousness could devise or dare.”

Ominously, he added, “These abuses of an institution so important to freedom and science are deeply to be regretted, inasmuch as they tend to lessen its usefulness and to sap its safety.”

And given the propagation of “fake news” by the contemporary media, Jefferson was downright prophetic: “The press is impotent when it abandons itself to falsehood.”

The prevalence of press partiality had been noted by Benjamin Franklin years earlier. In 1789, ahead of deliberations for our Bill of Rights, he wrote, “If by the liberty of the press … it means the liberty of affronting, calumniating and defaming one another, I, for my part, own myself willing to part with my share of it.”

In every era since our founding, some journalists have upheld the high standards expected of a free press. However, most have abused their positions, aligned their reports with their personal perspectives and allegiances, and presented their opinions as facts. This abuse of the free-press privilege is, as Jefferson noted, “deeply to be regretted.”

Moreover, such abuse in the modern era of mass media and social media platforms is very dangerous to the future of constitutional Rule of Law and the Liberty it enshrines.

For much of the last half-century, collusion between the Democrat Party and its propagandistic press corps has led to the institutionalization of media malpractice — an abject betrayal of the First Amendment.

Our Founders clearly intended the assurance of freedom of speech and the press to be among the most significant checks on centralized governmental power. But by the late 20th century, the press had become the primary empowering agent of statists who supported the central government’s exponential (and extra-constitutional) growth.

Thirty years ago, Americans somehow survived on less than 30 minutes of national news in the evening and whatever could be gleaned from the newspapers the next morning.

Today, however, media outlets inundate the airwaves and the Internet with hyperbolic news banners and alerts, ad nauseam, in order to secure market share and ad revenue for their 24-hour news-recycling operations. (Trump’s troubles are major Leftmedia revenue generators, but no conflict of interest there…)

And print outlets, though believing themselves superior because they must be read rather than watched, are actually no better. Communally, the MSM’s “journalists” have become shills for leftist ideology.

The net result is more than a degradation of the First Amendment — it is a systemic degradation of American Patriotism.

There is a distinct division between conservatives and leftists in regard to patriotism and optimism, and the constant drone of depressive Leftmedia indoctrination is the most significant factor accelerating that division. Anti-American sentiments inevitably emerge when Leftmedia outlets select and frame the news in such pessimism, but good news does not sell. Moreover, the deeply dispirited denizens of The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and other outlets dole out depressing perspective to an increasingly depressed audience.

Recent polling indicates that Democrats are substantially less “proud to be American” now than when Gallup began its longevity polling on this question almost two decades ago. In 2013, during the height of the Obama years, 56% of Democrats were “extremely proud.” Today, just 32% are proud. “Liberals” are even less proud of our national heritage, down to only 23%.

Notably, this division didn’t begin with Donald Trump’s surprise 2016 defeat of Barack Obama’s presumed successor, Hillary Clinton. The Demo slide began during Obama’s second term, only accelerating after Trump’s election.

Recently, New York’s inherited governor, Andrew Cuomo, captured this depressive despair when broadcasting his views: “We’re not going to make America great again. It was never that great.”

The political disparity between those with hope versus those who despair, and the decline in “happiness” and increasing sense of isolation, are arguably the results of contrasting political visions for our future.

The arrogant Leftmedia has, for decades, viewed grassroots Americans as a “basket of deplorables,” in Clinton’s words.

But the Left certainly has high regard for its MSM brethren. In a recent CNN op-ed by Notre Dame “ethics” professor Joseph Holt, he declared that the press is our “protector” and insisted, “We thank soldiers for their service because they devote themselves to protecting our freedoms, and we should. But we should also thank the media for the same reason — especially when the stakes have never been higher.”

What Holt and his ilk fail to realize is that the Leftmedia’s rhetoric is largely responsible for our nation’s epidemic of “Trump Derangement Syndrome” and the resulting transition from civil discourse toward civil war.

In fact, so deranged are today’s Demo constituents that 57% of them now view socialism favorably. Just two years ago, 56% of Democrats viewed capitalism favorably. This alarming shift is the direct result of being dumbed down by leftist socialism deniers and their Leftmedia enablers, as evident in the emergence of absurd socialist candidates.

How can it be that so many of our fellow Americans have forgotten their history? How can so many of them believe that socialism is freedom-friendly?

Years ago, an author whom I hold in high esteem, C.S. Lewis, declared, “I never read the papers. Why does anyone? They’re nearly all lies, and one has to wade thru’ such reams of verbiage and ‘write up’ to find out even what they’re saying.”

Similar wisdom abounds.

G.K. Chesterton wrote, “Journalism is popular, but it is popular mainly as fiction. Life is one world, and life seen in the newspapers another.”

In his essay “The American Press,” Mark Twain, a newspaper reporter early in his career, wrote, “There are laws to protect the freedom of the press’s speech, but none that are worth anything to protect the people from the press. … It seems to me that just in the ratio that our newspapers increase, our morals decay. The more newspapers the worse morals. Where we have one newspaper that does good, I think we have fifty that do harm.”

That notwithstanding, the Leftmedia colluded last week to protest Donald Trump’s introduction of “fake news” into the popular lexicon. This nationwide editorial “day of rage” was nothing more than a criticism of Trump for consistently calling out Leftmedia lies. Editors decried what they insist is Trump’s attack on freedom of the press, but make no mistake: The greatest threat to the First Amendment and freedom of the press, and to Liberty itself, IS the Leftmedia. Its relentless assault on Trump is eroding public confidence in the press.

And a footnote: While the Leftmedia elite were ranting about their First Amendment rights, according to research by the Freedom Forum Institute, fully 40% of Americans can’t name a single one of the five rights enshrined in our First Amendment. And 36% could only name one.



Trump Uses Obama’s Own Home Against Him in Brilliant Border Wall Argument

To anyone with a sliver of logic rattling around in their brains, the importance of border security should be readily apparent.

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that one of the biggest reasons President Donald Trump won the 2016 election is because border security was one of his biggest campaigning points.

Despite the fact that it’s so logical and clearly something many Americans want, leftists have long had some inexplicable problem with anything involving border security or a potential wall.

The liberal actor Peter Fonda was slammed as a “domestic terrorist” by the National Border Patrol Council for incendiary comments he made about the men and women who try to enforce border security.

Late night “comedian” Jimmy Kimmel basically equated Americans who supported border security to uneducated meth addicts.

The lunacy of the left truly knows no bounds. But amid the hysteria, Trump noticed something that leftists like Fonda, Kimmel and former President Barack Obama might have a hard time explaining.

“President and Mrs. Obama built/has a ten foot Wall around their D.C. mansion/compound,” Trump tweeted on Sunday. “I agree, totally necessary for their safety and security. The U.S. needs the same thing, slightly larger version!”

Say what you will about Trump, but his expertise when it comes to subtle trolling is undeniable.

From saying “I agree” with the Obama’s for their fence to his very deliberate use of the word “slightly,” this is a brilliant way for Trump to flip the script on leftists.

But trolling aside, Trump raises a point that many of these leftists and elitists will have a hard time explaining.

So many of them live in lavish mansions and gated communities and have the gall to attack Trump’s border wall? What, exactly, is the purpose of gates and walls for their homes? Security and safety, two of the biggest things Trump has argued for through his border walls.

To be clear, I’m not condemning leftists and elitists for having these walls. They can do what they want with their property, and if walls help them secure and protect their loved ones and belongings, more power to them.

I’m condemning their rank hypocrisy for not wanting that same level of security and protection for America as a whole.



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, 2019

The Left screeched doom over losing "net neutrality" -- but, like all their alarms, nothing happened when Trump ended it

by Jeff Jacoby

HERE'S A PIECE of news you may have missed: The internet is getting faster. The technology news website Recode reported this month that "US internet speeds rose nearly 40 percent this year," with broadband download velocity now averaging as much as 159 megabits per second in some cities. The United States currently ranks seventh worldwide in broadband internet speed. That's up from 12th a year ago.

Perhaps this strikes you as something less than a stop-the-presses revelation. The internet, after all, has been expanding and accelerating for the past 25 years. Why should 2018 have been any different?

Yet last year, when the Federal Communications Commission moved to repeal the Obama administration's "Net Neutrality" rule, much of the liberal establishment went berserk. Many in the media were sure the change would mean the "end of the internet as we know it." A lavish online campaign backed by dozens of organizations issued a "Red Alert," warning that if the FCC under Chairman Ajit Pai overturned the Obama regulations, it would "give the big cable companies control over what we see and do online" and "allow widespread throttling, blocking, censorship, and extra fees." A New York Times business journalist bewailed the coming demise of the internet — undoing net neutrality, he wrote, "would be the final pillow in its face." Other tech analysts were even more caustic. Nilay Patel, the editor of The Verge, proclaimed that with net neutrality gone, the internet was doomed. ("Doomed" wasn't the word he used.)

In the abstract, this was a legitimate topic for debate. "Net neutrality" is jargon for a policy under which internet service providers (ISPs) such as Comcast and Verizon are required to treat all data equally, making no distinction among online websites or the features they offer. Advocates warned that if net neutrality weren't mandated by the government, internet carriers would move data more slowly, exempting websites and apps only if they paid for preferential "fast lane" service. Or they would shift to a tiered subscription model, in which consumers seeking access to bandwidth gluttons like Netflix and YouTube would be charged more than consumers interested only in web browsing and email.

That argument was plausible in theory, but belied by history. Though the internet has existed since the early 1990s, it wasn't until 2015 that the FCC imposed its net-neutrality regulations. Did it do so because the big ISPs were throttling internet traffic? Hardly. In the more than two decades during which the internet functioned without net-neutrality regulations, there was scant evidence that rapacious corporations were strangling web traffic. On the contrary: As the FCC's own published data confirmed, between 2011 and 2015, internet speeds had been steadily rising.

In reality, the net neutrality rule was part of an even broader assertion of power by the Obama administration. By designating broadband providers as the legal equivalent of telephone companies — telecommunications common carriers — the FCC claimed sweeping authority to regulate them under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934.

That gave the agency a say in nearly every step taken by the broadband firms. "The FCC was empowered to decide if a network provider's products were good for consumers, and innovative new services were suddenly viewed with suspicion," explained Boston Globe technology reporter Hiawatha Bray. "For instance, the agency went after cellular companies for daring to offer free video and music streaming services. . . . Armed with Title II, [the FCC] could turn the Internet into something like the old Bell system telephone monopoly, famed for its near-total lack of technical innovation."

For supporting a rollback of the Obama-era "net neutrality" regulations, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai was subjected to contemptible abuse. Pai was showered with racist insults and death threats, forcing him to cancel major public appearances.

So when the Trump administration last December voted to undo the net-neutrality rule, it was simply restoring the status quo ante. It was also acknowledging that the decision to arm an agency with significant new authority belongs to Congress, not to the agency's own bureaucrats.

That was a move with which reasonable people could disagree. But the reaction from countless critics was anything but reasonable.

NARAL howled that repealing net neutrality posed a "direct threat to reproductive freedom." GLAAD slammed it as "an attack on the LGBTQ community." The Root denounced it as an attempt to "silence black voices." Others decried the FCC vote as an assault that would "hurt rural America," "hurt students," "hurt religion," and "hurt the poor most of all."

Such wailing and teeth-gnashing paled next to the venom heaped on Ajit Pai. The FCC chairman was subjected to truly contemptible abuse. The FCC was showered with racist insults (Pai is Indian-American) and death threats — some of them serious enough to compel Pai to cancel major public appearances. Signs posted near his home invoked his young children by name, and charged that their "Dad murdered democracy in cold blood."

And now, a year later, it is clear that the fanaticism and fury of the net-neutrality campaign was not just unhinged, it was dead wrong. The web is as accessible as ever. Democracy has not been murdered. Broadband moves faster and faster. As with most predictions of gloom and doom, the digital alarmists should have been ignored. Twelve months after the net neutrality rule was spiked, the internet is doing just fine.



Withdrawing from Syria Implements the Trump Doctrine

That’s what it takes to actually win

“We need to be more unpredictable to adversaries," President Trump had declared.

In the spring of the year, he pounded Syria with air strikes after chemical weapons were used, obliterating Obama’s red line disgrace, and restoring American deterrence and credibility.

But the day before the strikes happened, he had tweeted, “Never said when an attack on Syria would take place. Could be very soon or not so soon at all!”

Now, in the last wintry days of the year, he suddenly announced a pullout of American troops from Syria. But the move only took those by surprise who hadn’t been paying attention all along.

When our first major airstrikes began, Trump had warned, “America does not seek an indefinite presence in Syria… under no circumstances.”

Politicians usually say things like that. But Trump remains unpredictable by actually saying what he means in a business where everyone assumes that you mean the opposite of what you say.

“I would not go into Syria, but if I did it would be by surprise and not blurted all over the media like fools,” Trump had tweeted five years ago.

Trump’s actions in Syria encompass his preference for flexibility, quick strikes or withdrawals with no long term commitment. And that’s exactly what frustrates a national security establishment whose watershed moment was still the post-war reconstruction of Germany and Japan. They foolishly misread Trump by confusing commitment with consistency, and unpredictability with inconsistency,

Our foreign policy, crafted by unimaginative diplomats, who despite their pretentions have nothing in common with the flashing wit of a Talleyrand or the cunning calculation of a Metternich, is based on creating trust by being utterly predictable. They’ve succeeded brilliantly at being utterly predictable. And they’ve failed at using this predictability as leverage to build a trustworthy international order.

Trump has brilliantly wielded his unpredictability to make America into a mobile piece on the world chessboard. America has the ability to rapidly deploy troops around the world and pull them out. But we were too bogged down in a swamp of our own ideological abstractions to make use of our capabilities.

Establishment thinking deploys American troops in the 21st century like British soldiers in the 19th. The deployments never end. Instead we set up little colonies of contractors, mercenaries, reporters, aid workers, and try to bring civilization to the savages at the cost of endless blood and treasure.

These outposts of a phantom imperial order of the new age of humanity become besieged fortresses, islands in a sea of savagery which we are obligated to defend, and they attract our enemies who immediately begin funneling money and weapons, turning the guerrillas we were fighting into an even bigger threat. These humanitarian empires end up being neither imperial nor humanitarian.

Trump understands that there’s no point in maintaining a doomed foreign colony of tens of thousands in Afghanistan, or setting one up in Syria. These colonies give meaning and purpose to their populations, experts, analysts, journalists, aid workers, who shape our foreign policy, but they don’t help America.

The Trump Doctrine rejects these nation building colonies. It wields American power as part of an enduring strategy to build up American power by establishing deterrence, strength and flexibility. Its emphasis is on inflicting rapid blows and moving on, of turning our problems into other people’s problems, and of extracting economic victories from the chaos of foreign policy strife.

It throws out the idea that America must maintain an international order at its own expense, without anyone else being willing to do their fair share or do anything meaningful to serve our own interests.

None of this is a surprise.

Trump has been very consistent in conveying this same message throughout the campaign. But a blinkered establishment refused to take him at his word and is now shocked that he really means it.

When he bombed Syria, they assumed that he had come around to their way of thinking. Instead Trump was implementing his way of thinking, punishing Assad, sending a message to Russia, and moving on.

Even Secretary of Defense Mattis had originally called the strikes on Syria, a “one-time shot.”

Trump had rejected nation building during the campaign and after taking office.  Just last December, he had introduced his national security strategy by warning that, “Our leaders engaged in nation-building abroad, while they failed to build up and replenish our nation at home.  They undercut and shortchanged our men and women in uniform with inadequate resources, unstable funding, and unclear missions.  They failed to insist that our often very wealthy allies pay their fair share for defense, putting a massive and unfair burden on the U.S. taxpayer and our great U.S. military.”

He had also noted that, “In Afghanistan, our troops are no longer undermined by artificial timelines, and we no longer tell our enemies of our plans.”

Last summer, Trump’s speech on Afghanistan had described a shift away from nation-building and the ridiculous timelines for withdrawal that had defined previous administrations. We would, Trump said, “shift from a time-based approach to one of condition". Instead of inflexible commitments, we would maintain flexible options, and respond to the situation, rather than following a fixed plan.

That’s what he’s doing.

We’re "not nation-building again,” he had declared. “We are killing terrorists.”

During the campaign, Trump had complained, “We’re nation-building, trying to tell people who have dictators or worse for centuries how to run their own countries.” He had made it clear that he might occasionally support short term interventions to solve “a problem going on in the world and you can solve the problem”, but not futile efforts to transform failed states into democracies.

Trump’s strategy has remained consistent. The only real question was not “if”, but “when”.

The establishment’s confusion is understandable. When George W. Bush ran for office, he fiercely condemned the nation-building exercises of the Clinton administration in Haiti and Somalia.

“I don’t think our troops ought to be used for what’s called nation-building,” Bush had declared.

But then he got sucked into the seductive idea that the best way to end Islamic terrorism would be to change the political conditions of the Muslim world. In the Bush era, nation-building was used to introduce democracy into anti-American Muslim dictatorships. In the Obama era, the democracy push was perverted into a means of overthrowing allied Muslim dictators and replacing them with Muslim Brotherhood regimes. And yet many establishment Republicans continued to support this policy.

Syria began as an extension of the Arab Spring. Most of the Senate Republicans who want us to stay there are the same people who voted for a pro-Iran resolution opposing the Saudi campaign in Yemen. They’re not pushing us to remain in Syria to stop Iran. And they couldn’t care less about the Kurds. They want Syria to be a repeat of Libya with American military force being used for Muslim Brotherhood nation-building. And that is not in our national interests and it’s not what Trump or Americans want.

Trump’s main critics on Syria continue lying to us and lying to themselves that Syria will turn into a free democratic and secular country. But Trump isn’t interested in living in their fantasy world.

The Trump Doctrine has clearly and consistently rejected nation-building and extended interventions. Trump has said that America is not the world’s policeman. And, unlike most politicians, he’s meant it.

But Trump also isn’t afraid to be unpredictable.

He can go back into Syria, just as he left Syria. That’s the whole point. Instead of turning American soldiers into permanent targets, protecting a population of contractors, aid workers and reporters, with young boys from Tennessee and North Dakota getting their legs blown off so that the New York Times can get a Pulitzer Prize photo and a charity org can get more donors, he’s using our military power as a foil instead of a broadsword, landing a series of quick blows and then, unexpectedly, moving on.

That’s radically different from the military strategy that has bogged us down for a century. It’s smart and brilliant in exactly the way that the foreign establishment thinks that it is, but actually isn’t.

The establishment assails Trump as “inconsistent”. It values consistency above all else because it has no strategies, only ideological commitments to abstract ideas that don’t survive places like Afghanistan.

The abstract ideas on which our nation-building is based are not strategies. They’re values. And too many administrations, Democrat and Republican, have built wishful thinking strategies around values. Ideas and values are expressions of belief. Strategies are flexible plans based on real opportunities.

The Trump Doctrine is consistent in the abstract. It’s flexible in its implementation. That’s what it takes to actually win against terrorists, guerrillas and cunning enemies that seize opportunities instead of upholding ideas. And the establishment’s failure to understand that is why we’ve spent decades losing.



Cowardly Deputy to blame for Parkland deaths

He should be dismissed and prosecuted for failing to do the job he was employed to do

The South Florida Sun Sentinel released a minute-by-minute rundown of the Parkland, Florida, shooting in “Unprepared and Overwhelmed.” The Sentinel acknowledged many teachers and police officers were “heroic,” but Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) and the Broward County Sheriff’s Office (BSO) were hesitant and disorganized as a whole.

The shooting left 17 people dead.

“A gunman with an AR-15 fired the bullets, but a series of blunder, bad policies, sketchy training and poor leadership helped him succeed,” the Sentinel wrote.

There were three separate instances of school monitors failing to lock down the school and call for a Code Red, an indicator for people to hide in classrooms. A watchman spotted suspected gunman Nikolas Cruz on campus at 2:19 p.m., but no one called a Code Red until 2:24 p.m.

School monitor and baseball coach Andrew Medina — who was unarmed — first saw Cruz walk through the gates. Medina had previously referred to Cruz as “Crazy Boy” and even speculated he would someday shoot up the school, the Sentinel reported.

David Taylor was another school monitor who followed Cruz on the first floor before turning around at 2:21 p.m. Taylor told investigators he wanted to confront Cruz on the second floor of the building, but he hid in a janitor’s closet when the first shots were fired, according to the Sentinel.

There is also no record that monitor Aaron Feis called a Code Red, despite a ninth grader warning him about a person with a gun.

“You’d better get out of here,” Cruz allegedly told the freshman passing by. “Things are gonna start getting messy.”

The fire alarm added to the confusion, causing uninformed teachers and students to leave their classrooms unaware of the active shooter. Additionally, bathroom doors required a key to unlock — reportedly to prevent students from vaping in them — and one of the teachers accidentally locked his classroom door behind him.

The district also failed to follow through on classrooms having “hard corners,” or places to be out of sight, after security experts advised teachers to do so. Only two teachers in the building designated hard corners in their classrooms.

Deputy Scot Peterson, the school’s resource officer, was the only armed person on campus before reinforcements arrived. He failed to confront the shooter, according to the report. Peterson ordered the school to go on lockdown at 2:25 p.m., but did not order deputies to head toward the building. He also remained in a sheltered location for 48 minutes.

“Basically, what we’re trained to do is just get right to the threat as quick as possible and take out the threat because every time you hear a shot go off it could potentially be a kid getting killed or anybody getting killed for that matter,” neighboring Coral Springs Officer Raymond Kerner said, the Sentinel reported.



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)


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Postings from Brisbane, Australia by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.) -- former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party. 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

The fundamental aim of all Leftist policy is to disrupt the lives of their fellow citizens -- whom they regard as "complacent" -- as much as possible

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.

Leftists are wolves in sheep's clothing

Liberals are people who don't believe in liberty

Because they claim to have all the answers to society's ills, Communists often seem "cool" to young people

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.

Equality: The nonsensical and incoherent claim that underlies so much Leftist discourse is "all men are equal". And that is the envier's gospel. It makes not a scrap of sense and shows no contact with reality but it is something that enviers resort to as a way of soothing their envious feelings. They deny the very differences that give them so much heartburn. "Denial" was long ago identified by Freud as a maladaptive psychological defence mechanism and "All men are equal" is a prize example of that. Whatever one thinks of his theories, Freud was undoubtedly an acute observer of people and very few psychologists today would doubt the maladaptive nature of denial as described by Freud.

Socialism is the most evil malady ever to afflict the human brain. The death toll in WWII alone tells you that

The standard response from Marxist apologists for Stalin and other Communist dictators is to say you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs. To which Orwell retorted, ‘Where’s the omelette?’

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

"The tendency of liberals is to create bodies of men and women — of all classes — detached from tradition, alienated from religion, and susceptible to mass suggestion — mob rule. And a mob will be no less a mob if it is well fed, well clothed, well housed, and well disciplined." —T.S. Eliot

We live in a country where the people own the Government and not in a country where the Government owns the people -- Churchill

"Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others" -- Cicero. See here

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.

"Those who see hate everywhere think they're looking thru a window when actually they're looking at a mirror"

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

Chesteron's fence -- good conservative thinking

"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 (under the chairmanship of Ulric Neisser) 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 heritability of general cognitive ability increases linearly from childhood to young adulthood

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.”

Revolutionary terrorists in Russia killed Tsar Alexander II in 1881 (after three prior assassination attempts). Alexander II was a great reformer who abolished serfdom one year before the US abolished slavery. If his democratic and economic reforms had continued, Russia may have been much less radical politically a couple of decades later, when Nicholas II was overthrown.

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.

It’s a strange paradox when anti-Zionists argue that Jews should suffer and wander without a homeland while urging that Palestinians ought to have security and territory.

"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

And something that was perceptive comes from the same chapter. Hitler said that the doctrines of the interwar Social Democrats (mainstream leftists) of Vienna were "comprised of egotism and hate". Not much has changed

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 (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)