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

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

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31 July, 2015

What is it with the far-left and violence?

Comment from Douglas Murray in Britain.  He might also have mentioned how keen the American Left is on the ghastly Cuban regime

Thanks to Guido Fawkes, I learn that the left-wing author Owen Jones has just appeared at the Sinn Fein summer school in Ireland.  According to Sinn Feinís own newspaper, Owen used the opportunity to praise Sinn Feinís Ďprogressiveí politics, suggest that people take inspiration from the 1916 Easter Rising and announce what a Ďpassionate believerí he apparently is in a united Ireland.

There are a number of interesting things about this.  The first is that it exposes what a sham the far-leftís attitude towards political violence really is. Owen isnít the first person of his ilk to have supported Sinn Fein.  For decades there has been a dirty line-up of far-left figures who have done the same.  For instance the man Owen wants to be the next Labour leader Ė Jeremy Corbyn Ė was chumming up to Sinn Fein even while their military wing was blowing up ordinary pub-goers, shooting farmers in the head and planting bombs in Britainís shopping centres.

But just imagine if a British commentator from the political right had recently travelled to address any political party with Sinn Feinís violent associations.  Using Golden Dawn as a comparison doesnít really work because Sinn Fein have so much more blood on their hands than Golden Dawn.  Sinn Fein is a party which until recently had a military wing responsible for the torture, wounding and murder of thousands of innocent people.  True, members of the vile Golden Dawn have been involved in plenty of violence and brutality, but to nothing like the extent of members of Sinn Fein. 

Yet imagine if they had and that a British conservative commentator had just addressed a Golden Dawn event, even if they had they not used the opportunity (as Owen did) to praise their hosts.  There would now be a tsunami of criticism from across the political spectrum, especially on the far-left.  This would doubtless include much talk of the need to Ďsmashí, rather than talk to, fascists.  As I say, it isnít a very complete thought experiment, because there is no political party of the far-right or anywhere else in Europe as bad as Sinn Fein.

Perhaps Owen is unaware of the partyís history.  Well very many of us are not (and before any of Owenís stooges try to cast me as an apologist for all British actions in Ireland, they are welcome to read my book on Bloody Sunday).  What we all know is that for decades the leadership of Sinn Fein and the leadership of the IRA were one and the same.  They developed, it must be credited, an exceptionally successful bad-cop / worse-cop technique. 

So, for instance, the IRA would plant a bomb in the centre of a busy town, killing a couple of passing children, and Sinn Fein would issue some blandishments about the need for British troops to leave the six counties and Ireland to be united.  Or the IRA would plant a bomb in a British pub and Sinn Fein would talk about something done by other people several decades earlier. 

Best of all was the ability of senior figures in the IRA to Ďdisappearí people (that is abduct, torture and generally shoot in the back of the head) like the widowed mother of ten children Jean McConville.  While leaving bodies like hers to rot in unmarked graves (and leaving their families to a state of unimaginable fear and grief), some of those implicated in the murder could then get on with their political careers.

Or perhaps Owen doesnít care that heís hanging out with the most murderous political party in Europe.  Which then points to another fascinating aspect of the far-left: the transparent way in which they develop and deploy their alleged Ďprioritiesí.  For as the Irish News points out, Owen very recently attacked the Democratic Unionist Party. What for? Why for being Ďriddled with homophobic bigotryí of course.

One could make the cheap point that the highest reaches of Sinn Fein have in recent decades been riddled with such bigotry and far worse (for instance the party was also riddled with paedophiles and those who covered up for them). 

Or one could point out (as a prominent local gay rights campaigner has here) that Sinn Fein was never supportive of any gay equality reform until it suddenly became popular to be so.  Then they adopted this stance because the wind had changed and they presumably made the calculation that by pretending to be Ďprogressiveí on social issues they could fool some young people who had no idea of the partyís history.

As I say, the priorities are fascinating.  Personally I am happy to forgive people who are not 100 per cent on-board with gay marriage.  But I find it very difficult indeed to forgive Ė let alone support Ė people who ripped apart thousands of British and Irish lives in a campaign of violence whose ends could have been achieved without a drop of blood being shed.



How to Kill the Summer Job

By Jonah Goldberg

I had a lot of summer jobs. I was a foot messenger in New York for a couple of summers. I worked as a receptionist and mail room flunky. Before my junior year of high school, I briefly sold ice cream snacks ó sort of yuppie bonbons ó on the street for a company called Love Bites. The uniform was a tight red T-shirt (with a cupid over the heart), a straw hat, cane and snug brown shorts. When my manager asked me to work weekend nights in the (famously gay) West Village, I defected to a company that sold Italian ices. First, I didnít want to work nights. But at 16, I also wasnít ready to say, ďHey mister, would you like a Love Bite?Ē to the gang leaving the Stonewall Inn.

Truth be told, all I wanted out of most of these gigs was beer money. Today, however, psychologists, educators and economists all talk about the benefits of summer jobs in the context of acquiring ďlife skills.Ē

These early part-time or temporary jobs teach young people to manage money. (I learned to buy cheap canned domestic beer, for instance, not the trendy imports or microbrews.) They help develop good work habits: show up on time, follow instructions, be courteous to customers, etc.

Basically, working teaches young people how to work. Thereís no substitute for it.

Thatís one reason I find the race to raise the minimum wage across the country so problematic. I understand the good intentions underlying it. But the idea that the minimum wage ó at least for young workers ó should be a ďliving wageĒ is absurd, even immoral. Employers are taking a risk when they hire people with no work experience. Why further discourage that?

Subsidize something and you get more of it. Tax it and you get less. There are plenty of ways to subsidize low-skill hiring ó an expanded earned-income tax credit, for instance. Instead, a higher minimum wage taxes the employers who hire low-skill workers. Thatís nuts.

Meanwhile, the summer job isnít extinct ó yet. In 1999, 52 percent of teens worked summer jobs. These days itís a third, and dropping. Thatís not just because of a bad labor market. This summer, even as the economy picked up, youth employment continued to decline. Indeed, according to the Pew Research Center, teen employment has been going out of fashion since 1990. Why?

The answer for one slice of the labor market ó college-bound teens from relatively affluent families ó seems to be that they are focusing all of their energy on enhancing their transcripts with unpaid internships (which Charles Murray calls ďaffirmative action for the advantagedĒ), self-interested volunteer work and test-prep or other courses. Affluent parents encourage their kids to study Mandarin or sponge oil off sea birds to prove how ďselflessĒ they are to admissions officers.

Kids whoíve already gotten into college have turned their backs on summer work too. Visit summer tourist spots such as North Carolinaís Outer Banks, Delawareís Rehoboth Beach or Marthaís Vineyard in Massachusetts and youíll find that the positions once held by students from Eastern colleges are now filled by kids from Eastern Europe. Itís interesting that many of these decidedly liberal communities would rather import labor from Belarus than from Baltimore.

(Itís also telling that the very same unions that campaign for hikes in the minimum wage also want union members to be exempt from it. That way unions can pad their membership rolls while becoming a monopoly supplier of cheap labor to businesses. Itís a disgustingly cynical ploy.)

Affluent kids may be less well adjusted and self-confident because they lack real work experience. Poorer youth truly suffer when they canít get a foothold in the workforce as early as possible.

But thereís another long-term problem. America is raising a whole generation of ďleadersĒ who see the people they are supposed to represent as abstractions rather than as individuals they have served, worked with or worked for. Just as we want civilian leaders who know what itís like to wear the uniform, we want policymakers who know what itís like to work ó and hire ó in the trenches.



Phony GOP Conservatism Has Worn Out Its Welcome

By David Limbaugh

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) (AP File Photo)
The long-simmering disconnect between the Republican Party's conservative base and its leaders in government has degenerated into a full-blown schism.

While President Obama accelerates his increasingly radical agenda, the GOP, despite its congressional majority, can barely muster an objection, let alone block his momentum.

Other than to offer a toothless public rebuke of Obama's destructive schemes, what was the point of the 2014 GOP congressional landslide? It's no longer just a small percentage of conservatives questioning the GOP. Our people are furious ó and rightly so.

I've recently shared my opinion that Donald Trump's explosive surge is because of his giving voice to the conservative base's outrage and his refusal to be chastened or muzzled.

Significantly, establishment Republicans are united with liberal Democrats in their contempt for Trump. The latter attribute his popularity to some innate anger of mean-spirited conservatives who are supposedly soaking up Trump's straight talk like bloodsucking vampires. The former refuse to lift a finger against that liberal slander, and some even pile on, saying that Trump supporters are nativists or xenophobes, as opposed to sane patriots determined to protect America's borders and sovereignty.

Let the elites look down their superior noses at us commoners. Be advised, though, that Trump is not the only one railing against the pervasive insanity, including the role that the GOP leadership is playing in it. Sen. Ted Cruz has set his sights on the "Washington cartel" ó the quasi bipartisan ruling class that is presiding over the disgraceful dismantling of the United States as we know and love it. Candidate Carly Fiorina is also speaking eloquently about bringing "outside-the-box" changes to Washington to make a real difference, as opposed to merely slowing down the devastating Obama juggernaut.

It's easy for the ruling class and its enablers to dismiss conservative opposition as misplaced fury, but grass-roots anger is anything but random and cathartic. It is not an eruption of malcontents looking for an excuse to air some deep-seated unhappiness.

Generally speaking, conservatives are optimistic and bullish on America. But they have witnessed assault after brutal assault against the Constitution, our liberties and our values, and they are justifiably mad as hell and are not inclined to take it anymore.

Adding insult to injury, they continue to elect Republicans to office based on their promise they will try not only to stop Obama's momentum but also to reverse it and make real headway toward saving this nation.

Time after time, they deliver instead outright betrayal. They always offer the same excuses. "We're doing the best we can. We're powerless to do much, and if we try, the voters will be angry and we'll never win the presidency."

Well, for a long time, I've held my tongue; I've given the leadership the benefit of the doubt and resisted impugning the party leaders' motives, even when I strongly registered my objection to their perpetual caving. But I can no longer assume the best of people who are not simply failing to retard Obama's agenda but, in many cases, facilitating it.

With the Corker bill, Senate Republicans have effectively forfeited their constitutional power to reject the Iran nuclear deal ó the most dangerous foreign treaty (yes, it's a treaty) in decades. Over the weekend, the ruling class rebuked and punished Cruz for admirably trying to put a wrench in the scheme to resurrect the Export-Import Bank. And don't get me started on the leadership's performance on Obamacare and Planned Parenthood.

The establishment pretends its outrage against Cruz is based on his alleged breach of Senate rules in accusing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of lying. These self-righteous patricians pretended to be appalled at this unforgivable incivility.

Well, let me ask you: Are you more worried about what Obama is doing to this nation or alleged violations of Senate decorum? If McConnell really lied to Cruz about a matter that affects the well-being of this nation, are you appalled at Cruz or at those shaming him for trying to represent our interests?

Establishment Republicans are not only emulating liberal Democrats in making Obama's job easier but also acting like liberals in placing form above substance. Their faux ire at Cruz's alleged violation of their prissy rules instead of at Obama's agenda is like the liberal media's outrage at the editing of the Planned Parenthood video rather than at its harvesting of the organs of unborn babies. Instead of joining Cruz, Sen. Mike Lee and others in really opposing Obama, like Democrats, they accuse him of being an opportunist who is interested only in his presidential ambitions.

I am unimpressed by self-serving rules of seniority among the ruling class. What I care about is that our interests are properly represented in Washington, especially by those who deceived us with promises that they would govern as conservatives. Now that, my friends, is opportunism.

God bless Sen. Cruz and all others who are trying to govern precisely as they promised and to give conservatism ó and thus America ó a fighting chance. We haven't heard the end of this yet.



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

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


30 July, 2015

A syndrome of general biological fitness appears again

I have been pointing out for many years that there seems to be a syndrome of general biological fitness -- such that high IQ people are healthier, live longer and have better emotional balance. High IQ, in other words, is just one part of general bodily good functioning. The recent study below is another indicator of such an association and goes on to show that the link is genetic.  Some people are just born healthier and fitter. If so, all your bits work well -- including your brain, which is just another bodily organ.   A wise man from long ago knew that.  He said: "For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath." (Mark 4: 25).  "All men are equal" exists neither in the Bible nor in life

The association between intelligence and lifespan is mostly genetic

By Rosalind Arden et al.


Background: Several studies in the new field of cognitive epidemiology have shown that higher intelligence predicts longer lifespan. This positive correlation might arise from socioeconomic status influencing both intelligence and health; intelligence leading to better health behaviours; and/or some shared genetic factors influencing both intelligence and health. Distinguishing among these hypotheses is crucial for medicine and public health, but can only be accomplished by studying a genetically informative sample.

Methods: We analysed data from three genetically informative samples containing information on intelligence and mortality: Sample 1, 377 pairs of male veterans from the NAS-NRC US World War II Twin Registry; Sample 2, 246 pairs of twins from the Swedish Twin Registry; and Sample 3, 784 pairs of twins from the Danish Twin Registry. The age at which intelligence was measured differed between the samples. We used three methods of genetic analysis to examine the relationship between intelligence and lifespan: we calculated the proportion of the more intelligent twins who outlived their co-twin; we regressed within-twin-pair lifespan differences on within-twin-pair intelligence differences; and we used the resulting regression coefficients to model the additive genetic covariance. We conducted a meta-analysis of the regression coefficients across the three samples.

Results: The combined (and all three individual samples) showed a small positive phenotypic correlation between intelligence and lifespan. In the combined sample observed r?=?.12 (95% confidence interval .06 to .18). The additive genetic covariance model supported a genetic relationship between intelligence and lifespan. In the combined sample the genetic contribution to the covariance was 95%; in the US study, 84%; in the Swedish study, 86%, and in the Danish study, 85%.

Conclusions: The finding of common genetic effects between lifespan and intelligence has important implications for public health, and for those interested in the genetics of intelligence, lifespan or inequalities in health outcomes including lifespan.



British government hospitals are still letting the elderly die of thirst

Behold America's future if Obamacare is not repealed

Doctors and nurses are having to be reminded to give water to dying patients.  It is being spelled out to them in basic guidelines following concerns that patients are being denied fluids before their deaths.

Experts fear the controversial Liverpool Care Pathway Ė under which food and drink was withdrawn from the dying Ė has left a Ďhangoverí in the NHS a year after it was abolished.

Staff are routinely waiting up to three days before putting the terminally ill on drips or feeding tubes while they debate whether it is in their Ďbest interestsí.

Now guidance from NHS watchdog NICE Ė the first of its kind Ė expressly tells staff to Ďsupportí dying patients to drink, or get them to suck sponges soaked in water if they are very frail.

It specifically points out that dehydration is Ďunlikely to hasten deathí and fluids will not Ďprolongí the dying process, but in fact ease their suffering.

The guidance also tells medical professionals to carry out a thorough check of patientsí symptoms to make sure they really are dying and to seek advice from colleagues if there is any doubt.

Although the controversial Liverpool Care Pathway was phased out last summer, nurses, charities and academics say it is still used in some hospitals under a different name.

The practice Ė introduced in the 1990s Ė involved the withdrawal of fluids and food from patients deemed to be at the end of their lives with the intention of hastening death and easing their suffering.

But in many instances patients were placed on the pathway for days, starving and dehydrated, with relatives resorting to giving them wet sponges in secret.

Tory MP Andrew Percy, who sits on the Commons health select committee, said the fact that NICE had issued the guidance was Ďconcerningí.

ĎItís been made very clear that the Liverpool Care Pathway is not acceptable and is not an appropriate pathway for people at the end of their life.í he said.

ĎWe heard some terrible examples of people being denied fluids at the end of life and itís concerning that NICE have felt the need to issue this guidance.í



And here's ANOTHER charming British precedent Americans will be looking forward to

"Minor" procedures such as cataract operations are discouraged.  Pity if you can't see, though

GPs are being offered cash incentives worth up to £200,000 if they do not send patients to hospital for routine operations.

They have been told to slash the numbers referred for procedures of Ďlow clinical valueí including hip and knee surgery and cataract treatment.

Doctors are also urged to avoid sending patients in for outpatients appointments before or after operations as these are deemed to be a waste of time.

The controversial scheme has been introduced by managers in the North West to save money on the basis that this will improve care and free-up more appointment time.

But it has concerned a number of GPs, who say it may Ďcolour the judgementí of some of their colleagues.

They are worried that doctors will be inclined not to refer patients for important appointments or procedures just because they will earn more money.

A spokesman for the British Medical Association, the professional body which represents doctors said: ĎClinical Commissioning Groups should not be setting up incentive schemes that force doctors to make clinical decisions based on finances rather than a patientís health needs.  ĎGPs will be appalled by this measure, not least as it will undermine the publicís confidence in the NHS.

The scheme has been rolled out in Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group, a local NHS trust covering 50 surgeries and 270,000 patients.

It was inspired by very similar initiatives already in place in CCGs in Liverpool and Manchester, where doctors are also offered money to reduce Ďunnecessaryí referrals.

But one unnamed GP who practices in Bolton said the policy was Ďunhealthyí and breached the doctorsí code of conduct, which states that patient care must come first.  ĎGiving doctors financial incentives not to refer is not in the interests of patients or services,í he said.



Levin: `Unbridled Immigration, Legal and Illegal, Is Taking the Country Down'

"Immigration, legal and illegal, is taking the country down," nationally syndicated radio show host Mark Levin stated in his broadcast on Thursday.

"Unbridled immigration, wave after wave after wave, which is what has taken place for the last 50 years, is killing this country," Levin said. "Fundamentally altering this country, creating more poor American citizens in this country - and to what end?"

Here is the transcript of what Levin said:

    "Now I can go on and on; the case is overwhelming that unbridled immigration, wave after wave after wave, which is what has taken place for the last 50 years, is killing this country.

    "Fundamentally altering this country, creating more poor American citizens in this country - and to what end?

    "That information, all that information is in Plunder and Deceit on my chapter on immigration, but there's a lot more because immigration is even more than that.

    "It's about foreigners coming into the country, not assimilating, and it's about a federal government basically controlled by the Left, almost in a monopolistic way, which does not want assimilation, does not want Americanization because, as [President] Obama has said repeatedly, he and the Left despise America.

    "So we have people escaping failed cultures, escaping failed economic systems, escaping failed governments, coming into this country and bringing all three of those with them -and our country encouraging it.

    "So this does affect jobs. This does affect the economy. It sure as hell affects your children and grandchildren. It affects our school systems, it affects law enforcement - yes. It affects our health care system, it affects our entire country.

    "Unbridled - wave after wave - immigration, legal and illegal, is taking the country down."



Trump means business

Unless you have been living under a rock, you have probably noticed that Donald Trump is running for president as a Republican on an aggressive platform against illegal immigration.

After his announcement - in which he said Mexico was sending criminals, rapists, and drug dealers to the U.S. - being declared a "disaster" by mainstream media outlets, something unexpected happened.

Just a month later, Trump has rocketed to a lead in national GOP polls. The most recent USA Today, Fox News, Washington Post/ABC, and PPP polls all have him garnering about one-fifth of Republican voters, more than any other candidate.  Guess it wasn't so disastrous after all.

So how has Trump done it? Besides already having built-in name recognition, Trump has tapped into a growing frustration of the Republican Party base with leadership in Washington, D.C., which is perceived to be acquiescent to President Barack Obama's agenda and against their economic interests.

Unbridled illegal immigration and trade deals such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership - which Trump has come out squarely against - are seen as a threat to Americans still struggling to find work after the Great Recession.

It's not hard to understand. It's about the economy. And it's about jobs.

Consider Trump's appeal in his announcement to disaffected voters and general lashing out at politicians in Washington, D.C.: "How stupid are our leaders? How stupid are these politicians to allow this to happen? How stupid are they?"

It is this frankness and toughness that has captured voters' attention. The message is simple.

Trump is running as an outsider, and his stance against illegal immigration and against the trade deal - and the lack of action by the federal government to do anything to create jobs for Americans - provides a ready-made outlet for Republican voters who feel underrepresented.

In an interview with Breitbart News' Robert Wilde, pollster Pat Caddell reported that "the alienation among Republican voters is so high" and that conservatively "a quarter to one-third of the Republican party are hanging by a thread from bolting."

In a recent poll Caddell conducted, 84 percent of GOP voters and leaners said they were less likely to support a member of Congress who voted to use taxpayer money to implement Obama's amnesty.

Meaning, the disaffection is real. And Trump has tapped into exactly the right issue to distinguish himself from the rest of the Republican field.

And now, with Trump leading the GOP field, and with frustration over the illegal immigration issue reaching a boil, he must be contended with.

Trump has tapped into something real. Something visceral.  Which to an entrenched GOP establishment that cannot control him, poses a very real danger to their power.

Initially, the response to Trump was to dismiss, mock, and ignore his populist message on trade and immigration. But that won't work anymore. It even seemed to help him. Love him or hate him, Trump means business.



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

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


29 July, 2015

Your poverty is in your brain

We sort of knew that already.  The correlation between low IQ and poverty is well-attested. The latest journal article below however takes the story a bit further in that it identifies which brain regions are responsible.  Certain areas of poor people's brains are actually shrunken! The authors seem to have frightened themselves by their boldness, however, as they have tacked a totally illogical conclusion on to their findings.

If poverty is a result of the shrunken brain you were born with, does it not follow that there is not much you can do about it?  The authors below avoid that conclusion.  Instead they say that poor households "should be targeted for additional resources aimed at remediating early childhood environments".   An hereditary problem can be fixed by changing the environment?  That's a pretty good Non Sequitur as far as I can see.

It's not totally daft in that genetics accounts for only about two thirds of IQ.  There are some other influences that have an effect.  But all the research shows that family environment is NOT part of those other influences on IQ.   It's jarring but that is what all the twin studies show. So the hairy lady and her colleagues below are just ignoring the evidence.  But they need to in order to sound nicely Leftist about it all.

Footnote:  The authors of course avoid the term "IQ" like the plague but the standardized tests  of  academic achievement they used are little more than IQ tests and correlate highly with acknowledged measures of IQ.  So their findings show that IQ, income and brain development all cluster together.

Association of Child Poverty, Brain Development, and Academic Achievement

By Nicole L. Hair et al.


Importance:  Children living in poverty generally perform poorly in school, with markedly lower standardized test scores and lower educational attainment. The longer children live in poverty, the greater their academic deficits. These patterns persist to adulthood, contributing to lifetime-reduced occupational attainment.

Objective:  To determine whether atypical patterns of structural brain development mediate the relationship between household poverty and impaired academic performance.

Design, Setting, and Participants:  Longitudinal cohort study analyzing 823 magnetic resonance imaging scans of 389 typically developing children and adolescents aged 4 to 22 years from the National Institutes of Health Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study of Normal Brain Development with complete sociodemographic and neuroimaging data. Data collection began in November 2001 and ended in August 2007. Participants were screened for a variety of factors suspected to adversely affect brain development, recruited at 6 data collection sites across the United States, assessed at baseline, and followed up at 24-month intervals for a total of 3 periods. Each study center used community-based sampling to reflect regional and overall US demographics of income, race, and ethnicity based on the US Department of Housing and Urban Development definitions of area income. One-quarter of sample households reported the total family income below 200% of the federal poverty level. Repeated observations were available for 301 participants.

Exposure  Household poverty measured by family income and adjusted for family size as a percentage of the federal poverty level.

Main Outcomes and Measures:  Children's scores on cognitive and academic achievement assessments and brain tissue, including gray matter of the total brain, frontal lobe, temporal lobe, and hippocampus.

Results:  Poverty is tied to structural differences in several areas of the brain associated with school readiness skills, with the largest influence observed among children from the poorest households. Regional gray matter volumes of children below 1.5 times the federal poverty level were 3 to 4 percentage points below the developmental norm (P less than .05). A larger gap of 8 to 10 percentage points was observed for children below the federal poverty level (P less than .05). These developmental differences had consequences for children's academic achievement. On average, children from low-income households scored 4 to 7 points lower on standardized tests (P less than .05). As much as 20% of the gap in test scores could be explained by maturational lags in the frontal and temporal lobes.

Conclusions and Relevance:  The influence of poverty on children's learning and achievement is mediated by structural brain development. To avoid long-term costs of impaired academic functioning, households below 150% of the federal poverty level should be targeted for additional resources aimed at remediating early childhood environments.

JAMA Pediatr. Published online July 20, 2015. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2015.1475


The Different Social Visions of Liberals and Conservatives

Excerpt from the Heritage Foundation's 2015 Index of Culture and Opportunity

The nature of America's political and policy debates can sometimes foster a profound misun-derstanding of the nature of American society-and indeed of all human societies. To make challenges easier to understand and address, people divide pol-itics into discrete "issues" and try to take them up individually. There are education debates, welfare debates, and entitlement debates. There are infra-structure bills and immigration bills and defense bills. There is a health care system and a financial system and a transportation system.

Dividing up public affairs in this way presents each "issue" as a distinct set of problems in search of a distinct set of solutions, and political debates pro-ceed as arguments about the nature of the problems and the desirability of various proposed solutions in each case.

This is a sensible way to think about a lot of the challenges America faces, but it is inadequate when it comes to the most important and most difficult challenges-those that have to do with the underly-ing health and strength of the nation as a whole and therefore with the prerequisites for human flourish-ing, for prosperity, for opportunity, and for liberty in this country.

Americans have clearly had the sense in recent years that the country is in some trouble on this front-that too many of our fellow citizens are denied the opportunity to lead flourishing lives, that prosperity and economic mobility are too often out of reach, and that the liberty that gives meaning and substance to the American Dream is in danger.

Thinking about these broadest and deepest of our public problems brings out most powerfully some of the key differences between conservatives and lib-erals in America. The left and the right think about society in different ways.

For conservatives, a society is ultimately and above all an intergenerational compact-a kind of sacred trust across time-for the protection of fun-damental natural rights and the advancement of essential human goods. We the living members of American society are graced with a magnificent inheritance and are entrusted to preserve and refine its strengths, to work to mitigate its weaknesses, and to pass it along in even better condition to those who will come after.

Conservatives understand society as an organic outgrowth-a kind of sum and sub-stance-of a set of social arrangements that begin in loving family attachments, spread outward into per-sonal commitments and relationships in civil soci-ety and local communities, reach further outward toward broader state and regional affinities, and conclude in a national identity that among its fore-most attributes is dedicated to the principle of the equality of the entire human race.

Society is thus like a set of concentric rings, begin-ning with the most concrete and personal of human connections and concluding with the most abstract and philosophical of human commitments. Each ring, starting from the innermost sanctum of the family and the individuals who compose it, anchors and enables the next and is in turn protected by it and given the room to thrive. The outermost ring of society is guarded and sustained by the national gov-ernment, which is charged with protecting the space in which the entire society can thrive-the space between the individual and the nation as a whole, the space occupied by society. This means that it must neither invade that space nor allow it to collapse.

How liberals understand the nature of society

Liberals proceed from a rather different general understanding of the nature of society. The left's social vision tends to consist of individuals and the state so that, essentially, all common action is ulti-mately government action. On this view, the govern-ment's purpose is to liberate individuals from mate-rial want and moral sway. As former Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass.. put it at the Democratic National Convention in 2012, "There are things that a civilized society needs that we can only do if we do them together, and [when] we do them together that's called government."

The mediating institutions that fill the space between the individual and the government are often viewed by the left with suspicion. They are seen as instruments of division, prejudice, and selfishness or as power centers lacking in democratic legitimacy.

Liberals have frequently sought to empower the government to undercut the influence of these insti-tutions and put in their place public programs and policies motivated by a single, cohesive understand-ing of the public interest. Their hope is to level the complex social topography of the space between the individual and the government, breaking up tightly knit clusters of citizens into individuals but then uniting all of those individuals under the national banner-allowing them to be free of family or com-munity norms while building solidarity through the common experience of living as equal citizens of a great nation.

This basic difference of social visions helps to explain why conservatives and liberals sometimes understand our society's deepest problems so differ-ently. To many liberals, who view society as a com-pact among individuals for their mutual material betterment, the persistence of entrenched pover-ty, family breakdown, social dysfunction, and poor mobility in many communities in America looks like a function of a failure to allocate resources proper-ly.

Liberals often blame these phenomena on selfish interests that they believe actively stand in the way of social progress. Their solution is to double down on the basic liberal approach to social policy: to pro-mote public programs that address economic imbal-ances through redistribution.

To conservatives, who view society as an intergen-erational compact for the preservation of the prereq-uisites for human flourishing to be advanced through the complex, layered architecture of our mediating institutions, the persistence of such daunting social problems suggests a breakdown of these core insti-tutions, especially those that are deepest and closest to the core: the family and civil society.

The importance of intergenerational obligations

Because our most important social institutions are those that are most defined by intergeneration-al obligations, our most significant social problems are often those that arise at the juncture of the gen-erations: failure of family formation, failure to meet parental obligations, failure to protect the very youngest and the very oldest-the most innocent and vulnerable among our fellow citizens.

Because freedom is ultimately made possible by and exists for the sake of our most direct and person-al commitments, the greatest challenges to liberty are challenges to the freedom of action of our insti-tutions of civil society-challenges that are often advanced under the banner of liberating individuals but that actually take the form of restricting dissent and constraining expression and action (as we have seen of late, for instance, in some prominent public battles over religious liberty).

Because liberals tend to ignore the significance of much that happens at the juncture of the genera-tions and much that is done by our mediating insti-tutions, they often find themselves perplexed by the deepest and most enduring social problems we con-front-unable to explain the problems' persistence except by inventing scapegoats to blame and incapa-ble of addressing them except by frantically moving money around in the hope of finding just the right balance of payments to heal our society.

Conservatives, on the other hand, know that explaining the persistence of entrenched, intergen-erational poverty-despite half a century of mas-sive public programs to address it-requires tak-ing into account the interconnectedness of the generations and the institutions that make up com-munities. Conservatives blame neither any malice of the wealthy and powerful nor any failure of will among the poor, but instead the intrinsic inclination of all human beings to fall into self-serving apathy or self-defeating vice in the absence of sound social institutions and norms.

Conservatives understand that material poverty and spiritual disorder exac-erbate one another in an ever-intensifying spiral of misery that can be broken only by material support and social order-a blend of aid and love that must be delivered in person. A true social safety net has to involve more than a government check.

That is why liberals seeking to describe the most significant challenges our country now confronts tend to resort to abstract portraits of inequality while conservatives point to the key indicators of social health and human flourishing-that is, to the state of American families and of civil society.

That is what this index does and why it does it. The institutions it tracks are those that fill the space between the individual and the state: fami-lies, schools, local religious and civic institutions, and a robust free economy. The trends it follows chart the state of the core prerequisites for a flour-ishing society. The questions it asks are those that conservatives take to be essential to understanding the state of American life.

And the answers it finds are, in all too many cases, quite distressing. Family breakdown, an enervation of civil society, a dearth of educational and econom-ic opportunities, and a lack of social mobility stand in the way of far too many Americans. Not all of the trends are depressing; even some crucial ones like teen pregnancy and abortion rates are moving in the right direction. But the general picture for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged Americans is one of social and economic disadvantage building upon one another in a cycle of ruin that the nation must not abide.

This diagnosis does not come complete with neat prescriptions. Addressing America's current social and economic dysfunction will be no easy feat. But in order to try, society needs a clear picture of the challenges it confronts. That means first asking the right questions, an endeavor often thwarted by the politics of "issues" and the radical individualism that is so endemic today.


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 WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


28 July, 2015

Is milk bad for you?

EVERYTHING seems to be bad for you if you read enough in the health literature, but milk would seem pretty safe.  "New Scientist" has however just done a big article pointing out various doubts about milk.  They don't however have much in the way of actual scientific evidence against milk.  The one academic journal article they cite is below:

Milk intake and risk of mortality and fractures in women and men: cohort studies


Objective: To examine whether high milk consumption is associated with mortality and fractures in women and men.

Participants: Two large Swedish cohorts, one with 61?433 women (39-74 years at baseline 1987-90) and one with 45?339 men (45-79 years at baseline 1997), were administered food frequency questionnaires. The women responded to a second food frequency questionnaire in 1997.

Main outcome measure: Multivariable survival models were applied to determine the association between milk consumption and time to mortality or fracture.

Results: During a mean follow-up of 20.1 years, 15?541 women died and 17?252 had a fracture, of whom 4259 had a hip fracture. In the male cohort with a mean follow-up of 11.2 years, 10?112 men died and 5066 had a fracture, with 1166 hip fracture cases. In women the adjusted mortality hazard ratio for three or more glasses of milk a day compared with less than one glass a day was 1.93 (95% confidence interval 1.80 to 2.06). For every glass of milk, the adjusted hazard ratio of all cause mortality was 1.15 (1.13 to 1.17) in women and 1.03 (1.01 to 1.04) in men. For every glass of milk in women no reduction was observed in fracture risk with higher milk consumption for any fracture (1.02, 1.00 to 1.04) or for hip fracture (1.09, 1.05 to 1.13). The corresponding adjusted hazard ratios in men were 1.01 (0.99 to 1.03) and 1.03 (0.99 to 1.07). In subsamples of two additional cohorts, one in males and one in females, a positive association was seen between milk intake and both urine 8-iso-PGF2? (a biomarker of oxidative stress) and serum interleukin 6 (a main inflammatory biomarker).

Conclusions: High milk intake was associated with higher mortality in one cohort of women and in another cohort of men, and with higher fracture incidence in women. Given the observational study designs with the inherent possibility of residual confounding and reverse causation phenomena, a cautious interpretation of the results is recommended.


This is very weak evidence of anything, as the authors admit in their final sentence.  Let me spell it out:  The milk-consumption data is from a self-report questionnaire rather than any actual observations or  measurements -- and such data is notoriously subject to social desirability influences, among other distortions. 

There are two possibilities:  1). Sickly people drink a lot of milk in the belief that it is good for them; 2). Sickly people SAY they drink a lot of milk in the belief that they SHOULD do that.  Either way the sickliness probably came first, not the milk drinking.  So sickliness caused milk drinking rather than milk drinking caused sickliness.  It could go either way and we do not know which way. The study, in other words, did not advance our knowledge of the matter at all.  There is still no reason to think that milk is bad for you.


Trump as Rorschach Test

by Roger L Simon

Fox News owes Donald Trump a bazillion dollars.  He has single-handedly transformed their broadcast of the first Republican presidential debate on August 6 ó normally a routine event almost a year and a half out from an election and of significant interest only to political junkies ó into a coup de television equivalent to Caitlyn Jenner appearing nude on 60 Minutes.  Who wouldnít want to watch?

Trump has become a kind of Rorschach test for all of us.  He certainly has for me.  I end up changing my opinion of him about every twenty minutes. (I donít call this site ďDiary of Mad VoterĒ for nothing.)  Like a Rorschach ink blot, sometimes heís a monster hurtling toward me,  moments later a smiling pussycat with a wink.  (Well, not quite that.) Again, as with Rorschach tests, much of my reaction is really me projecting.  We project on The Donald, who is, after all, a prototypical American character ripped from the pages of Sinclair Lewis or Scott Fitzgerald, the Great Gatsby running for president. He is the object of our secret dreams, marrying ever younger while making billions and living as large as anyone could imagine.  Who will play him in the movie? (Bring back Jack Nicholson in a carrot top!)

Not only does he suck all the oxygen out of the room, he sucks it out of the galaxy.  He makes all the other candidates vanish. Only Walker and Bush are registering in the latest polls and theyíre double-digits behind Donald.   Did you know John Kasich declared today?  (Who? What? ZzzzÖ.) The real news of the day was Trump giving out Lindsey Grahamís personal cell phone number after Graham called him an idiot ó or was it the other way around? With The Donald it doesnít matter.  Hold on a moment and the opposite will happen.

What do I think of him now, at this very moment, typing this, subject to change as that is in the next thirty-eight seconds?  I say ó bring it on!  Why not Donald?  We could do worse. Indeed, we have much worse. To say Iíd prefer Donald to Madam Rodham doesnít mean much (Iíd prefer anyone in the phone book), but just imagining a Hillary-Trump head-to-head makes me giggle.  Has there ever been a spectacle like that in American politics?  Not during the television era.  My dream mano-a-mano (or should I say mana-a-mana?) would have been Hillary-Carly, but if Iím not going to get that, Hillary-Donald will more than suffice.  Indeed, it may prove to be the greatest reality show ever made and I wouldnít bet against Donald winning. And I wouldnít bet against him running as a third party candidate either should he not get the Republican nomination.

My greater concern is that he would get bored being president and go off to build a hotel in Macao.  But then, he wouldnít be the first.  Obama seems bored half the time ó and the other half of the time heís playing golf.

So, itís been thirty-eight seconds.  How do I stand on The Donald now?  Up?  Down?  Sideways? In between?  Hedging my bets?  Eeny-meeny-miny-moe?Ö Okay, yes.  Heís fine for now.  Tomorrow is, of course, another day.  And another scandal.



Did Obama Just Provoke a Constitutional Crisis?

Don't underestimate the threat to our rule of law that he just created by bringing the Iran deal to the UN without Congressional approval

President Obamaís decision to submit the Iranian nuclear deal to the United Nation Security Council before Congress has had their 60 days to review it could be as problematic for Congress as making a judgment on the deal itself.

Congress felt its responsibilities were already being usurped when they learned the Iranian deal would be treated as an agreement rather than a treaty. In response to widespread protest, the White House had to permit the agreement to be submitted to both houses of Congress for approval. Yet fearing that a negative vote ó certain in the House ó would occur, the administration decided to go to the UN immediately. This makes any congressional veto useless; the provisions of the agreement almost impossible to turn back.

Yesterday, the UN Security Council unanimously passed a resolution endorsing the Iranian deal. The 15-0 vote, the Times of Israel reports, ďclears one of the largest hurdles for the landmark pact, which will now go before the U.S. Congress where it may face an uphill battle for confirmation.Ē

Only after it was a done deal did U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power choose to raise the issue of Iranís continuing human rights violations. These were studiously avoided during the negotiations, when the U.S. had leverage.

Now, like bringing the deal to Congress, this is all for show.

This brings to mind an episode from the 20th century, when an American president similarly sought to force Congress to accept a mechanism for guiding foreign policy that would be determined not by the United States, but by the international community. After World War I, another ďprogressive,Ē President Woodrow Wilson, sought to limit Americaís sovereignty when he insisted that the Treaty of Versailles incorporate the creation of a League of Nations. The victorious powers at the Versailles Peace Conference then merged the League Covenant and the terms of peace in one single package.

When he brought the treaty home for Congressís approval, which was needed because it was a treaty, Wilson insisted that the heart of it was Article X of the Leagueís Covenant ó which he had helped to draft. Article X, he insisted, would put an end to aggression and to war. It read as follows:

The members of the League undertake to respect and preserve as against external aggression the territorial integrity and existing political independence of all Members of the League. In case any such aggression or in case of any threat or danger of such aggression the Council shall advise upon the means by which this obligation shall be fulfilled.

Instead of the approval he expected, he faced resistance. In March of 1919, Wilson met with members of both the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where he was asked whether joining the League under the terms of Article X would infringe upon American sovereignty. It suggested that if a League member nation was attacked, America would be obligated to defend it, even though it would not be in the national interest to do so. Senate Republican leader Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts pointed out that the United States had no obligation to preserve the territorial integrity of another nation unless it was authorized by Congress.

Wilson was also attacked by radical isolationists like Sen. William Borah of Idaho, who argued that the League was not revolutionary enough, and was a mechanism for imperialist European powers to control the fate of the world.

Much to Wilsonís shock and consternation, when the Senate voted, American membership was defeated because of unity between the conservatives and isolationists, both of whom ó for different reasons ó did not sanction American membership in the newly created world organization. Although Lodge had created ďreservations,Ē especially in regard to Article X, which if Wilson had accepted would have led to a vote for U.S. membership, he refused Ėhe demanded acceptance of Article X as it was.

The Senate vote in November 1919 was 39 for and 55 against on acceptance of the treaty with reservations. A second vote, on acceptance of the treaty without any reservations, was 38 for and 52 against. A third vote in March 1920 was held, and the treaty was rejected 49 to 35, hence not receiving the two-thirds majority that was necessary for ratification.

President Barack Obamaís action is not exactly analogous to what Woodrow Wilson faced because he was presenting a treaty, but even so, Congress is not taking it lying down. On July 17, House whip Steny H. Hoyer and Sen. Ben Cardin wrote a letter to President Obama urging that the Security Council vote be delayed until after Congress has reviewed the agreement. Secretary of State John Kerry has fueled congressional anger, as Walter Russell Mead pointed out, by boasting:

[B]y having the Iran deal incorporated in a UN Security Council resolution, President Obama could tie the hands of future presidents, legally obligating them to abide by the Councilís resolution.

Thus, Cardin told the press:

Acting on it at this stage is a confusing message to an independent review by Congress over these next 60 days. So I think it would be far better to have that vote after the 60-day review, assuming that the agreement is not effectively rejected by Congress.

President Obama and Secretary Kerry did what they wanted, ignoring the two senatorsí bi-partisan letter.  They went to the UN for the favorable vote they knew it would get.

The visible ignoring of the will of Congress, whose voice represents the people, will be resented by both Congress and constituents at home. As Walter Russell Mead puts it:

ďThere is precious little doubt that the Founders would have considered this a threat to the system of checks and balances they wrote into the Constitution.Ē

He believes President Obama may be creating a very real constitutional crisis. After all, he has set the precedent for the future, in which any president could act in a similar manner by getting UN approval rather than going to the Congress and by calling any foreign policy deal an agreement rather than a treaty.

If Obama was smart, he would have restrained from rushing to submit the agreement to the UN. By going to the UN, he will be giving recalcitrant members of Congress more of an incentive to turn it down altogether



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

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


27 July, 2015

Nothing great about the welfare state

In "The Welfare of Nations", the decade-later follow-up to his "The Welfare State Weíre In", James Bartholomew Ė former leader writer for the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail Ė takes us on a tour of the worldís welfare states.

Itís fair to say he isnít a fan. He argues that the welfare state undermines old values and Ďcrowds outí both our inner resourcefulness and our sense of duty to one another Ė including our own families. Instead of aspiring to be self-reliant, the welfare state makes us self-absorbed. People arenít encouraged to exercise responsibility anymore; instead, they are handed a plethora of Ďrightsí. Welfare states Ďhave diminished our civilisationí, Bartholomew concludes.

The welfare state has always been a problematic entity, from its modern beginnings in the nineteenth century with Bismarckís cynical Ďstate socialismíĖ built as much to placate the increasingly politically active masses as to attend to their welfare Ė to the vast systems maintaining millions of economically inactive citizens across the world today. The welfare state, as its advocates contend, always promises a better society, with higher levels of equality, but, as Bartholomew counters, it also tends to foster unemployment, Ďbroken familiesí and social isolation.

Some versions of the welfare state are better than others. Wealthy Switzerland has a low unemployment rate despite generous social insurance-based benefits. But, at the same time, the Swiss state imposes tough conditions: thereís no minimum wage and workers can be fired on the spot. Swedenís benefit system is generous, too, but if you canít afford the rent on a property, you have to move out.

In the UK, matters are equally complex. For instance, shared-ownership schemes, Ďaffordable housingí and planning regulations contribute to distinctly unaffordable house prices. Indeed, housing costs have risen from 10 per cent of average UK household income in 1947 to over 25 per cent. For the poorest sections of society, it is worse still. This is despite the fact that the state subsidises dysfunctional, workless households on bleak public housing estates.

And what of state education? Nearly one-in-five children in OECD countries is functionally illiterate. The best performing advanced countries have autonomous schools, Ďhigh stakesí exams, quality teachers and a culture of discipline and hard work. Compare that to the US, where you canít get rid of bad unionised teachers in the state schools.

Bartholomew convincingly argues that state schoolsí Ďshamefulí inadequacy, for all the rhetoric to the contrary, breeds inequality. He fears that the success of the free- and charter-school movement is at risk, too, from Ďcreeping government controlí. Bartholomew is upfront about his own old-fashioned conservative views. Heís a kind of evidence-based Peter Hitchens, using Ďbundles of academic studiesí to show what he suspected of the welfare state all along. The care of Ďstrangersí, he argues, is bad for children and aged parents alike, and damages the social fabric. Over half of Swedish children are born to unmarried mothers, whereas the family in Italy, he says approvingly, is Ďthe main source of welfareí, with charity-run Ďfamily housesí (no flats or benefits) for single mothers. At a time when Conservatives arenít really very conservative, it takes Bartholomew to ask important questions about social change.

Again, southern Europe offers a useful contrast to the situation in northern Europe. Over half of single people aged 65 or over in Italy, Portugal and Spain live with their children. Just three per cent of single Danes do. Should individual autonomy trump the burden of caring for children and family members? What role should the state play? UK social workers are office-based, writes Bartholomew, and contracted care workers follow Ďrules rather than doing things from an impulse of loving careí.

By 2050 over a third of the European population will be aged over 60. Even though the age at which people are eligible for pensions is increasing, state pensions canít be sustained, says Bartholomew. In Poland, Greece and Italy, pensions account for more than a quarter of public spending. The UK spends nine per cent of its national income on healthcare, the US an insurance-fuelled 18 per cent, and Singapore just five per cent (though Singapore has to put twice that into Ďpersonalí health-savings accounts). ĎWealth leads to better healthcareí, says Bartholomew, but the monopolistic UK system, despite the NHSís officially cherished status, is one of the worst of the advanced countries for health outcomes, including, for example, cancer-survival rates. ĎObamacareí notwithstanding, millions of uninsured Americans Ė neither poor enough for Medicaid nor old enough for Medicare Ė struggle to pay for healthcare.

Democracies, says Bartholomew, are susceptible to the fantasy that welfare states can solve our problems without consequence or cost. This is despite US public spending increasing from seven per cent of GDP in 1900 to 41 per cent of GDP in 2011. In 2012, France revealed that public spending accounted for 57 per cent of its GDP.

But itís Bartholomewís critique of the wider welfare culture, rather than his carps at benefits systems, which provides an important corrective to what can be a narrow and mean-spirited discussion. He also offers practical solutions: letís increase housing supply but abolish public housing; letís have a system of Ďco-paymentí for healthcare between state and individual; letís allow schools and hospitals to compete in markets; and letís give individuals the opportunity to save and insure themselves to pay for social-care needs and pensions (albeit through Singapore-style compulsory bank accounts).

So what do we do with the welfare state? As Bartholomew puts it, the welfare state, rather than capitalism or communism, was Ďthe ultimate victor of the turmoil of the twentieth centuryí. But Bartholomew makes clear that this is a hollow victory with many millions left idle and communities undermined. So yes, letís cut the welfare state down to size and stop infantilising its dependants. But we also need to get more ambitious than Bartholomew allows. He thinks itís too late to get our freedoms back and argues for a minimal Ďwelfareí state only. But why stop there? If the architects of the welfare state have anything to teach us, it is to be bolder in our visions.



Another Assault On Your Fourth Amendment Rights

In his latest piece on the Fourth Amendment in The American Thinker our colleague constitutional lawyer Mark J. Fitzgibbons details how the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has appropriated the power to seize medical records on 'Fishing Expedition' investigations with no subpoena from a judge.

A United States District Court judge in Texas has ruled for the Drug Enforcement Agency that an administrative subpoena may be used to search medical records. It was inevitable, says Fitzgibbons, given the march towards illegally nullifying the Fourth Amendment through use of these judge-less bureaucrat warrants authorized by Congress.

Administrative subpoenas are issued unilaterally by government agencies -- meaning without approval by neutral judges -- and without probable cause stated under oath and affirmation as required by the Fourth Amendment. According to Fitzgibbons there are now 336 federal statutes authorizing administrative subpoenas, according to the Department of Justice.

The latest case illustrative of the institutionalization of violations of the Fourth Amendment to draw Fitzgibbonsí attention is U.S. v Zadeh.

In Zadeh, the DEA obtained the records of 35 patient files without showing probable cause or obtaining a warrant issued by a judge. Citing New Deal-era case law, Judge Reed OíConnor noted that ď[t]he Supreme Court has refused to require that [a federal] agency have probable cause to justify issuance of an administrative subpoena,Ē and that they may be issued ďmerely on suspicion that the law is being violated, or even just because it wants assurance that it is not." (Emphasis added).

In other words, the government may now use ďfishing expeditionsĒ for medical records concludes Fitzgibbons.

Those constitutionally grotesque New Deal-era decisions violated the Fourth Amendment on its face, and were ideological, progressive foolishness when issued against the likes of the Morton Salt Company in 1950 said Fitzgibbons.

Dr. Zadeh has filed an appeal notes Fitzgibbons. Conservative activist Andy Schlafly, the lawyer for the Association of American Physicians & Surgeons, has filed an amicus brief stating, ď[w]ithout a warrant and without initially identifying themselves, federal agents searched patient medical records . . . based merely on a state administrative subpoena. A month later the [DEA] sought enforcement . . . [and n]one of the checks and balances against overreaching by one branch of government existed for this warrantless demand for medical records.Ē

A 1946 Supreme Court opinion used in the Zadeh case to justify warrantless searches of medical records received a scathing and prescient dissent by liberal Justice Frank Murphy notes Fitzgibbons.

Murphy wrote:

To allow a nonjudicial officer, unarmed with judicial process, to demand the books and papers of an individual is an open invitation to abuse of that power. It is no answer that the individual may refuse to produce the material demanded. Many persons have yielded solely because of the air of authority with which the demand is made, a demand that cannot be enforced without subsequent judicial aid. Many invasions of private rights thus occur without the restraining hand of the judiciary ever intervening.

Only by confining the subpoena power exclusively to the judiciary can there be any insurance against this corrosion of liberty. Statutory enforcement would not thereby be made impossible. Indeed, it would be made easier. A people's desire to cooperate with the enforcement of a statute is in direct proportion to the respect for individual rights shown in the enforcement process.

Quoting the Declaration of Independence, Justice Murphy noted how such methods of searches were so contrary to liberty and law that they previously contributed to "successful revolt.Ē

Soon, says Fitzgibbons, everything will be considered within the reach of our soft-police state government in violation of the Fourth Amendment unless administrative subpoenas are outlawed, as they should have been nearly 70 years ago.

The targeting of private medical records shows that it is now far past the time to eliminate administrative subpoenas for good. Congress may do that legislatively. History also shows it can be done even by the courts, which have the authority -- actually, the constitutional duty -- to declare void acts of Congress in violation of the Constitution.



Under Obama, Blacks Are Worse Off ó Far Worse

By Larry Elder

Ninety-five percent of black voters in 2008 voted for then-Sen. Barack Obama. Surely a ďprogressiveĒ black president would care about, empathize with and understand black America in a way no other president ever has or could, right? Exit polls from Pew Research show that 63 percent of all voters Ė and 65 percent of Obama voters Ė cited the economy as the number one reason they voted for him. Iraq was a distant second at 10 percent. Even for black Obama voters, ďItís the economy, stupid.Ē

After six years, the report card is in. The grades are not pretty. By every key economic measurement, blacks are worse off under Obama. In some cases, far worse off.

What about poverty? In 2009, when Obama took office, the black poverty rate was 25.8 percent. As of 2014, according to Pew Research Center, the black poverty rate was 27.2 percent.

What about income? CNNMoney says, ďMinority households' median income fell 9 percent between 2010 and 2013, compared to a drop of only 1 percent for whites.Ē The Financial Times wrote last October: ďSince 2009, median non-white household income has dropped by almost a 10th to $33,000 a year, according to the U.S. Federal Reserveís survey of consumer finances. As a whole, median incomes fell by 5 percent. But by the more telling measure of net wealth Ė assets minus liabilities Ė the numbers offer a more troubling story.Ē

What about net worth and the black-white ďwealth gapĒ? The Financial Times said: ďThe median non-white family today has a net worth of just $18,100 Ė almost a fifth lower than it was when Mr. Obama took office. White median wealth, on the other hand, has inched up by 1 percent to $142,000. In 2009, white households were seven times richer than their black counterparts. That gap is now eightfold. Both in relative and absolute terms, blacks are doing worse under Mr. Obama.Ē Remember, these numbers apply to all ďnon-whites.Ē For blacks, itís worse.

When looking only at ďblack net worthĒ Ė which is lower compared to non-whites as a whole Ė white households are actually 13 times wealthier than black households. From 2010 to 2013, according to the Federal Reserve, white household median wealth increased a modest 2.4 percent, while Hispanic families' wealth declined 14 percent, to $13,700. But blacks' net worth fell from $16,600 to $11,000. This is an astonishing three-year drop of 34 percent. Investors Business Daily put it this way, ďThatís a steeper decline than occurred from 2007 to 2010, when blacks' net worth fell 13.5 percent.Ē The black/white ďwealth-gapĒ has reached a 25-year high.

What about unemployment? In 2009, black unemployment was 12.7 percent, and by 2014, it had fallen to 10.1 percent. This sounds like good news until one examines the black labor force participation rate Ė the percentage of blacks working or seeking work. Itís the lowest since these numbers have been recorded.

In a report for the Center for Economic and Policy Research, economist Dean Baker writes, ďThe drop in labor force participation was sharpest for African Americans, who saw a decline of 0.3 percentage points to 60.2 percent, the lowest rate since December of 1977. The rate for African American men fell 0.7 percentage points to 65.6 percent, the lowest on record. The decline in labor force participation was associated with a drop in the overall African American unemployment rate of 0.5 percentage points to 11.9, and a drop of 0.6 percentage points to 11.6 percent for African-American men.Ē Not good.

What about home ownership? According to Harvard Universityís Joint Center for Housing Studies, the picture is ugly: ďMillions of homeowners, particularly in minority and high-poverty neighborhoods, are still underwater on their mortgages, while millions more renters have been forced to live in housing they cannot afford or is structurally inadequate. And with the ongoing growth in low-income households, housing assistance reaches a shrinking share of those in need. Ö Homeownership rates have fallen six percentage points among black households Ė double that among white households. Ö More than 25 percent of mortgage homeowners in both high-poverty and minority neighborhoods were underwater Ė owing more than their homes are now worth Ė in 2013. This rate is nearly twice the shares in either white or low-poverty neighborhoods.Ē

The chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., in 2011, complained about the economic plight of Black America. He said, ďIf (former President) Bill Clinton had been in the White House and had failed to address this problem, we probably would be marching on the White House.Ē He repeated the statement 12 months later, when black unemployment stood at 14.1 percent: ďAs the chair of the Black Caucus, Iíve got to tell you, we are always hesitant to criticize the President. With 14 percent (black) unemployment, if we had a white president weíd be marching around the White House.Ē Rep. Cleaver should start marching because, to use his own words, the problems have not been addressed.

But, hey, the Confederate battle flag is down.



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

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


26 July, 2015

Blame game: stop the moaning and do something yourself

The advice below was intended for Australians but is just as relevant to America. It fits well with a conservative emphasis on the individual

I have an idea. Itís a bold idea. You may not like it but I do. I really like it. I like it a lot. Hereís my idea.

You know how the economy is tanking? And unemployment is rising? And we seem to be losing whole industries to globalisation or digital disruption every week? And you know how the usual response by most people is to look around and see what the government is doing about it? And then to complain vociferously that the government in general and politicians in particular arenít doing enough about it? You know all this, donít you?

Well, my bold, out there, completely off-the-wall idea is to suggest that maybe ó just maybe ó we shouldnít be sitting around a-moaniní and a-complaininí and a-tweetiní and a-festeriní among our friends about ďhow bad our lot isĒ and ďwhy doesnít the government do something about it?Ē Maybe we should try a different tack.

My idea is that we stop blaming the government and that we each take responsibility for our own situation and make things happen for ourselves. In some ways blaming the government or ďthe way society is riggedĒ is a convenient way of abrogating responsibility for our situation. I mean, if I can blame someone else for my lot in life then I donít have to look at my own failings or lack of application or, most confronting, lack of ability, do I? Because if my situation is someone elseís fault I can demand, indignantly, that the government do something.

I know this isnít what you want to hear but itís the truth. Oh, I know that governments have their fair share of show-ponies and incompetents but, really, thatís probably a fair representation of the Australian people, right? I mean, to vote in one lot of incompetents is unfortunate; to do so time and time again actually reflects on the competence of the electorate or more likely it reflects the fact this lot probably does represent who we are as a nation.

I am not suggesting there arenít people in genuine need who shouldnít be helped. Although I am sure this is precisely how some may restate my bold idea.

The problem is that a culture has emerged whereby pretty well everyone thinks theyíre entitled to something, anything, everything, from government. Whatever happened to pride in self-sufficiency? Whatever happened to the ideal of a nation of self-made individuals?

But my outrageous, heretical idea goes further. Look away now if you are a tad precious and have an inflated sense of entitlement because what I am about to say will not go down so well with you.

I think that instead of moaning and complaining and looking at whoís got what we should be building stronger, more resilient and better connected communities.

These are fine words, but hereís the rub: it actually requires a fundamental shift in the way we think as a people and operate as a society.

Hereís what you can do right now. Stop moaning and get on with it. Make the best of your situation. Study hard and work harder. Be positive. Be enterprising. Build good relationships. Donít do drugs. And stop whingeing about politicians like some cargo cult waiting for someone else to deliver better outcomes for you personally.

I said you wouldnít like it, but I have to say I do feel better for having said it.



Republicans fight back against HUD rule to redraw your neighborhood

In July 2015, the Obama administration via the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) finalized a rule that will force local communities to build evenly distributed neighborhoods based on income and race.

In 2012, HUD dispersed about $3.8 billion of these grants to almost 1,200 municipalities. To continue receiving those grants, zoning plans will now need federal approval that they met with the governmentís racial guidelines.

According to the rule, ďThis final rule, and Assessment Tools and guidance to be issued, will assist recipients of Federal funding to use that funding and, if necessary, adjust their land use and zoning laws in accordance with their existing legal obligation to affirmatively further fair housing [emphasis added].Ē

But what about local jurisdiction over zoning matters? HUD is saying forget about that, they know better, and that your communityís zoning plan might be discriminatory because if it has too many nice homes to live in that poor minorities cannot afford.

Yet, this has nothing to do with housing discrimination, which has been illegal since the 1960s. Local rules only determine what can be built where, not who can live in a community.

Not everyone can afford to live in every community due to high demand for housing in certain areas. Home values are determined by market forces, not racism.

That is why House Republicans are fighting back. In June, it passed an amendment by U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) to the Transportation and HUD appropriations bill that would bar the department from using any funds to carry out the rules.

But defunds only last for the duration of the fiscal year. Meaning, a more permanent solution will be needed.

To that end, Gosar is also offering H.R. 1995, the ďLocal Zoning and Property Rights Protection Act of 2015,Ē which will block the HUD rule, and any successor rule that substantially similar, from ever being implemented. The legislation already has 22 cosponsors as of July 23.

Now reports from Capitol Hill state that Gosar will be requesting committee hearings be held as soon as possible on the legislation and the rule.

In the meantime, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), is expected to be offering similar legislation on the Senate side.

Everyone knows President Barack Obama will veto stand-alone legislation against the bill. But the Republican majorities in the House and Senate should put it on his desk anyway, and force Democrats to sustain his veto. Hold as many votes as possible on the issue, and then make it a campaign issue in 2016.

But the issue is not merely for political fodder.

There is another real fight that can occur in the continuing resolution and/or omnibus fights at the end of the fiscal year. While Obama would certainly veto a stand-alone bill that stops the rule, it is much less likely he would veto the entire budget if it included the Gosar defund to stop it.

And with the fiscal yearís end on Sept. 30 fast approaching, there is little time for members to lose in making certain that defunding the HUD rule is in the discussion that occurs between House and Senate negotiators.

Otherwise, members might have to explain why they provided the funds for the neighborhood rezoning rule to be implemented. Like funding executive amnesty or Obamacare, this will not be an issue members want to get on the wrong side of their constituents on.



Ted Cruz unleashed on illegal immigration

As a Senate hearing on Tuesday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) 100% vaporized the head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Sarah Saldana, on the subject of the Obama administration routinely releasing illegal immigrants who are convicted felons rather than deporting them. Via RCP:

    CRUZ: In the year 2014, how many criminal illegal aliens did the Obama administration release?

    SALDANA: In 2014 it was a little over 30,000.

    CRUZ: How many murderers?

    SALDANA: Sir, I canít remember the number right now, but I know we had the statistic that was said earlierÖ but I canít provide you the exact numberÖĒ

    CRUZ: How many rapists?

    SALDANA: Umm. I am not sure right now.

    CRUZ: How many drunk drivers?

    Yesterday, how many murderers with the Obama administration release?

    SALDANA: I canít answer that question. I want the American people to know and understand our job and our mission. We donít release people willy nilly. Ö

    SEN. TED CRUZ: I want to know that your testimony here, on how many criminals ICE released in 2013, you were off by a factor of three. You said 30,000. The correct answer is 104,000. There were 68,000 criminal illegal aliens that ICE declined to begin deportation proceedings against. Despite the fact, that as Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) observed the federal law that you are holding up there says they ďshallĒ be deported.

    The Obama admin refused to deport them. That is 68,000. In addition to that there are 30,000 in deportation proceedings with criminal proceedings that the Obama administration released. I would note that among those were 193 murderers with homicide convictions. 426 people with sexual assault convictions. 16,000 criminal illegal aliens with drunk driving convictions released by this administration because they refuse to follow the law.

    SALDANA: Sir, those numbers, I am looking straight at them. You asked me I thought about 2014. That is 30,558. And the good news is, at least it went down from 2013, when it was 36,007.

    CRUZ: But you are omitting the 68,000 criminal illegal aliens that ICE did not begin deportation proceedings against at all. Youíve got to add both of those together, it is over 100,000.

    SALDANA: Yes, sir, that is absolutely right, all pursuant to the statute that the Congress has outlinedÖ

    CRUZ: There are too many politicians in Washington that talk a good game but donít act. If you want to honor Josh [Wilkerson], if you want to honor Kate Steinle, start enforcing the law and stop releasing murderers, and rapists, and drunk driversÖ

Rather than condemning Donald Trump, at least one candidate to be our nominee is talking about issues that really matter.

All I can say there is so much awesome here that I donít know where to begin.



Britain's  dumb Left

Britain's Left is looking for a new leader.  The frontrunner so far is Jeremy Corbyn, an angry Marxist who basically knows nothing.  All he has is hate

We will admit to being fascinated by the coming car crash that is the Labour leadership competition. While weíre intensely political here, weíre not party political. But we do think that perhaps a slightly closer connection with reality might be in order. Hereís Jeremy Corbynís latest policy idea:

ďUnder these plans Labour 2020 will make large reductions in the £93 billion of corporate tax relief and subsidies.

ďThese funds can be used to establish a National Investment Bank to head a multi-billion pound programme of infrastructure upgrades and support for high-tech and innovative industries."

That £93 billion comes from a paper discussed here. That £93 billion also has no connection to this universe that we inhabit. But despite a certain amount of to and fro between the reportís author and your current humble scribe it simply was not possible to convince that reportís author that depreciation is not a subsidy to business.

He really is under the impression that capital allowances mean that the government buys stuff for companies to use: rather than just not taxes them on the money they use to buy them  -- for the obvious reason that companies are taxed upon their profits. And the cost of buying something to use to make stuff is obviously a cost of business.

Yet only a couple of weeks after the publication of a report of such obvious fatuity weíve got it as the cornerstone for a national economic policy after the next election.

All most amusing but we might recommend just a slightly closer connection with reality.



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

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


24 July, 2015

Will Trump trump them all?

Donald Trump has surged to the top of the Republican presidential field on the strength of his unpredictable and unforgiving rhetoric toward his own GOP running mates.

Now the question for the other candidates is how to avoid letting Trump turn the first Republican debate on August 6 into yet another platform that he dominates, which could let him consolidate his lead even more.

Trump's ability to climb the ladder has shocked not only his Republican foes, but also those in the media, who are now struggling to figure out how Trump will factor in the debate that many other candidates are hoping can be less about Trump, and more about them for a change.

One major issue is whether Trump, who is quick to interrupt and publicly insult any critic as a "loser" or "idiot," will adhere to traditional (though loosely defined) presidential debate decorum. Some say it just won't happen.

Washington Post politics blogger Chris Cillizza wrote in June that the "lack of rule-following" by Trump "will ensure that Trump is a big part of any story written of the debates or any other forum where multiple presidential candidates are present." He called Trump the "car-accident candidate."

It's possible that the debate moderators can control Trump. Fox anchors Chris Wallace, Bret Baier and Megyn Kelly, all seasoned TV anchors, are confirmed to moderate the debate.

But some implied it's going to be a difficult job.  "I mean, that's going to be up to Fox," said ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl, who was recently cut off by President Obama when he attempted to ask a Trump-related question. "They've got the first debate. But clearly [Trump] will be in that debate. He's a declared candidate. And he's leading in several of the polls. You can't really ignore him, can you?"

In a column for the Independent Journalism Review, Republican strategist Rick Wilson, a Trump detractor, said the real estate maven "is a man who loves the snide ad hominem" and is almost certain to engage in personal attacks on the debate stage.

An aide to one of the leading Republican presidential campaigns, speaking on condition of anonymity, questioned whether the debate would be all about Trump taking on his current main rival: Jeb Bush.

"Jeb Bush has been Trump's top target and it will be interesting to see how Bush handles the sharp attacks on the debate stage," she said. "Will Jeb Bush be in a position to have to respond to all of Donald Trump's lines of attack?"

Since announcing his candidacy in June, Trump headlines have saturated almost every news cycle, starting with his controversial comment about many illegal immigrants being "rapists," and his more recent off-the-cuff remark that seemed to question John McCain's status as a "war hero."

On Tuesday, Ohio Gov. John Kasich became the 16th Republican to jump into the race. The announcement was almost completely overshadowed by a news conference by Trump, during which he held up a piece of paper that showed the cell phone number for Lindsey Graham, another GOP presidential candidate who has called Trump a "jackass."  "He doesn't seem like a very bright guy," Trump said of Graham.

The media's attention to Trump has been to the detriment of other lesser-known candidates like Carly Fiorina, who have tried increasing their own profiles as to have a shot at a place in the first debate.



More Leftist racism

 Martin OíMalley was booed off the stage at Netroots Nation 2015 because he said ďAll lives matter.Ē He was booed off the stage because he didnít say ďBlack lives matter.Ē Saying that all lives matter is actually considered offensive to some because it apparently symbolizes white supremacy or something.

However, all lives matter. Every last one. Whether it be the unborn child that Planned Parenthood wants to treat as an old car that is only as valuable as the parts that can be salvaged to the black person who is unjustifiably killed while in police custody to a white person who is killed by an illegal immigrant (one who has been in trouble with the law several times) to the Marines killed in a terror attack on our home soil. Every one of these lives matters, no matter what the militant Left would have you believe.

There are times when minority lives are tragically cut short. There are times when white lives are tragically cut short. Are we supposed to treat one as more important as the other? Was the entire movement not to create equality among the races? Or will I simply be accused of exercising white privilege simply because I am naive enough to think we should all be treated equally under the law?

This movement that proclaims ďBlack Lives MatterĒ and shouts down anyone who says ďAll Lives MatterĒ are simply reacting to a status quo that, under Barack Obama, they assumed would be abolished. However, the fact is that the conditions under which we all live in, but especially the black community, have gotten exponentially worse. Communities are more divided than ever along racial lines, but no one is willing to address the fact that it is under the Democratic Partyís rule that they have gotten so.



Victims of Illegal Aliens Testify to Senate

Five families came to Capitol Hill Tuesday to tell lawmakers how the nationís immigration policies led to the death of their loved ones, and the Left can only play a political game. The father of Kathryn Steinle, the woman who was murdered in July by a five-time deported illegal immigrant, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, along with four other families. ďEverywhere Kate went throughout the world, she shined the light of a good citizen from the United States of America,Ē Jim Steinle said in his written statement. ďUnfortunately, due to the unjointed [sic] laws and basic incompetence of the government, the US has suffered a self-inflicted wound in the murder of our daughter by the hands of a person that should have never been on the streets of this country.Ē

The hearing coincided with a bill the committeeís chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley, introduced that would strip state or local jurisdictions of federal law enforcement grants if they continue sanctuary city policies. Furthermore, the law would require a minimum five-year jail sentence for any illegal immigrant who was previously deported but still returned.

But the Left is rallying against the effort to fix the problem. ďGood policies are made over time,Ē wrote a coalition of leftist immigration groups to Congress. Ranking member on the Judiciary Committee Sen. Patrick Leahy rebutted the families' testimonies by writing, ďWe must resist the urge to hastily adopt legislation that has the unintended consequence of making us less safe.Ē In other words, collateral damage is okay in the pursuit of Obamaís immigration vision.



What the Greeks Can Learn from the Irish

The Greeks have been on a wild roller coaster ride with more downs than ups. Voters earlier this month celebrated passage of a referendum denouncing fiscal austerity, only to see Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras agree to a financial bailout with conditions that voters would have rejected. Unfortunately, confusion surrounds Greeceís ailment and its cure. What it needs isnít austerity per se. What it needs are free-market reforms like the ones that revived Irelandís economy in the late 1980s and 1990s, according to Independent Institute Senior Fellow Benjamin W. Powell.

In the Ireland of 1986, government accounted for 55 percent of the spending in the economy, compared to 52 percent in Greece today. And like Greece, Irelandís total debt exceeded the value of its final output. But in 1987, Irelandís government got serious about reversing course. It began making significant spending cuts in healthcare, schooling, and agriculture; cut back onerous business regulations; and even abolished entire government agencies. In the 1990s, the island nation began enacting tax cuts without increasing the public debt. The economy has since attracted workers from other corners of the European Union.

ďIrelandís courageous reforms and the economic growth that accompanied them fundamentally transformed the economy by significantly reducing the burden of government,Ē Powell writes. ďGreece could make a similar transformation if it had the political will to do it.Ē



Antisemitic former General wants to Toss ĎDisloyalí Americans Into Camps

Wesley Clark was in overall command of NATO forces during the Yugoslav intervention.  He ordered a British general under his command to attack a Russian contingent who arrived without notice.  Fortunately General Sir Peter de la Billiere just laughed.  How such a lamebrain as Clark slimed his way to a senior post is a mystery -- but his Democrat sympathies probably helped.  Another thing that is probably in his favour among the Left is his derogatory comment about "New York money people". Any guesses about who they might be?

Retired general and 2004 candidate for the Democratic Partyís presidential nomination Wesley Clark has a suggestion for dealing with ďradicalizedĒ Americans: put them in camps.

The shocking statement was made Friday on MSNBC in a discussion of the terrorist attack by Mohammed Abdulazeez that killed five Marines in Chattanooga, Tennessee. It was not met with any questioning or challenge from host Thomas Roberts.

Clark was asked ďhow do we fix self-radicalized lone wolfs?Ē His response was, ďIn World War II, if someone supported Nazi Germany at the expense of the United States, we didnít say that was freedom of speech, we put him in a camp, they were prisoners of war. So, if these people are radicalized and they donít support the United States and they are disloyal to the United States as a matter of principle, fine. Thatís their right. Itís our right and itís our right and obligation to segregate them from the normal community for the duration of the conflict. And I think weíre gonna have to increasingly get tough on this.Ē

After his appearance spawned pushback from people fearing internment camps on Monday, Clark did not back down. General Clark did clarify that he never said the words ďMuslimĒ or ďinternment,Ē however.

In fact, General Clark did not use those words, but a fair listening to what he did say does leave one with that impression. What he meant, if he didnít mean internment camps, remains unknown.

General Clark was a progressive darling when he entered the 2004 Democratic Party presidential primary. As a retired general, Clark was viewed as a strong candidate against President George W. Bush in the midst of the Iraq war. He proved to be a lackluster candidate and quickly fizzled out, leading to the nomination of the current Secretary of State John Kerry.



Medical Monsters vs. Life-Giving Angels

Another week, another money-grubbing Planned Parenthood baby-parts harvester exposed.

In the second devastating installment of a three-year journalism investigation, the Center for Medical Progress on Monday released undercover video of another top abortion industry doctor haggling over the sale of ďintactĒ unborn baby parts.

Last week, the Center for Medical Progress introduced us to wine-swilling Dr. Deborah Nucatola Ė a veritable Hannibal-ina Lecter who gushed about the growing demand for aborted baby hearts and livers as she jibed and imbibed.

This weekís clip features stone-faced, bespectacled Dr. Mary Gatter Ė an Ice Queen who chillingly negotiated $100-per-specimen price tags for organs she promised would be high quality as a result of ďless crunchyĒ methods of dismembering innocent human life. Gatter, the medical director of the abortion empireís Pasadena and San Gabriel offices in California, dryly joked that she wanted a ďLamborghiniĒ for her troubles Ė after a prolonged session spouting obligatory talking points disclaiming a profit motive.

Cecile Richards, president of Planned Butcherhood, issued a feckless apology last week for the ďtoneĒ of Nucatolaís grisly business-lunch banter.

What will her excuse be for Gatter? Did the tone elves forget to fill her stocking, too?

The fundamental problem with these licensed medical providers, who greedily have turned the ďprimum non nocereĒ creed on its head under the guise of ďreproductive services,Ē is not their defective tenor. Itís their defective souls.

With more barbaric video of the Planned Butcherhood racket undoubtedly yet to come, it is worth pausing from this avalanche of evil to remind the nation that there are thousands of miracle workers in the health care industry who value life and honor their professional oath to first do no harm.

I know this firsthand as the proud daughter of a neonatologist who dedicated his life to using his medical training to save lives, not destroy them. Nowhere is the sanctity of life more vividly illustrated than in a NICU. A father in Texas wrote me with his own personal story and wanted me to share his message:

ďI read your piece (last week) regarding the monstrous doctor from Planned Parenthood. Though I have tried, I really cannot grasp the horror of the PP abattoirs or the blackness of the souls that labor within.

"I want to tell you about my familyís encounter with another place that is the antithesis of the Planned Parenthood slaughterhouse.

"My wife and I had the great misfortune three years ago of finding ourselves with two beautiful but tiny children in the Level 3 NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) at the Womanís Hospital of Texas in Houston.

"Our beautiful daughter spent the first five months of her life there, and our brave son spent the entirety of his life there, all 44 days.

"I want to tell you this, because I want to tell you about a very bright light that shines in this world, but it shines behind the wall of privacy and quarantine that is a necessary function of NICU life. The six neonatologists and all of the amazing nurses who cared for our children are some of the finest, most decent, devoted and caring people I have ever encountered.

"They work tirelessly to save every life, to give every child in their care as much of a chance as possible, and they truly do care for the Ďleast of these.í They go to work every day in a place where, in spite of all their efforts, tiny children pass away in their care. They are people who deserve to have the veil lifted from their works.

"I am sharing this with you as answer to the final paragraph of your moving piece. You ask what kind of a country we live in? I want you to know that we also live in a country that God has truly blessed with these amazing souls and hundreds more like them: Dr. Alagappan Alagappan, Dr. Talat Ahmed, Dr. Salim Bharwani, Dr. William Caplan, Dr. Peter Haney and Dr. David Simchowitz.

"In the face of evil, it is easy to see only the darkness. There are lights burning still.Ē



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

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


23 July, 2015

A Nazi salute?

The 1930's photo below is said to show the Duke of Windsor, a British Royal, giving the Nazi salute.  What rubbish!  Like a lot of elite Brits in the 30s he did see Hitler's achievements in reviving Germany as admirable but what appears below is just a Royal wave.  The Nazi salute is straight-armed.  It is true that the salute can be given carelessly in a variety of ways that are not straight-armed but that does not prove that this was a Nazi salute.  If it did, all sorts of casual waves would have to be regarded as Nazi.  Only if the Duke were found to be giving a straight-armed salute could the Nazi accusation stick

UPDATE:  A good comment from a reader:

"I agree that the Duke of Windsor is not giving the Nazi salute. If it were a Nazi salute, the Duke would be giving it as a greeting to Der Fuehrer, and if that were so, then all the other Nazis present would be giving it as well. It's just a wave to the crowd."



Gov. Brown Signs Law Ending Personal, Religious Exemptions to School Vaccine Requirements

Libertarians don't like compulsory medical treatment of any kind but in this instance the importance of "herd immunity"  in protecting newborns makes a purely libertarian stance difficult to maintain.  And most anti-vaxxers are not libertarians.  They are just egotistical "We know better" claimants who pay no regard to the balance of the evidence on the matter

Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday signed into law one of the nationís strictest childhood vaccination requirements, approving a bill that generated multiple protests and controversy as it moved through the Legislature.

Senate Bill 277, authored by Sacramento pediatrician state Sen. Richard Pan and former Santa Monica-Malibu school board president state Sen. Ben Allen, eliminates parentsí ability to claim ďpersonal beliefĒ exemptions to schoolchildrenís vaccine requirements at both private and public schools in California.

Only medical exemptions, approved by a doctor, will be allowed under the law. A licensed physician will have to write a letter explaining the childís medical circumstances that make immunization unsafe for that child.

Children who are not vaccinated must be home-schooled or participate in public school independent study. The law goes into effect July 1, 2016.

The bill was approved by the Assembly on a 46-31 vote Thursday; the amended version was approved by the state Senate, 24-14, Monday.

Brown acknowledged in a signing statement Tuesday that the bill had generated controversy, saying both sides expressed ďtheir positions with eloquence and sincerity.Ē

ďThe science is clear that vaccines dramatically protect children against a number of infectious and dangerous diseases,Ē Brown said. ďWhile itís true that no medical intervention is without risk, the evidence shows that immunization powerfully benefits and protects the community.Ē

Existing law allows unvaccinated children to attend school if their parents file a form claiming an exemption based personal beliefs ó including religion. A law authored by Pan that went into effect in 2014 required that exemption-seeking parents talk to a health care provider about vaccination benefits and risks, or that they state their membership in a religion that prohibits them seeking medical care.

In fall of 2014, 2.54 percent of kindergarteners in California had personal belief exemptions on file, down from 3.15 percent the previous year, according to state data. Pan connected the drop in exemptions from 2013 to 2014 to the requirement that parents talk to licensed health care practitioner.

In 1998, only 0.77 percent of the stateís kindergarteners had a personal belief exemption, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The bill approved Tuesday by Brown was introduced after an outbreak of measles that began at Disneyland last year and sickened some 131 Californians. The legislation prompted protests by anti-vaccination parents, often clad in red.

Opponents include the group Californians for Vaccine Choice, whose members emphasize risks related to vaccination.

ďThe passage of any bill to repeal the personal belief exemption will create an even more hostile environment for California families who donít agree with safety, efficacy, or necessity of every single dose of every single government mandated vaccine,Ē the groupís website states.

In a statement earlier this month, Dr. Pan said that the growth of opposition to vaccination was based in part on a now-retracted 1998 study that ďfalsified data to purport a link between autism and the measles vaccine.Ē

ďYears of anti-science, anti-vaccine misinformation have taken its toll on immunization rates to the point that the public is now endanger,Ē Pan said in the statement.

Pan has emphasized ďherd immunityĒ in many of his comments on the bill, saying that when immunization rates fall below 90 percent, those who cannot be vaccinated become at greater risk for infection, including infants and those with medical conditions that prevent them from being vaccinated.

A report from Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, released Tuesday, indicated that only 86 percent of the countyís kindergarteners were up to date with vaccinations in 2014, compared to 90 percent statewide.

The ďWest Service Planning AreaĒ of the county ó including largely wealthy areas such as Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Malibu, Pacific Palisades and Santa Monica ó had the highest rate of personal belief exemptions, 6.4 percent, the report indicated.



Donald Trump is winning BECAUSE he never says sorry


 ĎIt is a good rule in life never to apologize,í said the great English author P.G. Wodehouse. ĎThe right sort of people do not want apologies, and the wrong sort take a mean advantage of them.í

I think of this advice whenever I think about Donald Trump; a man for whom the words ĎIím sorryí are as unthinkable in his personal lexicon as ĎI surrenderí or ĎIím brokeí.

When Trump first entered the GOP candidate race, I predicted he would electrify the U.S. election and I warned his rivals they would underestimate him at their peril.

Here we are, four weeks later, and heís topping the Republican polls.  Not just by a small margin, but by a gigantic Trump-ego-sized margin.  You can mock him, taunt him, berate him, but you canít ignore him.

America is currently in the fevered grip of Trump mania and if you want to know why, then look no further than his point blank refusal to apologise to anyone for anything.

Every other politician, business leader or celebrity I know would have immediately, shame-facedly backtracked after he outrageously suggested that all Mexican illegal immigrants were Ďrapistsí.

Not Trump.  Instead, he doubled-down on his comments, swiftly turned them into a wider national debate on the undeniably important issue of illegal immigration in the United States, and insisted heíd win the Latino vote at the election.

You donít have to agree with him to recognise that this was a master-class in how to turn a potentially overwhelming, campaign-ending negative into a vote-winning positive.

Trump deployed the same tactic when he said Senator John McCain wasnít a real war hero because he got captured. (Although he qualified this in the same sentence by saying he might be, he wasnít sureÖand then clearly said McCain WAS a hero, several times)

Daring to question the heroism of a man who by any yardstick is a true American war hero was an extraordinarily inflammatory thing to even imply.

I know John McCain well, and respect him enormously.  He once showed me the citation that hangs on his office wall in Washington, detailing his valour in Vietnam.  Tears filled his eyes as he recounted some of what happened to him.

There is no doubt; McCain was astoundingly brave, to his own physical and psychological detriment, and deserves every plaudit.

Trump, in my opinion, was wrong to doubt that heroism, and he probably knows it, which is why he corrected himself as soon as heíd said it.

But it was also wrong of McCain to say that Trumpís supporters are a bunch of Ďcraziesí.  Trump sniped at him because McCain sniped first.

They used to be good friends. I know this because when I interviewed Trump for GQ just before the 2009 Election, he said: ĎI know John well, and I like him. We had dinner together recently.í

Now itís open war between them, and I have to admit Iím rather enjoying it Ė as I suspect is every journalist in America.

After Trumpís comments, all hell predictably broke loose. He was condemned from all sides for his Ďoutrageousí, Ďdisgustingí and Ďunpatrioticí assault on Americaís hero PoWs.  There were furious calls for him to quit the GOP race in disgrace.  He listened to them, and declined.

Politics is a rough old game and if you canít stand the heat, then get out of the DC kitchen.

Trump is straight from the Ďsmack Ďem in the eyeballsí school of political fighting.  Not for him the niceties of polite to-ing and fro-ing, of calmly debating the issues and leaving it to the American people to decide who they like best.

The best-selling of Trumpís many best-selling books is entitled ĎThink Big And Kick Ass.í

This is a man with unshakable self-confidence and quite breath-taking bravado who takes a battering ram to every point he makes and every argument he has.

As McCain demands Trump apologises to every PoW veteran in America, Trump instead attacks McCain for letting down EVERY veteran, PoW or otherwise, in America with his supposed failed involvement in policies relating to the VA.

As with the Mexican immigrants Ďscandalí, Trump has switched the debate from an unacceptable, personally offensive quip to a far larger issue.  Heís done it by simply refusing to apologise.

And again, whether you agree with Trump or not, itís hard not to admire his resolute strength and resilience under colossal fire.

America is crying out for leadership right now.  On the domestic and world stage, thereís a sense among many of the population that this once unassailable superpower is slipping behind.  President Obama is seen as weak in dealing with everyone from ISIS and Russia to China and OPEC.

Trump has tapped into that insecurity and nervousness by sounding ever more aggressive, dominant, and strong.

And itís working. A lot of Americans love the way he speaks, behaves and takes his enemies down.  And they especially like the way he never says sorry. For anything.

Thatís why heís soaring in the polls, and thatís why I think he will continue to be a hugely significant presence in this GOP race.  Particularly as he has the wealth to go on as long as he chooses.

Whether he can win the GOP nomination or not remains to be seen, but Iíd never bet against him.

Iím not an apologist for Trump, as some claim. Apart from anything else, if I were, heíd see that as weakness!

But Iíve known him a long time, I like the man personally, and itís frankly a breath of fresh air in this ever more timid, turgid PC world of ours to see a political figure speak his mind, even at the risk of offending people, and brush off the inevitable indignant clamour for slavering apologies.

Iím sorry, but Iím glad Donald Trump never says sorry.



Bad news for a lot of old folk

Millions of Britons who take vitamin D and calcium pills to prevent bone thinning may be wasting their time, scientists warn today.  There is little evidence the supplements prevent fractures Ė and they may even cause harm through kidney complications and strokes.

Researchers say the benefits of the pills may have been hugely overplayed by their manufacturers. Around a third of men and just under half of women take supplements including vitamin D and calcium, and many get them on prescription from their GP.

The pills are thought to prevent osteoporosis, the bone-thinning condition that occurs in middle age which is particularly common in women after the menopause.

Calcium is a naturally occurring mineral which helps strengthen the bones while vitamin D is thought to help the body absorb it. But several major studies published in the last decade have found no evidence that adults taking these pills are any less likely to suffer bone fractures.

Researchers say most get enough calcium in their diets anyway, mainly from dairy products, while vitamin D may not actually help our bodies absorb it. In an editorial in the BMJ Open online journal, academics from New Zealand also highlight evidence that supplements increase the risk of strokes, kidney stones and heart attacks.

They say over-65s Ďshould not have been recommendedí to take daily vitamin D supplements to prevent osteoporosis under Government guidelines in the UK and elsewhere.

Professor Andrew Grey and Professor Mark Bolland, of the Department of Medicine in the University of Auckland, point out that evidence has emerged since 2002 that such supplements Ďdo not reduce the risk of fracture and may result in harmí.

A separate BMJ Open article by researchers at Queen Mary, University of London, calls for the public to be made aware of the Ďlack of evidenceí that vitamin D does them any good. They found the number of prescriptions for vitamin D in one East London health trust had increased ten-fold in the past five years.



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

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


22 July, 2015

A Nobel prize for an ignoble deal?

by Jeff Jacoby

MOMENTS AFTER it was announced that the United States and its allies had reached a nuclear deal with Iran, the drums began beating for a Nobel Peace Prize. Carl Bildt, the former Swedish prime minister, tweeted happily: "I think the work of the Nobel Committee ... this year just got much easier." On Wednesday, a director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, an influential think tank with ties to the Nobel organization, recommended that the 2016 prize be awarded to Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

The Vienna deal is a capitulation to one of the worst regimes on Earth. Far from requiring the Iranians to dismantle their illicit nuclear program, the accord leaves almost all of it intact. In exchange for little more than a promise to delay its development of nuclear warheads, Tehran is rewarded with $150 billion in sanctions relief and, within a few years, the lifting of the UN embargo on conventional weapons and missile sales. The Islamic Republic is the world's foremost state sponsor of terrorism, yet nothing in the agreement requires any change in its notorious behavior. And despite the regime's long record of treaty violations and deceit, the deal enables it to stall for almost a month before complying with a demand for access by inspectors ó hardly the "anytime, anywhere, 24/7" inspections that the Obama administration had claimed it would insist on.

The White House wanted to sign a deal; Iran's rulers wanted to ensure their path to the bomb and nuclear legitimacy. Both got what they wanted. The consequences will be a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, more Iranian terrorism and subversion, and a greater likelihood of war.

A Nobel peace prize ó for that?

It wouldn't be the first time.

The Obama/Kerry willingness to concede anything for a nuclear deal with Iran has been likened to Neville Chamberlain's infamous Munich agreement with Adolf Hitler in 1938. Then too shameless capitulation was hailed as a triumph of peacemaking and diplomacy. Chamberlain was cheered as a hero in the press and on the street, and he won a resounding vote of confidence in Parliament. He was widely nominated for the Nobel peace prize, including by a dozen members of the Swedish parliament. Who knows ó he might have received it, had Hitler waited just a little longer before invading Czechoslovakia.

All too often the Nobel Committee has seen fit to bestow its prestigious honor on men who negotiated "peace" accords that ended up undermining peace. In 1973, the prize was awarded to Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and North Vietnam's Le Duc Tho, lead negotiators of the Paris Peace Accords that purported to end the Vietnam War. In reality the Accords paved the way for US withdrawal, effectively abandoning South Vietnam to defeat and brutal occupation by the communist North.

The Locarno treaties of 1925, now largely forgotten, settled Germany's borders with Western Europe, and were extravagantly portrayed as guaranteeing that Germany would never again violate the peace. "France and Germany Ban War Forever," cheered The New York Times, and the Nobel Committee, intoxicated with the "spirit of Locarno," awarded peace prizes to the French, British, and German foreign ministers who negotiated the deal. Yet the treaties deliberately left Germany's eastern borders open to "revision." In essence, one Polish leader remarked bitterly, "Germany was officially asked to attack the east, in return for peace in the west." The promised peace was a mere bubble. The war Locarno facilitated would prove all too bloodily real.

The Nobel Peace Prize for the Oslo Accords ó presented in 1994 to Yasser Arafat, Yitzhak Rabin, and Shimon Peres ó was another blunder that looks even worse in retrospect. A peace prize for Arafat, an arch-terrorist and hatemonger who devoted his life to the destruction of peace? It was as contemptible a choice as the Nobel Committee has ever made. Of course, there's always next year.



The Health Benefits of a Soda Tax Are Far Less Than Claimed

By William Shughart II

Imposing a tax on sugary drinks is bad policy. It doesnít solve the health problems it purports to address, creates new problems and leads to waste in the public sector. Just because the idea has gained traction among voters does not make it defensible.

First and foremost, taxing sugary drinks does not reduce purchases enough to matter. Numerous studies find that consumption is persistent, despite higher taxes. That means health benefits will be vanishingly small. Proponents point to a recent soda tax in Mexico that supposedly reduced consumption, but that study has not been peer-reviewedóthe finding was announced in a news conference, supported only by PowerPoint slides.

Taxes too low?

One important reason taxes donít cut consumption much is that the taxes are often set too low to affect behavior. Why not set them higher? That introduces other problems. Set taxes high enough, and underground markets will arise, as they have for cigarettes in New York City.

Black markets arenít the only way that people skirt high taxes. When a product becomes more expensive in one area, they simply go across the border and buy it in a neighboring spot where itís cheaper. Thatís likely why some retailers in Berkeley, Calif., which recently implemented a new soft-drink tax, did not initially pass the tax on to customers, and thus paid it out of their own pockets, according to some early reports. They feared losing business to stores in nearby cities if they charge customers the full price.

There are other reasons to reject soda taxes. Evidence is mounting that drinking diet soft drinks may be as bad asóor even worse thanósugary drinks. The human body apparently reacts the same way to artificial sweeteners as it does to ďrealĒ sugars. The pancreas pumps out insulin, but zero-calorie artificial sweeteners do not produce the energy rush that curbs appetites and satisfies cravings for sweetness. Yet these drinks arenít subject to taxes on sugary beverages.

Squandered cash

Beyond that, thereís the matter of how these taxes are used. Selective taxes on sugary drinks and other modern ďsinsĒ (junk food, fast food) are revenue engines for the public sector. But the evidence suggests very little of the revenue ends up actually improving health outcomes. And the burden of paying for these measures falls most heavily on low-income households; budget constraints narrow the range of food choices open to them.

Whatís more, wasteful rent seeking by advocates and adversaries of a selective tax can swamp its social benefits, if any. Suppose that a proposed tax is expected to raise $1 million in revenue over the medium term. Producers and retailers of soft drinks will be willing to spend up to $1 million to block the tax from being enacted; groups supporting programs financed by the revenue also will spend money to pass the tax. So, if $1 million (or more) is invested in lobbying, that sum is transformed into a social cost, which must be added to the already-heavy burden that every tax creates.

The argument that taxing sugary drinks helps to promote healthy lifestyles deflects attention from their actual effects. We donít normally expect politicians to be truthful. But if they want to impose these taxes, they should be honest enough to admit that they will not end obesity or diabetes, but rather will generate more of other peoplesí money for profligate state governments to spend.



The CSA and Symbols: Learning from History

Since a crazed, hate-filled and cowardly gunman killed nine black Christians in Charleston, South Carolina, the PC police have been in attack mode on anything associated with the Confederate States of America. The South Carolina General Assembly quickly voted to removed the Battle Flag from a Confederate Soldiersí Memorial on the State House grounds. Now, critics want to destroy a massive carving on Stone Mountain outside of Atlanta featuring Confederate heroes Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Thomas ďStonewallĒ Jackson. Some are even demanding the rethinking of events associated with Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, and others because they were slave owners.

Ben Hallman at the Huffington Post tells us how we are supposed to think: ďThe Confederacy was the most vile and harmful political invention in United States history. It was founded on the explicit principle that slavery is the Ďnatural and normal conditioní of black people, and that they should be ruthlessly exploited to the benefit of their white masters.Ē Hallman and others see Confederacy as synonymous with slavery and racism, and tell us to despise all things Confederate. His is a very simplistic view of history.

Slavery was a horrible institution that most of us, thankfully, cannot begin understand. But if we are going to remove symbols and emblems associated with it, we better look at the Stars and Stripes before hunting down anything with the initials CSA. Slavery, of course, existed in the United States from colonial times until ratification of the 13th Amendment. Twelve presidents owned slaves at one time or another, including George Washington and U.S. Grant. Actually, slavery existed longer in the Union than the CSA, since the Emancipation Proclamation did not apply to slaveholding states remaining loyal to the Union. For a good study on the war, causes, and effects, see Robert Higgs, ďThe Bloody Hinge of American History.Ē For anyone interested in the growth of the federal government under Lincoln and the Republicans, see Joseph R. Stromberg, ďCivil War and the American Political Economy.Ē For a scholarly argument that war was not necessary to gain emancipation, see Jeffrey Rogers Hummel, Emancipating the Slaves, Enslaving Free Men. A review of the book can be found here.

Of course, the Stars and Stripes has also presided over many horrific acts and policies dealing with removal of American Indians, imprisonment of Japanese Americans in WWII, and the torturing of prisoners at Gitmo. Such examples are abundant.

If we want to hold the USA and CSA to our modern standards and sensibilities, both will be found lacking. But in both the CSA and the USA we can find men and ideas worth studying and considering. Libertarians have long realized this. For example, Professor Randall Holcombe points to many provisions of the Confederate Constitution that limited government power and that would serve us well today. Robert E. Lee rightly remains internationally respected as a brilliant tactician, a gentleman, and man of honor. The Independent Institute has long championed William Lloyd Garrison, his demands for the abolition of slavery, and his contributions to liberty.

Bottom line: We need to pause before we banish all symbols of our past that donít comport with modern thinking. Our history has rough edges and embarrassments we donít want to repeat. But thereís plenty to learn from great men of the North and the South, the Blue and the Gray.



Governmentís Burden on Young Americans

The Independent Instituteís Love Gov videos offer an amusing look at the raw deal government policies give to Americaís youth. In the videos, sometimes government tempts young people into bad deals, such as student loans, and other times it offers them little choice but to take bad deals, as with health insurance. But the videos understate the magnitude of forced transfers from younger Americans to elders.

Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid make up 60% of the federal budget, and those programs are transfers from the taxpayers who fund them to recipients. Social Security and Medicare are only for older Americans, and a major share of Medicaid also goes to older Americans. Younger Americans pay the taxes; older Americans get the benefits.

Things are getting worse for young Americans. As Jonathan Gruber noted, it is because of ďthe stupidity of the American voterĒ that Obamacare charges artificially higher premiums to younger people so that older people can have lower premiums.

So sure, government tempts young people to take out excessive student loans, to take on home mortgages beyond their abilities to afford them, and do other irresponsible things, but government also forces even the most responsible American youth to sacrifice some of their own well-being to support older Americans.

Government does many things. One is: it systematically plunders American youth for the benefit of older Americans. Is this fair? Ironically, programs that support the old at the expense of the young are more politically popular among the young than the old.



Obama Acts to Head Off Crime Spree of ... the Elderly?

If thereís a singular purpose for Barack Obama and his cadres its limiting access to guns in as many ways as possible. The latest attempt is a push to prohibit Social Security recipients from owning firearms if they are judged mentally incompetent.

First letís stipulate that nobody wants people who are mentally incompetent owning or using guns without at least some restrictions. But the question is the standard used. The Social Security Administration has never before participated in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, but, if the SSA begins using the same standards as the Department of Veterans Affairs, at least four million beneficiaries could see their gun rights eliminated by a bureaucrat.

We donít want the government defining or deciding mental competence with standards that have nothing to do with crime. And especially not this administration. Indeed, given the Obama administrationís track record of disdain for American veterans ó both through the bureaucratic shenanigans at the VA and in targeting veterans in DHS reports about extremism ó it wonít be long before veterans are barred from owning firearms, or, conversely, their benefits are restricted if theyíre gun owners.  Indeed, many veterans have already been judged ďincompetentĒ when thatís clearly not the case. Now prohibitions could extend to the average Social Security recipient.

Weíre forced to ask what problem Obama thinks heís trying to solve. Our nation has not been under assault by senior citizens or veterans. It has been under attack from Islamic jihadists, and thatís the one thing Obama seems most reticent to address.



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

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


21 July, 2015

Who are the haters?

My attention has just been drawn to what I gather is a popular 2012 rant on Daily Kos:  "An open letter to the people who hate Obama more than they love America".   It is very amusing indeed.  I have often observed that if you want to know what is true about Leftists, you just have to look at what they say about conservatives.  They can't imagine that conservatives do not share their hostile emotions. They "project" onto others what is true of themselves.

So what are conservatives accused of in the article?  Hate. 

The writer goes through a whole range of current conservative ideas and policies and asserts that they are motivated by hate.  No reasoning or evidence for each assertion is offered.  It is supposed to be self-evident, apparently.  And to the writer and other Leftists it presumably is.  That it could be otherwise motivated they are not capable of considering and they live anyway in a little mental bubble from which conservative discourse is zealously excluded.  They figuratively (and sometimes literally) run away from hearing conservative arguments.

Take just the first assertion of the rant:  "You hate gay people".  A typical Leftist sweeping assertion devoid of any nuance.  All the conservatives I know are essentially indifferent to homosexuals, though some think that homosexual marriage is destructive of social order.  So the writer is quite simply wrong. 

Even conservative Christians make a point of saying that they do NOT hate homosexuals, though they do believe that the Bible is clear that homosexuality is a sin leading to condemnation by God, and that they therefore should do nothing to encourage it.  Even the notorious Fred Phelps used to say "GOD hates fags".  He didn't say "I hate fags".  And, theologically and exegetically, he was perfectly correct.  My late sister was a homosexual yet I find  nothing to criticize in what conservatives really do say about homosexuals

And the rest of the assertions in the Daily Kos rant are equally at variance with the real situation.

The big omission in the article therefore is any discussion of the full range of relevant evidence and reasoning on any issue.  In typical Leftist fashion, the writer tells only half the story.  If he told the whole story about any of the issues his balloon of rage about them would largely deflate.

The whole rant is an amazing example of intellectual incompetence but that is no surprise.  Hostile emotions are what drive the Left, not evidence and reason.

I am not big on tooting my own trumpet but if you want to see an argument backed up by a host of facts and careful deductions, my three part exposition on the nature of Leftism is here, here and here.  It's much more voluminous than the Daily Kos piece but that's because it considers the issues with proper care. I see no point in bare assertions like the Daily Kos piece.


The Looming Reality of ObamaCare's Doctor Shortage

Doctors are walking away from ObamaCare, and they're not coming back

A new analysis finds that the health insurance plans offered on ObamaCare exchanges offer a choice of 34 percent fewer health care providers, on average, than plans offered on the private market. The report specifies that:

Specifically, the analysis finds that exchange plan networks include 42 percent fewer oncology and cardiology specialists; 32 percent fewer mental health and primary care providers; and 24 percent fewer hospitals. Importantly, care provided by out-of-network providers does not count toward the out-of-pocket limits put in place by the ACA.

This is not surprising. The decline in doctor availability has been a long-foreseen consequence of the Affordable Care Act. The Wall Street Journal reported that the number of doctors per capita is in decline for the first time in two generations, medical school admissions are down 6 percent, and the American Association of Medical Colleges has predicted a shortage of 160,000 physicians by 2025. The only people who didnít see this coming are the ones who donít understand that incentives matter.

One of the innumerable mistakes in the Affordable Care Act is the focus on the demand side of medicine, and specifically of insurance coverage. This is several steps removed from the actual problem that needs to be addressed: the cost and availability of health care. These variables fall fundamentally on the supply side of the equation. Lower barriers to entry in the medical profession would increase the number of doctors, and the resulting competition would drive prices down while simultaneously reducing wait times and making it easier to find a doctor.

By forcing more people to buy insurance plans, and regulating the pricing structure of these plans can charge, ObamaCare is driving more people towards doctors, while at the same time reducing doctorsí ability to get paid. Combined with other regulations in the law, like the costly requirement to digitize all medical records, is it any wonder that so many doctors are hanging up their stethoscopes - or failing to pick them up in the first place?

This new study reinforces what we already knew: ObamaCare has always been about insurance, not actual health care. But all the insurance in the world does no good if there are no doctors available to treat you.

The trend towards less choice that ObamaCare is forcing on consumers can only lead to higher prices and a lower quality of care. More long term, the implications of a health care system that disincentives people from becoming doctors is far more dire.



Boehner Endorses Sentencing Reform; Bill Clinton Apologizes for His Role in Mass Incarceration

Yesterday House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) agreed with President Obama that Congress should address overincarceration:

"I've long believed that there needs to be reform of the criminal justice system.... We've got a lot of people in prison, frankly, who really, in my view, really don't need to be there. It's expensive to house prisoners. Sometimes, frankly, some of these people are there for what I'll call flimsy reasons".

Boehner specifically expressed support for the SAFE Justice Act, which would make the shorter crack sentences enacted in 2010 retroactive, eliminate federal penalties for simple possession of drugs in jurisdictions subject to state law, reserve mandatory minimum sentences for high-level drug traffickers, clarify that gun-related mandatory minimums can run consecutively only "when the offender is a true recidivist," give judges more discretion in sentencing people based on their responses to "reverse stings," encourage more use of diversion and probation, and offer prisoners time reductions in exchange for their participation in job training and other programs aimed at reducing recidivism. That's a pretty impressive package of reforms, and I have to say I'm surprised to hear that Boehner is on board.

"John Boehner's support for justice reform shows that momentum is growing in Congress," says FreedomWorks CEO Adam Brandon. "Not only that, but it's one of the few issues that transcends party lines and we can actually get something done. For too long, lawmakers have enacted big-government mandates that leave us with a skyrocketing prison population, high costs, and broken families. The status quo is unsustainable."

Another sign of the times: While attending the NAACP convention in Philadelphia on Wednesday, former President Bill Clinton apologized for a law he used to brag about: the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994óor, as Vice President Joe Biden proudly calls it, "the 1994 Biden Crime Bill." Among other things, that bill made drug sentences harsher, subsidized a nationwide prison-building boom, and expanded the application of the federal death penalty. "I signed a bill that made the problem worse, and I want to admit it," Clinton said on Wednesday. "In that bill, there were longer sentences, and most of these people are in prison under state law, but the federal law set a trend. And that was overdone; we were wrong about that."

That mea culpa is notably stronger than the one Clinton offered in his preface to a collection of essays on criminal justice reform that the Brennan Center published last spring:

"By 1994, violent crime had tripled in years. Our communities were under assault. We acted to address a genuine national crisis. But much has changed since then. It's time to take a clear-eyed look at what worked, what didn't, and what produced unintended, long-lasting consequences. So many of these laws worked well, especially those that put more police on the streets. But too many laws were overly broad instead of appropriately tailored."

Clinton's wifeówho, as you may have heard, is seeking the Democratic presidential nominationóhas been similarly inclined to make excuses for the draconian penalties she and her husband used to support, although she did concede in 2008 that those policies contributed to "an unacceptable increase in incarceration." Esquire's Charles Pierce suggests that the former president is "clearing his triangulations out of the way so that Hillary Rodham Clinton has a clearer road through the new politics of her party."



Justice Reform: Something Bipartisan is Happening in Congress that Could Save Taxpayers Money and Keep Communities Safe

On July 14th and 15th the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a heavily attended hearings on justice reform. A common sentiment throughout the two-day event was gratitude for the truly bipartisan nature of the effort to restructure our justice system. Hopeful people are coming together from across party lines, as is rarely seen in Congress, to restore liberty and save billions in taxpayer dollars.

Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) opened the hearing by expressing concern at lacking employment opportunities for rehabilitated people, mandatory sentencing and mandatory minimum laws which incarcerate average citizens, the abuse of solitary confinement, and high rates of recidivism, or the number of people who return to prison after being released (up to 60% in some states).

These concerns were echoed repeatedly by members and witnesses in attendance. Also addressed were statistics about astronomically high incarceration rates in the United States (the highest rate of any country). According to Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), nearly one in three Americans has an arrest record, one in nine black children has an incarcerated parent, and the number of people currently incarcerated is greater than the population of 36 of our 50 states. One statistic that elicited murmurs from the overflowing crowd said that a new prison in built in America every 10 days.

One startling issue that continued to come up throughout the hearing is the fact that many people accused of crimes are unaware that their actions are illegal. Brett L. Tolman, co-chair of White Collar Criminal Defense and Corporate Compliance Practice Group and witness at the hearing, told the room that there are over 300,000 regulations; they are absolutely impossible to keep track of, even for those who study criminal law. Furthermore, with increasing frequency, crimes are classified as federal offenses, meaning many nonviolent offenders are drawn into the federal system, sometimes without even knowing that they had committed a crime. In fact, it is estimated that the average American commits three felonies a day.

Each member and witness had specific concerns about the state of our justice system. Gov. Jack Markell (D-DE) testified about overcrowding in our prisons, saying that many of the prisoners (as many as 40% of inmates in womenís prisons in his state) are pre-trial, and have yet to be convicted of a crime.

ďYou guys are preaching to the choir,Ē joked Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), in summary of a majority of the hearing. But simply because people are in agreement about serious problems in the justice system does not mean it will be easy to find a solution that effectively addresses problems while minimizing spending, and maximizing liberty and safety.

Booker lamented the ability to ďtake and seize the liberty of people to the extent that we have.Ē

Loss of liberty truly is the effect of over criminalization and federalization. We have created a system that dehumanizes people for nonviolent crimes and leaves good people at the mercy of harsh minimum sentences that are unfair and do not take into account the circumstances of the accused. It is big government in the courtroom.

Additionally, the prison system is fiscally unsustainable. The federal prison population has grown by almost 800 percent since 1980, rising from approximately 25,000 inmates to around 208,500 today. Funding for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, which consumes 25% of the Justice Departmentís overall budget, has almost doubled since 2000. We must be smarter with our money. It is limited and not being put to good use.

Jason Pye, Director of Justice Reform at FreedomWorks, wrote last week that ď[r]estoring common sense to sentencing and rehabilitating offenders through innovative and state-tested means to reduce their risks of going back to prisonĒ results in significant savings that are highly appealing to conservatives and libertarians. Pye explained:

Texas, for example, implemented sensible prison and sentencing reforms, though with a small upfront cost, that focused on rehabilitation and treatment as alternatives to incarceration. By disrupting the cycle of crime through reducing offenders' chances of entering the system again, Texas closed prisons and scrapped plans to build new prisons. These reforms produced $3 billion in savings and contributed to reductions in crime and repeat offender rates.

Booker told the members of the committee to ďembrace solutions we already see working,Ē referring to policies in place in states like Texas and Georgia which have taken measures to reform their justice systems.

Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) repented that Georgia has historically been called ďtough on crime,Ē adding air quotes for emphasis, and asserted that ďthat toughness hasnít worked.Ē He went on to express his pride in reformed state laws which have allowed Georgia, a traditionally Republican state, to lead the way for justice reform on the national level.

Throughout the hearing there was a strong show of support for the proposed Safe, Accountable, Fair, and Effective (SAFE) Justice Act by many, including Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), and Kevin Ring, Director of Strategic Initiatives at Families Against Mandatory Minimums, who was a witness at the hearing and had himself been incarcerated.

In an official FreedomWorks statement, Pye called the SAFE Justice Act a ďbipartisan reform effort that would address both sentencing reform and prison reform,Ē explaining that it ďtakes a different approach to sentencing reform by limiting mandatory minimum drug sentences to the highest-level drug offenders, which is in line with Congressís original intent for the law. The bill would also give prisoners time credits for completing rehabilitative programming.Ē

We all have something to be excited about. In the words of Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-MD), this was ďa landmark hearing.Ē Hopefully, those who have come together from across the political spectrum will be able to create real, positive change.


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 WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


20 July, 2015

Left becoming disillusioned with the EU supergovernment

Greece bailout: breaking the spell for Europe's Left-wing parties.  Big government finally seen as oppressive

The EU establishment henceforth faces what it has always feared: a political war on two fronts. It has long been fighting an expanding coalition of free marketeers, parliamentary souverainistes and anti-immigrant populists on the Right.

After the scorched earth treatment of Greece over the past five months - culminating in the vindictive decision to impose yet harsher terms on this crushed nation just days after its cri de coeur in a referendum - it has now lost its remaining emotional hold on the Left.

This has been coming for a long time. We conservatives have watched in disbelief as one Socialist party after another immolates itself on the altar of monetary union, defending a "bankers' ramp", as the old Left used to call it.

We have seen the Left apologise for 1930s' policies, and defend a pro-cyclical fiscal regime imposed on Europe by a handful of "Ordoliberal" reactionaries in the German finance ministry.

By a twist of fate, the Left has become the enforcer of an economic structure that has led to levels of unemployment once unthinkable for a post-war social democratic government with its own sovereign currency. It has found ways to justify a youth jobless rate still running at 42pc in Italy, 49pc in Spain and 50pc in Greece. It has acquiesced in the Long Slump of the past six years.

It meekly endorsed the EU Fiscal Compact, knowing that it imposes a legal requirement on eurozone states to slash public debt - by 1.5pc of GDP in France, 2pc in Spain and 3.5pc in Italy and Portugal - every year for the next two decades. This is a formula for permanent depression. It outlaws Keynesian economics, and Classical economics. It is a doomsday construct.

This is what they have defended, because until now they dared not question the sanctity of EMU.

And so the once mighty Dutch Labour Party has been reduced to a pitiful relic. The Spanish Socialist Workers' Party has lost its Left wing to the rebel Podemos movement, freshly victorious in Barcelona. Support for France's socialist leader, Francois Hollande, has been cut to 24pc in the polls, as the French working class defects to the Front National.

Yet finally, events in Greece have broken the spell.

"Progressives should be appalled by the European Union's ruination of Greece," wrote Owen Jones in The Guardian. The new term "Lexit" is gaining currency.

The voices of the Left are uneasy. Their instincts are to oppose everything that Ukip [anti-EU conservatives} stands for. "At first, only a few dipped their toes in the water; then others, hesitantly, followed their lead, all the time looking at each other for reassurance," Mr Jones wrote.

Yet the cruelty on display in Brussels has trumped all. Mr Jones runs through the names.  "Everything good about the EU is in retreat; everything bad is on the rampage," says George Monbiot. The EU is being portrayed "with some truth, as a cruel, fanatical and stupid institution", says Nick Cohen.

Variants of this debate are stirring across Europe. Luigi Zingales, an adviser to Italy's premier Matteo Renzi, has become a flaming eurosceptic.  "This European project is dead forever. If Europe is nothing but a bad version of the IMF, what is left of the European integration project?" he wrote as Greece capitulated.

Whether or not it was a "coup", as the Twitterati alleged, there is no doubt that Syriza was compelled by financial coercion to abandon its election promises. It must even repeal all "fiscal" laws passed since January.

Without rehearsing 15 years of Greek controversy, let me just say that the country's crisis is a collective responsibility of the creditors, the EMU elites, the Greek oligarchy and, ultimately, of a jejune Alexis Tsipras.

The Troika bail-out in 2010 was intended to save the euro and European banks at a time when there were no defences against contagion. Greece was not saved. It was sacrificed. The roots of the "Greek Spring" can be traced to this original sin.

The EMU creditors never acknowledged their own guilt. They never made an honest attempt to negotiate with Syriza, even on matters of common ground. They demanded that the austerity terms of the prior Memorandum be enforced to the letter, hiding behind Pharisaical talk of rules.

Let us not forget that the European Central Bank brought about the final collapse by freezing emergency liquidity to the Greek banks, forcing Syriza to shut the lenders' doors, impose capital controls and halt imports.

It was a political decision - dressed up with technical flammery - and was arguably illegal. It is very hard to reconcile with the ECB's treaty duty to uphold financial stability. One plain fact is clear: technocrats brought an elected government to its knees.

We all know what the game was. Germany and its allies were determined to make an example of Syriza to discourage voters in any other country from daring to buck the system.

I doubt that this will work, even on its own narrow terms. Podemos remains defiant. It has accused the EU institutions and the Spanish government of committing an "act of terrorism".

It is, in any case, a double-edged strategy. Costas Lapavitsas, a Syriza MP, said the salient message of the past five months is that no radical government can pursue sovereign policies as long as it is at the mercy of a central bank able to switch off liquidity.

"It is now perfectly clear that the only way out of this is to break free of monetary union," he said.



The Most Glaring Flaws in Obama's Iran Deal

The Obama administration's nuclear agreement with Iran has major flaws that could dangerously undermine the long-term national security interests of the United States and its allies.

Although the administration entered the negotiations pledging to cut off all pathways to a nuclear weapon, the agreement amounts to little more than a diplomatic speed bump that will delay, but not permanently halt, Iran's drive for a nuclear weapons capability.

The agreement in effect legitimizes Iran as a nuclear threshold state.

Once key restrictions on uranium enrichment expire in 10 to 15 years, Iran will have the option to develop an industrial scale enrichment program that will make it easier for it to sprint cross that threshold.

The Daily Signal is the multimedia news organization of The Heritage Foundation.  We'll respect your inbox and keep you informed.

Iran used red lines and deadlines to wear down the administration, which played a strong hand weakly.

The administration undermined its own bargaining position by making it clear that it wanted a nuclear agreement more than Tehran seems to have wanted one, despite the fact that Tehran needed an agreement more for economic reasons.

The administration's downplaying of the military option and front-loading of sanctions relief early in the negotiations reduced Iranian incentives to make concessions.

This gave the Iranians bargaining leverage they have used shrewdly.

Iran dug in its heels on key red lines proclaimed by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, while the administration's red lines gradually became blurred pink lines.

Iran's nuclear infrastructure is left largely intact. Centrifuges will be mothballed but not dismantled.

Iran's illicit nuclear facilities Natanz and Fordow, whose operations were supposed to be shut down under multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions, have now been legitimized, despite the fact that they were built covertly in violation of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.

Iran is essentially rewarded for cheating under the agreement. It gained a better deal on uranium enrichment than Washington has offered to its own allies.

Taiwan, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates were denied enrichment arrangements that Iran now has pocketed.

Instead of dismantling Iran's nuclear infrastructure, the agreement dismantles the sanctions that brought Tehran to the negotiating table in the first place.

This fact is not lost on our allies, friends and "frenemies" in the region.  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who understandably sees Iran's potential nuclear threat as an existential issue, denounced the deal as "a historic mistake."

Sunni Arab states threatened by Iran are likely to hedge their bets and take out insurance by working to expand their own nuclear options.  Saudi Arabia already has let it be known that it will demand the same concessions on uranium enrichment that Iran received.

The Saudis have begun negotiations to buy French nuclear reactors and this civilian program could become the foundation for a weapons program down the line.

Other Arab states and Turkey are likely to tee up their own nuclear programs as a prudent counterweight to offset to Iran's expanding nuclear potential, after some of the restrictions on its uranium enrichment program automatically sunset.

The end result could be accelerated nuclear proliferation and a possible nuclear arms race in the most volatile region in the world.

Another major problem is verification of Iranian compliance. The administration's initial insistence on "anytime/anywhere" inspections was downgraded to "sometimes/some places."

Iran has up to 14 days to weigh the requests of International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors. If it decides to object, its objections would be relayed to an arbitration committee that would have 7 days to rule. If it rules against Iran, Tehran would have another 3 days to arrange an inspection.

This gives Iran up to 24 days to move, hide or destroy materials sought by inspectors. This is far from a foolproof system, particularly in light of Iran's long history of cheating.

Sanctions relief is another potential headache. Tehran would benefit by the release of about $150 billion of its money frozen in overseas accounts. Ultimately the Iranian economy would be boosted by tens of billions of dollars more through a surge of oil revenues as oil sanctions are lifted.

This could help Iran reshape the regional balance of power and establish hegemony over Iraq, Yemen, important oil resources and oil supply routes.

Much of this money will go to fund the Assad regime, Hezbollah, Yemeni Houthi rebels, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other terrorist groups funded by Iran.

This would rapidly lead to escalation of the wars, shadow wars and civil wars already taking place around the Middle East.

The dangers posed by Iran's enhanced ability to finance global terrorism would be compounded by the administration's last minute capitulation on the U.N. arms embargo, which will be gradually eased if Iran remains in compliance with the agreement.

This would allow Iran to upgrade its conventional weapons through imports from foreign suppliers and enable it to more easily arm its foreign allies and surrogates.

The bottom line is that the Obama administration now has signed an agreement that will expand Iran's power and influence, strain U.S. relations with its regional friends, weaken long-standing non-proliferation goals on restricting access to sensitive nuclear technologies and contribute to the evolution of a multi-polar nuclear Middle East.



Wisconsin Supreme Court halts illegal  raids on conservatives

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has effectively killed the "John Doe" case which led to home raids and intimidation of a wide range of Wisconsin conservative activists.

Here is the key finding, which completely shreds both the legal theories and motives of the prosecutors, completely vindicates the targets, and praises those who fought back legally against prosecutorial misconduct:

"133 Our lengthy discussion of these three cases can be distilled into a few simple, but important, points. It is utterly clear that the special prosecutor has employed theories of law that do not exist in order to investigate citizens who were wholly innocent of any wrongdoing. In other words, the special prosecutor was the instigator of a "perfect storm" of wrongs that was visited upon the innocent Unnamed Movants and those who dared to associate with them. It is fortunate, indeed, for every other citizen of this great State who is interested in the protection of fundamental liberties that the special prosecutor chose as his targets innocent citizens who had both the will and the means to fight the unlimited resources of an unjust prosecution. Further, these brave individuals played a crucial role in presenting this court with an opportunity to re-endorse its commitment to upholding the fundamental right of each and every citizen to engage in lawful political activity and to do so free from the fear of the tyrannical retribution of arbitrary or capricious governmental prosecution. Let one point be clear: our conclusion today ends this unconstitutional John Doe investigation."

Andrew Grossman, who filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court case and who has served as counsel to Eric O'Keefe and the Wisconsin Club for Growth (two of the targets of the investigation) in various federal civil rights litigation against the prosecutors, provided me with the following statement:

"Today's decision puts an end to one of the worst abuses of power ever seen in Wisconsin law enforcement. The next step will be holding those responsible accountable for their actions. The Court's recognition that the John Doe was a politically motivated "dragnet" of Gov. Walker's allies provides strong support for Cindy Archer's civil rights action against the Milwaukee prosecutors and lawsuits by potentially any of the other John Doe targets".



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

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


19 July, 2015
Obama: Happy Ramadan?

Islamist Murders Marines in Tennessee

Thursday morning, my daily email from Barack Obamaís White House propaganda machine, a message to all Americans about Ramadan:

ďMichelle and I would like to extend our warmest wishes to Muslims in the United States and around the world celebrating Eid-ul-Fitr. As Muslims mark the end of [Ramadan], they are reminded that [it] is a time to reflect spiritually, build communally, and aid those in need. While Eid marks the end of Ramadan, it marks a new beginning for each individual ó a reason to celebrate and express gratitude on this holiday. Ö The morning of Eid is marked with the call to prayer echoing through cities and towns across the globe. Millions of people head to local mosques for special Eid prayers followed by festive gatherings, gift exchanges, and feasts among friends, neighbors and families. As Muslim Americans celebrate Eid across America, the holiday is a reminder to every American of the importance of respecting those of all faiths and beliefs. Ö Michelle and I hope today brings joy to all of your homes. Eid Mubarak! [Happy Blessed Ramadan]Ē

A few hours after receiving that email, a colleague was joining me for a board meeting in Chattanooga. At a stoplight near our meeting location, he heard what he assumed were fireworks leftover from Fourth of July celebrations.

Moments later, a vehicle sped by him in the median. That vehicle was driven by an Islamic terrorist assailant, Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez. He had just fired on one military recruiting center with an AK-47, and was on his way to a second military post where he would kill four Marines: Sgt. Carson A. Holmquist, Staff Sgt. David A. Wyatt, Gunnery Sgt. Thomas J. Sullivan and Lance Cpl. Squire K. Wells. He also wounded three others: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Smith, who remains in critical condition, a police officer and a fifth Marine ó the latter two in stable condition. Notably, Sgt. Sullivan was on Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran, who earned two Purple Hearts in combat there. What Islamist insurgents could not accomplish in Iraq, one of their adherents accomplished in Chattanooga.

I passed by the site of the first assault a minute after my friend ó before police were responding to the scene. I regret that I was not there a minute earlier to witness Abdulazeez drive by, because I know the sound of gunfire and had a helluva lot more firepower on board my truck than Muhammad had in his convertible sports car. As it was, police would not catch up with the assailant until after his second assault, where they shot Abdulazeez dead.

The deceased and injured at both facilities were unarmed ó federal military installations are ďgun-free zones,Ē including thousands of locations that have no security force protection, such as recruiting centers.

A DoD directive signed by Bill Clinton in 1993 prohibits military personnel from possessing arms on military bases, installations or offices. In other words, if my active-duty son carried a weapon on his person or in his vehicle onto his military installation, he would be charged with a felony.

Notably, the directive stipulates an exception: ďWhen there is a reasonable expectation that life or DOD assets will be jeopardized of firearms are not carried.Ē

After Islamist Abdul Hakim Mujahid Muhammad shot two Arkansas Army recruiters in 2009, and then Nidal Malik Hasan murdered 14 soldiers, security personnel and an unborn child at Fort Hood, Texas ó and wounded 29 others ó The Patriot Post made the case that military installations should NOT be ďgun-free zones.Ē We insisted that Congress should immediately authorize weapons at all military installations that do not have their own security forces on station.

However, Obama and his then-Democrat controlled House and Senate would not act. Recall if you will that Obama refused to acknowledge that the Ft. Hood murders constituted an Islamist attack, and he denied combat death benefits or the awarding of Purple Hearts to families of victims there. Obama claimed it was ďworkplace violence,Ē and before the blood of our Patriots had dried he attempted to use that tragedy, as he always does, to further his gun confiscation agenda.

Once Republicans controlled Congress, they forced the issue, and the unarmed victims at Ft. Hood were duly recognized as combat fatalities and injuries. However, Obamaís DoD has yet to authorize military personnel at unprotected installations to possess the means to defend themselves against such assaults.

So, who was Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez?

Abdulazeez was a 24-year old naturalized U.S. citizen born in Kuwait, who had lived with his family in a quiet Chattanooga neighborhood since he was in elementary school. By most accounts, he was well-liked among his peers, both Muslim and non-Muslim, but came from a troubled home. In 2010, he traveled to Kuwait, Jordan and other unspecified areas of the Middle East and by many accounts, was ďchangedĒ when he returned. He graduated from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC) in 2012 and was seeking employment as an engineer. In May of 2013, he was actually hired by a Perry, Ohio nuclear power plant and worked on sight there for 10 days until there were unspecified issues with his background check. In the last year, neighbors report that his whole family became increasingly estranged. His only run-in with police prior to Thursday, was a DUI in April of this year.

In 2010, Abdulazeezís sister Yasmeen, then a freshman at the UTC, was interviewed in the local paper about the tensions between Muslims and some of their peers. When she suspected others were curious about her, she said, ďIím not afraid to go straight toward them and ask them, ĎDo you really know what Islam is?íĒ It is no small irony that she then claimed, ďThereís this misconception that Islam is a violent religion. Muslims are actually peaceful.Ē

Bassam Issa, who heads the mosque, Islamic Center of Greater Chattanooga, was quick to call the assault an act of ďcowardice and hate,Ē adding, ďWe donít see our community center as a ĎMuslim community.í We are Chattanoogans first, and we see ourselves as part of the larger community of Tennesseans grieving todayís act.Ē

So why did Abdulazeez get into his car and head out on a mission to murder American military personnel Thursday morning?

We may never have a clear answer because he was on nobodyís watch list, though it is clear that his attack was framed in his Islamic rants.

The Obama administration has placed so many ďreligious profilingĒ restraints on law enforcement that it is easy for an Islamist to slip through the net.

Yes, in recent months Islamist attack plans have been thwarted by law enforcement, but, as just acknowledged by FBI Director James Comey in his congressional testimony about the domestic terror threat last week, ďWe are stopping these things so far, through tremendous hard work ó the use of sources, the use of online under covers ó but it is incredibly difficult. I cannot see [the FBI] stopping these indefinitely.Ē Comey added, ďSo itís no longer that someone whoís troubled needs to go find this propaganda and this motivation. It buzzes in their pocket. So there is a device, almost a devil on their shoulder all day long saying, Ďkill, kill, kill, kill.íĒ

Indeed, in an column last year, ďIslamic Jihad ó Target USA,Ē I rhetorically asked, ďHow concerned should you be?Ē In answer to that question, I wrote, ďThe most likely near-term form of attack against civilians on our turf will be modeled after the conventional Islamist assaults in the Middle East, bombings and shootings, as we have now seen in Paris, London, Berlin, Sydney, Toronto, Boston, New York and Washington. This type of attack is low tech but effective in terms of instilling public fear with the long-term goal of civil acquiescence.Ē

It is this type of attack that Director Comey knows will get by the FBI gauntlet.

In his hollow response to the assault, Obama said, ďA lone gunman carried out these attacks.Ē He concluded, ďWe take all shootings very seriously.Ē Even though he knew the name of the assailant, he did not mention his name, much less ďIslamicĒ or ďMuslim.Ē

Obama, blinded by his own Islamophilia, would like for you to believe Abdulazeez was a ďlone gunman,Ē a ďlone wolf shooter,Ē in an effort to disconnect the dots between this assailant and radical Islam and assert that there is no connection between Jihadi attacks in the West and the rise of Islamic extremism in the Middle East. That assertion is patently false.

Describing Islamists as ďlone wolfĒ actors constitutes a lethal misunderstanding of the Jihadi threat. Describing their attacks as ďcriminal activityĒ or ďworkplace violence,Ē and then claiming itís a ďgun problemĒ as Obama has done after all such incidents, denies the fact that ALL such attacks are tied together by Islamist association.

In every case, those ties include mentors in local mosques and among Islamist peers, and yes, ďpropaganda buzzing in their pocket saying Ďkill kill kill kill.íĒ

The fact is, the blood of our Marines here in Chattanooga is on Obamaís hands.

Why?  These dots are easy to connect.

In 2008, Obama campaigned on ďending the war in Iraq.Ē In 2011, having rejected the Bush strategy of establishing a status of forces agreement (SOFA) to secure our hard-won gains in Iraq and the region, Obama declared, ďEverything Americans have done in Iraq, all the fighting, all the dying, the bleeding, the building and the training and the partnering, all of it has led to this moment of success. Ö Weíre leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq.Ē In 2012, amid the cascading failure of his domestic economic and social policies, Obama centered his re-election campaign on his faux foreign policy successes crafted around the mantras, ďFour years ago, I promised to end the war in Iraq. I did,Ē and, ďal-Qa'ida is on the run.Ē

Obamaís Iraqi victory narrative was just one more of his BIG lies, and this one with catastrophic consequences.

What Obama did was ignite an entirely new and far more dangerous war, one that is spreading across the Middle East and North Africa, and into the suburbs of Western nations, including Chattanooga, Tennessee.

This was a devastating assault, not only for the families of our murdered Marines but on our entire proud Chattanooga community of military Patriots. Please join us in prayer for their families and for the young female Navy recruiter who remains in critical condition.

And a couple Footnotes:

1. Terrorism or not? According to Bill Killian, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, the attack is ďan act of terrorism.Ē According to Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, ďI think he was radicalized by these individuals in Syria. This is a new generation of terrorists.Ē According to Ed Reinhold, FBI Special Agent in Charge, East Tennessee (Knoxville): ďWe have not classified it as an act of terrorism. Ö We have no indication that Abdulazeez was inspired by or directed by anyone other than himself.Ē (Given that this horrendous attack happened on Reinholdís watch, perhaps he is not quite ready to be transferred to the Fairbanks Alaska office.)

2. After receiving Obamaís White House Ramadan message yesterday, todayís message made no mention of the Tennessee assault, but solicited funds for the Democrat National Committee so that our next president will expand entitlement handouts: ďWeíve got to do all we can over the next few months to make sure we elect Democrats who will fight for every single American at all stages of life.Ē I note, clearly, Obama and his Leftists donít support ďevery single American at all stages of life.Ē

3. Thinking back on the violence in Charleston and the diversionary rush to remove the historic Confederate battle flag from all commercial and public venues, including National Military Parks, will Amazon and other online retailers purge their inventories of any and all Islamic symbols? Apparently, some people commit horrendous acts of violence and terror under the Islamic banner. Of course not, because most Muslims in our midst are productive citizens and people of peace, and those citizens should not be cast in with the lot of Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, anymore than those of us who honor the symbols of our Southern heritage should be cast in with a racist sociopath who murdered innocents in Charleston.)



NYC very generous

 The $5.9 million settlement against the officer accused of killing Eric Garner was condemned Monday by of a top police union official for being obscene and politically motivated.

The record-high settlement was charged against Daniel Pantaleo, the police officer who allegedly choked Garner, a black man, to death in 2014. Garner was heard shouting that he couldn't breathe as he was wrestled to the ground. The incident made national headlines and sparked a debate on police using excessive force and institutional racism. At the time Pantaleo caught Garner selling untaxed cigarettes.

The city will be responsible for paying the huge settlement. Ed Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, called it shameful.

"Where is the justice for New York taxpayers?" Mullins told New York Post. "Where is the consistency in the civil system?" 



A deliberately blind bureaucracy

 The Veterans Affairs Department's system for verifying whether a veteran is alive or dead contributes to costly or embarrassing errors, including compensation being paid to veterans who have passed away and records indicating they had visited doctors after they died, according to an internal VA report.

The report, a review of the VA's death eligibility system, found that the department's medical records system lists as active patients 2.7 million veterans who are, in fact, dead.

But the VA can't expunge them from their rolls because the death notices came from sources such as the Social Security Administration, Medicare, the Defense Department and other government entities that the VA does not accept as proof of death.

The VA accepts only actual death certificates, a record of a death at a VA facility or a notification from the National Cemetery Administration as sufficient verification to remove a veteran from the system, according to department officials.



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

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


17 July, 2015

Goldstein-ing the American Right

Two paragraphs from a recent article entitled "The New Totalitarians Are Here" by U.S. Naval War College professor Tom Nichols should be required reading for those on the Right who believe accommodating the American Left's sensibilities has an endpoint.

Nichols refers to the recent attack on Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas by has-been actor George Takei. Takei called Thomas a "clown in blackface" because Thomas cast a dissenting vote against the Court's decision to "discover" yet another previously unknown part of the Constitution, legalizing gay marriage - and trampling states' rights in the process. Nichols also takes on Quartz.com journalist Meredith Bennett-Smith, who insisted that a Washington Post column by Cathy Young, challenging the bogus feminist definition of campus rape, was written by a "horrendous rape apologist" who should never be printed in that paper again. To wit:

"I grant that overall, American political debate on all sides has become nastier and less tolerant. What makes these kinds of attacks, however, smack of totalitarianism - and I could reel off dozens more examples, but your computer would run out of pixels - is that people like Takei and Bennett-Smith are lighting their torches and demanding rough justice even on issues where they've already won. In other words, it isn't enough that Thomas was in the Court's minority, or that no college in America is bothering to listen to Young. They want Thomas and Young silenced, stripped of their status in their peer group, and to recant - even after being defeated in public on the issue at hand.

"That's terrifying, because it means that for a fair number of people in what's supposed to be a democracy, `winning' in any normal political sense simply isn't enough. They are not really trying to capture something as pedestrian as political equality, nor are they satisfied if they get it. They are not really seeking a win in the courts, or a legal solution, or a negotiated settlement. Those are all just merit badges to be collected along the way to a more important goal: what they really want, and what they in fact demand, is that you agree with them. They want you to believe."

And yet the Right continues to offer up merit badges such as the Confederate flag. So what does the Left do? On July 7, the Memphis city council voted unanimously to dig up the body of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest from its 110-year-old gravesite and move it to another location. An idiot columnist at the New York Post is insisting the "undeniably racist artifact" more familiarly known as the epic masterwork "Gone with the Wind" should be relegated to a museum, presumably never to grace TV or movie screens again. Several stores, sensitive to liberal orthodoxy, but apparently immune to its potential ramifications, ban the sale of Confederate flags, even as Nazi and Communist paraphernalia remain readily available.

At least until the left decides what other historical items are "more equal" than others. As if on cue in that regard, Salon columnist Nick Bromell is ginning up a campaign to make flying the Confederate flag anywhere a "hate crime."

Where's that Ministry of Truth when you really need it, right Nick?

Moving on to other unbelievers, it was apparently insufficient that the state of Oregon fine Sweetcakes bakery owners $135,000 for refusing to bake a cake for a lesbian couple in violation of their religious principles regarding marriage. The state's Bureau of Labor and Industries commissioner Brad Avakian also ordered the couple to "cease and desist from publishing, circulating, issuing or displaying, or causing to be published, issued, circulated or displayed, any communication, advertisement or notice of any kind to the effect that any of the accommodations, advantages, services or privileges of a place of public accommodation will be refused, withheld or denied to, or that any discrimination will be made against any person on account of sexual orientation."

In other words, bakery owners Aaron and Melissa Klein are not just "wrong." They must be silenced, lest other people be influenced by that "wrongness."

Even established law gets no immunity from the leftist onslaught. Despite last year's Supreme Court decision in Hobby Lobby v. Burwell, striking down the ObamaCare mandate requiring all businesses to supply birth control to their employees in violation of an owner's religious beliefs, the administration has once again crafted rules attempting to sidestep that decision. It insists that, as long as a business's healthcare plan provide such contraceptives for free, religious objections - and the principles from which they emanate - are rendered irrelevant.

This is exactly how the Left has proceeded with regard to voter ID. Despite a SCOTUS ruling affirming Indiana's right to require voter ID, and another decision eliminating the requirement that states "pre clear" any changes to their voting laws with the DOJ, that agency still filed lawsuits against Texas and North Carolina. That would be the same DOJ that has steadfastly refused to file a single lawsuit requiring states to clean up their voter rolls - when it's not actively seeking to prevent states from doing so.

In short, as far as the Left is concerned, there is no such thing as settled law if they disagree with it.

In fact, they've tried to criminalize it. Despite SCOTUS's Citizen's United decision tossing out the corporate and union ban on making independent expenditures and financing election-related communications, new documents released by the ever-reliable Judicial Watch (JW) reveal "the Obama DOJ initiated outreach to the IRS about prosecuting tax-exempt entities." The IRS also transmitted 1.25 million pages of confidential taxpayer information to the FBI. JW president Tom Fitton illuminates the implications. "The FBI and Justice Department worked with Lois Lerner and the IRS to concoct some reason to put President Obama's opponents in jail before his reelection," he explains. "And this abuse resulted in the FBI's illegally obtaining confidential taxpayer information. How can the Justice Department and FBI investigate the very scandal in which they are implicated?"

They can't. Moreover, the bet here is most American don't have a clue about this latest revelation, because our overwhelmingly leftist and utterly corrupt mainstream media have apparently been satisfied by President Obama's assertion that there's not "even a smidgeon of corruption" associated with this atrocity. That's because the mainstream media has virtually abandoned its role as government watchdogs that once defined their reason for being. Why the metamorphosis? Only useful idiots get the kind of access these pseudo-journalists crave, even if it means being roped off like cattle in the process.

And of course, in true keeping with the emergence of the New Totalitarians, yet another aspect of Orwell's prophesies has been realized. The American Left, and a number of conservatives whose own elitist tendencies have blinded them to the fool's errand of handing the Left ever more merit badges, have embraced "1984's" Two Minutes Hate. Their modern-day Emmanuel Goldstein?

Donald Trump.

Why the unmitigated rancor? To obscure Democrat/Republican collaboration on illegal immigration. Again, one might think that those who purport to represent conservative values would understand that aiding and abetting their own irrelevance is a politically suicidal agenda. But political suicide, along with the apparently anachronistic notion that American politicians should serve American interests, pales in comparison to campaign dollars, courtesy of transnationalist-minded contributors whose contempt for average Americans is palpable. Hence, GOP Judases are more than willing to join Democrat efforts to deconstruct this nation.

Until then, they have to deal with Trump, because this particular Emmanuel Goldstein has gained an uncomfortable traction with the public. And while the messenger may be flawed, the message itself resonates with millions of Americans. Americans sick to death of the bipartisan, wholesale lawlessness needed to maintain the bankrupt notion that millions of people here illegally are entitled to special consideration - again. Maybe the ruling class has forgotten the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act that attended the outright amnesty of 2.7 million illegals - for the last time - but the public has not.

And the illegal immigration issue further highlights the reality that there is no better example of the American Left's determination to ignore laws it doesn't like than their establishment of sanctuary cities that openly flaunt federal immigration law. And don't be fooled: While there is sudden and fashionable outrage against this totally despicable concept, the GOP will ultimately be as willing as the Left to drop the issue entirely once it recedes from the national consciousness.

And the word "fashionable" is spot-on accurate: Los Angeles became the first sanctuary city in the nation - in 1979.

Moreover, despite the national outrage elicited by the alleged murder of Kathryn Steinle by Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, a man with seven felony convictions who had been deported five times, the Left remains steadfast in defending the policy. In other words, the interests of illegal aliens and their enablers take precedence over those of American citizens and legal immigrants. And if you don't like it, you're a bigoted, nativist, xenophobic Neanderthal who "must accept that you've sinned," explains Nichols. "You must discard your own values and accept the ideas of your betters. You must denounce yourself for undermining the construction of a better world. You, too, must love Big Brother."

Or be vilified as another Emmanuel Goldstein.



Is the Civil War Over?

By Thomas Sowell

In the wake of the recent murders in a South Carolina church, the killer's hope of igniting a race war produced the opposite effect. Blacks and whites in South Carolina came together to condemn his act and the race hate behind it.

Some saw in the decision to remove the Confederate flag from in front of the state house a symbolic repudiation of the old South's racial past - and the end of the Civil War. But, unfortunately, wars do not end until both sides decide that it is over.

The black parishioners who expressed forgiveness toward the killer did more than most of us could do, and the whites who responded with solidarity did their part. Note how quickly this was done, by ordinary people of good will - black and white - without the "help" of racial activists like Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson.

Professional race hustlers have no incentive to see our current civil war end. They see in this shooting only an opportunity to escalate their demands.

Now there are rumblings of demands that statues of Robert E. Lee and other Southern leaders be destroyed - and if that is done, it will only lead to new demands, perhaps to destroy the Jefferson Memorial because Thomas Jefferson owned slaves. And if that is done, no doubt there will be demands that the city of Washington be renamed, for the same reason.

In short, there is no stopping point, just unending strife as far out as the eye can see. And just what will that accomplish? It could ultimately accomplish the killer's dream of racial polarization and violence.

Neither blacks nor whites will be better off if that happens. With all the very real problems in this society, can we really spare the time and the wasted energy of trying to refight a Civil War that ended before our great-grandparents were born?

The past is irrevocable. We cannot change the smallest detail of what some people did to other people after both have gone to their graves.

Meanwhile, the old South has already changed. There is no way that the South of the mid-twentieth century would have elected a woman of Indian ancestry to be governor of South Carolina or a man of Indian ancestry to be governor of Louisiana, much less have Southern states that voted for a black President of the United States.

Perhaps the strongest evidence of the changes is that the black migrations out of the South a hundred years ago have now reversed - with younger and better educated blacks leading the new migrations from the North to the South. When people vote with their feet, that tells us a lot more than any polls.

If the past is out of our hands, what is in our hands today are the present and the future - and both have big challenges. Whatever policies or practices we consider need to be judged by their actual consequences, not by their rhetoric.

"Hate crime" laws are on some people's agenda. But what will such laws actually accomplish? A murderer deserves the death penalty, whether he killed someone of a different race or killed his own twin brother. All that "hate crime" laws can do is provide the murderer's lawyer with another ground on which to appeal the conviction or the sentence.

Trying to make up for the past with present-day benefits has a track record that shows many counterproductive consequences.

The federal government's pressures against schools to not discipline so many black males is another "benefit" for blacks that is far from beneficial. It means that a handful of hoodlums in a classroom can prevent all the other black children from getting a decent education, which may be their only chance for a decent life.

Another "benefit" for blacks that turns out not to be beneficial is giving the police orders to back off during ghetto riots. Whether in Baltimore recently or in Detroit back in the 1960s, the net result has been more people killed, most of them black, and a whole community put on the downward path of physical and social deterioration.

We need a lot more serious thinking about the present and the future, and a lot less time and energy spent on the past.



Another Leftist ignoramus

Whenever conservatives are in power the Left regularly fling out accusations that conservatives are Nazis.  That the actual Nazis were socialists they ignore.

One particularly amusing example comes from Britain recently.  A prominent Leftist politician, Stephen Kinnock,  described  the British Conservative government's proposal to limit child tax credits to the first two children only  as reminiscent of Nazi-style `eugenics'.  The aim of the policy is to prevent mothers having big families so they can live on the resultant welfare payments.

As Tim Worstall points out, Kinnock got it precisely ass-backward.  The Nazis paid bonuses for extra children and awarded a gold medal for 7 of them.  And it was the Fabians more than anyone else who were into eugenics in the UK.

History always is awkward for the Left



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

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


16 July, 2015

Greece is a corrupt society that CANNOT pay its way

The negotiations over the last few months have been marked by a remarkable degree of public acrimony. Most of the other Eurozone governments have become increasingly and publicly exasperated with the Greeks and the expressions of hostility towards the Greek government from members of national parliaments have grown ever more outspoken. Some of the reasons for this are well known, above all the lack of a true European demos, which means there is not the kind of ultimate solidarity or shared interest that one finds in, for example, the United States. However there is another reason for the acrimony that has not received much attention. The creditors misunderstand what it is they are asking the Greek government and society to do. This lack of understanding is why any deal made now is likely to prove a disappointment.

The impression given by media reports is that this is all about debt, specifically the debts run up by the Greek state before 2009. Certainly there is a problem but it is one that is soluble and does not require the kind of fraught negotiations we have seen. The difficulty is that the fiscal state of Greece before the first bailout in 2010, and the underlying state of the Greek economy, are symptoms of a much more serious underlying problem. This is one not of debt but of competitiveness. Quite simply the Greek economy is not productive enough to support the levels of income and public spending that it now has, without significant capital inflows from outside Greece. Before 2008 these came in the form of private loans, since then in the form of bailouts (even if much of this has been recycled back to private creditors). Greek firms and individuals are simply not competitive with their counterparts elsewhere in Europe, above all in Germany. Being in the Euro means that they cannot adopt the traditional way of regaining at least some competitiveness by devaluing their currency. Instead they have to deflate internally and the attempt to do this has devastated economic life in Greece.

This is well known. It is the reason why the creditors are demanding that in return for a third bailout the Greek government introduce a series of reforms to public spending, the tax system, and the machinery of the Greek state, particularly its tax collecting apparatus. Successive Greek government have either refused to do this or have promised to do it and then failed to. This is why the rest of the Eurozone is becoming ever more exasperated. It is here, however, that the misunderstanding comes in to play.

What the creditors think they are asking for is major shift in public policy. They recognise that the shift they are asking for is radical and many realise in addition that it would involve a shift in the general ideological basis of Greek politics, in a more market liberal direction. However they are actually, without realising it, asking for something much more fundamental and radical.

One question that should be asked is why Greece got into a position that was so much worse than that of other `peripheral' economies. Also, why has the performance of the Greek economy been so much worse than that of other countries that have had bailouts and austerity, such as Spain, Portugal, and Ireland? The answer lies in the fundamental nature of the Greek state and the political economy of which it is the central part.

Greek political culture is dominated by practices and institutions that certainly exist elsewhere in Europe but are not as dominant. The state has a narrow tax base, with powerful interests such as the Orthodox Church effectively exempt. The revenue collection apparatus is completely ineffective so that tax evasion is endemic at every level of income. This means that simply raising or extending VAT for instance is not enough because so many transactions are off the books. At the same time, the Greek state provides generous pensions and other benefits, which it cannot fund. The political system appears to be a modern democracy but is in fact a much older model. The key institution is clientilism: Political actors give out rewards to their clients in the shape of handouts and sinecures in the very large public sector. This is done much more directly than with the kind of interest group politics that we find in most countries and it is central to the whole way that politics works.

The extent of patronage means that the Greek government (whoever they are) does not have a modern, Weberian, bureaucracy to call on. Instead most of the people in the public service owe their positions to networks of patronage and these command their loyalty. The economy is highly regulated in ways that entrench settled interests and inhibit innovation. In particular a very wide range of occupations are subject to rules that make it very difficult for new entrants to get into those sectors. Because of the inefficiency and the existence of a plethora of rules that are irksome but ultimately unenforceable, corruption is endemic and widespread throughout Greek society. This system cannot maintain anything like the standard of living to which most Greeks aspire and as such it means that via membership of the Euro we have seen the development of an economy that depends upon inward transfers to a much greater degree than is the case in countries such as Spain and Ireland.

Given all this it becomes clear that what the creditors are asking for is much more than a shift in policy, no matter how sharp and dramatic. Policy shifts of that kind are part of the normal or regular political process and take place infrequently but still regularly in most polities. The shift brought about by Margaret Thatcher's election in 1979 is an example. What is needed in Greece, and what the creditors are asking for without realising it, is something more fundamental, a change in the very nature of the political system and in the entire nature of politics and government rather than a change of policy within a system. This is a regime change in the original and correct use of that term.

The point of course is that changes of this kind are extremely difficult and only happen rarely. Sometimes it requires a revolution as in France, on other occasions it takes place in the context of a fundamental crisis such as defeat in a major war. Very rarely can it happen when there is a near consensus in a society over what to do, as in Japan in the 1870s. The current Greek government is almost certainly aware of this but apart from ideological objections to part of the list of reforms, they are quite simply unable to do what is asked rather than unwilling because a change in the political order is simply very, very hard.

So the creditors are likely to be disappointed and will then become even more enraged. Moreover, being in the Euro makes any attempt at systemic change in Greece even more difficult than it would be already, because if removes a range of policy options that could alleviate some of the transition costs. As most economists of all persuasions now think, the best option is a managed Greek exit from the Euro. If this does not happen (as seems likely) then this is a production that will run for some time.



How to insult a "progressive"

Pat Condell's latest  --- superb


An illegitimate union

By Walter E. Williams

The victors of war write its history in order to cast themselves in the most favorable light. That explains the considerable historical ignorance about our war of 1861 and panic over the Confederate flag. To create better understanding, we have to start a bit before the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia.

The 1783 Treaty of Paris ended the war between the colonies and Great Britain. Its first article declared the 13 colonies "to be free, sovereign and independent states." These 13 sovereign nations came together in 1787 as principals and created the federal government as their agent. Principals have always held the right to fire agents. In other words, states held a right to withdraw from the pact - secede.

During the 1787 Constitutional Convention, a proposal was made that would allow the federal government to suppress a seceding state. James Madison rejected it, saying, "A union of the states containing such an ingredient seemed to provide for its own destruction. The use of force against a state would look more like a declaration of war than an infliction of punishment and would probably be considered by the party attacked as a dissolution of all previous compacts by which it might be bound."

In fact, the ratification documents of Virginia, New York and Rhode Island explicitly said they held the right to resume powers delegated should the federal government become abusive of those powers. The Constitution never would have been ratified if states thought they could not regain their sovereignty - in a word, secede.

On March 2, 1861, after seven states seceded and two days before Abraham Lincoln's inauguration, Sen. James R. Doolittle of Wisconsin proposed a constitutional amendment that read, "No state or any part thereof, heretofore admitted or hereafter admitted into the union, shall have the power to withdraw from the jurisdiction of the United States."

Several months earlier, Reps. Daniel E. Sickles of New York, Thomas B. Florence of Pennsylvania and Otis S. Ferry of Connecticut proposed a constitutional amendment to prohibit secession. Here's a question for the reader: Would there have been any point to offering these amendments if secession were already unconstitutional?

On the eve of the War of 1861, even unionist politicians saw secession as a right of states. Rep. Jacob M. Kunkel of Maryland said, "Any attempt to preserve the union between the states of this Confederacy by force would be impractical, and destructive of republican liberty."

Both Northern Democratic and Republican Parties favored allowing the South to secede in peace. Just about every major Northern newspaper editorialized in favor of the South's right to secede. New York Tribune (Feb. 5, 1860): "If tyranny and despotism justified the Revolution of 1776, then we do not see why it would not justify the secession of Five Millions of Southrons from the Federal Union in 1861." Detroit Free Press (Feb. 19, 1861): "An attempt to subjugate the seceded states, even if successful, could produce nothing but evil - evil unmitigated in character and appalling in content." The New York Times (March 21, 1861): "There is growing sentiment throughout the North in favor of letting the Gulf States go."

The War of 1861 settled the issue of secession through brute force that cost 600,000 American lives. We Americans celebrate Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, but H.L. Mencken correctly evaluated the speech: "It is poetry, not logic; beauty, not sense." Lincoln said the soldiers sacrificed their lives "to the cause of self-determination - that government of the people, by the people, for the people should not perish from the earth." Mencken says: "It is difficult to imagine anything more untrue. The Union soldiers in the battle actually fought against self-determination; it was the Confederates who fought for the right of people to govern themselves."

The War of 1861 brutally established that states could not secede. We are still living with its effects. Because states cannot secede, the federal government can run roughshod over the U.S. Constitution's limitations of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments. States have little or no response.



Truth is an existential threat to the US government


The United States is not a constitutional republic. It is an oligarchy controlled by wealthy financiers who hire politicians to pass legislation beneficial to them and employ journalists to keep the citizens ignorant and compliant.

Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans believe in democracy. It is simply an ideological contest between two different forms of totalitarianism based on big government, where they represent only themselves in their pursuit of personal power and profit.

Over the last hundred years, the Democrat Party has moved farther and farther to the left, evolving from populism to Marxism and developing an operational model resembling that of the mafia. Its leaders are a gaggle of coffeehouse communists and unindicted felons, who seek the lifestyles of the rich and famous while practicing the politics of Joseph Stalin.

The Republicans are democratic only in the sense that they are willing to sell their votes to the highest bidder, where their political power and, ultimately, compensation from their rich donors increase proportionally with the expansion of government.

The federal government is now an industry competing with the private sector for revenues and resources, but, unlike the private sector, government is unconstrained by regulation and the rule of law.

The cost of public-sector pay and benefits, for example, which in many cases far exceed what comparable workers earn in the private sector, combined with hundreds of billions of dollars in unfunded pension liabilities for retired government workers, are weighing down the economy.

The fundamental problem is public-sector collective bargaining. It is appropriate in the private sector, where workers bargain with private, profit-making corporations and where market forces provide an independent check on both sides' demands.

Yet there is an unholy alliance and a mutually beneficial relationship for money and votes between Democrats and public sector unions, which, in terms of government services, translate into higher costs, lower efficiency and, worst of all, less democracy.

Why are such illogical and dishonest policies allowed to continue? Because it is profitable.

To foster big government from which they personally benefit, the Democrats nurture a Marxist-type victim class, while the Republicans serve the affluent, both at the expense of the Middle Class, whose propensities toward liberty and accountability represent a threat to the hopelessly corrupt status quo that the two major parties and the media endeavor so vigorously to protect.

Ergo, the War on the Middle Class, now pursued by both Democrats and Republicans, albeit for different reasons.

As a consequence and, not surprisingly, today the main the activity of the federal government is lying. Barack Obama lied to get elected, lied to enact his policies and lied when those policies failed. In response, the Republicans added cowardice to their own set of lies.

As George Orwell noted: "In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act."

That is why the political establishment and the media find Donald Trump so frightening; the danger that the truth might be spoken.

There is, however, a greater peril - when blatant and outrageous lies are no longer sufficient to soothe the electorate into complacency, such a government must begin to curtail liberty and oppress the people in order to sustain itself, an approach with which both Democrats and Republicans find agreement.

The United States is on the cusp of a second civil war, one to determine who should control the federal government. It is not a contest between the Democrats and Republicans or liberals and conservatives, but a battle between the entrenched power and tyranny of the bipartisan political-media establishment versus the rights and liberties of the American people.

Only the truth will set us free.



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

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


15 July, 2015

The Stupidity of Sophisticates

by Mark Steyn

Last week, I swung by the Bill Bennett show to chew over the news of the hour. A few minutes before my grand entrance, one of Bill's listeners had taken issue with the idea that these Supreme Court decisions weren't the end and, if you just got on with your life and tended to your garden, things wouldn't be so bad:
Claudine came on and said that's what Germans reckoned in the 1930s: just keep your head down and the storm will pass. How'd that work out?

David Kelsey writes from the University of South Carolina to scoff at that:
In one corner, we have government recognition of marriage contracts between gays. In the other corner, we have Jews, Catholics, gays, their sympathizes [sic] and other undesirables being put in Nazi concentration camps.

One of these things is nothing like the other, unless you're a lunatic. Maybe the reason conservatives keep "losing everything that matters" is because they really can't tell the difference. Which causes increasing numbers of people to recognize them as lunatics.

Since you call me and Claudine "lunatics", allow me to return the compliment and call you an historical illiterate. If "one of these things is nothing like the other", it's because that's never the choice: It's never a question of being Sweden, say, vs being the Islamic State (although, if you're a Jew in MalmĒ, they're looking a lot less obviously dissimilar than you might think).

All societies exist on a continuum. Neither Claudine nor I said a word about "concentration camps". But you give the strong impression that that's the only fact you know about Nazi Germany: Nazis = concentration camps, right? No wonder you think everything divides neatly into opposing "corners". In the world as lived, there are no neatly defined corners. Things start off in the corners and work their way toward the center of the room.

Claudine and I were talking about Germany in the Thirties - before the concentration camps and the Final Solution, before millions of dead bodies piled up in the gas chambers. So you need to have an imaginative capacity. It's not clear from your email that you do, but give it a go: Imagine being a middle-class German in 1933. No one's talking about exterminating millions of people - I mean, that would be just "lunatic" stuff, wouldn't it? And you belong to a people that regards itself as the most civilized on the planet - with unsurpassed achievements in literature and music and science. You might, if you were so minded, call it Teutonic Exceptionalism. And you're "progressive", too: you pioneered the welfare state under Bismarck, and prototype hate-speech laws under the Weimar republic. And yes, some of the beer-hall crowd are a bit rough, but German Jews are the most assimilated on the planet. The idea that such a society would commit genocide is not just "lunatic", it's literally unimaginable.

So don't even bother trying to imagine that. Instead try to imagine it's early 1933. The National Socialist German Workers Party is the largest party in parliament and thus President von Hindenburg has appointed its leader, Herr Hitler, as Chancellor - not der FueĀhrer, just Chancellor, the same position Frau Merkel holds today. And the National Socialist German Workers Party starts enacting its legislative programme, and so a few weeks later the Civil Service Restoration Law is introduced. Under this law, Jews would no longer be allowed to serve as civil servants, teachers or lawyers, the last two being professions in which Jews are very well represented.

But that wily old fox Hindenburg knows a thing or two. So as president he refuses to sign the bill into law unless certain exemptions are made - for those who've been in the civil service since August 1st 1914 (ie, the start of the Great War), and for those who served during the Great War, or had a father or son who died in action. And the practical effect of these amendments is that hardly any Jew in the public service has to lose his job.

And so in April 1933 it would be easy to say, if you were a middle-class German seeking nothing other than a quiet life, that, yes, these National Socialist chappies are a bit uncouth, but the checks and balances are still just about working. What's the worst they can do?

Paul von Hindenburg died the following year, and his amendments were scrapped.

That's Germany's civil service in 1933. What of America's civil service in 2015?

Right now across the land town and county clerks are resigning because they cannot in conscience issue same-sex marriage licenses. In one Tennessee county, the entire clerk's office has resigned. They are observant Christians - which is to say they hold the same view of marriage that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton claimed to until the day before yesterday. But an observant Christian can no longer work in the American civil service, or at least in those branches of it responsible for issuing marriage licenses:
County Clerk Katie Lang cited religious beliefs as her reason for refusing to file the marriage application for Dr. Jim Cato and his partner Joe Stapleton. She did, however, promise that someone in her office would accommodate the couple.

Not good enough. Dr Cato and Mr Stapleton are suing Ms Lang. What else you got?
A Kentucky clerk of court wants the state to issue marriage licenses online so he doesn't have to...

Monday, Davis tried to meet with Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear to ask him to call for a special session of the state legislature so it can pass a law allowing people to purchase marriage licenses online, similar to the process of purchasing a hunting or fishing license.

That's not good enough, either. Who the hell are you to compare a lesbian wedding to a fishing license?

So observant Christians will no longer be able to serve as town or county clerk. Are comparisons really so "lunatic"? The logic of the 1933 Civil Service Restoration Act is that the German public service will be judenrein. The logic of the 2015 Supreme Court decision is that much of the American public service will be christenrein - at least for those who take their Scripture seriously. That doesn't strike me as a small thing - even if one thought it were likely to stop there.

But don't worry, Supreme Arbiter Anthony Kennedy, like President von Hindenburg, has struck a balance:
Finally, it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned.

That's a very constrained definition of religious liberty. He's not saying you'll be able to live your faith, but he's willing to permit you to "advocate" for it.

And that's mighty big of him considering that there's not a lot of Churchillian magnanimity-in-victory to be found elsewhere. Big Gay's supporters are already arguing that churches should lose their tax-exempt status, so if you want to "advocate" your hate you can pay full freight to the US Treasury. And a Pennsylvania newspaper announced it would not permit advocates of non-"equal marriage" to do any advocating in its op-ed or letters pages. So you haters can advocate to each other all you want for an hour on Sunday morning, but when you come to work or you pick up a newspaper you better have left that so-called religion of yours in the back seat of your car. The intention is that Christianity is something that gets banished to the fringes - to the corner, as Mr Kelsey would say - but is incompatible with government, media or a successful and rewarding career.

What else were Germans doing in 1933? Well, on April 8th - one day after the passage of the Civil Service Restoration Act - the German Student Union announced the SĄuberung - the cleansing, the purification - of German culture. That's book-burning to you and me. The Germans were a far more literate people than we are, so book-burning wouldn't get you very far today, although the cleansers and purifiers of our own time have gone quite a long way on that - to the point where a Los Angeles school teacher is in the fifth month of his suspension for reading his class a passage from Huckleberry Finn. But, as I said, we're not as literate as the Germans and we disseminate thought-crimes by other methods, like telly and movies and stand-up comedy.

So, for example, an ancient TV show called "The Dukes of Hazzard" has vanished from the rerun channels because the principal characters in the course of their adventures occasionally travel by motor vehicle and on the roof of said motor vehicle can be glimpsed a verboten emblem. They haven't yet burned all existing prints of the show, although I wouldn't entirely rule it out: the owner of the actual car is already painting the roof.

Meanwhile, apparently non-"lunatic" persons are discussing across the cable networks whether the motion picture Gone With The Wind should be banned from cinema and television screenings. Oh, don't worry, they won't burn all the prints. If you're a credentialed researcher researching a thesis on racism in 20th century racistly American racist culture, you'll be permitted to go to some vault in Sub-Basement Level 12 of the Smithsonian Museum of the Forbidden and arrange a screening.

Incidentally, you know who else banned Gone With The Wind? The Germans - notwithstanding that Margaret Mitchell's book was a personal favorite of Eva Braun's. Alas, in occupied France Miss Mitchell's French readers identified with the Confederates and cast the Germans as the Yankees. Nevertheless, enlightened American "liberals" are now proposing to ban the same subversive stories the Nazis banned.

What else can we ban? The Washington Post - the establishment newspaper of the capital city of the global superpower - had an op ed yesterday by two professors - one who teaches something called "American Encounters 1492-1865" and another who heads up a "department of gender and race studies". It takes not one but two leading intellectuals to explain to Washington Post readers why it's not just "Dukes of Hazzard" and Gone With The Wind: the young comedienne Amy Schumer is also responsible for those Charleston church burnings. Miss Schumer apparently tells edgy jokes:
I used to date Hispanic guys, but now I prefer consensual.

I agree that's not as hilarious a joke as a pasty-faced metrosexual eunuch being Chair of the Department of Gender and Race Studies and persuading liberal whites to take out six-figure loans for the privilege of mastering such grueling scholarly disciplines as "post-Katrina hip-hop". But Stacey Patton and David J Leonard go further and argue that Miss Schumer's joke is somehow connected to the fact that "80 percent of Central American girls and women crossing Mexico en route to the United States are raped". So these Hispanic guys, if I follow Prof Patton's and Prof Leonard's logic, are being driven to rape by Amy Schumer's rape jokes. As David Kelsey likes to say, "one of these things is nothing like the other, unless you're a lunatic": The Nazis thought Jewish bankers were responsible for the Great War - that's lunatic. American liberal intellectuals think Amy Schumer is responsible for 80 per cent of Latinas being raped by human traffickers - that's entirely rational.

There is a virus in the American bloodstream right now, frothing away at Miss Schumer, "Dukes of Hazzard", and a million other things none of which is particularly consequential in itself. But the trick of civilizational self-preservation is to spot this stuff when it's just small things and stop it at the itsy-bitsy stage. It's never one thing that is unlike the other, two opposing corners of civilization and barbarism, an express train rocketing from one to the other. It's always a continuum. The gleefulness of the culture warriors - the abandonment of even any pretense to the tolerance of differing views - does not speak well for where we're headed. The left takes the view that, in Kathy Shaidle's words, it's different when we do it. So banning Gone With The Wind is bad when Nazis do it but good when progressive liberals do it.

For some of us, that won't do: what matters is the abandonment of first principles - on free speech, freedom of association, freedom of religion and much else - and when that happens you stand against it, because it won't stop there. It never does.



Greek Disaster Shows Unavoidable Consequences of irresponsible Leftist spending

Greece is now sitting on $350 billion of debt. It's unpayable and the international monetary experts are deluding themselves if they believe that by some magic stroke this nation of 11 million citizens will sometime in the future come up with the funds to repay it.

Greece is already overtaxed, and adding more taxes on the few businesses that are still functioning is only going to ensure their eventual demise too. Meanwhile the Greek citizens have come to the conclusion that fat pensions and cradle to grave welfare benefits are a human right that can never be taken away. That is what they declared in the referendum. But those benefits are going to be lost. Socialism has radically reduced the standard of living of the citizens.

All of the conventional EU and IMF solutions have been designed to give Greeks time to adjust stop their profligate ways. That hasn't happened. The Greek citizens are simply living way, way beyond their means. This is a nation with an average retirement age of 60. This is a nation that has one in four adults unemployed and half of its young people out of work. With such countrywide levels of idleness, who is there that is working to pay for these super-extravagant benefits? Are the hard-working German citizens going to pay more taxes to pay for lavish benefits to Greek retirees? Almost certainly not. And they would be fools to do so.

Default will force everyone to take a hit. Creditors may get 50 cents on the dollar owed depending on how bleak the finances really are in Athens. Welfare benefits will have to be slashed. Pensions for retirees will be cut based on the new reality of Greece's finances. This may seem "unfair," but how is it fair to require young Greek citizens to pay exorbitant taxes to pay for the sins of their fathers and grandfathers. And default, at least, may provide the opportunity for a fresh start.

When Detroit filed for bankruptcy, it allowed the Motor City to in effect start over economically. The city is financially cut off from much borrowing. Government workers have been laid off. Benefits have finally been trimmed. And guess what? Detroit is making a comeback. Real estate values are rising. Construction is beginning again. In a decade, Detroit could be a financially sound and desirable place to live and do business.

One implication of this solution is that investors may start to view sovereign debt as risky, not risk free. They will charge nations-especially those that have massive unfunded liabilities-higher interest rates on their debt. Making it harder for bloated governments to borrow would be a positive development. More money would flow to private sector borrowing, and less to governments.

The bigger chance of fiscal contagion is to accede to the Greek voters' demands for better terms of its debt repayment. If that happens every nation that owes debts to the IMF or the European Union will demand more generous terms from its creditors. Nations like Argentina and Bolivia will stop making payments on international loans and claim the conditions are too tough to repay.

The big lie is that Greece has already lived through austerity. This is a nation that in 2013 was spending up to 59 percent of its GDP on government benefits and programs. Even today the government accounts for half of all spending. How is that austerity? The problem is as the private economy shrinks, the government's role keeps expanding. Greece's debt was 120 percent of GDP a decade ago, and now its 175 percent. This is the opposite of austerity. It is a spendfest.

In sum, Greece needs much less socialism, and much more privatization. Sell off government assets. Cut tax rates. Sell one of the islands to Disney. Oust the communists who ruined this nation. Get government spending down to 25 percent of GDP.



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

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


14 July, 2015

Is it wrong for Western firms to make agricultural investments in Third world countries?

Antony Loewenstein  (Tony is a self-hating Jew. Loewenstein is Yiddish  for Lion Stone) below roundly criticizes a host of existing  such investments but his words are a classic example of selective Leftist attention. 

His wail is based on a false premise:  That the developed world needs land from elsewhere to feed itself.  Hitler thought the same.  His
Drang nach Osten was driven by the simplistic assumption that Germany's growing population needed more land for farms so that the increased population could be fed.  So Germany had to take land off Russia and Poland.  Any economist could have explained to him how and why he was wrong but socialists like Mr. Hitler think they know it all so don't listen to economists.

In the case of Mr Lion Stone below he has even less excuse than Hitler.  Surely he knows that under capitalism even CHINA exports food!  Under Communism they had to import food -- Australian wheat for instance.  But under private ownership the flow has now reversed.

Despite giving their own people ever higher standards of living,  the clever and hard-working farmers of China still have enough food left over to fill the cans of most of the "Home brand" foods on our supermarket shelves.  Check where your next can of cheap tomato soup comes from if you doubt it.  And most of the world's garlic now comes from China.  And European truffle suppliers are greatly outraged by the competition from Chinese truffles!  It goes on...

And it is not only China. Both the USA and Europe use various mechanisms to stop their farmers from producing too much.  Farmers are paid not to farm part of their land etc.  And Europe's butter mountains and wine lakes are a byword.  The characteristic Western food problem is GLUT:  Too much food.

In short, Mt Lion Stone reveals himself below as what Australians call a drongo:  So stupid it is a wonder he can feed himself.  He knows not even the basics of what he writes about.  So how accurate his reporting below is, is anyone's guess.  It could be nothing more than bile.

So it's amusing that Hitler and the Leftist Jew below make the same mistake.  They are united by Leftist ignorance and unwillingless to listen.  Only their chronic anger matters to them.  Not the facts.

But, no doubt, powerless people in the Third world do get treated badly but that is not the fault of Western countries or Western companies.  It is the fault of their own revolting governments.  The companies investing in agricultural projects in Third world countries are there for only one reason:  Because the governments of the countries want them there.  The governments see that by encouraging investment they can skim some cream off the top.  That they make little use of such cream to compensate their own dispossessed people is their doing:  No-one else's

But criticizing the people actually responsible for a problem is of no interest to  Leftists.  And we certainly must not criticize those lovely brown people.  Criticising their own countries and societies is what gives Leftists erections and any illogic will do to enable that

Ethiopiaís Omo Valley is one of the most culturally diverse places on the planet. Industrial-size sugar plantations and a soon to open dam are strangling indigenous communities over more than 375,000 hectares. Ethiopia is experiencing economic growth (though itís a brutal dictatorship) and yet millions of its citizens suffer from chronic food shortages.

The government has sold vast tracts of land to a Turkish agri-business firm and other foreign investors, all without consultation with the Kara people. Forced displacement is common though the Ethiopian government denies it. A Malaysian company stands accused of disenfranchising the Suri people with its plantation in South-western Ethiopia. India is at the forefront of taking land across Ethiopia.

American photographer Jane Baldwin has been visiting the Omo River for a decade, documenting the gradual erosion of local rights, and she tells me via email that foreign investors threaten ďself-sustaining agro-pastoral communities.Ē A local woman from the Nyangatom tribe, who canít be named due to threats against her life, says that, ďThey are taking this river to sell the hydroelectric power. We say to them, if this river is taken from us, we might as well kill ourselves so we wonít starve to death. If you decide to make a dam there, before you start the dam, you better come here and kill us all.Ē

Ethiopia is just one country affected by land grabs conducted by Wall Street bankers, business opportunists and countries hungry for fertile territory. In Africa, global hedge funds are purchasing vast areas of land in Mali, Sierra Leone and Tanzania. A recent investigation by the Huffington Post and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists found that the World Bank was complicit in the removal of the indigenous Sengwer people in Kenya.

American academic Michael Kugelman, from the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars and co-editor of The Global Farms Race, says that the main problem with foreign land deals is the lack of benefit to local stakeholders.

ďImpoverished and food-insecure countries are giving away not only their precious farmland but also the food that springs from itĒ, he tells me via email.

He explains that the key players buying up resources are China, the Gulf countries, East Asian states and the West Ė and they mostly target sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America. The need for reliable sources of farmland across Africa and the globe in an age of deforestation and climate change means controlling food production Ė or the arable land on which food can be grown Ė can give immense leverage over developing states. TIAA-CREF is one firm, an American financial group, who has invested US$5 billion in farmland from Brazil to Australia despite the lack of quick returns.



Insurers are seeking huge premium increases because of ObamaCare's unbalanced risk pools

The unaffordable care act in action

Health insurance companies are signaling huge health insurance premium increases ahead of the 2016 open enrollment period. This is due to the droves of older and sicker consumers who signed up for coverage on the ObamaCare Exchanges, according to a report from The New York Times. Requests submitted by insurance are approved by state regulators, such as state insurance commissioners, but the proposed rates reflect a higher utilization of healthcare than expected.

Rate increases vary by state and health plans offered. Oregon has already announced premium increases between 8 percent and nearly 38 percent for a 40-year-old on a Silver plan purchased through the federal Exchange (the state shuttered its state Exchange after an epically disastrous launch). Most increases for this type of plan in Oregon are in the double digits.

The Times notes that Blue Cross and Blue Shield, which dominates the market in a number of states, is seeking premium increases for its plans that "average 23 percent in Illinois, 25 percent in North Carolina, 31 percent in Oklahoma, 36 percent in Tennessee and 54 percent in Minnesota." Blue Cross and Blue Shield is seeking an average increase of 51 percent in New Mexico.

Insurance spokespersons who spoke to the Times explained that the increase requests are due to higher than expected payouts for claims. "At Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota," the paper explained, "the ratio of claims paid to premium revenues was more than 115 percent, and the company said it lost more than $135 million on its individual insurance business in 2014." Another company, the Utah-based Arches Health Plan, paid out $16.6 million more in claims than it collected in premiums in 2014.

The Obama administration expected 38 percent to 40 percent of enrollees would be between the ages of 18 and 34. People who fall into this crucial age demographic tend not to utilize their coverage as much as older enrollees. But only 28 percent of enrollees in the 2014 and 2015 open enrollment periods were between 18 and 34, according data released by the Department of Health and Human Services.

While the initial rate shock under ObamaCare came from the mandated benefits promulgated by bureaucrats in Washington, taxes and fees, and actuarial benefit requirements, the latest round of premium increases can be partially attributed to unbalanced risk pools. The risk pools have older and sicker enrollees, who utilize their coverage more often than younger and healthier enrollees, than insurers expected.

President Barack Obama's response to the request increases is typical. During a trip to Tennessee last week, he said that public pressure on regulators is the key to keeping down premium increases. "So I think the key for Tennessee is just making sure that the insurance commissioner does their job in not just passively reviewing the rates, but really asking, 'OK, what is it that you are looking for here? Why would you need very high premiums,'" Obama told the crowd. "And my expectation is, is that they'll come in significantly lower than what's being requested."

Increased costs to taxpayers are another problem. Currently, 85 percent of those who purchased coverage through an Exchange receive subsidies. As premiums rise, so will the cost of the subsidies. The budgetary impact is unclear because rates have not been finalized, but taxpayers can expect to pick up a large percentage of the premium increases for plans available on the ObamaCare Exchanges.

Typically, state insurance regulators negotiate with insurers to bring down the requested rate increases. But with ObamaCare's requirement that 80 percent of premiums paid go to the healthcare of the insured, insurers, particularly those that have seen losses due to the higher utilization of care, may not have much of a choice other than to raise premiums to keep their reserves stable. It may not be ideal for consumers, who may have to change plans and risk losing their doctor because of premium increases, but this is the new normal under ObamaCare.



Pennsylvania law-enforcement funding should come from Pennsylvania lawmakers, not from the property of innocent people

Pennsylvania has one of the worst civil asset forfeiture laws in the country, in the country, but a recently introduced reform proposal would protect innocent people from this form of government overreach. Prosecutors in the Commonwealth are, however, aggressively trying to defend the pernicious practice, which is often used to go after property of law-abiding citizens.

SB 869 would end civil asset forfeiture in Pennsylvania by requiring a criminal conviction before the government can take property connected to a crime. The bill would end the perverse profit motive often behind seizures by requiring that proceeds from forfeitures be spent to reimburse costs of storage and selling forfeited property, compensate victims of crime, and pay attorneysí fees and court costs of property owners who have prevailed in forfeiture proceedings. Remaining funds would be directed to the Commonwealth's general fund. HB 508 is companion bill introduced in the state House. FreedomWorks supports both bills.

Importantly, the bills restrict the use of federal forfeiture law to prevent law enforcement from circumventing protections. Currently, state and local law enforcement working in coordination or conjunction with federal agencies can send seized property to the federal government for "adoption" and receive 80 percent of the proceeds back through the Justice Department's Equitable Sharing Fund. While the bills do not prevent federal agencies from seizing property or sharing proceeds from forfeitures with state and local law enforcement, it does place the same limitations on use of the funds.

Prosecutors are, however, fighting back against SB 869, claiming that it would hinder law enforcement by taking away a funding mechanism. "It would devastate law enforcement," Lebanon County District Attorney Dave Arnold told WGAL in a recent story on the legislation. "It would take away our ability to fund investigations." Arnold said that "checks" already exist to prevent abuse, but that is belied by actual examples of abuse of civil asset forfeiture in Pennsylvania.

While civil asset forfeiture was meant to fight back against drug kingpins by targeting property and cash, too often, innocent people are negatively impacted by its use. Take the story of Christo and Markella Sourovelis, for example. Their son, Yanni, was caught selling $40 worth of drugs from the family's suburban Philadelphia home. He was arrested and sentenced to a diversion program for first-time offenders. But not long after, law enforcement seized the family's home and the Sourovelises were cast out onto the street.

Christo and Markella were not charged with a crime, but, to get their home back, they had to show up at Room 478 at Philadelphia City Hall. There was no judge or jury present, only a prosecutor with a perverse interest in pursuing the forfeiture because, under Pennsylvania's current civil asset forfeiture laws, law enforcement receives 100 percent of the proceeds from the sale of forfeited property. The system was set up for them to fail. Not only did they have to prove their home was innocent because, in an inversion of justice, the burden of proof in Pennsylvania falls on the property owner, missing any of the mandated appearances to contest the seizure would have resulted in automatic forfeiture.

Eventually, after the Institute for Justice got involved in the case, the city dropped the proceeding and the Sourovelises were able to move back into their home. Theirs is not the only example, of course. The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania recently released a report noting that almost a third of those whose cash and property is seized in Philadelphia are never convicted or a crime.

State Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon), the lead sponsor of SB 869, disputed the notion of opponents of the bill. "If you're becoming dependent on this, if things are a little slow, and you might be telling the guys, 'Hey, we need to pick up on some of these seizures because money is a little tight right now."

Prosecutors, police departments, and sheriffs should, of course, be fully funded to the extent that they can fulfill their duties to protect and serve the public, but this is the responsibility of the state and local governments. Because of the very low standard of proof required to subject property to forfeiture, the burden of proof falling on the property owner, and the perverse profit motive, Pennsylvania's civil asset forfeiture laws encourage law enforcement to devote time and efforts to self-fund. These laws have, in a very real way, changed the nature of policing.

State and local lawmakers should address funding concerns, but it is a separate issue from the problems with the Commonwealth's civil asset forfeiture. SB 869 and HB 508 would restore due process and protect the property of innocent Pennsylvanians in a meaningful way and allow law enforcement to focus on its primary responsibility of protecting and serving individuals.



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

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


13 July, 2015

America's Destiny in the Balance

In 1856 Harper's Magazine published a quote first attributed to Jose Correia de Serra, a Portuguese Abbot, scientist and close friend of Thomas Jefferson: "It has been said that a `special Providence watches over children, drunkards and the United States'."  The presidency of Barack Obama is the latest example of the accuracy of this observation, since the American people have been granted a last chance, before it is too late, to reverse course as a window has been forced open for the citizenry to view what future will bring if the nation remains on its present course.

Beginning in the 1930's, under the aegis of Franklin Roosevelt, the nation began a drift to the left as a reaction to the Great Depression.  However, those truly committed to socialist/Marxist philosophy and tactics remained in the shadows until the 1960's.  The Viet Nam war protests unleashed far more than just a demand for an end to the war.  Those that blamed America for all manner of alleged sins in the past and determined to transform the United States into a socialist/Marxist nirvana were able to step out from behind the shadows and enter the mainstream of national legitimacy.  This swarm of locusts soon enveloped the higher levels of academia spawning countless clones to further infiltrate all strata of society -- most notably the mainstream media, the entertainment complex and the ultimate target: the Democratic Party.  These vital segments of the culture are now instruments of indoctrination, propaganda and political power.

The curriculum throughout all levels of schooling and the scripts of movies and television shows were gradually but inexorably altered to reflect the American left's mindset, not only about governing, but their determination to undermine basic societal moral and religious underpinning as a necessary step in assuring that an eventual ill-educated and dependent populace would look to a government controlled by a single political party as their savior and provider.

Over the past fifty years, as the foundation of the United States was being stealthily eroded, the vast majority of the American people slumbered content in unprecedented peace and prosperity.  Regardless of who was in the White House or in control of Congress, no one has been able or willing, as by-product of this public apathy, to curtail the incessant spread of so-called Progressivism in the nation's institutions as well as the exponential growth of government with its tentacles increasingly intertwined in the day-to-day lives of all Americans.

Nonetheless in 2008 this was still a right of center country, as less than 20% of the populace identified themselves as liberal or in favor of an all-powerful central government and over 80% self identified as religious.  It was clear that it would take at least 15 to 20 years of public and political indifference and another fully indoctrinated generation before the tenets of socialism/Marxism would completely envelop the nation and its social and political institutions, thus being impossible to ever reverse.

It was at this point that Barack Obama was thrust upon the scene.  No nominee in the history of the United States was less qualified to be president, as he had no accomplishments or executive experience except to be steeped in socialist/Marxist ideology and tactics.  Nonetheless due to a extraordinary confluence of circumstances -- the self-inflicted and near universal unpopularity of George W. Bush, a catastrophic financial meltdown six weeks before the presidential election, uninspiring and feckless opposition in the primaries and the general election and, most importantly, the unique factor of skin color -- he was elected President. 

With the ascendancy of Barack Obama to the White House the acolytes of the American Left, in their giddiness over the election of a fellow traveler, abandoned all pretext of moderation.  Their adherence to the scorched earth tactics of Saul Alinski, open and unabashed advocacy of socialist/Marxist tenets, the depths to which they had infiltrated American society and the Democratic Party quickly began to come into focus.

After nearly six and half years of the Obama administration and the ongoing rampage of the Left, it is clear for all to see what future lies in store for the United States under the long term reign of this cabal:

 The Supreme Court is one justice away from being dominated by politically motivated leftists, four of whom are already in place, bent on relegating the Constitution to the dustbin of history and replacing it with the Left's agenda.

In due course, freedom of speech, religion and the press will be what the central government and courts, controlled by one party, allow it to be.

All macro-economic activity will be determined by Washington D.C., and in order to continue to operate major corporations, their managements will have to be subservient to the central government per the basic tenets of fascism.  Small business formation will be severely curtailed as the federal regulatory state determines who and what business can be formed.

The power and independence of the individual states will be vastly eroded as the courts and the power of the purse emanating from Washington will force them into compliance with the whims of the Democratic Party.

The Republican Party will cease to effectively exist except as a token opposition party, as fund raising laws, a media controlled by the government, regulations and court decisions will render it ineffective.

There will be a permanent massive underclass encompassing over 50% of the population as a result of central planning, massive open door immigration, the near non-existence of new business formation and the inability of the country to weather the next global financial crisis.  They and the remnant of the middle class that remains will be increasingly dependent on government largess as the national debt approaches 200% of a declining Gross Domestic Product and the nation lives under a constant threat of hyper-inflation.

The United States will, in due course, become a hollow military power unable to play a role on the world stage as other government expenditures and a declining standard of living render defense spending moot.  As a result the country will find itself under increasing level of domestic attacks by terrorists spawned in the Middle East and acting as agents of America's enemies.  China will take over the status as the world's super power as the United States voluntarily casts itself into a subservient role.

Eventually this nation as we know it will cease to exist as a violent reaction to all the above will eventuate in a revolution and split the country into three or four independent nations.

Notwithstanding the above, a plurality of the American people have begun to wake up to this potential reality as revealed by the outcome of the 2014 mid-term elections wherein the Democratic Party suffered massive defeats at all levels of government.  However, far too many are still living in their self-induced stupor unable or unwilling to understand where this nation is headed and why.  Coupled with the urgency of the populace and the opposition party to vigorously push back against the onslaught of the American Left for the next 18 months the election of 2016 will be the most critical in the nation's history if the nation is to survive in peace and prosperity.

I am an immigrant to this country and a displaced survivor of a war that destroyed a continent. A war fomented by men, beginning the 1920's, who also adhered to the same basic tenets espoused by Barack Obama and his fellow travelers.  I have seen and experienced the end product of their narcissism and megalomania. 



Get a room (but only if it is government-approved)

In 2008 Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia were having difficulty paying the rent for their loft in San Francisco. A large conference was coming to town and the hotels were filled. Recognizing an opportunity to make ends meet, the pair converted their living room into a bed-and-breakfast, offering up to three guests an air mattress and morning meal in exchange for some cash.

"I remember seeing on their websites that all the hotels were sold out. So we got the idea, why don't we make our apartment into a little bed-and-breakfast?" Chesky said.

The pair made $1,000 that weekend -- and paid their rent.

AirBed & Breakfast, or Airbnb, was born.

Along with a third cofounder, Nathan Blecharczyk, the company initially focused on large events in places where hotels were likely to be sold out. They wanted to provide a variety of lodging, booking anything "from a tent to a castle" at any price point.

The idea took off. Airbnb's online lodging platform has allowed people to make money renting their homes and other properties for various periods. According to the company's website, Airbnb has arranged for more than 25 million people to visit more than 34,000 cities in 190 countries. The site boasts over 1 million lodging options worldwide.

Despite this overwhelming success, Airbnb has met significant resistance. In Louisville, Kentucky, for example, property owners renting their homes through Airbnb recently received cease-and-desist orders from the local government claiming they were running illegal hotels. The city could fine the owners up to $500 per day if they don't stop renting their spaces.

Why would the city of Louisville and others want to ban such a popular service?

Some claim it's an issue of safety both for guests and hosts, since Airbnb isn't regulated by the government as hotels are. But Airbnb strives to ensure safety for all concerned. The website requires guests and hosts to verify their identities by connecting their social networks and scanning their official IDs -- that's more than you get from the local motel operator.

Moreover, the system operates on a peer-to-peer review system. Guests and hosts review one another. But unlike with a hotel, for which anyone can submit a review, Airbnb renters and hosts can only review their experiences after a confirmed stay.

This provides future guests and hosts key information, enhancing their safety.

Before we assume that the government crackdown on Airbnb comes from genuine concern about safety, we should consider some other, less benevolent motives.

First, many state and local governments have turned to hotel taxes to pad their budgets. Travelers can pay a tax up to 17 percent of the cost of their hotel room. Airbnb threatens this revenue stream, giving government officials an incentive to shut it down.

Second, and not surprisingly, many hotels staunchly oppose Airbnb. Since the company provides a competitive alternative, hotels have a strong interest in hampering its operation or blocking its growth.

The threat is significant. Last year The Economist magazine stated that Airbnb could reduce hotel revenues as much as 10 percent. Recognizing this threat, hotels are lobbying elected officials for policies to protect their interests.

In fact, the American Hotel & Lodging Association spent over $1 million in lobbying last year, including a variety of attempts to legally disrupt or dismantle Airbnb's business at state and local levels.

The losers from banning or impeding Airbnb and other innovative services, such as ride-booking services Uber and Lyft, are consumers and producers. The 25 million transactions facilitated by Airbnb were undertaken because guests and hosts believed they would be better off.

Politicians deny individuals this choice not because it benefits those individuals, but because it benefits the politicians themselves. Letting the market operate freely would make producers and consumers better off, but it would anger sources of political support and threaten government coffers.

If we choose to visit a city, we don't ask the government what we should see, where we should dine or how we should travel. Likewise, government has no business telling us where we should lay our heads at night.

Let's keep government out of the bedroom, even if we're renting it for only an evening.



Obama Just Keeps Cutting the Military

While the U.S. military is facing a myriad of threats, a smattering of merry little wars, the Obama administration is pushing forward with its plan to cut 40,000 troops from the ranks. According to a pentagon document that USA Today acquired, the administration wants to finish drawing down Americaís military capability by Sept. 30, 2018.

In 2013, the Pentagon said a reduction of troops past 450,000 would start to impair the militaryís ability to respond to crises around the world. And these cuts would bring military strength right to that edge. The further budget cuts imposed by Obamaís sequestration could push the number lower.

For an example of how this hampers the U.S., look to the fight against the Islamic State. The Obama administration would rather train proxy fighters in Iraq and Syria ó but just 60 Syrian fighters have so far been trained. On Monday, Barack Obama said the U.S. is ramping up the training of the Islamic State Iraqi forces. But the Senate Armed Services Committee found those training programs to be ďanemicĒ and it called for reform of the airstrike campaign.

If Obama continues these limp-wristed strategies, his only option will be to debate the Islamic State out of existence.



Miserable old antisemite says ĎI Believe Jesus Would Approve Gay Marriageí

 Former President Jimmy Carter in an interview with HuffPost Live on Tuesday said he believes Jesus would approve gay marriage and would encourage any ďlove affairĒ that was ďhonest and sincere and was not damaging to anyone else.Ē

ďI believe Jesus would,Ē Carter said when asked whether Jesus would approve of gay marriage. ďI donít have any verse in scripture ... I believe that Jesus would approve gay marriage, but that's just my own personal belief. I think Jesus would encourage any love affair if it was honest and sincere and was not damaging to anyone else, and I don't see that gay marriage damages anyone else."

Carter, a born-again Christian and Baptist, said he still teaches Sunday school whenever he attends his home church. He. said he has never ran across ďany really serious conflictsĒ between his political obligations and his religious faith.

When asked about gay marriage, Carter said he has no problem with it and thinks everyone should have the right to get married, ďregardless of their sex.Ē

ďThe only thing I would draw a line on, I wouldnít be in favor of the government being able to force a local church congregation to perform gay marriages if they didnít want to. But those two partners should be able to go to the local courthouse or to a different church and get married,Ē he said.


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 WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


12 July, 2015

Carter's Wrong ó America Is Not in Inevitable Decline

America survived Carter.  It can survive Obama too

As the worst U.S. president of the 20th century, Jimmy Carterís prognostications about foreign policy should be taken for what theyíre worth ó nothing. But that didnít stop MSNBC from asking the former president his thoughts on the state of America in the modern world. Carterís response was predictably pessimistic.

America is ďin an inevitable relative decline,Ē Carter said, ďnot because of any fault of oursĒ but through ďthe combination of China and India and Brazil and South Africa and othersĒ exercising ďeconomic and cultural influence [that] will replace a lot of the power and preeminence that the United States enjoyed in the past.Ē

ďItís just happening,Ē Carter explained, ďin the historical evolutionary, unavoidable circumstance.Ē

At least he didnít use the word ďmalaise.Ē

Carterís mindset is shared by the leftist intelligentsia. They have predicted and, more importantly, sought to bring about our nationís downfall for decades, rolling out a string of would-be superpower replacements ranging from the former Soviet Union to Saudi Arabia, Japan, the European Union and now China. Carter joins the likes of Columbia professor Jeffrey Sachs, serial plagiarist Fareed Zakaria and former Enron adviser Paul Krugman in wistfully speaking of Americaís bygone status, but their views are tainted by a raw disdain for the U.S. and what it stands for.

They pretend to lament the days of American greatness, but they often rail against the U.S. for being an international ďbullyĒ standing athwart some socialist utopia. Simply peel back Carterís words on MSNBC or one of Krugmanís New York Times columns, and lurking just below the surface is contempt for capitalism, individual liberty and the republican form of government that made this country great.

As Investorís Business Daily pointed out, American decline is no more inevitable than its rise as a world power. And whoís to say that America is in decline anyway? Despite the best efforts of Carter, Obama, Krugman and friends, America remains the worldís preeminent power. No other country, or combination of countries, can do what we do, because they donít have what we have.

This nationís wealth rivals that of China, Japan, the UK and Germany combined. It is home to by far the richest and most robust consumer market. And our military still holds sway the world over despite recent and unwise cutbacks.

Carterís assertion that other countries stand ready to replace America is overselling it a bit. The oft-cited bogeyman China just suffered an economic shock this week that wiped out a third of its stock marketís value. And years of forced abortion and social engineering are destined to send that country into a demographic tailspin that could unravel its social fabric in the coming decades.

The European Union is constantly on the brink of unraveling because of debt issues from member states like Greece and Portugal. The nations that make up the EU canít even agree on a defense strategy, despite the fact that the two bloodiest wars of the last century were born there.

Decline, as political analyst Charles Krauthammer once put it, is a choice ó one that Carter consciously made when he buckled to the Islamists who took over Iran in 1979, and one our current commander in chief is making with that very same regime over its nuclear weapons program.

Carter, Obama and their ilk speak of American decline not so much because thatís what they see, but because itís what they want. Their inherent pessimism guides their decisions, as does their disdain for individual liberty and personal responsibility. The very things that make this country great are what annoy them most, and they want to knock us down a few pegs. Consequently, they look to nations that donít possess Americaís qualities as a means to offset our power and influence.

In recent times, few have understood the greatness and unique qualities of this country better than Ronald Reagan. It was no accident that America thrived under his leadership because he believed in this country and recognized how special it truly is. He shared that vision succinctly in his farewell address in 1989:

ďIíve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I donít know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. Thatís how I saw it, and see it still.Ē

In fact, Reagan concluded, ďWe did it. We werenít just marking time. We made a difference. We made the city stronger, we made the city freer, and we left her in good hands. All in all, not bad, not bad at all.Ē

As Reagan did after Carter, our nation is in desperate need of a post-Obama leader who can once again prove how very wrong the anti-America Left really is.



Jan Brewer: Donald Trump 'Telling It Like It Really, Truly Is'

Although he's been villified by amnesty advocates, business tycoon Donald Trump is right about the problems, including crime, caused by people crossing into the United States illegally, says the former governor of Arizona.

"I believe that Mr. Trump is kind of telling it like it really, truly is," Republican Jan Brewer told CNN's Don Lemon Wednesday night. "You know, being the governor of (Arizona), the gateway of illegal immigration for six years, we had to deal with a lot of things.

"I think that the people of Arizona realize that we picked up the tab for the majority of the violence that comes across to our border with regards to the drug cartels, the smugglers, the drop houses. It has been horrendous. And, of course, they come through Arizona and therefore, end up in other states and go throughout the country."

Trump says Mexico is pushing its problem people into the United States:

"I'm talking about the government," Trump told CNN's Anderson Cooper in an interview that aired Wednesday night. "Everybody knows it.

"This man -- or this animal -- that shot the wonderful, that beautiful woman in San Francisco, this guy was pushed out by Mexico. We bring them back and they push them out. Mexico pushes back people across the border that are criminals, that are drug dealers."

"They're causing tremendous problems," Trump continued. "In terms of crime, in terms of murder, in terms of rape...If somebody is an illegal immigrant they shouldn't be here at all. There shouldn't be any crime. They're not supposed to be in our country. And I'm not just talking Mexico."

Trump has said he would seal the U.S.-Mexico border and get Mexico to pay for it.

Brewer, speaking to CNN after Trump's interview aired, said, "I think everybody knows that he's right in regards to that -- the coming across our border."

She said only one in four illegal aliens is apprehended at the border. "So, we don't even know how many are here."

Asked if Trump should "change his tone," Brewer admitted she  hasn't heard everything he's said. "I just know what I have lived through, being resident and governor of the State of Arizona. That we have a horrendous problem. And we've got an illegal immigration problem in our country. And I think the people overwhelmingly understand and realize that. And we have to find a solution, and that solution is getting our border secured so we can deal with the other issues."

Later, Brewer asked Lemon a question: "Why is it that we want to not look at the fact that people are illegal? They're coming into our country illegally. And along with the immigrants that are coming for work, there are others that are coming for criminal reasons.

"And they let them go and they let them go and they let them go and deport them, and then they come right back and commit other crimes. You know, we're a country that we believe (in) and we support the rule of law. And if we're out there saying, 'Well, we don't support the law,' then we'd be crazy, too."

Brewer said the border can be secured with a wall, technology, or even boots on the ground. "They did a pretty darned good job in California -- why they can't they do it in Arizona?" she asked. "But they haven't because they don't want to. For whatever the reason is, I will tell you, earnestly, I believe that with all the issues that all of this illegal immigration has caused in this country, if we don't get the border secured, we're never going to find a solution. We're never going to find a solution."

Trump also said the first order of business is to make the southern border "impenetrable," as he told Anderson Cooper on Wednesday. Second,  he said he would kick out the criminals -- "and the people that are forced in by Mexico, and you know exactly what I am talking about,"  he said.

"The rest I would be looking at very seriously," he added, but he did not endorse a pathway to citizenship. "It is too early for me to say. And when you say citizenship, the most we would be talking about was legal (status). But let me just tell you, before I even think about that, we have to build a...wall, a real wall. Not a wall that people walk through."

Trump noted that he's speaking this weekend in Arizona: "They say the crowd is going to be enormous. Somebody said I am the most popular person in Arizona because I am speaking the truth. Those people are living with it.



Racist Republicans Hate Children

ďGOP has knives out for school lunch rules,Ē headlines The Hill. ďFirst lady Michelle Obamaís signature school lunch regulations are Ö a pillar of the first ladyís initiative to curb childhood obesity in the United States,Ē The Hill informs us. And who could be against healthy kids? Or the first lady? Evil Republicans, thatís who.

Never mind that top-down regulation virtually never works, or that kids universally hate the new lunches to the point that schools are dropping them and/or demanding changes. The bottom line is that the 2010 Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) expires on Sept. 30, and Republicans are holding hearings to determine if itís worth more than the $3 billion already spent to dump unwanted food in the trash.

In 2014, Michelle lectured, ďThe last thing that we can afford to do right now is play politics with our kids' health.Ē But playing politics is the name of the game. The first lady ó an honorary and not official position, by the way ó canít federalize school lunches and then insist itís not political.



Obama wants to choose your neighbors

Having spent years perfecting the art of inciting race warfare, Barack Obama and his administration released new housing rules that will define, qualify and categorize every community across the country by race, with the aim of forcing every neighborhood to comply with government race quotas.

It sounds ominous because it is. But itís hardly surprising from the narcissist who pledged to ďfundamentally transformĒ America.

Under the new Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule (AFFH), announced by Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julian Castro this week, the federal government will amass and centralize nationwide public data on communities, including ďpatterns of integration and segregation, racially and ethically concentrated areas of poverty, disproportionate housing needs, and disparities in access to opportunity.Ē Big Brother doesnít just want to look over your shoulder; he wants to move into your home.

HUD claims the rule will ďequip communities that receive HUD funding with the data and tools that will help them to meet long-standing fair housing obligations.Ē In truth, however, AFFH is a stealth move to socially engineer every street in America and to force compliance with what Obama thinks communities should look like ó namely, more "affordable" housing in affluent neighborhoods.

But as political analyst Marc Thiessen noted, ď[W]e believe in diversifying communities, too, as conservatives. The way you do that is through economic opportunity. ... Itís not by building more affordable housing in the affluent communities. Itís by helping more Americans afford housing in affluent communities. And right now the problem is that people at the bottom of the Obama economy canít get ahead.Ē

Still, Washington wants to take over local zoning authority to impose racial quotas on communities. And as Ethics and Public Policy Center Senior Fellow Stanley Kurtz warns, ďOnce HUD gets its hooks into a municipality, no policy area is safe. Zoning, transportation, education, all of it risks slipping into the control of the federal government and the new, unelected regional bodies the feds will empower."

Nevertheless, Liberty aside, The Washington Postís Emily Badger heralded the new rules as a way to ďrepair the [Fair Housing Actís] unfulfilled promise and promote the kind of racially integrated neighborhoods that have long eluded deeply segregated cities like Chicago and Baltimore.Ē Funny she mentions those particular cities. While she points to Chicagoís ďdecadesĒ of segregation as evidence that AFFH is needed, Badger fails to note those same decades were spent under solely Democrat leadership. Similarly, Baltimore has been led by the Left since Lyndon Johnson was president. Coincidence? We think not.

Also not coincidental is the way the government and media have remained largely mum on what the administrationís real plan is. Kurtz notes, ďObama has downplayed his policy goals in this area and delayed the finalization of AFFH for years, because he understands how politically explosive this rule is. Once the true implications of AFFH are understood, Americans will rebel.Ē

And rebel they should. As if Washington putting on a lab coat and stethoscope werenít bad enough, now Obama wants to become zoning authority, landlord, realtor and public transportation chief combined. He's is leaving no racist rock unturned in his quest to undermine Liberty.

Making matters worse, the Supreme Courtís recent ruling in the Texas Fair Housing case ó in which a liberal majority said groups claiming housing discrimination no longer need to prove their case on the merits but only to claim ďintent" to discriminate ó means the real implications of AFFH will be a racially charged free-for all, with no gray areas and everything defined in black and white (pun intended).

Forget Martin Luther Kingís noble notion of judging people by the content of their character. Obama wants to judge entire neighborhoods by the speciously calculated color of their skin. This is not the way of Liberty or of opportunity; itís another giant leap down the road to statism, and it has no place in a nation that promises equal opportunity, not equal results, for all.



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

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


10 July, 2015

America the crazy

By David Limbaugh

Lately I've shared my lament that in America today we are witnessing a surreal transformation of the greatest nation in history. Last week, a spate of headlines made this point better than I could make it on my own.

I was minding my business, mind you, surfing the Internet to check out the news and political sites and forums I customarily visit, and these news and column headlines, most from last week, some from a bit earlier and a few from this week, bombarded me. I wasn't looking for trouble. Nor was the satirical website The Onion, one of the sites I visited.

The world is upside down, inside out, sideways, crazy, nutso. Bad is good; up is down. Left is right; right is wrong. Evil is good; insanity is sanity. Abnormal is normal. Circles are squares. Hot is cold. Luke warm is red hot - among Republicans, anyway. Common sense is uncommon. The world is otherworldly. Dissent is "hate." Diversity means conformity. The good guys are the bad guys; virtue is vice; sophistry is intellectualism; jerks are celebrated; debauchery is glorified; the holy is debauched. Let me share some of these headlines, which speak for themselves - loudly and depressingly.

-Shakespeare's Works - Too Hard, Too White.

-Obama Red-Faced: Iran Nuclear Stockpiles Grew 20 Percent in 18 months.

-Obamacare Dangerous to Our Health.

-Eye-Popping Premium Increases.

-Obama, Clinton Want To Enforce 'Correct' Thinking in America.

-High School Denies Pro-Life Club!

-Pentagon Officials Call Out Obama's 'Pathetic' ISIS Strategy.

-Shabazz Calls on Nation of Islam, New Black Panther 'Army' to Defend Black Communities Against Police Brutality.

-Obama: Climate Change Deniers Endangering National Security.

-Team Clinton Swarms Sunday Interview Shows, Minus Hillary.

-Antonin Scalia Is Unfit To Serve: A Justice Who Rejects Science and the Law for Religion Is of Unsound Mind.

-In L.A., Obama addresses Washington's Dysfunction: "I Did Not Say I Would Fix It."

-Authorities: Gay Slur Carved Into Utah Man's Arm Was Staged.

-Justice Department: Transgender Students Can Use Bathrooms that Match Their Gender Identity.

-Political Correctness 101: Praising America, Virtues of Hard Work Dubbed 'Micro-Aggression' On Campuses.

-Video Shows U.S. Citizens Willing To Ban American Flag.

-Are Americans of Faith in Danger?

-Obama Administration Says Redskins Nickname Could Block Potential Stadium Deal.

-TV Land Drops "Dukes of Hazzard" Amid Confederate Flag Controversy.

-Gay Teacher Files Federal Discrimination Lawsuit Against Catholic School.

-Terrific: Attorney in Charge of Releasing Lois Lerner 'Lost' Emails Now in Charge of HRC's Emails.

-For Obama, Rainbow White House Was 'A Moment Worth Savoring.'

-Montana Polygamist Family Applies for Marriage License.

-74 Children Executed by ISIS for 'Crimes' That Include Refusal To Fast, Report Says.

-New Undercover Footage Shows VA Officials Admitting of 'Unaccountability at Every Level.'

-Black Teacher Hits Handicapped White Child, Tells Him Black People Fought To Not 'Serve White People Like You.'

-Girl Scouts Raise $250K for Transgender Cause.

-Teen Leads Mob in Ransacking of Georgia Walmart.

-U.S. Debt Headed Toward Greek Levels.

-Obama Administration Invokes Executive Privilege on Benghazi Probe?

-United Church of Christ Anti-Israel Extremism.

-U.S. Troops in Afghanistan 'Feel Abandoned.'

-More than 42 Million Muslims 'Support ISIS.'

-17 Shot Since Monday Morning in Baltimore.

-Baltimore Mayor Wants Park Named for Robert E. Lee Changed, Other Monuments May Come Down.

-Christian Preachers Brutally Beaten at Gay Pride Festival.

-Seattle 6th Graders Can't Get a Coke at School, but Can Get an IUD.

-Local Minister Urges the Flying of Black Liberation Flag This Weekend.

-Christian Bakers Face $135K Fine and Gag Order Over Wedding Cake for Same-Sex Couple.

-Center for American Progress Helped Craft EPA Talking Points, Emails Show.

-White House Blames GOP for Kathryn Steimle's Slaying, Rise in Gun Violence.

-10 Killed, 55 Wounded in Fourth of July Gun Violence in Chicago.

-Shock: Arizona Paper Decries Border Fence As Too High For Mexicans To Safely Jump.

-California Family Supports 4-Year-Old's Decision To Transition from Male to Female.

-Illegal Alien Who Murdered Woman Went to San Francisco Because It Was a 'Sanctuary City.'

-Chris Matthews: Hillary Clinton is 'More of a Conservative ... Traditional Politician.'

-Netanyahu Says Nuke Deal Getting Worse by the Day.

-Chicago Convulsed By Another Violent Weekend; Top Cop Blames Justice System.



Left-Right Differences: It's All About Big Government

By Dennis Prager

If most Americans were clear about the differences between Left and Right, they would not vote Democrat in nearly the numbers they do. The Left understands this, which is why most left-wing rhetoric is dismissive of conservatives' character - "sexist," "intolerant," "bigoted," "hateful," "xenophobic," "racist," "Islamophobic," "homophobic" - rather than conservatives' positions. By focusing on conservatives as people and characterizing them as bad, the Left successfully deflects attention from its positions.

This brings me to explaining Left-Right Difference No. Five: How the Left and Right regard the role of the state (or government).

This is such a significant difference that it might be the defining difference between Left and Right. Without the belief in an ever-expanding state, there is no Left. Without a belief in limited government, there is no conservatism. Moreover, understanding this difference is essentially all people should have to know in order to determine whether they are on the Right or the Left.

The Left believes the state should be the most powerful force in society. It should be in control of educating all of its children; it should provide all the health care for all of its citizens; and it should supervise just about all other areas of society. There should be no competing power. As to the all-important question of how much government is too much government, I have never encountered a person of the Left who had an answer to that question.

Conservatives believe the individual is the essential component of a good society, not government. The government's role in society should be limited to absolute necessities such as national defense and to serving as the resource of last resort for citizens who cannot be helped by other citizens, private organizations or charities that donate money and time.

Conservatives understand that as governments grow in size and power, the following will inevitably - yes, inevitably - happen:

1.) There will be ever-increasing amounts of corruption. Power and money breed corruption. People in government will sell government influence for personal gain. This is as true for America as it is for Africa and Latin America, where government corruption is the single biggest factor holding these nations back from materially progressing.

2.) Individual liberty (outside of sexual behavior and abortion) will decline. Liberty is less important to the Left than to the Right. This is neither an opinion nor a criticism. It is simple logic. The more control the government has over people's lives the less liberty people have. The bigger the government the smaller the citizen.

3.) Countries will either shrink the size of their government, or they will eventually collapse economically. Every welfare state is a Ponzi scheme, relying on new payers to pay previous payers. Like the Ponzi scheme, when it runs out of new payers, the scheme collapses. European countries, all of which are welfare states, are already experiencing this problem to varying degrees.

4.) Taxes are constantly increased in order to pay for ever-expanding government. But at a given level of taxation, the society's wealth producers will stop working, work less, hire fewer people or move their businesses out of the state or out of the country.

5.) The big state inevitably produces large deficits and ever-increasing - and ultimately unsustainable - debt (national, state and city). This is only logical. The more the state hands out money - to state employees as salaries and pensions; to government agencies (education, environment, energy, transportation and myriad others); and to individual citizens (monthly cash welfare grants, rent subsidies, health care, unemployment benefits, education, college loans, meals, food stamps, etc.) - the more the government employees and agencies, and the citizens who receive government aid, will demand. None of them has ever said, "No more, thank you. I have enough."

Greece's unpayable debt is only the beginning. Unless big governments get smaller, they all eventually will collapse of their own weight - with terrible consequences socially, as well as economically.

6.) The 20th century was the most murderous century in recorded history. About 200 million people, the great majority of them noncombatants, were killed, and more than a billion people were enslaved by totalitarian regimes. And who did all this killing and enslaving? In every case, it was a big government. The bigger the government the greater the opportunities for doing great evil. Evil individuals without power can do only so much harm. But when evil individuals have control of a big government, the amount of bad they can do is unlimited.

7.) Finally, the moral impact of big government on its citizens is awful. Not only do people stop taking care of others - after all, they know the government will do that - but they stop taking care of themselves, as well. And the more people come to rely on government the more they develop a sense of entitlement, which then leads to a nation of ingrates.

Other than all that, big government is terrific. See Greece. Or Puerto Rico. Or Detroit. Not to mention the Soviet Union, North Korea or Mao's China.



Scott Walker alienating conservatives

Last week, Right Wing News did an article about Scott Walker's PAC hiring Brad Dayspring. If you don't know who Brad Dayspring is, here's an introduction from one of the conservative candidates he slimed during the GOP primaries .

"Brad Dayspring is well known as a despicable establishment operative who specializes in slander and character assassination against conservative candidates," Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel-one such conservative Dayspring personally frequently attacked-told Breitbart News exclusively on Wednesday. "He is the perfect example of why conservatives no longer trust the GOP. He's little more than a paid attack dog, without principle and honor, the personification of everything wrong with our present political system."

McDaniel added:  "Scott Walker appears to be a good man with solid conservative instincts. But his hiring of the unstable Dayspring is an insult to honorable political discourse. If Dayspring is aligned with Walker, then conservatives should be warned to look elsewhere for leadership."

Right Wing News has contacts with Scott Walker's campaign and with his PAC. We reached out to both and asked for them to go on the record about Brad Dayspring. Unfortunately, nobody was willing to go on the record defending him - which should tell you a lot.

If Brad Dayspring is indefensible, why did Scott Walker's team hire him? Well, you hire a guy like this either to stab conservatives in the back or to let your backers in the establishment know that you intend to do exactly that despite the rhetoric you're using to trick the "bubbas" into voting for you.

Why else would they go to the mat for a new staffer after the reaction Dayspring received?

Breitbart has written a negative article about the hire and so has the Daily Caller (Where it was noted Dayspring had been telling people he was going to work for Jeb Bush). Over at Redstate, where Walker wrote a July 4th guest diary, the Wisconsin governor has been compared to Thad Cochran over this. Brent Bozell, the head of the Media Research Center, wants Dayspring gone. Mark Levin, who has roughly 7 million listeners, has been smeared by Dayspring before and retweeted the Right Wing News article we put out about him.

Since the article came out, we spoke to another one of the grassroots conservative candidates that Dayspring vilified, Dr. Milton Wolf, who primaried Republican Senator Pat Roberts in Kansas. Here's what he had to say about Scott Walker's team hiring Brad Dayspring.

"It's baffling that a principled conservative like Scott Walker would hire Brad Dayspring. Dayspring is an attack dog for hire who specializes in slandering and maligning conservatives in order to protect the failed insiders who have abandoned conservative principles and are destroying our Republican Party."

Maybe Scott Walker's team didn't do its due diligence before it hired Dayspring. That would be a mistake, but forgivable. On the other hand, if Walker's team hangs onto Dayspring, it might as well be flat-out telling you to leave a spot open on your back so a knife can be slammed in there down the road. A veterans' group wouldn't bring in Jane Fonda and no conservative you can trust is going to keep Brad Dayspring on his team.



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

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


9 July, 2015

Warning:  Pregnant women may wish to avoid Tylenol/Panadol

It can shrink your baby's balls.  Below is only a rodent study, but is a better one than most, so caution may be advisable.  Aspirin has fallen out of favour because of some usually minor side-effects but acetaminophen/ paracetamol seems to have much worse effects (e.g. Liver failure).  Another instance of conventional medical advice getting it ass-backwards, it seems.  Excerpt only below

JAMA. 2015;314(1):16. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.7177.


White House blames killing by an illegal on conservatives

By claiming that the administration is doing exactly what it is not

The White House on Monday defended its immigration policies and blasted Republicans following the killing of a San Francisco woman ó allegedly by an illegal immigrant.

When asked if the case was a failure of the administrationís enforcement policies, White House press secretary Josh Earnest chided Republicans for blocking a bipartisan immigration bill that would have boosted funding for border security.

ďI recognize that people want to play politics with this,Ē Earnest said. ďThe fact is the president has done everything within his power to make sure that weíre focusing our law enforcement resources on criminals and those who pose a threat to public safety.Ē

Kathryn Steinle, 32, was shot and killed Wednesday at a popular tourist destination in San Francisco. The suspect, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, had multiple felony convictions and had been deported to Mexico five times.

Earnest faulted the ďpolitical efforts of RepublicansĒ for blocking ďthe kind of investment that we would like to make in securing our border and keeping our communities safe.Ē

The spokesman refused to comment on the details of the case, but he pointed to Obamaís executive actions on immigration launched last fall, which instructed the Department of Homeland Security to prioritize the deportation of people who are considered ďpublic safety threats.Ē

ďWe have started to make changes in terms of structuring and staffing Ö to ensure that our law enforcement efforts are focused on felons and not on families,Ē he said. ďThese efforts would be significantly augmented had Republicans not blocked common-sense immigration reform.Ē

Federal authorities have suggested San Francisco bears responsibility for the fact that Lopez-Sanchez was still on the street. U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE) turned him over to San Francisco authorities in March on a drug warrant.

But he was released in April after the charges were dropped, and local law enforcement did not honor federal officialsí request to be notified when he was freed.

ďWeíre not asking local law enforcement to do our job,Ē ICE spokeswoman Gillian Christensen said, according to Fox News. ďAll weíre asking is that they notify us when a serious foreign national criminal offender is being released to the street so we can arrange to take custody.Ē

San Francisco is a ďsanctuary cityĒ that does not cooperate with federal authorities in enforcing immigration laws.



The rich port: Progressive Paradise Lost

It's a progressive paradise. Public employees get 30 vacation days a year. Anyone who works over eight hours in a day gets paid time-and-a-half. Employees have strong rights.

The minimum wage is high: 77 percent of the median wage.

Environmental regulations are settled beyond the pressure of local economic interests. The forests and mountains are pristine destinations for ecotourism.

Energy costs are kept high, pushing consumption down to a level deemed "socially beneficial". Utilities have strong public backing and provide jobs to thousands.

Union jobs in shipping are protected from outsourcing to cut-rate foreign competitors.

The social safety net is buoyant and provides a solid working-class standard of living. People who are injured can rely on disability insurance to maintain their income.

Student-to-teacher ratios are very low so that every child gets the very best.

The flagship research institution is a well-funded public university. Just ten years ago, the university was linked to downtown and the suburbs by a new light rail line.

Best of all, richer people living far away pay most of the taxes. This little paradise has open access to large export markets and is part of a major currency union.

The government borrows at low interest rates and runs large deficits when output is below trend and does not give up on stimulus after a few years.

But economic output, oddly, is always below trend.

Puerto Ricans have lived through decades of this left-wing utopia, and they are fleeing it.

The island's working-age population declined by 100,000 since 2005, as the economy shifted from stagnation to depression.

In a parallel universe with free markets and low regulation, Puerto Rico could have become the Singapore of the Caribbean.

It has a sizable educated, bilingual workforce, is a natural hub for regional commerce, and has free access to U.S. markets.

Credit must be given to left-wing Gov. Alejandro Garc°a Padilla for commissioning an independent economic report on Puerto Rico's economy, and his administration did not repudiate the economists' blistering critique of the commonwealth's progressive policies and shabby governance.

In the report, economists Anne Krueger, Ranjit Teja, and Andrew Wolfe call for spending cuts, tax reforms, and structural reforms-necessities if Puerto Rico is to resume economic growth.

Spending Cuts

Krueger, who will present her research at The Heritage Foundation on July 8th, argues that fiscal stimulus by successive Puerto Rican administrations failed to end the stagnation because it was based on a misdiagnosis.

"Solving Puerto Rico's problems through fiscal expansion has not worked," she writes, "and will not work."

Instead, spending cuts that reduce the footprint of government can return the commonwealth to solvency and allow economic growth. Their suggestions include:

Cutting subsidies to the University of Puerto Rico to save $500 million per year (throughout, annual savings are estimated as of 2020).

Cutting extra Medicaid spending to save $150 million per year.
Gradual cuts in public school employment and closure of some rural schools to reflect the shrinking number of students and save over $400 million a year

Renewing a law that freezes the real value of certain transfer-spending formulas to save $1 billion a year.

Staffing cuts at bloated public utilities.

Tax Reforms

The economists advocate comprehensive tax reform. Replacing a 35 percent corporate tax rate riddled with exemptions with a 10 to 15 percent, broad-based corporate tax would increase annual revenues by $250 million.

Governor Padilla's administration has called for a new sales tax, which the authors estimate would raise $1 billion annually.

However, many European countries can now attest that raising taxes during a crisis is a recipe for slower growth and lower revenues.

The largest potential revenue gains come from reforms to the labor market and business sector rather than from tax increases.

By spurring economic growth, Puerto Rico could add $1.35 billion in revenues without a tax increase.

Labor and Social Reforms

Tax reforms and spending policies will not be sufficient without reforms to Puerto Rico's social safety net.

By using a welfare system designed for the mainland U.S., where average wages are much higher, both federal and Puerto Rican policies discourage work.

The U.S. minimum wage of $7.25 is only slightly lower than the median wage in Puerto Rico, $9.42. Contrary to the claims of some progressives, a higher minimum wage destroys jobs.

Puerto Rico cannot compete with similar regional economies at mainland-U.S. wage rates.

But only the U.S. Congress can grant Puerto Rico a minimum wage exemption.

The economists recommend Puerto Rico repeal its European-style labor laws, which make it difficult to lay workers off, expensive to employ them, and thus risky to hire them.

Reforms of the benefits Puerto Ricans receive when they are not at work are important as well.

The economists show in one estimate that "a household of three eligible for food stamps, AFDC, Medicaid and utilities subsidies could receive $1,743 per month-as compared to a minimum wage earner's take-home earnings of $1,159."

Since the minimum and median wages are so close, the welfare income would also exceed a median wage earner's income by about $240 a month.

The authors conclude that the "federal government should therefore give the Commonwealth more latitude to adjust welfare requirements and benefits."

It would then be up to Puerto Rico's lawmakers to administer transfer payments in less distortionary ways.

Business Barriers

The World Bank's "Doing Business" survey ranks Puerto Rico significantly below the mainland U.S. in its "Ease of doing business" rankings.

One barrier to business is the Merchant Marine Jones Act, which gives a monopoly on trade between Puerto Rico and the U.S. to a small fleet of old, inefficient vessels.

This partial embargo raises prices of all sorts of consumer goods, making Puerto Rican residents poorer.

In particular, Puerto Rico has been shut out of the energy boom on the mainland.

But lack of access to mainland gas and oil is not the only reason energy prices are so high in Puerto Rico.

The report notes that only in insolvency is the Puerto Rican electrical utility beginning to address its "over-staffing and inefficiency," which have kept electricity prices high.

They recommend assigning a "high-level official" in the Puerto Rican government to improving the island's "ease of doing business ranking."

Their hope is that someone whose reputation is on the line will have the willpower to break through the bureaucratic inertia and enact reforms on registering property and permitting new businesses.

Beyond the content of Puerto Rico's policies, Krueger and her team were clearly troubled by the opacity of the commonwealth's civil service.

Their immediate problem was a lack of accurate, up-to-date economic data. But the data deficiencies reflected generally chaotic record-keeping and poor coordination throughout the central bureaucracy.

The Stricken Land

Puerto Rico's progressive policies are not a coincidence. President Franklin Roosevelt appointed Rexford Tugwell, one of his most progressive lieutenants, governor of Puerto Rico in 1941.

Tugwell created a unique stream of tax revenue and used it to experiment with a centrally planned economy, extending the reach of the government of Puerto Rico into every sector of the economy.

Stricken and stunted by the plans of Tugwell and his successors, Puerto Rico has never lived up to its promise as an American commonwealth.

Now in a depression and a debt crisis, Puerto Rico serves as a warning against the very policies that Tugwell championed.



Chick-fil-A Keeps Doing It Right

Itís interesting that just days after the Supreme Court ruled same-sex marriage is a heretofore undiscovered constitutional right Chick-fil-A came out on top in a customer service satisfaction survey. In fact, the Atlanta-based fast-food chain registered the highest score in the history of the survey.

What does same-sex marriage have to do with fried chicken? Recall that, in 2012, the company became the Rainbow Mafiaís number one target after Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy voiced his support for biblical marriage. Leftists tried to organize a boycott, but it fell flat as a conservative counter-boycott gave franchises their longest lines ever as people flocked to grab a tasty sandwich on Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.

The lesson: Stand by solid principles and make a great product, and people will come. Theyíll like it, too.



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

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


8 July, 2015

More on the theology of homosexuality

A few days ago I put up here a coverage of the claims by mainstream Christian clergy that homosexuality is permissable to Christians.  That permissiveness may be kindly meant and it may provide solace  to some tormented souls but it clearly flies in the face of both the Christian teachings in the New Testament and the Jewish teachings of the Old Testament.  Christ was a devout Jew living in a very orthodox Jewish community and, if you read Matthew chapter 19 in full, you will see that he was even more restrictive about sexual morality than were the very orthodox Pharisees.

I am therefore pleased that one of my Jewish readers has sent in some comments on the matter too.  See below.  He obviously has a searching knowledge of his own religion so I am impressed that he knows Christian thinking very well too. I had always imagined that only the most searching Protestant exegetes used the wonderful "Strong's  Exhaustive Concordance to the Bible" but I see that he uses it too.  I myself always have a copy on my desk in front of me

By Willem

I read your recent post, "Homosexuality and Christian apologetics" with considerable interest. You are of course entirely correct in what you say.

I would like to offer a couple of footnotes.

Your note that Paul refers to a chastisement - "kolasin" - that you translate as "cutting off" interested me, because a frequent consequence for a variety of transgressions in the Jews' Bible is "kareth" - which is translated as to be cut off. This is a chastisement from Heaven, rather than a punishment to be imposed by an Earthly court, and it is usually interpreted as meaning a life that is cut short - although I think the implications are more serious, involving being cut off from the Divine, and so on.

That Scripture forbids homosexual acts was, as you note, very clear to the early Christians from Leviticus 18, which proscribes and condemns a variety of possible sexual liaisons, including a variety of forms of incest.

It is surely of interest, that the vast majority of prohibited relations are simply listed as being forbidden, without further "editorial" content. In the wonderful King James version:

7 The nakedness of thy father, or the nakedness of thy mother, shalt thou not uncover: she is thy mother; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.

8 The nakedness of thy father's wife shalt thou not uncover: it is thy father's nakedness.

9 The nakedness of thy sister, the daughter of thy father, or daughter of thy mother, whether she be born at home, or born abroad, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover.

10 The nakedness of thy son's daughter, or of thy daughter's daughter, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover: for theirs is thine own nakedness.

11 The nakedness of thy father's wife's daughter, begotten of thy father, she is thy sister, thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.

12 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father's sister: she is thy father's near kinswoman.

13 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy mother's sister: for she is thy mother's near kinswoman.

14 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father's brother, thou shalt not approach to his wife: she is thine aunt.

15 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy daughter in law: she is thy son's wife; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.

16 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy brother's wife: it is thy brother's nakedness.

17 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of a woman and her daughter, neither shalt thou take her son's daughter, or her daughter's daughter, to uncover her nakedness; for they are her near kinswomen: it is wickedness.

18 Neither shalt thou take a wife to her sister, to vex her, to uncover her nakedness, beside the other in her life time.

19 Also thou shalt not approach unto a woman to uncover her nakedness, as long as she is put apart for her uncleanness.

20 Moreover thou shalt not lie carnally with thy neighbour's wife, to defile thyself with her.

21 And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD.

Remarkably, alone among so many prohibited relations, are homosexual acts labeled an "abomination."

22 Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.

23 Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion.

24 Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you:

25 And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants.

26 Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you:

27 (For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled;)

28 That the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you.

29 For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people.

30 Therefore shall ye keep mine ordinance, that ye commit not any one of these abominable customs, which were committed before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein: I am the LORD your God.

Bestiality is denounced as "confusion," and collectively, all of these sexual liaisons are considered "abominations," but only lying with a man as one would lie with a woman is an "abomination." (It occurs 117 in Scripture.)

"Abomination," or "to-evah" (Strong's 8441) is used in many different situations and I am not sure that we can be sure of all of its connotations today. The word for confusion, "te-vel" (Strong's 8397) is also translated as "perversion." (It occurs only twice in Scripture, in Leviticus 18 and 20.)

It is as if the Bible knows, that in the future (as I am sure it was contemporaneously, in some parts of the ancient world) homosexual liaisons would be regarded as normal, and therefore an extra emphasis is needed.

The recent recognition and sanction given to same-sex marriage by the Supreme Court of the United States, a judicial body that had never defined or opined on traditional heterosexual marriage, suggests that same-sex liaisons have a cachet and status even better than the status of traditional marriages today. In the "Reform" Jewish congregations, the rule has been for many years, that "anything goes." (If - in the last words of the founders of the Assassins, to mix creeds, "nothing is true," then "everything is permitted," is it not?)

Some 7 years ago or so, the governing body of the "Conservative" Jewish movement's Jewish Theological Seminary agreed that it would ordain as a "Rabbi" or "Cantor" a practicing homosexual, so long as he promised not to engage in anal intercourse, which the governing committee of the Conservative movement's scholars determined was the only act prohibited by Leviticus. A traditional marriage ceremony for a same-sex couple would remain beyond the limits, however.

Thus a curious situation would be possible: no Conservative congregation would employ a man as Rabbi who openly lived in a sexual relationship with a woman with whom he was not married, but a homosexual Rabbi would be employable if he openly lived in a sexual relationship with a man with whom he was not married.

It is as if the Conservative movement sees same-sex relationships as benefiting from an inherent sanctity and propriety not possible for traditional, heterosexual couples without a formal marriage.

In contrast, the traditional Jewish Weltanschauung sees the splitting of the primordial Adam into Adam & Eve as a clear depiction of what the Bible sees as the proper and inevitable sexual relationship - one man and one woman.

Finally, with respect to divorce, and the Christian Church's teaching against it - you quote Matthew 19:

ďHavenít you read,Ē he replied, ďthat at the beginning the Creator Ďmade them male and female,í and said, ĎFor this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'. So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.Ē

I would put this teaching in the context of the Sermon on the Mount. The entire Sermon on the Mount is of great interest in the history of Jewish religion, and as a lengthy example of the preaching and teaching of Jesus. I don't think there is any part of it that would be incongruous if preached by an orthodox Jewish preacher to an orthodox Jewish audience - as of course it was.

He says:

17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus is proceeding along the same work that the Rabbis were engaged in - building a fence around the Law - although in a different way.

That is, the Rabbis were concerned to enact additional practical restrictions, so that one's behavior would be circumscribed well before one came into danger of violating God's commands. Jesus seeks to accomplish a similar goal, but by extending the prohibitions concerning actions, to the realm of thoughts and feelings.

27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:

28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

Jesus does not counsel that the way to avoid the frank sins and transgressions forbidden by God is to give in to the zeitgeist. He teaches a thoroughgoing rectification of the individual's inner nature, to bring it into conformity with the Divine plan. The early Christian Church surely stood up against the world, and all of the powers that were arrayed against it.

In contrast, I am amazed by the extent to which ostensibly believing Christians -and Jews!- are willing to abandon the time-proven practices and principles of their religions (practices and principles which many real martyrs have died in order to uphold against a hostile World) - in favor of the latest shibboleths of, for example, the editorial board of the New York Times.



The evening that the Supreme Court allowed gay marriages to be treated the same as heterosexual marriages was a victory for the militant in your face LGBT.  The white house was lit up with the rainbow colors of the LGBT.  On the anniversary of our country's founding,  July 4th this year there was no lighting of the white house in red, white, and blue.  What does that tell you about the current occupant?


Episcopal Bishops Abandon Bible for Same-Sex Marriage

The Episcopal Church, the American branch of the World Anglican Communion, is a regrettable case study of how liberalism has eroded the foundations of our great American heritage. Many Episcopal Church (ECUSA) leaders have abandoned the churchís venerable legacy and forsaken the Almightyís providence. Liberals in the church endeavor to interpret the Bible eisegetically versus exegetically in order that it comport with their contemporary social agenda rather than its ďoriginal intentĒ ó much as Leftists interpret the so-called ďliving Constitution.Ē In other words, they reject the authority of the Bible (as outlined in the Episcopal Articles of Faith), much as they reject the authority of our Constitution.

The same sad story was on display again this week as ECUSA bishops voted to authorize their clergy to perform same-sex weddings beginning Nov. 1. Conservative bishops insisted on an accommodation for clergy who refuse to do so, which makes such ceremonies unlikely in several dioceses.

But the damage is done. ECUSAís drift away from biblical truth has taken many years. In 2003, the ďenlightenedĒ U.S. bishops rebuffed the World Anglican Communion and codified their rejection of Scriptural authority by ordaining Vicky Gene Robinson, the churchís first openly homosexual bishop.

Perhaps such is the plight of a church born out of wedlock. In 1534, when the Roman Catholic Church would not grant Henry VIII an annulment from his 25-year marriage to Catherine of Aragon, Henry broke with Rome and instituted the Church of England ó which granted his divorce.

Short of unfeigned repentance, another divorce, that of the Episcopal Church from the World Anglican Communion, looms just over the horizon.


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 WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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


7 July, 2015

Is Operetta the right musical entertainment for conservatives?

I think it is but I realize I am going to have to talk fast to make that case.

As all the surveys show, conservatives are a lot happier than Leftists. Leftists are the miseries of the world whom in the end nothing suits.  Leftist literary figure Gore Vidal once said: "Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little".  Leftist envy has long been known.  As a contrast, it makes me happy when other people do well. Where Leftists abhor Bill Gates, I admire him.  And I think many conservatives are like that.

So that must must influence what we like in entertainment.  Like much of Hollywood's output, Grand Opera is romantic but has sad endings.  In grand opera, the lovers mostly die in the end.  Romeo and Juliet is their model.  In "Carmen", for instance, Carmen is  in the end stabbed to death by her jealous lover.  And in "Aida", the lovers end up immured.

Operetta is much nicer.  It is also very romantic but the lovers end up happily together and heading off to get married.  Isn't that better? It sure suits me a lot better.

And operetta has wonderful songs. They are often well known but people don't realize that they originate from operetta.  Try this song, for instance. Or this one.  They're sung in German but you probably know what they're all about anyway.  Operetta was all originally in German but you can get it on DVD with English subtitles.  Sometimes you can even get them online with subtitles -- as here. Andre Rieu has a great medley of operetta tunes here.

In the end, however, it's a matter of taste.  But if you've got a romantic bone in your body you will surely enjoy Viennese operetta.  It's not heavy.  It's fun.  And there's some nice-looking ladies in it too.  See below:

No subtitles but what the clip is about it that the lady thought her husband was too boring until he moved to Vienna.  But once he moved there he acquired the Viennese spirit (Wiener Blut) and she tells him that because of that she now loves him.  And he falls back in love with his wife too.  Isn't that grand?

There's lots of detail about operetta on my personal blog.


And here is an evocation of the real America, a profound performance of "Amazing Grace" by Condoleezza Rice & Jenny Oaks Baker.  Put online to celebrate this year's celebration of Independence day.


Progressive Mass Hysteria

V.D. Hanson

Democracies have been fickle for 2,000 years, but the Internet makes it worse. One of the most harrowing incidents in the Athenian historian Thucydides' history of the Peloponnesian War is the democratic debate over the rebellious subject state of Mytilene on the distant island of Lesbos. Thucydides uses his riveting account of the Athenian argument over the islanders' fate to warn his readers of the fickle nature of democracy.

Outraged by the revolt of the Mytileneans, the frenzied Athenians suddenly assemble and vote to condemn all the adult males on the island, regardless of the role any of them may have played in the revolt. They are to be executed en masse for rebellion, on grounds of collective guilt. The next day, however, cooler heads in Athens narrowly prevail. The radical demos just as abruptly takes a second vote and withdraws its blanket death sentence of the day before, voting instead to execute only 1,000 of the ringleaders of the rebellion.

But what about the messenger ship that was dispatched hours earlier to deliver the mass death sentence?

A second trireme is now sent off by the contrite democracy with orders to the crew to row as fast as they can, in hopes of delivering the reprieve in time. The relief vessel and its exhausted crew arrive at Lesbos at the very moment that all the adult male islanders have been lined up and are about to have their throats slit.

Thucydides uses the frightening story to warn of the wild - and often dangerous - swings in public opinion innate to democratic culture. The historian seems at times obsessed with these explosions of Athenian popular passions, offering an even longer and more hair-raising account of popular mood swings over invading Sicily. We forget sometimes that the Athenian democracy that gave us Sophocles and Pericles also, in a fit of unhinged outrage, executed Socrates by a majority vote of one of its popular courts.

American democracy has become increasingly Athenian, as it periodically whips itself up into outbursts of frantic indignation. While the government in theory still operates according to the checks and balances of the Constitution, in reality, in the hyped Internet world of modern pop culture, fevered passions can seize the majority of the population in a matter of hours.

The idea of gay marriage in 2008 earned unapologetic disapproval from Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. The liberal voters of California twice rejected the idea in statewide plebiscites. But after years of constant harangues in the media, boycotts, public ostracisms, and ad hominem attacks on the integrity of skeptics, the liberal political establishment - many of whose members are recipients of large amounts of cash from wealthy gay donors - suddenly flipped.

A sort of collective hysteria took over from there. In 2008 there was common assent on the part of the Democratic party's leadership that the three-millennia-old belief that marriage involved different sexes would prevail, while a separate rubric, "civil union," would be invented for homosexual couples. But by 2012 that notion was not merely outdated, but taboo. Almost overnight, supporting the erstwhile Obama position of permitting civil unions but rejecting gay marriage became tantamount to career suicide.

Ditto on illegal immigration. Barack Obama likewise swore between 2008 and 2012 that he was no despot who by executive fiat could legalize violations of immigration laws that had been passed by Congress. Yet by 2015 anyone who would agree with Obama's past vows is now rendered little more than a nativist and xenophobe - so powerful is the Orwellian engine of groupthink.

Take the Confederate-flag debate. What started out just days ago as a reasonable move by the state of South Carolina, in the aftermath of the Charleston mass shootings, to remove the Confederate battle flag from public display on state property, within hours had descended into something like the mob's frenzy over Mytilene. We have now gone well beyond removing state sanction from a flag that represented an apartheid society. Indeed, Americans of the new electronic mob are witch-hunting the past with a vengeance, as private, profit-driven companies seek to trump one another's piety by banning the merchandising of Confederate insignia. Meanwhile, our versions of the ancient sophists and demagogues are hoping that the mob can stay agitated long enough to go on to new targets, such as banning public airings of Gone with the Wind or ending respect for public monuments of prominent Confederate war dead.

At some point, the throng will exhaust itself, and realize that while removing Confederate flags from state property was a reasonable and overdue gesture, most of what followed was Mytilenean to the core. Think of the contradictions that have already arisen from the mob frenzy.

One cannot today buy Confederate flags online, but one can easily purchase Nazi insignia of the sort that flew over Auschwitz or the hammer-and-sickle Communist banner that represented the Great Famine, forced collectivization, and various cultural revolutions that led to 100 million slaughtered or starved to death in the 20th century.

One can argue that the slave-owner Robert E. Lee fought to perpetuate human bondage, but Lee never took delight in personally executing without trial his ideological enemies, in the manner of the psychopathic, pistol-toting Che Guevara, whose hip portraiture adorns all too many campus dorm rooms.

Present politics mostly define the degree of past sin and the appropriate punishments, as the revolutionary mob decides in an instant which particular historical figure deserves the most immediate ostracism and should be Trotskyized from our collective memory. Should we now remove the racist Andrew Jackson from the $20 bill? Even in my small town in central California there are schools named Jackson and Wilson. Apparently our Depression-era educators thought that the one Democratic president was a populist reformer, the other an idealistic internationalist. Yet both were abject racists, at least as we understand the charge today. In fact, no president of the 20th century disliked blacks in general and integration in particular as much as the Southern segregationist Woodrow Wilson, although he adroitly cloaked his racial hatred with a thin veneer of liberal academic respectability as president of Princeton University and author of several progressive tracts.

The writings and speeches of Margaret Sanger, founder of what evolved into Planned Parenthood, trumped the biases of Wilson. Her progressive version of eugenics fueled much of her family-planning agenda. She saw reproductive rights as inseparable from discouraging the supposedly less gifted (in her view, mostly non-whites) from having lots of children.

Should Al Gore give one of his trademark teary public confessions and, in vein-bulging angst, apologize to blacks for misrepresenting his senator father's racist votes against civil-rights legislation? Should Bill Clinton join Gore on the podium to feel our pain and say he is sorry that regional Clinton-Gore campaign affiliates often plastered "Clinton-Gore '92" on the Confederate battle flag in an effort to get out the supposed redneck vote? Will Hillary Clinton join in too and apologize for her 2008 declaration - delivered during her heated, racialized primary struggle with Barack Obama - that the polls showed "how Sen. Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states [Indiana and North Carolina, where primaries had just been held] who had not completed college were supporting me."

Planned Parenthood is as likely to disown its progenitor as Princeton University is to change the name of the Wilson School of Public and International Affairs - and as the Clintons are to publicly repent for their past appeals to blue-collar whites. Apparently, on the one hand, we must understand that there are inveterate haters and symbols of unrepentant racism that should be excised from the body politic, and, on the other hand, there remain well-meaning progressives of the past, who were unfortunately captives of their times and said or wrote things (often spoken in the heat of passion, or taken out of context today) that they did not quite mean. The record of the latter group, according to modern liberal tastes, is unfortunate - but is fortunately overshadowed by their greater liberal accomplishments. Consequently, the mass hysteria against anything that reeks of past racism will be carefully steered clear of monuments honoring the pro-segregationist J. William Fulbright or former Klan leader Robert Byrd, or other liberal heroes like the racist states'-righter but Watergate icon Senator Sam Ervin, who, 20 years before Watergate, authored "The Southern Manifesto," which encouraged opposition to the desegregation of schools.

There will be no liberal watchdog or enlightened corporation that goes after the federally funded National Council of La Raza for its racist nomenclature, which can be traced back to Franco and Mussolini. We cannot properly damn the liberal Earl Warren or the progressive McClatchy newspapers for their 1941 racial rah-rahing that helped convince the progressive Roosevelt administration to implement the Japanese internment.

The damnation of past segregation by race does not extend to censure of present segregation by race in campus dorms and meeting places. No one cares much that the liberal racism that prompted Woodrow Wilson to discourage blacks from attending his beloved Princeton logically continues with the modern Ivy League university adjusting SAT scores and GPAs to ensure that Asian-Americans are not "overrepresented" in Princeton's incoming class: In both cases, utopian racialism by enlightened social engineers cannot be judged by calcified notions of color-blind fairness.

These outbursts of public frenzy at supposed enemies may reflect grassroots furor, but they are also orchestrated by progressive grandees who are inconsistent in their targeting of history's villains - offering context and exemption for liberal fascist and racist thought, speech, and iconography, while connecting their present-day political rivals to the supposed sins of the country's collective past. Manipulating the past, in other words, becomes a useful tool by which one can change the present.

In another analysis, Thucydides reminds us, in regard to the stasis at Corcyra, that in frenzied efforts to reconstruct both the past and present to fit ideological agendas, "Words had to change their ordinary meaning and to take that which was now given them." So they do today, as the mob makes the necessary adjustments in going from one obsession to the next.



Man Who's Never Had a Real Job Makes Rules for Businesses

With a wave of his magic wand, Barack Obama just gave five million workers a raise ó or so heíd like you to believe. In an op-ed explaining his new regulations on overtime pay for salaried workers, Obama wrote, ďWeíve got to keep making sure hard work is rewarded. Right now, too many Americans are working long days for less pay than they deserve. Thatís partly because weíve failed to update overtime regulations for years ó and an exemption meant for highly paid, white collar employees now leaves out workers making as little as $23,660 a year ó no matter how many hours they work.

 Ö [M]y plan [is] to extend overtime protections to nearly 5 million workers in 2016, covering all salaried workers making up to about $50,400 next year.Ē

And who doesnít want a raise? Naturally, his proposal will be popular with those who think they stand to benefit, as well as those in need of an Economics 101 refresher.

The real-world results will be that employers hire fewer workers, pay lower base wages, cut hours and nix benefits like work-from-home scenarios for employees who now have to scrupulously track their hours. Just mandating higher wages doesnít mean businesses can afford to pay them.

The conservative approach is to actually grow the economy ó which, notably, Obama has not done. As John F. Kennedy once said, ďA rising tide lifts all boats.Ē Not just the ones Obama points to with his wand.



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

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


6 July, 2015


I often get emails from the energetic Deniz Selcuk, who, judging by his name, is a Turk.  I assume he is a he but I could be wrong.  He could be a she.  I know nothing about the naming conventions of Turkish and suspect that I never will.

Deniz is obsessively interested in creativity.  He scours the net for possibly relevant information about it.  Even so, he fell into what I gather is a rather common trap.  He assumed that there was such a thing as creativity.  More precisely, he asssumed that there was a general trait of creativity.  There are of course individual  creative acts but there is no such thing as a generally creative person.

In that way it differs from IQ.  A person who approaches one problem intelligently is highly likely to approach other problems intelligently, even quite different problems. IQ generalizes,  Creativity does not.

I managed to convince Deniz that he was wrong, which is a compliment to his open-mindedness, but I thought I should also mention here some of the things that I told him.

So how do I know that there is no such thing as creativity?  Three  ways:  From a reading of the research on the topic, from known facts and from personal experience.  I am not actually up to date with the latest research but the findings were quite consistent  when last I looked at them so I doubt that much has changed.  The finding was that a person creative in one field might be knowledgeable about other fields but was creative only in his own specialty. 

And that brings me to known facts.  How many great painters were also great composers?  None.  A lot of distinguished (and undistinguished) people paint in their latter years but that is about it.

And that brings me to a Canadian lady I once knew rather well: "B".  She was head of a rather large art school here in Brisbane that formed part of one of our universities.  So the visual arts were clearly her thing.  But in her home she did not have a single device (stereo, hiFi etc) for playing music. Music hardly existed for her.  Her daughter had a small portable device but that was it.  I have no idea how creative "B" was in any visual art but she must have gained some distinction to be in the job she held.  But there was clearly zero chance of her being creative musically.

And I am much the same.  I have only one narrow field of creativity: Scientific writing.  I would not have over 200 academic journal articles in print without that.  I write only for blogs these days but I think I do that to the same old standard of care.

But is academic writing creative?  Not always.  It is just hack stuff a lot of the time.  But the hack stuff mostly doesn't get published.  The journal editor and his referees have to find something interesting in the paper to pass it for publication. They commonly accept only around 10% of what they see.

And to be interesting, you have to be creative to at least some extent.  You have to have something new to say.  That made things easy for me.  I see things from a conservative/libertarian viewpoint whereas journal editors in the social sciences almost invariably see things from a Leftist viewpoint.  So my writings were rather amazing to them. Leftists live in their own little self-constructed mental bubble that insulates them from disturbing non-Leftist thought so bursting into that bubble delivers surprise.

Leftists don't like irruptions into their bubbles, however, so what I was saying had to be very strongly defended.  My research had to be very "waterproof".  But it was, so I got published.  My usual trick towards accomplishing that was to do real sampling.  Your average Leftist psychological researcher does no sampling at all.  If he wants to find out what people think and why, he just hands out a bunch of questionnaires to his students and accepts the findings from that as valid for all people for all time.  That shows, of course, the utter intellectual poverty of most Leftists.

My approach, by contrast, was to go and knock on randomly selected doors in some big city and talk to an actual representative sample of real people!  I talked to "the people"!  Leftists often talk about "The people" but they usually know nothing about them -- as I found when comparing my findings with what was in the existing literature on the topic. 

But since social scientists do in theory view sampling as important, when I presented them with some, they found it very hard to knock back.  They did manage to knock it back about 50% of the time but I mostly broke through eventually.  Since my conclusions were invariably the diametric opposite of what Leftists believe (facts and Leftism have a VERY uneasy relationship) it would only have been the unusually open-minded editor who published my stuff.  And it was.  There were three editors who published my writings repeatedly while other editors would be good for only one or two acceptances  -- generally on rather technical subjects that were not too alarming.

You might think that an ability to write well in an academic way would generalize  to other fields of writing.  Not in my experience. Being aware that I was doing well with academic writing, I tried on a couple of occasions to write short stories.  I submitted them to various publications with zero success. I will probably put them online the day before I die.  So even creative  writing does not generalize from one field to another.

So to be creative you have to have ideas and you have to work on them but that is about all you can say about creativity in general. 

An interesting thing that I note is that, although I say many "outrageous" things on my blogs, I rarely get abusive email and comments from Leftists in response.  I think it means that academic-standard argument leaves them lost so they avoid reading it at all.  Must keep that bubble intact!

The ancient Greeks had an interesting theory of creativity.  They felt that there was a "muse" behind each creative person.  The muse was a spirit being who was the real creative force.  The muse would for instance "send down" the words that a writer was writing, with the writer himself having only a minor part in the final product.

That is not quite as silly as it sounds.  I have experienced something like that.  Sometimes the words I want to write pour out and it is a real challenge to get them all written down before they go away.  All that it really means, I guess, is that we can think a lot faster than we can write. But I don't blame the Greeks for thinking what they did.  It does feel the way they describe it.


I don't think that anything I have said so far is terribly controversial so let me stir the pot a bit:  I think Hitler was a good artist.  Just the fact that everybody says he was not tends to lead me to that view.  In the simple world of propaganda, ascribing anything good to him would risk attack as morally reprehensible. But not much in life is all black and white so I see no moral risk at all at holding that there might have been one praiseworthy thing about him.  But let me nonetheless explain in two parts:

Google the words "Hitler" and "paintings" together and click "images" and you will see a veritable gallery of the many paintings and watercolors that Hitler produced in his youth.  I think a lot of them are quite good. 

I cheerfully admit that I know nothing about art but I doubt that anybody does.  When skilled forgers and copyists regularly fool art critics and when random blobs of paint smeared onto a canvas by some ape or other simian are warmly praised, I think I would be embarrassed to claim that I know anything about art.  I think I would be calling myself a fool. 

What rather gets me is when a painting worth millions is discovered to be a forgery, its value suddenly drops into the mere thousands.  Clearly, an evaluation of its worth reflected something other than the goodness of the art concerned -- snobbery perhaps.

So that is my first blast on the subject.  I don't think that Hitler was a great artist but he seems as good as any other outside that top range.

My second blast is that Hitler's real creative achievement was not in painting at all.  He had clear artistic instincts but they reached greatness in politics.  And I can divide that into two parts.  He was an indisputably mesmerizing orator who made most of Germany fall in love with him and his vision.  If that is not great creativity, tell me what would be.  Nobody before or since has been so successful in oratory. 

From reading his inaugurals and other speeches, Abraham Lincoln probably was as good at oratory in his day but he was an old fraud too.  Lincoln convinced Americans that 600,000 of their young men had to die to abolish slavery -- when no other  nation on earth needed to shed a single drop of blood to abolish slavery.

And, getting back to Hitler, part of his political genius did include a visual component.  He was largely responsible for the design of Nazi rituals, displays and rallies and they helped make his speeches and rituals so emotionally powerful.  So that was clearly a remarkable artistic achievement. And that too would seem to be a pinnacle achievement.  I  know of no other political rallies and speeches that are re-run on TV even a thousandth as often as Hitler's. 

All those re-runs surely attest that even we who are long past any sympathy with his aims are still powerfully affected by the speeches and spectacles involved. How could such a failed and disastrous politician still figure so largely in our minds?  There was clearly something about him that was way outside the ordinary.  He still fascinates.

So Hitler may have been merely a good painter but as a political persuader he was the best ever.  He was supremely creative in only one field but it was in a field that was, regrettably,  immensely  influential  -- JR.


Media Hide Facts, Call Everyone Else a Liar

By Ann Coulter ∑

When Donald Trump said something not exuberantly enthusiastic about Mexican immigrants, the media's response was to boycott him. One thing they didn't do was produce any facts showing he was wrong.

Trump said: "When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. They're not sending you. They're not sending you. They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems to us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people."

The first thing a news fact-checker would have noticed is: THE GOVERNMENT WON'T TELL US HOW MANY IMMIGRANTS ARE COMMITTING CRIMES IN AMERICA.

Wouldn't that make any person of average intelligence suspicious? Not our media. They're in on the cover-up.

A curious media might also wonder why any immigrants are committing crimes in America. A nation's immigration policy, like any other government policy, ought to be used to help the people already here - including the immigrants, incidentally.

It's bad enough that immigrants, both legal and illegal, are accessing government benefits at far above the native rate, but why would any country be taking another country's criminals? We have our own criminals! No one asked for more.

Instead of counting the immigrant stock filling up our prisons, the government issues a series of comical reports claiming to tally immigrant crime. The Department of Justice relies on immigrants' self-reports of their citizenship. The U.S. census simply guesses the immigration status of inmates. The Government Accounting Office conducts its own analysis of Bureau of Prisons data.

In other words, the government hasn't the first idea how many prisoners are legal immigrants, illegal immigrants or anchor babies.

But there are clues! Only about a quarter of California inmates are white, according to a major investigative piece in The Atlantic last year - and that includes criminals convicted in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, when the vast majority of California's population was either black or white.

Do immigration enthusiasts imagine that more than 75 percent of the recent convicts are African-American? Blacks have high crime rates, but they make up only about 6 percent of California's entire population.

A casual perusal of the "Most Wanted" lists also suggests that the government may not have our best interests in mind when deciding who gets to live in America.

Here is the Los Angeles Police Department's list of "Most Wanted" criminal suspects:

-Jesse Enrique Monarrez (murder),

-Cesar Augusto Nistal (child molestation),

-Jose A. Padilla (murder),

-Demecio Carlos Perez (murder),

-Ramon Reyes, (robbery and murder),

-Victor Vargas (murder),

-Ruben Villa (murder)

The full "Most Wanted" list doesn't get any better.

There aren't a lot of Mexicans in New York state - half of all Mexican immigrants in the U.S. live in either Texas or California - and yet there are more Mexican prisoners in New York than there are inmates from all of Western Europe.

As for the crime of rape specifically, different groups have different criminal proclivities, and no one takes a backseat to Hispanics in terms of sex crimes.

The rate of rape in Mexico is even higher than in India, according to Professor Carlos Javier Echarri Canovas of El Colegio de Mexico. A report from the Inter-American Children's Institute explains that in Latin America, women and children are "seen as objects instead of human beings with rights and freedoms."

All peasant cultures have non-progressive views on women, but Latin America happens to have the peasant culture that's closest to the United States.

The only reason our newspapers aren't chockablock with reports of Latino sexual predators is that they are too busy broadcasting hoax news stories about non-existent gang-rapes by white men: the Duke lacrosse team (Crystal Gail Mangum), University of Virginia fraternity members (Jackie Coakley) and military contractors in Iraq (Jamie Leigh Jones).

In fact, the main way we find out about Hispanic rapists is when the media report on dead or missing girls - hoping against hope that the case will never be solved or the perp will turn out to look like the rapists on "Law and Order." When it turns out to be another Latino rapist, that fact is aggressively suppressed by the media.

New Yorkers were horrified by the case of "Baby Hope," a 4-year-old girl whose raped and murdered body turned up in an Igloo cooler off of the Henry Hudson Parkway in 1991. After a 20-year investigation, the police finally captured her rapist/murderer in 2003. It was Conrado Juarez, an illegal alien from Mexico, who disposed of the girl's body with the help of his illegal alien sister.

New York City is the nation's media capital. But only The New York Post reported that the child rapist was a Mexican.

In 2001, the media were fixated on the case of Chandra Levy, a congressional intern who had gone missing. All eyes were on her boss and romantic partner, Democratic congressman Gary Condit. Then it turned out she was assaulted and murdered while jogging in Rock Creek Park by Ingmar Guandique - an illegal alien from El Salvador.

There was a lot of press when three Cleveland women went missing a decade ago. By the time they escaped in 2013 from the sick sexual pervert who'd been holding them captive, it was too late for the media to ignore the story. The girls hadn't been kidnapped by the Duke lacrosse team, but by Ariel Castro.

Now, get this: While investigating Castro, the police discovered that he wasn't the only Hispanic raping young girls on his block. (All in all, it wasn't a great street for trick-or-treating.)

Castro's erstwhile neighbor, Elias Acevedo, had spent years raping, among many others, his own daughters when they were little girls. The New York Times' entire coverage of that case consisted of a tiny item on page A-18: "Ohio: Life Sentence in Murders and Rapes."

The media knew from the beginning that the monstrous gang-rape and murder of Jennifer Ertman, 14, and Elizabeth Pena, 16, in Houston in 1993 was instigated by Jose Ernesto Medellin, an illegal immigrant from Mexico. But over the next decade, with more than a thousand news stories on that case, the fact that the lead rapist was a Mexican was not mentioned once, according to the Nexis archives.

Only when Medellin's Mexicanness was used to try to overturn his death sentence did American news consumers finally find out he was an illegal alien from Mexico. (After years of wasted judicial resources and taxpayer money being spent on Medellin's appeals, he will now be spending eternity way, way south of the border.)

Who is this media cover-up helping? Not the American girls getting raped. But also not the Latina immigrants who came to the U.S., thinking they were escaping the Latin American rape culture. So as not to hurt the feelings of immigrant rapists, the media are willing to put all girls living here at risk.

No wonder the media is sputtering at Trump. He broke the embargo on unpleasant facts about what our brilliant immigration policies are doing to the country.



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

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


5 July, 2015

Homosexuality and Christian apologetics

Derision is my normal response when people claim to be Christian and then go on to countenance homosexuality.  Both the Old and the New Testaments are crystal clear that it is an abomination to the Lord and must therefore be avoided or repented.  And yet the mainstream churches go as far as having homosexual clergy.  How do they do it?  What conceivable excuse can they have for disobeying their Lord?

In the case of the Church of England and its various offshoots the answer is clear. They DON'T believe in their Lord -- and many clergy are closeted homosexuals themselves. The present Archbishop of Canterbury does appear to believe in something but, as far as I can tell, he is a rarity among the Anglican episcopate. The Anglican clergy like gracious old buildings, gorgeous vestments, "bells and smells" and the occasional bits of respect that they get -- but proclaiming the Gospel is a very low priority for them. Even their Easter sermons are often very wishy-washy, with at best a passing mention of redemption. With honourable exceptions (as in Sydney diocese) The Anglican clergy are mostly just poseurs, atheists in drag.

Some mainstream clergy, however, do make some sort of a fist of justifying their heresy and I want to say a few things about that. Unlike Leftists, I do take an interest in what "the other side" are saying so I do know their main lines of argument. I have no fear of being tripped up by awkward facts -- and hearing both sides of any question is in principle the safest way towards a reasonable judgement about it.

And I note that real Christians generally seem to be a bit slack about countering the pseudo-Christian arguments about homosexuality. Real Christians think it is sufficient to quote the relevant texts and leave it at that.

But the pseudo Christians do have some real arguments to offer and they are good enough to lead some people astray -- so somebody needs to point out the sophistry in the pseudo-Christian arguments.  It is rather crazy that I as an atheist should take on that job but I have never lost my early interest in exegesis and theology so am reasonably positioned to do so

Argument from the first century environment

One argument I see is that homosexuality is condemned only about three times in the New Testament so they cannot really have meant it seriously.  If it really was a serious concern it would have been mentioned more often.  And Christ himself did not mention it at all.  Allied to that is an argument that Christ and the apostles lived in a Greco-Roman world where homosexuality was normal, common and unquestioned so it cannot have been seen as very wrong or it would have been condemned out of hand.

That is the sort of argument you might get from the U.S. Supreme Court -- one that completely ignores what the documents actually say -- and it seems to me to be an argument of desperation.  But let me point out the simple and major flaw in it anyway.

Christ and the early Christians lived in an environment that  was overwhelmingly Jewish.  And Jews had always stood out in their rejection of homosexuality (Leviticus 18:22 etc.).  They did indeed live in a Greco-Roman world and pedophilia had been routinely practiced by the Greeks for centuries -- something that the unfortunate Chris Brand got fired for after he pointed that out once too often. 

But Israel was not Greece then any more than it is today.  Regardless of what other subjects of the Roman empire might say or do, Jews lived in a society where homosexuals risked being stoned to death.  Rejection of homosexuality could be taken as read in that environment so needed only incidental mention.  And when the apostle Paul did in fact comment directly on Roman civilization, he absolutely ranted and raved in his condemnation of it. 

Paul started travelling very early on and so came into much more contract with Greco-Roman civilization than one would have done in Israel.  Most of his missions were at least initially to congregations of the Jewish diaspora so he still lived in something of a Jewish bubble.  But when it came to Rome itself he could not restrain himself.  He condemned just about everything Roman. 

Read what he says about Roman practices in his epistle to the Christians in Rome, chapter 1, from verse 21 onwards.  Being a good theologian, Paul puts his condemnation in the context of what Jewish backsliders in the past had done but there is no ambiguity about the general applicability of what he says. And he is clearly motivated by what he has observed of Roman civilization, which is why he felt the need say it when writing to the congregation in Rome.  So on occasions when it was needful to condemn homosexuality, the Bible writers did just that.  I quote from verse 27:

"And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet".

And in the final verse of the chapter Paul moves into the present tense,  indicating that it is the malign influence of then-current Roman civilization on Christians that he has particularly in mind:

"Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them"

What did Christ say?

A related argument is that Christ never mentioned homosexuality so it was only that old puritan Paul who thought it was a bad thing.  Since Paul's writings form a large part of the New Testament, that is simply a repudiation of the Bible and is, if anything, an anti-Christian argument and reveals those who put it forward for what they are:  Disciples of Satan maybe but certainly not disciples of Christ.

But, that aside, context again is explanatory.  Because Christ was a devout Jew in a Jewish society, the question never arose. It was not an issue.  The Jewish law still unquestionably applied.  Let me quote the only thing that Christ said about marriage -- in Matthew 19.  He specifically put his teaching in the context of a debate about Jewish law:

"Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, ďIs it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?Ē

ďHavenít you read,Ē he replied, ďthat at the beginning the Creator Ďmade them male and female,í and said, ĎFor this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'.  So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.Ē

Clearly, for him, marriage was between a man and a woman and it was only they who could become "one flesh". And his authority for that was what was found in the Jewish scriptures.  So there is no doubt whatever about his view of sexual relationships. Only male/female marriage was on his horizons.

Universal salvation?

A remaining argument from the pseudo Christians is that God is a God of love so therefore he must love homosexuals too. That is also an amazing argument. The Bible repeatedly makes clear that God loves his children but, like any parent, he also has rules for his children.  And just as children can be disinherited, so God can sentence unrighteous people to everlasting "kolasin" (cutting off).  Let me quote  Matthew 25.

"When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world ...

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal"

The word translated as "punishment" above is in Greek "kolasin" and it simply means "cutting off". It is the word a Greek gardener might use to describe the pruning of a tree. So it would be a proper  translation to say that the goatish ones will be cut off and thrown away like the unwanted branch of a tree.

So the argument that the love of God is unconditional is utter rubbish.  You have to do your best to obey his rules if you want salvation from death.  There is no universal salvation.

So those are the arguments that the pseudo-Christians use. They are so weak that you could only accept them out of desperation. You could only accept them if you wanted to use Christianity as a false front.  They are arguments that mock the Bible, not arguments from the Bible -- JR.


Happy aphelion

I am not superstitious but I wonder if anybody thinks it significant that it was around aphelion (when earth was most distant from the sun) that America's unilateral declaration of independence took place? It did usher in a regrettable war but ideals have emerged from it that have proven very constructive so it is undoubtedly worth celebration.

I keep the original Sabbath in an approximate sort of way and July 4 occurred this year on a Saturday so I did not post anything this year on July 4. But an Australian Sunday largely overlaps with an American Saturday so it is perhaps still appropriate for me to put up something to mark the great day. The observations below by Rick Manning seem good ones to me

American exceptionalism at risk

ďWe hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.ĖThat to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.Ē

In these 54 words Thomas Jefferson defined the DNA of America, and laid the foundation for individual freedom that has over the course of 239 years led to American Exceptionalism.

Jeffersonís words embodied in the Declaration of Independence were an act of treason, and those who signed the Declaration of Independence committed a heroic act of literally putting their lives, families and fortunes on the chopping block with little objective evidence that the revolution they spawned was going to be successful.

Yet, beyond the secular revolution of breaking away from the England, the American DNA was defined in the bold statement that individual rights were not granted by a government, but instead by God, and that the government itself was created to secure those rights.

This fundamental transformation away from the notion of the divine right of Kings to the subjugation of government to the people was based upon the core statement that ďall men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.Ē

Created equal, the rich and poor alike, all given dignity by God with rights that no government could strip away.

A freedom like no other that has ignited Americans to dream, strive, achieve, fail and get up and try again.

Being human, those authors of the Declaration were not perfect, but they chose not to be limited by their cultural or other short-comings.  Instead they chose to set a bar high enough that Americans would always strive to achieve it, and peoples from other countries would always crave to join it.

Today we find the same underlying challenges that faced those brave men who met in Philadelphia in 1776 facing our nation.

Today, there are those who look at the faults of our nation and seek to use them to deny the underlying truths that have made America the envy of the world.

They seek to return our nation to one where natural rights are not endowed by God, but rather reduced to those which the federal government allows us to pretend that we have.

They seek to turn the meaning of the Constitutionally enumerated freedoms upside down.  One example is their attempt to turn the First Amendment on its head.  Flipping its plain meaning from the right to engage in speech, the free exercise of religion, redressing grievances to the government and of the press to a government imposed protection from these very activities under the guise that some sub-group or even the majority might be offended.

Many of the same people who defended the right of miscreants to burn the American flag, now argue that the American flag should be torn from the flag pole as it offends some who come from other cultures. They argue that the government should act to stop the free exercise of religion by virtue of declaring contrary points of view to be ďhate speech.Ē  They argue for the government to impose a personal freedom from being exposed to ideas that they disagree with, so they can maintain a safe zone bubble.

Rather than the free exchanges of ideas that have helped America grow strong, they want a government imposed monopoly of ideas that coincides with their limited understanding of the world.

This is the battle that America has just begun to wake up to.  A national discussion that goes to the root of who we will be in the future, and those whose base argument is that government determines what rights individuals have naturally are trying to silence those who believe that individual freedoms are protected from the government rather than defined by it.

The idea of America is freedom to do, speak and take action without the shackles of a federal government overlord is at risk.  The underlying, guiding assumption of our nationís history that the government did not bestow rights, so the government cannot take them away is being challenged.

This very revolutionary concept that has brought our nation to being the greatest the world has ever known is in imminent danger.  Should we, as a people, accede to those who wish to rule us by agreeing with their premise that rights are fungible and the government is the grantor of whatever freedom it chooses to allow, America will no longer be exceptional or unique.  Our nation will slip back into the norm of history, being ruled without rights with the people taking whatever crumbs that fall out of our masterís hands rather than striving for their own dreams.



Ding Dong, the Ex-Im Bank Is Dead!

It seems like the liberty movement has taken a bit of a beating lately, with the Supreme Court defending ObamaCare subsidies, the FCC expanding its regulation of the internet, and budgets continuing to spend beyond our means and rack up more national debt. But itís not all bad news, and at times like this itís more important than ever to celebrate victories where we can find them. The end of the United States Export-Import Bank is one such victory.

The Bankís charter has expired for the first time since its creation 80 years ago. This means it wonít be issuing taxpayer-backed loans to big companies with political clout. It wonít be granting special favors to green energy companies to satisfy the presidentís personal preferences. It wonít be handing out your money to foreign and corrupt corporations. The expiration of Ex-Im is a blow against the cronyism and corporate favoritism that gives ďpro-businessĒ Republicans a bad name, and thatís something we should celebrate.



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

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


3 July, 2015

Leftist history


You Canít Compromise with Culture Warriors

by Jonah Goldberg

I loved reading the If You Give a Mouse a Cookie books to my daughter. The somewhat Aesopian theme is that if you give the mouse what it wants Ė a cookie Ė it will just want more: a glass of milk, a straw, etc. The story came to mind last week, a week that began with many vowing to inter the Confederate flag and that ended with the Supreme Court mandating that there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. As far as culture-war victories go, the flag news was big, but the marriage ruling was tantamount to VE Day.

It might be too much to think that progressive activists and intellectuals would demobilize after such a ďMission AccomplishedĒ moment. But a reasonable person might expect social-justice warriors to at least take the weekend off to celebrate.

But no. Even when the cookie is this big, the mice want something more. The call went out that there were new citadels to conquer. Within hours of the decision, Politico ran a call to arms titled ďItís Time to Legalize Polygamy: Why Group Marriage Is the Next Horizon of Social Liberalism.Ē

On Sunday, Time magazine had Mark Oppenheimerís ďNowís the Time to End Tax Exemptions for Religious Institutions.Ē

Earlier in the week, as corporations and politicians were racing one another to shove the Confederate flag down the memory hole, a co-host asked CNNís Don Lemon whether the Jefferson Memorial should be removed from the National Mall because the former president owned slaves. He said no, but that ďthere may come a day when we want to rethink Jefferson.Ē

Within hours of the same sex-marriage ruling, the White House was beaming the gay-pride rainbow flag on its facade. This is the White House whose current occupant campaigned in 2008 passionately insisting that his religious faith required him to oppose gay marriage. The president and his party now consider that position to be unalloyed bigotry.

Many of us always believed Barack Obama was lying about his opposition to gay marriage Ė a belief corroborated when his former guru, David Axelrod, wrote in his memoir that heíd advised his client to conceal his personal view for political expediency.

It is something of a secular piety to bemoan political polarization in this nation. But polarization in and of itself shouldnít be a problem in a democracy. The whole point of having a democratic republic, never mind the Bill of Rights, is to give people the right to disagree.

A deeper and more poisonous problem is the breakdown in trust. Again and again, progressives insist that their goals are reasonable and limited. Proponents of gay marriage insisted that they merely wanted the same rights to marry as everyone else. They mocked, scorned, and belittled anyone who suggested that polygamy would be next on their agenda. Until they started winning.

In 2013, a headline in Slate declared ďLegalize Polygamy!Ē and a writer at the Economist editorialized, ďAnd now on to polygamy.Ē The Atlantic ran a fawning piece on Diana Adams and her quest for a polyamorous ďalternative to marriage.Ē We were also told that the fight for marriage equality had nothing to do with a larger war against organized religion and religious freedom. But we now know that was a lie, too.

The ACLU has reversed its position on religious-freedom laws, in line with the Leftís scorched-earth attacks on religious institutions and private businesses that wonít Ė or canít Ė embrace the secular fatwa that everyone must celebrate ďloveĒ as defined by the Left.

I very much doubt weíll get a constitutional right for teams of people to get ďmarried,Ē but I have every confidence the drumbeat will grow louder. Social justice Ė forever ill-defined so as to maximize the power of its champions Ė has become not just an industry but also a permanent psychological orientation among journalists, lawyers, educators, and other members of the new class of eternal reformers.

By no means are social-justice warriors always wrong. But they are untrustworthy, because they arenít driven by a philosophy so much as an insatiable appetite that cannot take yes for an answer. No cookie will ever satisfy them. Our politics will only get uglier, as those who resist this agenda realize that compromise is just another word for appeasement.



We Have Officially Reached Peak Leftism


A progressive panic attack begins as the Obama era wanes. If it seems to you that the Left has, collectively, lost its damned mind as the curtain rises on the last act of the Obama administration, you are not imagining things. Barack Obama has been extraordinarily successful in his desire to ó what was that phrase? ó fundamentally transform the country, but the metamorphosis is nonetheless a good deal less than his congregation wanted and expected.

We may have gone from being up to our knees in welfare-statism to being up to our hips in it, and from having a bushel of banana-republic corruption and incompetence to having a bushel and a peck of it, but the United States of America remains, to the Leftís dismay, plainly recognizable as herself beneath the muck. Ergo, madness and rage.

We have seen an extraordinary outburst of genuine extremism ó and genuine authoritarianism ó in the past several months, and it will no doubt grow more intense as we approach the constitutional dethroning of the mock messiah to whom our progressive friends literally sang hymns of praise and swore oaths of allegiance. (ďI pledge to be a servant to our presidentĒ ó recall all that sieg heil creepiness.)

There is an unmistakable stink of desperation about this, as though the Left intuits what the Right dares not hope: that the coming few months may in fact see progressivismís cultural high-water mark for this generation. If there is desperation, it probably is because the Left is starting to suspect that the permanent Democratic majority it keeps promising itself may yet fail to materialize.

The Democrats won two resounding White House victories but can hardly win a majority in a state legislature (seven out of ten today are Republican-controlled) or a governorship (the Democrats are down to 18) to save their lives, while Republicans are holding their strongest position in Congress since the days of Herbert Hoover.

The Democrats have calculated that their best bet in 2016 is Hillary Rodham Clinton, that tragic bag of appetites who couldnít close the deal in the primary last time around. ďVote for me, Iím a ladyĒ isnít what they thought it was: Wendy Davis, running for governor of Texas, made all the proper ceremonial incantations and appeared in heroic postures on all the right magazine covers, but finished in the 30s on Election Day. With young people trending pro-life, that old black magic ainít what it used to be.

For the Left, it feels like time is running out. So it isnít sufficient that same-sex marriages be legalized; bakers and florists must be locked in prison if they decline to participate in a gay coupleís ceremony. It isnít sufficient that those wishing to undergo sex-change surgery be permitted to go their own way; the public must pay for it, and if Bruce Jenner is still ďBruceĒ to you, you must be driven from polite society.

It isnít enough that the Left dominate the media and pop culture; any attempt to compete with it must be criminalized in the name of ďgetting big money out of politics.Ē Not the New York Timesís money, or Hollywoodís money, or the CEO of Goldman Sachsís money ó just the wrong sort of peopleís money.

Every major Democratic presidential candidate and every Democratic senator is on record supporting the repeal of the First Amendmentís free-speech protections ó i.e., carving the heart out of the Bill of Rights ó to clear the way for putting all public debate under political discipline.

Like it or not, you will be shackled to hope and change. The hysterical shrieking about the fictitious rape epidemic on college campuses, the attempts to fan the unhappy events in Ferguson and Baltimore into a national racial conflagration, the silly and shallow ďinequalityĒ talk ó these are signs of progressivism in decadence.

So is the brouhaha over the Confederate flag in South Carolina in the wake of the horrific massacre at Emanuel AME Church. For about 30 seconds, the political ghouls of the Left were looking to pick another gun-control fight, swooping in, in their habitually indecent fashion, before the bodies had even grown cold. But that turned out to be a dead end, since the killer acquired his gun after passing precisely the sort of background check that the Left generally hawks after a high-profile crime, regardless of whether it is relevant to the crime.

We might have spent some time thinking about whether law enforcement was too lax in the matter of the murdererís earlier encounters with them ó the South Carolina killer had a drug arrest on his record but was able to buy a gun because he had been charged only with a misdemeanor. But the Left isnít in any mood to talk about whether the cops arenít being hard-assed enough. So, instead, we had a fight over a completely unrelated issue: the Confederate flag flying at the state capitol in Columbia.

You have to credit the Left: Its strategy is deft. If you can make enough noise that sounds approximately like a moral crisis, then you can in effect create a moral crisis. Never mind that the underlying argument ó ďSomething bad has happened to somebody else, and so you must give us something we want!Ē ó is entirely specious; it is effective.

In the wake of the financial crisis, we got all manner of ďreform,Ē from student-lending practices to the mandates of Elizabeth Warrenís new pet bureaucracy, involving things that had nothing at all to do with the financial crisis. Democrats argued that decency compelled us to pass a tax increase in the wake of the crisis, though tax rates had nothing to do with it. A crisis is a crisis is a crisis, and if a meteor hits Ypsilanti tomorrow you can be sure that Debbie Stabenow will be calling for a $15 national minimum wage because of the plight of meteor victims.

I bear no brief for the peckerwood-trash cultural tendencies that led Fritz Hollings, then governor, and the rest of the loyal Democrats who ran segregation-era South Carolina to hoist the Confederate flag in 1962. My sympathies are more with John Brown than with John Calhoun.

Yet Lost Cause romanticism was very much in fashion for a moment, and not only among Confederate revanchists; Joan Baez, no redneck she, made a great deal of money with her recording of ďThe Night They Drove Old Dixie DownĒ in 1971. About every third Western of the era had as its hero a conflicted Confederate veteran, his wounded honor and stoicism in defeat compelling him to roam westward in search of a new beginning.

That story lives on into our own time: Who are Mal Reynolds and the Browncoats if not another remnant of the Lost Cause relocated from Virginia to the frontier in space?

Of course the Confederate flag is a symbol of Southern racism. It is a good many other things, too, none of which was the cause of the massacre at Emanuel AME.

It is strange and ironic that adherents of the Democratic party ó which was, for about 140 years, not only the Southís but the worldís leading white-supremacist organization ó should work themselves up over one flag, raised by their fellow partisans, at this late a date; but, well, welcome to the party.

Yet Democratic concern about racist totems is selective: The Democrats are not going to change the name of their party, cancel the annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner, or stop naming things after Robert Byrd, senator and Exalted Cyclops of the Ku Klux Klan.

Hillary Clinton is not going to be made to answer for her participation in a political campaign that featured Confederate-flag imagery.

The Confederate flag, and other rebel iconography, is a marker of Southern distinctiveness, which, like American distinctiveness, is inextricably bound up with the enslavement and oppression of black people. But only the South is irredeemable in the Leftís view, and it has been so only since about 1994, when it went Republican.

Which is to say, the Confederate flag is an emblem of regional distinctiveness disapproved of by 21st-century Democrats. Their reinvigorated concern is awfully nice: When the South actually was a segregationist backwater that African-Americans were fleeing by the million ó when Democrats were running the show ó they were ho-hum.

Today the South is an economic powerhouse, dominated by Republicans, and attracting new African-American residents by the thousands. And so the Left and its creature, the Democratic party, insist that Southern identity as such must be anathematized.

The horrific crime that shocked the nation notwithstanding, black life in Charleston remains very different, in attractive ways, from black life in such Left-dominated horror shows as Cleveland and Detroit, and the stateís governor is, in the parlance of identity politics, a woman of color ó but she is a Republican, too, and therefore there must be shrieking, rending of garments, and gnashing of teeth.

This is a fraud, and some scales are starting to fall from some eyes. Americans believe broadly in sexual equality, but only a vanishing minority of us describe ourselves as ďfeminists.Ē

ďSocial-justice warriorĒ is a term of derision. The Bernie Sanders movement, like the draft-Warren movement of which it is an offshoot, is rooted in disgust at the opportunistic politics of the Clinton claque.

Young people who have heard all their lives that the Republican party and the conservative movement are for old white men ó young people who may be not be quite old enough to remember Democratsí boasting of their ďdouble-BubbaĒ ticket in 1992, pairing the protťgť of one Southern segregationist with the son of another ó see before them Nikki Haley, Bobby Jindal, Susana Martinez, Carly Fiorina, Tim Scott, Mia Love, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Elise Stefanik.

None of those men and women is bawling about ďmicroaggressionsĒ or dreaming up new sexless pronouns. None belongs to the party that hoisted Dixie over the capitol in South Carolina either. Governor Haley may be sensitive to the history of her state, but she is a member of the party of Lincoln with family roots in Punjab ó it isnít her flag.

Whatís going to happen between now and November 8 of next year will be a political campaign on one side of the aisle only. On the other side, itís going to be something between a temper tantrum and a panic attack. Thatís excellent news if youíre Ted Cruz, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, or Carly Fiorina. Itís less good news if you live in Baltimore or Philadelphia.



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

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


2 July, 2015

A bad omen?

Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: ďI now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with youóthe birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with youóevery living creature on earth. I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.Ē

And God said, ďThis is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.  Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind.

Genesis 9: 12-15

Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination

Leviticus 18:22

Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men

1 Corinthians 6:9


Greece has a far-Leftist government


Mean priorities

On Friday my phone was blowing up with messages, asking if Iíd seen the news. Some expressed disbelief at the headlines. Many said they were crying.

None of them were talking about the dozens of people gunned down in Sousse, Tunisia, by a man who, dressed as a tourist, had hidden his Kalashnikov inside a beach umbrella. Not one was crying over the beheading in a terrorist attack at a chemical factory near Lyon, France. The victimís head was found on a pike near the factory, his body covered with Arabic inscriptions. And no Facebook friends mentioned the first suicide bombing in Kuwait in more than two decades, in which 27 people were murdered in one of the oldest Shiite mosques in the country.

They were talking about the only news that mattered: gay marriage.

Unlike President Obama, I have always been a staunch supporter of gay marriage, and I cheered the Supreme Courtís ruling making gay marriage legal in all 50 states. But as happy as I was, I was equally upset on Fridayóand not just with the Islamists who carried out those savage attacks.

Moral relativism has become its own, perverse form of nativism among those who stake their identity on being universalist and progressive.

How else to explain the lack of outrage for the innocents murdered on the beach, while vitriol is heaped on those who express any shred of doubt about the Supreme Court ruling? How else to make sense of the legions of social-justice activists here at home who have nothing to say about countries where justice means flogging, beheading or stoning?

How else to understand those who have dedicated their lives to creating safe spaces for transgender people, yet issue no news releases about gender apartheid in an entire region of the world? How else to justify that at the gay-pride celebrations this weekend in Manhattan there is unlikely to be much mention of the gay men recently thrown off buildings in Syria and Iraq, their still-warm bodies desecrated by mobs?

It is increasingly eerie to live in this split-screen age. Earlier this week I received an email from a progressive Jewish organization about how Judaism teaches ďthat the preservation of human dignity is important enough to justify overriding our sacred mitzvot.Ē The rest of the email was about respecting dignity by using preferred gender pronouns.

On my other computer screen, I looked at a photograph of five men in orange jumpsuits, their legs bound. They were trapped like dogs inside a metal cage and hanging above a pool of water. They were drawing their final breaths before their Islamic State captors lowered the cage into the pool and they drowned together.

What was that about human dignity?

The barbarians are at our gates. But inside our offices, schools, churches, synagogues and homes, we are posting photos of rainbows on Twitter. Itís easier to Photoshop images of Justice Scalia as Voldemort than it is to stare evil in the face.

You canít get married if youíre dead.



Scott Walker leads the charge again

Wisconsin unions Monday are once again attacking Republican Gov. Scott Walker, this time over a proposed budget that may result in cuts to tenure for state college professors.

With the upcoming budget session, the Wisconsin Joint Finance Committee is expected to propose a plan to reform the University of Wisconsin System. While it is not yet finalized, unions warn the plan will cut $250 million in funding and will remove academic protections for professors such as teacher tenure.

This latest union battles comes at the heels of a likely announcement Walker will run for president. With his previous labor reforms, unions will likely become one of his main advisories.

ďTodayís move by JFC Republicans to pay for Scott Walkerís tax breaks for his wealthy donors by slashing public education is shameful,Ē Eleni Schirmer, co-president of the Teaching Assistantsí Association, said in a statement. ďThese cuts will devastate a UW System that has already been cut to the bone and beyond in previous years.Ē

Richard Leson, an associate professor of art history and president of Local 3535 of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), also argues the plan will have devastating consequences.

ďThe UW System has a long, rich tradition of encouraging research and learning free from political pressure, serving as a model for the rest of the country,Ē Leson said in a statement. ďOur strong history of academic freedom through faculty tenure has protected education in the UW System from political conflict and corruption for decades, ensuring that higher learning in Wisconsin can pursue the truth wherever it might lead.Ē

A spokesman for Joint Finance Committee, however, notes the plan is not set in stone. The spokesman told The Daily Caller News Foundation that the plan still needs to be finalized by the committee after which point it will move onto the Senate and House. The plan could be amended by lawmakers in either chamber. If it passes the legislature, it will then be up to Walker to decide whether to sign it into law but the end result may look drastically different from the original plan.

As the budget plan is written at the moment, it doesnít even remove tenure like some unions are claiming. As the committee spokesman detailed, the proposal only transfers authority on tenure to the Board of Regents which is already in charge overseeing community colleges in the state. The board could cut tenure, keep it the same or change it in other ways.

ďIn order to create an authority, the Governorís original budget proposal removed all references to tenure and shared governance state statute in order to allow for the proposed authority to create its own policies,Ē Laurel Patrick, press secretary for Walker, told TheDCNF. ďThis would allow the UW Board of Regents to address the issue of tenure going forward.Ē

Though unions are blaming Walker, the proposed budget was approved by members of the committee and was not proposed by the governor. Walker, though, has become a go to target for unions because of his efforts to reform labor policy in the state during his first term.

The reforms, known as Act 10, significantly changed the collective bargaining process for most public employees within the state. It also required public unions to hold a renewal vote every couple of years to determine if workers still wanted them. Labor unions and supporters adamantly opposed the law and even tried to get Walker thrown out of office.

Republicans in the legislature went a step further in the past year when they passed a law which banned mandatory union dues as a condition of employment. Though Walker wasnít directly involved in creating the measure, unions blamed him anyways.

ďItís worth noting that the reforms included in Act 10 eliminated requirements for seniority and tenure in schools,Ē Patrick continued. ďMany of the critics claiming these changes will cause harm are the same types of voices who said public education would be harmed because of our Act 10 reforms. Today, graduation rates are up, third grade reading scores are up, and ACT scores are second best in the country.Ē



The Formal End to Judeo-Christian America

By Dennis Prager

The U.S. Supreme Courtís ruling on the redefinition of marriage seals the end of America as the Founders envisioned it.

From well before 1776 until the second half of the 20th century, the moral values of the United States were rooted in the Bible and its God.

Unlike Europe, which defined itself as exclusively Christian, America became the first Judeo-Christian society. The American Founders were Christians ó either theologically or culturally ó but they were rooted in the Hebrew Scriptures. Even Americans who could not affirm traditional Christian or Jewish theology affirmed the centrality of God to ethics. Americans, from the Founders on, understood that without God, there is no moral truth, only moral opinion ó and assumed that those truths were to be gleaned from the Bible more than anywhere else.

Beginning with the Supreme Courtís ban on nondenominational school prayer in 1962, the same-sex marriage decision has essentially completed the stateís secularization of American society. This is one thing about which both right and left, religious and secular, can agree. One side may rejoice over the fact, and the other may weep, but it is a fact.

And what has replaced Judaism, Christianity, Judeo-Christian values and the Bible?

The answer is: feelings. More and more Americans rely on feelings to make moral decisions. The heart has taken the place of the Bible.

Years ago, I recorded an interview with a Swedish graduate student. I began by asking her whether she believed in God. Of course not. Did she believe in religion? Of course not.

ďWhere, then, do you get your notion of right and wrong?Ē I asked.

ďFrom my heart,Ē she responded.

That is why five members of the Supreme Court have redefined marriage. They consulted their hearts.

That is understandable. Any religious conservative who does not acknowledge homosexuals' historic persecution or does not understand gays who desire to marry lacks compassion.

But letís be honest. This lack of compassion is more than matched by the meanness expressed by the advocates of same-sex marriage. They have rendered those who believe that marriage should remain a man-woman institution the most vilified group in America today.

It is the heart ó not the mind, not millennia of human experience, nor any secular or religious body of wisdom ó that has determined that marriage should no longer be defined as the union of a man and a woman.

It is the heart, not the mind, that has concluded that gender has no significance. That is the essence of the Brave New World being ushered in. For the first time in recorded history, whole societies are announcing that gender has no significance. Same-sex marriage is, above all else, the statement that male and female mean nothing, are completely interchangeable, and, yes, donít even objectively exist, because you are only the gender you feel you are. That explains the ďTĒ in ďLGBT.Ē The case for same-sex marriage is dependent on the denial of sexual differences.

It is the heart, not the mind, that has concluded that all a child needs is love, not a father and mother.

And therein lies one of the reasons that the notion of obedience to religion is so loathed by the cultural left. Biblical Judaism and Christianity repeatedly dismiss the heart as a moral guide.

Moreover, the war to replace God, Judeo-Christian values and the Bible as moral guides is far from over. What will this lead to?

Here are three likely scenarios:

Becoming more and more like Western Europe, which has more or less created the first godless and religion-less societies in history. Among the consequences are less marriage and the birth of far fewer children.

More and more ostracizing ó eventually outlawing ó of religious Jews and Christians, clergy, and institutions that refuse to perform same-sex weddings.

An America increasingly guided by peopleís hearts.

If you trust the human heart, you should feel confident about the future. If you donít, you should be scared. Judeo-Christian values have made America, despite its flaws, uniquely free and prosperous and the greatest force for good in the world. Without those values, all of that will change.



Some Liberties Are More Equal Than Others

One day before the Supreme Court ruled on same-sex marriage, ACLU deputy legal director Louise Melling wrote of the organizationís newly announced hostility to Christians and religious liberty, specifically regarding its withdrawal of support for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. ďThe ACLU supported the RFRAís passage at the time because it didnít believe the Constitution, as newly interpreted by the Supreme Court, would protect people Ö whose religious expression does not harm anyone else. But we can no longer support the law in its current form.

For more than 15 years, we have been concerned about how the RFRA could be used to discriminate against others. As the events of the past couple of years amply illustrate, our fears were well-founded. While the RFRA may serve as a shield to protect [some], it is now often used as a sword to discriminate against women, gay and transgender people and others. Ö Yes, religious freedom needs protection. But religious liberty doesnít mean the right to discriminate or to impose oneís views on others.Ē

Itís not exactly surprising that the ACLU would find a way to oppose such laws once Christians found refuge in them. But this is an organization that has gone to bat for the KKK and the American Nazi Party. And the irony is too much: Melling decries the imposition of views while having no problem with homosexuals forcing bakers, photographers and florists to provide their services against their consciences. Now that the Supreme Court has found a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, more imposition and discrimination will occur. And the ACLU will be leading the charge. Because ďlove wins,Ē right?



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

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


1 July, 2015

That evil diabetes

The prime whipping boy for the "war on obesity" is diabetes.  Being fat is supposed to give you diabetes, never mind that most fat people are not diabetic! So it is interesting to see what pops up in the research about diabetes.  And the latest study is an unusually strong one.  The researchers had data on both income and education, which makes it quite a rarity and worth mentioning for that alone. So the results can be accepted without the most usual caveat about the influence of social class.

Another usual caveat is however not excluded. By basing their conclusions on interquartile range they threw away half their data.  At least they did not use extreme quintiles, I suppose. So they are a bit up on a lot of other studies in that regard.  The bottom line, however, is that the effects they observed were weak.

So what did they find, albeit weakly?  The most interesting finding was a negative.  Neighborhood social environment was not associated with diabetes.  Bear in mind, however that race/ethnicity was controlled for.  Without that control, inner city environments would have been found to be bad for you.  So having congenial neighbors is nice but it doesn't protect you from diabetes. Not terribly surprising, I suppose, but with their tendency to blame everything on external factors, Leftists might not like it

The positive effects were that a neighborhood with good opportunities for exercise helped stave off diabetes and a neighborhood with more fresh food available helped a little too.  So having nearby parks to jog around was good for you and a less fat-intensive diet gave your pancreas a bit of a rest.

An amusing thing is that JAMA really liked that study and put up a laudatory commentary on it ("Risk for Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus:  Person, Place, and Precision Prevention").  And what the commentary said about it did not surprise me one bit. The commentary disregarded the weaknesses of the effects and even said that the authors found something which they did not.  Academics have a great tendency to draw conclusions they want to draw and damn the evidence.  So when dear little Nancy Adler and Aric Prather said in their commentary that: "physical and social contexts of neighborhood environments matter for disease onset", they were ignoring the fact that the study below found that social environment did NOT matter.  LOL.

We climate skeptics know well how little there is behind Warmist "science" but the same is true of science in other fields too, particularly health science.  And Leftism of course floats on a sea of lies.  The situation is so bad that, even at age 71,  I feel I still have to keep going and keep pointing out the facts. I would rather spend my time watching operetta -- but fortunately I do get some time for that too.  Much more fun than politics and crooked science. 

Longitudinal Associations Between Neighborhood Physical and Social Environments and Incident Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA)

By Paul J. Christine et al.


Objective:  To determine whether long-term exposures to neighborhood physical and social environments, including the availability of healthy food and physical activity resources and levels of social cohesion and safety, are associated with incident T2DM during a 10-year period.

Design, Setting, and Participants:  We used data from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, a population-based cohort study of adults aged 45 to 84 years at baseline (July 17, 2000, through August 29, 2002). A total of 5124 participants free of T2DM at baseline underwent 5 clinical follow-up examinations from July 17, 2000, through February 4, 2012. Time-varying measurements of neighborhood healthy food and physical activity resources and social environments were linked to individual participant addresses. Neighborhood environments were measured using geographic information system (GIS)Ė and survey-based methods and combined into a summary score. We estimated hazard ratios (HRs) of incident T2DM associated with cumulative exposure to neighborhood resources using Cox proportional hazards regression models adjusted for age, sex, income, educational level, race/ethnicity, alcohol use, and cigarette smoking. Data were analyzed from December 15, 2013, through September 22, 2014.

Main Outcomes and Measures:  Incident T2DM defined as a fasting glucose level of at least 126 mg/dL or use of insulin or oral antihyperglycemics.

Results:  During a median follow-up of 8.9 years (37?394 person-years), 616 of 5124 participants (12.0%) developed T2DM (crude incidence rate, 16.47 [95% CI, 15.22-17.83] per 1000 person-years). In adjusted models, a lower risk for developing T2DM was associated with greater cumulative exposure to indicators of neighborhood healthy food (12%; HR per interquartile range [IQR] increase in summary score, 0.88 [95% CI, 0.79-0.98]) and physical activity resources (21%; HR per IQR increase in summary score, 0.79 [95% CI, 0.71-0.88]), with associations driven primarily by the survey exposure measures. Neighborhood social environment was not associated with incident T2DM (HR per IQR increase in summary score, 0.96 [95% CI, 0.88-1.07]).

Conclusions and Relevance:  Long-term exposure to residential environments with greater resources to support physical activity and, to a lesser extent, healthy diets was associated with a lower incidence of T2DM, although results varied by measurement method. Modifying neighborhood environments may represent a complementary, population-based approach to prevention of T2DM, although further intervention studies are needed.

JAMA Intern Med. Published online June 29, 2015. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.2691


Libertarians Should Be Cautious in Celebrating homosexual marriage

To no oneís surprise, five justices of the U.S. Supreme Court held that ďthe right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person, and under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment couples of the same sex may not be deprived of that right and that liberty.Ē The full opinion is here.

For example, Robby Soave over at Reason blasts the dissent from Justice Scalia and observes that he is no friend to libertarians. Also, Ilya Shapiro at the Cato Institute gives a thumbs up to the Courtís decision. Undoubtedly many readers of this blog share these sentiments and cheer today that homosexual couples can marry just like opposite-sex couples. However, before you get caught up in celebrating this ďvictoryĒ for liberty, think about several things.

First, that the main liberty on which this country is founded is the right to self-government. For that reason we seceded from the British Empire so that each colony/state could govern its own affairs. Via the Articles and later the Constitution the states combined for certain external matters such as national defense and international commerce, but as to their internal affairs they remained separate and sovereign. This was supposed to allow the states to govern themselves based on peculiar local circumstances and culture; keep the governors close to the people; and allow for the states to serve as laboratories of democracy. Domestic relations were always seen as a matter of state and local regulation. There is no power delegated to the federal government over marriage, divorce, child custody, etc. When the federal government (legislative, executive, or judicial) acts outside the delegated powers and assumes prerogatives left to the states or the people, this cherished right of self-government is threatened.

Second, although the majority sets forth many good policy arguments on why same-sex marriage ought to be allowed, they are just thatópolicy arguments. Neither the Constitution of 1787 nor the 14th Amendment speak to same-sex marriage. Sure, there is a Due Process Clause in the 14th Amendment, but that should be understood as a guarantee that certain procedures must be followed in judicial proceedings before a person is deprived of life, liberty, or property. For example, a warrant should be submitted to a neutral magistrate to determine probable cause before a search is undertaken or a jury should be empaneled to decide felony cases between the government and the accused. Giving it a substantive meaningói.e., giving the courts the power to determine if certain non-judicial policies or laws are ďacceptableĒ in the opinion of the Courtósets the judicial branch above the other branches and the people. Policy is not the business of the Courts. We elect legislatures to debate policy and enact laws based on policy preferences. Actually, that was going on and going rather favorably for the gay community before the Court intervened with this decision.

Third, well what about Equal Protection? The 14th Amendment has an Equal Protection Clause, and states that did not allow homosexual marriage were denying homosexuals equal protection of the laws. Almost every law discriminates and creates classifications. For instance, a law that allows 16 year-olds to drive, but not 15 year-olds, creates a classification: those above 16 can drive, those below 16 cannot. This is not an equal protection violation because the intent behind the clause was to ensure that blacks enjoyed the same rights as whites and because the classification has a basis in reason. Sure, some teens 15 and 14 might drive better than adults who are 40 or 50, but courts have typically looked only to see that the classification has some basis in reason. It is reasonable to conclude that as a general matter a person should be 16 years or older to drive because as a general matter such an age brings enough maturity that the person can be expected to handle a car. Same thing for state laws on marriage. The traditional definition of marriage is based on the stateís desire to channel potential procreative activity into a stable social and legal relationship: marriage. This is per se reasonable, although there are policy arguments that can be made for expanding the definition. Bottom line: the view of marriage that has existed for thousands of years across a variety of different cultures (even cultures that were open to homosexuality, such as ancient Greece) is not bereft of a reasonable justification. And we donítóor at least shouldnít wantóunelected judges looking beyond reasonable justification lest they be tempted to force their personal opinionsógood or badóon us.

Fourth, as my friend David Theroux pointed out to me, nationalization of statesí laws seldom results in greater freedom. For arguments pointing out the dangers of nationalization, see this Independent Institute op-ed. We should ask ourselves, based on this ruling, whether the federal government can nationalize any state law that increases government power, such as compulsory schooling, confiscatory taxes, bans on soft drinks and meat, higher drinking ages, etc. In other words, can the feds nationalize any state law that is intrusive and even tyrannical? Does this nationalization power bring greater freedom?

Fifth, think about what the gay rights movement has lost with this resort to the federal courts. Chief Justice Roberts puts this nicely in his dissent: ďIndeed, however heartened the proponents of same-sex marriage might be on this day, it is worth acknowledging what they have lost, and lost forever: the opportunity to win the true acceptance that comes from persuading their fellow citizens of the justice of their cause. And they lose this just when the winds of change were freshening at their backs.Ē Opponents of gay marriage will ever believe that the debate and contest about the meaning of marriage was stolen from them. This will increase bitterness and likely close minds rather than open them to reasoned discussion and debate. What use is a democratic government with a First Amendment to promote debate, give and take, and respect when the judiciary decides all issues and questions that it deems important?

Finally, what does this bode for the future? With this decision, nine unelected federal officers firmly take on the power of legislating. The majorityís opinion reads like a collection of aphorisms from a far eastern philosopher and has little, if anything, to do with the application of established legal principles to an actual case or controversy. Many libertarians like the result in this case, but what will these cheerleaders say when the Court finds a state flat tax or state decision to reduce public assistance benefits to be unacceptable (that is, against the Courtís policy preferences) and declares these laws unconstitutional on due process or equal protection grounds? This is not idle speculation. Many progressive law professors urge, for example, that the poor should be considered a suspect class and thus the Court should strictly examine all state laws that impact various benefits. Hereís an article discussing this.

The Supreme Court has gone far from the judicial role outlined for it in the Constitution. Be careful when cheering for a result that you like; the power is there to reach issues and results that no friend of liberty will applaud. And you have no voteónone whatsoeveróif you want to remove these Platonic Guardians from office.



The Court Only Delayed Obamacare's Collapse

With the Supreme Court deciding in favor of the Obama administration on the question of whether federal health insurance subsidies are legal, the rule of law Ė and the English language Ė took a real beating. As President Barack Obama takes a victory lap, he needs to realize that this is not the end of the fight.

It is true that the court's decision renders the federal Obamacare subsidies legal. But that does not mean an end to the conversation about health care in America, and it certainly does not make Obamacare a permanent institution. The simple reason for this is that there is no way the president's health care law can survive in the long run. It is structurally unsound, and the court's ruling will merely delay its inevitable collapse.

Across the country, the insurance exchanges established under the Affordable Care Act are falling apart. They are running deficits in the millions that are simply unsustainable. Even with the subsidies in place, the cost of premiums has been rising sharply, and deductibles are so high that many on the bottom rungs of the income ladder, the very people the law was meant to help, are actually being hurt by it.

Enrollment numbers are also far below expectations, meaning that only the people who need medical care the most are signing up for Obamacare, while many healthier Americans don't bother. The only way insurance can work is if healthy people sign up as well. If they don't start signing up en masse, premiums will keep rising in order to keep insurance companies solvent. We're rapidly heading for a situation in which people will have to choose between going bankrupt to buy mandated insurance, or going bankrupt to pay the penalty for not buying it.

What all this means is that the health insurance market is in deep trouble. In Chief Justice John Roberts' majority opinion in King v. Burwell, he wrote that "Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve insurance markets, not to destroy them." That may have been Congress' intention, but the fact is that markets are in deep, deep trouble, and this decision does nothing to change that.

The 2016 election will be crucial in determining what will happen when Obamacare meets its inevitable end. If Hillary Clinton becomes the next president and Republicans lose their majority in the Senate, the most likely response will be all out nationalization of health care markets, and America will follow the misguided path of social democracies in Western Europe. If Republicans carry the day, there will be an opportunity to enact free market health care solutions that empower patients and doctors, and make health care more affordable for all Americans. Let's hope they don't waste this chance to save our health care system.

The court's decision is a disappointment to those of us who believe that words mean what they mean and that the IRS shouldn't be allowed to rewrite laws to suit its agenda, but that's no reason why we should hasten to wave a white flag. Obamacare will stand for now, but sooner or later it will fall, and reformers had better be ready. What happens next will depend on which side has better prepared for the collapse. The battle going forward will be over laying the political and popular groundwork for repairing the health care system when Obamacare finally tears itself apart.



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

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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.

A favorite Leftist saying sums up the whole of Leftism: "To make an omelette, you've got to break eggs". They want to change some state of affairs and don't care who or what they destroy or damage in the process. They think their good intentions are sufficient to absolve them from all blame for even the most evil deeds

Leftists are the "we know best" people, meaning that they are intrinsically arrogant. Matthew chapter 6 would not be for them. And arrogance leads directly into authoritarianism

Leftism is fundamentally authoritarian. Whether by revolution or by legislation, Leftists aim to change what people can and must do. When in 2008 Obama said that he wanted to "fundamentally transform" America, he was not talking about America's geography or topography but rather about American people. He wanted them to stop doing things that they wanted to do and make them do things that they did not want to do. Can you get a better definition of authoritarianism than that?

And note that an American President is elected to administer the law, not make it. That seems to have escaped Mr Obama

That Leftism is intrinsically authoritarian is not a new insight. It was well understood by none other than Friedrich Engels (Yes. THAT Engels). His excellent short essay On authority was written as a reproof to the dreamy Anarchist Left of his day. It concludes: "A revolution is certainly the most authoritarian thing there is; it is the act whereby one part of the population imposes its will upon the other part by means of rifles, bayonets and cannon ó authoritarian means"

Many people in literary and academic circles today who once supported Stalin and his heirs are generally held blameless and may even still be admired whereas anybody who gave the slightest hint of support for the similarly brutal Hitler regime is an utter polecat and pariah. Why? Because Hitler's enemies were "only" the Jews whereas Stalin's enemies were those the modern day Left still hates -- people who are doing well for themselves materially. Modern day Leftists understand and excuse Stalin and his supporters because Stalin's hates are their hates.

Leftists believe only what they want to believe. So presenting evidence contradicting their beliefs simply enrages them. They do not learn from it

Psychological defence mechanisms such as projection play a large part in Leftist thinking and discourse. So their frantic search for evil in the words and deeds of others is easily understandable. The evil is in themselves.

Leftists who think that they can conjure up paradise out of their own limited brains are simply fools -- arrogant and dangerous fools. They essentially know nothing. Conservatives learn from the thousands of years of human brains that have preceded us -- including the Bible, the ancient Greeks and much else. The death of Socrates is, for instance, an amazing prefiguration of the intolerant 21st century. Ask any conservative stranded in academe about his freedom of speech

Conservatives adapt to the world they live in. Leftists want to change the world to suit themselves

Given their dislike of the world they live in, it would be a surprise if Leftists were patriotic and loved their own people. Prominent English Leftist politician Jack Straw probably said it best: "The English as a race are not worth saving"

Why do conservatives respect tradition and rely on the past in many ways? Because they want to know what works and the past is the chief source of evidence on that. Leftists are more faith-based. They cling to their theories (e.g. global warming) with religious fervour, even though theories are often wrong

"The best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley"[go oft astray] is a well known line from a famous poem by the great Scottish poet, Robert Burns. But the next line is even wiser: "And leave us nought but grief and pain for promised joy". Burns was a Leftist of sorts so he knew how often theories fail badly.

Thinking that you "know best" is an intrinsically precarious and foolish stance -- because nobody does. Reality is so complex and unpredictable that it can rarely be predicted far ahead. Conservatives can see that and that is why conservatives always want change to be done gradually, in a step by step way. So the Leftist often finds the things he "knows" to be out of step with reality, which challenges him and his ego. Sadly, rather than abandoning the things he "knows", he usually resorts to psychological defence mechanisms such as denial and projection. He is largely impervious to argument because he has to be. He can't afford to let reality in.

A prize example of the Leftist tendency to projection (seeing your own faults in others) is the absurd Robert "Bob" Altemeyer, an acclaimed psychologist and father of a prominent Canadian Leftist politician. Altemeyer claims that there is no such thing as Leftist authoritarianism and that it is conservatives who are "Enemies of Freedom". That Leftists (e.g. Mrs Obama) are such enemies of freedom that they even want to dictate what people eat has apparently passed Altemeyer by. Even Stalin did not go that far. And there is the little fact that all the great authoritarian regimes of the 20th century (Stalin, Hitler and Mao) were socialist. Freud saw reliance on defence mechanisms such as projection as being maladjusted. It is difficult to dispute that. Altemeyer is too illiterate to realize it but he is actually a good Hegelian. Hegel thought that "true" freedom was marching in step with a Left-led herd.

What libertarian said this? ďThe bureaucracy is a parasite on the body of society, a parasite which Ďchokesí all its vital poresÖThe state is a parasitic organismĒ. It was VI Lenin, in August 1917, before he set up his own vastly bureaucratic state. He could see the problem but had no clue about how to solve it.

Leftist stupidity is a special class of stupidity. The people concerned are mostly not stupid in general but they have a character defect (mostly arrogance) that makes them impatient with complexity and unwilling to study it. So in their policies they repeatedly shoot themselves in the foot; They fail to attain their objectives. The world IS complex so a simplistic approach to it CANNOT work.

MESSAGE to Leftists: Even if you killed all conservatives tomorrow, you would just end up in another Soviet Union. Conservatives are all that stand between you and that dismal fate. And you may not even survive at all. Stalin killed off all the old Bolsheviks.


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)

Just the name of Hitler's political party should be sufficient to reject the claim that Hitler was "Right wing" but Leftists sometimes retort that the name "Democratic People's Republic of Korea" is not informative, in that it is the name of a dismal Stalinist tyranny. But "People's Republic" is a normal name for a Communist country whereas I know of no conservative political party that calls itself a "Socialist Worker's Party". Such parties are in fact usually of the extreme Left (Trotskyite etc.)

Most people find the viciousness of the Nazis to be incomprehensible -- for instance what they did in their concentration camps. But you just have to read a little of the vileness that pours out from modern-day "liberals" in their Twitter and blog comments to understand it all very well. Leftists haven't changed. They are still boiling with hate

Hatred as a motivating force for political strategy leads to misguided ≠decisions. ďHatred is blind,Ē as Alexandre Dumas warned, ďrage carries you away; and he who pours out vengeance runs the risk of tasting a bitter draught.Ē

Who said this in 1968? "I am not, and never have been, a man of the right. My position was on the Left and is now in the centre of politics". It was Sir Oswald Mosley, founder and leader of the British Union of Fascists

The term "Fascism" is mostly used by the Left as a brainless term of abuse. But when they do make a serious attempt to define it, they produce very complex and elaborate definitions -- e.g. here and here. In fact, Fascism is simply extreme socialism plus nationalism. But great gyrations are needed to avoid mentioning the first part of that recipe, of course.

Two examples of Leftist racism below (much more here and here):

Beatrice Webb, a founder of the London School of Economics and the Fabian Society, and married to a Labour MP, mused in 1922 on whether when English children were "dying from lack of milk", one should extend "the charitable impulse" to Russian and Chinese children who, if saved this year, might anyway die next. Besides, she continued, there was "the larger question of whether those races are desirable inhabitants" and "obviously" one wouldn't "spend one's available income" on "a Central African negro".

Hugh Dalton, offered the Colonial Office during Attlee's 1945-51 Labour government, turned it down because "I had a horrid vision of pullulating, poverty stricken, diseased nigger communities, for whom one can do nothing in the short run and who, the more one tries to help them, are querulous and ungrateful."

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

Defensible and indefensible usages of the term "racism"

The book, The authoritarian personality, authored by T.W. Adorno et al. in 1950, has been massively popular among psychologists. It claims that a set of ideas that were popular in the "Progressive"-dominated America of the prewar era were "authoritarian". Leftist regimes always are authoritarian so that claim was not a big problem. What was quite amazing however is that Adorno et al. identified such ideas as "conservative". They were in fact simply popular ideas of the day but ones that had been most heavily promoted by the Left right up until the then-recent WWII. See here for details of prewar "Progressive" thinking.

Leftist psychologists have an amusingly simplistic conception of military organizations and military men. They seem to base it on occasions they have seen troops marching together on parade rather than any real knowledge of military men and the military life. They think that military men are "rigid" -- automatons who are unable to adjust to new challenges or think for themselves. What is incomprehensible to them is that being kadaver gehorsam (to use the extreme Prussian term for following orders) actually requires great flexibility -- enough flexibility to put your own ideas and wishes aside and do something very difficult. Ask any soldier if all commands are easy to obey.

It would be very easy for me to say that I am too much of an individual for the army but I did in fact join the army and enjoy it greatly, as most men do. In my observation, ALL army men are individuals. It is just that they accept discipline in order to be militarily efficient -- which is the whole point of the exercise. But that's too complex for simplistic Leftist thinking, of course

R.I.P. Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet deposed a law-defying Marxist President at the express and desperate invitation of the Chilean parliament. Allende had just burnt the electoral rolls so it wasn't hard to see what was coming. Pinochet pioneered the free-market reforms which Reagan and Thatcher later unleashed to world-changing effect. That he used far-Leftist methods to suppress far-Leftist violence is reasonable if not ideal. The Leftist view that they should have a monopoly of violence and that others should follow the law is a total absurdity which shows only that their hate overcomes their reason

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a war criminal. Both British and American codebreakers had cracked the Japanese naval code so FDR knew what was coming at Pearl Harbor. But for his own political reasons he warned no-one there. So responsibility for the civilian and military deaths at Pearl Harbor lies with FDR as well as with the Japanese. The huge firepower available at Pearl Harbor, both aboard ship and on land, could have largely neutered the attack. Can you imagine 8 battleships and various lesser craft firing all their AA batteries as the Japanese came in? The Japanese naval airforce would have been annihilated and the war would have been over before it began.

FDR prolonged the Depression. He certainly didn't cure it.

WWII did NOT end the Great Depression. It just concealed it. It in fact made living standards worse

FDR appointed a known KKK member, Hugo Black, to the Supreme Court

Joe McCarthy was eventually proved right after the fall of the Soviet Union. To accuse anyone of McCarthyism is to accuse them of accuracy!

The KKK was intimately associated with the Democratic party. They ATTACKED Republicans!

People who mention differences in black vs. white IQ are these days almost universally howled down and subjected to the most extreme abuse. I am a psychometrician, however, so I feel obliged to defend the scientific truth of the matter: The average African adult has about the same IQ as an average white 11-year-old and African Americans (who are partly white in ancestry) average out at a mental age of 14. The American Psychological Association is generally Left-leaning but it is the world's most prestigious body of academic psychologists. And even they have had to concede that sort of gap (one SD) in black vs. white average IQ. 11-year olds can do a lot of things but they also have their limits and there are times when such limits need to be allowed for.

The Dark Ages were not dark

Judged by his deeds, Abraham Lincoln was one of the bloodiest villains ever to walk the Earth. See here. And: America's uncivil war was caused by trade protectionism. The slavery issue was just camouflage, as Abraham Lincoln himself admitted. See also here

Was slavery already washed up by the tides of history before Lincoln took it on? Eric Williams in his book "Capitalism and Slavery" tells us: ďThe commercial capitalism of the eighteenth century developed the wealth of Europe by means of slavery and monopoly. But in so doing it helped to create the industrial capitalism of the nineteenth century, which turned round and destroyed the power of commercial capitalism, slavery, and all its works. Without a grasp of these economic changes the history of the period is meaningless.Ē

Did William Zantzinger kill poor Hattie Carroll?

Did Bismarck predict where WWI would start or was it just a "free" translation by Churchill?

Conrad Black on the Declaration of Independence

Malcolm Gladwell: "There is more of reality and wisdom in a Chinese fortune cookie than can be found anywhere in Gladwellís pages"

Some people are born bad -- confirmed by genetics research


The 10 "cannots" (By William J. H. Boetcker) that Leftist politicians ignore:
*You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
* You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
* You cannot help little men by tearing down big men.
* You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
* You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
* You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money.
* You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
* You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.
* You cannot build character and courage by destroying men's initiative and independence.
* And you cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves.

A good short definition of conservative: "One who wants you to keep your hand out of his pocket."

Beware of good intentions. They mostly lead to coercion

A gargantuan case of hubris, coupled with stunning level of ignorance about how the real world works, is the essence of progressivism.

The U.S. Constitution is neither "living" nor dead. It is fixed until it is amended. But amending it is the privilege of the people, not of politicians or judges

It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong - Thomas Sowell

Leftists think that utopia can be coerced into existence -- so no dishonesty or brutality is beyond them in pursuit of that "noble" goal

"England is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality. In left-wing circles it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman and that it is a duty to snigger at every English institution" -- George Orwell

Was 16th century science pioneer Paracelsus a libertarian? His motto was "Alterius non sit qui suus esse potest" which means "Let no man belong to another who can belong to himself."

"When using today's model of society as a rule, most of history will be found to be full of oppression, bias, and bigotry." What today's arrogant judges of history fail to realize is that they, too, will be judged. What will Americans of 100 years from now make of, say, speech codes, political correctness, and zero tolerance - to name only three? Assuming, of course, there will still be an America that we, today, would recognize. Given the rogue Federal government spy apparatus, I am not at all sure of that. -- Paul Havemann

Economist Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973): "The champions of socialism call themselves progressives, but they recommend a system which is characterized by rigid observance of routine and by a resistance to every kind of improvement. They call themselves liberals, but they are intent upon abolishing liberty. They call themselves democrats, but they yearn for dictatorship. They call themselves revolutionaries, but they want to make the government omnipotent. They promise the blessings of the Garden of Eden, but they plan to transform the world into a gigantic post office."

It's the shared hatred of the rest of us that unites Islamists and the Left.

American liberals don't love America. They despise it. All they love is their own fantasy of what America could become. They are false patriots.

The Democratic Party: Con-men elected by the ignorant and the arrogant

The Democratic Party is a strange amalgam of elites, would-be elites and minorities. No wonder their policies are so confused and irrational

Why are conservatives more at ease with religion? Because it is basic to conservatism that some things are unknowable, and religious people have to accept that too. Leftists think that they know it all and feel threatened by any exceptions to that. Thinking that you know it all is however the pride that comes before a fall.

The characteristic emotion of the Leftist is not envy. It's rage

Leftists are committed to grievance, not truth

The British Left poured out a torrent of hate for Margaret Thatcher on the occasion of her death. She rescued Britain from chaos and restored Britain's prosperity. What's not to hate about that?

Something you didn't know about Margaret Thatcher

The world's dumbest investor? Without doubt it is Uncle Sam. Nobody anywhere could rival the scale of the losses on "investments" made under the Obama administration

"Behind the honeyed but patently absurd pleas for equality is a ruthless drive for placing themselves (the elites) at the top of a new hierarchy of power" -- Murray Rothbard - Egalitarianism and the Elites (1995)

A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money. -- G. Gordon Liddy

"World socialism as a whole, and all the figures associated with it, are shrouded in legend; its contradictions are forgotten or concealed; it does not respond to arguments but continually ignores them--all this stems from the mist of irrationality that surrounds socialism and from its instinctive aversion to scientific analysis... The doctrines of socialism seethe with contradictions, its theories are at constant odds with its practice, yet due to a powerful instinct these contradictions do not in the least hinder the unending propaganda of socialism. Indeed, no precise, distinct socialism even exists; instead there is only a vague, rosy notion of something noble and good, of equality, communal ownership, and justice: the advent of these things will bring instant euphoria and a social order beyond reproach." -- Solzhenitsyn

"The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left." -- Ecclesiastes 10:2 (NIV)

My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government. -- Thomas Jefferson

"Much that passes as idealism is disguised hatred or disguised love of power" -- Bertrand Russell

Evan Sayet: The Left sides "...invariably with evil over good, wrong over right, and the behaviors that lead to failure over those that lead to success." (t=5:35+ on video)

The Republicans are the gracious side of American politics. It is the Democrats who are the nasty party, the haters

Wanting to stay out of the quarrels of other nations is conservative -- but conservatives will fight if attacked or seriously endangered. Anglo/Irish statesman Lord Castlereagh (1769-1822), who led the political coalition that defeated Napoleon, was an isolationist, as were traditional American conservatives.

Some 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 ďgenderĒ is a ďsocial constructĒ. 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 ďthe mess weíre in.Ē So much for the vacant Leftist claim that conservatives are simply defenders of the status quo. They think that conservatives are as lacking in principles as they are.

Was Confucius a conservative? The following saying would seem to reflect good conservative caution: "The superior man, when resting in safety, does not forget that danger may come. When in a state of security he does not forget the possibility of ruin. When all is orderly, he does not forget that disorder may come. Thus his person is not endangered, and his States and all their clans are preserved."

The shallow thinkers of the Left sometimes claim that conservatives want to impose their own will on others in the matter of abortion. To make that claim is however to confuse religion with politics. Conservatives are in fact divided about their response to abortion. The REAL opposition to abortion is religious rather than political. And the church which has historically tended to support the LEFT -- the Roman Catholic church -- is the most fervent in the anti-abortion cause. Conservatives are indeed the one side of politics to have moral qualms on the issue but they tend to seek a middle road in dealing with it. Taking the issue to the point of legal prohibitions is a religious doctrine rather than a conservative one -- and the religion concerned may or may not be characteristically conservative. More on that here

Some Leftist hatred arises from the fact that they blame "society" for their own personal problems and inadequacies

The Leftist hunger for change to the society that they hate leads to a hunger for control over other people. And they will do and say anything to get that control: "Power at any price". Leftist politicians are mostly self-aggrandizing crooks who gain power by deceiving the uninformed with snake-oil promises -- power which they invariably use to destroy. Destruction is all that they are good at. Destruction is what haters do.

Leftists are consistent only in their hate. They don't have principles. How can they when "there is no such thing as right and wrong"? All they have is postures, pretend-principles that can be changed as easily as one changes one's shirt

A Leftist assumption: Making money doesn't entitle you to it, but wanting money does.

"Politicians never accuse you of 'greed' for wanting other people's money -- only for wanting to keep your own money." --columnist Joe Sobran (1946-2010)

Leftist policies are candy-coated rat poison that may appear appealing at first, but inevitably do a lot of damage to everyone impacted by them.

A tribute and thanks to Mary Jo Kopechne. Her death was reprehensible but she probably did more by her death that she ever would have in life: She spared the world a President Ted Kennedy. That the heap of corruption that was Ted Kennedy died peacefully in his bed is one of the clearest demonstrations that we do not live in a just world. Even Joe Stalin seems to have been smothered to death by Nikita Khrushchev

I often wonder why Leftists refer to conservatives as "wingnuts". A wingnut is a very useful device that adds versatility wherever it is used. Clearly, Leftists are not even good at abuse. Once they have accused their opponents of racism and Nazism, their cupboard is bare. Similarly, Leftists seem to think it is a devastating critique to refer to "Worldnet Daily" as "Worldnut Daily". The poverty of their argumentation is truly pitiful

The Leftist assertion that there is no such thing as right and wrong has a distinguished history. It was Pontius Pilate who said "What is truth?" (John 18:38). From a Christian viewpoint, the assertion is undoubtedly the Devil's gospel

Even in the Old Testament they knew about "Postmodernism": "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" - Isaiah 5:20 (KJV)

Was Solomon the first conservative? "The hearts of men are full of evil and madness is in their hearts" -- Ecclesiastes: 9:3 (RSV). He could almost have been talking about Global Warming.

Leftist hatred of Christianity goes back as far as the massacre of the Carmelite nuns during the French revolution. Yancey has written a whole book tabulating modern Leftist hatred of Christians. It is a rival religion to Leftism.

"If one rejects laissez faire on account of man's fallibility and moral weakness, one must for the same reason also reject every kind of government action." - Ludwig von Mises

The naive scholar who searches for a consistent Leftist program will not find it. What there is consists only in the negation of the present.

Because of their need to be different from the mainstream, Leftists are very good at pretending that sow's ears are silk purses

Among intelligent people, Leftism is a character defect. Leftists HATE success in others -- which is why notably successful societies such as the USA and Israel are hated and failures such as the Palestinians can do no wrong.

A Leftist's beliefs are all designed to pander to his ego. So when you have an argument with a Leftist, you are not really discussing the facts. You are threatening his self esteem. Which is why the normal Leftist response to challenge is mere abuse.

Because of the fragility of a Leftist's ego, anything that threatens it is intolerable and provokes rage. So most Leftist blogs can be summarized in one sentence: "How DARE anybody question what I believe!". Rage and abuse substitute for an appeal to facts and reason.

Because their beliefs serve their ego rather than reality, Leftists just KNOW what is good for us. Conservatives need evidence.

Absolute certainty is the privilege of uneducated men and fanatics. -- C.J. Keyser

Hell is paved with good intentions" -- Boswell's Life of Johnson of 1775

"Almost all professors of the arts and sciences are egregiously conceited, and derive their happiness from their conceit" -- Erasmus


"Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him" (Proverbs 26: 12). I think that sums up Leftists pretty well.

Eminent British astrophysicist Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington is often quoted as saying: "Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine." It was probably in fact said by his contemporary, J.B.S. Haldane. But regardless of authorship, it could well be a conservative credo not only about the cosmos but also about human beings and human society. Mankind is too complex to be summed up by simple rules and even complex rules are only approximations with many exceptions.

Politics is the only thing Leftists know about. They know nothing of economics, history or business. Their only expertise is in promoting feelings of grievance

Socialism makes the individual the slave of the state -- capitalism frees them.

Many readers here will have noticed that what I say about Leftists sometimes sounds reminiscent of what Leftists say about conservatives. There is an excellent reason for that. Leftists are great "projectors" (people who see their own faults in others). So a good first step in finding out what is true of Leftists is to look at what they say about conservatives! They even accuse conservatives of projection (of course).

The research shows clearly that one's Left/Right stance is strongly genetically inherited but nobody knows just what specifically is inherited. What is inherited that makes people Leftist or Rightist? There is any amount of evidence that personality traits are strongly genetically inherited so my proposal is that hard-core Leftists are people who tend to let their emotions (including hatred and envy) run away with them and who are much more in need of seeing themselves as better than others -- two attributes that are probably related to one another. Such Leftists may be an evolutionary leftover from a more primitive past.

Leftists seem to believe that if someone like Al Gore says it, it must be right. They obviously have a strong need for an authority figure. The fact that the two most authoritarian regimes of the 20th century (Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia) were socialist is thus no surprise. Leftists often accuse conservatives of being "authoritarian" but that is just part of their usual "projective" strategy -- seeing in others what is really true of themselves.

"With their infernal racial set-asides, racial quotas, and race norming, liberals share many of the Klan's premises. The Klan sees the world in terms of race and ethnicity. So do liberals! Indeed, liberals and white supremacists are the only people left in America who are neurotically obsessed with race. Conservatives champion a color-blind society" -- Ann Coulter

Politicians are in general only a little above average in intelligence so the idea that they can make better decisions for us that we can make ourselves is laughable

A quote from the late Dr. Adrian Rogers: "You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."

The Supreme Court of the United States is now and always has been a judicial abomination. Its guiding principles have always been political rather than judicial. It is not as political as Stalin's courts but its respect for the constitution is little better. Some recent abuses: The "equal treatment" provision of the 14th amendment was specifically written to outlaw racial discrimination yet the court has allowed various forms of "affirmative action" for decades -- when all such policies should have been completely stuck down immediately. The 2nd. amendment says that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed yet gun control laws infringe it in every State in the union. The 1st amendment provides that speech shall be freely exercised yet the court has upheld various restrictions on the financing and display of political advertising. The court has found a right to abortion in the constitution when the word abortion is not even mentioned there. The court invents rights that do not exist and denies rights that do.

"Some action that is unconstitutional has much to recommend it" -- Elena Kagan, nominated to SCOTUS by Obama

Frank Sulloway, the anti-scientist

The basic aim of all bureaucrats is to maximize their funding and minimize their workload

A lesson in Australian: When an Australian calls someone a "big-noter", he is saying that the person is a chronic and rather pathetic seeker of admiration -- as in someone who often pulls out "big notes" (e.g. $100.00 bills) to pay for things, thus endeavouring to create the impression that he is rich. The term describes the mentality rather than the actual behavior with money and it aptly describes many Leftists. When they purport to show "compassion" by advocating things that cost themselves nothing (e.g. advocating more taxes on "the rich" to help "the poor"), an Australian might say that the Leftist is "big-noting himself". There is an example of the usage here. The term conveys contempt. There is a wise description of Australians generally here

Some ancient wisdom for Leftists: "Be not righteous overmuch; neither make thyself over wise: Why shouldest thou die before thy time?" -- Ecclesiastes 7:16

Jesse Jackson: "There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery -- then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved." There ARE important racial differences.

Some Jimmy Carter wisdom: "I think it's inevitable that there will be a lower standard of living than what everybody had always anticipated," he told advisers in 1979. "there's going to be a downward turning."

The "steamroller" above who got steamrollered by his own hubris. Spitzer is a warning of how self-destructive a vast ego can be -- and also of how destructive of others it can be.

Heritage is what survives death: Very rare and hence very valuable

Big business is not your friend. As Adam Smith said: "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty or justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary

How can I accept the Communist doctrine, which sets up as its bible, above and beyond criticism, an obsolete textbook which I know not only to be scientifically erroneous but without interest or application to the modern world? How can I adopt a creed which, preferring the mud to the fish, exalts the boorish proletariat above the bourgeoisie and the intelligentsia, who with all their faults, are the quality of life and surely carry the seeds of all human achievement? Even if we need a religion, how can we find it in the turbid rubbish of the red bookshop? It is hard for an educated, decent, intelligent son of Western Europe to find his ideals here, unless he has first suffered some strange and horrid process of conversion which has changed all his values. -- John Maynard Keynes

Some wisdom from "Bron" Waugh: "The purpose of politics is to help them [politicians] overcome these feelings of inferiority and compensate for their personal inadequacies in the pursuit of power"

"There are countless horrible things happening all over the country, and horrible people prospering, but we must never allow them to disturb our equanimity or deflect us from our sacred duty to sabotage and annoy them whenever possible"

The urge to pass new laws must be seen as an illness, not much different from the urge to bite old women. Anyone suspected of suffering from it should either be treated with the appropriate pills or, if it is too late for that, elected to Parliament [or Congress, as the case may be] and paid a huge salary with endless holidays, to do nothing whatever"

"It is my settled opinion, after some years as a political correspondent, that no one is attracted to a political career in the first place unless he is socially or emotionally crippled"

Two lines below of a famous hymn that would be incomprehensible to Leftists today ("honor"? "right"? "freedom?" Freedom to agree with them is the only freedom they believe in)

First to fight for right and freedom,
And to keep our honor clean

It is of course the hymn of the USMC -- still today the relentless warriors that they always were. Freedom needs a soldier

If any of the short observations above about Leftism seem wrong, note that they do not stand alone. The evidence for them is set out at great length in my MONOGRAPH on Leftism.

3 memoirs of "Supermac", a 20th century Disraeli (Aristocratic British Conservative Prime Minister -- 1957 to 1963 -- Harold Macmillan):

"It breaks my heart to see (I can't interfere or do anything at my age) what is happening in our country today - this terrible strike of the best men in the world, who beat the Kaiser's army and beat Hitler's army, and never gave in. Pointless, endless. We can't afford that kind of thing. And then this growing division which the noble Lord who has just spoken mentioned, of a comparatively prosperous south, and an ailing north and midlands. That can't go on." -- Mac on the British working class: "the best men in the world" (From his Maiden speech in the House of Lords, 13 November 1984)

"As a Conservative, I am naturally in favour of returning into private ownership and private management all those means of production and distribution which are now controlled by state capitalism"

During Macmillan's time as prime minister, average living standards steadily rose while numerous social reforms were carried out


The Bible is an Israeli book

To me, hostility to the Jews is a terrible tragedy. I weep for them at times. And I do literally put my money where my mouth is. I do at times send money to Israeli charities

My (Gentile) opinion of antisemitism: The Jews are the best we've got so killing them is killing us.

"And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" -- Genesis 12:3

"O pray for the peace of Jerusalem: They shall prosper that love thee" Psalm 122:6.

If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy -- Psalm 137 (NIV)

Israel, like the Jews throughout history, is hated not for her vices but her virtues. Israel is hated, as the United States is hated, because Israel is successful, because Israel is free, and because Israel is good. As Maxim Gorky put it: ďWhatever nonsense the anti-Semites may talk, they dislike the Jew only because he is obviously better, more adroit, and more willing and capable of work than they are.Ē Whether driven by culture or genesóor like most behavior, an inextricable mixóthe fact of Jewish genius is demonstrable." -- George Gilder

To Leftist haters, all the basic rules of liberal society ó rejection of hate speech, commitment to academic freedom, rooting out racism, the absolute commitment to human dignity ó go out the window when the subject is Israel.

I have always liked the story of Gideon (See Judges chapters 6 to 8) and it is surely no surprise that in the present age Israel is the Gideon of nations: Few in numbers but big in power and impact.

Is the Israel Defence Force the most effective military force per capita since Genghis Khan? They probably are but they are also the most ethically advanced military force that the world has ever seen

If I were not an atheist, I would believe that God had a sense of humour. He gave his chosen people (the Jews) enormous advantages -- high intelligence and high drive -- but to keep it fair he deprived them of something hugely important too: Political sense. So Jews to this day tend very strongly to be Leftist -- even though the chief source of antisemitism for roughly the last 200 years has been the political Left!

And the other side of the coin is that Jews tend to despise conservatives and Christians. Yet American fundamentalist Christians are the bedrock of the vital American support for Israel, the ultimate bolthole for all Jews. So Jewish political irrationality seems to be a rather good example of the saying that "The LORD giveth and the LORD taketh away". There are many other examples of such perversity (or "balance"). The sometimes severe side-effects of most pharmaceutical drugs is an obvious one but there is another ethnic example too, a rather amusing one. Chinese people are in general smart and patient people but their rate of traffic accidents in China is about 10 times higher than what prevails in Western societies. They are brilliant mathematicians and fearless business entrepreneurs but at the same time bad drivers!

Conservatives, on the other hand, could be antisemitic on entirely rational grounds: Namely, the overwhelming Leftism of the Diaspora Jewish population as a whole. Because they judge the individual, however, only a tiny minority of conservative-oriented people make such general judgments. The longer Jews continue on their "stiff-necked" course, however, the more that is in danger of changing. The children of Israel have been a stiff necked people since the days of Moses, however, so they will no doubt continue to vote with their emotions rather than their reason.

I despair of the ADL. Jews have enough problems already and yet in the ADL one has a prominent Jewish organization that does its best to make itself offensive to Christians. Their Leftism is more important to them than the welfare of Jewry -- which is the exact opposite of what they ostensibly stand for! Jewish cleverness seems to vanish when politics are involved. Fortunately, Christians are true to their saviour and have loving hearts. Jewish dissatisfaction with the myopia of the ADL is outlined here. Note that Foxy was too grand to reply to it.

Fortunately for America, though, liberal Jews there are rapidly dying out through intermarriage and failure to reproduce. And the quite poisonous liberal Jews of Israel are not much better off. Judaism is slowly returning to Orthodoxy and the Orthodox tend to be conservative.

The above is good testimony to the accuracy of the basic conservative insight that almost anything in human life is too complex to be reduced to any simple rule and too complex to be reduced to any rule at all without allowance for important exceptions to the rule concerned

Amid their many virtues, one virtue is often lacking among Jews in general and Israelis in particular: Humility. And that's an antisemitic comment only if Hashem is antisemitic. From Moses on, the Hebrew prophets repeatedy accused the Israelites of being "stiff-necked" and urged them to repent. So it's no wonder that the greatest Jewish prophet of all -- Jesus -- not only urged humility but exemplified it in his life and death

"Why should the German be interested in the liberation of the Jew, if the Jew is not interested in the liberation of the German?... We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time... In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.... Indeed, in North America, the practical domination of Judaism over the Christian world has achieved as its unambiguous and normal expression that the preaching of the Gospel itself and the Christian ministry have become articles of trade... Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist". Who said that? Hitler? No. It was Karl Marx. See also here and here and here. For roughly two centuries now, antisemitism has, throughout the Western world, been principally associated with Leftism (including the socialist Hitler) -- as it is to this day. See here.

Karl Marx hated just about everyone. Even his father, the kindly Heinrich Marx, thought Karl was not much of a human being

Leftists call their hatred of Israel "Anti-Zionism" but Zionists are only a small minority in Israel

Some of the Leftist hatred of Israel is motivated by old-fashioned antisemitism (beliefs in Jewish "control" etc.) but most of it is just the regular Leftist hatred of success in others. And because the societies they inhabit do not give them the vast amount of recognition that their large but weak egos need, some of the most virulent haters of Israel and America live in those countries. So the hatred is the product of pathologically high self-esteem.

Their threatened egos sometimes drive Leftists into quite desperate flights from reality. For instance, they often call Israel an "Apartheid state" -- when it is in fact the Arab states that practice Apartheid -- witness the severe restrictions on Christians in Saudi Arabia. There are no such restrictions in Israel.

If the Palestinians put down their weapons, there'd be peace. If the Israelis put down their weapons, there'd be genocide.

Alfred Dreyfus, a reminder of French antisemitism still relevant today

Eugenio Pacelli, a righteous Gentile, a true man of God and a brilliant Pope


Many people hunger and thirst after righteousness. Some find it in the hatreds of the Left. Others find it in the love of Christ. I don't hunger and thirst after righteousness at all. I hunger and thirst after truth. How old-fashioned can you get?

The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody. And I have NO investments in oil companies, 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 hasnít lived that life.

IQ and ideology: Most academics are Left-leaning. Why? Because very bright people who have balls go into business, while very bright people with no balls go into academe. I did both with considerable success, which makes me a considerable rarity. Although I am a born academic, I have always been good with money too. My share portfolio even survived the GFC in good shape. The academics hate it that bright people with balls make more money than them.

I have no hesitation in saying that the single book which has influenced me most is the New Testament. And my Scripture blog will show that I know whereof I speak. Some might conclude that I must therefore be a very confused sort of atheist but I can assure everyone that I do not feel the least bit confused. The New Testament is a lighthouse that has illumined the thinking of all sorts of men and women and I am deeply grateful that it has shone on me.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age. Conservatism is in touch with reality. Leftism is not.

I imagine that the RD are still sending mailouts to my 1950s address

Most teenagers have sporting and movie posters on their bedroom walls. At age 14 I had a map of Taiwan on my wall.

"Remind me never to get this guy mad at me" -- Instapundit

It seems to be a common view that you cannot talk informatively about a country unless you have been there. I completely reject that view but it is nonetheless likely that some Leftist dimbulb will at some stage aver that any comments I make about politics and events in the USA should not be heeded because I am an Australian who has lived almost all his life in Australia. I am reluctant to pander to such ignorance in the era of the "global village" but for the sake of the argument I might mention that I have visited the USA 3 times -- spending enough time in Los Angeles and NYC to get to know a fair bit about those places at least. I did however get outside those places enough to realize that they are NOT America.

"Intellectual" = Leftist dreamer. I have more publications in the academic journals than almost all "public intellectuals" but I am never called an intellectual and nor would I want to be. Call me a scholar or an academic, however, and I will accept either as a just and earned appellation

My academic background

My full name is Dr. John Joseph RAY. I am a former university teacher aged 65 at the time of writing in 2009. I was born of Australian pioneer stock in 1943 at Innisfail in the State of Queensland in Australia. I trace my ancestry wholly to the British Isles. After an early education at Innisfail State Rural School and Cairns State High School, I taught myself for matriculation. I took my B.A. in Psychology from the University of Queensland in Brisbane. I then moved to Sydney (in New South Wales, Australia) and took my M.A. in psychology from the University of Sydney in 1969 and my Ph.D. from the School of Behavioural Sciences at Macquarie University in 1974. I first tutored in psychology at Macquarie University and then taught sociology at the University of NSW. My doctorate is in psychology but I taught mainly sociology in my 14 years as a university teacher. In High Schools I taught economics. I have taught in both traditional and "progressive" (low discipline) High Schools. Fuller biographical notes here

I completed the work for my Ph.D. at the end of 1970 but the degree was not awarded until 1974 -- due to some academic nastiness from Seymour Martin Lipset and Fred Emery. A conservative or libertarian who makes it through the academic maze has to be at least twice as good as the average conformist Leftist. Fortunately, I am a born academic.

Despite my great sympathy and respect for Christianity, I am the most complete atheist you could find. I don't even believe that the word "God" is meaningful. I am not at all original in that view, of course. Such views are particularly associated with the noted German philosopher Rudolf Carnap. Unlike Carnap, however, none of my wives have committed suicide

Very occasionally in my writings I make reference to the greats of analytical philosophy such as Carnap and Wittgenstein. As philosophy is a heavily Leftist discipline however, I have long awaited an attack from some philosopher accusing me of making coat-trailing references not backed by any real philosophical erudition. I suppose it is encouraging that no such attacks have eventuated but I thought that I should perhaps forestall them anyway -- by pointing out that in my younger days I did complete three full-year courses in analytical philosophy (at 3 different universities!) and that I have had papers on mainstream analytical philosophy topics published in academic journals

As well as being an academic, I am an army man and I am pleased and proud to say that I have worn my country's uniform. Although my service in the Australian army was chiefly noted for its un-notability, I DID join voluntarily in the Vietnam era, I DID reach the rank of Sergeant, and I DID volunteer for a posting in Vietnam. So I think I may be forgiven for saying something that most army men think but which most don't say because they think it is too obvious: The profession of arms is the noblest profession of all because it is the only profession where you offer to lay down your life in performing your duties. Our men fought so that people could say and think what they like but I myself always treat military men with great respect -- respect which in my view is simply their due.

A real army story here

Even a stopped clock is right twice a day and there is JUST ONE saying of Hitler's that I rather like. It may not even be original to him but it is found in chapter 2 of Mein Kampf (published in 1925): "Widerstaende sind nicht da, dass man vor ihnen kapituliert, sondern dass man sie bricht". The equivalent English saying is "Difficulties exist to be overcome" and that traces back at least to the 1920s -- with attributions to Montessori and others. Hitler's metaphor is however one of smashing barriers rather than of politely hopping over them and I am myself certainly more outspoken than polite. Hitler's colloquial Southern German is notoriously difficult to translate but I think I can manage a reasonable translation of that saying: "Resistance is there not for us to capitulate to but for us to break". I am quite sure that I don't have anything like that degree of determination in my own life but it seems to me to be a good attitude in general anyway

I have used many sites to post my writings over the years and many have gone bad on me for various reasons. So if you click on a link here to my other writings you may get a "page not found" response if the link was put up some time before the present. All is not lost, however. All my writings have been reposted elsewhere. If you do strike a failed link, just take the filename (the last part of the link) and add it to the address of any of my current home pages and -- Voila! -- you should find the article concerned.

COMMENTS: I have gradually added comments facilities to all my blogs. The comments I get are interesting. They are mostly from Leftists and most consist either of abuse or mere assertions. Reasoned arguments backed up by references to supporting evidence are almost unheard of from Leftists. Needless to say, I just delete such useless comments.

You can email me here (Hotmail address). In emailing me, you can address me as "John", "Jon", "Dr. Ray" or "JR" and that will be fine -- but my preference is for "JR" -- and that preference has NOTHING to do with an American soap opera that featured a character who was referred to in that way

Index page for this site


"Tongue Tied"
"Dissecting Leftism" (Backup here)
"Australian Politics"
"Education Watch International"
"Political Correctness Watch"
"Greenie Watch"
Western Heart


"Marx & Engels in their own words"
"A scripture blog"
"Some memoirs"
To be continued ....
Coral reef compendium.
Queensland Police
Australian Police News
Paralipomena (3)
Of Interest
Dagmar Schellenberger


"Food & Health Skeptic"
"Eye on Britain"
"Immigration Watch International".
"Leftists as Elitists"
Socialized Medicine
QANTAS -- A dying octopus
BRIAN LEITER (Ladderman)
Obama Watch
Obama Watch (2)
Dissecting Leftism -- Large font site
Michael Darby
Paralipomena (2)
AGL -- A bumbling monster
Telstra/Bigpond follies
Optus bungling
Vodafrauds (vodafone)
Bank of Queensland blues

There are also two blogspot blogs which record what I think are my main recent articles here and here. Similar content can be more conveniently accessed via my subject-indexed list of short articles here or here (I rarely write long articles these days)

Main academic menu
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basic home page
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