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

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

The original of this mirror site is HERE. My Blogroll; Archives here or here; My Home Page. Email me (John Ray) here. NOTE: The short comments that I have in the side column of the primary site for this blog are now given at the foot of this site.

July 31, 2013

Leftism as a low information phenomenon

Exit interviews with voters leaving the ballot box have repeatedly shown huge ignorance and misunderstanding among Obama voters  -- so much so that ignorance must be held to be one of the major forces behind Leftism.  Hollywood actor Jon Voight has found that too:

Voight, previously a staunch left-winger and anti-war protester, has performed a spectacular U-turn. “I regret being caught up in the hysteria of the Sixties,” he says now, revealing a glimpse of the intensity I more readily associate with him. “The left have blood on their hands and I do too.”

He publicly backed Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election. “I think he would have made a wonderful president,” he sighs. “He is a man of great char­acter, but they demonised him, as they have done with other people before him.” He also spoke out against Barack Obama, in an open letter to The Washington Post in 2010, calling him a liar and accusing him of promoting anti-Semitism, leading many to denounce Voight as an inciter of hatred. Two years later he called the president a Marxist, compared him to Hugo Chavaz, and accused him of controlling the media.

Do his politics cause him any grief, in the left-leaning Hollywood community? "I have found that I have too much information for anyone to want to sit down and talk to me," he says. "They usually leave early. But it’s a family out here, we all respect each other. If people disagree with me, that’s no big deal to me, except that it is a very important disagreement.

"I will say: 'Would you like to talk about it?' And they say: 'Oh yeah, sure.' But then we get into it, and they will then say: 'Well, you know John, I don’t really know that much about it.' He smiles, benevolently. ‘And I understand that, because I was like that at the end of the Sixties. I thought these people were cool and I thought I knew a lot of things, and I knew nothing. So, I ask everybody to get educated. And as you get educated, you see things much more clearly.’

He was a great admirer of the late Baroness Thatcher, calling her "a great woman, the most influential since Catherine the Great". I wonder if he might ever consider following in the footsteps of Ronald Reagan and Schwarzenegger by taking up political office? “Oh, I think I am better as a fella on the sidelines,” he shrugs. “I think there are others much better equipped for office.”



The Royal Baby Is a Rejection of the Family Chaos Liberalism Feeds Upon

The birth of Prince George creates a problem for liberals. They love the idea of royalty because it validates their vision of an anointed elite with a divine right to the obedience of their subjects. However, this wonderful couple has created a traditional nuclear family that provides a powerful counterpoint to the kind of freak show dysfunction that liberalism requires to survive.

If families actually stayed together and raised their children, well, who would need the liberal elite?

Sure, the royal couple gets paid out of the British treasury, but it isn’t as if Prince William sits around being fanned and fed grapes. Besides cutting ribbons and promoting charities, he is a warrior who has proved his courage by seeking service on battlefields he could have easily avoided. Royalty is a bizarre concept, but he does work for a living.

By contributing to society, Prince William repudiates the basic premise of liberalism. If you vote for liberals they will redistribute free stuff to you from the people who contribute to society. This will allow you to wallow in the cesspit of social pathologies that led you to expect handouts in the first place, and thereby guarantee another generation of liberal constituents.

Liberalism depends on people continuing to do the things that ensure they will be poor. The most obvious among these bad decisions is to have kids out of wedlock. Yeah, we all know the single mom who is prospering or the gay couple with a great kid. That’s awesome, but it’s an anecdotal irrelevancy. The simple, unarguable fact is that the epidemic of broken families means a broken society, and liberalism feeds off the wreckage.

Society should stop being coy, and it needs to stop worrying that people will be offended. It should say, loudly and unequivocally, that you shouldn’t have kids if you aren’t married to a guy who’s not going to disappear when things get real.

A recent Huffington Post article buried the lede when it talked to a woman named Irene Salyers, who is currently living off of government disability checks while working at a fruit stand with her current boyfriend. Leaving aside that this makes her not disabled at all, Ms. Salyers was married and divorced three times. Her jobless, single-mom daughter, is living off her boyfriend’s disability checks and hoping “that employers will look past her conviction a few years ago for distributing prescription painkillers, so she can get a job.”

I’m guessing they all vote Democrat.

Liberalism, of course, must be in denial about the true causes of the poverty it exploits. “Marriage rates are in decline across all races,” the article notes. But in the very next paragraph it quotes some Harvard professor who “specializes in race and poverty” who says, “It's time that America comes to understand that many of the nation's biggest disparities, from education and life expectancy to poverty, are increasingly due to economic class position.”

Hmmmm. Maybe their “economic class position” comes from having multiple illegitimate kids and dealing Oxy, Professor Einstein. But identifying and addressing that problem would result in academics who specialize “in race and poverty” having to get real jobs.

Instead of validating this kind of lifestyle chaos with “understanding” and “help,” we ought to apply that ancient, time-honored means of enforcing positive social values: Shame. You should be ashamed if you are a jobless felon shacked up with some deadbeat sperm donor who is milking Uncle Sucker while your kids wonder what it’s like to have a real father.

You’re not a victim. You’re a loser.

Concurrently, we need to model good behavior. Prince William and Kate Middleton should use their position and their visibility to hammer home the truth that solid families are the model to be emulated instead of merely one option in a smorgasbord of equally valid familial arrangements.

Let me be clear: Having some random dude move into your Section 8 flat so you can get a cut of the SSI check he gets because of his bogus anger management disorder is not a valid familial arrangement. It’s a petri dish for growing future inmates and welfare cheats.

President Obama should step up, but he won’t. The only thing conservatives appreciate about this neo-socialist disaster of a president is his obviously close-knit and lovely family. He occasionally pays lip service to the importance of intact families, but the fact is that his party supports the status quo.

As Dr. Helen Smith observes in her terrific new book Men on Strike: Why Men Are Boycotting Marriage, Fatherhood, and the American Dream - and Why It Matters, government policy, the legal system and society have conspired to undercut marriage by making it unattractive to men. On the policy side, the welfare system has utterly cut men out of the picture by making their income unnecessary. Fathers are superfluous; for millions of Americans, government is their baby daddy.

Family courts are so tilted against men that when I was taking the Bar Exam, the joke about how to pass the family law question without studying was, “Give the kids to the mother.” Which I did, and I passed the first time.

Socially, radical feminist influence has led to men being viewed as incompetent buffoons when they aren’t violent exploiters. All men are either Homer Simpson or Ted Bundy. The only approved males are liberal icons, and they get a pass for over-enthusiastic hugging, genital sexting, Oval Office intern tapping and leaving women to drown in icy water.

No wonder, as Dr. Smith observes, men are simply opting out of the whole family thing. After all, what’s in it for them? Instead of changing the incentives that lead to this sorry result, Obama’s course of action is to chastise men even more. Apparently the floggings will continue until morale improves.

This is a huge opportunity for the GOP. It could fix the tax code so that getting married doesn’t cost people a fortune. If my wife started working, for example, her income on top of mine would be hit with a 50%+ marginal rate. Maybe in GOP states they could fix family law so that the man doesn’t lose before he walks into court. Maybe it could work to reduce welfare benefits so that having a man around actually means there is more money rather than less. But this is the GOP, so it will undoubtedly blow it by focusing on something else, like importing zillions of Democrat voters against the wishes of its base.

We need to make it so that the novelty of the birth of someone like Prince George is that he is part of a royal family, rather than that he is part of any family at all.



Liberalism Makes It Easier to be Bad

There are many liberals who lead thoroughly decent lives. And there are conservatives who do not.  But that is not the whole issue.

There is something about liberalism that is not nearly as true about conservatism. The further left one goes, the more one finds that the ideology provides moral cover for a life that is not moral. While many people left of center lead fine personal lives, many do not. And left-wing ideals enable a person to do that much more than conservative ideals do.

There is an easy way to demonstrate this.  If a married -- or even unmarried -- conservative congressman had texted sexual images of himself to young women he did not even know, he would have been called something Anthony Wiener has not been called -- a hypocrite.

Why? Because conservatives -- secular conservatives, not only religious conservatives -- are identified with moral values in the personal sphere, and liberals are not. Liberals rarely called Bill Clinton a hypocrite for his extramarital affair while president. George W. Bush would have been pilloried as such.

Simply put, we do not generally judge personal conduct the same when it comes to liberals and conservatives.

Both liberals and conservatives know this. As a result, as noted, liberal social positions can provide moral cover for immoral behavior in a way that conservative positions cannot.

Though there are many sincere liberals, it is likely that this ability to provide moral cover for a less than moral life is one source of liberalism's appeal.

I first thought about this when I saw how the left-wing students at my graduate school, Columbia University, behaved. Aside from their closing down classes, taking over office buildings, and ransacking professors' offices, I saw the way in which many of them conducted themselves in their personal lives. Most of them had little sense of personal decency, and lived lives of narcissistic hedonism. Women who were involved with leftist groups have told of how poorly they were treated. And one suspects that they would have been treated far better by conservative, let alone religious, men on campus.

My sense was that the radicals' commitment to "humanity," to "peace," and to "love" gave them license to feel good about themselves without having to lead a good life. Their vocal opposition to war and to racism provided them with all the moral self-esteem they wanted.

Consider the example of the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. He had been expelled from college for paying someone to take his exams. His role in the death of a woman with whom he spent an evening would have sent almost anyone without his family name to prison -- or would have at least resulted in prosecution for negligent homicide. And he spent decades using so many women in so public a way that stories about his sex life were routinely told in Washington. Read the 9,000-word 1990 article in GQ by Michael Kelly, who a few years later became the editor of the New Republic.

When this unimpressive man started espousing liberal positions, speaking passionately about the downtrodden in society, it recalled the unimpressive students who marched on behalf of civil rights, peace and love.

It is quite likely that Ted Kennedy came to believe in the positions that he took. But I also suspect that he found espousing those positions invaluable to his self-image and to his public image: "Look at what a moral man I am after all." And liberal positions were all that mattered to the left and to the liberal media that largely ignored such lecherous behavior as the "waitress sandwich" he made in a Washington, D.C. restaurant with another prominent liberal, former Senator Chris Dodd.

In addition to knowing that liberal positions provide moral cover for immoral personal behavior, liberals know that their immoral behavior will be given more of pass than exactly the same behavior would if done by a conservative.

Women's groups provided Bill Clinton with enormous moral capital because he supported their feminist agenda. One leading feminist famously said she would be happy to get on her knees and pleasure Clinton thanks to his pro-choice position on abortion.

Conservative politicians have the same sex drive as liberal politicians, the same marital problems and the same ubiquitous temptations and opportunities. And some will therefore engage in extramarital sex. But every conservative politician knows that should he be caught, his positions on issues not only do not provide moral cover for his conduct, those very positions condemn it. There is no benefit to the conservative sinner in being a conservative. There is great benefit to the liberal sinner in being a liberal.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


July 30, 2013

Uncle Sam's latest attack on Americans abroad is faltering

It's a long established principle that when you move from one country to another, you pay tax in your new country, not in your old country.  Americans are not so lucky.  Uncle Sam still wants your money wherever you are  -- as long as you remain a U.S. citizen.  And they make it hard to renounce your citizenship too.  The latest bit of enforcement is a law -- FATCA --that lays extensive reporting requirements on foreign banks -- although the U.S. has in fact no jurisdiction over what happens in other countries.  Many foreign banks are however so leery of legal harassment by Uncle Sam that they are refusing to open accounts for Americans abroad.  Other  problems with this arrogant bit of legislation are also beginning to show -- JR

Since its passage in 2010, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act has been delayed multiple times. Most recently the Treasury Department has pushed back 6 months the beginning of FATCA’s withholding penalty for noncompliant institutions, from January 1, 2014 to July 1, 2014. This newest delay is further proof that FATCA is poorly conceived and unworkable, and should be repealed.

Bad Design

Under the guise of catching tax evaders, a dubious claim given that the law lacks any targeting of people or places prone to evasion, FATCA treats anyone who invests overseas as a criminal. Without need for a warrant, the government demands that foreign institutions spy on their US clients, while expecting individuals to report their entire holdings to the government. In light of the ongoing backlash over multiple instances of government invading the privacy rights of citizen, the complete erosion of financial privacy rights of anyone working or investing overseas should be cause for similar uproar.

Fighting the FATCA Menace

FATCA’s requirements that foreign financial institutions act as deputy tax collectors for the US government were flawed from the start. The US government lacks the moral and legal authority to justify the legislation, much less the resources to enforce the law as written, relying instead on its dominant position and a might-makes-right mentality to strong arm foreign governments into enforcing the law on their own institutions. Specifically, they’ve sought to sign “intergovernmental agreements” to outsource the invasion of privacy of US citizens to foreign governments, through whom the Treasury Department seeks to launder the sensitive information of Americans.

IGA’s Falter

Scrambling to get FATCA implemented before Congress realizes the extent of its error and reverses course, Treasury officials have done their best to con foreign governments into relinquishing their sovereign authority. They’ve relied heavily on disinformation to give the effort an air of inevitability, and feed international media dubious claims such as that there are 50 IGA’s just around the corner. But the truth is far different. As James Jatras of RepealFATCA.com recently noted, Treasury “expected to sign 17 IGAs by the end of 2012. Instead, they had four. Here we are more than halfway through 2013, and they only have nine – barely half of their 2012 year-end target.”

Opposition Gaining Ground

The latest delays provide yet more time for opposition to FATCA to solidify. As awareness of the law grows, we hope thanks in part to CF&P’s education efforts on and off Capitol Hill, so too does the backlash against the government’s radical overreach. In the last few months alone, CF&P spearheaded a coalition of 22 free market, taxpayer protection and grassroots organization that endorsed legislation introduced by Rand Paul to repeal FATCA. Congressman Posey, a member of the House Financial Services Committee, sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Lew questioning the legitimacy of the IGA process and calling on a moratorium on FATCA enforcement. And last week, a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State blasted FATCA in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.

Tax collectors at the Treasury Department will never openly admit that the unprecedented power and authority granted by FATCA was ill-advised, but their repeated delaying of the law speaks louder than words. FATCA is a mess, and Congress needs to step in and spare the world from its disastrous consequences.



There oughta be a law? Don't be so sure

by Jeff Jacoby

AMONG THE chattering classes these days, it is a popular lament that the 112th Congress has passed fewer bills than any in the last 60 years. But not everyone is joining in the breast-beating. When CBS newsman Bob Schieffer asked House Speaker John Boehner last week how he feels about presiding "over what is perhaps the least productive and certainly one of the least popular congresses in history," Boehner rejected the planted axiom that making laws makes lawmakers productive.

"We should not be judged on how many new laws we create," he said. "We ought to be judged on how many laws that we repeal."

To those of us who regard "Don't just do something, stand there!" as an excellent rule of thumb, above all for politicians, Boehner's response was refreshing. Complaints about "gridlock" and "dysfunction" are neverending, but getting things done in Washington was never supposed to be easy. Nor is it what voters want: That's why they returned a Republican majority to the House of Representatives last November, while keeping the Senate and the White House in Democratic hands.

"We've got more laws than the administration could ever enforce," Boehner said on CBS. "We deal with what the American people want us to deal with. Unpopular? Yes. Why? We're in a divided government. We're fighting for what we believe in."

Needless to say, the notion that Congress ought to be doing less — and undoing more — immediately drew flak.

"Did Speaker Boehner really say that the Congress should be judged on the number of laws they repeal not the number they pass?" tweeted White House aide Dan Pfeiffer. The speaker's remarks were "just embarrassing," the pro-Obama activist group Organizing for Action said scornfully; members of Congress weren't elected "to sit there and wind back the clock." The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee quickly moved to exploit Boehner's comments in online ads aimed at 19 Republican incumbents Democrats hope to unseat.

Joe Gandelman, editor of The Moderate Voice, a political website, could barely contain his contempt: "Welcome to the new age of spin where you take a rotted, fetid, smelly, almost poisonous lemon and try to sell it not just as lemonade, but the best lemonade ever made."

Actually, Congress gets even lower marks when judged by Boehner's preferred metric. So far this year Congress has passed 15 laws; it hasn't actually repealed any. While the House has voted more than 30 times to repeal all or part of the Affordable Care Act, there is no chance that the Senate will go along. "Stop taking meaningless repeal votes," President Obama needled Republicans in a speech on Wednesday. "Repealing ObamaCare and cutting spending is not an economic plan."

ObamaCare remains highly unpopular, more Americans than ever want it repealed, and only 13 percent think the law will personally help them, while three times as many expect it to hurt them. A key Senate Democrat warned months ago that the law's rollout would cause "a huge train wreck," and the White House this month put off for another year the enforcement of a key ObamaCare provision. As you contemplate this legislative dog's dinner, is it really so absurd to suggest that repealing laws may be a better test of congressional effectiveness than passing them in the first place?

"There oughta be a law!" is more likely to be an emotional reaction than a considered judgment, but we live in an age that has turned worship of government into an unofficial state religion, so resisting demands for more laws is treated as heresy. The belief that whenever there is a problem more government must be the cure flies in the face of experience – especially the experience of all the problems governmental cures made worse. It was "There oughta be a law!" that gave us the Fugitive Slave Law and Prohibition, uncommonly silly bans on contraception and out-of-control drug laws, tuition subsidies that make tuition more expensive and immigration "reforms" that caused an illegal immigration crisis.

On becoming president of the Massachusetts Senate in 1914, Calvin Coolidge offered his colleagues some timeless advice: "Don't hurry to legislate. Give administration a chance to catch up with legislation." Making laws, Coolidge knew, is no proof that lawmakers are productive. As he wrote to his father, a Vermont legislator: "It is much more important to kill bad bills than to pass good ones."

He was right. And so, on this score, is Boehner. Action isn't the same as accomplishment — least of all in Congress, which often does its best work when it does nothing at all.



Middle class has been left behind by Obamanomics

"Even though our businesses are creating new jobs and have broken record profits," President Obama said in his economics address last week, "nearly all the income gains of the past 10 years have continued to flow to the top 1 percent."

It's odd that Obama touts these facts, because the facts indict his policies. This is even stranger: Many Republicans want to downplay these facts, even though they provide the GOP with an opening.

Obama's first term, with all its tax hikes, regulations, mandates, subsidies and bailouts, saw stock markets rise, corporate earnings break records and the rich get richer, while median income stagnated and unemployment remained stubbornly high.

Obama rightly calls the last few years "a winner-take-all economy where a few are doing better and better and better, while everybody else just treads water."

Median household income has fallen by 5 percent since 2009 — when the recession ended and Obama came into office — as the Wall Street Journal pointed out after Obama's speech. But corporate profits and the stock market keep hitting record highs.

How does Obama think these are points in his favor?

If he's using this data to prove he's no Marxist, fine. Point granted. But Obama seems to think that middle-class and working-class stagnation under Obamanomics somehow calls for more Obamanomics.

The unstated premise is this: More government means more equality, while the free market favors the rich and tramples on the rest.

Liberals and mainstream journalists believe this, but so do some Republicans. When Mitt Romney dismisses the lower 47 percent of earners as hopelessly liberal, he's buying the notion that free enterprise is a system for the wealthy.

But Obama's own facts help undermine that: Government grows, the wealthy, the big, and the well-connected pull away, and the rest of us struggle.

One reason: Obamanomics leans heavily on trickle-down economics. How does Obama promise to create jobs? With more loan guarantees to sell jumbo jets and more subsidies to make solar panels — taxpayer transfers to the big companies with the best lobbyists, with some crumbs hopefully falling to the working class.

Also, Obama's regulations crush small businesses, protecting the big guys from competition. This hurts Mom & Pop and would-be entrepreneurs, but it also hurts the working class. New businesses are the engine of job growth, but new business formation has accelerated its decline in the last few years, hitting record lows.

This gives Republicans an opening to explain that they can deliver on Obama's promises of helping the middle class and the working class, but they can do it by reversing Obamanomics — cutting everyone's taxes, undoing the most onerous regulations, ending trickle-down corporate welfare and so on.

Call it free-market populism, or libertarian populism.

Trig's Supermarkets, in Wisconsin, is an emblematic victim of Obamanomics. Trig's employs about 1,100 people, with about two-thirds working part-time, according to local TV station WJFW. Under Obamacare, anyone who works more than 30 hours per week is considered full time, though, and Trig's will be forced to provide health-care coverage for them.

The company crunched the numbers and decided this would spell bankruptcy. So, they told their workers their hours would be cut to below 30 per week. Nobody is happy with this, but the alternative was laying off all 1,100.

In a couple of ways, this story shows how Obamanomics undermines its stated goals and creates an opening for free-market populism.

Big-government regulations are supposed to hold big business accountable. But Trig's story shows how they often do the opposite. Recall Walmart loudly supported Obamacare's employer mandate, and Costco's founder — who also spent at least $180,000 trying to elect Obama — publicly lobbied for Obamacare.

Walmart and Costco can afford the costs of government — and Costco even got a shout-out from Obama in his economics speech. Smaller employers aren't so lucky.

Government tends to benefit the big and well-connected, and that's not Mom & Pop. Every small-business owner is a potential Republican if the GOP becomes the party of free-market populism.

More important, though — and more numerous — are the hundreds of Trig's employees seeing a reduction in hours. Obamacare was supposed to help them. Obama, on his economic-policy tour, suggests more government intervention will help them. But Obamacare is hurting them. Why should more of the same help?

Obama is right about the middle class being left behind. The working class is faring even worse. This doesn't call for more Obamanomics. It calls for unrigging the game that Washington has rigged.


There is a  new  lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


July 29, 2013

China not squeamish about IQ

After being identified early as a science prodigy, Zhao raced through China’s special programs for gifted students and won a spot in Renmin, one of the country’s most elite high schools. Then, to the shock of his friends and family, he decided to drop out when he was 17. Now, at 21, he oversees his own research project at BGI Shenzhen—the country’s top biotech institute and home to the world’s most powerful cluster of DNA-sequencing machines—where he commands a multimillion-dollar research budget.

Zhao’s goal is to use those machines to examine the genetic underpinnings of genius like his own. He wants nothing less than to crack the code for intelligence by studying the genomes of thousands of prodigies, not just from China but around the world. He and his collaborators, a transnational group of intelligence researchers, fully expect they will succeed in identifying a genetic basis for IQ. They also expect that within a decade their research will be used to screen embryos during in vitro fertilization, boosting the IQ of unborn children by up to 20 points. In theory, that’s the difference between a kid who struggles through high school and one who sails into college.

Some people are smarter than others. It seems like a straightforward truth, and one that should lend itself to scientific investigation. But those who try to study intelligence, at least in the West, find themselves lost in a political minefield. To be sure, not all intelligence research is controversial: If you study cognitive development in toddlers, or the mental decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease, “that’s treated as just normal science,” says Douglas Detterman, founding editor of Intelligence, a leading journal in the field. The trouble starts whenever the heritability of intelligence is discussed, or when intelligence is compared between genders, socioeconomic classes, or—most explosively—racial groupings.

Since the 1990s, when a book called The Bell Curve (coauthored by a psychologist and a political scientist) waded into this last morass, attempts to quantify or even study intelligence have become deeply unfashionable. Dozens of popular books by nonexperts have filled the void, many claiming that IQ—which after more than a century remains the dominant metric for intelligence—predicts nothing important or that intelligence is simply too complex and subtle to be measured.

For the most part, an IQ test—the most common of which today is called the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale—is a series of brainteasers. You fit abstract shapes together, translate codes using a key, sort numbers or letters into ascending order in your mind. It’s a weirdly playful exercise, the sort of test you would expect to have no bearing on anything else. But studies make it clear that IQ is strongly correlated with the ability to solve all sorts of abstract problems, whether they involve language, math, or visual patterns. The frightening upshot is that IQ remains by far the most powerful predictor of the life outcomes that people care most about in the modern world. Tell me your IQ and I can make a decently accurate prediction of your occupational attainment, how many kids you’ll have, your chances of being arrested for a crime, even how long you’ll live.

Critics claim that these correlations are misleading, that those life outcomes have more to do with culture and environmental circumstances than with innate intellectual ability. And even IQ researchers are far from in agreement about whether scores can be validly compared between groups of people—men and women, blacks and whites—who experience very different environments even within the same country. Variations within groups are often greater than the variations between them, making it impossible to draw conclusions about someone based on their group.

But on an individual level, the evidence points toward a strong genetic component in IQ. Based on studies of twins, siblings, and adoption, contemporary estimates put the heritability of IQ at 50 to 80 percent, and recent studies that measure the genetic similarity of unrelated people seem to have pushed the estimate to the high end of that range.

This is an idea that makes us incredibly uncomfortable. “People don’t like to talk about IQ, because it undermines their notion of equality,” Detterman says. “We think every person is equal to every other, and we like to take credit for our own accomplishments. You are where you are because you worked hard.” The very idea of the American dream is undermined by the notion that some people might be born more likely to succeed. Even if we accept that intelligence is heritable, any effort to improve or even understand the inheritance process strikes us as distasteful, even ghoulish, suggesting the rise of designer superbabies. And given the fallout that sometimes results when academics talk about intelligence as a quantifiable concept—such as the case of Harvard president Lawrence Summers, who in 2006 resigned after suggesting that science is male-dominated due not to discrimination but to a shortage of high-IQ women—it’s no surprise that IQ research is not a popular subject these days at Western universities.

But in his lab at BGI, 21-year-old Zhao has no such squeamishness. He waves it away as “irrational,” making a comparison with height: “Some people are tall and some are short,” he says. Three years into the project, a team of four geneticists is crunching an initial batch of 2,000 DNA samples from high-IQ subjects, searching for where their genomes differ from the norm. Soon Zhao plans to get thousands more through Renmin—his former high school—as well as from other sources around the world. He believes that intelligence has a genetic recipe and that given enough samples—and enough time—his team will find it.

Ask Zhao what draws him to IQ as a research subject and invariably he talks about the mysteries of the brain. He’s driven by a fascination with kids who are born smart; he wants to know what makes them—and by extension, himself—the way they are. But there’s also a basic pragmatism at work. By way of explanation, he points to the International Mathematical Olympiad, a tough competition that has helped define China’s approach to math. Two-thirds of students train for it, he says, and its judgment of the talent is so respected that for years high scorers were allowed to skip gaokao, the traditional college entrance exam. But only a tiny fraction of people have the mathematical gifts to be competitive, Zhao says, and this basically comes down to IQ. “You cannot ask a kid with low IQ to just work hard and then become a really talented mathematician,” he says. “It’s impossible.” And yet, Zhao says, that’s what is currently expected in China. He wants to stop the vast majority of Chinese students from wasting their time.

Three years after arriving at BGI, Zhao’s messy mop of hair is gone, replaced by a dark shadow across his shaved scalp. His project, meanwhile, has grown up along with him. Just a week before my visit, thousands of DNA samples arrived at the institute, each containing the genome of a person with extraordinarily high IQ. They were collected from volunteers around the world by Robert Plomin, a behavioral geneticist at King’s College London who is now one of the project’s main collaborators. Once these samples are processed, BGI’s battery of DNA sequencers will decode them.



Corruption:  Costco backs Obama, Obama touts Costco

If you’re a millionaire corporate bigwig using your wealth to influence elections, and using your company’s clout to influence legislation, President Obama might give you a tongue-lashing.

Unless you’re a fundraiser and donor for the Obama Victory Fund, and your company’s lobbying agenda coincides with the White House’s — then Obama will give you a shout-out in a major economic address.

In his nationally televised speech Wednesday, Obama sang the praises of retail giant Costco, whose founder Jim Sinegal gave Obama the maximum contribution in two elections and hosted fundraisers for his reelection. Costco has also lobbied for many of Obama’s legislative priorities, including higher minimum wage, Obamacare, and price controls on financial processing fees.

Given the company’s politics and tendency to seek profit through big government, Costco stands out as a model of Obamanomics. The money trail and the free advertising also give off a whiff of cronyism.

Sinegal contributed the maximum $35,800 to the Obama Victory Fund last year and also held a $35,800-a-plate fundraiser for Obama. In the 2008 election, Sinegal gave $43,500 to the DNC (here and here), which is, in effect, a contribution to Obama. On top of that, the Costco founder gave the maximum $2,300 to Obama’s campaign. So that’s more than $80,000 personally to Obama. Add in $100,000 to Obama’s SuperPAC, Priorities USA, plus the $2 million the July 2012 fundraiser reportedly brought Obama, and you’ve got a healthy amount of support.

Obama’s gotten even more, though, from Sinegal and his company.

Sinegal lobbied for Obamacare in 2009. His company has supported a higher minimum wage. Both of these regulations impose proportionally greater costs on the company’s smaller competitors — and almost every competitor is smaller, because Costco is the nation’s No. 2 retailer behind only Wal-Mart. Sinegal also spoke in Obama’s favor at the 2012 convention.

Costco’s founder did all these favors for Obama over five years, and on Wednesday, Obama returned the favor:

"We’ll need our businesses, the best in the world, to pressure Congress to invest in our future, and set an example by providing decent wages and salaries to their own employees.  And I’ll highlight the ones that do just that – companies like Costco, which pays good wages and offers good benefits; or the Container Store, which prides itself on training its workers and on employee satisfaction – because these companies prove that this isn’t just good for their business, it’s good for America."

To recap: Raise $2 million for him, give his campaigns $180,000, lobby for his legislation, and the President will advertise for your store.



Zimmerman Backlash Continues Thanks to Media Misinformation

More than a week after George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the fatal shooting of black teenager Trayvon Martin, the backlash against the verdict continues. President Obama spoke some undeniable truths when he noted that the African-American community’s intense reaction to the case must be seen in the context of a long, terrible history of racism. But there is another context too: that of an ideology-based, media-driven false narrative that has distorted a tragedy into a racist outrage.

This narrative has transformed Zimmerman, a man of racially mixed heritage that included white, Hispanic and black roots (a grandmother who helped raise him had an Afro-Peruvian father), into an honorary white male steeped in white privilege. It has cast him as a virulent racist even though he once had a black business partner, mentored African-American kids, lived in a neighborhood about 20 percent black, and participated in complaints about a white police lieutenant’s son getting away with beating a homeless black man.

This narrative has perpetuated the lie that Zimmerman’s history of calls to the police indicates obsessive racial paranoia. Thus, discussing the verdict on the PBS NewsHour, University of Connecticut professor and New Yorker contributor Jelani Cobb asserted that “Zimmerman had called the police 46 times in previous six years, only for African-Americans, only for African-American men.” Actually, prior to the call about Martin, only four of Zimmerman’s calls had to do with African-American men or teenage boys (and two of them were about individuals who Zimmerman thought matched the specific description of burglary suspects). Five involved complaints about whites, and one about two Hispanics and a white male; others were about such issues as a fire alarm going off, a reckless driver of unknown race, or an aggressive dog.

In this narrative, even Zimmerman’s concern for a black child—a 2011 call to report a young African-American boy walking unsupervised on a busy street, on which the police record notes, “compl[ainant] concerned for well-being”—has been twisted into crazed racism. Writing on the website of The New Republic, Stanford University law professor Richard Thompson Ford describes Zimmerman as “an edgy basket case” who called 911 about “the suspicious activities of a seven year old black boy.” This slander turns up in other left-of-center sources, such as ThinkProgress.org.

Accounts of the incident itself have also been wrapped in false narrative—including such egregious distortions as NBC’s edited audio of Zimmerman’s 911 call which made him appear to say that Martin was “up to no good” because “he looks black.” (In fact, Zimmerman explained that Martin was “walking around and looking about” in the rain, and mentioned his race—of which he initially seemed unsure—only in response to the dispatcher’s question.)

While this falsehood was retracted and cost several NBC employees their jobs, other fake facts still circulate unchecked: most notably, that Zimmerman disobeyed police orders not to follow Martin (or even, as Cobb and another guest asserted on the NewsHour, not to get out of his car). In fact, there was no such order. The dispatcher asked if Zimmerman was following the teenager; Zimmerman said yes, the dispatcher said, “We don’t need you to do that,” and Zimmerman replied, “Okay.” (Just before this, the dispatcher had made comments that could be construed as asking him to watch Martin, such as, “Just let us know if he does anything else.”)

No one except Zimmerman knows whether he continued to track Martin—or, as he claims, headed back to his truck only to have Martin confront him. No one but Zimmerman knows who initiated physical violence. Both eyewitness testimony and forensic evidence, including injuries to Zimmerman’s face and the back of his head, supported his claim that he was being battered when he fired the gun. It was certainly enough to create reasonable doubt. Yet accounts that deplore the verdict often completely fail to mention Zimmerman’s injuries. Thus, Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson says only that an unarmed “skinny boy” could not have been a serious threat to “a healthy adult man who outweighs him by 50 pounds”—nearly doubling the actual 27-pound difference between Martin and Zimmerman and omitting the fact that Martin was four inches taller.

The false narrative also makes it axiomatic that a black man in Zimmerman’s shoes wouldn’t stand a chance—especially if he had shot someone white. Never mind examples to the contrary, such as a 2009 case in Rochester, New York in which a black man, Roderick Scott, shot and killed an unarmed white teenager and was acquitted. Scott, who had caught 17-year-old Christopher Cervini and two other boys breaking into a car, said that the boy charged him and he feared for his life. (While the analogy has been decried as false in a number of Internet discussions because Scott actually saw Cervini doing something illegal, this is irrelevant to the self-defense claim: stealing from a car does not call for execution.)

What about general patterns? In the New Republic article, Ford cites a report in the Tampa Bay Times showing that “stand your ground” self-defense claims in Florida are more successful for defendants who kill a black person (73 percent face no penalty, compared to 59 percent of those who kill a white person). But he leaves out a salient detail: since most homicides involve people of the same race, this also means more black defendants go free. Nor does he mention that another article based on the same study of “stand your ground” cases from 2005 to 2010 noted “no obvious bias” in the treatment of black defendants—or mixed-race homicides: “Four of the five blacks who killed a white went free; five of the six whites who killed a black went free.”

One Florida case has been widely cited as a contrast to the Zimmerman verdict and a shocking injustice: the case of Marissa Alexander, a black woman said to be serving twenty years in prison for a warning shot to scare off her violent estranged husband. But that’s not quite what happened. Alexander’s “stand your ground” claim was rejected because, after the altercation with ex-husband Rico Gray, she went to the garage, returned with a gun and fired a shot that Gray said narrowly missed his head (a claim backed by forensics). There is plenty of evidence that Gray was abusive, but Alexander was not the complete innocent her champions make her out to be: she also assaulted Gray, giving him a black eye, while out on bail for the shooting and under court orders to stay away from him. Her twenty-year sentence, required by a mandatory minimum for firearm offenses, was a travesty; her conviction was not.

Liberals and disenchanted conservatives who decry fact-free ideological narratives, true-believer hysteria and willful reality-denial on the right should take a good look at the left’s Zimmerman Derangement Syndrome.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


July 28, 2013

Cause for REAL outrage

This story has circulated widely on conservative blogs, mostly prior to the exoneration of George Zimmerman.  It seemed worthwhile to look at the story again in the light of that exoneration.

        You won't recognize me. My name was Antonio West and I was the 13-month old child who was shot in the face at point blank range by two Black teens who were attempting to rob my mommy -- who was also shot. She didn't have any money, so they shot us both.

        Too bad I was given a death sentence -- shot right in my face  because my white mommy didn't have any money with her.

        My family made the mistake of being white in a 73% non-white neighborhood, but my murder was not ruled a Hate Crime. Nor did President Obama take so much as a single moment to acknowledge my murder.

        I am one of the youngest murder victims in our great Nation's history, but the media doesn't care to cover the story.  President Obama has no children who could possibly look like me -- so he doesn't care.  And CNN & NBC don't care because my story is not interesting enough to bring them ratings.  Neither Al Sharpton nor Jesse Jackson visited my family or promised to get justice for me.  I don't understand why.  Maybe if I had been allowed to grow older, I might have understood some day.

        There is not a white equivalent of Al Sharpton because if there was he would be declared racist, so there is no one rushing to Brunswick GA to demand justice for me. There is no White Panther party to put a bounty on the lives of those who murdered me. I have no voice, I have no representation, and unlike those who shot me in the face while I sat innocently in my stroller - I no longer have my life.

        So while you are seeking justice for Treyvon, please remember to seek justice for me too. Tell your friends about me, tell you families, get tee shirts with my face on them and make the world pay attention, just like you did for Treyvon.
Excerpt from Jon Jay, who offers a comprehensive coverage of the issues this raises, including the various Leftist attempts to wriggle out of the implications.

The perpetrator

17 year old De’Marquis Elkins  who shot and killed Antonio West the 13 month old baby who was sitting his  stroller

Elkins shot the infant in the face after the mother refused to give him money. He also shot the mother in the leg and the neck.

He did not use an assault rifle. He did not get his stolen pistol from a gun show.  He was never instructed in gun safety from his father, grandfather, the NRA or anyone with any sense of responsibility

His favorite music is rap, He did not attend Christian school, nor was he home schooled. He did attend multicultural public education

His Momma was on welfare, got food stamps, and lived in public housing. His daddy was not around, and his two brothers have a different daddy.

He already has a record for violent crimes. He is gang member.

His mom, grandma, and Aunty all voted for Obama.

His public education and family taught him that the white man owes him something.

He went to collect it.

He has no plans on getting married, but does have a Baby Momma, and no, he is not supporting her baby.

He smokes dope. He does respect Kayne West.

While he has no job, nor is looking for one, he is well fed. He has no skills outside of crime. He speaks Ebonics, and is not capable of doing a professional interview, even though he spent 11 years in our public education system.

He is one of millions.



More evidence that there is a vacuum between the ears of most Hollywood celebrities

According to a tweet sent Wednesday by singer Bette Midler, Republicans did everything they could to ensure the Allies lost to Adolf Hitler in World War Two, Twitchy reported.

"@GOP treats Mr. Obama the way they treated FDR in WWII. They did everything they could to ensure an Allied loss," she tweeted to her more than 449,000 followers.

A post at Twitchy called her tweet "ridiculous" and reminded readers that a very prominent Republican by the name of Dwight David Eisenhower not only led the Allied effort to defeat Hitler, he went on to become president.

History shows that the first woman elected to the U.S. Congress, Republican Jeannette Rankin of Montana, voted against declaring war in 1941, but she was the only member of Congress to do so. It was not the first time she opposed U.S. military action, having voted to keep American troops out of World War One.

Twitchy said Midler simply used the argument adopted by liberals that anyone who opposes Obama on anything is guilty of treason against the United States.

"Midler doesn’t seem to apply that same 'logic' when a Republican is president, however," Twitchy said.

Twitter users took Midler to task for her tweet.

"You should explain that to all the dead Republicans buried at Arlington National Cemetery," one person tweeted.

"Lets be real here," another person tweeted, "Midler knows as much about history as she knows about meteorology, not much, nothing."



Obamacaare Fee: $3; Cost of Paying: $100

Like a lot of conservatives, I have plenty of doubts about the president’s massive health care overhaul that’s going to change the way Americans get health coverage come Jan. 1, 2014. I think the plan is too big, too expensive, too cumbersome, too reliant on subsidies and imposes too may regulations. Although I support some of its goals, I would have surely voted against it were I a member of Congress.

Many on the political left — including a lot of thoughtful people whose opinions I respect — like the plan a lot more than I do. But I’ve just discovered a feature I think even they would agree is utterly futile.

Among the provisions that thousands (perhaps tens of thousands) of small businesses are soon going to have to comply with is one that requires filling out a hugely complex form and paying an accountant to review and file it. In the case of the R Street Institute, we will be paying our accountant $53 to file this form. That may not sound like much but, aye, here’s the rub:

Our fee came to just $3.

You read that right. We will be spending, when you figure in staff time, at least $100 to comply with a bureaucratic mandate, just so the government can collect a $3 fee. Even our accountant was dumbstruck; you can read his take here.

This so-called “Patient-Centered Outcomes Trust Fund Fee” is imposed on health insurance plans and employer-funded Health Reimbursement Arrangements. R Street offers HRA as an employee benefit, which allows us to reduce our base health insurance premium by opting for a higher deductible plan without disadvantaging employees with higher health care costs. As an employer, we cover the entire premium, and fund the full $1,000 in HRA benefits ourselves.

If the Patient-Centered Outcomes Trust Fund is to exist at all, taxes on health insurers and big health plans might well be a good way to fund it. But a form that costs $100 to fill out so that the government can collect $3 in revenue is simply pointless by any standard. Furthermore, since few people seem to know about the rule (final guidance just came out) one imagines a great many small businesses are probably going to be in breach come July 31st.

There’s both a Regulatory Flexibility Act and a Small Business Administration Office of Advocacyspecifically intended to prevent the government from imposing requirements this stupid. Right now, they seem to be asleep at the switch.

This has got to change.



More Anti-Capitalist Hypocrisy from the Left

Liberals want to force Goldman Sachs out of warehouse business

A Democratic Senator from Ohio, Sherrod Brown, plans a hearing Tuesday and wants the Federal Reserve to get banks out of the warehouse business. The New York Times previewed the hearing with a 3,600-word article that ran at the top of its Sunday front page and that blamed Goldman for costing American consumers more than $5 billion over three years in higher costs for canned soda, beer, and other products.

The Times followed up with a series of staff Twitter posts telling readers what to think about the news: “Don’t miss: damning story on how Goldman Sachs manipulates aluminum market….This story will fuel notion that Goldman is a ‘giant vampire squid.’”

There you have left-wing hypocrisy in a nutshell. When a government official like New York mayor Michael Bloomberg tries to reduce the public consumption of sugary beverages with a tax that makes the drinks more expensive, he’s a public health hero. But when it’s a profit-generating company that stands accused of increasing beverage costs, it’s a greedy manipulative Wall Street blood-sucker.

In Goldman’s case, it’s not even clear that the firm has increased the price of beverages or of other aluminum products. In February 2010, when Goldman announced it was buying the metal warehouse Metro International Trade Services, a metric ton of aluminum cost about $2,053. Last month, it cost about $1,815.

And if Goldman were increasing the cost of aluminum cans, it’s not clear that the practices are in any way related to its status as a bank. Some non-bank firm could also buy an aluminum warehouse and try to jack up rent to customers.

The best way to deal with the problem of aluminum can prices — if that is a problem at all — is not for the government to decide who can or can’t buy an aluminum warehouse. It’s allowing the market to address the issue, either through new entrants — competition — or vertical integration.

Slate’s Matthew Yglesias noted the Times article failed to explain why someone else doesn’t just open up an aluminum warehouse that moves faster than the one Goldman runs, or charges lower rent. It’s not like the warehouse business has such high barriers to entry or is so capital intensive that no one else can compete.

Another possibility is that the aluminum end-users, such as the beverage or aluminum foil companies or Boeing, can own and operate their own warehouses. If they think they can do it cheaper or better than Goldman, nothing is stopping them from trying.

For the Federal Reserve, or Congress, to tell banks they can’t be in the warehouse business, though, is a risky proposition. The flip side of it is the regulators telling the bankers that they can only invest in certain government-approved things, such as bonds that are AAA rated by a nationally recognized rating agency, or mortgage debt backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. And we all know how that ended up.

Sure, if bank deposits are going to be backed by Federal Deposit Insurance or the institutions themselves are going to be subsidized or backstopped by the taxpayers, then there needs to be some oversight of how the banks invest capital. But there what regulators need to be watchful for is bank investments that lose too much money, not investments that make too much money, as the Goldman aluminum warehouse is accused of doing.

The best public policy outcome would be to take a hard look at the subsidies and the taxpayer backstops, so that a bank owning an aluminum warehouse wouldn’t be any different from any other company owning one.



Chicago’s Struggles Reflected In Big Moody’s Credit Downgrade

First the Motor City, then the Windy City.

In the same week the City of Detroit made national headlines by filing the largest municipal bankruptcy in national history, the City of Chicago made smaller headlines when Moody’s Investors Service announced it had hit the city with a nearly unprecedented triple-downgrade of its credit rating on general obligation bonds.

Chicago now has a credit rating four notches below New York and Los Angeles and below other large cities in the Midwest, including Milwaukee and Cleveland.

In a statement, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said, “This confirms what I have been saying for more than a year. Without comprehensive pension relief from Springfield, municipalities such as Chicago will continue to receive negative reviews from rating agencies.” Emanuel became mayor in 2011, following the 22-year reign of Richard M. Daley.

Higher Debt Service Costs

The three-notch downgrade – with a negative outlook – does not bode well for Chicago’s bond investors, residents, or taxpayers. The city’s debt is estimated at $8.2 billion, and the big drop in its credit rating means its costs of repaying the debt and issuing debt in the future are sure to go up.

“The downgrade of the [general obligation bond] rating reflects Chicago's very large and growing pension liabilities and accelerating budget pressures associated with those liabilities,” Moody’s wrote in announcing the downgrade. “The city's budgetary flexibility is already burdened by high fixed costs, including unrelenting public safety demands and significant debt service payments. “

Those fixed costs could soon eat up half of Chicago’s operating budget, according to Moody’s, forcing the city to reduce services or raise taxes to maintain current service levels.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


July 27, 2013

Facing Facts about Race

Young black males are at greater risk from their peers than from the police or white civilians

By  Victor Davis Hanson

Last week President Obama weighed in again on the Trayvon Martin episode. Sadly, most of what he said was wrong, both literally and ethically.

Pace the president, the Zimmerman case was not about Stand Your Ground laws. It was not a white-on-black episode. The shooting involved a Latino of mixed heritage in a violent altercation with a black youth.

Is it ethical for the president to weigh in on a civil-rights case apparently being examined by his own Justice Department? The president knows that if it is true that African-American males are viewed suspiciously, it is probably because statistically they commit a disproportionate amount of violent crime. If that were not true, they might well be given no more attention as supposed suspects than is accorded to white, Asian, or Latino youths. Had George Zimmerman been black, he would have been, statistically at least, more likely to have shot Trayvon Martin — and statistically likewise less likely to have been tried.

Barack Obama knows that if non-African-Americans were to cease all inordinate scrutiny of young African-American males, the latters’ inordinate crime rates would probably not be affected — given other causation for disproportionate incidences of criminality. Yet should their statistical crime profiles suddenly resemble those of other racial and ethnic groups, the so-called profiling would likely cease.

The president, I think, spoke out for three reasons: 1) He is an unbound,  lame-duck president, with a ruined agenda, facing mounting ethical scandals; from now on, he will say things more consonant with being a community organizer than with being a nation’s president; 2) he knows the federal civil-rights case has little merit and cannot be pursued, and thus wanted to shore up his bona fides with an aggrieved black community; and 3) as with the ginned-up “assault-weapons ban” and the claim that Republicans are waging a “war on women,” Obama knows, as a community activist, that tension can mask culpability — in his case, the utter failure to address soaring unemployment in the inner city, epidemic black murder rates, the bankruptcy of Detroit, and the ways his failed economic policies disproportionately affect inner-city youth.

Attorney General Eric Holder earlier gave an address to the NAACP on the Zimmerman trial. His oration was likewise not aimed at binding wounds. Apparently he wanted to remind his anguished audience that because of the acquittal of Zimmerman, there still is not racial justice in America.

Holder noted in lamentation that he had to repeat to his own son the lecture that his father long ago gave him. The sermon was about the dangers of police stereotyping of young black males. Apparently, Holder believes that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Yet I fear that for every lecture of the sort that Holder is forced to give his son, millions of non-African-Americans are offering their own versions of ensuring safety to their progeny.

In my case, the sermon — aside from constant reminders to judge a man on his merits, not on his class or race — was very precise.

First, let me say that my father was a lifelong Democrat. He had helped to establish a local junior college aimed at providing vocational education for at-risk minorities, and as a hands-on administrator he found himself on some occasions in a physical altercation with a disaffected student. In middle age, he and my mother once were parking their car on a visit to San Francisco when they were suddenly surrounded by several African-American teens. When confronted with their demands, he offered to give the thieves all his cash if they would leave him and my mother alone. Thankfully they took his cash and left.

I think that experience — and others — is why he once advised me, “When you go to San Francisco, be careful if a group of black youths approaches you.” Note what he did not say to me. He did not employ language like “typical black person.” He did not advise extra caution about black women, the elderly, or the very young — or about young Asian Punjabi, or Native American males.  In other words, the advice was not about race per se, but instead about the tendency of males of one particular age and race to commit an inordinate amount of violent crime.

It was after some first-hand episodes with young African-American males that I offered a similar lecture to my own son. The advice was born out of experience rather than subjective stereotyping. When I was a graduate student living in East Palo Alto, two adult black males once tried to break through the door of my apartment — while I was in it. On a second occasion, four black males attempted to steal my bicycle — while I was on it. I could cite three more examples that more or less conform to the same apprehensions once expressed by a younger Jesse Jackson. Regrettably, I expect that my son already has his own warnings prepared to pass on to his own future children.

Holder, of course, knows that there are two narratives about race in America, and increasingly they have nothing to do with each other. In one, African-Americans understandably cite racism and its baleful legacy to explain vast present-day disparities in income, education, and rates of criminality. Others often counter by instead emphasizing the wages of an inner-city culture of single-parent families and government dependence, and the glorification of violence in the popular media.

In the old days of the Great Society, we once dreamed of splitting the difference — the government would invest more in the inner city, while black leadership in turn would emphasize more self-help and self-critique.

Not now. Both sides have almost given up on persuading the other. Eric Holder’s speech to the NAACP might as well have been given on Mars. It will convince zero Americans that stereotyping of young African-American males and Stand Your Ground laws are the two key racial problems facing America.

Again, Holder may offer his 15-year-old son the same warning that his father gave him about the dangers of racist, stereotyping police. Yet I suspect — and statistics would again support such supposition — that Holder privately is more worried that his son is in greater danger of being attacked by other black youths than by either the police or a nation of white-Hispanic George Zimmermans on the loose.

Besides, two developments over recent decades have made Holder’s reactionary argument about black/white relations mostly irrelevant. First, America is now a multiracial nation. The divide is not white versus black. And as the Zimmerman trial reminds us, it is no longer a nation where most of the authority figures are white males. We saw a female judge, a female jury, and an Hispanic in confrontation with an African-American; today those of various racial pedigrees and different genders interact in ways that transcend the supposed culpability of white males.

Second, the attitude of the so-called white community toward racial challenges is not so much political as class driven. White liberals have largely won the argument that massive government expenditure must be infused into the black community. Yet they have probably lost the argument that such vast government investments have done much to alleviate the plight of urban black youth.

Stranger still, there is no evidence in our increasingly self-segregated society that white liberals stand out as integrationists. The latter increasingly have the capital to school their children far from the inner city, to live largely apart from inner-city blacks, and in general to avoid the black underclass in the concrete as much as they profess liberal nostrums for it in the abstract.

No one seems to care that the children of our liberal elite, black and white, go to places like Sidwell Friends rather than to Washington public schools, where the consequences of 50 years of liberal social policy are all too real. If Chris Matthews wishes to apologize collectively for whites, then he should have long ago moved to an integrated neighborhood, put his children in integrated schools, and walked to work through a black neighborhood to get to know local residents. Anything else, and his apology remains what it is: cheap psychological recompense for his own elite apartheid.

Just as Eric Holder preferred anecdote to statistics, so too I end with an unscientific vignette of my own. Last week I was driving in northern California with the attorney general’s speech playing on the car radio. North of San Francisco I stopped to buy coffee and two local newspapers.

In one, there was a gruesome story of a young African-American male charged with ransacking a San Francisco jewelry store and murdering two employees, Khin Min, 35, of San Francisco, and Lina Lim, 51, of Daly City. The owner of the shop, Vic Hung, fought back and survived, despite receiving gunshot and stab wounds in the attack.

The suspected attacker had a prior record of violent assault. The victims were all of Asian ancestry. I don’t think their families would agree with Eric Holder that self-defense laws were the cause of such interracial violence. Nor would the six policemen who were fired upon by the suspect agree that stereotyping prompted this sort of mayhem.

Barack Obama will never suggest that the suspected killer physically resembles himself some three decades ago — and there would be no point in doing so. Nor will he admit that if Barack Obama owned an urban jewelry store and needed its profits to send his daughters to Sidwell Friends, he too might have become apprehensive when a young black male entered his store.

In the other paper, there was a strangely similar tale. Not far away, in Santa Rosa, at about the same time, two African-American youths in hoodies attacked another jewelry store, also had a shoot-out with the owner, and also failed to evade the police — though in this case none of the employees or customers was injured.

In such cases, too many Americans find there is a sort of tired sameness. The victims were white or Asian. The murder and robbery suspects were young African-American males. The violence was aimed not at acquiring food or clothing, but at stealing luxury goods. The armed small-business owners tried to defend themselves by firing back at their attackers. Had they been unarmed, both would have probably perished. In one case, the police were fired upon. The suspects had prior arrests.

And on and on and on across America each day, this same tragedy is played out of a small percentage of Americans committing violent crimes at rates far exceeding their proportion of the general population.

The world will long remember Trayvon Martin, but few people — and certainly not Barack Obama or Eric Holder, who have a bad habit, in an increasingly multiracial country, of claiming solidarity on the basis of race — will care that Khin Min and Lina Lim were torn to pieces by bullets and a knife. Few will care that they died in a vicious assault that had nothing to do with stereotyping, Stand Your Ground self-defense, weak gun laws, insufficient federal civil-rights legislation, or any of the other causes of interracial violence falsely advanced by the attorney general — but quite a lot to do with an urban culture that for unspoken reasons has spawned an epidemic of disproportionate violent crime on the part of young African-American males.

I offer one final surreal footnote to this strange juxtaposition of reading the real news while listening to the mytho-history that a Eric Holder constructed from the death of Trayvon Martin to indict both the police and the public.

What were the names of two of the men suspected of being the ones who last week shot it out with the Santa Rosa jeweler as Eric Holder demagogued the Trayvon Martin shooting?

Traveon Banks-Austin and Alexander Tyvon Brandon.

And so the tragedy continues.



Barack Obama, Trayvon Martin and the Four Dirty Little Secrets of Black America

The reality about blacks offends Leftists (or they pretend it does) but it remains reality -- JR

By Nicholas Stix

Thousands gathered Saturday at rallies in more than 100 cities nationwide to remember Trayvon Martin, to press for federal civil rights charges against the man who shot him, and to attack stand-your-ground self-defense laws.  (by John Bacon, July 20 2013)
The Leftist-Main Stream Media Complex took a little time to get going, maybe because they really believed their own propaganda and were stunned by George Zimmerman’s acquittal, but the Community-Organizer-In-Chief’s disingenuous speech Friday has spurred things along—just like his helpful reminder that Martin would have looked like a little Obama Jr. as last year’s hysteria was being orchestrated.

I watched the Martin/ Zimmerman trial carefully. And—unlike many  readers and, let it be noted, all MSM Bigfoots—I have lived all my life surrounded by “diversity” in New York’s outer boroughs. My thoughts:

I. Blacks Don’t Mean What They Say

On Friday, the race-man-in-chief led another “dialogue” on his favorite subject: Whites are racists.

For generations, it’s always been the same “conversation”: blacks lecture, hector, and demand that whites agree that 2 + 2 = 5.

In 2008, after Barack Obama was exposed as an adherent of genocidal Black Liberation Theology, he notoriously threw his octogenarian white maternal grandmother under the bus by saying that she had “once confessed her fear of black men who passed her by on the street.” (Actually, she was just worried about a specific suspicious black man on her way to work.) [Transcript: Barack Obama's Speech on Race, NPR, March 18, 2008.]

In Friday’s monologue, Obama talked of, how prior to his political career, white women would see him approaching, and clutch their purses and lock their car doors; of his sponsorship as a state senator of an Illinois law prohibiting “racial profiling”; and of his desire to have all “Stand Your Ground” laws repealed, even though SYG was irrelevant to this case. [President Obama’s remarks on Trayvon Martin (full transcript), Washington Post, July 19, 2013.]

But blacks, even black nationalists like actor-director Mario Van Peebles who celebrate murderous black men, clutch their purses and lock their car doors at the sight of even harmless black men. Indeed, Obama himself has confessed to doing this.

And there’s a simple reason: A white who doesn’t take such precautions, as do prudent blacks, is a white who is going to be harmed or murdered. Every single day in America, blacks murder whites, often in horrific fashion.

Laws banning “racial profiling” have but one purpose: Aiding and abetting black criminals. Ditto for repealing Stand Your Ground laws, which have disproportionately helped blacks.

I will stipulate: even now, I have found one righteous black man: The Zimmerman Case Exposes Black Racism by Kevin Jackson, (The Black Sphere with Kevin Jackson, July 11, 2013.)

And time was, I really cared about conversing with blacks. But that was back when I was my teens and early twenties and considered myself a liberal.

Thus circa 1980 at a political meeting at my undergraduate alma mater, SUNY Stony Brook, my tall, sassy, gorgeous, black classmate, Dahlia Castillo got up to demand more privileges for black students. I stood up and shouted at her that blacks already received more financial aid than whites with the identical income. She yelled back: “Lemme talk to this little Jew!”

We continued arguing one-on-one. (Her Spanish name notwithstanding, Dahlia looked and sounded black, but not “ghetto.”)

But today, if you’re white—or “white enough”—you can’t talk with most blacks about the weather.

 One day in 1998, I spent my bus ride home from work conversing with a middle-aged black woman who taught Special Ed in (black) Far Rockaway, where I had recently lived.

When we reached my Queens neighborhood, she started explaining it to me with great self-assurance, saying it was full of military families who served at the local army base. I wasn’t aware of any military base, but I’d only been living there for a year and change, and maybe she knew something I didn’t.

Soon enough, I determined that there were no military families, and no base.

A few years later, on the same bus, the black driver started talking about the “military base.” I couldn’t take it anymore and told him there wasn’t any base. “It’s a secret,” came his response.

You see, in addition to being experts on race, black folks know all of these secrets that are unknown to whites.

If whites were in charge, this black hypocrisy and irrationality would not be a major problem. But under Jim Snow, blacks and white racial socialists are running things. And so, we get these Orwellian “2 + 2 = 5” lectures every time we turn on the TV, go to work, ride the bus, or go to school.

And if you even look like you’re about to invoke the number four, you get fired from your job, assaulted, your life destroyed, and maybe jailed.

II. Black Society’s Problems Go Much Deeper than Illegitimacy

The standard racial fairy tale promoted by blacks and their white Leftist allies: blacks’ only problem is white racism.

The standard racial fairy tale among white conservatives: blacks’ problems derive from fatherless homes.

If only.

Thus many right-of-center Internet commenters saw Trayvon Martin and prosecution witness Rachel Jeantel as personifying the illegitimacy, illiteracy, and crime of the black underclass.

Notwithstanding her thuggish demeanor, I don’t know about Jeantel. But Martin was not from the underclass. He was born to married parents. During most of his childhood (i.e., after they split up), both of them worked for a living.

The problem that Martin illustrates: black dysfunction and criminality are not limited to the underclass. (Indeed, the New Century Foundation report The Color of Crime debunked the racial fairy tale that poverty causes crime back in 2005.)

III. The “Respectable” Black Lady Problem

Anytime a white has trouble with blacks today, a “respectable” black lady cannot be far away, supporting the thuggery.

In 1987, I was temping as muscle hefting boxes of books for an educational publisher in lower Manhattan. Someone told me of a rumor claiming I had stolen money from a woman employee’s purse. I confronted the white boss lady, who apologized and confessed that the thief was a black boy who had gotten his job via his aunt—the black head secretary.

But to my knowledge, nothing happened to the thief or his aunt.

In 1994, while I was riding the A train home to black Far Rockaway at 9:30 p.m., a couple of black street urchins about eight years of age sat down next to me and whistled loudly, to make it impossible to read. When I walked away, they followed me to the first car. When I told them to beat it, the whole (black) car started threatening to kill me.

A black woman of about 40 told the boys, “They don’t like when you do something good.” (“Something good” = harassing whites.) I called her a racist, to which she responded, “I’m racist, and I’m proud!”

In May 2010, while shopping in a local Waldbaum’s with my 10-year-old son, I was jumped by a 20-year-old, 220-pound black female from whom I was walking away, who had gone there with her toddler, a girlfriend, and the girlfriend’s child solely for that purpose. (They blocked an aisle with bodies and empty shopping carts, and didn’t even pretend to be shopping.)

Immediately, two “respectable” middle-aged black ladies popped up to lie to the police, saying I had rammed the attacker’s shopping cart. Since I was the one with the bloody scratches, the cops arrested both of us. (All charges were later dropped).

In 2011, I was on a bus with a majority of whites coming home from shopping in Brooklyn, when a black man of about 20 decided to start blasting his radio. I asked him to turn it down. He played dumb, but wised up when a huge off-duty Irish cop bent over him to tell him to turn it off. However, a “respectable” black lady of about 60 sitting opposite him consoled him—as if he had been victimized.

The ultimate “respectable” black lady: 87-year-old Adelaide Sanford, for many years a New York school principal. After she retired, liberal politicians named her to powerful jobs on the New York City Board of Education and the State Board of Regents.

Sanford speaks with pedantic over-enunciation, but she has long embraced black racial violence. Her closest political ally was black supremacist extortionist, kidnapper, and murderer Sonny Carson (1935?-2002). In the early 2000s on the late Gil Noble’s Afrocentric ABC show, Like It is, Sanford condemned the placement of police and metal detectors in city schools as “militarization”—targeting “our most gifted young people,” i.e. weapons-toting teenage thugs.

As Jim Sleeper chronicled in The Closest of Strangers, Sanford systematically ran white teachers out of her school. Sleeper reported she had thousands of booklets printed up and distributed in city schools, at white taxpayers’ expense, claiming that blacks’ “learning styles”  were morally superior to whites.[See Educators Call Regents' Booklet Racist, By Mark A. Uhlig, NYT, October 02, 1987]

IV. The Black Sympathy Deficit: Blacks Don’t Actually Care About Black Children

The Trayvonistas claim to care about “the child.” But they’re all lying. The community doesn’t care about black kids, or they’d be demanding that authorities dismantle all of the street gang and disarm the thugs who are shooting up black areas and killing black kids. They would be demanding that black parents raise their children to forswear crime, since the failure of black parents to do their job is the cause of the bloodshed. (Did you notice Obama urging that on Friday?)

Stop teaching black kids to violate people, based on the color of their skin, and stop teaching them to violate the law because it’s just “the white man’s law.” It’s that simple.

If Trayvonistas who live in black communities cared about black kids, they would be dropping a dime on the bad guys, instead of saying, “Don’t snitch!” But they apparently have no problem with black kids getting murdered, as long as the murderers are also black. They just blame it all on the Man.

Had those blacks on my A train back in 1994 cared about black kids, they would have demanded the street urchins’ names, and either taken them home, or called child welfare on their parents for child neglect.

Instead, they encouraged them to become racist criminals.

You want to know who cares about black kids? White and “white-enough” people—like George Zimmerman, Obama voter!

My conclusion: America is in a deeper hole than even we know.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


July 26, 2013

The usual Left-driven hypocrisy


The Sharing Economy

by Don Boudreaux

One of the political left’s most popular (the most popular?) trope is to complain that free markets promote and exacerbate economic “inequality” (where “inequality” is used as a synonym for “observed differences across people – or statistical categories of people – in some variable, usually pecuniary income or wealth, that we presume to be especially important”).

But what are too often overlooked are the many ways that markets spread economic benefits and costs and, in the process, promote greater economic equality than would otherwise exist.  The ways that markets promote this sharing of benefits or costs are numerous.  Here’s just one example: the real-world consequences of what economists identify as the “law of one price.”  This sharing works across geographic space and across time.


Suppose you’re strolling down 5th Avenue in Manhattan on a beautiful Autumn day.  You notice as you cross 14th Street that Golden Delicious apples are selling for $3.00 a piece.  A few minutes later, when you reach Washington Square park, at the foot of 5th Avenue, you notice that Golden Delicious apples are selling there for $1.00 a piece.  Having nothing urgent to do that day, you buy several boxes of Golden Delicious apples in Washington Square park and then haul them up to 14th St. to sell them.  You buy low ($1.00) and sell high ($3.00).  Your buying low in Washington Square park will, of course, cause the price of Golden Delicious apples sold in Washington Square park to rise, and your selling those apples up at 14th St. will cause the price of Golden Delicious apples sold at 14th St. to fall.  You – and other apple arbitrageurs – will continue to haul apples from Washington Square park up to 14th St. until the price of apples in both places is pretty much the same (say, $2.00 per apple).  One price will reign in both places for Golden Delicious apples.

Your profit-seeking actions here enable people up at 14th St. to share in the relative good fortune of people down at Washington Square park – that relative good fortune being an initially higher supply of Golden Delicious apples at Washington Square (or, more generally, a lower marginal value of those apples at Washington Square than at 14th St.).  Or, looked at differently, your profit-seeking actions oblige people down at Washington Square park to shoulder some of the relative misfortune of people up at 14th St. – that relative misfortune being an initially lower supply of Golden Delicious apples at 14th St. (or, more generally, a higher marginal value of those apples at 14th St. than at Washington Square).

Your profit-seeking actions moved a valuable good from where it was relatively more abundant to where it was relatively less abundant, causing the relative abundance of Golden Delicious apples at both sites to be pretty much equal to each other.

(If you doubt the veracity of my hypothetical, imagine how surprised you would be if, in fact, you saw interchangeable apples selling for one price at some location and, at pretty much the same time, selling for a very different price at a nearby location.  The very fact that such price differences aren’t common attests to the validity of the law of one price.)

Now suppose that before any of this arbitrage takes place, a neighborhood association up at 14th St., upon hearing rumors that Golden Delicious apples sell at Washington Square park for a mere $1.00 a piece, enacts and enforces legislation to force the price of those apples at 14th St. down to $1.00 each.  What’s the consequence?  Answer: no one down at Washington Square bothers to haul apples from Washington Square up to 14th St.  The (presumably well-intentioned) legislation prevents the market from performing its sharing function.  People down at Washington Square continue to enjoy apples at a price so low that it doesn’t reflect – as it otherwise would – the demands for apples of the folks up at 14th St.  The legislation meant to help the folks at 14th St. ends up benefitting the folks down at Washington Square by eliminating the incentives of arbitrageurs to haul apples from Washington Square up to 14th St.  And this legislation harms the people at 14th St. by artificially eliminating the incentives that would otherwise have driven arbitrageurs to haul apples from where they are relatively more abundant (Washington Square park) to where they are relatively less abundant (14th St.).


The very same analysis holds over time.  When speculators buy today in the hopes of selling tomorrow at higher prices, these speculators move goods across time; goods are moved from a time when they are relatively more abundant to a time when they are relatively less abundant.  Successful speculation obliges people in times of relative abundance to share their good fortune with people existing in times of relatively less abundance.  Or, alternatively stated, successful speculation enables people in times of relatively less abundance to share in some of the good fortune of people existing in times of relatively great abundance.

And, of course, what’s true for ‘long’ speculation (buying today in hopes of selling at higher prices tomorrow) is true for ‘short’ speculation (selling today in hopes of buying tomorrow at lower prices).  ’Short’ speculators, if they are successful, move goods from tomorrow (when these goods are relatively more abundant) to today (when these goods are relatively less abundant).

Beautiful, isn’t’ it?!  (And no, I do not ask this rhetorical question facetiously.)



Why are tax campaigners campaigning to make the poorest of the poor poorer?

Written by Tim Worstall in Britain

Most here will know that my favourite blood sport is hunting Richard Murphy and his buddies in the Tax Justice movement. But even I am appalled at the latest demand from them: that multinationals should be forced into paying more corporation tax in poor countries. They make this demand because they are willfully blind to the most basic point about corporation taxation: the incidence of said taxes. Here's what is said:

Corporate taxes are incredibly important to many developing countries. When many in their populations are too poor to pay any taxes and when corruption undermines much of the local tax base from commerce (and this fact has to be recognised at present) then the revenues to be earned from multinational companies form a significant part of the tax base of these states. In that case the base erosion that is now well documented due to transfer mispricing out of these countries on royalties, management services, interest, insurance and other charges levied on an intra-group basis, usually from tax haven subsidiaries within the same multinational entity, is of massive concern to these states and forms a major part of the illicit flows that prevent the provision of adequate services by many governments, undermining democracy and blighting many lives over succeeding generations.

We have argued for fundamental reform on behalf of these countries.

They're arguing that the poorest of the poor should be pushed further into poverty as a result of their determined ignorance about that tax incidence. We've known for well over a century now that companies do not actually bear the economic burden of taxes levied at the company level. It is either the workers, in the form of lower wages, or the investors, in the form of lower returns that do. This is not an arguable theoretical point: it's just a truth about this particular universe that we inhabit. No, don't worry about why for the moment, simply take it as being one of those truths.

We also know what it is that influences who carries the burden, workers or investors. The mobility of capital and the size of the economy of the taxing jurisdiction relative to the size of the world economy. The precise splits are argued about, volubly, but but all economists are agreed on those two basic points. It's some combination of the workers and shareholders and the smaller the economy and the more mobile capital the more it is the workers, the less the investors.

One more interesting point: Atkinson and Stiglitz, back in 1980 or so, showed that the burden could in fact be greater than 100%: the loss to workers and or shareholders could be greater than the sum raised in revenue. And yes, the smaller the economy and the more mobile capital the more likely this is and that this burden will be on the workers. So, what do we know about these developing economies where we are told that companies really must cough up more corporation tax in? In fact, that multinational companies must cough up more tax in? Quite: we know that these economies are very small compared to the world economy. That's why we call them developing economies: because they're small and poor ones.

Further, given that we are specifically talking about multinationals, the capital we're talking about must be perfectly mobile. It is outside investment going in: not domestic investment pondering whether to leave or not. If we piece all of this together then we get the ugly reality. The truth is that the burden of higher corporate tax on multinationals in these poor countries will be upon the backs of the workers. Those workers being, by our very definitions of poor and developing country, the poorest of the poor. These are the people we actually want to help and here the "Tax Justice" campaigners are insisting that their wages should be driven even lower. And as Joe Stiglitz has pointed out, their wages could be driven down by more than the actual revenue raised.

This is not, I would submit, a sensible way of improving people's incomes: imposing a tax which we know will reduce those incomes.

As above I usually take my pursuit of these people as a rather jolly blood sport. A day out with the hounds and if the odd vulpine gets harmed well, no matter and that's not really the point of it all: it's the jolly day out that is. But then we find them proposing something quite as barmy, even evil, as this. They simply will not listen to what they are being told about the incidence of corporate taxation. They just don't want to believe that it's not either the company or the evil capitalists who bear the burden of these taxes. As a result they ignore that their recommendations will grind the faces of the poor even more firmly into the dust. At which point the pursuit of their errors become less a jolly day out and more of a necessary duty.

If you want to raise wages in poor and small economies then you want more multinationals to invest in those poor and small economies. Trying to tax said multinationals more so that they invest less and thus depress wages just isn't a good method of raising living standards in these places. We want to tax less, not more.



Cost-Cutting Board Ready to Veto Your Doctor

By Nat Hentoff

A major section of Obamacare that requires employers to provide health insurance for their employees or pay a fine has been postponed until 2015, resulting in much confusion and controversy around the nation. But little attention has been paid to the president’s most threatening weapon for cutting health care costs: the Independent Payment Advisory Board. It still remains, causing the administration fury when it’s called a “death panel.”

The IPAB is, according to the authors, “directed to ‘develop detailed and specific proposals related to the Medicare program,’ including proposals cutting Medicare spending below a statutorily prescribed level.”

For instance, as I’ve pointed out, whatever Medicare-paid prescriptions your physician has authorized for your benefit can be vetoed by the IPAB (whose members have never examined you) if they cost too much.

Meanwhile, this 15-member board, which can remove you from the universe, “will control more than a half-trillion dollars of federal spending annually.”

Rivkin and Foley continue: “Once the board acts, its decisions can be overruled only by Congress, and only through unprecedented and constitutionally dubious legislative procedures — featuring restricted debate, short deadlines for actions by congressional committees … and super-majoritarian voting requirements.”

In this United States of Obama, “The law allows Congress to kill the otherwise inextirpable board only by a three-fifths super majority, and only by a vote that takes place in 2017 between Jan. 1 and Aug. 15.”

If this board “fails to implement cuts, all of its powers are to be exercised by (Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen) Sebelius or her successor.”

I don’t remember voting for her or him.

Rivkin and Foley say with fearful logic: “At a time when many Americans have been unsettled by abuses at the Internal Revenue Service and Justice Department, the introduction of a powerful and largely unaccountable board into health care merits special scrutiny.”

It sure does. What will members of Congress do about this next outrage by Obama? What will the 2016 presidential candidates say about it?

There’s more that needs special scrutiny. When I first heard of what follows — “Another ObamaCare Tax That Is Bad for Your Health” (Fred Burbank and Thomas J. Fogarty, The Wall Street Journal, July 8) — I was very disturbed. This cold-hearted Obama reduction of our health care possibilities took me back almost 20 years. I was 69 at the time, and my physician told me, “Your life is hanging by a thread. I must prepare you for open-heart bypass surgery.”

As described at about.com, during this procedure, the chest is opened with an incision that allows the surgeon access to the heart, which is temporarily stopped with a solution of potassium (“What Happens During Open Heart Surgery,” about.com).

“At this time,” the article continues, “the heart-lung machine does the work of the heart and the lungs.”

While I was getting ready for this very daunting surgery, my doctor and others told me how lucky I was because this particular open-heart procedure had only become possible some years before with newly researched techniques.

But now, under Obama, as physicians Burbank and Fogarty report in their op-ed for The Wall Street Journal: “On Jan. 1, manufacturers of medical devices in the U.S. were hit with a new 2.3 percent tax on revenue, one of the many sources of money tapped to pay for Obamacare …

“Its effect on U.S. medical-device startups— the small companies that fuel innovation — may prove devastating.”

Why? Burbank and Fogarty answer: “Coincident with the 2.3 percent tax, venture capital investment in medical devices has all but ceased. … Ask yourself two questions: Who would want to invest in a highly regulated, government-controlled industry that faces a unique tax? What startup medical device company can reach the magical break-even point with a (special) tax on its revenue?

“When combined with the ever-increasing time it takes to get approval from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the Food and Drug Administration, this levy is bound to destroy startups and stunt medical-device innovation in the U.S. and thus the quality of health care worldwide.”



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


July 25, 2013

The Shawarma Republics are Burning


(A Shawarma is a Middle-Eastern sandwich comprised of different meats mixed together -- JR)

Syria is burning, not because of the Arab Spring or Tyranny or Twitter, or any of the other popular explanations. The fire in Syria is the same firestorm burning in Iraq, in Turkey, in Lebanon and throughout much of the Muslim world. It has nothing to do with human rights or democracy. There is no revolution here. Only the eternal civil war.

Most people accept countries with ancient names like Egypt, Jordan and Syria as a given. If they think about it at all they assume that they were always around, or were restored after the fall of the Ottoman Empire. But actually the countries of the Middle East are mostly artificial creations borrowing a history that is not their own.

When Mohammed unleashed a fanatical round of conquests and crusades, he began by wrecking the cultures and religions of his native region. And his followers went on to do the same throughout the region and across the world.

Entire peoples lost their history, their past, their religion and their way of life. This cultural genocide was worst in Africa, Asia and parts of Europe. But the Middle Eastern peoples lost much of their heritage as well.

The Muslim conquerors made a special point of persecuting and exterminating the native beliefs and indigenous inhabitants they dominated. Israeli Jews, Assyrian Christians and Persian Zoroastrians faced special persecution.

Conquered peoples were expected to become Muslims. Those who resisted were repressed as Dhimmis. But those who submitted and became Muslims suffered a much worse fate, losing major portions of their traditions and history. They were expected to define themselves as Muslims first and look back to the great day when their conquerors subjugated them as the beginning of their history. Their pre-Islamic history faded into the mists of the ignorant past.

But Islam did not lead to a unified region, only to a prison of nations. The Caliphates, like the USSR, held sway over a divided empire through repression and force. Many of those peoples had lost a clear sense of themselves, but they still maintained differences that they expressed by modifying Islam to accommodate their existing beliefs and customs.

Islamic authorities viewed this as nothing short of heresy. It was against some such heresies that the Wahhabi movement was born. But these attempts to force the peoples of the region into one mold were doomed to fail.

Islam came about to stamp out all differences, to reduce all men to one, to blend state and mosque into one monstrous law for all. And it did succeed to some extent. Many cultures and beliefs were driven nearly to extinction. Jews, Christians and others struggled to survive in the walls of a hostile civilization. But Islam could not remain united and the divisions resurfaced in other ways.

Muslim armies did succeed in conquering much of the world in a frenzy of plunder and death. But they quickly turned on each other. Rather than conquering the world, they went on to fight over the plunder and the power. Nothing has really changed since then.

The fall of the Ottoman Empire brought in the Europeans to reconstruct the Middle East. The modern states are the work of their hands. A clumsy mismatch of borders and warring peoples. The USSR came after with its own line of coups and Arab Socialist dictatorships. Now the third wave of Islamist tyrannies is on the march. But none of them can solve the basic problems of the region.

Syria is burning not because of human rights, but because it's a collection of different peoples with different variants of Islam who don't get along. A handful are descended from the original natives. The rest are foreign Arab invaders, some more recent than others. The story repeats itself across the region. And across the world.

Iraq, Bahrain, Syria, Lebanon are just some examples of countries permanently divided by such a mismatch of peoples. Agreements and elections come to nothing because no group believes that they will be treated as equals if they aren't in power. And they're right. Equality doesn't just come from open elections, but from a cultural acceptance of differences. This simply does not exist in the Muslim world where gender differences mean you're a force of corruption or a slave, ethnic differences mean you are the son of a dog, and religious differences mean you're an enemy.

Had the forces of Islam not turned the Middle East upside down, the nation state might have evolved out of individual cultures, rather than as a strange hybrid of feudalism and Great Powers colonialism. For all their bluster and viciousness, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon are abandoned colonies. The Gulf states are even worse, backward clans of cutthroat merchants who are parasitically feeding off the West, even as they try to destroy it.

The rulers invariably marry Western women or women with a large dose of Western blood. Sadat married the daughter of an English woman. Mubarak married the daughter of a Welsh woman. For all that the Hashemites tout their descent from Mohammed, Queen Noor is more Anglo-Saxon than Arab. And the current Jordanian King's mother was originally known as Toni Gardner. Even when they do marry Arab women, they are usually Christian Arabs and British educated.

There's something pathetic about the sight of the post-colonial Arab leadership trying to gain some psychological legitimacy by intermarrying with their former rulers. As if pumping enough English blood into the veins of their offspring will somehow make them as capable as the Empire that ruled them and then left to attend to its own affairs.

But not nearly as pathetic as half of them claiming descent from Mohammed. Both reveal the underlying historical instability of their rule. These aren't nation states, they're hopelessly dysfunctional geographical divisions bristling with Western weapons and money, with interpretations of the Koran and texts on Arab Socialism, where everyone is a philosopher and a scholar-- but no government lasts longer than it takes to overthrow it.

Every colonel and general dreams of empire, and every cleric in his flea ridden robes theorizes on the Islamic state, but none of them can do anything but act out the same murderous dramas. Building their house of cards and then watching it tumble down.

Had Western shenanigans not raised the price of bread, while providing support to local leftists from wealthy families, the Arab Spring would not exist. Now that it has, it's only another excuse for locals to fight their civil wars and then erect another ramshackle regime on the ruins of the old.

This isn't 1848 as some have theorized. It's 848, over and over again. Worse still, it's 748.

When you don't have a nation, but you do have an army, then what you have is not a state, but a Shawarma Republic. To keep the army from overthrowing the leader, he must find internal or external enemies. When a downturn occurs, and the mobs gather, either the army massacres the mob or overthrows the ruler. Or the rebels cut a deal with some internal elements and wipe out the loyalists.

This is an old regional narrative that has nothing to do with democracy, human rights, Twitter or any of the other nonsense flowing through New York Times columns faster than the sewers of Cairo.

The modern Shawarma Republic has some royal or military ruler at the top who receives money from the West or from its enemies to hold up his end of the bargain. Which to him means stowing the money into foreign bank accounts, sending his trophy wife on shopping trips to Paris and striking a fine balancing between wiping out his enemies and buying them off.

Naturally he carries on the ritualistic chant of "Death to Israel", and if Israel ever looks weak enough, or his new Chinese or Iranian allies kick in the money for a full fledged invasion, he may even take a whack at it. But mostly the chants of "Death to Israel" are a convenient way of executing his enemies for collaborating with Israel.

In Syria, Assad's Shawarma Republic (officially the Syrian Arab Republic, formerly the United Arab Republic, after a bunch of coups and one kingdom, the privately owned fiefdom of the dumbest scion of the clan) is on fire. Because the enemies of the regime, and some of its former allies, got around to exploiting Bashar Assad's weakness.

For now Assad's armies backed by his Iranian allies are in control of the Shawarma Republic of Syria but that might change. Especially now that Turkey and much of the Arab world have stepped into the anti-Assad camp. And when the fireworks die down, and the corpses are cleaned up off the streets, there will be another Shawarma Republic. This one may not be run by the Alawites. But it will be run by someone, and it won't be the people.

The irony is that after turning Lebanon into its puppet, Syria got the same treatment from Iran. And if a revolt succeeds, then it might get the same treatment from Turkey. The big dog bites the little dog, and the bigger dog bites it.

The process can't be stopped, because the Islamic conquests that wrecked the region, the Caliphates that tried to make it static, and the colonial mapmakers who turned it into a ridiculous puzzle of fake countries filled with people who hate each other-- make it impossible.

There was a brief window after the war when the exit of empires and the presence of a large Western educated class seemed as if they might lead to working societies. Instead they led to the pathetic imitations of the worst of the West, dress up generals and scholars cranking out monographs explaining how everything could be made right with their theory. Now it's leading back to Islamism and the bloody clashes in the desert that originated this permanent state of dysfunction.

The Islamic Caliphate as a panacea for the problems caused by Islamic caliphates is about as good an idea as pouring gasoline on a fire. Which is exactly what the Islamists financed by Gulf royals, who can't help cutting throats even when it's their own, are doing.

You can't build a country out of armies and billions of dollars. The reason that Israel works and the Arab world doesn't is very simple. The Jews retained their identity. The perpetrators and victims of Islam who surround them have no roots. Only the sword in their hand and the shifting sands under their feet.



“Stand Your Ground” Critics Personify European Pacifism, Not American Values

The legal concept of standing one’s ground against deadly force has been a part of American culture since our founding as a nation; and has been an explicit component of our country’s law for more than 100 years. An individual’s right to possess a firearm to defend one’s self is guaranteed unequivocally in the Second Amendment to our Constitution. And, in the case known as Beard v. United States, the Supreme Court in 1895 ruled that a person facing a violent assault may repel that action by force, including deadly force, without first “retreating.”

This century-old legal precedent defined what now are commonly referred to as “Stand Your Ground” laws, which have been adopted by some 30 states. Those laws now are being targeted by anti-gun advocates such as President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, as well as by some moderate Republican lawmakers, including Arizona Sen. John McCain. The catalyst for such criticism is the recent acquittal of George Zimmerman by a Florida jury, which found him not guilty in the shooting death last year of Trayvon Martin.

In fact, the Florida jury’s recent decision acquitting Zimmerman was based not on that state’s Stand Your Ground law, but on the even more basic common law principle of self-defense. Never pausing to allow facts to get in the way of excuses to push their gun-control agenda, however, Obama and Holder are leading the crusade to weaken or repeal state Stand Your Ground Laws based on the Zimmerman verdict.

Even if Zimmerman’s lawyers had invoked Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, it might not have cleared him of wrongdoing. The fact of the matter is – despite the effort to demonize such laws by the gun-control crowd – the statutes do not offer a blank check to “shoot first and ask questions later;” neither do they serve as a “Get Out of Jail Free” card for those involved in contested shooting incidents. The Tampa Bay Times, for example, compiled a list of more than 200 shooting incidents across Florida involving the Stand Your Ground law. Of the 133 incidents in which the shootings were fatal, only 54 percent were deemed justified by the courts.

Yet, in a speech delivered to the NAACP mere days after the Zimmerman verdict, Holder slammed Stand Your Ground laws, saying they “senselessly expand the concept of self-defense.” He added that such laws undermine public safety by “allowing -- and perhaps encouraging -- violent situations to escalate in public.” Holder has also criticized Stand Your Ground supporters for “creating an issue where none existed,” which is, ironically, exactly what he is doing.

Obama, Holder, and other critics of Stand Your Ground laws are, in effect, adopting the notion that it is not the responsibility of the individual to defend himself or herself against attack, but rather the government’s duty to do so for them. In this worldview, the individual is supposed meekly to “back away” from a confrontation and let the State, through police intervention -- one supposes – take over. This is the European cultural view -- a philosophy very much at odds with that on which our nation was founded, and which served us well until recently, when the gun-control crowd began its push for cultural recognition.

We are a nation that was founded precisely on the notion of taking a stand and repelling aggressors who sought to take away what was rightfully ours. Ours was not a nation that retreated when the British sent their ships to our shores. We always have protected our homeland and defended it from harm. “The west was won,” not by retreating and backing away from confrontations with adverse forces, but rather by meeting and overcoming those challenges. It is the quintessential American way. And it is one reason America is the sole remaining world superpower and European nations are not.

This same principle is at work in Stand Your Ground laws across America; laws reflecting the reality that retreating when facing a violent assailant rarely, if ever, carries the day for the victim.

Moreover, Stand Your Ground laws remove the confusion over when, and how, citizens may legally defend themselves in situations of peril. It takes much of the “legal guesswork” out of situations where every second counts, and second-guessing could lead to extreme bodily harm, or even death.

Rather than weaken Americans’ right to self-defense, we should be strengthening such a fundamental right, and trust the courts to adjudicate and render justice when and where needed. Europeans may think otherwise -- as apparently do Obama, Holder, McCain and others here in America. However, most Americans would, I suspect, put their faith not in European pacifism, but in the understanding and resolve of the American people and our forbears.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


July 24, 2013

Conservatives Should Point and Laugh as Detroit Dies

Detroit represents the epitome of the blue state, Democrat machine liberalism that Barack Obama represents. Well, not one damn cent for Barry’s Kids.

Liberal media mouthpieces like the New York Times are all in a tizzy because the consequences conservatives have been warning America about for years are finally arriving. “We have to step in and save Detroit,” it cries. We don’t have to do any such thing.

Steven Rattner, writing in the Times, says “But apart from voting in elections, the 700,000 remaining residents of the Motor City are no more responsible for Detroit’s problems than were the victims of Hurricane Sandy for theirs, and eventually Congress decided to help them.” And apart from the iceberg, the Titanic’s maiden voyage went swimmingly.

This is a problem created by the people of Detroit. It’s their problem to solve – without our money.

If you listen to the hand-wringers, you’ll never hear an honest examination of why Detroit is imploding. Nor do they offer any evidence that the half-wits who elected the quarter-wit Democrats governing them have learned anything at all from this trip to the precipice.

The most hilarious arguments are the ones where liberals whine about the middle class fleeing from the city, taking jobs and the tax base with them. Sure, regular folks took a look at the well-governed, stable, crime-free Utopia that was Detroit and thought, “Yeah, we need to get the hell out of here.”

Liberalism and the political, economic and social pathologies it spawned drove everyone out of Detroit who wasn’t feeding at the municipal trough, whether through some form of government job or some form of government handout.

This isn’t a chicken and the egg brainteaser. It’s simple cause and effect. Liberalism turned Detroit into a hideous dump that milked those who contribute to society to pay off the Democrat machine’s constituents who don’t. People didn’t feel like living in a pig sty while serving as piggy banks for corrupt Democrats. The productive decided that while the non-productive might win by voting at the ballot box, the productive would win by voting with their feet.

Yeah, Detroit had some hard knocks. The auto industry collapsed, which is not surprising since it was the blue state model in corporatist form. But every city takes hits. Dallas and Houston have been slammed again and again by the energy sector, and they keep coming back.

Not Detroit. It keeps milking the “GM went bye-bye” excuse, with its apologists never mentioning that GM didn’t just disappear. GM just went to places that didn’t suck.

What did Detroit do about it? Nothing. The auto industry started changing decades ago, but liberals act as if that change somehow excuses Detroit’s legacy of corruption and incompetence. Detroit’s most significant export in decades was Eminem. That’s reason enough to want to see a stake driven through its metaphorical heart.

But, of course it’s all the Republicans’ fault…for some reason. Rattner says, “If I thought it could pass Congress, I’d happily support a special appropriation, but the politics of any spending are toxic in Washington these days.” Yeah, it is toxic to suggest that those of us who didn’t vote in a succession of criminals to run our governments give our money to morons who did. And, in any sane universe, no one would ever suggest doing so.

But this is the Times, the voice of Big Liberalism. It opines that, “America is just as much about aiding those less fortunate as it is about personal responsibility.” Except, America isn’t about “aiding the less fortunate.” It’s about the “less fortunate” working to make themselves “more fortunate” – understanding that liberals think people become financially stable not through hard work but by dumb luck.

Not surprisingly, in a Times article referring to the miserable condition of a city run by a liberal Democrat machine for half a century, there is no mention of either liberalism or Democrats. That’s like writing about obesity and not mentioning food.

The liberal elite, which loves root causes, absolutely refuses to admit that the root cause of Detroit’s woes is liberalism itself.



The US could learn from Britain's healthcare mistakes

After the sordid mud-wrestling session in the [House of] Commons last week (official title: statement on the Keogh report by the Health Secretary), could anyone still believe that politicians are the right people to be in charge of healthcare? As Jeremy Hunt and Andy Burnham traded accusations and self-serving denials of blame for the thousands of unnecessary (remember that word) deaths in 14 NHS [British government] hospitals, they almost clean forgot to offer expressions of remorse, regret or sympathy to the victims and their families.

For what it’s worth, Mr Burnham was rather worse than Mr Hunt, but that is by-the-by. This was about as low as party politics gets. Egged on by their screaming supporters behind them, the front bench spokesmen presented us with a very nearly perfect case for removing the care of the sick from government manipulation altogether.

An edited video of that squalid parliamentary occasion should be made available to every member of the Obama administration and every Democratic congressman who is desperate for the US federal government to take charge of healthcare. Lesson: this is what happens when political parties are directly responsible for the dispensation of medical treatment. If you have power over a system, then you are held responsible when it fails. If medical and administrative personnel know that they are accountable to government, they are liable to put the demands of politicians over the concerns of patients – even if they know those demands to be mistaken or absurd. Not that the White House plan (inevitably known – in spite of the President’s people insisting that it is the Affordable Care Act – as Obamacare) is as remotely monolithic as our own government-owned, government-run, government-funded system. That would be anathema to the political culture of the United States.

In fact, our two countries have precisely opposite phobias: in Britain, anything that is private (or worse, privatised) must be assumed to exist solely to produce Profit, which is axiomatically regarded as wicked. In the US, anything that is run by central government is seen as inherently threatening to personal liberty. So Obamacare had to square an impossible circle, and ended up with something like the worst of all worlds. In order to guarantee medical care for everyone in the country while avoiding universal government provision – which would be socialist in the true sense of the word – the plan makes it a legal requirement for everyone to buy private health insurance.

The original rule was that all companies with more than 50 employees would be required by law to provide them with health cover but that has gone out the window (sorry, been delayed) because the business community objected.

Unfortunately, the poor individual, not having quite the same clout in Washington as big companies, is still stuck. He will have to pay for a health insurance policy – whether he wants it, or thinks he needs it, or not – or be fined.

Now that would be a very strange sort of law in any free society, let alone one that is positively paranoid about personal liberty. Should a democratic government be able to make it legally necessary for you to buy a product you do not want to cover the cost of your potential needs? It is true that in most countries you are legally obliged to have certain kinds of third party cover – on car insurance, for example – but that is to provide for the protection of other members of society, not yourself. What the Obamacare law is designed to do is pull the young and fit compulsorily into the health insurance net so that, in actuarial terms, risks are spread more widely and the cost of premiums comes down. It is a matter of hot debate at the moment in Washington as to whether this will actually be the result. In the meantime, there is huge popular resistance to the compulsion involved and to the overweening political interference in what most Americans see as the highly personal relationship between doctor and patient.

But America’s stumbling healthcare programme is not alone in creating bizarre anomalies. The absolute terror in which politicians of all parties in Britain confront the impossible dilemma of funding the NHS has led us into a positive Wonderland of self-contradiction and absurdity. The Nuffield Trust estimates that there will be roughly a £50 billion deficit between funding and demand for healthcare by the end of the next parliament.

Every sane politician knows that the present arrangements are unsustainable: even if we managed to reform the standards of hospital care to prevent patients dying of starvation and thirst, there is no way that a fit-for-the-21st-century comprehensive medical system can be afforded solely out of taxation. But say this to a Tory minister (or one of his team) and he will start shrieking about electoral doom. As one very sensible Conservative said to me recently: “You can’t start charging for things that people now get for free. We’d lose the next election.”

Well no, that is not the way to introduce a mixed economy in healthcare: you don’t “start charging for things” willy-nilly. You just start allowing people to pay for things above and beyond their NHS care without penalising them. Which, of course, is what they do already every time they go to the chemist and buy aspirin for a headache – on which grounds nobody threatens to take away their right to NHS treatment for the headache.

But try that with a cancer drug that the NHS doesn’t believe is cost-effective and will not administer, and you will be accused of illicitly “topping up” your NHS care and possibly (as has actually happened) be denied further treatment for your illness. Our healthcare system is so monopolistic that it will not permit you to spend your own money (for fear of creating “two-tier” healthcare), while the proposed US system is determined to force you to spend your money on a product you don’t want. This is crazy.

Lessons: no country can afford modern health care without a mixed funding system of some kind. The more power politicians have over the running of that system, the more likely it is to get bogged down in partisan point-scoring. The more choice and responsibility reside with the patient and the clinician respectively (rather than with the bureaucrat and the government), the greater the chance that people will receive proper care. The more government tends to function as an exacting purchaser and regulator of services, rather than as a provider of them, the less likely it is to cover up or ignore the fact that thousands of people are dying unnecessarily on its watch.

Couldn’t we start treating voters like grown-ups, and talk sense about this?



Lies, damn lies, and America’s astonishingly partisan, corrupt media

The disgracefully slanted coverage of the trial of George Zimmerman is only the latest, prominent example of liberal media bias. Since the 2012 presidential election, America’s national media hasn’t let up. It’s pushing harder on its pro-liberal Democrat and anti-conservative Republican slant.

Consider Obamacare.

In recent days, organized labor turned harshly and vocally against the so called “Affordable Care Act.” Three leaders of America’s largest unions, including Jimmy Hoffa, wrote a jaw-dropping letter to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. Excerpts of their arguments sound like a Republican opposition brief:

“When you and the President sought oursupport for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), you pledged that if we liked the health plans we have now, we could keep them. Sadly, that promise is under threat. Right now, unless you and the Obama Administration enact an equitable fix, the ACA will shatter not only our hard-earned health benefits, but destroy the foundation of the 40 hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class.”

“We have been strong supporters of you. In campaign after campaign we have put boots on the ground, gone door-to-door to get out the vote, run phone banks and raised money to secure this vision. Now this vision has come back to haunt us.”

“Time is running out: Congress wrote this law; we voted for you. We have a problem; you need to fix it. The unintended consequences of the ACA are severe. Perverse incentives are already creating nightmare scenarios.”

“The law creates an incentive for employers to keep employees’ work hours below 30 hours a week. Numerous employers have begun to cut workers’ hours to avoid this obligation, and many of them are doing so openly. The impact is two-fold: fewer hours means less pay while also losing our current health benefits”

“As you both know first-hand, our persuasive arguments have been disregarded and met with a stone wall by the White House and the pertinent agencies.”

“On behalf of the millions of working men and women we represent and the families they support, we can no longer stand silent in the face of elements of the Affordable Care Act that will destroy the very health and wellbeing of our members along with millions of other hardworking Americans”

Days later, the Laborers International Union of North America (“International of North America? Gee, do they consider themselves American? But I digress) followed up with a letter to President Obama, warning of “the destructive consequences” of Obamacare if it weren’t drastically modified.

Scathing criticisms of the president’s signature achievement from bulwarks of the liberal Democratic establishment should register high on America’s political Richter scale. Instead, they’re practically tree-fall in an empty forest, because the corrupt broadcast networks aren’t reporting them. Consider if America’s biggest business leaders had delivered comparable blasts at the economic policies of Presidents Bush, Bush, or Reagan. The network amplifiers would have blown their fuses, prolongedly.

The deception reaches deep into new media, as well. This weekend, AOL News informed its millions of viewers that Republicans are “still attacking Obamacare.” Yes, Republicans like Jimmy Hoffa and the Teamsters. The kids online don’t have a clue.

From Big Labor’s pains to the IRS’s depredations, the media con game shifts from silence to farce. Congressional hearings last week revealed the scheme to target conservative groups was directed out of the Office of the IRS Chief Counsel. The Chief Counsel is one of only two agency employees who are appointed by Barack Obama! That bombshell might do more damage than all the explosions in “White House Down,” Hollywood’s flop valentine to Obama.

But it’s not the story from our leading talking heads, who, if they deigned to cover the story at all, either mocked Republicans’ clumsy questioning, or gave heroic, spotlight treatment to Ranking Member and Court-Distractor Elijah Cummings’ idiotic queries whether any witness had discovered a murder weapon with the president’s fingerprints on it, or something like that.

The script is universal and firm: Play stories that help Democrats hard, thoroughly, repeatedly. Stories that help Republicans, if they can’t be ignored, should be delivered quietly and, especially if they hurt the president, for no more than two news cycles at most.

Thus, a recent study by Obama’s own Justice Department concluding that gun control laws are ineffective in reducing gun violence likely will never cross the silky lips of Brian Williams.

An EPA study that failed to link fracking—hydraulic fracturing—with environmental contamination will not see the broadcast big screen.

Coverage of abortion must emphasize that pro-life is extreme and pro-choice is reasonable. You will never hear the network big-hairs try to pin down Democratic politicians on extreme positions or defying public opinion on things like late term abortion, partial birth abortion, parental consent, or many other vulnerabilities of the NARAL Democrats. It’s not in the script.

No, they’ll stalk and bait and quiz pro-life Republicans, eagerly hunting the next gaffe that can go big time.

The cynical, despicable thing about all this is that even though the public knows it’s being played by cosmopolitan liberals, the game still works. Average Americans might not trust the media further than Barack Obama can throw a game-opening pitch, but the networks still set the agenda and control the subject.

Partisans of right and left seek their favored outlets. But the consciousness of the non-political middle is shaped by the legacy media, and the legacy media is a corrupt PR arm for the Democratic Party.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


July 23, 2013

A prince is born

The crowd outside Buckingham Palace

The birth of a healthy baby is always a time of happiness but the birth of a Royal baby has just sent much of Britan demented. And that joy is felt in other countries where the Queen reigns too. It is great news in Australia where I live. Americans usually seem not to understand at all what it is like to grow up in a monarchy. There are ancient tribal emotions involved. It is very uplifting and a source of pride. The secret is that the Royal family are seen as the splendid branch of OUR family. We know them well and feel a connection to them. Their glory is our glory. French "gloire" is a phantasm. The glory of the Royal family is real.

No lurch is too far: Far Left magazine now honors anti-American terrorist

The dwindling number of people still reading Rolling Stone knows that just as MTV no longer is a music station, this is not just a music magazine. Nevertheless, the magazine's covers are almost always rock and pop stars, and sometimes movie and TV actors. In recent months, that list has included glamorizing shots of Jay-Z, Rihanna, Bruno Mars and Justin Bieber (who's now "Hot, Ready, Legal").

But nearly every issue also carries political commentary from fiercely frothing leftist writers like Matt Taibbi. When the editors decided to put Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on the cover, they knew they were courting controversy. They must have known they were chasing notoriety by insulting people who lost relatives or their own limbs in Dzhokhar's terrorist attack.

What must have been the reaction of the parents who lost 8-year-old Martin Richard?

The victims and their families surely choked when the magazine responded to the furor by claiming, "Our hearts go out to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, our thoughts are always with them and their families." What arrogant nonsense.

Boston's liberal Democrat mayor, Tom Menino, delivered a scathing rebuke in a letter to publisher Jann Wenner. "The survivors of the Boston attacks deserve Rolling Stone cover stories, though I no longer feel that Rolling Stone deserves them."

Rolling Stone claimed the cover story would showcase everything writer Janet Reitman found by spending "two months interviewing dozens of sources — childhood and high school friends, teachers, neighbors and law enforcement agents, many of whom spoke for the first time about the case — to deliver a riveting and heartbreaking account of how a charming kid with a bright future became a monster."

And then they put his picture, James Dean-like, on the cover. They claimed this kind of reporting is part of their journalistic tradition. It isn't.

Their tradition has not included regular covers with newsmakers or notorious bombers. When their journalism on Afghanistan abruptly ended the career of Gen. Stanley McChrystal in 2010, the cover displayed Lady Gaga nearly nude, her body covered only by a thong bikini and two machine guns.

Some tried to defend Rolling Stone by noting that several news organizations had used the same picture of Tsarnaev, including the front page of The New York Times.
But Rolling Stone occupies a special zone in the popular culture, where top musicians hope and pray to know they've "made it" by making the cover.

If Sports Illustrated had put Dzhokhar on its cover, that would also be jarring. They could have. They didn't. They put cops and a disoriented runner on the cover at the time of the murders.

The text of the cover doesn't glorify the killer. It reads: "The Bomber: How a Popular, Promising Student Was Failed by His Family, Fell Into Radical Islam, and Became a Monster."

But that glimmer of sadness for the bomber's lost childhood, the disappearance of a "charming kid with a bright future," shows more effort to find a terrorist's moral center than the magazine showed any of the last three Republican presidential nominees.

Last year, Rolling Stone's cover carried a cartoon of Mitt Romney in a top hat and an ascot with the words "Greed and Debt: The True Story of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital." Matt Taibbi sold Romney as pure evil:

"Romney's run has been a shimmering pearl of perfect political hypocrisy. ... Romney chose his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin — like himself, a self-righteously anal, thin-lipped, Whitest Kids U Know penny pincher who'd be honored to tell Oliver Twist there's no more soup left."

In 2008, John McCain was also a cartoon on the cover, with the words "Make-Believe Maverick: A closer look at the life and career of John McCain reveals a disturbing record of recklessness and dishonesty."

Rolling Stone also ran two cartoon covers of George W. Bush, both making him look very much like a chimpanzee. Keith Olbermann lovingly promoted the 2006 cover titled, "The Worst President In History?" They followed in 2008 with "How Bush Destroyed the Republican Party." Both were written by socialist historian Sean Wilentz. In 2006, Wilentz admitted to Olbermann, "I think the cover actually is a bit over the top."

When Obama was inaugurated, the magazine did it again with a more serious illustration of Bush 43 and a cover story that was completely made up. "Exclusive! Bush Apologizes: The Farewell Interview We Wish He'd Give."

No one expects Rolling Stone to follow up with a cover that imagines "Dzhokar Apologizes: The Prison Interview We Wish He'd Give." If they had ever really had the Boston victims in their hearts, they might. But they don't.



Harvard Historian Warns the State Is Causing the West’s ‘Great Degeneration’

Jay Lehr reviews "The Great Degeneration: How Institutions Decay and Economies Die" By Niall Ferguson

What causes rich countries to lose their way? Symptoms of decline are all around us: slowing growth, crushing debts, increasing inequality, and aging populations. What exactly has gone wrong? Niall Ferguson argues in this book that the intricate framework of our institutions is degenerating.

Representative government, the free market, the rule of law, and a free society are each addressed in separate chapters of this brief book. These institutions set the West on the path to prosperity, and they have dramatically declined Ferguson, tells us.

Governments have broken the implied contracts among generations by heaping IOUs on our children and grandchildren. Our markets are hindered by overly complex regulations. Why is it 100 times more expensive to bring a new medicine to market than it was 60 years ago? he asks. And he wonders if the Food and Drug Administration would prohibit the sale of table salt if it were put forward as a new product because of its toxicity in large doses.

Having been more than 20 times wealthier than the average Chinese as recently as 1978, the average American is now just five times wealthier, Ferguson notes. In a whole range of dimensions the gap between the West and the rest has narrowed dramatically. In terms of life expectancy and educational attainment, some Asian countries are now ahead of most in the West.

Ferguson argues these declines in institutional leadership have been partly a result of a lack of transparency, which could not be allowed in private business. The only hope for improvement will come when all institutions enter into the daylight.

Complexity vs. Simplicity

Today it seems that the balance of opinion favors complexity over simplicity, rules over discretion, codes of compliance over individual and corporate responsibility. Ferguson believes this results from a flawed understanding of how financial markets work.

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 is a nearly perfect example of excessive complexity of regulation, according to Ferguson. The Act requires that regulators create 243 new financial rules, conduct 67 studies, and issue 22 periodic reports.

The author shows that the most regulated institutions in the financial system have become the most disaster-prone. Furthermore, no one is regulating the regulators. Ferguson draws parallels between economic development and Darwin’s theories of biologic development.

Reminiscent of Tocqueville

Ferguson’s analysis calls to mind that of Alexis de Tocqueville nearly 180 years ago. Many persons can recall Tocqueville’s complimentary essays in his book Democracy in America, in which the French political philosopher and historian favorably describes the national character and institutions of America during his travels around the country in the 1830s. Readers of Democracy in America seem to have forgotten his warnings. He anticipated a future society in which associational life has died.

“I see an innumerable crowd of like and equal men who revolve on themselves without repose procuring the small and vulgar pleasures with which they fill their souls,” Tocqueville wrote. “Each of them, withdrawn and apart is like a stranger to the destiny of all the others; his children and particular friends form the whole human species for him; as for dwelling with his fellow citizens, he is beside them but he does not see them, he touches them but does not feel them; he exists only in himself and for his self alone.

“Thus, after taking each individual by turns in its powerful hands and kneading him as it likes, the sovereign extends its arms over society as a whole. It covers its surface as a network of small complicated, painstaking, uniform rules to which the most original minds and the most vigorous souls can not clear away to surpass the crowd, it does not break wills, but it softens them, bends them and directs them; it rarely forces one to act, but it constantly opposes itself to one’s acting; it does not destroy, it prevents things from being born; it does not tyrannize, it hinders, compromises, enervates, extinguishes, dazes, and finally reduces each nation to being nothing more than a herd of timid and industrious animals of which the government is the shepherd.”

Tocqueville saw the state -- with its seductive promise of security from the cradle to the grave -- as the real enemy of civil society. Ferguson is in sympathy with this view.

Need for Private Schools

Toward the end of his both depressing and hopeful book, Ferguson makes a great case for dramatically increasing the number private kindergarten through grade 12 schools. He notes American universities, largely private, are considered among the best in the world, whereas the nation’s government-run K-12 schools are widely regarded as having sharply fallen in quality and behind those of many other nations. He says to expect continued educational mediocrity until there are substantially more private and charter schools that must compete for students.

In his closing paragraphs he quotes much of President Barack Obama’s “You Didn’t Build That” speech, which he delivered while campaigning for reelection in 2012.

“If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help,” Obama said. “There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business—you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen.”

Ferguson calls it the voice of a state destined to further degeneration.



R.I.P. Larry Grathwohl

Our friend, Larry Grathwohl, has died.

Larry served our country above and beyond the call of duty by infiltrating Weather Underground subversives and reporting on their seditious plots to the FBI, on which he would later testify before Congress.

Lest people think that the Weather Underground is a forgotten movement from US history, many of its former leaders now hold prominent roles in academia and serve in key Obama administration positions. The WU still calls the shots, having exchanged bombs for briefcases, and actively promoting the destruction of America.

This year Larry republished his book Bringing Down America, which chronicles his experiences with the Weathermen, and went on a book tour. We met him when he visited Florida and became friends.

He was funny, had a sharp mind, and was an eloquent speaker. We consider ourselves lucky for being able to spend some quality downtime with Larry and on several occasions pick his brain about his life with the radicals and beyond, over a bottle of Maker's Mark, his favorite.

If the world were fair, the news of Larry's passing would be scrawled across every news broadcast. But in a world run by the former subversives, "fairness" means lynch mobs, government-organized theft, suppression of the truth, and glorification of crime.

If the world were fair, Bill Ayers, Bernadine Dohrn, Mark Rudd, et. al, would be in federal prison, schoolchildren would be taught the real definition of communism, and American ideals would continue to be the guiding light of the free world.

With the passing of Larry Grathwohl, America grew a little dimmer.



Israelis, Palestinians skeptical about Kerry's peace talks

The talks are just a facesaver for flip-flop Kerry (who probably still has the hat)

Israeli and Palestinian officials voiced skepticism Sunday that they can move toward a peace deal, as the sides inched toward what may be the first round of significant negotiations in five years.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced late last week that an agreement has been reached that establishes the basis for resuming peace talks. He cautioned that such an agreement still needs to be formalized, suggesting that gaps remain.

In his first on-camera comment Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to lower expectations by saying the talks will be tough and any agreement would have to be ratified by Israelis in a national referendum.

Netanyahu pledged to insist on Israel's security needs above all — saying his main guiding principles will be to maintain a Jewish majority in Israel and avoid a future Palestinian state in the West Bank becoming an Iranian-backed "terror state."

"I am committed to two objectives that must guide the result — if there will be a result. And if there will be a result, it will be put to a national referendum," he said at the start of his weekly Cabinet meeting. "It won't be easy. But we are entering the talks with integrity, honesty, and hope that this process is handled responsibly, seriously and to the point."


There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc


For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


July 22, 2013

The Zimmerman case is an excellent proof that the Left is deep-down racist

Blacks are dying at the hands of other blacks daily in Chicago and elsewhere. What do we hear from the Left about that? Crickets. A white man kills a black man in an act of self defense and what do we hear about that? Boiling outrage nationwide! At the very least it is clear that whites (even "Hispanic whites") are held to a much higher standard of behavior than blacks.

All those protesting would appear to believe that their protest will do some good. They clearly believe that Zimmerman has slipped from the very high standard applicable to whites and should be punished for that. If different standards for different races don't equate to racism, I don't know what would.

Faced with a problem like Chicago, Leftists clearly just throw up their hands. They clearly see blacks as different -- and different in a most alarming and incurable way. The Christian adage that all life is sacred clearly does not apply to blacks as perceived by Leftists. Black life taken by another black is not worth one thousandth of the protest that is being aimed at George Zimmerman. All the world knows of George Zimmerman but who knows even the names of the black killers in Chicago?

While they would never admit it in words, Leftist behaviour clearly shows that they regard blacks as chronically inferior and beyond redemption. In their secret minds, they may even put it down to genetics -- JR


Sorry, the Zimmerman Case Still Has Nothing to Do With 'Stand Your Ground'

The story that George Zimmerman told about his fight with Trayvon Martin, the one that yesterday persuaded a jury to acquit him of second-degree murder and manslaughter, never had anything to do with the right to stand your ground when attacked in a public place.

Knocked down and pinned to the ground by Martin, Zimmerman would not have had an opportunity to escape as Martin hit him and knocked his head against the concrete. The duty to retreat therefore was irrelevant.

The initial decision not to arrest Zimmerman, former Sanford, Florida, Police Chief Bill Lee said last week (as paraphrased by CNN), "had nothing to do with Florida's controversial 'Stand Your Ground' law" because "from an investigative standpoint, it was purely a matter of self-defense."

And as The New York Times explained last month, "Florida's Stand Your Ground law...has not been invoked in this case." The only context in which "stand your ground" was mentioned during the trial was as part of the prosecution's attempt to undermine Zimmerman's credibility by arguing that he lied when he told Fox News host Sean Hannity that he had not heard of the law until after the shooting. During his rebuttal on Friday, prosecutor John Guy declared, "This case is not about standing your ground."

So how did Benjamin Jealous, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, respond to Zimmerman's acquittal last night? By announcing that "we will continue to fight for the removal of Stand Your Ground laws in every state."

And how did the Times, the same paper that last month noted Zimmerman's defense did not rely on the right to stand your ground, describe Florida's self-defense law after he was acquitted? This way:

"The shooting brought attention to Florida's expansive self-defense laws. The laws allow someone with a reasonable fear of great bodily harm or death to use lethal force, even if retreating from danger is an option. In court, the gunman is given the benefit of the doubt."

While it's true that Florida has eliminated the duty to retreat for people attacked in public, that provision played no role in Zimmerman's defense or his acquittal. And contrary to what the Times seems to think, giving the defendant the benefit of the doubt is not unique to Florida. It is a basic principle of criminal justice in America.

NPR likewise keeps insisting that the Zimmerman case somehow casts doubt on the wisdom or fairness of "stand your ground" laws. In a story that summarized the events leading to Zimmerman's trial, correspondent Gene Demby said Florida's "stand-your-ground self-defense law...figured to be a major pillar of Zimmerman's defense."

No, it didn't, given his description of the fight. And once the trial started, it was obvious that "stand your ground" had nothing to do with Zimmerman's defense. Yet Greg Allen, the NPR reporter covering the trial, said this last week: "Under Florida's Stand Your Ground law, Zimmerman need only convince the jury that he was acting in self-defense and was in fear of death or great bodily harm to win acquittal."

Allen forgot to mention that the fear must be reasonable, and he implied that the jury had to be fully convinced by Zimmerman's story to acquit him, when in fact it only needed reasonable doubt regarding the prosecution's version of events, in which the shooting was not justified.

Most important, Allen conflated "stand your ground" with the general principle, accepted even in states that impose a duty to retreat in public places, that a reasonable fear your life is in jeopardy justifies the use of lethal force.

You might think that, given all we now know about Zimmerman's actual defense, critics of "stand your ground" laws would have to find a different, more apposite case to illustrate their concerns. Instead they just barrel along, citing the same phony example again and again, without regard to the facts. It does not inspire confidence in their argument.



Black America's Real Problem Isn't White Racism

In the aftermath of the acquittal of George Zimmerman, Eric Holder, Al Sharpton and Ben Jealous of the NAACP are calling on the black community to rise up in national protest.

Yet they know — and Barack Obama, whose silence speaks volumes, knows — nothing is going to happen.

"Stand-Your-Ground" laws in Florida and other states are not going to be repealed. George Zimmerman is not going to be prosecuted for a federal "hate crime" in the death of Trayvon Martin.

The result of all this ginned-up rage that has produced vandalism and violence is simply going to be an ever-deepening racial divide.

Consider the matter of crime and fear of crime. From listening to cable channels and hearing Holder, Sharpton, Jealous and others, one would think the great threat to black children today emanates from white vigilantes and white cops.

Hence, every black father must have a "conversation" with his son, warning him not to resist or run if pulled over or hassled by a cop. Make the wrong move, son, and you may be dead is the implication. But is this the reality in Black America?

When Holder delivered his 2009 "nation-of-cowards" speech blaming racism for racial separation, Manhattan Institute's Heather Mac Donald suggested that our attorney general study his crime statistics.

In New York from January to June 2008, 83 percent of all gun assailants were black, according to witnesses and victims, though blacks were only 24 percent of the population. Blacks and Hispanics together accounted for 98 percent of all gun assailants. Forty-nine of every 50 muggings and murders in the Big Apple were the work of black or Hispanic criminals.

New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly confirms Mac Donald's facts. Blacks and Hispanics commit 96 percent of all crimes in the city, he says, but only 85 percent of the stop-and-frisks are of blacks and Hispanics. And these may involve the kind of pat-downs all of us have had at the airport.

Is stop-and-frisk the work of racist cops in New York, where the crime rate has been driven down to levels unseen in decades?

According to Kelly, a majority of his police force, which he has been able to cut from 41,000 officers to 35,000, is now made up of minorities.

But blacks are also, per capita, the principal victims of crime. Would black fathers prefer their sons to grow up in Chicago, rather than low-crime New York City, with its stop-and-frisk policy?

Fernando Mateo, head of the New York taxicab union, urges his drivers to profile blacks and Hispanics for their own safety: "The God's honest truth is that 99 percent of the people that are robbing, stealing, killing these drivers are blacks and Hispanics."

Mateo is what The New York Times would describe as "a black Hispanic" Yet he may be closer to the 'hood than Holder, who says he was stopped by police when running to a movie — in Georgetown.

Which raises a relevant question. Georgetown is an elitist enclave of a national capital that has been ruled by black mayors for half a century. It's never had a white mayor.

Is Holder saying we've got racist cops in the district where Obama carried 86 percent of the white vote and 97 percent of the black vote? And his son should fear the white cops in Washington, D.C.?

What about interracial crime, white-on-black attacks and the reverse?

After researching the FBI numbers for "Suicide of a Superpower," this writer concluded: "An analysis of 'single offender victimization figures' from the FBI for 2007 finds blacks committed 433,934 crimes against whites, eight times the 55,685 whites committed against blacks. Interracial rape is almost exclusively black on white — with 14,000 assaults on white women by African Americans in 2007. Not one case of a white sexual assault on a black female was found in the FBI study."

Though blacks are outnumbered 5-to-1 in the population by whites, they commit eight times as many crimes against whites as the reverse. By those 2007 numbers, a black male was 40 times as likely to assault a white person as the reverse.

If interracial crime is the ugliest manifestation of racism, what does this tell us about where racism really resides — in America?

And if the FBI stats for 2007 represent an average year since the Tawana Brawley rape-hoax of 1987, over one-third of a million white women have been sexually assaulted by black males since 1987 — with no visible protest from the civil rights leadership.

Today, 73 percent of all black kids are born out of wedlock. Growing up, these kids drop out, use drugs, are unemployed, commit crimes and are incarcerated at many times the rate of Asians and whites — or Hispanics, who are taking the jobs that used to go to young black Americans.

Are white vigilantes or white cops really Black America's problem?

Obama seems not to think so. The Rev. Sharpton notwithstanding, he is touting Ray Kelly as a possible chief of homeland security.



Some exegesis

The intended meaning of Matthew 17:27‏

In the Matthew gospel have you ever asked yourself how we would ever come to understand what Jesus really meant when he told Peter to cast a hook into the lake and take the first fish that comes up; for Peter was to open its mouth, find a coin and take it to the collectors of the temple tax for both of them?

When this Scripture is understood in its literary form, it becomes apparent that Peter is asked by Jesus to go down to the lake as a fisher-of-men, to proclaim the good news. When he raised from the water the first of those who had welcomed the spoken Word and was baptized, what came forth from the mouth of the new disciple were words of praise spoken in the Spirit toward the Father in heaven. [These words of praise are precious, of great value, something of weight: this is the meaning of the Greek word that was translated into the English word, coin.] So, Peter was to return to the collectors of the temple tax at the Father’s house, the temple, to give what is truly acceptable from both he and Jesus–thanksgiving and praise [as an example to the collectors of the temple tax of what was truly acceptable].



The witch is dead!

Many on the extreme left (by that we mean all “journalists”) today are celebrating Helen Thomas’ life. Granted she achieved quite a lot for a woman in the 50s and 60s becoming a prolific White House journalist. It was quite a feat to break into that “man’s world” of the day.

But succeeding in one area does not erase the hate she evinced during that rise. She was always, always a reliable hater of the Joooos, for sure. She was also a reflexive, unfair, and unthinking hater of everything right of the Stalinist left and used her high perch in the world of journalism to attack every Republican she could.

Naturally her pals in the Old Media establishment are using the mild descriptive “controversial” to describe this odious woman... In 2010 Thomas regurgitated some of her hatred for the Jews by wishing that all Jews would go back to Hitler’s Germany.



Funeral Directors want the courts to protect their businesses from competition

Given the outrageous costs of most funerals, they certainly deserve to lose this one

The U.S. Supreme Court should overturn lower court rulings that let Benedictine monks sell caskets from their monastery outside New Orleans because protecting funeral directors' pocketbooks is a legitimate state interest, Louisiana's board of funeral directors says.

Federal district and appeals courts struck down a regulation that only state-licensed funeral directors may sell coffins in Louisiana, saying it existed only to protect special interests and lacked any reasonable legal grounds such as protecting consumers or public health.

The funeral directors' attorneys said their arguments are supported by a 1955 Supreme Court ruling that Oklahoma could require someone who wanted an existing glasses lens fitted into a new frame to get a new prescription and a 1963 decision to uphold a Kansas law limiting the business of debt adjustment to attorneys. The high court said in those cases that judges could not substitute its own opinion of a law's wisdom or whether it supported the public good for a legislature's opinion on those matters.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


July 21, 2013

Why the Leftist outrage at the acquittal of George Zimmerman?

There is an illustrated list of Leftist and media reactions here.

"It’s 2013 and an American jury just acquitted a man who admitted to stalking and killing an unarmed child" — Richard Dreyfus, actor

I think you can see why in the face above. That face is expressing glee -- barely restrained delight. The slightest hint that America is unjust is manna from heaven for Leftists. They build their self-esteem on being wiser and more compassionate than "the masses". And given America's black/white tensions, a chance to see others as racist is not to be missed. It is America's most powerful form of condemnation so any chance to use it must be used even if it is only remotely justified.

It's pathetic that people need to condemn others in order to boost their own self-esteem but that's Leftists. They never cease finding fault.

I note however that many of the commentators refer to the 6' tall Martin as a "child". So the constant media use of pictures of Martin when he was a child may have misled some commentators in an important way. It would have made it less plausible that Zimmerman acted in self-defense.

A picture of Martin as he was at about the time that he pounced on Zimmerman


Are Americans Living in a Police State?


The thing about a police state is that it tends to creep up on you. One day you think the Bill of Rights is intact and the freedoms you take for granted are intact, but the next day you find out that under the National Defense Authorization Act (HR 1540), signed into law by President Obama on December 31, 2011, you can be arrested and detained without recourse to an attorney or the courts.

HR 1540 kills the concept of Habeas Corpus by permitting the detention of U.S. citizens without trial. In 2009 the National Emergency Centers Act, HR 645, was introduced for the establishment of "internment camps." I have not been able to determine if it was passed and signed into law, nor have I found any explanation why the Congress of the United States either passed or even considered these laws.

The 2001 Patriot Act was justified as a response to 9/11 and revised in 2012. It gives the government unprecedented powers of surveillance and enforcement in the name of deterring terrorism.
One of Obama's many executive orders permits him to "commandeer" all domestic U.S. resources, including food and water supplies, energy productions, and transportation, even in times of peace, with no congressional oversight. On March 16, 2012, the National Defense Resources Preparedness EO expands on a law from the 1950s as the Cold War was heating up and there were fears of a conflict with the Soviet Union.

President Obama, obsessed with leaks to the press, has now turned the entire federal government into a workplace where employees are expected to report "suspicious activity" of their co-workers. Failure to do so could result in penalties including criminal charges. Though figures differ, by 2010 there were an estimated 2.5 million full-time federal employees.

According to an article by Jonathan S. Landay and Marisa Taylor, two reporters for McClatchy newspapers, the October 2011 executive order mandating the program is "based on behavioral profiling techniques that are not scientifically proven to work, according to experts and government documents." The program, deemed flawed, "could result in illegal ethnic and racial profiling and privacy violations."

As Americans have been learning in airports across the nation, the Transportation Security Authority routinely engages in profiling and highly intrusive physical "pat downs" that many find humiliating.

In 2011, the TSA's "VIPR teams" conducted an estimated 8,000 unannounced security screenings at subway stations, bus terminals, seaports, and highway rest stops in which Americans were required to show some proof of identity. This is the same administration that opposes voter ID, but not when the police functions of the TSA are concerned.

In bits and pieces, news of activities at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been reported and, when the dots are connected, some very scary conclusions can be reached. Why has DHS purchased 1.6 billion bullets as of March of this year? That is reportedly twenty times more than the amount of bullets expended in the Iraq War. Why is the DHS reportedly sending thousands of heavily armored vehicles and combat gear to cities and towns around the nation for use by police forces that are increasingly being militarized?

One can find a list of actions by the Obama administration that, together, portray preparations for the implementation of a police state as Americans are detained, as per a DHS report, because they are deemed to be potential terrorists because they hold beliefs and ideologies that include:

# "being fiercely nationalistic (as opposed to international in orientation)"

# "anti-global"

# "suspicious of centralized federal authority"

# "reverent of individual liberty"

# "believe in conspiracy theories"

# "a belief that one's personal and/or national ‘way of life' is under attack"

# "a belief in the need to be prepared for an attack either by participating in paramilitary preparations and training or survivalism"

# "impose strict religious tenets or laws on society (fundamentalists)"

# "anti-abortion"

And those are just some of the "suspicious" activities or beliefs that can get you hauled off to a detention camp without the benefit of a trial.

While there have been a handful of incidents where terrorist acts have been perpetrated by those inspired by Islam, they do not justify preparations that clearly suggest the Obama administration anticipates a perceived national uprising against the federal government. Indeed, a number of marches in Washington, D.C. are planned, including one on September 9.

The legislation that has been passed and the executive orders put in place suggest that there are plans in place to ensure that the implementation of a police state can be swiftly imposed on Americans, contrary to all the protections of the Constitution. Indeed, given their existence, are we not already living in a police state?



Five reasons why Left-wingers are pure evil

A semi-serious comment from Britain

The Labour-supporting blogger Sunny Hundal has done his bit for world peace by declaring that Right-wingers are all “evil”. Obviously, it’s political hyperbole at its most silly. But this kind of rhetoric is increasingly common among Left-wingers who think that conservatives who want to reform welfare, stop the NHS from killing people or make sure kids can leave school with the ability to tie their own shoe-laces are – to use Sunny’s words – “heartless bastards.”

So if we’re going to play this game of tit-for-tat, I’d like to offer evidence that it’s the Left that’s pure evil rather than the right. Aside from hating freedom and the baby Jesus, they also commit these five mortal sins without any thought for the rest of us:

1. Bad stand-up comedy. Call me old-fashioned, but I always thought a comedian was a fat man in a tux who came on stage and told jokes. But Left-wingers will laugh at something not because it’s funny but because they think they’re supposed to – which been an enormous boon to the careers of "alternative" comedians like Jeremy Hardy, Josie Long, Robin Ince, Mark Thomas and Marcus Brigstocke (seriously, folks, I’ve known colonoscopies that are funnier than Marcus Brigstocke). Their acts are basically George Galloway speeches with a laughter track added and one of their favourite targets are the “fascist simpletons” who believe in God. Oddly, though, they never pick on fundamentalist Muslims. They can’t seem to see the funny side of having a fatwa put on their head.

2. They all seem to be about 12 years old. My old nan used to complain that policemen were getting younger and younger, but the same now applies to Labour politicians. And for some reason it’s become a requirement that Left-wing pundits look like Blue Peter presenters – all opened-necked shirts, spiky hair and shiny, shiny faces. Would it surprise you if Sunny, Ellie, Owen or Laurie broke away from a debate on globalisation to tell the audience how to build a Thunderbird Tracy Island out of pipe cleaners and a plastic bottle?

3. They care about what famous people think about things. Barbara Windsor is a lifelong Conservative, but you wouldn’t know that because she doesn’t drop it into every conversation. On the other hand, we all know the politics of Ben Elton, Stephen Fry, Ross Kemp, Tony Robinson and Eddie Izzard because they never shut up about it. Eddie Izzard is even thinking of running for Mayor of London; if so, I hope the Tories go tit-for-tat and run the Chuckle Brothers against him. It’s a strange thing about the Left that while they claim to be egalitarian they go all weak at the knees when they discover that a rich famous person supports their cause. It can backfire – no one’s going to be inviting Alec Baldwin to their gay wedding.

4. They’re willing to give murderers the benefit of the doubt. There’s nothing more annoying than a Leftie in a Che Guevara t-shirt – a racist sociopath who helped to establish a regime that butchered all its opponents and threw into jail anyone who was “a bit camp”. But Left-wing sympathy for patently bad people is typical. One campaign that irritates me more than any other is the crusade to allow prisoners to vote, as if we want to give a democratic voice to convicted fraudsters and lunatics who think they have a mandate from God to kill their grandma and wear her scalp as a hat. If this stupid idea ever gains any ground, the only upshot would be that politicians might have to start canvasing in maximum-security prisons. Oh, how I’d dearly like to see Nick Clegg beg Ian Brady for his vote.

5. They think that people who don’t share their opinions are evil. Left-wingers are the most tolerant people on earth – until they encounter someone who disagrees with them. Disagreement offends their sense of righteousness, and turns champions of free speech and free love into 17th-century Puritans. If you don’t believe me, follow this simple exercise. A) Post this article on your Facebook page. B) Take note of all the people who write that “Tim Stanley is the love child of Adolf Hitler and Kenneth Williams AND HE SHOULD BE SHOT." C) Unfriend those people immediately. That’ll sort the Right-wing wheat from the Left-wing chaff.



Sebelius: Obamacare Opponents Are Like Those Who Opposed Civil Rights

Vicious accusations in lieu of rational debate

Addressing the annual NAACP convention in Orlando, Fla., Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that opponents of Obamacare are the same kind of people who opposed civil rights legislation in the 1960s.

Her comments on Tuesday came one day before the Republican-led House votes to delay key provisions of the law.

"The Affordable Care Act is the most powerful law for reducing health disparities since Medicare and Medicaid were created in 1965, the same year the Voting Rights Act was also enacted," Sebelius said. "That significance hits especially close to home. My father was a congressman from Cincinnati who voted for each of those critical civil rights laws, and who represented a district near where the late Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth lived and preached.

"The same arguments against change, the same fear and misinformation that opponents used then are the same ones opponents are spreading now. 'This won’t work,' 'Slow down,' 'Let’s wait,' they say.

"But history shows that upholding our founding principles demands continuous work toward a more perfect union...And it requires the kind of work that the NAACP has done for more than a century to move us forward.

"You showed it in the fight against lynching and the fight for desegregation. You showed it by ensuring inalienable rights are secured in the courtroom and at the ballot box. And you showed it by supporting a health law 100 years in the making.

"With each step forward, you said to forces of the status quo, 'This will work,' 'We can’t slow down' 'We can’t wait,' 'We won’t turn back.'

Sebelius then hailed the "voices of progress" that "we hear and honor this year," as people start signing up for mandatory health insurance on Oct. 1:

"They echo from church bells rung at midnight 150 years ago to educate our nation of a people’s emancipation. They echo from a speech on our nation’s mall 50 years ago next month about the promise of our nation’s dream. And they still echo and guide us today in a second term of a historic presidency.

"So let us seize this moment. We can’t slow down. We can’t wait. We won’t turn back. We move forward."

In another part of her speech, Sebelius told the civil rights group, "The debate in Washington is over. The Supreme Court has issued its decision. The people have spoken. President Obama was re-elected. And to paraphrase Stevie Wonder, the Affordable Care Act is signed, sealed, and it’s delivering."

Sebelius spoke one day before the House of Representatives votes on delaying the Affordable Care Act's employer mandate as well as its individual mandate.

According to House Speaker John Boehner, the first bill "will provide the authorization the president should have sought" before he unilaterally delayed the employer mandate's reporting requirements. The other bill "will provide families and individuals with the relief they've been unfairly denied by the administration."

Obamacare requires businesses with 50 or more full-time employees to provide affordable health insurance to their employees or else pay a fine. Individual Americans are required to purchase health insurance, or else pay a tax to the IRS.

The Senate is unlikely to pass the House legislation, and even if it did, the White House has promised to veto it.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


July 19, 2013

A Modest Agenda for the GOP

Republicans should focus on serious tax reform and insist on real border control

By Charles Krauthammer

The conventional wisdom evolves. Yesterday, Washington was merely broken, gridlocked, dysfunctional. The passive voice spread the blame evenly. Today it’s agreed that Republican obstructionism is the root of all evil — GOP resistance having now escalated to nihilism and indeed sabotage.

Sabotage carries a fine whiff of extralegal, anti-constitutional vandalism. This from media mandarins who barely bat an eyelash when President Obama unilaterally suspends parts of his own health-care law — just as he unilaterally stopped enforcing current immigration laws for 1.7 million young illegal immigrants, thereby enacting by executive order legislation that had failed in Congress. So much for faithfully executing the laws (Article II).

The new conventional wisdom knowingly deplores the 113th Congress for having passed the fewest pieces of legislation in at least four decades. Why, they were sneering, it couldn’t even pass the farm bill, the essence of bipartisanship for oh-so-many years.

Which is the perfect example of the fatuousness of measuring legislative success by volume, as if every new law represents an advance of civilization. The farm bill is the quintessence of congressional log-rolling, trade-offs, and kickbacks — in which the public interest is systematically trumped by some moneyed and entrenched special interest. Its death (lamentably temporary — it was partly resurrected on Thursday) was well-deserved.

Opposition to Obama’s entitlement-state agenda — beginning with Obamacare, long before it began falling apart before our eyes — should be a source of pride for Republicans. Nevertheless, they shouldn’t stop there. They should advance a reform agenda of their own.

The major thrust should be tax reform. The time could not be more ripe. The public is understandably agitated by an IRS scandal that showed not just the agency’s usual arrogance and highhandedness but also its talent for waste, abuse, corruption, and an overt favoritism that even Obama called outrageous.

Support for tax reform is already bipartisan. Its chief advocates are Democrat Max Baucus and Republican Dave Camp, respectively Senate and House chairs of the tax-writing committees. Their objective is the replication of President Reagan’s 1986 bipartisan tax-reform triumph: closing loopholes and using that revenue to lower rates across the board, which helped propel two decades of near-uninterrupted economic growth.

Tax reform is the ultimate win-win. It levels the playing field by removing the advantage of lawyered, lobbied interests. It eliminates myriad distortions in capital allocation and lowers marginal rates — both of which spur economic growth. And it simplifies the code, thereby reducing the arbitrary and unaccountable discretion of IRS bureaucrats.

The House Republicans are preparing a 25 percent cut in the IRS budget. This is silly and small. It will change nothing. Radical simplification of the tax code will change everything.

Second, the GOP should take a clear position on immigration reform. “Comprehensive” or piecemeal matters not. What matters is to stick to the essential principle: legalization in return for real border control — so that this is the last amnesty we will have to grant.

Any law containing both deserves support. The current Senate bill does not. Setting soft goals for border enforcement is an invitation to this and future administrations to fudge and fake.

Be clear. Be principled. Be unafraid. The country wants legalization and border control. Show that only the GOP is fighting for both.

Third, on the policy front, demand from the president a clear policy on Afghanistan. After highly acrimonious exchanges with President Hamid Karzai, Obama is openly considering a complete pullout next year.

U.S. national interests cannot hinge on personal piques. Karzai is both deeply unreliable and terminally ungrateful. But he will be gone one day, as will Obama. The terrorist breeding grounds of Afghanistan and Pakistan will remain.

For four years, the president argued that our strategic interests require a residual presence in Afghanistan in order to prevent a reestablishment of terrorist safe havens in the region.

Does he still believe this? Enough with the agonized ambivalence. Obama must be made to argue the case one way or the other.

It’s a modest agenda, although true tax reform would be an achievement of historic dimensions. But it should by no means diminish rigorous GOP efforts to stop an Obama program that aggrandizes government in every sphere (education, health care, energy, finance) and passes monstrous thousand-page bills that not only effectively delegate unlimited power to the unelected bureaucracy but, like Obamacare, are so unworkable that the administration itself has to jettison one piece after another.

Oppose further expansion of the entitlement state, reform the tax code, secure the border, demand clarity on Afghanistan. A modest, doable, responsible agenda for 2013.



Leftist hatred of Wal Mart still simmering

The Left hate success

DC has just become the latest battleground over Walmart’s business practices. The retailer recently announced plans to open a number of stores in the city, but the District government has been throwing obstacles in its path. On Wednesday, the city council approved the Large Retailer Accountability Act by an 8 to 5 vote. The bill would force any non-unionized retailer with more than $1 billion in revenue and more than 75,000 square feet of retail space (read: Walmart) to pay employees at least $12.50 an hour. Minimum wage in DC is $8.25.

Washington Mayor Vincent Gray now has ten days to veto the bill. On the eve of the vote, Walmart executive Alex Barron wrote in a Washington Post op-ed that the retailer would cancel its current plans to build three locations in the District if the law passed.

If the bill stands—or if the Walmart opponents manage to override a Mayoral veto—it’s the city’s residents who will ultimately suffer. Democratic Councilman-at-Large Vincent Orange, a key backer of the legislation, argued that, “The question here is a living wage; it’s not whether Wal-Mart comes or stays….We’re at a point where we don’t need retailers. Retailers need us.”

Mr. Orange is dead wrong. The three stores Walmart is threatening to cancel are all badly needed retail and grocery options in underserved and poorer areas of DC that don’t have many options. As Ezra Klein, no lover of Walmart, writes:

[S]everal of the locations where Wal-Mart has committed to open have very little in the way of retail around them, and Office of Planning Director Harriet Tregoning has emphasized that small businesses in the vicinity should be able to prepare for it. Currently, many District residents are skipping over those small stores anyway on their way out to suburban Wal-Marts; keeping them in the neighborhood might open up opportunities for complementary businesses – such as restaurants or auto-repair shops — to open around them. Finally, many of the developments had been searching for anchor tenants for years; it’s unclear that Wal-Mart could be easily replaced, leaving the sites fallow.

DC is already an incredibly expensive place to live, and a lack of outlets for affordable basic commodities makes scrimping that much harder for middle class and poor residents. Cheaper prices at Walmart mean that in terms of purchasing power everybody in DC gets an immediate pay boost.

Blue politicians who oppose Walmart in DC—and in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles before it—do so with good intentions to help low-paid hourly workers afford life in their overpriced metropolises. Blue-model economic governance has often looked for ways to increase prices for certain producers through things like farm subsidies, taxes, regulation and construction controls. For those that can’t pay, they provide offset subsidies like food stamps.

So one of the main reasons there’s a case for living wage laws at all is that a combination of bad urban policy, overstuffed bureaucracies, excessive regulation and government-endorsed economic cartels have all driven up the cost of living so much that people can’t afford to live on the national minimum wage.

Instead of raising the minimum wage or fighting discount retailers—steps sure to make everything more expensive and create further problems—cities like DC should be working aggressively to bring down the cost of living so that more people can live on the wages they earn.



Prosperity through higher costs (?)

Here’s another letter to the Washington Post on Prof. Massengill’s piece on Wal-Mart. Letter by economist Donald J. Boudreaux

Rebekah Peeples Massengill argues that low-income families are harmed by Wal-Mart’s “relentless cost-cutting” (“Five myths about Wal-Mart,” July 12). But because retailers from the earliest times have competed for customers by cutting costs (a result of what Prof. Massengill calls “prioritizing consumption”), her complaint isn’t with Wal-Mart so much as it is with retailing itself. Therefore, the only real solution to this scourge of ever-less-costly access to consumer goods is a strict prohibition on retailing.

Only by outlawing retailing can we ensure that no retailer will ever again weaken the economy by cutting costs. Only by outlawing retailing can we finally maximize the amount of resources used to bring consumer goods from farms and factories to individual homes. (Think of the countless hours that every one of us will spend driving from farm to farm and from factory to factory to buy food, clothing, and other consumer goods!) With retailing outlawed, the costs that we’ll incur – that is, the amount of resources that households will be obliged to spend – to bring each consumer good from farm or factory into a home will be multiple times greater than the puny amount of resources spent today to make each consumer good accessible for purchase.

And when the Commerce Dep’t. calculates the enormous monetary value of the resources that households spend to acquire consumer goods in this retailer-less world, we’ll discover just how prosperous we are without the likes of Wal-Mart and other greedy cost-cutting corporations.



The Nation’s Librarians Are All In to Support Obamacare

Wounded by the lukewarm reception the administration got from the National Football League and Major League Baseball when it asked them to help sell the public on all things wonderful about “Obamacare,” President Obama has announced that America’s librarians will step into the void.

Let me add, they will do so enthusiastically.

On June 26, I flew to Chicago for the annual American Library Association conference, a seemingly innocent gathering of thousands of library professionals.

As a veteran of many rousing political conferences, I expected a relatively quiet four days, showcasing Independent Institute books, such as John C. Goodman’s recently published “Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis.” I was unprepared for the floundering health care law to become central to the agenda.

On the third day of conference, however, it was announced that the American Library Association planned to partner with the White House to tout the benefits of Obamacare. As Fox News reported on July 1, “Up to 17,000 U.S. libraries will be part of the effort to spread the word about the health care law, while giving the public access to their computers. The government-librarian team-up is one of a number of partnerships—some more controversial than others—that the administration is trying to build in order to promote the law ahead of an Oct. 1 kick-off.”

The library association announcement came as a surprise to many of the conference attendees, but for many if not most, it must have been a pleasant surprise.

For example, several panel discussions included intense, uninformed diatribes against the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the Heritage Foundation, and libraries’ responsibility to counter their influence. One of the conference’s keynote speakers angrily called on libraries to lead the charge against the NRA’s evil agenda. The following day, a group of librarians from both public and private institutions brainstormed about how library computers could be rigged to censor or possibly omit information. As one librarian irritably recounted, she was directed by Google to a “horrendous” Heritage Foundation study challenging global warming theory. “We know [such studies] to be complete junk and need to figure out how to keep people from reading such despicable material,” she resolved.

These statements, not surprisingly, came after the same group spent the first half of the session lamenting that Ward Churchill—the former University of Colorado ethnic-studies professor who claimed that the United States deserved the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 because of “ongoing genocidal American imperialism”—was not asked to return to the classroom. It seems the principle of academic freedom is only laudable when everyone agrees that the left is right. Now, the left is right on Obamacare and America’s librarians are in lockstep with the mission to resuscitate public support for the limping legislation.

Indeed, Obamacare has become increasingly unpopular across the country, even causing some within Mr. Obama’s own ranks to suggest that Obamacare is plagued with problems.

Senior Democratic Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, who, as Senate Finance Committee chairman helped the president craft the health care law, said that the reforms are “a huge train wreck coming down.”

Several recent polls, including a new Rasmussen Reports national survey—which found that just 41 percent of likely voters favor their governor supporting implementation of the law—have shown clearly that Obamacare is just as unpopular today as it was when it was passed. The president and his allies understand that they need to turn public opinion around or they could suffer the consequences in the 2014 midterm elections. That’s why they recently took evasive action on the health care law’s employer mandate, giving companies with 50 or more employees until 2015 rather than 2014 to provide insurance to their employees.

With both Mr. Obama and Obamacare slipping in public opinion, the White House is looking for help. They found it at the American Library Association.

Librarians seem to be “all in” with the White House agenda: a dangerous marriage.

If librarians are advocates, what assurance do we have that they won’t block access to information—such as another “despicable” study from the Heritage Foundation, American Enterprise Institute or my own institution—critical of the health care act?



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


July 18, 2013


I have a heavy cold at the moment so don't feel up to blogging
Maybe back Friday

July 17, 2013

Is This Still America?

Thomas Sowell

There are no winners in the trial of George Zimmerman. The only question is whether the damage that has been done has been transient or irreparable.

Legally speaking, Zimmerman has won his freedom. But he can still be sued in a civil case, and he will probably never be safe to live his life in peace, as he could have before this case made him the focus of national attention and orchestrated hate.

More important than the fate of George Zimmerman, however, is the fate of the American justice system and of the public's faith in that system and their country. People who have increasingly asked, during the lawlessness of the Obama administration, "Is this still America?" may feel some measure of relief.

But the very fact that this case was brought in the first place, in an absence of serious evidence -- which became painfully more obvious as the prosecution strained to try to come up with anything worthy of a murder trial -- will be of limited encouragement as to how long this will remain America.

The political perversion of the criminal justice system began early and at the top, with the President of the United States. Unlike other public officials who decline to comment on criminal cases that have not yet been tried in court, Barack Obama chose to say, "If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon."

It was a clever way to play the race card, as he had done before, when Professor Henry Louis Gates of Harvard was arrested.

But it did not stop there. After the local police in Florida found insufficient evidence to ask for Zimmerman to be prosecuted, the Obama administration sent Justice Department investigators to Sanford, Florida, and also used the taxpayers' money to finance local activists who agitated for Zimmerman to be arrested.

Political intervention did not end with the federal government. The city manager in Sanford intervened to prevent the usual police procedures from being followed.

When the question arose of identifying the voice of whoever was calling for help during the confrontation between Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman, the normal police procedure would have been to let individuals hear the recording separately, rather than have a whole family hear it together.

If you want to get each individual's honest opinion, you don't want that opinion to be influenced by others who are present, much less allow a group to coordinate what they are going to say.

When the city manager took this out of the hands of the police, and had Trayvon Martin's family, plus Rachel Jeantel, all hear the recording together, that's politics, not law.

This was just one of the ways that this case looked like something out of "Alice in Wonderland." Both in the courtroom and in the media, educated and apparently intelligent people repeatedly said things that they seemed sincerely, and even fervently, to believe, but which were unprovable and often even unknowable.

In addition, the testimonies of the prosecution's witness after witness undermined its own case. Some critics faulted the attorneys. But the prosecutors had to work with what they had, and they had no hard evidence that would back up a murder charge or even a manslaughter charge.

You don't send people to prison on the basis of what other people imagine, or on the basis of media sound bites like "shooting an unarmed child," when that "child" was beating him bloody.

The jury indicated, early on as their deliberations began, that they wanted to compare hard evidence, when they asked for a complete list of the testimony on both sides.

Once the issue boiled down to hard, provable facts, the prosecutors' loud histrionic assertions and sweeping innuendos were just not going to cut it.

Nor was repeatedly calling Zimmerman a liar effective, especially when the prosecution misquoted what Zimmerman said, as an examination of the record would show.

The only real heroes in this trial were the jurors. They showed that this is still America -- at least for now -- despite politicians who try to cheapen or corrupt the law, as if this were some banana republic. Some are already calling for a federal indictment of George Zimmerman, after he has been acquitted.

Will this still be America then?



The Election of a Black President Has Meant Nothing

Dennis Prager

The greatest hope most Americans -- including Republicans -- had when Barack Obama was elected president was that the election of a black person as the country's president would reduce, if not come close to eliminating, the racial tensions that have plagued America for generations.

This has not happened. The election, and even the re-election, of a black man as president, in a country that is 87 percent non-black -- a first in human history -- has had no impact on what are called "racial tensions."

In case there was any doubt about this, the reactions to the George Zimmerman trial have made it clear. The talk about "open season" on blacks, about blacks like Trayvon Martin being victims of nothing more than racial profiling and about a racist criminal justice system, has permeated black life and the left-wing mainstream media.

I put quotation marks around the term "racial tensions" because the term is a falsehood.

This term is stated as if whites and blacks are equally responsible for these tensions, as if the mistrust is morally and factually equivalent.

But this is not at all the case. "Racial tensions" is a lie perpetrated by the left. A superb example is when the New York Times described the 1991 black anti-Semitic riots in Crown Heights, Brooklyn as "racial tensions."

For those who do not recall, or who only read, viewed or listened to mainstream media reports, what happened was that mobs of blacks attacked Jews for three days after a black boy was accidentally hit and killed by a car driven by a Chasidic Jew.

A Brandeis University historian, Edward S. Shapiro, who wrote a book on the events, described those black attacks on innocent Jews as "the most serious anti-Semitic incident in American history."

Blacks stabbed a Jewish student to death, injured other Jews, and screamed, "Heil Hitler!" and "Death to the Jews!" while carrying signs with messages such as "Hitler didn't finish the job."

And how did the New York Times report the most serious anti-Semitic incident in American history? As racial tensions.

One of the Times reporters who covered those riots was Ari Goldman, now a professor of journalism at Columbia University. Last year, eleven years after the riots, this is how Goldman described his former newspaper's reporting of the events:

"In all my reporting during the riots, I never saw -- or heard of -- any violence by Jews against blacks. But the Times was dedicated to this version of events: Blacks and Jews clashing amid racial tensions."

As a New York Times editorial described the black attacks: "The violence following an auto accident in Crown Heights reminds all New Yorkers that the city's race relations remain dangerously strained."

That was the entire left's take: "strained relations" between blacks and Jews. "Racial tensions." Both sides equally at fault.

Once one understands that "racial tensions" is a euphemism for a black animosity toward whites and a left-wing construct, one begins to understand why the election of a black president has had no impact on most blacks or on the left.

Since neither black animosity nor the left's falsehood of "racial tensions" is based on the actual behavior of the vast majority of white Americans, nothing white America could do will affect either many blacks' perceptions or the leftist libel.

That is why hopes that the election of black president would reduce "racial tensions" were naive. Though a white person is far more likely to be murdered by a black person than vice versa, all it took was one tragic death of a black kid to reignite the hatred that many blacks and virtually all black leaders have toward white America.

Let's put this in perspective. Ben Jealous of the NAACP, Al Sharpton of MSNBC, Jesse Jackson, and the left-wing media compete to incite hatred of America generally and white America specifically. Over what? A tragic incident in which a Hispanic man (regularly labeled "white") said, with all physical evidence to support him, that fearing for his life, he killed a black 17-year-old (regularly labeled "a child").

The very fact that George Zimmerman -- who is as white as Barack Obama -- is labeled "white" bears testimony to the left-wing agenda of blaming white America and to the desire of many blacks to vent anger at whites.

And that is why the election of a black president has meant nothing. Indeed, to those whose lives and/or ideologies are predicated on labeling America and its white population as racist, it wouldn't matter if half the Senate, half the House and half the governors were black.



Labor versus Obama

Major fault lines have suddenly appeared in the formerly dependable Big Labor/Democratic Party coalition, and the earthquake that follows could have major future electoral ramifications.

Labor unions are one of the primary funders of Democratic and far left politics. The hundreds of millions of dollars they contribute into the Democratic machine gives them clout that far exceeds what one would expect given unions represent fewer than seven percent of privately employed workers.

Now, private employer unions are running headlong into the realities of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, and are shocked that it threatens to destroy one of their only membership recruitment selling point.

Back in the halcyon days when the promise that an employee would be able to keep his/her health insurance if they liked it, big labor unions like the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the Food and Commercial Workers and UNITE Here loved the new health care law.

Now, four years later as the law is on the verge of being implemented, the consequences are becoming clear. Those labor union negotiated Cadillac health insurance programs are not likely to be sustainable due to government penalties imposed upon them, and employers read the law and discovered that it no longer makes sense to employ low wage employees for more than 30 hours a week due to the resulting health care costs.

Somewhat incredibly, last week Big Labor cracked, attacking Obamacare with language that one has come to expect from Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter writing to Senator Harry Reid,

“Right now, unless you and the Obama Administration enact an equitable fix, the ACA will shatter not only our hard-earned health benefits, but destroy the foundation of the 40 hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class.”

It went on to state, “We can no longer stand silent in the face of elements of the Affordable Care Act that will destroy the very health and wellbeing of our members along with millions of other hardworking Americans.”

Signed by the Teamsters James Hoffa, Jr, United Food and Commercial Workers head Joseph Hanson and UNITE Here’s D. Taylor, the letter changes the politics of Obamacare and may just force the Democrat-controlled Senate to suspend implementation the law, before it dooms their close political allies.

One can imagine the political ads targeting private employee union members attacking Democrat opposition to Obamacare changes using the very accusations levied by these Big Labor leaders.

This fissure comes on top of the already tense relationship between the Obama Administration and labor unions which try to build or mine due to the undue influence of environmental extremists throughout the Administration, who are charged with carrying out Obama’s war on coal and other fossil fuels.

The four year delay in the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline has drawn the ire of various construction unions with a leader of the Laborers International Union of North America testifying before Congress that,

“For many members of the Laborers, this project is not just a pipeline; it is in fact, a life line. The construction sector has been particularly hit hard by the economic recession. The unemployment rate in the construction industry reached over 27 percent in 2010, and joblessness in construction remains far higher than any industry or sector, with over 1 million construction workers currently unemployed in the United States. Too many hard-working Americans are out of work, and the Keystone XL Pipeline will change that dire situation for thousands of them.”

In the 2012 elections, the United Mine Workers refused to endorse Obama’s re-election bid due to his Administrations regulatory attack on coal and mining as a whole.

Now that Big Labor has discovered that not only does Obama’s environmental policy kill their jobs, but his health care law destroys their member’s health care coverage, it is not a question of if, but when, the private sector unions stop funding the politicians on the left.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


July 16, 2013

Obama Big Loser in Zimmerman Trial

”You know, if I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon” -- Barack Obama. Like an aggressive thug? Could well be -- JR

Forget the over-zealous prosecutors and the repellent state attorney Angela Corey (who should be immediately disbarred or, my wife said sarcastically, elevated to director of Homeland Security) and even the unfortunate Trayvon Martin family (although it is certainly hard to forget them — they have our profound sympathies), the true loser at the Zimmerman trial was Barack Obama.

By injecting himself in a minor Florida criminal case by implying Martin could be his son, the president of the United States — a onetime law lecturer, of all things — disgraced himself and his office, made a mockery of our legal system and exacerbated racial tensions in our country, making them worse than they have been in years. This is the work of a reactionary, someone who consciously/unconsciously wants to push our nation back to the 1950s.

It is also the work of a narcissist who thinks of himself first, of his image, not of black, white or any other kind of people. It’s no accident that race relations in our country have gone backwards during his stewardship.

Congratulations to the jury for not acceding to this tremendous pressure and delivering the only conceivable honest verdict. This case should never have been brought to trial. It was, quite literally, the first American Stalinist “show trial.” There was, virtually, no evidence to convict George Zimmerman. It was a great day for justice that this travesty was finally brought to a halt.

We all know Al Sharpton, the execrable race baiter of Tawana Brawley and Crown Heights, agitated publicly for this trial more than anyone else. But he most likely would not have succeeded had it not been for Obama’s tacit support. As far as I know this is unprecedented in our history (a president involving himself in a trial of this nature).

The media also followed Obama (as they always do) by enabling the demagogue Sharpton, as if he were a serious person. The media, as I wrote before, treated this case like pornography, something to be exploited, giving it all sorts of racial import it didn’t have. The New York Times, acting like true reactionaries of the Obama era (how can we use the word “liberal” with these people?), even went so far as to invent the term “white Hispanic” to fit the case. The National Enquirer couldn’t have done it better. (I take it back. The Enquirer behaves more ethically.)

The irony is that the people who suffer most from the media behaving in this manner are black people who are manipulated into acting as an interest group when they have no interest. They are literally victims of the media and of Obama.

Of course, they aren’t the only ones. Almost everyone is a victim in in this case that should never have been tried. George Zimmerman will never live a normal life. The American public has been polarized with emotions stirred up for absolutely no reason. Racism is essentially manufactured, as if it were a commodity.

A further irony is that recent polls have shown racism in our culture at all-time lows. You don’t hear that from the media or from our administration, however. This knowledge is not to their advantage.

As I type this article, I am listening to Geraldo, on the post-verdict show, nattering on about the possibility of the Justice Department initiating a civil rights prosecution of Zimmerman. If that happens, the Obama administration will have outdone itself in the creation of racism. The shame continues.



American philanthropy

by Jeff Jacoby

DO YOU GIVE money to charity? You do if you're a typical American. More than 70 percent of US families contribute every year, and the average household gives at least $1,000. Charitable donations in America add up to about $300 billion annually — which is more, as Arthur C. Brooks of the American Enterprise Institute points out, than the entire gross national product of Finland, Portugal, or Peru. Americans give 12 times as much to charity each year as they spend on professional sports, and almost 30 times as much as they spend going to the movies. By any yardstick, America is one of the most generous nations on earth.

And who, in the annals of this greatly philanthropic country, have been the greatest philanthropists?

The Philanthropy Roundtable, a 25-year-old network of charitable donors that promotes innovative and effective giving, takes up that question in a remarkable and inspiring new project: The Philanthropy Hall of Fame. The online gallery, at GreatPhilanthropists.org, recounts the achievements of 54 American men and women who "changed the nation and the world through their charitable giving." The philanthropists are profiled in absorbing biographical sketches that give a sense of their character and upbringing and that describe the "tactics and results of their philanthropy." Excerpts of the profiles were also published in a recent issue of Philanthropy, the Roundtable's quarterly magazine.

Greatness in philanthropy isn't easy to define. In compiling the inaugural class of charitable hall of famers, the Roundtable's editors wrestled with judgment calls. How do you measure a philanthropist's effectiveness, for example? Is it a function of "the number of individuals served, or the degree of innovation achieved, or the years of lasting influence?" But this much is clear: The donors chosen to inaugurate the Philanthropy Hall of Fame reflect the Roundtable's conviction that excellence can take many forms.

It's an extraordinary assemblage. Some of the philanthropists are among the most famous Americans in history. Everyone has heard of Benjamin Franklin, but how many of us know that in addition to being a renowned diplomat, scientist, printer, and intellectual, he was also one of the most significant givers of his day? He was a charitable dynamo, responsible for the creation of the first public library in North America, the first volunteer fire brigade in Pennsylvania, the academy that later became the University of Pennsylvania, and the nation's first hospital. One of his last gifts, a £1,000 bequest to the city he was born in, lives on to this day as the Franklin Institute of Boston.

Not nearly as renowned is Nicholas Longworth, who grew up poor, earned a fortune in real estate and winemaking, then gave away most of his riches to what he called "the devil's poor." These, one historian explained, were "vagabonds, drunkards, fallen women, those who had gone far into the depths of misery and wretchedness, and from whom respectable people shrank in disgust." He distributed bread for free to anyone who asked, giving away hundreds of loaves weekly. He housed destitute families in a four-story boarding house that he built over his winery. When he died in 1863, his biographical profile notes, Longworth's funeral was attended by "thousands of outcasts — drunkards and prostitutes, beggars and criminals — sobbing at the loss of this, their one true friend."

Not all of the givers highlighted in the Hall of Fame were wealthy. Oseola McCarty was a lifelong laundress, a black woman reared in Jim Crow Mississippi, who washed other people's clothes by hand until arthritis forced her to stop working at 87. She never went to high school, never drove a car. Yet like many philanthropists of immensely greater means, she was a religious believer whose faith inspired her to help others, and a scrupulous saver who unfailingly set aside a few cents from every dollar she earned. In 1995, soon after retiring, McCarty donated $150,000 to the University of Southern Mississippi to fund scholarships for poor but deserving students. Her munificence triggered an outpouring of praise — and of giving by others. CNN founder Ted Turner pledged $1 billion to the United Nations Foundation. "If that little woman can give away everything she has," he said, "then I can give a billion."

It is no exaggeration to suggest that charitable giving may be our nation's most quintessential character trait. Franklin, Longworth, and McCarty, like so many others in the new Philanthropy Hall of Fame, had virtually nothing in common. Except, that is, for the astonishing generosity that from the very outset has been such a hallmark of American life.



Obamacare: Large Grocery Chain Drops Coverage for Part-time Workers

Et tu, Wegmans? The Rochester-based grocer that has been continually lauded for providing health insurance to its part-time workers will no longer offer that benefit. Until recently, the company voluntarily offered health insurance to employees who worked 20 hours per week or more. Companies are required by law to offer health insurance only to full-time employees who work 30 hours or more per week. Several Wegmans employees confirmed part-time health benefits had been cut and said the company said the decision was related to changes brought about by the Affordable Care Act.

The Buffalo News helpfully tracked down an "expert" who explained why the dropped coverage is a "win-win" for everyone involved:

"Part-time employees may actually benefit from Wegmans’ decision, according to Brian Murphy, a partner at Lawley Benefits Group, an insurance brokerage firm in Buffalo. “If you have an employee that qualifies for subsidized coverage, they might be better off going with that than a limited part-time benefit,” Murphy said. That’s because subsidized coverage can have a lower out-of-pocket cost for the insured employee while also providing better benefits than an employer-paid plan. Under the Affordable Care Act, part-time employees are not eligible for health insurance subsidies if their employer offers insurance. “It’s a win-win. The employee gets subsidized coverage, and the employer gets to lower costs,” Murphy said."

First of all, the American people were made a solemn promise, over and over again:"If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what.” Many part-time employees at Wegmans may have been very rather pleased with their existing coverage, which will no longer exist because of the new law. So much for "no matter what." That's not a win, that's a broken promise.

Secondly, thanks to the administration's outrageous anti-fraud verification delay, anyone can claim that they qualify for Obamacare subsidies. Correctly determining eligibility is essential to maintain any prayer of marginal cost containment, but that process is proving logistically problematic -- so the administration is simply going full speed ahead without that key safeguard in place.

Third, notice the hedging on claims that Obamacare will lower costs for these employees. "Might, can," etc. The fact is that many people who will receive subsidies (with an intended cut-off at relatively low income levels) will still pay more than they currently do. This is especially true for younger, healthier people. Say, who tends to work at grocery stores?

Wegmans' young employees -- stripped of their previous coverage -- now have plenty of incentive to forgo expensive insurance costs and just pay the lower mandate tax. If enough young, healthy people go this route, the Obamacare completely collapses.

For more on those dynamics, read this. Meanwhile, here's a local news report from Pennsylvania, highlighting the trend of businesses reducing hours and opting to hire temporary workers to avoid Obamacare's (recently postponed) employer mandate:

One last Obamacare "bonus:" An Iowa insurance branch is shutting down after six decades of operation because of Obamacare, taking more than 100 jobs with it.



Food stamps

More than 47 million people in the United States now rely on food stamps. That’s about 15 percent of the population, or one in seven Americans. Of those, 47 percent are children under 18, and 8 percent are seniors, according to the USDA.

The number of eligible people who have actually applied for benefits has grown steadily in the past decade after declining throughout the 1990s.

Opposition to the House bill was led by the Congressional Black Caucus; 22 percent of food stamp recipients are African American, although African Americans make up 13 percent of the general population. Thirty-six percent of food stamp users are white, 10 percent are Hispanic, 4 percent are Native American, 2 percent are Asian.

Democrats are twice as likely as Republicans to report ever using food stamps, according to a Pew Research Center survey last December.

Why are food stamps in the Farm Bill anyway?

Politics. In the 1960s, food stamps were combined with the Farm Bill as a way to win urban Democratic votes for farm legislation that helped a declining rural population. (An earlier food stamp program, begun in 1939, died a few years later.) That’s been the alliance ever since. As Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) said in April: “[Food stamps] should continue to be included purely from a political perspective. It helps get the Farm Bill passed.”

Why were they cut out?

Disagreement over cuts and restrictions to food stamps is what killed the bill last month. The initial bill cut food stamp spending by $20.5 billion over the next 10 years. Conservatives said it wasn’t enough and voted no; Democrats said it was too much and also voted no. In the wake of that failure, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) desperately needed to show that House Republicans could pass something. While conservatives would still like to see more cuts to the rest of the farm package, fiscal hawks are happy to see food and farm spending separate.

What happens now?

Food stamps won’t disappear. If the House legislation became law, they would have to be funded separately through appropriations bills. Historically, the pairing of food stamps with the rest of the Farm Bill has brought the program support from the agriculture industry and from Republicans in rural states. That protection would be lost. House Republicans would be looking to make deeper cuts in the program.

But for that to happen, the Senate would have to accept the House legislation and President Obama would have to sign it. In fact, the White House has threatened to veto a farm bill without food stamps. And the Senate already passed legislation with more modest food stamp cuts. So we’ll have to see what happens when the two chambers try to reconcile their legislation, as Brad Plumer explains.

What do people actually want?

Nearly seven in 10 Americans, 69 percent, are open to at least minor reductions to food stamp programs, according to a January poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard University. That means more people would accept food stamp cuts than would support slashing education spending, Medicare or Social Security. But only 28 percent of poll respondents supported “major” cuts to food stamps, while 29 percent opposed all reductions.

Democrats, Republicans and independents are generally all open to some cuts, but Democrats are far more likely to oppose any cuts to the program than Republicans, at 43 to 13 percent. Independents are in between, unsurprisingly, at 24 percent


There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc


For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


July 15, 2013

Amusingly ...

A publisher recently asked me to write a blurb for the dustjacket of a book they are bringing out. They will probably use only a small part of my blurb so I thought I might present the whole thing here.

I know it is quite strange but I am going to present the review without mentioning the name of the book or the name of the author. When you read the review I think you will see why. If they get wind of the book, the Left are highly likely to move heaven and earth to get it canned. Chris Brand's book on IQ was withdrawn even after distribution of it had started.

My reaction to this careful and thorough book was a good chuckle. X has in effect caught the political left with their pants down. Leftist pretensions of tolerance and good will rapidly fall by the wayside when they are dealing with conservative Christians. We know that from the outpouring of hate speech towards Christians we regularly see in the media. X verifies that by way of careful survey research. Progressives seem to have more fear and loathing towards Christians than Christians have fear and loathing towards the Devil!

X is primarily interested in the concept of authoritarianism so he looks at how people want to treat members of other groups. Do they want to use force to suppress members of groups that they disagree with? Given the way progressives froth at the mouth about Christians, one would expect that all sorts of suppressive actions towards Christians would be supported by progressives. And they are. The old Voltairian attitude "I disagree with what you say but I will fight to the death for your right to say it" is conspicuously absent. It is clear that, given their way, progressives would treat Christians as harshly as Stalin did the kulaks.

No observer of history should be surprised by any of that. From the French revolution on, the political left has always striven to gain control over other people and impose on other people what the Leftist thinks is a good thing. Obamacare, for instance, imposes a vast regulatory and bureaucratic apparatus on American healthcare that will undoubtedly reduce services and increase costs but "It's for your own good" we are told. Or for the good of somebody anyway.

Where X innovates is that he has highlighted Leftist hate by using the conventional methods of psychological research. Psychologists such as Altemeyer use questionnaire surveys to "prove" that conservatives are a bad lot. X returns the compliment by using the same methods to show that progressives are a bad lot. After 20 years of doing such research myself, I don't think it proves much either way but X's demonstration that it can just as easily be used to shoot down progressives is at least amusing.

I will of course notify readers when the book becomes available for sale. Worth waiting for


Hate Thought

Victor Davis Hanson

When do insensitive words destroy reputations?

It all depends. Celebrity chef Paula Deen was dropped by her TV network, her publisher and many of her corporate partners after she testified in a legal deposition that she used the N-word some 30 years ago. The deposition was filed in a lawsuit against Deen and her brother over allegations of sexual and racial harassment.

Actor Alec Baldwin just recently let loose with a slur of homophobic crudities. Unlike Deen, Baldwin spewed his epithets in the present. He tweeted them publicly, along with threats of physical violence. So far he has avoided Paula Dean's ignominious fate.

Does race determine whether a perceived slur is an actual slur?

It depends.

Some blacks use the N-word in ways supposedly different from those of ill-intentioned white racists. Testimony revealed that the late Trayvon Martin had used the N-word in reference to George Zimmerman and had also referred to Zimmerman as a "creepy-ass cracker" who was following him.

Some members of the media have suggested that we should ignore such inflammatory words and instead focus on whether Zimmerman, who has been described as a "white Hispanic," used coded racist language during his 911 call.

Actor Jamie Foxx offers nonstop racialist speech of the sort that a white counterpart would not dare. At the recent NAACP Image Awards (of all places), Foxx gushed: "Black people are the most talented people in the world." Earlier, on Saturday Night Live, Foxx had joked of his recent role in a Quentin Tarantino movie: "I kill all the white people in the movie. How great is that?"

Foxx has not suffered the fate of Paula Deen. He certainly has not incurred the odium accorded comedian Michael Richards, who crudely used the N-word in 2006 toward two African-American hecklers of his stand-up routine.

Yet whites at times seem exempt from any fallout over the slurring of blacks. Democratic Minnesota state representative Ryan Winkler recently tweeted of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas's vote to update the Voting Rights Act: "VRA majority is four accomplices to race discrimination and one Uncle Thomas." Winkler's implication was that four of the jurists were veritable racists, while Thomas was a sellout. After a meek apology, nothing much happened to Winkler.

Winkler's "Uncle Thomas" racial slur was mild in comparison to the smear of Justice Thomas by MSNBC talking head and African-American professor Michael Eric Dyson, who made incendiary on-air comments invoking Hitler and the holocaust.

Does profanity against women destroy celebrity careers?

Not really.

TV talk-show host Bill Maher used two vulgar female slang terms to reference Sarah Palin, without any major consequences.

Those Palin slurs were mild in comparison to late-night television icon David Letterman's crude riff that Palin's then-14-year old daughter was impregnated by baseball star Alex Rodriguez.

In contrast, when talk-show host Rush Limbaugh demeaned activist Sandra Fluke as a "slut," outrage followed. Sponsors were pressured to drop Limbaugh. Some did. Unlike the targeted Palin, Fluke became a national icon of popular feminist resistance.

So how do we sort out all these slurs and the contradictory consequences that follow them?

Apparently, racist, sexist or homophobic words themselves do not necessarily earn any rebuke. Nor is the race or gender of the speaker always a clue to the degree of outrage that follows.

Instead, the perceived ideology of the perpetrator is what matters most. Maher and Letterman, being good liberals, could hardly be crude sexists. But when the conservative Limbaugh uses similar terms, it must be a window into his dark heart.

It's apparently OK for whites or blacks to slur conservative Clarence Thomas in racist terms. Saying anything similar of the late liberal Justice Thurgood Marshall would have been blasphemous.

In short, we are dealing not with actual word crimes, but with supposed thought crimes.

The liberal media and popular culture have become our self-appointed thought police. Politics determines whether hate speech is a reflection of real hate or just an inadvertent slip, a risqué joke or an anguished reaction to years of oppression.

Poor Paula Deen. She may protest accusations of racism by noting that she supported Barack Obama's presidential campaigns. But the media instead fixates on her deep Southern accent and demeanor, which supposedly prove her speech was racist in a way that left-wing and cool Jamie Foxx purportedly could never be.

We cannot forgive conservative Mel Gibson for his despicable, drunken anti-Semitic rants. But it appears we can pardon liberal Alec Baldwin for his vicious homophobic outbursts. The former smears are judged by the thought police to be typical, but the latter slurs are surely aberrant.

The crime is not hate speech, but hate thought -- a state of mind that apparently only self-appointed liberal referees can sort out.



Obamacare Is Coming Undone

Obamacare is coming undone. You can see it happening day by day, provision by provision, as the administration postpones or scales back key parts of the law, and other signs continue to suggest that the law as written simply won’t work.

Last Tuesday, in what was apparently intended to be a pre-July 4 holiday news dump, the administration made the embarrassing announcement that it would delay by a year the health law’s requirement that employers with 50 or more workers offer health coverage or pay a penalty. The administration also said it would delay the law’s reporting requirements for employers who offer health coverage.

That raised a major operational question about the law’s health insurance exchanges. How would those exchanges be able to determine whether someone applying for subsidies to buy individual coverage on an exchange already had access to employer coverage? The law says that people whose employers provide coverage aren’t allowed to get subsidies.

Late on Friday, we get another news dump—and an answer. The 16 exchanges run by states won’t have to verify an individual’s health insurance status at all. Nor will the state-run exchanges have to verify an individual’s income level.

Instead, they’ll rely on “self-reported” information. And then subsidies will be available to anyone who simply attests that they do not get qualifying, affordable health insurance from work, and that their household income is low enough to be eligible for subsidies.

As Ben Domenech writes in this morning’s Transom, what this means is that “the most significant entitlement increase since the Great Society will be operating on the honor system.” And as Yuval Levin says, it may turn out to be “an open invitation to fraud.” Even if outright fraud does not become a major issue, the combination of the delays may increase the cost of the law relative to what it would have been: No employer penalty, and no health status or income verification, means that more people will end up on the exchanges, receiving subsidies. And more subsidies means a more expensive law. The deficit reduction it was supposed to have achieved, already significantly reduced, is almost certainly reduced further—and perhaps gone entirely.

The delays also constitute an admission that the administration simply could not make the law’s verification technology—the infrastructure that is arguably the core functionality for the exchanges—work properly before the October 2013 launch of the exchanges. Doing so, according to the rule issued by the Department of Health and Human Services last Friday, “would involve a large amount of systems development on both the state and federal side, which cannot occur in time for October 1, 2013.”

The postponements were unexpected—even, apparently, to the officials running the exchanges at the state level. But trouble with the verification technology should not have come as a surprise. Obamacare's critics have warned about the potential difficulties practically since the law was passed. In my October 2010 feature on implementating the law, for example, I noted that “fast, accurate income verification presents a particularly serious difficulty,” and spoke to several health policy experts who warned of difficulties ahead. Nor were critics the only ones seeing trouble. It’s been clear from the reporting for over a year now that officials in charge of implementing the law were having serious problems making the exchange technology work. By the time that the official in charge of the exchange technology told insurers that he was “pretty nervous” and had resorted to working to “make sure it’s not a third-world experience,” it was pretty clear that the project was a mess.

The delays aren’t only recent sign that Obamacare is struggling.

Just a few days before the employer mandate was postponed, Bloomberg News reported that a third of the hospitals involved in a high-level test of the law’s most vaunted health care savings programs—its Accountable Care Organization (ACO) program—are threatening to cease participation. The 16 hospitals were part of the ACO “pioneer” program, which was intended to show off how some of the law’s most ambitious health care payment reforms would work. Right now, however, it looks suspiciously like they aren’t.

The same goes for a lot of Obamacare. Earlier this year, officials in charge of the law delayed the essential functionality of the law’s small business exchanges. The law’s early retirement program ran out of money and shut down early. The law’s high-risk pool program signed up far fewer people than anyone predicted—and yet, thanks to unexpectedly high per-beneficiary costs—still had to cut payments to providers and cease enrollment in order to stay afloat. The availability of national health plans that were supposed to be part of the exchanges is in doubt, probably because of insurer reticence. Large swaths of rural, low-income Mississipi may end up with no insurers at all to choose from in the exchange. Officials in states that are building their own exchanges continue to say they are struggling to meet deadlines. The list goes on.

None of this means that Obamacare will collapse under its own weight. The most likely scenario at this point (though not the only one) is that the exchanges will still open on time, enrolling all who claim eligibility in subsidies. But the law’s rocky implementation continues to reveal the significant flaws in both the law’s legislative design and management. There’s still much that’s unclear about the inner workings of the exchange-creation process, but the fact that the administration is jettisoning key provisions this late in the implementation calendar suggests that it is not going well, and it is reasonable to suspect that the bad news for the law will continue. The big question, then, is which piece of the law will come undone next?



A hollow victory for Zimmerman

As predicted, many blacks are not satisfied with the acquittal of George Zimmerman. He will be pursued by black racists for the rest of his life. He may have to emigrate to achieve any degree of personal safety. It is no wonder that he looked only barely pleased by the verdict. He is now under a life sentence, just not one in jail.


For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


July 14, 2013

Bill Quick is a little slow on the uptake

Wiliam T. Quick, also known as Margaret Allan, is an elderly California science fiction novelist who is also "a gullible, credulous, junk-science guzzling idiot". That's what he called me anyway so I guess that I am entitled to return the compliment.

Bill has fallen for the popular fad of taking vitamin and mineral pills to improve his health. Epidemiologists have known for years that life-style changes, including "supplement" intake, give no improvement in longevity and may even shorten lifespans. But people want to believe that they can put something in their mouth that will improve their health so the practice will continue. The witch doctors of old did a good trade with their pills and potions too.

So I endeavoured to point out to Bill that it might be beneficial to his health to review his "supplement" habit. But he would have none of it. I immediately suspected that he was too old and set in his ways to change anything in his life but I persisted anyway. I sent him a whole bunch of links to epidemiological and experimental articles which found at least no benefit and sometimes harm from consuming "supplements". See here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here, for instance.

Bill is a libertarian/conservative blogger so I thought he might be interested in looking at the facts. But he showed no sign of having read any of the links and made only abusive replies -- culminating in the insult I have mentioned above. He would make a good Leftist. He seems a very angry man who "just knows" what the truth is and answers rational argument with abuse. But libertarians are a lot like Leftists sometimes so that may be it


Strange doings at the Gettysburg re-enactment

Barry Rubin is something of a hero of mine. When rubbish is printed about Israel it is often Rubin who replies, setting out the facts of the matter in reply to lies and distortions. It is an Augean task but he continues.

For some reason, however, he took part in the recent Gettysburg re-enactment, despite a lot of complaints from him about the inconvenience of it. I gather that the re-enactment was an interest of his son and he went along with it in the name of family solidarity -- a good Jewish value, I would think.

Anyway, the following is a little tale about it that he put up on Facebook:

Finally, before we leave the topic of Gettysburg, I have an exclusive for you--I have no idea where I would publish it--just on this Facebook. I hope you enjoy it.

The Visit

We were sitting in the enlisted “fly,” the social area in the Federal headquarters camp at Gettysburg. We were all wearing period uniforms from the Civil War and keeping in historical era. Suddenly, the Captain, Willard Longnecker, walked up. “We have to mount an honor guard because the prime minister of Israel is about to visit the camp.”

“What?” I said. “That’s not possible.”

”That’s what they told me.”

“It can’t be. He’s not even in the country!”

“Well that’s what the staff is saying.”

“If you are teasing me,” I told Willard, I’ll never let you forget it!” But he really did seem serious. Clearly, he himself believed it was true.

Since I and my son, the unit’s drummer boy, are Israeli of course that would be amazing. But it can’t be. We scrambled to the tent and put on our equipment: musket with fixed bayonet, canteen, cartridge box with the bullets and cap box with the mercury caps that set off the spark for firing. Our unit then got back fast and were positioned around the headquarters tent.

A few minutes later, a group came in, with bodyguards, families, and perhaps some journalists. Of course it wasn’t Bibi, who as I knew was in Jerusalem meeting Secretary of State John Kerry for the sixth time.
“Who is it?” I said in Hebrew to a woman.

“The ambassador, Michael Oren, and my husband, the military attaché.”
She seemed unsurprised that the Union sentry spoke Hebrew, which I thought delightful. Perhaps the entire Union Army did so and we were just keeping in character.

I asked, “Where are you from?”


“I’m from Tel Aviv.” Then she realized that she had come perhaps across the only Israelis among about 13,000 re-enactors there. She took my picture.

Then the general began his welcoming speech. “We are glad to welcome Israel’s prime minister to the camp…” Oren broke out in a grin but as a good diplomat issued no correction.

Two soldiers—Sergeant Ross and Private Joshua Withrow--then gave a demonstration of “loading in nine times,” the way a musket is fired. To be taken into the army you had to have your teeth, explained the colonel, to tear the cartridge.

The soldiers stand the musket on the ground, pull a cartridge out of the leather case on their belt, tear the paper that wraps the black powder with their teeth, and pour it down the barrel, they then put it under their right arm in position, cock the hammer back and fish out the cap to put it on the small nipple. Then they go to full cock along with the order ready, aim, fire. A bright flash and loud sound, followed by white smoke erupts.

The audience applauded and laughed.

“Now you try it,” said the colonel. The soldiers turned over their muskets to the real major general and ambassador. “Wait!” said the colonel. He ran the few steps to his tent and got an over-fancy officers’ hat with plumes and gold braid and put it on Oren’s head.

They actually did pretty well.

Then the (real IDF) general was handed a Henry cavalry semi-automatic carbine and fired off shot after shot like an old pro, smiling in delight.

Now, of course, privates are totally unimportant but I leaned over to an officer and asked if I could say hello to Oren since I knew him personally.

The officer nicely agreed quickly, though he told me to wait just before Oren’s party left, not knowing the protocol and figuring there was no harm in it.

So when he signaled I could step out of line I went over and introduced myself. Oren’s eyes opened wide and asked me to repeat who I was. My forage cap was pulled down low and I was, of course, wearing Civil War gear and carrying an 1862 Springfield musket.

Figuring out that it really was me, the ambassador threw his arms around me, said he reads my articles and several other nice things, and brought his family over to meet me. High-ranking officers in the Union or other armies are not pleased to be upstaged but were also partly baffled.

What are the odds?

My son, Daniel, was very pleased at noting that one of the embassy kids his age looked at him enviously.


You're Too 'Cynical'

The President rolls out another plan for 'smarter government.'

President Obama gave a speech Monday instructing Americans not to be so "cynical" about government. This is not a setup for a punch line. He then explained that the major problem with government is that it does not run as efficiently as "one of the most inclusive and most successful campaigns in American history." His own.

It was unclear if Mr. Obama was referring to his 2008 political operation or the 2012 reprise, but in any case he said he is developing a new "management agenda" to deliver a "smarter and more accountable" government, "just like we did on that campaign." Call us cynical, but is there an American outside of Washington nostalgic for the last election?

"What matters in the end is completion. Performance. Results. Not just making promises, but making good on promises," Mr. Obama continued. Sorry, that was George W. Bush in 2001 debuting what he also called a new "management agenda." Perhaps Mr. Obama's version is an homage, though he didn't acknowledge the debt, nor did he mention Al Gore's "reinventing government" program of the 1990s.

President Obama's management agenda is also indebted to President Obama's 2011 call for a scrubdown of the regulatory state for duplicative rules, as well as President Obama's 2012 proposal to consolidate and reorganize the executive branch. The authorities have since issued Amber Alerts for both projects.

Presidents always summon such initiatives that go nowhere when the polls show the public distrusts government, which is usually when it is largest and most activist, and no more so than the present moment. But it's especially rich for Mr. Obama to try to ride this painted pony one more time, as government is dumber and less accountable than ever.

The President actually cited the Affordable Care Act as an example of his idea of more user-friendly government: People will be able to shop for insurance, he said, "like you go online and compare the best deal on cars." Yet the unfortunate government official charged with designing this online tool declared in March that his team had given up on creating "a world-class user experience," adding, "Let's just make sure it's not a third-world experience."

Amid what has recently become a full regulatory panic, ObamaCare will be lucky to rise to third-world standards though it isn't the only part of government Mr. Obama has expanded that could use a "management agenda." Three years after passage, regulators still haven't written the Volcker Rule or other parts of Dodd-Frank financial re-regulation. The stimulus cost a lot but never did kickstart a real recovery. And where was "smarter government" when Mr. Obama told his agencies to administer this year's 5% sequester cuts as painfully as possible so voters would force Congress to oppose any cuts?

Americans might be less cynical about government if Mr. Obama's real preference wasn't for the government status quo, only much more of it.



What ObamaCare Is Going To Do To Your Doctor

You should care a lot about how health reform will affect your doctor. The reason: it will also affect you.

Here's what's happening: hospitals are merging and they are acquiring doctors. In the process, they are making the market less competitive, gaming third-party payment formulas and doing other things that make our health insurance premiums and our taxes higher than they otherwise would be.

None of this is the result of any plan the administration ever announced, however. What did the Obama administration intend to happen? The clearest explanation of their vision of health reform comes from Harvard Medical School Professor Atul Gawande, who thinks that medicine should be more like engineering — with all doctors following the same script, rather than exercising their individual judgments:

"This can no longer be a profession of craftsmen individually brewing plans for whatever patient comes through the door. We have to be more like engineers building a mechanism whose parts actually fit together, whose workings are ever more finely tuned and tweaked for ever better performance in providing aid and comfort to human beings."

Karen Davis, president of the Commonwealth Fund, explains what this will mean for the organization of medical practice:

"The legislation also includes physician payment reforms that encourage physicians, hospitals, and other providers to join together to form accountable care organizations [ACOs] to gain efficiencies and improve quality of care. Those that meet quality-of-care targets and reduce costs relative to a spending benchmark can share in the savings they generate for Medicare."

To assist in this effort, millions of dollars have been spent on pilot programs and demonstration projects to find about "what works" so the ACOs can go copy them. We've had demonstration projects for coordinated care, integrated care, medical homes, electronic medical records, pay-for-performance and just about every other faddish idea. Unfortunately, the Congressional Budget Office has found in three separate reports that that none of this is working (see here, here and here.)

When I say that none of these techniques work, what I really mean is that projects designed, approved and paid for by the demand side for the market aren't working. Many of these techniques actually do work when they are instituted by entrepreneurs on the supply side. But these innovations have nothing to do with ObamaCare. They are happening in spite of ObamaCare.

[Oops, there was one demo project that actually worked and worked well. The government is shutting it down.]

Meanwhile, more than half the doctors are working for hospitals and other institutions, rather than working in private practice. And hospitals are using their new doctor employees to get more money out of Medicare. Even the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPac), the federal agency responsible for overseeing Medicare fees, has noticed — although belatedly — that hospitals can charge Medicare more for the same services than doctors can charge if they bill Medicare as an independent practitioner. As reported in The New York Times:

"Medicare pays $58 for a 15-minute visit to a doctor's office and 70 percent more — $98.70 — for the same consultation in the outpatient department of a hospital. The patient also pays more: $24.68, rather than $14.50.

Likewise, the commission said, when a Medicare beneficiary receives a certain type of echocardiogram in a doctor’s office, the government and the patient together pay a total of $188. They pay more than twice as much — $452 — for the same test in the outpatient department of a hospital. (The test is used to evaluate the functioning of the heart.)

…From 2010 to 2011, the commission said, the number of echocardiograms provided to Medicare beneficiaries in doctors' offices declined by 6 percent, but the number in hospital outpatient clinics increased by nearly 18 percent."

On the positive side, a major unintended consequence of health reform is the boost to consumer directed health care. In the health insurance exchanges, the cheapest plans are going to have deductibles of $5,000 or more. And lots and lots of people are going to choose the cheapest plans. Avik Roy reports that employers are going for Health Savings Accounts (or Health Reimbursement Arrangements) in a big way. Bottom line: millions of patients are going to be buying care with their own money, rather than with a third-party payer's money.

I'm sure this thought is causing heartburn for those on the left who view high deductible plans as "under-insurance." But this development is viewed as opportunity by health care entrepreneurs.

One study is predicting that the number of walk-in clinics is going to double in the next few years. The Obama administration doesn't like them because they are not part of integrated care/coordinated care/medical homes/etc., etc., etc. Even so, they are doing what the ACOs are unlikely to do: lowering costs, increasing quality and improving access to care.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


July 12, 2013

Sanford Police Prepare for Zimmerman Riots

On Monday, the Broward County Sheriff's Office in Florida released a public service announcement attempting to convince young people not to riot in case George Zimmerman, the man who shot and killed Trayvon Martin, was acquitted of second-degree murder. That likelihood remains high, thanks to the fact that the prosecution itself was weak and pushed forward by a breathless media desperate for a racial hot point to drive ratings.

The sheriff's office announced that it was "working closely with the Sanford Police Department and other local law enforcement agencies" on a "response plan in anticipation of the verdict." Sheriff Scott Israel appeared in a video alongside a rapping duet of two teenagers, one a Hispanic female and another a black male, who tell the public, "Raise your voice, and not your hands! We need to stand together as one, no cuffs, no guns. ... I know your patience will be tested, but law enforcement has your back!"

Despite the passions elicited in both the black community and the white community over Zimmerman, one fact remains clear: Americans are far more concerned with the possibility of a minority riot over Zimmerman's acquittal than they are with the possibility of a white riot over Zimmerman's conviction. That's not unreasonable. Al Sharpton of MSNBC, among others, has threatened civil disobedience in Sanford before, and Americans still remember the Crown Heights riots of 1991, the Los Angeles riots of 1992, the St. Petersburg riots of 1996, the Cincinnati riots of 2001 and the Oakland riots of 2009, among others.

Why, exactly, are Americans so seemingly complacent about the notion of another riot over a case about a Hispanic man shooting a black teenager, presumably in self-defense? It's thanks to a media that continues to maintain the fiction that every case allegedly involving a non-black suspect and a black victim is a test case for American racism. The media pretended that the case against George Zimmerman was unshakeable; it simply wasn't. There wasn't just reasonable doubt about whether Zimmerman engaged in self-defense when he shot Martin, there was virtually zero countervailing credible evidence to the proposition that he shot Martin in self-defense. Furthermore, there was literally zero evidence for the proposition that the shooting was racially motivated, or that the police didn't initially arrest Zimmerman thanks to their institutional racism.

Yet the story has played out in the media as a controversial example of America's continuing love affair with racism. The media's narrative went like this: white man shoots black man after racially profiling him, and racist local officers let him off the hook. That's a lie, but it's become widely accepted in the black community, where 72 percent of blacks polled thought that Zimmerman was definitely or probably guilty (compared with just 32 percent of nonblack Americans), and 73 percent thought he would have been arrested initially if he had shot a white person (compared with 35 percent of nonblack Americans).

Sadly, an incredible number of blacks feel that the system is biased against them: While most white people don't believe that the criminal justice system is racist (49 percent believe it is), a whopping 84 percent of blacks in America believe it is.

And so each case with racial overtones becomes another reminder to blacks that the system is out to get them, particularly when largely white media commentators wrongly paint a case as race-based. This means that anytime the media labels a case race-based, Americans are forced to accept the ugly calculus that acquittal, while proper, may result in riots based on perceived institutional wrongs.



The Truth About SwedenCare

by Klaus Bernpaintner

As a Swede currently living in the United States, with actual experience of Swedencare, I must reply to the delusions propagated by professor Robert H. Frank in his June 15 article in the New York Times, titled “What Sweden Can Teach Us About Obamacare.”

It is surprising to read something so out of line with basic economic theory from an economics professor. But theory aside, it would have sufficed for professor Frank to have taken a field trip down to the nearest public emergency room to have his illusions irreparably shattered. The reality is that Swedish healthcare is the perfect illustration of the tragedy of central planning. It is expensive and — even worse — it kills innocent people.

Free universal healthcare came about in the 50s as part of the Social Democratic project to create the “People’s Home” (Folkhemmet). This grand effort also included free education on all levels, modern housing for the poor, mandatory government pension plans and more. Let us grant benefit of the doubt and assume that some of its proponents had good intentions; as so often, these intentions paved the road to a hellish destination.

It has taken awhile, but it is now becoming obvious even to the man on the street that every aspect of this project has been a disaster. He may not be able to connect the dots, but he can see that the system is definitely not working as advertised, and it is rapidly deteriorating.

Before the utopian project got under way, Sweden had some of the absolute lowest taxes in the civilized world and, not surprisingly, was ranked at the top in terms of standard of living. The project changed Sweden into a country with the second highest tax rate in the world (Denmark is higher), periods of rampant inflation, and a steadily deteriorating economy.

There is nothing economically mysterious about health care — it is just another service. Like any other it can be plentifully provided on a free market at affordable prices and constantly improving quality. But like everything else, it breaks down when the central planners get their hands on it, which they now have. To claim that the problems are due to a “market failure” in health care is like saying that there was a market failure in Soviet bread production.

Let us look at what happened when health care was provided for free by the Swedish government (i.e., taxpayers). Note that the same economic principles and incentives apply to any service that the government decides to take over and provide for free. The same principles will apply to Obamacare, with some slight variations.

First it was understood in Sweden that free healthcare was only for the poor. It would not affect those who were happy with their existing provider. But when government suddenly offers a free alternative, many will leave their private practitioner in favor of the free goods. The public system will have to be expanded, while the private doctors will lose patients. The private doctors are then forced to either take employment within the public system or leave the profession. The result is one single public healthcare monolith. Can one find economies of scale within its operations, as professor Frank claims? Maybe. But if they exist, they will be dwarfed by the costs and inefficiencies of the bureaucracy that inevitably grows to manage the system.

These results are clearly visible in Sweden. There are very few private practices left. Of the few that are left, most are part of the national insurance system. A huge bureaucracy has been erected to take on all the necessary central planning of public and pseudo-private healthcare.

When Swedes go to the polls every four years, they vote on three levels of government: national, landsting, and kommun. A landsting is a regional mid-level type of government and there are 20 of them. The landstings are almost entirely devoted to managing public healthcare. They are always short on funding and regularly make losses.

It was recently revealed in one of the major newspapers that doctors were told to prioritize patients based on their value as future taxpayers. Old people naturally have a low future-taxpayer-value, so they naturally became low priority in the machine and less likely to receive proper treatment. In a private healthcare system you can make your own priorities, you can for example sell your house and spend the proceeds on becoming well. In a socialized system somebody else sets the priorities.

As we know, every planner-induced action gives rise to five equal, opposite, and unintended reactions, each of which will be met with yet more planner-induced actions. Eventually you end up with a broken system such as the Swedish one, where service is “free,” but not accessible.

For non-emergency cases in Sweden, you must go to the public “Healthcare Central.” This is always the starting point for anything from the common flu to brain tumors. You must go to your assigned Central, according to your healthcare district. Admission is by appointment only. Usually they have a 30-minute window every morning, when you call to claim one of the budgeted slots. Make sure to call early or they run out. Rarely will you get an appointment for the same day. You will be assigned a general practitioner, probably one you have never met before; likely one who does not speak fluent Swedish; and very likely one who hates his job. If you have a serious condition, you will be started on a path of referrals to experts. This process can take months. Contrary to what professor Frank believes this is not a “feature” of the system, to ensure maximum capacity-utilization. This is an unavoidable characteristic of central planning, analogous to Soviet bread lines, which nobody refers to as a “feature.”

This healthcare “bread line” is where people die. It happens regularly that by the time a patient gets to see an expert, his condition has progressed beyond remedy. It also happens frequently that referrals get lost. Bureaucracies create listless employees, who don’t care, who refuse to go the extra mile, and who are never responsible for failures.

If you have an emergency you will go to the emergency room at one of the huge Soviet-size hospitals. Professor Frank praises these monstrous facilities for providing “economies of scale.” Stockholm had two huge hospitals. In 2004 they were merged into one by a big-name consulting firm. Of course the “merger” was a failure, so for many years there have been discussions about splitting them up again.

The emergency room is a different experience altogether. Unless you are suffocating or are hemorrhaging profusely, you should expect to wait 5-7 hours to see a doctor. You can only hope for this “high” level of service if you arrive on a workday and during office hours. After hours, or on weekends, it is worse. Doctors are mostly busy filling out forms for the central health care authorities, scribbling codes in little boxes to report services rendered, instead of seeing patients. There have been cases reported where patients have seen a doctor immediately, but such cases are rare.

It is important to plan any major health problems you intend to have outside of June, July, and August, because during the summer months, hospitals are virtually shut down for vacation.

Due to a lack of profit motive, free services not only become bad but also very expensive. One of the major banks (Swedbank) recently came out with a report stating that the average earner pays about 70 percent tax of his income to the government, including the invisible big chunk withheld from his paycheck. Because free systems become more expensive with time and it is impossible to compensate by constantly raising taxes, every year more conditions are classified as non-life-threatening, and are therefore no longer covered.

In the final stage of a central planning failure, the planners simply give up. They want to wash their hands of the whole thing, and decide to “privatize” the services. In practice, this means that they unload hospitals at fire sale prices to well-connected “entrepreneurs.” The planners turn themselves into overseers and guarantors of quality. This creates a highly protected “market” wherein the “entrepreneurs” are only required to deliver government-quality services at prices determined by what it would cost government to do the same. Obviously this creates permanent margins so huge you could drive an ambulance through them, and there is no competition to stop it.

The market for private healthcare in Sweden is small. Few people can afford it since they already pay 70 percent tax for all of their “free” stuff. The politicians have private health care, though, naturally paid for by taxpayers. Apparently they are such special people that the healthcare systems they have designed for others are not good enough for them.

When I moved to the U.S., our family health insurance took three months to kick in. One of my family members broke a leg in this period. We found a “five-minute clinic” half an hour away, had the leg X-rayed, straightened and casted, with no waiting time — all for $200 cash. That kind of service is non-existent in Sweden. It is an example of how a market, not yet totally destroyed by the state, can create affordable and high quality services.

The reason American insurance-based healthcare is so expensive is that it is heavily regulated and legally connected to the equally-regulated insurance industry. Both are well protected from competition by regulation. Obamacare will make them even more expensive, bureaucratic, and inaccessible. The way to fix U.S. healthcare is by excising the central planners and regulators from it, not by implanting droves more of them.

I have seen (and lived in) the future of American health care, and it does not work.




Democrats threaten to end filibusters in US Senate: "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, frustrated by a dysfunctional and unpopular Congress that has been unable to perform basic tasks such as agreeing on a federal budget, may soon seek an unprecedented rules change in the Senate. The Nevada Democrat's aim would be to strip Republicans of their ability to stop President Barack Obama's judicial and executive branch nominees with procedural roadblocks known as filibusters, which also have been used to halt much of the president's legislative agenda. Republicans charge that such a move would effectively turn the 100-member Senate into the House of Representatives, where the rules already allow the chamber's majority to virtually ignore the minority." [Where's the Gang of 14?]

IMF reduces global growth outlook as US expansion weakens: "World economic growth will struggle to accelerate this year as a U.S. expansion weakens, China’s economy levels off and Europe’s recession deepens, the International Monetary Fund said. Global growth will be 3.1 percent this year, unchanged from the 2012 rate, and less than the 3.3 percent forecast in April, the Washington-based fund said today, trimming its prediction for this year a fifth consecutive time."

PA: ACLU challenges homosexual marriage ban: "The American Civil Liberties Union said it filed the first known legal challenge Tuesday seeking to overturn a state law effectively banning same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania, the only northeastern state that doesn't allow it or civil unions. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Harrisburg, also will ask a federal judge to prevent state officials from stopping gay couples from getting married."

What do we have to celebrate?: "Last Thursday, we all celebrated Independence Day because in America we are and will always be free, right? Yet when one looks at the laws and policies in place now, it almost appears that only unadulterated freedom we possess is the freedom to keep the government safe from the will of the people. This freedom means we have the right to not have any form of privacy, the right to be conscripted into perpetual war, the right to be told what we can and cannot buy, sell, and consume, and the right to be told where, when, and for how long we can exercise our right to petition for a redress of grievances, among many more new-found 'rights.' Control is the name of this 'freedom' that the government has graciously bestowed upon us and we all celebrate it every year."


For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


July 11, 2013

Pastor Ken Hutcherson to Rev. Al Sharpton: ‘Not Again’

Ken Hutcherson “Hutch” is the senior pastor of Antioch Bible Church near Seattle. Born in Alabama in the era of segregation, he is a former middle linebacker for the Seahawks, Dallas Cowboys and San Diego Chargers, he has spent more than two decades training adults and young people to be on the offensive for Jesus Christ.

He is featured on numerous radio and TV programs as well as in newspapers and magazines for his stand on biblical principles and standards, no matter what the cost.

I was born in Anniston, Alabama, in the 50s and had to fight for my equality most of my life. You see, there were many who thought I should be treated like a second class citizen, drink from a different water fountain, sit in the back of the bus, be counted as three-quarters of a person, go to a different school, eat and sit in the black section of restaurants, use a different bathroom; you know, be separate but equal. Then came Dr. Martin Luther King and all that started to change and praise God! I became a Christian in 1969. Today, I find myself again being put in that same category as a second class citizen, and I am not going to have that same fight.

I did not become a Christian to live the 50s and 60s all over a second time. Muslims have more rights and freedom of religion than I do as a Christian. Tell a Muslim he can’t pray at school or at the airport or downtown when prayer time is called for, and see what happens. Tell a Muslim cleric serving as a chaplain in our brilliant military that he has to marry a same-sex couple, and see what happens. Some of you are saying “what is that about?” Well hold on to your hat, there is more to come.

But as a Christian, let me say Merry Christmas on a national holiday called Christmas and you’d think Satan incarnate himself just showed up. I’m sorry that is a bad example because if Satan did show up, he would get more respect than Christians, Jews, Tea Partiers, patriots and conservatives. Thus all the forenamed groups, and any like them, must stand and fight for their equal rights that are disappearing faster than San Antonio fans after game seven of the NBA championship in Miami. This brings me to the point of Al Sharpton’s recent comments about our movement of taking back our civil rights as conservatives.

You mocked Glenn Beck, thus all of us, with your insult on the tea party fighting for their equal rights. Do you think we are going to go find a hole and hide somewhere? Mr. Sharpton that is not going to happen anymore. We refuse to sit by and let you or anyone else mock, attack, demean or laugh at our beliefs, and think it is okay to push us to the back of the Capitol in DC assuming we will just shut up.

Let me see if I can explain something to you, Al, that it seems you have forgotten. When you and Dr. King fought for our civil rights, was it because no one else had their equal rights? Black people were the first to get their equal rights, right? I presume you think that is correct the way you are talking. We both know that the reason why Dr. King and thousands of others fought during the Civil rights movement was because someone else had their rights and liberties, and blacks didn’t.

My question to you Mr. Sharpton is who had those rights when we as a black people didn’t? It is true then that equal rights existed first for us to want them. Seems to me it was the white race that enjoyed that freedom. We saw it, said we wanted some of that, and fought and died until we got it. So why is it that you think Judeo-Christian believers, the religious right, tea partiers, patriots and white people in general who are starting to feel like second class citizens and separate but equal; are being scrutinized by the IRS and spied on by the NSA. Why should they not stand up and demand equal treatment under the law and the Constitution of these United States of America? The greatest nation ever founded under the banner of freedom, one nation under God, gives its citizens certain inalienable rights and the promise that they have the right to pursue their happiness. I believe we are endowed with those rights Mr. Sharpton, and deep down you know we are too.

As a black man Al, who went through the Civil rights fight in the 60s just like you did, and saw the first freedom bus burn in my home town of Anniston, Alabama, on May 14, 1961; I hated Dr. King for his non-violent philosophy. That did not change until I became a Christian later in life. Then I understood God’s biblical truth of love your enemy and do good to those who hate and persecute you.

I think I have the right to tell you this sir; I think the likes of you and Jesse Jackson have done more damage to the black race than any white man will ever accomplish. You see as long as you can produce an ethnicity with a victim mentality to keep them in poverty, as the two of you get richer – you know like poverty pimps – and convince them that it is the white man’s fault because he has his boot on their necks, and as long as you teach our beautiful black women that there is a government out there to be their baby’s daddy, the two of you win. You are the self-proclaimed, appointed leaders of the black people. How we as black people have swallowed the lie that we have to have certain black leaders to get on the government teat escapes me.

I have to tell you Al, I have seen your work, it has been weighed, it has been measured, and it has been found wanting. Daniel 5:27.



One grower’s grapes of wrath

In the world of dried fruit, America has no greater outlaw than Marvin Horne, 68. Horne, a raisin farmer, has been breaking the law for 11 solid years. He now owes the U.S. government at least $650,000 in unpaid fines. And 1.2 million pounds of unpaid raisins, roughly equal to his entire harvest for four years.

His crime? Horne defied one of the strangest arms of the federal bureaucracy — a farm program created to solve a problem during the Truman administration, and never turned off.

He said no to the national raisin reserve.

“I believe in America. And I believe in our Constitution. And I believe that eventually we will be proved right,” Horne said recently, sitting in an office next to 20 acres of ripening Thompson grapes. “They took our raisins and didn’t pay us for them.”

The national raisin reserve might sound like a fever dream of the Pillsbury Doughboy. But it is a real thing — a 64-year-old program that gives the U.S. government a heavy-handed power to interfere with the supply and demand for dried grapes.

It works like this: In a given year, the government may decide that farmers are growing more raisins than Americans will want to eat. That would cause supply to outstrip demand. Raisin prices would drop. And raisin farmers might go out of business.

To prevent that, the government does something drastic. It takes away a percentage of every farmer’s raisins. Often, without paying for them.

These seized raisins are put into a government-controlled “reserve” and kept off U.S. markets. In theory, that lowers the available supply of raisins and thereby increases the price for farmers’ raisin crops. Or, at least, the part of their crops that the government didn’t just take.

For years, Horne handed over his raisins to the reserve. Then, in 2002, he refused.

Since then, his life has now become a case study in one of Washington’s bad habits — a tendency never to reexamine old laws once they’re on the books. Even ones like this.

When Horne’s case reached the Supreme Court this spring, Justice Elena Kagan wondered whether it might be “just the world’s most outdated law.” “Your raisins or your life, right?” joked Justice Antonin Scalia.

Last month, the high court issued its ruling and gave Horne a partial victory. A lower court had rejected Horne’s challenge of the law. Now, the justices told that court to reconsider it.

Horne does not have the persona of a live-wire revolutionary. He used to be a tax auditor for the state. Now, in his second career, he watches fruit dry.

“If I knew we were going to go through all this, I would have just pulled the grapes out and put in almond” trees, he said.

But get Horne talking about the national raisin reserve, and the spirit stirs. Suddenly he can’t find a metaphor hairy enough to express his contempt. It’s robbery. It’s socialism. It’s communism. It’s feudalism. It’s....



Stasi, American Style

In an initiative aimed at rooting out future leakers and other security violators, President Barack Obama has ordered federal employees to report suspicious actions of their colleagues based on behavioral profiling techniques that are not scientifically proven to work, according to experts and government documents.

The techniques are a key pillar of the Insider Threat Program, an unprecedented government-wide crackdown under which millions of federal bureaucrats and contractors must watch out for “high-risk persons or behaviors” among co-workers. Those who fail to report them could face penalties, including criminal charges.

Obama mandated the program in an October 2011 executive order after Army Pfc. Bradley Manning downloaded hundreds of thousands of documents from a classified computer network and gave them to WikiLeaks, the anti-government secrecy group. The order covers virtually every federal department and agency, including the Peace Corps, the Department of Education and others not directly involved in national security.

Under the program, which is being implemented with little public attention, security investigations can be launched when government employees showing “indicators of insider threat behavior” are reported by co-workers, according to previously undisclosed administration documents obtained by McClatchy. Investigations also can be triggered when “suspicious user behavior” is detected by computer network monitoring and reported to “insider threat personnel.”

Federal employees and contractors are asked to pay particular attention to the lifestyles, attitudes and behaviors – like financial troubles, odd working hours or unexplained travel – of co-workers as a way to predict whether they might do “harm to the United States.” Managers of special insider threat offices will have “regular, timely, and, if possible, electronic, access” to employees’ personnel, payroll, disciplinary and “personal contact” files, as well as records of their use of classified and unclassified computer networks, polygraph results, travel reports and financial disclosure forms.

Over the years, numerous studies of public and private workers who’ve been caught spying, leaking classified information, stealing corporate secrets or engaging in sabotage have identified psychological profiles that could offer clues to possible threats. Administration officials want government workers trained to look for such indicators and report them so the next violation can be stopped before it happens.

But even the government’s top scientific advisers have questioned these techniques. Those experts say that trying to predict future acts through behavioral monitoring is unproven and could result in illegal ethnic and racial profiling and privacy violations.

“Doing something similar about predicting future leakers seems even more speculative,” Stephen Fienberg, a professor of statistics and social science at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and a member of the committee that wrote the report, told McClatchy.

The emphasis on individual lifestyles, attitudes and behaviors comes at a time when growing numbers of Americans must submit to extensive background checks, polygraph tests and security investigations to be hired or to keep government or federal contracting jobs. The U.S. government is one of the world’s largest employers, overseeing an ever-expanding ocean of information.

While the Insider Threat Program mandates that the nearly 5 million federal workers and contractors with clearances undergo training in recognizing suspicious behavior indicators, it allows individual departments and agencies to extend the requirement to their entire workforces, something the Army already has done.

Training should address “current and potential threats in the work and personal environment” and focus on “the importance of detecting potential insider threats by cleared employees and reporting suspected activity to insider threat personnel and other designated officials,” says one of the documents obtained by McClatchy.

The White House, the Justice Department, the Peace Corps and the departments of Health and Human Services, Homeland Security and Education refused to answer questions about the program’s implementation. Instead, they issued virtually identical email statements directing inquiries to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, declined to comment or didn’t respond.

Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, said in her statement that the Insider Threat Program includes extra safeguards for “civil rights, civil liberties and privacy,” but she didn’t elaborate. Manning’s leaks to WikiLeaks, she added, showed that at the time protections of classified materials were “inadequate and put our nation’s security at risk.”

Reply from the National Security Council

Even so, the new effort failed to prevent former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden from taking top-secret documents detailing the agency’s domestic and international communications monitoring programs and leaking them to The Guardian and The Washington Post newspapers.

Although agencies and departments are still setting up their programs, some employees already are being urged to watch co-workers for “indicators” that include stress, divorce and financial problems.

When asked about the ineffectiveness of behavior profiling, Barlow said the policy “does not mandate” that employees report behavior indicators. “It simply educates employees about basic activities or behavior that might suggest a person is up to improper activity,” he said.

Departments and agencies, however, are given leeway to go beyond the White House’s basic requirements, prompting the Defense Department in its strategy to mandate that workers with clearances “must recognize the potential harm caused by unauthorized disclosures and be aware of the penalties they could face.” It equates unauthorized disclosures of classified information to “aiding the enemies of the United States.”

All departments and agencies involved in the program must closely track their employees’ online activities. The information gathered by monitoring, the administration documents say, “could be used against them in criminal, security, or administrative proceedings.” Experts who research such efforts say suspicious behaviors include accessing information that someone doesn’t need or isn’t authorized to see or downloading materials onto removable storage devices like thumb drives when such devices are restricted or prohibited.

Much more HERE


For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


July 10, 2013

Islamists Not Ready For Democracy

The military coup that ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi marks another failure in U.S. foreign policy over several administrations, which have erroneously promoted the notion that American-style democracy in Islamic lands will produce a nation more like ours.

The Founders wrote a Constitution. When properly read and obeyed, it guards against pure democracy and makes "we the people" subject to laws that cannot be abolished by popular vote. Benjamin Franklin properly called what the Founders wrought a "Republic." Representative government would guard against the passions of a majority. No such safeguards apply in Egypt, or for that matter throughout most of the Islamic world.

George W. Bush famously said that freedom beats in every human heart. To paraphrase Bill Clinton, it depends on the meaning of freedom.

Definitions are important. To a radical Islamist, Sharia law defines freedom. Constitutions guaranteeing equal rights for all, including religious minorities like Coptic Christians in Egypt, multiple parties and free speech are mostly absent from societies where Islamists rule. And so majorities, often followed by the mob, and then the army, rule.

Secretary of State John Kerry spent most of his recent visit to the Middle East focusing on the establishment of a Palestinian state. This failed policy is a sideshow and irrelevant to the turmoil throughout the region. The Obama administration is calling for an "inclusive" political process in Egypt, which would include a role for the Muslim Brotherhood. But the Muslim Brotherhood's radical religious outlook and earthly agenda are the problem, not the solution. Why should the United States expect a different government if a different "brother" is elected, or if Morsi is somehow re-instated?

How can Egypt have a stable government when the Brotherhood claims to be doing the will of God at the same time the military says it carried out God's will by removing Morsi, and secularists say they don't want Islamists governing Egypt?

Writing in the UK Daily Telegraph, Fraser Nelson, editor of the Spectator, says the Arab world needs capitalism, more than democracy. He suggests that Western aid to Egypt be conditioned upon property rights. Throughout the Arab world, he writes, bureaucracy and corruption keep many people from starting businesses without paying costly bribes: "...under Hosni Mubarak, for example, opening a small bakery in Cairo took more than 500 days of bureaucracy. To open a business in Egypt means dealing with 29 government agencies. The same story is true throughout the region: The average Arab needs to present four dozen documents and endure two years of red tape to become the legal owner of land or business. If you don't have the time or money for this, you are condemned to life in the black market: No matter how good you are, you will never trade your way out of poverty."

The right to own property was fundamental to America's founding. In the beginning, only white male property owners were allowed to vote. Discriminatory, yes, but the point about the importance of being invested in the new nation by literally owning a piece of it was thought to be a fundamental component of citizenship.

American policy in the Middle East has failed over many decades because of false assumptions, especially when it comes to Israel. While often treating that tiny land as a weed that ought to be dug up, rather than a flower in the desert to be nourished, U.S. policy has focused on placating Arabs and Muslims, many of whom wish to destroy Israel and America.

Perhaps now that the United States is rapidly headed toward energy independence (enhanced if the opposition to the Keystone pipeline and fracking can be overcome), this and future administrations won't feel the need to bow to Middle East dictators and will push a "re-set" button that has a better chance at succeeding than the one that for too long has been stuck and inoperative.



George W. Bush: History Will Sort Out My Legacy

Former President George W. Bush isn’t just painting in his free time these days. On the contrary, he’s been helping build and refurbish health care clinics in Africa that are now finally beginning to provide cervical cancer screenings to at-risk women free of charge -- a cause he’s evidently championed and embraced since leaving the White House.

During a sit-down interview on ABC’s “This Week” with Jonathan Karl on Sunday, Bush (and his wife Laura), discussed their ongoing efforts to combat this deadly and devastating scourge -- a disease that reportedly killed as many as 50,000 African women in 2008 alone, according to the World Health Organization. But that’s not everything they talked about, of course. The conversation briefly touched on subjects as diverse as Bush’s recent interactions with President Obama, the “comprehensive immigration reform” bill currently making its way through Congress, and the former president’s own father’s political legacy:

As always Bush came across as affable, relaxed and good-humored. I also liked how he mentioned he’s “out of politics” for good now and therefore has no desire whatsoever to weigh in on hot political issues (read: gay marriage) that might bring him less-than-favorable headlines if he somehow answered "incorrectly." I don't blame him. That’s probably a smart thing to do not only for his own sanity, but for his post-presidential approval ratings which seem to be on the rise lately (although I suspect he doesn't really care about that). After all, as he says, posterity will determine what his legacy is -- not public opinion polls conducted four short years after he left office.

In any case, Bush strikes me as a deeply humble man who’s proud to have served his country -- and desperately wants to use his fame and influence to serve others. And he seems to be doing just that. By all accounts, his commitment to Africa has been exceptional; indeed, his efforts have saved perhaps tens of millions of lives.

Not bad for a man who supposedly “doesn’t care about black people.”



Darwin’s Doubt

Darwin’s Doubt, the brand new New York Times bestseller by Cambridge-trained Ph.D., Stephen Meyer, is creating a major scientific controversy. Darwinists don’t like it.

Meyer writes about the complex history of new life forms in an easy to understand narrative style. He takes the reader on a journey from Darwin to today while trying to discover the best explanation for how the first groups of animals arose. He shows, quite persuasively, that Darwinian mechanisms don’t have the power to do the job.

Using the same investigative forensic approach Darwin used over 150 years ago, Meyer investigates the central doubt Darwin had about his own theory. Namely, that the fossil record did not contain the rainbow of intermediate forms that his theory of gradual evolutionary change required. However, Darwin predicted that future discoveries would confirm his theory.

Meyer points out that they haven’t. We’ve thoroughly searched the fossil record since Darwin and confirmed what Darwin originally saw himself: the discontinuous, abrupt appearance of the first forms of complex animal life. In fact, paleontologists now think that roughly 20 of the 28 animal phyla (representing distinct animal “body plans”) found in the fossil record appear abruptly without ancestors in a dramatic geological event called the Cambrian Explosion.

And additional discoveries since Darwin have made it even worse for his theory. Darwin didn’t know about DNA or the digital information it contains that makes life possible. He couldn’t have appreciated, therefore, that building new forms of animal life would require millions of new characters of precisely sequenced code—that the Cambrian explosion was a massive explosion of new information.

For modern neo-Darwinism to survive, there must be an unguided natural mechanism that can create the genetic information and then add to it massively, accurately and within the time allowed by the fossil record. Is there such a mechanism?

The answer to that question is the key to Meyer’s theory and entire book. Meyer shows that the standard “neo-Darwinian” mechanism of mutation and natural selection mechanism lacks the creative power to produce the information necessary to produce new forms of animal life. He also reviews the various post-Darwinian speculations that evolutionary biologists themselves are now proposing to replace the crumbling Darwinian edifice. None survive scrutiny. Not only is there no known natural mechanism that can create the new information required for new life forms, there is no known natural mechanism that can create the genetic code for the first life either (which was the subject of Meyer’s previous book Signature in the Cell).

When Meyer suggests that an intelligent designer is the best explanation for the evidence at hand, critics accuse him of being anti-scientific and endangering sexual freedom everywhere (OK, they don’t explicitly state that last part). They also claim that Meyer commits the God of the gaps fallacy.

But he does not. As Meyer points out, he’s not interpreting the evidence based on what we don’t know, but what we do know. The geologically sudden appearance of fully formed animals and millions of lines of genetic information point to intelligence. That is, we don’t just lack a materialistic explanation for the origin of information. We have positive evidence from our uniform and repeated experience that another kind of cause—namely, intelligence or mind—is capable of producing digital information. Thus, he argues that the explosion of information in the Cambrian period provides evidence of this kind of cause acting in the history of animal life. (Much like any sentence written by one of Meyer’s critics is positive evidence for an intelligent being).

This inference from the data is no different than the inference archaeologists made when they discovered the Rosetta Stone. It wasn’t a “gap” in their knowledge about natural forces that led them to that conclusion, but the positive knowledge that inscriptions require intelligent inscribers.

Of course, any critic could refute Meyer’s entire thesis by demonstrating how natural forces or mechanisms can generate the genetic information necessary to build the first life and then massive new amounts of genetic information necessary for new forms of animal life. But they can’t and hardly try without assuming what they are trying to prove (see Chapter 11). Instead, critics attempt to smear Meyer by claiming he’s doing “pseudo science” or not doing science at all.

Well, if Meyer isn’t, doing science, then neither was Darwin (or any Darwinist today). Meyer is using the same forensic or historical scientific method that Darwin himself used. That’s all that can be used. Since these are historical questions, a scientist can’t go into the lab to repeat and observe the origin and history of life. Scientists must evaluate the clues left behind and then make an inference to the best explanation. Does our repeated experience tell us that natural mechanisms have the power to create the effects in question or is intelligence required?

Meyer writes, “Neo-Darwinism and the theory of intelligent design are not two different kinds of inquiry, as some critics have asserted. They are two different answers—formulated using a similar logic and method of reasoning—to the same question: ‘What caused biological forms and the appearance of design in the history of life?’”

The reason Darwinists and Meyer arrive at different answers is not because there’s a difference in their scientific methods, but because Meyer and other Intelligent Design proponents don’t limit themselves to materialistic causes. They are open to intelligent causes as well (just like archaeologists and crime scene investigators are).

So this is not a debate about evidence. Everyone is looking at the same evidence. This is a debate about how to interpret the evidence, and that involves philosophical commitments about what causes will be considered possible before looking at the evidence. If you philosophically rule out intelligent causes beforehand—as the Darwinists do—you will never arrive at the truth if an intelligent being actually is responsible.

Since all evidence needs to be interpreted, science doesn’t actually say anything—scientists do. So if certain self-appointed priests of science say that a particular theory is outside the bounds of their own scientific dogma, that doesn’t mean that the theory is false. The issue is truth—not whether something fits a materialistic definition of science.

I’m sure Darwinists will continue to throw primordial slime at Meyer and his colleagues. But that won’t make a dent in his observation that whenever we see information like that required to produce the Cambrian Explosion, intelligence is always the cause. In fact, I predict that when open-minded people read Darwin’s Doubt, they’ll see that Dr. Meyer makes a very intelligently designed case that intelligent design is actually true. It’s just too bad that many Darwinists aren’t open to that truth—they aren’t even open minded enough to doubt Darwin as much as Darwin himself was.



The Zimmerman trial needs to be more about race! Quick, call the sociologist!

The NYT frontpages this execrable article by Lizette Alvarez, titled "Zimmerman Case Has Race as a Backdrop, but You Won’t Hear It in Court." She begins with the assumption that the case is supposed to be about race. After all, that's the way it looked in the press when it was first reported:

"But in the courtroom where George Zimmerman is on trial for second-degree murder, race lingers awkwardly on the sidelines, scarcely mentioned but impossible to ignore."

What does that look like — race lingering awkwardly and impossible to ignore?

It's a trial! There are rules of evidence, and there's the whole concept of criminal justice, which involves an accusation, based on specific law, about a specific incident and exactly what this particular defendant did.

It's not about larger narratives and how this might fit into a template that we think explains some larger social scheme. To suggest that it should and that something's wrong with the trial if it does not is to get it exactly backwards.

"For African-Americans here and across the country, the killing of Mr. Martin, 17, black and unarmed, was resonant with a back story steeped in layers of American history and the abiding conviction that justice serves only some of the people."

Seeing one event steeping in layers of history and within the context of abiding convictions is the very mechanism of prejudice. But the NYT is, apparently, sorry the trial isn't a festival of prejudicial thinking! How to write that up into an article? Call in the sociologist:

“For members of the African-American community, it’s a here-we-go-again moment,” said JeffriAnne Wilder, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of North Florida. “We want to get away from these things, but this did not happen in a vacuum. It happened against the backdrop of all the other things that have happened before.”

It's not awkward to shunt the backdrop of all the other things that have happened before to the sidelines during a trial. Rather, it's precisely what the judge and lawyers and jurors are required to do.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


July 9, 2013

The barely-educated journalists of today

Neal Boortz

OK … I’ll admit it. I did get a little testy on Twitter (@Talkmaster) Saturday afternoon while watching coverage of the crash landing of that Asiana 777 in San Francisco. There’s an explanation.

Just what mistakes did various Fox reporters make this weekend? Well here’s a few:

“The plane skidded on its back down the runway.” That gem was repeated for fully five hours after the accident and after half the free world saw the plane sitting upright in the dirt next to runway 28L.

"We don't know if there were one or two pilots. Presumably there were at least two." You don’t know? There are ALWAYS at least two pilots on a commercial flight. This time there were four.

“The plane overshot the runway.” Heard this several times. Tell me … if you overshoot a runway how do you manage to leave a debris field at the very beginning of the runway? Look up “undershot.”

“The plane cartwheeled down the runway.” Though it did lift in the air at one point before it slammed back down, the plane actually spun down the runway. It did not turn cartwheels.

Explaining video of one of the jet engines: “That’s the engine. That’s what makes it go.” Really? Now to be fair, don’t remember if I saw that one on CNN or Fox.

Now here’s one I didn’t hear myself, but got it from multiple Twitter followers. One reporter said that the problem might have been caused by the plane landing into the wind. Uh huh. Airplanes always land into the wind, Sherlock. Also heard that one reporter said that the airplane “landed first, then crashed.”

I truly thought that if kept listening I would soon hear someone say that the accident was either caused by global warming, George Bush, or the fact that gravity is always stronger over water than it is over land.

This wasn’t a part of this particular incident, but I am reminded of an accident in Atlanta. A small plane encountered a sinkhole while taxiing to the runway for takeoff. A wheel went into the pothole and the prop struck the ground. The local news anchor said “the plane crashed on takeoff.”

Aviation and the flying public are poorly served by people who know nothing about the subject engaging in wild and mindless speculation when an incident happens. Fox, CNN and the rest of the broadcast media can, and should, do better.



Employer Mandate Delay Spells Trouble for Obamacare

The dominoes are falling. The administration’s decision to postpone implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate until after the 2014 midterm elections is just the first to fall. More will be falling soon thanks to the administration’s belated recognition that the health care law will be a job-killing burden on business.

In fact, this is actually the second major part of Obamacare to be postponed in the past few months. This spring, the administration announced that the ACA Small Business Health Option Program (SHOP) would be postponed until at least 2015. That program was designed to help small employers provide their workers with a choice of health plans. But in April the administration had to pull back and admit it couldn’t provide those options.

Or perhaps we should call this the third major part of the law to fall apart. In 2011, the administration was forced to permanently postpone implementation of the CLASS Act, Obamacare’s long-term care program. That program was formally repealed in 2012.

Significantly, the administration’s decision to postpone the employer mandate may make a bad situation worse, at least for workers. The postponement affects only the mandate that employers (with 50 or more workers) provide insurance. The individual mandate remains in place, requiring nearly all Americans to have insurance or pay a fine. Individuals who would otherwise have gotten insurance through their employers may now be forced to purchase their own insurance.

It increasingly looks as though that insurance will be very expensive, especially for the young and healthy. In fact, as the Wall Street Journal recently reported, some consumers “could see insurance rates double or even triple when they look for individual coverage under the federal health law later this year.”

Earlier this year, a study in the American Academy of Actuaries’ magazine found that 80 percent of young adults aged 18–29 not eligible for Medicaid will face higher costs, and that 20- to 29-year-olds on the individual market not eligible for subsidies will see their premiumsincrease 42 percent.

New federal subsidies are supposed to offset rising premiums to some degree. But it is now an open question as to whether those subsidies will be available in 2014. For the system to work, the administration needs to know which workers are eligible for subsidies. Workers who are being offered affordable insurance coverage through their employers are not eligible for subsidies. But employers won’t have to report whether their workers are being offered affordable insurance coverage until after the employer mandate takes effect, which means the government won’t have that data until at least 2015. Without it, workers could be on the hook for the entire cost of the insurance they are being forced to buy.

And if the administration does find a way to offer subsidies? That will only further drive up the law’s price tag. The cost of the average exchange subsidy is now projected to be $5,510 in 2014, $700 more than it was projected to be last year. Overall, subsidies were estimated to cost $1.15 trillion over the next 10 years. But that was before the administration’s decision to postpone the employer mandate. With fewer workers receiving employer-based coverage, but all Americans still legally mandated to buy insurance, more workers will end up purchasing insurance through the exchanges, meaning that the cost to taxpayers of providing subsidies will almost certainly rise.

By postponing the employer mandate, therefore, the administration has shifted costs from employers to workers and/or taxpayers. That hardly seems fair.

So we should expect the administration to come under pressure to postpone the individual mandate as well.

The administration is also struggling to implement Obamacare’s federally run insurance exchanges. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has insisted that the federal government will be able to set up and run exchanges in some 33 states where state governments have chosen not to, but Sebelius has been unable to provide Congress or the public with a credible plan for doing so. A new report from the Government Accountability Office questions whether the exchanges will really be operational by their October 1 deadline. “[T]he timely and smooth implementation of the exchanges by October 2013 cannot yet be determined,” the report states.

If the exchanges cannot begin open enrollment by October 1, it is unlikely that they can be fully functional by January 1. Any delay in opening the exchanges would further complicate the government’s ability to provide subsidies, and make enforcement of the individual mandate all but impossible.

Democratic Senator Max Baucus, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and an author of the Affordable Care Act, recently predicted that Obamacare’s implementation would be “a train wreck.” The administration’s latest action suggests that the wheels have already begun to come off the train.



Some more Public Projects Carelessly Managed

On a drive back from a visit to Monticello yesterday, I listened to Jon Meacham’s biography of Thomas Jefferson. In 1784 Jefferson was interested in a project to improve trade routes to the West from the Potomac River. In a March 15 letter to George Washington, he wondered whether it might be a (state) government-supported project, but admitted one problem with that idea:

"But a most powerful objection always arises to propositions of this kind. It is that public undertakings are carelessly managed and much money spent to little purpose."

So as small as the government was back then, it was already commonly known that government projects are often screw-ups. By the way, if you look at the history of the oldest federal agencies—such as the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Corps of Engineers—you will find scandals, mismanagement, and cost overruns from the the beginning.

Today, the parade of failures and mismanagement continues. Back from Monticello, I caught up on the Washington Post and found an article by Walter Pincus describing the “explosive costs of nuclear weapons disposal.”

"Costs have skyrocketed for the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility at the Savannah River plant in South Carolina … When the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) originated this MOX program in 2002, design and construction were to cost $1 billion. By 2005, the estimate was $3.5 billion. When project construction began in 2007, it was three years behind schedule with a $4.8 billion price tag. According to NNSA’s fiscal 2014 budget request, construction will hit $7.78 billion. The annual cost to run the facility has also exploded. NNSA estimated in 2002 that it would cost $100.5 million a year to operate the MOX plant. Annual operating costs are now expected to be $543 million."

Regarding the Hanford Nuclear site in Washington state, Pincus notes:

"To handle treatment of the millions of gallons of highly radioactive liquid waste, much of which dates to the 1940s, the Energy Department decided in 2000 to build a Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant. The cost was estimated at $4.3 billion with a 2011 completion date. A December 2012 GAO audit said the cost has tripled, to $13.4 billion. Completion is not expected until 2019."

I discuss the huge cost of nuclear site cleanup in this essay and the problem of government cost overruns in this piece.

Governments have always been inefficient in handling spending projects, and will probably always be so. Of course, there are things we need governments to do, such as defending the nation. But the poor management record of government is one good reason to keep it out of all those activities that the private sector can and should be doing for itself.



Audited Virginia farmer faces more thuggery

Farmer Martha Boneta has been involved in a series of disputes with the "Green" Piedmont Environmental Council

Martha Boneta's lifelong dream — her pursuit of happiness — was to be a farmer.

Since purchasing Liberty Farm in Fauquier County, Virginia, where she grows organic vegetables and has over 160 rescued livestock on her small farm, her life has been a series of harassment and bullying by people in power.

The latest trouble is that her house in the nearby, charming village of Paris, which has been placid ever since Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson bivouacked nearby during the Civil War, was vandalized. The same day, she was harassed at her farm by strangers in a Georgetown-registered car.

Ten days earlier Martha had gone public about an IRS audit. Journalist Kevin Mooney broke the story that Boneta was audited by the IRS last year after a series of disputes with the Piedmont Environmental Council and the Fauquier County government.

It was later shown that the audit was disclosed to at least one Fauquier County official, perhaps feloniously.

Martha's disputes brought her national attention because of her willingness to stand up to ridiculousness. She was cited and threatened with $5,000 fines for hosting a birthday party for eight 10-year-old girls without an "events" permit from the county.

Citizens from around the state rallied behind the farmer and held two "pitchfork protests."

Martha bought her farm subject to a conservation easement held by the PEC, a group so well-financed that it once beat Disney's attempt to build a Civil War theme park in Northern Virginia.

Mooney interviewed PEC board member Margaret "Peggy" Richardson, who was the IRS commissioner under Bill Clinton. She resigned under a cloud after dozens of conservative nonprofit organizations were audited. Asked about the IRS audit of Boneta coming on the heels of legal disputes between the farmer and the PEC, Richardson said, "Coincidences do happen."

But this audit has shown to be no coincidence. A Fauquier County supervisor blabbed about the audit two days after the notice was signed at the IRS and six days before Boneta received it. That shows collusion.

The supervisor is Richardson's friend and neighbor, and a former PEC board member.

Emails obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that county officials seemed obsessed about Boneta after she had stood up to the PEC's wayward and bullying approach to enforcing its easement.

Then in 2011 the county concocted an ordinance restricting farm sales that was enforced only against Boneta. She was cited for selling such things as emu-feather necklaces and homemade pies without a "special administrative farm sales permit," even though such sales complied with Virginia law.

Fauquier County seemed to be using the force of government to carry out the PEC's agenda. In cloistered meetings, Fauquier officials praised the PEC's efforts against the Boneta Bill, and vice versa.

Boneta did not report the recent vandalism to the sheriff. During her legal disputes with the PEC, she reported that wires at her farm had been cut. Six months later, an unusual stretch of time, she was charged with filing a false police report. The case against her was thrown out.

When the county sent an official to her farm without a warrant under the auspices of investigating a zoning infraction, the official was accompanied by one armed deputy. Two more armed deputies soon arrived on the scene even though there was no threat of an incident.

Boneta is undaunted and has gotten more private security including a bulletproof vest.

Exposure of IRS abuse and government thuggery against everyday people who tangle with power is exploding. It is no coincidence that Americans in record numbers fear government.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


July 8, 2013

The new King

"He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance." -- Declaration of independence

By Mark Steyn

Yesterday, writing about the team of seven fearless super-butch undercover agents from Virginia’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control who jumped a 20-year-old coed and demanded to inspect her bottled water, I observed that every tinpot makework paper-shuffling bureaucracy now runs around pretending to be Seal Team Six. Well, over at the US Department of Agriculture, they have a Bunny Team Six.

In 2011, I mentioned that USDA was dispatching crack field agents to poke around the back yards of children’s magicians on the off-chance they might be using rabbits on stage. Two years on, Bunny Team Six has come up with a new hare-brained scheme to take the magic out of our lives. Sure, it’s impressive when a conjurer pulls a rabbit out of his hat, but let’s face it, it’s not as impressive as a federal bureaucrat pulling a new regulation out of his butt:

"My USDA rabbit license requirement has taken another ridiculous twist. I just received an 8 page letter from the USDA, telling me that by July 29 I need to have in place a written disaster plan, detailing all the steps I would take to help get my rabbit through a disaster, such as a tornado, fire, flood, etc. They not only want to know how I will protect my rabbit during a disaster, but also what I will do after the disaster, to make sure my rabbit gets cared for properly. I am not kidding–before the end of July I need to have this written rabbit disaster plan in place, or I am breaking the law."

The magician, Marty Hahne, has been given until July 29th to submit his cottontail disaster-relief plan in the event that a tornado strikes his top hat, and to provide proof that he and his wife are trained to implement the plan. How much further down the rabbit hole can America go?



In Order to Form a More Perfect Regulated Community...

By Mark Steyn

Last weekend, I wrote about the US Department of Agriculture’s Bunny Team Six. USDA has sent hither swarms of Officers (as some guy once said) to check that children’s magicians have fully compliant emergency plans (in writing) in the event that their bunny is caught in a natural or man-made disaster. The Heritage Foundation has more on what the new regulation requires. In preparing the emergency plan for the rabbit, the magician and any other person in the chain of command, such as an assistant in spangled tights, must:

* Identify common emergencies most likely to occur,

* Outline specific tasks required to be carried out in response to each of the identified emergencies,

* Identify a chain of command and who (by name or by position title) will be responsible for fulfilling these tasks, and

* Address how response and recovery will be handled in terms of materials, resources, and training needs.

Marty the Magician’s first home inspection by USDA’s Bunny Team Six did not go well:

"When questioning the enforcement action, Marty was warned that verbal abuse of an inspector carries a fine of $1,000 per incident."

It’s right there in the Constitution, folks: "The right of the Bunny Inspector not to be disrespected shall not be infringed."

If you’re thinking that, for a republic of limited government, this country has rules against everything, well, the United States Government wields this power under something called the Animal Welfare Act Contingency Plan Final Rule, which came into effect in January this year. Here’s the bunny quote – er, money quote:

"The goal of this rule is to increase the regulated community’s awareness and understanding about their responsibilities to protect their animals in emergency situations."

“The regulated community” is what we used to call “the citizenry”. It doesn’t have quite the same ring as “We the people”, but don’t worry, you’ll get used to it.

Happy Post-Independence Weekend!



Model of Maverick Consistency

My column this weekend is about Egypt and the failure of Western progressives to distinguish between legitimate democracy and what they call “democratic legitimacy.” Speaking of which, Senator McCain is back in the news.

Before the Muslim Brotherhood came to power in Egypt, The Maverick told Der Spiegel that the Brothers must be excluded from participating in the post-Mubarak Egyptian government. But what about the will of the people? McCain was unmoved because, he reckoned, the Brotherhood was an “anti-democratic” organization. As I recount in Spring Fever:

Senator John McCain of Arizona … insisted, during aninterview by the German newspaper Der Spiegel, that the Muslim Brotherhood was “a radical group that, first of all, supports Sharia law; that in itself is anti-democratic – at least as far as women are concerned. They have been involved with other terrorist organizations and I believe that they should be specifically excluded from any transition government.” Around the same time, McCain’s oft-time side-kick, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, chimed inthat he was suspicious of the Brothers’ “agenda” and that “their motives are very much in question.”

Of course, the Brothers’ motives were never in question. They are Islamic supremacists whose agenda, first, last and always, has been the implementation of Islam’s totalitarian sharia system — which is actually even worse and more anti-democratic than McCain suggested. Moreover, McCain and Graham made their dour observations before the Brotherhood took power. Once the Brothers were in control of the government, they did exactly what McCain said he feared they would do: work to install sharia law, make life miserable for women (among others), and promote terrorism (backing Hamas, calling for the Blind Sheikh’s release, etc.). McCain was right (so rare to type those words): the Brothers should have been excluded from participating in the Egyptian government because they are anti-democratic and thus ill-suited for democracy.

So now that the military has finally done what McCain said should have been done in the first place, what does McCain want to the U.S. to do? Why, cut off American aid to the Egyptian military, of course. After all, “the military has overturned the vote of the people.”

Man, Republicans sure are shrewd to keep taking their cues from this guy.


And how did NPR lead off its broadcast on the matter? "The overthrow of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has provoked strong reactions around the Middle East. It reinforced concern about the Egyptian military's influence on the country's political and economic life."

No rejoicing there. The love affair between the Left and Islamic fanatics continues. They are both deeply tyrannical and destructive -- imps of Satan, even.


The latest U.S. Unemployment figures

The real bad news is that job growth is being driven by policies coming from Washington, mostly Obamacare. And of course, like anything else D.C.-related, the Democrat policies have it exactly backwards.

While it’s true that job growth was robust, it came from the growth of PART-TIME jobs, which are the only kind available. On a net basis, the economy lost 326,000 fulltime jobs.

Obamacare changes the definition of full time employment to 30 hour a week from 32 hours and requires companies over a certain size to purchase health benefits for all fulltime employees. As a result, companies are doing what we all knew they would: They are cutting fulltime employment and replacing it with part-time help.

There was some hope this phenomena, which Shedlock calls the Obamacare Effect, was mostly over in the employment arena.

More alarming still, U6 Alternative Unemployment went up a half percentage point from 13.8 to 14.3 percent. U6 unemployment counts the employed and those marginally attached to the workforce, people who don't get counted in the headline number that makes the nightly news. It's probably a more accurate way of measuring employment because of the uniquely poor economic policies coming from Washington.

U6 unemployment has remained stubbornly high, barely moving off of the 17.1 percent rate posted in late 2010 and early 2011.

Yikes! In other words U6 Unemployment is not “steady.” 13.8 percent to 14.3 percent in one month is a dramatic increase.

“Last month there was no jump in part-time employment which had me wondering if the the bulk of the Obamacare effect (employers reducing hours from 32 to 25 and hiring hundreds of thousands of new employees to make up the hours) had mostly played out,” writes Shedlock. “This month, the trend of huge part-time employment resumed, and in a major way.”

But even without the Obamacare Effect, job growth has been pretty bad. “Summarizing the ‘economy’ of Bernanke and Obama,” writes Zero Hedge, “in 2013 239,000 minimum wage restaurant and bar jobs have been created. As for manufacturing jobs: 13,000.”

Shedlock observes that year over year the number of jobs created is 1,610,000 while those who have dropped out of the labor force is 1,711,000.



It's a contest between two lots of bad guys in Egypt

Caroline Glick

US reporters and commentators today portray this week's protests as the restoration of the Egyptian revolution. That revolution, they remain convinced, was poised to replace long-time Egyptian leader and US-ally Hosni Mubarak with a liberal democratic government led by people who used Facebook and Twitter.

Subsequently, we were told, that revolution was hijacked by the Muslim Brotherhood. But now that Morsi and his government have been overthrown, the Facebook revolution is back on track.

And again, they are wrong.

As was the case in 2011, the voices of liberal democracy in Egypt are so few and far between that they have no chance whatsoever of gaining power, today or for the foreseeable future. At this point it is hard to know what the balance of power is between the Islamists who won 74 percent of the vote in the 2011 parliamentary elections and their opponents. But it is clear that their opponents are not liberal democrats. They are a mix of neo-Nasserist fascists, communists and other not particularly palatable groups.

None of them share Western conceptions of freedom and limited government. None of them are particularly pro-American. None of them like Jews. And none of them support maintaining Egypt's cold peace with Israel.

Whether the fascists will take charge or not is impossible to know. So, too, the role of the Egyptian military in the future of Egypt is unknowable. The same military that overthrew Morsi on Wednesday stood by as he earlier sought to strip its powers, sacked its leaders and took steps to transform it into a subsidiary of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Given the utter irrelevance of liberal democratic forces in Egypt today, it is clear enough that whoever is able to rise to power in the coming years will be anti-American, anti- Israel and anti-democratic, (in the liberal democratic sense of the word). They might be nicer to the Copts than the Muslim Brotherhood has been. But they won't be more pro-Western.

Wednesday's overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood government is a total repudiation of the US strategy of viewing the unrest in Egypt - and throughout the Arab world - as a struggle between the good guys and the bad guys.

That hated, reviled Israeli strategy, (which was not Netanyahu's alone, but shared by Israelis from across the political spectrum in a rare demonstration of unanimity), was proven correct by events of the past week and indeed by events of the past two-and-a-half years.

Israelis watched in shock and horror as their American friends followed the Pied Piper of the phony Arab Spring over the policy cliff. Mubarak was a dictator. But his opponents were no Alexander Dubceks. There was no reason to throw away 30 years of stability before figuring out a way to ride the tiger that would follow it. Certainly there was no reason to actively support Mubarak's overthrow.

Shortly after Mubarak was overthrown, the Obama administration began actively supporting the Muslim Brotherhood.

He was silent over the past year as the demonstrators assembled to oppose Morsi's power grabs. He was unmoved as churches were torched and Christians were massacred. He was silent as Morsi courted Iran.

This week's events showed how the US's strategy in Egypt has harmed America.

In 2011, the military acted to force Mubarak from power only after Obama called for it to do so. This week, the military overthrew Morsi and began rounding up his supporters in defiance of the White House.

Secretary of State John Kerry was the personification of the incredible shrinkage of America this week as he maintained his obsessive focus on getting Israel to make concessions to the Palestinians.

In a Middle East engulfed by civil war, revolution and chronic instability, Israel is the only country at peace. The image of Kerry extolling his success in "narrowing the gaps" between Israel and the Palestinians before he boarded his airplane at Ben-Gurion Airport, as millions assembled to bring down the government of Egypt, is the image of a small, irrelevant America.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


July 7, 2013

Leftist history

Prior to July 4, 1776, not a single person in the world starved, got sick, worked hard for a living, or experienced any pain and anxiety. No one had ever been oppressed or unfairly exploited because the oppressive and unfair American system had not yet been created.

Since the beginning of time employment had been equally guaranteed to anyone who cared to work, along with an equal pay of exactly $1,000 a week regardless of outcome, occupation, or the geographical area. All work was equally pleasant and enjoyable. Those who chose not to work also received $1,000 a week in unemployment compensation and Union benefits. Other guaranteed people's rights included the right to housing and free universal health care, as well as the right to 100% literacy through federally funded public education.

People never heard of wars, crime, corruption, slavery, torture, murder, cannibalism, and man-made hurricanes. Peace and harmony reigned supreme because the concepts of greed, selfishness, and private property had not yet been invented by the American corporate interests and maliciously spread around the world as part of the American cultural hegemony.



What We Know About Government Is Scarier Than What it Knows About Us

Many libertarians, outraged by how our government spies on us, call me a "traitor" because I'm not very angry. I understand that the National Security Administration tracking patterns in our emails and phone calls could put us on a terrible, privacy-crushing slippery slope.

But we're not there yet.

Some perspective:

We are less closely watched by government than citizens of other countries. There are about 3,000 government security cameras around New York City, but London has 500,000.

Some people in London love that, believing that the extra surveillance deters crime and catches terrorists. I thought government cameras helped identify the Boston Marathon bombers, but Ginger McCall of the Electronic Privacy Information Center told me that those cameras provide an illusion of security at a nasty price.

"These cameras reveal very private information -- where you go, who you go there with," she said. "They can record you going into the sex therapist's office, the gay bar, the abortion clinic, any number of places that you would probably not want other people to know that you're going ... "

She says that loss of privacy doesn't even make us safer.

"It isn't necessarily how we found the Boston Marathon bomber. There were a lot of things going on there ... eyewitnesses identifications, cameras that were not government-owned (often cellphones) and eventually the fingerprints of the older brother ... if the cameras were really successful, there would be no crime in London."

But "no crime" is too much to demand. I'm convinced that widespread use of cameras is one reason crime is down in America. Some criminals are caught, and others deterred.

It does make a difference if cameras are controlled by a city government or a private department store. No store can lock me up. But I hate to get bogged down in the surveillance debate when there are so many other ways that government clearly threatens our freedom and our finances, while accomplishing nothing.

Thinking about the NSA revelation, I also thought about other things my government does that I really hate. Within a few hours, I had a list of 100 -- it was surprisingly easy. I encourage you to start a list of your own. Here are just a few example of horrible, destructive government:

-- Government (federal and local) now employs 22 million Americans. That's outrageous.

-- Government runs up a $17 trillion deficit and yet continues to throw our money at things like $100 million presidential trips, million-dollar bus stops and pork projects, as well as thousands of programs that don't work.

-- It funds a drug war that causes crime and imprisons millions, disproportionately minorities. That's horrible.

-- It spends your money on corporate welfare. And farm subsidies. And flood insurance that helps higher-income people like me build homes in risky spots.

- Government keeps American Indians poor by smothering them with socialist central planning. It does this despite the fall of the Soviet Union and the obvious failure of socialism everywhere. That's evil.

-- So are "too big to fail" bank bailouts. And other bailouts.

-- I'm furious that there are now 175,000 pages of federal law. No one understands all the laws, but they keep passing more. How dare they!

NSA spying seems less horrible than these other abuses, especially if data mining might prevent terrorism.

I suspect people are outraged by the NSA in part because new threats seem scarier than old, familiar ones. That's a trick government itself exploits all the time: Each new drug, each new health threat, each new dictator is made to sound like the most horrible thing ever.

We should be wary of treating the new danger as if it's the biggest danger.

I don't suggest that we should be passive about data mining and surveillance. But we should not let the latest threat make us passive about the old ones, some of them much more clearly wrong.

What we already know about government is even scarier than what they know about us.



Commit Any Felonies Lately?

No? Militarized cops might attack you for buying bottled water or shoot your dog anyway

According to the Charlottesville Daily Progress, shortly after 10 p.m. on April 11, the 20-year-old U.Va. student bought ice cream, cookie dough and a carton of LaCroix sparkling water from the Harris Teeter grocery store at the popular Barracks Road Shopping Center. In the parking lot, a half-dozen men and a woman approached her car, flashing some kind of badges. One jumped on the hood. Another drew a gun. Others started trying to break the windows.

Daly understandably panicked. With her roommate in the passenger seat yelling “Go, go, go!” Daly drove off, hoping to reach the nearest police station. The women dialed 911. Then a vehicle with lights and sirens pulled them over, and the situation clarified: The persons who had swarmed Daly’s vehicle were plainclothes agents of the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. The agents had thought the sparkling water was a 12-pack of beer.

Did the ABC’s enforcers apologize? Not in the slightest. They charged Daly with three felonies: two for assaulting an officer (her vehicle had grazed two agents; neither was hurt) and one for eluding the police. Last week, the commonwealth’s attorney dropped the charges.

The agents’ excessive display of force is outrageously disproportionate to the offense they mistakenly thought they witnessed: an underage purchase of alcohol. But in a sense, Daly got off easy. A couple weeks after her ordeal, a 61-year-old man in Tennessee was killed when the police executed a drug raid on the wrong house. A few weeks later, in another wrong-house raid, police officers killed a dog belonging to an Army veteran. These are not isolated incidents; for more information, visit the interactive map at www.cato.org/raidmap.

They are, however, part and parcel of two broader phenomena. One is the militarization of domestic law enforcement. In recent years police departments have widely adopted military tactics, military equipment (armored personnel carriers, flashbang grenades) – and, sometimes, the mindset of military conquerors rather than domestic peace-keepers.

The other phenomenon is the increasing degree to which civilians are subject to criminal prosecution for non-criminal acts – including exercising the constitutionally protected right to free speech.

Last week A. J. Martin was arrested in Harrisburg, Penn., for writing in chalk on the sidewalk. Martin was participating in a health-care demonstration outside Gov. Tom Corbett’s residence when he wrote, “Governor Corbett has health insurance, we should too.” Authorities charged Martin with writing “a derogatory remark about the governor on the sidewalk.” The horror.

This follows the case of Jeff Olson, who chalked messages such as “Stop big banks” outside branches of Bank of America last year. Law professor Jonathan Turley reports that prosecutors brought 13 vandalism charges against him. Moreover, the judge in the case recently prohibited Olson’s attorney from “mentioning the First Amendment, free speech,” or anything like them during the trial.

In Texas last month, a woman was arrested for asking to see a warrant for the arrest of her 11-year-old son. “She spent the night in jail while her son was left at home,” reports Fox34 News. The son never was arrested. Also in Texas, Justin Carter has spent months in jail – and faces eight years more –for making an admittedly atrocious joke about shooting up a school in an online chat. Though he was plainly kidding, authorities charged him with making a terrorist threat.

Federal prosecutors also recently used an anti-terrorism measure to seize almost $70,000 from the owners of a Maryland dairy. Randy and Karen Sowers had made several bank deposits of just under $10,000 to avoid the headache of filing federal reports required for sums over that amount. The feds charged them with unlawful “structuring.” Last week they settled the case. Authorities kept half their money to teach them a lesson.

“I broke the law yesterday,” writes George Mason economics professor Alex Tabarrok, “and I probably will break the law tomorrow. Don’t mistake me, I have done nothing wrong. I don’t even know what laws I have broken. . . . It’s hard for anyone to live today without breaking the law. Doubt me? Have you ever thrown out some junk mail that . . . was addressed to someone else? That’s a violation of federal law punishable by up to five years in prison.” Tabarrok notes that lawyer Harvey Silvergate believes the typical American commits Three Felonies a Day – the title of Silvergate’s book on the subject.

As The Wall Street Journal has reported, lawmakers in Washington have greatly eroded the notion of mens rea – the principle that you need criminal intent in order to commit a crime. Thanks to a proliferating number of obscure offenses, Americans now resemble the condemned souls in Jonathan Edwards’ “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” – spared from perdition only by the temporary forbearance of those who sit in judgment.

“What once might have been considered simply a mistake,” the Journal explains, is now “punishable by jail time.” And as 20-year-old Elizabeth Daly has now learned, you can go to jail even when the person making the mistake wasn’t you.



Prosecution in George Zimmerman's Trial Continues to Help His Case

Video via The Orlando SentinelVideo via The Orlando SentinelYesterday and today, the jurors in George Zimmerman's murder trial heard testimony from Chris Serino, the Sanford, Florida, police investigator who at one point recommended a manslaughter charge against him. Serino testified that he felt pressure from within the police department to make an arrest but that upon reflection he concluded there was not enough reason to doubt Zimmerman's account of the fight that ended in Trayvon Martin's death. While Zimmerman struck Serino as an overzealous neighborhood watch volunteer who unnecessarily set the stage for the confrontation with Martin, he also seemed to be telling the truth.

Although the prosecution has sought to highlight inconsistencies in Zimmerman's various statements, Serino conceded during cross-examination that "nothing major" changed from one interview to another. He said Zimmerman's story was supported by physical evidence, include a medical examiner's report that the front of Martin's hoodie was not touching his body when he was shot, suggesting that he was "hanging over" Zimmerman. Serino also noted that Zimmerman was "very elated" when he was told that the fight might have been caught on video, suggesting he believed such evidence would vindicate him. "Either he was telling the truth or he was a complete pathological liar," Serino said. Given all the evidence, asked defense attorney Mark O'Mara, did Serino believe Zimmerman was telling the truth? "Yes," Serino replied.

It is possible, of course, that Zimmerman was telling the truth as he perceived it but nevertheless did not have a reasonable fear of death or serious injury at the moment he shot Martin, as required for a self-defense claim under Florida law. Possibly relevant to that question is today's testimony from medical examiner Valerie Rao, who described Zimmerman's injuries (a bloodied, possibly broken nose, plus bumps and lacerations on the back of his head) as "minor" and "insignificant." On cross-examination, however, Rao conceded that the injuries were consistent with having his head banged against a concrete sidewalk, perhaps a few times, as Zimmerman has described. Furthermore, as O'Mara pointed out, the fact that the injuries Zimmerman suffered were not life-threatening does not mean there was no reason to fear more serious injury if the fight continued.

Another piece of evidence that may bear on the question of the threat perceived by Zimmerman is the recording of a 911 call in the background of which someone can be heard crying out. The prosecution has suggested the cries came from Martin, while the defense maintains they came from Zimmerman. Yesterday Hirotaka Nakasone, an FBI voice analysis expert, testified that the recording was too short and indistinct for any conclusions to be drawn about who was screaming. Nakasone is the same expert whom the defense used at a pretrial hearing to discredit prosecution witnesses who were prepared to testify that it was Martin in the background of the call. Judge Debra Nelson excluded the testimony of those witnesses, deeming it "not reliable."

It is worth emphasizing that all the trial witnesses so far—including the neighbor whose description of the fight supports Zimmerman's account—have been called by the prosecution, which seems to be actively undermining its own case. Hence the headline over a story in yesterday's New York Times: "In Zimmerman Trial, Prosecution Witnesses Bolster Self-Defense Claims." As Orlando defense attorney Diana Tennis dryly observed in an interview with the Times, "When you are talking about state witnesses as if they are defense witnesses, that is a problem for the State of Florida." The Times suggests the state is falling far short of proving that Zimmerman is guilty of second-degree murder:



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


July 5, 2013

Inequality is not a problem

The fundamental problem of the political left seems to be that the real world does not fit their preconceptions. Therefore they see the real world as what is wrong, and what needs to be changed, since apparently their preconceptions cannot be wrong.

A never-ending source of grievances for the left is the fact that some groups are "over-represented" in desirable occupations, institutions and income brackets, while other groups are "under-represented."

From all the indignation and outrage about this expressed on the left, you might think that it was impossible that different groups are simply better at different things.

Yet runners from Kenya continue to win a disproportionate share of marathons in the United States, and children whose parents or grandparents came from India have won most of the American spelling bees in the past 15 years. And has anyone failed to notice that the leading professional basketball players have for years been black, in a country where most of the population is white?

Most of the leading photographic lenses in the world have -- for generations -- been designed by people who were either Japanese or German. Most of the leading diamond-cutters in the world have been either India's Jains or Jews from Israel or elsewhere.

Not only people but things have been grossly unequal. More than two-thirds of all the tornadoes in the entire world occur in the middle of the United States. Asia has more than 70 mountain peaks that are higher than 20,000 feet and Africa has none. Is it news that a disproportionate share of all the oil in the world is in the Middle East?

Whole books could be filled with the unequal behavior or performances of people, or the unequal geographic settings in which whole races, nations and civilizations have developed. Yet the preconceptions of the political left march on undaunted, loudly proclaiming sinister reasons why outcomes are not equal within nations or between nations.

All this moral melodrama has served as a background for the political agenda of the left, which has claimed to be able to lift the poor out of poverty and in general make the world a better place. This claim has been made for centuries, and in countries around the world. And it has failed for centuries in countries around the world.

Some of the most sweeping and spectacular rhetoric of the left occurred in 18th century France, where the very concept of the left originated in the fact that people with certain views sat on the left side of the National Assembly.

The French Revolution was their chance to show what they could do when they got the power they sought. In contrast to what they promised -- "liberty, equality, fraternity" -- what they actually produced were food shortages, mob violence and dictatorial powers that included arbitrary executions, extending even to their own leaders, such as Robespierre, who died under the guillotine.

In the 20th century, the most sweeping vision of the left -- Communism -- spread over vast regions of the world and encompassed well over a billion human beings. Of these, millions died of starvation in the Soviet Union under Stalin and tens of millions in China under Mao.

Milder versions of socialism, with central planning of national economies, took root in India and in various European democracies.

If the preconceptions of the left were correct, central planning by educated elites with vast amounts of statistical data at their fingertips, expertise readily available, and backed by the power of government, should have been more successful than market economies where millions of individuals pursued their own individual interests willy-nilly.

But, by the end of the 20th century, even socialist and communist governments began abandoning central planning and allowing more market competition. Yet this quiet capitulation to inescapable realities did not end the noisy claims of the left.

In the United States, those claims and policies reached new heights, epitomized by government takeovers of whole sectors of the economy and unprecedented intrusions into the lives of Americans, of which ObamaCare has been only the most obvious example.



Some news from Israel

Caroline Glick reports:

My friend, Latma's actress Ronit Avramov-Shapira and her family were stoned last night when they were driving through Samaria. She and her two year old daughter were injured -- lightly, thank G-d -- by broken glass.

Her husband saw the rocks on the ground and had the presence of mind to warn her to protect their daughter just before Palestinian terrorists hurled a rock the size of a grapefruit through her window.

It was a murder attempt. It wasn't reported. After all, who cares about stone throwing?

Ronit's infant son was also hit. He had glass covering him from stem to stern including in his diaper. But miraculously, he came out alright as well.

If you don't feel like throwing up or breaking something upon reading this, there is something deeply wrong with you. If you don't feel like throwing up or breaking something upon reading this, then, welcome to the majority of the global elite. Pat yourself on the back. You are a true progressive. Oh, and go to hell.

Via Facebook


The first important conservative thinker

Charles Moore reviews Edmund Burke by Jesse Norman (William Collins)

Since politics is, inevitably, a rough old trade, its theorists are often uneasy practitioners. The intellectual in politics finds it much harder than most to admit that he seeks fame, office and power: he cannot be content unless he also feels he is in the right. This greatly annoys his colleagues. The self-righteousness can be unbearable. As someone said of Gladstone: "I don’t mind it when he has the ace of clubs up his sleeve; but I wish he wouldn’t pretend that the Almighty put it there." Edmund Burke, as Jesse Norman admits, could be self-righteous, and his intellectual passions sometimes led him, as, in modern times, they sometimes led Enoch Powell, to be too violent in his assaults on his opponents. He was not successful politically, and he never rose above the rank of paymaster-general. When he died in 1797, he could enjoy only the most melancholy of satisfactions – that, in the main argument of his public life, he had been right.

Norman himself is a practising, indeed a rising politician, and so he is clear-sighted about Burke’s practical failures. But he is also a subtle historian of ideas. He does an excellent job of extracting from his subject’s speeches and writings why, in his view, Burke is the first and most important conservative thinker.

Usefully, he divides the book into two parts. The first and longer section tells the basic story. How Burke, the educated but outsider Irishman, made his way in the world; how he boldly identified injustice in Britain’s treatment of its American colonies; how he assailed the East India Company for its greedy "too big to fail" nabobs who had as much hold over Parliament as big banks do today. The author shows how Burke suffered more than he gained from the shifting aristocratic coalitions of the period. He was brave and right in his assault on the excessive power of the Crown, but went too far and attacked George’s III’s madness in personal and offensive terms. And Norman tells the story of how Burke fell out with Charles James Fox over the consequences of the French Revolution.

The second section distils Burke’s philosophical and political wisdom, and applies it to what has happened since. Norman tackles head-on the charges of inconsistency against Burke, and for the most part refutes them.

The lack of neatness is a good thing, he argues, because Burke developed his ideas from the study of history rather than the brutal imposition of theory. Burke had an anti-theory theory: "Circumstances (which with some gentlemen pass for nothing) give in reality to every political principle its distinguishing colour and discriminating effect. The circumstances are what render every civil and political scheme beneficial or noxious to mankind." He therefore assailed the then fashionable idea of Jean-Jacques Rousseau that man had a natural state in which he was good and free, which political society had stolen from him. For Burke, almost the opposite was the truth – only through the social endeavour of civilisation (which includes a good political order) could human beings acquire rights and dignity and do justice. Rousseau’s were "the ethics of vanity". People were not naturally virtuous in their savage state. They became so through manners, tradition and mutual obligation. If they destroyed their inheritance, they would destroy themselves.

The French Revolution of 1789 involved just such destruction. Its false appeals to reason gave bogus moral cover to mass murder. It exploited the deceitful idea of the "general will". The "rage and frenzy" of the mob could tear down in an hour what it had taken centuries of prudence to build up. The Revolution trampled on real existing rights, such as those of property, and replaced them with delusory universal ones (a tradition sadly perpetuated today by the European Court of Human Rights). It sought to rule by what Burke called an "armed doctrine", which concealed its own shortcomings by exporting revolutionary violence.

Burke predicted the result of revolutionary chaos: a dictator strongman would emerge – "some popular general shall draw the eyes of all men upon himself. Armies will obey him on his personal account... the moment in which that event shall happen, the person who really commands the army is your master." He had not heard of Napoleon when he wrote this, but his prophecy was wholly accurate.

Jesse Norman argues that it was Burke who defined what we have ever since meant by revolution. He saw that what Rousseau – and, in succeeding centuries, Marx and Lenin and Hitler and Mao – all admired for its purifying power to bring a new era of right rule into the world was the most horrible thing that could happen to a nation. This was a conservative insight, as opposed to a merely reactionary one. As his struggles for America, Ireland and Corsica showed, Burke was no automatic defender of existing authority. But what he understood, and expressed with immense rhetorical power, was how human beings stand in relation to one another. Although they are morally autonomous individuals, they do not – cannot – live in isolation. In our language, laws, institutions, religion, and in our families, we are part of a continuum.

Society is "a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born". It is not society that keeps mankind in chains, but the pretence that now is the only time that matters. Almost every piece of rot you hear in politics comes from those who wish to lock man into what WH Auden called "the prison of his days". It is comforting that the Burkean Jesse Norman is in the House of Commons to tell them when they are wrong.



Study: Regulations eat 2 percent of GDP every year

$54 trillion. That would be the size of the economy today if regulation had remained at its 1949 level, a Jan. 2013 study on excessive federal regulations has found.

The study is by Appalachian State University economics professor John Dawson and North Carolina State University economics professor John Seater and was recently highlighted by the American Enterprise Institute’s Mark J. Perry.

Overall, federal regulations have reduced the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2 percentage points a year from 1949 through 2005, leading to “an accumulated reduction in GDP of about $38.8 trillion as of the end of 2011. That is, GDP at the end of 2011 would have been $53.9 trillion instead of $15.1 trillion if regulation had remained at its 1949 level.”

In other words, the economy would be 256 percent larger than it is today but for the regulations. Even if the amount of regulations had been half of what it was, the economy would still be twice as large as it is today.

To reach the measurement, Dawson and Seater use the overall length in pages of regulations as a proxy for how pervasive and costly they are on the private sector. It proceeds from the well-reasoned assumption that the length of a regulation is predictive of its complexity relating directly to the cost of compliance.

Thus, the more complex economic regulations by government are, the slower the economy will grow. In that respect, they are a lot like if there were speed bumps constructed on the highway.

Of course, the content of regulations, which the study does not consider per se, is undoubtedly a critical factor. If regulations were issued that decreased the cost of doing business, instead of increasing it, the study would have measured the opposite effect.

Therefore, implicit in the findings is that the regulations that have been issued over the past 60-plus years have in fact increased the cost of doing business in the U.S. — eating growth in the process.

The study is significant because it cuts across all industries, and considers the overall impact of the administrative state on output. So, while one cannot draw conclusions about individual regulations on particular industries, it shows that regulations will be costly regardless of the sector.

But what can be done about it?

George Washington University professor Jonathan Turley recently found that federal agencies issue about 3,000 regulations a year, compared with Congress only approving about 140 laws annually.

A simple reform that might slow down this regulatory overkill would be to require congressional approval for all regulations. This would differ from the Clinton era Congressional Review Act that allows Congress to overturn a regulation with majorities in both houses and the President’s signature.

Since 1996 when the Congressional Review Act was made law, there have been about 50,000 regulations issued. Just one was overturned in 2001: a Labor Department regulation on ergonomics. That is an appalling disapproval rate of 0.002 percent — giving executive agencies vast discretion and insulation against oversight.

In contrast, requiring congressional approval of regulations would force agencies to prioritize their requests. Very few regulations would be approved without bipartisan assent, restoring Congress’ proper role as the primary lawmaking body in the republic, and make the regulatory process once again accountable to the elected branches.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


July 4, 2013

A Tale of Two Economies

Chile and Ecuador provide an almost perfect test case of competing economic visions. Back in 1980, Ecuador had a slightly higher per capita income than Chile. In the past 33 years, Ecuador has increased its real per capita income a little more than threefold, but during the same period Chile has increased its per capita income more than sixfold. Chile now has the highest per capita income in South America, and most of its citizens are now enjoying a middle-class life style. Why has Chile done so much better than Ecuador?

Chile and Ecuador are both Spanish-speaking, South American countries located on the Pacific. They have similarly sized populations (15.4 million for Ecuador, and 17.2 million for Chile). Ecuador has substantial oil reserves, and its oil accounts for more than 50 percent of the country’s export earnings. Chile has huge copper reserves which account for about 19 percent of its export earnings. Both are now functioning democracies with largely capitalistic economies. Chile, however, went through a radical, free-market reform process more than three decades ago, while Ecuador followed the more common semistatist model.

The biggest difference between the paths the two countries took was on economic freedom and the size of government. Back in 1980, Chile ranked only No. 60 in terms of economic freedom, but now it ranks as the 10th most free economy in the entire world. In contrast, Ecuador ranked a respectable No. 33 in 1980, but now has fallen to a miserable 126 rank in terms of economic freedom. While Chile has embraced the rule of law and made property rights very secure, Ecuador is still mired in corruption and suffers from uncertain property rights. President Rafael Correa of Ecuador defaulted on the country’s debt in 2008 and then did a reverse auction in 2009 to settle most of the debt issue at a heavily discounted rate, at the expense of the bondholders. As would be expected, these actions greatly reduced foreign investment into Ecuador. The Chinese are now the biggest investors in Ecuadorean government securities.

Chile has actively pursued free trade. It now has free-trade agreements with the United States and more than 60 other countries. Ecuador, by contrast, has been increasing trade restrictions. By opening its market to the world, Chile has also gained access to the major markets across the globe. This has encouraged Chilean industry to diversify, so Chile is becoming less and less dependent on copper. Ecuador, by not pursuing a policy of openness, has made itself hostage to the world oil price. Given the new hydraulic-fracturing technologies, the price of oil may well fall in real terms, which would cause great economic pain in Ecuador.

Chile has kept the size of government relatively low as a share of gross domestic product (24 percent), while government ballooned in Ecuador to European government levels (46 percent) — again, illustrating that welfare states eventually result in more poor people rather than fewer. Chile has, as would be expected, a much lower poverty rate than Ecuador.

Both countries have maintained sound monetary policies for the past three decades after having suffered very high rates of inflation. Ecuador decided to use the U.S. dollar as its currency back in 1980, and it continues to do so. This makes sense for Ecuador since it receives substantial remittances from Ecuadorean citizens working in the United States, and because the global oil price is quoted in dollars.

Why did Chile choose the limited-government, free-market route, and how has the country managed to keep it when so many other governments drifted far to the left? In the mid-1970s, the Chilean economy was in a deep crisis due to the actions of the Marxist government of President Salvador Allende. The military dictatorship of the Pinochet government had little idea of how to right the economy. Eventually, out of desperation, it turned to a group of free-market Chilean and American economists, known as “the Chicago boys” (many having been students of Milton Friedman and his colleagues at the University of Chicago). The reforms that they instituted led to the restoration of democracy in Chile.

The reasons the reforms have persisted through governments of both the left and right in Chile is largely due to one man, Jose Pinera. As the very young labor minister in the late 1970s, Mr. Pinera devised the world’s first major, and hugely successful, privatized, social security system, which has now been adopted, at least in part, by more than 30 other countries. Mr. Pinera is considered a “Chicago boy” even though his doctorate is from Harvard. The Pinera plan gave Chilean citizens a choice: Stay with the state pension plan or move to the new system of privatized accounts. More than 97 percent of the Chilean citizens have voluntarily moved to the new system, which has now provided an average compounded rate of return of more than 10 percent for 33 years. Hence, the average Chilean now retires with more assets than the average American.

The privatized pension system provided large amounts of capital investment for Chilean businesses, enabling the economy to grow rapidly while, at the same time, giving every Chilean worker a direct, vested interest in the success of the Chilean economy. It’s a win-win.

There is no need for any country to be poor or have slow growth. The lessons of success are there for all to see.



The Mindset of the Left

Thomas Sowell

The political left has long claimed the role of protector of "the poor." It is one of their central moral claims to political power. But how valid is this claim?

Leaders of the left in many countries have promoted policies that enable the poor to be more comfortable in their poverty. But that raises a fundamental question: Just who are "the poor"?

If you use a bureaucratic definition of poverty as including all individuals or families below some arbitrary income level set by the government, then it is easy to get the kinds of statistics about "the poor" that are thrown around in the media and in politics. But do those statistics have much relationship to reality?

"Poverty" once had some concrete meaning -- not enough food to eat or not enough clothing or shelter to protect you from the elements, for example. Today it means whatever the government bureaucrats, who set up the statistical criteria, choose to make it mean. And they have every incentive to define poverty in a way that includes enough people to justify welfare state spending.

Most Americans with incomes below the official poverty level have air-conditioning, television, own a motor vehicle and, far from being hungry, are more likely than other Americans to be overweight. But an arbitrary definition of words and numbers gives them access to the taxpayers' money.

This kind of "poverty" can easily become a way of life, not only for today's "poor," but for their children and grandchildren.

Even when they have the potential to become productive members of society, the loss of welfare state benefits if they try to do so is an implicit "tax" on what they would earn that often exceeds the explicit tax on a millionaire.

If increasing your income by $10,000 would cause you to lose $15,000 in government benefits, would you do it?

In short, the political left's welfare state makes poverty more comfortable, while penalizing attempts to rise out of poverty. Unless we believe that some people are predestined to be poor, the left's agenda is a disservice to them, as well as to society. The vast amounts of money wasted are by no means the worst of it.

If our goal is for people to get out of poverty, there are plenty of heartening examples of individuals and groups who have done that, in countries around the world.

Millions of "overseas Chinese" emigrated from China destitute and often illiterate in centuries past. Whether they settled in Southeast Asian countries or in the United States, they began at the bottom, taking hard, dirty and sometimes dangerous jobs.

Even though the overseas Chinese were usually paid little, they saved out of that little, and many eventually opened tiny businesses. By working long hours and living frugally, they were able to turn tiny businesses into larger and more prosperous businesses. Then they saw to it that their children got the education that they themselves often lacked.

By 1994, the 57 million overseas Chinese created as much wealth as the one billion people living in China.

Variations on this social pattern can be found in the histories of Jewish, Armenian, Lebanese and other emigrants who settled in many countries around the world -- initially poor, but rising over the generations to prosperity. Seldom did they rely on government, and they usually avoided politics on their way up.

Such groups concentrated on developing what economists call "human capital" -- their skills, talents, knowledge and self discipline. Their success has usually been based on that one four-letter word that the left seldom uses in polite society: "work."

There are individuals in virtually every group who follow similar patterns to rise from poverty to prosperity. But how many such individuals there are in different groups makes a big difference for the prosperity or poverty of the groups as a whole.

The agenda of the left -- promoting envy and a sense of grievance, while making loud demands for "rights" to what other people have produced -- is a pattern that has been widespread in countries around the world.

This agenda has seldom lifted the poor out of poverty. But it has lifted the left to positions of power and self-aggrandizement, while they promote policies with socially counterproductive results.



Rescuing Citizenship and Civic Virtue

As we celebrate our nation's 237th birthday, a crucial facet of American life has all but vanished. We have forsaken, in a systematic and deliberate public manner, one of our most fundamental duties: fostering civic virtue in each and every one of our citizens.

What does it mean to be an American? Politicians in both parties keep pushing to create a new "path to citizenship" for millions of illegal aliens. But if sovereignty and self-preservation still matter in Washington, citizenship must be guarded ferociously against those who would exploit and devalue it at every electoral whim.

The pavers of the amnesty pathway think illusory requirements of paying piddling "fines" and back taxes will inculcate an adequate sense of responsibility and ownership in the American way. Other fair-weather friends of patriotism satisfy themselves with shallow holiday pop quizzes on American history to fulfill the "well-informed" part of the "well-informed citizenry" mandate of our Founding Fathers.

But Thomas Jefferson said it well: "No government can continue good but under the control of the people; and ... their minds are to be informed by education what is right and what wrong; to be encouraged in habits of virtue and to be deterred from those of vice... These are the inculcations necessary to render the people a sure basis for the structure and order of government."

John Adams said it better: "Liberty can no more exist without virtue ... than the body can live and move without a soul."

And Thomas Paine said it best: "When we are planning for posterity, we ought to remember that virtue is not hereditary."

Civic virtue cannot be purchased with token gestures or passed down in perfect form like a complete set of family china. A life of honor, honesty, integrity, self-improvement and self-discipline is something you strive ever to attain. Being American is a habit of mind, but also a habit of heart and soul. Abraham Lincoln spoke of the "electric cord in that Declaration that links the hearts of patriotic and liberty-loving men together, that will link those patriotic hearts as long as the love of freedom exists in the minds of men throughout the world."

Calvin Coolidge, profiled in "Why Coolidge Matters," a terrific new book by Charles C. Johnson, echoed the Founding Fathers' emphasis on virtue, restraint and work ethic. "If people can't support themselves," he concluded, "we'll have to give up self-government."

The failure of public schools to impart even rudimentary knowledge of self-government principles, natural rights theory and the rule of law is compounded by the suicidal abandonment of civic education. As Stanford University education professor William Damon notes: "Our disregard of civic and moral virtue as an educational priority is having a tangible effect on the attitudes, understanding and behavior of large portions of the youth population in the United States today."

Add militant identity politics, a cancerous welfare state, entitled dependence and tens of millions of unassimilated immigrants to the heap, and you have a toxic recipe for what Damon calls "societal decadence -- literally, a 'falling away,' from the Latin decadere." Civilizations that disdain virtue die.

Independence Day sparklers will light the skies overhead this July 4th, but George Washington's "sacred fire of liberty" belongs in the breasts of Americans every day of the year.

How to rescue citizenship and civic virtue?

Let's start by sending a message to politicians in the nation's capital who imperil our sovereignty.

Citizenship -- good citizenship -- is not just a piece of government-issued paper. It is not merely a bureaucratic "status." It's a lifelong practice and propagation of founding principles. A nation of low information is just half the problem. A nation of low character cannot long remain a free nation.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


July 3, 2013

"Guest opportunity"?

My Gmail inbox is getting a constant stream of emails on all sorts of subjects that offer me a "guest opportunity". Apparently they think I might want to interview a person who knows something about some subject. I have been getting such emails only since the last month or so and I hope they go away soon. In the meanwhile I am marking them all as spam. If they sent me a straight report on some subject I might use it but I have no time to waste on "Guest opportunities"


Behind the Dorian Gray facade



Why are babies dying of inadequate nutrition in AMERICAN hospitals?

Drugs and IV nutrient shortages that one would normally expect only in the Third World are common. Why? The "war" on drug companies by the FDA and others makes much production unprofitable or legally perilous

Emptyhead in 2011 signing a bill that was supposed to fix the problem. The problem got worse

A 2012 report by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform places much of the blame on the FDA. The report says that because the agency ramped up inspections and sent a flurry of warning letters, “four of America’s five largest manufacturers of generic injectable products” simultaneously shut down 30 percent of their manufacturing capacity.

FDA officials have responded that the increase of warning letters was only a “modest fluctuation” that didn’t correlate with the dramatic increase in shortages.

But records show that the number of warning letters related to drugs and biologics nearly doubled between 2009 and 2010, from 34 to 60, before falling to 48 the next year. The recent surge in shortages began in 2010.

Manufacturers are reluctant to talk. APP Pharmaceuticals, which produces calcium gluconate, sodium phosphate, and magnesium sulfate, and American Regent, which makes several IV nutrients currently in shortage, both declined to comment for this article.

“There’s no upside to our guys talking about that,” says a spokesperson for a manufacturers’ association. “Even if the FDA’s doing something terrible, we can’t criticize them. They regulate us. There’s not one cause of drug shortages. But if you call the FDA, they’ll say it’s our fault.”

Indeed, in a July 2012 letter to Congressman Elijah Cummings, a ranking member of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, FDA assistant commissioner Jeanne Ireland passed the buck. “The root causes of drug shortages . . . lie largely outside of FDA’s purview,” she wrote. “During 2011 nearly 70 percent of all drug shortages were related to manufacturing production problems, including quality-related issues and delays. . . . In 2012, quality-related problems and delays have continued to account for the majority of shortages, especially those involving sterile injectable drugs.”

Valerie Jensen, associate director of the drug-shortage staff at the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, says the main cause of the current nutrient shortages has been the shutdown of American Regent. The company had recalls of IV calcium gluconate, dexamethasone sodium phosphate, and potassium phosphate, among other injectables, because of visible particulates (such as glass or silicone) in the products, which could disrupt blood flow. In 2011, the FDA sent the company a warning letter. At the end of 2012, Jensen says, the company chose to shut down to address its problems. Instead of reopening after 30 days as planned, as of press time it was still not fully operational.

Hospira cites “the difficulty of ramping up production to cover for the unanticipated loss of production from that manufacturer” as another factor contributing to the shortages, a company spokesman says in an e-mail. Hospira makes several injectable nutrients—plus lipids and injectable vitamin A—that are in shortage.

American Regent has begun to release small quantities of calcium gluconate and sodium phosphate, but there are still particles inside that pharmacists must filter out. The FDA wouldn’t normally allow these vials into the market.

“It is a risk, but the risk of not having the drugs is greater,” Jensen says. “Because we know the filter renders the drug safe for use, we felt this was the way to get that drug available for patients.”

The House committee report doesn’t mention the reasons the FDA cautioned the manufacturers. At some facilities, the agency found mold on the walls, open containers of urine, and metal chips in vials—serious problems, to be sure. An examination of FDA inspection letters reveals dozens of additional infractions. But the report notes that a review of the violations “did not find any instances where the shutdown was associated with reports of drugs harming customers.”

A March 2013 committee follow-up letter—which was obtained for this article but has not been made public—directs the FDA to turn over documents and appear for a briefing “in order for the Committee to understand how FDA is managing the drug shortage crisis.”

The rationing pits patient against patient, forcing health-care practitioners to decide who gets a critical nutrient and who has to go without.

“It appears that FDA failed to properly balance regulatory benefits and regulatory costs when the agency took actions that effectively shut down a significant amount of manufacturing capacity at most of America’s major producers of generic injectable drugs,” the congressional letter states.

The letter echoes an accusation in the original report that the FDA knew as early as mid-2011 that its enforcement measures might lead to shortages. That’s when FDA warning letters began to mention shortages, instructing manufacturers to contact the agency before making a decision that would result in a drop-off in production.

Jensen says the FDA changed the language after the drug manufacturer Teva closed down in 2010, triggering shortages of cancer drugs. “If FDA sends a warning letter, it just tells the company what they need to correct,” Jensen says. “If they decide they need to shut down, that’s a decision they make, but it’s something we try to avoid.”

The committee letter also accuses the FDA—based on January briefings with industry representatives—of taking too long to provide feedback on manufacturers’ plans to fix problems the FDA asked them to correct.

“FDA has been very slow to react and to do anything,” says Blair Childs, senior vice president for public affairs at Premier Healthcare Alliance, a large group-purchasing organization (GPO). “There’s a ‘we’re not the cause of the problem’ mentality.”

The manufacturers’ spokesperson says the FDA is constrained by “an enormous mandate without enough resources. They don’t have enough trained people; they don’t have enough money. The FDA’s always getting negative feedback for what they do wrong, and nobody’s standing up and saying the FDA could do a better job—here’s some more money.”

Jensen disagrees: “We feel like we are adequately resourced. Our drug-shortage program has greatly expanded. FDA has devoted great resources to this and will continue to do so.”

Many doctors are pinning their immediate hopes on Congress’s forcing the FDA to form a global pipeline to import an emergency supply. “I have friends in other countries who could get me some, but that would be illegal,” one doctor says.

When Miguel Sáenz de Pipaón, a neonatologist at a prominent hospital in Madrid, arrived in the US for a research visit, he was stunned by the nutrition shortages.

Hospital staff wonder why the FDA hasn’t already put a process in place to streamline foreign inspections and certifications so that labs abroad can manufacture emergency supplies on short notice.

An FDA spokesman says officials began looking into importation after American Regent’s 2012 shutdown. But that company’s recalls began in 2010, and it first suspended manufacturing operations for more than a month in 2011.

The FDA must have been aware of problems because regulators sent American Regent a warning letter in September 2011. Moreover, the FDA allowed the company to release vials of potassium phosphate contaminated by particulate along with a filter in 2011. Knowing that American Regent produced more than half a dozen nutrients critical to neonatal health, couldn’t the FDA have searched for importation possibilities back then, secured a backup manufacturer, and avoided the current shortages?

“The FDA has repeatedly told us that the shortages are short-term and that they don’t need to import yet,” says neonatologist Steve Abrams of Texas Children’s Hospital. “There’s been a general sense that this problem will go away if we just wait until next Tuesday, and next Tuesday just hasn’t come for the last 2½ years.



Obama's Final Word: Catholics Must Buy/Provide Coverage for Abortion Drugs

The Department of Health and Human Services today released the final text of the final adjustments to the Obamacare regulation that requires virtually all health-care plans to provide cost-free coverage for sterilizations, contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs.

Catholics and Evangelical Christians have objected to the regulation, arguing that it violates their First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion. The Catholic Church teaches that sterilization, contraception and abortion are all intrinsically immoral. Evangelical Christians believe that abortion takes an innocent human life and is thus wrong.

The final regulation issued today provides no accommodations at all for individual Catholics and other Christians who morally object to the mandate. It also makes no accommodations for private for-profit employers who morally object to the mandate.

Catholic and other Christian individuals in the United States will now be forced by the Obama administration to buy insurance coverage that pays for sterilizations, contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs--whether they want that coverage or not and even though it forces them to act against their faith.

What these final adjustments to the regulation do is provide what the administration calls "accommodations" to religious non-profit organizations only--or what the regulation calls "eligible organizations."

To be an "eligible organization" a group must be "a nonprofit entity" that "holds itself out as a religious organization." Organizations that certify that this is the case, however, will not be wholly liberated from providing health-insurance plans that provide access to free sterilizations, contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs. What they will have is a convoluted relationship with their insurance company or, if they self insure, with their third-party administrator.

According to the regulation, when a religious non-profit insures its employees through an insurance company, the insurance company will be required to provide free sterilizations, contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs to the religious non-profit's employees free of charge. Theoretically, the particular health insurance plan that the religious non-profit buys from an insurance company will not itself buy these things. Instead, in theory, the insurance company providing the health insurance plan to the religious non-profit will use other money that is theoretically walled off from the premiums it received from the religious non-profit to buy the services that violate the non-profit's religious beliefs.

Figuratively, the insurance company will take the money for the insurance premiums from the religious organization and put them in its right pocket. When the insurance company needs to pay for a sterilization procedure or an abortion-inducing drug for one of the religious organization's workers, it will take the money to pay for that out of its left pocket.

When a religious non-profit self-insures, the third party administrator will either have to pay for the sterilizations, contraceptives or abortion-inducing drugs itself, or arrange for an insurance issuer to do so. In this scenario, the regulation says the government will compensate the third party administrator or insurance company by providing it with an accommodation in the fees it pays to the state insurance exchange.

The regulation does not address the right of insurance companies or third-party administrators not to be forced by the federal government to pay for sterilizations, contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs. Thus, people whose religious and moral beliefs hold that these things are immoral will be precluded from operating businesses in these industries.

For example: A Catholic university could not contract with an insurance company owned by a Catholic family to provide its insurance--because the Catholic family just like the Catholic university would be prevented by its faith from paying for sterilizations, contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs. Under the final regulation, the insurance company for a Catholic university will be forced to pay for sterilizations, contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs.

Catholic non-profits, under the final regulation, will be forced to patronize for-profit businesses that have no problem with killing unborn children.

The only people left in America who would be able to operate health insurance companies and third-party administrators would be those people ready and willing to pay for abortion-inducing drugs.

Individual Americans and privately owned companies, including family-owned companies, are given no accommodation at all in the final regulation. Individuals must buy insurance that covers sterilizations, contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs. Privately owned for-profit businesses that provide insurance to their workers must covers these things--even if they believe paying for and providing such things is immoral and against the teachings of their faith.

The First Amendment says Congress can make no law "prohibiting the free exercise" of religion.

The Obama administration now says to Catholics and other Christians who oppose sterilization, contraception and/or abortion: You are not free to exercise your faith. You must act against its teachings. You must do what we say, not what your conscience says.



For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


July 2, 2013

New heading format

Readers will notice that all my blogs seem to have a bad case of the stutters today -- with each heading repeated. It is the latest Google brainstorm. They now demand that you have one overall heading on a blog post, not a small group of individual headings within a blog post. Beats me! What has been OK for years no longer is. We now have heading incorrectness, apparently.


How Hollywood bowed to the wishes of Hitler: 1930s studio bosses censored films on the whim of the Nazis and even funded German armament

It may not have made the final cut of Hollywood's history, but a film historian says major American film studios collaborated with Nazi Germany in the lead up to the Second World War.

From investing in German rearmament to editing out references to crimes being committed against Jews, studios including MGM, Paramount and 20th Century Fox failed to stand up to Hitler, Ben Urwand claims.

'I want to bring out a hidden episode in Hollywood history and an episode that has not been reported accurately,' the Harvard scholar said.

Although other film historians dispute his claims, Urwand believes that Hollywood studio chiefs were happy to work with Nazi censors to change or cancel productions so that they could keep access to the German film market.

From 1932, Nazi laws meant studios could have their licenses revoked if they produced films, shown in Germany or abroad, that were considered offensive to Germans.

In his book, The Collaboration: Hollywood's Pact with Hitler, Urwand said that Hollywood was happy to bow to Hitler's demands.

'Collaboration: it's not my word or invention. I got it from materials from both sides. It's the word that's regularly used to describe their relationship,' the 35-year-old told the Guardian.

He added that the German head of MGM spoke of the 'satisfying collaboration on both sides' to the press.

MGM also invested in German rearmament to get around currency export restrictions, the historian said.

Urwand believes that filmmakers not only wanted to continue working during the build up to the war, they also thought Hitler may win the war and wanted to safeguard the future of their businesses.

MGM, Paramount and 20th-Century Fox did not leave Germany until mid-1940. But even after Hollywood started making anti-Nazi films, it continued to erase reference to the Jews because studio chiefs, including Jewish refugees, wanted to 'avoid special pleading on their behalf'.

Urwand said studio bosses could not claim ignorance of the atrocities being carried out against the Jews because they had been forced to fire Jewish employees.

'Hollywood is collaborating and the Nazis are having the final say on several important movies that would have exposed what was going on in Germany,' he said.

He added: 'I wouldn't want what I write to be generalisable about Jews, but specific Jews in the movie business made decisions to work with Nazi leaders.'

Urwand, whose Jewish grandparents went into hiding in the war, added: 'It was [Jack] Warner who personally ordered that the word “Jew” be removed from all dialogue in the 1937 film The Life of Emile Zola"."

He told the New York Times Warner's studio was the first to invite Nazi officials to Los Angeles to suggest cuts. Warner was also said to have taken a cruise on Hitler's old yacht in 1945, where he discussed post-war business opportunities, Urwand claims.

The historian found a letter from January 1938 in which a 20th Century Fox worker was asking Hitler about his views on films. The letter was signed 'Heil Hitler'.

Studios were also visited by a Nazi consultant, who would demand edits to films seen as being anti-German.

There are also instances of whole films being dropped, like the 1936 MGM movie It Can't Happen Here, which showed democracy winning over fascism.

The film, based on Nobel laureate Sinclair Lewis's novel, was banned over 'fear of international politics' and the potential of boycotts abroad.

Nazi meddling in Hollywood has been well documented, even at the time. A headline in Newsweek in 1937 read: Long Arm of Hitler Extends to Hollywood Studio.

Urwand however, has looked at how much Hollywood bent to accommodate Hitler's wishes.

He claims that Nazi interference in the film industry began with the release of All Quiet on the Western Front in 1930, when Joseph Goebbels told protesters to set off stink bombs and release mice in the movie theaters.

Carl Laemmle, the Jewish German-American head of Universal, then agreed to cuts.

Hitler was said to have enjoyed films such as Mutiny on the Bounty and The Lives of a Bengal Lancer. He also liked Mr Smith Goes to Washington, because it showed democracy in a poor light.

And while he is said to have liked Laurel and Hardy, Hitler was not keen on Charlie Chaplin's portray of him in The Great Dictator, according to the Guardian.

However, rival historian Tom Doherty claims that U.S. commerce department files show that rather than working with the Nazis, MGM had been advised to invest in armaments to get around currency being blocked.

'I don't see sinister, greedy monsters. I see people trying to cope with this bizarre anomaly and negotiate in a way that made sense to them,' the author of Hollywood and HItler: 1933-1939, said.

Others have highlighted how the same studio heads who complied with Nazi censorship also paid for a spy ring.

'The moguls who have been castigated for putting business ahead of Jewish identity and loyalty were in fact working behind the scenes to help Jews,' Steven Ross, of the University of Southern California, said.



If you've got money, exit U.S. citizenship while you can

James R. Mellon is a very, very wealthy man as you might expect of someone who is a heir to the famous Mellon family. James Mellon is now a citizen of the world, never spending enough time in any one tax farm to become legally required to pay them any income tax. But he does this without the US citizenship imposed on him at birth. In 1977 after the shock of realizing that the US would hound him for income taxes no matter where in the world he went or for how long, Mellon gave up his US citizenship after becoming a citizen of the British Virgin Islands. This is exactly the sort of thing we have been recommending at TDV and making possible with TDV Passports.

The US is the most aggressive tax farmer among the tax farm nation-states infecting the planet. The US authorities will follow US citizens and permanent residents (tax livestock) to the ends of the earth for the rest of their lives in order to collect their extortion money.

Giving up US citizenship was just the first of Mellon's theft-prevention tactics. After that he set up various companies -- all legally -- to shield his assets even more. This is the kind of thing that TDV Offshore can help you do, too. Recently a massive leak of offshore banking files gave Mellon some negative exposure, not that he particularly cares. While the collectivists of the world are outraged at how much of "their" infrastructure money is being hidden from their redistributionist governments, Mellon says, "I do not care what people think. I am interested only, whether what I am doing is legal. And what I do, was and is legal."

Of course, he is right. It should not matter what the thieves and tax-lovers of the world think about what you do. As long as it's legal, you should employ every single strategy to keep as much of the money you rightfully earn safe from government theft as you possibly can. Heck, even if its not legal. Although to keep ourselves out of being fed through a tube at Guantanamo Bay we don't offer any PT solutions that are illegal.

The USSA government has taken notice of the trends, and is planning to do something about it. It will start with making it harder to give up citizenship, taking as much as possible from those who choose to leave. Just listen to Hawaiian governor, Neil Ambercrombie (Communist - Hawaii), describe expatriates: "Benedict Arnolds who would sell out their citizenship, sell out their country in order to maintain their wealth". The knives are sharpening and it will culminate in no one being able to leave at all. Edward Snowden was not the first and will not be the last to have his passport revoked. And, that wall along the Mexican border that the Senate is considering? Its true purpose will be revealed in the coming years. It's not to keep Mexicans out - funny that people think that is what it is for, especially since there are now more Mexicans fleeing the US than going there according to the Washington Post. Also, the Senate is considering legislation to retroactively punish permanent expatriates who gave up their US slave cards in the last ten years.

That's how bad it is. They are willing to punish people for things that weren't even crimes at the time. There is no reasoning with criminals this vindictive and with the capacity for such violence. The best you can hope to do is get out of their way. Tune in to TDV for ways to protect yourself from them, but your first line of defense is to divorce yourself from their corrupt regime. Even if they come after permanent expats retroactively, renouncing that citizenship will still leave you in a much better situation than remaining a citizen within the empire or in any of the crumbling Western nation states.

And the best news is that the PT lifestyle is not for just billionaires and millionaires anymore. Offshore companies in tax-free jurisdictions have now become a cheap commodity and cheap airfare and the internet have made almost anyone who wants to be mobile able to do it.

We recently met and interviewed (in the TDV subscriber letter) a young web designer from Holland who had enough of it and came to Acapulco, Mexico. He opened an offshore company through TDV Offshore and now, fully legally, has double the income he used to have. Plus, he lives in a freer place on the beach with his 100mb ($60/month) internet connection and says it was the best decision of his life.



American Liberals Embrace Fatherless (And Motherless) Families

With the Supreme Court giving a major boost to gay marriage, liberals face fewer impediments to their relentless push for fatherless (and motherless) families.

Of course, it wasn’t always this way. In a speech for Father’s Day 2008, Barack Obama was emphatic in championing fatherhood: “We know the statistics -- that children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime, nine times more likely to drop out of schools and 20 times more likely to end up in prison. They are more likely to have behavioral problems, or run away from home, or become teenage parents themselves. And the foundations of our community are weaker because of it.”

Obama added: “Of all the rocks upon which we build our lives … family is the most important. And we are called to recognize and honor how critical every father is to that foundation.” If “we are honest with ourselves,” said Obama, “we’ll admit that … too many fathers” are missing -- they are “missing from too many lives and too many homes.”

Obama summed up: “We need fathers.”

I couldn’t agree more. In fact, as a conservative, I don’t know a single conservative who would disagree with any of this -- alas, a rare moment of complete agreement with Barack Obama. For that matter, I don’t know any liberals who would disagree.

So, if that's the case, why are President Obama and liberals suddenly pushing unrelentingly for fatherless families -- or, more specifically, for a new form of American family that is fatherless?

The answer, of course, is gay marriage. With their sudden embrace of gay marriage, a massive shift not only within America, American culture, and human civilization, but also within the Democratic Party, liberals/progressives nationwide are -- whether they realize it or not -- simultaneously advocating a redefinition of family that embraces fatherless families. Think about it: married female-female parents will be households without dads.

In so doing, liberals are shattering a rare, precious consensus that they had nurtured with conservatives. There are few things that liberals and conservatives agree upon, but one of them was the crucial importance of children being raised in a home with a dad and a mom.

In his 1984 Father’s Day proclamation, President Ronald Reagan described fathers as “beacons” of “strength and well-being,” of “leadership and direction.” They give their children guidance and teach them “integrity, truth, and humility.” “Every father rises to his tallest stature as he selflessly cares for his family, his wife, and his children,” said Reagan.

Liberals from Walter Mondale and Daniel Patrick Moynihan to the pages of The New Republic and New York Times emphatically agreed with Reagan. A decade later, such sentiments were consistently reinforced by Democratic President Bill Clinton, who understood the toll delivered by fatherless homes. Groups like the National Fatherhood Initiative popped up, creating wonderful ad campaigns reminding Americans of something that societies long deemed indispensable: kids need dads. Sons need dads. Daughters need dads. Families need dads.

That principle remains unchanged. What has changed, however, is liberals' fierce acceptance and advancement of gay marriage. In this rapid push, they are jettisoning the national consensus on fathers, demanding a form of parenting that excludes fathers. As for those who disagree with their new paradigm, they are derided as cruel, thoughtless bigots, with no possible legitimate reason for their unenlightened position.

Actually, what today’s liberals are advocating is far more radical than that. They are pushing not only for fatherless families but also, conversely, for motherless families. Think about it: married male-male parents (the other half of gay marriage) will be households without moms.

Everyone reading my words knows that mothers are utterly irreplaceable. That’s a statement of the obvious. I’m incapable of doing what my wife does. Fathers raising kids without their mother because of divorce, death, or some other unfortunate circumstance, know what I’m talking about. Why would anyone, let alone a country or culture, want to open the door for a reconstitution of “parenthood” and “family” that, by literal definition, excludes mothers?

To be sure, we know why liberals are doing this. Again, they are doing this in the name of gay rights.

But supporting gay rights and the right of gay people not to be discriminated against should not automatically mean supporting the literal redefinition of marriage. Why must tolerance mean the redefinition of something as ancient and stable as marriage between one man and one woman?

The original push for gay rights was about stopping discrimination. Gays should not be persecuted, denied benefits, fired because of their sexual orientation. We all support that. But like with many other things, liberals in their zeal for whatever new “rights” are pushing too far, without pausing to carefully consider the impact. Their furious dash to redefine marriage in the name of gay rights has innumerable consequences that they have not begun to try to contemplate; that includes a new marriage/parenthood paradigm that repudiates their onetime insistence on father-based families, and even mother-based families.

Liberals always appeal to our emotions regarding children: What about the children? Well, yes, what about the children?

As Barack Obama said in 2008, if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that children need fathers. Yes, if we’re honest. They need fathers, and mothers.


There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc


For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


July 1, 2013

SNAP Theatrics Fall Flat

It has become a set piece of political theater for liberal Democrats, carried out in recent weeks by everyone from New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner to Connecticut senator Chris Murphy and a bevy of congressmen: attempting to eat on the $4.50-per-day food budget supposedly provided by the Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the program formerly known as “food stamps.” While always good for a headline, and generally accompanied by amusing photographs of the bizarre meals the politicians cobble together on their meager budget, the so-called SNAP challenge is also arrant nonsense.

To start with, virtually no one in America actually has to eat on just $4.50 per day. That number is derived by simply dividing the SNAP program’s budget by the number of recipients, arriving at an average benefit of $133.44 per month, or roughly $4.45 per day. However, that doesn’t tell us much about the size of the benefit that most families actually receive. For instance, SNAP benefits increase with family size. Thus, a family of four would receive $668 in benefits.

More important, the SNAP payments are not intended to be a family’s sole food income. As Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler pointed out, in pulling out a pair of Pinocchios for the SNAP challenge: “Note that the name of the program refers to ‘supplemental’ assistance.” SNAP benefits vary with income. Individuals with low incomes receive much higher SNAP benefits. Conversely, those individuals receiving the lowest benefits — say, $4.50 per day — are doing so precisely because they have other sources of income.

Indeed, the poorest SNAP recipients are almost universally receiving other welfare benefits, especially Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Medicaid. We should remember that there are actually 126 separate federal anti-poverty programs, and while no one receives benefits under every one of those programs, most poor people are eligible for benefits under multiple programs. SNAP isn’t even the only federal food program: There are currently 21 different programs providing food or food-purchasing assistance, administered by three different federal departments and one independent agency.

The latest dustup over SNAP was spurred by $20.5 billion in cuts to SNAP over the next ten years that were included in the late, unlamented farm bill. Democrats complained that those cuts were “a poison pill” that forced them to vote against the bill. Their votes, together with those of anti-spending Republicans, killed the farm bill, in a major setback for House Speaker John Boehner. Granted, the farm bill, a bloated and costly giveaway to special interests and one of the wealthier segments of society, should have been poisoned; but the Democratic objections to SNAP cuts were much ado about nothing.

The proposed SNAP cuts would have eventually reduced spending on the program all the way back to levels slightly higher than those of 2010, a year not particularly noted for mass starvation, and still higher than those of any year before that.

Indeed, few welfare programs have grown faster in recent years than SNAP. As with most federal spending, the increase started under President Bush, then escalated rapidly under President Obama. Since 2000, spending on SNAP increased from just $17 billion per year to more than $78 billion in 2012, a greater than fourfold increase. The increased spending was driven both by an increase in the number of recipients (a surge from 17 million in 2000 to more than 48 million today) and an average benefit per person that has almost doubled. Today, nearly one out of every six Americans receives SNAP.

Of course, some of this increase could be considered countercyclical, because welfare programs automatically expand during economic downturns, such as in the recent recession. However, increases in both participation and spending were bigger during this recession than in previous ones. For example, during the 1980–82 recession, enrollment in food stamps increased by only 635,000, and spending rose by just $124 million (in constant 2012 dollars). During the 1990–92 recession and jobless recovery, enrollment increased by 5.2 million, and spending rose by $9.1 billion. During the current recession (over a comparable three-year period), enrollment increased by 12 million people, while spending increased by $30 billion, which suggests that much of the increase was due, not to the economy, but to deliberate policy choices.

Moreover, looking forward, the Congressional Budget Office projects that both enrollment and spending will remain above pre-recession levels, even as the recovery limps along and unemployment declines. According to CBO, spending will never fall below $73 billion per year over the next decade and enrollment will remain above 34 million (enrollment will also still be as high as 45 million in 2016).

In fact, SNAP’s eligibility requirements have been significantly relaxed. This is no longer a program targeted at the poorest Americans who may need some temporary help, but has become part of an ever-growing welfare state. Nearly 17 percent of SNAP households have incomes above the poverty line. Almost 4.5 million recipients are able-bodied adults without children, more than 10 percent of the beneficiaries.

Especially in conjunction with other welfare programs, SNAP helps breed dependency and undermines the work ethic. Like much of the American welfare state, it is designed to make poverty a little more comfortable, not to get people out of poverty.

SNAP suffers from numerous other problems as well. The program’s administrative costs are extremely high, as much as $4.5 billion per year. Additionally, SNAP has a high rate of fraud and abuse. According to the Department of Agriculture, food-stamp fraud costs taxpayers at least $750 million annually, much of it committed not by recipients but by vendors.

Largely because of the switch from cash benefits to EBT cards, the fraud rate has improved somewhat in recent years; but because the program has ballooned in size during that same time period, the amount of money lost to waste and fraud is still significant.

And, finally, it should be noted that SNAP frequently subsidizes unhealthy food. At a time when obesity is a major national problem, should the federal government really be subsidizing the purchase of “soft drinks, candy, cookies, snack crackers, and ice cream,” as noted by the DOA? Before we ban sodas for the rest of us, shouldn’t we stop forcing taxpayers to buy them for other people?

Backers of SNAP argue that food stamps have had a long history of bipartisan support. Indeed, they have. Liberal Democrats have unsurprisingly backed an expansion of the welfare state, while farm-state Republicans have been happy to have government-subsidized purchases of their states’ products. But “bipartisan policy” and “good policy” rarely mean the same thing.

No American should ever go hungry. But the best solution to poverty remains a growing economy that produces jobs and prosperity, not poorly targeted, bureaucratic welfare programs.

Perhaps Democrats worried about poverty should drop the stunts, have themselves a good meal, and do something to cut taxes, reduce debt, and revive economic growth.



The challenge to Turkey's Islamists depends on the economy

REBELLION has shaken Turkey since May 31. Is it comparable to the Arab upheavals that have overthrown four rulers since 2011, to Iran's Green movement of 2009 that led to an apparent reformer being elected president last week, or perhaps to Occupy Wall Street, which had negligible consequences?

The unrest marks a deeply important development with permanent implications. Turkey has become a more open and liberal country, one in which leaders face democratic constraints as never before. But how much it changes the role of Islam in Turkey depends primarily on the economy.

China-like material growth has been the main achievement of Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the party he heads, the AKP. Personal income has more than doubled during his decade in power, changing the face of the country. As a visitor to Turkey since 1972, I have seen the impact in almost everything, from what people eat to their sense of Turkish identity.

That impressive growth explains the AKP's increased share of the national vote in its three elections, from 34 per cent in 2002 to 46 per cent in 2007, to a shade under 50 per cent in 2011. It also explains how, after 90 years of the military serving as the ultimate political power, the party was able to bring the armed forces to heel.

But two vulnerabilities have become more evident, especially since the June 2011 elections, jeopardising Erdogan's domination of the government.

One is dependence on foreign credit. To sustain consumer spending, Turkish banks have borrowed heavily abroad. The resulting current account deficit creates so great a need for credit that the private sector alone needs to borrow $US221 billion ($240bn) this year, or nearly 30 per cent of the $US775bn gross domestic product. Should the money stop flowing into Turkey, the party (pun intended) is over, possibly leading the stockmarket to collapse, the currency to plunge and the economic miracle to come to a screeching halt.

The other is Erdogan's sultan-like understanding of his democratic mandate. The Prime Minister sees his election in 2011, when the AKP won half the popular vote, - as a carte blanche to do whatever he pleases until the next vote. He indulges his personal emotions (recall his confrontation with Shimon Peres in 2009), meddles in the tiniest matters (his decision on a different use for a city park prompted the present turmoil), attempts social engineering (telling couples to bear three or more children), involves Turkey in an unpopular foreign adventure (Syria) and demonises the half of the electorate that did not vote for him (calling them beer-guzzlers who copulate in a mosque).

This attitude has won the fervent support of his once-downtrodden constituency but wrought the fury of the growing numbers of Turks who resent his authoritarianism, as well as the criticism of Europe leaders. German Chancellor Angela Merkel pronounced herself "appalled" by the police crackdown.

These two weaknesses point to the importance of the economy for the future of Erdogan, the AKP and the country. Should Turkey's finances weather the demonstrations, the Islamist program at the heart of the AKP's platform will advance, if more cautiously. Perhaps Erdogan will remain leader, becoming the next president, with newly enhanced powers; or perhaps his party will tire of him and - as happened to Margaret Thatcher in 1990 - push him aside in favour of someone who can carry out the same program without provoking so much hostility.

But if "hot money" flees Turkey, if foreign investors go elsewhere and if Persian Gulf patrons cool on the AKP, the demonstrations could end AKP rule and rupture the drive towards Islamism. Infighting within the party, especially between Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul, or within the Islamist movement, especially between the AKP and Fethullah Gulen's powerful movement, could weaken the Islamists. More profoundly, the many non-Islamist voters who voted for the AKP's sound economic stewardship may abandon the party.

Payroll employment is down by 5 per cent. Real consumer spending in this year's first quarter fell by 2 per cent over 2012. Since the demonstrations started, the Istanbul stockmarket is down 10 per cent and interest rates are up about 50 per cent.

To assess the future of Islamism in Turkey, watch the economic indicators.




Immigration bill shifts to US House after Senate OK: "Attention is shifting to the House and its conservative [sic] majority after the Senate passed a landmark [sic] immigration bill opening the door to U.S. citizenship to millions while pouring billions of dollars into securing the border with Mexico. The bill’s prospects are highly uncertain in the Republican-led House, where conservatives rule"

Watchdog: Liberal groups not targeted by IRS: "The government watchdog that exposed IRS targeting of conservative groups gave a blunt response to Democrats' claims that the agency also targeted liberals: It never happened. 'We found no indication in any of these other materials that 'Progressives' was a term used to refer cases for scrutiny for political campaign intervention,' IRS Inspector General J. Russell George wrote in a letter to Democrats. Democrats have since turned on the IG's office, claiming it is only telling half the story."

Spy, monsignor and banker arrested in Vatican bank fraud “plot”: "An Italian spy, a Vatican official and banker have been arrested on suspicion of corruption and fraud involving an alleged plot to bring 20 million euros in cash into Italy from Switzerland aboard a government plane. The arrests come just two days after Pope Francis appointed a special commission to oversee the Vatican's scandal-plagued bank, which is known officially as the Institute for Religious Works."

NY: Bloomberg to urge Cuomo to veto bill to allow sparkler sales outside of NYC over terror target fears: "It could spark terrorism! Mayor Bloomberg will urge Gov. Cuomo to veto legislation that would legalize the sale of sparklers outside New York City, arguing that terrorists could resort to using even kiddie fireworks to ignite a bomb. And that’s a risk not worth taking, City Hall officials said. The mayor opposes the measure, which the Legislature passed last week, even though it wouldn’t apply to the five boroughs, where a ban on sparklers -- and all other fireworks -- would remain in effect. The bill would allow the sale of sparklers and other small 'novelty' fireworks only in counties outside the city."

Jesuits, and failed Jesuits: "Don’t you hate it when people say, 'Let me be clear on one thing ... Let me make this perfectly clear?' Don’t you think, 'So, you’ve been unclear about all those other things, and you knew it, but you went on being unclear anyway?' Don’t you immediately conclude that these people are about to tell you some enormous lie? President Nixon was always talking in the 'clear' mode. He was always 'making one thing perfectly clear.' Now, President Obama has become an addict to the same approach."

Don’t tax my credit union: "While the big banks have abandoned small businesses in droves because they just can't make enough money, credit unions promote their small business members in a struggling economy by providing low cost credit alternatives. This credit union investment means millions of jobs across America. Unfortunately, the big banks and some in Congress want to raise taxes and impose new fees on 96 million credit union members who represent 40% of all Americans, yet represent only 6% of the assets in financial institutions. And, they want to do this despite the fact that credit unions are not-for-profit and meeting their core mission every day."


For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


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.

MESSAGE to Leftists: Even if you killed all conservatives tomorrow, you would just end up in another Soviet Union. Conservatives are all that stand between you and that dismal fate. And you may not even survive at all. Stalin killed off all the old Bolsheviks.


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)

Who said this in 1968? "I am not, and never have been, a man of the right. My position was on the Left and is now in the centre of politics". It was Sir Oswald Mosley, founder and leader of the British Union of Fascists

The term "Fascism" is mostly used by the Left as a brainless term of abuse. But when they do make a serious attempt to define it, they produce very complex and elaborate definitions -- e.g. here and here. In fact, Fascism is simply extreme socialism plus nationalism. But great gyrations are needed to avoid mentioning the first part of that recipe, of course.

Two examples of Leftist racism below (much more here and here):

Beatrice Webb, a founder of the London School of Economics and the Fabian Society, and married to a Labour MP, mused in 1922 on whether when English children were "dying from lack of milk", one should extend "the charitable impulse" to Russian and Chinese children who, if saved this year, might anyway die next. Besides, she continued, there was "the larger question of whether those races are desirable inhabitants" and "obviously" one wouldn't "spend one's available income" on "a Central African negro".

Hugh Dalton, offered the Colonial Office during Attlee's 1945-51 Labour government, turned it down because "I had a horrid vision of pullulating, poverty stricken, diseased nigger communities, for whom one can do nothing in the short run and who, the more one tries to help them, are querulous and ungrateful."

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.

R.I.P. Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet deposed a law-defying Marxist President at the express and desperate invitation of the Chilean parliament. He pioneered the free-market reforms which Reagan and Thatcher later unleashed to world-changing effect. That he used far-Leftist methods to suppress far-Leftist violence is reasonable if not ideal. The Leftist view that they should have a monopoly of violence and that others should follow the law is a total absurdity which shows only that their hate overcomes their reason

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a war criminal. Both British and American codebreakers had cracked the Japanese naval code so FDR knew what was coming at Pearl Harbor. But for his own political reasons he warned no-one there. So responsibility for the civilian and military deaths at Pearl Harbor lies with FDR as well as with the Japanese. The huge firepower available at Pearl Harbor, both aboard ship and on land, could have largely neutered the attack. Can you imagine 8 battleships and various lesser craft firing all their AA batteries as the Japanese came in? The Japanese naval airforce would have been annihilated and the war would have been over before it began.

FDR prolonged the Depression. He certainly didn't cure it.

WWII did NOT end the Great Depression. It just concealed it. It in fact made living standards worse

FDR appointed a known KKK member, Hugo Black, to the Supreme Court

Joe McCarthy was eventually proved right after the fall of the Soviet Union. To accuse anyone of McCarthyism is to accuse them of accuracy!

The KKK was intimately associated with the Democratic party. They ATTACKED Republicans!

People who mention differences in black vs. white IQ are these days almost universally howled down and subjected to the most extreme abuse. I am a psychometrician, however, so I feel obliged to defend the scientific truth of the matter: The average African adult has about the same IQ as an average white 11-year-old and African Americans (who are partly white in ancestry) average out at a mental age of 14. The American Psychological Association is generally Left-leaning but it is the world's most prestigious body of academic psychologists. And even they have had to concede that sort of gap (one SD) in black vs. white average IQ. 11-year olds can do a lot of things but they also have their limits and there are times when such limits need to be allowed for.

America's uncivil war was caused by trade protectionism. The slavery issue was just camouflage, as Abraham Lincoln himself admitted. See also here

Did William Zantzinger kill poor Hattie Carroll?

Did Bismarck predict where WWI would start or was it just a "free" translation by Churchill?

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.


Beware of good intentions. They mostly lead to coercion

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

It's the shared hatred of the rest of us that unites Islamists and the Left.

American liberals don't love America. They despise it. All they love is their own fantasy of what America could become. They are false patriots.

The Democratic Party: Con-men elected by the ignorant and the arrogant

The Democratic Party is a strange amalgam of elites, would-be elites and minorities. No wonder their policies are so confused and irrational

Why are conservatives more at ease with religion? Because it is basic to conservatism that some things are unknowable, and religious people have to accept that too. Leftists think that they know it all and feel threatened by any exceptions to that. Thinking that you know it all is however the pride that comes before a fall.

The characteristic emotion of the Leftist is not envy. It's rage

Leftists are committed to grievance, not truth

The British Left poured out a torrent of hate for Margaret Thatcher on the occasion of her death. She rescued Britain from chaos and restored Britain's prosperity. What's not to hate about that?

Something you didn't know about Margaret Thatcher

The world's dumbest investor? Without doubt it is Uncle Sam. Nobody anywhere could rival the scale of the losses on "investments" made under the Obama administration

"Behind the honeyed but patently absurd pleas for equality is a ruthless drive for placing themselves (the elites) at the top of a new hierarchy of power" -- Murray Rothbard - Egalitarianism and the Elites (1995)

A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money. -- G. Gordon Liddy

"World socialism as a whole, and all the figures associated with it, are shrouded in legend; its contradictions are forgotten or concealed; it does not respond to arguments but continually ignores them--all this stems from the mist of irrationality that surrounds socialism and from its instinctive aversion to scientific analysis... The doctrines of socialism seethe with contradictions, its theories are at constant odds with its practice, yet due to a powerful instinct these contradictions do not in the least hinder the unending propaganda of socialism. Indeed, no precise, distinct socialism even exists; instead there is only a vague, rosy notion of something noble and good, of equality, communal ownership, and justice: the advent of these things will bring instant euphoria and a social order beyond reproach." -- Solzhenitsyn

"The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left." -- Ecclesiastes 10:2 (NIV)

My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government. -- Thomas Jefferson

"Much that passes as idealism is disguised hatred or disguised love of power" -- Bertrand Russell

Evan Sayet: The Left sides "...invariably with evil over good, wrong over right, and the behaviors that lead to failure over those that lead to success." (t=5:35+ on video)

The Republicans are the gracious side of American politics. It is the Democrats who are the nasty party, the haters

Wanting to stay out of the quarrels of other nations is conservative -- but conservatives will fight if attacked or seriously endangered. Anglo/Irish statesman Lord Castlereagh (1769-1822), who led the political coalition that defeated Napoleon, was an isolationist, as were traditional American conservatives.

Some useful definitions:

If a conservative doesn't like guns, he doesn't buy one. If a liberal doesn't like guns, he wants all guns outlawed.
If a conservative is a vegetarian, he doesn't eat meat. If a liberal is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for everyone.
If a conservative is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation. A liberal wonders who is going to take care of him.
If a conservative doesn't like a talk show host, he switches channels. Liberals demand that those they don't like be shut down.
If a conservative is a non-believer, he doesn't go to church. A liberal non-believer wants any mention of God and religion silenced. (Unless it's a foreign religion, of course!)
If a conservative decides he needs health care, he goes about shopping for it, or may choose a job that provides it. A liberal demands that the rest of us pay for his.

There is better evidence for creation than there is for the Leftist claim that “gender” is a “social construct”. Most Leftist claims seem to be faith-based rather than founded on the facts

Leftists are classic weak characters. They dish out abuse by the bucketload but cannot take it when they get it back. Witness the Loughner hysteria.

Death taxes: You would expect a conscientious person, of whatever degree of intelligence, to reflect on the strange contradiction involved in denying people the right to unearned wealth, while supporting programs that give people unearned wealth.

America is no longer the land of the free. It is now the land of the regulated -- though it is not alone in that, of course

The Leftist motto: "I love humanity. It's just people I can't stand"

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

Envy is a strong and widespread human emotion so there has alway been widespread support for policies of economic "levelling". Both the USA and the modern-day State of Israel were founded by communists but reality taught both societies that respect for the individual gave much better outcomes than levelling ideas. Sadly, there are many people in both societies in whom hatred for others is so strong that they are incapable of respect for the individual. The destructiveness of what they support causes them to call themselves many names in different times and places but they are the backbone of the political Left

Gore Vidal: "Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little". Vidal was of course a Leftist

The large number of rich Leftists suggests that, for them, envy is secondary. They are directly driven by hatred and scorn for many of the other people that they see about them. Hatred of others can be rooted in many things, not only in envy. But the haters come together as the Left. Some evidence here showing that envy is not what defines the Left

Leftists hate the world around them and want to change it: the people in it most particularly. Conservatives just want to be left alone to make their own decisions and follow their own values.

The failure of the Soviet experiment has definitely made the American Left more vicious and hate-filled than they were. The plain failure of what passed for ideas among them has enraged rather than humbled them.

Ronald Reagan famously observed that the status quo is Latin for “the mess we’re in.” So much for the vacant Leftist claim that conservatives are simply defenders of the status quo. They think that conservatives are as lacking in principles as they are.

Was Confucius a conservative? The following saying would seem to reflect good conservative caution: "The superior man, when resting in safety, does not forget that danger may come. When in a state of security he does not forget the possibility of ruin. When all is orderly, he does not forget that disorder may come. Thus his person is not endangered, and his States and all their clans are preserved."

The shallow thinkers of the Left sometimes claim that conservatives want to impose their own will on others in the matter of abortion. To make that claim is however to confuse religion with politics. Conservatives are in fact divided about their response to abortion. The REAL opposition to abortion is religious rather than political. And the church which has historically tended to support the LEFT -- the Roman Catholic church -- is the most fervent in the anti-abortion cause. Conservatives are indeed the one side of politics to have moral qualms on the issue but they tend to seek a middle road in dealing with it. Taking the issue to the point of legal prohibitions is a religious doctrine rather than a conservative one -- and the religion concerned may or may not be characteristically conservative. More on that here

Some Leftist hatred arises from the fact that they blame "society" for their own personal problems and inadequacies

The Leftist hunger for change to the society that they hate leads to a hunger for control over other people. And they will do and say anything to get that control: "Power at any price". Leftist politicians are mostly self-aggrandizing crooks who gain power by deceiving the uninformed with snake-oil promises -- power which they invariably use to destroy. Destruction is all that they are good at. Destruction is what haters do.

Leftists are consistent only in their hate. They don't have principles. How can they when "there is no such thing as right and wrong"? All they have is postures, pretend-principles that can be changed as easily as one changes one's shirt

A Leftist assumption: Making money doesn't entitle you to it, but wanting money does.

"Politicians never accuse you of 'greed' for wanting other people's money -- only for wanting to keep your own money." --columnist Joe Sobran (1946-2010)

Leftist policies are candy-coated rat poison that may appear appealing at first, but inevitably do a lot of damage to everyone impacted by them.

A tribute and thanks to Mary Jo Kopechne. Her death was reprehensible but she probably did more by her death that she ever would have in life: She spared the world a President Ted Kennedy. That the heap of corruption that was Ted Kennedy died peacefully in his bed is one of the clearest demonstrations that we do not live in a just world. Even Joe Stalin seems to have been smothered to death by Nikita Khrushchev

I often wonder why Leftists refer to conservatives as "wingnuts". A wingnut is a very useful device that adds versatility wherever it is used. Clearly, Leftists are not even good at abuse. Once they have accused their opponents of racism and Nazism, their cupboard is bare. Similarly, Leftists seem to think it is a devastating critique to refer to "Worldnet Daily" as "Worldnut Daily". The poverty of their argumentation is truly pitiful

The Leftist assertion that there is no such thing as right and wrong has a distinguished history. It was Pontius Pilate who said "What is truth?" (John 18:38). From a Christian viewpoint, the assertion is undoubtedly the Devil's gospel

Even in the Old Testament they knew about "Postmodernism": "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" - Isaiah 5:20 (KJV)

Was Solomon the first conservative? "The hearts of men are full of evil and madness is in their hearts" -- Ecclesiastes: 9:3 (RSV). He could almost have been talking about Global Warming.

"If one rejects laissez faire on account of man's fallibility and moral weakness, one must for the same reason also reject every kind of government action." - Ludwig von Mises

The naive scholar who searches for a consistent Leftist program will not find it. What there is consists only in the negation of the present.

Because of their need to be different from the mainstream, Leftists are very good at pretending that sow's ears are silk purses

Among intelligent people, Leftism is a character defect. Leftists HATE success in others -- which is why notably successful societies such as the USA and Israel are hated and failures such as the Palestinians can do no wrong.

A Leftist's beliefs are all designed to pander to his ego. So when you have an argument with a Leftist, you are not really discussing the facts. You are threatening his self esteem. Which is why the normal Leftist response to challenge is mere abuse.

Because of the fragility of a Leftist's ego, anything that threatens it is intolerable and provokes rage. So most Leftist blogs can be summarized in one sentence: "How DARE anybody question what I believe!". Rage and abuse substitute for an appeal to facts and reason.

Because their beliefs serve their ego rather than reality, Leftists just KNOW what is good for us. Conservatives need evidence.

Absolute certainty is the privilege of uneducated men and fanatics. -- C.J. Keyser

Hell is paved with good intentions" -- Boswell's Life of Johnson of 1775

"Almost all professors of the arts and sciences are egregiously conceited, and derive their happiness from their conceit" -- Erasmus


"Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him" (Proverbs 26: 12). I think that sums up Leftists pretty well.

Eminent British astrophysicist Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington is often quoted as saying: "Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine." It was probably in fact said by his contemporary, J.B.S. Haldane. But regardless of authorship, it could well be a conservative credo not only about the cosmos but also about human beings and human society. Mankind is too complex to be summed up by simple rules and even complex rules are only approximations with many exceptions.

Politics is the only thing Leftists know about. They know nothing of economics, history or business. Their only expertise is in promoting feelings of grievance

Socialism makes the individual the slave of the state -- capitalism frees them.

Many readers here will have noticed that what I say about Leftists sometimes sounds reminiscent of what Leftists say about conservatives. There is an excellent reason for that. Leftists are great "projectors" (people who see their own faults in others). So a good first step in finding out what is true of Leftists is to look at what they say about conservatives! They even accuse conservatives of projection (of course).

The research shows clearly that one's Left/Right stance is strongly genetically inherited but nobody knows just what specifically is inherited. What is inherited that makes people Leftist or Rightist? There is any amount of evidence that personality traits are strongly genetically inherited so my proposal is that hard-core Leftists are people who tend to let their emotions (including hatred and envy) run away with them and who are much more in need of seeing themselves as better than others -- two attributes that are probably related to one another. Such Leftists may be an evolutionary leftover from a more primitive past.

Leftists seem to believe that if someone like Al Gore says it, it must be right. They obviously have a strong need for an authority figure. The fact that the two most authoritarian regimes of the 20th century (Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia) were socialist is thus no surprise. Leftists often accuse conservatives of being "authoritarian" but that is just part of their usual "projective" strategy -- seeing in others what is really true of themselves.

"With their infernal racial set-asides, racial quotas, and race norming, liberals share many of the Klan's premises. The Klan sees the world in terms of race and ethnicity. So do liberals! Indeed, liberals and white supremacists are the only people left in America who are neurotically obsessed with race. Conservatives champion a color-blind society" -- Ann Coulter

Politicians are in general only a little above average in intelligence so the idea that they can make better decisions for us that we can make ourselves is laughable

A quote from the late Dr. Adrian Rogers: "You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."

The Supreme Court of the United States is now and always has been a judicial abomination. Its guiding principles have always been political rather than judicial. It is not as political as Stalin's courts but its respect for the constitution is little better. Some recent abuses: The "equal treatment" provision of the 14th amendment was specifically written to outlaw racial discrimination yet the court has allowed various forms of "affirmative action" for decades -- when all such policies should have been completely stuck down immediately. The 2nd. amendment says that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed yet gun control laws infringe it in every State in the union. The 1st amendment provides that speech shall be freely exercised yet the court has upheld various restrictions on the financing and display of political advertising. The court has found a right to abortion in the constitution when the word abortion is not even mentioned there. The court invents rights that do not exist and denies rights that do.

"Some action that is unconstitutional has much to recommend it" -- Elena Kagan, nominated to SCOTUS by Obama

Frank Sulloway, the anti-scientist

The basic aim of all bureaucrats is to maximize their funding and minimize their workload

A lesson in Australian: When an Australian calls someone a "big-noter", he is saying that the person is a chronic and rather pathetic seeker of admiration -- as in someone who often pulls out "big notes" (e.g. $100.00 bills) to pay for things, thus endeavouring to create the impression that he is rich. The term describes the mentality rather than the actual behavior with money and it aptly describes many Leftists. When they purport to show "compassion" by advocating things that cost themselves nothing (e.g. advocating more taxes on "the rich" to help "the poor"), an Australian might say that the Leftist is "big-noting himself". There is an example of the usage here. The term conveys contempt. There is a wise description of Australians generally here

Some ancient wisdom for Leftists: "Be not righteous overmuch; neither make thyself over wise: Why shouldest thou die before thy time?" -- Ecclesiastes 7:16

Jesse Jackson: "There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery -- then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved." There ARE important racial differences.

Some Jimmy Carter wisdom: "I think it's inevitable that there will be a lower standard of living than what everybody had always anticipated," he told advisers in 1979. "there's going to be a downward turning."

The "steamroller" above who got steamrollered by his own hubris. Spitzer is a warning of how self-destructive a vast ego can be -- and also of how destructive of others it can be.

Heritage is what survives death: Very rare and hence very valuable

Big business is not your friend. As Adam Smith said: "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty or justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary

How can I accept the Communist doctrine, which sets up as its bible, above and beyond criticism, an obsolete textbook which I know not only to be scientifically erroneous but without interest or application to the modern world? How can I adopt a creed which, preferring the mud to the fish, exalts the boorish proletariat above the bourgeoisie and the intelligentsia, who with all their faults, are the quality of life and surely carry the seeds of all human achievement? Even if we need a religion, how can we find it in the turbid rubbish of the red bookshop? It is hard for an educated, decent, intelligent son of Western Europe to find his ideals here, unless he has first suffered some strange and horrid process of conversion which has changed all his values. -- John Maynard Keynes

Some wisdom from "Bron" Waugh: "The purpose of politics is to help them [politicians] overcome these feelings of inferiority and compensate for their personal inadequacies in the pursuit of power"

"There are countless horrible things happening all over the country, and horrible people prospering, but we must never allow them to disturb our equanimity or deflect us from our sacred duty to sabotage and annoy them whenever possible"

The urge to pass new laws must be seen as an illness, not much different from the urge to bite old women. Anyone suspected of suffering from it should either be treated with the appropriate pills or, if it is too late for that, elected to Parliament [or Congress, as the case may be] and paid a huge salary with endless holidays, to do nothing whatever"

"It is my settled opinion, after some years as a political correspondent, that no one is attracted to a political career in the first place unless he is socially or emotionally crippled"

Two lines below of a famous hymn that would be incomprehensible to Leftists today ("honor"? "right"? "freedom?" Freedom to agree with them is the only freedom they believe in)

First to fight for right and freedom,
And to keep our honor clean

It is of course the hymn of the USMC -- still today the relentless warriors that they always were. Freedom needs a soldier

If any of the short observations above about Leftism seem wrong, note that they do not stand alone. The evidence for them is set out at great length in my MONOGRAPH on Leftism.

3 memoirs of "Supermac", a 20th century Disraeli (Aristocratic British Conservative Prime Minister -- 1957 to 1963 -- Harold Macmillan):

"It breaks my heart to see (I can't interfere or do anything at my age) what is happening in our country today - this terrible strike of the best men in the world, who beat the Kaiser's army and beat Hitler's army, and never gave in. Pointless, endless. We can't afford that kind of thing. And then this growing division which the noble Lord who has just spoken mentioned, of a comparatively prosperous south, and an ailing north and midlands. That can't go on." -- Mac on the British working class: "the best men in the world" (From his Maiden speech in the House of Lords, 13 November 1984)

"As a Conservative, I am naturally in favour of returning into private ownership and private management all those means of production and distribution which are now controlled by state capitalism"

During Macmillan's time as prime minister, average living standards steadily rose while numerous social reforms were carried out


"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

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)

My (Gentile) opinion of antisemitism: The Jews are the best we've got so killing them is killing us.

I have always liked the story of Gideon (See Judges chapters 6 to 8) and it is surely no surprise that in the present age Israel is the Gideon of nations: Few in numbers but big in power and impact.

If I were not an atheist, I would believe that God had a sense of humour. He gave his chosen people (the Jews) enormous advantages -- high intelligence and high drive -- but to keep it fair he deprived them of something hugely important too: Political sense. So Jews to this day tend very strongly to be Leftist -- even though the chief source of antisemitism for roughly the last 200 years has been the political Left!

And the other side of the coin is that Jews tend to despise conservatives and Christians. Yet American fundamentalist Christians are the bedrock of the vital American support for Israel, the ultimate bolthole for all Jews. So Jewish political irrationality seems to be a rather good example of the saying that "The LORD giveth and the LORD taketh away". There are many other examples of such perversity (or "balance"). The sometimes severe side-effects of most pharmaceutical drugs is an obvious one but there is another ethnic example too, a rather amusing one. Chinese people are in general smart and patient people but their rate of traffic accidents in China is about 10 times higher than what prevails in Western societies. They are brilliant mathematicians and fearless business entrepreneurs but at the same time bad drivers!

Conservatives, on the other hand, could be antisemitic on entirely rational grounds: Namely, the overwhelming Leftism of the Diaspora Jewish population as a whole. Because they judge the individual, however, only a tiny minority of conservative-oriented people make such general judgments. The longer Jews continue on their "stiff-necked" course, however, the more that is in danger of changing. The children of Israel have been a stiff necked people since the days of Moses, however, so they will no doubt continue to vote with their emotions rather than their reason.

I despair of the ADL. Jews have enough problems already and yet in the ADL one has a prominent Jewish organization that does its best to make itself offensive to Christians. Their Leftism is more important to them than the welfare of Jewry -- which is the exact opposite of what they ostensibly stand for! Jewish cleverness seems to vanish when politics are involved. Fortunately, Christians are true to their saviour and have loving hearts. Jewish dissatisfaction with the myopia of the ADL is outlined here. Note that Foxy was too grand to reply to it.

Fortunately for America, though, liberal Jews there are rapidly dying out through intermarriage and failure to reproduce. And the quite poisonous liberal Jews of Israel are not much better off. Judaism is slowly returning to Orthodoxy and the Orthodox tend to be conservative.

The above is good testimony to the accuracy of the basic conservative insight that almost anything in human life is too complex to be reduced to any simple rule and too complex to be reduced to any rule at all without allowance for important exceptions to the rule concerned

"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.

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.

Eugenio Pacelli, a righteous Gentile, a true man of God and a brilliant Pope


Many people hunger and thirst after righteousness. Some find it in the hatreds of the Left. Others find it in the love of Christ. I don't hunger and thirst after righteousness at all. I hunger and thirst after truth. How old-fashioned can you get?

The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody. And I have NO investments in oil companies, mining companies or "Big Pharma"

UPDATE: Despite my (statistical) aversion to mining stocks, I have recently bought a few shares in BHP -- the world's biggest miner, I gather. I run the grave risk of becoming a speaker of famous last words for saying this but I suspect that BHP is now so big as to be largely immune from the risks that plague most mining companies. I also know of no issue affecting BHP where my writings would have any relevance. The Left seem to have a visceral hatred of miners. I have never quite figured out why.

I imagine that few of my readers will understand it, but I am an unabashed monarchist. And, as someone who was born and bred in a monarchy and who still lives there (i.e. Australia), that gives me no conflicts at all. In theory, one's respect for the monarchy does not depend on who wears the crown but the impeccable behaviour of the present Queen does of course help perpetuate that respect. Aside from my huge respect for the Queen, however, my favourite member of the Royal family is the redheaded Prince Harry. The Royal family is of course a military family and Prince Harry is a great example of that. As one of the world's most privileged people, he could well be an idle layabout but instead he loves his life in the army. When his girlfriend Chelsy ditched him because he was so often away, Prince Harry said: "I love Chelsy but the army comes first". A perfect military man! I doubt that many women would understand or approve of his attitude but perhaps my own small army background powers my approval of that attitude.

I imagine that most Americans might find this rather mad -- but I believe that a constitutional Monarchy is the best form of government presently available. Can a libertarian be a Monarchist? I think so -- and prominent British libertarian Sean Gabb seems to think so too! Long live the Queen! (And note that Australia ranks well above the USA on the Index of Economic freedom. Heh!)

Throughout Europe there is an association between monarchism and conservatism. It is a little sad that American conservatives do not have access to that satisfaction. So even though Australia is much more distant from Europe (geographically) than the USA is, Australia is in some ways more of an outpost of Europe than America is! Mind you: Australia is not very atypical of its region. Australia lies just South of Asia -- and both Japan and Thailand have greatly respected monarchies. And the demise of the Cambodian monarchy was disastrous for Cambodia

Throughout the world today, possession of a U.S. or U.K. passport is greatly valued. I once shared that view. Developments in recent years have however made me profoundly grateful that I am a 5th generation Australian. My Australian passport is a door into a much less oppressive and much less messed-up place than either the USA or Britain

Following the Sotomayor precedent, I would hope that a wise older white man such as myself with the richness of that experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than someone who hasn’t lived that life.

IQ and ideology: Most academics are Left-leaning. Why? Because very bright people who have balls go into business, while very bright people with no balls go into academe. I did both with considerable success, which makes me a considerable rarity. Although I am a born academic, I have always been good with money too. My share portfolio even survived the GFC in good shape. The academics hate it that bright people with balls make more money than them.

I have no hesitation in saying that the single book which has influenced me most is the New Testament. And my Scripture blog will show that I know whereof I speak. Some might conclude that I must therefore be a very confused sort of atheist but I can assure everyone that I do not feel the least bit confused. The New Testament is a lighthouse that has illumined the thinking of all sorts of men and women and I am deeply grateful that it has shone on me.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age. Conservatism is in touch with reality. Leftism is not.

I imagine that the RD are still sending mailouts to my 1950s address

Most teenagers have sporting and movie posters on their bedroom walls. At age 14 I had a map of Taiwan on my wall.

"Remind me never to get this guy mad at me" -- Instapundit

It seems to be a common view that you cannot talk informatively about a country unless you have been there. I completely reject that view but it is nonetheless likely that some Leftist dimbulb will at some stage aver that any comments I make about politics and events in the USA should not be heeded because I am an Australian who has lived almost all his life in Australia. I am reluctant to pander to such ignorance in the era of the "global village" but for the sake of the argument I might mention that I have visited the USA 3 times -- spending enough time in Los Angeles and NYC to get to know a fair bit about those places at least. I did however get outside those places enough to realize that they are NOT America.

"Intellectual" = Leftist dreamer. I have more publications in the academic journals than almost all "public intellectuals" but I am never called an intellectual and nor would I want to be. Call me a scholar or an academic, however, and I will accept either as a just and earned appellation

My academic background

My full name is Dr. John Joseph RAY. I am a former university teacher aged 65 at the time of writing in 2009. I was born of Australian pioneer stock in 1943 at Innisfail in the State of Queensland in Australia. I trace my ancestry wholly to the British Isles. After an early education at Innisfail State Rural School and Cairns State High School, I taught myself for matriculation. I took my B.A. in Psychology from the University of Queensland in Brisbane. I then moved to Sydney (in New South Wales, Australia) and took my M.A. in psychology from the University of Sydney in 1969 and my Ph.D. from the School of Behavioural Sciences at Macquarie University in 1974. I first tutored in psychology at Macquarie University and then taught sociology at the University of NSW. My doctorate is in psychology but I taught mainly sociology in my 14 years as a university teacher. In High Schools I taught economics. I have taught in both traditional and "progressive" (low discipline) High Schools. Fuller biographical notes here

I completed the work for my Ph.D. at the end of 1970 but the degree was not awarded until 1974 -- due to some academic nastiness from Seymour Martin Lipset and Fred Emery. A conservative or libertarian who makes it through the academic maze has to be at least twice as good as the average conformist Leftist. Fortunately, I am a born academic.

Despite my great sympathy and respect for Christianity, I am the most complete atheist you could find. I don't even believe that the word "God" is meaningful. I am not at all original in that view, of course. Such views are particularly associated with the noted German philosopher Rudolf Carnap. Unlike Carnap, however, none of my wives have committed suicide

Very occasionally in my writings I make reference to the greats of analytical philosophy such as Carnap and Wittgenstein. As philosophy is a heavily Leftist discipline however, I have long awaited an attack from some philosopher accusing me of making coat-trailing references not backed by any real philosophical erudition. I suppose it is encouraging that no such attacks have eventuated but I thought that I should perhaps forestall them anyway -- by pointing out that in my younger days I did complete three full-year courses in analytical philosophy (at 3 different universities!) and that I have had papers on mainstream analytical philosophy topics published in academic journals

As well as being an academic, I am an army man and I am pleased and proud to say that I have worn my country's uniform. Although my service in the Australian army was chiefly noted for its un-notability, I DID join voluntarily in the Vietnam era, I DID reach the rank of Sergeant, and I DID volunteer for a posting in Vietnam. So I think I may be forgiven for saying something that most army men think but which most don't say because they think it is too obvious: The profession of arms is the noblest profession of all because it is the only profession where you offer to lay down your life in performing your duties. Our men fought so that people could say and think what they like but I myself always treat military men with great respect -- respect which in my view is simply their due.

A real army story here

Even a stopped clock is right twice a day and there is JUST ONE saying of Hitler's that I rather like. It may not even be original to him but it is found in chapter 2 of Mein Kampf (published in 1925): "Widerstaende sind nicht da, dass man vor ihnen kapituliert, sondern dass man sie bricht". The equivalent English saying is "Difficulties exist to be overcome" and that traces back at least to the 1920s -- with attributions to Montessori and others. Hitler's metaphor is however one of smashing barriers rather than of politely hopping over them and I am myself certainly more outspoken than polite. Hitler's colloquial Southern German is notoriously difficult to translate but I think I can manage a reasonable translation of that saying: "Resistance is there not for us to capitulate to but for us to break". I am quite sure that I don't have anything like that degree of determination in my own life but it seems to me to be a good attitude in general anyway

I have used many sites to post my writings over the years and many have gone bad on me for various reasons. So if you click on a link here to my other writings you may get a "page not found" response if the link was put up some time before the present. All is not lost, however. All my writings have been reposted elsewhere. If you do strike a failed link, just take the filename (the last part of the link) and add it to the address of any of my current home pages and -- Voila! -- you should find the article concerned.

COMMENTS: I have gradually added comments facilities to all my blogs. The comments I get are interesting. They are mostly from Leftists and most consist either of abuse or mere assertions. Reasoned arguments backed up by references to supporting evidence are almost unheard of from Leftists. Needless to say, I just delete such useless comments.

You can email me here (Hotmail address). In emailing me, you can address me as "John", "Jon", "Dr. Ray" or "JR" and that will be fine -- but my preference is for "JR"

Index page for this site


"Tongue Tied"
"Dissecting Leftism" (Backup here)
"Australian Politics"
"Education Watch International"
"Political Correctness Watch"
"Greenie Watch"
"Food & Health Skeptic"
"Eye on Britain"
"Immigration Watch International" blog.


"Marx & Engels in their own words"
"A scripture blog"
"Some memoirs"
To be continued ....
Queensland Police -- A barrel with lots of bad apples
Australian Police News
Of Interest


"Leftists as Elitists"
Socialized Medicine
Western Heart
QANTAS -- A dying octopus
BRIAN LEITER (Ladderman)
Obama Watch
Obama Watch (2)
Dissecting Leftism -- Large font site
Michael Darby
The Kogarah Madhouse (St George Bank)
AGL -- A bumbling monster
Telstra/Bigpond follies
Optus bungling
Vodafrauds (vodafone)
Bank of Queensland blues

There are also two blogspot blogs which record what I think are my main recent articles here and here. Similar content can be more conveniently accessed via my subject-indexed list of short articles here or here (I rarely write long articles these days)

Main academic menu
Menu of recent writings
basic home page
Pictorial Home Page (Backup here).
Selected pictures from blogs (Backup here)
Another picture page (Best with broadband. Rarely updated)

Note: If the link to one of my articles is not working, the article concerned can generally be viewed by prefixing to the filename the following: